Disclaimer: See the first chapter.
Author's Notes: Thank you all so much for the reviews and the support. I know it wasn't a typical fic, but I wanted to give it a try. Thanks again!
So this was the murder weapon.
A piece of rope, just as you and Sara suspected. You were also right about Tracy; Tracy was being set up. You were right about Eric's killer. It was Victor Gilman all along and right now, he's about to kill you.
"This is what happens to heroes," Victor hisses in your ear. You continue to struggle. You have to break free. You can't die today. You just can't.
That's when a gun shot sounds off, echoing down the alleyway. Gilman lets up his hold on you. The rope falls away and you fall forward. The moment you can realize your surroundings, you begin to crawl away, gasping for air. There's something warm on your neck. It feels sticky. You immediately suspect it to be blood. Whose blood, you're not sure. Yours or Gilman's?
You hear voices, but nothing really registers yet. The world is fuzzy, spinning. You keep crawling, trying to reach the voice. Then you stop. There's a figure with a gun just ahead of you, but you can't make out who it is. You don't know if they are a friend or a foe.
You don't know if they want to kill you too and everything is so damn blurry! You wonder how long it'll take to see again. How long it'll take to be able to hear everything clearly again. Sure, you've been beaten to a pulp before, but strangled? This is new.
". ..Greg. . ."
You feel hands on your back and voices around you. No, wait. Just one voice. Just two hands. You push yourself up onto your forearms and knees. You can't hold your own weight and fall into the waiting arms of the person who saved you.
Sara Sidle. Your vision is still a bit blurry, but you would recognize that scent anywhere.
"You. . .followed me?" you say, still coughing and getting all your air back. You're getting your life back.
"I have to call for back-up, Greg? You hear me?" Sara says, her voice still a bit distant. "I have to call for back up, do you hear me?"
You nod, telling her that you do. You do hear her. You hear her loud and clear.
"Okay," she says softly, her words whispering against your hair as she gives you another quick squeeze before breaking the embrace. She gently leans you up against a brick wall, before running back to her vehicle.
Tracy. You nearly forgot about Tracy and Eric. You turn your head and see Gilman first. He's on the ground, motionless. So the blood was his. His blood is on you and it makes you somewhat sick inside. You wanted to stop the man, not kill him.
Gilman is lying in a puddle of muck, a gunshot wound to his forehead. No question that he's dead. No, you didn't want to kill him and you didn't. Sara did. Beyond him, you see Tracy clutching onto Eric. Eric's eyes have fluttered open and this makes you smile. He's alive. Your efforts saved his life.
You saved his life.
You turn back to Sara when you hear her boots clomping back toward you. Her arms are around you again and you cling to her with all that you have left. You mutter again through a strained smile, "You followed me."
"You scared me," she admits with a laugh, holding onto you tightly. Then sadness creeps into her voice as she says much more softly. "You made it sound like you were never coming back. It was like you were saying goodbye."
Finally, you feel a bit strength returning, but your neck still hurts like hell. You swallow, before saying, "I just had this feeling...that today would be...eventful."
You feel her body shake from her nervous laugh. Again, you smile.
Sara saved you.
There really are heroes in Vegas.
You open your eyes.
You listen but don't hear the lyrics. You don't here Dan the Man from KMRK radio and you don't hear the traffic report on Scotty's Junction. It's music to your ears.
You look around now, but don't see your room. You're at the hospital. There's an IV in your arm and a hospital gown on your body and it's all so very different from before. It's all different and beautiful and you finally feel that maybe, just maybe today will finally come to a close. Maybe today is just simply today. Not a repeat of today or a repetition. It's just a normal day; a day that will cycle into another.
You check for a clock, but don't see one. You need to know what time it is. You need to know how long you've been out. You need to know if today is really over.
"Hey, you're up."
"Catherine?" you answer the voice, turning your head to see your visitors. Everyone is filtering in behind her. Everyone but Sara. You wonder where she is. Your voice is a bit hoarse, but characteristically cheery, "Hey, guys."
Grissom approaches you first. His face is a mixture of shock and relief. Kind of the way he was the last time he came to visit you at the hospital. Shocked to see you so weak and vulnerable. Relieved to see you are alive. He nods, "Hi, Greg."
"Hey, Grizzle," you joke. You think he actually smiles back.
Warrick is in your line of sight next. "You gave us quite a scare, man."
"Yeah, call for back-up the next time you see a murder happening," Nick chides lightly. "That seems to be your thing now, anyways."
"What the boys mean to say is, they're glad to see you're alright, sweetie," Catherine says. She gives Warrick and Nick a scolding glare, before leaning over and kissing your forehead. She looks at you and asks gently, "How are you?"
"Tired," you admit. "My neck still hurts."
"Well, that man did try to strangle you." The group turns around and reveals Sara leaning in the doorway, arms folded and a stiff smile on her face. She slowly walks in and says quietly, "Feeling better?"
"Much better, thanks," you grin at her.
"Hey, we want to stay, Greg, but duty calls," Nick apologizes, patting you on the shoulder. "Take it easy?"
"Always," you nod. Catherine gives you another quick peck on the cheek. Warrick simply waves as they head out. Grissom exchanges a look with Sara, something you can't read. They all leave. . .everyone but Sara. You ask her curiously, "You don't have to go back to the lab?"
"IAB took my gun and are now evaluating my use of the weapon. So I'm on leave," she explains forlornly. "You know. Routine stuff. I'll be back to work tomorrow night, I'm sure."
"Right, of course, but that doesn't mean you have to babysit me. I'll be fine," you say.
Sara just tilts her head to the side, her eyes softening and her voice smooth and calm. "I want to be here, Greg. I'm not leaving."
She wants to be here. She wants to be here with you. You bite your bottom lip, then say sincerely, "Sara. You saved my life. Thank you."
"Hey, someone has to watch over you," she jokes. "You seem to have this knack for finding people in distress. And nearly getting killed."
"Some people are just destined for greatness," you joke back.
"Yeah, I guess," she nods, her smile fading quickly and her eyes welling up with tears. That's not good.
"Sara. . .," you say.
She shakes her head at you. "You scared the hell out of me."
"I'm sorry," you say meekly.
"You're sorry?" she repeats, deadpan.
You shift uncomfortably on your bed. "Uh, yeah. I'm sorry I scared you. I'm sorry I ran off. I'm sorry I forced you to come after me and fire your weapon and I'm sorry IAB put you on leave."
After a moment of considering you and your words, Sara finally sighs, "Don't be. Don't be sorry. I should apologize to you."
"To me?" you sputter. "But why?"
Sara shakes her head. She doesn't want to look at you. You understand, of course, that Sara is not one to open up freely. You wait patiently. She glances up and tries to explain, "I thought you were just trying to get my attention, at first. I thought that maybe I had. . .been ignoring you. Not on purpose, just that maybe I had let other things take over my life. I had left you behind somewhere between your attack and the civil suit and I thought that maybe you were just trying to reach out to me. Then when I found you. . .that man was trying to kill you. . .I didn't know what to think. I didn't know. . ."
"It had nothing to do with you, I promise," you reassure. "I am curious as to how you found me, though."
She explains, "After you left, I made Archie track your phone. The way you acted in the locker room. . .I had to find out where you were going, what you had to do. When he gave me a location, I was on autopilot. Got in my car, drove like a demon had possessed me. I don't know why I grabbed my gun. . .I just had this feeling."
You reach out a hand and she immediately slips hers into yours. You squeeze tightly and smile at her. "I'm okay, Sara."
She smiles back and then shrugs at you. After a moment, she says, "You told me you had something important to do. How did you know about Eric Quinn?"
You had to figure questions like this would be asked. Fortunately, you made yourself come up with a reasonable account so you could explain your actions. "Have I ever told you about my psychic grandmother?"
Sara frowns. You smile. Well, a somewhat reasonable account to explain your actions.
She shakes her head at you. "Greg, I'm serious."
"So am I," you continue to grin. "Really. I had a dream about Quinn's murder and I just had to see if it was true. It scared me."
Sara smiles at you now, even though she's rather skeptical of your story. "I don't believe you."
"Wasn't expecting you to," you answer truthfully. "It's what happened."
She nods. You're both silent now and you can tell she's thinking over your physic dream story. She'll believe it, for now. It's not that she has much choice in the matter, so she'll believe you for now.
She looks up at you again and says, "They say you get weird after killing someone. That you feel guilt. I'd do it again, if I had to, Greg. I wouldn't hesitate."
You can't help but chuckle, "That's good to know." Good if I end up going through this all again!
Hmm. All jokes aside, that does remind you. You need to know what time it is. You need to know if today will finally be over. As casually as possible, you ask, "What time is it?"
"It's nearly 2 in the morning," she tells you. "The paramedics put you under to keep you still and stabilize you. You've been out for about eight hours."
Eight hours. That's not enough time. You still have about another ten hours to go before 1 p.m rolls around. Another ten hours before you finally know for sure whether or not today is finally over. You don't want to spend that time here, in a hospital bed.
"Sara, this will sound weird, but I don't want to be here," you tell her. "I want to be out. I want to walk around. I can't spend the rest of this day in here."
Sara studies you carefully, thoughtfully. With a small shrug, she says, "I guess you can check out whenever you want to, Greg, although I'm not sure why you would."
You push a laugh between your lips. "Hey, I just figured I'm on medical leave, you're on leave. We've got nothing to do, really. Just. . .There are much better ways to spend our time together."
She quirks an eyebrow at you, a slow smile crossing her face.
You cringe a little, realizing the bit of sexual overtones in your last statement. "What I meant was, we could be out somewhere, taking in the sights. You know, I live in Vegas and there's still so much I haven't seen that wasn't decorated with dead bodies."
"I get it," she nods. "Two near death experiences in less than a year and all you want is to live a little before it's really over."
"Right," you nod. You look at her hopefully. "So, will you help me bust outta this joint?"
She grins and stands to her feet. "Let's go."
"Okay, break time," you laugh, falling onto a nearby bench. Sara wholeheartedly agrees and sits down next to you. It's been a busy morning.
It was nearly five o'clock before the hospital finally completed the task of the releasing you. It didn't take you both long to agree on breakfast. You selected that same diner you always go to. Just as a joke, Sara had asked you with a wide smile, "Why do we always come here?"
"It's tradition," you replied merrily. To be honest, the three of you (Nick, Sara and yourself) had deemed this place bad luck for a while. After Nick's car was stolen and all evidence within it lost, you avoided this place for about a month. It wasn't too long before the call for herbal tea and runny eggs beckoned you all back.
After breakfast, Sara drove you around until you found the most perfect of spots to spend the rest of your day. A little carnival not too far from the city complete with Ferris wheel and a House of Mirrors. Probably not the best place to be, especially with a sore neck and sore muscles, but the pain is worth it. Especially since Sara is with you.
You're almost certain you all worked a case here a few years ago. Something about a roller coaster flying off the tracks. Sara must have been thinking the same thing because you both avoided any rides that took you high above the clouds or shook the passengers violently. You settled on the Tunnel of Love and played a few booth games. Won a few prizes.
"I can't believe you've never had cotton candy," you tell her. She laughs. You like to hear her laugh. It's something she doesn't do nearly enough lately.
"Not until today," she admits, holding up her bag. "I missed out on a lot of childhood goodies, I guess."
You know she tries to hide it, but you hear the sadness anyway. You've heard things about Sara. Awful things. Stuff about her mother and father. Foster care. She's never outright said these things to you, of course. She's a really private person, but word gets around the lab. You think you have a good handle on what life must've been like for a young Sara Sidle. You hate knowing that such a genuinely good person would have to suffer through something like that.
"Well, we'll work on that," you say, wrapping an arm around her shoulders. "We'll spend an entire day experiencing all those things kids should experience. Like bruising your knee after falling off a bike or throwing a video game controller into the tv after the boss level crushes me for the hundredth time in a row."
"Yeah, maybe we can do that," she says, unable to keep from grinning at you. She rises to her feet. "C'mon. It's nearly noon. You need to sleep and so do I."
There's one hour left and the funny thing is, you're not tired.
The bright, red LED lights on your alarm clock switch from 12:59 p.m. to 1:00 p.m..
Lyrics begin to play and you strain to understand them. They sound foreign. No, really, they do. You know it's English, yet you can't understand them.
You stretch out, your tired limbs achy and sore. You move slowly, testing each piece of your body just to see how it feels. Bruised. Hurt. Tender. The way a body should feel after its been beaten badly. You gently touch your neck and cringe at the pain. Yep. That still hurts too. You want to smile, but no, you have to check everything. You have to be sure.
You roll out of bed. You look down at yourself and see the same clothes you were in yesterday. You still hold back the smile. Check everything first, then celebrate.
You walk out into your living area and that's when you know that the cycle is finally over.
Sara Sidle is spread out on your couch, dead to the world. Without a moment's hesitation, you merrily skip up to her and shake her awake. She sits up quickly and says sleepily, "Something wrong? What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong," you say, your voice high-pitched and giddy.
She frowns. "Then why did you wake me?" She pauses and adds, "And why are your grinning at me like that?"
"You're here," you smile at her. "You're still here."
"Yeah, I told you I would be here," she says, suppressing a yawn. "You were half asleep when we got here, though. Wasn't sure if you heard me or knew what planet you were on, for that matter."
"I was half asleep?" you say.
She grins now. "Had to drag you up the steps myself. Good thing your landlady was around. I wasn't really sure where you lived and you weren't coherent enough to tell me. She unlocked the door and let us in."
Good Ol' Mrs. Templeton. Always looking out for you.
"Greg?" Sara is calling your name, but you're not sure what to say. It's after 1 o'clock in the afternoon and Sara is still here. It's after 1 o'clock in the afternoon and you have all the evidence you need sitting right in front of you. It's Sara. She's still here. The cycle is broken.
Her hand waves across your face, "Earth to Greg. . ."
You snap out of it and say again, "I can't believe you're still here. I just. . .It kept happening over and over. . .Now it is over! I just can't understand how. . ."
She yawns, not really listening to you. Good thing. If she were listening, she might think you're crazy. She finally interrupts your rambling. "Greg, what time is it?"
"Uh, a little after 1," you answer confidently.
She rolls her eyes and lets her head hit the couch cushion again. "Greg, we've only been back for 15 minutes. Go back to bed."
Go back to bed? Gladly. On one condition.
You waggle your eyebrows at her suggestively, "Only if you join me."
You are promptly hit in the face with one of your couch pillows courtesy of a slightly bemused Sara Sidle.
"Ow," you whine. That actually did hurt, your sore neck twinging in pain from being nearly strangled to death.
"Oh, damn it, I'm sorry Greg," Sara immediately apologizes, sitting up. She rubs your shoulder, her expression so gravely concerned, it almost makes you laugh.
"It's okay, Sara. No harm, no foul," you promise, rubbing your neck. "I'm just glad you're still here."
She half smiles at you now. "You keep saying that."
"It's true,," you say, then rise to your feet. "Night, Sara. Sorry I woke you."
She sleepily replies with a 'good night' of her own and you tip-toe away. You make it back to your bedroom doorway and stop there. You lean against the doorframe and watch her. You make a silent vow to be there for her, no matter what. It's the least you could do considering she saved your life today.
You jump a little when she snores and you grin at the thought. Sara Sidle snores? You weren't even aware that she knew what sleep was, but then again, your visions of 'workaholic Sara' are not what they used to be. She's so much more than that and now that you know this, you won't give up on her.
No, you won't give up on her. You really want her to be happy and if Grissom does that, then so be it. However, if that doesn't pan out, if Grissom and Sara are no more, you'll be waiting.
You'll be waiting and you'll be ready.
After all you've been through, you're ready to take on the world.