Author's Note: This is set in early season six. It is partially inspired by the song "We Shout," by t.a.t.u. I recommend reading the lyrics and listening to the song before reading, if possible (and if you are so inclined). I listened to the song on repeat while writing, because that's the sort of thing I do. The story is not based around the lyrics, but the emotions inspired by the lyrics and the music did help set the tenor of the piece. I also included an incident of shouting, under various inspirations, in each segment. Grissom is the speaker in the first segment, Sara in the second, and they continue switching back and forth. But now I'm insulting your intelligence, dear reader; you would have figured that out on your own, I imagine. I am always overtalking around you! So enough of my ramblings; please read. I hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I asked my Magic 8-ball when I would own Sara and Grissom, and it kept telling me, "Ask Again Later." Dammit.

We Shout

I tumble into my bed with a heavy sigh, feeling the weight of every one of my nearly fifty years in the bones of my feet, the cartilage of my knees, the intricately wound knots in my shoulders. I rarely think of myself as old, but there inevitably come the moments when I cannot quite maintain my denial. They often come at the end of a double shift when, like this afternoon, I allow myself to crash for a few hours' sleep before rising again to continue my life's work, practically the only thing in my world worth getting out of bed for. How fortunate I am, to truly love what I do, even on the days that I hate it more than anything.

The only other times these moments come are when I am with her. Youthful, charming, possessed of glossy hair and sparkling eyes and long, slender limbs—there are days when she makes me feel like a teenager again, and, ironically, just as many days when she makes me feel like a sad old man. The day she arrived in Vegas is clearly etched in my mind—she was so full of delightful smiles, her dark hair bouncing in curls around her cheekbones and jaw, her lanky body carelessly shifting its weight onto one hip, then the other. She was carefree and happy to see me. It was a beautiful moment.

Since then, I have watched her fold in on herself, come apart at the seams, shatter like a mirror in the wake of a destructive blow. My beautiful Sara…broken. I blame myself every time I see the haunting look in her dark eyes, every time she smiles and behind the wan curve is a deep and inerasable sadness. I blame myself for bringing her to Vegas, even though I know in my heart that as a CSI in San Francisco, she would have seen similar atrocities, processed similar scenes, identified with similar victims. I also blame myself for leading her on, however unintentionally, only to retreat within myself as is my modus operandi; protection and professionalism too important to risk on—what? Whatever it was she had to offer with dinner, and wherever it might lead.

I shift uneasily on my pillow, desperate to erase the melancholy thoughts flooding my brain instead of the sweet relief of unconsciousness. There is one sure way to short-circuit my depressive mood, but I am loathe to employ it. I have never been one to indulge in anything pleasurable habitually, having discovered at a young age how easy it is for loneliness to foster addiction. My own brief tumble into chemical dependency occurred my sophomore year of high school, and was relatively innocuous—I spent the better part of the year endlessly exhaling the smoke from cigars, cigarettes, cloves, although I drew the line at cannabis. The faint buzz from nicotine was enough to entice me; the smoke curling from my lips enough to make me believe, however incorrectly, that I looked cool. When my mother caught me one night on the back porch, she promptly flushed my pack of cigarettes down the toilet and signed furiously to me that she knew I was smarter than that, and if she ever caught me smoking again, she would make me eat the rest of the pack. My mother was a strong woman, made so by her early widowhood and the loss of her hearing, and I knew better than to think she was joking. I never smoked again.

It is this simple and bittersweet memory that allowed me to understand Sara's desperate tumble into the sweet oblivion of alcohol. I have gotten well and truly intoxicated only a handful of times in my life, but again, the siren song of addiction is a familiar tune, and I avoid frequent drinking for the same reasons that I imagine she succumbed.

So while slipping into wildly inappropriate thoughts of my friend, my coworker, my subordinate—my body heats a bit at the use of this word, and I mentally chide myself—would tear my mind away from its self-loathing spiral, I strive to resist. There is a small part of me that has always found focusing on a person I actively know while fantasizing to be somewhat invasive—disrespectful, even—but when it comes to Sara, I have given up on allowing myself to feel guilty when she slides ever so gracefully into my mind while I am…preoccupied. The whole guilt complex reminds me entirely too much of my youthful Catholicism. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. Sara Sidle made me come.

I suppress a smile at this vaguely ridiculous thought. I must be truly exhausted. A pity, then, that I am not already asleep. With a sigh of resignation, I rise again and finish stripping, white tee shirt and dark blue shorts joining my black button-down and pants on the floor. The sheets are cool on the far side of the bed, where I have not already been lying, and I shift over to that side, even though I never sleep there. I let my eyes drift closed, see her behind them. She is so beautiful that even in absentia, even in my imagination, she makes me breathless. One hand strays down my body, finding its familiar destination, and I sigh softly, wishing for a smaller, softer hand to replace my own. A few firm strokes, and she is beneath me, dark hair fanned out on my pillows, lips parted as I slide into her wet heat. A few more and she is arching beneath me, my name on her lips in that sweet alto lilt too sensual to be called merely a voice. And then I can feel her clenching around me, hear her soft, frantic pants, and I release with a shout into my empty and echoing room.

I am desperate for a drink. I mean, really desperate. If he had not wrung that promise out of me the night he drove me home a little more than a year ago, I would be swimming in vodka. Sure, I have a beer now and then, and I have hovered on the fringe of an AA meeting or two, just to balance them out. But tonight calls for enough alcohol to make me pass out in a puddle of my own drool on my kitchen floor—and Grissom's eyes are keeping me from this depressively exciting scenario.

His eyes, when he opens the SUV door for me in the parking lot of my apartment building after silently driving me home, are burned into my memory. He says nothing accusatory, nothing reproving, just looks at me with those piercing blue eyes that carry a heavy weight in them—concern, surprise, and to my surprise, a dark shadow of guilt. His lips are tight, and he takes my hand again and helps me out, as if I might still be intoxicated (I'm not), as if I might be incredibly fragile (I am, but see if I admit it), as if he never wants to let me go.

His eyes, when he watches me at work and thinks I don't notice, are equally memorable. Do I look stupid? I can feel his gaze burning a hole into my back as I stoop to photograph a blood stain, raking over my body as I climb out of a lab vehicle, caressing me from a distance as I rest my head on one weary hand and continue combing through evidence that will nail some obscene rapist or depraved murderer. I have never been confused about my feelings for him, and frankly, I have never been unsure of his feelings for me. But the laughing, teasing professor I met a lifetime ago morphed into a dark, secretive, closed-off scientist before my very eyes, and I have yet to find the magic key to unlock his heart, or the sledgehammer to break through his very thick skull. It could be the weight of supervisory responsibility, the endless sludge through political bullshit, the near-loss of Warrick to addiction and Greg to a lab accident and Nick to mindless revenge, that has driven him to this shadowy and lonely place. Or it could be the threat to his hearing that he still thinks I don't know about, or the ending of his friendship with Lady Heather that he definitely thinks I don't know about. Who can say?

So Grissom's eyes keep me sober, and at times like this I hate him for it. The little girl whose hand I held during her SAE kit today was only eleven, and I wanted to vomit and scream and find the bastard who did, in fact, rape an eleven-year-old girl and kill him with my bare hands. Grissom left the lab before the kit results came back, and with Emma Wilson nearly catatonic when we found her and thus unable to tell us what had happened to her, he had no reason to formulate an opinion one way or the other regarding her assault before the evidence was in. Because that's Grissom, of course. The evidence is his god, and we are all supplicants, praying for divine revelation.

I was alone in the lab when the call came in, and I took advantage of my obsessive devotion leaving me abandoned in the quiet building to lay my head down on the layout room table and sob until I threw up in the wastebasket. What kind of bastard rapes a child? Maybe I should be used to this by now, but I'm not. I'm just not. I asked the nurse to send me the blood sample they took as standard procedure, and when I go back in tonight I plan to slip it to Mia and ask her to run a full-spectrum STD and HIV panel on it. It's a little out of her line of work as a DNA analyst, but I know she'll do it for me. I have to know how much more of Emma Wilson's life is going to be ruined, because like a good victim's rights advocate—as opposed to a good scientist—I will force myself to tell her parents the results.

God, I want a fucking drink.

I pace through my apartment, feeling like it is too small, too crowded. I am an animal in a cage, ripping through each room until I am practically running a circuit in my two-bedroom apartment at seven-o-clock at night, and the people eating dinner or watching TV downstairs are going to wonder what the crazy girl in 15B is doing now. Abruptly I stop, slamming my fists down on my kitchen counter, allowing the anguished cry of agony that has been building in my chest to rip its way out through my throat. It explodes from my parted lips and bounces off the walls back to my ears, seeming to worm its way back into my body only to come full circle and spill from my mouth once more. I am yelling, I am shouting, I am crying, I am pounding my fists on the counter, and I cannot stop. I want a fucking drink!

I fly down my hall to my bedroom, scrambling for the cell phone on my nightstand, flipping it open and punching the number two and the send button. Would he laugh if he knew he was number two on my speed dial, right after the lab? The thought is lost as his voice reaches my ear, oddly husky, and I suspect I have awakened him.


Hmm. He normally answers with a brusque, "Grissom." I probably have woken him up. Why am I calling him again?

"It's Sara."

I hear a sharp intake of breath, and the rustle of what is probably sheets. "Sara?"

"Yes. Did I wake you?"

"I—no." His voice is still odd, now slightly strangled. "Is something wrong?"

"Emma Wilson was raped."

He is silent, but I can almost hear his brain working. He is trying to figure out if I am calling about this for work reasons or personal. I decide to make it easy for him. "I held her hand while the nurse swabbed her and stared into her. I held her hand while I photographed the bruises on the insides of her thighs and on her wrists one-handed. I held her hand while I contemplated using all the horrible things I've ever witnessed the aftermath of to torture her attacker before killing him. I threw up in the layout room when I got the call with her results. I am going insane. I want a fucking drink."

"I'm coming over." The phone dies in my hand.

I sink, trembling, onto my bed. I am glad he is on his way, even if it means being faced with the eyes that will keep me from the mind-numbing oblivion I crave. But inside, even as a part of me selfishly rejoices at having him in my personal space once more, I wonder what possible good his presence can do me. After all, we both know that what I really want from him is the one thing he'll never give me. And with that final depressing blow, I bury my face in my hands and start to sob.

Seconds after I ebb back into reality from my fantasy-Sara-induced high, my phone vibrates on my bedside table. I know it is probably the lab, and I have to answer it, but I am unsure if I can function any more today without at least an hour or two of sleep. With a deep sigh, I flip the phone open.


It is Sara. It is Sara. She sounds so upset that I sit upright in bed instantly, the sheets tumbling down around my lap. I realize she has inadvertently heard my post-climax voice, and pray to the God I only marginally believe in that she thinks I have been asleep. But when she asks, I tell her the truth, unwilling to outright lie to her about something even this small. When I ask her if something is wrong, she tells me that Emma Wilson was raped. My brain skirts back over the cases I handed out that day, and my heart sinks as I realize that Emma Wilson is the eleven-year-old catatonic I assigned to Sara around 2 am. I had hoped that the paramedics' initial assessment had been wrong, that she had only been badly beaten. I wait for Sara to offer more, to tell me I am needed to examine some crucial piece of evidence or interview a potential suspect. In the heavy silence, I begin to suspect she is not at work either, and she may be calling for entirely different reasons. I wait.

The words that tumble from her in the wake of our pregnant pause tighten my chest and ache inside my head. Once again, a victim has touched that wellspring of compassion that runs so deep inside Sara, that reservoir of empathy and humanity that make her a wonderful person and an unbelievably tortured crime scene investigator. Her final words—"I want a fucking drink"—send me instantly into motion.

"I'm coming over," I tell her, and slam the phone shut. I cross the room to my bathroom in a few long paces, clean myself up and stick a toothbrush in my mouth as I move back into my bedroom and throw open my closet doors, pulling out a white undershirt, white button-down and jeans and tugging them on with one hand while I try to brush with the other. Forgoing silly things like underwear and a belt, I spit out a mouthful of toothpaste and swallow some water before grabbing my keys and phone from my nightstand and shoving my feet into a pair of black loafers. I snatch my black coat from a kitchen chair, zip it halfway up as I slam my door behind me, and I am flying down the stairs, sliding behind the wheel of my SUV, and moving down the streets of Las Vegas in about five minutes flat. I am not sure I have ever gotten ready to leave my townhouse this quickly before in my life.

Images of a convulsing Sara in the throes of alcohol poisoning push my foot a little too far down on the gas pedal, but I cannot keep myself from speeding to her apartment. I know I am probably overreacting, but I have never heard her quite this upset before, and I am afraid. I admit it—I am afraid for her almost as much and as often as I am afraid of her. An almost-DUI is not the same as an overdose, but she has never sounded so close to the edge, so angry, so unbelievably sad. I increase my speed, the needle on my speedometer hovering around fifteen miles over the speed limit.

I pull into her parking lot with a slight squeal to my tires, whip into a parking spot, and throw the SUV into park. I buzz her apartment, tapping my foot impatiently as I wait for the responding buzz that will let me in to her building. It comes almost immediately, and not nearly quickly enough. I cannot quite take the widely-spaced stairs two at a time, and it makes me irrationally angry. At last, I am before her door, and I knock, forcing myself to keep from pounding.

She opens the door for me, her dark hair hanging limply over her pale oval face, her eyes very large and haunted. A thin green sweater, a black tank top and jeans are all that shield her from the world, and she looks cold and incredibly pissed. Her feet are bare. I cannot help cataloguing her appearance every time I see her, but as my eyes sweep back up to her face—my perusal has taken mere seconds—I see that she is very focused on my face.

"Come in," she says in a low voice, and I slip past her into the apartment, hear the door click shut behind me quietly, hear the sound of the lock being turned. I turn to face her, dropping my keys on the coffee table, and she is standing with her back against the door, still focused on my face, almost to the point of making me uncomfortable. I swallow and lift an eyebrow.

"What is it?"

"Your eyes," she murmurs. "The way you looked at me the night you brought me home—the memory of that is the only thing that makes me keep my promise to you. I'm trying to focus on them, so I don't run into my kitchen and drown trying to drink myself unconscious."

"Sit down, Sara," I ask her, even though it is her home. She crosses the room and sinks into the leather chair, wrapping her arms around her knees. I move to the couch across from her and sit as well, letting my gaze drift over her again. She is shaking.

"Why are you here?" she asks me abruptly, and my brows knit together in surprise. I decide to risk honesty tonight.

"You sounded like you needed me," I tell her simply. "Needed someone, anyway."

"I need a drink."

"No, you don't," I correct her gently. "There are other ways to solve your problems, Sara."

"Are there?" she asks, and her voice is breaking. She looks over at me with eyes that are swimming with tears. "I can't think of any."

"Talk to me."

She laughs suddenly, and the bitter sound is like nails on glass. "Talk to you? Why bother? I know what you're going to say. It's just empathy. I need a diversion. Keep my emotions out of the room. If I had a dollar for every time you made me feel worthless, I'd be a very wealthy woman."

I flinch; the words sting more than a slap across my face would have. "I make you feel worthless?"

Another wry, bitter laugh. "I've tried so hard to be like you. Haven't you noticed? I took all the blame for—" she gestures back and forth between us—"all of this, and I let it drop. I try so hard to keep it together, for you, Grissom, so you don't have to deal with the messy emotions from my cases or my search for validation or anything else. But god, I am so tired. I'm a failure. I just can't keep myself from feeling when faced with a little girl whose innocence is ruined, whose life is over, Grissom, just over. And failing… makes me want to drink."

I am without words. She feels worthless because she is not like me, because I have actually criticized her for not being like me. I wanted to protect her, to harden her so that she could survive the line of work she had chosen. I wanted to shield her from breaking, and instead, I broke her myself. Too weary to censor my reactions, I lean forward and bury my head in my hands, trying to fight back the hot tears choking me at the back of my throat. I have not cried in front of anyone in more years than I can count. I do not want to start now.

"Grissom." She sounds startled. I hear her slide from her chair, drop to her knees in front of me. Her hands are small and cold on mine, as she pries them from my face. I look down at her, not bothering to hide the pain I am sure is reflected in my eyes. Her own dark eyes widen, and as if by instinct, her hand comes up and caresses my cheek.

"I'm not going to drink," she whispers. "I'm sorry. I would never break a promise to you. Everything will be all right."

Something in me shatters. She is comforting me, in this moment; she is concerned with my feelings. A rage directed only at myself boils over, and I pull away from her, rising to my feet, my eyes darting around the room as if seeking something to hurl at a wall, something to punch, something to break. I let out an incoherent shout of frustration, the heels of my hands coming up to grind into my temples, and sink once more back to the couch. She is staring at me, frightened, confused.

"Don't," I snap at her, watching the hurt crease her face as she reaches for me again. I pull away. "No, Sara. If I have ever made you feel worthless, then I'm sorry. I value your feelings, your heart, because they make you a better human being. I was hard on you because I wanted to protect you. I'm sorry."

"Grissom." Her voice is shocked, and she leans forward into me. I can feel the heat of her body; feel her palms press into my thighs just above the knees. I wonder if she even realizes she is touching me. My skin reacts, electrifying, and I shift. She comes back to herself then, and I see that she was in fact touching me without knowing it as she tentatively pulls her hands away.

"You don't have to apologize," she adds, but I stop her.

"Just let me," I say hoarsely, and an unexpected tear slides down her cheek. I reach out to brush it away with my thumb, without thinking, and my entire body tenses when she leans into my hand, closing her eyes and releasing a soft sigh. I am paralyzed, unable to pull away, even when she turns her face to press a kiss into my palm.

"You really want to make it up to me?" she murmurs. I can feel the movement of her lips against my palm. Nothing can quite prepare me for her next words. "Then make me forget."

I cannot believe I have asked him this. Make me forget. Even a man as purposefully obtuse as Gil Grissom can't quite pretend not to understand my words. But in the wake of his apology, knowing resignedly that I can't drink tonight after that, there is only one other thing I want. I just never expected I would be stupid enough to ask for it. He must think I'm insane.

"Make you forget." He repeats the words, his face very strange. My lips feel numb as I search for the right words to make this go away. When they do not come, I impulsively roll with the crazy.

"It's the only thing I want more than a stiff drink," I say softly, reaching up and tugging my green cardigan from my shoulders. When I feel it pool on the floor behind me, I let my eyes drift back up to his. They are a very dark blue now, and his lips are slightly parted. I want to kiss him, but I will make him decide this tonight. I continue my lightly teasing, profoundly desperate speech. "Sex can be incredibly useful for a lot of things, Grissom. Surely you can't have forgotten."

His face reddens at the implication of my words, and through my pain and addictive longing, I feel a touch of amusement. I have no idea when the last time he had sex was, but I know how long it's been for me. Two and a half years. I am ready to scream. I am ready to forget.

"Sara, I know you're upset right now. I really don't think this is a good idea." And he rises, as if to leave. I snap.

"Walk out that door, and I will get so fucking drunk I will have a hangover for a week," I warn him, my voice rising into a shout. He flinches.

"Don't threaten me," he warns me coldly. I stand as well, and step so close to him that the warmth of his body seeps into my skin. My lips are six inches from his. I will make him kiss me.

"How am I threatening you?" I breathe, knowing that he can smell the mint of my mouthwash and the acid of the coffee I gulped in lieu of a shot. He stares directly into my eyes, his own awash with such a mixture of emotions that I can't begin to sort them out.

"If I leave, you'll get drunk? If I don't—make love to you, you'll break your promise to me? If those aren't threats…" He is almost shouting himself now.

I laugh, and he cocks an eyebrow in surprise and anger. I can see his jaw clenching beneath his beard. "Something amusing you, Sara?"

"I don't want you to make love to me, Grissom," I murmur, making sure he can read my pain and loathing, my longing and lust very clearly in my eyes. "I asked you to make me forget, not make me feel. I want you to fuck me."

The expression on his face is profoundly conflicted. He is angry, but beneath the anger and sense of betrayal I can feel a desire to give me exactly what I am asking for. It is to this I wish to play, because the craving for him has beautifully replaced my craving for alcohol, and I am just as desperate for him as I was for a drink. I take one small step closer and let my eyes drift close. Our lips are almost touching. My breasts are pressed against his chest, my hips against his. Our foreheads are touching. He has two choices: kiss me or step back. I wait with bated breath.

His kiss is like gasoline to a flame, and the moment his lips touch mine I am ablaze. He is not gentle or slow, but kisses me so hard that I moan almost immediately into his mouth, and he seizes the advantage and slides his tongue between my lips, deepening the kiss so thoroughly that I am shaken. His hands are on my hips, pressing them tightly to his own, and I can feel his arousal trapped between us. I writhe my hips against him just a little, to tease him, and his hands move to my shoulders to push me away. For a moment, I am terrified that he will still leave.

But he has only pushed me away to continue with his onslaught. His fingers grasp the hem of my shirt and lift it away from my body. I start to raise my arms, to allow him to remove it, but with one violent tug of his hands he rips it in two, and the black shreds fall from my body, leaving me half-naked. He does not pause to touch my breasts, revealed by his swift gesture, but instead slips his fingers into the waistband of my jeans and unbuttons them roughly, tugging down the zipper and pushing them from my hips. When they pool around my feet, I step out of them, leaving me in only a dark red pair of panties. His eyes are very hooded as he lets his gaze wash over me, and my nipples tighten under his perusal. I cannot remember ever having been so aroused.

He wraps one hand around the back of my neck and pulls me to him to kiss me hard, his thumb curving around the front of my throat, the lightest pressure a subtle, meaningless threat. I know he would never hurt me unless I asked him to, but just the sensation of his strength made evident in my vulnerability is erotic. His other hand slides down my body, bypassing my breasts again and going straight to the damp heat between my legs. He presses his palm tight against me, and I groan into his kiss, feeling lightheaded from the desire flooding me. Grissom is going to make me come faster than anyone has in my entire life, including myself.

Another rip and my panties are destroyed as well, scraps of silky red fabric joining the carnage on my living room floor. His fingers part me and slide right into me, his lips still savaging mine, his tongue sweeping my mouth, his thumb lightly stroking over my throat. I cry out and clench around his fingers, the swiftness of my orgasm taking me by surprise despite my assessment of his effectiveness moments ago. He thrusts them in and out of me, not stopping until my whimpers tell him I am almost overcome by the sensations. Then he pulls them out of me at last, breaking our impassioned kiss to lightly trail their slickness over my lips.

"Have you forgotten yet?" he whispers roughly, and I lean into him, my skin hot and tight, my lust still unabated. He is wearing too much clothing, and until I have all of Grissom, I will never be satisfied. Skin on skin is my new craving, and I will settle for nothing less than the feeling of him inside me as intimately as he can be. I draw down the zipper on his jacket and slide it from his shoulders.

"Not yet," I respond in my own whisper. "There are so many other ways you can fuck me."

I am completely stunned. I am standing in Sara Sidle's living room, my fingers covered in her scent, her warm and naked body pressed against mine as she pushes my coat from my shoulders. I have just watched and heard her climax in my arms. I have kissed her and stripped her and taken her like I have a right to do so, and she is clinging to me, asking for more. It is like a very strange dream. Nothing feels quite real.

I am not certain I want to take her the way she is asking me to. She provoked me with her little fit of pique, and I think the roughness of my actions was driven by anger. But now she wants it to continue, and I can see reflected in her eyes the truth: she thinks this is her new path to oblivion. That escapist desire is not one I wish to see in her, much less encourage through my behavior. I start to step back from her warm skin, her roving hands.

"What are you doing?" Her hands fall to her sides, and she looks at me with a touch of hurt. I am momentarily distracted by the sheer loveliness of her body. She is better than any imaginary version of her I have created to satisfy my private lust. Her skin is flushed in the wake of her climax, her lips slightly bruised from my kisses, her legs long and muscular and I want to kiss every inch, from her ankles to her—

"I don't think this is a good idea, Sara," I choke out, forcing my brain back to the current situation. She crosses her arms under her breasts, and I almost reach for her again. But anger is the cause of the new flush staining her cheekbones and chest, and she is backpedaling, groping behind her for an afghan tossed over the couch, holding it up to her body to shield it from my eyes. I do not blame her for covering herself; I am turning her away while unable to keep myself from drinking in the vision of her unclothed.

"How did I know you would do this?" she demands, nearly shouting at me. No quiet rage for Sara; she is very worked up tonight. "How did I know you would back out at the last minute? And I can't even hate you for taking what you wanted and leaving, because I'm the only one—" She gestures with a sweeping hand over her body. "Who would have thought you'd be the kind of heartless bastard who gives and leaves?" Her bitter laugh almost turns into a sob.

"This isn't how I want it to be," I find myself saying, admitting things aloud to her I had hardly even processed through myself. Her eyes widen a little, and she cocks her head to the side, still angry, but listening to me…for the moment. "I don't want to be your substitute for a bottle of vodka." A knowing, slightly guilty expression crosses her face. "I don't want to be with you because I'm angry, or because you're angry. If this happens, it should happen for the right reasons. And I don't see any of those manifesting tonight."

Her eyes are a little tight, and I cannot tell what she is thinking. She inhales, and with the hand not clutching the afghan she pushes her hair back from her face with a slow exhalation. At last, she breaks the silence that has fallen. "Do you think about why and how things should happen between us often?"

"Not often," I say slowly, but she can tell I am lying. A smile, incredibly sad and strangely triumphant, curls at the corners of her lips. She steps very close to me again, letting the blanket fall from her body. My breath quickens.

"Tell me you want me," she purrs, trailing a finger along my jaw. I clench it beneath her touch, and she lets her other hand slide up to the back of my neck, tracing nonsense symbols on the sensitive skin there. My eyes fall closed against my will.

"Sara—" I murmur, a little shocked to hear that the word is more of a groan. She presses her lips to my cheek, at the boundary where the roughness of my beard meets my skin. Against my cheek, she whispers softly,

"If I tell you…finally…that I am in love with you, that I have been for as long as I can remember, that I finally realized it when I saw you again after three years, throwing dummies from the roof of a building and recognizing my voice without turning around…would that be the manifestation of a right reason?"

I want to believe she is just saying this to get her fix, her mind-blowing replacement for a good stiff drink. But when I open my eyes, her face is very close to mine, and a single tear is hovering in her right eye, trembling on the precipice of her lashes before spilling down her cheek.

"Sara," I whisper again, and I am kissing her. I cannot help it. I do not have the words she has to speak of my feelings—years of avoiding them has made my skills of expression rusty at best. But I try to pour my own love and need into this kiss, and I feel every inch of her heated skin pressed against me, and I know then that, right or wrong or simply insane, I will not be leaving this apartment tonight.

I have just admitted to Grissom that I am in love with him. I must have lost my damn mind.

But he is kissing me, and it is so, so good. God, I do love him, and my silly idea of replacing my craving for alcohol with a little roll in the sack with him strikes me as the most asinine thing I have ever tried. How could a night with Grissom ever be just fulfilling a need? My greatest need is him.

I can feel the damp streak of my tears on my face, and he is lightly kissing my cheeks, kissing away every bit of residue of my sorrow. I let myself believe for a moment that he might love me, too—that if he stays tonight, if he makes love to me or even if he fucks me senseless, that it will be for all the right reasons he alluded to. My fingers paint whorls and lines on the back of his neck, and I can hear his breathing in the quiet room. It is harsh and fast, and I press my thigh between his, delighting in the evidence of his arousal.

He steps back, and I wait for another rebuff, another hesitation. But he takes my hand and slowly leads me down the hall to my bedroom, as if we have walked this path together a hundred times, instead of the truth, which is that he has never even been in this room before. The room is dark, with just the silvery brush of moonlight highlighting corners and edges into stark relief.

We stand facing each other at the foot of my bed, the soft pale green of my comforter beckoning to me, images of him nude and stretched out across it flitting across my overheated brain. I let my eyes drift over him slowly, taking my time in this moment that might never come again to study him, from the grey-streaked darkness of his curls to the odd perfection of his bare feet on my hardwood floor. With his dark jacket on the floor of my living room, he is wearing white and blue, and I swallow hard as I realize that he normally wears black, or another dark color, or even sometimes a hideous patterned shirt that proves there is no woman in his life…and he should be wearing white. The button-down is open a few buttons over his chest, with a white tee shirt peeking out underneath, and the color makes his skin look darker, his eyes look brighter, and his face, shadowed with beard and framed with salt-and-pepper hair, look slightly dangerous. How does one simple color do that? I don't care, but the effect is making me a little lightheaded. The jeans hug his strong thighs and probably his ass, which is usually obscured by dress pants, and I defy the urge to twirl my finger before him, making him turn for me to take in every inch of his body. Grissom might be the only man I want to linger over clothed as much as I want to see him naked.

His face is a little flushed in the wake of my lazy perusal, and I decide to put him out of his misery. I lean over and begin to unbutton that delicious white shirt, the fabric smooth, almost silky cotton under my fingers. He reaches up to help me, and I bat his hands away. He got to undress me before, albeit far more violently. It is my turn.

The button-down out of my way, I slide my palms under the tee shirt and encounter smooth, hot skin. He trembles a little under my touch, swaying toward me, and as I caress his chest, his waist, his back, I kiss him lightly, just a touch of lips to lips. He tries to press against me, deepen the kiss, and I keep my body just a step away from him, forcing the kiss to be light and teasing. I tug his shirt upward, finally, and break the kiss just long enough to tug it over his head and drop it to the floor.

Now I step into him, unable to stop my gasp as my breasts press against his chest, skin to skin, for the first time. His skin is so hot I wonder absently again about the theory of spontaneous combustion…but all thoughts are quickly driven from my mind as he takes my mouth in a deep and ravishing kiss. It is hard and demanding, but I can tell the difference between this and the way he kissed me before, when he angrily gave in to my demands that he make me forget. This is passion, desire—pure and simple.

We fall to the bed, hands roaming, lips tasting skin over breasts and throats and hips, until I have to see every bit of him, and I tug open the button on his jeans and draw the zipper down. I slip my hand down…and encounter nothing. He is naked beneath the rough denim. I look up at him in surprise, and he smiles, a little mischievously, the smile darkening into unbridled lust as I wrap my hand around him. Soon the jeans are on the floor, and I am touching him, stroking him, even dipping my head down to swirl my tongue around him, and this is every erotic fantasy I've ever had about Gil Grissom come to life. He is moaning above me, his head tossing on my pillow, and I am more in love than ever.

He rolls me over to my back, bracing his body above mine with strong arms beside my head, and our eyes collide. He seems a little uncertain, a little fragile, and I realize that he was far surer of himself when anger was driving his actions than this tenderness and desire. I rest a hand on his cheek, rubbing my thumb against his skin, and arch my hips a little to tell him that it's okay, that I want this. When he still hesitates, I reach down and wrap my hand around him again, guiding him to me, until another lifting of my hips brings him sliding into me. He closes his eyes, groans, and thrusts forward until he is completely inside me, and I cannot help moaning at the feeling. It is perfect, this moment, and even though my body craves an orgasm, I almost want to stay here forever, never moving, never finishing, never losing him as I am almost certain I will.

But when we move together, it is almost more perfect. We should be awkward—it is a first time, and aren't they always?—but somehow, we're not. The strange bond we have in our work and in the strange workings of our minds spills over into my bed, and I raise my hips as he lowers his, fast and hard, slow and aching, both of us torturing ourselves and each other by drawing out this lovemaking. The room is filled with the sounds of fast, hard breaths and soft, breathy moans; harsh cries of pleasure and the sound of skin on skin. It is a beautiful cacophony; and when he says my name in a way I have never, ever heard before from another person—it is desperate, it is worshipful, it is loving—I shout out my climax, his name on my lips along with the name of a deity I don't worship and curses I hardly ever utter. He watches me with hooded eyes and parted lips, seeming to want to take in every second of my orgasm before succumbing to his own. And I, in turn, visually devour every second of his straining body, his tightening face and clenched jaw, his eyes welded shut, his lips groaning out my name over and over again. He is beautiful in his pleasure, and I wish it could last.

We lie beside each other on my bed, hands trailing over damp skin, lips occasionally brushing a shoulder or a palm, content to let the final moments of our climaxes ebb away peacefully. I cannot turn to look into his eyes, terrified that I will see them closed off, that his face will become blank and impassive as he tells me that he has to go, that this never should have happened. I expect it, but I do not want to see it.

"How do you feel?" he murmurs, his voice low, rough.

I move a little, testing my body. "A bit sore," I confess. "But in a good way."

"And has it helped you forget?" I cannot decipher his tone.

I turn on my side, forcing myself to look into his face. His eyes, like his voice, are enigmatic, unreadable. "Forget how much I want to kill that guy? Sure, for a little while." I swallow. "Everything else I said tonight? That I'll never forget."

His eyes tighten. "Really."

I nod, feeling tears sting my eyes. This is how it will end. "Really. I've known I loved you since the moment your test dummy came crashing almost to my feet, and you turned around and said my name like you were happy to see me. All I've wanted, ever since, was to make you proud of me, make you happy." Another swallow. "Make you love me."

"Sara." Still so enigmatic that I could cry. But I hope against hope that I am seeing a tiny crack in the wall, and I press forward.

"I don't need you to say anything," I whisper. "Just please don't leave."

His eyes widen a little, and his eyebrows knit together. "You want me to stay tonight?"

I want you to stay forever. "If you can."

His arms come up around me, tighten around me. "I can."

I want to tell him I love him again, really say it, with his name and all the passion of so many years behind it, to really drive it home. But I will wait until he can say it, too—and if he never can, then at least there will be one little part of myself I have kept back, to rebuild my shattered heart with when he is gone. I let myself enjoy the strength of his arms around my body, the warmth of his skin against mine.

For now, it will have to be enough.