Note: I haven't seen Season three episodes 11-14, so if something in them makes this
story implausible, please let me know.

Sara slammed open the door to her house, fuming. She had *not* just done that,
had she? And if she had, she had *not* just gotten totally shot down, right? Damn
Grissom, anyway. It's not like he was so important in her life that she should be torn
apart by this. After all, he had made it abundantly clear, many times, that he wasn't
interested in her as a female. If she had kept her hopes up, well, that was her own fault.
Now she just needed to face the facts: she loved Grissom. She adored him. She'd have
done almost anything for him. And he…well, he felt none of those. At least, not for her.
That woman Terri, perhaps. At the thought of Grissom whispering, "I love you," in Terri
Miller's ear, the tears that had been threatening finally spilled over onto Sara's cheeks.
Fine, then. Grissom didn't want her. It wasn't like there was no one who did.
Greg had a crush on her…so did David from the Coroner's office…and then there was
Hank. He was the closest she had come to a real relationship in the past three years, but
even that had been weak. Because of her stupid obsession with Grissom. It wasn't like all
men thought of her as a skinny kid, so why did she keep torturing herself on the one man
who did?
She slammed her fist down on her kitchen counter, then yelped with the pain it brought.
But, then, she mused…pain brought clarity. And she was *real* clear on where she stood
now. Hank wanted her…loved her. Grissom didn't. Fine. She's run with that. Hank was a
great guy, and though she loved someone other than him now, maybe she could learn to
love Hank. No, she corrected herself: she *would* learn to love Hank. She'd be damned
if she was going to spend her whole damn life on some damn bug man who couldn't see
her for the damned tarantulas…! Still muttering "damn" every three seconds, she
wandered toward the shower. Hank. If she just kept thinking of him, reminding herself
that he was wonderful and he cared about her…if she practiced in her mind loving words
and gestures…she could drive Grissom out of her head. She *had* to, or she'd go
completely insane!

That afternoon, she called Hank. As soon as he picked up the phone, she rattled
off her carefully practiced speech: "Hey...I know I've been kinda distant lately, even on
our trip to the vineyards…I just…um…wanted to apologize. And tell you that I, uh…I'm
really glad to have someone like you caring about me. And I wanted to know if you want
to do something this weekend." A moment of silence greeted her.
In a slightly confused voice, Hank replied, "and hello to you too, Sara dear. Of
course I'd love to do something this weekend. But can I ask what caused your change of
heart? Last time we saw each other, you practically knocked my arm off your shoulder
when I tried to touch you, and now you're….well, never mind. I'm not going to complain
about getting what I've been hoping for!"
"Things change. Hank. People change…" and, more to herself to him, "or stay
exactly the same."
They arranged a time and place for their date on Sara's day off, but Sara wouldn't
hang up the phone. Almost desperately, she kept talking about nothing in particular. Hank
wasn't stupid, and he could tell that Sara needed to hear a human voice. So he answered
back. They spoke for two hours before Sara, exhausted emotionally and physically, fell
asleep with the phone in her hand. As Hank gently hung up on his end, he wondered, but
reminded himself about not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
That weekend, he was sure she was again forcing her cheer. Hank was worried
about her. As much as he loved spending time with her, he knew *something* was eating
away at his Sara.

Two weeks later he got up the nerve to ask her about it. "Sara….please. Tell me
what's wrong. You're hurting, and I can't stand to see you like this!" Sara stared at him
for what seemed like an eternity. Then, suddenly, she was sobbing – deep, raw sobs of
grief and pain. Hank could do nothing but put his arms around her and try to comfort her.
Nothing he said seemed to help, but after half an hour of sobs, Sara slowly quieted. She
pulled away from Hank's arms and looked calmly at him. "I needed that. I've been
holding that in for weeks. Sara Sidle does *not* cry." At Hank's expecting look, she
shook her head. "No, Hank. I'm not going to burden you or myself by repeating my
problems. There's no reason to bring them up to you. I just needed the catharsis." She
licked her lips nervously, thinking to herself, "See, he stayed with me through it. I can
love him. Maybe I just never allowed a spark to be there before. I've got to try…"
"Yes, Sara."
"Stay with me tonight."
Hank could only stare at her pale, set face. He knew that right now she didn't
want him – she wanted someone to drive away the demons. "Sara…I can't. I mean, not
that I don't want to…I mean, you're gorgeous, and, um…I would be lying to say I didn't
want to sleep with you. But…no. Not tonight, and not this way. You need to sleep, Sara."
A flash of pain crossed her face, then disappeared.
"You're right. I shouldn't have asked. I, just…tell me I haven't scared you away."
"Sara…you couldn't, even if you tried."
"Thank you."
After a hug, Hank let himself out, imagining Sara getting ready for bed, and
wanting to kick himself, yet feeling strangely noble.

Miles away, someone else was thinking almost the same thing. Grissom slowly
drew off his glasses and rubbed his forehead. Sara hadn't spoken to him about anything
not directly related to a case – not a word – for two weeks. Since he'd finally driven her
away completely. He knew where her words had been going these past weeks. Wasn't
that what he had wanted? To have her fall in love with someone young, who could give
her a full life, and not an old man who couldn't even hear her speak half the time? No,
said his heart…but his head, for so long the strongest part of him, overruled it. Yes. Let
her have a life. You've done what you needed to. The pain you're feeling…well that's
your own fault for allowing yourself to fall in love with someone you don't deserve.

As Sara lay down to sleep, she repeated the litany: "Please…no dreams of
Grissom. I can't stand it anymore. Please…please…" She had driven him out of her
conscious mind…but in her sleep, he still came to her. Sara knew she should be strong
enough to fight the damned dreams…but she was losing.

As Sara and Warrick began prelim-ing the crime scene, she was glad to see a
friendly face in Hank. "Hank…baby," her mind repeated the phrase she had drummed
into it through sheer force of will. She looked up, seeing Warrick hassling him. "It's ok,
baby…" she blurted. Her eyes widened. "I did *not* just say that…please tell me I
didn't," she thought. The identical, horrified stares of Warrick and Hank told her she had.
Turning away from them to hide her burning face, Sara berated herself. Not only had she
made clear exactly what that Gerard bastard had taught her not to…but she had done so
in front of someone who was sure to carry the tale back to Grissom. But wasn't that what
she wanted? To have truly moved on, so much so that Grissom's opinion of her love life
didn't matter? Perhaps it was…but like everything else Grissom-related, she just hadn't
managed to convince herself totally. Damn, damn, DAMN!
She did her job in silence, ready to snap Warrick's head off if he said so much as
*one word* to her about Hank. He didn't, though. After casting one knowing glance in
his direction, he went about his tasks in the same silence.
Their case kept them running throughout the entire shift – apparently everyone
else was in the same boat, because she wasn't needled once the entire night. She almost
missed the friendly ribbings…until she remembered what they would be about tonight.
And tomorrow. And the next…shit.

The next day's shift came too soon. Sara was dreading every second of it, and
judging by the way the night started, she wasn't going to be disappointed. Sipping coffee
in the break room, she was confronted by Greg, who couldn't seem to decide whether he
was amused or crushed. "Hey…baby" he greeted her, with a wiggle of his eyebrows.
Sara stomped on his foot. Hard. Greg yelped. "Ok! Ok! Sorry! But you know, I was just
thinking…you still haven't told me what Hank has that I don't…" She glared at him, but
the glare was spoiled by a quirk at the edge of her mouth.
"You *sure* you wanna know?"
"Positive, Greg?"
"Hey this isn't that old AIDS joke, is it?" *glare* "Ok, guess not. Yes, I really
want to know! Please!"
Sara leaned close, her lips almost touching his ear, and breathed, "The ability
to…" she whispered, waiting for Greg to get even more on edge. He did, and so she
continued, "the ability to keep his mouth SHUT!" It ended on almost a shout, and a
concerned-looking Nick trotted in.
"Hey, what's up Sar? You hitting on Greggo too? Man, not fair, I wanted you to
call *me* ba…" he was cut off by a glare so furious that he almost backed up a step.
"Careful, Nick…she almost took my foot off when I mentioned it!" Greg
exclaimed, and made his escape as quickly as possibly back the way he had come.
Nick held his hands up in supplication. "Ok…I apologize! You know I didn't
mean any harm!"
After looking closely at him for a moment, Sara relaxed. "Yeah, Nick, I know.
But please…just don't bring it up again. I'm mortified enough as it is." At his nod, she
plopped down onto the couch, looking more tired than Nick had ever seen her.
"Hey, Sar…don't beat yourself up over this. Everyone slips sometimes. Warrick
left a scene…I got involved with a criminal who was also a hooker…" She smiled and
opened her mouth to say something. She was cut off by Catherine's entrance at a near-run
and her breathless explanation.
"Better watch it, Sara. Gris is on the warpath. He heard about what you said to
Hank last night, and ever since he got here he's been muttering about trial lawyers and
bras. Just wanted to warn you." At that, she left the break room at a more demure clip.
"Well, shit!" exclaimed Sara and Nick together. He looked at her in amusement.
"Hey, we finish each other's sentences now. You *sure* you don't want to call me…"
*glare* "…riiiight. I'm outta here. But Sar…call me if you need me, k?" She nodded
silently and returned to staring at her coffee like it held the answers to the world. She
didn't see it coming, and when Grissom's voice boomed out from the doorway, she
jumped nearly a foot off the couch, drenching herself in lukewarm French roast.
"Sara! My office now!"
Sara examined the damage to her new jeans. "Dammit, Grissom…"
"I said NOW!" shouted Grissom, turning his back and marching toward his office.
Sara couldn't resist sticking her tongue out at his back. If she was going to get a strip
ripped off her, she might as well be in the best frame of mind possible. She stood up and
slowly began to follow.
When she reached Grissom's office, he was standing at the door, holding it open
expectantly. Before Sara could even take a seat, he had slammed it behind her. "Dammit
Sara! You already jeopardized one of my cases because you're sleeping with that EMT –
and now you've done it *again*!" At his mention of her sleeping with Hank, Sara jerked
back as though he had slapped her. Tears pricked at her eyes – Grissom didn't talk like
this. How could he say these things to her? She wasn't sleeping with Hank, and she
hadn't jeopardized the case. The rush of hurt was followed by anger. Sara had never been
a particularly passive person, and there was just no way she was going to sit here and
listen to Grissom make horrible accusations.
Eyes narrowed, struggling to keep her temper in check, Sara stood. "The case is in
no danger, Grissom – the father has already confessed." He raised a noncommittal
eyebrow, and Sara rushed ahead. "And further, whether I want to 'sleep with' the entire
damn paramedic squad or not is NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS!" Without
waiting to see his reaction, she turned and headed for the door.
"Sara. Wait, please."
She stopped and looked at Grissom. "No, Gris. All I've been doing is waiting. I'm
sick of it. You just can't stand that I'm not following you around like a little puppy dog
anymore. Well find someone else to stroke your ego, because I'm done with it." She
shook her head and walked out of the office, closing the door quietly behind her.
Grissom was still staring at the door long after Sara had gone. He ran a hand
through his hair, trying to figure out where he and Sara had gone wrong. He mentally
analyzed every word of their conversation, acknowledging that Sara was right – he didn't
like her attention being lavished on someone else. With a sigh, he decided a plant was not
going to do it this time.
On the tail of that thought, the door slammed open and in walked a Nicky he'd
never seen before. The younger man almost resembled a bull, the way he was breathing
heavily and glaring at Grissom. "What did you say to her? What?! Sara just ran out of the
building and almost got hit by a car because she was so upset!"
Grissom drew in a shocked breath. "Is she –"
"Yes she's fine, no thanks to you and your attitude. What did you say to her,
dammit?! None of us have ever seen Sara this upset, even after a painful case." When
Grissom didn't respond, Nick did something neither of them would ever have expected.
He stalked to Grissom's desk, grabbed his boss by the shirt, and pulled him out of his
chair. Staring the older man in the eye, Nick enunciated his words slowly and carefully.
"Sara. loved. you. *Loved*, Grissom, not *loves*. You messed with her mind one too
many times, and I for one am sick of it. She's one of the most beautiful people I know,
and she's been reduced to a sobbing child because of YOU!" At that, he let go of
Grissom's shirt. Making a visible effort to calm himself, he told Grissom that he had sent
Sara home. "Authority or not, she needs to be at home, and the way you're going, I'm
sure you would've just sent her out on a rape case or something tonight. I'm outta here –
I'll be in Trace if you need me."
Grissom sat heavily back down in his chair and looked at Nick's retreating back.
He had no idea of the emotion his team held for their newest member, and having just
had a forcible introduction to it, he was shocked. He stood slowly and walked toward the
trace lab. There he found Greg, Nick, Catherine, and Warrick in conversation. All looked
accusingly at him. Grissom drew in a deep breath. "I know. I apologize for…everything,
I suppose." He turned to Catherine. "Cat? Can you…take over for a few hours? I need
to…talk to someone." At Catherine's nod, Grissom turned and headed for the parking lot.
Warrick looked at his friends. "She still loves him, you know. After he's fucked
with her like this…man, if I didn't love Grissom so much myself, I woulda hit him."
Nick responded, "I almost did." Warrick nodded. "There is no way a plant is gonna fix
this. He better fall on his knees to her."
Catherine stopped Warrick, putting a hand on his arm. "We're all upset right now.
Let's not worry about who said what, and let's not worry about Sara and Grissom. With
any luck, he'll work this one out for himself and put things right. In the meantime, War,
you have a 419 in the Venetian. Nick, you and I have some major lab work to do on that
skeleton case." All three went about their tasks, secretly wondering what was going on in
Sara's house.

"Sara. Sara? Please open the door, Sara. I need to…explain." Grissom continued
knocking for close to ten minutes. Finally, rubbing his sore hand, he sank down on her
front stoop. She had to come out eventually.

She didn't.

Grissom had been sitting on Sara's stoop for more hours than he cared to know.
His back was stiff, his butt was numb, and his patience was wearing thin. Finally, he
decided to do something Sara would probably kill him for. He reached above the porch's
lighting fixture and drew out the key he knew she hid there because very few besides her
could reach it. Quietly opening the door to Sara's house, he reminded himself to be
prepared for just about anything. She might hit him with a frying pan, for all he knew. In
his usual, methodical manner, he cleared each room. Living room…no Sara. Kitchen…no
Sara. Office…no Sara. Workout room…no Sara, although he did detect a hint of her
scent in here. He gave the punching bag an experimental push, then continued searching.
Getting worried, and dreading the confrontation he was about to face, Grissom pushed
open the door to her bedroom, praying she was there. If she wasn't…he had no idea
where to find her, and he had to find her.

She was there. He saw her form on her bed as soon as he entered the room. As he
walked closer, though, he nearly tripped over his own feet. Sara was on the bed, naked, in
what appeared to be an exhausted sleep, a pair of boxing glove next to her. Even in her
sleep, he could see the tearstains on her cheek. Just then, her phone rang. Sara didn't stir,
so he listened to her answering machine pick up the call. "Sara? Sara it's Hank…please
pick up. I heard what happened tonight…please Sara, pick up, I need to know you're ok."
Swallowing hard, Grissom listened to the message left by Sara's boyfriend. God, he
shouldn't be here, looking at her naked in bed. Maybe Hank should be…he shuddered at
the thought. She was his, had been his for years. How had he hurt her so badly? He was
terrified of what he'd done.
Turning to leave, Grissom heard a sigh. Sara was waking up. Paralyzed, he
pressed himself against the wall, hoping she would fall back to sleep. Once again, she
didn't do what he wished. Sara slowly sat up, looking around the room. "Hello? There's
someone in here, I know it. I have a gun – get the hell away from me!" Nearly as
frightened as she, Grissom stepped out from his hiding place in the shadows. At the sight
of him, Sara screamed, first in surprise, then in shock, then, when she processed who it
was in anger. "I told you to leave me alone, Grissom, and I meant it! Did you come here
to see if I was sleeping with my EMT?" she sneered, "or to see if I was sleeping with the
whole squad?" Grissom flinched.
"Neither, Sara," he said quietly. "I came to make sure you were ok. Nick said you
almost got hit by a car because…um…because I upset you so much. I had to come and
find out if you were alright."
Looking down, Sara realized she was talking to her boss…her love…stark naked.
She squeaked and grabbed the sheet in front of her. "Well as you can see, *boss*, I'm
fine. Now, will you please leave? I don't want you here, and I'm sure you don't want to
be here."
"You're wrong, Sara. I do. I need to talk to you. I need to…apologize." He fixed
his honest gaze on her face, fighting to look nowhere else. "Sara, I was…hurt. And
shocked. And I took it out on you in the worst possible way. And…now I don't know
what to do about it." Sara's face softened slightly.
"Fine. You can talk. But not when I'm naked in bed. Go somewhere else and let
me get dressed." Grissom nodded, and walked out of the room.
When Sara appeared in the doorway of her living room, Grissom was talking on
his cell phone. She quickly stepped back into the shadows and listened. "Cat…no, no. We
didn't, are you nuts? She would barely look at me. I spent the night outside her house.
Yes, outside. As in, she wouldn't let me in….I know Cat, I'm trying. She agreed to talk
to me, and that's a start, right?...Yeah, I know. I'll talk to you later. Bye."
As he flipped his phone closed, she walked in. Sitting in an easy chair across from
his perch on the couch, she spoke coldly. "Ok Grissom. Talk."
Grissom opened his mouth, and struggled to make a sound. "I…you were right,
Sara, I don't like someone else having your attention. But I don't want you following me
like a puppy dog." He closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead, trying to stop the
headache. "Sara, I consider you my equal. My better, in some ways." At this, she raised
an eyebrow. "You express yourself better than me. You don't bottle up your feelings.
And that means you handle much of life better than I do." Sara nodded. "And you were
right when you said your…boyfriend is none of my business. If you wanted to have sex
with the entire paramedic squad, it certainly wouldn't be my business." As soon as he
said it, he knew it was the wrong thing. Sara's eyes flashed. She walked toward him.
"Grissom…come here." He did. When he stood in front of her, she smiled grimly
and let fly with a right hook.
The next thing he knew, he was on the floor, an ice pack on his jaw and Sara
kneeling over him, tears falling from her eyes onto him. "Grissom…Gris…c'mon, wake
up…I'm sorry…please. Please, Gris…please…Gil, please." He opened his eyes. Before
he could speak, she did, in a rush. "Oh god I'm so sorry please tell me I didn't hurt you I
should have known better you weren't expecting it Grissom forgive me please I'm
sorry!" He blinked, trying to make sense of what she had said. He slowly sat up, leaning
on his elbows. A small smile played on his face.
"Does this mean that instead of plants, I should just let you hit me? 'Cause I'm
willing. I feel like shit now and I deserve it."
She leaned over, her mag-lite in hand, trying to examine his pupils. He closed his
eyes. She leaned closer, her face only inches away from his as she tried to pull his eyes
open. When she succeeded, his blue eyes hypnotized her, and she couldn't move for a
second. Before he could regret it, he sat up two more inches and pressed his lips to her.
She drew back in shock, staring at him. He cursed himself.
"Damn, I'm sorry Sara…I didn't mean that to happen. I mean, I did, but I
couldn't because you work for me, and then I couldn't because you have a boyfriend, and
you still do, and…I shouldn't have done that."
She sat back, fingers on her lips as she stared at him. "Grissom…he's not my
boyfriend. And I'm not having sex with him. Ok?" He nodded silently.
"He…he called while you were asleep. I didn't, um, answer or anything…I mean,
he left a message, and I just overheard it…" Sara nodded and stood up, walking toward
the phone. He noticed she dialed the number from memory, and felt his stomach sinking.
"Hank? Hi, it's me….yeah I know, I was sleeping…I just got your message. I'm
fine, honestly. I promise. Um, Hank…hold on" She glanced at Grissom and slowly left
the room. He felt like she'd punched him in the chest, but he resisted the urge to
eavesdrop. He had no right to interfere, she'd told him that enough…he had told himself
that enough. "Old man, young man, remember Grissom?" he thought to himself. So he
sat. And waited. And tried to talk himself out of his feelings.
Sara walked back into the room ten minutes later, phone in hand. As she hung it
up, she spoke. "I'm sorry Gris. I just had to…tell him something important….that
affected us both." He gave her a small nod.
"Is he on his way over, then? I guess I should go. Just…Sara, I am so sorry…I
don't know what to say to you." She grabbed his arm as he turned for the door.
"How did you get in here, Grissom?"
"I, um…I knew you'd be mad but I was so worried…so I used the key on the
lamp outside. Sara, I'm sorry…"
"Stop apologizing, Gris. Its ok. Everything's ok. But you know what?"
He shook his head.
"You know about my spare key. Hank doesn't. Warrick doesn't. Even Nick
doesn't. So think about that, ok? I'll see you at work tonight. Oh, and Grissom?"
"Yes, Sara?" He stepped out on the porch and turned to her, listening.
"He's not coming over. I explained to him what's been upsetting me these past
few weeks. Hank told me that he knew he had never had me, not really…and he wishes
luck to the man who I do give myself to." She smiled and leaned toward him. "Wonder
who that is?" she breathed in his ear.
Grissom started to speak, but was silenced by her lips. He pulled away, trying not
to look at the hurt on her face. And he spoke, wonder filling his voice.
"We can make this work. I love you, Sara."