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. Others strongly resemble characters that sort of belong to ABC, though I seriously doubt anyone cares at this point. 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 "Unbearable"
Note: this is a sequel to "Rollercoaster", which really should be read first. It is an AU futurefic that includes a number of original characters.
So we've come to the end. If you've made it this far, I thank you for putting up with delays, weird original characters, and a plotline that not only diverted from the show but ran for the horizon waving its arms and trying for liftoff. You folks are the best!
(bows to Cincoflex) No way could I have done this without you, my friend!
It wasn't her usual nightmares, thankfully, but it was an uneasy dream for all of that, with threads of intense sorrow and defeat running beneath, along with a thin bright hope. Images, sounds, emotions all passed with bewildering speed--blood and fear, young woods and old history; a flashing joke and the flash of eyes, quiet moments and points of pain. The whistle of a train, the soft boom of a far-off explosion. Someone is dying…
Sara's eyes opened. This wasn't the frenetic waking of her nightmares, either, the violent toss into wakefulness with her heart speeding in her chest; it was an easy shift, as though she had stepped through a door and shut it behind her. The dream receded, splintering and fading even as she tried to remember, but it left a sense of melancholy in its wake.
The room was grey with one of Vegas' rare overcast days, light filtering past the clouds and the thin blinds; it looked almost as though everything were underwater, but a clearer water than any Sara knew. She was a little chilly under the sheet, but a big hand rested warm on her hip, and she could feel a slight pressure between her shoulderblades--Grissom's head was pressed against her spine. He always seemed to need to touch her when he slept.
The melancholy faded in its turn, falling to conquering contentment, and Sara debated reaching down for the comforter or rolling over into Grissom's arms. But there was a reason they were seeing in the morning together, and the day would be full. Sara turned, and as Grissom shifted in response to her movement, she grinned and extended a finger to tickle his nose.
His face didn't wrinkle up; his eyelids fluttered, and then opened, and he regarded her with a clear if sleepy gaze, reaching up a hand to catch the one that was taunting him.
"Wake up, sleepyhead," Sara teased. "We've got a lot to do today."
A slow smile spread over his face, and with a speed she did not expect in someone newly wakened, he pounced. Sara found herself underneath a smirking Grissom. "Morning," he said, amused, and kissed her.
She let him pin her wrists to the mattress and kissed him back happily, reflecting that his phobia about morning breath…his, not hers…seemed to be just about cured.
Afterwards, she didn't bother with her robe, just rising nude to poke through her dresser looking for underwear. Grissom propped his head on his arm, watching her, though Sara pretended not to notice as she fished out a bra. But when she turned back to him, the tenderness in his face stole her breath completely.
"Your kiss is made with orange marmalade/apple blossoms, toast and tea/I cannot think of any place I'd rather/I'd rather be…" he quoted softly.
Her cheeks heated slightly at the compliment, and she couldn't help the smile that curved her lips as she quoted back. "My sleepy friend, I always want to spend/Sunday morning here with you/I cannot think of anything I'd rather/ I'd rather do..."
Grissom's surprise made her smile wider. "A child of the seventies--I should have known." He shook his head, grinning.
Sara shrugged, and walked back over to ruffle his hair. "I think I was ten when I figured out how dirty his lyrics really are." She dodged his lazy grab for her and went to get dressed, savoring the sweetness of his compliment.
"No tea?" he called after her as she went into the bathroom, and she laughed.
"It's Saturday. C'mon, Gil, we have to be in Los Angeles by two or Ed'll send out the Highway Patrol to find us."
Sara found herself oddly aglow with anticipation, and kept laughing silently at her own feelings. I never thought I'd be so excited about this. Not since I was about six, anyway. But she didn't mind. It had been a little over a year since Grissom had dropped back into her life, and everything had changed--for the better.
Grissom was feeling pretty anticipatory himself, she noted, watching his soft absent smile show up again and again as he made them breakfast. "Do you really think it'll take us six hours to get there?" he asked, sliding eggs onto a plate.
Sara sliced up a pear. "Not really, but just to be on the safe side. Besides, the sooner we show up, the more time we'll have to veto."
Grissom snickered. "You gave Ed control of this thing, Sara--do you really doubt him?"
She grinned. "Nah. But I know my brother. He has to have something up his sleeve."
After breakfast, which was quick but delicious, she washed the dishes while Grissom put their bags in the trunk of her car; when he came back in, she made him apply sunscreen. "If we're putting the top down, Gil, you're wearing it."
He grumbled, but complied, and Sara slathered the stuff on herself. Grissom took the opportunity to anoint the back of her neck, sneaking in a kiss next to her ponytail, and Sara poked him gently and twisted out of his grip. "Ready?"
"More than," he replied, eyes warm as he regarded her, and Sara resisted the urge to kiss him properly, reaching for her keys instead.
"Then let's go."
Since it wasn't raining yet, Sara lowered the convertible's roof once they cleared the city, and they headed west, moving out from under the clouds about an hour into their trip. "Do you want to drive?" she asked when they hit the Mojave National Preserve, but Grissom shook his head.
"Maybe later," he said, tilting his seat back and letting his hand rest against the outside of her thigh. "I'm enjoying this."
Sara laughed, and accelerated.
Kimmy and Joseph both came tearing across the lawn when Sara parked in front of Ed's house, and after a set of tempestuous hugs Sara was highly amused to see Grissom casually reach down and pick up Joey, bundling him over one shoulder in a rare demonstration of strength and playfulness. Joey shrieked with glee as Grissom took one of the cases in his other hand and marched into the house.
Kimmy rolled her eyes. "He's such a baby sometimes," she said to Sara, who took out the other suitcase and used the slam of the trunk to cover her snicker.
"Brothers are like that. You all ready for tomorrow?"
Her niece nodded enthusiastically, bouncing alongside Sara as they headed for the house. "Yeah, and Grace said she would braid my hair if you show her how."
"Sounds good. Thanks, kiddo," as Kimmy held the front door open for her. "Hiya, Eddie."
Ed, arms full of folded towels, passed by with a quick friendly elbow against Sara's shoulder, presumably in lieu of a hug. "Glad you're here! There's a ton to do."
Sara rolled her eyes, snickering. "Nice to see you too."
The house was chaos, but happy chaos. Ed, true to his word, had tamed the back yard, and Kimmy was sent to set up the patio chairs that Sara and Grissom had rented in strategic places before covering them with old sheets to protect them from passing birds. The house itself was already sparkling clean, thanks to Gracie's skills, and she dove out of the den to give Sara a warm hug and to make Grissom pinken by kissing his cheek. "I'm finishing up Kimmy's dress," she explained, a bit breathless. "I'd swear she's growing in between fittings."
"It wouldn't surprise me," Sara agreed. "What can we do?"
"Unpack first," Gracie ordered. "Then ask Ed, he's in charge of everything."
They retreated to the guest room to hang up their clothes, and Sara took the opportunity to give Grissom a warm kiss. He returned it readily, but looked inquiring as she let him go. "What was that for?"
She shrugged. "No reason, I just felt like it."
Grissom cocked his head. "Is there any way I can encourage this mood?" he said, deadpan, and Sara chuckled and led him from the room.
As they emerged, Ed swooped down on them and assigned Sara to help Joseph set up plates, napkins, and tableware for the next day, while Grissom went to pick up the alcohol he'd ordered for the reception.
Sara wasn't surprised when everything was finished by sunset. Ed was a good leader when he exerted himself, and Gracie was nothing if not efficient. They gathered in the living room, the kids looking a little tired with low blood sugar, and Ed rubbed his hands and looked around. "I declare us done. And no way am I messing up the kitchen. Let's go out to eat."
"Waffle World!" Joseph voted at once, but Ed shook his head.
"Nope. We're going to the Old Spaghetti Factory." Kimmy's mouth opened. "And, if you don't argue about it, you can get one of those fancy drinks in the take-home glasses."
Sara suppressed a grin as Kimmy obviously thought better of whatever objection she'd been about to make. Sneaky man.
They all fit into the minivan for the drive to the restaurant. The kids perked up once the drinks arrived, with the promised keepsake glasses, and they all took their time over the meal. Sara recognized at least one strategy inherent in Ed's leisure; if Joey was tired enough when they got home, he would go right to bed, and sleep long enough to be ready for the long day tomorrow.
In the meantime, he was busily drawing on his placemat with the provided crayons, and Sara couldn't help remembering Pennsylvania the year before, and the tiny bugs Grissom had drawn on the tablecloth as he and Sara had politely avoided all the things they'd really wanted to talk about.
Grissom's hand slid over hers under the table, gripping gently, and a glance at him made her suspect he was remembering that time too. So much has changed.
For the better.
The four of them sat up late that night after the children had gone to bed, just talking, and Sara savored the weight of Grissom's arm across her shoulders as they occupied the couch in the discussions of everything from politics to the possibility of life on other planets. She'd asked Grissom weeks before if his friends were planning on a bachelor party, and he'd given her an amused look. They might be, he'd said, but I'm not going. I want to spend the evening before our wedding with you, not with a bunch of guys determined to get me drunk.
Sara had to admit, that made a certain amount of sense. Gracie had offered what she referred to as a "hen party," but Sara had refused with thanks. She'd never been much of a party person, and while going out for drinks with female friends did appeal to a certain extent, she didn't want to do it the night before a big event.
So they sat in Ed's living room, Gracie curled up in the big armchair and Ed sitting splay-legged on the floor at her feet, running his hands through his hair until it stood up like a mad scientist's as they debated the colonization of the Moon and the movies of Buster Keaton. Sara felt full to the brim of some warm, calm, happy feeling, and she finally pinned it down as contentment. Her restless, questing soul was at peace.
She leaned her head on Grissom's shoulder, just because she could, and sighed, letting herself rest. I don't know if it gets any better than this. But…
...we can find out.
Grissom woke feeling amazingly lighthearted with anticipation. When he rubbed his eyes clear and looked over at Sara, she was curled on her side watching him, a tiny smile playing at the corners of her mouth, and he raised his brows at her. "Ready to get married?" he asked softly.
She touched his lips gently, rubbing her thumb over his beard. "What would you do if I said no?" she asked teasingly.
Grissom shrugged away the slight pang the thought gave him. "Give you more time," he answered with honesty. "I'd make you explain it to Kimmy, though."
She giggled, a sound he didn't hear often from her, and raised her arms over her head for a stretch. "Good thing for all concerned that I am," she said. "Are you?"
Her provocative pout made the question another tease, but Grissom saw the flicker of faint uncertainty in her eyes, and propped his head on one hand.
"I was ready weeks ago. You were the one who wanted to drag friends and relatives into this," he returned with a grin, and Sara let her arms go limp on the pillow and laughed in earnest.
"We'd better not disappoint them, then. C'mon, let's get the day started." She rolled out of bed and onto her feet in one fluid motion, which made Grissom vaguely envious. He got up in slower stages, for once not caring in the least about slightly creaky joints. None of it mattered today.
Sara had beat him to the shower, so Grissom brushed his teeth while waiting for his turn, and got to kiss her as she emerged, not caring about the droplets that dampened his T-shirt. By the time he was clean and dry, Sara was gone; he dressed listening to Kimmy's excited voice as she chattered, apparently on the phone, in the hallway.
There was only coffee in the kitchen today; in a gender-split decided mostly to appease the traditionalists, as Sara put it, Grissom and Ed were due to leave soon to meet Brass, Doc Robbins, and Nick for breakfast. Sara, Gracie, and the kids--Joseph had declared suddenly that he wanted to stay with Aunt Sara--would pick up Rosalie and Susan for their own breakfast. Grissom hadn't been surprised when Jack had elected to stay home until it was time for the ceremony; his uncle wasn't gregarious.
Ed was leaning on the kitchen island inhaling coffee steam when Grissom came in; the man was dressed, and more-or-less upright, but he looked more asleep than awake. Grissom poured himself some coffee and leaned on the other side. "Are you okay?" he asked mildly.
"Hate mornings," Ed mumbled into his mug. "Should be illegal."
"Ah." Grissom nodded, and sipped from his own cup. Sara had said that her brother wasn't a morning person, but Grissom hadn't seen him quite like that before.
Sara herself strode in at that moment, giving Grissom a conspiratorial grin and stealing a sip of his coffee. "We're almost ready to go," she said. "Ed, I need the keys--we're trading cars, remember?"
"Mmgh," was the only answer she got. Sara rolled her eyes, and as Grissom watched in fascination, she got an ice cube from the fridge dispenser and with a practiced move slipped it down the back of Ed's shirt. Grissom watched the resultant jump and snarl, and made a mental note about the ice trick as Sara calmly repeated her demand.
Keys safely in hand, she came around the island for one more kiss, and Grissom let his hand find her waist as he made it a long one, delighting in the sweetness of her, the fact that today was their wedding day.
He felt her smile as their lips parted. "See you in a few hours," she whispered, and let her hand trail down to his as she stepped backwards.
"I'll be waiting," Grissom promised, and Sara kept hold of his hand as though she didn't want to let go.
But Joey came bouncing into the kitchen and took her free one, pulling her towards the door. "C'mon, Aunt Sara, let's go! I'm hungry!"
Even Ed roused enough to laugh, and both men returned Sara's dramatic wave as she let her nephew haul her out of the room.
After a few minutes of silence and coffee, Ed looked over at Grissom, his sleepiness mostly dispelled by a mischievous gleam. "So can I drive the Mercedes?"
Grissom cocked his head, swallowed his last mouthful, and smirked. "Nope."
Half an hour later, listening to Ed talking microbiology with Robbins as they waited for their table at the restaurant, Grissom reflected on the fact that Ed possessed a gift that Sara didn't have--simple, open friendliness. He was as eager as a puppy--a brilliant puppy, Grissom had to admit--to get to know people, in contrast to Sara's reserve.
"Is he always like that?" Brass commented in a low voice, nodding towards Ed, and Grissom turned up a hand.
"Pretty much. As intense as Sara, really."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Brass waved as Nick came in. "Gang's all here, at least to start with. Where's Warrick?"
"He's coming in later with Cath," Nick said, slightly breathless. "Sorry I'm late."
"Relax, we haven't even sat down yet," Grissom pointed out easily.
"I thought Lindsey was coming?" Brass asked, but Grissom shook his head.
"She has tickets to some kind of concert today, which trumps a wedding, according to Catherine."
At that moment, the hostess called them over, and they went to sit down. As soon as they were settled and introduced, Brass looked over at Grissom with a wicked expression.
"So, Gil," the captain drawled. "Looks like you finally pulled your head completely out of your ass."
Nick snickered, and Robbins rolled his eyes. Ed was watching in fascination, Grissom noticed, and took a sip of his ice water. "You're right," he said calmly. "A long overdue rectal craniotomy, at that."
This made the medical examiner guffaw. "Leave him alone, Jim," Robbins said, opening his menu. "He might sic Sara on you."
Ed chuckled at that. "A fate worse than death," he intoned, which brought more laughter.
"So where are the ladies this morning?" Nick asked after they placed their orders. "Off getting manicures and makeovers and things?"
"I believe so," Grissom agreed. "At least, the 'things' part." Gracie and Kimmy had managed to talk Sara into getting her hair trimmed, with possible other primping procedures; Grissom suspected that his mother had been used as a bargaining chip at some point, which didn't bother him at all. She would love to spend a morning with them, and he knew that they wouldn't let her get too tired. "I didn't ask for details."
"Some feminine mysteries are best left unplumbed," Robbins added, which prompted a round of somewhat dirty puns. Grissom looked around the table at his friends, and was suddenly conscious of how glad he was that they were there to celebrate with him.
The men lingered over brunch; Grissom noted with amusement that while some stories were told about weddings, most of the conversation actually revolved around the bride. Ed was curious to know what she had been like on the job, and traded stories of their childhood in return. But eventually it was time to leave.
"See you there, Griss," Nick said, waving as they parted in the restaurant's parking lot, and Ed sighed.
"Home to the monkey suits, I guess. The women have your mom's place as a staging area, right?"
"That's correct," Grissom answered, unlocking the Mercedes so they could climb in.
Ed collapsed into the passenger seat like a string-cut marionette. "Your friends are cool," he said casually. "How many people are coming to this thing again?"
Grissom did some quick math in his head. As it turned out, none of the techs were coming, but that still left quite a few people from the lab. "Eighteen, I think." He put on his seatbelt. "We should have plenty of everything."
"If not, we can just send out for pizza," Ed said drolly, and Grissom chuckled and backed the car out.
The two men took their time getting ready, not that they had too much to do; but Grissom chose to polish his shoes and brush his teeth again, and make sure that his suit was speckless. Their wedding might be informal, but that was no reason to be careless. After all, this really is one of the most important days of my life.
As he checked himself in the guest room's mirror, Grissom tried to imagine Sara by his side, but it was more difficult than usual; she had stuck to one tradition and not let him see the dress she'd bought. Never mind. You'll find out shortly.
He double-checked his pocket for the ring, feeling...not nervous, exactly, but the same sort of focused concentration that he experienced before going on the witness stand for an important case. Except that this feeling had an edge of joy rather than grimness.
"Ready to go?" Ed called from the living room, and Grissom gave his reflection a firm nod. Yes.
The guests were already seated in the garden when Grissom and Ed arrived. The bride and flower girl were nowhere to be seen, of course, and Gracie was undoubtedly with them, but everyone else seemed to be in place but Brass and Rosalie--his relations, people from the lab, all dressed up and chatting quietly in the sunshine. There was an aisle in between the rows of chairs, but it didn't look as though anyone had chosen a side, per se.
Grissom hung back at one of the doors leading to the garden. "I'll wait here for the minister," he told Ed. "You go ahead."
Ed tossed him a casual salute and loped off to take a seat next to his son. Grissom watched the guests for a moment, enjoying the sight of them, before a hand on his arm made him turn.
"I'm so proud of you," Rosalie signed, before taking his face in her hands and pulling him down to kiss his cheek. Grissom gave her a gentle hug, happy that she was there to see him get married.
"No crying, Mom," he signed back, giving her a teasing smile. "You don't want to melt your mascara."
She sniffed. "It's waterproof these days."
Grissom took a closer look at her. She looked good, not stressed or tired. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm fine," she answered, with only a hint of impatience. "Grace had me lie down for half an hour after we got back, and it worked wonders. Don't worry, dear."
He couldn't help a laugh. "I won't, then. Shall I walk you to your seat?"
"Oh, that's not necessary." She gave his arm a final pat. "I have an escort already."
Turning, she waved, and Brass stepped out from a doorway, coming up to offer her his arm. "I'll take good care of her, Gil," he said with a wink, and Grissom nodded in thanks, stepping aside so they could go out.
As Brass was settling her, the minister came from the other direction, smiling. After some discussion, Sara and Grissom had chosen the clergyman attached to Verde Ridge, who was Episcopalian by training but who handled duties for other denominations as well, depending on the needs of the residents. "I've just spoken to the ladies," he said as he reached Grissom. "Apparently we can get started any time."
Grissom heard an echo of Sara in his words, and felt one corner of his mouth go up in a smile. "By all means."
They stepped out into the sunlight, Grissom following the minister up the aisle. He was rather startled when the guests started applauding, but Greg's sharp whistle and "Way to go!" broke everyone into laughter and allowed him to send the younger man a pseudo-admonishing look. Unrepentant, Greg was dragged down into his seat by Abdul, whom Grissom noticed was laughing as well.
Grissom took his place next to the minister, and they both turned to face the seats. Grissom felt his pulse rising with anticipation--and a touch of nerves.
They'd chosen not to have music, but the guests quieted anyway as Kimmy stepped out through the door, her body stiff with concentration but her face lit. She was wearing something lavender and carrying a bouquet, and her hair was braided back into an elaborate coronet, but Grissom barely glanced at her. He was too busy looking behind her, taking in every detail at once.
Sara fairly glowed when the light hit her. She had chosen white, though it wasn't a traditional bridal gown; the formal dress set off her shoulders with a lacy bodice, and her legs with a straight sweep of skirt. She had a spray of blossoms pinned in her hair and a thread of gold around her throat, and for a moment it appeared she had a bouquet as well, until her hand moved and Grissom saw that it was actually a wrist corsage. Her other hand clutched something white; probably a handkerchief, he thought absently, raising his eyes to meet hers.
They were incandescent with joy. The wide smile he loved spread over her face, and she followed Kimmy up the aisle, paying no attention to their friends rising as she passed them. It seemed to take forever for her to reach him; then Kimmy was turning aside and Sara's hand was in his reaching one. They turned to face the minister.
The ceremony was simple and relatively short, and Grissom went through it in a sort of hyperawareness, storing up each sound and sensation, deeply aware of the promises he was making and receiving. His voice shook a little on the vows, every word carrying a joyous, solemn weight of significance; Sara's hands trembled in his as she spoke her own in clear tones. The slide of the ring onto her finger was a strange, awesome relief, the sign and seal of their promises, and the cool new weight on his own hand was satisfyingly right. In this, too, they were partners.
When he kissed her, everything seemed possible.
It was a good party, Grissom reflected as he looked around the Sidle backyard. Not that I'm any expert, but everyone seems to be having a good time.
People were talking and laughing and devouring the goodies spread out by the caterer. A small pile of presents sat on the end of one table, despite a request for no gifts.
The ceremony's aftermath was still a bit of a blur, hugs and tears and congratulations, but things were less intense now as people settled down to enjoy themselves.
Habit had him looking around for Rosalie, and he spotted her talking with Catherine; the two had met before. Then an arm slid through his, and he couldn't help smiling at his bride.
"How're you doing?" she asked quietly, eyes crinkling as she smiled back.
"Fine," he answered. "I'm just people-watching."
"It is an interesting mix," Sara agreed. Greg had brought a date, and stood hand-in-hand with her, chatting with Ed and Gracie; David and his wife, Sylvie, were talking to Doc and Mrs. Robbins. Betty and Susan were talking comfortably over their plates of nibbles. Warrick, for some reason, was apparently teaching Kimmy how to fold a paper rose.
Joey passed by with Gen in tow--he had evidently developed an instant crush on the young CSI. "They didn't get a cake, they got a croaker-bush," he was explaining. Sara snickered and let Grissom go to catch up.
"A croquembouche, Joseph, not a frog plant."
Gen still looked politely baffled. Sara glanced over her shoulder. "Should I explain, or should we just demonstrate?"
Grissom cocked his head. "Let's demonstrate."
"Okay." Sara waved at her brother, who came ambling over. "Eddie, let's do the dessert thing now."
He rolled his eyes. "You have no sense of tradition."
"So? It's our wedding, we'll do what we like." She nudged him lightly, and he snorted and headed inside, snagging Nick to help. A few moments later the two of them returned; Ed was carrying a huge platter on which rested a conical tower of cream puffs, garnished with caramelized sugar and fresh flowers.
"See?" Sara asked, giving Joey a quick hug. "No frogs involved."
"Ooh," Gen said, obviously impressed. "How do they stick together?"
"I'm not sure," Grissom answered. "I was afraid to ask."
As the guests gathered around the confection, Greg shook his head, looking disappointed. "I wanted to see you two mush each other with cake," he complained cheerfully.
Sara snickered, and feeling mischievous, Grissom glanced over at her. When their eyes met and she winked, he knew she was thinking the same thing.
Plucking the topmost puff from the tower, Grissom popped it neatly into Sara's smiling mouth. Laughter swept the guests as Greg slapped his forehead in exaggerated rue; Sara chose another puff and reciprocated. Only Grissom saw the flush on her cheeks darken when his tongue deliberately grazed the tip of her finger. Then the others were crowding around to help themselves.
The party wound on as the afternoon slowly deepened; as the sun sank, Ed cleared the sun porch and turned on the stereo so those who wanted to dance could. David blushingly asked Sara for a dance; Robbins swayed slowly with his wife, sans crutch; Greg took Kimmy for a spin; and, Grissom was both surprised and touched to see, eventually Ed turned the base up to teeth-rattling levels and invited Rosalie out onto the small floor. Obviously delighted, she acceded, and they waltzed a song's worth.
"So where are you going for your honeymoon?" Catherine asked as they watched Greg and his date jitterbug to something faster.
Grissom took a sip of champagne, approving his own choice. "We haven't decided yet; we're going sometime next year, when we both have more leave time."
Catherine shot him a slightly disbelieving glance. "Don't tell me the two of you are just reporting for work tomorrow like nothing happened!"
Grissom smirked. "No, we're driving to Mission Viejo tomorrow and spending a few days there. Nothing spectacular."
"Oh. Okay." Catherine herself had had more than one glass of champagne, Grissom judged, but Warrick was driving, and the gentle flush suited her. She shot Grissom a slightly salacious look. "Where are you staying tonight?"
Only Catherine had the temerity to ask, but Grissom was years past being offended. "A beach house. It belongs to a friend of my uncle's. No, I'm not telling you the address."
Catherine chuckled. "It ain't me you have to worry about, Gil. I'm not the prankster at the lab."
Grissom shrugged. "I made it clear that we're taking Sara's convertible. I doubt anyone would dare her wrath."
"This is true." Catherine chose a cream puff from her plate and bit into it with an expression of bliss. "Wonderful idea," she said after swallowing. "Where'd you get it?"
"The confection, or the idea?" Grissom asked, amused.
Catherine rolled her eyes. "Both."
"The caterer provided the croquembouche. It's a traditional cake alternative in some parts of France."
"Only you would know that." Unexpectedly Catherine rose up on her toes and kissed his cheek. "I'm happy for you, Gil. You both deserve this."
He blinked down at her, startled but pleased. "Thank you, Cath."
Just then Warrick appeared, taking Catherine's free hand. "C'mon, want to dance?"
Without hesitation, Catherine handed her plate to Grissom and let Warrick lead her onto the sun porch. Grissom set the plate aside and looked around for Sara.
He found her talking with Nick on the far side of the yard, her dress standing out in the dusk. Not wanting to interrupt, Grissom slipped up behind her and put his arms around her waist, and Sara leaned easily back against him. Nick grinned at them, and after a few moments left them with a wave.
For a little while they stood, simply happy, until Grissom whispered in her ear, the perfume of the blossoms in her hair sweet in his nose. "Ready to go?"
"Oh yeah." Sara tilted her head back against his shoulder and kissed him, a sweet soft touch. "Let's get out of here."
It wasn't that simple, of course; there were hugs and kisses and congratulations, and Brass' promise to see Rosalie safe home, and Rosalie's tearful proud goodbye to them both. And there was much laughter when everyone spilled out to the front yard, and found that Sara's convertible had been--not damaged--but covered, bumper to bumper, in balloons with "Geek" printed on them. Greg and Nick and Ed looked excessively innocent; Sara tweaked each of their noses in laughing revenge, and eventually the car was dug out and loaded with the gifts and suitcases.
Grissom helped Sara into the passenger seat, and she had the top down before he even got around the car. They drove off to the sound of cheers and whistles and applause, and as the sound faded Sara pulled the pins from her hair and let it whip in the wind, laughing happily.
The beach house was fairly secluded, owning its own narrow strip of sand; Grissom had stayed in it before, though not in some years. He fished out the keys as they climbed the porch steps, and Sara took them from him and unlocked the door.
As she pushed it open, Grissom felt a sudden, unexpected flush of testosterone, mixed with something more intimate. He bent and picked her up in his arms, disregarding her squeak of surprise. The door swung shut behind them as her arms went around his neck. "Hey!"
"Indulge me," he muttered, and carried her through the dim main room and into the bedroom, which was filled with early moonlight. Her low chuckle, and the feel of her lips against his jaw, reassured him that she wasn't upset. Ignoring the strain in his arms, he laid her gently down on the bed instead of setting her on her feet.
Sensing his mood, Sara smiled up at him, serene and sweet, and Grissom drank her in for a long, long moment. Sara, his dream, his love, had promised him that she would stay with him, in defiance of all that might try to separate them, and he knew that Sara kept the promises she made. The last tiny fear at the bottom of his heart had finally been eased, and he felt as though he were overflowing with an intense, urgent warmth.
So he lay down beside her, his wife, his Sara, his, his…his at last. And loved her.
They spent a quiet few days exploring Mission Viejo and its environs, mostly just indulging in time to be together--eating in small restaurants, walking along the water, driving through breathtaking scenery and arguing happily about the birds they spotted--without interruptions from work or friends or family. But in the wee hours of Friday morning, Grissom woke to find Sara sitting up in bed, frowning thoughtfully.
"What is it?" he asked, reaching out to touch her.
She smiled down at him. "Nothing, I'm just restless. I'll sit up for a while."
His hand on her arm stopped her. "Tell me." He wasn't alarmed, but he was concerned.
Sara shrugged. "I want to get started," she said slowly. "Don't get me wrong, this is amazing, spending time with you like this...but I want to go home, and really begin our, uh, married life." She looked down at him, a little embarrassed. "I know, it's stupid."
"No it's not." It made perfect sense, in fact. Grissom sat up, looking around their hotel room. "How quickly can you pack?"
They drove into the sunrise with the top down, Sara at the wheel and Grissom alternately watching her and the scenery. The chill air of the desert dawn whipped color into her face, and when they pulled up in front of the townhouse he leaned over and kissed her. Her cheeks were cold, but her lips were warm, warm...
Sara laughed, and kissed him back, and they went inside to begin.