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Fic Post: Checkmate (CSI)

Title: Checkmate
Author: vegawriters
Fandom: CSI: Sleeps with Butterflies/CSI: The Crow and the Butterfly
Pairing: Grissom/Sara; Greg/Sara
Rating: PG-15
Timeframe: Killer Moves (Season 14)
Author Note: This is for jazminebel. She was the one who really opened up my eyes to Sara and Greg and this … needed to happen. Fourteen years on, it needed to happen. And, a heads up to sksdwrld. Just because. :)

Disclaimer: I understand that the writers have made a decision. But given that it’s a stupid ass decision, I’m giving it my own backstory and continuation because we haven’t had any kind of follow up for over a year now. That being said, CBS and co still makes the money off of this. I, sadly, don’t make a penny. Yet.

Summary: What if this was the universe’s way of telling her that she had a chance to correct that mistake?



The first step is the one you believe in
~ Shinedown/Follow You Down

Castle

The game had ended an hour ago. Day shift was in full swing; brighter lights in corridors glared yellow on white checkered linoleum. Knights of the game processed captured pawns who hoped for forgiving bishops in black robes. Inside DB’s office, it was still dark and quiet. A graveyard respite while the sun crawled through the day, creating shadows for the demons to hide in.

Sara sat, staring at her downed queen, at Greg’s knees, at her hands, at the place on her finger where once her ring had once held court. She still found herself playing with the skin, trying to fidget with the thin gold band that had been the physical marking of a life. Once it had been a nervous habit. More and more lately though, she found herself asking What If? What if, like Tony Parker, she’d made the wrong move years ago? What if this was the universe’s way of telling her that she had a chance to correct a heartbreaking mistake?

Worse, what if this was her wrong move? This flirtation she couldn’t stop, this romance that had always danced on the edge of her vision, this … whatever it was. What if she was leading Greg on and she didn’t even realize it because she wasn’t sure what she was doing anymore. Had she ever known? And now she was sitting in her boss’ office, committing every syllable of Greg’s story to memory. All she knew was that she wanted him to keep talking forever.

She needed Greg to stop talking so she could gather her wits to go home. Somewhere over the course of the morning, Gil had emailed. The first time in two weeks. She needed to respond. Corresponding with her soon to be ex-husband was now comfortable, but tight. They were fine when they were together. He’d come through Vegas a couple of times, they’d run into each other at conferences, and she was still so touched that he’d shown up to be with her after she’d shot that deputy. Being together was fine. Then, in those moments, they were married. Partners in more than just name. But it was the separations that were growing harder and harder to manage, the distance tugging on their friendship and their love affair. When they were together he was the man she’d married but when they were apart, she was as forgotten as any other of his distractions and she was tired, so damned tired, of being a distraction.

But what then was Greg to her? A confiding Bishop in contrast to her distant King? Sitting across from her, talking about this game he loved with as much passion as Gil did, she could see yet another similarity between the two of them. Was that the attraction she saw in her best friend then, that in so many ways, he was like her estranged husband? Younger, yes. More outgoing, definitely. Better with people, infinitely. But the differences were fewer than the similarities. And that then was perhaps why she struggled, why she had delayed when she’d known their door was open. Was it Greg she was attracted to, with the personality traits that turned her on and an air that made her feel young and beautiful all over again? Or, was she seeing in him a replacement for the man who had held her heart for so long? Either way, when he reached across the board to take her hand while explaining something, she felt goose bumps race up her arm and she wanted to pull away because maybe, just maybe, this game had been a terrible idea. Or, it had been just what they needed.

He dropped her hand again and smiled. “I thought you’d be better at this. At chess,” he teased. But then his voice dropped and he tilted his head. “I always assumed that you and Grissom played …”

“Baseball was more our thing. I … never had the patience for chess with him.” She paused and shrugged. “Possibly because we were so good working on cases together that to do it at home just seemed one step too much.”

Greg shook his head. “You’ve got the patience for chess with me.” She could hear the question in his voice. He was as confused about whatever this as she was. That at least was comforting.

“You aren’t Grissom,” Sara said, a sad tone touching her voice. She loved these moments with Greg but she missed her husband. She missed late night talks about the Big Bang and how he was as fascinated by her theories on physics as she was his bugs. She missed going out in canoes and getting lost in how he touched her and she even missed the fights and his passive aggressive tendencies going against her confrontational style. The make-up sex had always been mind-blowing.

“Something I’m glad you notice.” Greg’s tone matched hers and she knew that he had his own lingering regrets and couldn’t help but wonder if possibly, just possibly, she had anything to do with his still being single all these years later. It was terrible to think, but maybe she was the Queen on his chessboard. She wasn’t sure if she wanted that kind of power. But, her King had long since been sacrificed to the game. She was as guilty as Gil for the state of her marriage.

They stared at each other and then back down at the chess board. “I’ve always noticed you, Greg. And not just in relation to Grissom.” Her voice was soft and she didn’t want to have this conversation here, not with the ghost of her love affair watching over her shoulder. She grabbed her bag and stood up and he tossed the sandwich leftovers into the trash. “Coffee?” She asked. He looked at her for a long minute. Before standing up, he reached over and righted the Queen on the board.

“Yes,” he said. She smiled and followed him out of the lab.

***

Advantage

Away from the lab, leather jackets and practical shoes cast aside, she always looked younger than her fresh-into-her-forties years. Not that he was far behind her. Sara emerged from her lair, hair up in a ponytail, makeup slightly smudged just below her right eyes. Her pink lip gloss was gone, any lingering traces kissed off to the coffee cup she now nursed while curled up on the new couch in her living room. Max, the puppy she’d found next to a dumpster one night on a case, was chewing away on a rawhide that was probably too big and strong for his little teeth.

“So you’re keeping him, hmm?” Greg smiled at the dog. Sara needed something living in her life.

“I keep thinking that I just don’t have the time and the guys at the doggie day care tell me they know of some great foster programs and then I come back at the end of the night and he’s so happy to see me.” Max wiggled down and scampered off, tripping over his feet. Greg sipped his own cup of coffee she poured for him and tried not to stare too much at her feet. They were bare. She’d done her toenails in a bright, glittering blue.

What the hell was he doing here, sitting so close to her on the couch in her private castle?

He knew what he was doing here.

She’d hit her timer. The move was to him.

He’d seen it in her eyes in DB’s office. Seen it in how her hand shook when she set the pieces on the board. Seen it in the smile in the break room when she’d offered him the game. Nervous. Careful. In an almost stuttering breath, she’d unlocked the door he’d slammed shut years ago. This woman, this fucking woman. This Queen. He wasn’t sure if he needed to be pissed at her or just glad that he knew full well if he kissed her, she’d respond and that she wouldn’t respond out of a need for a pity fuck or a need for anything other than a connection between the two of them.

For the first time when he looked into her eyes, he was the only man on the board.

She was the first person he’d played chess with since high school. She knew that. She knew that he’d slammed through that wall for her and only her and she’d been so fucking gentle with him. Now. Now.

Max dropped a toy at his feet and he looked down, looked up, and knew that Sara knew why he was here. In his head, he apologized to the puppy. But he had to do it.

He set his coffee mug down, leaned in close, put his hand on Sara’s waist, and kissed her.

***

Check

Sara wasn’t surprised. She wasn’t sure if she’d been waiting for it, but she wasn’t surprised. She also didn’t resist when his hands moved under her shirt, resting on her waist. She wanted it. For the first time in fourteen years of friendship, their pieces were set on the same board.

Together, they moved up the stairs to the bedroom.

***

Mate

It should have been awkward. He needed it to be awkward. He needed to wake up and have a moment of “oh shit I spent the night in Sara’s bed and she’s half naked and we didn’t have sex but I now know what those breasts feel like in my hands and oh shit her husband is going to kill me.” He didn’t. Instead he came to, slowly, and looked across the bed to see her, pillow cuddled to her naked chest.

She let out a breath and rolled over, rubbing her eyes. This was it. This was where it was supposed to be awkward. This was where it was supposed to change everything and he just had to pray that she’d forgive him or she’d forgive herself. This was where the queen sacrificed her pawn, right? But suddenly he realized that even if she shook her head at him and asked that it never happen again, told him it was too much to get involved with someone at work again, told him that she still wasn’t sure about Grissom, he was still happier to have had this moment than nothing at all. A decade ago he’d have called himself pathetic. Now, he just needed her to be okay. He was okay. She needed to be.

“Hey,” he said, reaching out to brush a strand of hair away from her cheek.

“Hey,” she replied. He bit his lip, waiting for her next move. She sat up and the sheet fell away and somewhere during the battle of their lips, he pulled her into his lap and her hands were wandering and he was sporting the morning hard-on of doom but he didn’t care because she was right there and she wasn’t put off by it and he just wanted to keep tasting her skin.

She pulled back and looked down the space between their bodies. He felt the blush rise and then gently, moved her from his lap. She smiled, seeming to understand. “It isn’t that I don’t want to, Sara,” he said. They both looked down and then up again. They both laughed. “But something’s scaring me.”

“What?” She shook her head. “That we’ll actually do this and then regret it?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t regret anything so far.”

“So far …”

“Gil isn’t going to come storming through the door, sword in hand, Greg.” She sighed and again, he expected the awkward to settle but it didn’t. Instead she curled back up with her pillow and he looked into her big brown eyes and saw the pain she still wrestled with. “You aren’t here so I can move on. You aren’t here because I want to show him what he’s missing. You’re here because it felt right last night. It still feels right.”

“And what if you two reconcile? I know it’s still up in the air.”

“It’s falling fast.”

“So what then?” He stretched out next to her, his fingers tracing down her body. Trained eyes now saw every scar, every freckle. He wanted to kiss and count each one of them. Instead he looked back at her. “What do you want out of this?”

“I’m not sure I want anything. Which, now that I say it, sounds terrible. But it just feels right that you’re here.” Her voice was soft. “What do you want out of this?”

“I don’t know.” He stroked her cheek. “And maybe nothing has to change. Maybe everything does.”

“So why do we have to define it three hours before we have to get up for work? I’m tired of defining every little thing, Greg.” She paused and smiled. “Contrary to everything we’ve seen over the last few days, life is not a chess game. Life isn’t some master battle plan. Right now, I just want to be here. And if that doesn’t work for you, that’s okay too. I don’t want to lead you on because I don’t know what I want. Gil and I might reconcile. You might meet someone.” She smiled. “You have met someone and she’s great for you.” It was true. And he really liked Audrey. He also knew that Sara and Doug were in a strange kind of limbo themselves, and he really did like Doug. He was good for her. “But," she was saying, "I also … really liked last night.”

He expected to be deflated. Instead he felt strangely secure in what she was saying. If she’d been wanting to jump right into something, he’d have reasons to worry. He could expect to be the rebound but then his heart would get ground into the dirt. He wasn’t sure he could survive that. This way, as long as they communicated, it could be okay. It would be okay. They’d been heading here for fourteen years. And maybe he’d get to touch her just this one time and maybe tomorrow he’d again wake up in her bed. Either way, she was right. In this moment, there wasn’t any reason to freak out. They were willing adults with no long term expectations. So he leaned in. “I really liked it too.” His hand was moving down her bare torso, toward the shorts she’d slept in. He toyed with the waist band, his fingers sliding lower. Lower. “I’d like to see what comes next,” he said, a note of questioning in his voice.

She kissed him.

~Fin~

Continued in <a href="http://vega-voices.livejournal.com/83930.html>A Fistful of Aprils</a> ...</i>

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sksdwrld
Mar. 23rd, 2014 01:15 am (UTC)
Well, shit.


That's, "shit, there's no more fic...what am I supposed to do now?"
But also a bit of, Forget Audrey. Sara and Greg!!!!!
vegawriters
Mar. 23rd, 2014 05:03 am (UTC)
Another convert! ;)

Seriously, I can go either way on Sara and Grissom or Sara and Greg. I just want closure from the show, dammit.

And wow you read that fast. :) At some point there will be more fic. It's just hard for me to write when I'm also doing original stuff.

Thank you!
sksdwrld
Mar. 23rd, 2014 10:07 am (UTC)
Speed reader extraordinaire here...;-)

In 6th grade, I read an entire Goosebumps book from cover to cover in a 40 minute study hall and then did a bookreport on the bus ride home.

I love Greg. But then I have a serious affinity for most lab help. I had to stop watching Bones after they got rid of my two favorite lab aides of all time.
vegawriters
Mar. 23rd, 2014 04:24 pm (UTC)
I've never been a speed reader. I voracious one yes, but never that fast. Lucky you. My life would have been so much easier. ;)

CSI does SUCH a great job with their lab help. I'm sad in some ways in recent seasons because they've reduced the number of lab rats - it used to be an entire secondary cast and now it's Hodges and Henry and an occasional guest star when they need a different voice for the situation. Of all the things that have changed over the past couple of years on the show, that's the one that drives me nuts. But at least we have Hodges and Henry.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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