Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them; any others are mine, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask me first. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

This is in response to an improv challenge at the Unbound forums; again, the first and last lines were givens.

Spoilers: none really, but this is fourth season.

"Why is there Jell-o here?" Greg asked. He fiddled with the focus knob on the microscope, peering at the slide.

Sara shrugged, arms folded over her lab coat. "No idea. Greg, it's a murder in a bar. I'm more interested in knowing whose blood is in the sample."

"This is from a bar?" Greg straightened, and grinned at her. "Aha! That explains it."

She arched an impatient brow at him. "What has Jell-o to do with bars?"

"Jell-o shots, my sweet scientist, Jell-o shots. Vodka and everyone's favorite quivery dessert."

Sara wrinkled her nose. "Eww."

"I thought those were pretty much frat house treats," said Nick, coming up behind her.

"Well, you would know," Greg shot back cheerfully.

"The blood, Greg?" Sara asked wearily.

"Patience," the lab tech said. "This will take a few hours."

Out of the corner of her eye, Sara saw Grissom moving down the corridor at a fast pace. "Fine," she said, giving into impulse. "Call me." And she ducked out of the lab to follow her supervisor, leaving the two men to exchange knowing looks.

She was tired of the strain between herself and Grissom, and had already decided to try to put them back on an easier footing. Now an opportunity had presented itself.

"Grissom," she called. "Where are you going?"

"DB at Lake Mead," he replied. As she came even with him, he hesitated, then spoke again. "Do you want to come along?"

She grinned. "Just let me get my kit."

Sara met him at the SUV, and the drive to the lake was surprisingly easy, long spaces of comfortable silence interspersed with talk about ongoing cases. It's like it used to be, Sara thought to herself, pleased. Maybe it was possible to put the missteps aside.

The corpse was on the very edge of the lake, down at the bottom of a rather steep hill. They slid down to the officer on the shore in a shower of dust and gravel, Grissom putting out a hand automatically to steady Sara as they stopped but taking it away again almost immediately. She didn't look at him, determined to keep things light, and stepped forward for a better look at the body. Floodlights made sharp shadows, and at Grissom's direction she unslung her camera to begin taking photographs.

The scene didn't take long to process, as such things went; it was pretty clear that someone had brought the body in on a boat and dumped it, probably without even stepping onto the shore. Sara bagged a scrap of cloth and zipped up her jacket, shivering a little. The air was downright chilly on the lake.

Grissom straightened with a sigh, capping a last swab and putting it carefully away. The body was already gone, hoisted up the hill by David and two swearing assistants. Sara was pretty sure that David had been swearing too, but it had been under his breath, and she hadn't asked him to speak up.

"Almost done?" Grissom asked, and tugged off his CSI cap to run a hand through his hair.

Sara swallowed at the sight; it wasn't often that he let his hair go curly, but the sweat that had gathered under his hat had done the trick. "Way ahead of you, boss," she said cheerfully, and bent to close her case.

"You need a hand getting back up the hill, miss?" asked the officer, giving her an affable grin. He was tall, and bulky in the heavy uniform coat, and his eyes sparkled appreciatively as he looked at her; but all she felt was annoyance that he would assume she couldn't climb the hill without help.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Grissom's face set in grim lines as he turned toward the slope, and sighed. Great. Is he going to sulk now?

"Nope, I'm fine," she said curtly, and turned her back to the officer.

The CSIs scrambled back up to the top of the hill, hampered by their cases, gripping tufts of grass and sending more dust clouding out behind them. At the top, Sara set her case down and knelt to slip off her right shoe, wishing that she had worn boots that night. Turning it upside down, she caught the pebble that dropped out, and shook out more debris.

"You all right?" came his voice, and Sara looked up, a little surprised that Grissom hadn't just walked back to the SUV to wait for her.

"I'm fine," she said, smiling. "Just have to empty out my shoes."

She bounced the pebble on her palm, a fragment of music surfacing from memory, and set it down on the ground. "Dare," she murmured under her breath, and put her shoe back on, then removed the left one and turned it upside down. A small shower of rocks cascaded onto her right shoe, and she slipped her foot back into the left one.

Grissom held out a hand to her, increasing her surprise by a factor of ten, but she rose to the challenge and took it so he could pull her to her feet. Her jaw all but dropped when he didn't let her go; instead, he set down his own case and surrounded her fingers with both his hands, rubbing firmly. "Your hand is cold," he said, his tone practical; but she could see a glint of something--mischief, perhaps--in his eyes.

"Um...thanks," she said, finding her voice at last. She was surprised she could speak at all; his touch was shorting out her thought processes.

Grissom released her hands and picked up his case again, tilting his head to regard her for a moment. "Sara?" he asked.

"Hmm?" She blinked, still a little dazed.

"I'm glad you're here." He gave her that knowing half-smile, and began walking back to the SUV.

A new start, huh? Grinning, she kicked the gravel from her shoe.