A/N: I need to grovel and beg forgiveness for taking so long with this final chapter! It will be no surprise to learn that Fluff is not really my fortay, I struggle immensely with it but I really felt like we needed something nice to end this on and Viola! here we have it. I do so hope I have managed to end it on a reasonably good note and you all enjoy it. I genuinely thought I was going to burst into tears, throw my laptop against the wall and never write again trying to write this lol so here's to my blood, sweat, tears and complete! *Cheers*
FYI: Warrick's birthday is October 10th which coincidentally is also my Father's birthday and the day I passed my driving test many moons (but not too many moons) ago!
I would also like to thank you all for reading this story - for reviewing, challenging and engaging with me - for nominating it for the FanFiction of the Year awards on CSIFO and for voting for it - I don't know the results yet but a nomination is more than enough IMO :) love to you all. One last review and I will love you forever ;-)
Love Charli xx
The bright lights reflected back to her as she stood in front of the small mirror perched above the sink. Her dark hair framed her face, the thick glossy curls shone and bounced whenever she moved and yet she still felt like there was something missing. Grissom appeared behind her in the doorway, catching her eyes with a soft smile as he rested a delicate necklace around her neck. Her fingers lightly traced the Celtic Knot symbol pondering its significance. They symbolised the fact that everything and therefore everyone was interconnected and intertwined.
"You look wonderful" He whispered in her ear, his lips lingering lightly on the curve of her collarbone.
Sara sighed, taking a deep breath and holding his unwavering gaze. It had been almost a year since her mother died and a lot had changed in her life. She could never have predicted the turns her story would take as a result of her mother's last act.
Grissom had accepted a permanent position at UNLV, meaning their time together was not measured by flight times and contractual holidays. He was there when she came home from work and when she woke from sleep. They would cook together, eat together and sleep in each others arms. It had taken some getting used to and for the first few weeks she would admit to almost wishing he was halfway across the world at times. He sure knew how to get under her feet, that was for sure and his thirst for knowledge never stopped. Even now she would find random experiments in the strangest places. Tonight was no different, tonight she had removed some for of experiment from the bathtub in order to have a shower but tonight it didn't seem to bother her as much.
Tonight was a special night.
Every year on Warrick's birthday the team and their families got together for dinner and drinks in his honor. It seemed better than remembering the day he died.
Over the years the team had changed beyond recognition and the family had grown immensely. They had gone from booking a small table in the corner of a restaurant to hiring out an entire section but it was a tradition that was important to them and watching their family evolve was something to cherish.
With a nervous smile she nodded and moved out of the tiny room. Grissom straightened his tie and offered his arm to her. His soft reassuring smile cast a warm glow over her and she returned the smile as the sound of a car in the drive filled her ears. Grissom's warmth engulfed her, his head resting lightly on hers as they locked eyes and the headlights filled the darkened room.
"That's Greg" She stated unnecessarily.
Grissom lowered his lips to hers placing a soft, enchanting kiss there, displaying all the honesty in his embrace. Even after all this time he could still make her feel weak with his kiss, he could still make her heart thud in her chest and her breath quiver.
"Lets go" He nodded, holding her coat out for her to slip into.
Greg was impatient, the sound of the horn disturbing the peace over and over again as Grissom and Sara wandered outside. There was a chill in the air, a light rain falling over the streets. Sara slipped into the back seat beside Robyn and Joel.
"Hey guys" She muttered, adjusting her seatbelt and Joel handed her a paper rose.
"I made this for you" He smiled.
Sara gratefully received the flower, quirking a smile at Robyn across the back seat.
"Thank you Jo-Jo" She said, using the now familiar term of endearment she had learned from Robyn.
She never did totally regain her mobility. A long and heartbreaking few months had passed in hospital, almost constant therapies and determination Sara envied and yet she still relied on a chair a lot of the time. Greg had struggled, with the responsibility of a child and an incredibly emotionally fragile girlfriend but she had been there every step of the way. The 3am phone calls, the last minute pub crawls, the parenting dilemma's and the trips to the hospital.
She had told Robyn everything. Every single heart wrenching detail right down to the moment she had found out about her existence. It had been hard at first, as she suspected it would be, but if anything it had pulled them closer. Most families didn't have to go through half as much drama as they had and they had somehow managed to come through the other end of it as decent people capable of a friendly relationship. Sara figured she could settle for that, sisterly was probably pushing both their expectations at this point.
Greg pulled the car up the long driveway, parking beside Doc Robbins car. Sara helped Joel out and joined the rest of their team on the stairs outside the restaurant while Greg wrestled with Robyn's chair.
"What took you guys so long?" Nick grumbled, already making his way inside.
Greg shook his head at Nick's comment as he helped Robyn out of the car. Sara internally chastised herself for feeling pity for her. It was always painfully obvious how much Robyn's self-esteem had suffered as a result of her accident but Robyn was actually lucky in a lot of ways and she would never want pity from anyone. She nervously straightened the skirt of her dress and looked up at Greg with a tiny nod. Greg pressed a light kiss on her forehead and took off towards the disabled ramp at a run.
"Did you get a licence for that Greg?" Sara teased as they screeched to a halt in front of her.
They were seated in a quiet corner, one massive table laid out for them in preparation. Jazz music filled the air,dim lighting filled the space and two smartly dressed waitresses stood aside waiting for their drinks orders. Grissom ordered the house wines and perused the menu while Sara glanced around at the people surrounding her.
She could remember laying in bed in the middle of the night as a child, wishing for a family. Her entire consciousness had been consumed by this thought that she needed to have a family to consider herself successful and as she had grown up that feeling didn't ever go away.
She had been searching for a family for her entire life but as she looked around at the smiling faces and listened to the animated chatter around her she realises that perhaps she was more blessed than she ever realised.
She may not have a conventional family but she had something so much more precious. She had this family. This dysfunctional, crazy, unlikely arrangement of characters that sat around this very table were her family and she wouldn't change a single one of them for the world.
"Sorry I'm late" The familiar voice of Catherine broke through her far too sentimental thoughts as she flustered and took the seat directly across from her with a wink. "You know how unpredictable the traffic is in this town"
"Its great to see you Cath!" Nick exclaimed, as though surprised she had showed. Sara wasn't surprised, she knew Catherine cherished this family as much as she did and Warrick, especially, held a special place in her heart.
"Can't get rid of me that easily Nicky" Catherine winked, raising her glass to her lips.
"Of course not" Grissom remarked "We're a family"
It was as though he was reading her thoughts as he smiled at her from the other end of the table. She wondered how often the rest of the team took time to really look at what a wonderful unit they had created. They had been through some terrible hardships but they had also been through many, many happy times too and never faltered in their love and loyalty for each other.
"I'd like to propose a toast" Grissom declared, tapping his glass and clearing his throat.
A hush descended over them and all eyes turned to Grissom. She suddenly felt incredibly proud of him, she often had moments where she would step back and count all her blessings. Grissom was one of those blessings, he had come into her life and taught her so much more than he ever knew. He taught her about work, about life and most importantly, about love. Almost everything she knew about love she had learned from him, and he was a great teacher.
"To Family" He smiled, raising his glass and waiting for everyone to join in as they duly did. He met her eye as he sunk back into his chair, his expression one of love and happiness.
Their food arrived and the meal passed with companionable conversation and laughter. Soon Catherine had wrestled Jim onto the dance floor to join Doc Robbins and Judy, Hodges was deep in conversation with Grissom. Sara excused herself from the table but was wrestled by Joel on her way to the bathroom, demanding to dance.
She could see Robyn out of the corner of her eye, shifting uncomfortably in her chair and nodded subtly to Greg. It took him a while to realise what she was implying but soon reached out his hands to Robyn
"Lets dance" He offered, a smile working on his lips.
Robyn cast her eyes across the people filling the dance floor and immediately shook her head.
"I can't" She whispered.
Greg enclosed his hands around hers and pulled her upright. Her legs were weak and had little sensation but he knew they weren't completely incapable. She clung to his body, her arms wrapping around his neck and holding on tight.
"Relax... I won't let you fall" He soothed, helping her to step onto the dance floor. As he began to move to the music she could see Robyn visibly relax and felt a small sense of achievement. Grissom was looking at her for rescue, his eyes wide and begging as Hodges chewed his ear off but she responded with a shrug and a wide smile, holding onto Joel's hands.
As the night began to die down, Joel resorted to lounging on the chairs as Hodges gave him an origami lesson. He did look incredibly bored but Sara was lost in her husband's embrace as he swung her around the dance floor. He smiled down at her, his eyes sparkling as they connected with hers.
"It's been a good night. We did Warrick proud" He muttered, stealing a glance around their friends.
"He has a lot to be proud of" Sara sighed, resting her head on his chest and listening to the sound of his heartbeat, a sound she fell asleep to and woke up to and craved whenever it was away. With a sigh she quietly confessed "We have a great family"
Grissom stilled slightly, as though unsure what she was referring to untill he saw the rest of their dinner party waving them back to the table with a bottle of champagne. He laced his fingers in hers, danced his lips across hers and smiled softly.
"We really do"