Disclaimers, etc.: see Ch. 1, 13


I don't know how to handle this. Grissom stared into the dimness of his bedroom, eyes unfocused, replaying the events of the night in his head. And at the moment, I don't really care.

His own reaction amused him, to a degree. He craved order in his life, calmness, certainty; and he'd tossed it all out the window for the reality-shifting energy that was Sara. He rolled onto his back, the sheets cool against his skin, and fished under the blankets for the cushion he'd brought in from the couch. It still smelled faintly of her.

I really should try to figure out how we're going to deal with this at work. He tucked the cushion under his head, blinking. We may be able to keep it a secret for a while, but sooner or later somebody's going to figure it out. It was true that Grissom had finally realized that the rewards of being with Sara were greater than the risks of a relationship, but the risks were still there, and he was no more eager to get either of them into trouble than he had been before.

He shuddered a little, remembering how often he'd hurt her. And she's forgiven me. Generous of heart, as always.

He hadn't planned on moving quite so quickly...but in a sense she'd forced his hand, and he was grateful. They'd cuddled together for well over an hour, unwilling to part just yet, but eventually the dishes got washed. They'd bumped around his tiny kitchen, veering between shyness and delight, and every so often pausing to kiss, dizzy with the realization that it was allowed. Then, just for the fun of it, they'd gone for a walk, Sara insisting that they needed the fresh air and Grissom insisting on holding her hand.

Eventually, Sara had gone home, abjuring him sternly to get some sleep. He'd kissed her twice more at her car, half-afraid that her leaving would reveal it all to be a dream, and while she'd finally shoved him playfully away, her fingers had clung to his and he knew she felt the same way.

His phone rang, and he slid across the bed to answer it. "Grissom."

"Hey," came the soft reply, and he had to grin. "Did I wake you?"

Sara's voice was uncertain, and he hastened to reassure her. "Not at all. I was...I was just thinking of you."

She chuckled, the rich laugh that he had always loved to hear. "That makes two of us then." She sighed. "I don't really have a reason for calling; I just wanted to hear your voice."

"It's mutual," he assured her happily, then sobered a little. "Sara--"


"Are we moving too fast?" Grissom wasn't sure how to explain his question.

But their rapport was apparently holding. "Normally...normally I'd say yes," she answered slowly, her tone thoughtful. "But, y'know, Griss, it's not like we don't know each other pretty well already."

"That's true," he acknowledged, equally thoughtful.

A moment's silence, and then-- "Do you want to slow down?"

"No," he said. Simple truth. "We can if we have to, Sara, but I don't want to."

She sighed, and it made him smile in the dimness. "Me neither."

"Good." He savored his new memories--not just the taste of her lips, but the feel of her hand on his cheek again, and the light in her eyes, so long missing. And anticipated with a curl of warm, unfamiliar delight the making of more.

"So...I guess I should go," she said awkwardly.

"Not yet," Grissom countered. "I thought you never slept."

"I do try sometimes."

He grinned at the ceiling. "Want me to tell you a bedtime story?"

And she laughed again.


"All set?" Grissom asked. Ted nodded, and Grissom handed him the keys. "Okay. If there are any problems, you know where to reach me."

"Say--say hi to Sara for me," the younger man stuttered, and Grissom smiled fondly as Ted's ears reddened.

"I'll do that," he replied. The two shook hands, and Grissom climbed back into his car, driving away from his mother's house with several backward glances.

Ted'll take good care of it. He's careful. Grissom didn't need the rent money that Ted would be paying him, but he wasn't quite ready to let go of the little house he'd grown up in, and renting it to his relation gave him time to decide what to do with it.

Grissom drove slowly through the neighborhood. It had taken nearly a week, and the longest "vacation" he'd had in years, but what he planned to keep of his mother's possessions were now safely in storage. He'd made several visits to his aunt, spending quiet times mourning and remembering, and had finished all the errands he'd planned to run. The bag on the passenger seat of his car held a box of premium chocolates for the night shift team and a brace of the caramel-dipped apples that he knew Sara loved, and he was looking forward to watching her eat the very messy treats. Next to the bag, though, was a cellophane-wrapped bundle. He had one more stop to make.

After two months, the grass covering his mother's grave had settled into place and was growing thickly. The silvery-gray headstone bore only her name and dates; Robin had scorned sentimentality. Grissom crouched down next to the gentle swell and unwrapped the lilies, laying them bare on the grass, their green stems and brilliant orange petals a fitting accent in the summer sunlight. He crumpled the cellophane into his pocket and thought a moment. His mother wasn't really there, he knew that; but somehow it felt like she was watching nonetheless.

"It's okay, Mom," he finally signed to the wind and the stone. "But I miss you." Images kaleidoscoped through his head, his mother living, his mother dead; the funeral service he now remembered to a degree, and the sound of her unrestrained laughter; the wrap of her arms around him when he was small, and the mostly-unconscious, life-sustaining knowledge of her love. Ironic, and he knew it, that he should lose one and gain another.

"You wanted more for me," he went on. "I think I'm finally getting it." He squinted a little, thinking. His center of gravity had shifted with his mother's death; the trick was, as ever, finding balance again. Fortunately for me, I have help.

His knees were beginning to complain. Grissom rose, looking down at the grave. "I love you, Mom," he added, then stuffed his hands in his pockets and turned away. It was a long drive back to Vegas, and his mother wouldn't have thanked him for hanging around.

When he got back to his car, his cellphone was chiming quietly in the glove compartment. He pulled it out to find that he had a new text message.

When will you be home? S.

The smile that spread over his face felt very good.