Title: Twenty-four Little Hours

Author: Summer Reign

Rating: T

Spoilers: Eh. Season 8 speculation. Not based on anything specific. Just my 'magination...running away with me...

Disclaimer: I don't own them, but does anyone really own anyone else, even if they aren't real? Hmmm…deep thoughts to ponder, as CBS plans their lawsuit against my poor soul for not taking the disclaimer seriously enough.

Summary: Grissom finds Sara…and himself.


At 2 AM, he found himself staring at his reflection in the mirror.

He had finally excused himself from the room filled with people, maps, equipment and noise. So much noise. Normally, he would take charge and control it. Like a traffic cop, he would stop the flow around him, and direct people in an orderly fashion. But he wasn't in charge of this one. They didn't let him take charge. Well, Catherine didn't. Ecklie simply didn't know enough to make the decision. Not yet, anyway. But Catherine told Grissom they might risk their case and justice wouldn't be served, and so on and so forth, as if he gave a shit about anything but finding Sara.

Still, he knew she was right. But there was no way he wouldn't be right there, in the thick of things, even if he couldn't get them to all stop talking at once and just go out and … find her.

He left Confusion Central and entered the men's room. He emptied his overly-full bladder and gave himself a two-minute time-out to regroup.

In this hollow, empty room, the sound of water dripping in the sink seemed unnaturally loud and important.

What would be of primary importance in his hollow, empty life if she was gone?

He felt his guts twist in a knot followed by a wave of intense nausea. He couldn't be sick now. There was no time. He only had a minute of his self-imposed pity party left. He splashed water on his face and looked in the mirror, in spite of his better judgement.

At 2:02 AM, he still found himself staring in the mirror—at a dead man.

At 2 PM, they found her.

She was unconscious, but her vital signs seemed strong enough. She was bruised, her hands were bloody and strands of her hair were clumped together by dried mud.

Emotions almost trumped professionalism, until the paramedics arrived. Grissom would have admired their take-charge attitude if they didn't initially decline his request to accompany her on the Medevac. They changed their minds when he told them he was her spouse. Catherine gasped so loudly that, under any other circumstances, he would have laughed. They didn't ask for proof. Neither did Catherine. The look in his eyes said more than a non-existent piece of paper ever could.

The first few hours at the hospital were non-stopped action. This was a high-profile case and there was no way they were letting CSI Sidle grow mold in the ER waiting room. They had her strapped up to IV fluids before she even hit the hospital and, once there, there was a barrage of tests, x-rays and a CAT scan.

Followed by the good news that she was not as injured as she could be, as perhaps she should be, given the circumstances.

She was bruised, battered, and dehydrated. Severely. But, gloriously alive. And awake.

The vision of Sara, wearing a dreadful cream colored hospital gown with little blue flowers, connected to monitors and IV lines, was jarring. She lay back against the pillows of the raised bed, in the private room he insisted upon, looking tiny and pale in spite of her five foot nine inch frame.

He kissed her hand, and she smiled.

She then closed her eyes and slept for a couple more hours.

And when she woke, she agreed to see the people who were so desperately anxious to see her.

They came in pairs of two, approaching her bed with enthusiasm. They looked at their coworker—their friend—in her current condition, and promptly forgot whatever it was they may have planned on saying and veered off into other directions entirely.

Warrick did manage a suave, "You take care of yourself, now," before he left.

Catherine was semi-speechless, with her mouth hanging open half the time, on the verge of speech and, apparently, second-guessing every bit of conversation that entered her head. She ended up giving Sara as close to an "air hug" as one could imagine.

Nick made a lame joke about easier ways of getting vacation time, and then looked like he'd like to find a nice rock to crawl under.

Ecklie came in with the magnanimous proclamation that she didn't "have" to do any interviews when she was released. He would take care of it all.

The last ones to arrive were Greg and Brass, because Grissom had asked them to do him a favor.

They entered the room and Greg handed his supervisor a shopping bag. Brass came over and gently took Sara's hand in his, accompanying the gesture with as gentle a "Hey, kid," as anyone had ever heard from him.

When it was Greg's turn, and Sara greeted him with a weak smile, he stooped over, buried his head next to hers, and sobbed.

For the second time that day.

Grissom felt a wave of irritation but knew, from the expression on Sara's face, that she would be angry with him if he stopped the younger man. Besides, he had a strong suspicion he was just jealous of Greg's ability to channel his emotions in the proper way instead of bottling them up for years and letting them fester…or die.

Grissom hadn't cried once.

But his emotions didn't die. Although, there were several times during the night and day, when he thought he was close to dying. And several more when he was convinced he was close to a state of madness that would have put Natalie's to shame.

Brass put his hand on Greg's shoulder, Greg apologized profusely, Sara said something about it being the greatest compliment a friend could ever pay and Brass and Greg were gone.

Leaving just the two of them. Alone, at last.

And Grissom couldn't quite look her in the eye.

Instead, he took the shopping bag, and sat by her bed.

"Greg and Jim stopped by the house for a few things," he said, pulling out each item. "Your hand cream, toner, shampoo—in case they let you shower tomorrow."

"I'm not staying past tomorrow," she said, firm strength apparent in spite of her weak voice.


"No. I'm not. I'll be hydrated enough by tomorrow and can rest just as well at home as here."

He saved his arguments. For all he knew, the doctors might agree and arguing now would be pointless.

"Well, I had them pick up your robe and…here…" he said, pulling out a folder and checking on the contents with a small, satisfied smile, "good." He handed her the 8 X 10 printed photograph.

"I asked Greg to take a picture of Bruno for you," he handed her the photo of the boxer, leaning back on his haunches, his head cocked to one side.

Sara put a hand to her mouth and was far more successful in stifling her sob than Greg had been earlier, when Grissom made the request. And, to think, he chose Greg over Catherine because he was hoping to avoid an overly emotional scene.

"Thank you," she said, quietly, and he could feel the power of her gaze. He looked in her direction, hoping she wouldn't notice that he was actually looking about two inches to the left of her face.

"Are you thirsty?" he asked and winced. Who wouldn't be thirty after drinking only muddy rain water.

Besides, they wanted her to introduce fluids into her system gradually.

"I'd like a little water," she said, and he poured her a dixie cup's worth. He held it to her lips as she drank. She finished and laid back against the pillows, half closing her eyes.

"Do you want me to adjust the bed?" he asked.

"No, I don't want to lie flat. Just…this is fine."

"Okay," he said. She had wanted her bed cranked to a nearly sitting position from the minute they put her in the room.

"How did they find out?" she asked, interrupting his thoughts.

Grissom sighed. "I told them. I'm not sure I ever remember doing it, specifically. Well, I do, but I don't really even remember thinking about it before speaking. I just…told them something that allowed them to connect the dots."

"I'm glad."

"Me, too," he said, and realized he was.

She smiled softly, closed her eyes completely and was out like a light.

He sat in the chair provided for him, throwing his legs over a second chair and he, too, fell asleep.

At 1 AM, Grissom found himself visited by every body he ever found in the desert.

Every single one of them. In the exact same states he found them in. He couldn't remember some of their names but could recall the bugs crawling over them, how much flesh had been eaten away…

But none of them smelled the same as when they were discovered. None of them smelled like decomp.

Instead, they smelled of the light cologne Sara misted herself with before going to bed. The one he breathed in when his nose was nuzzling the crook of her neck. The one that surrounded him as they made love.

He tore himself from the nightmare, his heart pounding and his mind, once again, questioning whether this was it—the incident that would push his overworked heart to the brink and finish him off.

Perhaps he should lay himself by her feet now, letting her know that he gladly sacrificed his life for hers.

A soft moan came from the bed to stop his morbid ruminations and have him focus on what was really important. He sat down on the narrow mattress, his hand gently stroking her forehead, combing through still somewhat sandy hair. If they released her in the morning, he'd make sure every single grain was removed, every trace of what she'd been through. Then he'd tell her…


What could he possibly tell her, and how could he get the nerve to say anything now when he could barely meet her gaze?

And then he felt it. The slightly rough surface of her bandaged fingers brushing his cheeks. He instinctively looked in her eyes and was caught. Like a fly in a spider web, he could no longer release himself.

"Chalk?" he asked with as genuine a smile as he could muster up.

"Something like that," she said. "Talk to me, Grissom."

"What do you want me to say?"


Anything covered a lot of territory.

"Were you having a nightmare?" he asked.

She shrugged. "I don't know. I don't think so. I feel…sore."

"I'll get the nurse," he said, reaching for the call button.

"No. She'll just give me something that will make me fall asleep."

"You need sleep."

"No. I need to hear you talk."

He sighed. "I hate hospitals."

She smirked a bit. "Me, too."

"I'm sorry. That's not what I…"

"Grissom, don't censor yourse…"

"I meant," he rushed on, "there's this artificial feeling about this setting. I…" he was at a loss for words again.

"It's okay, Gris."

"No, it's not," he took a deep breath. "I want…to unhook you from that machine, swing over to our place and grab Bruno, and then just drive away. Just the three of us. Away from this hospital, away from this town, our jobs. This nightmare."

Her fingers slipped into his hair.

"Right at this moment, that sounds very tempting, but we're not that spontaneous, are we?" she leaned back again. "Out there, though…when I couldn't…when I had nothing but time to think, I thought about a lot of unexplored possibilities."

"Tell me. What do you want, Sara? Anything. We can do anything you want."

"I just want to explore. Just explore. We might end up exactly where we are but at least we'll know we considered all our options."

For a split second, Grissom thought that Greg Sanders may have had way too much of an influence on him. He felt himself welling up. For the first time in what seemed like forever, they were talking about the future again.

He leaned toward her and carefully kissed her parched lips. "I love you," he said.

"I know that."

"I just needed to say it. Finally."

"And that's why I hung on. To hear you say it," her eyes were closing again.

"Go to sleep, honey."

"No," she opened her eyes and reached out for him. He carefully moved closer to her as she slid her arms around his shoulders and encircled his neck, careful not to pull out her IV lines.

She rested her cheek against his own. "I was so scared, Gris," she whispered in his ear.

"I know."

"I thought I'd never see you again and it broke my heart," she said, as he tightened his hold around her in response. "And I lied before. I didn't hang on just to hear you tell me you loved me. I already knew that. I always have, on some level. But what really kept me going was the thought that you probably would see me again. And it would haunt you forever. I couldn't let that happen to you. Not like that."

He took another deep breath that was marred by the shudder running through his body. He wanted to thank her, for holding on, for being so smart, for loving him. At that moment, there was no way to get out even a word of it without breaking down completely.

She moved her head away from his and brushed a tear from his face. She traced the lines around his eyes and smiled softly. "I know how tired you are and I should be chasing you home but…"

"I'm not going anywhere until I can take you with me."

"Tomorrow," she said.

He looked at his watch. "Today. Even if I have to hire a private nurse."

"It's a deal," she said, and a small twinkle appeared in her eyes. "As long as she's not hot."

He laughed, kissed her softly, and watched her smiling at him until she was able to relax enough to sleep.

At 2 AM, he found himself staring at the woman he loved while she slept. He found himself taking a deep breath.

This one came easily. And felt strangely new. They had found her.

He had found them.

The End

A/N: We need a little something. A promo or something to make me stop writing these season 8 speculation fics. I swear I won't do anymore and then wake up in the middle of the night with this vision of Grissom and Sara kind of pressing their faces together and having this intimate conversation…and, well, I'm off and running again.

Next time: Fluff. The plot is in place (and it's a guilty pleasure fic—mine, maybe yours, too) and now all I have to do is write the blasted thing.

See you next time.

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