Title: Sniper

Author: Cropper

Pairing: GSR

Rating: Mature for Profanity, Graphic Imagery, and Adult Situations

Disclaimer: I do not own them but I wish I did. I mean no harm or infringement and will return everyone to his or her rightful owners when I finish, I promise.

Summary: A Sniper has returned from prison seeking vengeance on those responsible for his incarceration.

A/N: Thank you, idreamedmusic, for the beautiful banner. Smacky30, Cincoflex, Domo Arigato and anyone else who might have done a beta read on this or kicked ideas around with me? You ladies are all awesome and I am deeply appreciative of your efforts. LosingInTranslation provided invaluable assistance with the medical terminology and is responsible for the wound track diagrams. atrueparrothead is responsible for the fantastic video trailer on the index page, Chapter Six and now for this Epilogue. And finally, a huge thanks to Cheryl, Lisa, Cindy, Michelle, Muriel, Doris, Susan and Kaye. They are my constants.

atrueparrothead made a fantastic video for this final installment which can only be viewed on my website. If interested, please contact me for the url information or refer to my profile page for the link. Thanks.

EPILOGUE

Sara's diploma, awarding her a doctorate in the field of environmental physics, arrived in the afternoon mail along with a utility bill, cable bill, a forensics journal and a tawdry assortment of junk mail addressed to "Occupant". She gave the heavy, over-sized envelope addressed in officious black flowing script a quick smile of satisfaction before dropping the entire stack on the kitchen counter.

She grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator and slipped through the sliding glass door leading to a patio and postage stamp sized back yard. Sara took a couple of healthy swallows of water while contemplating the patio's other occupant. Grissom was stretched out comfortably in a chaise lounge, his feet bare, the top button of his faded jeans popped open, and his shirt unbuttoned, laying loosely at his sides as he absorbed the warmth of the late afternoon sun against his tanned flesh. Fading surgical scars marred the once smooth skin but Sara considered that to be a fair tradeoff for having him dozing peacefully in the backyard.

She absently ran the pad of her left thumb over her engagement ring and plain gold wedding band as her mind wandered back to those bleak, traumatic days following Grissom's near-fatal shooting and staged funeral. The whole frightening ordeal had been one of the most harrowing events in her life, ranking right up there with that evening so long ago when her mother stabbed her father to death. She hated thinking about those grim days but now that their lives and relationship had come full circle and she could breathe peacefully again, she finally allowed the memories to surface.

"You were not meant for Widow's Weeds, Sara."

A trembling smile broke across Sara's face as her eyes adjusted to the dimness of the room and she regarded the battered figure propped carefully on pillows in the center of the queen-size bed. Grissom was wearing soft flannel pajamas, had a serious case of bed-head, the beginnings of a healthy beard, and looked like a scruffy, tattered cherub. He had never looked more handsome, had never appeared more beautiful.

She stripped down to her slip and panties and crawled into bed with him. There were a few minutes of adjusting as she maneuvered around the IV tubes and various monitor lines still attached but she was finally able to slide a slender arm beneath his neck so she could carefully cradle his head upon her chest. She needed to hold him, to feel him, to know he was real and not going anywhere.

So many times during the funeral she had forgotten, forgotten that he was safely hidden away in a hotel suite instead of lying in that gleaming casket. The taste of death rolled over her tongue and mixed with the smell of the freshly dug earth…the lines had blurred at times and there were moments of overpowering desperation when she truly believed that all that was left of Grissom, her precious man-child, was really being placed in that deep, dank hole all alone.

He was still incredibly weak and needed constant medical attention. His body was beginning to heal but he was not out entirely of the woods yet. There was always the danger of infection but, for the first time, his doctors were actually encouraged by his progress. They seemed to have stopped waiting for him to die and were beginning to cautiously sketch out a treatment plan leading towards a full recovery. Grissom had surprised them with his will to live.

Grissom was the sole reason the Sheriff had reserved this particular suite at this particular hotel, a location that had never been released to the media. They could not leave him in the hospital nor could they temporarily transfer him to a private care facility—those locations, like the home he shared with Sara, were far too easy for the Sniper to stake out. Everyone associated with law enforcement knew that when Grissom's death was formally announced to the media the Sniper would do some investigating to make certain he was really dead and they had gone to great lengths to make sure that a copy of Grissom's forged death certificate could be easily obtained.

Doc Robbins had actually transported Grissom to the morgue in a body bag in case Gaenor had been watching. Gris had been heavily sedated with a small canister of oxygen tucked inside the thick black bag with him for the short ride from Desert Palms to the morgue. The lab, LVPD and morgue had been tightly locked down during this transfer and Grissom's physicians had gone ahead so that they would be waiting when he arrived at the morgue to reattach his monitors and IVs. All in all, the plan had gone off without a hitch. As soon as Grissom was once again stable, he was covertly loaded into one of the CSI Denalis and moved to the Sahara.

"We have a lot of explaining to do, you know," Sara said when they were comfortably settled on the bed together. "The guys are going to be so pissed when they find out that you're alive."

Grissom raised an eyebrow in silent question, encouraging her to continue while he weakly fumbled for one of her hands.

"You know what I am mean. They'll be happy you're still among the living but incredibly hurt that they weren't in on the plan. They'll think you don't trust them to keep your secrets safe."

"Not true." Grissom's voice was little more than a whisper.

"I know it's not true and I know you really thought you'd be gone when you came up with the idea…that the funeral would be real." Sara shuddered slightly at the thought and Grissom squeezed her hand a little tighter. "Their reactions and emotions at the service had to be real, I understand that, but there are still going to be some hurt feelings. Hell Gris, I knew exactly what was going on and still thought the whole thing was real at times."

"It'll be okay, Sara," he soothed, burrowing more tightly into her chest. "You'll see."

She fingered his wedding band before linking their hands more tightly and allowing her eyes to close. For the first time in several days, she could relax. Grissom said everything would be okay and she believed him, believed in him. She had never given up hope and her faith had been rewarded. She could finally sleep.

And he was right. It was okay; everything was just fine, more than fine. The guys did forgive both of them, Grissom was medically retired from his career as an active criminalist and Sara resumed her studies. They were at long last able to pursue a life together without the demands, pressures and dangers presented by jobs in law enforcement. They were living their dream.

Sara sauntered over to the lounge chair and nudged at Grissom to scoot over a bit so that she could join him. His eyes never opened as his left arm wrapped around her and she rested her head against his sturdy shoulder. She ran her hand over his warm chest, absently tracing the scars.

"You're taking this retired stuff pretty seriously, aren't you?" she murmured, watching his face closely. One eye peeked open to regard her with a combination of curiosity and amusement before slipping closed again.

"I mean, look at you," she continued playfully, satisfied that she had his attention. "You're out here sunning yourself like you have nothing better to do and I know for a fact that there are three requests for consults blinking in there on the answering machine."

"I'm busy," came the sluggish reply.

"Doing what?" she laughed. "Being a lizard?"

"Exactly."

Sara chuckled again and stretched up to place a soft kiss on his lips before settling back down. Things were better than okay. They were damn near perfect.

Ah, once
We were dreamers on the rise
We were the sun
Where the sun never shines
And we were gold
Where the night bird only flies
Oh, that's a long time you know
For that kind of wind to blow
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the rise

And twice
We said we'd begin again
And we made a vow
That we'd remain as friends
And fallen down
We said we shall rise again
Ah, that's a long time you know
For that kind of wind to blow
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the mend
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the mend

And if three
Wishes came into my life
I'd say one
Was to gaze into your eyes
And I'd say two
Would be turning back our lives
And three's a long way to go
For that kind of wind to blow
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the rise
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the rise

Ah, once
We were dreamers on the rise
We were the sun
Where the sun never shines
And we were gold
Where the night bird only flies
Oh, that's a long time you know
For that kind of wind to blow
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the rise
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the rise
A long time ago
We were dreamers on the rise

"Dreamers on the Rise" - Words and Music by John Stewart – Available on the Album The Last Campaign at Amazon (dot) com