Some 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. The rest belong to me, and if you want to play with 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 fifth season through "Spark of Life."

This is in response to a private challenge. The story was to include a number of given phrases as well as an appearance by David, and to be G/S.

As ever, many thanks to Cincoflex, without whom this would not exist!

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The wheels of justice were still greased with cronyism. This time when they went to interview Susan Methody, it was at the jail; she had already been arraigned. Where she had appeared dainty to Grissom before, now she just looked small, huddled into an orange jumpsuit a size too large. His eyes flicked automatically to her abdomen, but it was far too early for any evidence of the life within.

Methody sat down at the battered metal table without a word, her eyes blank. This time Grissom joined O'Reilly at the table, and Sara took the lurking position at the back of the small, grimy room.

Grissom took the lead; this was all about the evidence, and the detective's presence was mostly a formality. "Miss Methody," he said, keeping his voice gentle. "We have evidence that shows that David Phillips was not at the scene when Corey Abel was murdered. Care to revise your statement?"

Methody didn't even seem to hear him; she simply stared into nothing, slumped in her chair. Grissom had seen this before, the stunned retreat of a mind that had never really believed that it might be caught. It was sadly common among the more selfish criminals, those who committed crimes of passion and who were already uninclined to consider consequences.

"What do you have?" asked Methody's lawyer, a bored-looking older man in a conservative suit.

Grissom didn't look away from the young woman. "Prints on the knife used to stab Abel." Methody's shoulders twitched at his words, a slow-motion flinch. "And no evidence at all of David Phillips at the location where Abel was killed."

"It's hard to prove a negative," the lawyer commented laconically, though his eyes were sharp.

Sara paced forward, her gaze too fixed on Methody, and Grissom listened with cool appreciation as she took up the thread. "Here's how I see it, Susan. Maranatha catches you two together, and runs away. You figure things are over between them, so you tell Corey about the baby."

She put both hands on the table and leaned down. "But he's not happy about it. In fact, he blows you off and leaves. And you get angry. After all, he's the father of your baby."

The lawyer shifted a little, but didn't interrupt the CSI. "It takes you a while to find him, but you must have known where Corey and 'Natha would go to hang out. Not your kind of place, is it? But you drive all the way out there. Maybe you thought he'd cool off, change his mind."

Methody was looking at Sara now, eyes still huge and blank. "But he doesn't, does he?" Sara went on. "Maybe he says he's still in love with 'Natha. Maybe he just tells you he has no intention of marrying you. Maybe he says he isn't sure the baby is his."

A tremor ran through Methody, and Grissom guessed that Sara had hit a sore point. She continued, never letting her gaze waver. "He doesn't take you seriously, does he, Susan? You're not important enough. So you get the knife from his car, and you stab him. Five times, for everything he's put you through. For your baby."

The tears were back, rolling down Methody's face and leaving damp marks on her jumpsuit. "David did it," she said in a soft, mechanical voice. "David killed Corey."

The lawyer's lips thinned, and he looked across the table at the detective and the CSIs before reaching to whisper in Methody's ear. She didn't respond, her gaze gone distant again, and after a moment the lawyer shook his head.

"My client has nothing further to say," he stated, and that was that.

"What do you think?" Grissom asked O'Reilly as they emerged from the jail into the harsh light of midmorning. The big man shrugged.

"Ten to one she'll end up pleading insanity," he grumbled. "Might not even get to trial."

"That's unlikely," Sara objected. "It's a political case." She glanced over at Grissom. "Do you think they'll still go after David?"

He shook his head. "Without any evidence of David at the scene, her accusation is baseless, and we can make a good case that she tried to set him up. My guess is that her lawyer won't even bring up the matter in court."

Sara blew out a breath, reaching back to rub at the nape of her neck, and Grissom reined in the urge to put his thumbs there and make her tension go away himself. "So we're…done."

"I am," O'Reilly said, stretching a little. "See you guys later."

Grissom watched him go, stumping across the lot to bed or his next case, and turned back to Sara. "I promised to keep David and Albert in the loop," he said, suddenly feeling very tired.

Sara regarded him for a second, then reached out and took his wrist lightly in her fingers and tugged. "I'll drive."

They went first to the Phillips house, and 'Natha was at the door as they got out of the car, her serious young face breaking into a warm smile as they came up the walk--they didn't even have to say a word.

She ushered them into the living room. "I'll get David," she said quietly, and vanished. Grissom watched Sara look around unobtrusively, pausing at a family photo on a bookcase. A hint of wistfulness touched her expression, and Grissom guessed that she was comparing the Phillips household to her own childhood home. His heart ached a little at the thought. Colonel Phillips might have been a strict parent, but there was no doubt of the love.

The next person into the room was not, as they expected, David, but a woman perhaps ten years older than Grissom, leaning heavily on a cane. She smiled at them both, graciousness and warmth unmarred by the lines of old pain in her face. "Please, have a seat," she said quietly, and Sara did, though habit made Grissom wait until Mrs. Phillips had made her slow way to a wing chair before taking his own seat.

He did, however, choose to sit next to Sara on the couch. And took heart when she neither twitched away nor gave him an odd look.

David came in a moment later, a slow shy smile blooming as he saw them. Grissom grinned back, his fatigue lessening with the bearing of good tidings. "We found the crime scene," he reported. "There's no evidence at all to indicate you were there."

David's smile widened, and Mrs. Phillips reached up a hand to him; he wrapped his fingers around hers without even looking. "Methody hasn't confessed, but with this much against her the prosecution doesn't really need a confession," Sara added.

The coroner sighed, and Grissom could all but see the burden sliding off his shoulders, though sorrow still bracketed his mouth. "She really did it, then." At Sara's surprised look, he shrugged a little. "I was kind of still hoping it was...somebody else."

The gentle heart, Robbins had mused to Grissom about his assistant. Grissom knew he himself tried to practice dispassion, but now he wondered if he could be as compassionate about someone who had tried to frame him for murder.

David's gaze shifted to the hallway, and Grissom turned a little to see 'Natha. "It's over," David said gently, and went to hug his sister. She buried her face in his shoulder with an audible sniff, and Grissom turned back to give them a little privacy. David lost his dignity, and almost his job, he thought, but Maranatha lost both her fiancé and her best friend.

Mrs. Phillips was watching her children, her face soft. Beside Grissom, Sara stirred, and he glanced at her. "It could have been worse," she murmured, almost too softly for his ears to catch. "She could have lost her brother, too."

xxxx

The colonel was at work on base, but David phoned him to pass on the news, and in unspoken agreement Grissom and Sara stayed for a while to drink coffee with the Phillips and eat David's latest batch of cookies. Sara found it easy, which surprised her a little, but what surprised her more was Grissom's apparent ease with David's family and the way he discussed heirloom roses with Mrs. Phillips. She'd had no idea that he knew anything about roses beyond the aphids that ate them.

At one point Sara rose to make use of the bathroom, and on the way back to the living room met 'Natha in the hallway, carrying the coffeepot and crumby plate back to the kitchen. Glancing into the living room and catching a scrap of conversation concerning pruning that sounded appallingly technical, she strode after the younger woman.

"Mind if I hide out in here for a minute?" she asked wryly. "If I go back in there, they'll ask me something to be polite, and I'll have to confess that the closest I ever came to gardening was mowing lots of lawn."

'Natha laughed, and flipped her braid back over her shoulder. "Feel free," she said. "I like roses as much as anybody, but I leave the clipping--" She gestured as though holding shears. "--to Dad now that Mom's not up to it any more." She sobered a little. "It's really too bad, we finally got settled in one place and she got sick. She only got a few years of gardening in." She removed the used filter from the coffeemaker and replaced it with a fresh one, then shot Sara a curious look. "Did you move much when you were a kid?"

Sara gave her stock answer. "Just around the Bay Area." And like most questioners, 'Natha accepted it, reaching for the coffee can in one cupboard and opening it to measure out the grounds.

"We used to move about every eighteen months. It's hard to keep a garden that way." Her voice was matter-of-fact rather than complaining, and Sara leaned against the big kitchen's counter and wondered for the thousandth bleak time what it was like to grow up in an atmosphere of peace.

But that was old habit, and if the scars had been stretched a little lately, she could live with it. "Bet you got to see a lot of interesting places that way."

'Natha agreed, and at Sara's encouragement told a couple of stories about getting lost in New York City when she was seven and David sixteen, and about the one year they spent in Alaska and looking out the back window to see moose in the yard.

When the coffee finished brewing, 'Natha lifted the pot deftly to the tray, but then hesitated. "Can I ask you a question?"

By which she meant the case, Sara assumed. "You can ask, sure."

'Natha snickered. "But you might not answer?" Sara shrugged, grinning at 'Natha's perception, and 'Natha grinned back, and then sobered a little. "Um…why wasn't Dad a suspect?"

Sara relaxed at the question; it was one she could answer freely. "He was, at first. But the, uh, blows were delivered by someone shorter. He was too tall." She shrugged again. "That didn't take him off the list entirely, but the evidence pointed us elsewhere almost immediately."

"Huh." 'Natha bit her lip, apparently thinking, then nodded and picked up the tray. Sara looked at the line of her shoulders and guessed that the younger woman was hiding a great deal of what she was feeling, but Sara didn't blame her. Kind of hard to mourn the guy who cheated on you, and the woman who killed him; but it must still hurt like crazy.

She drove Grissom back to the lab so she could drop off the SUV and they could pick up their cars. He made a quiet phone call to Robbins en route, though Robbins' relief certainly wasn't quiet; Sara could hear the triumph in his voice over Grissom's phone even though she couldn't make out the words, and she smiled to herself. On occasion, the job had its benefits.

They both had to collect their things, Grissom from his office, Sara from her locker. She got her bag in short order and headed back out, thinking ahead to warm blankets and sleep; somehow the image morphed into Grissom half-covered by a sheet, sound asleep in her bed, his arm wrapped around her waist and her face buried in his neck.

It wasn't new, by any means, and automatically she moved to suppress it…and then stopped, both inside and out.

It wasn't an impossibility. Not any more.

Sara pursed her lips to suppress the smirk. Being caught by Dayshift staring into nothing with a salacious look on her face wouldn't do anything for her reputation. She shifted her bag to her other shoulder and kept going, but her path took her past Grissom's office.

He looks so tired. Grissom was leaning against his desk, going through a handful of papers and frowning--more in concentration than anger, she thought. His eyes were narrow behind his glasses, and smudged with weariness. They had both been driving themselves hard to cover the Abel case and still keep up with the night shift's other cases, and it showed on him.

The desire to haul Grissom home and look after him wasn't new, either, but it was in a way a thought more tender, more shy. It too was infused with that new possibility, but Sara still felt wary. Grissom was giving every indication in his reserved way of being ready to try a relationship, but--

You'll never know if you don't try, Sidle. She had more than one set of scars, and the ones associated with Grissom were twinging, but Sara squared her shoulders and tapped briskly on the glass.

Grissom's head jerked up. Go home, Sara mouthed at him through the window, and he gave her his wry half-smile and set down the papers. She pointed a finger at him, a stern reminder, and headed for her car.

Rather to her surprise, Grissom caught up to her in the lot. "Please tell me you're heading home too," he said as she turned to see who was walking up behind her.

"Oh yeah. For once I think I'll be able to sleep." She fished in her pocket for her car keys. At the mention of bed, Grissom's gaze flicked down her body and back up, almost too fast to catch, and she hid a surge of feminine pleasure.

His car was three spaces down from hers; getting to work early did mean she got a better chance at a slot close to the coveted reserved spaces, three of which were kept for the shift supervisors. Grissom didn't walk past, though, as Sara stopped to open her passenger side door and throw in her bag. She gave him an inquiring look.

His chin went up a little. "I'd like to see you later, if I may," he said, his tone calm but his eyes not quite settling on her. The sight made her insanely cheerful.

"Sure," she said, glancing around the lot under cover of closing the car door. Midmorning meant that the employee lot was pretty well deserted, which suited her fine. Impulse swelled, sweet and wicked, and Sara leaned forward and kissed him quickly. Her aim was a little off, and the kiss landed on the corner of his mouth.

She straightened before he could react, delighted, frightened, and thrilled all at once. "Call me when you wake up," she said casually, and whisked around the front of her car to get in.

She waved as she put the car in reverse, and he waved back automatically, but he still hadn't moved by the time she pulled out of the lot. His image in her rear-view mirror had one hand lifted to touch the spot she'd kissed.

She grinned ferociously all the way home.

xxxx

Sara's nerves didn't reappear until the knock on her door that afternoon. She'd slept neither long nor well, but she was used to that, and a hot shower helped. And if she'd shocked Grissom that morning with her kiss, he gave no hint of it when he called and asked calmly if he could take her out for dinner before work.

Now she smoothed down her shirt as she walked towards the door, then shook her head in irritation. Get a grip, Sidle.

When she opened the door, she saw that Grissom looked no different than any other worknight; he wore slacks and a collared shirt and his dark blue windbreaker, and he'd parked his hands in the pockets as usual. Sara gave him a bright smile. "C'mon in."

"I'm early," he said, closing the door behind him and following her as she walked back towards her tiny kitchen.

"That's okay, I need to clean this up anyway." The contents of a cold case file was spread out on her breakfast bar.

She reached across the counter to pull the sheets together, only to see two hands settle on the formica, one on either side of her. Sara went very still as the heat of Grissom's body registered behind her and every nerve awoke.

They'd shared such moments before, but never with such deliberate intent. Sara wrestled with her hormones for a second, then wondered why she was bothering. "Need something?" she inquired lightly, though the pressure of her fingers was creasing the papers.

Her skin went shivery as Grissom's breath brushed her ear. "I'm trying not to assume anything here," he said softly. "But am I correct in guessing that you've come to a decision?"

He had her caught, but he wasn't pushing, Sara realized; he was close enough for her to feel his warmth, but only their arms were touching. It felt...amazing.

Then she saw how tightly his fingers were gripping the counter's edge, and smiled to herself. Slowly, she set down the papers, pivoted in the cage of his arms, and slid her own hands up over his shoulders. "Yep."

Those shoulders sank a little under her palms with his relief. His eyes closed for a moment, but when they opened again Sara found she couldn't look away. Everything Grissom had been hiding for so long was there...shining, heartbreaking. She felt her own breath leave her with the strength of it, and laced her fingers behind his neck.

Grissom smiled, that small sweet smile that had always been her downfall, and with a slowness that made her tremble, he leaned forward until their lips met.

The soft pressure, the slide of skin against skin, the flavor of him filling her nose and mouth, all these snuffed rational thought; some broken circuit was completed in the touch, and Sara felt as though light was running over her, as though they could illumine Vegas itself with the sheer pure joy of it.

Strong hands found her waist, slid up her back; Sara pulled Grissom closer, not wanting any space between them now, and tilted her head for better access. He felt so good, so good, better than she'd imagined, and she was afraid to stop, because if they stopped, it might turn out to be a dream.

They did stop eventually, but Grissom didn't allow much space either, and he didn't loosen his arms around her any more than she relaxed the grip of her fingers. "Oh," Sara said weakly, and Grissom's gaze met hers, dazed and delighted.

"Sara," he said, just her name, and she smothered her grin against his mouth.

It was slow, and sweet as honey wine; she learned the contours of his lips and teeth and tongue, and he hers, with exquisite concentration, and all she could think--when she could think at all--was Oh, finally, finally.

He tasted like pumpkin, like Christmas, like fresh-baked bread, all the homey things she'd missed growing up, and always wanted.

Finally.

She didn't let go, and neither did he.

xxxx

It wasn't planned--well, Grissom didn't think it was planned. After all, there was no predicting exactly when either of them would arrive at work, nor that they would happen to do it at the same time. The only people who knew they would be coinciding was themselves.

But they walked into the lab together, having traded a few last soft words outside before tucking their new secret away for the night. Grissom held the door for Sara, as he would have anyway, and if her smile was a little more warm, it wasn't that noticeable.

Nonetheless, heads turned as they came in, and stayed turned. For a few seconds, Grissom entertained the dreadful thought that someone knew somehow, or that Sara had missed a bit of her lipgloss when she'd wiped his mouth earlier.

But the smiles weren't knowing...they were beaming. It started with just a couple of people, Judy and Nick, but within seconds everyone in the lobby--techs and admin and three cops--was applauding. And more were coming in from the corridors and the labs, adding to the noise.

Sara stopped in her tracks, and Grissom nearly ran into her; he could see the crimson flushing up her skin, and felt his own ears growing warm. But she was laughing too, and Grissom couldn't help the smile that escaped him, half embarrassment, half pleasure.

Fortunately for their composure, the applause died off after a moment or so, with most of the crowd moving off with a few shouts of "Good job!" and the like. Nick, however, came up to envelop Sara in a bear hug.

"Great job," he said, releasing her and turning to Grissom to shake his hand. "Man, we knew you could do it."

Grissom returned the younger man's grip, but had to say it. "We were only following the evidence, Nick."

"You know we would have even if David had been guilty," Sara added, surprising Grissom a little.

"But he wasn't. And somebody else might not have noticed him getting framed," Nick countered firmly. Which, Grissom had to concede, was true.

At that moment, Robbins limped rapidly into the lobby. "Oh good, you're here. Come on, come on." He gestured back towards the morgue. Grissom and Sara exchanged puzzled glances and followed, Nick and a couple of the techs bringing up the rear.

Others joined them as they headed to the morgue, Robbins exhorting various people as he passed their labs. They all crowded into the cool echoing space; Grissom spotted both Brass and O'Reilly across the room, and Warrick and Catherine at the back of the little mob. Robbins herded a last few in, then pulled out his phone as it rang. The murmur of voices quieted.

"Great! Thanks, Judy," Robbins said, and shut it off. "He's on his way."

He shut off the lights, and Grissom, vastly amused, stood next to Sara in the dimness, their backs against the cadaver drawers. He resisted the temptation to lace his fingers through hers, but they did exchange a quick, conspiratorial glance, hidden amid the whispers and anticipation.

The morgue's doors swung open as David pushed his way through. Robbins flipped the lights back on, and the assistant coroner froze, blinking and wide-eyed.

And the room burst into cheers.

David was swarmed almost immediately by people wanting to shake his hand, pat his back, or hug him, and while he turned so red Grissom was concerned for a moment that he was going to pass out, the coroner managed to keep his composure--though he did turn an even deeper shade of red when several of the female lab personnel planted kisses on his cheeks. Robbins stood back, beaming; Grissom looked over at Sara and jerked his head in the medical examiner's direction, and she nodded. They made their way over.

It was strange, Grissom thought as he watched Robbins place a kiss of his own on Sara's cheek; such a sight, just a night before, would have stirred him to uneasy jealousy, but now that he knew that any part of her face was his to kiss whenever he desired it, he was only happy.

Strange...but good.

Sara grinned at the medical examiner, who grinned back and then turned. Grissom returned his handshake with more ease than he had Nick's; Robbins didn't bother with words, but their eyes met and Grissom knew what Robbins didn't say.

All three of them looked to David. The enthusiasm surrounding him had subsided a little, people breaking off into smaller groups to chatter in the impromptu celebration. Bobby was just ruffling David's hair, and as the ballistics expert turned away, David reached up to smooth it and saw them.

His brows went up, and Grissom realized with an odd twitch that while he and Sara might have hidden their tender new secret from other eyes, David already knew. Probably before we left his house, Grissom thought ruefully. Certainly before we knew for sure.

David smiled his shy private smile, and winked, and turned to greet another well-wisher, and Grissom felt his admiration for the coroner go up another notch.

"What do you think?" Sara asked, her voice low and amused. Grissom chuckled.

"I think we should enjoy the party."

End.