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. 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: none; this is a futurefic.

Written for the Geekfiction Summer Sizzler Ficathon. This is the fifth in my "World" challenge series, following "The World Tomorrow", "The World Anew", "Joy to the World", and "World Around".


She found Grissom in the park down the street, sitting on a bench and twirling a dandelion in his fingers. Sara walked slowly up to the bench and sat down next to him, a bit heavily; her back troubled her from time to time. That's what you get for getting old.

For a little while, neither of them said anything; Sara watched him out of the corner of her eye, admiring the crisp silver hair and the handsome lines of his face, but also feeling a pang of guilt at the sadness that drew his mouth down.

"I'm sorry," she said finally, abruptly. "I had no right to say that."

Grissom pursed his lips, looking regretful rather than judicious. "No, but I had no business saying what I did, either."

Sara sighed, and slid closer. His arm lifted without hesitation to circle her shoulders, and she leaned against him, still feeling guilty but not as upset. "You'd think that after more than a quarter of a century we'd learn not to argue."

He snorted, faintly humorous. "I think we'd have more to worry about if we didn't argue, sweetheart." His eyes were fixed on the cloudy blossom in his fingers, and she knew he was still hurt, even though he'd probably forgiven her before he'd even made it to the park.

It was a childhood habit of his, one that he'd taught to their daughter when she was small--picking dandelions and blowing away the seeds, and telling time by the puffs it took to bare the stem. He usually only did it when he was sad or worried, and needed a distraction, and such times were rare; Sara prided herself on usually being his distraction, and not the cause of his sorrow.

She rested her hand on his leg. "You still run away from conflict."

Grissom shrugged idly. "I don't like yelling."

It was true; and their voices had been escalating. Sara winced at the memory. They didn't argue often, and almost never to such a point. Maybe it was fear; but they had a strong and honest relationship, so she didn't consider it too much of a problem. Usually.

"Don't worry about it," he said softly, turning to look at her, and the love that shone in his gaze made her heart melt and her throat tighten. Her hair might be streaked with gray now, and her face netted with tiny lines, but in Grissom's eyes she was never anything less than beautiful.

She sighed, conceding, and rested her head on his shoulder. For a while they sat in the sunshine, silently healing the wounds they'd dealt each other in their squabble. As she had so many times before, Sara blessed Grissom's patience with her temper, even as she knew he blessed her patience with his foibles. A marriage was ever a renewed act of creation, she reminded herself; and no creation was perfect.

Finally Grissom stirred. "How about we go home and come back with a picnic? It's a beautiful day, and we've spent too much time indoors lately."

Sara chuckled and raised her head. "A picnic? You just want to attract some ants."

Grissom smirked. "There is that aspect, yes."

"Why not?" She squeezed his leg gently. "It's been a long time since we had one."

"I still remember our first picnic," Grissom said fondly.

"What, the summer when the lab's night shift team beat out the PD at softball?"

He shook his head. "Years before that. Don't you remember? You, me, a thermos, a dead pig..."

Sara started laughing. "Oh, that one. Well, if you want to count that..."

Grissom grinned, and his arm tightened around her shoulders. He held out the dandelion, and Sara took a deep breath and blew.