Most 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. All others 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 sixth season through "Secrets and Flies".

This one is for Cincoflex. She not only supported me through the runaround that this fic gave me, she told me exactly what was wrong with it, repeatedly--an undertaking that requires courage as well as clear sight. Eventually, I paid attention. grin Thank you, my friend--I couldn't have done this without you.


Sara couldn't exactly say she was glad to see the back of Mrs. Greeley, but it was something of a relief to see the woman go. A natural night owl, Mrs. Greeley knew a little more about Sara's life than most of the people on their floor, and when she'd discovered Sara's injury, she'd taken it upon herself to provide soup and comfort to the "poor girl."

Too bad she's never figured out that vegetarians don't eat chicken soup. Sara waved cheerfully as Mrs. Greeley finally turned to go, and gave the door a push to close it as she turned towards her kitchenette and the covered pot there. I can pour it down the drain, wash the pot, and give it back in three days, and she'll--

The door flew open so fast that it banged into the wall. Badly startled, Sara spun, her good hand groping for a spatula, a spoon, something to defend herself--

But it was Grissom stepping into her apartment, a Grissom whose face was so grim that Sara abandoned the idea of a weapon and took several steps backwards, immediately apprehensive. What the hell--

With obvious control, he closed the door behind him and threw the lock, then stalked towards her. Sara lifted her chin. "What are you--"

The words died in her throat as Grissom reached out and took hold of the shirt she was wearing. It was old and soft, worn unbuttoned over a comfortable camisole, and when he yanked down the left sleeve, there was no hiding the bandage.

For a long moment they stood frozen, Grissom staring at the neat square of gauze and tape, and Sara not willing to try to pull away while his grip on her clothing was white-knuckled.

"You didn't tell me," he said at last, soft and cold. "You didn't let anybody tell me."

Sara set her jaw. "It was none of your business, Grissom. It wasn't serious, and Catherine was perfectly capable of handling it."

If it was possible, Grissom's hold on the soft cloth grew even tighter. "You were shot, Sara," he said, still in a too-calm voice. "How is that not serious?"

Suddenly fed up, Sara lifted her good arm and shoved at his chest. The shirt slid out of his left fist, but his right still held tightly, and the movement wrenched her damaged shoulder. Sara couldn't quite muffle a grunt of pain.

Immediately Grissom let her go entirely, face white. "Don't tell me it's not serious," he snapped, his voice now just above a whisper.

Sara rubbed gingerly at her collarbone near the wound. "Fine," she retorted. "It's serious, if that makes you feel better. But it's still none of your business."

She started to turn away, but Grissom moved, crowding her back against her kitchen island, placing one hand on either side to cage her. Startled again, she let him, and Grissom leaned in until his mouth was next to her ear. "Yes. It. Is."

His proximity did her in. Sara's anger was swamped by her senses, by the scent of Grissom filling her lungs and the heat of him brushing her thighs and sides. Instead of twisting away, or shouting, she found she could only shiver, caught and pinned by his sheer presence.

Leaning back just slightly, Grissom took hold of her shirt again. Sara wasn't sure if he meant to do it, but the worn fabric parted in the tension of his grip, and he stripped the remnants from her with careful precision. Warm fingers brushed her shoulder as Grissom moved the slender strap of her camisole down her shoulder, and then, delicately, he began to peel away the tape.

At that Sara moved to stop him, but his left hand caught her right in a fast, tight grip, holding her arm immobile. She twitched, she couldn't help it, when the tape pulled her skin, but Grissom didn't stop. When it required both hands, he put her right hand behind her back and let it go, and for some reason she had no will left to defy him. This Grissom, fierce and furious, was someone she didn't know.

Finally he lifted the pad away, fixing his eyes on the revealed flesh. Sara winced as the air hit the sensitive skin. It wasn't a pretty wound; the stitches had finally been removed two days previously, and the tiny holes left were scabbed over. The skin was puckered and inflamed, and the muscle beneath was concave.

The doctor had told her it would smooth out with time, and Sara had been more concerned about the placement of the scar than the scar itself. She had enough of them to know what they were like. But now, with Grissom's gaze boring into that spot, she wanted to cover it up again.

In fact, she expected him to do just that, when he'd satisfied whatever infernal curiosity drove him. But instead, Grissom tossed the pad onto the counter behind her, braced his arms on either side of her hips--

--and with a touch more delicate than she had thought possible in anyone, he pressed his lips to her wound.

It was the prickle of his mustache on the new skin that raised goosebumps all over her, but it was the absolute reverence in the gesture that made Sara tilt her head back and bite her lips to choke off the tears. Grissom moved his head slowly, gradually covering the tender flesh with the lightest of kisses, as though they would take away the hurt and heal the damage.

His breath tickled just a little, as did the brush of his hair on her throat, and Sara found herself leaning hard against the counter for support, her good hand clutching the edge. She didn't know this Grissom, not at all; the Grissom she knew was barely able to reach out and take her hand. This man was shattering her brick wall with every touch of his mouth, with the barely-there pressure that felt cool against her scored flesh. She wanted to weep; she wanted to punch him; she wanted to put her head on his shoulder and just let him hold her.

Finally he raised his head; his eyes were tired, hurt, but still incandescent with anger. "How dare you?" he asked, his tone low and chilling. "How dare you keep me from knowing about this?"

Guilt nibbled at Sara, she'd done what she had mostly out of hurt, but she was still angry. "I told you, it wasn't--"

His eyes narrowed, and she got the feeling that he would have shaken her if she had been healthy. "The welfare of my CSIs is very much my business," he said. "For pity's sake, Sara, we almost lost Nick not too long ago! You--"

"I wasn't dying," she interrupted. "It's just a flesh wound." She planted her right palm on his chest and shoved, which made him rock a little, but he didn't move. "There was no reason to interrupt your vacation."

Grissom reached up and snagged her wrist again. "That was not your decision to make."

Sara yanked, but his grip was firm. "Okay, fine," she said bitterly. "So I should have called. I didn't. That still doesn't give you the right to barge in here and rip my shirt off."

Grissom was silent a moment, eyes fixed on hers. "Perhaps not," he said at last. His expression was closed, abstracted. "Why didn't you call, Sara?"

She hated feeling like a student being reprimanded by a teacher. "I told you already."

"You told me one reason. I don't think it's the only reason." Grissom the investigator was looking at her now, the same way he did a crime scene that was in the process of giving up its secrets.

"Think what you like." Sara wanted to move away, but all she could do was close her eyes and turn her head. "You will anyway."

"That's right." Warm fingers touched her cheek, but Sara refused to look at him. "But I still want to know."

She could feel his determination, a phantom pressure. He'd done this to her once before, settled in her apartment and refused to leave until she told him what he wanted to know. And it was a relief to tell him, one treacherous corner of her mind reminded her. She tried to ignore it.

There was anger behind his determination this time, though, fueling it to the point where she knew she had no hope of getting rid of him. Sara knew herself to be stubborn--it was one of her strengths as well as one of her flaws--but when Grissom took it into his head to do something, he was inexorable.

"You won't like it," she told him flatly, opening her eyes. He was wearing shoes and she wasn't, so that put her gaze at about the level of his nose, rather to her relief. His hand dropped to the counter again, but he didn't back away.

"Tell me anyway."

Sara swallowed. This was going to blow their relationship, such as it was, all to hell; but then, she thought, it wasn't much of a relationship to begin with.

"I didn't want you there," she said, not trying to soften the words. "I didn't want you cutting your vacation short for something that was really less serious than a broken leg, and I didn't want you getting all pissed at me for something I couldn't help."

There was venom in her voice now, she could hear it, and she felt Grissom's grip loosen on her arm. "You would have come in there and been awkward, told me to get better and walked away again, and--"

She choked on the words, and in desperation planted her right elbow in his chest, twisting away and taking a few strides out into her living room. She wanted to stop, to keep this last truth to herself, but it spilled out anyway. "I wouldn't have been able to stand it."

There was silence behind her, and then she heard him sigh, a sound so deeply sad that her heart ached despite her anger and humiliation. "Sara..."

She whipped her good hand in a cutting gesture, not turning around. "Save it, okay, Grissom? I was wrong, I screwed up, fine. Now you know why. You can go away and pretend it all didn't happen, and I'll come to work tomorrow like a good little CSI and we can go back to the status quo."

Judging from the lump in her throat, that status would not pertain for long, but that was a problem for another night. Sara wondered wearily whether Grissom would try to come up with something to say, or whether she would just hear the door open and close as he left.

Instead, the hand on her right shoulder startled her badly enough that she jumped, and it closed to hold her in place, though not hard. Grissom's other hand skimmed down the outside of her left arm before settling hesitantly on her hip. Sara felt the goosebumps return as his breath stirred her hair, and her lonely body betrayed her; she couldn't force herself to step away.

"I wouldn't have walked away, Sara," Grissom said to the back of her head, barely audible. "I would have stayed until I knew you were going to be okay, and then I would have stayed until you kicked me out." He sighed again. "But I do realize that you...couldn't know that."

She wanted so much to believe him, but this was too much to take in, too big a change. "Because you were scared?" she asked harshly. "One bullet changed your mind? Sorry, Grissom, but even if you did, I seriously doubt you would stick around very long. I'm too big a risk, remember?"

He grunted softly, and his right hand slid around her shoulder to settle on her collarbone, his index finger dipping into the hollow of her throat and his thumb stroking delicately under her ear. It made her shiver, and brought him closer. "Based on past evidence, I'd have to say...yes. But I'd like to present new evidence."

Sara wrapped her good arm around herself, folding the other gingerly in towards her chest and fighting the urge to lean back against him. "I'm here, Sara," Grissom went on. "I know I don't have a lot of credit with you, but the only way to prove myself is to be here. So...I'm here."

She was shivering harder now, wanting so badly to believe him, but years of disappointment and heartache were bearing down on her. "What if I tell you to go?"

His thumb stilled, as did the faint breeze of his breath, and Sara heard him swallow. "You'll have to convince me you really want me gone," he said after a moment, and his tone held no hope. "But if you do, then I will respect your wishes."

It hurt, this choice, it hurt so badly. Part of her did want him gone, wanted him out of her life, no longer tormenting her with her own yearning. The other part wanted him insanely, wanted what she had long since stopped believing she could have. For an eternal instant she wavered between the two, a final pain or a painful joy, trying to decide.

And at last she let herself relax, let knotted muscles loosen, let gravity draw her back against him. Grissom let out a harsh breath, and braced himself to take her weight, sliding his arms around her waist to cradle her. Sara felt his cheek against her ear, and she folded her arms over his--carefully, so as not to jar her wound.

They stood silent for a long time. Gradually Sara let her head fall back against his shoulder, feeling unalone for the first time in a very long while. Grissom kept his cheek pressed to hers for a bit, then pulled back just far enough, and started kissing her again. Tiny light kisses fell along her ear, her cheekbone, her jaw; his lips moved gradually down her throat as he took his time, imprinting her with his touch. It wasn't really arousing, though the tickle of his whiskers made Sara shiver again; it was soothing, comforting, each fragile touch a promise and a cherishing. She lifted her good hand to touch his face, and felt him kiss her fingertips too.

"Don't go," she finally murmured. Grissom made a low sound, not quite a word, and placed one last kiss where her neck and shoulder met. There his lips lingered a moment, as though he was reluctant to stop.

When he lifted his head, Sara sighed, and pushed gently at his arms until they loosened; and when they did she turned, until she could get her good arm around Grissom's neck and lean against him--not quite straight on, but nonetheless close.

It felt unbelievably good. Sara had convinced herself over bitter time that the attraction between them was nothing out of the ordinary, and cursed herself for her inability to let it go; but just this slightly clumsy embrace proved her wrong. Grissom had one arm wrapped around her waist and the other hand resting lightly on her left hip, and it felt like that touch alone was soothing some interminable small hunger. Sara rubbed her cheek against his, something she'd been wanting to do for years, and Grissom held her a little tighter. "Sara--"

She shook her head, not wanting words, and began returning his kisses one by one, placing them gently on his cheekbone, his temple, even his eyelids. As she laid one under the corner of his jaw, she could feel his pulse, still running a little high; but she didn't stop, and as she traced a path along the line of his beard, she could sense it calming. When it had slowed to her satisfaction, she put her head back down on his shoulder, and let him hold her.

Some time later--she was never sure how much later--Grissom released her, reluctantly, and took three steps to her breakfast bar. It wasn't until he took her hand and made her lean against it again that she realized that with her camisole strap down, she was in danger of indecent exposure; but without a word or a blush Grissom merely took up the packet of gauze and roll of tape from the counter, and rebandaged her shoulder with the skill she expected and a tenderness that still made her eyes prickle. He drew up the strap again, smoothing it into place, and his mouth twisted ruefully as he glanced at the rag that had been her shirt. "I'll get you a new one," he said softly.

Sara opened her mouth to tell him it wasn't necessary--the shirt's virtue had been in its age and softness--and then felt a slow, crooked smile coming on, for the first time in way too long.


Grissom rinsed the last glass and handed it to Sara, who dried it carefully with the now-damp dishtowel and reached up to place it in the cupboard over her stove. She had rolled her eyes when he had offered to do the few of their dinner dishes that couldn't go in the dishwasher, but he had pointed out with calm logic that he didn't know where things went, and that had carried the day where his concern for her injury had not.

That was his Sara. The possessive sounded very good to his mind's ear, though new; he definitely thought he could get used to it. Of course, the back of his mind reminded him with amusement, you belong to her just as much.

Well, he had no objections to that.

Sara folded up the dishtowel and hung it on the handle of the oven door, and Grissom pulled out the sink plug and rinsed his hands as the dishwater gurgled away. Somehow the question of his returning to work had never even been raised, and instead they had just sat together for a long time; not speaking, not worrying, just being.

Now she stretched a little, stiffly, twisting her neck as though it pained her. Grissom raised a brow in inquiry, and she shrugged, one-sided. "Having a hole in my shoulder throws everything out of whack. It's nothing."

Grissom snorted silently, then dried his hands and jerked his head towards Sara's sofa. "C'mon."

Obviously curious, she complied, but then stiffened when he sat down next to her and turned her gently away from him. "Griss--"

"Relax," he instructed, and began on the tendons of Sara's neck, moving carefully. After a few seconds, she did so, letting out a faint moan of appreciation. Her muscles were knotted with more than just the strain of the injury, Grissom judged, but he kept his touch light, feeling some of the tautness loosen under his fingers. This was a long-held, secret dream of his; not just having the right to touch Sara, but having the ability to ease her.

When he had gone as far as he could without hurting her shoulder, Grissom gave in to another fantasy and swept the hair off her nape so he could plant one more kiss there. Sara sighed at his touch.

"Just so you know," she said thickly, "as soon as my arm's healed I'm gonna return the favor."

"I look forward to it," Grissom replied, meaning it.

She turned her head to look at him and laughed a little, and Grissom basked in the sound before sitting back and coaxing her to lean against him. He looked at the dark head resting on his chest for a long minute before daring to speak.

"Tell me about the shooting."

Sara pursed her lips, looking doubtful, but when he waited, she rubbed her elbow absently, and told him. It took a lot of control for Grissom to stay still and relaxed; particularly when he felt her shiver a little as she described the first burst of agony, and at the waver in her voice when she told him how alone she had felt those hours in the hospital.

"I'm sorry," she said at last, and the words, low and regretful, pierced his heart. "I should have called you, I know, or let somebody else do it. It was just--I think in the end I was afraid that you wouldn't come."

He had to swallow, and keep himself from hugging her too hard. "I'm sorry too," he said, forcing his voice past a whisper. "I've given you so much cause to doubt me."

After a moment Sara shrugged, a slow and careful movement. "You're here now," she pointed out practically.

Eventually, of course, he did have to leave. Grissom had roaches to feed and unpacking to do, and Sara needed sleep to heal. He did make one shy request, and Sara stared at him long enough for Grissom to feel his ears heating; but then she grinned at him, and it was all right.

So she brushed her teeth and fluffed her pillow, and Grissom watched her draw up the sheet over herself, and he sat on the edge of her bed and indulged in fantasy number three, stroking her hair until her eyes closed and her breathing evened out.

He thought her asleep, but when he leaned down to take one last kiss from the soft skin of her cheek, she stirred sleepily, and Grissom discovered that Sara's cheek had nothing on the softness of her lips.

It was even harder, after that, to make himself leave, but Grissom did so, leaving behind a Sara whose smile still lingered though her eyes were shut again. He paused at her door to pull on his jacket, and the very act of doing so made him smile too, because he wore nothing beneath it but his white undershirt.

I wonder if I'll ever get my shirt back. He pictured it once more on Sara, oversized but soft enough to be declared just what she wanted, and decided he didn't care. The image of her cuddled down into it, sound asleep, gave him the fanciful notion of it being some remnant of his own embrace, and Grissom shook his head and zipped up his jacket in preparation for the cool dawn.

He didn't want to leave, but that was the best part; he could come back.

He would come back.