“I was looking for a stamp,” she tells him anyway, not wanting him to think she was just blatantly disregarding his right to privacy. Then she puts the paper down on the desk and walks round to join him on the other side. “So, are you going to accept?” she asks him, despite the fact that her heart is screaming to her that it doesn’t want to know the answer. Her head obviously knows what it is going to be.
“I think I need to,” he states and while it crushes her to think of it, she is relieved to see his apprehension; to know he isn’t overly happy with his decision.
“Not necessarily,” she says, keeping her tone hopeful. “Maybe they’ll just transfer Sara to days, or something. So you’re not directly her supervisor. I don’t think they’d want to lose either one of you.” She hates to think of his relationship with their co-worker, but learned weeks ago that acceptance was better than bitterness. After all, she never told him how she felt; she couldn’t expect him just to know.
“I’m going to end my relationship with Sara,” he tells her, and she feels her eyes practically leap out of her head. “And that will create an incredibly awkward situation, and it isn’t fair on her.”
She is lost for words, opening and closing her mouth, taking breaths to speak, but failing to come up with a comment.
“I didn’t think you’d be surprised,” he comments, sitting down in one of the chairs in front of the desk. “You’ve never said directly, but I got the impression you thought the relationship was doomed to fail.”
It had been more ‘hoped’ than ‘thought’, but it wouldn’t help anything to admit that now. She sits down on the chair beside his. “It just came out of the blue… One minute you seem terrified every time she so much as smiles at you, and then you’re a couple? ‘Doomed to fail’ is a little extreme, I think. I was just confused as to how it had come to be.”
“And convinced it wouldn’t last,” he adds for her with a small, sad smile.
He would know she was lying if she contested. She mirrors his smile and says, “I’d have sent more positive thoughts your way if I’d have known it would come to this.”
He sighs once, and watches the toe of his shoe tap slowly against the leg of his desk. “I’d somehow convinced myself that, even when it ended, it wouldn’t affect work.”
“‘When’ it ended?” she asks quietly, surprised, again, to hear him talking like that. She had been convinced it wouldn’t last, but that was wishful thinking on her part. She hadn’t dared dream that he thought the same.
He looks up at her now, and she is taken aback by the sorrow in his eyes. “Cath, I’m not proud of any of this… I’ve not been myself, and Sara got caught up in it. I need to apologise to her; I need to end it now, and I need to get away…”
She never thought she would see Gil Grissom in this state – regretting his choices, no longer happy in his role – and it occurs to her that maybe that’s how it got to this point. As a friend, she should have caught the signs; she should have noticed when he first began to waiver. She should have prevented this.
She nods once, her own sadness conveyed, with an apology, in a smile. “But, hey, it’s only temporary. I’m sure you can convince Ecklie to let you come back. For all he complains, he’d miss you if you weren’t here.”
He laughs at this. It’s only brief, but it makes her smile nonetheless. “We’ll see. I only got the letter yesterday, I’m still thinking about it.”
“Because you’re undecided on the Sara thing?” she asks him, tentatively. She’d really prefer not to know if he was still considering staying with Sara, but in a cruel twist of irony, if he stays with Sara then he doesn’t need to leave the lab.
He shakes his head. “No,” he tells her definitively. “I’m going to end it with Sara.”
She isn’t sure if that actually makes her feel better or worse, given the conclusion that must then be drawn: “So, you’re undecided on the coming back?”
He meets her eyes with a look that tells her he doesn’t want to have to answer that question. She swallows the lump that forms in her throat, and stands up, desperately trying to put a positive spin on this, to see the silver lining.
Unable to achieve that, she eventually decides to focus on helping him. “Is there anything I can do to help you decide?” she asks, turning to face him, upbeat and smiling, though she knows neither is convincing.
He shakes his head again and stands in front of her. She looks up at him, determined not to let that tingling in her eyes turn into tears. He isn’t even going anywhere yet.
“Just promise me that you will continue to lead and support this team when I’m gone?” he asks her.
She nods. “After your sudden departure, they’ll probably chain me to a desk and never let me out of here,” she jokes.
He laughs once, and perches on the edge of the desk as he looks round the office. After a short silence he asks her, “Do you want my office?”
She perches beside him and shakes her head. “I’d never be one hundred percent confident that all the … creatures were gone.”
He laughs again. “What? Do you think I’d leave some behind to surprise you every now and again?”
She smiles, and despite the circumstances, she feels that it is more genuine. “I wouldn’t put it past you… You’ve been working with Greg a lot lately.”
Another silence descends after another short burst of laughing, and they both take time to look round the room. She expects his thoughts are along the same line as hers – remembering, reflecting, regretting.
Realising she has accepted something that need not be inevitable, she whispers, “Besides,” and he tilts his head to face her, “You’ll need your office when you come back.”
His lips curl slightly at this and he rolls his eyes. “That’s subtle.”
She smirks. “One does what one must.”
He starts to speak, his face and tone serious again, “Cath, I – ”
But she interrupts him with a quick shake of her head. Looking out across the office once more, she reaches her hand over and takes hold of his, resting them, entwined, on his leg.
Fighting back the sting of tears, she blinks and focuses on a point where he won’t be able to see her eyes. Then, forcing words past the ever increasing tightness in her throat, she manages to repeat quietly, but evenly, “One does what one must, Gil.”