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; most of the others are mine, and if you want to borrow 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.

Spoilers: general fourth season.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There are days when I hate this job.

It had been one of those nights. People running frantically around trying to get things done, equipment breaking, evidence not saying anything that anyone wanted to hear. Grissom had been up to his ears in balky witnesses, compromised crime scenes, and ill-tempered colleagues.

Or just plain ill. He hadn't even been supposed to work that night, he'd carefully scheduled it off. But Warrick had the flu, and the temp was useless without supervision, and it felt like all the criminals in Vegas--oh, be honest. Only about 80 percent--had picked that night to be bad.

And then had come the message, the one he'd almost missed, that he would have missed if someone hadn't tossed off a casual, hurried comment in passing. And at that point he'd dropped everything. It was almost the end of shift, and they'd just have to do without him for the rest of it.

Even then, things had conspired against him. He'd had to go home first, and the cab had taken too long to show up, and...

Panic was beginning to set in. He, who never panicked, was beginning to feel the burn of desperate adrenaline. I'd get there faster walking.

Grissom stared out the window of the cab. He'd had the misfortune to get stuck in a major traffic jam, and at the rate the vehicle was moving, Grissom would reach the airport just in time to watch the plane take off.

"Can you take a shortcut?" He leaned forward to look more closely at the driver, a wild-haired young woman who for some reason reminded him of Greg.

She glanced back, and narrow black eyes crinkled with amusement in the rear-view mirror. "Can you take some speed?"

"At this point, yes." He couldn't miss that plane. Absolutely could not.

"Sweeeeet." She wrenched the wheel to the right, and with tires squealing, the cab swung out onto the shoulder of the road. Grissom gritted his teeth as the driver sped up past the line of crawling cars and dove down the nearby exit ramp.

It wasn't the hairiest fifteen minutes of his life, but it ranked somewhere near the top of the list. But Grissom was willing to overlook the broken laws just this once--they'd reached the airport in probably enough time for him to make it through security. He handed the driver twice her fare, just payment for a job well done, and strode through the airport doors.

The panic had simmered back to a lower burn, but it was definitely still there. Grissom stood in the line for the security checks, trying not to fidget. Images kept forming in his mind, all involving the same face. Annoyed, frightened, angry, sleeping. A full-fledged grin. Absolute concentration. The tender look that was so rare, and so precious.

He could not miss that plane.

Security eroded what little patience he had left, and Grissom wished desperately that his LVPD ID were enough to get him past the guardians. Instead, he had to wait, checking his watch every so often, as travelers inched towards the scanning machines. Grissom was ready to swear by the time he got there, and then did--one short, sharp word--when he was pulled aside for a random extra check.

Calm down. Your pulse is too high. You have time. He looked once more at his watch. Barely.

They wanded him, checked his shoes, patted him down, and he would have argued, but it would have only delayed him further. Finally, finally, they let him go, and he sped down the concourse, heading for Gate B-3. Fortunately for him, it wasn't far.

The last boarding call rang in his ears as he hurried up to the gate itself. There were no other passengers left, and the gate attendant smiled as he scanned Grissom's ticket in. "Glad you made it, sir."

Grissom exhaled heavily. "So am I."

There was no more need to hurry. He thudded down the metal steps and strode across the concrete to the puddle-jumper, feeling the cool wind of dawn on his cheeks, then climbed the plane's stairs and found his seat. Stowing his bag overhead, Grissom dropped into the narrow seat, ignoring his seatmate's under-the-breath grumble at the loss of the empty space. I made it. I actually made it.

Leaning back, he blew out a long breath, letting some of the tension go. This...venture...still depended on many factors, but as long as the plane landed on time...

It wasn't a long flight. The sun was still fairly low in the sky when the plane curved down over dark water towards its destination. Grissom watched out the window as best he could, admiring the sight of the whitecaps as they slid over the surface towards shore.

Then they were on the ground, and foregoing his usual patience, Grissom was third in line to get off.

Rather to his surprise, renting a car went smoothly, even without a reservation. Grissom put on his seatbelt and fumbled in his pocket for the handwritten directions, the one item he'd had to have and the one he'd had to go home for. Checking his watch yet again, he pulled out of the airport lot and headed north. He didn't have far to go, but he didn't have too much time either.

The drive was lovely, but he wasn't paying attention. He kept to just over the speed limit; the road wasn't very familiar, and the last thing he needed right now was to be pulled over. But his watch had reached 10:50 on the dot when he pulled into the gravel parking lot and saw the figures leaving the wide double doors of the bed and breakfast.

Grissom shut off the engine and climbed out of the car, making his way across the lot to the lawn. The last figure was swinging herself along on crutches, watching the ground, but at a touch on her arm she looked up, and her face went from concentration to breathtaking joy.

He strode the last few steps and gathered her into his arms, kissing her lavishly, ignoring the others for the moment. Sara returned the kiss with enthusiasm, dropping her crutches so that she could embrace him.

"Merry Christmas," he murmured when their lips parted, and she grinned again.

"I knew you'd make it."

He loosened his grip, shifting his hold so that she wouldn't have to put any weight on her sprained ankle, and looked around. Sara's brother stood nearby, holding the crutches and grinning the same grin; her parents smiled at him from a little ways away. "Merry Christmas," he repeated dryly, and everyone laughed.

Sara's brother handed her the crutches, but before she could fit them under her arms, Grissom simply lifted her off her feet. "We'll meet you there," he said over his shoulder as he started for the car, and more laughter followed him.

Sara laid her head on his shoulder. "I'm glad you got the ticket in time. I kept calling, but I couldn't get through to anybody but Reception."

"I almost didn't," Grissom admitted, reaching the car and turning so that Sara could lean down and open the passenger-side door. "How much time do we have?"

"About five minutes. Don't worry, Gil, Christmas service never starts on time." He settled her into the seat and kissed her one more time, and her fingers were tender on his cheek. "I missed you too."

End.