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 borrow them, you have to ask me first. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.
Spoilers: through Season 8
Note, if you are unspoiled for the episode: character death!
This one is for gsrsaragil, because it was her plotbunny, and because she asked.
Somehow he'd ended up in the chapel. That wasn't surprising; what was slightly disturbing was that he couldn't remember arriving there. He'd just focused his eyes, finally, and seen the carefully nondenominational altar before him.
Images kept kaleidoscoping through his head. Greg's face streaked with tears; Catherine's mouth open in a soundless cry of horror; Nick falling to his knees. And the pavement beneath his own feet, the distance taking far too long to shrink no matter how fast he ran.
His hands felt slightly sticky. He looked down, and noted absently that the nurse hadn't managed to clean all the blood from between his fingers. The cuffs of his jacket were saturated, and there were drips and splashes soaked into his pants, stiff and dry now. Biological hazard, he thought flatly, and didn't care.
He'd seen this kind of thing before, far too many times to count. It was his job, after all. He'd even seen it with people he knew.
But not like this. Never a friend.
Catherine had been right all along, and damn him for refusing to admit it.
It had been Nick who had heard the shot. Nick who had called out, whose shout had brought Catherine from the door of her car, Greg and himself from their conversation about Old Las Vegas out under the streetlight. And it was Nick who lay now with his head pillowed in Catherine's lap, crushed into sleep by desperate grief. She had been stroking his hair mechanically, her eyes glazed and empty, staying calm only because there was someone who needed her.
It had been Greg who had taken control, asking the questions, making the calls to the lab, drawing on a strength that he rarely showed. But his voice had been as hollow as Catherine's eyes, his shoulders stooped as if by the weight of many years.
He couldn't remember leaving them behind. He couldn't even recall how long he'd been sitting in this small, hushed room with its odor of sanctity and its bland impersonality. He could only be grateful that there was no one else there to be traumatized by his appearance, or to irritate him with questions or offers of help--
The door opened.
He refused to look around. It was bad manners to disturb someone in a chapel, so he didn't look around, holding as still as a hunted animal in a thicket. Go away. Just go away--
The carpet was too plush to allow the sound of footsteps, but his body knew her scent, and as she slid into the chair next to him something in him loosened, opening to her as to no one else. An involuntary reflex; it always had been.
"Gil," she said, barely more than a whisper, and he looked up to meet eyes spilling over with mourning, but it wasn't until her fingers touched his cheek that he realized he was crying too.
It had been four decades since he'd allowed someone to offer him anything more than nominal comfort. But he could no more resist Sara's arms going around him than he could deny Warrick's death, and he clung to her and wept with loss--for a sundered life, for a promise unfulfilled, for a shattered family.
For all the things that had gone unspoken yet known; for the bright flame, gone.
For himself. And for all of them.
Sara didn't pull away, or try to soothe; she cried with him.
The only one who could, and would. The only one who could understand.
When the limp calmness of wrung-out grief overtook them, she had tissues in her bag, and pulled them out to repair the damages. Grissom let her wipe his face dry and mutter over the blood on his hands, and then he took a fresh one and blotted away the salty streaks on her skin.
"Greg called you?" he asked, his voice hoarser than he expected.
She shook her head, her hands stroking down his arms as if she had to feel him under her palms. "Brass."
"Ah." Grissom stuffed the damp tissues into his pocket, then leaned forward and kissed her, soft and slow and gentle. "Not that I'm not glad you're here...but how did you get here so fast?"
The corner of her mouth twitched; it might have been a smile in better circumstances. "Friend of a friend with a Cessna."
He nodded, not surprised by her resources. "He...Warrick--" he began, and choked a little.
Sara shook her head, and hugged him, hard. "Let's go home," she said to his shoulder. "We can talk there."
"All right." Grissom pressed her close. "Hank will be delighted."
She sniffled, half amusement and half sorrow, and let him go. "Come on."
Holding her hand was the natural state of things. Grissom followed her down the aisle, planning on calling the others to let them know he was heading home, then paused at the door. "Sara...how did you know where I was?"
She glanced back at him, one hand on the knob, her eyes wide and dark and loving. "Where else would you be?"
The only one who did understand.
Grissom nodded again. Warrick was gone, and things would never be the same. But...
He tightened his grip on her hand, and took her home.