A/N: Those of you who know my stuff know that I'm the Fluff Queen. So when I showed Leslie (aka ScullyasTrinity) the first part of the rough draft of this piece, here is what she had to say:

BNLXPhile12 8:39 PM: MOTHERFUCKER! FINALLY! Some effin angst from you!
BNLXPhile12 8:39 PM: It's fantastic!

Heehee! She liked it, so I hope you do, too! This is, of course, my pathetic addition to the post-Bloodlines pile of stories.

"Come on…I'll take you home."

His words hung there as if suspended by one of those ridiculous cartoon thought bubbles, and inside, Sara Sidle was losing her mind.

'I'll take you home? I'll fucking take you home! Since when did the emotionless Gil Grissom decide to give a shit?' she raged inwardly, even as her face remained stoic.

Emotionless. But she knew better. She knew now that that wasn't true. That godforsaken case involving her doppelganger had proved it. She had stood inches from the glass, feet from the object of her affections, desires, and torment, and watched him say to a murderer the words he couldn't say to her.

And now she knew. He cared.

But she wasn't worth the risk.

'So why is he doing this? Because you're a coworker. It's the job. Always the job.'

Her hand was warm. She looked down, somehow not comprehending what she saw, but she didn't think it was because of the alcohol coursing through her veins.

Gil Grissom was holding her hand. It was official. She really was losing her mind.

He led her through the halls of the LVPD, seemingly unconcerned with how it looked for a supervisor to be holding the hand of a subordinate. Sara kept her head down and let him lead her outside. The air felt good on her alcohol-flushed cheeks, and she held her head up for a minute, savoring the cool breeze.

He led her to his Denali and opened the door with his free hand. Wordlessly, he helped her in and buckled her seatbelt when she made no move to do so. Gently he closed the door after her. After a moment, when he didn't get in on the driver's side, Sara lifted her head and looked around. In the rearview mirror, she saw him.

On his cell phone. And the hell of it was, she didn't even have the emotional strength to care if he was telling the entire world of her humiliation. She watched as he snapped the phone shut and walked to the driver's side door.

The Denali shifted as he added his weight to the driver seat. From the corner of her eye, she saw him glance at her bowed head—just a glance—and then start the engine. Pink Floyd resonated from the speakers, and Sara suppressed a mirthless snort. Comfortably Numb. How very appropriate. 'That was the intent,' she mused. 'Didn't quite get there, though.'

Sara closed her eyes and thought of the bottle of rum awaiting her at home.

The rest of the ride was spent in silence, with the exception of The Wall continuing to play from the CD player. Sara's feelings were slowly bubbling to the surface, and she kept her tears of humiliation at bay by concentrating on singing the lyrics in her head. It worked until Run Like Hell began to play.

You better make your face up in your favorite disguise

With your button down lips and your roller blind eyes

With your empty smile and your hungry heart…

Sara's hands lay folded neatly in her lap, and as the truth of the lyrics permeated her soul, she began to clench them tightly, relishing the pain of her fingernails digging into her palms.

You better run all day and run all night

Keep your dirty feelings deep inside…

Without a word, Sara reached over slapped the "power" button on the stereo—much harder than necessary. Grissom displayed an unusual bit of social intelligence and kept his mouth shut.

When he reached her apartment complex, Sara was unbuckling her seatbelt and preparing to bolt wordlessly when she noticed Grissom doing the same. She shot him a look that didn't need interpretation. 'Don't you dare do it, you son of a bitch,' was what he read in her eyes.

It didn't matter.

He was going to do it anyway.

She took off toward her door with an angry, purposeful stride, and he jogged to catch up. She opened her door, stepped inside, and slammed it…right on Grissom's shoulder as he barged in behind her.

"Son of a bitch," he muttered in pain.

Sara spun and looked at him with barely concealed rage and triumph. 'Learn anything, asshole?' she thought to herself.

Then, attempting to hide her obvious pleasure at his pain, she uttered her first words since he had sat down beside her at the police station half an hour ago. "Grissom, why are you here?"

He locked his eyes with hers. "I want to talk to you," he said gently.

She stared at him for a moment, as if not comprehending his words. Then, with no warning, she broke loose.

"YOU WANT TO TALK!" she yelled at the top of her lungs, making Grissom flinch visibly. "You picked a strange fucking time to go all sociable on me, Grissom!" she raged.

Grissom paled, but stood his ground and let her vent. He was alarmed at how violently she was shaking, but he made the decision not to move unless the situation became dangerous—for either of them.

"You are the most enigmatic fucking man I have ever come across in my existence—one minute you're hot, the next minute you're cold, and I'll be damned if you ever have a clue what's happening in my head!" She whirled around and stalked into her kitchen, and Grissom heard the banging of cabinets and the clinking of glass. Her voice carried out to him as she continued her tirade. "You jerk me around like I'm some stupid puppet—here for your entertainment alone—and then when you're tired of me, you cast me aside like so much garbage!" She emerged from the kitchen. "You want to talk? Let's TALK," she yelled, slamming a bottle of rum and two shot glasses down on the coffee table.

Grissom stared at her in shock. She looked like hell. She looked like an angel. He opened his mouth to speak, to protest, but she beat him to the punch.

"No," she said firmly. "You will sit. I will talk. And you will listen."

His brain was telling him to put a stop to this—that the last thing Sara Sidle needed right now was more alcohol. But without his permission, his legs were propelling him toward the couch, and he was bending at the knees, and then he was sitting.

Sara poured two shots of the coconut rum. "Drink," she spat, knocking her own shot back effortlessly.

Grissom looked up at her, face blank, and complied. He set the empty shot glass down on her coffee table and waited.

"It's time, Grissom. You opened this can of worms, so let's go." She pointed to the bottle of rum sitting on the coffee table as she paced the room. "It's been said that alcohol is the most potent truth serum known to man. You and I are about to find out whether or not that statement is true."

"Come back to me."

Sara stopped, mid-pace, with her back to him. She was motionless for a moment, completely still, as if carved in stone. Slowly, she turned toward him, her eyes wide. "What did you say?"

Grissom held up a finger as he poured himself another shot and quickly drank it down. Swallowing, he looked back up at her. "Come back to me. I don't know what happened to us—to you, to me. But we used to be friends. And somewhere along the way…I lost you. Maybe I lost myself, I don't know. But I want the old Sara back. Come back."

Sara Sidle's eyes narrowed as she took him in. "You…don't know what happened?" she said in a dangerously low voice. He simply looked at her. "Hmm, let's go over it, shall we?" she said cruelly. "I think it all started way back when I was your student, and I first began falling in love with you—" Grissom's eyes widened, but he wisely kept his mouth shut. "But I did everything possible to convince myself that a relationship was out of the realm of possibility. Then you asked me to come to Vegas, and then you asked me to stay in Vegas. Not too long after that, there we are, having an innocuous discussion at a fucking crime scene, and you tell me that you became interested in beauty when you met me. Do you know what that did to my heart?" She paused for another shot, warning him with her eyes not to interject a single word.

She continued. "Then it all went to hell, it seems. The lab blows up, you call me 'honey' while I'm sitting there bleeding, and then I ask you out, and you…" her voice grew icy with bitterness. "You turned me down more coldly than I ever thought possible." She paused and fixed him with a bone-chilling stare. "Do you know how much nerve it took for me to do that? All I wanted was dinner, Grissom. One lousy dinner. And you shot me down. Not a 'Gee, I'm just not up for it tonight,' not a 'oh, hey, I'd love to, but I have to go have surgery on my ears—'" He jerked at that last bit, and she rambled on before he could say a word. "Oh, God, yes, Grissom, we all knew," she said, rolling her eyes. "It was insulting that you thought we wouldn't figure it out. But that's not the point!" Her knees hit the floor in front of the coffee table and she slammed her hands down atop the glass, rattling the rum bottle and the shot glasses. Grissom took that as his cue to have another shot.

She continued. "My point is that you cared so little for my feelings that you turned me down cold without even thinking about it—and the most humiliating thing about it was that you acted as if I had just asked you the most ridiculous question you had ever heard in your life. So there I am, putting my heart on the line, and not only do you stomp on it, you hang around to jump up and down on my self-esteem for awhile, too." Sara ran a thin hand through her hair and swiped angrily at the traitorous tears making their way down her face. "You pass me up for a promotion I completely deserved, and then to top it all off—the buttercream icing on the big chocolate fucking birthday cake," –She leaned across the coffee table toward him, lowering her voice once more to that dangerous, predatory level—"I stand behind a wall of glass and watch you tell a complete stranger—a complete murdering stranger, at that—that you and he are a lot alike, only you couldn't take the risk."

She stopped, waiting for his reaction.

It was worth it.

As the meaning of her words hit him, it seemed as though every synapse in Gil Grissom's body fired simultaneously, sending shockwaves of pain coursing through him. His eyes widened, his chest heaved, and his throat constricted with unshed tears of realization. He glanced wildly around her apartment, as if seeking the answers to all of the questions in the universe in the muted tones of her walls. Finally, he settled on another shot of rum, knocking it back as if it were a lifesaving drug.

And Sara cruelly continued. "And that brings us to the present. You have obviously stumbled upon my nasty little secret—my coping strategy. You told me to find a diversion. Here it is. I no longer come home to an empty house. I come home to Jose, or Evan, or Jack, or Captain Morgan. They don't have arms to hold me with, but they do a great job of warming me up. They don't do very well at having conversation over the breakfast table, but they do a great job of making the silence more bearable."

Sara's speech was beginning to slur, and as Grissom watched her, he could almost see all the fight leaving her. Her shoulders began to slump, her head drooped, and her hands hung limply by her sides as she kneeled. And suddenly, like a small, sad child, she looked up at him, brown eyes filled with tears, and asked him the simplest of questions.

"Why is it so hard to love me?"

Her question, coupled with the look on her face, unleashed something in Grissom's heart. He felt his own eyes fill with tears, and he made no move to blink them away. And for the first time in his relationship with Sara, he had no hesitation. Quietly, he addressed her.

"You've got it backwards. It's so hard not to love you."

Sara stared at him, wondering if, in her alcohol-induced haze, she had somehow misunderstood his words. Before she could contemplate it any further, he continued, looking dazedly into the distance.

"I don't want to love you. I want to be able to walk into a room where you are and not feel my heart race and my mouth go dry. I want to be able to stand next to you at a microscope and not be preoccupied with the smell of your hair and how your neck would taste if I kissed it. I want to work alongside you at a crime scene and concentrate on my job—not how delicate your hands look as you collect evidence, not the sway of your hips as you walk from room to room, and most certainly not the way your hair would look splayed out on a pillow underneath me."

He looked up at her, suddenly, surely. She was sobbing quietly.

"Dammit, Sara. Don't you see? I can't help it. I'm in so deep I don't know what to do. I've never had a relationship that worked in my entire life, and I couldn't handle it if I had you and then lost you. All I know is that the first day I saw you, in a lecture hall in San Francisco, you captivated me, and that has never changed. I wanted it to go away, but it hasn't." He looked at his hands. "And there you have it."

Without warning, he jumped up, stepped across the coffee table and took her in his arms. He rocked her back and forth, letting her cry herself out, all the while whispering softly to her, "I love you. I love you, Sara Sidle."

Suddenly, she grunted and planted both hands firmly on his chest, shoving him away, hard.

"It can't be that easy, Grissom! You can't just waltz in here and tell me you love me and make it all better! And even now, I don't know what you want! So what, you admitted you love me. What the hell does that mean? 'I love you and I want to be with you?' 'I love you, but you're still not worth the risk to me?' 'I love you, let's fuck?' You know what, Grissom?" Her face was suddenly clear. "I'll never figure you out. Just get out."

He stared at her, stunned and heartbroken. His mind understood that he had it coming, but his heart shattered all the same. "Please, Sara. Say it's not too late. Please. You see, I was wrong. You are worth the risk. I'm sorry it took me so long to understand that. I'm a fool. All I can do is ask you to forgive me and accept me for who and what I am." Grissom's face was panic-stricken now. The past five minutes had made clear to him, for possibly the first time in his life, what he wanted, and now he was acknowledging the possibility that it might slip through his fingers. He reached out and took Sara's hands in his, grasping them feverishly, as if she might jump up and run away at any moment. He looked first at their intertwined fingers, then into her tear-stained face, and let his eyes do the pleading.

Sara's head was spinning as she stared into his blue eyes. Her head and her heart were at war. Her heart was screaming, "Yes! Do it now! Jump into his arms and let him love you!" while her head was in self-preservation mode, lecturing her to "Give it up. He's hurt you before. He'll hurt you again."

Everything in her seemed to be tearing apart as she looked into his eyes and saw fear. Real, honest-to-God fear. My God, he was petrified of losing her.

Ever so slowly, she leaned forward, breathing in his scent as she slipped her arms around his neck and let him pull her close. She buried her face in his neck, letting her lips graze the skin there. She felt his body relax, and choked up when she felt a small sob escape him. His grip tightened around her waist, and she felt that she could quite possibly stay in this moment for eternity. When at last she heard him whisper again, "I love you, Sara Sidle," she smiled gently.

"I love you, too," she murmured.

Slowly, gently, he pulled back and took her face in his hands. He swiped his thumbs across her cheeks, wiping away the last vestiges of her tears. Their faces were only inches apart and as he realized this fact, the expression on his face changed ever-so-slightly. As he leaned toward her, Sara drew in a short breath of anticipation and let her eyes flutter closed. When his lips made contact with hers, she barely suppressed a whimper of relief, joy, and arousal. The kiss was certainly the most searing she had ever had, and the low groan he gave indicated that he agreed with her assessment. Their hands began to roam and Sara was surprised at how aroused he was. As she tugged him to his feet and began to lead him toward her bedroom, he stopped her. "Wait."

She whipped her head around, her eyes filled with fear and dread.

Reading her panic, he hurried to reassure her. "No, Sara, it's just that we're drunk. I'll feel as if I'm taking advantage of you, and you may regret this in the morning."

Sara had had enough. "Grissom," she said calmly. "Will you regret it in the morning?"

He locked his eyes with hers. "No," he said solemnly.

"Did you mean all the things you just said?"

"Yes."

"Are you ready to take a chance on us?"

"Yes."

"Then I won't regret it in the morning."

He allowed her to lead him into the bedroom, where she proceeded to use those delicate hands to undress him in the same exquisite manner with which she collected evidence. He returned the favor, and after only a moment, they were in her bed, clad only in their underwear.

He leaned over her and kissed her deeply, letting his hands wander down her sides and across her stomach. As they worked their way back up, he slid them around her back to the clasp of her bra. Looking into her eyes, giving her one last chance to back out, he saw nothing but assent. He skillfully unhooked her bra and breathed in lightly when he exposed her smooth breasts. He began kissing her more urgently, and she impatiently pushed his boxers down and bucked her hips against his. Wasting no time, he slipped her panties down her legs and suddenly, they were both completely naked.

They lay there for a moment, still, relishing the feeling of skin against skin. Then when he thought he could stand it no longer, Grissom began kissing Sara gently, teasingly, using his tongue to explore her mouth in ways she never thought possible. She panted against him and placed his hand between her legs, letting him feel her. The feel of her wetness against his skin drove him wild, and began kissing her harder as he positioned himself over her. He broke off the kiss, pulling his head up to look into her eyes as he entered her for the first time. When he did, she gasped and arched up beneath him, sending waves of pleasure coursing through his body.

Panting, they began to move together, Sara's hands desperately clawing at his back. Between their inebriation and their intense physical desire for one another, it didn't take long. After only a few moments, Grissom watched in awe as Sara arched her back and looked up into his eyes, moaning and whimpering in pleasure.

The fact that his body had just brought Sara Sidle to orgasm was too much to handle, and he added his own moans to the cacophony of sounds filling her bedroom.

Hours later, upon waking, Sara rolled over and looked at Grissom in fear. Was he ready to bolt? To her surprise, clear blue eyes stared back at her. "Hey," he said softly.

"Hi," she whispered. "You're still here."

"I'm still here," he murmured. "And I'm not going anywhere, if you'll have me, Sara."

She closed her eyes and smiled. "I think I already had you, Grissom."

A small chuckle. "You know what I mean."

"Yes. I do. And I'll have you." She looked at the clock. "I'd like to have you again, but work…"

"No. I told Catherine last night that you were sick and I was taking a personal day."

Brown eyes blinked in surprise. "You mean she doesn't know about the…the DUI?"

"Not from me, anyway." He kissed her forehead. "Don't worry about it. We won't let it get out, honey."

She looked at him, eyes wide. "Grissom…is this for real? I mean, is this the real thing, the real deal? Are you really here for good? You really want to be with me?"

He smiled—a regretful, yet happy smile—as he looked at her. "I've always been with you, Sara. I just couldn't admit it."