A/N: Last chapter, enjoy!

That Last Year in Vegas Chapter 36

Crime did not stop because of personal grief or sorrow but when the young Korean boy, a victim of so much, became a killer, Grissom knew he was ready to change his life. A few days later, he saw Natalie Davis and realized the damage in her life was lasting; maybe some people could not change, he thought. A few nights later, he watched as two old lovers met in a hospital room. Driven apart by prejudice and pride, he saw his own future and determined he could change.

Early the next morning, he sent his resignation to Conrad Ecklie and the sheriff. He checked the name of the center in Costa Rica and placed a call of inquiry. As an old serial killer resurfaced, or at least his methods of killing, Grissom agreed to extend his date of resignation. He would not be waiting in Costa Rica when Sara arrived, but he would be there by the end of her first week…

After Sara's mother had died peacefully, after she had walked the streets of the town where she had last lived with her parents, there had been a lifting of sorrow. She would never remember most of her childhood and made a decision to accept her past. It was as if her soul had come out of hibernation and the pit in her belly began to close.

Of course, her new surroundings helped. She was not seasick; she quickly learned to be a cook's helper on the ship and her vegetarian skills were immediately appreciated by fellow vegetarians on board. During the day, the group watched whales and dolphins, spotted an occasional turtle, and pulled debris from the ocean with nets and long hooks. The scent of the ocean was always with her and it cleaned and cleared her mind and body. At times she could not sleep and found company with others on the ship who refused to spend time sleeping when the sky was filled with stars or the ocean twinkled and shone with the mysteries of multi-colored life.

A young man helped her with the video she sent to Grissom. She had written and re-written what she wanted to say and afterwards, tried to decide if she had said the right words, if she had appeared happy, when reality was so different. She was lonely beyond words; the throbbing pain in her chest was not physically going to kill her but she knew it was her broken heart. She had not heard from him since she sent the video to his email and at times, she had to stand with the wind in her face to prevent tears from covering her face. The others on the ship did not know her, did not recognize the sorrow and misery across her eyes, and only a few noticed she seldom stood in line to check satellite email. Her mind and body responded to sightings of sea life, and her amazement was genuine, but it was tempered by the absence of the one person she loved.

Sara had loved being at sea, but once she arrived in Costa Rica, she discovered a new passion for wildlife and the jungle. It was nothing as she had imaged it to be—everything was alive—below her feet, above her head, at eye level. The researchers who met the ship seemed to know everyone, where to eat, what she would need and where to buy it, and after a fast shopping trip, she was following five people she had met that morning into the jungle. They walked a mile on a well-marked path to a clearing with several buildings and one of the women showed her to a room with two beds and a foot locker.

"It's not fancy, but you'll be comfortable," she explained as she illustrated the workings of the adjoining bathroom. "We insisted on real bathrooms several years ago when we started recruiting more volunteers," she said with a laugh. She pointed to a posted schedule. "We leave early and return mid-afternoon. Evening meal is at six so unpack and join us on the porch."

For six days, Sara followed the researchers into a woodland of growth so thick that one could only see ten feet or so into the forest. It was not nearly as hot as she thought it would be; one did sweat, but a breeze seemed to whisper through the green vegetation and one was seldom in full sun. Several uphill miles from the research center, the jungle became thick with vines, creepers, tree ferns and palms with larger trees growing overhead in a dense canopy. Birds she could not see filled the air with their delicate chimes that sounded nothing like the chirps of Las Vegas birds. Little hummingbirds with wings fluttering inches from her face seemed to be welcoming her into their home. By the time they reached their destination—several permanent looking tents wedged between trees, Sara's shirt was soaking with sweat. She was surprised to learn two researchers, Dave and Mary Ann, husband and wife, lived at this outpost for days at a time, and decided they were the serious researchers of the group.

Another surprise to Sara was the similarity between a crime scene and the plotting of squares in the jungle to count animal activity. By the end of her second day, everyone realized she was experienced and meticulous, but she did not like heights. She did not want to be strapped into a rope harness and hauled to the top of the tree canopy, she explained. She would take the ground searches.

On the sixth day, Sara had finished her plot and, with her camera, she followed a little monkey from tree to tree as he found food. She was enjoying herself more than she had thought possible—she was eating because she was hungry, sleeping because she was exhausted, and she seldom dreamed. Only when she got into bed at night did she have time to think of Grissom who would love every minute of what she was doing.

The monkey chattered and then became extremely quiet. Sara would never know if she actually heard something, or turned because the monkey looked over her head, but she turned. A mirage, a hallucination stood on the path in the form of a sweaty, hat wearing Gil Grissom. When he moved, she knew he was no illusion but flesh and blood coming toward her with arms outstretched.

They remained in each others arms until they heard a collective cough and turned to face three of the researchers who had come to meet this newcomer, an interloper who seemed to be on extremely intimate terms with their recently arrived volunteer.

The new guy recovered first, "Gil Grissom," he said.

A shout from behind the group caused them to turn and look at Dave, the researcher who camped at the site. "Dr. Grissom! You've finally arrived!" He scrambled around the table, holding out a hand and calling his wife. "I kept your secret! Was she surprised?" He looked at Sara with a mischievous smile. "You didn't know!" He laughed and patted Grissom on the back. "Some time we men have to stick together, you know!"

A chorus of laughter and talk filled the area as everyone talked at once, quickly learning this newcomer was Sara's fiancé who had arrived in San Jose the day before and flown on a small airplane to the nearest airport, caught a ride early this morning on a local bus, and had been dropped off at the ecology center to find it deserted except for the native cook.

The cook, in broken English, had tried to explain the location of the group and when Grissom pulled out his GPS, the man quickly entered the destination and pointed at a trail. Grissom laughed as he explained how the cook had run after him with quickly wrapped tortillas. By the time he had finished his story, the others had spread lunch on one of the tables and Grissom added more of the same.

Instead of waiting for the others, Sara and Grissom headed back to the center after lunch—Sara had smiled so much her face ached, but it was a good hurt, she thought, as Grissom held her hand in his as they started down the trail.

"It's better to have the down hill walk at the end of the day," she said with a laugh.

Grissom walked beside her, his arm slipped around her waist, until the heat and sweat built between them and he had to let go and take her hand.

"Is it always this muggy?" He asked.

Sara laughed, saying, "Yes, but you get used to it—sort of!" She stopped on the path and looked at him. "Are you really here? I can't believe it—and that Dave knew!"

Grissom smiled. "He's known for three weeks." He shrugged off his backpack. "He knows something else too—well, sort of knows something else." He zipped open one of the small pockets of his pack and reached inside, pulling out a small bag. Three things fell into his palm. He slipped two wide gold rings on his finger. "Sara Sidle, will you marry me—soon, tomorrow or a week from today?" His palm was closed. "If you say yes, I've got something else for you," he teased. He held up his closed hand.

Sara smiled and fingered the rings. "You got two," she whispered, her voice choked with emotion.

"I did—will you? Marry me?"

She nodded and he opened his hand to reveal a necklace of a dozen rings in various sizes connected by a slender chain. The largest ring, no larger than a quarter, was set with diamonds that sparkled and shone with a light of their own.

"Oh," she said as she lifted it from his hand. "Oh, Gil, you shouldn't have."

"Put it on," he instructed.

"I'm sweaty, dirty."

He grinned as he took it from her hand. "It doesn't matter." He kissed her as his hands came around her neck and he clasped the chain together. "It's not an engagement ring but I know you wear more necklaces than rings."

She fingered the necklace and gave him a teary smile. "I don't know what to say."

"Yes, say yes."

Sara said yes.

The Epilogue or Their Fate

Gil Grissom arriving so unexpectedly caused such a surprise to Sara, who was stunned into speechlessness for longer than she could remember, that when he presented her with rings and a very beautiful and very expensive necklace, all she could say was "Yes".

In the room with two beds and a foot locker, Grissom surveyed the space—clothes neatly hung on several pegs served as a closet, a bottle of lotion placed on the window ledge and several things lay on the top of the trunk. He had hastily thrown his bag on the floor after he arrived and bent to pick it up. Both beds were made up with white sheets and a blanket folded across the foot; Grissom could pick out Sara's bed only because a book and small clock were nearest the one on the right side of the room.

He nodded toward the narrow bed on the left. "Can I sleep here?"

She laughed at his question, a husky, sexy sound that made something inside him began to soar and sing as those birds in the forest he had heard earlier. She grabbed his bag and slid it to a corner of the room; just as rapidly, she moved the foot locker away from the bed, laughing and pointing at one end of a bed for him to help her move it.

"Not only will you stay in my room, you are going to sleep next to me! And share my bathroom." Words suddenly poured from her like water over a dam as they arranged the beds and moved the locker again. "The bathroom is interesting—shower water is recycled into the toilet. A solar panel heats the water and you get a very short warm shower. Did you bring flip flops—shower shoes? Always check your shoes for stinging scorpions." She pointed to the overhead fan. "It runs on solar power too, so it usually runs down before dawn. But breakfast is at six and we are on the trail by seven…"

She stopped talking when he moved to put his bag on the bed and reached out to him. "You really are here," she whispered and wrapped her arms around him as if she had just discovered he was not an illusion.

Finally, he asked, "Are you okay—really okay?" His hands combed through her hair; cut shorter than he remembered. He wanted to keep her between his hands until nightfall and then wrap the bed sheet around them so he could feel her breathing against his chest.

By some process, they managed to undress, shower and fall into the pushed-together beds still wearing towels before the others returned for the afternoon siesta. They lay on one narrow bed, Sara on her side, Grissom on his back.

"I want us to be honest with each other, brutally honest," she said as her hand rested on his chest.

He said, "Brutally?"

She smiled, "Yes, brutally!"

"All right," he said, but his voice teased.

Sara's eyes moved to a small scar just above his left eyebrow. "I'm very much in love with you and it scares me to death."

His hand covered hers. "I know, honey, I know." He had briefly closed his eyes and when he opened them, her eyes locked with his.

She looked away when she continued. "I'll never be a normal wife, Gil. I wouldn't know how to be one…"

He slipped his arms around her and drew her against him. "I know that and I'll never expect you to be whatever is normal." He chuckled. "Didn't we have this conversation once?"

He felt her laugh against his neck and he held her tighter, his fingers pressed into her back. They kissed in the way of beginning lovers, becoming familiar with what was remembered as contact was prolonged and deepened.

They made love in the afternoon in the bed she had slept in for a week, slowly finding and rediscovering those never forgotten ways of loving a partner. He noticed a shudder as she climaxed and as he moved above her he knew this was the person who would be with him and in his heart for the rest of his life; even as his last breath left his body he would think of her. He burrowed his face against her neck and breathed deeply and disappeared as the intensity of orgasm sent rhythmic waves of passion through his body.

"I feel like a woman in a Gauguin painting," she said.

He wrapped an arm around her, securely, protectively. "Which one?"

Sara quietly laughed. "The Noble Woman—naked with only a bit of cloth covering her."

"And how," he asked, "in a few short weeks did you become a Gauguin expert?"

This time she giggled, a sound he had loved for years, and realized it had been months since he had heard the genuine sound from her. "A limited supply of books," she explained.

He moved his finger along the valley between her breasts and placed his head below her chin as his hand wrapped around her. Drowsiness came to both and they slept as the afternoon floated away. Neither of them heard the others return and whisper and walk lightly along the hallway to take their own siestas.

Thus it happened that Sara Sidle agreed to marry Gil Grissom in a ceremony conducted by a local Costa Rican justice in a building painted bright blue and trimmed in orange. The group of researchers attended; even Dave and Mary Ann left their tent to join the wedding party. Afterwards, as they ate, talked, and laughed, Sara thought this was the best way. None of those around the couple knew about the beating of Greg Sanders at the hands of a mob or the horrendous murder of Warrick Brown by a mobster, or about a monster named Natalie Davis or the broken and destroyed childhood of Sara Sidle or the change in life that Gil Grissom made that brought him to the rainforest. All Sara saw in the faces around her was happiness and joy and cheerfulness for the newlyweds.

The small town had one nice hotel and Grissom had managed to rent the nicest room, on the third floor with no elevator, for two nights. Windows opened to porch with a hammock and a view above the forest, lush green as far as one could see, and several ceiling fans turned lazily in the breeze. There was food in the refrigerator, juice and water to last at least twenty-four hours. He had promised a real honeymoon later—a surprise, he said.

Sara seemed to see none of this; her eyes had stayed on Grissom as he led her through the lobby, up tiled steps as he insisted on carrying both bags, and at the top of the last flight, his key had opened the one door.

"Do you like it?" He asked after long minutes of silence.

She turned to him. She had managed to find a beautiful white blouse to wear, or maybe it was one she had always had, he thought, but today, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

She smiled. "I do—all of it." Her fingers were unfastening the small white buttons down its front. "Do we have to leave?"

"Eventually," he said. He started doing the same with his shirt.

Almost at the same instant, their hands moved to their pants as each unsnapped, unzipped, and stepped out of them—mirror images, if anyone had been watching. He stood for a minute in white boxers; he wore no socks and his shoes had been toed off when his pants dropped. Sara stepped from the puddle of cloth around her ankles; her panties and bra were plain white cotton, not what she would have chosen, but since she had left the fancy stuff in Vegas, she decided these would have to do for the most special day of her life.

Her thumb slipped under the waist band. "I left La Perla in Vegas," she said with a grin.

"I don't care," he whispered, so quietly she had to read his lips from four feet away.

He made the first move to the bed, taking her hand and pushing the covers back, tossing a few pillows aside.

"Is it cool enough? I can turn the fans higher—no air conditioning."

"I don't care," she whispered as she pulled him into the soft bed.

His laugh was soft, low and husky, warmed by happiness. Swiftly, he undressed her, tossing her panties after the pillows, and pushing his boxers to the foot of the bed. He rolled onto his back and pulled her down onto his chest. "I've loved you for so long, Mrs. Grissom, that I could not imagine life without you."

She framed his face with her hands and kissed him with an urgency that made him groan. She felt him pressed against her, heavy and rigid with desire.

His fingers traced to her waist and hip, to the cleft that separated her butt, moving lower he found the place where she was already damp and aching with need.

Sara kissed his throat, his shoulder and chest, tasting him with her tongue. He positioned her so that she straddled his thighs and stroked her, watching her face as she felt exquisite pleasure build at his gentle touch. She felt her body tightened and clench; she leaned back but he caught her by clamping hands around her hips and he drove himself inside her.

She gasped, then shuddered as her muscles rippled, pleasure and passion taking over for any conscious actions. As she leaned forward, she felt a swelling motion of his body; she felt the explosion of his orgasm, and heard him say one word.

She smiled, love apparent on her face.

A little later, he held her in his arms. "Loving you makes me the happiest man in the world."

"Oh, Gilbert," she whispered. Her heart filled with true joy; her mind was calm. She laughed, a sound he felt with his body and heard with his ears, one that warmed all the places deep inside him.

He would have laughed with her, but he much preferred to kiss her instead.

The End (Please review!)

El Final (A honeymoon story? Review!)

La Fin (Grissom in Paris? Review!)

La Conclusione (Another story? Yes, its blackmail--review!)

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