Appreciation by SLynn

Summary: An art heist, an arsonist and a lot of angst. Takes place approximately four months after the end of 'Precious Things' This is the fifth in a series. Greg/Sara and Nick/OC

Spoilers: Up to 'Nesting Dolls'

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing and will return them all when I'm done, virtually untouched.

Thanks and such at the bottom! This is it, the last chapter!

Now it's time to prove that you've come back here to rebuild.

'Call and Answer' by the Barenaked Ladies

Chapter 30: Rebuild

Sara was in the hospital for the next two weeks.

Greg wasn't able to stay the entire time and Sara didn't expect him too. So, it was decided with Grissom's consent that he would return to work until she was released and then take two weeks off to help with her initial recovery.

Sara wasn't going to be allowed back into the lab until at least a month after her hospital stay. And even then, she was only going to be allowed back conditionally. One of those conditions, no heavy lifting, was to be in force for another month. An additional restraint, put in place by Ecklie, was that Greg and Sara were not to work cases alone. He wasn't foolish enough to believe that they had caused the situation at the house, but understanding as everyone now did that they were in fact together again he thought it best to separate them as much as possible.

That all settled the next difficulty came in deciding exactly where Sara would be staying. Knowing full well she didn't want to move back into their house, Greg couldn't stop calling it that despite the situation; he was at a loss.

That as well was settled not long after Sara regained the use of her voice as she asked Nick to help Greg with the move. Greg was surprised but said nothing about it, just helped in what turned out to be a very easy project. Most of Sara's things, as he remembered from his visits to her place, had remained in boxes. With Warrick's help, the three of them managed to do it all in a day.

When Sara finally left the hospital she really did need the extra help, as her ribs hadn't yet healed completely. Her voice back, she and Greg could at least talk again, but the conversations were strangely off. They never discussed more than very basic things. Greg, somber since the ordeal, hadn't much to say and Sara didn't know where to begin. She'd learned everything that had happened that night in the house, mostly through Nick and Charlie, and much of what had happened afterwards from Warrick, but Greg didn't want to talk about it. At all.

They continued on in an awkward semi-silence until Greg returned to work. At least after that he could tell her about what was happening, but seemed reluctant to say more. When he left each night he made sure he had everything she needed. He was always quick to buy her any magazines or books she might want and was even pre-cooking meals in case she got hungry.

Very little of his effort was necessary since Sara spent a lot of time resting. She was still on pain medication, which kept her fairly sedated, and in addition to that an inhaled steroid to help rebuild her lungs. At first Sara got winded just crossing the room, but soon with exercise and the medication, it grew better.

Their house was frequently visited by most of the lab and a good deal of the police department.

Charlie was one of their earliest visitors. He had stayed away from the hospital while she'd been there, but now knew it was time to stop by and clear the air. He wasn't sure if Greg would even let him in, they hadn't spoken since that night, but it really all seemed forgotten. It didn't stop him from apologizing, several times, but Greg wouldn't hear of it. He knew Charlie had just been doing his job. Sara as well couldn't be mad, even after hearing all the facts.

Nick and Amy stopped by nearly daily. They'd usually bring food or a movie or something to help pass the time. Greg and Sara were always thankful for the company as it made it easier. If they couldn't talk to each other, but they could at least talk to Nick and Amy.

Finally, a week after Greg returned, it all changed again.

He came home that morning, expecting to find her still asleep, but instead she was waiting for him on the couch.

"Morning," he said, shutting the door as quietly as he could behind him out of habit.

Sara smiled faintly at him, but didn't return the gesture.

Greg took in her features and saw that she was upset. It wasn't always easy to tell with Sara but sometimes she let her emotions surface in her eyes.

"I've just been thinking," she started slowly, "that before I go back to work I should move out again."

Greg said nothing, just sat down in the nearest chair and looked down at his feet.

"My apartment is still leased and…"

"Did I do something wrong?" he asked, cutting her off before she could continue.

"Greg," she answered, shaking her head, "it's obvious you don't really want me here."

"Why would you think that?"

"I don't know," she answered. "We just never talk. You hardly come near me unless you have too."

Sara stopped and looked away, tears coming to her eyes.

"I thought we were going to be okay but you still need time, I get that."

"I don't need any more time Sara," Greg said warmly. "I know I've been…distant. I'm sorry. Time is the problem. I've been wasting it by being stubborn and now… now every time I leave I keep thinking that I might not see you again. That something is going to happen and this time…"

"Greg…"

"I'm sorry for how I acted before. I'm sorry that I wasn't patient and just waited for you to come to me…"

"Greg," Sara cut him off, taking hold of his hands and waiting for him to look up at her. "Don't apologize. I was wrong, not you. I should have been more open. I will be; I won't make that mistake again. But you can't worry about everything. You can't worry about the future, or about all the things that might happen or never will."

"I can't stop it though."

Sara nodded and knew that was a part of Greg. That he'd have to talk about it, talk through it several times before he got over it.

"You will," she said reassuringly.

Greg nodded and squeezed her hands.

"I know I haven't been…well, anything like reasonable lately," Greg offered.

"It's fine," she said, smiling. Relieved it wasn't what she thought it was. That Greg really had changed his mind and decided against them for good. "I just…I've…"

"What?" he asked, startled by her sudden change.

"I've got something to tell you."

Greg gave her a questioning look before sitting back and waiting for her to continue. It was his turn to be nervous, even though that wasn't what she wanted.

"I don't even know how to start," she said slowly, "so I might as well just say it. I lost your ring."

"Sara…" Greg tried, but she quickly cut him off.

"I've been looking for it for the last three days even though I knew it wouldn't be in my things."

"Sara you…"

"I had it with me during the fire, I'd…"

"Been carrying it around on a chain," Greg finished for her. "I know. I found it in your things at the hospital."

Greg smiled at her briefly, hoping she wasn't mad. He'd taken it, pocketed it without thinking and then forgot he had it until a day later.

Taking it out of his pocket now, where he'd kept it since, he saw her smile in relief and cover her face with her hands.

"You don't know…"

"I didn't mean to upset you," he said before she could finish.

She smiled and nodded, wiping her eyes quickly. She'd carried the ring since they'd broken up. Sara hadn't worn it, but had kept it with her nearly at all times.

Greg got up and sat by her now. Tentatively he took hold of her left hand and slid the ring onto her finger.

She sat there, smiling through her tears, as he looked up and met her gaze. Leaning in he kissed her slowly and carefully, as if she might break. Worried he'd hurt her in some unforeseen way but still eager for her touch.

Sara did not share his reservations and after a moment moved closer and deepened the kiss. Pulling him to her by placing her hands on his face, he soon found he couldn't resist and wrapped his arms around her as well.

Gasping at the contact, Greg pulled back immediately looking horrified that he'd done exactly what he'd feared doing most. That he might have hurt her.

Sara smiled at him; trying to make him see she was really okay.

"I'm just a little sore still," she apologized, indicating her ribs, which he'd inadvertently grabbed hold of.

"Sara I'm so…"

Before he could finish, she'd tilted his head back to hers and kissed him again.

After that, everything was back to normal between them.

Greg and Sara never had to discuss it, at least not right away, but knew they'd be getting married soon. It was what they both wanted and it was how it needed to be.

Everyone else seemed to know it as well without anyone saying a word.

Sara returned to work, part time, a few weeks later. She was confined to the lab for the time being until cleared by Dr. Davidson, but that didn't dampen her enthusiasm.

It took Greg some time but he began to realize, mostly with Sara's help, that every day need not be feared. That yes, they'd have problems and still fight, but they'd also have each other; that bad things will happen, that there was no stopping them, but to live in fear wasn't really living.

It was the happiest either of them had been in some time. Sara was eager to share her life with him, almost as eager as Greg was to hear it. There were no more secrets for them to keep. Not from each other and not from anyone else.

They'd both learned to appreciate every moment spent together, good or bad, and love one another more for it.

The End

A/N: And thank goodness it's over! Oh man, I'm wiped out. Seriously, it's going to be some time before part six (am I really up to six?) is even attempted. I've got ideas for it but it'll be on the back burner until I finish a few other ideas/stories out.

Thanks especially to RivenSky and Tripp3235 for all your continuous help and awesome beta-fire action.

And how do I thank everyone for taking the time to read and review all these chapters? I can't. You guys are awesome. Thank you so much, you keep me motivated, you keep me writing, you keep me inspired. Thanks for your patience and support. I hope you like my next offering as much as the previous ones. Happy trails and keep on writing!