Author: Aeon Cole
Rating: PG for language
Spoilers: Slaves of Las Vegas, Lady Heather's Box, Pirates of the Third Reich
Ship: Gil/Sara, Gil/Lady Heather Friendship
Summary: Gil does Lady Heather a favor. How will Sara react?
Originally Published: 2/11/2007
Gil stood at the one-way glass watching her. Heather sat staring steadfastly in one direction, at nothing in particular. The only movement she made was when he had stepped up to the glass. She had seemed to know he was there. He was trying to decide what to do. She had made it clear to him the other day that even after two years she still had not forgiven his past transgression.
It had been along night, for both of them. His team and the police officers had arrived at the scene shortly after he did. They had found him with Lady Heather sobbing in his arms and Sneller tied to the front an SUV. The whip she had used on him lay discarded on the ground. It didn't take long for any of them to figure out what had happened. Some of his team had silently applauded Heather for her actions.
She hadn't spoken a word to Grissom on the ride to the station. He knew that Sneller had the right to press assault charges against her and that she would have to be questioned, so he didn't press her to talk to him. After they had arrived at the station he handed her over, albeit reluctantly, to Brass who ushered her into one of the interrogation rooms. Before he could follow her in, Grissom had pulled him to the side.
"Go easy. She's not in a good state right now," he said quietly.
"Don't worry, Gil, I'm not completely without compassion."
"I know Jim. I just… Maybe I should stay."
"I don't think that's a good idea. Warrick is meeting me here in a few. Go take care of the paperwork all this," he waived his hand in Heather's direction, "generated for you. I promise not to upset her any more." After a moment he gave Gil a half smile and said, "Besides, I don't need to be on the receiving end of her temper."
Gil nodded, "Got that right," he said knowingly. 'And she knows how to hold a grudge,' he thought.
He had spent the next couple of hours filling out forms and writing reports. Brass had come to his office to tell him that Sneller wouldn't be filing any charges against Heather and that she was free to go. Grissom had almost asked how Brass had accomplished that but then thought better of it. When it came right down to it, he really didn't want to know.
Now he stood in front of the glass, watching her. Hearing a shuffle, Gil turned to see Sara standing behind him. She flashed him a sympathetic look and place a hand on his shoulder.
"Hey. How is she?"
"Not sure. She hasn't moved from that spot," he answered.
"Why don't you take her home?" Sara suggested.
Gil let out a breath. "You don't mind?"
"Of course not," she said, not too convincingly. "I'll see you at home later." They had only been living together for a month and it still seemed a little odd to be referring to their home. Especially since no one knew about them yet.
He didn't reply, just turned back to the glass. Sara moved her hand to his arm, "Look, whatever happened between you two… right now I don't think it matters all that much." He couldn't help but smile a little.
Gil looked left, then right. When he was certain that there was no one else in the hallway with them, he leaned down and gave Sara a kiss, lingering a bit longer than he had originally intended. At that moment Captain Brass walked around the corner and stopped dead in his tracks. For a brief moment he just stared, not quite believing the sight before him, then he ducked back behind the corner and happy couple separated. 'Well it's about time,' he thought.
"Thanks," Gil replied and briefly covered Sara's hand with his before reaching for the doorknob.
Heather didn't move as he entered, she just stared at that same invisible point on the wall. "Come on, let me drive you home," he said gently. She tensed for a brief moment when he touched her shoulder. It was almost imperceptible, to anyone but him. She moved by rote, not speaking. He suspected she was still in shock. They exited the interrogation room and passed Sara on their way to the parking lot.
She stared after them, still wondering just what their relationship was and what Grissom had done to piss this woman off. She was lost in thought when she felt a touch on her shoulder that nearly made her jump out of her skin. She turned.
"Damn it, Brass. I swear one of these days I'm gonna put a bell around your neck!"
Brass just laughed. "Sorry but you were zoning." He was still smiling.
"No, I was thinking." Then a thought struck her and she panicked slightly. "How long have you been standing there?"
Never wiping the smile from his face he said, "Long enough."
"Shit," Sara swore under her breath.
"Don't worry. Your secret's safe. I'm happy for you two, honest," he said with his hand over his heart.
"You won't tell anyone? We're not ready for anyone else to find out yet." She was practically whispering.
Brass held up two fingers, "Scouts honor." Sara let out a breath. "But I'm a bit surprised you're letting him go off with Lady Heather?"
Sara was confused. "There friends. She just lost her only child. He's just driving her home. It's no big deal." Again, she was less than convincing.
"If you say so," was the last thing he said before turning to leave.
Sara watched him walk away. Her mind was racing. 'What the hell was that about,' she thought. 'Go find Catherine, she'll know.'
The ride to the Dominion was in silence. Grissom pulled up in front of the big gothic mansion and put the car in park. Heather made no move to get out of the car. He turned toward her and noticed a single tear run down her cheek.
"Heather…," he started but she interrupted.
"I don't want to be here tonight," she said softly, wiping her face.
He considered for a moment then put his Tahoe in gear and headed toward his townhouse, hoping Sara would understand.
Sara left the police station and headed for her car. She knew she would find Catherine in her office at CSI. The other woman had been a part of the other two cases that involved Lady Heather. She would certainly have more information, maybe even know what the connection between Heather and Grissom is.
She also knew that she trusted Grissom. Yeah, he could be thick-headed and sometimes anti-social but after all they had been through over the past six years, she trusted him not to screw up. At least that is what she kept telling herself. But she couldn't deny that she was curious. Grissom hadn't ever talk about Heather or his connection to her. And what Brass had said, or rather the way he had said it, was still bothering her.
She found Catherine exactly where she was expecting to find her. Sitting behind her desk, bent over a pile of paperwork. Sara knocked, "Cath, you gotta minute?"
Catherine looked up, "Anything to get away from these files. Grab a seat." She closed the folder she was working on and removed her glasses. She waited for Sara to begin.
After a moment Sara asked, "What do you know about Lady Heather?"
"How much time do you have?" Catherine retorted with a snort of laughter. She preceded to tell Sara about the other two cases, about her conversations with the dominatrix, about what Heather had told her about Zoe. Always skirting the issue of Grissom.
Finally Sara had to ask. "What exactly is her relationship with Grissom? There seems to be some history there."
Catherine laughed, "History, yeah you could say that. But the fact is, I don't actually know any details, only rumors." Sara raised an eyebrow, waiting for Catherine to continue. "Like I said, I don't know for sure. She was a material witness in one case and a suspect in another. During the first case they became friends. How close, I don't know."
Those last words were spinning around in Sara's head. Had she sent her boyfriend off with a former lover. She tried to push that thought to the back of her mind. She trusted Grissom, she kept telling herself. Almost as if reading her thoughts, Catherine continued, "Brass thinks they were sleeping together. He even made a comment to him about a mid-life crisis and getting a sports car instead."
Sara was trying to process this new information. "Do you think he was?"
"Like I said, I don't know. You know he never talks to anyone about anything personal. Hell, he could be sleeping with someone right now and none of us would know." Sara tried not to react to that. "But whether he was or not, he royally fucked things up during the second case. After that she stopped talking to him."
"That was the one where she was a suspect, wasn't it? The insulin syringe implicated her."
"Yep, but she was cleared. Grissom brought her in. And knowing him, it was probably the way he handled that which is the reason Heather stopped talking to him. He really isn't a people person."
Sara forced a smile. "Thanks, Catherine," she said as she got up. She needed to talk to Grissom.
Grissom pulled up in front of his townhouse and shut off the engine of his Tahoe. He looked over at Heather. She was staring out the window.
"Look, I have a spare room. You can stay here tonight," he said looking down at his hands.
That got her attention. She looked over at him, "Are you sure your girlfriend won't mind?" The word girlfriend came out a little harsher than she intended.
Grissom's head shot up, "How did you…" Then he shook his head, smiling, "Never mind. I forgot how well you can read me. Is it that obvious?" She just gave him a sad smile.
They got to his front door and he let her in. She looked around the main room, taking in her new surroundings. Sort of stark, insect displays on the walls, not much of a woman's touch. She glanced back at Grissom, "She hasn't been living here very long, has she?"
"About a month," he answered, not asking how she had figured that out.
"The place is still very… you," she smiled at him again. "Look, you don't have to do this. I don't want to cause you any problems."
"No, I do have to. I owe it to you for the way I handled things last time. I know you think apologies are just words, but I truly am sorry for the way I treated you that day. I betrayed your trust and I could have done things differently. I'm… I'm just not that good with people."
She nodded, and allowed herself to accept his help. They were standing facing each other. She raised her hand and ran it over his bearded cheek. "I'm not sure I like this. It makes you look much older," she said quietly.
Grissom tensed, "Heather…"
"I think I need some rest. I haven't slept in 3 days," she said suddenly feeling exhausted.
Grissom lead her down the hallway. "There are some old pajamas in the top drawer of the bureau."
She reached down, took his hand and squeezed it gently, "Thanks."
As Grissom closed the door behind her he heard a key turn in the front door lock.
Sara entered the townhouse and the first thing she was struck by was the scent of perfume, Lady Heather's perfume. She just stood there trying not to think what she feared was the reason for the aroma. That woman was in her home and Grissom didn't seem to be around, even though his car was out front. She was frozen in place and began to fume, when she heard footsteps coming down the hallway from the back bedroom.
"Sara, hi," Grissom said a bit too sheepishly. He walked over to give her a kiss but she ducked away from him and walked to the other side of the room facing the windows. She crossed her arms over her chest protectively.
Fighting back tears she said, "You brought her here, didn't you Grissom?"
That hurt. Now he knew just how mad she was. At home he was always Gil or Griss or some other affectation like babe or dear. She only called him Grissom at work or when she was truly pissed at him. She turned to face him and he could see the hurt in her eyes.
"You know," she said with controlled anger in her voice, "when I told you to take her home, I meant take her to her home."
Grissom walked toward her. He needed to touch her, hold her, to sooth away the anger and doubt she was feeling. He reached a hand out to her but she pulled away again and glared at him. He knew that when she got angry she tended to bottle things up, withdraw from everyone until it became too much for her. Then she would have a full blown meltdown. They were very similar in that respect.
"Sara," he said and tried to step closer but she just took a step away. He took a breath. "Let me explain."
She turned to face him and a single tear ran down her cheek and Grissom's head fell forward. This is what got him in to this mess in the first place. A woman crying. He was never good with that. It always made him feel guilty, like everything that was wrong with the world was his fault. Only this time it was his fault and he couldn't deny the ache he was feeling in his chest because of it.
"Just answer me one question," Sara said, voice quivering slightly, "did you sleep with her?"
That took Grissom by surprise. "What?"
"You heard me," she replied. She wanted to scream at him but they had a house guest. Besides, quiet anger could be just as affective.
Now Grissom was starting to get angry. He couldn't believe she'd just asked him that. "You mean tonight, you've got to be kidding."
She spun around to face the window, not able to look him in the eye. "I mean ever," she said slowly, deliberately, trying to control the anger she was feeling.
'So that was it,' he thought. He stepped up right behind her and put his hands on her shoulders. She tried to wiggle away but this time he wasn't going to let her. "No," he said emphatically, "I did not sleep with her."
Sara turned around and looked him in the eye, clearly not believing him. "Look," he said quietly, "neither of us came into this relationship a virgin." He took a breath. He wasn't going to lie to her now. "I won't deny to you that there was a time when I wanted to. But I didn't." He stared in to her eyes and opened himself up to her. He wasn't sure what she would see but all his walls were down. She had to see the truth in what he was saying.
Sara's face softened a bit but she was still angry. "Why is she here?"
"It's a long story," he replied.
"I've got time," was her retort.
"Why don't we sit down and I'll tell you," he said gesturing to the sofa. Sara took a seat, but in the chair opposite the sofa. Grissom sighed and sat across from her.
He took a moment to gather his thoughts before starting. "It was during that case we had a few years ago. The woman found buried in the sand at the playground. Catherine and I worked it. That's when we met. The victim had worked for Lady Heather as a dominatrix at the Dominion."
Grissom paused for a moment. He'd been staring at his hands while he was talking. Looking up at Sara, he saw that her expression had turned neutral. She was watching him intently. He continued, "The whole situation intrigued me. I became fascinated by the life she lived. By the fact that people would willingly submit themselves to that sort of humiliation and abuse. I had no context for it in my own life."
Sara cringed inwardly. That was one of the major problems she had with the whole Lady Heather thing. Coming from an abusive childhood, the idea of people willingly submitting to that sort of treatment was not only foreign to her but repulsive. This passed through her mind in a split second, unnoticed by Grissom.
"Anyway, she tried to explain it to me. Offered to show me. I declined the offer. But she had a way with people. An ability to read them better any psychologist, anthropologist, or profiler I'd ever met."
Grissom half smiled, lost in thought for a moment. "She saw right through me. After years of carefully constructing walls, never letting anyone in to see the real me. My walls were like glass to her. She saw right through, I couldn't hide a thing from her."
Sara's anger was beginning to fade as he spoke. She was becoming wrapped in his story. He had stopped speaking and was looking at her. "Only one other person has managed to get through those walls," he said, never breaking eye contact. He pointed to his chest, right over his heart, "And she sits right here."
Sara felt the last of her anger melt away at his admission. Slowly she got up from the chair and took a seat next to him on the sofa. Grissom gave her a sad smile.
"Tell me the rest of the story," she said softly. "What happened between you two?"
Grissom gave a self-deprecating laugh and said, "Easy, I'm the king of fucking up relationships." Sara couldn't help the snort of laughter that escaped her lips. Grissom continued his narrative. "We became friends during that case. Her insight into human nature became an invaluable resource to me. Her business depended on her ability to keep secrets. I knew I could trust her with sensitive information. When we had a particularly difficult case, I would seek her advise and she never steered me wrong."
Grissom looked over at Sara sitting next to him. "I trusted her completely and she trusted me."
"So what happened?" she asked him.
Grissom took a deep breath, "I betrayed her trust, in a major way at the worst possible time." He was staring at his hands again. Sara placed a hand on his arm. He looked over at her. "It was during the second case. You were busy working Eddie Willow's death."
Sara nodded. Still wishing she could have done more to give Catherine and Lindsey some closure. "I had gone to the Dominion to talk to Heather, after shift. But I had ulterior motives. I felt like I was becoming more and more attracted to her. I went to see her and we were talking. But suddenly we weren't talking about the case anymore. The mood changed and we were talking about us. She'd figured out that I was loosing my hearing, something no one else knew about. We moved closer to each other and I kissed her. She didn't shy away so I knew she wanted it as much as I did at the time."
He look up at Sara. Her features hardened again at his last admission but only for a moment. She took a breath, "What happened next."
Grissom shrugged. "I got scared. Terrified actually. I couldn't believe I had been bold enough to do that. And that she'd let me. The whole situation was too much for me to deal with. She must have seen it in my eyes because she backed off. She asked me back to her suite to have some tea and talk. So that's what we did."
Grissom stopped for a moment to gather his thoughts again. This was the difficult part. "So we're sitting there. My heart is pounding. My mind is racing. I had no idea where this was going to lead. After she poured the tea, I asked if she wanted sugar. She said she couldn't because she was diabetic, insulin dependent. My heart sank. I asked if she used a syringe and she told me it was a pressure syringe.
I knew that one of the victims had been injected with a pressure syringe. It was what had killed him. At the time, all I could think was that I couldn't believe how stupid I'd been. In hindsight, though, all I had to do was ask her for her medical equipment and she would have given it to me willingly. But I was so caught up in the in the idea that I might have jeopardized the investigation by letting my personal feelings get in the way, that there was even the remotest possibility that I might have slept with a murderer. I called Brass from my cell phone, right in front of her, and asked him to get a warrant for her insulin and syringes. Then I had Brass take her in for questioning."
"You didn't," Sara asked a little surprised.
Grissom nodded, embarrassed. "Yeah, I did. She'd never denied us her cooperation in the past. In fact, she'd offered it willingly with out having to be asked. She's never forgiven me for that."
Suddenly Sara felt bad for him. She reached over and pulled him into a hug. "You really are the king of fucking up relationships, aren't you?" she said rubbing hand over his back. He didn't want to loose the contact with Sara but there was more he needed to say. He pulled back from her arms but took hold of her hands.
"When I heard about Zoe, when I realized who she was… I couldn't stop thinking about her. The whole situation came back to the forefront. Heather was so proud of Zoe and now she was dead. Then I saw her, for the first time in two years, there in the hallway. I could tell she was devastated. I had to do something."
He gave Sara's hands a squeeze. "Tell me, Sara, if a friend of yours was in pain, wouldn't you do anything to try to help?"
Sara look down at their interlocked fingers. "I guess I would," she admitted.
"She didn't want to go back to the Dominion, the place where she had lived so long with Zoe. Not tonight at least. And I couldn't just drop her at a hotel, not after the way I had treated her last time." He looked Sara in the eye imploring her to understand.
She gave him a sad smile, "Just for tonight, right."
He nodded. "Are we good?" he asked a little hesitantly.
"We're good," she said as leaned in and kissed him. Then she stopped suddenly. "Oh my god, I almost forgot."
"Brass knows about us. He saw us in the hallway of the police station, outside the interrogation room," she said quickly.
Grissom groaned and rolled his eyes. "Don't worry," Sara said. "He promised he wouldn't say anything to anyone."
Grissom let out a breath. "That's not what I'm worried about." Sara looked at him questioningly. "It just… he's gonna tease me mercilessly now for at least a week."
Sara couldn't help laughing. "You could take some time off," she suggested.
"Only postponing the inevitable," he replied shaking his head.
"Well," she took his face in her hands and kissed his nose, "I have faith that you will endure this current hardship," she said with mock sincerity.
He rolled his eyes, "You are an evil woman Sara Sidle."