A/N: Song is "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," by Celine Dion. Hi all, I'm back from Geek Week and getting back into my writing, there may be another part of MPL tomorrow or the next day, too.

Part V: That Night

            I can't believe this. The second we walked into my apartment, he just planted himself against the kitchen doorframe and started . . . looking at me. Staring, practically. He isn't saying a word, though - just looking at me with this bemused expression on his face.

            I'm sure he knows how nervous he's making me, and I'm sure he's doing this specifically to make me that nervous. What I don't know is the motivation behind this one-sided staring contest. Is it some sort of weird payback? Is he, like me, trying to display his lack of emotion? Or is he going to try to discuss everything that happened all of a sudden, like I didn't run away from him a year ago?

            I'd just bet it's the last one. A year after I left, he's worming his way into my apartment to make me finish it. Ok, well maybe he's not exactly "worming." After all, I did invite him. But still, I certainly didn't invite him so he could start pressing himself against me in the airport and saying random things that shouldn't be making my heart flutter.

            Doesn't he remember?

            I can't stand it anymore; I've got to say something and break this damn silence.

There were nights when the wind was so cold

That my body froze in bed

If I just listened to it

Right outside the window

There were days when the sun was so cruel

That all the tears turned to dust

And I just knew my eyes were

Drying up forever

            He hurt me first. I can't forget that little fact. Whatever he thinks I did to him, he did to me first. With that in mind, I fix him with a look and say calmly, "Why are you looking at me, Grissom?"

            He shrugs as though we don't both know he's thinking madly behind that calm façade. "Because you're standing in front of me."

            Oh. Great. Wonderful. Well he's certainly not going to be helpful tonight. "Be more specific," I tell him with a slightly raised eyebrow. I can tell that a sharp edge of sarcasm is entering my voice, but I refuse to try to hide my resentment. "Actually, why don't you start with why you were acting so strange in the airport. Let's get that over with before we talk about how you're staring at me."

            Grissom sighs and folds his arms in front of him, still letting the doorframe support his weight. "I haven't seen you in a year, Sara. Why shouldn't I be allowed to look at you, or help you with a suitcase, or talk about the past?"

            I say nothing, just continue looking at him. I can feel my lips pursing angrily and my brows lowering as I absorb what he just said – and didn't say. Grissom says not another word, looking as though he thinks he's said his piece and now it's my turn. After nearly a minute of the "quiet" game, I spit, "What is, 'Because you hardly looked at me, helped me, or talked to me for the three years you did see me,' Alex?"

I can't tell if he gets the joke, but he gets the point, because he draws back a millimeter. I can't believe he didn't see that one coming, but he apparently didn't, because he says pleadingly, "I watched you, Sara. And helped you as much as I could."

Ok, I'm sick of this. Truly sick of all his crap. "Bullshit, Grissom. Don't talk to me like I wasn't there and don't know that you're lying through your teeth."            I shake my head, laughing bitterly. "I don't know why I asked you to come down here, anyway. I was doing so great with you five thousand miles away."

He flinches. Good. Then he opens his mouth. Bad. "Sara . . ."

"Stop saying my name like it answers all the questions of the world! Geez, we both know my name is Sara, so do you have to say it every five seconds?"

I think we're both taken aback by my viciousness. If I'm honest with myself, he hasn't done anything wrong, at least yet, but just seeing him has made me realize that despite how sure I was, he's not gone from my heart. So I'm on the defensive.

I didn't realize how much this confrontation was going to hurt. Sure, I spent my first two weeks here fighting tears and the urge to call him, and sure, I still wake up thinking about him, but I was just so sure that I had forgotten him . . .

I finished crying in the instant that you left

And I can't remember where or when or how

And I banished every memory you and I had ever made

            "I'm sorry," I tell him resentfully. "It's just that you've only been here an hour and you're already getting on my nerves. This is why I left Vegas to begin with."

            "Is it?"

            His calm, rather than making me think, as I'm sure he intended, just makes me angrier. "Yes, Gil," I say, using the name I hardly ever address him with. "That's why I left, and good riddance. Can't you tell that being down here has made me happier than Las Vegas ever did? Look at me! I'm tan, I actually have a life, and I've managed to acquire some fashion sense. I go on dates with men who are nice instead of asking you on dates and getting turned down every time. I don't even have to ask here! They ask me, they find me attractive, which is more than either of us can say for you!"

            Oh my god. Did I just say that? Christ, Sara, what happened to "I'm not going to show any emotion"? It's on the tip of my tongue to correct myself, to tell him I didn't mean that, but I know that silence is the wisest course at this point. Saying anything else would just be digging myself deeper.

            Grissom's jaw has dropped slightly, I see. Well, at least I caught him by surprise. When he speaks, it isn't with corresponding anger, as I expected, but with regret. "I'm happy for you, then. I had wondered whether you had any good memories of Vegas and the team, and I guess that's my answer." He frowns. "I would like to clarify something, though."

When I raise an expectant eyebrow, he takes a breath and continues. "I do find you attractive, Sara. Immensely. I just want you to know that before we take this conversation any farther. I thought you were beautiful when I first met you, and I think you've only become more beautiful as time's passed. Whatever else you may think of me, please don't underestimate the respect and pride I have for you."

This is always how he disarms me. Utter calm and just enough compliments to pacify the angry brunette. Even though I know his method, it still works and I can feel myself softening. Fight it, Sara!

"Well," I say in a slightly shaky voice, "you have a damn strange way of showing it. The way you used to run away from me, you should be doing marathons by now." All of a sudden tears are pricking at my eyes. What the hell? I'm not sad, I'm angry! Why am I about to cry?

With a keen sense of self-preservation, I shut up, glowering at him rather than speaking.

"Sara?"

I keep glaring at him, but my defenses are weakened now and I feel the frustrating sensation of one tear making its way past the point of no return, making it impossible to blink it back. "Shit, shit, shit," I mumble, and lower my head so that he can no longer see my eyes – at least, I hope he can't.

"Sara." His voice is closer now. He's walking toward me and I start backing away. Get away, Grissom. Don't touch me, I can't stand it if you touch me.

Thump. The backs of my legs hit something solid and my knees buckle, sending me tumbling backwards over the arm of the couch. I can't help but yell something rude at the offending piece of furniture and beat a fist into it. Why are my escapes always foiled by stuff like this? I struggle to sit up, which is harder than it sounds now that half of my left arm is buried between the cushion and the back of the sofa and my legs are suspended over the arm, nowhere near the floor.

He grabs my free hand and starts tugging.

But when you touch me like this

And you hold me like that

I just have to admit

That it's all coming back to me

When I touch you like this

And I hold you like that

It's so hard to believe but

It's all coming back to me

            When I'm in a sitting position a few seconds later, I yank sharply, trying to get my hand out of his grip. "Let me go, Grissom," I growl. I can't deal with having him touch me now. It brings those stupid damn tears back.

            He takes me at my word and lets go while I'm in mid-tug, with the inevitable effect of sending me backwards again using my own momentum. "You sure you want me to let go?" he asks belatedly. "Because from where I'm standing, it didn't look like that did you much good." Is he laughing at me? He is, there's definitely mirth lurking in his voice.

            I raise my head and give him a dirty look. "This isn't funny, Grissom." I manage to pull my arm free from the cushion again and struggle to a sitting position, still glaring. "I can get up on my own, thanks." Just my luck that as soon as that's out of my mouth, my abs, which had been holding me up, give up the struggle and I go over for the third time.

            "Give it up, Sara," he tells me. Now he's leaning over the side of the couch and his face is hanging over mine. He grabs my upper arms and hauls me up, this time off the couch entirely and into a standing position.

            I'm standing under my own power now, but he isn't letting go of me. I raise a hand and start to try to peel him off me. He quickly inches his hand up, just past where I can reach. I drop my hand and look at him. We're almost nose-to-nose, since he's only about six inches away. At least that's farther than he was at the airport. "Do you mind?"

            He grins. "You're getting repetitive; you said the same thing when I helped you with my suitcase." Rather than removing his hands, he starts to pull me closer.

I struggle, jerking my arms and trying to get him off me. "Let . . . me . . . GO!"

"No." He's stronger than me (god I hate that fact), and he wins the fight.

I end up against his chest with my head pulled back in an unnatural position as I try to keep my face away from his. Struggling isn't helping, so I stop and look at him. It must look pretty dumb, given my current position, but he simply looks back at me. "Let me go," I ask quietly. "Please."

"No," he says again. "Stop fighting me, Sara. I've missed you, I want to give you a hug, is that so horrible?"

Yes! Yes, yes, yes, it is horrible! If you touch me, something inside me is going to break and I'll start crying and humiliate myself! I don't say this out loud, of course, because to do so would be to admit weakness. Instead, I say to him, "You never wanted to hug me before."

His graying head shakes slowly. "Yes, I did. I always wanted to hug you." He releases my arms and before I even register that, his arms are wrapped around me instead of holding my arms captive.

I give up. Relaxing all my muscles, I make him support my weight with the arms that are imprisoning me. Looking him straight in the eye, I spit it out: "I don't want you to touch me, ok?"

He blinks. "Why?" He says this in a voice of such surprise that I have to wonder where he's been for the last four years or so.

"Because I don't want to remember."

There were moments of gold

And there were flashes of light

There were things I'd never do again

But then they'd always seemed right

There were nights of endless pleasure

It was more than any laws allow

Baby, baby . . .

            "Accept it, Sara," he orders roughly. "I'm touching you, and short of screaming bloody murder and getting your neighbors over here, there's nothing you can do about it." Softening his tone of voice, he adds, "And I'm here to make you remember."

            "No," I tell him flatly. "I don't want to and I won't." I probably sound like a petulant child, but that's what he always seems to reduce me to . . . though no child was ever this physically aware of the man holding her.

            "You're going to have to, Sara, because I'm not leaving until you do." He traces the side of my face with one finger. "We have to talk about this or neither of us will ever be able to rest easy. Now, do I need to hold you down, or will you agree to sit still and discuss this?"

            "I'll sit," I tell him, but give him a look that's a cross between wounded and angry, hoping he won't go through with it. We both take seats on the edge of the couch.

No such luck of course; when did Grissom ever do something I wanted? Instead, he starts talking in that calm, infuriating voice again. "I guess we're even now, Sara. I ran away from you, then you ran away from me. We've never been able to deal straight with each other."

"I've always been straight with you, Grissom. I told you that I loved you in college," I snort here, telling him what I think of my idiocy back then, "and I did all the approaching in Vegas. You've been the one hiding things and lying, Grissom. For eleven years, you've been the one lying in this relationship." I realize what I said and quickly correct myself: "Or lack thereof."

He has no response to that. I guess he knows I'm right. So instead of trying to explain all his lies, he goes right for the jugular. "Remember how it was between us, Sara? That was the best summer of my life."

"Fuck you," I bite out. No way am I going to talk about that. Then, despite myself, I say, "If it were as good as you say, Gil, then things would've been a lot different than they are."

He sighs and runs a hand through his short curls. "It was the best part of my life, Sara. You were the best part of my life. That's why I'm here."

"No, Gris," I say sadly. "You're not here for that. I think you're here for the ego boost you've always gotten from me, the rush you get from jerking me around. Too bad, because it's not happening this time."

I see his face change and try to jump up, but I'm too slow.

If I kiss you like this

And if you whisper like that

It was lost long ago

But it's all coming back to me

If you want me like this

And if you need me like that

It was dead long ago

But it's all coming back to me

            His lips land on mine at the same time his hand lands on my shoulder, pressing me back against the cushions and preventing my escape. You hate this, I try to tell myself. You don't want this liar kissing you, it's repulsive.

            Hah, says my unconscious, and reacts to him the way it always has: with a rush of enthusiasm. Before I know it, I'm kissing him back and laying passively on the couch, half-under him.

            He's kissing me like he means it, and I don't doubt that he does. In some shadowy part of my mind I'm aware that this is wrong, I'm mad at him, I don't want to be with him, but the rest of my brain is clamoring for him, for this contact.

I tear my mouth from his and suck in a breath, trying to bring myself back to reality, and push at his shoulder. "Grissom, no," I say weakly. "This isn't . . . no."

"Yes," he whispers so close that I feel his breath tickle my ear. "Sara, please, I love you."

It's so hard to resist

And it's all coming back to me

I can barely recall

But it's all coming back to me now

But it's all coming back

Well it's certainly been a while since I heard that particular statement out of his mouth, and it brings me back to cold reality faster than anything else could. I give his shoulder another push, harder this time, and wriggle out from under him.

Standing, I face him with my hands on my hips. "I can't believe you just did that." He holds out a hand as though to take my hand, and I jump back. "Don't touch me, for the last time."

"Don't you remember, Sara?" His face is so earnest that I'm tempted to give in and let him continue, but the longer I stand away from him, the farther away the memories of contact with him drift.

"Yes, Grissom," I snap. "I do remember, and that's why I'm here and you're there."

There were those empty threats and hollow lies

And whenever you tried to hurt me

I just hurt you even worse

And so much deeper

            "I remember that every time I protested one of your grand decisions that summer, you'd start kissing me and I'd forget everything but how good you felt. I remember that the day I left for California, you kissed me like you could never get enough and told me that you'd love me forever."

            I pause, then continue more quietly, "I remember that I believed you then. But I don't now, Grissom. I can't, because you taught me my lesson.

            "I remember that you pushed me away in Vegas.

            "I remember that every time you pushed me away, the next day you'd pull me closer, and that's how you kept me there for three years."

            I close my eyes as the pain of his desertions revisits me. "I remember that I had to leave Las Vegas before you could do that to me again and make me into a nervous wreck.

            "And I remember that you didn't come after me."

There were hours that just went on for days

When alone at last we'd count up all the chances

That were lost to us forever

            He looks at me, speechless for a moment. "Sara . . ." He makes no move to touch me, despite his pleading tone of voice, and I'm glad . . . until he opens his mouth again.

            His voice is a caress as he says, "None of that was a lie, Sara. I loved you then and I never stopped loving you. You have to remember how good we were."

            I interrupt. "Did you get this script out of GQ or something, Grissom? Because you sound pathetic."

            He seems to take no notice of my sharp words, but keeps speaking in a twisted echo of what I just told him. "What I remember, Sara, is how much we loved to be together. I remember how innocent you were and how you looked at me like I was the be-all-end-all.

            "I remember that when you left for home, I meant every word I said, and I remember that during that week I did a lot of thinking.

            "I remember that most of our fights came about because I was so much older. I remember thinking about that while you were away. I remember realizing that it wasn't right for me to be taking your time and spirit while you were so young."

He sighs. "I remember deciding that I had to do what was better for you – deciding that I had to leave."

But you were history with the slamming of the door

And I made myself so strong again somehow

And I never wasted any of my time on you since then

            I refuse to be touched by his lies anymore. "It still comes down to the same thing, Grissom. You left. You got the hell out of Dodge while I wasn't there to face you down, and you left me a note with fake reasons and slimy promises."

He opens his mouth and I hold up a hand, cutting him off before he can get a word out. "You lied to me, Grissom, no matter how you twist it. You left without a word and left me to pick up the pieces. How do you think I felt the day I came back and read that note? You don't have a clue. You don't know that I passed out and nearly broke my damn skull. Look at this!"

I push aside the hunk of hair that's hanging in my face and gesture wildly toward the scar that mars the side of my forehead. "Look at this, dammit! Do you know how that got there? It got there when I fell against the table when I passed out when I realized you weren't coming back!" I'm screaming now, and I don't care. He doesn't have any idea what he did to me, and he has the nerve to come here and try to pretend everything's ok?

"I had to clean up your mess, Grissom. I had to take care of myself and hope I didn't have a concussion, explain to everyone who knew that no, Gil wasn't coming back, he'd left, and no, I didn't know where he was.

"So don't you sit there and tell me to remember how great you were, because guess what? You're not! It took me years to pick up the pieces of my life and get back to something resembling reality, and then as soon as I had, you called and I, fool that I am, went to Vegas."

I've managed to lower my voice to almost normal levels, but none of the vehemence has escaped my tone. "And I finally got the balls to leave there, to try to get my life back together for the second time, and now here you are again trying to dredge everything up again and ruin my life one more time!"

All of a sudden I feel drained. All my energy is gone, expended on telling Grissom the truth, and my legs won't support me anymore. I sink slowly to the floor and stare at the red and black carpet as though it were the most interesting thing in the world.

The tears finally come, and I no longer care. Now that I'm not trying to hold them back, they fall quickly down my face to the floor. I don't even bother sniffling; there's no reason to. The carpet is absorbing the tears, no reason not to let them fall.

I think he's speaking to me, but I don't want to hear and so I don't. I continue staring at the ground.

But if I touch you like this

And if you kiss me like that

It was so long ago

But it's all coming back to me

If you touch me like this

And if I kiss you like that

It was gone with the wind

But it's all coming back to me

            A hand touches my head and I jerk away, half-expecting him to grab me and hold me still like he did before. Instead, the hand keeps stroking my tangled hair, smoothing it out of my face, and another body eases to the floor next to me.

            It's Grissom, I know that, but I can't even make myself try to pull away again. I just don't care at this point, but somehow my body is still poised for a blow. I flinch when a hand touches my back and begins rubbing softly. A voice begins murmuring things I can't understand near my ear; the voice is soft, so soft.

            I struggle to control my breathing and my shoulders hitch as I draw in jerky breaths. The hand that had been on my back slips around my shoulders, drawing me toward another shoulder – one that isn't shaking. The arm that guides me is warm and comforting, and I wonder if it's because the person touching me is Grissom or if anyone could comfort me in this situation. The thought slips away and I lean against his shoulder, allowing myself to be rocked gently by his even breathing.

            His voice finally produces something I can understand, and it is, quite possibly, the last thing I expected to hear. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," the voice repeats in a monotone, keeping time with the rocking. "You'll be ok, Sara, please." Is he asking me or telling me, I wonder idly, then lose that thought to the ether also.

            I feel the pressure of his lips on the top of my bowed head and he holds me tighter. I get the sense that he knows what he's doing as little as I do. "I'll leave," he tells my unhearing ears. "I'll leave, you never have to see me again, just be ok, please, I didn't want to hurt you . . . I love you . . ." His breathing, too, hitches for a moment as he lets out the next words: "I didn't know. I didn't know, Sara."

I feel something warm drop onto my head and realize that it was a tear of his. So here we sit, locked in each other's arms in a mockery of lovers' embrace, rocking and crying together over what's happened to us.

I think I gain control of myself before he does, but I don't stand up. I pull slightly away from his body and sit up, wrapping my arms around my knees and blinking back the remaining tears. "Grissom?" I whisper, shaking his shoulder. "Grissom, I'm ok. I'm fine. Come on, wake up."

His head suddenly jerks up and his eyes lock on mine.

There were moments of gold

And there were flashes of light

There were things we'd never do again

But then they'd always seemed right

There were nights of endless pleasure

It was more than all your laws allow

Baby, Baby, Baby

            "I didn't know," he repeats, sitting up and mirroring my position. "I did what I thought was best for you, I swear."

I nod reluctantly. "That's what you said while I was crying. Maybe you did what you thought was best, but it ended up being worse. Do you understand that, Grissom? You ruined eleven years of my life with that one little note."

"But I . . ." he begins.

"I know. I can't say that it was all bad, because it wasn't. That summer, when I thought you were in love with me, I was the happiest I've ever been. We were great together, Grissom." I lick my lips nervously. "I loved you so much. I just don't understand why this had to happen. We were so happy." I know I'm repeating myself, but I don't know what else to say. "Or at least I was. I guess you weren't."

"No, Sara, no!" he says quickly. "I told you it was the best time of my life and I wasn't lying. You made – make – me happier than anything else. I left because I thought your life would be better without me. Believe me, Sara, please."

I sigh. "I believe you, Grissom, but that doesn't solve anything. I don't understand why you came here to tell me this. You could have told me over the phone and saved both of us the pain and tears."

If you forgive me all this

If I forgive you all that

We forgive and forget

And it's all coming back to me

When you see me like this

And when I see you like that

We see just what we want to see

All coming back to me

The flesh and the fantasies

All coming back to me

I can barely recall but it's all coming back to me now

            "So what now?" he asks quietly, ignoring my question. "Have we accomplished anything?"

            I shake my head. "I don't think so. I guess maybe we understand each other more now, but we haven't really solved anything. All the problems are still there."

            He leans his cheek against his knees in an oddly childlike position and looks at me. "Tell me you'll try to forgive me, then, at least. Tell me I didn't ruin your life again."

            "I honestly don't know, Grissom. I guess it depends on where we go from here. We could try to work this out, but I don't know if you can stay here that long. Hell, I don't even know if it can be worked out, or if everything's dead.

            "See me for what I am, Grissom," I continue. "I'm almost thirty-three and I haven't had a serious boyfriend in thirteen or fourteen years. I haven't even had a close friend since I left Nick, Warrick, and Greg in Las Vegas." He winces when I fail to mention his name, and I shrug. "You weren't my friend there, Gil. I don't know if you're my friend now. I'm just trying to get you to understand that I'm not some perfect female whose feet you need to prostrate yourself at. I'm just Sara, and you're just Grissom, and maybe too much time has passed for us to recover anything."

            He buries his face in his arms. "That's what I'm afraid of. Just promise me one thing?"

            "Yes?"

            "Please just promise me that even if our lives can't come together again, you'll remember that I love you and I never wanted to do anything but make you happy."

            I sigh and lay my head on my arms too, facing him. "I don't know if I can do that right now. If you could stay, we could maybe talk this out, figure out what the hell happened." I shake my head slightly. "I just . . . don't know."

            "I'll stay," he says intensely, giving me the impression that he'd stay as long as needed, even if it meant losing his life in Vegas.