Disclaimer: Shockingly, I do not own CSI

Wreck of the Day

It was amazing, Sara realized, the things she could feel. There she was, pinned under a wrecked mustang, possibly dying, and yet she had not felt so alive in such a long time. She was dry and wet. She was warm and cold. She could smell everything and nothing. Sara wondered if it was because of the chloroform Natalie used to subdue her. At least, she thought Natalie used chloroform. Everything was so fuzzy and her thoughts were so scattered that she couldn't be sure.

She could smell oil from the car and the sharp, coppery tang of blood. Then there was the earth. It was hard and soft at the same time. It was solid and reassuring beneath her, but was soft from the rain. The mud—she thought it was mud at least, since it was too dark to see—was slick against her hand as she reached out. The rain was so cold it burned, every drop stinging her hand.

The bulk of the weight was on her legs. She wasn't paralyzed, she was sure, since she could feel a jolt of pain shoot down her left leg every time she shifted her hips. She was probably going to have a limp for a while.

It was surprisingly easy to breathe. When the mustang was rolled over, the glass had shattered, creating a cavity of sorts. It allowed her room to breathe easily. The glass had also cut her. Even as the freezing rain stabbed the hand that groped blindly for salvation, warm blood trickled down her back.

Sara lay there, the mustang acting as a shield to keep her dry, and her arm left out in the storm, her warm blood mixing with the freezing rain, smelling the earth beneath her and the car above her, but unable to remember what life smelled like. She took a deep breath and relished in that ability. Breathing meant living.

And pain meant reality.

Pain was an old acquaintance of Sara's. It was a part of her everyday life. It always had been. The pain was oddly comforting in its familiarity. It was something she was used to, something she knew how to deal with. The shardof glass stuck in her left arm was nothing to her, she assured herself. She'd had worse.

She strained to reach a little further, hoping to find something she could use to pull herself out of her prison. She grasped only mud with a few blades of grass. The sludge made a squelching noise as she balled her hand into a fist. She paused, then squeezed the mud between her fingers, hearing the noise again. As the rain continued to pound the mustang, Sara's body began to tremble. A weak giggle escaped her lips, quickly morphing to full-blown, slightly hysterical, laughter.

Sara knew she had been such a foolish child, but thought she was terribly clever. Violence had been the rule, not the exception in the Sidle household, and Sara firmly believed the same was true everywhere. She would look smugly out of the living room window, watching the others play in the mud and jumping in puddles, laughing merrily. Sure they were having fun, but she wouldn't be on the receiving end of her father's belt later, like she was sure they would.

Sara clearly recalled the time her father had beaten her so badly for playing with the flour that she'd had to sleep on her stomach for several days after. She'd had no intentions of repeating that mistake. She just wouldn't do anything wrong, like getting dirty, so she wouldn't be punished.

The logic had been beautiful at the time. It was pathetic now. Now she knew that she should have just gone ahead and played in the mud. Her father hit her no matter what she did, but if she had enjoyed herself, at least then she would have had a few pleasant memories to keep her warm at night. Such was the foolishness of her youth.

Hot tears leaked from her eyes, blurring her vision further as her laughter turned into choked sobs. She was losing so much blood…she wouldn't be able to hang on much longer. The rain began to pound even harder on the car, the small stream of water flowing under the car colored with swirls of red from her blood. Whether angels she didn't believe in were mourning for her or hypotheticaldemons were laughing at her, she didn't know.

A surge of water crashed against the car, flooding the mustang for a few, panicked moments. Lifting her head as far as she could, she tried to shake off some of the mud the wave had left on her face, but only succeeded in sending a jolt of pain throughout her body. Her hair was stuck to her face and covered her eyes, preventing her from seeing anything through the muck. She didn't dare lower her face to the puddle where her head had been a few moments before, for fear she wouldn't be able to lift it again.

Distantly she recalled when her father grabbed her by the wrist and yanked her out of the kitchen for being loud. Tall for her age, her neck hit the edge of the table when her head snapped back, sending a wave of pain down her back. Sara had never played with the pots and pans again. She was five at the time.

Sara cried harder, no longer caring that she was causing herself more pain. She didn't care that every sob jarred the pieces of glass, driving them deeper into her skin. She didn't care that her neck hurt so badly she could barely keep her head up, could barely keep herself from drowning in a puddle. She just wanted to stop thinking about her father and about all of the pain she had already endured.

But pain was the one constant she had been able to rely on throughout her life, one shecould never really forget. And oh, but there were so many types of pain. Her medical records were thicker than most of the crime novels she had read, she was sure. She had so many broken bones, and there was no real way of knowing how many times she had sprained an ankle or wrist, or pulled a muscle, because she didn't always go to the hospital. The number of cuts and bruises was simply uncountable. Cuts and bruises didn't bother her anymore, of course. She'd had worse.

Her heart had been broken so many times, so many ways. Her father had broken her heart every time he raised his voice or his hand. He'd done so much damage. She hadn't lied to Catherine when the older woman asked if her father ever told her she was pretty or smart. He told her just how beautiful she was to him as his hands wandered over her body, and told her just how much of a smart ass she was when he backhanded her.

Her mother broke her heart every time she stood by and did nothing. Her brother broke her heart every time he turned his back and walked away. Sara didn't even want to think of her many failed romantic attachments. The pain of loneliness was the most familiar of them all.

Until Grissom.

For as long as she could remember, Sara had been alone. Her father was more monster than man, and her mother was a willing servant while her brother was nothing more than a stranger who walked in and out of her life. The neighbors ignored the yelling from the Sidle residence and teachers pretended not to see the bruises. Even Dr. Andrews, who had treated her since she was an infant, would examine her battered body with rough hands and uncaring eyes.

Then, after her father's murder, she was put in foster care, shuffled from one home to another because she couldn't adjust, and from there fought to enter college. It wasn't long before she had her Master's degree in theoretical physics from Berkley and was attending a seminar taught by the forensic legend, Gil Grissom. Sara sniffled, her tears stopping at the thought of the entomologist.

It was his voice that made him attractive at first. Even now, so many years later, his voice was still his most attractive quality. It could hardly be considered seductive, but every time he spoke to her, she was filled with a sense of warmth. It was soft and smooth, and he never once raised it in anger or annoyance, unlike her father, whose husky, baritone snarls still haunted her nightmares.

Sara smiled as she thought of his quirks. They were so far from normal, so far from her old life, that she adored each one. She thought it was adorable when he shyly asked if they could keep his pet tarantula in the bedroom. Laughing, she had kissed him and agreed on the condition that the terrarium was covered when the they were doing things other than sleeping. Just because it was spider didn't mean she wanted it watching them while they were engaged in something so private.

Secretly, when Grissom was away, Sara would play with the spider, and gossip about the lab. Her father had never let her have a pet as a child, and she had become quite attached to the tarantula. Grissom seemed to know that she had made friends with the arachnid, though, and often smiled his approval.

His need to follow a strict system would have driven many people to the brink of insanity. Every moment of his day was planned in advance—well, as planned as a CSI's life could be. Most would see him as rigid, but she appreciated it. His pattern was delightfully far removed from the chaos of her childhood. Spontaneity was overrated. Every time she had tried to be spontaneous, it would blow up in her face. Like the time she called Hank. That had been a disaster.

Grissom's education was nothing to laugh at, either. Grissom, had a doctorate, and was a respected scientist who quoted Shakespeare and was full interesting information. Her father hadn't completed high school. He'd dropped out at sixteen to get a job after his parents kicked him out for getting her fourteen year old mother pregnant with Sara's older brother. He had been so proud of his son that he set up a college fund that her brother would later spend on drugs. He never set up such a fund for her, citing that she would probably be pregnant and married by the time she was fourteen, just like her mother.

Many would call Grissom socially inept, but then, they could say the same of her. It didn't matter. Yes, he had many quirks, and he was horrible at expressing himself, but he was perfect in his imperfection. Almost like a dream come true for a workaholic such as herself.

Sara could remember their worst argument, three months into their blossoming relationship. She couldn't remember what they were fighting over anymore, but she remembered that he had been leaning against the kitchen table, his face white and his voice low with anger. She had been a few feet away, standing in the doorway that led to the living room, her voice just as low. He took a step forward and raised his hand, pointing an accusing finger in her direction.

And just like that, she was a little girl again.

She'd stumbled back, her arm raised to ward off the blows she knew were coming, and fell over the coffee table. Sobs wracked body as she scrambled to get away, begging him not to hit her. When strong arms wrapped around her, she struggled to get away, but his voice broke through her barriers, soothing her as she cried. He didn't murmur apologies and promises—that would have reminded her of her father, and would have made it worse. Instead, he began telling her about butterflies, until her cries became laughter.

After that, when they argued, he would keep his hands in his pockets and stand on the other side of a piece of furniture. She had never felt safer. Grissom made her feel safe. He was too good to be true, really.

But there were so many secrets she kept from him. Logically, she knew he would not love her any less if he knew she had never defended her mother or herself. She knew he would not look at her in disgust if she told him of the lies she told because she was obeying her father's rules. She knew he would not cast her aside if he learned of her father's wandering hands. She knew he would not laugh at her if she told him that, for the longest time, after they finally formed a romantic relationship, she was sure she was dreaming.

It wasn't a dream, though, and that was why she wasn't going to die. This was nothing. She'd had worse, she told herself again. Of course it would have been so easy to lay her head down in the puddle and finally rest. It would have been just as easy to stop trying to claw her way out from under the mustang and pull her arm out of the rain. But she wouldn't, because that would be quitting. Sara pictured everyone from the nightshift, using their memory to give herself strength. She had to keep breathing, keep living.

Can you hear us Sara?

Dear God, she was hearing voices. No one ever rescued her; she had always had to rescue herself, so she knew she had to be hearing things. The lines of reality were blurring, and she wasn't sure what was real anymore. Sara clawed more desperately at the ground and struggled to hold on to her dream, to hold on to the faces of her friends. There were so many things she wanted to say before she woke up.

Just hang in there.

She wanted to tell Nick she understood now why he hadn't given up on Cassie McBride, and that she was proud of his perseverance.

Can you move your legs?

She wanted to tell Warrick that he was a good man, that his cool logic and unwavering loyalty made him that much better.

She wanted to tell Catherine that she was a strong, independant woman who did what she had to do.

There's a crew coming to help you.

She wanted to tell Greg that she adored his love of life, and that he should try to hang on to that exuberance.

You're safe now.

She wanted to tell Brass he was the closest thing to a real father she'd ever had, and ask him if he would walk her down the aisle if she ever got married.

Hold on, Honey.

She needed to tell Grissom that, if he was a dream, she never wanted to wake up, and if he was real, she never wanted to sleep.

The world shifted. The weight on her legs was gone, but the movement had driven the glass further into her back and arm while the rain began to pound steadily on her battered body. Sara whimpered softly, afraid someone would hear and think she was weak. Strong arms were lifting her up, but she still couldn't see through the muck.

Sara opened her mouth and tried to tell whoever it was that she was fine, really, it was just a few scratches, and she'd had worse. She tried to move her legs to prove she could stand, but the pain was too much. She cried out before gritting her teeth, cutting off her scream.

"It's alright Sara," a familiar voice said. Gentle hands caressed her mud-covered face. "I've got you now, Honey. I'll take care of everything."

Even with her eyes still closed and her mind still fuzzy from being drugged and dulled from the pain, Sara knew who held her close. Grissom. Such a shame he wasn't real. A soft, soggy cloth brushed against her face, and she felt her skin breath again as the sludge was washed away. Finally free from the muck, Sara opened her eyes.

Clear blue eyes stared at her in concern, and she knew she was dreaming. She had to be. No one had ever been concerned about Sara Sidle. No one ever rescued Sara Sidle, either. Grissom, Nick, Greg, Warrick, Catherine, Brass… they weren't there. They were dreams. Her mind was playing tricks on her.

She was leaning against Grissom's body, her head resting on his shoulder. She wasn't sure how she got there. She knew she'd been moved, but she couldn't remember being pulled against him. His shirt was wet from the rain, she noticed, and she wondered why he was outside, sitting in the mud. She was so dizzy. Sara closed her eyes, just for a moment, just to rest before she had to go home and face her father.

She's lost too much blood, and a fever has set in. I think she's delirious. Get a stretcher over here, quick! We're losing her!

"Sara," he said, tenderly caressing her cheek. "Sara, look at me. Look at me, Sara, I'm here now."

Her eyes fluttered open. It was still raining, but the sun was rising over his shoulder. Grissom looked bedraggled. He was wearing a rumpled shirt, and he had a little stubble on his face. His hair was a mess, and he looked like he hadn't slept in days.

There were other faces around him, and it took a moment to put a name to each face. Nick Stokes was arguing with an EMT, trying to get closer. Greg Sanders was struggling against Jim Brass to do the same. Catherine Willows was leaning on Warrick Brown, who held her close as tears streamed down her face. There were sirens wailing, coming closer.

Sara looked back at the blue eyes hovering above her. "Dream?" She asked, her voice hoarse.

"No," he said, his own voice breaking a little. "It's not a dream, Dear." He smiled and vainly tried to wipe the rain water from her face. "I'm real." Sara nodded and hissed in pain. Grissom inhaled sharply, his eyes asking if she was alright. She smiled weakly in return. "You'll be alright," his said, his voice painfully quiet in the rain.

"I know." She swallowed thickly, her mouth strangely dry. "Tired," Sara murmured, closing her eyes.

Then she was being pulled away. She made a faint noise of protest, reaching for Grissom. He grasped her muddy hand and held tightly as she was hoisted onto a stretcher and taken to an ambulance. Thankfully, Natalie had chosen a level area to imprison her. The ambulance had been able to drive fairly close.

Sara smiled a little as she was moved, the clouds rushing by overhead. She was going to be fine. Really. She'd had worse. Being pinned under a car? It was nothing. Just the wreck of the day.

AN: Well, there it is, my first CSI fan fic. Thank you all for reading. Oh, I want you to know I have an open door policy, of sorts. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. Thank you again for reading, and please review!