A/N: This is an addendum to my four part story, Waiting By The River.

When I completed WBTR, Grissom and Sara were too banged up and traumatized to do much more than cling to one another. I wanted them to discover the physical side of their relationship, but it just didn't seem to fit...I had to give them time to recover. So, the case is over, Grissom and Sara are back in Las Vegas, trying to move on.

Written for the GeekFiction Summer Sizzler Ficathon 2006 at LiveJournal. The prompt: Equinox. This is a less-explicit version of the original story posted there.

Thanks to aflaminghalo for the hurry-up beta.

Timeframe: Action begins Season 6 around March 20 (the Spring Equinox) and ends around September 23 that same year (the Autumnal Equinox). Not particularly spoilery, though thereare references to events in Time of Your Death.


March 20, 2006 – Spring Equinox


Once, I dreamed that you were gone
I cried out trying to find you
I begged the dreams to fade away
And please awaken me

Forever / Kenny Loggins

>>>>>

The bedroom is in shadow, darkened by blackout curtains at the window. A couple lays naked, curled together beneath cream colored sheets. What should be a scene of peace is marred by the expressions on the sleepers' faces. Both are grimacing – horrified masks at odds with their comfortably tangled bodies.

Small dream movements escalate until both are thrashing; they sit up suddenly…white faced and staring. It takes a few moments for them rouse fully. They turn to face each other with sad eyes, whispering words of comfort across their shared pillow.

"In my dream I watched you die, Sara…that bastard cut your throat after he raped you and I just stood there…just stood there helplessly as you slipped away from me…" Grissom said softly.

Sara nodded and said, "This time you were struggling to get to me, Jennings holding you and James pinning me down…he shot you in the head…I saw the life blown out of you and they were both laughing and laughing…"

Grissom pulled her into his arms. "We'll get through this somehow…the nightmares will stop eventually and it will be better," he said, trying to sound positive despite his growing belief that he would be doomed to relive variations of that night for the rest of his life.

"I know," was all Sara could say, but she was exhausted with it: her usual balm – a successfully resolved case – had not paused the nightly horror show.

Grissom fought tears as he looked down into her eyes. "How have you lived with this all these years?"

Her only response was a slight shrug and a weak smile.

Finally he lay on his back as Sara nestled her head on his shoulder. He said, "I'm here, honey. I will always be here…"

She kissed his shoulder and sighed, "And me for you, Gil…always."

But the night took a hold of my heart
And left me with no one to follow
The love that I lost to the dark

Forever / Kenny Loggins

>>>>>

Back in Las Vegas after being attacked by Kelly James and Roger Jennings, Grissom and Sara had begun to heal. Within a couple of months their faces no longer showed the violent tattoo of their encounter. Sara's scalp lac closed and the stitches were removed. Grissom's shoulder was on the mend; twice weekly physical therapy the only reminder that he still bore a wound.

They came to depend on one another as if they were marooned on an island, which in a way they were…Jennings and James had tossed them on the beach of survival like so much flotsam and jetsam. Their friends and co-workers tried to understand, but no one (except Nick), really knew how set apart they felt.

Ecklie, in a rare compassionate moment, set up victim counseling. After Grissom nearly jumped out of his skin for the 20th time, he realized his startle reflex had become so exaggerated it was interfering with his work – that and the dreams – so he relented and made an appointment. Sara, who'd long ago learned the value of a therapist's good ear, took advantage immediately.

The relationship Grissom and Sara started in the aftermath of the Jennings/James attack was a curious thing. At night – during the darkest times – they comforted each other. They always slept together; sometimes at his townhouse, other times at her apartment. If they'd spent the morning together they just went to bed. If not, one or the other would knock softly on a door and they'd curl up together, safe.

It might seem logical that other areas of their relationship would enjoy a similar bloom, but they were who they were and relationships were not their best thing. On the plus side, they loved and respected one another, and trusted that neither would be purposely hurtful. On the negative side, they found the work and negotiation necessary to build a relationship to be scary – vaguely afraid one mistake would collapse their rapport like a house of cards. As they built a history together this would ease, but in the short term the walking-on-eggshells feeling was pervasive and tedious.

One thing that would have helped was a successful sexual relationship. Having fantasized about one another for so long, they were shocked when the actual act was less than perfect…so much so that they stopped trying altogether for awhile, hoping their respective therapies would at least deal with the trauma that was getting in the way.

The attempted rape would not leave Sara – she felt as though something ugly had been burned into her. She'd run into it at odd times and be so distracted afterwards she could barely function. Even though they spent every night together wrapped in one another's arms, any other sort of touch just set her on edge. And of course, the nightmares were interfering with her rest which made it that much harder to heal.

For Grissom, the aftermath was subtler – intrusive thoughts – mental pictures of the attacks would come when he let his guard down. Not so much an issue at work, it became a problem when he tried to be intimate with Sara. He couldn't believe he was having trouble focusing on Sara, the woman who had haunted his fantasies for years. On top of the nightmares, which left him feeling unsettled, he found himself feeling helpless and no amount of scientific or rational thinking could dispel it.

June 23, 2006 – Summer Solstice


Grissom and Sara both went on antidepressant therapy in conjunction with their victim counseling and both got positive results in the short term. By May, the acute post traumatic symptoms had eased. But they soon learned Prozac's dirty little secret: sexual dysfunction.

This occurs as frequently in woman as in men. In addition to a general reduction in libido, men can suffer an inability to get and maintain an erection and/or difficulty reaching orgasm. In women, marked disinterest in sex is paired with a blunting of sensation and inability to climax. Many patients never discuss this with their doctors and a lot of doctors don't ask, so new patients discover just as they are feeling better that one of life's joys has become a source of incredible frustration and anxiety.

Not recommended for a couple starting to explore a sexual relationship with one another.

Grissom had never had difficulty in this area – his problems had typically been linked to lack of convenient access. Inability to perform with a new partner – a new young partner he'd been fantasizing about for years – was rough to deal with. Not being able to come was torture.

Sara's problems after the attempted rape – not wanting to be touched – were complicated by the diminished sexual sensations when she did want Grissom to make love with her. On those occasions when things were sort of working right for him, not being able to climax – even to bring herself to climax – was supremely frustrating.

This was the first time in their lives they'd felt betrayed by their bodies – and their sense of insecurity in the world after the attacks was compounded by a feeling that they didn't know themselves anymore. If they hadn't had each other they would have been completely lost.

>>>>>

The bedroom was quiet except for the soft hum of air conditioning. Two people lay in the bed, side by side, staring at the ceiling. They stayed like that for some minutes until the man got up and sat on the side of the bed.

"Sara, I'm sorry," Grissom said heavily, running his hands through his hair.

Sara chose her words carefully, "It's OK, Gil…it's…it's OK. Don't worry about it."

Grissom turned to face her, "Who knew it was going to be so complicated?"

Sara looked up at him and took his hand, "Jennings and James made sure of that."

"Is that all it is? Leftovers from the attack? I'm starting to wonder…"

Sara frowned, "Isn't that enough?" She sat up, the covers pooling around her waist. "I'm different, you're different – it's like putting ink in water…it colors everything."

"I want this so much, Sara. For me, for you…"

She pressed his hand, "It'll come, Gil. We need time." She smiled but tears filled her eyes: the strain was getting to her.

Grissom was shocked to feel close to tears himself. "What if time isn't the answer? Suppose we're never able to make love?"

He left her then and went into the living room; sitting quietly in the dark and giving in to his darker thoughts. How could this be happening? After everything they'd been through they were finally together, but they weren't really together. The sex thing was just not happening. He didn't think of himself as a shallow person; he loved Sara as deeply as he was capable. The missing sexual piece was driving him crazy…which gave him a new respect for the power of biology…and what a problem it was when something interfered with biological drives.

Intellectually he knew that trauma and chemistry were responsible for their problem, but his heart was sick with worry. He was a lot older than her…some day he might be permanently unable to make love to her and then where would they be? And what if this chemical thing never got resolved? How long would they be able to cling to one another without the sexual piece? Sara kept saying it would be OK, that the sex wasn't that important…and part of him desperately wanted to believe that, but it was different for men. Strike that…it was different for him. No one, not even Sara…yet…knew the extent of his sexual nature. To suddenly lose that part of himself was as traumatic as losing an arm or leg. No wonder that idiot, Enzyte Bob, was grinning like a fool.

Sara came to him in the dark and took his hand. "Will you come back to bed with me?"

He could just make out her features in the dim light. Her eyes were full of worry and what he had come to understand was love. Nodding slightly, he got to his feet and let her lead him back to the bedroom.

Once they were curled together, Sara could tell by his breathing that Grissom had dropped off to sleep. It was only in the depths of the night that she let herself think about how things were not working for them. This was very bad. He was like a wild thing, flinging himself at the bars of some invisible cage. She didn't know how long he'd be able to do that before some important part of him broke forever. Grissom might think she was unaware of his carnal nature but he wasn't thinking straight…she knew.

She also knew he would just disappear someday if this part of their lives didn't get resolved. He wouldn't be able to stay with her as a sexual cripple. She prayed that the light they were pinning their hopes on…going off the antidepressants…would finally allow things to progress naturally. The sexual piece was important for her, too, and it was incredibly frustrating to be struggling like this after seven years of foreplay, but her feelings of love attenuated her frustration. Enough that she knew she could hold on until things worked out. Unlike Grissom, she knew they would have a positive resolution sometime soon, plus, she was much more patient than he was. She'd waited for him long enough…a few more months was nothing. Ever hopeful in the face of darkness, she thought about their doctors' appointments and wondered what Grissom would say to Dr. Baker…the man had no idea what a force Gil could be when he was fired up. She smiled and let her thoughts run softly over the man curled up behind her…it would be OK in time. She truly believed that.

>>>>>

"How is the new medication working?" asked Dr. Baker.

"Well, I've been on the four days on, three days off schedule for a month. At first, there was so much Prozac in my system there was not much change, but I have noticed an improvement in the last week and a half.

"Last weekend I was able to get and maintain my erection, and climax in a normal span of time."

Dr. Baker made a few notes, "That is an improvement."

Grissom frowned, "It would have been great if my partner had had any time off while I was on medication holiday. By the time we were able to get together I was three days into the next cycle and wasn't able to perform." He paused, looking at the doctor with growing anger.

"How do people cope with this? My partner and I are at our wits' end."

Baker started to speak, but Grissom cut him off, "…and I really don't want to hear about patience. I've been patient, my lover has been patient…first we're attacked by a couple of maniacs and are so banged up we can't even think about sex. So we're patient while we heal, only to discover the trauma we survived is getting in our way, so we do what we know to do – we go into therapy to get past the trauma which included, unfortunately, medication that killed my dick and made her so numb she couldn't come. So we're patient some more while we experiment with other meds that only kill my dick 80 percent of the time and give her mood swings that are making her just as crazy as the attacks did.

"Dr. Baker, I have been in love with this woman for years. It has taken a huge amount of work for us to develop a relationship. We want to express our love physically – to please and pleasure ourselves and each other, and we can't. We have been together since March and we haven't been able to make love successfully one time. I am done with being patient."

"Dr. Grissom…I…"

"We are going off this medication, Dr. Baker. I want my life back. My partner is discussing this issue with her medicating psychiatrist as we speak. We are through being victims of the treatment that is supposed to help us."

Dr. Baker was quiet for a moment considering the angry man in front of him. "You've had a brief but successful course on the antidepressants and I think your brain chemistry is balanced enough to start a trial period without it."

Grissom's eyes widened in surprise…was this guy serious? "Well, that's good to hear."

"Just note any symptoms returning, such as insomnia, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks…"

Astonished at Dr. Baker's obtuse remarks, he said, "I will be sure to do that."

Grissom got up to leave and paused by the door, "Why didn't you discuss this issue with me when I first came here? Surely you know the side effects of the medications you prescribe? Wouldn't that have been worth a mention? Aren't your other patients upset when their sex lives evaporate?"

Dr. Baker started to speak but Grissom was gone.

>>>>>

In late summer things finally seemed to even out for them. They'd been off the antidepressants for about two months. All the kinks hadn't been worked out yet, but there had been enough progress for them sexually that the heaviness between them eased. In fact, they were both feeling hopeful for the first time in months.

"Grissom, what would you say to a little road trip?" Sara asked one morning after work.

Taking in her half smile, he grinned back, "What do you have in mind?"

Sara plopped herself next to him on the couch. "I didn't have a place in mind – just the idea that it would be nice to get away from here and spend some time together…alone."

Pulling her into his lap, he said, "I'm up for it…how long would you say?"

Sara laid her head on his shoulder and played with the button on his shirt, "A week…I think we need at least a week away from here."

Grissom brushed her hair from face and tucked it behind her ear, then lifted her chin so she could meet his eyes, "A week it is…" Then he lowered his lips to hers and kissed her softly, "Where should we go?"

"Can we find a bed and breakfast somewhere? Out of town with no phones and no way to be disturbed? I think it's time for us to concentrate on each other," she said in a low voice as she kissed him again, this time with heat and it worked, too, because she could feel his arousal under her rear, "…and only each other."

Grasping her hips to shift her back and forth over his erection, he smiled and whispered, "Anything you want, Sara…I am there."

>>>>>

Grissom and Sara arranged to have ten days off together. A few eyebrows were raised at the Lab, but their relationship was no secret by this time and given the catalyst that finally brought them together, no one had the temerity to mention it.

In the beginning they'd had several meetings with Ecklie and the sheriff – rumor was rife about what was said, but the only change was that Sara began reporting to Catherine for supervision. That shift was virtually seamless as Catherine was quite relieved to see her friend and his obvious soul mate surrender to the inevitable. Oddly, given the fireworks that had exploded between the two women in the past, Sara and Catherine grew closer with this arrangement. Everyone was pleased with the all around reduction of tension in the Lab.

Their getaway off was set for mid-September. Sara had asked only that their time off take them away from cell phones and easy access. She had no idea what Grissom was planning.

After several weeks of researching vacation spots, Grissom finally settled on Bainbridge Island on the Puget Sound in Washington state. His criteria were, first, somewhere relatively remote. Additional requirements were close proximity to water and finally, somewhere verdant and green. He knew Sara would appreciate a chance to surround herself with growing things.

Once he'd decided on the Pacific northwest, he remembered a friend who'd consulted on the Bloedel Reserve, a 150 acre park known for exquisite gardens and nature trails. Max Hawkins still had quite a lot of pull at the reserve; he managed to get them private access on the Monday and Tuesday they'd be in the area, days the Reserve was normally closed to visitors. Sara would love exploring the place.

That just left a place to stay. He'd found several bed and breakfasts that looked promising, but nothing that said, 'This is the one' to him. It was his mother who gave him that answer one afternoon when they were chatting TTY.

"We'll be away for about two weeks, Mom. I'd give you the contact info, but I haven't decided on a place yet," he typed.

A few moments later, Anna Grissom's response flowed across his terminal, "Bainbridge Island? I know a woman who just bought a B&B on Bainbridge Island. Very talented artist…works in textiles. Ann Fernald Borwick. You'd like her, son, and from what I understand, the place she bought is kind of unusual…it has an Asian theme."

Grissom smiled; he could always count on his Mom to know someone somewhere…she'd been in the gallery business so long, she knew practically everybody. "Sounds interesting, Mom. Do you have a number?"

"I don't have a number, but I do know the place is listed online as a 'futon and breakfast.' That should be enough to find it. If you can't locate it, let me know and I'll look up Ann's agent and get the number for you that way. I am so glad you and Sara are taking a vacation, son. I've been worried about you both."

"I am doing much better, Mom. Sara, too. How are you liking Hancock Manor? How is Miles doing?"

They'd chatted a bit more about Anna's new home at Hancock Manor, and Miles Cavendish, her special friend. Anna's wrist had been broken in the same attack that so wounded Grissom and Sara, but she'd mended quickly and was soon so involved in her move to the senior living place it was almost as if the attack had never happened. Well, that was how it seemed. Grissom knew his mother was just as private as he was and would never have talked about her own troubles with him. At least, he thought, she has Miles to talk to, and he hoped she was faring as well as she said she was.

He'd looked up this 'futon and breakfast' as soon as they'd said goodbye. Sure enough, it was right there on Bainbridge Island. It was called Fuurin-Oka, billed as a traditional Japanese house and garden. It looked like the perfect place from the photos and description on their website. After the significant looks he'd exchanged with Sara at the Japanese garden Anthony Caprice used as a backdrop for some Midwestern businessman's fantasy, he knew a similar setting would be ideal for their getaway…simple and sensuous, lush and inviting.

"Thanks, Mom," he murmured.

He could hardly wait for their vacation to begin. In a sense, they were like honeymooners, especially given the rocky road their sex life had taken. Even though things had improved dramatically for them, they were looking forward to this retreat as a kind of new beginning. Grissom opened the drawer of his desk and pulled out a velvet lined box. Inside was a set of matched pearls – Sara wouldn't accept a ring yet but he knew she would love these and he would certainly love to see them against her bare skin. He smiled as he felt the physical response to thoughts of Sara naked. He never thought he'd be grateful for a surprise erection, but honestly, the fact that his hydraulics seemed to have been restored was worth their inopportune appearance. He allowed himself the luxury of a couple of rubs under the desktop when Sara poked her head in his office door and smiled at his sudden blush.

"Hey, did I interrupt something?" she asked with that smirk he adored.

Hastily replacing the pearls in the drawer, he said, "Just thinking about our trip," smiling broadly, enjoying the faintly high school feeling of hiding his erection from his girlfriend, only this wasn't high school and he wasn't hiding anything from Sara. "I'm done here…if you're through we can go on home."

Still smiling, she said, "Let's go."

September 23, 2006 – Autumnal Equinox


Their flight out of McCarran was early on the morning of September 22. Grissom was being mysterious about their ultimate destination, which forced the Sara to pepper him with questions.

Once they settled into their seats for the two and half hour flight, Sara started up again, "Seattle…we're going to Seattle."

Grissom smiled and looked at her with that smug expression that drove her a little crazy, "Yes, it would seem Seattle is our destination."

"You're taking me to Starbucks," she grinned.

"Possibly."

"No wait, you hate Starbucks…oh, I know, we're going shopping at Amazon dot com in person…I hear they've got a whole new section on entomology."

His only response was a raised eyebrow.

"That can't be it. You already have all the entomology books."

He laughed a little, "That's almost true, actually. I could be taking you to see the Space Needle," he teased.

"Seen it already. We've got one in Las Vegas."

"Oh, right…" he said and opened his magazine, pretending to ignore her.

"Grissom!"

He put the magazine down and looked at her with soft and serious eyes. "Would you believe me if I told you I am taking you back in time?"

Sara held his gaze for a moment knowing that this was the best clue she was going to get. She also knew he had planned something wonderful for them and she'd know all about it in another two hours. She couldn't resist one more question, though. "How far back?"

He thought about that and said, "The place is timeless, Sara. It's a little scrap of paradise out of time…"

They were quiet for the rest of the trip.

>>>>>

After the usual chaos at SeaTac Airport, they managed to retrieve their luggage and catch a cab to Pier 52 and the Seattle/Bainbridge Island Ferry. The ferries run every 45 minutes or so except for a couple of hours in the middle of the night, so they didn't have long to wait to board. Settling themselves on one of the many whitewashed benches on the observation deck, they looked out over the apple green railings at the water and the Seattle skyline.

It was a gorgeous day, sunny and bright with a temperature in the 70s. The air was crisp and smelled of salt and creosote and a hundred other odors unfamiliar to their desert-baked noses. The boat was bustling with people, tourists and commuting residents, people taking pictures and others with their faces buried in books. Grissom found the canteen and bought hot tea for the both of them.

Sara took a sip of her tea and smiled at Grissom, "Bainbridge Island, eh?"

Dunking his tea bag several times and then holding it up to drip, he looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "So it would seem."

"All I know about this area is that Microsoft is in Seattle somewhere and that Betty MacDonald used to live on Vashon Island, which is in the Sound south of here."

"Betty MacDonald?"

"Oh, an author I read when I was a kid…she wrote the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books. When I got older I found out she wrote some other stuff, sort of autobiographical…The Egg and I? The old Ma and Pa Kettle movies were based on two of her characters. Toward the end of her life she lived on Vashon Island. Her books made me laugh…" she said in a small and far off voice.

"Was that when you were in foster care?" Grissom asked quietly.

She pulled herself back from that place and smiled, "Yeah…long ago and far away."

"Some things never seem to be long ago or far away, do they?" he said, taking her hand, watching the seagulls reeling above the stern. "I wish I could stop time, Sara, or change it, but I can't. All I can do is be here now…with you."

>>>>>

Once they landed on the island they caught another cab to their lodgings, the Fuurin-Oka. Pulling up to a Victorian-style house, Sara was a bit disappointed as she was expecting something more exotic than this. Inside they met the owner, Ann, who got them checked in and led them out of the back of the house into a bamboo grove. Hidden within was a small, white stucco Japanese-style guest house adjacent to a small private garden. Grissom was right…it was, indeed, like walking back in time.

They followed stone flags set in gravel up to the wooden veranda of the guest house. Inside, the wooden floors were covered with tatami mats. Their home for the next week was a large airy room with a few American amenities like an entertainment center and small kitchenette, but was in other respects much like a Japanese inn. They even had their own bathing room with a large soaking tub big enough for two, complete with a low window looking out on the garden.

Cotton kimonos had been laid out for them and the little kitchen stocked to Grissom's specifications. Their host would serve them breakfast each day and they could make themselves tea or rice if they wished. Unless asked, they would be left entirely to themselves. There were no other guests; this inn could serve only two people at a time. Grissom and Sara were about to enjoy something entirely rare in their world – solitude.

They each took off their shoes andbreathed in the atmosphere of the place. Perfect. Simple and lush. The first hours of their vacation at the Fuurin-Oka were spent relaxing in the Japanese soaking tub. Once submerged in this crisp, green world they suddenly felt as though they were carrying half the Vegas desert in their skin, gritty and dead. Their host had provided lavender scented castile soap which they used to lather one another before rinsing and easing into the almost too hot bath. Boneless with pleasure, they reclined in the water and felt their muscles unknot one by one.

Afterwards, they dried themselves and settled down on the futon for a nap. For the first time in a long time, their rest was not disturbed by dreams.

>>>>>

What had started out as a nap turned into a full night's sleep. Grissom woke first and checked the time – 6 a.m. They had slept almost 12 hours. Raising himself on his left elbow, he allowed himself a few minutes of watching Sara sleep, adorably tousled, next to him. Finally he kissed her forehead and she rose from sleep. "Good morning," she smiled.

"Good morning…sleep well?" he asked.

Stretching and yawning, she smiled back up at him, "Oh yeah…I feel like I slept a week. What time is it, anyway?"

"It's just six. We slept straight through the night."

"How is your shoulder?" she asked. "I was a little concerned when I saw the futon…are you stiff?"

Grissom rotated his right shoulder, the one dislocated in the assault. "Not too bad. I should probably do my exercises to loosen up."

Sara got to her knees behind Grissom and started to massage his shoulder, "Here, let me help." She'd been easing him this way for months, her sensitive fingers feeling for the knots and pressing them into submission. After a couple of minutes she stopped and rose from the futon, "Wait a minute…I brought some massage lotion…it's in my bag somewhere."

Grissom knew immediately when she'd found the jar as the clean scent of the arnica and ivy blend blossomed in the room. She warmed some of the crème between her hands and returned to work.

This was Sara's favorite part of their waking ritual. She couldn't get enough of the feel of Grissom's skin; this was a wonderful way to satisfy that need without putting stress on their physical relationship. These last months had been a balancing act between sexual and non-sexual touch – and they'd learned to use extra care with each other.

One benefit of their travails in the bedroom was that they talked. A lot. They'd discovered things about themselves and each other it might otherwise have taken years to learn. The easy stuff – favorite colors, favorite music, favorite meals. And the hard stuff – religion, politics, family. When things were bad in the bedroom – when feelings were hurt and expectations unmet – they learned to argue and discovered they had to have peace at home. As much as they loved to debate at work, at home they needed as much accord as possible. Neither of them was of that love-you-at-the-top-of-our-lungs stripe. What they dealt with at work made home their haven; whether alone or together, the place they needed to renew themselves. Grissom learned to be more forthcoming with his feelings and Sara got used to feeling dependent without being afraid. They became what they'd recognized in one another almost from the moment they met…two people who were really right for each other.

While Sara eased his shoulder, Grissom sat cross-legged on the futon, head drooping forward as the tension flowed from his neck, shoulder, and back. This was his favorite part of their waking ritual, too. There was an intimacy about her touch, the way she knew exactly where the tight spots were and just how to work them out, which he treasured. As much as he'd feared letting her or anyone in, the rewards were amazing. Every day he marveled at the depth of his love for her and how it had enriched his solitary life. He'd never have been able to face the anguish in the aftermath of Jennings's and James's attack without it…without her.

Sara was wearing only the short cotton sleeping kimono provided by their host. After she'd completed her usual massage she couldn't resist running her hands down his chest and pulling him onto a hug. "This is just wonderful, Gil. I love it here…and I love you. Thank you for making this happen."

The feel of her warm bare breasts against his back shifted Grissom's attention from his shoulder to other parts of his anatomy. Things had been going so well for them recently that he didn't even pause, shifting his body so that he could pull her sideways into his lap. "I love you, Sara." Leaning forward to kiss her, he slid the lapel of her kimono back to expose her shoulder. "Do you know how beautiful you are? Let me show you…"

He pulled a velvet box out from its hiding place under the futon, settling it on his knee so that he could open it one-handed. "I've wanted to give you these since the spring…I got the idea when I saw Caprice hold pearls against that woman's skin. I read somewhere that when the right pearls are on the right woman, she carries her own moonlight…" he said, lifting out the matched 20" stand of 7mm white-rose pearls and clasping them around Sara's neck. "We're in the dark so much…you need a light to take with you.

Sara looked down at the exquisite pearls and then up at this baffling man, at once so remote and wide open. "Oh, Gil, they're beautiful. Thank you."

Dropping the box on the floor, he reached for her. Lips and tongues and hands, pleasing and pleasured, they rolled together on the futon. In that moment their troubles evaporated and spontaneity reentered their lives.

"Touch me…please, Gil, touch me…" she panted between kisses, biting his lips and chin. Incredibly, his hands were everywhere – touching, cataloguing, spreading fire along her skin. Her own hands were frantic, trying to free herself from the kimono and him of his pajama bottoms. Finally he grasped her wrists and held them down by her shoulders. "Shhhh," he whispered before stilling her mouth with his. When he sat back up she feasted on his tender gaze as her helped her out of her robe, then traced her pearls as they lay on her breasts. "Beautiful…" Releasing her wrists he got to his knees and freed himself of his soft cotton pajama bottoms before lying back down beside her.

Sara picked up the pace again, pulling him to her, exploring his mouth with hers, sighing with sheer animal pleasure. His hand followed the curve from her breast down to her hip and paused there before moving on to her core. She brought her own hand down on top of his, guiding him. "More," she breathed. He shifted his body to cover hers, settling between her knees. As two became one, the sensations were so intense, they both gasped…this was it, what they were made for. Months of waiting and worrying were over in that simple joining. They rocked together, mumbling to one another…not really hearing but understanding anyway. She wrapped herself around him, spiraling up with him. As his pace increased and he lost his ability to think clearly, she pulled him down and whispered, "Let it go, Gil," and he did with a cry that scattered the birds roosting in the bamboo grove outside. Sara was pushed over the edge, too, and with the last of their passion they lay tangled together, spent.

Their host, breakfast tray in hand, rightly guessed they were not ready to eat and went back up to the big house.

>>>>>

The next week passed in a haze for Grissom and Sara. On Monday and Tuesday they explored the Bloedel Reserve as the private guests of Gil's friend, Max Hawkins. Two days was not near enough time to cover 150 acres, but they got a taste of the Reserve, a curious mix of primal forest and manicured grounds. The Japanese gardens were a particular favorite, much grander in scale than their own tiny garden at the Fuurin-Oka. The Reserve always limited the number of guests allowed on the grounds, but to be the only humans in that incredible setting was like a dream...freedom from the press of others certainly heightened their experience.

They explored Bainbridge Island a little, did some shopping and had some very nice meals, including some of the best sushi either of them had ever had, but mostly they stayed at the guest house. It was as if time stood still for them in that pristine place, giving them time enough to renew themselves after a harrowing six months. If tragedy had been the force that finally threw them together the previous spring, it was triumph over tragedy that bound them together that fall.

Time did catch up with them eventually; they returned to Las Vegas and their lives there, but they carried a piece of Bainbridge Island with them. In coming years Grissom and Sara returned to the Fuurin-Oka again and again and every time the birds were startled from their roosts in the bamboo grove. They didn't seem to mind.

FIN