Most of 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. All others belong to me, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask me first. 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: Season 7 through "Toe Tags"

For Cincoflex, with love!


The drive was silent. Sara, in the passenger seat, reflected with a little sadness that while the tension between herself and the driver was different than in the past, it was still present. Four months of their own version of a relationship had not smoothed out all the bumps.

Be realistic. There's no such thing as a perfect relationship, you know that.

But some small part of Sara had hoped that this one would be, at least for longer than a handful of weeks. After all, they had gone through so much acrimony and heartache, it seemed only fair that things be easier now.

But then, if there was one thing Sara had learned early and well, life wasn't fair.

She held back a sigh, stealing a glance at Grissom as he concentrated on the turns through Las Vegas' sprawling, night-blanketed suburbia. He was as handsome as ever; the loss of his beard had revealed the clean line of jaw that had attracted her all those years ago, and while the flesh beneath it was softer than it had been, she wasn't exactly a perky twenty-something anymore either. Grissom didn't seem to care about her changes, and she certainly didn't mind his. In fact, in a way they make him sexier. Less...closed off.

Yeah, the sexual spark was definitely still there. Big-time. Ironic, that it should turn out to be part of the problem.

Funny...he always thought I put him on a pedestal. Turns out he's the one doing it.

They'd taken their relationship slowly, carefully; after all the time and pain, neither wanted to screw things up with a hasty or ill-thought move. So it had been almost six weeks between their first dinner date, such as it was...lasagna at his place being plenty date-like for Sara, though Grissom still didn't want to count it...and their first time making love.

And I have to admit, it went well. Extremely. A hint of heat rose in Sara's cheeks, and she glanced out the window to her right, not really seeing the passing houses as she dwelt a moment in memory. Sure, it hadn't been perfect, but it had been wondrous, and sweet, and laced with laughter...and very, very satisfying.

No, the trouble came later.

Sara knew that Grissom had a good deal more experience than she had--it only made sense, given their age difference--and that he'd dipped at least a toe, if not a little more, into variations outside the stereotypical standard. It didn't bother her. But Grissom seemed ashamed of it, somehow, and while he'd told her a little when she'd prodded him, he seemed to fear that more details about his sexual past would shock her--or worse yet, turn her off.

For Pete's sake, he should have heard my college roommates. Just because Sara herself had kept her personal experience to a minimum didn't mean she had no knowledge of the variations practiced by the population at large. Plus, the job of a CSI exposed her to a fair share of oddities, many of them sexual. She wasn't an innocent, and she wasn't about to dump Grissom on the basis of his intimate past.

But he won't fucking talk about it. She chose the adjective with precision. The couple of times Sara had tried to bring up the subject, Grissom had either changed it or distracted her with practical applications thereof. He seemed to think she needed sex to be lovemaking every time, without adventure or even a whole lot of ferocity. Sara was just about ready to tackle him and forcibly change his mind, except that she wasn't sure she wanted to rock the boat quite that much just yet.

I'll just have to be subtler. Slightly.

The house Grissom eventually stopped at was deep inside one of the newer housing complexes, miles from the Strip and impossible to reach in a straight line by any road. As they grabbed their kits and climbed out, Sara reflected that some of the most heinous crimes seemed to take place in suburbia; but then, perhaps it was the contrast that made them so vivid.

Brass met them on the front walk, face set in the blank lines that told them that the case was bad, or weird, or possibly both. "We have a new definition for 'bloodbath' tonight," he greeted them, falling in beside them as they headed for the front door. It swung open with a nudge of his elbow, revealing a wide room that took up most of the front of the house.

"Ew," Sara commented succinctly, and Grissom grimaced beside her, in complete agreement.

"It's amazing how much area a few pints of human blood can cover," he noted, scanning the gore-splashed room from their position in the doorway. There was more blood flung about than their recent chain saw massacre scene, and this one was considerably less...fresh. The odor was appalling, even for hardened sinuses like theirs.

"Three vics," Brass said from behind them. "Unfortunately for us, the humidity level in here didn't drop far enough to dry them out, and obviously the air conditioning wasn't much help."

Sara glanced back at him; the police captain had not placed his hand over his nose, but she got the feeling he would like to. Beside her, Grissom spoke again.

"This is suggestive of a certain level of premeditation, or at least sangfroid." Brass snorted, but Grissom went on, pointing his flashlight first at the unmarked entryway, then at the pristine carpet on the far side of the room. "Whoever killed these people managed to leave no visible blood trace on exiting the room."

"Are you sure they didn't kill themselves, like those jokers with the chain saw?" Brass asked, proving that the similarities had occurred to him as well.

Sara squinted, peering deeper into the now-misnamed living room, and finally switched on her own handlight for a better look. Yes, all three victims--a woman and two men--were totally limbless. "Probably not," she stated. "I mean, it's hard to cut off both your own arms."

Brass snorted. "Well, the scene's untouched. The responding officer refused to enter it."

Grissom gave him a slightly puckish look. "I don't see why; they've obviously been rendered armless."

Sara, amused, pursed her lips to keep from giving Grissom the satisfaction of a smile, though to judge by his tiny smirk, he didn't care. Brass narrowed his eyes.

"So we have a perp at large who is way too controlled for my peace of mind. Or am I going out on a limb?"

This time Sara couldn't repress a groan. Grissom shut his eyes briefly, tilting his head in acknowledgement of the point scored. "No, not at all. But it'll be a big job, Jim. You might have to give us a hand."

Brass flipped up his own hands to signal surrender. "You win. I hope you guys brought your jumpsuits."

Sara, already turning back towards the SUV, felt Grissom's gaze skim across the back of her neck, and hid another smile. The man seemed to have a fascination with coveralls, at least when she was inside them, but she hadn't got him to admit to it yet. Like I wouldn't notice the peeking.

"We'll hop right to it," she tossed over her shoulder as she passed Brass, and let the grin out at his chuckle. Hanging around Grissom was starting to corrupt her.

Ask me if I care.

Changing into their coveralls would have to take place outside, since the entire house was a potential crime scene. Grissom climbed into the vehicle to back it out and turn it around so that its hatch would be facing the victims' garage door, and Sara stood with Brass, waiting for him to complete the maneuver.

"Is that going to give you enough cover?" the captain asked, nodding at the bushes that grew next to the garage. Curious people had formed a small crowd beyond the scene tape, drawn by the police vehicles, and privacy would be at a minimum.

Sara shrugged. "I'll manage."

Brass tapped his lips with one finger. "A couple of years back I actually saw a woman get into a jumpsuit and out of an evening gown--in that order. It was...impressive."

Sara scoffed lightly. "That's not hard. A dress is basically just a tube with sleeves."

He glanced at her from the corner of his eye. "Yeah, well, you and Sofia can compare notes sometime. Maybe hold a speed round."

"No offense, Jim, but I've got better things to do," Sara answered, not amused by either the idea or the description. Grissom had often assured her that only she held his interest, and she and Sofia got along well enough in their professional arenas, but she still couldn't bring herself to like the woman.

"It didn't work on her primary target anyway," Brass said, watching as Grissom reversed the SUV carefully up the driveway.

"Oh?" Sara asked, not really paying attention. "I thought you said it was impressive."

"It was." Brass' look was slightly malicious. "But Grissom didn't think so."

The knowledge that Sofia had been vamping Grissom sent a pang through Sara--not purely jealousy, or insecurity, but some mild mix of the two. She frowned as Grissom parked the SUV and shut it off to climb out. It was far too easy to remember what Sofia had that she didn't.

Sara strode forward to open the hatch and get at the folded coveralls in their box. "I was just telling Sara about Sofia's magic trick," Brass said to Grissom as the CSI joined her. "You know, during the Nicole Jensen case?"

A germ of an idea sprang to life in Sara's head, and, intrigued, she examined it more closely.

"I wasn't aware that such a thing was possible," Grissom admitted, shrugging off his vest and frowning at Brass, who was still standing right next to him. "Jim--"

"It's okay," Sara interrupted briskly, dropping her own vest into the back of the truck and taking a coverall. Toeing off her shoes, she stepped into it fully dressed and zipped it up almost all the way, grateful that the things were always loose on her thin frame. "I've got it handled."

Brass' brows shot up, and he turned away, lips twitching, but Grissom didn't notice--his attention was suddenly riveted on her. Sara gave him a sweet smile, and drew her arms back in through the sleeves. Removing her shirt was child's play, hardly more difficult than taking off a bra under a blouse; she knew that Grissom knew she was wearing a tank top underneath, but from the way his eyes were glazing slightly it didn't make much difference.

Sara pushed her arms out through the sleeves, folded her top neatly, and set it on her vest, and Grissom let out a breath and reached for his own coverall. But before he got any further than shaking it out, his attention swung right back to Sara as she cleared her throat delicately and brought her arms back inside her jumpsuit once more.

Sara blessed her sense of balance. It took a couple of fumbling moments, but she was able to get her slacks off her legs one limb at a time, pulling each foot up and out of the pants and then sliding it back down, all within the leg of the coverall. One more maneuver, and after that it was a simple matter to shrug back into the sleeves and draw her slacks out of the front like a magician pulling a scarf from a hidden pocket. Grissom's lips parted in either amazement or appreciation, and Sara realized she didn't really care which.

She tossed them boldly at him, and he nearly dropped his own coverall as he caught the heavy cotton. "Could you fold those up for me? I want to get started before David gets here."

Before Grissom could muster a reply, Sara grabbed her case and sauntered away from the SUV. Behind her, she heard Grissom make a few of the abortive sounds that told her he was searching for words; lest he find them, she turned and gave him a wicked grin. "Oh--check the pocket, I left something there."

He blinked at her like a slightly dazed owl, then tossed his coverall back into the SUV and fumbled in the slacks' front pocket with a slight air of annoyance. When he drew out his hand and looked down to see what it held, Sara spun and headed for the house, putting just a little extra sway in her hips. Behind her was silence, but once again she could feel Grissom's gaze, and this time it burned.

Sara smirked, and reflected that her move from bikini panties to thongs was a definite advantage in this situation. For one thing, they fit better in the hand.

When she reached the front door, Sara glanced back. Grissom still hadn't moved, but his hand was clenched in a tight fist, and his eyes were full of hot promises. Sara gave him the barest flicker of a wink, and stepped inside, not caring about the smell in the least. I think I'll have help with the lemons this time.

One pedestal, down.