Title: Only the Brave

Author: Summer Reign

Rating: T

Spoilers: If you don't want to be spoiled for episode 7, turn away now. Now, of course, this is all my imagination, but it is based on spoilers and pictures for the episode.

Disclaimer: CSI doesn't belong to me. If it did, it would be called the Grissom and Sara Sunshine Hour.

Summary: Courage comes in strange forms.

Warning: Hideously sentimental.

1. Only the Brave…know when to let go.

He had lied to Lurie all those years ago.

It wasn't 'risking everything he had worked for in order to have her' that kept him away from Sara. It was fear.

Of the two of them, he always knew she was the brave one.

Sara was the one who came up to him, fresh-faced and smiling, ponytail bobbing as she walked to the front of the lecture hall with her hand outstretched. She was the one who introduced herself before launching into her version of twenty questions.

Sara was the one who didn't need time to think--just jumped on the plane a few hours after he called. She was the one who asked to be tied up…and pinned down.

The one who wanted to accompany him on walks to "clear his head," cleaned off non-existent chalk from his face, and sought his company for dinner.

But he was afraid. So afraid. Because, even with all his inactivity toward her in the romance department, she still managed to work her way inside his heart. And if he took her up on all the unspoken promises shining brightly in her deep brown eyes, and then she turned around and left him…he'd be finished. Done. Broken.

But she stayed. Even when he couldn't think of a single reason why, she stayed. Stayed through all the insecurities he had about himself, her, and them. Stayed through the jealousy. Stayed through the moodiness he'd like to blame on middle age, but knew was the result of a lifetime of self-imposed hermit-ism.

And now, she was leaving him. Finally.

But, not really.

And he was letting her go. Because she was leaving for her. Not because of him. For her, For him. For them.

And even though he knew how frightened she was, she was doing it. And doing it alone.

She always had been the brave one.

Brave enough to actually deliver her letter.

She walked into his office while waiting for her cab to arrive, and told him to read it after she was gone. Threw her arm around his shoulder, gave him another tender kiss on the cheek and went to the locker room to get a warmer jacket she kept in there for emergency cold spells. San Francisco could get a lot nippier than Vegas.

He didn't ever want to read the letter. Not ever. Chicken-shit that he was, he just wanted to ignore its existence. Never mind the wedding vows they had exchanged a few weeks before, or the two years of official loving after seven years of playing at…something. It was going to be a Grissomian version of a Dear John letter. Perhaps divorce papers with a big hot pink sticky reading "sign here."

She wasn't out of the room for two minutes before he ripped the envelope open and took out the sheets of paper. If he was going to do this, it was going to have to be like ripping off a bandage: quick and painful.

He frowned. Yes, she had told him she needed to visit her roots. Needed to clear her head. She was having nightmares. He knew all this.

She needed ocean views, not desert.

All understandable.

But, as in many cases of post-traumatic stress disorder, past demons saw an opened door and jumped right in to party with her current problems. She spoke of her father, her mother and the lonely life she led until she found a safe, loving harbor—with him.

And she talked about how he had helped her face life head-on. Because he was her safety net. She knew he'd catch her, if she fell. Even during their rough times.

She'd always felt his strength, and would hold it to her while she sought to find hers again.

She finished with a few words of love and he was out the door before he realized he threw the letter on his desk.

Sara had just put on her leather-like jacket. It was surprising what they could do with synthetics nowadays.

They had stood this way, a little less than a year before. He, searching his incredible computer of a mind to find something to say, finally settling on "I'll miss you," knowing how inadequate a phrase that really was. She, looking like she was losing something she'd never find again.

And, at that moment, nearly a year before, he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that at least part of his motivation in taking a sabbatical was fear. But this time, he was facing it, in an odd sort of way. Yes, he was going for his own mental health. But there was an added benefit, of sorts. When the month was over, he'd know how she really felt about him. How committed to him she really was. He'd leave her. See if she'd stay. Knowing she would. Hoping she would. Praying she would.

She did.

And part of him felt ashamed for any doubts that dared enter his mind.

He made it up to her. He showed her how much he had missed her. Even left an unsent letter he wrote, trying to express himself…around. She read his words. He knew that. He didn't even need to pull out his print kit to know that. It was in her eyes the minute he re-entered their bedroom.

And they both found each other. And almost lost each other, through no fault of their own. And found each other again.

And now…

"Sara," he said, and she looked at him. "I read your letter."

She frowned. "You could have at least waited until the cab pulled away. It's not even here yet, you know."

"I know."

"I'm sorry, Gris," she said, approaching him and running her finger down the front of his jacket. "I just couldn't say some of those things without falling apart, but I wanted you to know. It was important for me to tell you that I'm not leaving you. I need you to understand that."

"I know. It's all right," he smiled and licked his lips. His mouth felt dry all of a sudden. How could he let her go…now? How could he let her out of his sight for a day, never mind a week? Two weeks? More? He called on his inner reserves and mustered up a smile. "Will you send me a sonnet while you're away?"

She smiled. "Every day, if you'd like."

"Actually, I think I prefer your own words."

"I think I could manage that," she said, her smile becoming slightly more forced while the sheen in her eyes became slightly more pronounced.

"Sara…I…" he took a deep breath. "If you need me…I know you want to do this alone, but if you need me for anything…to talk to…to come and stay with you. Anything. Just call. I'll be there in a few hours. Nothing is more important than you. No one. "

She swallowed hard and nodded in understanding.

"And you're wrong. I had nothing to do with it. All your strength is right…here," he reached out and laid the palm of his hand between her breasts. "When you feel it again, and you will, Sara--come on home. I'll be waiting."

He stepped forward and put his arms around her waist.

"Gris. We're at work," she said, but didn't sound the least bit convincing in her disapproval.

"Who cares?" he said, and pulled her closer.

9 years before, he was a different man than the one that he was today. He had been willing to spend time with the cute brunette, but didn't go crazy and give in to every impulse he felt.

7 years before, he did give in to impulse and called her.

And then became cautious.

5 years before, he closed himself off. He didn't need her in his life. He didn't need complications.

2 years before, he did need her. The complications, he would deal with.

Today, he welcomed it all. The woman, their dog, the marriage, the complications. He welcomed them all. He welcomed life.

Because life gave him the most unexpected gift: the woman who stood by his side. And she would continue to stand right there, even in her absence.

He had picked the right sonnet a year before.

And so, he kissed her. There was a clear intention in almost every kiss he had ever given her. In this one, he wanted to convey love, and trust, and hope and sorrow and every emotion he had ever felt since the moment that ponytailed girl walked into his classroom and turned his world upside down. And some of the message must have been transmitted, because when he pulled away slightly, she smiled. A knowing smile.

She'd be back. Sooner than she thought.

She could do this. Of that, he was certain. And he could do this. He was pretty certain of that, as well.

And he felt a little braver than he had ever felt before.

And it was all because of Sara.

Everything good in his life…was because of Sara.

The End.

A/N: Once upon a time, I wrote fic for another fandom. Never intended to, and never thought I would again after that show went kaput. In that world, I will admit, I teared up a few times when I read the final version of a couple of my stories that were sentimental or sad and I kind of made fun of myself at the time. Fast forward to last night when I wrote the first version of this one, and I'm downright livid because I was actually dripping tears on the keyboard as I was typing. I so don't cry, normally.

And I just think it's because it hit me. Things are going to be different. I have no idea why this wacky little Grissom and Sara romance got to me, but it has. I love the two highly-flawed characters. Adore them, really.

And I want them to have a happy ending.

So, anyway, this was one version of it, sort of. And there is no real reason for these author's notes. I just felt like chatting. Oh, and all the sentence fragments and sentences that started with an "and?" Intentional--not just me being dopey. I was going for a certain effect and--I'm definitely pulling a Sara Sidle and over-talking now, so I bid you a fine, "catch you later."