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. 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: through "Dead Ringer"


And so the evening began, with a sticky car door, a sand-covered decomp, and a sudden downpour. There was much shouting and swearing as photos were hastily taken and evidence snatched up with furious disregard for protocol, and the warning rolled 'round the lab to avoid Grissom until his temper cooled; estimates were that he would regain his objectivity sometime around midnight. The CSIs squished back, dropped off their waterlogged evidence, and changed into dry clothes.

Sara elected to examine the car and escaped to the garage. Fortunately, whatever was gunking up the driver's side door was not water-soluble; Sara took her time getting samples. She'd had enough of Grissom's sharp words lately and didn't want to be on the receiving end of more.

She was setting up the fuming equipment for fingerprints when Nick appeared. "Anything?" he asked hopefully.

Sara's nose wrinkled. "You been in the morgue?"

Nick rolled his eyes. "Yeah. Cause of death was a gunshot wound to the right temple; Doc says he's been dead about eight days." He looked down at himself. "I reek, huh?"

Sara pursed her lips, then grinned, and shut the car door. "Not too bad, but yeah."

Nick grumbled. "And I have a date after work, too."

"I've got some lemon juice you can use," Sara offered, earning herself a wide smile.

"That's cool, Sara, you're a sweetheart."

He stiffened as her eyes flicked from him to the door behind him, and a hard voice filled the garage. "If you two have nothing to do, I'm sure I can find you something."

Sara pointed wordlessly at the clouding car, her eyes cold. Nick turned to face their supervisor, who had obviously not yet reached equilibrium. "I was just updating Sara on Doc Robbins' report."

"Fine. She's updated." Grissom stepped into the garage. "The vic's clothes are waiting for you in Trace."

Sara turned back to the car as Nick retreated. It wasn't yet time to air out the vehicle, but she was hoping that Grissom would leave before she had to face him again.

No such luck. "Anything on the substance on the door?" he asked, his voice somewhat gentler.

Sara shrugged. "It's relatively fresh--not too much grit or debris in it--but I can't identify it. I sent samples to Hodges."

"Good." A long pause, and then a sigh. "Sara...will you please look at me?"

"Why?" Her shoulders ached with tension.

"Because I owe you an apology, and I'd prefer to give it to your face."

That startled her, and she did turn. Grissom had his hands in his pockets and a distinctly sheepish look on his face. "I had no right to snap at you earlier. You were doing everything you could, and I shouldn't have criticized."

Sara blinked. "...Thank you." A hint of a smile began to show. "You were yelling at everybody, though, not just me."

"I know." Grissom tilted his head. "I...have a list."

The smile was growing. "And I was at the top?"

"I decided to make the hardest one first."

All her humor fled at his words. "Oh." She turned back, bending to peer into the car, though the prints would hardly be showing yet. To her dismay, she caught sight of Grissom's reflection in the window as he moved closer. "Well. Apology accepted."

She saw his hand come up, as if to touch her shoulder, and then drop away. "Sara."

She straightened, looking blindly over the car's roof. "What?"

"I'm not done apologizing."

Drat the man, he never failed to catch her attention, no matter how hard she wished otherwise. Slowly, she faced him. "Grissom..."

He raised one hand and licked his lips. "Hear me out." His gaze flicked over her, finally settling on her face, and she realized that he was as tense as wire, though hiding it in his casual stance. "I've been treating you unfairly for some time, for--for personal reasons. That's not an excuse, but I'm sorry."

Sara blinked. "Okay." Everything in her screamed at her to let it go...everything but her stubbornness. "What personal reasons?"

She'd expected him to equivocate, but instead one brow went up in a half-humorous quirk. "You have to ask?"

Her eyes widened. Grissom stepped closer, and all of a sudden she could smell him even over the sharp bite of the Superglue, warmth and soap and just a hint of rain. His voice was soft, and his eyes were wide and wary. "Sara..."

She waited for him to back off, to shut down, to say something that would turn the whole conversation ninety degrees, but instead he took another step, filling her senses with his aura of maleness and the connaturality that had been apparent since they first met. Only half-believing, she lifted one hand and laid it on his chest--not to stop him, but to touch him, to make sure he was actually there. His heartbeat was rapid under her fingers.


Nick just couldn't get the grin off his face, but he didn't much care. He stank, his evidence stank, it had already been a long night even though the shift was only half-over, and his boots would probably take two days to dry out, but none of that mattered right now. He headed for the breakroom for a soda, chuckling under his breath, and Catherine shot him an inquiring look as he straightened from the fridge. "What's with you?"

His grin widened. "Oh...I just saw something that made my day. Heck, it made my whole month." Halfway to Trace he'd figured he'd better go back and see if Sara needed rescuing, but the sight that greeted him when he peered around the door into the garage had made him retreat quickly. He only hoped they quit kissing each other before somebody else dropped in on them.

"Yeah?" Catherine smiled, puzzled. "What was it?"

"Not telling."

She looked him up and down, apparently taking his statement seriously. "Because?"

Nick shook his head, utterly pleased. "Because, I don't think anyone would believe me."