DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!

RATING: T – For Teen (for mature subject matter)


SPOILERS: Sort of a Post Ep for TGTB&TD, but really a sequel to Silence, NV

SUMMARY: Grissom is trying desperately to sort through the problems of his relationship with Sara, and quickly learns that Silence isn't their only problem. Sequel to Silence, NV

A/N: And here is the final part to this little mini epic. Many thanks and cuddly evilness is sent out to my betas who have certainly earned their stripes on this one. I need to remember not to do much writing at 2AM, while working out a new contract job, talking to nite-owl friends, and wondering why I can't get to sleep. :P I sincerely hope that this story holds up to the expectations of my spectacular readers. Without you, this story would never have been written at all.

REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.

Mockingbird Spring, NV

He most certainly felt like someone was mocking him, as he stared at the location on Greg's last case report. Grissom was lying flat on his back, trying to at least get some reports reviewed after Catherine kicked him out of the lab.

About halfway through the last shift of the week, his back began to spasm. He felt it coming all week; the twinges, the shooting pain when he would lean forward or tried to bend over, and the general stiffness in everything he did. As he laid on the very same sofa of his demise, he felt every single day of his nearly fifty-one years. And he knew, without a doubt, that he was far too old to be couch surfing anymore.

Carefully reaching over to the coffee table, he dropped the report and fumbled for the little bottle of pills. He hated taking medication of any kind, and often waited too long to take even his migraine pills, but when his back hurt this bad, his only salvation came in the form of those tiny yellow miracles the pharmaceutical company dubbed Flexeril.

The widely prescribed muscle relaxant had long been a friend of his. His back suffered nearly as much as his knees with his profession, and while his back bore the torture with greater stamina than his knees, when it decided it was done, there was no reasoning with it. Two days flat on his back, nursing his wounded pride with his little yellow friends was the only remedy.

As he placed his latest saviour on his tongue, Brass came out of the bathroom and called to him. "Hey, are you sure you're gonna be all right on that damned couch?"

"I just need to lay flat on a firm surface for the next couple of days… With these," he shook the bottle before returning it to the table, "I'll be just fine. Besides, why else do you think I've kept that ugly yellow monstrosity at my place?"

"I've wondered… But I just figured you a glutton for punishment." He chuckled at his old friend's jibe and waited for the magical pill to do its job as the spasms became more insistent. "Look, Gil… All evidence to the contrary, I really don't mind you staying here, but don't you think this has gone on long enough?"

"I'm not the one calling the shots, Jim." Gil closed his eyes with his quiet confession, and missed the look of pity on his current housemate's face.

He heard the front door open just before Jim called back, "If you need anything…call Nick. I'm too old to haul your sorry carcass up off the couch." He waved the man off as he chuckled at the joke.

With one final deep sigh, the effects of the wonder drug began to have their way with him. The spasms began to subside, and sleep soon took over Grissom's weary mind.


"Hey, Sara," Mandy called from her lab to the passing woman in the hall. Sara poked her head in, wearing a tired grin. "I know I said we'd workout this morning, but…" She hated to ruin the tenuous smile on her friend's face, but the fact was that she was just plain exhausted. When she agreed to watch her sister's kids at the park, she really had no idea what she was getting herself into.

"Thank god! I was really dreading the whole thing," Sara confessed, and they both laughed at their combined slacker intentions. "This week has just been an absolute hell on earth. I just want to crash and not move a muscle for the next two days."

"I am so glad you said that." Mandy pulled on her jacket and smiled brightly with her obvious relief.

"Hey, I need to drop this paperwork in Grissom's office and take care of a couple things…" Sara gave her that playful look that said more than words could as she tilted her head towards their supervisor's office. "You want to just meet at the coffee shop by your place, and I'll get the boy from you?"

"Sounds great! I'll see you there." With the weight of the world lifted from her shoulders, Mandy was truly ready to start her weekend. For the first time in almost two months, neither of them had to work or be on-call, and the last thing she wanted was to waste any of her energy climbing on an imaginary set of stairs. She had much better plans for burning calories this weekend.


Sara breezed through the hallway on her way to Grissom's office. Ecklie had called in some extra help to cover the weekend duty, so the whole shift had been given a reprieve. However, Sara held no illusions about him doing it out of the goodness of his own heart. She knew full well that nearly everyone on graves was about to max out on overtime for the month, and he could not afford to have to explain that one to the sheriff.

When Grissom made the announcement before the shift, Catherine had not been able to help adding her own two cents to the issue. She commented about how that must have been why they now had three CSI positions being advertised on the professional bulletin boards. "Funny how the budget suddenly has the room when it threatens his service ratings," she said. Catherine was always good for a snide remark at just the right time.

The only thing Sara cared about was the fact that she was going to have fourty-eight hours of uninterrupted time to spend actually trying to fix her relationship with Grissom. Outside of handing out assignments, and the occasional passing in the halls, she had barely even seen him in more than a week. Their only real contact had been the strings of voicemails and trails of post it notes left in the wakes of their overly busy lives.

That was one of the best parts about living together; at least that way they got to spend some time together. Most of the time it was only those little moments here and there; watching a movie in the bedroom, reading reports and journals in the living room, casual contact in the kitchen as they prepared a meal together, or just having that wide warm chest to sink into when the evils of the job robbed her of precious sleep.

She missed sleeping. In the weeks since their separation, Sara had not really been sleeping all that much. Most of the time she had fallen back into her old habit of passing out from utter exhaustion. She would lie in bed for an hour, staring at the ceiling, turning over to find the empty space in the bed, and beating at the pillows to try and get comfortable. It had gotten so bad that even Bruno stopped trying to share the bed with her.

During one of her mad stomps through the house looking for something to occupy her mind until she passed out, she found Bruno curled up underneath Gil's desk, whimpering. It was too much for her, and she had one of the many breakdowns experienced during those long weeks since they separated; crying and rocking the confused and scared puppy until they both collapsed into a heap on the floor.

Sara was done with all of the garbage. She planned to finally have it all laid out on the table this weekend, and they were going to figure this thing out, once and for all. However, she knew that Gil had been feeling every bit of the separation as well, especially with that damned cold of his.

She was all set to go shopping after she met with Mandy, and was planning to make a big pot of soup for their dinner that night. She was even willing to go so far as making chicken soup for him (with vegetable stock, of course, and adding the chicken and extra stock for him after the fact, but still).

The fact that he even went to the doctor for his cold told her a lot about how bad it really was, and she had been worrying all week about the effects of the congestion and infection on his hearing. Sara remembered how much her own ears hurt the last time she had a sinus infection, and she could hardly bear the thought of Grissom suffering like that, too.

When she reached the entry to his office, she took a deep breath and tried to put on her best smile. She wanted to do whatever it took to make this thing work between them, and it was time to get down to business.

The smile immediately faded from her features when she turned the corner and found Brass rummaging through Gil's desk with a painful scowl on his face. He looked up as she stepped into the office and the frustration in his expression gave wings to her worry.

"What're you doing here?" Her voice sounded so small in her own ears, and carried the weight of the world in it.

Jim set his jaw squarely, and prepared to do something that he was obviously not happy about. "What you should be doing."

Confused, she looked around the office and found no trace of the man who occupied it night and day. "Where's Grissom?"

She could see the surprise, followed instantly by the barest hint of embarrassment coloring his cheek. "You don't know?"

"Know what?! Jim, what's hap-" She was ramping up into a full on hysterical fit when Jim closed the distance between them and held up his hand to silence her.

She was already shaking when he left her side to close the door and afford them a small amount of privacy. "Everything's fine… Mostly."

That was not the answer she needed to hear. "Jim, where's Gil?"

Jim took her hand in his, and placed the other on her shoulder. "He's back at my place. Nothing happened, he's just having a rough time with his back." Her whole body unclenched with his explanation.

"Don't do that!" She slapped his hands away and fell back into the couch with a sigh of relief. "You had me about to crawl out of my skin!"

Brass watched the relief flood into her features, and it made what he was about to do exceptionally hard. He had long stood by, silently watching the two of them floundering under the weight of their pasts, and their half-assed attempts at being regular people under the ridiculous delusion that it would make their relationship easier. Someone needed to beat some sense into their thick skulls, and with those little pills of his, Gil was in no shape to even understand what a beating was. Besides, the poor bastard feels bad enough already.

"Is that what you need to stop this crap?" His words came out even harsher than he thought they would, but the expression on her face told him that he hit is mark dead on.


"Do you need him to suffer for a while longer, or are you waiting for him to completely fall apart before you're willing to really do something about this whole mess? I just want to know," Brass launched into the all out conniption fit he had been suppressing for weeks. "Because, after all, it is my couch that's tearing his back to shreds, and it's my bourbon he's using to get any sleep at all, and it's all of our friendships that are being tested to the limits, because neither of you is willing to pull your head out of your ass long enough to see that you're losing the only other person in this screwed up world who could put up with your bullshit and still come out smiling like a goofy teenager."

The shock was still firmly on her face when he finished off his rant with the last bit of advice he had to offer. "I mean, it's not like it took you very long to get it sorted out the first time, and you've both got plenty of time to go another ten, twenty years running in circles around each other, mocking fate and trying to pretend you don't belong together thanks to some stupid shit in your pasts that has made the both of you emotional pre-schoolers."

His chest was heaving a little with the exertion of releasing all of that pent up rage, but the tear that trickled down the side of her face, and the unshed ones making her eyes glassy and infinitely sad tugged at his heart. It all made the last words even more painful, but he had to say them if he was going to live with himself any longer. "Whatever it is, Sara, it's not going to get any better without him, because I know damn good and well he'll never be any better without you." He took a tissue from the box and handed it to her. "You need each other, kid, and there's just no gettin' around that fact. So just accept it, and move the hell on."


His eyes refused to open, but he was slowly coming up out of the fog of muscle relaxants, decongestants and pain relievers. It was a strange, somewhat dissociative experience, and it was wreaking havoc on his ability to connect with his conscious mind. Somewhere in the depths of his chemically altered mind, he knew that there was something he needed to do, but was having trouble remembering much beyond the slow, and greatly diminished twitches that were emanating from his lower back.

At a painfully slow rate of speed, he began to recognize that his body felt entirely too warm. He wondered if the slight sense of delirium was being caused by a fever that had been added to the mix, but then he realized that the warmth seemed to be centered on his back. And that was the truly bizarre part of the equation, because when he exhaled a slow, deep breath he felt the air passing over something soft and finally realized that he was lying on his stomach. Added to that was the fact that the surface upon which he laid was not a hideous plaid, nor was it firm to the point of being nearly rock hard.

As his body drew air into his lungs through his nostrils he was instantly assailed with the aroma of lavender and wintergreen permeating the air around him. The whole thing was entirely confusing, but he simply did not possess the ability to process the mysterious information filtering into his disoriented brain. The more he tried to decipher the meaning of the things assaulting his senses, the more he succumbed to their affects, and soon he was drifting back down into the realms of unconsciousness.


Gradually, he began to feel his mind rising from the depths of slumber, gently bringing him back to the surface of consciousness. His body seemed to have ended its attempts to finish him off, and he woke to a calm that had been missing from his life for far too long. He pulled in a deep, cleansing breath and for the first time in weeks, most of it made the trip through his nostrils. He had almost forgotten what it felt like to actually breathe, unencumbered by congestion and swelling. With the exhale of air, a peaceful sigh floated out from his relaxed lips.

He was on his back, but he was completely enveloped in soft linens, surrounded by plump pillows and he could detect the scent of eucalyptus wafting through the air. He inhaled again, his eyes still closed, as he tried to smoothly rouse his mind and body from the last vestiges of his drug induced sleep. This time, he caught the distinct aroma of a rich black tea from off in the distance. It was at that point he almost believed he was dreaming.

Reaching up to clear the sleep from his eyes, Grissom suddenly realized that a warm cloth was covering them. When he removed it, the scent of eucalyptus became more obvious, and he wondered how it got there. He never imagined that Brass was that much of a caregiver, and certainly not after the nightmare his term on the couch had been so far.

Once the washcloth was removed from his eyes, the lids fluttered in preparation for the harsh light of the living room at Brass' house. Instead, he found the subtle lighting of a darkened room that seemed bizarrely familiar to him. The walls were a soft, pale blue, and the lights were dimmed, giving the whole room a hushed, comfortingly warm glow. And when he looked down at his chest, he found that he was covered in an oversized paisley comforter as he rested on the left side of a huge bed.

For a split second, he thought he might have died and gone to heaven. He would have been quite happy with that conclusion, but the reality was about to send him completely over the edge.

To his left, he faintly heard a door open, and he slowly turned his head to the side to find the source of the sound. When he did, it would have been all but impossible to remove the smile that worked its way onto his face.

He watched as a robed figure slipped in through the doorway, with her back to him. His sparkling eyes following every movement, he observed as she ever so quietly tried to make her way through the bedroom carrying a tray topped precariously with china cups and a pot of tea. He could smell the richly brewed Golden Tipped Assam tea as the steam escaped the pot, but there was also a hint of citrus blended into the aromas now floating through the room with the beautiful creature carrying them to the opposite side of the bed.

When she turned to set the tray upon a little table next to the bed, the dimmed lights caught her silken robe and made it shine with her movements. He almost believed that the delirium really had taken his mind as her entire form radiated perfection to him, but then she turned to the bed and the smile that rose on her face told him, without a doubt, that no dream of fever induced delusion could reproduce the sheer brilliance and beauty of that smile.

"There you are."

Her words sounded like a symphony to his ears, and they kicked off a bubble of warmth that was building in his chest. He was still unsure if he could believe his eyes, and so he answered her with great trepidation, "Here I am… I think. If here is where I think it is."

She nearly giggled at his confusion, and he knew that if this truly was heaven, he no longer feared death in any way. "Yes, it's where you think it is." Sara turned her attention back to the tray and continued, "I guess those pills really are pretty strong, huh?"

Since waking, he had not felt a single twinge in his back, and with the relief of the pressure from his sinuses, he assumed he could take on the world, so rising from the bed should not have been out of the question. However, when he placed his palms flat on the bed and got ready to push himself up, Sara whipped around and cried out. "Don't you dare!"

"I was just go-"

"I know exactly what you were going to do," He suddenly felt like he was five years old, and he was being scolded for some evil deed like avoiding a bath.

The whole experience was surreal, and as they enjoyed a simple breakfast of tea and cranberry citrus muffins, he was further convinced that his reality had slipped away. He made a mental note to speak with the doctor about the possibility of hallucinations when mixing the medications he was currently taking, but for the moment he would simply enjoy the delusion for the fantasy it truly was and bask in the glow of a pharmaceutical haze. Later, when he woke to the incessant pain of his back and the pounding headache he now associated with his sinus infection, he would at least have the memory of his most perfect dream.

He closed his eyes for a moment, hoping to commit every second of his time with her to his indelible memory banks, but he felt Sara's weight leave the bed and he instantly opened them again. "Where are you going?"

She sat back down and put her hand over his, squeezing it gently. "You need to rest." Her smile beamed down at him, and he was comforted by it.

In that moment, he was sure the delusion was coming to an end, and he was desperate to do anything to keep it going. He had not realized just how much he missed his life with Sara until it played out in idyllic splendor around him. After spending so many years alone, he thought he would be able to deal with the separation, believing and hoping it was only a temporary condition. But it had been dragging on for weeks, with no end in sight, and his will had been tested to its very limits.

That part of him which hid in the shadows of his heart, frightened of feeling the pain of loss again, emerged from a dark corner and whispered its fears to him. "You aren't going to leave me alone, are you?" His voice made him feel like that terrified little boy again when the words left his lips, but it was not his voice. It was the voice of his heart.

Sara scooted closer to his side and ran her hand up along his arm until she brought it over his shoulder and then laid it over his cheek, pausing to feel the skin there before placing the back of her hand over his forehead. "Are you okay?" She held her hand there for another moment before she brushed the hair away from his forehead and gave him a gentle smile. "You don't feel warm… What's wrong?"

His breathing quickened, and the fear gripped him tightly. "You were leaving… I don't want you to leave. Please? I'm not ready, yet." He could feel Sara's fingers stroking his face and he leaned into her touch. "I don't want the dream to end…not yet. I need just a little more time before I go back."

"What are you talking about?" She opened his eyes and looked deep into them, as though she was trying to see his soul. "Your eyes aren't dilated, your pulse isn't racing, your temperature seems okay…" Sara continued to check him over as she spoke and he became even more confused.

Why was his hallucination checking his pulse?

"I don't think it's those stupid pills, but I better call Doc anyway. Just lay still, okay?" She tried to pull away from him, but he reached out for her arm to keep her there. "Gil, I'm just gonna make a call. I'm not going anywhere." She put one hand on his chest and he clutched it to him, hoping it would keep the dream in tact a little while longer. She leaned up and placed her warm, tender lips on his forehead. "I promise… I'll only be a minute."

And just like that, she was gone from his sight. Gil attempted to follow her path, but his back stiffened when he tried to rise up from the bed. He feared that the pain would wake him from the hallucination, so he was forced to wait for her return.

In his mind, he began to count off the seconds, trying to keep his focus on the dream, but his eyes grew heavy. With each second he counted, his eyes closed. Soon, he began to lose track of the seconds, and the time his lids remained closed grew longer. Finally, he succumbed to the unconsciousness again, leaving him to sleep peacefully, as a tear fell down the side of his face to stain his pillow.


Gingerly closing the bedroom door behind her, Sara motioned for Doc Robbins to keep walking down the hall. Once they made it into the living room she looked to their trusted friend to explain the situation.

Shaking his head, Doc did not seem to have the answers she was looking for, "I don't know what to tell you, Sara… It's not the pills. He's only had two since Jim got the prescription filled at four this morning. That's only ten milligrams in…" He looked at his watch and counted back the hours, "In fifteen hours. For a man of his size, that's just not enough to cause any of the overdose symptoms you're worrying about. His heart rate, BP and temperature are all normal, his eyes aren't dilated, and he doesn't appear to be dehydrated. He's not taking anything that's contraindicative to the Flexeril, and he's taken the stuff many times before, so I know it's not an allergic reaction."

Sara wrapped her arms around herself and took on a defensive posture. "Then explain his behavior?"

Doc shrugged, "The man's been sick for weeks, he's in a lot of pain, and he's been living on Brass' couch, subsisting on pizza, bourbon and Jim's dry wit for several weeks. I'd be a complete wreck, too!" He took a step forward and placed a hand on her shoulder. "He needs rest, fluids, his meds and some understanding." She hung her head with his words.

He turned to make his way to the front door when he twisted back around, leaning heavily on his crutch to say, "Just take care of him, Sara… The rest'll work itself out. Believe me…I know."

A shy smile cracked her worried face and she nodded her head. "Thanks, Doc. And I appreciate the house call…on both accounts."

She followed him to the door and thanked the man again. When Sara turned to walk toward the kitchen, the land line began to ring. Worried the sound would wake Gil from his much needed sleep, she practically dove for the phone. She managed to lift it from the base just as the third ring was about to sound.


"It's just me… Nuthin' to get so excited about, Sar."

She laughed at the Texan's answer. "Sorry, Nick… I was trying to keep the phone from waking him up."

"Ah, so the coma patient is still unresponsive?"

"Not exactly." Sara looked back toward the bedroom with a worried expression on her face. "He was awake for a little bit earlier… Well, at least I think he was awake."

"Got a little 'Valley of the Dolls' action goin' on?"

When she answered the phone, she was still keyed up, but after only a few words from Nick, her anxiety was already on the way out. "Something like that."

"Well, ya know… Doc's the one who slipped him the script. So, why don't you give him a call and as-"

She stopped him before he could finish, "Doc just left actually… I was afraid you might've dropped him on his head or something."

Nick's laughter did wonders to help her relax a little more. "Only in the name of friendship. Someone had to knock some sense into the bug man… Especially after Brass put you through the wringer, it was all I had left."

"So, this was some twisted form of tag teaming?"

"Yeah, right! The World Forensics Wrestling Federation." They both collapsed into comfortable laughter, as Sara tried to keep the noise down on her end of things.

"You know what, I'm glad you called… I really wanted to thank you for helping me get him home."

"Don't sweat it, Sara. Seriously…I was happy to help. I just never imagined carrying my boss to bed would be in the job description of being your friend." She practically snorted to keep the laughter in check. "Though, I gotta admit… It was worth it to see Grissom all drugged up and droolin'. Makes the man a little more human, ya know."

"You're asking for it, buddy." Sara's brow raised from habit, even though she knew he could not see it.

"Yeah, I know, I know. The mama bear's got him back in the nest, so no more picking on the big man." He paused for a moment before he finally added, "All kidding aside, Sara… I really do hope everything works out with you two. You deserve to be happy, and when you strip away all the other stuff, the man makes you smile. Ya just gotta figure out how to get past that other stuff, ya know?"

"Thanks, Nicky… I appreciate it. And tell Mandy thanks for letting you take my Monday shift."

"Let nothin'! I can make my own-" She could hear another voice in the background. "Uh, I have to go do my homework now, so I can't play anymore." Sara recognized the sound of a well-landed hand onto the muscular Texan's arm. "Have a good one, Sar. I'll see you Tuesday."

"You too, Nick… Bye." As she softly dropped the phone back onto the base, she turned the volume down on the ringer and chuckled. She was lucky to have such great friends.

Sara was about to head back to the kitchen when she heard something in the bedroom. As soon as she recognized the cry of pain, Sara halted her course and took off at a dead run down the hall.

Throwing open the door, she was shocked to find Gil half on the bed, the comforter tossed onto the floor, and his body covered in a fine sheen of sweat.

After Nick and Jim had gotten him into the bed and left, Sara stripped his clothes off and set him up in the bedroom with an oil treatment for his back. When she finally managed to work the knots out of his lower back, she slipped a thick sheet of metal between the mattress and box-spring on his side of the bed to firm it up, and then rolled him over to lie flat on this back. Knowing how easily he would roll to his side in his sleep, she planted pillows all around him after she covered him up in the sheets.

Watching him fight against the pressure in his sinuses as he fitfully slept, Sara decided to put together an oil rub for his chest, too. When she was done, the whole room was filled with the scents of lavender, rosemary, wintergreen and eucalyptus. And she was completely covered in the stuff.

Needing to clean up, Sara figured she had just enough time to jump in the shower before he would come around from the medication cocktail Doc Robbins had cooked up for him.

When Gil failed to do more than behave like a mindless zombie as they transported him from Jim's place to the townhouse, she called Doc to ask him what in the world he had given Gil for his back. She was furious with the man when she learned the real reason for his state of mind (or lack thereof).

Knowing that Gil would try to keep going, Doc gave him a mild mix of Vicodin and Flexeril to completely incapacitate the stubborn man. She knew that Doc Robbins meant well, and that he knew his friend better than most, but she was still very upset by his deception. He took away the one thing Gil valued above everything else; his mind.

Finding him trying to get out of the bed in his condition, covered in sweat, as she entered the bedroom, Sara was almost convinced that he really was having a reaction to the medication. But as she tried to calm herself and think rationally, she knew that it had been nearly eight hours since the last pill was taken. Logic told her to look for another answer.

She instantly moved to the side of the bed where he appeared to have attempted to get out. With an arm shakily holding the nightstand and a leg thrown over the end of the mattress, his foot on the floor, he was in utter agony, and Sara suddenly understood that he was in unbearable pain from the maneuver.

"Gil!" Sara rushed to him and tried to keep him from moving any further.

At the sound of her voice, his eyes flew around the room until they found her terrified face. He managed to strangle out a single word through his clenched teeth, "Sara?"

"You shouldn't have done that." She tried to support some of his weight in her hands, but it was too much for her. She positioned herself under the pit of his arm and moved to hold the weight of his upper body with her shoulders. "Can you hold onto me so I can get you back into bed?"

Words failed him, so he let go of the nightstand and clutched her shoulders with his right arm. The pain was more than he could ever imagine, but he paid it no attention, because he was holding himself up with Sara's body. Unless his hallucinations decided to take him through a confusing and cruel nightmare, he could not imagine feeling such pain when he slept, while still having Sara to anchor onto.

Sara managed to maneuver his upper body back into the bed with a final heave. She had never been so grateful than she was in that moment for the fact that Nick started shaming her into weight training once a week when they met at the gym to workout. Without those sessions with him, she never would have been able to lift Gil back into the bed. It was just one more thing for her to be thankful about in her friendship with Nick.

As she rolled him back into place on the bed, she felt something damp on her sleeve. At first she thought it was merely because of Gil's sweating, but what she found surprised her nearly speechless. The dampness on her sleeve and on the hand she brought up to his cheek came from his tears.


She shook her head, not understanding where the tears had come from. "What is it, baby? Are you in pain?" She turned to seek out the regular Flexeril prescription she left on the bathroom counter, but he wrapped his hand solidly around her arm and kept her from moving. "I'm just gonna get you something for the pain."

"Don't go." The terror in his voice was shocking.

The only thing Sara could think to do, in an effort to calm him down was to stroke his cheek with her free hand. "Baby, I just need to get your pills from the bathroom. I'll be right back, okay?"

"I…" He collapsed into the bed when the spasm took over his senses, and distorted his features.

Sara wasted no time in getting the pills from the bathroom. She quickly took the cap off the bottle and tapped one of the pills into her palm. Rushing to the bed, she reached back behind his head with her one hand to hold him up. Sara placed the pill on his tongue and grabbed for the water bottle on the nightstand. Carefully tipping it up to his lips, she got him to take a drink and swallow the pill.

Taking the washcloth from the basin beside the bed, she wrung it out and then wiped it over his brow, around his face, and worked to clean the sweat and cool him down as they waited for the spasms to subside. As she tried to soothe him with the cool washcloth, Sara wracked her brains to think of something else to do to help him and aide the process of relaxing the spasming muscles in his back.

She suddenly remembered the heat packs sitting in the kitchen. Sara was about to run to the kitchen for the packs when Gil grabbed her arm, and kept her from moving again. "It's okay… I'm just going to get something from the kitchen."

"Don't leave me." The desperation in his voice frightened her. She was about to explain to him what she was doing, but he stopped her cold with his next words. "Please, don't leave me, Sara… I don't care about being awake. I don't want the dream to end. I just can't live without you anymore."

That was when Sara's whole world began to melt around her; he was not delirious, he was just confused by the drugs and the pain. The pain was not solely coming from the spasms in his back, but from the pain of their separation. That was what was cutting through him with far more damage than any common injury.

She took his hand from her arm and brought it to her face. "Gil? I need you to look at me." He squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw, as though he was afraid that looking into her eyes would end it all. "Gil! Look at me, baby."

With his hand held to her face, he felt a prickle of hope growing in his chest, but her insistent words pulled his attention away from the agonizing pain in his body. When he felt the moisture touch his fingertips, his eyes shot open as he realized a dream would not wet his fingers with Sara's hot tears.

"Gil! Look at me!" He was nothing more than a vessel for her will at that point, and his eyes moved to hers, where he found the most glorious sight.

"Gil… I am right here, and you are home. We're not going anywhere, baby. Do you understand me?" He could only nod his head, blinking away the tears from his eyes as he drank in the caring and concern pouring out of her eyes.

"Good… Now listen up, okay?" He nodded again, knowing that he would do anything she asked at that point.

"Whatever happens, we're gonna have to do it together… Got it?" He nodded once more, content that she was there, and he did not have to die to know her presence again.

Eventually, she was able to get him to calm down enough that she could actually attend to him. She made sure that he had taken all the right medications. She got him to drink a mug full of broth. And when the spasms subsided, she worked the rest of the knots out of his back with the same oil treatment.

After cleaning up again, Sara found him resting peacefully upon their bed.

She was completely exhausted, and when she looked at the clock to see that it was nearly ten at night, she understood why. Sitting down upon the opposite end of the bed, her hands planted in the mattress on either side of her hips, Sara slumped her shoulders as the full effects of the day, the week, and the whole sordid ordeal had finally taken their toll. Her head fell in front of her, and she released a deep, frustrated sigh.

She was about to push herself off of the bed when a thick, warm hand touched the small of her back. "Everything's okay, Gil… Go back to sleep."

Sara turned back to look at him when there was no response, making certain that he was okay, and instead she found a concerned look on his face. "What about you?"

She shied away from his attention and tried to play it off. "I'm just getting ready for my second win-"

"Sara…" The tone of his voice was unmistakable. "You need to sleep. We can't both get sick."

Nodding, she knew that he was right. She just needed to throw on some clothes and set up the couch for the night. "And don't even think about that couch… You might be younger than me, but that thing makes Jim's couch feel like a warm hug."

Laughing, Sara felt something that had been missing from her world for weeks. It was more than just Gil; it was their connection, the subtleties of their bizarre relationship, their twisted senses of humor. She looked back again and asked, "Do you have any suggestions?"

Dragging his hand across the empty portion of the bed, he smirked, "Well, seeing as I have been effectively corralled over here…you'd be missing out on a once in a lifetime chance to sleep in the bed without being pushed out by a restless bed hog."

His words gave life to a warmth that spread out from her belly and filled her completely. For the first time in weeks, Sara felt like she was making the right choices. It was also the moment she realized just how right Brass had been. They needed each other, and there was just no way around it.

She got up from the bed and crossed to the dresser. Pulling out one of his myriad of random college t-shirts, she slipped it over her head and let it fall onto her body. Tossing the towel into the hamper, she turned back to the bed.

As she crawled up to lay beside him on the bed, Gil held out his arm for her head. Curling into the pillows at his side, Sara felt his hand begin to stroke the section of her back where it rested, and she pulled the comforter over the both of them.

She was just getting settled in when Gil cleared his throat, and she knew there was something he wanted to say. "Something on your mind?"

"I know we haven't magically fixed anything…but can I ask what changed your mind about staying apart?" She could feel him tensing as he waited for her answer.

She pushed up and laid a gentle kiss on his cheek before she snuggled back into the covers and said, "Well, is that before or after Brass handed me my ass this morning?"

"He didn't?!" Gil was shocked by her confession.

"Don't worry, he didn't tell me anything I didn't already know… I guess I just needed it delivered with a black jack before it got through my thick skull." Her quiet laughter told him that she really was okay with the incident.

She brought her left hand up through the covers and laid it in the center of his chest. "It was good though, because it made me understand something about you and me."

Gil placed his hand over hers on his chest and asked, "And what's that?"

"That we have to figure this relationship out together…" She smiled with her final thought, "We're just not smart enough to do any of it on our own."

The laughter that erupted from his body was enough to shake the entire bed. It also managed to tighten the muscles in his back just enough to cause a small spasm.

Sara bolted straight up out of the bed and asked, "What do you need?"

Reaching out, he guided her back into the bed as he shook his head. "Nothing at all…" He rolled her into his side with his left arm and he explained, "As long as you stay right here, I have everything I need."

A/N2: For the record… This time all of the "locations" were real places in Nevada. Proving once again that I am ridiculously anal-retentive when it comes to the silliest things in my stories.