When Mary and Stéphane made their way to the treatment room, Sara and Grissom were holding hands sitting side by side on the bed and engaged in a very animated conversation. From the few words Mary caught, Sara must have been telling him about her trip to the Galapagos aboard the Sea Shepherd.
The glow in Grissom's eyes and the grin on both their faces said it all. Mary could only smile a happy knowing smile, glad that they had finally found each other. She had grown attached to the younger girl over a very short period of time and had hated seeing her so distraught the last few days. She would be sorry to see her go but such was life. Mary knew that it was inevitable and according to what Stéphane had told her on their way over, coming much sooner than she would have liked.
Mary and Stéphane approached the bed causing Sara to turn her head in their direction, stopping talking mid-sentence. She smiled "hello", giving Grissom's hand a gentle squeeze and silently moved from her spot next to him to give Stéphane room to work. It was time for Grissom's medication and care. Furthermore, the doctor wanted to ascertain whether Grissom was medically and physically ready for his transfer out of the centre.
"Dr Grissom. How are you feeling this morning?" asked the doctor.
"Good. Much better, in fact. Thank you, Stéphane." Grissom replied with a warm smile.
"Excellent. Well, I'm glad that you're both here." the doctor continued, gaze fleeting between Sara and Grissom. "Have you had time to think about what we discussed last night?" he asked Grissom in particular.
Grissom scratched the back of his head. "A little." he replied. Truth be told, he had wanted to talk it over with Sara but the subject hadn't come up.
"I'm going to need to do a thorough examination to make sure that your broken bones are healing properly, check on the head wound and see if the swelling on your back has subsided. Basically, I need to ensure that you can physically tolerate the ride on the chopper. Just a formality, don't worry." he added, smiling at Sara. "The helicopter will be fully equipped to deal with any type of eventuality. Not that I'm expecting things not to go smoothly of course. It's approximately a forty minute flight to San Jose. And from there, well it all depends on what you've decided, Dr Grissom."
"Will I be able to fly with Gil?" asked Sara.
Stéphane lifted his eyebrows in confusion. "Are you concerned about flying while pregnant? Because if that's the case, Sara, rest assured it's still early enough in the pregnancy for it to be safe – for you and the baby." he told Sara reassuringly.
"Actually. I was more thinking of the logistics of the operation." Sara continued.
Grissom smiled indulgently. "I think that what Sara is trying to ask in a roundabout fashion is if there's going to be space for her in the helicopter." Grissom clarified with a chuckle. He then turned his head to address Sara. "If there isn't, I'm sure Jim would travel up with you. We could get you on the plane…" Grissom abruptly stopped talking.
"It's okay, Gil." Sara said, putting her hand on his shoulder, knowing what he had been about to say.
Stéphane dispelled the slight awkwardness with his next words. "I don't see why not. I would think they'd prefer to have a family member or friend travel with the injured party anyway. Then, the experience is not as stressful and daunting as it could otherwise be, especially in your case."
After a pregnant pause where he let them mull over the information, Stéphane resumed talking. "I'm going to need to make some calls to prepare for your transfer. There's a lot of paperwork that needs filling in and medical checks I need to perform before the insurance people will even give the go-ahead. So…when you're ready to be airlifted, where will it be? San Jose or back home to Sin City?" The doctor said with an arch of his brow, looking at his patient. "Have you two had time to discuss it and made a decision?"
Grissom didn't have to think about that decision at all; his choice was simple and there was only one place he wanted to be. He was about to reply when Sara cut in.
"We're going back to Vegas."
Grissom jerked his head round toward Sara, a shocked and bewildered look on his face.
"No, Sara." Grissom said gently but firmly. "That's not what I want. I came here for a reason. Well, two actually. From what I recall, from my reading anyway" he amended, "I came here to find you and study bugs." He arched an eyebrow. "I'm sorry Sara, but I won't leave until I've done just that. Fifty per cent is just not good enough." Grissom glanced back toward Stéphane. "We're going to CIMA."
"Are you sure about this?" Sara asked. "Think about it, Gil. First, there's the language barrier. Then…if we go to Desert Palm, you know the people, they have some of the best doctors…and the team, our friends, they're there and your home too." Sara argued.
"Sara, stop." Grissom said calmly. "Can we talk about this later?" he whispered to her, gently nodding toward an amused Mary who was failing to stifle her laughter.
"Talk about this later? When? When you're in the helicopter?" Sara asked tersely.
Grissom let out a sigh. "Sara, you left Vegas for very good reasons; reasons I didn't understand until it was too late, until I was ready to leave myself. I'm not ready to go back. Not yet. I'm sure they provide excellent care in San Jose too."
"They do." Stéphane interrupted earnestly. They have excellent facilities. The hospital is fairly new and they have state of the art technology." He looked from Grissom to Sara. "As for the language, most of the doctors speak English anyway. I have a contact in the orthopaedic department, a friend of mine from my Médecins-sans-Frontières days. If you decide to stay in Costa Rica, I'll get in touch with her and tell her to expect your arrival."
Stéphane stopped talking and looked at Grissom questioningly, awaiting his go-ahead. He would have to wait a little longer.
"Gil, honestly, I'll be fine if we go home. The last few months away have done me a lot of good. I've come to realise that it's not the place that was the problem but more what I was doing there. And I've come a long way since then."
Grissom nodded and thought about it for a minute. He then briefly glanced at Stéphane indicating with a slight nod of his head that the doctor could start organising his transfer to the hospital in San Jose, while never taking his eyes off Sara. Despite Sara's assurances to the contrary, Grissom wasn't prepared to take the risk lest she wasn't ready to go back. And anyway, he didn't care much where home was, as long as he could be with her and their baby.
Sara made her way to the window without another word, folded her arms about herself and let Stéphane and Mary carry out their examination and treatment. Forty-five minutes later, the two left assuring Sara and Grissom that the latter was fit for transfer. The former was still staring out of the window, deep in thoughts.
"Honey, what's wrong?" Grissom asked when they were alone. "I honestly think it's for the best. I feel that if we stay here for my recovery, this trip won't have been in vain."
She turned around very quickly, eyes glaring.
"I'm sorry." He back-pedalled, when he realised what he had just said. "That didn't come out how I intended. I…I was referring to the crash. Sara, talk to me, please."
"It's fine, Gil. It's your decision." She told him with a forced smile.
He pursed his lips and half closed his eyes, trying to decipher the true meaning of that last comment. Her tone of voice had been curt. It only took him a few seconds and then realisation hit him.
"Oh my god! What an idiot!" Grissom spluttered. "I am so sorry, Sara. It never occurred to me that you might not want to stay. Did you not want to stay? Did you want to go back to the States to have the baby?" He paused to catch his breath that had become ragged under the exertion. "It doesn't have to be Vegas. We could go to San Francisco. We still can…I'm sure Stéphane will…" Grissom stammered on.
Sara strode back toward the bed. "Ssshhh. Stop Gil. I don't care where I have the baby. I can have it anywhere. No, I…" she paused. "That's not what's bothering me. I just…I'm not sure you made your decision for the right reasons, that's all. You're going to have to stay in that hospital, Gil, God knows for how long until you can be discharged and if we went back home things would be easier." She argued without much conviction.
She noticed his quizzical expression and smiled. "Honestly, Gil, that's all."
"Easier for me, maybe." he retorted. "But certainly not for you. I told you. You're my priority now. And anyway, as I said, there's plenty more I want to do in Costa Rica before we go back home." Grissom said, with a final tone to his voice.
Sara let out a long breath through her resigned smile. She tilted her head to the side, not breaking eye contact with him and when she saw the resolve in his stare and expression she finally agreed. "Well, if you put it like that, Dr Grissom, San Jose it is."
"Thanks Jim." Grissom said for the tenth times in the last five minutes as the paramedics were carefully loading him, fully strapped in the stretcher, in the awaiting Medivac helicopter.
Brass stretched up to give Grissom's hand a gentle shake. "Don't mention it." he said. "You'd have done just the same. I'll see you…" Brass raised his voice as Grissom disappeared into the helicopter. "…when I see you. And stay in touch."
"We will." Sara answered.
She had been standing a few feet away, carefully monitoring the two paramedics' handling of Grissom. She then proceeded to hug Brass tightly for a long moment. "Thank you, Jim" she whispered in his ear. "For everything. For being here when I needed it, when we both needed it."
As a reply, Brass squeezed Sara even harder. "Take good care of him, Sara, and of the baby too."
"I will, don't worry."
"And stay in touch." he told her softly.
Brass reluctantly let go of Sara and placed in her hand a piece of paper with the names and details of his contact at the Embassy as well as that of an English-speaking obstetrician. He had also arranged for Sara to be taken to a small family-run pensión close to the hospital.
Sara glanced at the paper and smiled her thanks to Brass while wiping a stray tear from her cheek and stowing the paper in the back pocket of her pants. The detective squeezed her shoulder with affection reminding her to be strong and passed her the backpack filled with the few possessions she had gathered along the way, which lay by her feet on the ground. He watched her haul it onto the chopper as well as Grissom's bag that she had been carrying on her back. She then clambered onto the aircraft and found a seat at the back near where Grissom's stretcher had been secured for a safe flight.
One of the paramedics pulled the door shut and Brass took that as his cue to start moving away from the aircraft. He walked backwards to join Mary at a safe distance and all he could see of his friends now was Sara's helmet-clad head through the small side window.
Sara looked in his direction and Brass smiled as he gave her a small wave which she returned with a shaky smile. He thought he could glimpse another stray tear which she quickly wiped off.
How different things could have been! he thought. I could have been escorting a dead body back instead.
Something must have been spoken through the on-board radio because Brass saw Sara suddenly turn her head away and give her full attention to the pilot.
As if on cue, the pilot switched the engines on, the rotor blades started rotating, slowly at first and then faster as their loud deafening thumping began to disrupt the tranquillity and peace of the place as the helicopter gradually lifted off.
Brass placed his hand on the small of Mary's back and bent over her to shelter her from the dust and sand the downdraft was kicking up. He put his other arm over his face and had no choice but to look away.
When the helicopter was finally airborne, he lifted his gaze up toward the sky and gave a final wave as he watched the aircraft turn and retreat in the distance up ahead over the dark expanse of the lush jungle. He stayed there next to Mary, rooted to the spot, as though hypnotised by the disappearing dark spot in the sky.
Brass thought back to the moment Grissom had been hoisted aboard and to the glow in his friend's eyes. Despite the events and his somewhat uncertain future, there wasn't a trace of apprehension, fear or regret in his gaze, just a content and quiet happiness. Brass shook his head and smiled.
"What are you smiling about?" Mary asked him, cutting into his thoughts.
Brass turned his head toward her. "Huh?" He answered with a shrug of his shoulders.
"I'm glad it's worked out for the two of them." She added, seemingly able to read his mind.
Brass smiled shyly. "Yeah. Me too. Me too." he repeated quietly. "It took them long enough."
Mary nodded her agreement. "Did they tell you?"
"Tell me what?"
Mary laughed. "I take that as a no, then. Didn't you notice?" she continued.
Brass stared at her blankly.
"I thought you were a detective in the police force, Mr Brass, the best, from what Sara told me."
Brass looked very confused. "You talked about me with Sara?"
"A little." she confessed. "Shall we?" she added, motioning for them to start to walk back toward the camp.
Brass followed suit. "So come on." Brass said. "Tell me, what did I miss?"
Mary smiled and tapped the side of her nose with her index finger. "That would be telling."
"What? Come on." He pleaded. "You can tell me. Besides, there's plenty I could tell you about Grissom and Sara…"
Mary laughed again. "I don't doubt it. All right. How could you not spot the ring on their fingers?"
Brass stopped dead in his tracks. "The what?" he spluttered. "Are you sure? They can't have got married…I would have noticed, wouldn't I?" Brass inquired, now laughing. "Well, the old dog."
Mary stopped walking too and turned round to look at Brass. "Well, they couldn't have done it officially but I reckon it's only a matter of time."
Brass shook his head in disbelief. "Wait till I tell them back home." he mused.
Mary linked her arm to Brass's and resumed walking. "Now, Mr Brass," she continued.
"Well, Jim, since you're stuck here for a little longer, how would you like for me to show you round the area?" Mary asked with a smile on her face.
Brass registered a look of surprise. "Oh! I don't know." he told her, hesitantly. She made a pretend sad face and he started to laugh. "Mmm…what do you have in mind? I'm supposed to be back the day after tomorrow."
"Well, you can't leave until you've trekked once to Lake Corcovado or seen the coast. The turtles have only just hatched. It's only a two day slow trek to the Playa Madrigal."
"If you put it like that, I guess I could always call Ecklie."
"Ecklie?" Mary asked softly, unable to disguise the sudden doubt and surprise from her voice.
"My boss." he clarified, picking up on her change of mood. "I'd have to clear it with him first but what can he do? If I put him in front of the fait accompli, he can hardly refuse to extend my leave."
"Good. Because I know exactly where to take you." She paused, a cheeky twinkle in her eyes. "Jim, have you brought your bathing suit?"
Brass burst out laughing. "My what?" he spluttered. He could have sworn she saw her wink at him. Or maybe, she was just squinting into the sun. Is she flirting? "Damn! I'm starting to regret agreeing to this already." he joked.
"Don't." Mary interjected. "We're going to have a great time."
"Isn't he just perfect?" Grissom asked.
Sara stared at the bundle in her arms and let out a long sigh. The baby wasn't even an hour old yet and she was having her first proper hold. She was absolutely exhausted, sore all over, her hair was clammy with sweat and she was still under the influence of the gas and air she had sucked on during the birth. She had been told that it would help with the pain. All it had done was to give her a high and make her numb. As for dulling the pain… she'd hate to think how much worse it would have been without it.
She shook her head back to reality. "He's so small." she whispered, gently stroking the infant's face with the tip of her index finger.
"Small but perfect." Grissom assured proudly. He swivelled the wheelchair he was sitting on nearer the bed and stretched up to take a peek at the sleeping form in Sara's arms. "You heard what the midwife said, 'de buena salud'" he repeated.
Sara smiled at the memory. Stéphane had been correct when he had said that most of the doctors could speak some English but what he had failed to mention was that the nurses and midwives more often than not, didn't. As for the midwife that had delivered Sara and Grissom's baby,well the least said the better.
"I know but still." Sara replied. "God, how are we going to cope?" she asked after a while.
"We'll be fine." He assured, giving a gentle squeeze of her arm. "Besides, I'm making good progress. I can help."
She turned her head very slowly and gave him a slow disbelieving smile. "You're lucky I'm too sore to move" she chuckled, "or I would have to show you what I think of that."
"What?" he asked innocently, slightly wheeling his chair back out of her reach. "I've always taken good care of my pets!"
"Do you want to hold him?" she asked suddenly.
His face lit up; his eyes shone with excitement. "Are you sure?" he murmured, already extending his arms toward Sara. "I'd love to."
"Just support his head… there."
"God he is so light." Grissom said staring intently at the sleeping infant in his arms, mesmerised by his tiny features, a soft smile tugging at the corners of his mouth.
"You know Sara," Grissom continued not taking his eyes of his son, "the 'orthopod' told me this afternoon that at the rate I'm improving, I'll be able to manage to walk on my own in a couple of months and then they're thinking they'll be able to discharge me."
"Oh! That's fantastic, Gil."
Sara was genuinely pleased for Grissom. The last four months had been hard on him but he had never once complained and shown great dedication, determination and courage. Sara knew though how intensely painful some of the treatment had been. For, she had been there to witness first hand his silent wincing as she had helped with some of the exercises.
First, he had had physiotherapy on his dislocated shoulder. The exercises were sometimes excruciatingly painful but the doctor had explained that she wanted the shoulder strong and back to normal before the injuries on the legs had healed. Grissom would need a strong shoulder in order to support his weight when holding the crutches if he wanted to start regaining some mobility in his legs.
And learning to walk again was Grissom's number one priority.
By the time the compound fractures on his lower legs had healed and the plaster casts had been removed, Grissom's muscles were atrophied. It took a lot of painful exercises both in a purpose-built gym and sessions in the pool at the hospital for Grissom to strengthen his legs and learn to stand again – let alone start to put one foot in front of the other, aided or unaided.
At first, the progress had been very slow because so much of the muscle had wasted away but as his legs got stronger again, Grissom had started to stand for longer periods of time, and then a week ago, he had taken his first few steps with the help of Sara. He was still some way from walking completely unaided but he knew that day would come.
Grissom's next words startled Sara out of her reverie. "Honey, I was thinking…when they've discharged me, if you'd like maybe we could take Noah to…"
"I'd love to," Sara interrupted earnestly.
"You would?" he inquired, looking up to offer her a warm smile.
She nodded as she leaned back to lay her head on the pillow. She closed her eyes allowing the exhaustion she'd been trying to fight off to envelop her. She would love to go back and show Mary the baby. She slowly turned her head to the side and peered over to watch Grissom gently nudge Noah's hand open with his much bigger index finger. Grissom was beaming with pride as the little boy unconsciously closed his tiny hand around his finger.
Sara felt such a sudden surge of love overcome her that her eyes filled with tears. She slowly closed her eyes again, a soft contented smile on her lips and was asleep in seconds.
After a while, Grissom looked up toward Sara and smiled tenderly on noticing that she had finally succumbed. When he looked down again, he was met by the most humbling sight – two blue eyes staring up at him.
"Hey, little one," he whispered. "Your mommy's sleeping now so it's just you and me."
"In a few weeks," he continued after a while, his voice barely audible, "when you and I are both stronger, we'll take your mommy on a trip, a trip to a happy place. Now, let me tell you about your mommy…"
A/N: I hope you like the epilogue and that it answers all your questions! Please, leave a review!
New story on the way…a case driven one with a bit of personal stuff getting in the way! So watch this space.