Title: Once

Author: Summer Reign

Rating: T+

Spoilers: One to Go

Disclaimer: Fabulous people own them! People with hearts (after all!) Not me, though (although I can be fabulous and do have a heart last time I checked).

Summary: Sara has to adjust to Paradise.


Once upon a time…

Sara Sidle met a man.

And she thought maybe, just maybe, the long-awaited prince she'd heard of in fairy tales had arrived.

Although, he wasn't your standard issue prince. Not in looks. Not in demeanor.

He did a little of the pursuing princes were known for. At the beginning.

Then he retreated.

And she pursued.

And he rebuffed.

And when she finally faced facts and decided she had been foolish for believing, he began his pursuit again.

And didn't run when she let him catch her.

And they lived happily…

For just a little while.

Really, a very short little while.


Once upon a time…Sara Sidle had been delusional.

Because she was no princess, in spite of the regal name. Oh, she lived the early hard-knock life of a Disney heroine but…she didn't have the spirit necessary to qualify.

You needed to whistle while you worked. You needed to hum a happy tune.

They played the movie, Enchanted, on the plane on the way to Costa Rica and she found big, fat tears rolling down her cheeks. It had been weeks. Months, really. She should be more advanced in the "recovery" phase of this breakup. But, she wasn't. She took off the headphones, turned her face to the window and slept.

After her stint with the Sea Shepherd was over, she went back to her mother's apartment. But, it wasn't home. Her mother didn't really want her there any more than she wanted to be there. They were related, but virtual strangers.

She should get an apartment. And a dog.

But, she wanted Hank. The dog, not the man. And she wanted the man who owned Hank. Sara wanted him more than anything.

But, Grissom wasn't charging up to her apartment on a white horse. Or a yellow taxi cab.

He wasn't coming at all. Ever.

Once upon a time…was in the past.


And, then, suddenly—it wasn't. Maybe.

"Indiana Jones, I presume?" Ricardo's deep, highly amused voice broke through their mutual haze and they managed to separate lips, hands and arms and become two people again.

Right before Sara took Grissom around to introduce him to her fellow travelers, he whispered the first thing he had said to her in months.

"I'm really glad I wore baggy pants."

She stifled a near hysterical laugh as she faced the one man and two women who were part of their group. Two others were off…somewhere.

"This is…Gil Grissom, my…"

And she stopped.

"Fiancée," he firmly stated. And she smiled a bit.


And then there was the grand tour of the camp. It took about a minute and a half. He frowned at the small army cot that served as her bed.

Costa Rica was just a stop along the way. A beautiful spot and one of the places she had always wanted to visit. And, so, with nothing holding her back, she did. She joined a small group off on a scientific excursion to study native wildlife, plants and…yes, bugs. There had been a tiny stipend in exchange for her photographic expertise. They weren't all that picky, just needed someone able to handle really expensive equipment without dropping it. Hotel accommodations were part of the original package, with day trips planned to less- inhabited areas. But the group decided the only way to truly experience Costa Rica was to "rough it."

Yes, they were younger. Much younger. And, yes, they were enthusiastic about…everything, including putting up mosquito netting and sleeping on uncomfortable cots. And Sara was hoping to catch some of their attitude. After all, she had felt that way…once.

But, she soon found it wasn't something easily recaptured.

"Hey," Ricardo said. "I have a spare sleeping bag. I can take that and Mr. Grissom can take my cot. He can put it right next to yours, if you want."

She watched Grissom fake a smile. She knew he'd do it, if he had to. But, frankly, she didn't want to share him, or the history of their relationship with these kids.

"Thanks," Sara said. "But, I think we'll go to the hotel. I'll be back down tomorrow-or the day after. It will give me a chance to get some of this film developed. Then, we can reevaluate what we need more shots of."

Ricardo smiled knowingly and helped Sara quickly pack up what she needed, while Grissom grabbed a cup of tepid, but strong, coffee.

There was a two hour hike back to the road where Grissom left the jeep he rented.

He took her hand, and they set off without saying a word.


Once upon a time

Sara Sidle had been delusional.

She now entered that phase again.

Or she didn't keep herself hydrated enough.

Or her blood sugar was low.

Or something…

Because she could swear Prince Charming had returned.

As handsome and non-communicative as ever.

"When do you have to go back?" she asked, finally breaking the silence.

"I don't."


"I left the lab, Sara."

He left the lab. Now, she knew she was hallucinating. She stopped walking for a moment.

She took a deep breath. She got up that morning, ate breakfast, walked around taking pictures of wildlife, ran into the monkey she was so fond of and…Grissom suddenly appeared. Perhaps the monkey had thrown something at her head and she was suffering from the aftereffects of a concussion.

"I asked Molly to keep Hank for about a month," he continued. "I'm pretty sure what I paid her will cover next semester's tuition, but it's worth it. Hank's had a rough time of it and needs a sitter he knows and loves. If you want us to stay beyond that time, I'll make further arrangements. And, if you want to live here, then we can see about getting him transported. I've got the proper paperwork and shots. I just didn't want to have to put him through the flight when I didn't know if you'd…"

"You didn't?" She dropped his hand and looked at him.

"I hoped," he answered, softly. "It took me awhile to get to this point, but—once I did—I hoped…and didn't really entertain any other scenario, except when it came to dragging Hank here without knowing for sure. And, if I was wrong, I planned on staying here until I helped you change your mind."

She nodded. He was…different. Determined. In pursuit again. Walked out of the jungle and claimed his woman. Kind of like the first time he "claimed" her. There had been nothing hesitant in his kiss back then, either, in spite of expectations to the contrary. And there was no hesitation this time. It was kind of…exciting. And scary because…well, times hadn't been easy lately.

"You're sweaty," she said, looking down at the large perspiration stain on his shirt that was becoming larger and larger.

"Humidity. I'm not as used to it as I once was. I brought a change of clothes in the bag. I can stop and…"

"Let me show you something," she said and took the lead. They walked in silence again, until they reached Sara's destination.

"My bathtub," she said, with a small smile and a wave of her hand.

He looked at the lavish foliage that enclosed a large pool of water complete with small waterfall. It was secluded and lovely and she had been bathing in it for the last few days. It took a while to get to it, but she was pretty certain about her privacy there. The "kids" seemed to bathe in the lake that was only a few steps from their tent. Sara was barely getting used to the roughing it part of this trip. She definitely wasn't into group bathing.

Grissom's eyes seemed to drink it all in. She rarely had the opportunity to look at them in the daylight. Without sunglasses. She forgot how blue they could look when the sun was in his face. His gaze returned to hers and drank her in, as well. His scrutiny was both familiar and unsettling. And, just as she felt those tears forming behind her own eyes, he began kissing her again.

She pulled away from him and started unbuttoning his shirt. "We'll take a nice little dip to cool off, change clothes, relax for a while and then make our way to the jeep, okay?"

He untied the scarf from her neck and planted a warm kiss there. Her arms seemed to take on a life of their own as they encircled his strong back.

"You're tired, Grissom," she said, and thought of how safe she felt in his arms, in spite of all the uncertainty in the past year.

"Gil," he corrected her. "And I drank cold but surprisingly strong Costa Rican coffee. I'll be up for days."

And before she could say another word, he set about proving that statement to her. He quickly peeled off all his clothes and waded into the water buck-naked. His brave new spirit was a bit frightening. But, if he was up to an adventure, so was she. She joined him a moment later, guiding him behind the water fall.

He reached out and took her in his arms again. Their kisses were heated in spite of the water splashing all around them and they soon discovered that making love in such an environment had both its advantages and disadvantages. There was the 'weightlessness factor,' which was a plus when it came to him supporting her as she wrapped her legs around him. That brought about the 'slippery factor.' Somewhat of a negative. Which was followed by the 'warm water leading to a quicker than normal release factor.' Definitely a negative. And , finally, right in the throes of his intense orgasm, the 'shifting ground below them factor,' which led to a full submersion under water for both of them. They stood up, looked at each other and found themselves doing something neither one of them had done in a very long time. They laughed. Without a care in the world. And then held each other tighter than they probably ever had in their entire lives.


Once upon a time…

There was a woman who had lost everything and was trying to find a purpose in her life.

And, in the middle of all that, she turned around and saw the one person she loved the most (and lost).

And, with barely a word spoken between them, all was right with the world. And they made love in a setting that was nothing short of Paradise on earth.

And they lived happily ever after.

Pretty fairy tale. Pretty dream.

But, she didn't believe in fairy tales. And wasn't sure she trusted dreams.

He was out like a light. They had moved to the shore and he was dozing against a rock, wearing only his boxers. She had slipped into her bra, panties and used her camp shirt as an open robe. It was nice to feel the tropical breeze against her skin.

She ran her hand down his chest and he snuffled a bit in his sleep.

Gil always slept like a log after sex. Sex after a long flight and trek through the forest? It could be days before he woke up. But, she wouldn't let him sleep too long. He may have considered himself King of the Bug World but the mosquitoes were big and hungry and had no respect for the monarchy. And she wasn't about to lose him to some bug-borne disease after he had come this far to join her.

He came this far. For her.

This was real.

But, it couldn't be.

Nothing in her life ever undid itself. No knight ever came knocking down her door to claim her. Not ever. Not even the first time they got together. She always thought that was more a matter of her (and life circumstances) finally wearing him down rather than something he actively sought.

She turned away for a moment. His hat was resting on top of his discarded pants and shirt. All of them looked a little worse for wear. The armor, in this case, was more than a little rusty. And, maybe the knight was, too. But the moment was…perfect. And…overwhelming.

"What are you thinking about?" he said, his voice raspy with sleep.

"Nothing. Sleep for a little while longer. We still have a long walk ahead of us if we are going to get to the hotel before nightfall."

"I'm…not tired. Tell me. What were you thinking about?"

She leaned down and kissed him. Soft. Those were Gil's soft lips. She ran her fingers lightly through his beard.

Gil. Not a figment of her imagination. Not the product of some magic mushrooms or paranormal phenomena. Not a knight in shining, or tarnished armor. Just Gil. Here. Now.

"I…just can't believe you're really here. I can't believe you left the lab. I know that place is…your life. And I wanted you to live the life you wanted for yourself. It wasn't your fault I couldn't be part of it anymore. Although, I wanted to. So much. After I sent you the video, I could have kicked myself. Because I didn't want to let you go. Even if it was the right thing to do. It's been really hard, Grissom. Thinking I'd never see you again. Trying to find a reason to get up in the morning."

He sat up and put his arms around her, then laid back down holding her tightly as she tried very hard not to cry like a baby.

"When I got the video, I was in very bad shape. So much so that I was listening to your words and not paying attention to anything else. Later—when I had a chance to rest and put things in perspective, I watched again. You were saying you were happy, but that's not what your eyes were telling me. I've seen you happy. I've even made you happy. That…wasn't happy. So, I knew there was still a chance. And…I started setting things in motion."

"And gave up everything."

"I didn't give up anything I wasn't ready and willing to give up. It was the right time to go. It was past the right time to go. I want to be with you. I should have been with you for the past year. And I'm very sorry for all I've put you through. But, we'll make up for lost time. I promise. So, it's not about what I lost, but what I now have, okay?"

"Okay," she said, burrowing closer to him. They'd have plenty of time to talk about everything. Or not. It already didn't matter much anymore. They were together and away from the things that threatened to tear them apart. They'd be okay.

She knew he would love spending a couple of weeks here. And it would be good for him. A nice transition. And a good place to plan their next moves. But, she knew one more thing. It was time to go home soon. Back to their dog. Back to their lives.

And she'd kind of like to be a Grissom.

As if, over the past few years, she was ever really anything else in her heart.



"Is that monkey stalking us?"

She looked up from her position on his chest and into the tree above their heads. A tiny monkey was poised above them, looking at them with unblinking curiosity. It was a different monkey than the one at the camp. There were many, many of the little creatures in this area. Grissom would catch onto the subtle differences between them soon enough.

"Maybe he's doing a study on the mating habits of humans," she said, with a smile.

"Perhaps. Or maybe he's just looking for a good laugh."

"Either way, we delivered, didn't we?"

"That we did, my dear," he said, and planted a kiss on the top of her head. "As much as I'd love to lay here and sunbathe, we should get going. There is a very nice, huge bed in our room and, I certainly can't promise a repeat of this very fine—and fast—performance, but we can definitely get a good night's sleep so we can aim for endurance tomorrow."

She nodded and just looked at him again.


It suddenly didn't seem like a fruitless search for something intangible anymore.

It seemed like a rediscovery of something beloved.

Bright and beautiful and full of promise.

Once upon a time, Sara Sidle believed she had found the love of her life.

He wasn't a prince, any more than she was a princess.

He was a geeky scientist. And so was she.

And, when all hope was lost, he came to her,

On foot. In sweaty, wrinkled clothes wearing a hat that had seen more summers than most teenagers.

Once upon a time…

Sara Sidle stopped believing in fairy tales and lived a real life love story…

One that would last…forever.


The End



I state, herewith, that I loved the ending of One to Go. And I thought it was darned near perfect. And the 60- second GSR scene probably said, without words, what I tried to say in this story using a whole mess of them.
But, I had to do it, anyway;-)

To The Powers That Be…(almost) All is forgiven!

To Grissom and Sara (and Billy and Jorja)—you make me smile and warm my heart. I wouldn't have missed seeing your love story for the world.

And, well, that's it. Oh—one more thing. The sex scene (well, the allusion to a sex scene). The subject (in general) was somewhat up for debate on YTDAW, which is part of the reason I was hesitating big time about this story. I didn't think being tired was as much of a factor as the emotions that were piled high in both of them. But, frankly, the way Grissom lunged at Sara told me that he was going to be doing more of that grabbing, no matter how many miles he traveled, and she wasn't going to say no. But, they have never been totally traditional, so … I gave them more of a release than they bargained for. Not to be funny, but to let them have a moment of joy and a moment where they can re-connect on this very personal level that they'd only trust each other with. (Uh, over-talking!) Anyway, onwards, people! See you next time, and thanks for reading.

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