A/N:  Well, here it is!  Finally, the last chapter of 'No Rest for the Weary'!  I hope everyone enjoys the conclusion.  A thank you goes out to Sara Grissom for the idea for the ending (grin).  I hope she thinks I did it justice.  Also, thank you so much everyone for sticking with this story throughout the entire journey.  Every single review left along the way is so, so appreciated.  And, of course, extra special thanks must go out to my beta, Grissom.  She gave me ideas when I was stuck, and her comments always made my day!  Without her, this story might never have happened.  And now, onto the final chapter:  I hope it's worth the time and effort you all spent getting here.  Enjoy!

Chapter 21:  Comfort, Part Two

Grissom gradually came awake on the bed.  As he pushed his way slowly through the gauzy layers of consciousness, he opened his eyes and looked around.

He saw a figure sitting in the shadows, past the edges of light cast by his bedside lamp.  "Sara?" he rasped hoarsely, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

"No, it's Catherine," said the figure as she leaned into the circle of pale light.  "Good morning."  She smiled, then glanced down at her watch.  "Or should I say good afternoon?"

Grissom began to cough, and he sat up to reach for the bottle of water on the nightstand.  He took several large gulps and swallowed, but the hacking returned a few seconds later.

Catherine got out of the chair and came over to him, looking concerned.  "That doesn't sound too good," she pointed out.  "How's everything else?"

He shrugged.  He hadn't really had a chance to assess how he was feeling at this moment.  Overall, he thought he felt a bit better.  He still had the burning eyes and dull headache that accompanied a fever, but he didn't think it was as severe as before.  At the very least, he was grateful that his migraine seemed to have faded away.

Since he wasn't supplying any information, Catherine wanted to check his condition for herself.  She reached a hand toward his face.  "May I?" she asked.

He sighed dramatically.  "Why not?" he surrendered.  "I've already been poked and prodded and stared at like something under a microscope."

"Ah, the scientist becomes the experiment," she replied with a grin.  Although Grissom seemed quite annoyed with all the unwanted female attention he was receiving because of his illness, Catherine thought that, deep down, he probably was enjoying it—at least a little.  Then again, maybe not, she added silently as she took note of his expression.  You never know with Grissom…

In any case, Catherine continued moving her hand forward and felt his forehead.  "Not bad," she commented.  "Sara was right—your fever has come down.  But I still need to give you something for that cough."

He recalled the horrid-tasting medicine and his empty stomach contracted painfully.

Catherine noticed his grimace.  "What's wrong?" she asked.

"Nothing.  That stuff just tastes horrible."

"Oh, sorry."  She glanced at the writing on the bottle.  As he coughed again, she added with sympathy, "You still have to take it, though."

"I know," he replied.  He picked up the spoon and she filled it once, and then twice.  After the second swallow of gooey medicine, he grabbed the bottle of water again and drank a good deal of it down.

His eyes drifted to the chair Catherine had been occupying earlier.  "Why were you sitting right there?" he asked, voicing what he had been wondering since he woke up.

"It was Sara's idea," she explained.  "She thought that if you woke up and needed something, it would be better if I was in here with you."

He simply nodded without further comment.  Then he added, "Where is Sara anyway?"

Catherine smiled slightly, trying to hide her reaction from Grissom.  He would never admit it, but Catherine knew he would much rather have Sara there taking care of him than her.  "She'll be back soon," Catherine told him.  "She just went home to shower and change, and maybe catch some sleep."

Grissom nodded again.  He also hadn't given much thought to how Sara must be feeling.  "Yeah, she must be pretty exhausted.  I guess she hasn't slept much since she's been over here."

"Probably not," Catherine agreed.  "But we were all more concerned about you getting some sleep than the rest of us."

After a moment, she changed the subject.  "Okay, can I get you anything?  Do you want something to eat?"

He seemed to put an awful lot of thought into what Catherine considered a simple question.  He was actually trying to decide if his stomach was ready for food.  It seemed more settled than before, and it was definitely empty, but he didn't think hunger was the sensation he was experiencing.  His stomach felt pinched, like it had shrunken by about fifty percent—which, he realized, it probably had.  He had eaten very little since he had first felt ill—and most of that he had thrown up.  He finally answered Catherine, claiming, "I don't know."

"You must be hungry," Catherine pushed gently.  "I know it's been hours since you've eaten.  I'm sure we can find something that won't upset your stomach."

"That's not really the problem, Cath," he tried to explain.  "In fact, for the first time in I don't know how long, the constant sensation of queasiness seems to be gone."

"Well, that's good, Grissom," she said, looking a little confused at his response.  "It means you've probably licked whatever nasty stomach bug you had picked up.  It sounds like the road to recovery to me."

"I'm still not sure food is such a good idea," he said, slowly shaking his head.

"All right.  What about something warm, then?  That should be soothing to your stomach.  How about some tea or…?"  She was about to say "soup," until she remembered how Grissom's last encounter with a bowl of soup had ended.  "You know what?" she finished.  "Let's just go with the tea."

"Thanks, Cath," he replied.  He tossed off the covers, pivoted his body, and dropped his feet to the floor.

Her brow knitted.  "Where are you going?" she wondered.

He gestured with his chin toward the bathroom.

"Can you make it all the way there by yourself?" she asked, flashing him a sly grin.

"I certainly hope so," he replied, raising an eyebrow as his eyes met hers.

"Just shout if you need me," Catherine tossed off before she headed for the kitchen.

Grissom shook his head again, this time in weary exasperation, as he slowly stood up.

A few minutes later, when he was settled back in bed, Catherine returned, carrying a TV tray she had found in one of the cabinets.  Balanced on top was a steaming mug of tea, a tall glass of apple juice, a container of honey, a small cup of strawberry jam, a spoon, a knife, napkins, and a plate of dry toast.  She placed the tray carefully over Grissom's legs.

"I lied," she began.  "I made you some toast, too.  I thought, you know, just in case you changed your mind and wanted something."

"Thanks, Cath," he said, looking down at the spread in front of him.  "You didn't have to get so fancy, but I appreciate it."

"This is 'fancy' to you?" she asked, incredulous.

He shrugged sheepishly.

"You have got to get out more, Grissom."

"Probably," he replied with a grin.  "But, really, Catherine, thanks.  This is nice."

He squeezed some honey into the mug, stirred it around with the spoon, and then sipped the tea.  The liquid made a warm, smooth path down to his stomach.  He blew on the surface and swallowed some more.  The tea not only felt soothing as it filled and expanded his stomach, but it also seemed to reawaken his appetite.  He suddenly found himself ravenous, and he picked up a slice of toast and spread a small dollop of jam onto it.  He took a bite and swallowed, immediately feeling better, but also hungrier.

Watching as he finished off the first piece of toast, Catherine asked, "Did you get to hear what happened with Sampson?  Cohen and Sears told me that you had to…uh…leave before the interrogation was over."

"I never got the details," he replied, beginning to slather a second piece of toast with strawberry preserves.

"He talked about your old case," she said, sitting back in the chair.  Her voice got very solemn as she repeated Sampson's words.  "He said there was supposed to be a third victim back then, but you got too close with your investigation.  He told us he even had her picked out."

Grissom paused in chewing his second bite of toast.  He managed to swallow, but it was difficult as his throat became suddenly tight and dry.  He put the half-eaten bread back down on the plate and moved the tray off to the side, his appetite rapidly vanishing once again.

Catherine's words echoed in his ears.  There was supposed to be a third…  Something about that gnawed at him.  I knew that, he thought.  Fifteen years ago, I knew there was supposed to be another victim.  How did I…?  After several minutes of grasping at the past, the hazy memory cleared, like the first shock of brilliant blue in the sky after a heavy downpour.  It was the nightmares, he silently told himself, as a shudder darted down his spine.  I saw it in the nightmares…

He had remembered his nightmares from fifteen years ago when he had been in the layout room studying the crime scene pictures.  He had clearly recalled the severity and staying power of the disconcerting dreams he had experienced during the original case; but what he had not been able to remember—until now—was that his haunting visions had shown him a third person being killed at the hands of the faceless shadowy murderer.  Of course, now, the shadows had finally been banished by the uncompromising strength of the evidence they had found, and they knew Sampson had been that murky figure Grissom had seen in his dreams.

But knowing that didn't help lessen the dread Grissom was feeling at this moment.  Another chill coursed through him, and he knew it had nothing at all to do with his fever.

Catherine had been continuing on about what Sampson had said in his interrogation, but she stopped abruptly when she noticed that Grissom's attention had shifted downward.  He seemed to be intently studying his hands as they lay clasped of top of the blanket.

"Grissom?" she said, standing up and coming over to him.  "Grissom?" she tried again when she got no response.  "Hey?"  She gently touched his shoulder, and he jumped as if he had been struck.  "Whoa, easy, it's just me," she reassured him.

He looked at her wide-eyed, and she could hear his breath coming fast and shallowly.               

"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," she apologized.  She studied him, noticing that he seemed a little paler than before and that his eyes were glazed.  "Are you all right?"

He blinked a few times as he absorbed her question.  "Yeah," he finally answered, his voice shaky, "I'm fine, Catherine…just tired, I guess."

She nodded in understanding.  "Do you want to go back to sleep?  I'll just grab this stuff and shut the light."  She went to reach for the tray next to him, but he stopped her. "It's okay, Catherine.  I am tired, but I still want to hear about Sampson."

"Are you sure?  We can talk later."

"Yes, I'm sure."  He had not lied to her before when he told her he was tired, even though he had used it as an excuse.  He really was extremely weary and fatigued, despite the long stretches of sleep he'd just had.  But the nightmare memories of Sampson's intended third victim were fresh in his mind.  He wanted to sleep, but he knew he needed to push those images from his brain or he wouldn't be able to rest peacefully.  He thought listening to Catherine would help distract him, and also reassure him that Sampson was going to be put away and would suffer the consequences for all the atrocities he had committed—including those from fifteen years ago.

He turned to Catherine, looking as alert as he could as she settled back in the chair to talk to him.

"Sampson said that he was trying to complete his 'masterpiece.'  He was a frustrated artist, a painter, and he claimed he needed to kill those people for his art.  He basically just told us, 'It was time,' as if that explained everything."

"Time for what?" Grissom asked, becoming absorbed in her words.  "Did he mean the original murders or the current ones?"

"Both, I think.  He went on to say that it was supposed to be three victims each time.  He had the third woman picked out fifteen years ago, but he felt you were getting too close and he couldn't complete his 'painting.'  I don't think he had intended for the first two girls to be found as soon as they were."

Grissom nodded.  "Yeah, I remember that a nosy neighbor trying to peek in the window was the one who saw one of the bodies and called the police."

"His little art session was cut short, I guess," Catherine commented.

Grissom just nodded again.  After a moment, he said, "So Sampson didn't get his three the first time, but he did the second…"

"Well, yes and no," she corrected.  "Sampson told us that Joey Winston was not one of his planned victims.  It turned out that his death was a result of necessity.  Apparently, Sampson didn't realize that Jessica Rosen had groceries delivered every Thursday.  Joey was her usual delivery boy and she always told him to just come in if there was no answer.  If the door was locked, he knew to look in the mailbox for a key."

"Ah, so Joey shows up unannounced," Grissom began, as understanding dawned, "and Sampson isn't ready for that.  So he kills Joey quickly, but decides not to waste all that precious blood and saves some to splash on the walls.  Then he dumps him in the desert and goes back to torture and finish off Jessica—but he kills her slowly so he can get as much blood out of her as possible.  That's why Joey was killed five days before Jessica—Sampson just needed to get rid of him, he wasn't part of the plan."

"Right," she agreed.  "But since Sampson did end up killing Joey, that gave him the trinity of victims he said he needed.  They may not have ended up being the three victims he had originally chosen, but he still had his three."

"And then we caught him," Grissom added solemnly.

Catherine nodded in satisfaction.  "We got him for both sets of murders.  The evidence is so strong that Daniel Sampson won't be seeing the light of day for a very, very long time."

They held each other's gazes in silence for a little while longer, just letting everything sink in.  Then Grissom looked away, and Catherine saw him yawn, even though he politely hid it behind his hand.

"All right, I can take a hint," she commented with a grin, coming over next to him again.

He turned toward her, looking confused.  "What?"  Then he figured it out.  "Oh…sorry about that, Cath.  I couldn't help it, I'm just…"

"I know you're beat, Grissom," she finished gently, still grinning.  "Don't worry.  I'm not taking it personally.  I'm sure all this sitting up and talking hasn't helped either.  Why don't you just get some sleep?"

"I think I will.  Thanks, Cath."

"Can you hand me that tray?" she asked.

"Sure."  He picked it up and balanced it on his lap.  "Just one second," he said.  He grabbed the glass of juice off it, which was still half-full.  Catherine watched as he drained the cup, placed it back on the tray, and handed the whole thing to her.  "Sorry," he explained.  "I'm still thirsty."

"Do you want me to get you something else to drink?" she asked as she stood there, holding the tray.

"That would be great, if you don't mind."

"Of course I don't mind, Grissom.  What can I get you?   More juice, Gatorade?"

"It doesn't matter."

"Okay, I'll be right back."

She cleaned off the tray in the kitchen, then came back to the bedroom with a fresh glass of apple juice.  He took the glass, gulped down about half of it, placed it carefully on the nightstand, and then slid down under the covers.

"Thanks for everything you've been doing, Catherine," he told her, his voice getting quiet as he settled into the soft blankets.  "I really appreciate it."

She couldn't help but smile at him again.  "It's all right, Gil, you don't have to keep thanking me.  I want you to get better, remember?  I'm tired of doing your job."

"I remember."  He closed his eyes and began to slip into sleep.  Although he was exhausted, the nightmare images from Sampson's killings were still lingering at the corner of his mind.  He tried to push them further into his subconscious, hoping they would blur and fade away completely before he fell all the way into deep sleep.  "Thanks, Cath," he mumbled one more time as he drifted over the edge.

She shook her head.  He's impossible, she thought endearingly.  But it's nice to be appreciated.  Although I can't remember him being this gracious when he's well.  Still, it's nice to hear him say thank you…  She shut the light and decided to leave the room for a while so she wouldn't disturb him and he wouldn't feel like she was hovering over him.

She went back into the kitchen and used the leftover water in the kettle to make herself a cup of tea.  Looking in the refrigerator, she found some grapes that looked fresh.  Sara must have bought these, she thought.  She chose a bunch, rinsed them, and then sat at the table to eat while she thumbed through one of the magazines she had brought with her.

After a few minutes, Catherine went to Grissom's bedroom door and peeked inside.  A look of concern crossed her face as she watched him.  He seemed restless; he was tossing and turning, and he didn't seem to be sleeping peacefully at all.  It was nothing like the serene state he had been in when she had arrived earlier.  She wondered if he was feeling all right.  Maybe his fever had gone up again, and it was preventing him from sleeping soundly.

She was considering going over to him to see if she could do something to help, when he rolled over onto his back and then finally remained still.  He exhaled audibly and his features seemed to relax as he settled into calm sleep at last.

Once Catherine was satisfied he was getting some real rest, she walked back into the living room.

--------------------------------------------

Not long after Catherine had settled on Grissom's small sofa to read, she heard a click as the front door opened, and Sara appeared, toting two small bags

"Hey, Catherine," she said, going into the kitchen area.  She began to unload the bags—one appeared to be a few more groceries, and the other was filled with a backup supply of tissues and flu and fever medications.

"Hey, Sara," Catherine replied, standing and walking over to help her put away what she had brought.

"Is he all right?" Sara asked.

"Yeah," Catherine assured her.  "He's sleeping again now."

"Good, he needs it."

"You were right about his fever—it definitely went down.  And he said he didn't feel nauseous anymore, but I still couldn't get him to eat very much.  He had some toast, that was it."

"Don't worry—I'll feed him later."

Catherine smiled.  "Yeah, I'm sure you can be more persuasive then I was."

"Hopefully," Sara responded, looking at Catherine with a small grin.

When Catherine got a full glimpse of the younger woman's face, her tone became serious.  "So, how are you?  Did you get any sleep?"

"Some.  Why?" Sara asked in complete confusion.

"You just look kind of pale.  Are you feeling all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," she answered, but Catherine's words made her think.  She was still a bit tired, but that was all.

"I'm glad to hear it," Catherine said, giving her a smile to lighten the mood.  "If you're sure you're okay, then I've got to get going."  She glanced quickly at her watch.  "The babysitter said she needed to leave by six, and then I need to get ready for shift tonight."

"Are you sure it's all right that I'm taking another night off?  Since Grissom's obviously not coming in, and Nick's still out of commission, I know you're already going to be shorthanded."

"There's no problem, Sara.  Don't even worry about it.  Nick'll be there, working around the lab.  He quickly got restless staying at home.  I know we shouldn't leave Grissom here alone—not quite yet—so we'll make due without you guys."  She grinned widely before adding, "We'll take Greg out in the field with us.  He'll love it."

Sara smiled back.  "Good."

Catherine gathered up her things and headed toward the door.  "Talk to you later."

"Bye," Sara offered.  "I hope it's an easy shift."

"Thanks, but is it ever?" Catherine commented.

"Not usually," Sara agreed as her colleague disappeared through the doorway.  After Sara had securely closed and latched the door, she moved with long strides to Grissom's room.

The interior of his bedroom was plunged into darkness; the sliver of light from the adjacent room provided the only break in the inky blackness.  Sara slowly pushed open the door, expanding the thin beam of brightness into a wider rectangle, illuminating his still form on the bed.

"Hey, Gris," she whispered, too quietly for him to hear.  She hoped that maybe somehow, his subconscious would pick up her greeting and he would know she was there.  As she walked over to him, a huge grin found its way onto her face, seemingly of its own accord.  She was not surprised to discover that she had missed him.  A lot.  A lot more than she should have.  Even though she hadn't been gone long—just a couple of hours—she had been thinking about him the whole time, wondering how he was feeling, worrying about his fever.

She reached down, her fingertips barely making contact with his skin, her touches to his forehead and face feathery-light, trying not to wake him.  He felt noticeably warmer than he had before, and she realized she had been gone long enough for the fever medication to begin wearing off.  She hoped it was only a minor change, and that his temperature wasn't heading too much higher again.

Her fingers migrated upwards, getting lost in the wavy sea of sandy brown and steely gray on the top of his head.  She really had been touching him quite often recently, and she couldn't seem to stop.

She had always had certain…feelings for Grissom, and she was pretty sure everyone knew about them.  But lately, especially during these past few days, those feelings had grown.  She had been spending a lot of time with him, under the guise of taking care of him, and she had been constantly touching him, under the guise of monitoring his temperature.  And she might be wrong, but she thought that Grissom hadn't seemed to mind.

In fact, she surmised that maybe he had been enjoying the closeness and the time spent together almost as much as she had.  Or it could just be wishful thinking on her part—Grissom had been very sick and hadn't really been himself.  But still…she hoped that the feelings had been there and that he had been comfortable with them.

Weird, she thought, staring blankly at the far wall as she absently played with his hair, that it had taken Grissom being violently ill for us to finally take what seemed like one step forward in our relationship.  If it really is one step forward and not just a temporary move.  This powerful thought pulled her out of her reverie, and she carefully and reluctantly disentangled her fingers from his soft curls, afraid that she might wake him.

Stepping away from him and moving into the living room, Sara twisted her neck around and turned it from side to side.  She was surprised to find that her neck, along with her shoulders and back, still felt sore and stiff even though she had taken a long, soothing shower.  Walking toward the kitchen, Sara felt a sudden chill.  Cold in here, she thought as she crossed her arms in front of her and rubbed them briefly.

She took out the box of chamomile tea she had bought and put the kettle on the stove to boil.  When the water was ready, she fixed her cup of tea and sipped at it. Standing there, leaning on the island, she suddenly felt irresistibly tired.  Yawning, she made her way to the couch and sank down onto it.  She picked up the green blanket, which Catherine must have put back on the couch, and wrapped it around her shoulders.  Gathering her legs up under her, Sara leaned into the cushions and, unable to fight it, let herself drift into sleep.

---------------------------------------------

When Sara woke up again and looked at her watch, she couldn't believe she had slept for so long.  She had slept before next to Grissom, and had even caught an hour-long nap while she had been at home.  It all added up to much longer than she normally slept, but she still felt fatigued.  I shouldn't be this tired, she thought.  Pulling the blanket more tightly around her, she shivered again.  After a moment, she tossed off the blanket and stood up.  She went back into the kitchen to make some fresh tea, since hers had gotten cold on the counter during her unexpected nap.

Hoping that she hadn't missed Grissom stirring, she stood still and listened carefully.  The only sounds were the usual hums and creaks of an empty house.  Good, he must still be sleeping, she said to herself.

When she had finished her cup of tea, she wandered back into Grissom's bedroom.  Her timing seemed perfect.  He began waking up as she stood there near his bed.  She watched as he opened his eyes and stretched a bit.  As he looked around, his gaze locked with hers, and he smiled.  "Hey, you're back."

"Didn't you think I was coming back?"

"Well, I wasn't sure," he teased.  "I figured you'd have to go into work eventually."

"I guess I do," she replied.  "But not tonight.  Catherine said it was okay."

"I think she's getting drunk with the power of my position."

"Maybe," Sara agreed, smiling.  "So, how are you feeling?"

"Not bad," he claimed, sitting up.  But then he reached for a tissue and sneezed.

"Bless you," she said.

"Thanks."

"So, are you hungry?  What can I get you?"

"Nothing right now."

"Come on, Gris, you have to eat," she urged.

He still wasn't sure it was a good idea, although his stomach was rumbling insistently.  But he gave in under her somewhat stern gaze.  "All right.  I guess I'll have something," he replied with a sigh.

"What would you like?" she asked, grinning at him again.

"Well, I know I didn't have much food in the house, so you'll have to let me know what you bought."

"Okay…" she paused to make a mental list.  "We've got the leftover mac and cheese.  Besides that, I can make you some eggs, or a sandwich, or maybe some rice or oatmeal?  What do you think?"

Obviously, there were too many choices for Grissom's still sleep-muddled brain.  Sara sensed his indecision and tried to help.  "I would probably suggest the macaroni and cheese or the oatmeal."

The mention of the macaroni and cheese reminded him too much of the incident in the police station bathroom.  "Let's go with the oatmeal," he decided.

"You got it."

She went into the kitchen and, after a few minutes, she called back to him, "Gris, do you want some tea?  I've already got the water boiling."

"No, thanks!" he shouted back.

"Do you want something else to drink?"

"Something cold would be great!"

Having grown tired of yelling back and forth, she popped her head into the doorway.  "What do you like on your oatmeal?"

He was slightly startled by the proximity of her voice, as he turned to look at her.  "What?" he questioned.

"What should I put on your oatmeal?  Butter, sugar, milk, anything?"

"I guess just a little milk would be fine, but I don't think I have any."

"You do now," she told him.  "I picked up some at the grocery store earlier."

"Thanks, Sara," he said.  Then he added, "Just keep track of how much I owe you for all the food and stuff."

"Please, Grissom," she assured him, "don't worry about it."  Then she disappeared again to finish preparing the food.

When she returned, she was carrying a bowl of oatmeal in one hand and a glass of Gatorade in the other.  She handed them over to Grissom, and then went back to the kitchen for one more thing.  She walked into his room holding a cup of tea.  She sat down in the chair and sipped it while she watched him eat.  He started out slowly, blowing on each spoonful of the very hot cereal.  Then as it cooled and his body demanded more, he ate quickly.  Sara noticed that he kept looking over at her—at first, they were casual glances, but then his expression grew more quizzical and concerned.

He swallowed the last bite of oatmeal and placed the bowl on the nightstand.  Then he picked up the glass of Gatorade and gulped some down.

"Do you want something else?" Sara asked from her chair.

"No, this was fine," he said.  His stomach was now pleasantly full, and he felt stronger and more energized.  But he still kept staring at Sara with an odd expression on his face.

"What is it?" she finally asked, not able to stand the scrutiny any longer.

His eyebrows knitted in worry as he inquired, "Are you feeling all right?"

His voice and his face were mirrors of complete sincerity and seriousness, but she still had to search for clarification.  "What?"

"Are you feeling all right?" he repeated.

"Why does everyone keep asking me that?" she wondered.

His eyebrows rose at that.  "Everyone?  Who's everyone?"

"Well, you and Catherine.  She asked me the same thing before she left."

"If she noticed it, too, then I guess we have a good reason for asking.  I just think you look a little pale, and…not quite like yourself," he said gently, trying to explain his concern to her.  "So, how are you feeling?  Did you get any sleep?"

"I actually got a lot of sleep," she said.  "A lot for me, anyway.  I slept here quite a bit, and then I also got a quick nap when I went home."  She paused, then added, "But for some reason, I'm still tired."

"You're still tired?" he repeated.  "Is there anything else bothering you?"

"I guess I'm feeling a little achy and sore, too."

"Tired and achy," he said, mostly to himself.  Then he studied her face.  "Come here," he requested.

She squinted at him suspiciously, but she pushed herself out of the chair and walked over to stand in front of him, her arms crossed.

"Closer."

She took another step toward him.

He stared up at her from his position on the bed.  "No, come closer.  Sit down here," he offered, patting a spot on the mattress next to him.

She sat with little hesitation.  He reached toward her, his fingers lightly brushing the strands of hair around her forehead, moving them out of the way.  With his other hand, he gently touched her face, and she closed her eyes, reveling in the feel of his fingertips on her skin.  "Sara…" he breathed, his voice low.

"What?" she asked, her tone equally soft and expectant.

"You have a fever."

"What?" she repeated, this time in loud surprise; her eyes snapped open.

"A fever.  You have a fever."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do," he asserted.  "I'm afraid you've caught the flu.  At least that's what I would guess from your other symptoms."

"I don't get sick, Grissom," she insisted stubbornly.

"That's how I used to feel, too," he said.  "But you are sick."  As he looked at her, his face contorted in concern again.  "Sara, you're shivering."

She couldn't deny the obvious, so she remained silent.

He glanced around.  "You should get into bed."

"Excuse me?"  She looked at him sitting there with the covers gathered around his waist.

He followed her gaze and glanced down at himself, too.  "No, no, I mean you should get into the other side of the bed, and I'll get up."

"But, Grissom…"

"Come on.  The sheets are clean and I only use this side anyway.  He tossed back the blankets and climbed off the mattress; she got up with him.  He stepped around to the other side, turned down the comforter, the lighter blanket below, and the sheet, and adjusted the pillows for her.  He gestured for her to settle in.

She glared at him for a second, then exhaled in annoyance, and flopped down onto the bed.

"Take your shoes off," he instructed when it appeared she was going to lie there fully-clothed.

Still glaring at him, she did.  Then she tucked her legs under the triple layer of coverings, and sat up against the headboard, copying Grissom's position of just a moment ago.

"There," he said.  "Comfortable?"

She nodded, still managing to look irritated.

He moved the box of tissues to the nightstand next to her.  He had anticipated correctly, because just a few seconds later, Sara grabbed a tissue and sneezed three times.  She blew her nose, and then pulled another tissue from the box.

"Bless you," Grissom offered.

"Thanks," she said back, her voice suddenly sounding lower.  After she blew her nose the second time and discarded the tissue, she realized that she did feel rather congested; her head and nose were stuffed up, and there was an annoying, scratchy tickle in the back of her throat.  Wow, this really does hit you all at once, she thought.

"I'll be right back," he told her.  He went into the bathroom and emerged shortly, holding a thermometer that he shook down as he walked.  "Let's just get a reading on this," he said, holding the glass instrument near her closed mouth.  When she didn't automatically open up, he added, "Don't worry, I soaked it in hot, soapy water for a couple of minutes and I rinsed it off really well."

She took the thermometer from his fingers and said, "I'll only subject myself to this if you will, too.  It's been quite a while since we've checked your temperature."

"Sure," he agreed with a nod, and she immediately stuck the thermometer into place under her tongue.

Grissom glanced at the clock so he would know when it was time to look at the scale.  A few moments later, he slid the thermometer from her mouth and read it.  "One-oh-two exactly.  The average level of fever associated with the influenza virus."

"And I always thought I was above average," she replied, trying to joke.

He looked at her, and he could tell she felt miserable but was trying to hide it.  "Sara…" he began.

His voice was so serious that she felt the need to meet his eyes.  "What is it?" she asked, holding his gaze.

"Look, I'm really sorry about all this."  He looked down, indicating the rumpled bed and the medicines on the nightstands, before catching her eyes again.  "I'm sorry I got you sick.  All the time you were here, helping me, I never even considered the fact that I was contagious.  I'm sorry."

She knew he was trying to be sincere, but hearing him apologize yet again for things out of his control reminded Sara of her 'threat' from a couple days ago.  "Grissom, do you remember what I said about you apologizing again?"  She added just an edge of menace to her tone, but in reality she was trying hard not to laugh.

Grissom had almost forgotten what she was referring to, but he remembered now, with a touch of panic.  "I remember," he told her warily, unconsciously swallowing hard.  He noticed her right hand curl into a fist.  "Sara," he began, "you wouldn't really…?"  She's got to be joking, he told himself, but he still felt a twinge of doubt.

Sara pulled back her right arm, but then dropped it to her side again.  She looked at him, and the twinkle in her eye let him know that she hadn't been serious.  "You're just lucky I'm too weak right now to even try to make actual contact."

"I'm sure," he said, rubbing his jaw at the imagined impact of an angry Sara's wrath.  "I don't think I would ever want to be on the receiving end of a Sidle right cross."  He smiled at her.

She smiled back.  "You just remember that, Grissom, and we'll be fine."

He got serious again, looking right at her.  "I am sorry about getting you sick, Sara."  He thought of something else, and added quickly, "Are you feeling nauseous at all?  I really hope you didn't catch that stomach virus from me, too.  That was pretty brutal; I wouldn't wish that on anyone."  He shook his head.

"Don't worry, Grissom, my stomach is fine," she assured him.  "And we don't know that I got the flu from you.  It could be going around the lab or something."

"You haven't even been at the lab much in the past couple of days," he pointed out.  "It's much more likely that you got the virus from me."

"It's all right, Grissom, I don't blame you.  It's only the flu anyway—I'll survive."

"I still feel bad, Sara."

"Well, you don't have to."  Wanting to change the subject a bit, she took the thermometer from his hand.  "It's your turn now, remember?"

"I remember," he said reluctantly.

She wiped off the thermometer with a clean tissue, and then shook it.  "Maybe I should rinse it off first, huh?" she asked.

"At this point I don't think it really matters."

"Okay.  Open up," she instructed.

He did, and when Sara read the scale, she wrinkled up her face, a bit surprised at the result.  "Hmm…I guess I win, Grissom.  You've only got a temperature of one-oh-one-point-five."

"Well, then let me go get you something to drink, and then you can take something to bring your fever down."  He indicated the mess of bottles on the nightstand.  "We have plenty of options to choose from."

He stood, took the thermometer from her, and went to put it back in its case.

"So, you're going to be taking care of me, now?" she asked, loudly enough for him to hear across the room.

"Yes," he replied as he emerged from the bathroom.

"But you're sick, too, Grissom."

"You're sicker than I am right now."

"By half a degree!" she protested.

"Still…" he began.  "I owe you for what you've been doing for the past few days.  So, I just thought I'd start paying you back now."

She didn't answer; she just crossed her arms and exhaled audibly—half in exasperation and half in surrender.  She had to admit that she found what he was trying to do very sweet.  But she knew it wasn't a good idea; she didn't say anything, she figured she'd just watch and wait until he keeled over—which she was certain wouldn't take very long.

"So, what do you want to drink, Sara?" he asked, staying focused on his current goal.

"Anything will be fine, Grissom," she replied evenly.

"Would you like some tea?"

"Sure."

"Okay.  Be right back," he promised with a grin.

She heard him messing around in the kitchen, and he came back a few minutes later with a cup in his hand.  "Sorry, I didn't know what you wanted in it.  I took a chance and added some honey, since I know you like your coffee sweetened."

"That's perfect," she said, smiling and taking the cup from him.  "Thanks."  He knows how I like my coffee? she wondered.  She knew that he paid attention to details, but she didn't know that he paid such careful attention to details about herHe really makes it hard to be mad at him, she added to herself.

He left the room again briefly while she sipped the tea.  When he returned, he placed a bottle of water and a glass of juice on the nightstand next to her.  "Just in case you wanted something else to drink," he explained.  "Or to take the pills with."  He went back to the other side of the bed and studied the boxes and bottles for a minute.  "Ah, speaking of which," he said, finding what he was searching for.  He popped two pills out of a foil package and brought them to Sara.  "Here you go.  You should take these."

She swallowed them, and then gave him a little grin.  "You, too, Grissom," she told him.

He looked at her quizzically.  "Me, too, what?"

"You should take something, too.  I know your fever's going up again."

Just then, both their hands shot out toward the tissue box and collided in the air.

"Ow!" Sara complained.

"Sorry," Grissom said, rubbing his fingers.

She pulled out one of the tissues, then moved her hand so he had free access to the box.  After he grabbed a tissue as well, they both sneezed simultaneously.

Two "bless you's" were offered at the exact same moment, and Grissom and Sara stared at each other, until she started laughing and he broke out into a wide grin.

When they calmed down again, Sara asked, "Well, aren't you going to take some medicine?"

"Okay, okay," he surrendered.  He stepped to the other side of the bed, selected two pills for himself, and swallowed them with some Gatorade.  He went back over to her, started adjusting the covers, and said, "Now, I think you should lie down and get some sleep."

The idea sounded wonderfully tempting to her, and she began to snuggle into the soft mattress, when she thought of something.  "What about you, Gris?"

He looked adorably perplexed.  "What do you mean?"

"I know you're tired, and you need your rest, too."

"I'll be fine," he assured her.  "I'll go sack out on the sofa."

"No, you won't," she protested.  "I'm not going to take your bed from you and make you sleep on that tiny couch."  She started to get up.  "You take the bed, Grissom.  I'll go back to my apartment."

"You can't," he blurted, a little too suddenly.

She looked at him, slightly annoyed, but daring him to explain.

Attempting to get his voice back in control, he amended, "I mean, you shouldn't go back to your apartment because there's no one there to…take care of you."

"There's no one here who can take care of me either."

"I'm here."

His reply was so simple and sincere that Sara was shocked into silence for a few seconds.  "I know you're here, Gris, and I appreciate it," she finally said with a smile.  "But you're still pretty sick.  You need some taking care of yourself."

"We could take care of each other," he replied, a tentative half-grin on his face.

She could hardly believe what he had just said.  "Are you sure?"

"It's okay, Sara, just go to sleep," he soothed, lifting the corner of the blanket for her to get under again.

He was being impossibly obstinate, and she was tired of arguing with him, so she just lay there quietly.  But as he walked away, she noticed that he was shivering.  He grabbed his cardigan off the chair and slipped it on, jamming his hands into the pockets as he headed for the living room.

"Hey, Gris?" she called.

He turned towards her.  "What?"

"Look, I can tell you're cold.  And I know you're not feeling any better than I am," she began.  "So…so why don't you just get into the bed, too?"

"Excuse me?"

"It doesn't mean anything, Grissom.  We're both sick and we'll just be sleeping."  She paused, then added, a teasing touch to her tone, "It's not like we haven't done it before."

"That was completely different, Sara."  He stubbornly crossed his arms, but she could see him start to shiver even harder.

"Come on, Grissom, just get into the bed," she urged gently.  "It'll be much more comfortable than the couch, and it's nice and warm under the covers."

He stared at her for a minute, analyzing the situation like it was a mysterious piece of evidence; then he exhaled deeply, signifying that he was giving in.  "Okay," he said, "but first, is there anything that you need, or anything that I can get you?"

"No, I'm fine."

He nodded, took off the sweater, and then slid under the covers on his side of the bed.  He clicked off the lamp, and darkness and exhaustion descended over them.

There was a long succession of rustling of blankets and sheets, and some creaking of bedsprings as Grissom tried to get settled.

As a result of being tired and a bit cranky because she didn't feel well, Sara's patience was wearing very thin.  When the noises he was making kept going for a few minutes, she blurted, "Would you stop squirming around so much, Grissom?  You're shaking the bed."

"Sorry," he replied quietly.

He sounded so worn and apologetic, that Sara felt immediately guilty.  "No, I'm sorry," she said.  "You do whatever you need to get comfortable.  I'm invading your space.  Maybe I should leave after all."

"No, stay," he told her, before she could even make a move to get off the bed.  "Please?"

"All right, Gris, I'll stay," she promised softly.  She touched his hand under the covers to emphasize her words, but quickly pulled away, afraid she might spook him or cause them both to feel awkward.

There was silence for a few minutes in the darkness, until Sara said, "So, do you think Vegas can survive another night of mayhem and murder without two of its top CSIs?"

He looked over at her, although he couldn't see much in the blackness.  "I think Vegas will be just fine," he answered sleepily as he shut his eyes.

She heard the exhaustion in his voice, and she smiled contentedly and closed her eyes, too.  "Good night, Grissom."  Then she thought of something else she wanted to tell him before he fell asleep.  "Gris?" she called quietly.

"It's okay.  I'm right here, honey.  Go to sleep."                        

Her eyes snapped open as the fatigue she felt was forgotten for a moment.  "What did you just say?" she asked, trying to keep the panic out of her voice.

He didn't reply; he just lay there with his eyes closed, a small grin creeping onto his face.

She knew exactly what his silence meant, and her heart began to race.  "You actually heard that?" she wondered, her voice growing louder.  "Oh, God."  Before even waiting for his answer she rushed on, "Gris, I'm so sorry about that…I didn't know what I was saying.  I was half-asleep and you were…"

"It's all right, Sara," he assured her, gently urging her into silence.

She remained there in the dark for a few seconds, trying to calm down, but she felt she still had to explain.  "Grissom, I'm really sorry about what I said.  It doesn't have to mean anything…unless…"  She took a breath, not sure if she should go on.  "…unless you want it to," she finished, her voice nearly a whisper.

He finally opened his eyes and rolled toward her.  They could barely make out each other's forms in the darkness.  "Look, Sara, we're both very tired," he said.  "Why don't we just go to sleep and talk about this in the morning?"

"You still want me to stay?"

"Yes, I do."

"All right."  She turned back onto her side and got settled once again on the bed.  Exhaling deeply, she repeated, "Good night, Grissom."  She couldn't prevent the smile that made its way onto her face as she thought of his words, In the morning…  She happily closed her eyes.

"Good night.  Sleep well," he offered, the small grin still on his lips as well.

And with matching smiles on their weary faces, they both fell asleep.

END