A/N: I'm sorry this took so long to put together. But here it is…


Epilogue.


Sara parked the rental VW Passat wagon in the street, outside the Robbins's ranch style house and cut the engine. She turned to smile at Grissom. His shoulders were slumped forward, his jaw tense, his gaze lacklustre and staring straight ahead through the windshield.

"Come on," she said, unbuckling her seat belt, "we're already late as it is. Let's go and see everyone."

Although she sounded bright enough, Grissom knew Sara felt as wary as he was about going to this little get-together, even though only their closest friends would be present. She was getting out of the car when he put his hand on her arm holding her back.

Sara turned hesitantly and shifted on the seat. On seeing the worry in his eyes, she reached over and brushed her hand along his bearded cheek very gently. "Don't you want to do this?" she asked. "I'm sure Al and Judy would understand if you'd rather we went back to Jim's. They'd…"

Grissom shook his head slowly at her suggestion, silencing her and smiled nervously. "It's something else. I've been meaning to talk to you about it for a while now but…I'm not sure…" He clenched his eyes shut tightly as though in pain.

"Gil, are you feeling okay?" she asked with evident anxiety. "Did you take all your pain meds?"

He nodded softly, reopening his eyes and smiled tenderly at her concern. He sighed looking down, took her hand with his and played nervously with her fingers as he chose his next words carefully. He knew he should have been brave enough to fess us to what had happened at Heather's sooner but they had had so much to cope with already he had kept putting it off. Now, he had no choice. He had to tell her. And he had to do it now.

Keeping his gaze on the wedding band on her finger, Grissom took in a deep breath. "You know," he began shakily, "the last few minutes on that boat just before…McCormick…" Grissom ran his hand across his face and sighed. "God, how can I say this without-" he muttered to himself with evident frustration and Sara braced herself for what she knew had been a while coming.

Grissom then forced himself to look her in the eye. "Did…they find a tape…on the boat? A recording?"

"No," Sara replied without a second's hesitation, "they didn't." Grissom nodded with a relieved sigh but was badly prepared for her next words. "I did."

He gasped, his eyes pooling with spontaneous tears. He looked down attempting to hide his disarray and rubbed his eyes with both hands.

Sara continued, "I took it before anyone saw it." She pinched her lips to hide her pain and Grissom looked up. "After getting that…Polaroid he sent me," her voice cracked and she paused to take a deep breath while Grissom reached out to wipe a tear, "I had a feeling the tape was another one of his sick games," she continued softly. "Something he said to me on the boat…" Sara closed her eyes as images of what happened filled her mind.

"Have you listened to it?"

Sara squeezed her eyes shut tighter, releasing more tears and then turned her head away.

Grissom didn't need words to know she had. He let out a drawn out sigh. "None of it's true," he murmured hoarsely. "Well, I did… spend the night with her but nothing happened. You got to believe that, Sara. I would never, never-"

Sara blinked more tears and brought her finger to his mouth. "Ssshhh. I know. I trust you."

Grissom nodded. He leaned over to her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders, using the thumb of the other hand to wipe her tears. "I love you, Sara. Always remember that." He kissed her on the temple and pulled back.

They remained close for a moment and then Sara pulled away, glancing toward the back seat. She was edgy. Catching sight of the folded wheelchair was gut-wrenching but she swallowed her pain and checked on Noah, who was still fast asleep. She then checked her pasty reflection in the rearview mirror and wiped the smudged area around her eyes with her fingers. She looked over her shoulder toward the Robbins's house and was about to get out of the car when she unexpectedly turned toward Grissom. "Why now?" she asked abruptly.

"Excuse me?"

"Why tell me now? Just before we're to see our friends." His deer-caught-in-headlights face said it all and Sara shook her head despondently. "She's going to be there, isn't she?"

The nod he gave her was so small Sara wondered whether she had imagined it. But there was no mistaking the helpless, hapless look he furtively cast in her direction. "She's coming along with Jim," he murmured by way of explanation breaking the lengthy awkward silence.

"Well, that's just perfect."

"Sara, nothing happened," he said despairingly.

"I know!" she snapped angrily. She took a deep breath and repeated more quietly, "I know. It doesn't mean that I've got to like the woman or what's happened – or not – between you."

"Sara, we don't have to go if-"

"Yeah, we do," she cut in, opening her door effectively putting an end to the conversation. We need to put all this behind us once and for all, she wanted to add but didn't. She swung her left leg out of the car and stopped, closing her eyes wearily. "I'll get Noah."

"Sara?" Grissom whispered, softly grabbing her by the arm before she had a chance to flee. "Are we all right?" The fear in his voice was heartbreaking.

Sara didn't turn to look at him when she gave him a terse nod of the head. "We will be."


Grissom was using the wheels to push himself round to the back of the Robbins's property on the smooth, wide concrete path. He had a blanket draped over his legs, a bunch of flowers over the top. He had refused Sara's offer of help and she walked several paces behind him, carrying a still sleeping Noah in his car seat.

Sara couldn't help noticing the various easy-access ramps, grab rails and side handles fixed near doors and passageways, or the lack of steps and gravel anywhere. She took in Al's well-loved customised Volvo parked in front of the double garage and made a mental note of all the adjustments that would need to be made to their house in Sunnydale. Overwhelmed by the thoughts swirling in her minds, Sara stopped abruptly, set Noah's car seat down noisily on the path and rubbed her aching arm.

Grissom turned round in the wheelchair peering over his shoulder. On noticing she had stopped, he attempted a clumsy U-turn and cursed under his breath. "Honey? We really don't have to do this,if you don't want to."

Sara made herself smile. "No, no, I want to. Noah's getting heavy, that's all."

Grissom studied her for a moment and nodded choosing to ignore the blatant lie. "We won't stay long."

Sara nodded distractedly, her eyes on Noah. The little boy smiled dreamily in his sleep and Sara's lips pursed into a wistful smile as she picked him up. She looked up, catching Grissom's gaze. Her smile widened when she noticed the worry in his eyes and she reached out a hand to his shoulder in reassurance. "I'll be fine," she told him as convincingly as she could.

As they rounded the corner, it was Grissom's turn to stop abruptly. It would be the first time since getting out of the hospital that he would see all his friends at once. The thought suddenly overwhelmed him.

Sara caught up with him and slipped her hand in the crook of his neck in silent comfort. He peered up at her and smiled stiffly. She smiled back in understanding, nodding him along in encouragement.

Grissom hesitated and taking a deep breath, he cautiously set off toward the patio to meet their friends. Al, Nick and Greg were too busy chatting to notice his arrival. The others by all appearances hadn't made it yet. Grissom registered another split second of hesitation but Al caught his eye, smiled and waved his beer can in greeting. He waved him over, standing up.

"I honestly didn't think you'd be showing up," he said in a mild tone his gaze flicking between Sara and Grissom. He clasped his hand over his friend's shoulder warmly. "Shall I get you a drink?"

"Make it a soft one."

"Sara?"

"Me too, thanks Al." She stepped forward and grabbed the grocery bag slung over the handles of Grissom's wheelchair. She took out a bottle of wine and held it out. "It's not much-"

"It's perfect," Al said his tone full of warmth and understanding as he took the bottle from her. He studied the label and smiled. "Only you would remember Judy's favourite."

Sara smiled genuinely. "Thanks for doing this Al."

"We couldn't let you go back home without the promised roast lamb," he replied with a smile directed especially at Grissom. "Don't worry Judy's not forgotten about you," he then told Sara before moving to the table to pour Sara and Grissom their drinks.

Greg and Nick both stood up and hugged Sara in turn. Greg bent down to greet Noah who was yawning himself awake. He glanced at Sara asking permission to take him out of the seat and when she nodded he happily obliged with a 'Come and say hello to Uncle Greg and Uncle Nicky'.

"Sara, Judy's in the kitchen," Al then told Sara meaningfully, passing her drink.

Sara looked at Al and smiled in understanding. She took the proffered beverage and the flowers from Grissom's lap. "I'll go say 'Hi' then." She quickly glanced at her husband; he looked remarkably more relaxed than he had five minutes previously and Sara felt comfortable that he would be fine without her for a short while. She arched her brow at him, enquiring whether he was happy left in charge of Noah.

He nodded with a smile and reached out to squeeze her hand. "Don't worry about me," he said reassuringly, "I'm in good hands."

Sara turned toward Greg and Nick and made sure Noah was happily settled. She then entered the house, following the sound of music playing on the radio toward the kitchen. She rasped her knuckled on the open door and Judy turned round, a welcoming smile forming on her lips at seeing Sara. She reached over to the shelf and switched the music off.

"Sara! How good to see you!" The two women smiled and embraced briefly. "I'm so glad you could make it. Catherine called. She's running late, I'm afraid." She motioned for Sara to take a seat at the island unit. Sara gave her the flowers and the older woman thanked her with a smile. "I see Al made you a drink?"

"He did." Sara sat down and looked around the kitchen. "Can I do anything to help?"

"No. It's all under control. I hope!" she replied in good-humour, reaching in a cupboard for a vase that she swiftly filled with water. Noticing Sara's slightly cautious look, she added hesitantly, "Maybe you could…cut up some carrots into some sticks for the dips?" Sara smiled her reply. The smile Judy returned was warm and knowing and she moved to the fridge to take out some carrots. "When are you going back to San Francisco?" she asked casually. "Al wasn't sure."

"Gil wants to leave as soon as possible," Sara answered with a shrug. "We're staying at Jim's tonight and setting off at dawn tomorrow morning."

Judy handed Sara a knife, a chopping board and the carrots and sat down across from the younger girl. "Are you flying back?" she asked the bewildered concern evident in her tone.

"No," Sara reassured with a quick smile. "I thought it best not to." Judy nodded earnestly; they would come across enough hurdles without creating more for themselves – the crowds, stairs, long delays and curious stares were best avoided at first. "We've hired a car," Sara stated as she carefully sliced into a carrot.

"It's a long way to drive on your own, Sara," Judy said, leaving out with a young child and a disabled husband.

"I'll be fine; I've done it before."

Judy smiled pleasantly. "You've obviously thought this through. The practical hurdles at the beginning seem insurmountable but in time they smooth themselves out. The emotional ones will be harder." She paused, watching Sara. "How is he doing?"

Sara carefully put the knife down. "Physically, he's been fantastic. He's healing well and after his…initial reticence, he's worked really hard to be able to get out of the hospital." She smiled, the pride radiating from her evident as she spoke. "He's managing most things on his own now – with the wheelchair, of course." Her expression soon shifted to sadness and she lifted her shoulders in a small helpless shrug. "He tries to put on a brave face but emotionally, not so good really. He's guarded, distant…" She sighed. "No, not distant, just more withdrawn, and introspective." She snorted slightly at her words. "More so than recently anyway."

Sara needed to talk and Judy realised it. It was clear that she hadn't had the opportunity to speak to anyone about any of this. She couldn't share her burden with Grissom either; he had enough to cope with his rehabilitation without her insecurities adding to his load.

"I don't know what's eating him up the most," Sara continued a little despondently now. "The anger over the loss of his leg, the nightmares over what McCormick put him through or the fact that the bast-, that he died without proper retribution." She paused, debating with herself whether she should continue.

Judy was smiling encouragingly at her and feeling lighter for offloading, Sara carried on with her monologue. "It's strange really. I thought McCormick's death would help him get some closure but somehow it's had the opposite effect. He hasn't told me as much but I think he feels robbed of the opportunity for face-to-face justice. You know what I mean?" Judy nodded and Sara added shrugging helplessly, "I've tried talking about it with him but he doesn't want to. To me anyway. He's just bottling it all up."

"He's coping the only way he knows how. You got to be patient, Sara. Gil's a good man and I'm sure he's grateful for what you're doing. You're there for him and ultimately that's what counts."

Sara smiled gratefully. "His eyes have lost their sparkle." She looked down self-consciously, trying to hide the tears shining in her eyes. "The only times I see him truly relaxed and unguarded, or laugh even is when he's with Noah."

"That's because with him, he allows himself to be himself."

Sara nodded. "I know all that but…" She bit her bottom lip anxiously. How could she confess without sounding selfish that she felt sidelined? That she was also hurting about what had happened? That she had also lost a part of her on that boat? And that what she had heard on the tape bothered her more than she cared to admit even to herself?

Judy reached over and squeezed Sara's arm comfortingly. "Have you been to see a psychiatrist?"

Sara shook her head softly. "We were waiting until we got home."

"What about you Sara?" Judy asked. "You've talked about how tough it is for him – and it is – but I know Sara, from experience, how tough it must be for you too. You hurt to see them hurt and broken and no one thinks to ask you how you're doing."

Sara got up and went to stand in front of the stove, her back to Judy. She picked up the wooden spoon and distractedly began stirring the vegetables, her eyes blurring with tears she couldn't keep in anymore.

Judy got up to fetch a small card from the counter. She placed it near the stove in plain view of Sara. "This is the number of a friend of mine; someone I've known a long time. She lives in San Francisco. She'd be delighted to get a call from you, Sara." She paused and gave Sara time to glance at the card with the name, address and phone number of a counsellor for The Amputee Coalition of America.

Sara used the sleeve of her sweater to wipe her cheeks. "I try, Judy. I really do. I try to be strong, to keep a brave face, for the two of us but it's just so damn hard." She turned round abruptly. "I know it's tougher for him still but-" her shoulders shook and tears began streaming down her face.

Judy wrapped an arm around the younger girl's shoulders and just held her, letting her cry.

Sara continued talking through hiccup-filled sobs. "I lock myself in the bathroom, Judy. I hide. I can't bear for him to know I'm not strong enough. I don't know if I can do this Judy, and I can't tell him any of this because…because I'm ashamed. He's being so brave…and I-" Sara was panting, gasping for air and she broke down.

Judy turned her and let her cry into her shoulder, rubbing her hand over her back soothingly. "It's okay, Sara. I still feel like this after all these years and I didn't even know Al before his accident." She paused and smiled. "Why do you think Al and I take separate vacations every year? Honey, what you're feeling is normal, natural. It's part of the healing, of the grieving process. It doesn't show weakness on your part. It shows humanity. It means you care, you love, you feel."

Judy pushed Sara back a little and looked up to catch her eye. "Please, give Monica a call. She's been through the same thing and she's an excellent therapist."

Sara nodded and picked up the card.

Judy moved back and leaned across the kitchen counter to grab a tissue, which she handed to Sara. She watched Sara for a moment, hesitating to voice one more thought. When Sara had finished blowing her nose, Judy pinched her lips and took a deep breath. "I hope I'm not overstepping the mark here but have you given any thought to…have you considered that maybe," she sighed, "you should move back to Vegas? Permanently?"

Sara snapped her head up toward Judy, her eyes full of unspoken objections. A look of incertitude crossed her face and she averted her gaze.

"Just don't dismiss the idea out of hand, Sara," Judy added without any pressure. "Think about it. It makes sense."


"So?" Al said, handing Grissom his drink.

Grissom took his eyes off Noah and focused his attention on his friend. He frowned in uncertainty.

Al laughed. "I thought you weren't paying attention," he mused pleasantly. "The wheelchair? Has it become your best friend yet?"

Grissom was going to reply but he suddenly caught sight of Heather and Brass arriving. Al followed his friend's gaze and leaned over, placing his arm on his shoulder. "I'll leave you to it, Gil. Call if you need anything."

Grissom nodded at Al distractedly, his eyes intently focused on the arriving couple. He was astounded on how pallid and drawn Heather looked. She seemed to have lost a lot of weight in very little time and was a shadow of her former self. Grissom sighed and then smiled a little when Heather brought her gaze up to meet his. She returned Grissom's smile with an awkward one of her own and turned toward Brass, acknowledging something he had said to her with a soft nod. Brass had his hand in the small of her back and Grissom felt a little comfort in the thought that at least she had him to lean on and wasn't left to cope on her own.

Brass was the first to talk. "Sara didn't make it?" he asked a little sadly with a quick glance at Heather.

Grissom flicked his gaze from Heather to the detective. "She's in the kitchen, with Judy. Come to think of it; she's been there some time. Maybe I should go and check on her."

"I'll go," Brass offered a little too readily for Grissom's liking but the latter nodded his accord regardless.

Brass turned toward Heather. "Shall I get you a drink?" Heather smiled and shook her head, thanking him. He then turned back to Grissom. "I won't be long, buddy." He smiled a little uncomfortably but Heather and Grissom were staring at each other and didn't notice.

Grissom broke the awkward silence first. "Shall we go for a-" He was going to say 'walk' and he closed his eyes irritably, rephrasing his question. "Shall we go over there?" he said nodding toward a wooden bench in a quieter spot of the backyard. Heather followed his gaze and nodded her head. Grissom released the brakes on the wheelchair and moved away, Heather forlornly following behind him.

He reached the bench and Heather sat on it, setting her purse on her lap. "How's Alison doing?" he asked quietly, his eyes wandering toward the patio, checking for Sara.

Heather focused her gaze on a bougainvillea shrub in the distance and shrugged. She remained silent for a while before replying, "Not well." She let out a long breath and turned to look at Grissom. He was watching her with compassion in his eyes and she smiled a small watery smile. "She's on anti-depressants. She's unresponsive; she barely eats or drinks anything. She barely sleeps and when she does…" She sighed, stopping mid-sentence and turned her teary gaze away. "She hasn't uttered a word since we found her. Not a single word; selective mutism due to the trauma, they say. She screams if I suggest we go outside, even to the backyard she used to love so much." She wiped a tear angrily. "The only positive reaction we've had so far is when Jim came to return her teddy. She snatched it off him and hasn't let go of it since." Heather lapsed into silence, fumbling in her purse for a tissue.

"Is Jerome with her now?"

Heather nodded as she carefully dabbed her eyes with the tissue. "One of us has to stay with her at all times. He's moved in with us and that helps…"

Grissom nodded sympathetically. He caught a glimpse of Sara with Nick, Greg and Noah on the patio and smiled absently, grateful that he had such amazing love in his life. She didn't look happy but she wasn't as sad as she had been when they first arrived. Sara felt his gaze on her face and slowly turned her head toward him. Grissom allowed his eyes to caress her face lovingly, letting her know she had nothing to fear by his conversation with Heather and they shared a small, hesitant and yet devoted smile.

Heather's next words broke him out of his daydream. "Grissom," she said placing her hand over his arm but jerking it back almost immediately self-consciously. She then looked over to the patio, checking that Sara hadn't been witness to it. "I…feel responsible. I am so sorry for what's happened to you and Ali. I-"

"I called your house a couple of times," Grissom said. "I left messages. Both times." Although involuntarily, his tone was curt, almost reproachful and Heather's face darkened.

"I know. And I thank you for your concern. But I felt it was best, considering, that I gave you and Sara some time together. I think I did enough damage…" Heather bit her bottom lip, debating with herself whether she should tell Grissom Sara knew about their – her little indiscretion. Deciding not to, she continued, "I stopped by the hospital to see you when they discharged Ali but you hadn't regained consciousness."

Taken aback by this sudden discovery, Grissom arched a questioning brow and watched Heather intently for a moment. She looked uncomfortable and kept flicking her gaze around the patio anxiously. Grissom had originally put it down to her looking for Brass but no. He smiled as realisation hit him; she was worried she'd come face to face with Sara. "She knows, Heather. I told her." He shook his head with a weary smile. "She already knew."

Heather snapped her head round to him. "I know," she sighed. "We had words…" She paused. "Do you want me to speak to her? Explain?"

"No! God no. No. We're fine but I…still would have liked to have seen Alison, to thank her for what she did. She was very brave, Heather and she was a lot of support to me…" his words trailed as he recalled their first talk through the door. He looked down to the ground, lapsing into silence.

When neither had spoken after long minutes, each lost in their own thoughts, Grissom sighed, saying, "I'd understand if you thought it wouldn't be good for her to see me…like this," he added with a look to his lap, "but-"

"Jim said you were leaving tomorrow."

Grissom seemed surprised by the interruption. "We are." He sighed, "We were but I-"

"Would you? Really?" she asked, meeting his gaze. The desperate hope in her voice was heartbreaking.

Grissom smiled tenderly and then nodded. "What has the psychiatrist advised?"

Heather scoffed. "The usual. They don't want to push her; they're unable to reach in to her. Neither can I for that matter."

He nodded solemnly. "Would you mind if I brought Sara along?"

Heather frowned in bafflement and pushed back a strand of black hair from her eyes. "Sara? Why? What could she say or do that could help Ali?" she asked defensively.

Grissom averted his gaze to the patio, zooming in on his wife. Noah was sitting on her lap playing with a cell phone. He smiled unconsciously as he debated with himself whether to voice his thinking, yet knowing it wasn't his place to divulge Sara's most guarded secret. And yet, he knew because she had been through such a traumatic ordeal herself that she would know how to relate to Alison.

"Grissom?"

He turned back to Heather with a sigh. "I don't know," he replied to her former question. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything before I spoke with Sara."

"Grissom, you're not making any sense." She paused, frowning. "You think she wouldn't help because of what I did?"

"No," he said softly.

Heather turned her gaze to the middle distance and pinched her lips together in thought. "I tried apologising to her but…," she shrugged, "she's angry at me. It's perfectly understandable."

"Sara wouldn't be doing it for you, though, would she?" he said with a small smile and a shrug. "But I think she would do it for Alison."

"Do what?" Sara asked quietly as she joined the pair.


The big, heavy, wooden door opened a crack and then wider. "Grissom," Heather murmured with a small smile. Her gaze slid up to Sara, who was standing a little back and carrying a smiling Noah in her arms. Her smile widened in genuine gratitude toward Sara. "Thank you," she whispered meaningfully. Sara nodded back with a small, uneasy smile. "Come in. Ali's in the conservatory, playing."

Grissom led the way to the kitchen in silence. When he got there, he stopped on noticing Alison sitting on a rug in the corner of the conservatory, playing with her dolls. She didn't seem to realise she wasn't on her own any more, so engrossed she was in her own world.

Heather approached her granddaughter with hesitation. "Ali? Darling? A very good friend of mine's here to see you." The little girl froze in her game but made no sound or eye contact. "Can he come and say hello to you and your dolls?" Heather then asked.

Alison shrugged a small shoulder in reply but nothing more. Heather looked up toward Grissom and gave a small nod. With a couple of turns of the wheels of his chair he found himself at the edge of the rug, while Sara stayed back with a wide-eyed Noah.

"Hello, Alison," Grissom whispered cautiously.

The little girl startled on hearing Grissom's voice but she kept her gaze on the doll as tears immediately built in her eyes.

Thinking that maybe what they were doing wasn't such a good idea after all, he looked up toward Heather with a questioning stare. Heather nodded her head so he continued. "I'm Gil. Do you remember me?"

Alison gave a small scared nod of her head and clutched her doll tighter to her chest. She began to rock gently upon herself, refusing still to make eye contact.

"I came to say thank you." He paused, searching for words a five-year-old would comprehend. "You saved me. You saved my life. You were very brave when you made that call to the Police. You know that's how they were able to find us."

Alison remained silent and Grissom wasn't sure whether she had heard him at all. She stopped rocking and began brushing and stroking her doll's hair very gently.

Suddenly, Noah started to become agitated. At first, he whimpered because he wanted to get down from his mother's arms and then he began to cry, thrashing about into her tight hold. Sara tried to shush and comfort him as best she could. In the end, she made to leave the room but Heather stopped her. She put her hand on Sara's shoulders and pointed toward Alison.

Alison was watching Noah and Sara intently, as though hypnotised, an unconscious wistful smile on her lips. She didn't seem to mind Noah's crying at all, on the contrary. Sara kept her eyes on the little girl and her face neutral as she stepped forward very slowly. She then set Noah down on the tiled floor by the wheelchair and stood back. The boy immediately ceased his crying and clambered to his feet, holding on to his father's pant leg for balance. He turned toward Alison and extended his hand toward the doll, babbling animatedly.

Alison's smile widened on watching Noah but she hid the doll she was playing with behind her back. Noah was about to start whimpering again when Alison chose another doll, which she then silently passed on to him. He snatched it off her, clumsily pulling it by the hair, and brought it to his mouth.

Grissom turned toward Heather. She was smiling, watching the scene unfold, tears streaming down her face. She crouched down on the rug near Noah and started talking to him softly. Grissom felt Sara's hand on his left shoulder and he leaned his cheek against it, nuzzling to it before looking up over his shoulders to catch her eyes. He smiled at her with all the tenderness, love and gratitude he could muster. It had been her idea to bring Noah along.

Sara gave a small nod in reply and knelt down behind Noah, who shifted position to sit on her lap. "His name's Noah," she said softly, addressing the little girl, "and I'm Sara." She smiled when Alison glanced from Noah to her. "Can he play with you and your dolls?"

Alison seemed to think about it and then she nodded her head slowly. She seemed to retreat back upon herself for a moment and then frowned on noticing the wheelchair, which she studied in detail. She then slowly lifted her gaze to Grissom's leg and then to his face. She stared at him for a long while in silence.

"Couldn't they fix you either?" she uttered almost inaudibly.

Heather gasped and Grissom was lost for words. He felt Sara's hand reach over to squeeze his arm comfortingly and swallowed the lump in his throat. "No," he replied in a whisper. He shrugged his shoulders sadly at the little girl while managing a wobbly smile. "I'm just glad I'm back with the people I love."

Alison thought about that for a moment, turned her head toward Heather and smiled. "Me too."