Dislaimer: None of the characters contained herein belong to me. Damnit.

A/N: Thanks to LosingInTranslation for letting me pick her brain about both procedure and broken noses.

Thanks, as always, to my marvelous Beta, Nightblight who is so generous with her time and talent. I am so grateful for her help and guidance.

The jig, as Brass so Spillanely put it, was most definitely up.

She was going to be fine.

She looked like hell, but she would be fine.

The doctors had assured Grissom and reassured him.

Sara had assured him she was fine to the point of becoming slightly irritated with his concern; well, until she had seen the tears in his eyes and then all of her impatience had melted away with a tender, "Oh, Baby…". And she had crawled, awkwardly, all legs and elbows, despite the soreness of her muscles and a still pounding headache, out of the hospital bed and onto his lap, wrapped her arms around him as she kissed him, crooning endearments and reassurances, while he sobbed wetly with his head pressed against her, hard.

She had never seen him cry before.

The interview with the victim's boyfriend was supposed to be just that, an interview. He had an alibi for her TOD. He seemed to be extremely upset by her death and it was somewhat disconcerting to see a 6'4" mountain of muscular flesh sobbing uncontrollably, his entire face wet with tears and snot.

Brass had shifted uncomfortably and offered a box of tissues.

When the man had reached out to grab a few, his cuff had pulled back revealing the edge of some scratches.

Immediately, Sara's investigative radar had kicked in; she had carefully asked to see the marks and when she had rounded the table with her camera, politely asking him to extend his arm, he had…right into her face. Her camera had flown out of her hands and shattered against the wall even as she had fallen to the floor.

By the time Brass was even out of his chair, the boyfriend, now the suspect, was straddling her, both of his fists full of her hair, as he pounded her head on the dark tiles.

The deputy on post was actively tasering him before he completed the third blow. Despite that, Sara was unconscious when they pulled him off of her.

By the time Grissom got there, the paramedics were loading her on the stretcher and she had regained a fuzzy sort of consciousness.

Warrick and Brass had been hovering near the stretcher, but Grissom had angrily pushed his way through, swallowing down bile at the sight of her blood on the white-sheeted gurney. Grabbing her hand, he'd been immensely reassured by the squeeze of her fingers.

When the EMTs asked if anybody knew if she was allergic to anything and Grissom had spouted "Codeine, in all forms" as if they'd simply asked her name.

Neither of the other men had thought it unusual the night shift supervisor knew something that important from one of his CSI's personnel files, especially Sara's, but when the paramedic had asked if anyone knew if she was on any medication, things became a little more interesting to those observing the conversation.

Almost unconsciously, Grissom had rattled off "She just finished a round of antibiotics this morning for a sinus infection and she's got a prescription for the ortho-evra patch, but it's her off week, so she won't have it on."

Brass had to work very hard to suppress a grin, despite his injured colleague on the stretcher beside him, and Warrick's mouth simply fell open.

Later, at the hospital, a distracted, white coated doctor had told them she had checked out okay, but had suffered a broken nose and a concussion and that he was keeping her overnight for observation. Adding, as he left the room, "she would probably be more comfortable with some of her own things."

As if it were the most ordinary thing in the world, Grissom had pulled his keys out of his pocket and handed them, without hesitation, to Catherine. "If you could go to the house and get some things for us, I'd appreciate it. Her favorite night shirt is on the hook on the back of the bathroom door, please get that." His lips had twisted for a minute as he'd contemplated. "Toothbrushes, a change of clothes for both of us, and anything else you can think of. There's a bag in the hall closet."

Ignoring the variety of surprised and amused glances from his team, he'd sat back down in the chair beside the hospital bed and resumed holding Sara's hand.

Catherine had gone, returned with their things and left again after telling him she would cover shift for him.

Grissom had merely nodded.

The guys had been in and out all day, but only during their last visit had Sara been coherent enough to banter with them.

Catherine had privately squealed to the others, "she isn't just keeping a few things there, she lives there!"

Despite that, and the other revelations of the day, no one dared broach the subject with either party except, of course, for Brass. His comment about the jig being up had elicited nothing more than a baleful stare from Grissom and a snort - her broken nose immediately caused her to regret - from Sara.

He had also informed them they'd discovered the boyfriend had stopped taking his anti-psychotic meds the week before and when pressed, the person providing his alibi had "crumpled faster than a prom dress in the backseat of a Camaro."

Her head hurt more than her nose, but her lip was split and swollen; this, along with the broken skin on the ridge of her nose, accompanying bruising, as well as a black eye left her face a colorful mess. She wouldn't be winning a beauty contest any time soon.

He'd helped her to the bathroom and while waiting to help her back into the bed; he'd watched her study herself in the mirror. "Well, I finally see it," she said lightly, at the same time running her hands under the water.

"See what, Sweetheart?" He met her eyes in the mirror.

"The family resemblance..." She arched an eyebrow at him. "Right now, I look just like my mom."

His immediate pained wince, followed by a pinched scowl, let her know how unamusing he thought her attempt at humor.

Now in the quiet of the evening, when they would normally be just waking, preparing dinner together, and getting ready for work, she was sitting in his lap beside her hospital bed. At the moment she was running her fingers through his hair, softly cooing to him, pretending, for his sake, for her sake, and for their sake that the hard press of his head against her did not hurt; pretending she could be strong enough to hold whatever demon this was at bay.

"Shhh, it's all right. I'm ok. Everything is ok," she repeated over and over, pressing light, chaste, comforting kisses anywhere on his head she could reach, with as much vigor as her split lip would allow.

When he quieted, they remained together in the chair, just holding each other; his arms around her, his hands roaming her back, alternately stroking in a soothing caress or pressing her closer to him. His tears may have stopped, but there was still a storm of emotion roaring through him, fear crashing into flashes of helpless anger. Finally, with a shuddering breath, his voice muffled by her body, he said, "I love you."

She smiled against him, "I love you, too."

He looked at her with red-rimmed eyes shaking his head. "No, Sara, I really, really love you."

Her brow furrowed. "I really, really love you, too?" Her voice was high and hesitantly questioning.

He sighed. "No, I mean…" He chewed on the corner of his lip, obviously searching for words. He sighed again. "You should be in bed."

"Uh-uh." The shake of her head was adamant. "Something's bothering you; you need to talk to me about it." The reds, blues and purples decorating her face could not hide the glint of determination in her eyes or the stubborn tilt of her chin; both things made him smile. Even battered, Sara was not beaten; she was still Sara.

"I'll talk to you about it, just get back in the bed." Grissom's tone was a mixture of hesitation and reassurance, as he ran his hands up and down the silky material of her nightshirt in a mutually soothing rhythm.

The bruised brunette quirked an eyebrow at him; it was one of the few components of her face that did not hurt. "I will if you will..."

He looked as if he was going to argue with her, but the eyebrow went higher. So, instead, he simply nodded.

She climbed back in the bed and rested on her side while he toed off his shoes and climbed into the bed facing her.

Grissom's face was pale and his eyes were dark and serious as he studied her abused visage. His eyes roamed over her face and she felt he was seeing not the brutality of what had been visited on her, but something darker within himself.

"Babe?" Her voice gentled over him, a balmy, questioning caress.

He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear with a hand that trembled very slightly. He seemed to be concentrating rather fiercely on her forehead. She felt the bed vibrate slightly as he exhaled and finally moved his azure eyes to meet hers. "Have you ever had moment of perfect awareness?"

Her forehead wrinkled. "I, uh, I don't know what…I'm not sure…" Her brow was furrowed against both his question and her answer. She hated admitting she did not know something, had not experienced something, but ultimately she had to be honest. She shook her head, "No, I guess not."

"A lot of Eastern and new age philosophers talk about it in their writings. Being so completely in the moment that you're aware of everything around you, everything in your environment..." He swallowed hard and she watched his Adam's apple bob. "I was standing in the hall right outside my office when Nick came up to me and I could see in his face something was wrong and I hoped it wasn't you, but I knew it was you."

She saw the naked pain and fear tensing in the muscles of his face, pooling in the lines around his eyes. Gently, she reached out to caress his cheek, softly, as if his bruises and wounds were as visible as her own.

Grissom closed his eyes and rubbed his cheek against her hand like a cat scent marking, content for this moment with the soothing touch of her hand.

"And?" she prodded softly, her own dark eyes never leaving his face.

"When he said Warrick had called and said you had been hurt…" he gasped in a shuddering breath. "It was like time just…stopped and I was totally aware of everything around me. The air was filled with noise and activity that I had been unaware of only a second before." He closed his eyes again, re-experiencing the moment. "I heard the whirr and clack of a printer in one of the labs, the hum of the little refrigerator in my office, the ringing of someone's cell phone and the murmur of voices and I even noticed that Judy and Archie were whispering together at the other end of the hall." His lips pursed and he continued, "I could see things, too. There was a red tinted smear on the glass to the right of my office door and I thought someone had been careless with some Red Creeper. I noticed for the first time the way the light in the hall reflected on the floor outside my office. I've always assumed the tile was solid black, but it's not. There are flecks of blue, grey and navy in the tiles." He opened his eyes again. "I saw new lines around Nick's eyes I hadn't noticed before, and the ones that I had noticed before were deeper."

Grissom shook his head lightly as if to clear it. "I felt, saw, heard all of this in what felt like an eternity, but was only a few seconds. It was this incredible moment of complete awareness of everything around me; things I knew were there, but hadn't really paid attention to."

Sara felt his breath blow gently across her face as he leaned forward and pressed a brief kiss to her forehead. "I had just taken them for granted." He paused briefly, and then proceeded, haltingly. "It's kind of like studying a Seurat or Monet. You see the whole picture from a distance…a garden, a woman, a child, you know there are greens and blues and reds and you think it's beautiful." He passed his tongue over his lips as he lightly traced a hand over her shoulder. "Then you get closer and you see the hundreds, maybe thousands of dots of paint that form to make up one stripe in the dress of one of the subjects and then it's more than just beautiful, it's amazing and you can't ever look at the whole painting again without thinking about all of those dots of paint."

She knew he was headed somewhere, working something out verbally. She just had to be patient. He didn't often do this, but when he did, it was usually a revelation and often something of importance.

Suddenly, she was aware his focus was completely on her. "I told you earlier, I really, really love you. I mean that and I mean it in a way I don't even think I was aware of until today."

"Oookayyyy…" she was still trying to follow along, but he was starting to confuse her. She was sure it was nothing bad, but she still felt a wave of uneasiness pass through her stomach.

He gave a little laugh and ran his hand down her arm and entwined his fingers with hers. "Sara, I've loved you for a long time…I know you know that, but…" he squeezed her hand, "my moment of awareness today also made me realize…" He took a deep, fortifying breath. "You are the love of my life. This is it. You are it." He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed her knuckles. "I will never love anyone like I love you. I will never get over it if I lose you."

She felt a flutter in her chest and an answering quiver in her stomach. He was not romantic by nature, but occasionally, he took her breath with the exquisite tenderness and the stumbling splendor of his words. She moved closer to him and snuggled her head into the curve of his shoulder and whispered against his neck, "Yeah, same here." Ordinary words, but she knew he could hear the lump in her throat and the clench of her heart.

His free arm went under her body and around her back and he pulled her body close into his, his lips pressing reverently into her temple. "I want to talk to you about something, but I don't want you to get upset."

Sara drew back just enough to look at him with a mix of tenderness and trepidation. "Any conversation that begins like that…"

"I'm just asking that you hear me out before you start yelling," his tone was dry, but his expression was still cautious.

She huffed, "I don't yell." Both of his eyebrows climbed into his forehead and she added, "Often." She smirked, and then sputtered into a very un-Saralike giggle. "OK, I'm listening."

"I want to get married," he stated baldly, and then winced at his own lack of finesse.

"Gil…" she only called him Gil when he had done something especially heinous boyfriend-wise or when they were having a serious discussion that might or might not escalate into a fight.

"Wait, wait! Just hear me out," his fingers tightened around hers, urging her patience.

She closed her mouth and nodded at him, an expression of obstinate expectation resting on her features.

He was looking into her eyes, speaking in a low earnest voice as he rubbed his thumb over her fingers. "I know you think it's just a piece of paper and we don't need it to prove how much we love each other…but, I want to be married to you." He sucked in a breath, "What if Warrick hadn't been at PD? Honey, he didn't even call me, he called Nicky. I just happened to be there…how long would it have been until I heard about it if he hadn't been there?"

He closed his eyes briefly. "What if it had been more serious? And you had needed more extensive medical treatment and weren't able to…" his voice became shaky as he relived the frantic moments of fear and pain between the time he heard she was hurt until he had reached her side.

She placed her fingers soothingly over his lips, lightly stroking them as she quietly answered his concerns. "Gris, I understand, but really, I think everybody knows by now and you would be their first call. As for the other, we can exchange power of attorney…we don't have to get married."

"It's not just that," he kissed her fingertips. "I want everyone to know that we're two halves of the same whole. I want to be a part of a married couple." He rested his forehead against hers, "You say you don't need a piece of paper to say we're committed to each other. I don't need it for that either." Blue eyes met brown. "But I want it. I want it for all of the legal, social and traditional privileges it would give me to be your lawfully wedded husband." He saw her gaze soften and he felt hope flare and dance in his chest. "Do you trust me?"

"Of course I trust you," she closed her eyes and savored the warmth of him pressed against her. She did trust him, but because of the way she was raised, the idea of marriage had made her nervous for most of her life. She didn't know how not to be edgy about it; but she did trust him with her life, her body, her heart. And she really did understand why he wanted to be married.

"You know I'd never hurt you, right?" His eyes scanned her face for some place he could kiss her without causing her pain. The damage to her face, however temporary, cut him deeply. He could not bear to think of any violence being visited on her.

She nodded against him. She knew.

He lightly kissed her cheek, "And it's just a piece of paper, right?"

She cracked one eye and gave him a glare that was only half mocking, "If you're going to use my own logic against me…"

He grinned, "Oh! Wait, the best reason yet. When I finally snap and murder Ecklie they can't compel you to testify against me."

Her glare turned to a grin to match his own. "Well, if you're dangling prizes in front of me…I guess I have no choice."

She yelped in surprise, as he hugged her tightly.

"Thank you," his breath caressed her ear as he rocked her slightly in his arms and he wondered if she could feel the happy beating of his heart.

She laughed and hugged him back; oddly, she felt lighter. "When do you want to do the deed?"

He frowned at her, "You're making that sound ominous."

She batted her eyes at him in what would have been a coquettish manner were it not for her black eye. "Ok…when would you like to pledge me your troth?"

"How about tomorrow after they spring you from here?" The lopsided grin he bestowed on her was somewhat shy, but showed how pleased he was with himself.

"What?" her voice spiraled up, perilously close to a shriek. "You want me to get married looking like this?"

He raised a single eyebrow at her, wryly asking, "You don't believe in marriage and you think weddings are stupid…what do you care?"

"There you go, using my own arguments against me. Just for future reference, that's not scoring you any points." She heaved a sigh. "I thought you might care; if this is important to you. I thought you might want me looking a little more presentable for our wedding."

He shook his head, "I'm not giving you a chance to change your mind. Besides, I really don't care about the actual ceremony. It's the marriage that matters, not the wedding." He was grinning as he placed another kiss on her forehead.

She blinked at him. "Oh." He was serious. He really wanted to get married the next day and it didn't seem to matter to him that they had seen murder victims looking better than she did at the moment. "Oh," she repeated.

"Why? Do you have a sudden urge for organza and tulle? Do you want time to gather a few bridesmaids?" his lips quirked as he teased. "Going all girlie on me at the last minute?"

"No," she said stubbornly. "Tomorrow is fine."

"Really?" He was rocking her, again, in an excited hug.

She laughed then and cupped his face in her hands as she bestowed a light, sweet kiss on his lips. "Really."

Years later, when a brown haired blue-eyed beauty named Kay asked her father why there were no pictures of their wedding, Grissom had answered, "I could only get one piece of paper out of your mother that day. I chose a marriage license over a wedding picture."