Spoilers: 8x07

Background: It's fairly well known that Jorja Fox is going to be leaving for a bit, but according to the show's ruler, she'll be back. (My personal theory is that she leaves for San Francisco to deal with her demons, and will return sometime later - like in January or February.)

A/N: Please R&R – let me know if I should continue it or not.

UPDATE: I made some modifications to Chapter 1, so I can transition to the next chapters.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. CSI is owned by people more important than me.

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The Return

Gil Grissom stopped pacing again to check the terminal entrance to baggage claim. He checked his watch, and resumed his pacing. Her flight from San Francisco had already landed.

Where is she?

"Grissom," Greg said, "Her flight just touched down. Give her a minute to get off the plane."

Sighing, Gil resumed his pacing.

Greg and Nick just looked at each other and grinned. They'd both hoped they could be here to welcome Sara home, but they'd figured there wouldn't be much chance of that. They weren't sure if it was a wish being granted or just a tad scary that their boss had been so nervous he was incapable of driving himself. When he'd asked Nick to drive him, his hands had been trembling, he couldn't seem to stop anxiously shifting from foot to foot, and he hadn't even argued when Greg volunteered to go with them.

All Gil could think about was the changes he'd noticed in Sara. When she'd called, Sara had seemed just a bit softer… just a bit more relaxed. His Sara had also seemed so much more content. And the anticipation of just seeing her again was going to outright kill him if she didn't get off the damn plane NOW.

"Hey Griss," Nick hollered, and nodded toward where people came pouring out of the terminal.

It took Gil less than five seconds to locate her. And when his eyes connected with Sara's they became rooted, unable to move. All they could do was look and see what had been missing from them on her hiatus.

"You might wanna go get her, Grissom," Greg laughed, "Or she may never move."

Pulled from his reverie, he glanced down and when he looked at her again, a huge smile had taken over, and for the first time in awhile, he could really breathe.

Both of them moved forward, slowly, being passed by other airline passengers right and left. Neither wanted to hurry the moment. They wanted to savor the reunion. Her return.

Stopping only inches from each other, Sara barely managed a whispered, "I've missed you," before Gil had pulled her tight to him and covered her mouth with his, nothing more than lips pressed to lips.

Running her hand into his hair, she held him to her, never wanting the moment to end.

He broke the kiss and ran a hand over her cheek, drying the silent tears that had gathered there.

He hadn't intended to say, "Don't leave me again," but there it stood between them.

"Gil," Sara replied softly, "I don't think I could."

Sara pulled back for a moment and nervously smiled. "I think I've been afraid..."

"Of what?"

"That maybe I'd blown it. That maybe I was too late," Sara explained. "I never meant to hurt you, but I know I did."

"Sara, I think I understand better than most what it means to need a break," Gil responded.

He smiled, and pulled Sara to him once again. This time, when his lips met hers, he gave in to his cravings, and explored. He felt her gasp when the kiss deepened and his tongue slipped inside, and she sighed when his tongue gently caressed her bottom lip. Neither felt the need to stop – neither wanted to stop the heat or the raw need of it. And they may not have, had it not been for the applause.

They pulled apart to find Nick and Greg clapping, along with half the passengers in baggage claim.

Blushing profusely, Sara smiled shyly, and turned to watch Nick and Greg saunter over.

"Welcome home," Nick laughed, "I think I'll just give you a hug. I wouldn't want to get beaten up."

"Hah," Greg laughed, "You're just afraid you can't compete with the boss."

Gil just rolled his eyes, and once hugs were done, put his arm around Sara's waist.

"How many bags, dear?"

"I shipped everything home, so there's no luggage," Sara replied.

"Just take me home, Gil. I need you," Sara whispered into his ear.

Greg and Nick led the way to the car, and gratefully dropped off Gil and Sara. They both agreed it was a little disconcerting and amazingly embarrassing to see their friend and their boss make-out for the half hour drive.

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Sara woke to Gil quietly snoring and took the chance to really look at him. His hair was tussled and his cheeks slightly flushed. She always loved seeing that half-smile on his face when he slept. There was so much she'd missed while away, but knew that she'd never be able to regret the steps she'd taken.

"Hey there," Gil grinned, slowly opening his eyes. "Been watching long?"

"Not long enough," she murmured, and leaned down, kissing him gently.

Gil sat up, propped himself on the pillow, and motioned for Sara to snuggle down into him.

"You know you want to ask," Sara said, "It's okay."

Sighing, Gil tightened his hold on her.

"Did you find what you needed?"

"Almost," Sara replied. "Let's get up and I'll tell you about it."

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After they showered and dressed, Sara led Gil to the livingroom and plopped down on the couch.

Gil followed her, pulling her back into him.

"Okay," Gil started, "you said 'Almost' earlier."

"Yeah," Sara softly replied.

"When I left, I knew I had to leave alone. I had to face my own past and my own fears. In the end, I needed to know I could do it alone." Looking up at him, she continued, "If you had come with me, you would have tried to protect me, and I would have let you. I would have allowed you to prop me up, when I needed to stand on my own."

Sara paused before continuing, "I needed to see that the scary monsters of my childhood couldn't hurt me anymore."

She closed her eyes when she suddenly said, "I was afraid you'd never forgive me."

Gil pulled Sara closer to him and whispered, "I understood. I wasn't happy, and I was hurt. But I understood – and it made me understand what you must've felt, as well, when I went on sabbatical."

The couple just sat there for a time, holding on and relishing the quiet moment.

"There's one more thing to be done," Sara finally said, "and you are part of it."

Sara stood up, for the first time nervous, and started to mentally prepare her arguments. Meanwhile, Gil waited, knowing she'd eventually speak, and not wanting to rush her.

"My past had to be dealt with one-on-one. I needed to do that, because it was a part of me, and me alone. But what happened in the desert wasn't just about me. It was about you. It was about us," Sara said.

Stopping in front of Gil, she offered him her hand and said, "I need you with me, and I need us to see her. I need her to see us."

Gil had given a lot of thought over the months since her abduction about what he would say if she made this request. He could understand her need, but he worried about her. Until now, he had worried about her seeing Natalie Davis alone or surrounded by a hundred bodyguards.

But when he looked into her eyes, he saw a resolve and strength that hadn't been there before – that only served to amplify the Sara he'd always known.

"Okay," Gil replied, "I'll set it up."

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Three days later, Gil and Sara stood outside the doors to the mental ward where Natalie resided, waiting to be let in by the guards.