DISCLAIMER: Guess what? Not mine. Which is a pity, really.

A/N: Post-ep for "Invisible Evidence," because Grissom annoyed me (again) and because I thought it was about time I wrote something.



Sara rested her forehead against the wall, not caring about the curious looks passers-by were giving her. Most of them would probably chalk it up to stress because of the rush on the Rachel Lyford case, or just think it was Sara Sidle being odd again.

She remembered a time in her life when she had felt as though the world was fresh, bright, shiny; filled with chances for her to make a difference, to be a success. Now, standing here in a hallway, all she could think of was that she'd reached the end of an alleyway that had gotten progressively dark and dingy as she'd moved down it. Somewhere back there was that world of light. It just wasn't her world any more.

Sara simply stood there, tuning out the sound of footsteps and whispers and the constant background noise of the lab. She stood there, silently cursing herself for her sheer stupidity, the look on Grissom's face berating her even through her closed eyes.

Had she really just imagined everything that she thought had happened between them? Did he honestly have no conception of how she'd treasured the looks, the touches, the things he'd said?

It was entirely possible. For all she knew, he thought he was just being polite. Who knew how Grissom's mind worked? After all these years, she should have known as well as anyone that you couldn't count on Grissom's mind to work at all like anyone elses.


Sara squeezed her eyes shut tighter, willing that Texan accent and the man who belonged to it to go away, to leave her in her own little world where she could stay, sheltered, trying to dredge up the strength to rejoin the land of the living.

"Hey. Sidle." Nick's hand landed on her shoulder. "I know it's a nice wall, but you can't stay there."

*Go away go away go away go away*

It was hard to believe she was miles away from the world of the lab and CSI when Nick's hand was on her shoulder and she could feel his body behind hers.

"Sara. Hey."

His body came round close beside her.

"What the hell has happened, Sara? Is it putting your homicide on hold? 4pm, this'll all be over and you can go back to it."

*Go away go away go away go away*

"Look, you can't stay here. Come on."

Sara felt his arm slip around her shoulders as he propelled her away from the wall. Automatically, she opened her eyes, catching a curious look from Jacqui di Franco as she strode past. When was the last time someone had touched her of their own will?

"If you promise to come talk to me, I'll let go," Nick informed her, in his most ingratiating tone.

"All right. I promise." If there was one thing she *had* learnt, it was that Nick was pretty determined when he decided he wanted something. Especially when he was worried about you, as he'd been about Sara so many times.

Why the hell was it he was always the one who came through for her? Why did he keep caring, when she kept ruthlessly pushing him away? Why was it Nick who gave a damn about her, when it was Grissom she wanted to notice her?

Nick dropped his arm from her shoulders. "Come on," he said, tossing her a smile. "We deserve a break. Let's go hide in a corner and drink coffee, and you can tell me about it."

Sara slowly tuned the world back in as she walked along at Nick's side. Damn the man.

It seemed she'd have to turn back to that light at the end of the alleyway, after all. It was just going to be a different world.