XXVI - LIVING

"Okay - I have a joke." Grissom's announcement caused all conversation to cease, and six faces turned towards him expectantly.

"Does it involve bugs?" Warrick asked, grinning. "Is it too cryptic for the rest of us mere mortals to understand?"

"Does it involve word-play using the periodic table of elements?" Greg piped up. Everyone laughed.

"Nope. This is an honest-to-goodness joke. Did you hear about the agnostic dyslexic insomniac?" When no one answered, Grissom finished. "He stayed up all night asking himself if there really was a dog!"

Everyone groaned. "How much champagne have you had, Grissom?" Sara teased. "I mean, we've all been drinking - thanks for bringing it by the way - but what was with that joke? You must be drunk."

Grissom shrugged, smiling. "I just wanted to tell a joke. But the champagne is good."

Warrick agreed with him, but added, "And you're sure the champagne was your idea? Not Catherine's?"

"All Grissom!" Catherine giggled. "Although, it's good enough to have been my idea. Besides, Grissom is the only one who could afford four bottles of this stuff - it's not cheap."

"That's why I refuse to water mine down with orange juice!" Greg interrupted, cheerfully raising his glass. "Sweet ambrosia!"

Grissom took a sip from his own glass. "Nectar of the gods!" he agreed.

In the background, the Dixie Chicks were singing. Everyone had laughed at Grissom's gift to Nick, and even Greg - who hated country music - had gotten into the swing of things when Sara had insisted on playing 'Good-bye Earl' right away. Within minutes, the whole crew had been shouting out the course.

"I just can't feel bad," Catherine had commented. "If anyone ever did anything like that to Lindsey, I'd kill them. I understand why Becky did it - I only wish she'd snapped earlier."

Breakfast had been delicious. While they ate, Grissom told Nick about the autopsy, and the discovery of Earl's tattoo. Nick had merely nodded. "Cycles. Children learn what they know. At least I'm glad that Nancy is going to get some help. It's amazing she survived - no one else did."

"Except Becky." Warrick inserted. "And she survived by feeding him victims."

And now, here they were, 3 bottles of champagne gone, 1 to go. The music had been changed over to radio - the Rivers & Waters morning show, playing strictly alt. rock, and the general energy level in the apartment was high. Sara was sitting on Nick's lap, laughing outrageously at something Greg was saying. Warrick, Brass and Catherine appeared to be having a rather intense conversation about something, and Grissom was sitting on the sofa, watching them all and smiling.

He realized as he sat there that these people - his team, his CSIs - were his friends. As much as he had tried over the years to stay distant, he hadn't been able to - he had been drawn into friendships and relationships almost against his will. Maybe Sara's arrival two years ago had been the catalyst for change in Grissom's life. As he had started caring about her, the rest of his team had slipped in on the peripheral edges, and had firmly ensconced themselves in his heart. They were more than friends - they were his family: Warrick, Greg, Nick, Sara, Brass and lastly Catherine - his conscience and his sounding board.

He looked to his left as he felt someone slide onto the sofa, beside him.

"What are you doing, Grissom?" Sara asked.

"I'm living," he responded, smiling. "And it's not as bad as I thought it would be."

~FIN~

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Authors Note: Thank you so much for the reviews and the support. I hope no one is disappointed with the ending. The continuation of this story "VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR" is already in the works, and hopefully I'll be posting some chapters soon. As I mentioned earlier, I am normally a big Grissom/Sara 'shipper, but this story basically wrote itself and I was compelled to make it Nick and Sara, all the way.