It is on the floor of his cabin when he arrives back, just inside the door, as if it was pushed underneath. He frowns: He’s not exactly on a postal route. Picking it up, he turns it over and instantly recognises the handwriting on the envelope. It reads simply, ‘Gil Grissom, Costa Rica’.
Happy, concerned and, above all, intrigued, about why she has written to him and how it got here, he moves into the room and opens the letter.
It is a short note, written on Las Vegas Crime Lab headed paper. This makes him smile.
‘Dear Gil,’ it begins, ‘Thought I’d go for a change from the usual email. I can’t really explain why. It could be because Hodges got me thinking, with questions about a hypothetical relationship. Then I was attacked at a crime scene – nothing serious, just rabies…’
He frowns as he reads, growing more concerned as she makes little sense.
‘In fact,’ he continues to read, ‘yeah, I think that is why. Because it was strange, Hodges coming to me; and you weren’t here to lecture me about crime scene protocol. And I realised that I miss you and that – ’
That’s where it ends; suddenly, in the middle of a sentence. His first instinct is to call her to check that she is okay, but he stops after only two steps toward his phone. He stands still in the middle of the room, and a smile creeps across his lips.
“‘And that’ what?” he asks out loud.
His smile widens when a familiar voice responds from behind him.
“Life’s too short.”
He turns round and there she is. His memories of her haven’t done her justice, he notes, as he takes her in. Her hair is up and pulled back, exposing the smooth skin of her shoulders, glowing in the heat of the early evening. And there’s that look in her eyes, on her face; the look she gets when she’s laughing at him. He’s missed that look.
“Took you long enough to realise I must have delivered that by hand,” she smirks, gesturing towards the note he still holds in his hand.
He narrows his eyes at her but can’t help the grin on his lips: He’s too pleased to see her. “I was thrown; I wasn’t expecting it,” he defends himself.
“Have I ever been predictable?” she teases, and her eyes sparkle brighter than he had remembered them to.
He thinks back on the many years he has known her, and how interesting their time together has been due to her unpredictability, and his smile turns wistful.
“No,” he tells her.
She grins in response and he realises that up until that point he hadn’t known how much he has missed seeing her, and speaking to her, and simply having her there.
“Why change now then?” she quips.
They stand for a moment, just staring at each other; lips twitching with smiles; his mind still dealing with the surprise of her being here. He thinks through all of their emails to each other; there was no indication that she was even considering coming to Costa Rica.
Then he remembers the note and how oddly it was written; remembers the factors she said had triggered her visit. One in particular scares him, to think he wasn’t there to protect her.
His smile drops, ready to ask the questions he had been ready to ask on the phone, and he sees hers follow suit. She obviously knows what’s coming.
“Is this true?” He waves the note a little as he speaks. “You were attacked at a crime scene?”
She nods. “Well, technically, it wasn’t a crime scene yet. I was doing a favour for Doc Robbins and… Well it went a little awry.”
“A little?” He can tell she doesn’t want him to think it’s the big deal he is starting to think it is. “You got rabies.”
“It was treated. I’m all clear,” she smiles, but it isn’t as bright as usual. He knows she’s holding something back.
“You should have called.”
She shakes her head dismissively, but he recalls her words in the note: ‘… you weren’t here…’, and he knows that is the root of the problem.
“What could you have done?” she says, “… Unless you have a cure for rabies lying around here.”
“I could have been there.”
“I didn’t think you wanted to be there.”
Her tone is not accusatory, just sad, and for the first time he realises just how wrong he got it when he left. Even when his relationship with Sara ended, he had known that leaving Las Vegas remained the right thing to have done. He had needed to get away from that life, and that atmosphere. But there were some things he had never wanted to get away from, and he had never seen himself as having abandoned them, until now.
“Cath, I left Las Vegas. I left that life. I didn’t leave you.”
“I am that life, Gil. I live that life. You can’t leave one with leaving the other.”
It hurts to hear her say that. He had never once thought that she felt that way. It had never even occurred to him that it might be a possibility.
He steps towards her, hoping that her being here is a sign that he can put this right. “Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”
“I knew you were happy, who was I to interfere with that?”
“You were - … You are a big part of my life. What good is my happiness if it’s making you unhappy?”
“Oh I wouldn’t go that far! I haven’t been unhappy since you left. I’ve been fine… There’s just been a bit of a void.”
“You should have said something.”
She shakes her head. “I had no right.”
“Then why now?”
She smiles cryptically and there’s a pause before she answers, then she says, “I think Hodges is falling in love with Wendy Simm.”
He feels his eyebrows rise as his eyes widen.
“He was asking me all these questions, about – hypothetically – was it against the rules to date a co-worker? Would they have to tell Ecklie? Would one of them have to change shift?... I told him they would have to tell Ecklie and one of them would have to change shift; but I told him to go for it… Because ‘life’s too short’… And then weeks later, lying in a hospital bed having treatment for something I never ever expected I would get, I started to wonder why I never took my own advice… We’ve had thirty years, Gil, what were we waiting for?”
He doesn’t know. Standing in front of her now, everything he has ever felt for her running through his mind, he doesn’t know what they were waiting for.
“I don’t know,” he tells her honestly. “Although, you were with Eddie for a lot of that time… and one of us would have had to change shift,” he adds in a more light hearted tone.
He’s relieved that she smiles at this, and doesn’t take offence at him lightening the tone. But, then, she has known him for over thirty years – she knows what he’s like with personal stuff.
“Ah that’s true,” she says.
“Plus,” he adds more seriously, aware now of how important this personal stuff is to him, “I never thought you shared my feelings.”
She laughs at this. Not maliciously, just as if she thinks they’re both crazy.
“I used to think we were close. That we could tell each other anything… But we were both keeping the same secret… Somebody should have told us that life’s too short.”
“In our line of work you’d think we’d have realised it ourselves.”
“And now that we have?”
“Well, now, we tell Ecklie and one of us has to change shift,” he smirks.
She smiles, patiently. “That’s not entirely necessary anymore… In fact it’s not at all necessary anymore.”
He nods. “But could we tell Ecklie anyway, just for fun? He’s always had a soft spot for you.”
“What?... No he hasn’t.”
“He has. Surely you’ve noticed the way he looks at you?”
“I didn’t notice the way you were looking at me,” she points out, taking a step closer to him.
The air instantly heats up, or perhaps it is just him. This is really happening. She’s really here, and they’re having the conversation he never allowed himself to hope they would have.
“Ah, that’s true,” he comments, continuing their discussion, unsure as to how else to proceed, still a little in denial that it’s real.
“I’ve just admitted that I’m in love with you. Are we really going to talk about Ecklie?”
She’s even closer now, stopped just outside his personal space. She’s hovering on the perimeter, leaving it up to him to make the next move.
“I suppose there are better things to talk about.”
“And do,” she adds.
“Are you sure you’re clear of the rabies?”
“Absolutely,” she grins.
He takes that step, bringing them toe to toe, chest to chest. “So it’s safe to kiss you?”
“Definitely safer than not kissing me.”
“Is that a threat?” he asks, voice reduced to a whisper by his proximity to her.
“Do you want to find out?”
“Perhaps not,” he responds, running his fingers into her hair as he cups her cheek. “Thank you for coming,” he whispers when his lips are merely millimetres from hers.
He feels her shrug. “It was the easiest way to get that note to you.”
“I’m sorry it had to come to that.” He strokes her cheek gently with his thumb, cherishing the feeling of her skin beneath his.
She places her hand over his and nestles her body closer to him, saying in a low voice, “The only thing you need to be sorry for is the fact that we’re still talking.”
And then she kisses him before he has chance to make a witty comeback.
The note falls to the floor from his hand as he wraps his arms around her, returning her kiss with all the love he’s kept hidden for thirty years.
For now the piece of paper is forgotten to the moment. But, he’ll pick it up later, and keep it somewhere safe. The unexpected note, that led to this unexpected evening.