TITLE: Tarnished
SPOILERS: Daddy's Little Girl
DEDICATION: For FanficAddiction, for reigniting the GregSara spark for me!

Some people just shouldn't live together. She'd said it... she was unable to take it back, and more importantly... she didn't want to take it back. Realization had finally come in the form of a case that, no matter how much she wanted to believe, she and Grissom were not meant for each other. They never had been.

She'd seen hints along the way, sure. But at the time, to her they'd only been silly little notions -- she'd then thought the truth to be that they would one day inevitably come together -- but not anymore. Now, all the little hints she'd been given over the past six years to just give up already came screaming back to her, as well as one thought that nearly knocked the wind out of her -- she'd lost so much time.

Six years she wasted on Grissom; on clueless, oblivious Grissom. And for six years she watched him ignore her -- she watched him date Terri, Heather, Sofia; she watched him and Catherine as they danced around each other, all the while wanting to ignore the spark she saw between them but unable to -- it was too obvious, too overt.

And to her credit, she dated -- one guy, but still that was effort, wasn't it? Hank counted in her fight to get over Grissom... didn't he? She figured not. Because, quite simply, Hank was a diversion. A tangible male interested in her that she could physically be with while secretly pining for any scrap of affection Grissom would throw her way. No more.

She'd missed out on too much, missed too many chances with too many other guys. There were three in particular she'd always considered, had always kept close not just because they were colleagues, but because they were real possibilities for her -- Warrick, Nick, and Greg. Sara loved all three of them, in ways as unique as the men themselves.

Nick had seemed her most obvious option in the beginning. The chemistry was just there from the first second, the banter and the easy flirtation just screamed at her to go for him. Pick the charming Texan. And she and Nick could have had something real... something fun and something tangible, and that wonderful yin-yang balance that their work partnership already had. But Nicky had always been just out of her reach. Attainable yet unattainable. She'd be left forever reaching for him, like Grissom, and he'd remain just millimeters away. And, while she loved Nick dearly and a part of her always would, she was unwilling to repeat her Grissom fiasco with him.

Warrick had been the next option. Though they hated each other in the beginning, she was unashamed to admit that that friction often left her lolling in plenty of tawdry fantasies about her handsome colleague. And whereas his flirtation with Catherine was always friendly and the innuendo was always clean... with Sara, it blurred the line. And they had come close, several times, to crossing that proverbial line. She could've had some incredible nights with Warrick, and, if his protective and loyal demeanor toward her in the day was any indication, it would have been a fulfilling and long-lasting relationship.

But Warrick had gotten married. She wasted so much time on Grissom that that option had gotten swept out from beneath her feet. And she was not one to toy with someone's marriage -- especially someone she loved. So Warrick would be forever off-limits... further out of reach than Nick or even Grissom.

Greg Sanders had been the unexpected option. She barely even noticed Greg in the beginning -- he was practically a fixture of the lab itself for her first year in Vegas. Then she'd discovered he had a crush on her. She'd been taken aback and shocked momentarily -- Greg Sanders? As time went on and he became more and more bold about letting his feelings be known, she began to somewhat crave that attention from him. Not only was it quite the ego boost, but... for some reason it made her heart flutter. She'd never been chased before.

Unknowingly, she began to use Greg as a crutch. When Nick or Warrick were unavailable, she would run to Greg with her problems and he, loyal as he was, would try to fix them for her. He listened to her -- really listened -- and tried to make everything right for her again. He wiped the tears from her face if she would cry, and would make jokes at inappropriate times just to see her laugh again. He'd been there for her since the beginning and she had been blind.

No more. As she strode purposefully up the steps and rose a fist to knock on the door in front of her, she resolved not to wear blinders anymore. Not where Grissom was concerned, nor where Greg was concerned. Grissom had been the fantasy -- the knight in shining armor that was supposed to make all her dreams come true.

The door opened and for a moment her breath left her. With the blinders off, the mere sight of him made her heart palpitate wildly. He smiled, "Sara, hey! What are you doing here?"

She smiled back. "Greg."

Greg was reality -- her knight in tarnished armor that had already brought her dreams to life. She knew, as she looked into his expectant brown eyes, that he'd loved her for years. And now, finally, she could love him back.

"I just came to..." She swallowed the lump rising in her throat. "I came to... to tell you..." She ducked her head and shook it, self-deprecating. She closed her eyes and decided to spit it out, "I'm sorry it's taken me four years to tell you I've fallen for you."

When Sara looked up, she almost laughed joyously at the look on Greg's face -- shock and happiness and understanding and nervousness all wrapped in one gorgeous bundle. When he spoke, she actually did laugh. "Uhh... say that again?"

"I've fallen for you," she repeated mid-chuckle, her heart wanting her to reach for him.

She did automatically and he pulled her into his arms, hisfingers interlocking on her lower back. He sighed and gave her one of those gorgeous, slow-spreading Greg Sanders smiles. "I knew it would happen eventually."

She raised her eyebrows at this. "You did?"

"Oh, yeah. All the ladies fall for Greg Sanders." He grinned, in that way that made her want to both slug him and kiss him.

Sara decided on the latter option, and pressed her lips to his, though she couldn't help but growl, "Shut up," as he pulled her inside.