Disclaimer – The lawyers got together and wrote a disclaimer, but it's too big to post here.

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Walking down the sidewalk in front of other pleasant homes, Sara looked over at Grissom. Catching her gaze, he asked, "Is that what you meant by self-destructing?"

When he didn't get a reply after a few quiet moments, he stopped and faced her. "I need to understand what you meant by self-destructing," he said, his face stern. "I need to know what you meant."

Knowing he wasn't about to give up the topic in his grip, she replied, "That's part of it." The monotone voice continued, "The other part is not knowing myself how bad it would be if I self-destructed."

Putting his hands in his pockets, they walked together in companionable silence. Each got lost in thought, and before they knew it, they'd walked at least a mile. This time, she stopped, and sought his gaze. "I can't see your eyes in the light of the street lamps," she murmured, a course of emptiness overwhelming her.

"There have been times in my life, I've felt… nothing. Since Natalie, it's gotten worse, and the entire time under the car, I just kept thinking that if I could put away what happened to me before, I could find a way to stop from fading," Sara explained. She wished she could see the expression on his face, because it often helped her form the words she needed to say and he needed to hear. The whisper was barely audible, when she finished, "I don't want to be a nonentity."

"When you were kidnapped, I felt frozen. Something in me went so cold. I did the only thing I could, and started working the case – following the evidence," he said, looking straight forward. This part had always been hard for him to talk about, because every time he even thought about him, he felt panicked. "Let me tell you who gave everything they had for you: Brass, Catherine, Greg, Warrick, Nick, Sofia, Hodges… do you want me to continue?"

"I remember Nick finding me," she murmured. Smiling, she looked at him and said, "I remember seeing your name on your vest, and feeling this immense relief."

"The panic didn't stop until you opened her eyes," he replied, and added, "Let me ask you this. Do you really think you could ever disappear?"

"I think I'm starting to understand. I don't like people talking about me, but I think maybe I've spent too much time worrying about what people think about me," she stated. The confidence and resolution in her voice had him looking down at her.

By the time they reached her mother's home, Sara was calm, and had a sense of herself that she'd never felt before. "I think maybe I understand a few things about my life that I never did before," she said, as they climbed the steps to the front porch. When she reached the top step, Grissom standing a couple steps behind her, she turned and wrapped her arms around him.

"I meant it earlier, Gil," she said. "I want to go home. I think I'm ready to get back to my life. I can't regret the time I've taken… or the steps, but it's time to pack it up and move back."

While she spoke, he looked into her eyes, and for the first time in forever, he saw clarity and determination. "I really do love you, Mrs. Grissom," he said as they mounted the steps. "Are you sure you're ready? I don't want you to leave here if you're not ready."

"I want, more than anything, to see the lights of Las Vegas. I want to go home."

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A/N – This is going to be the last entry for Tempered. However, I intend to continue the story in the future (haven't come up with any titles, yet, so if you have a suggestion, let me know). I want to try continuing this story, only keeping the characters in character. So, my next story (which may not start until after Christmas) will be from Sara's return to Vegas.

A/N 2 – Thanks to everyone who has given me such wonderful reviews, I appreciate it.