Hey there everyone. Okay so here it is, the last chapter. I hope you like it, and allow me to apologize for how long it took me to complete it. A week of surfing with a cold swiftly turned into bronchitis, and a trip to the ER. I have hairline fractures on my ribs from coughing, so I was a bit too drugged out in the past little while to be capable of writing anything other than my own name, and even that was a stretch. So I hope that is a sufficient enough excuse for you all and I won't be getting any complaints about people having to re-read my story to remember what was happening (although I do apologize for that). Anyway, thank you all so very much for reading along, I love each and every one of you for it! Leave a comment if you can, give me something to read as I'm still on bedrest.

LOVE TO YOU ALL! -Solomynne

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-Tie my right hand to the Bible.

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A blue moon hovered above us.

I rocked back gently in my swing, letting the tips of my toes drag lightly on the ground.

Mother looked at me, her features illuminated by the glowing moon, giving her an ethereal look. "I knew you'd be back," she smiled.

"It wasn't easy," I answered.

"It never is," she replied. "But you've been given a second chance. Something that many people, myself included, would do almost anything for."

She turned to me, her hands completely smooth on the chains of the swing.

"Don't waste it."

I looked at her as she smiled at me, and I saw so much of myself in her. It both frightened and comforted me. I took her hand in mine and looked at the sky.

"You know I won't."

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It wasn't exactly a near-death experience.

I wouldn't go that far. There was no white light at the end of a tunnel or anything.

It was more of an almost-death experience.

A nearly near-death experience.

A morbid moment.

Still; in spite of the fact that I didn't see my life flash before my eyes, almost-nearly dying definitely helps you to get your priorities straight. It allows you to see what's important, and what isn't.

That sounds cliché, I know, and it is; but it's only cliché because it's true.

As I lay in the sterile hospital room, a soft light filtering in through the institutional-teal colored curtains, I knew what mattered most to me; and it wasn't whether or not I could afford that new computer I'd been wanting, or if Ecklie would ever just grow up and blow away.

It was seeing the love I felt for my friends and teammates reflecting back at me in their own caring eyes. It was the warm feeling of waking up next to Grissom, even if it was only pretend. It was not being afraid of love, or consequences, or living.

Maybe all that's cliché too, I don't know. And I don't care, because I've learned that caring about what other people think is yet another item in the long list of things that I no longer give a shit about.

As this whole epiphany was dawning on me, I was so deep in thought that I didn't even notice when Grissom sat down next to me, pulling a cold metal chair up to the bed. His warm hand on mine drew me out of my pensive state, and I turned to look at him. The relief and happiness in his eyes was enough to make me smile warmly at him.

"You're awfully happy for someone who was nearly killed today," he mused quietly, not taking his eyes from mine.

"But I wasn't killed was I?" I quipped. "And I can't think of a better reason to smile than that, can you?"

He smiled back at me and squeezed my hand. "No, honey, I can't." For a moment I thought his eyes were shining with tears, but he looked away briefly and when he turned back they were clear. "How's your head?" he asked awkwardly, obviously at a loss as to what to say.

If only he could have understood that he didn't need to say anything at all. I think the day he is that intuitive will be the day that peace settles over the world.

"My head is fine," I assured him, running my finger absently over the stitches on my forehead. "As for my wrists," I cringed, brandishing my bandaged hands, "those will take a little longer to heal."

He frowned and took my hand in between his. The rush from that small gesture made me feel better than any pain-killer they could have injected into my IV line. Relishing in his warm gaze, I realized once again how close we had come to losing each other, and I was overwhelmed with the desire to be wrapped in his arms, safe and warm.

"Sara…"

I looked up at him, listening intently.

"Sara I was so worried about you," he said gently, "I thought I was going to go crazy. Not knowing where you were or what was happening to you was the most frightening experience of my life."

I could tell it was a struggle for him to confess these things to me, so I held back and remained silent, not wanting to interrupt lest he lose his courage.

He looked at me, grasping for words, "I – I don't ever want to feel like that again. I don't ever want to be so worried that I can't eat, or sleep, or think straight. It unsettles me how…out of control I felt." He fiddled with his glasses adorably, "That is, well what I'm trying to say is… "

I held up a hand, silencing him. "Grissom. Lie down with me? Please?" I smiled and held my arms out to him. He looked at me for a moment, grateful that I hadn't made him spell out his feelings. I think it's why we work so well together. I don't need to hear it. I can look at him, and I just know by the look in his eyes. He took hold of my hands, kissing my palms sweetly before settling in next to me. I wrapped my arms around him gratefully, breathing him in, and buried my face in the warmth of his neck.

I felt his arms snaking around my back, his hand rubbing the back of my neck soothingly. My throat tightened as I thanked God for letting me live to experience this moment, and for the first time since I had been taken, I allowed myself to really, truly cry.

Grissom's embrace tightened as my wracking sobs shook us both. I pressed my face harder into his neck, holding him so close I thought I might squeeze him to death.

"Oh Sara," Grissom whispered, "I'm so sorry I let this happen to you. I should have protected you. I should have known."

"No," I protested, shaking my head against him. I looked up, sniffling, eyes streaming, and the guilt in his eyes broke my heart. "No, it wasn't your fault. You saved me, remember? You did everything right."

He looked down at me seriously, running his fingers through my hair with one hand. "No, Sara, I didn't. The right thing to do would have been to tell you how I felt about you right from the start, instead of hurting you like I did. You know the reasons for my actions towards you, though I'm not saying that those reasons are anything except a weak excuse for my cowardliness."

I looked up at him, speechless. "I'm ashamed of myself," he finished, "and I only hope that you can forgive me for being such a fool. I know you don't need me to say it, but I want to, because I love you Sara. And I won't lose you again.

I grinned and leaned towards him, whispering harshly in his ear, "Prove it."

He kissed me softly, deeply, running his hand into the open back of my hospital gown. I pulled him on top of me, kissing him harder as I wrapped my legs around him, ignoring the pain from all the cuts and bruises mottling my body. Our hands ran over each other greedily, desperately, throwing caution to the wind. I pulled him tightly up against me, dipping my hand into the waist of the back of his jeans and then running my fingers slowly, deliberately up his spine. Just as it was about to get R-rated, a knock at the door interrupted us, Grissom pulling away from my hot, devouring kisses to look towards the door.

My head fell back on the pillow in annoyance as Grissom slid off the bed with admirable agility and walked towards the door, throwing a wistful glance over his shoulder at me as I tried to regain my composure, smoothing out my gown and the blankets. He opened the door and Brass walked in, the detective in him taking note of my flushed skin and tousled hair, and the friend in him deciding not to say anything about it.

"Sara, it's good to have you back," he said gruffly, crossing the room and pulling me into a quick, tight hug, his brown tweed suit scratching my bare skin.

"Thanks Brass," I smiled up at him.

"That's one hell of a black eye you got yourself," he said in a fatherly tone. He pulled my chin up with a finger and tilted my head in the light, examining the gash on my forehead. "And a nice fat lip to top it all off," he muttered. "Well the bastard got what was coming to him, in any case." He patted my cheek gently and then walked back towards the door, turning to face me at the doorway. "If you're feeling up to it, I have someone here who would like to meet you," he said over his shoulder, gesturing a hand out to the hall.

"Sure," I answered in surprise, "who is it?"

"One second," he said, holding up a finger and leaving the room.

Grissom looked back at me, shrugging his shoulders and smiling at my questioning look. "Don't look so smug," I said laughing, "you're in real trouble later."

"I can hardly wait," he answered softly, with a voice that held a lot of promise.

Brass re-entered then, a thin woman with dark hair following shyly behind him. I recognized her but I couldn't quite remember where I had seen her. "Sara," said Brass, reaching back and nudging the girl closer to me, "this is Jennifer Kostuik. She's been asking to see you ever since you were brought in."

My mouth dropped open a little as I remembered how she had looked the last time I had seen her, pale and bruised in a hospital bed, much like I must have looked. The image of her name scratched hastily into the wall at Devlin's house popped into my head, and my heart swelled with happiness to see that she had recovered. Her skin was no longer sallow and pallid, and her wounds had nearly completely healed, save a few ghostly scars visible on her collarbone.

Her eyes were dark and sparkling, and she held out a hand to me as she approached, smiling. "Ms. Sidle," she said; her voice strong and clear, "I wanted to thank you and Mr. Grissom for everything you did," she glanced at Grissom, "You know, for getting the son of a bitch. I can sleep at night now, knowing he's gone, and I have you to thank for that."

I took her hand and shook it, our eyes meeting in a moment of unity. We both understood that we shared a common bond, that we had experienced something that most people would never be able to fathom, and that connected us whether we liked it or not.

I sat up in bed, gesturing for her to sit down.

"I'm glad to see that you're fairing better than the last time I saw you," I said, smiling. "But then I knew you would pull through, you seemed like a fighter. You must be," I added, "after all, you managed to escape from him."

"Barely," she said humbly. "But you…you took him down. He won't ever be able to hurt another woman again. Not ever."

"No, you're right," I mused. "He won't."

Jennifer shifted in her seat, and I could tell she was getting ready to ask me something.

"What is it?" I asked, curious.

She brought her eyes up to meet my own, taking a breath, "The city is helping to fund a joint funeral for all the women that weren't as lucky as we were," she said quickly. "The families have requested that you and I come for the burial. They were hoping you would say something, you know give a speech. They think of you as quite the hero."

"A speech?" I asked incredulously. I really didn't feel like any sort of a hero, to me it seemed more like I had lucked my way out of being killed.

"These families are so grateful to you for helping them gain closure," Jennifer continued. "It would mean a lot to them, and I'm sure their daughters, if you were there." She turned, "And you as well, Mr. Grissom."

My stomach reeled at the thought of having to attend a funeral. I hadn't been to one since my father's and that was how I wanted to keep it. But the look in Jennifer's eyes was not something I could just dismiss. Still flabbergasted at the idea of these victim's families seeing me as the captor of their daughters' killers, there was nothing I could say, no other answer I wanted to give, except "Tell them I would be honored, Jennifer."

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A week later I stood in front of the full length mirror on my closet door, smoothing out the simple black dress I wore, and trying in vain to cover my healing wounds up with makeup. Grissom walked in from the hallway, having arrived fifteen minutes earlier to pick me up.

"Are you almost ready?" he asked.

I turned to him. "Yeah. Just trying to do a little patch-up job on these battle scars."

"Don't cover them up," he said, walking towards me. "Wear them with pride. You earned them."

I sighed, "Well if this was my reward for helping to catch the guy I think I would have preferred some flowers."

He laughed and sat on the edge of the bed. "Are you sure you're up for this? You're still on doctor's orders to stay home and get some rest for the rest of the week."

"I'll be fine," I assured him, turning and smoothing a strand of hair in the mirror. "As for this speech, I still haven't figured out what I'm going to say. What is there to say, really?"

"Speak from the heart, it works every time," he answered, standing. "You're right, you'll be fine. Better than fine. Fantastic."

I sighed, frowning at my still-swollen bottom lip, "Let's not go overboard."

"I'm not going overboard," he said, as I watched him come to stand behind me in the mirror. "You're beautiful. Scars and all."

It still threw me off how open he had become with me. That's not to say that I didn't love it, but it would definitely take some getting used to. He put a hand on my shoulder and gave me a crooked smile in the mirror. I leaned back into him and he put his arms around me. I turned into him and kissed him gently, resting my head on his chest. He lifted my face to his and kissed my neck sweetly. I desperately wanted him to continue, but Brass, who was carpooling with us, interrupted with a very well-meant honk of encouragement.

"Time to go," I moaned.

He smiled, nodding, and put a hand on the small of my back as we headed for the ever-so-patiently honking Jim Brass.

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"Okay, I was wrong."

"What?"

I turned to Grissom in a moment of panic. "I'm not fine. I can't do this." I wheeled around and spread my hand over the virtual sea of people that had come out for the funeral. Correction: funerals.

Ever since we had arrived at the cemetery, the gloomy day promising rain, a feeling of dread had begun gnawing in the pit of my stomach, only increasing as we walked past a line of blown-up pictures of all the women that we were burying that day. Their hopeful faces and shining eyes, surrounded in funeral wreaths, haunted me terribly. Weaving my way through the crowd of people, the eerie feeling that a funeral can produce began wrapping itself chillingly around my heart, worsening the unrest I was experiencing. There must have been over two hundred people there, and yet there was a muted hush that had fallen over everyone like a shroud.

It reminded me of my father's funeral. Too quiet for so many people.

The memories began to roll into my mind, images and feelings that I had kept at bay for many years. I knew there was a reason I chose to avoid funerals at all costs.

The fuzzy visions of women's stocking legs and hems of black gowns poured into my head. Droning priests and dry eyes, people who would miss my father about as much as my mother would. That being not at all. I would have liked to feel nothing about him, like they did. Except maybe an obligation. But as much as I feared my father, the unconditional love a child has for a parent, even an abusive one, still held strong in my heart.

I remember feeling a great, consuming sadness, and not just at losing my father, but at the realization that I would never have the opportunity to make him proud of me. To make him happy, for once. It was all I had ever wanted to do. I had foolishly believed, in my childish hopefulness, that if only I could make him happy, then everything would be different.

In a way I had gotten what I had wanted. Nothing was ever the same again

I felt Grissom's hand grip my elbow, snapping me out of my reverie and guiding me to a quiet corner of the cemetery, leaning on a grave. The weeping willow that grew behind us caressed us with its long, soft stems in the wind.

I wiped away rain and moss on the cracked headstone, reading the name Elliot Worthing, and wondered who he was. I wondered who his father was, and if Elliot had ever had the chance to make him proud.

"Talk to me," Grissom said sternly. "What's going on?"

"I can't be here," I said, looking away from the headstone. "I don't do funerals, I can't…I can't do this speech, I can't face those people and pretend to be something that I'm not."

"And just what are you pretending?" Grissom asked skeptically, crossing his arms.

"They think I'm some kind of a hero. I'm not one, okay? I was just doing my job," I explained, sitting in the damp grass and leaning my back against the cold grave. I ran my fingers through the long green blades, droplets of rain gathering on my fingertips.

Grissom sighed and knelt beside me, taking my hand and looking at me intently. "Sara even you must know that going undercover, risking your life, is something that is far beyond anything in your job description. You are an incredibly brave woman; you faced the monster that brought so many others down. It's in facing what scares us the most that we discover who we really are."

"But I'm--" I protested.

"Sara why did you become a CSI? Why did you accept the job that Palmer offered to you?"

I remained silent for a moment, then answered slowly, "Because I want to help people."

"And you did. And you will again. So be proud of it, I know I am. And I know your parents would be proud of you too."

My eyes filled with tears, and I leaned into his arms. He rubbed my back gently, soothing me. After some time, he pulled me away from him and looked down at me lovingly. "It's time."

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I stood at the podium, facing the crowd that stared up at me with the hollow eyes of those who had just lost a loved one.

The clouded sky continued to pour down a light rain that speckled the programmes we had been handed as we entered, blurring the ink. Black umbrellas blossomed all across the seated crowed like deathly roses, covering bowed heads. I gripped the sides of the podium and closed my eyes for a moment, gaining my composure.

I felt the rain on my face, and Grissom, Brass and Jennifer standing just behind me. I thought of Devlin, and what he had told me. "Some people are just born bad." Opening my eyes, I cleared my throat and began to speak, knowing just exactly what to say.

"Hello. My name is Sara Sidle."

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Thanks so much for reading, and don't forget to let me know what you think!

Solomynne