Disclaimer: see previous chapter

A/N: I've been working on this for awhile, quite longer than I ever intended too, but my muse has been fickle as of late. I wanted to post this before the finale, but since that didn't happen, I guess this is my take on how the reveal should have gone, minus the dire circumstances involved in the finale.


"What are you mad about Nick? That I'm dating Grissom, or that I didn't tell you about it?"

Nick decided to side step that question for now; they'd been circling the same issue for nearly half an hour, and Nick was determined to get at least one answer before he answered any of her questions. Irrational, maybe, but then again, so was the entire situation.

"How long have you been hiding this from everyone?" Nick didn't even attempt to hide how hurt he was that Sara had kept this a secret.

Sara sighed and leaned her head back against the couch. Apparently for once Nick had won the battle of wills. "Eight months."

Nick wasn't sure exactly what to say to that. At most, he had figured that they had been dating for a few months, and that they had kept things quiet until they figured out what was going on. But eight months was serious.

"How did you hide it for that long?" Nick tried to keep the incredulousness out of his voice, but he had to wonder how no one had realized what was going on in eight months. It seriously called into question the observation skills of everyone in the lab.

Sara shrugged, staring at some spot behind Nick's head. "Nobody noticed. We were careful at work…"

Still somewhat stunned and embarrassed that it had taken him so long to catch on, Nick decided to leave that topic alone for now and move on to something else that was bothering him. "He's had years to get it together Sara, but all he did was hurt you. Why now? What changed?"

"After…" Sara hesitated, and Nick could see she didn't really want to say. She paused for several long seconds, and then a firm, resolved look came over her face. "After we found you, everything changed. He looked at things differently after that, he thought about…"

Nick cut her off before she could finish another sentence. "No." He had to take a couple

deep breaths before he continued. "You do not get to blame this on what happened to me." His hands were shaking and he felt like he could jump out of his skin at any second, but Nick forced himself to stop before he said anything else. He knew that if he reacted immediately than things would get even more out of hand than they already were. He had come over to sort things out with Sara, not to sever their friendship entirely, and if Nick didn't watch himself, she was going to end up kicking him out.

Sara turned her head sideways towards Nick, pushing a damp curl out of her eyes and looking frustrated. "Nick, no one is blaming anything…we were all terrified, but when you came back to us, we all got a second chance. We got second chances at a lot of things." Nick could see the weary look in her eyes; this fight was taking a lot out of both of them, and even as angry as Nick felt, he hoped that their friendship was strong enough to make it through the end of this, an end that he didn't really see coming any time soon. He wasn't going to let go until he understood why Sara had gotten into a secret office relationship with a man that had caused her so much pain in the past, and since she didn't appear to be coming around to his way of thinking, they were going to be stuck going in circles for awhile.

That didn't mean that Nick wasn't going to stop trying to reason with her, though he couldn't quite keep the edge out of his voice; he was still upset that Sara and Grissom's relationship had anything to do with his kidnapping. "Sara, you asked him out, he said no. A year later, he admitted to a suspect in interrogation that he couldn't risk his career for you. It took months for you to deal with that one, most of em moping on my couch. He's distanced himself, then used his authority as your supervisor to punish you when you've pissed him off. He passed you over for a promotion." Nick winced as he brought that up; it was somewhat of a sore spot with both of them. "So how the hell did you end up here? That's one hell of a second chance, one that he doesn't deserve after all that."

Sara shook her head before closing her eyes and letting out a deep sigh. "First, you can't have it both ways Nick. You can't bitch about me crying on your shoulder, and then bitch about me not talking to you about our relationship. Doesn't work that way. And second, I'm the only one that gets to decide who gets a second chance. Yeah, he's hurt me in the past. We talked about it, and he apologized for all of it. I didn't just jump into this Nick, it took me a long time to commit to this, and he knows that he can't treat me like crap anymore and expect me to stick around. I don't have as little self respect as you think…"

"Sara, I didn't say that…" Nick trailed off as Sara's glare shifted towards him. "Okay, I may have implied that, but can't you see that this is all just because I don't want to see you get hurt again?"

"Nick, I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."

"That doesn't mean that you can't let people help you. We're your friends Sara, don't you think that we would have supported you if you came to us eight months ago? What, now that you've got Grissom, your friends are expendable?"

"I never said that…"

Nick was firing on all cylinders now; a steam roller couldn't have stopped him. "Well, obviously you don't trust any of us enough to have shared this. Did you think I'd run off to Ecklie, or that Greg would have brought it up to the under sheriff? Now, I can't say that we wouldn't have been surprised or upset, because I can't really say that now, but it would have been a hell of a lot easier to hear it from you at the beginning, and not have to figure it out myself eight months in Sara."

They'd gone from almost calm to shouting at each other so many times Nick was beginning to lose track. Sara jumped up off the couch in a huff and started pacing in front of the coffee table, staring daggers at Nick as her eyes looked suspiciously moist. Nick's head was throbbing, and he leaned it back against her couch, running his hands roughly down his thighs in frustration.

"My God Nick, did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason I didn't tell you is because you are my friends?" Nick wasn't even going to try and reason through that one; how on earth could Sara see deceiving them all as a form of friendship? At the moment, she was too busy muttering under her breath things that Nick was sure he didn't want to hear out loud.

"Honestly Sara, of all the insane reasons I've tried to come up with for why you would keep this a secret from us, that is the one that I never thought of."

Nick regretted his smart ass remark the second a tear started to roll down Sara's cheek. As hurt as he felt, and as much as he wanted to lash out about the situation, he had never meant to make her cry. Realizing that they had ended up exactly where Nick had not wanted to, he opened his mouth to apologize when she cut him off with a watery glare.

"Don't you think I know how bad this can get? He could lose his position, his job even, I could lose mine, not to mention my reputation…I get it Nick, I really do. But I signed on for it when I agreed to this relationship, I made that choice." She paced a few more times, sniffling, before she continued. "That doesn't mean we have to take the rest of you down with us. I didn't want you to have to make the choice between reporting us and keeping quiet. It'll be bad enough when Ecklie finds out, but if he found out that all of you knew…he wouldn't hesitate to break up the rest of the shift, and I won't be the cause of that Nick. I won't. So you can be pissed at me all you want, but I was just trying to protect you guys from the fallout." Tears were freely falling down her face as she stood in front of Nick and finished her impassioned diatribe.

Nick stared back at her with wide eyes; that was certainly not the reason he had expected for all of the secrecy, and Nick wasn't exactly sure how to feel about the situation anymore. "Sara…" Nick opened his mouth to speak, but he was at a loss for any words other than her name.

"Don't you think there have been times when I've wanted to tell you, when I've needed someone to talk to about this? He's not exactly the easiest man in the world to have a relationship with. But I couldn't say anything."

The fight had gone out of Sara's eyes, and she wearily sank down onto the far end of the couch sniffling a few times before rubbing her eyes. Nick couldn't do anything but watch her and feel like the biggest jerk in the world. Sara had given him the one reason that he just couldn't argue with; sure, he knew that it wasn't the only reason she hadn't told anyone, but while he was thinking that she didn't trust him, Sara had just been trying to protect him. Nick had noticed Sara's use of I, and not we, and he suspected that Grissom had his own, less altruistic reasons for keeping quiet, but Nick wouldn't dwell on that now.

He didn't really agree with her reasoning, but he also couldn't say that he wouldn't have done the same if he was faced with a situation that had the potential to affect the rest of their team. Of course, there was always the reasoning that they could have avoided the entire situation by coming clean to Ecklie from the beginning, but Nick figured that was something left to talk about another day; that is, if Sara was indeed still talking to him.

Nick knew that he needed to say something, anything to break the silence that had descended around them while Sara was trying to get her tears under control, but what exactly he should say was eluding him. The yelling portion of their argument seemed to be over, but there was a fine line between silence while figuring out how to move on, and the silence signaling the beginning of a deep freeze developing between the two of them. Finally, not able to endure the quiet anymore, and afraid if he waited any longer that it would be too late, Nick said the first thing that popped into his head.

"It's both."

Sara, apparently still upset, asked testily, "What the hell are you talking about Nick?"

"You asked me before what I was mad about. It's both. Yeah, I see your reason for not telling us, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt."

"I know," she answered quietly, curling back into the couch again. "But I can't fight with you anymore about this…"

Nick sighed. "I'm not saying this to start another fight…"

Sara shot him a look. "Have we established the end of this one?"

Nick rolled his eyes, but was secretly glad for Sara's barb. It wasn't anywhere near as scathing as anything they had been shooting back and forth at each other earlier, and it was an indication that their friendship may just survive the day, even if on shaky ground.

"I'm just…I've watched him hurt you for years. And okay, he apologized, he's made amends. But how were the rest of us supposed to know that when you had to keep everything secret?"

"Well, it doesn't seem to change your opinion now that you know, and Nick, I really am sorry, but I was doing what I thought was right by not getting you guys involved."

"It's not just about keeping it secret, it's about me thinking that you deserve someone that doesn't have to apologize for treating you like crap for years. Grissom's a good man, a great criminalist, but when it comes to you, he's always fallen short. I'm sorry, but nothing is really gonna change that in my eyes. And maybe it's nobody's business, but come on Sara. When has anything that's affected someone on the team been their own business?" Nick hoped that the small smile on his face, and the calmer tone of his voice told Sara that he wasn't trying to fight with her again, but that he wanted her to know that he thought she deserved more than what Grissom was capable of offering.

Sara smiled back slightly, her weariness showing through, letting Nick know she hadn't taken his words the wrong way. "Nick, I appreciate that, but it's my decision."

Nick was sure he wasn't going to catch hell, but the question was out of his mouth before he could contemplate the consequences. "He really makes you happy?"

He saw hesitation in her eyes before she repeated, "It's my decision," and closed her eyes, leaning her head back against the couch and letting out a quiet sigh. "It's obvious we're not gonna agree on this…can't you just accept that I am sorry, but that it's my decision?" She turned her head to face him, and Nick could see that this was as close to a peace offering as they were going to get.

"Can you accept that I think it's still a bad idea, and that I think you deserve better?" Nick met her gaze and shot her a weary half smile; he wasn't going to lose Sara's friendship over this, and even though he'd never think it was a good idea, at least he could keep an eye out to make sure that Grissom was treating her properly, now that he knew. And hopefully, one day she would realize that she deserved better.

Sara returned his smile for a brief moment, before her expression turned serious again. "Look Nick, I'll understand if you…"

Nick could see where she was going with her statement, and quickly cut her off. "Sara, I'm not gonna say anything to Ecklie, or to anyone else for that matter. Doesn't mean I don't think that you should, but they won't hear it from me."

"I'll think about it." She paused for a moment, her facial muscles working as if she was unsure whether or not she wanted to continue. "Are we okay?"

Nick reached for her hand, grasping it in his own and squeezing once before releasing it back into her lap. "We will be."

And even though they were stuck at a stalemate, Nick knew that time would prove him right.

FIN.


A/N: Yeah, I really wanted to get her out of the relationship, but as unrealistic as the entire Grissom/Sara thing is, I don't think that one fight with Nick would convince her to chuck the entire thing. Hopefully, cast doubt, and start her thinking about what she actually wants out of the relationship, but not actually end it yet. Maybe if I have it in me, I'll write that fic sometime, but my muse had been dodgy lately. And I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my work lately, especially those who have taken the time to review or PM me. It means more to me than you'll ever realize.