Title: Race Among the Ruins

Author: Cropper

Pairing: GSR

Rating: Mature for Profanity

Disclaimers: Sadly, the characters herein are not mine. I promise to play nice and return them when I am done.

A/N: I am flying by the seat of my pants this time…no betas…so all mistakes are mine and mine alone.

Summary: Too little sleep and too much sleet

Epilogue

2 Months Later…

Sara sighed wearily as she twisted the key and unlocked the door. She entered the house and leaned her back heavily against the solid wooden structure as she took a deep cleansing breath. Finally. It was finally over. Another wretched shift had thankfully passed and all she had the will to contemplate was a shower and some much-needed sleep. The two months that had crept by following Grissom's horrendous accident had been extraordinarily difficult and painful. She had not been sleeping well and whatever brief snatches she had been able to find were plagued with frightening slow motion replays of the little rental car smashing down the sleet-encrusted slope, ruthlessly stealing her one hope at happiness, at love.

She was not the only member of Graveyard struggling to cope with Grissom's loss. Work was just not the same without the eccentric Bugman rumbling through the halls. There were no more quips, no more quotes, no more random espousals of seemingly meaningless factoids…no more anything. Grissom was gone and he was never coming back. They were all hurting and struggling to adjust. Catherine had temporarily been promoted to lead the shift as a frantic nationwide search for a suitable and permanent replacement for Grissom had failed to yield acceptable results thus far. It was strange – when the team had been split and Catherine put in charge of swing, Ecklie seemed to have all the confidence in the world in her supervisory abilities. However, without Grissom's presence, both Ecklie and the Sheriff feared that the lab would lose its lofty position as the #2 lab in the country. Rightly or wrongly, the powers that be were unwilling to let the lab's reputation rest upon Catherine's shoulders.

Catherine was taking the loss of faith with regard to her abilities very, very personally. Working for her had migrated from merely being laborious into a full-fledged nightmare. Catherine has transformed into a callous ball buster of the nth degree and hounded the team relentlessly. Nothing was good enough, the turn around from collection to analysis was not fast enough and she spent most of her time watching over their shoulders like Big Brother gone bad. She occasionally did field work, if she deemed the crime to be high-profile and thus deserving of her skills and possible media exposure. There was no pleasing the woman and she was, by and large, unwilling or unable to offer any support. Grissom might not have been the most socially adept supervisor, but he never turned aside a request for help or refused to support his team. Graveyard Shift was foundering listlessly in a rudderless rubber raft that was quickly taking on water.

And, if all of that were not bad enough, the cases Sara had been forced to work constituted one excruciating hell-fest after another. It seemed that every psycho dirtball sociopath had decided to migrate to Sin City to open his/her own sadistically specialized little murder parlor. As things stood, the killing grounds were close to surpassing the sheer number of tacky drive-thru wedding chapels. All in all, work really sucked and Sara especially dreaded the start of each new shift. Not only did she realize that some new and heretofore unimaginable horror awaited her, but also because it was then, when assignments were passed around, that she felt Grissom's lost most acutely. The lab was just not the same and much of her zest for her job had perished in that tangled heap of metal on the slope of the nameless, faceless mountain.

Sara stumbled to the shower to scald away the fear, deceit and despair permeating her body following the long and terribly lonely night. The blisteringly hot water sluiced away the sins of others; she watched them mingle and join with the remnants of shampoo and body wash before swirling down the drain forever. Like a snake, she had shed her skin and emerged, not anew, but renewed. After a quick session with a fluffy Turkish bath towel, she hurriedly donned her girly-girl hot pink, lime green and brown plaid drawstring pajama pants and matching oversized pink t-shirt and, at long last, staggered to the bedroom in search of rest.

Sara paused in the doorway and took a moment to greedily consume the sight within. Grissom. He was sound asleep, propped against the headboard with two pillows stuffed carelessly behind his back. His glasses were still perched atop his nose and some disregarded novel lay haphazardly across his blanket-covered lap. The still-burning bedside lamp cast a soft illuminating glow about his healing features and rumpled gray hair and Sara knew that she had never seen a more beautiful sight. He was alive; a little battered and would probably never regain enough strength in his knees to return to field work, but he was alive. That was all that mattered. She took a moment to silently thank a God in whose existence she scarcely believed for taking care of Grissom and watching over him throughout his harrowing ordeal. She quietly snapped off the light and placed both his book and reading glasses on the nightstand before walking around the bed to snuggle into his right side.

Grissom roused at her touch and, after allowing Sara to help him maneuver back down in a prone position, pulled her close and nuzzled her damp hair. "Hi, honey. Good shift?" he asked between soft kisses across her forehead.

"Oh, the usual," Sara managed through a yawn. "Just trying to stay a step ahead of Catherine and the bad guys."

"Hmmm," he commiserated and even as he sought out her lips for a pillowy soft kiss, Sara blindly and methodically worked the buttons of his pale blue pajama top until she was able to pull back both halves to reveal the smooth skin beneath. This had become one of her new rituals…huddling as close to his heart as physically possible. He had flat lined three times in the ambulance and twice more on the operating table. Five times she had come perilously close to losing him and needed the aural reassurance of his strong heart beat to lull her into slumber every night.

Few words were spoken, but few were needed. They had said everything that needed to be said and thoughts and emotions were conveyed through touch and glances. It was enough, for now. They had their entire future to hammer out the details of their relationship and for now allowed themselves the sheer luxury of basking in the warm contentment of each other's presence. They had waited a lifetime and, for now, this was enough. The future, their future, was vast and unknowable and brimming with infinite blissful possibilities. They slept and dreamed and whispered words of love. And it was enough.

For now.