Disclaimer: 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. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

Spoilers: through "Young Man With a Horn" and current news about casting changes.

A birthday fic for DreamsOfHim, who graciously gave me permission to post. Happy birthday!

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Everything was ready.

Grissom took one last look around. His home was normally neat, but now it looked uninhabited, or like a showpiece--every single book on its shelf, no papers scattered around, the cupboards bare of food and the refrigerator unplugged. His bugs were gone, passed to fellow enthusiasts who would treat them well, and while the house was quiet without Hank, Grissom knew he was happy at Nick's.

Sighing a little, Grissom glanced at his watch. The cab would be along in another thirty minutes or so; as usual, he was running early. So he took the time to double-check the sheaf of papers tucked into his laptop case.

Everything was in order; he had forgotten nothing.

Stretching out on the couch, Grissom folded one arm behind his head and stared at the ceiling. He and Sara had chosen the house together, making it their own space, their private sanctuary. It had been a revelation for him, to share territory with someone else, and even more of one to find that he loved doing so. For a little while his life had been more than he'd ever dreamed it could be--rich with love and laughter and a light that had nothing to do with the sun.

For a little while.

Grissom pursed his lips sadly, wondering how long it would have lasted if Natalie hadn't interfered, if Sara's ghosts hadn't caught up with her, even if only Scott Shelton hadn't chosen that time to act. Maybe a little longer. Maybe a lot.

There was no telling now. He'd always seen Sara as tough, stronger than him in fact, but she'd borne her own sorrows, her own flaws, and in the end they'd gotten the better of her. And while he'd blamed her for a long time for leaving, in the end Grissom had come to realize that she'd made the right choice, acting from that strength.

I just didn't want to deal with what it meant.

It was a bitter thing to realize how much of a coward he'd been. So afraid of pain that I ran myself onto the point of my own sword.

Sara...

He'd always believed in choice. How ironic that his refusals to choose had been the means of his own undoing.

Grissom felt his eyes prickle, and closed them quickly, pressing his fingers into his lids to still the sensation. Heather had been right, in her own way, but there was always more to the story, and he smiled a little, ironic, at the memory. He'd let her in; in some ways, he'd let Heather further in than Sara. But it didn't matter, because only one person could get all the way to his heart.

Sometimes I think she took it with her when she left.

And whose fault was it, that he walked around with a hollow where his heart had been?

Grissom sighed. It was time to go. He'd always promised himself that he'd leave when he no longer loved his work, and that time had come. That too was bitter; it was Warrick he'd told, so long ago, that he would slip away, but Warrick had slipped away first, right out of his arms.

His mind went over them, one by one. Nick, loyal and the strength of the team; Greg, maturing nicely and as dedicated as ever; Riley, who was making her own place; Catherine, who'd been a better friend than he deserved sometimes.

She'll be pissed.

She wouldn't be the only one; Jim was going to be pretty mad, though Grissom figured his old friend would understand too. Al would just shake his head; David would sigh; Hodges would be sanctimonious, as usual; and Ecklie would--

Grissom decided he didn't really care what Ecklie thought.

The new guy will be all right. Grissom had followed Langston's work for a long time, and he could supply a lot of the wisdom that the lab would need. Grissom hated slipshod work, and even in his own leaving he had been thorough.

It is time to go.

As if summoned, the sound of a car engine shutting off penetrated Grissom's melancholy. The cab's early.

He pushed to his feet and shrugged into his jacket, reaching for his laptop; his little suitcase sat ready by the door. But doubt assailed him as he pulled the strap over his shoulder.

What if I'm wrong? What if she's gone? What if she looks at me and turns away?

Grissom set his jaw and pushed the thoughts away. He'd made his choice--late, perhaps too late, but he'd finally made it, and he would carry it through. For Sara, even the ends of the earth are not too far to go.

Well, in this case it was more like the middle, but the principle was the same. He would find her, and see if she even let him apologize.

And if not, we'll see who can out-stubborn the other this time.

Taking a deep breath, he opened his front door.

Sara started, her hand poised in midair where she'd been reaching for the knocker. Her eyes were wide, and Grissom was so utterly flabbergasted at the sight of her that he couldn't move, couldn't speak. She didn't seem possible--

Sara stared back for a moment, then smiled, wry and uncertain, and held up a piece of flimsy paper. "Hey. I got a telegram from a Heather Kessler. Said I should drop by. Um, who sends telegrams any more?"

She was possible. More than that, she was real. He still didn't have any words, but Grissom reached out, ignoring the paper, and pulled her to him. She went willingly, and as her arms went around him the space inside him filled with an indescribable joy.

They didn't move for a long, long time. Finally, though, Sara's grip loosened and she stepped back, and Grissom made his arms open to release her. "Sara..."

His voice was rough, which surprised him. Sara smiled at him again, but it was her nervous smile, and that hurt.

"Uh, look, I don't know quite what I'm doing here, because you know I was just going to let things go, but--am I in the way? Because if--"

Grissom laid a finger gently on her lips to still her babbling. With his other hand he pulled the papers from his case and held them out.

Sara took them, looking down to leaf through them. Passport; plane tickets, boat tickets--all one way. Destination: the Galapagos Islands.

When she looked back up, the joy in her eyes eclipsed Vegas' noonday sun, and Grissom knew that by that light he could navigate the rest of his life.

When the cab arrived, it picked up two passengers.

End.