Disclaimer:  I do not own the characters found on this page nor do I claim them.  They belong to the brilliant owners and creators of the hit television show CSI.  So, please, don't sue!

          There was a blast of light.  Muffled screams.  A strong surge swept through her entire body. The sound of shattered glass pierced her eardrums, allowing only a high pitched ring to resonate in her head.  And then she hit the floor…hard. 

          Sara gasped for air as she jumped up from her laying position.  Breathing heavy, Sara reached her hand to her face, fingering the light sweat that beaded her forehead.  Angrily, she pulled the covers off her sweat dampened legs and rested her feet on the floor, holding her head in her hands.  She peered through her fingers at the bright red numbers on her lamp stand, from which was heard a faint buzzing noise.  4:30 A.M.  Sara clumsily stood up and walked to her small kitchen, searching her cabinets for the coffee grinds.  It was of little use to sleep anymore, she thought, when her sleep left her more tired than staying awake all night would.  She figured she'd slept maybe eight hours total in the past four days.  And when she did manage to salvage what little sleep she could, the same haunting dream would find her, leaving her panicked every time she awoke, gasping for air.  As she sat at her kitchen table waiting for her first cup of black coffee to brew, she peered down at her hand, tracing the long dark scab with her forefinger. 

**************

Nick strode through the crime lab, carefully stepping over and around repair equipment from all the construction taken place that week.  It saddened him to see the main part of the lab in the present state it was in: dust-filled and chaotic.  He quickly found a tune to whistle, hoping to distract from the era of hopelessness the lab currently portrayed. 

          As he made his way to the coroner's room, reflection caught on a window wall, pulling his attention towards a yawning Sara, sitting alone behind a desk on the other side of the wall.  He smiled as she threw a pencil down in frustration, stretching her legs out in front of her.  He looked in as Sara's gaze aimlessly wandered around the office, and then suddenly, focused on something.  He followed her stare outside the office to Grissom who was standing about twenty feet away, discussing something with a secretary.  Bringing his attention back to a still staring Sara, he wondered what thoughts were going through her mind as she intently gazed at him, biting her lip.  She had a foreign look of disappointment on her face.  She then held her head with her hands, while her elbows rested on the desk.  Nick heard her loudly yawn again and hesitated before swinging himself around the door to the office. 

"Gooood afternoon," He spoke, his southern twang familiar.

          Sara's head jerked upward, still yawning.  "Huh?"

          Nick chuckled.  "Lack of oxygen flow to the brain, huh?"

          "You know it."  She smiled.  Nick noticed the forcedness of it. 

          "You all right, Sidle?"  He slowly leaned into the room.

          She took a deep breath and let out a loud sigh, looking up at Nick with a shy smile. "I'm better than ever." 

          "And you've never been a good liar."  He retorted before slapping a manila folder on the desk in front of her.  "Case number 77256.  Grissom assigned it to us this morning."  He said while sitting down in a chair directly across from Sara.  Sara looked down with a hurt expression evident on her face. 

          "That was our case.  Grissom and mine."  She spoke quietly and then subtly glanced out of the room again, Nick assumed in Grissom's direction. 

          "Yeah," Nick studied Sara's distracted face with narrowed eyes.  She looked paler than usual.  "He mentioned something about another case he needed to work on."

          "How convenient." 

          Nick swore he saw her eyes moisten.  He hated the pain her face was portraying.  He instinctively wanted to cup her cheek with his hand, but immediately brushed off the notion, scared by the little flip his stomach did at the thought of his hand on her soft face.  Its okay, Nick.  It's just you trying to be a protective older brother type, Nick convinced himself. 

          "Are you gonna fill me in on what's going on, Sara?" 

          Sara returned to meet Nick's eyes and shifted uncomfortably in her seat. 

          "Nothing." 

          "Sara!"  Nick chided her.   He almost wanted to laugh at her stubbornness and unwillingness to talk.  What is her deal?

          "Nick, I'm fine.  It's just been a long week—,"

          "You're telling me."  He interrupted.

          "And beyond that, I'd rather not discuss it."  Sara waved her fingers in front of her face, brushing the whole thing away. 

Nick frowned.  He was put off by her comment.  She seemed as if it would really bother her to open up to him, and that fact hurt him in a foreign way.  After a long awkward pause Nick let out a sigh, understanding that something was going on with Sara and that despite her stubbornness, she needed to know that he was there for her. 

          "Listen, it's going to be a long day.  We should start working on the case; the coroner was expecting us ten minutes ago…"  Nick started. 

"Yeah, you're right."  Sara stood up and slowly began walking out of the room.  Nick gently grabbed her arm as she moved past him.  She turned to meet his eyes.

"I know you know this, but I'm going to say it anyway.  You can talk to me about, you know, whatever.  Anything.  I just wanted you to hear me say that.  Just so you knew." 

"Thank you."  Sara nodded.  Nick gave her a wink and Sara rolled her eyes playfully, smiling, before they both headed out together.