Gil Grissom stretched his arms above his head and yawned, pressing his feet against the arm of the couch beneath him and arching his back above the cushions. He sat up slowly, expecting the stabbing pain to come, and smiling when it didn't. He yawned again, closing his eyes tightly and pushing his palms forward into the air, trying the push the lingering cobwebs of his medication away from him. Blinking his eyes to clear the haze, he could just make out the hands of the clock on the wall: 8:45. About twelve hours had passed since Brass had called with the Missing Persons ID. 'And only about five hours since Sara kicked your ass out of the lab, buddy.'

Sighing, Grissom reached his right arm over to click on his table lamp, rising as the low light filled the austere room. A slight glare reflected from the glass covering his assorted butterflies, hung neatly and squarely on the painted cinder block wall. He bent to retrieve a remote control from the surface of the coffee table and surely pressed a button with his thumb; low music filled the room, the underlying bass slightly amplified. Dropping the remote, he turned to his left to begin the short trek to his kitchen, stumbling into an armchair and banging a bare toe. He peered at the armchair, placed there by Catherine a few weeks ago when she had come for dinner. Every time she visited, she rearranged his furniture, insisting he needed more flow and energy in his surroundings. He sidestepped the chair, the smile returning to his face as he continued to the kitchen.

His coffeepot was still on, and Brass' empty mug sat on his counter above it. Jim had only stayed long enough to finish his coffee and make sure Grissom intended to stay home. He poured himself a cup, reasoning that he would need it if he wanted to go back to the lab tonight. Blowing into his mug to cool the surface of the bitter liquid, he wondered whether he dared go back, given Sara's mood when last they spoke.

Part of him admitted that he was proud of her; she had been right, his objectivity was gone with the Zucker case. His mind clearing, he found himself dismayed at his behavior in the interrogation room, hoping he hadn't compromised the case with his display of rage. If the case could be saved, Sara was the one who could salvage it.

Taking a small sip of the coffee and feeling the warmth spread in his chest, he carefully analyzed her performance this morning and afternoon. He was very proud of her, especially the way she was growing in her job, learning something new from every case. For a long time, he saw himself as her teacher. Soon, she wouldn't need him professionally anymore.

He refused to think about what that would mean for him personally.

Of all the puzzles he'd solved over his career, one still eluded him, and probably would for several years-why stay so distant when life is so unpredictable? What was it about living that filled him with anxiety and caused him to pull away from those who tried to reach out to him? Why was it so easy to give himself emotionally to the nameless victim?

He held his coffee in both hands, pondering this question again as he had so many times. His job was about seeking the truth, recognizing what drives the darkest in men, and accepting it so he could speak for the victim.

Why couldn't he speak for himself?

Sara signed the last page of her report; case closed. Not only had the upholstery from the Toyota matched the fibers collected from the body, but Darrell's fingerprints were found on the steering wheel. The D.A. would likely charge Darrell with destroying evidence, but since what was found matched the account of the accident, Sara was hopeful that any sentence would be suspended. It would be weeks before she would know.

Yawning, Sara closed her eyes tightly and pressed her palms forward, pushing away the lingering exhaustion that lay in her muscles. She rose and walked the whiteboard, picking up a marker and writing "Solved" next to Joey Zucker's name. 'That's it. Case closed.'

Sara noted the time on her watch: 8:40. About five hours since she'd sent Grissom home. Shift started at 11pm for her today; she needed sleep, but as she grabbed her keys, she doubted she would get it. She needed to settle something first.

Finishing the last of his mug of coffee, Grissom debated the question of food. He looked in his refrigerator, but his stomach was still a bit queasy from the medication. As he closed the refrigerator door, he heard the knock.

As he went to answer his front door, he had a fair idea who was on the other side.

Sara tried to calm the trembling in her legs as she waited for him to answer. 'I'm just checking to see if he's alright, no big deal. I've been here before..'

The door opened before her, and she was struck by the sight that greeted her. Grissom was wearing sweatpants and an old Raiders t-shirt from before the move to Oakland. The shirt was thin, with a hole near the bottom hem. He was barefoot, unshaven, his hair soft without any gel and in need of a trim. His face was inscrutable as he looked at her, and her heart pounded as her brain screamed at her: 'Bad idea. Shouldn't have done this; should have called first.'

She began to open her mouth to speak, but he moved first, stepping aside and silently giving her permission to enter.

She stepped into the townhouse as he closed the door behind her.

He was still silent, and she wasn't sure what to say. She watched him open a cabinet to retrieve a clean mug and set it on the counter. He pulled a quart of milk from the refrigerator, pausing to sniff it before carefully pouring some into the mug and filling the rest with coffee. He stirred the liquid and handed her the cup before turning to put the milk away.

Her brows were knitted as she accepted the cup. "How.How did you-"

"I've seen you make your coffee in the break room. A bit of skim milk, no sugar." He finished the carafe as he continued, "This has been sitting for a while, so I added a bit more milk."

She nodded, confused, and raised the cup, blowing into it. "I'm, uh, I'm sorry to come by without calling.." She trailed off, studying his face, which was still indecipherable. "I thought you'd want to know that the case is closed."

Grissom looked at her for a moment. "Darrell?"

"Yes. Accident."

Grissom drank this in as he drank from his cup. "I see. And the fractures we found on Joey's body?"

"Previous abuse," Sara replied, shifting her weight nervously to one foot. "Nick got the file, and the reports confirmed the injuries."

"Good work." Grissom took his mug to the couch and sat down, looking over his shoulder at Sara. "You handled this case well, Sara."

Sara chuckled bitterly. "I don't feel like it." She sat carefully in the armchair facing Grissom. "Look, Gris, I owe-"

"You owe me nothing. You were right."

"That didn't give me the right to send you home."

Grissom shrugged. "You were the lead investigator. You did what you felt was right for the case."

"That wasn't all of it."

"There was more?"

Sara squared her shoulders, staring at the cup cradled in her hands. "I did what I thought was right for you, too."

"I know." Despite Sara's attempt to hide her eyes, Grissom saw the tears which were welling up inside them. "Sometimes, the choices we make are for many reasons."

Sara felt his gaze on her, and could hear the softness in his voice. She fought to keep her posture straight, but her arms began to tremble first, then her hands. She put the mug down on the table to keep from dropping it, and a hot tear splashed onto her wrist. She tried to keep her voice steady. "I had no right to speak to you like I did. I'm sorry."

Grissom slid closer to the armchair and placed his mug next to hers. "Sara, you don't need to be sorry. I almost compromised your case. I had no business being there. I'm the one who owes you an apology."

She laughed briefly again, raising her eyes to match his. "Why were you so insistent if you know you were wrong?"

Grissom looked away, turning his head. "It wasn't rational. I was angry, I wanted justice-"

"Catherine called this one of your 'trigger cases.'"

"Trigger case?" He paused for a moment. "I suppose so. We all have our flaws."

"What was it about this boy, Grissom? Why was he so special to you?"

"Isn't every child special?"

Sara began to feel her anger rise again. "Don't give me that bullshit. You know what I meant."

Grissom leaned back on the couch, his right arm splayed across the back. "Have you ever thought about what you'd be doing now if you weren't a C.S.I.?"

Sara's forehead crinkled as she pondered his question. "What does this have to do with this case?" Grissom remained silent, his face beseeching her answer. "Alright-No. No I haven't."

"Not even slightly?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because after your seminar in Boston, there was no other possibility."

"Why then?"

"I was studying physics. After seeing the science, the application, the passion.," her voice trailed off and came back more softly, "It was the only possibility."

Grissom leaned forward, lifting her chin with his left hand. "It's all about possibilities, Sara. As long as we live there is possibility." His eyes burned into hers, and her heart began to pound again, but not from nervousness. "It doesn't matter how small-a small hope of achieving something is better than none at all."

Grissom could feel the tension in her, matching the tension in him. He was so close, she wouldn't hold anything against him if he seized this moment, but he held steady. This conversation was important. He might never have this kind of courage again. "Each death we encounter; it's not just about the taking of a life, it's about removing the possibilities. You and me, Sara-we follow our hopes, we make our choices, and we live with them, but Joey Zucker.Joey didn't know there was even the possibility of a choice."

Sara held his eyes as the hand under her chin slid to cup her face. "So it was losing the possibilities of his life that made you angry?"

"Not just his, Sara." His thumb slid against her cheekbone, mimicking her gesture from months before. "I'm disappointed with the loss with every case we work, but this boy.," Grissom's eyes began to burn and he swallowed hard. "This boy had a rotten, painful life, and just when things were looking better.." A single tear escaped the corner of his eye to trail down his right cheek, burning it way across his skin. Sara reached her hand to brush it away, replacing its heat with one more intense, causing him to swallow again.

She had softened, relaxed; he could see it in her eyes and her face, could feel it against his own. "You've been doing this for how long, Gris? Over twenty-five years? How can you still feel so intensely for lost hope?"

"People lose hope all the time, Sara. Usually because they've given up on themselves." He slid his hand away from her face, taking her hands in his and looking into her eyes. "It's another thing to have it taken from you."

Grissom became silent, his eyes still matching hers. Sara inhaled deeply before speaking. "What do you hope for, Grissom?"

His eyebrow rose, the tip of his tongue pressing against his upper lip. "I don't think it's that simple. People hope for lots of things."

"I'm not asking about people; I'm asking you. What do you hope for in life?"

"I'm not sure I could condense it into one word.," he lied. "I know what I hope for right now."

Sara peered at him, her face a question. She felt that Grissom was talking about much more than the case or the job, but she wasn't certain. Grissom was man who spoke volumes with few words, and his openness now was unfamiliar. This man sitting before her now, staring at the union of her hands, was not the man she thought she knew, and she wasn't sure why he was choosing to show this side of himself at all, much less to her.

As they sat in silence, Sara thought back to this morning as she watched him search the crime scene again in desperation. This morning, she was certain that she would never know more about this man, would never find in him what she wanted so desperately herself. She found herself studying him now for some clue, anything that would tell her whether she should give up or keep going. A few weeks ago, she'd been ready to leave without looking back.

Tonight, she found herself curious about the possibilities.

--Finished--