Title: Damage is Done

Grissom/Sara, Warrick/Catherine, pg

~*~ indicates flashbacks


'Nick, would you please just drop it?' Sara Sidle exclaimed angrily, trying her best to keep her voice lowered as she walked through the halls of the Las Vegas Crime Lab. She made a beeline for the break room, which luckily for the rest of the world, housed her much needed caffeine.

It had been a long night, and Sara was exhausted, having worked hours overtime yet again. And as if that wasn't enough, she had been careless with her emotions in her exhaustion, and had let things slip that now an excited Nick would not let go of.

'Gris, there's nothing else here. Can we please just finish up and go?' Sara whined at her boss who was crouched down on the floor a few feet away from her. She could feel the utter exhaustion finally setting in, and for once did not feel bad about showing it. She had worked thirty hours straight, and fully deserved a break.

Grissom swivelled on his haunches to face her, and arched his eyebrows at her uncharacteristic behaviour. She smiled at him sheepishly, and their eyes locked.

He scooted over to where she was kneeling, leaning in close. She could feel his slow shallow breaths moving the stray hairs near her left cheek, and it took her a moment to realise his real reason for the close proximity. In his left hand was a cloth, held carefully between a pair of tweezers, that he was inching towards her face.

'Smell this,' he instructed, huskily.

'Chloroform,' she said with confidence. 'Where did you find that?' she asked incredulously, a trademark smile broadening on her face.

'Lose floorboard by the side of the bed' he said simply, smirking slightly.

She suddenly looked sheepish again, not wanting to look him in the eye admitting her misjudgement.

'I guess I ready to quit too early, huh?' she said ashamedly, more as a statement than a question, while staring at a fascinating spot on the floor.

'Hey' he said softly, lifting her chin up with his fingers, 'I forgive you,' he said huskily, shrugging his shoulders lightly, and smiling a playful smile that lit up his blue eyes.

She giggled at his sudden unusual behaviour, and without thinking, placed her hand on top of his on her cheek, which she hadn't even noticed had moved she'd been so caught up in the moment.

As if symmetrical, they both started leaning further into each other, their breaths mingling in the small air space between their lips. Close. Closer. Closer.

'Hey, Gris, Sar...' Nick stopped, standing in the doorway to the victim's bedroom, eyeing the scene playing out between his two friends in the middle of the suspect's bedroom floor.

So close.

They spun to face him, breaking apart with identical guilty looks on their faces.

'Yeah, right Sara, nothing happened.' Nick retorted, knowing he was right.

'He was just asking me to smell the cloth, ok?'

'Right, with his hand on your cheek and yours on top of his. Perfect position for smelling a, um, cloth.' He replied, a massive grin on his face.

Sara tried to think of something to throw back in his face, but nothing came because she knew he was right.

'Come on Sara, just admit it. It's only me you're talking to.'

'Exactly.' She said, taking a long sip of her scolding hot coffee.

'Sara, we all know you have feelings for him.'

'Yeah, except him.' She said quietly, not realising she had said it out loud, staring at the hypnotising swirl of her coffee.

'So tell him.' Nick said softly. By this time he had moved across the room so that he was standing by the counter she was sitting on, staring into her coffee cup, and feeling the warmth pass through the china and onto her hands. She looked up at his comment, realising he was now right next to her, and that she had indeed said that out loud. Deciding there was no way back now, she continued the conversation.

"Yeah, right. I can see it now. 'Hey Grissom, I got the lab results. The perp did do it! Oh, and by the way, I'm in love with you'. He'd never take that risk anyway, so what's the point?"

Nick grinned at her trademark sarcasm, and she couldn't help but smile back at him. Granted, her scenario had been pretty amusing.

'See, you admitted it. Now don't you feel better?' he asked, a twinkle in his eyes.

Laughing, she said 'Yeah, yeah I d...'

She stopped dead in her tracks, her eyes focused on something behind him. Nick turned round to see what she was staring at, and on seeing who was standing there, let out an involuntary 'Oh, shit' under his breath.

Finding her voice, Sara shakily asked 'How long have you been standing there?'

'Long enough' he replied softly, his eyes never leaving hers.

Sara found herself wishing for the floor to open up beneath her and swallow her down. Her life was over now anyway.

"Nick, would you excuse us for a moment, please?" Grissom asked in his polite manner.

"Yeah, sure." He replied hesitantly, giving Sara an 'it'll be okay' smile before disappearing from the goldfish bowl.

As he walked away from the breakroom, Nick spotted two suspicious looking individuals supposedly hiding round the corner, but not at all indiscreetly.

"Warrick, Cath." He greeted, smirking.

Catherine's head shot up, surprised. They obviously hadn't seen him coming.

"Nick!" she exclaimed. "Hey there! We were just, um..."

"...inspecting this wall here" Warrick took over feebly, pointing at the wall. "You see that crack there, man? Well, we were a little worried about it. See..."

"Save it, man." Nick cut him off, laughing. "We both know you're just here making out when you think no one's looking."

His laughter subsided when he failed to hear them laughing along with him. He looked at them, expecting to see them denying it repeatedly. Instead he found them looking at each other guiltily, before turning to him, their faces growing more and more guilty by the second.

"What? No, man. No way." Warrick, finding his voice, defended.

"No. No, of course not." Catherine added, shaking her head, and looking between the two men.

Just as Nick was about the comment on their strange behaviour, Warrick past Nick, and the three of them turned their attention to their two colleagues who didn't appear to have moved much from their previous positions. Grissom was still shifting from one foot to the other while standing just inside the doorway, whereas Sara had slid down from her perch on the counter, and was now standing in front of it, leaning back on it, looking anywhere but into his eyes.

Catherine shot Warrick a grateful glance at having shifted the attention from themselves to that of their friends. "Well, guess they haven't got very far then." She commented sarcastically, returning her gaze to the stubborn duo inside the goldfish bowl.

"Grissom..." Sara started, unable to bare the silence any longer.

"Did you mean it?" Grissom cut her off softly.

"Well, what's the point in lying now?" She thought to herself. "Yes." She replied equally softly, staring at the floor.

He walked towards her silently. She looked up as she felt his fingers lift her chin.

"What are you doing?" she asked, huskily.

"Taking a risk." He replied gently, caressing her cheek with his thumb, and with that he leaned in and kissed her. A soft, gentle, perfect first kiss.

Their lips broke apart, but they still stood close, his hand still on her cheek, as they both smiled soft, genuine, happy smiles.

"It's about flipping time!"

They spun around, surprised, having completely forgotten their surroundings, and looked around for the body that belonged to the voice. Their eyes rested on three guilty looking figures huddled in a corner, trying to pretend they had not just been acting as an audience.

Catherine stood up slowly from her crouching position, knowing she was caught. A guilty, but mischievous smile played across her features. At the same time, Warrick and Nick came out from behind her, grinning.

Grissom sighed, gave Sara an apologetic smile to which she also grinned, and took her hand softly, leading her out to where their three ecstatic colleagues were now standing next to the wall, instead of 'hidden' round the corner.

"Catherine, would you care to yell that from the roof as well so that not just the entire lab but the entire state can hear?"

"I'm sorry, Gil, I'm just so excited about you two finally getting together!" she exclaimed excitedly.

"Finally?" Sara asked, curiously.

"Man, they really are blind." Catherine scoffed to Warrick and Nick, which caused her to receive a glare from Grissom, and an even more clueless look from Sara.

Before Sara could question Catherine further, Grissom spoke up. "Shift's over. Why don't you all go home?" he suggested, actually smiling.

And with that he looked down at his and Sara's adjoined hands, smiled at her, and they walked off together down the hall towards the parking lot.

Nick turned to the grinning pair in front of him as the new couple disappeared out of sight, and, also grinning, he asked:

"So, Warrick, Cath, why don't you explain to me what was so important about that crack?"