A/N: So here it is, the end of the story. This thing took me so long to write but such a short time to post. I'm kind of sad to see it end but anxious to get on to the next fic. A word of warning: this has more naughtiness (Gib, that's for you) and what could be a sensitive subject for some.

Neither Jim Brass nor Annie Kramer belong to me. They belong to a bunch of people who don't appreciate them nearly as much as they should.


Wednesday, November 23rd

Annie awoke before Jim and carefully extricated herself from his grasp, noting he didn't stir and wondering if he'd gotten up and slipped a pill while she was asleep.

The sun was a little above the horizon as she made her way to the bathroom and when she emerged a few minutes later, he had rolled over and was now facing her.

"Come back to bed," he mumbled, eyes closed but holding the covers up invitingly.

Finding no reason not to resist his invitation, she slid in next to him, shifting until her bottom was against his groin and her back flush with his chest. He stretched his arm over her waist and brought his hand up, so that his thumb gently stroked her left nipple.

"When do you need to leave?" His voice growled in her ear, his breath warming her skin, sending a very pleasurable shiver up her spine.

"Late afternoon, early evening: it's the middle of the week so the traffic should be light. We have a lot of time." She rolled over in his grasp, facing him and seeing the grin spread across his face.

"Can we just stay like this until then?"

"You'll get no complaints from me." She couldn't remember the last time she'd spent a leisurely day in bed and after the stress of the last few days, they both needed it. Soon enough they would return to the routine of twelve hour shifts – on a good day, cold, bitter coffee, meals on the run, and a severe lack of sleep. Stealing a nap or two while snuggled against a warm body was definitely to her liking.

"I have one complaint."

She was about to kiss him, her lips hovering over his. "Oh? What's that?"

He tugged at the lace edge of her camisole. "This needs to come off."

Annie sat up and pulled the silk over her head then tossed it onto the floor. "Better?" she asked, lying down again.

Running his hand over her breasts, he said, "Definitely."

"Well, if it's a little skin on skin you like, then we should get rid of these." Her hand slipped down between them and tugged at the elastic band of his boxers.

A few seconds of fidgeting and he produced the undergarments, dangling them in mid-air before tossing them over the side. "Your turn."

She smiled against his lips. "Who says I didn't already take them off?"

His hand wandered over her bare hip. "You're good."

oooooo

Annie roamed his body slowly, thoroughly, exploring him in a way she never had before. The past had always been about urgency, about grasping moments and making the most of them. They never took the time to make love in the past. It was always just sex, raw and passionate but without the details. This time she was intent on paying attention to all the details; kissing every tender, sensitive spot, stroking every plane of warm, responsive flesh, concentrating on every single sensation and absorbing every soft, aroused noise he made. He was impressively hard long before she reached his groin.

Annie ran her tongue up the rigid length of his penis then closed her mouth around him. Jim groaned, a low, simmering growl, and tangled his fingers in her hair, his hips straining up at her. Annie sucked and tongued him, one hand holding him firmly at the solid base, the other wandering down between his legs, gently cupping his balls and feeling them tighten with mounting tension. Watching his reaction, feeling the twitch of his penis, hearing the low, steady groans and the quick, rapid breaths, she knew he was close. A little more suction, a few more flicks of her tongue, and he'd be there. It was cruel to take him to the brink and leave him hanging but she needed to feel him inside now. She needed to luxuriate in the sensation of him one more time—possibly the last time.

She drew off Jim quickly, making him look up in confusion. But it only took him a moment to understand.

"Come here," he said, his voice husky, as he sat up.

Annie straddled his hips and slowly bore down on him, absorbing him completely and savoring the sensation of being completely filled. She heard his sharp intake of breath, could feel the tension rippling through his body, and knew he was fighting to maintain his control. But for a brief moment they shared the profound sense of being as closely united as they could ever be and knowing that soon it would all end.

He moved first, hips moving rhythmically while nuzzling her neck, his hands running over the length of her back and over her thighs to the moist cleft where they were joined.

She leaned back, resting on her hands on either side of his thighs, giving him complete access to her breasts, allowing him to lick and suck each erect nipple while she began to move her hips, matching his steady cadence. But it wasn't enough. Putting her hands on his chest, she urged him onto his back. Picking up the pace, she concentrated hard, aligning herself better, gliding up and down in the warm, slick friction. Annie watched the intense expression cross his face, watched his eyes follow her fingers as they came up and instinctively found the hard bud of her aroused clitoris and felt the effect her actions had on him.

Jim bucked up into her, thrusting wildly and erratically, while her once steady rhythm became more frenzied and urgent. She knew he was nearing his own crest but that didn't matter to her. Nothing was important but the growing pressure within her and the desperate need to release it. She was so close that she didn't care that his hands gripped her thighs so hard that the strength of his fingers dug into her skin or that his body had gone completely taut as he choked out his climax in a loud grunt. The heavy smell of musk, the heat of damp bodies, and the distinct sensation of Jim's release triggered her orgasm, causing her to cry out reflexively as her body arched in response.

A few seconds later, when she was stretched out over his chest, panting and feeling the pound of his heart against her cheek, she fought back the urge to tell him just how much affection she had for him. Saying the words out loud would only make leaving that much more difficult. And yet, she could almost curse him for making her feel like this again. For fifteen years Jimmy Brass had been safely tucked away in a dark corner of her mind, a memory of her past life. Now he was back and despite her best efforts, she'd put her life on hold for the promise of more. Annie knew there was no one to blame but herself. She never should have given in to temptation six months ago.

Feeling the lingering, pulsating tingle between her legs, she reluctantly disengaged herself, sliding over to his side and welcoming his arms as they embraced her tightly.

He still had a slightly glazed look in his eyes and a lopsided smile on his lips as he spoke, "You know, you have a real mean streak."

"I don't hear you complaining about the outcome."

Eyes closed, he smiled. "No, definitely not complaining." He kissed the top of her head. "But you're still mean."

"Everything I know, I learned from you."

He rolled over with one deft move, hovering above her. "Oh yeah? Should I be worried?"

She reached up and folded her arms around his neck. "You should be very worried." He looked at her, his expression a mix of sadness and reverence, and then leaned down and kissed her very gently and very thoroughly.

A few minutes later a loud rumble from an empty stomach caused Annie to giggle.

"Somebody's hungry," he said, sharing her laughter. "You know, this plan works so much better when there's room service."

Annie sat up, her stomach launching into another audible tirade as the sheet fell away. "Pancakes?"

"I'll make coffee." Jim rolled off the bed and strolled into the bathroom, taking a robe off the back of the door. "I only got the one," he said, tossing it her way.

"So what?" she asked, reaching for the robe and dragging it towards her. "You just going to parade around like that?"

He stretched his arms wide, giving her a full view of him in all his male glory. "Why should today be any different?"

Tossing aside the robe, Annie crawled off the bed and joined him, unable to control her laughter. "You're right," she giggled, giving him a smack on the behind as he led the way to the kitchen. "Why should today be any different?"

oooooo

"You have a scar."

Sated and caffeinated, they lounged on the bed, his fingers lightly stroking her belly, his index finger tracing the five inch scar just visible above her pubic hair. If she'd thought about it, she would have distracted him but now it was too late.

"Nancy had a scar like this—from when Ellie was born, from the C-section." He looked at her, his eyes searching hers. "Annie, did you have a baby?"

There it was: the question she'd never wanted to answer. Closing her eyes in a temporary respite from his gaze, she was tempted to tell him no, it was just a stretch-mark but he was too smart for that lie. Besides, she owed him the truth. "Yes, I had a baby."

"When?"

It was an innocent question. She could tell by the look in his eye that he was simply curious, as if he'd missed out on some great celebration in her life without sending a card or flowers. "It was a long time ago—while I was in L.A."

"You never mentioned having a child."

"He died." Just saying those two words brought back a flood of painful memories. Now she really wished he would let it go but she knew better. He was a detective; he never let anything go.

"What happened?" The sadness in his eyes nearly broke her heart.

"He was born with a cyanotic heart defect, HLHS, hypoplastic left heart syndrome." The doctor's exact words were seared into her memory the moment he'd told her. "He had two heart surgeries before he was a month old and lived for fifty-seven days."

Jim put his hand on hers and gave it a squeeze. "I'm so sorry."

Annie drew a deep breath and let it out. "It's still hard to talk about." It was the truth. It had taken her several years and a lot of therapy to recover from losing her baby and while she'd always mourn him, she'd learned to cope with the loss. She hoped Jim would take her hint and let it go but she could see the wheels turning. His job was filling in the blanks and right now he was piecing it all together.

"Annie, who was the father?"

"What?" She'd run out of stall tactics and while he deserved to know, now wasn't the time, not after everything else he'd been through.

"Your baby. Who was the father?"

She glanced over at him and realized he'd already worked out the truth. He just needed her to confirm it. "Does it matter?"

"It does. Why'd you really leave?"

She rolled onto her back and exhaled. Detectives were far too inquisitive for their own good. "I told you."

"Yeah, you told me but I think there's more to it. You were pregnant when you left, weren't you?"

Annie closed her eyes then slowly opened them, resigned to telling him the truth. "Yes. The reason I left New Jersey was because I was pregnant."

Jim followed her words as if he were reading her lips. "And?"

"And yes, I was pregnant with your baby."

The look on his face told her that even though he had figured it out, hearing the actual words knocked the wind out of him. "Why didn't you tell me?" His voice was so soft, she barely heard the question.

"You were married. I knew you weren't going to leave Nancy so I had to leave before word got out. Eventually, people would put two and two together and figure it out. I moved to Los Angeles and decided to have the baby." At the sight of his raised eyebrows, she said, "Yes, I weighed my options but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted the baby. I was in my second trimester when the ultrasounds showed a heart abnormality. We didn't know the extent until a few days after he was born."

Jim looked pale and tense and at a loss for words. He was still trying to get over one of the worst weeks in his life and she'd just delivered the equivalent of a punch to his gut. She couldn't look at him, couldn't see the hurt in his eyes and keep it together. She regretted telling him, especially now, but in a way a huge burden had been lifted from her shoulders.

oooooo

Jim clenched his right hand, not knowing how he felt. He thought he should be angry but he didn't feel angry. Sucker punched was probably more like it. And then the questions came. "Would you have told me? If he had lived, would you have told me?"

"Yes, I would have told you. But honestly, Jim, at the time all I thought about was keeping him alive. He was a tough little guy—a fighter. The only way to correct the defect was with a series of operations or a heart transplant. They put him on the list but his first operation came a week after he was born. He came through the procedure just fine. I even got to bring him home. And then about a month or so later, he started having difficulty breathing; he wouldn't nurse, so I rushed him to the emergency room. They were going to do the second operation once he reached four months but they had to go in early. He came through the surgery but never came out of NICU. He died a week later." Annie wiped away a tear from under her eye and folded herself into Jim's arms.

Stroking her hair, he cursed himself for opening up what was obviously a very painful memory for her. "I wish you would have told me."

Annie pulled away from him. "What would you have done, Jimmy? Leave Nancy? Hop on a plane and fly to L.A.? I would have resented you, if you had."

The anger in her voice took him by surprise. "Why?"

"Because then I would have known that the only reason you'd leave Nancy was for a child."

Jim knew what she was implying and he had no argument for her. She was right. He was old-fashioned and completely misguided when it came to marriage. He'd been happy with Annie and miserable with Nancy yet he stayed with his bitch of a wife because he'd had some idiotic idea that parents should stay together. He'd always wanted kids and the one he had wasn't even his. Sometimes he wondered if his picture was posted under the definition of masochist.

Jim rolled onto his side, away from Annie and towards the edge of the bed. Swinging his legs over the side, he rested his elbows on his knees and put his head in his hands. "Did he have a name?"

"Does it matter?"

"It does to me. I had a son for fifty-seven days. I want to know his name."

"Evan, after my dad. His name was Evan James."

Exhaling deeply, he rubbed his hands over his head and tried to keep all the thoughts of what might have been completely at bay.

"Jim, I knew I had to tell you but this wasn't the time. Not with everything you went through."

In the last week he'd killed a fellow officer, realized he was in love with someone he thought he'd left behind years ago, and found out he'd had a son. He needed time to process; he needed a drink.

"Honestly," he said, standing up and pulling on his shorts, "is there ever a good time to find out something like this?" Stopping at the door, he turned around. "Anything else I should know?"

"No," she said, with a solemn shake of her head.

oooooo

He'd been sitting alone in the living for over an hour, still trying to process everything and wishing like hell he hadn't poured out the scotch. Hearing the shower shut off, he knew Annie was getting ready to leave. That's what he would do if the roles had been reversed. But he still didn't want her to go. He'd had his moment of anger and now all he felt was numb. It was far too much for him to digest and while he was glad he knew the truth, a part of him wished she'd never told him. All he could seem to think about was what might have been. Annie had a little boy. His boy. He'd gotten Annie pregnant. What he'd thought to be impossible had been possible after all.

An overwhelming sense of grief and regret surged to the surface, causing tears to moisten his cheeks and his shoulders to shake with emotion. He wasn't sure if he were crying for Annie, for Daniel Bell or for the loss of a child he never knew but the outpouring felt cathartic. And after he'd finally regained control, after he'd wiped the moisture from his cheeks and blew out a cleansing breath, he realized he owed Annie an apology. He'd been selfish with his feelings, thinking only of how much the revelation had hurt him. But Annie had lost a child. He couldn't imagine, didn't want to imagine, the kind of hurt she'd had to endure. How could he possibly blame her?

He heard footsteps behind him and when he turned around, he saw the suitcase in her hand.

"I think now is probably a good time for me to go."

Jim held out his hand, stopping her. "Wait." He wasn't going to let her leave thinking she'd done something wrong or that he was angry. Ultimately, it was his fault. He'd made the decision to stay with Nancy and try to salvage their wreck of a marriage. Annie did what she had to do to protect him, to protect his career.

He took her hand and guided her to the sofa. "Annie," he wasn't sure what to say or how to say it but thankfully, she helped him out.

"I don't want to leave without knowing where we stand. Are we okay?"

Giving her hand a squeeze, he gave her a tight-lipped smile. "We're okay."

She sat down next to him and buried her head into her shoulder. "I'm so sorry, Jimmy. Please, please, forgive me."

Shaking his head, he said, "Annie, don't." Gently pushing her away, he held her at arm's length, making sure she was looking at him when he spoke. "There's absolutely nothing to forgive. It's me who should be apologizing to you. All I could think about was how it affected me. I never even thought about what you went through and I'm sorry."

She looked at him through teary eyes and gave him a weak smile. "Thank you."

He scratched the back of his head, almost embarrassed to mention it now. "You know, I never even asked you about birth control."

"I've been on the pill for almost twenty-five years."

"So how did it happen? You getting pregnant?"

"I don't know. Could have been medication I was taking at the time. Sometimes that reduces its effectiveness. Or maybe I missed a dose or I could have just fallen into that very small percentage that gets pregnant."

"Or it could have been that your birth control was no match for my swimmers."

She gave him a long, hard look before saying, "Or it could be that you're full of shit."

He laughed at her response, knowing that was indeed a fact, and then stared at the palm of his right hand during the silence that followed. His emotions were still at war and right now the feeling emerging as the victor was causing him all kinds of conflict.

He was well aware that Annie was looking at him, waiting for him to say something. And when he finally started to speak, the root cause of his conflicted emotions came rushing out.

"The first couple of years after Nancy and I got married, we tried hard to get pregnant. She went to her doctor and said it wasn't her, it was me. I couldn't get her pregnant. I made an appointment with a urologist but then the marriage started heading south and I started working more hours and I never went. We started doing a little better and then she got pregnant. It never occurred to me the baby wasn't mine, you know?

"A couple of months after Ellie was born, we had a really bad fight. I mean, if I was the neighbors, I'd have called the cops. That's when she told me. Said it was Mike O'Toole and the only reason she had sex with me was so I'd think the baby was mine. She told me I couldn't get her pregnant so she found a real man who could." He looked down and licked his lips, embarrassed he was sharing this with Annie. Her hand on his back gave him the reassurance he needed to continue. "Knowing that I could make a baby," he looked up, waiting for the tightness in his throat to subside. "I wish it had been different, that our baby had lived, but to know that I fathered a child, it means a lot to me."

Her hand was on his cheek, forcing him to look at her. "Making a baby or not making a baby, it doesn't matter. You are every bit a real man."

What Annie thought was all that mattered to him so he was grateful she felt that way, but what caused him so much conflict was how he felt about himself. He couldn't deny it was a boost to his ego but Nancy had delivered so many decisive blows to his ego that he'd felt like less than a man for far too long.

Resting her hand on his knee, she sighed heavily. "I hate to say it but I really should hit the road."

He glanced at the clock. "Yeah, the casinos will be changing shifts in about an hour. You want to be away from here before that happens."

Fifteen minutes later, he was carrying her suitcase and walking out of the house, his arm around her shoulders. As they reached her car, Annie waited until he'd loaded the bag in the trunk before turning towards him and framing his face with her hands. "I want you to take care of yourself, Jim. I don't want to get another call from Warrick Brown telling me you're lying in some alley because you decided you had nothing to lose."

"I got it." He glanced down, long, dark eyelashes resting against his cheeks. Looking up, he changed the subject. "Got plans for Thanksgiving?"

"Yeah, same as yours and every other single cop with no family." Her hands rested on his shoulders. "Why do you ask?"

"Thought maybe," he shrugged, "you know, I could talk you into sticking around for another day or so." He laughed a little self-consciously. "I like having you here."

She smiled at him. "I could get used to being here."

"Well, when you decide to pack it in and leave L.A., you let me know." He slid his hands along her hips.

"You'll be the first to know." She leaned into him and gently kissed his lips.

He reciprocated, pulling her into in a tight embrace. "Thank you," he whispered, not wanting to let her go but reluctantly doing so. He held the car door open as she slid in, then leaned in and kissed her again. "Be safe."

"You too." She started the engine then slowly backed down the drive, giving him a final wave as she went. And when she reached the street, he stood somberly at the end of the driveway, watching her car until the red taillights disappeared around the corner.

Rubbing a hand across the back of his neck, he slowly walked back to the house, already dreading how empty the place would be.

Thanksgiving Day, November 24th

"Hey."

"Hey, yourself. How you holding up?" He smiled at the sound of Annie's voice.

"Not too bad. I've got a DB in a garbage bin to keep me busy."

"Happy Thanksgiving."

"Yeah." He gave a resigned raise of his eyebrows and sighed into the phone.

"So, you miss me yet?"

"The bed's too big without you."

"Didn't Sting write that?"

"Well, if the lyrics fit…" He'd heard the song on the way to work and that single line kept running through his head. "I need to run but I just wanted you to know I was thinking about you."

"A girl can't hear that enough. Thanks for calling. I'll talk to you soon."

Closing the phone, he slipped it into his pocket and lifted the crime scene tape. Strolling past two uniformed officers, neither one acknowledging his presence, he was relieved to see that Grissom was the CSI on call. Walking up to Gil and leaning on the retaining wall overlooking the garbage bin, he offered up a hesitant, "hey".

Grissom turned towards his friend. "I was happy to hear the review board cleared you."

Brass let out a sigh. "Well, it's been a rough time, but I'm dealing with it."

And with that Jim Brass began his exposition.

The End

--------

Thank you to everyone who stuck with the fic and especially to those who left a review. I love hearing from you!