Nick walked into the break room with Warrick, both of them heading straight for the coffee pot. Nick poured himself a coffee before filling Warrick's empty cup, continuing their conversation as he did.
"I tell you man, she's thinking of staying."
Warrick shook his head calmly when he turned to his friend. "Sara wouldn't do that, not without thinking about it first."
"She sounded as if she's thought about it a lot," Nick sighed sadly as he sat down into one of the chairs placed around the table. "I think we're gonna lose her."
"Lose who?" Catherine asked as she came into the room, her eyes watching both men curiously.
Nick's heart ached with tension as he forced himself to bite the sarcastic remark from spilling out of his mouth, so instead he took a deep breath and simply said "Sara."
Catherine came over to the table and sat down opposite him. It had been no secret that she had probably been partly to blame for Sara's sudden departure, and she had tried to make amends with her conscience. "I'm sorry, Nick."
"Why?" he snapped quickly, his heated word slipping from his tongue before he had a chance to stop it.
Catherine drew in a sharp breath and turned to Warrick in the hopes that he would offer her some support, but he seemed unable to meet her eyes. "What?" she asked defensively, "I didn't make her leave."
"No you didn't make her leave Catherine, but you sure made her life miserable around here didn't you?"
"I apologized," she retorted huffily as she shifted slightly in her chair. "Sara accepted my apology so why can't you?"
"He does accept it Cath," Warrick sighed, breaking through Nick's words before he could deliver another angry response. Coming over to the table, he pulled out the chair next to hers and sat down. "Nick, Sara's obviously happy where she is if she's considering staying on. We can't turn on each other now."
Nick knew he was right, but it didn't help the ache that travelled throughout his body. "I miss her, that's all."
"We all miss her," Warrick agreed, his eyes catching Catherine's briefly.
"It's quiet," she nodded, still unable to admit that she acted unprofessionally around Sara when she offered her her own personal views on the non relationship with Grissom.
Nick looked up at her sharply, his dark eyes piercing. Before he could offer a sufficient response, Grissom came into the break room with their assignments.
"We'll be getting some help tonight," Grissom announced as he walked over towards the coffee pot, all eyes following him. Turning around to face them, he couldn't help but smile inwardly when he saw Sara approaching the open doorway. "As you know, Jared decided to leave for Maine early which leaves us short handed. So I've asked a friend of mine to help out for a while until we're back to full staff again."
"A friend?" Catherine asked with a slight smile, "last time you delivered a speech like that we got Sara…"
"Sorry to disappoint you there, Catherine," a voice came from the doorway. "Guess you'll have to put up with me again."
Both Nick and Warrick spun around simultaneously, shock quickly registering with elation as Nick practically jumped out of his chair to go to her. She met him half way and walked into his open arms.
"You're back," he groaned, rocking her from side to side. Pushing her back slightly he searched her eyes in the hopes that she was real and not some conjured up image that his mind had shown him. When she met his with a bright smile, he knew she was real and yanked her back into his arms, his tight embrace practically squeezing the breath from her lungs.
"Sweetie, need breath," she mumbled against him, her elation quickly burning through to her eyes.
"Honey I'm sorry," he whispered as he gently released her to frame her face with his hands. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming home, I'd have come to meet you at the airport."
"And miss this?" she grinned happily as she covered his hand with her own. "I wanted to surprise you."
"Nick, let the girl breathe a little," Warrick drawled as he practically pushed Nick out of the way so he could wrap his arms around her. "Good to see you girl," he told her as he slowly released her.
"You too," she smiled, squeezing his hand before releasing him. Her eyes scanned the room coming to rest on Grissom. Their eyes met and held across the room to cast hidden messages in every second of their gaze. She smiled slightly, her love for him conveyed in that tiny gesture, but true to her word, she withdrew her gaze and diverted her eyes back to Nick.
Catherine stood up to face her and stepped a little closer. Sara watched her warily for a few seconds, unsure of what to expect from the woman who had tried to drive a stake through her heart. "Catherine," she nodded quietly.
The older woman stepped closer and met her eyes. Sara was surprised to see a sheen of tears pooling inside Catherine's eyes, and wasn't sure if it was because she had returned to Vegas or because she hadn't decided to stay on in Maine. She was even more taken aback when Catherine pulled her into a gentle embrace, holding her briefly before stepping back again. "Welcome home," she whispered softly, although her eyes conveyed how sorry she was for causing so much pain.
"Thank you," Sara nodded, still unsure what to make of Catherine's sudden friendliness. Finding Grissom's eyes again, Sara took courage from his adoring gaze to turn back and catch Catherine's arm before she retreated. "Thanks for your emails Cath, it meant a lot."
"I meant it," Catherine told her almost instantly, her hand reaching out to grasp Sara's quickly. "I really am sorry."
"I know," Sara nodded, a small smile gracing her lips. "I don't hold grudges, and I don't take it personally."
Catherine nodded slowly, happy with Sara's answer that basically let her off the hook. Releasing her hold on Sara's hand, she looked towards Nick hoping he too would be able to bury her past mistakes and regain the trust they once shared. When she was greeted with his warm smile, she knew. Everything was how it should be now, the five of them once again rejoined to create the best team that the crime lab had.
Returning to the chair she so hurriedly vacated, she sat down and watched as everyone else joined her, their obvious joy at having Sara back amongst them showing in their eyes.
Grissom offered Catherine an approving nod before taking his seat beside Sara and started to go through the slips of paper he held in his hands. The moments passed and he reverted back into supervisor mode. "We have a multiple down town, all hands on," standing he glanced back at Sara with a knowing gleam in his eyes before leaving the room.
Sara grinned as she stood up again only to be pulled into another tight hug from Nick. He released her just as quickly, his hand squeezing her arm before following Grissom out of the room. She watched them filter out one by one and finally allowed herself to take a deep breath. It felt good to be back.
The diner was relatively quiet when the five friends all sat around the table awaiting their breakfast orders.
"So did Greg catch you?" Catherine grinned, her words directed towards Sara who was sitting beside Grissom in the corner booth.
"Oh yeah," she grinned. "He thought I was a mirage at first!"
"He missed you," Catherine smiled.
"We all missed you," Nick offered before turning his attention to Grissom, "Didn't we Gris?"
"Huh?" he asked quickly, looking up at the faces across the table.
"I was telling Sara we all missed her," Nick repeated.
"Oh," he muttered, turning his head to gaze into the eyes of the woman he loved. "Yeah we did."
"That's good to know," she smiled, catching his eyes before shaking herself out of their closeness.
Grissom felt it too, his body unwilling to listen to his mind as he fought not to touch her. Lifting an arm behind her, he rested it along the back of their seat, his fingers absentmindedly playing with the ends of her hair.
Catherine spotted the simple touch immediately but said nothing. A small smile graced her lips and she turned her eyes to find that both Nick and Warrick had noticed it too.
The conversation shifted back to Sara's months away and she filled them all in on the happenings of Maine. Grissom and Sara seemed to gravitate closer, their bodies craving to be together. As she talked, Sara sat back into the bench giving Grissom full access to her shoulders. She knew it was becoming more and more difficult to hide how she felt about him, but her hands seemed to have a mind of their own.
"So what about your boss?" Nick asked quickly as he tried to distract her from Grissom's gravitational pull.
"Oh, he was a sweetheart," she smiled in remembrance, "he actually offered me a job if I wanted to go back."
"You're not seriously considering it are you?" Nick asked her worriedly.
She turned to glance at Grissom and smiled, then looked away again. Her hand slid from her lap and onto his thigh, delighted with the sharp intake of breath from his lips, and grateful that the table obscured the view. "I don't think so," she sighed, giving Grissom's thigh a gentle squeeze only to pull it away again when their orders arrived. The conversation slipped into what had happened in Vegas in her absence and she found herself relaying everything that she had experienced in Maine.
When they had all eaten, Sara pushed her half eaten breakfast away and stood up quickly. Looking down at her companions, she smiled warmly, touched by their concern. "Be back in a minute."
All eyes fell to her as she left, the conversation slowly returning to the light banter that occupied the table. A few seconds later, Grissom stood up and looked down at them when the conversation stopped. "Uh…" he pointed towards the washroom "bathroom."
"Oookkkayyy," Catherine drew out suspiciously when he followed the same path that Sara had taken only a few moments ago. "There's something going on here," she muttered.
"You noticed too huh?" Warrick asked with a smile.
"That depends on what you noticed," she told him, her voice lowering into a conspired whisper.
"His hand was in her hair," Warrick nodded, "you?"
"She had her hand on his leg."
"Way…" Catherine grinned, leaning into his shoulder to nudge him gently.
"You're kidding me right?" Warrick's graveled voice fanned her hair and when she shook her head, her smile beaming, he knew it must be true.
"Guys…" Nick started, his voice dropping as he leaned closer across the table. "Listen, between us…I know some stuff…"
Sara was looking for something in her pocket when she bumped into someone in the hallway that led back to the restaurant. "Sorry," she muttered apologetically. Her eyes traveled up a masculine body and met a set of deep blue eyes. "Hmmm, maybe I'm not so sorry."
Wordlessly, his lips met hers, stealing the words from her. She returned his kiss with a forceful one of her own, meeting his tongue with equal vigor. Their hands raked over each other with blind possession as he backed her up against the wall. "I've wanted to kiss you all night," he groaned, pulling his lips away briefly to hover over hers.
"Me too," she whispered softly, lifting her arms to accommodate his roaming hands that had somehow found their way beneath her shirt.
"Sara…" he breathed, his groan sighing her name as his lips trailed open mouthed kisses down her throat. She moved for him, angling her head so that he could worship her skin only to whimper slightly when he forcefully stepped away from her. His eyes gazed over her passion filled gaze and his body answered. "I think we should go home before I embarrass myself."
Looking slowly down over his body, Sara's eyes suddenly found the source of his discomfort and stepped in to kiss his lips softly. "Then let's go?"
"What do we tell them?" he asked, inclining his head towards the general direction of the door.
"That you're taking me home," she smiled.
Stepping away from him, Sara straightened her clothes and offered him one more smile before walking back into the restaurant to rejoin the others at the table. A few seconds later, Grissom returned and placed some money on the table for the bill. "You need a ride home, Sara?" he asked in what he hoped was a steady voice.
"Sure," she smiled sweetly moving over to stand beside him. "See you tonight guys."
"Later," they chorused, mindful to keep watching eyes on the couple as they made their way towards the exit. Nick was grinning like an idiot when he noticed how Grissom's hand slipped into the small of Sara's back, and that simple act alone showed him more than anything that Sara would be staying in Vegas where she belonged.
""I wonder when they'll admit it?" Catherine mused as she sipped her coffee.
"Care to make a bet?" Nick grinned, nudging Warrick's arm.
"I don't gamble anymore Nick, but if I did I wouldn't bet on those two telling anyone anytime soon. I say we pretend not to notice."
"Oh yeah, that'll drive them nuts!" Catherine laughed. Looking down at her watch she reached over to grab her purse and almost leapt to her feet. "Listen, I have to go, see you later guys."
"Later," Warrick drawled, his smile lingering as he watched her walk away.
"It's great to be back to normal again," Nick mused.
"Oh yeah," Warrick agreed.
"Wanna come watch some TV?" Nick grinned as he stood.
"Man, you need a girl!" Warrick laughed as he stood alongside him and slapped his arm while they made their way towards the exit.
Things were right again in their little corner of Las Vegas and as the two friends shared their light banter, elsewhere, two people came together once again to seal a love that had held them together through the passages of time, and all was right within their world once more….