A/N: I know, I know, it's been forever and a day. There was an "incident" with my laptop – you can all thank a certain person whose name rhymes with Hairybeth Schlonson for that -- and it had to be reformatted so I lost my fic, but I'm back on track now. I want to thank jenstog specifically for kicking my butt into gear. I hope you all enjoy it, please R&R!
Disclaimer: Not mine!
He could see there would be no reaching her now.
Grissom watched Sara make her way through the crowd of people in the hall, her eyes hard and hollow. She had the boy's tiny body clutched against her protectively, Jamie's tiny fingers trailing through the air as his arm dangled limply in her hold. She made it to the front entrance, pushing the motel doors open with her foot, and stepping outside. The moon shone down on her in sympathy, glowing sadly in the night sky as she walked stoically across the parking lot. Sara held the child's body tighter against her, trying to protect his bare limbs from the cold. She tried not to think about the fact that he smelled sweet, like laundry detergent and summer apples. She tried not to think about anything.
Grissom followed behind her, keeping a respectful distance. Two EMTs rushed forward as she made her way across the pavement, to the waiting ambulance that Brass had called. They took the boy from her, laying him on a collapsible gurney, shining their flashlights into his eyes. Sara looked on, motionless, her mouth drawn into a grim line. Just get through this moment, this one moment. Just keep it together for a little longer Sara, just hold on for a little longer.
One of the med tecs looked at her, as the other began to assess the boy. "Any idea how long he's been like this?"
Her eyes steeled. "Rigor mortis hasn't had a chance to set in yet, death could only have occurred a few hours ago at most."
The medic looked at her quizzically as his partner injected Jamie's tiny arm with something. "Death? Ma'am, this boy isn't dead. He would be, if you hadn't gotten there when you did."
Sara's face was completely blank. She would not allow herself to believe this. Not yet; not until she was sure. "He didn't have a pulse."
"He's in a hypoglycemic coma; his pulse is very weak. It's not uncommon in poor areas, places where people don't get enough to eat. Their blood sugar gets lower and lower, until they pass out. We're injecting glucose directly into his blood stream to bring his sugars up. He should make it."
She blinked at him in disbelief, a tapestry of emotions weaving through her heart. "He's alive?" she whispered.
The EMT ignored her question, distracted by the wounds on her throat. "Ma'am have you been injured? Those look like some severe lacerations on your neck. Here," he walked to the ambulance, reaching into his medkit for an ice pack. He pressed it into Sara's hand, "Try to keep that on your injuries for the next few hours, it'll slow the swelling and redness."
She took the ice pack mechanically, her eyes not leaving his. "He's alive?" she echoed, her voice tight with emotion.
"He won't be for much longer if we don't get him to the hospital," the second medic called from where he was tending to the child. "His pulse is all over the place, blood pressure is dropping. We need to get him stabilized."
They both strapped Jamie into the gurney, securing an oxygen mask over his face as they loaded him into the rig. Sara stepped forward, "I'm coming with you."
The first medic, whose name she noticed was Evans, held a hand up. "I'm sorry I can't allow you to come with us, we've got a full house in here as it is."
Grissom jogged up beside her, "We've called his mother, she'll be waiting for you at Desert Palms."
Evans nodded at him as he reached to close the door behind them, "Thank you."
The door slammed, the sound echoing across the parking lot with a strange finality. The two investigators watched the rig drive away, its lights and sirens blaring in the otherwise quiet night.
Sara stared after the ambulance long after it had gone, and Grissom stood with her. A gentle wind crept across their skin, blowing Sara's curls into her unseeing eyes. All the sounds of police chatter and squawking radios, all the flashing lights seemed far away from them. They were separate from it all.
He saw a shiver course through her body, her long arms were bare in the chill of the night, the hand holding the ice pack still limp at her side. "What are you feeling right now?" Grissom asked her, still staring straight ahead.
She looked at him, her eyes full of emotion.
"Tired," she answered gently, honestly. "I'm so tired Grissom."
"I know," he smiled softly. "Come on, I'll take you home."
Sara wilted onto her couch, throwing an arm over her head.
"Have you eaten?" Grissom asked, dropping her keys on the counter.
"What do you think?" she asked with a tired smile.
"Shall I order take out?"
"Thanks, but I can't eat right now." She answered, waving a hand in dismissal. She groaned, "I could sure use a drink though."
"So could I," he admitted, walking to her freezer. He opened it and rummaged around until he found what he was looking for, taking out the bottle of vodka. He went to her fridge for orange juice, mixing the drinks with the expertise of a scientist (obviously); and came to sit next to her, handing her a glass. Grissom took a sip of his but she just held hers and watched him in surprise.
He lowered his drink and glanced at her. "What?"
She stifled a smile and leaned back into the couch cushions, never taking her eyes off him. "You drink screwdrivers?"
He smirked. "Catherine got me into them."
Sara laughed into her cup as she drank, her curls falling into her eyes. She gracefully swept them behind her ear, every movement making him want to pull her into his lap and touch her soft, pale skin with his hands; his lips.
The smile faded from her face and she sat up again, her thigh pressing right up against his. She raised her glass and waited until he touched the lip of his drink to hers, looking at him darkly. "To Jamie," she whispered.
"To Jamie," he echoed.
They drank in the child's honor, a child that for all they knew was fighting for his life at that very moment. They sat in silence for a while, each lost in their own thoughts as they nursed their drinks. "Do you think he's going to die?" Sara asked him, staring at the glass in her hands.
"Kids are resilient," Grissom commented, taking the empty glass from her hand for a re-fill. "Chances are he'll pull through," he said thoughtfully, looking at her over his shoulder as he walked to the kitchen, refreshing the drinks.
"Even if he does live he'll never be the same," she whispered.
She was speaking so quietly Grissom wasn't sure if he was meant to hear, but he answered anyway.
"No, you're right. He won't."
"God can only imagine the things he saw, Grissom. Things that no one should ever have to see, especially not a child."
Grissom sat next to her, handng her the glass. "He'll get through it. He'll survive."
She turned her glass in her hands, laughing bitterly. "What makes you so sure?"
He put a hand on her leg, "Just look how you turned out."
She looked up at him, her mouth open in surprise.
"You went through a similar experience Sara, and look where you are. Look at who you are."
She laughed again, "I'm a mess! I have more issues than Cosmo magazine."
"No, you're not a mess," he said seriously. "Nobody's perfect. You are a good person. You're smart, and you're brave, and… you're the most stubborn human being I have ever met in my life." They both laughed at that.
She took another drink from her glass, then looked at him for a long time.
"Thank you, Grissom. It's nice to know somebody has faith in me, even when I don't."
Grissom put a hand on the back of her neck, causing a fire to rip through her belly. She looked away, drinking deeply from her glass.
"Go easy on that," Grissom warned gently.
"Don't tell me Brass has been talking to you again," Sara said, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
"We've talked about that, we both know that's not your problem."
"Then what is my problem?" she challenged, her voice dropping. Her eyes were daring him to answer the way they both knew he wanted to.
Grissom swallowed, taking a sip of his drink to buy himself some time. Sara was presenting him with an opportunity, the question was, was he going to take her up on it? He could see the wicked smile tugging at the corner of her red, delicious lips as she watched him squirm. He knew she enjoyed making him uncomfortable, and justly so.
The way she was looking at him was enough to tell him what was on her mind, though he was sure she couldn't be held responsible for the expression of pure lust that graced her features. She didn't realize how much her face gave away her emotions.
"What, no response? Come on, what's my problem?" she teased, resting her elbows on her knees so her shirt gaped open; not enough to be intentional, but enough to drive him crazy.
"Trust," he choked out.
She raised her eyebrows. "Fair enough. I don't trust easily, you're right."
"You don't trust at all," he countered.
"I trust you," she answered seriously.
"I'm not so sure about that," he replied.
She set down her glass, eyes blazing. "How could you say that? After I told you more than I've told anyone else in my entire life? I trusted you even when everything in my experience was telling me not to, when your very actions were telling me not to. You're one of the only people I've ever let into my confidence, my home, not to mention my heart; so don't you dare tell me that I don't trust you Gilbert Grissom."
Grissom could only stare at her, and realize that she was right. The alcohol wasn't enough to make them say things they might regret, but just enough to make them say the things they'd always regretted not saying.
She sighed and took another sip of her drink, waiting for him to say something.
It was silent for a moment, until he sat forward and asked, "Did you just call me Gilbert?"
Her face broke into a smile, and she started laughing, leaning her forehead on his shoulder as she collapsed into a fit of (slightly tipsy) laughter. Grissom started laughing too, if only because he as happy to see her happy. She put her hand over her mouth, trying to stifle the laughter that rocked her body, pulling away from Grissom's shoulder only to find herself inches from his face.
Her laughter faded, until it was so quiet they could each hear their own heartbeats pounding in their chests. Grissom leaned in first, Sara taking her cue from him. Their lips met, eyes closing as Grissom's hand came to hold the back of Sara's head. Their kisses were awkward at first, clumsy, both of them so disbelieving that it was actually happening.
But they quickly got used to each other, their kisses becoming deeper, longer, more passionate; Sara moving until she was straddling Grissom on the couch, their bodies on fire. She pulled the hem of his shirt out of his pants, slowly working his buttons undone as their kisses continued.
She slid his shirt off, his undershirt following soon after. She felt his hand dipping into the back of her jeans, and knew that there was no hope for either of them putting a stop to this.
Grissom reached under her top to unhook her bra, his hands surprisingly nimble, but before he could get it off completely there was a knock at the door, loud and intrusive. They froze, glancing at each other quizzically – it was three in the morning.
"Just ignore it," Grissom whispered in her ear. She smiled at him and leaned forward to kiss him in agreement, but the knocker struck again, louder.
"Sara? It's Brass, you home?"
Sara's eyes closed in frustration, knowing she had to answer the door. She leaned her forehead against Grissom's, uttering a quiet "shit" before sliding off his lap and heading for the door. She smoothed her hair as Grissom hastily re-buttoned his shirt, trying to look as calm as possible. Sara opened the door, feigning a welcoming smile, "Hey Brass, what's up?"
"Can I come in for a minute?" he asked.
"Of course," Sara answered, stepping aside to allow him in. Brass glanced over and saw Grissom seated on the couch, but did nothing more than nod at him before saying what he came to say. "We've got Nathaniel at the station, we're about to interview him and see what we can get. I was on my way there now, thought you might want to come along and sit in."
"Absolutely," Sara answered, both looking forward to and dreading being in the same room as Nathaniel Wilson again. "I'll drive though, and meet you there."
"Sure," he shrugged, turning to leave.
"Hey Brass?" Sara asked. The detective stopped, turning to face her. "…How's Jamie doing?" she asked hesitantly, as though she were afraid of the answer.
"Oh, didn't I tell you? His mom called the station, wanted to let us know he's going to be released from the hospital tomorrow morning. A few minor injuries, but he's going to be fine. All he needed was some food, and his mom."
Sara felt a weight lift from her heart. She had done Shade right, and it felt damn good. "Has he said anything about what happened?"
"They're waiting for a counselor to be available before they bring that up. Social services is sending someone as soon as they can."
Sara nodded grimly, "Okay. Thanks Brass."
Brass nodded, reaching for the door to make his exit, but not before he gave Grissom a secret, congratulatory wink. Before Grissom had time to react, Brass was gone, his heavy footsteps echoing down the hallway.
Sara didn't even bother closing the door, reaching for her coat and keys. In the back of her mind, she knew she should be an adult and talk to Grissom about what had just happened, but at the moment she couldn't even muster the courage to face him. She hurriedly tried to put her jacket on, praying he wouldn't try to bring anything up just yet. She was aware that he was watching her, and she became so flustered because of it that she got the sleeves of her jacket tangled. She fussed with them, trying to get them apart calmly, and that's when she dropped her keys. At that point she gave up, letting her body become still, dropping her head in submission. She closed her eyes and took at breath, gathering the strength to face Grissom, scrounging the willpower to feign aloofness if he decided to tell her it was all a mistake.
But when she opened her eyes, he was right there in front of her. Her picked up her keys and put them in her hand, then took her jacket and straightened it out, holding it for her to put on, looking at her with an amused expression on his face. She stepped forward and put her arms through the sleeves, letting Grissom turn her to face him so he could zip it up for her. She felt his breath warm on her face, his hands sliding up her arms to rest on her slender shoulders. He leaned in and kissed her gently, resting his forehead on hers. She closed her eyes, lost in everything that was him. "Ready?" he asked softly.
"Yes," she answered.
Nathaniel Wilson had managed to regain some of his composure in the last few hours, and he now sat calmly at a table in the interrogation room. His face was stony, his eyes sharp. When Sara entered the room and sat across from him, he flinched, but said nothing.
"Good evening, Nathaniel," Sara greeted jovially. "Or should I say, morning?" she puzzled, waving a hand indifferently, "Ah I can never keep it straight. That's what working graveyard will do to you."
"What are you doing here, bitch?" he growled.
"Oh, I'm here to watch you get nailed to the wall," Sara answered brightly.
He glowered at her and said nothing. Brass entered the room, sitting next to her, a notepad out and at the ready. Grissom had opted to watch from behind the two-way, Sara could feel his gaze on her, and it gave her strength.
"Nathaniel!" Brass bellowed, "looking better than the last time I saw you. Ready to talk?"
"I have nothing to say to you," he said icily.
"Waiting for an attorney?" Brass inquired.
"I don't need a lawyer to tell you that I'm innocent," Nathaniel sneered.
"You're right, you don't," Brass agreed. "The only problem with that is, you're not."
Nathaniel scoffed, but again kept his mouth shut.
"Mr. Wilson," Sara interjected, deciding to try a different tactic, "we have some pretty powerful evidence against you here. You're not helping yourself by keeping quiet. If you can explain just what happened here, maybe we ask the DA not to go for the death penalty."
"Is that supposed to be some kind of bribe? Confess and maybe you won't die? You're fucking nuts, lady."
Sara glared at him, willing herself to remain calm. "Look, you can deny your relation to Shade Wilson all you want; a simple DNA test will confirm that you're lying."
"Fine," he growled, "she was my kid. So what? That doesn't mean that I killed her."
"Well we have a witness that will probably say otherwise," Brass countered.
"Oh yeah?" Nathaniel sneered, "who would that be? The tooth fairy?"
"No, your other child, Jamie," Sara spat. Nathaniel's face froze. "What, you thought he was dead?" Sara challenged. "Yeah so did we. Turns out we were wrong." Nathaniel shifted uncomfortably. "So like I said, we've got some pretty damning evidence against you. Just admit that you killed the girls, and we'll talk."
"Wait, hang on a second," he breathed, beginning to look like a trapped animal. He knew they had him. "Look maybe something happened with Shade and maybe it didn't, but I definitely didn't hurt anyone else. That other chick was not my idea."
"You mean Marion?" Sara asked, her back stiffening.
"I mean you can't kill two women at the same time," he answered.
"So you had an accomplice," Brass stated.
Behind the glass Grissom chided himself for not figuring that out. Now he realized that with the sheer amount of time it must have taken to create those scenes, one man could never have done it alone.
"Who?" Sara asked, echoing Grissom's last thought.
"Now that, is what's going to keep me from getting the needle," Nathaniel grinned.
Sara slammed her hand against the table, making the man leering at her jump. "Tell me, goddamn you!"
Nathaniel just laughed, putting his hands behind his head smugly. "I want a lawyer,"
"You son of a bitch," Sara snarled. Brass put a hand on her shoulder.
"That's it; we're done until he finds representation. We don't want to lose this guy on a technicality."
He was right and Sara knew it. She stood abruptly, sending her chair skittering backwards, and walked out of the room. Her insides were boiling with rage, her mind reeling. She tried to push the image of Nathaniel Wilson's mocking face from her mind, physically shaking her head as she pushed her way through the front doors of the building.
It was a warm night, the stars twinkling down at Sara as she leaned against the outside wall of the crime lab, the cool brick against her skin calming her nerves.
She closed her eyes and breathed, trying to relax her mind. After a few moments a faint shuffling sound drew her attention, and her mind quickly flashed back to the last few terrifying moments in her bathroom. Sara's eyes snapped open, but instead of anything out of the ordinary, she saw Grissom's face only inches from her own. He leaned on the wall next to her, looking up at the sky. "You okay?" he asked after several moments of silence.
"Yes," she replied quietly. "Just…frustrated. I thought if we got Nathaniel…"
"That it would all be over," Grissom finished for her.
She nodded. "But it's not. There's somebody else out there that needs to pay for what was done to Shade and Marion. I mean we don't even know why the women were killed. And why the necessity for such an elaborate staging of the bodies?"
"What are you going to do if we never find out the answers to all these 'whys'?" Grissom asked, looking at her face. She was frowning up at the sky, the starlight reflected in her eyes.
"I'll bury it. In the back of my mind, with all the other ghosts in my life."
"Living with ghosts, that doesn't sound like much of a life."
"It's not," she said bitterly, "believe me. But it's worked for me up until recently."
He watched her face as he asked, "And now?"
She looked at him resolutely. "Now? Now I'm ready for a change. I'm tired of living half a life. I want to live all the way."
Grissom raised an eyebrow, "Well as Gandhi once said, 'we must be the change we wish to see in the world'. And in your own life, Sara."
She smirked, "Well I believe it was Gil Grissom who once said 'what we are never changes, who we are never stops changing."
He smiled, "Still taking notes on everything I say?"
She poked him in the stomach playfully, "Well some things never change."
They laughed softly in the darkness, Grissom reaching out to touch her face. " Come on, let's go solve this case. We have some ghosts to put to rest."
She sighed, pushing herself off from the wall, gesturing with her arm towards the lab, its glowing screens and sterile smell awaiting them.
"After you," she said gently.
"No." He took her by the hand, and she raised her eyebrows at his protest.