AN: This is Without You, a songfic to Hinder's new song, which I personally believe is better than Lips of an Angel. Download it and see. It really puts the GSR break-up into perspective.

Disclaimer: I don't own CSI or Hinder's Without You.

Without You

I just wanna be alone tonight
I just wanna take a little breather
'Cause lately all we do is fight
And every time it cuts me deeper

At long last, Sara had returned. I don't know what I felt when I saw her in my office. I was happy to have her back after her last abrupt departure, even if the reason for her return was grim. I didn't really have time to think about the implications of her return on where we stood as a couple. I had to solve a murder. Not just any murder. The murder of a man I loved like a son. I had to deal with the grief that followed Warrick's death, which I found surprisingly difficult while she was there.

We fought a lot, mostly about little things, but each disappointed word or angry glare just seemed to zap away all of my energy. It was hard enough to cope with my life without the added strain of our difficult relationship. Not only was I dealing with her and with Warrick's death, but also with too many grisly homicides and the strain of not having enough live bodies to combat the dead ones. I was stressed, tired, and her presence only made things worse.

Then she told me that she wanted me to go to California with her. I think that's what pushed me to the edge. I couldn't just pick up and leave my home and my job. I couldn't just run away from my problems like she did.

'Cause something's changed
You've been acting so strange
And it's taking its toll on me
It's safe to say that I'm ready to let you leave

I remembered the reason she left in the first place. She said that she needed to deal with the demons in her past and that she didn't want me to see her lose control. It hurt when she left that letter explaining why I couldn't be with her. I thought that she would come back and let me help her through it, but she didn't. I had known that she was feeling like she couldn't cope with the job anymore, but I had chalked that up to her kidnapping. She had to deal with it.

But then when she started resisting my help and listening to her ipod as she walked though dark corridors, I began to sense that she was pulling away. It scared me a little to think that she didn't want me. After years, I had finally let her get close to me. I finally opened myself up to her. But that was when she had been happy, and smiled and laughed. I hardly recognized her as the same woman after the kidnapping.

Then she left.

Without you, I live it up a little more every day
Without you, I'm seein' myself so differently
I didn't wanna believe it then
But it all worked out in the end
When I watched you walk away
Well, I never thought I'd say I'm fine
Without you

Following her first departure, I was devastated. Out of all of the women I had known, I never thought that Sara would hurt me like that. I took me a while to get over the hurt, but I am proud to say that I did overcome it.

After initially brushing off Brass, Catherine, and Nick's attempts to get me out of the house, I finally gave into their efforts. There were a lot of meals with the team, even Greg, who I had sensed felt a little bit hostile towards me following Sara's departure. I even had a breakfast or two with David Hodges and played the Lab Rat's game with him. I have to admit that I enjoyed the game. Brass and I started talking over beers again. After that case at the rodeo grounds, we even went to a couple of bull riding competitions. Surprisingly I found myself enjoying that.

One of the people most engaged in my wellbeing was Catherine. We started going out to breakfast again, something that we had stopped when…God, I can't even remember when the last time Catherine and I had breakfast together. It was a bit sad, really. We had always been quite close, yet somehow we managed to drift apart. I felt a little better when she started coming over to my place more and more. I think Hank enjoyed it too. Catherine even coaxed me into a movie or two with her and Lindsey. I used to love spending time with Catherine and her daughter, but lately I hadn't been doing too much of that either. Lindsey has grown up so much since the last time I saw her. Catherine really did a great job with her.

Through my coworkers…my friends, I began feeling much more at ease with life. It was as if Sara never entered my life. I remember the last dinner I had with Nick, Warrick, Greg, and Catherine on that fateful night. We were celebrating Warrick's innocence at our favourite diner, which was never known for the food. Then it the blink of an eye it all changed.

Called you up 'cause it's been long enough
And you said that you were so much better
We have done a lot of growing up
We were never meant to be together

Thinking about it now, I realize how blissfully happy I was during those times with my friends. I called Sara up a little while ago, to see how she was, and I got to thinking about what went wrong. I can see now that she and I were never right. I did love her, but it was the wrong kind of love. I loved her because she needed me and I wanted to be needed. When she no longer needed me, our volatile relationship exploded and we were left to pick up the pieces.

We both survived the break-up. She's living in California now with Greg, of all people. Somehow that relationship works and I'm glad it does. She needs someone who loves her the right way. Greg is that someone. He needs her just as much as she needs him. That was evident enough through his actions following both of her departures, even if I was the one to bear the brunt of his more negative actions. And he can get her to smile again and she keeps him smiling.

'Cause something changed
You were acting so strange
And it's taking its toll on me
It's safe to say that I'm ready to let you leave

I compare her now to what she was like when she returned for Warrick's funeral and the difference is astounding. After the Adler case, I thought she was going to lose it. She was so convinced that Tom had been telling the truth and was stunned to learn that he had lied and killed his wife.

I could sympathize with Tom. I understood what it was like to be in a relationship so one-sided that you just wanted it to end, yet you couldn't bring yourself to do the actual walking away. That's how I felt with Sara. That's how I felt when I said, "Maybe he needed her to leave him."

Sara hadn't missed a beat. She immediately called me on it, asked me who I was really referring to. She granted me my wish. She had left me again. With no note, this time.

Without you, I live it up a little more every day
Without you, I'm seein' myself so differently
I didn't wanna believe it then
But it all worked out in the end
When I watched you walk away
Well, I never thought I'd say I'm fine
Without you

It was easier for me to adapt this time to her absence. I found myself throwing myself into work, not by choice, but by necessity. But even then, I found myself happy. I was kind of amused by the standing victims because it was a case so intriguing that I enjoyed solving the puzzle. I even joked around with Catherine and David the assistant coroner. When Catherine asked about Sara, I readily admitted that I had no idea where she was. Catherine invited me over to breakfast afterwards and I started putting words to feelings, something I had never done very well, yet I found it easy to communicate to her.

It was also easy to communicate with her when I found that I needed to leave CSI. She was really supportive of me. Out of everyone in Vegas, she was the only one that I kept in regular contact with. She was the one who actually told me about Greg and Sara. It was nice actually having someone to talk to. We talked about everything. Her work, my work, and Lindsey among other things. It was just like old times. And just like the old times, I felt all of the familiar feelings rushing back to me.

Without you, I live it up a little more every day
Without you, I'm seein' myself so differently
I didn't wanna believe it then
But it all worked out in the end
When I watched you walk away
Well, I never thought I'd say I'm fine
Without you

Now I stand alone in a familiar parking lot against a familiar vehicle, waiting and watching. It's been a year a since I left Vegas, one of the longest of my life. It's good to be home. Las Vegas is the place where I truly discovered who I am, particularly through the whole situation with Sara. I discovered that I could survive without her, that I didn't need her to be happy. Even though I didn't want to admit it the first time she left, I was fine and I still am.

I straighten as I see someone approaching me. She stops and looks at me, shock written on her face before the happiness overtakes it. She rushes towards me and wraps her arms around my neck, intending to hug me, but I don't let her. I catch her lips in a passionate kiss and I am overjoyed when she responds to me. This is better than the old times. This is me and Catherine, finally taking things further, to where they were meant to be.

Yes, I am just fine.

Without you
Without you
Without you
Without you