Sara took a sip from her milkshake, watching from behind the glass of the break-room as Nick walked through the hallway with his kit in his hands. He was stopped by Hodges, who started talking to him, supposedly about his findings about the case Nick was working.
Nick listened carefully and nodded a couple of times interestedly. It was like he'd never left the lab, everything was exactly as it should have been. Almost everything.
As the conversation went by, she saw him move his attention from Hodges's papers and his look crossed hers for a moment. He gave her a brief smile, then returned to his other occupation.
Sara smiled sadly. He'd been back at work for a few weeks, and he acted naturally, as if nothing had happened. Every piece of the puzzle had been resettled in its original place, except one.
Sara wondered if the picture would ever be whole again.
The month he had spent at Greg's had been useful, he'd started recovering small parts of the past two years, but still he gave no sign to remember of her as his girlfriend.
It hurt. It really hurt.
Sara had been taking care of the house, officially as a favour to Nick. It was her house as well now, but everything – according to Warrick – seemed to have changed subtly since when she'd moved there. 'I dunno, it's still the same, but it just oozes Saraness" he'd said the first time he'd brought her lunch, and even if Sara couldn't actually see the difference, she believed him. Nick himself noticed when he was accompanied there by Greg, but he'd thought it was just an impression.
"He's in shape, isn't he?"
She turned around and found Warrick behind her back, wearing a sympathetic expression. He handed her a take-away box he took out of the paper bag he was holding. Sara took it. It emanated a heavenly fragrance.
"Spaghetti al ragù di soia e verdure," he explained warmly. "Directly from Antonio's."
Sara sniffed the sublime smell coming from the food and beamed.
"I think I love you."
"What wouldn't a pregnant woman do for food." He rolled his eyes and laughed. Sara followed suit, but so weakly that she realised it could be barely considered a laugh. According to the look he sent her, Warrick seemed to think the same thing.
"Thanks, by the way." Said Sara, rising her lunch. "You're so spoiling me…"
Warrick waved his hand dismissively with a shake of the head.
"I gotta get you used for when our dear Nicholas will regain that small portion of memory he still misses." He blinked, but the knot in her throat didn't relent. "Which I hope will happen soon, because you veggie stuff is quite expensive, you know."
Sara nodded and touched his shoulder thankfully, then walked out of the room. As soon as the door closed behind her, she bumped into someone and nearly dropped the box she was holding.
"Gosh, I'm so-" Whatever she had intended to say vanished into sheer emptiness as Sara realised whose the arms that had prevented from falling were. "Nick."
The corridor started spinning all around her and she felt his arms gripping her more firmly. It was such a beautiful feeling to be again in his arms that she nearly forgot of all the rest.
"It's okay, I got you." He reassured her, helping her to keep standing. There was an odd uneasy shade to his tone. "Are you okay?"
Sara regarded him closely, her heart hammering so fast that she was afraid he could feel it. how much had he heard of her conversation with Warrick?
Nick's eyes wandered elsewhere and his fingers loosened on Sara, and she felt he had just let her fall. She propped herself to the wall with one hand, still waiting for the dizziness to pass, and eyed him worriedly.
Nick returned the look with an evidently fake smile that broke her heart. She froze when his eyes roamed southward to her stomach.
That was it, she had no chance to deny, now.
"I was wondering what was different in you, you know…" he mused, his smile enlarging bitterly. "I have to admit I would have never guessed."
Sara opened her mouth, seeking for something to say, but everything she could think of was how hard it was to have to say nothing.
"How far along are you?" he asked with genuine candidness.
"Eighteen weeks." Sara knew she must have looked happier than she actually was. "Not a whale yet, but sizable if you see me naked."
She saw him darken imperceptibly, but he did not blush. They had always shared playful quips, but by the way he reacted it looked more like she'd slapped him.
"Have I ever known who's the lucky man?"
A lump swelled in Sara's throat. She forced herself to keep it down, then tried to shrug and make her expression look nonchalant.
"Let's say he's not… Available at the moment." Her heart broke as the words were spoken. Nick's face was crossed by a flash of pure rage.
"Damn bastard." He commented dryly. Despite the crack that opened in her heart, Sara felt a smile tug at the corners of her mouth. He might not remember what was between them, but his instinct was still to protect her and defend her.
"He's a good man, Nick." She conveyed softly. "It was not his choice, you see…"
"What kind of good man leaves his pregnant girlfriend, exactly?"
"It's complicated." She sighed. Nick was going to say something, when Catherine – apparently popped out of nowhere – and claimed to need Sara for a case.
"Grissom said you and Rick just closed a tough case," she said when Sara asked her what she was needed for. "I though you'd appreciate some paperwork, maybe?"
The two women exchanged a long meaningful look, much to Nick's dismay.
"If you want me to check those old reports, the answer in no, again." Sara stated firmly, arms folded as she put on her stubborn pout. "Besides my doc told me that sedentary jobs fuel pregnancy stress, so I'm not sitting down in a dim room for the rest of the shift."
Catherine jaw fell open as her mouth stammered in shock. She glanced at Nick and then back at Sara, who rolled her eyes impatiently.
"He knows." She reassured her friend. "It's amazing how many things people find out by overhearing causal conversations."
The hint of reproach she had used went unnoticed- whether intentionally or not she couldn't tell – but she didn't bother to insist.
"Do you know him?" Nick asked Catherine, getting an quizzical look from her. "The guy who did this to Sara."
"Nick, please…" Sara quickly tried to cut him off. "Let's not waste any time with this, I'm tired and vaguely sick, so let's just go back to our respective duties."
Nick hesitated, but eventually gave up. Sara could see how reluctant he was to let her go.
"Cath will be breathing on my neck throughout the shift," Sara reassured him with a wink. "I'll be fine."
"Meet you in the A/V lab." Catherine said and excused herself, leaving them alone again.
Nick approached Sara with a very concerned expression, and took one of her hand in his.
"I don't know what I have forgotten," he said seriously, licking his lips. "But I'm here, whenever you need me, whatever you need." He gave her a tiny smile. "I know you know, but I'm reminding you, just in case…"
Nick's skin was warm and soft around her hand. He was holding her tenderly, but tightly enough to make her feel it wasn't a conventional gesture.
Sara was glad, even without his memories, he still remembered how close they were. She reached out and wrapped her arms around his neck, brushing a brief, chaste kiss against his cheek.
"Thank you, Nicky."
What she was thanking him for, Sara didn't precisely know herself. Maybe it was for his concern, maybe for his mere presence, maybe because she just felt she had to. Even if he didn't know, there was so much he deserved to be thanked for, so much he had given her. Sara treasured every kiss, every embrace, every minute they had spent together.
Perhaps, she thought, she was simply thanking him for not having died.
"Hey, I have an idea." Nick said suddenly, pulling away, but still keeping his hands on her arms. "We haven't spent much time together lately… Let's go out for dinner and then I'll take you somewhere I'm sure you'll like. You need to relax for the sake of you both."
Sara – as she had recently started doing – spontaneously took her hand to her swollen abdomen. Was it a good idea?
She was craving to spend some time with him, she really would love to finally get to stay alone with him, but she couldn't predict how it would turn out.
After a long pause, however, her need won over commonsense.
"You're buying." She said at last, and Nick's face relaxed into a grin.
"As always." He replied at once, but his expression immediately became confused, and the question mark painted across his face spoke volumes.
As always when?
He had paid for their dinners ever since their first date, but it was a part of those two years he was missing. Sara secretly felt overjoyed that that small particular had so unexpectedly surfaced. It meant a lot, to her. It gave her hope.
"See you in the locker room at the end of the shift?" she said brightly, trying to distract him from his own bewilderment.
Nick blinked a couple of times and barely shook his head to awaken from his trance. He smiled.
"Sounds fine to me." He buried his hands in his pockets. "See you later."
She watched him walk away with a weird gripping sensation to her heart. She wasn't sure she had made a wise choice, but it was late for second thoughts.
Nevertheless, she was curious to find out where he would take her, and how it would go, eager to be the centre of his world again. Even if just for one night.