Grissom greeted Judy with a smile as he returned to the lab and collected his messages.

He logged in the evidence, and distributed it to DNA and Trace. He returned some of the more urgent phone calls. He checked in with Hodges, who hadn't dealt with his stuff yet.

Grissom found himself looking for Sara, but of course she was still out in Henderson with Greg.

His pager vibrated: Doc Robbins. Time for my autopsy.

He shuddered involuntarily, and corrected his own thought. Time to observe the victim's autopsy.

He passed Catherine on his way to the morgue. She smiled and greeted him. He nodded in acknowledgement and continued toward the elevator.

"Hey, you can't say hi to me?" she asked.

Dutifully, he stopped. "Hello. I was just on my way to an autopsy." He started to walk again.

"I heard you and Brass had a close call today," she said questioningly. She turned and followed him a few steps back down the hall.

How did she hear that already?

"Indeed." He arrived at the elevator and pushed the button.

"You okay?" She looked genuinely concerned, and he was confused. Nothing had happened, after all. They were all okay.

"I'm fine," he said. The elevator doors opened, and he stepped in. Catherine gave him a knowing smile and walked away. He wondered what she thought she knew.

The autopsy didn't reveal any surprises. The victim was a black male in his twenties, with a prison tattoo and track marks on his arms. Doc Robbins took blood and hair samples for a tox screen.

Cause of death, as had seemed obvious, was a gunshot wound to the chest. The bullet was a nine millimeter. It could be a match to the gun Brass had taken from the suspect.

Grissom fingerprinted the man and collected the bullet, and returned to the lab.

He gave the bullet to Archie in Ballistics, dropped the prints off with Jaqui, and returned to his office. He sat down. Shift was almost over: he wouldn't get much more done on this tonight, but there was always paperwork.

He read through Sofia's latest case report, and signed off on it. He stood, stretching his back, and walked over to his tarantula's cage. He removed the spider and placed it on his palm, allowing the little creature to walk from one hand to another. It was soothing, as always.

His pager buzzed again. Archie, this time. He put the spider back in it's cage and headed to ballistics.

The bullet did not match the junkie's gun. He thanked Archie, who promised to let him know if he got a hit through IBIS.

Jaqui had had better luck. The victim turned out to be Keanan Arthur, 25. He had a previous conviction for possession with intent.

Grissom thanked Jaqui, and glanced at his watch. Shift was over. Sara and Greg hadn't reappeared.

He considered calling Brass, paying a visit to some of Arthur's known associates, but decided against it. That could wait until the afternoon, at least, when more of the evidence had been processed.

He returned to his office and dropped the ballistics report onto his desk. He put on his coat and turned out the light.

The drive home was slow: Vegas was a 24 hour town, but the population still flowed in regular rhythms. The city had its rush hour, and he was caught in it. He reminded himself to be patient, and inched his way back to his townhouse.

Once inside, he turned on the light and helped himself to a bottle of water. He turned on Goldberg's Variations and settled on the couch, determined to lose himself in the piano.

It didn't work. His hand was shaking as he lifted the water to his lips. No, not just his hand: his whole body was shaking with a slight but determined tremor.

Just a delayed reaction. Everyone reacts to stressful situations.

He could have shot Brass. He could have shot me. I didn't even bring my gun to the scene.

The shaking intensified.

It would have been so pointless.

Grissom closed his eyes and hunched forward on the couch, bowing his head.

Just wait. It will pass. Focus on the music.

His stomach churned. Eating would probably help to reduce the acid, but Grissom wasn't hungry. He sat and listened to the music and tried not to think of that wild, waving gun.

He wasn't sure how much time had passed when he heard the knock at his door.

It was a tentative sound, and he thought at first that he had imagined it. He opened his eyes and straightened. He'd dented the plastic of his water bottle with his grip. He took a drink. The water was warm. He set it down, not bothering with a coaster.

The knock came again, slightly louder, and definitely real.

Grissom opened the door.

Sara looked surprised to see him, as if he was the unexpected guest instead of the other way around.

She opened her mouth and shut it, and he wondered tiredly what speech she had prepared to explain this visit, and what her real motive was.

"Griss, you're shaking!" She looked concerned. He was embarrassed, and unsure of what to say: that it was cold in here, maybe?

"I'm fine." There, that was true.

Sara was still looking worried. She had apparently forgotten her original greeting altogether. She raised a hand toward him, hesitated, and laid it on his cheek. Her hands were cool and soft, and smelled of lotion. Her fingers moved back curving as they brushed through the hair above his ear. Grissom felt his breath catch in his throat. The shaking only intensified.

"Are you going to invite me in?"

Isn't that what I've been trying to do?

"Come in," he said.

She did, looking around a little nervously. Her ID was still clipped to her pants, and he realized she'd come straight from the lab.

"Hodges said someone shot at you," she said.

"No one shot at us. A man entered the scene with a gun. Brass told him to drop it, and he did."

Sara was watching his face, clearly unsure whether to believe this account.

"You know lab gossip," she said with a little smile.

Grissom nodded. He needed to sit down. His limbs felt loose and rickety and his stomach was swirling. He felt feverish, only without the fever. He didn't want Sara to see him like this, but he hadn't been expecting her, hadn't had time to process this experience and file it away.

Sara reached out and touched his arm at the shoulder. She rubbed it slightly, as if to warm him, and he was surprised to find that it helped: he did feel a bit steadier.

Grissom glanced at the couch. He still needed to sit, but he couldn't move, and he certainly couldn't pull away from Sara's light touch.

Her hand stopped its motion then, and for once he could read her thoughts with ease. She thought he wanted to pull away. She was embarrassed to have reached out. He swallowed, gathering his thoughts.

She dropped her hand. "I just came by to see if I could borrow your copy of Forensic Science Communications. They, uh, have an article I wanted, about human scent."

Sara, that's the lamest excuse I have ever heard.

She seemed to read his mind, because she flushed and shifted her weight to her right hip.

He smiled. "You can borrow it. Would you like a drink?"

"Water?" she asked.

He got her a bottle from the fridge, pouring it into a glass and adding a couple ice cubes. He hoped she didn't notice the experiments that shared space with his food. If she did, she didn't say anything, but he could feel her eyes on him as he poured. He handed her the glass.

"Thanks." She flashed him a quick smile. Grissom leaned against the counter, trying to hide his weakness.

Sara looked as though she might touch him again, but instead she held the glass carefully, with both hands. "I should really get going," she said.

"I'll get you the journal." But he didn't move. He couldn't. He wouldn't have been surprised to look down and discover that his legs had detached at the knee.

Sara watched him. She chewed on her lower lip a little.

Go on, Gil, get her the journal. He stayed where he was, leaning on his kitchen counter and hoping she would go. Or stay. He wasn't sure.

Sara set the glass on the counter. As she did, the back of her right hand brushed lightly against the back of his left. She paused there, maintaining a contact so slight Grissom wasn't sure he wasn't imagining it altogether.

"Grissom. I'm glad you're okay," she said softly.

It was encouragement enough. Grissom removed his right hand from the counter, and reached slowly toward Sara's cheek. She turned, and leaned in, wrapping her arms around him and holding. He hugged her back, leaning on her now instead of the counter.

He spoke into her hair. "Sara?"


"Why did you come?"

She tensed in his arms. He wished he hadn't spoken, but knew he had to see this through.

"Because," she said.


"Do you need to ask?" Her back was hardening now, and he kept his embrace firm.


"You could have been killed. You could have been killed and I… I needed to make sure you were okay."

Well, what did you expect, a grand declaration? She cares. She's here, isn't she? Be happy with that.

But Sara tensed further. He could feel her chest expand as she filled her lungs. "I love you."

She looked up at him, her eyes fearful.

He smiled, warmth spreading through his body. "I love you too."

He felt her relief as the tension drained from her back, and he pulled her closer, savoring the feel of her cheek against his own, her arms around his chest. Her scent, soap and violets and a trace of salt. She smelled like home.

The End.