Disclaimer: Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. All others belong to me, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask me first. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

Spoilers: through season 7

A post-ep for "Living Doll" and my entry in the Geekfiction Summer Reading Ficathon. My prompt was William Butler Yeats. Cinco's on vacation, so CSIpal very kindly stepped up to beta this for me, for which I thank her deeply.


Grissom glanced at the door again, and Jim sighed. "Relax, will you? You know she's going to be out for hours yet." He pointed at the little table in his tiny excuse for a dining room. "Sit."

Grissom's mouth twisted, but not in rebellion, and he pulled out a chair and sat heavily. Jim frowned behind his friend's back and opened the fridge, reaching for the dark beer he kept on the bottom shelf. It didn't really go with Szechuan, but there were greater concerns tonight.

He knocked the necks expertly against the counter to pop off the caps, and went to join his old friend. Grissom was staring blankly at the various steaming cartons that Jim had unpacked during Grissom's shower, but Jim didn't think that the man was seeing them at all.

Well, it wasn't like the same image wasn't riding behind Jim's own eyes just then anyway. The sterile reek of hospital still clung to his shirt, a tiny sneering demon of fear.

There was just something utterly wrong about the sight of Sara lying so very, very still. No sharp intelligence glittering in those eyes now; they were closed behind lids so pale as to be blue. No shade of humor or calculation chased its way across her open face; the wide mouth was slack and still, lips dry and chapped.

Jim put down to old-fashioned gallantry the feeling that Sara's condition was somehow worse than seeing Nick in the same position, if not with the same injuries. After all, he regarded them both with much the same vaguely paternal, half-hidden protectiveness that Dayshift's Captain Frogman felt for his own shift's younger CSIs. The geek squads needed looking after.

But he knew, deeper, that it wasn't the same. Perhaps because he saw in her some of his own lonely determination; perhaps because of the man sitting opposite, who had taken the bottle with an automatic mutter of thanks but, Jim could swear, didn't know what he held.

Nick's abduction had driven Grissom to some higher point of strength, some steel-spined leadership that had not only found Nick but truly rescued him, reaching down at the last moment to grip Nick's soul and pull the younger man free.

Sara's abduction had broken him.

It was no secret why; even if Jim hadn't had all the skills of a career of excellent police work behind him, Gil's verbal eureka and his subsequent behavior had made his feelings very clear. With Natalie gone completely into the deep end, they had been forced to rely on grueling, frantic searches to try to find Sara. In the end it had been pure dumb luck--someone flying a small plane over the desert had spotted an overturned car where no car should have been, and radioed in.

Jim sighed, and when that didn't get Grissom's attention, spoke. "Gil."

The CSI blinked and focused. Jim nodded at the cartons. "Eat. You're gonna need it later."

Slowly, like someone exhausted or aching, Grissom set down his beer and began spooning food onto his plate. Jim suspected that Grissom was both; he knew he certainly was. Neither of them had slept in well over a day, and they weren't spring chickens any longer. Age took its toll on muscle and bone.

When Grissom was done, Jim helped himself to rice and beef and vegetables, watching to make sure Gil actually put food in his mouth. It felt a little funny, taking care of him; their friendship was a mostly unspoken thing, a matter of the familiarity of a good working relationship combined with the occasional meeting for drinks and discussion. Jim knew he wasn't much good at reaching out, and Grissom was even worse.

But in his own clumsy way, Grissom had been there for Jim, both when the shooting verdict came down and when Jim had been recovering from his own bullet. No, Gil wasn't the sort of guy you went bowling with every Thursday, but when the hard things went down, he could be counted on.

So Jim figured it was only fair that he look after Grissom now.

They ate in silence, the only sounds the click of chopsticks on porcelain and intermittent munching. Jim wasn't sure whether it was instinct that made Grissom eat, or his own threat to not return Grissom to the hospital if he didn't cooperate, but either way a respectable amount of food was gotten through. Grissom looked a little better when they were done, and Jim certainly felt better himself.

Cleanup took only a few minutes, and wonder of wonders, Grissom actually obeyed when Jim handed him another beer and ordered him to go sit on the couch in the living room. Maybe it was the exhaustion.

The bottle was still full when Jim came back from taking out the garbage, though. Grissom was back to the blank stare thing, and if the situation hadn't been so grave Jim might have snapped at him. As it was, he snagged himself another bottle and sat down in the recliner, trying to think of some way to distract Grissom. At the rate he was going, he'd pass out soon, but a distracted Gil wouldn't be thinking of ways to convince Jim to take him back to the hospital early.

Jim took a sip of his beer and sat back. "What got you?" he asked finally.

Grissom took a moment to come back to focus. "What?" he said after a few seconds, and Jim gave him a sardonic look.

"Sara. What made you fall for her in the first place?"

Gil's return glance was neither patient nor amused, but Jim plowed on deliberately. "I mean, she's enough to drive a guy nuts sometimes, but she's smart, and those legs and that ass, man..." He gestured appreciatively with the bottle, wondering with dry humor how long this would take. Sara would have already cut him dead with one glare.

Grissom grimaced, hunching forward and putting his elbows on his knees. "She's always searching."

Well, he wasn't expecting that, quite. Jim raised his brows encouragingly and had another swallow of beer.

Grissom sighed, and looked down at the coffee table in front of him, holding his bottle between both hands. "She's never content--she's always looking for the next quest, the next answer. She'll never stagnate."

"True," Jim agreed, and meant it. Sara wasn't the type to let moss grow on anything, including her intellect or any cold case within arm's reach. Or, come to think of it, any introverted entomologist she happened to latch onto. Was that part of the attraction, then? With Sara, life would never be dull.

And Gil did admire drive.

"She...I don't know. Maybe it was her sadness too." Grissom's words were the slightest bit slurred with fatigue and stress, and Jim willed him to have more beer. Sleep was the best thing now and the alcohol would help.

Jim didn't think he'd suddenly developed telekinesis, but Grissom did lift the bottle to his lips for a mouthful before setting it back down. "Sadness?" Jim encouraged carefully.

Grissom shrugged. "There was always something in her eyes. Shadows. She...knew."

When he fell silent, Jim opened his mouth to ask what she knew, then shut it again. Somehow, it wasn't any of his business.

"She's so beautiful," Grissom added, half to himself.

Jim regarded his friend, sitting lost and hurting on the comfortable old couch, and spoke without thinking. "She'll be all right, Gil. Sara doesn't give up."

And as he spoke the words, he believed them. Sara had finally gotten what she wanted, strange as her desire might seem to others. She wasn't going to just let that go.

She wasn't going to give up. She had people who loved her, people who needed her, and one introverted entomologist lover waiting for her the way she had waited for him for so long.

Sara Sidle didn't back down and she didn't give up. Jim filled himself with that knowledge, refusing to consider any other possibility. She would recover. There was no other option.

When Jim looked over at the couch again, Grissom was slumped against the armrest, asleep. Jim regarded him with weary patience, and decided not to try to move him; instead, Jim pushed heavily to his feet and retrieved an old afghan to drape over the worn-out man.

Then he went to call the hospital.

She won't give up.