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Title: What a Lovely Way to Burn
Author: Summer Reign
Rating: M
Spoilers: Season 6 and spoilers for the next month. If the word "sabbatical' means nothing to you, and you wish to remain unspoiled, come back in a few months.

Summary: A tale of Earth Goddesses, Decrepit Old Men and a burning love.

Disclaimer: I respectfully borrow characters who are not mine.

The Burn

It only took a weekend for the whole Earth Goddess phase of Sara Sidle's life to begin. Actually, it wasn't even a conventional weekend, but they were hardly conventional people. This particular week, they both happened to have their days off on Monday and Tuesday. Normally, there was nothing particularly special about either day, but that week, something in the universe obviously shifted…in the right direction.

Sunday night, she was standing by a microscope, looking at some piece of evidence, when Grissom passed behind her. She wasn't sure why—maybe there was something blocking his way—but, as he passed, he put his hands on her hips to hold her steady as he moved behind her and to the doorway.

At the door, he seemed to realize what he had done and looked back at her. She had never quite seen that particular expression of horror mixed with lust on anyone's face before.

"I…uh…" was all he managed to say.

"Don't worry about it," she said and he gratefully nodded and went on his way.

But that tiny spark had been ignited with his actions, and when he knocked on her apartment door later and came in—the spark turned into a bonfire. She thought he had said something like "let me show you" before he started kissing her. But she didn't remember how, exactly, they ended up on the floor. Sara did remember hearing his knees creak at one point, when he rose up to help divest her of her blouse, and she told him they at least needed to move to the softer surface of the couch.

He made the extra effort and hauled her into the bedroom.

She had never heard her name spoken in so many different ways as she had that weekend. One name, two syllables, a means of identity. Only when Grissom said it, it was more potent than any quote from some long-dead poet. The gentle, whispered 'Sara' as he explored her breasts for the first time, the urgent 'Sara' as she touched him. The victorious, almost-war-cry 'Sara' as he let go after years of holding back. And the thoroughly relaxed, contented sighing 'Sara' before he drifted off to sleep. He added color and dimension to a name she long thought rather plain.

Sara remembered winding a scarf around her neck before Wednesday's shift, covering evidence of Grissom's absolute obsession with that body part. It was a delicious little secret. Her whole body felt wrapped up in a delicious little secret. She was in a cocoon of warmth and safety—feeling, suddenly, bold and new.

In a somewhat dreamy mood, she told Hodges that gray hair could be very attractive, knowing full-well Grissom was probably envisioning one of his worst nightmares coming true. No, she wasn't planning to give away their new relationship within the first few hours of arriving at work. She batted her eyelashes at Hodges a few times, partially to avoid suspicion over her unexpected pronouncement, and partially to make him feel attractive and worthy of desire. Everyone deserved to feel that wonderful. Even Hodges.

It was in that moment that she knew she felt different than she ever had before. Everything felt "right" with her world, and she was determined to make things right for everyone else. A lofty ambition but nothing seemed impossible.

Later, as Grissom held her, in his home, on a work night, he asked her about the episode at the lab.

"So, is this sudden attraction to Hodges something I should be concerned about?"

"Not especially," she said, tightening her grip around his waist and kissing his chest. "But, he was magic-marker-ing his hair, Griss. I had to do something."

"Ah, a pity compliment."

"No, he's attractive in his own way but he's…Hodges. Kind of cancels the good stuff out."

Grissom laughed. "Some might say the same thing about my quirks."

"Some might," she agreed, calmly.

"You never did," he said, moving over her, prepared to kiss her neck, then stopping himself. "You're very bruised, Sara."

"I've been hanging out with a sex maniac for the last few days," she said, running her fingers through his curls, and pushing his head even closer.

"No kidding," he said, soothing her skin with the warmth of his tongue. "You know, I don't think I realized how much I missed sex until I started having it again."

Sex. She ignored the word. It was too cold and clinical for what they were doing.

And in the months following, without great professions of love, he demonstrated his feelings in many, many ways. At the beginning, she closed her eyes, made a wish, and took one giant leap into the relationship he offered her. Scared, yes, but determined to enjoy whatever they were destined to have together. Now, she just got calmer and more secure as the days wore on.

And, thus, she reveled in her Earth Goddess phase. And that's exactly how she felt. She appreciated how her body felt more like a woman's than it ever had before, although nothing about it had really changed. Her walk seemed different. Her cheeks had a glow and her lips held a soft smile.

And there was this feeling of complete…gratitude…over finally getting something she dreamed of for so long and finding it exceeded her every expectation.

He had been almost everything to her for a very long time. She only hoped he'd someday feel the same way about her.


While his counterpart was in her Earth Goddess phase, Gil Grissom was in his Decrepit Old Man phase. The strange part of it was, his relationship with Sara had nothing to do with it. In many ways, she was his only link to youth and life.

Well, maybe that wasn't entirely true, either. In the way all things were connected, as he allowed himself to feel and own up to his feelings for Sara, he also allowed in other emotions. And, as he did, he cared more and more about things he had schooled himself to be stoic over. All that spelled danger for a CSI.

And burnout. It was all about passion and his, for his life's work, was almost extinguished.

But who was to say it wasn't his turn for the phenomena anyway?

He always felt he'd be one step behind Sara in everything, if they ever began a relationship. She had always been a dynamo. Physically strong, devoted, throwing herself into things with all her heart and soul. And none of that had changed, really, but he saw another side of her that perhaps she had kept as well hidden as he had his own feelings.

She had a softness, a serenity about her, that only he was allowed to witness.

At the end of the day, when the water was rising and the walls were closing in on him, she provided light and air and calm. She listened to hours worth of whatever he chose to say to her, she respected even longer hours of silence, she was his friend. She was his everything.

They had talked about the seminar offer. Grissom had mock-threatened to leave the lab for a while so people would finally have the opportunity to 'miss him.' But he knew Sara saw through him. She knew he wanted to do it. Corpses didn't bother him. If he discussed them, looked at them, talked about them…it was all fine. It was all the other things that went with his job. Politics…well, that he handled by ignoring it whenever he could. But the horror of what humans were capable of was absolutely smothering him in sorrow.

He knew she was staring at him while he 'slept' again. She had been doing it since the day he snapped at her when he came home after a very long night at the lab. She had teased him again about his grouchy ways, and he responded as he usually did at work. A raised eyebrow somehow mixed with a grimace. At the beginning, it thrilled him that she felt comfortable enough with their relationship to call him on his behavior. Then, it became a source of irritation.

She was already in bed when he came in. He started to undress before showering and she sat up. She had obviously had a few hours of sleep. He resented her for that, too.

"Welcome home," she said, rubbing her eyes. "Did you wrap up the Wilson case?"

He grunted a positive response.

"Great. I've missed you."

"Really? I suppose you couldn't even manage to sleep without me?" He said, looking at the rumpled sheets and the sleepy woman before him.

"Sorry," she said, meeting his sarcasm with a smile. "I was so tired."

"Yeah, well. We all are. I'm gonna shower. Go back to bed."

"You want me to make you something to eat?"


"You sure?"

"Sara," he said, feeling his patience reach its limit. "Listen, I don't want anything but a shower and some sleep, okay? I'm tired. I'm grouchy. It's part of who I am and I'm okay with all of that. I know it bothers the hell out of you since you bring it up almost every damn day, but I'm just fine with it. So, please…leave me be right now."

She sat there with a surprised look in her eyes. He stared at her, daring her to say more. He really could use an outlet for all his pent-up frustration and wouldn't mind a good argument. But Sara wasn't playing.

"Okay," she said, pulling the covers up to her chin and turning to the side, assuring him a view of her back when he finally came to bed.

But she didn't sleep that night. He knew that by the way she breathed when he took his place beside her.

"Sara?" he said, ready to make peace, if not love.

She said nothing.

He went to sleep only to open his eyes a few hours later, finding her staring at him.

"I'm sorry," she said.

"For what?" he asked, his voice thick with sleep and his mind fuzzy.

"For whatever I did. Nothing about you really bothers me. It never has and never will. If I gave you that impression…"

She looked about four years old at that moment. Eyes wide and innocent, not knowing what she did wrong but willing to do anything to make things better.

Shit. He needed to get away. He knew things about her and was beginning to use some of it as ammunition.

Sara had spent the next few weeks watching him as he slept. She would doze on and off, he was sure, but there was no more deep, restful sleep. She was worried about him.

He stopped pretending to sleep. "You're staring, Sara."

"No. I'm not. Just enjoying the scenery."

"You like slumming?"

She reached out a finger and ran it down his cheek. "I'd hardly call this slumming," she took a breath. "Besides, I'm going to have to do without this sight for a while and I'm just taking a good mental picture."

"Where are you going?" he asked, a bit of fear creeping into his voice.

"Not me. You. To Boston. To teach. You need it and that's where you should be."

And the decision was made.

But he never asked her to join him.

As much as he hated the thought, she was someone he needed to distance himself from, too.

Burn-Up, Phase I

The Earth Goddess was born in a weekend, and died in an hour.

Sara hated how he scheduled his flight so she couldn't see him off at the airport. She literally had to kiss him goodbye at home and go off to work, all the time listening to him tell her not to cry or people might suspect something was up.

Maybe he just didn't want to get misty himself.


She sat in their living room. Theirs. Sort of. It was his townhouse. But, while he initiated this move, he definitely encouraged her to keep her apartment. She needed the separate address on file at the lab, and…everything was still sort of too new to consider anything even remotely permanent.

They made some changes to the sterile environment. Sara's life was warm colors and soft furniture. Grissom's taste ran toward concrete and white walls.

There was a more comfortable couch and an area rug so she wouldn't freeze her feet when she walked barefoot on his floors. Their floors.

Maybe it was his floor.

But the changes weren't enough. The house was so cold and empty without him. She went in, fed his bugs, and made herself some hot chocolate. Comfort. She needed a little of that. She sat on the couch and turned the tv on for noise. Sara looked around the room.

She couldn't stay here. Not without him. What made her think she could do this? Why did she encourage him to leave? She could have fixed things if he had stayed. Teased him less, listened and loved him more.

He could have done a seminar in Las Vegas.

But they'd call him in. Of course they would. And looking at her every day…brought the crime lab right into his house. His home.

And he needed to be away from all of it.

Very neat and tidy thoughts. Very rational. What was it he had said once about rationalizations?

Well, she knew what she thought of them. They sucked.

Because they couldn't stand up to her imagination. And her imagination was running wild…and running scared.


It was ten days before he called her.

In all fairness, he never promised anything more. He had emailed Sara to tell her he arrived safely and sent her a few more giving her the rundown of his days.

She was walking differently again. There was nothing feminine about her gait now. She was running around like she was ready to catch a bus at any time. There was no blush to her cheeks or smile to her face. And all that empowerment crap and loving the earth and all its creatures…that was kind of losing its charm, too. The dead were her friends. Or, more accurately, she was theirs. She was determined to not only be their last voice, but the one that was shouting for justice. She'd sublimate her rampant feelings toward something positive.

It was a good resolution.

And then the phone rang.

"Sidle," she said, not looking at the caller ID.

"Sara." There were those two syllables again.

"Grissom. How are you?"

How are you? How about, 'where the fuck have you been? How could you not miss me even though I do nothing but think of you and can't eat and can't sleep and am totally love sick like some teenager who is…totally lovesick?'

"I'm better. Much better. I just…I'm sorry I haven't called. I needed a couple of weeks of ironing things out in my mind."

"It's all right," she lied.

"How are you? How's work?"

"I'm not talking about work," she said, with an air of authority. "There's nothing you need to hear about."

"No," he said, with a small note of amusement in his voice. "I guess there's not."

And then he was silent and she felt the acid in her stomach kick in. He had nothing to ask her, after being in a relationship with her for months, that didn't involve work?

"You'll find this amusing," he said, finally. "There's this girl in the seminar…she reminds me of you. Asks a lot of pain in the butt questions."

Oh, that was amusing.

Sara didn't say anything.

"Sara? Am I catching you at a bad time?"

"No. I was just sitting here, trying to figure out what I'll be reading tonight."

"So, you're in bed?" He asked, his voice smoky and familiar. Too smoky. Too familiar.

"I'm in my living room," she said.

"Your apartment? Not mine? Ours, I mean."

"I was a little lonely without you there. And, I also wanted to go through some of my things. A lot of it should be donated somewhere. Clear the clutter and all of that good stuff."


"Don't worry. I'm feeding the bugs."

"I'm not worried."

He hung up after a few more minutes.

Didn't say he loved her but, then again, he never really had.

Didn't even say he missed her.

Or the "sex,' for that matter.

Burn-Up, Phase II

"Hey, Sara. How are you?"

She was at the lab, in the locker room, ready to go home for another 'weekend' when he called.

God, she was tired. At the beginning of his sabbatical, she was having difficulty sleeping. Now, it was almost impossible. Whatever sleep she got was restless and broken up into a maximum of one or two hour increments. Even Ecklie, the most clueless man on the planet, had countered her offer to sacrifice her weekend with a demand of his own. 'Get some sleep, Sara. You look like crap.'

Her brain, which seemed to have gone into cold storage at the beginning of their relationship, would not stop working now. And it was kicking her while she was down. She understood and accepted Grissom's lack of … romantic finesse…in the "sharing feelings' department. It was just part of who he was. But when he wasn't in front of her—when she couldn't see the look in his eye or the quirk of his lips—it was easy to fall back on the evidence that presented itself through phone calls and electronic mail. He hadn't said he missed her. He hadn't said he loved her. He hadn't said he wanted to resume their relationship—or even return to Las Vegas, for that matter.

And her overactive mind reminded her of that once or twice nearly every waking hour.

At least, he was calling more. But she was getting sick of hearing about Boston, the amazing sight of snow, and the wonderful opportunity of getting to freeze his ball off, or whatever he was getting so excited over.

She was sick of it because it made him seem more content, without her, than she had been, in her regular everyday life, with him.

"You know what Ashley asked today?" he asked, amusement again lacing his tone.

"No, but I'm sure you'll tell me," she said, mentally conjuring up a vision of a woman who looked like a younger version of Sofia.

"What? Oh, yeah. Well…"

He repeated the woman's question, and waited, as he had every time he played this particular game, for Sara to answer it. A little quiz. Stump Grissom's Self-Proclaimed Star Pupil.

Only this time, Sara couldn't think of the answer. It's not that she forgot the information. She just didn't have a freaking clue.

"Sara…" he said in a teasing manner, and she knew he was on the verge of laughter.

"I don't know. Okay? I just don't know and I've gotta go. I'm at work. It's a bad time. Call me, or email…later. I'm sorry," and she hung up mostly because somewhere in her highly rushed speech, a sob had escaped her throat and added to her humiliation.

That was it. She got a man she loved from almost the first moment she laid eyes on him. After years of him practically fighting her off with a chair.

But what kind of a victory was it, ultimately? For him, was it love, or need? Need, or convenience?

In any case, the man left. To save himself. Allegedly.

And he did. And he got happier. And he even found a new star student, and if this one didn't work out, there would be others.

There was very little Grissom admired more than a woman who was an intellectual challenge. And when faced with the choice between a lifetime of challenges or a job that made him feel out of control and miserable, he just might make the only choice good for his continued survival. And who could blame him?

It was a world he never invited her to share.

Sara took a deep, calming breath. She still had herself. She'd relied on only herself for three-quarters of her life.

The only problem was, she couldn't remember how she had done it. And she didn't want that memory back.

Feel the Burn

Grissom remembered his first days in Boston. It was a particularly cold winter and he walked a lot. It hurt his lungs when he breathed deeply. It felt good, in an odd sort of way. Pain brought on by something physical, rather than pain triggered by witnessing the horrific. It was a nice change.

It was very difficult thinking of Sara during those first few days. Yes, he missed her. There were many moments when he'd hear something or see something and instinctively turn around, ready to share a thought…but she wasn't there. He picked up his phone several times to call her but held himself back.

Because…he had held himself back all along.

Being reserved was part of his nature. That was what amazed him about Sara. For all intents and purposes, Sara was one of the 'parts' of his job he hated the most and had trained himself to be dispassionate about. She was the young girl sitting in the hallway, left behind. The one who continued to suffer long after a crime had been committed; the one who waited while someone else decided her destiny.

And she had suffered. Probably more than he would ever know, or want to know.

But, once he found out, his admiration for her shot up a hundred-fold. Not from pity, but from sheer amazement that anyone from that "hallway" could go on and be so unreserved in her feelings. So willing to take a chance. She loved with all her heart. If she held anything back, it was for his comfort level, not her own preference.

He once talked of chemical reactions that burned so hot, they burned and burned, leaving nothing behind but ash. And that first weekend, he almost believed that was their destiny and he faced his imminent demise with gusto. But, they didn't continue to burn. They were far too sensible. He was far too sensible and she followed. They got up on their work night, went on with their routine, and settled into a life mixing work with just the proper amount of love to not get in the way of work.

He allowed the wrong passion to nearly consume him.

And he shortchanged Sara. In every department.

And she allowed it.

Because she loved him enough.

A different kind of work was getting his attention now. It wasn't all-consuming but it was good. It was one where he could step back and see his life in all its colors. But the large gray area, the one that had recently come to life and been the most vivid, was the one that needed revitalization.

He needed her. And he loved her. Enough to try and change things as much as he could to have her. Truly have her.

Unfortunately, he started off on the wrong foot.

He had been teasing her. It was what couples did, wasn't it? It had been gratifying to know she felt a little jealousy over Ashley. Truth be told, Ashley was an obnoxious pain in the ass. Where Sara's curiosity helped her form her questions naturally, he had a feeling Ashley was going home and doing deep computer research to show him up in front of the class.

Grissom hadn't expected the hitch in Sara's voice. It shocked the hell out of him.

Sara didn't cry often. She hadn't cried in front of him since they began their relationship. Even when he left, he knew she wanted to but he managed to talk her out of it because he knew, if she did, he wouldn't be able to leave her like that. He wanted to be there to hold her when she cried. Hold her when she was happy. Or blasé, for that matter. He certainly didn't want to be the cause of those tears.

But he had been.

He smirked to himself. Normal couples teased each other. Sara teased him: he chastised her. And had she ever witnessed him teasing her? No. She wouldn't recognize it or identify it as something he'd ever even attempt.

He hadn't done it intentionally. His newfound perspective on life marred his sense of judgement, but it wasn't malicious.

He knew what he had to do.

Feel the Burn, II


"Yeah," she said, sounding sleepy. He woke her up from one of her rare periods of sleep. A quick glance at the clock told her she had been asleep for about 50 minutes.

"You're sleeping. You want me to call back later?"

"No," she said, rubbing her eyes. "It's okay. I can talk."

"Good. I have something to say to you."

She groaned before she could stop herself. This was it. She knew it.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

"Please don't do this over the phone. Please."

"Do what? Sara, are you home?"

"Yeah. I'm…at our place," she said, placing her hand on his pillow for strength. For a few more minutes, this was "their' place. She could do this. She could listen to whatever he had to say and accept it with grace.

"Good. I was worried a little."

"About what?"

"I'm not exactly sure. Um…speaking of being…concerned…I was a little concerned about our phone call this morning."

She wasn't going to lie anymore. "I freaked out."

"Umm…hmmm. For the record, Ashley's question stumped me, too. That was what I found funny. And, also for the record, she's married. To the guy who would have done the seminar if I hadn't decided, at the last minute, to take his job away. So, she has a vested interest in showing me up. But, I'm not interested in her—I just wanted to make that clear. Why would I be interested in someone else? I have you, don't I?" He said, and she didn't respond. "Sara?"

"I'm so tired," she said, finally. And she was. She was tired of feeling so needy.

"You want to go back to bed?" he asked, breaking the silence.

"No, I don't. I just…I've missed you so much, Griss." There, she said it. Now he could know for sure he was involved with a selfish, needy nutcase.

"I've missed you, too."

"Have you?" she asked softly.

"You know I have. You have to know that."

"I know that when the chips were down, I couldn't do anything to help you."


"I wanted to be enough for you," she said, closing her eyes and leaning her head against the phone for a moment. That's exactly what she wanted. To be enough for Grissom. Enough to break through the barriers. Enough to "get' to him. Not that any woman could, really. She understood that. But she thought she might have, at least, come close.

"Sara…come to Boston."

"Grissom…" She so wanted to do exactly what he was asking her to, but didn't trust that the invitation wasn't triggered by some sense of guilt.

"Don't make me sing," he said in a warning tone.


"You know, that old song…Please come to Boston? I'm gonna belt it out in a minute if you don't say yes."


"Please come to Boston…" he began to sing softly.

She laughed a little. He had a lovely voice but rarely sang. She had heard him in the shower once or twice and there was one time in bed when he decided to break into a chorus of some old song she had never heard before, just to "prove" that disco wasn't all bad.

"I can't. It's…I can't," she said. "Even if you sing the whole song several times over."

"I need to see you, Sara."

"Well, I've needed to see you but no one seemed to care about that." Uh, oh. She hadn't quite meant to say that.

"Then I'm coming home. Tonight. And, another thing, 'for the record,' if you told me you needed to see me, point blank, I would have been on the next plane home."

"No! Don't come here. I know why you need to be out there. And I know the commitment you made. I told you to do it. You had my blessing. I knew I couldn't help you. Not with this. I know all this. I swear I do. I just…I've burned up every brain cell I have because I can't stop thinking about every stupid insecurity I've ever had in my entire life and…now, I'm not thinking at all."

"Come to Boston. You can be here in a matter of hours. We can see each other tonight."

It was so tempting. Just to see him again. For a few hours. A couple of days. Everything could—maybe—be all right.

"Are you sure you want to see me?"

"More than anything. Please. Don't make me sing again."

"If I recall, the woman he's begging to join him in Boston says no."

"Is that what you're saying?"

She sighed. "I'm saying yes."

She heard an answering sigh of relief from his end of the line.

What a Lovely Way to Burn: In Public


It was him. Way before she thought she'd see him. The plan had been for her to rent a car once she arrived. He had told her to bring boots since it started to snow and she finagled his promise that he wouldn't go to the airport to pick her up, waiting safely at faculty housing, instead. She had left the plane and walked through arrivals with her head down and her legs quickly going in the direction of the rental area when she was stopped cold by the sound of his voice.

"I don't even have to turn around," she said, attempting levity but feeling overfilled with emotion. "Gil Grissom," she completed the thought in a tiny whisper of a voice because saying his name any louder would have brought her to tears.

He heard her anyway. Grissom put his hand on her shoulder and spun her around. "That's me," he said, with a smile, and drew her in his arms, where she tried to cry as quietly as possible.

He was gone for a grand total of a month and in that space of time, she seemed to have lost all of her…gumption, and half of her mind. He didn't seem to mind overly much. One hand was on her back rubbing it tenderly, and the other was in her hair, allowing her a moment to just cry on his chest.

He didn't feel like a man falling apart anymore. His touch was solid and sure.

"It's okay, Sara. It's over, it's all over."

"What's over?"

"This…being apart. It's officially over."

"Oh," she said, and buried her head deeper in his chest, wrapping her arms around his waist. She had only looked at him for a split second before she fell apart and now, she was reluctant to let go and see…whatever it was she would see when she looked at his face. Good or bad, she was pretty sure it would be overwhelming. "You promised you wouldn't come to the airport," she finally muttered.

"I lied."

"Well, you shouldn't have. I'm a mess."

"You're gorgeous. I think. I haven't really seen your face much, yet. But the rest of you is gorgeous," he teased.

"Sure," she said, moving an inch away from his chest and playing with a button on the dark blue shirt peeking through his open jacket. The dark blue shirt that now had a big old wet spot in the center. "It's dangerous to drive."

"I've got 4-wheel drive, and, besides, if you think I was missing an opportunity to finally make out in public, you have another thing coming to you."

She looked up at him, then.

"You call this making out?"

"It's been a month, but I think I remember it as something a little more like this," he said, cupping her face in his hands and bringing his lips down to hers. It didn't take more than a few seconds before he was trying to deepen the kiss and she let him. She wasn't an exhibitionist but, at the moment, she didn't care if they had an audience of thousands.

They broke apart when someone snidely suggested they get a room.

"Let's go home," he said.


"Yup. You're here--now it's home."

She sniffed and wiped at her face. "Gee, Grissom. You've become quite the romantic since I saw you last."

"You aint seen nothing yet," he whispered as he grabbed her bag and led them out of the airport. "By the way, have you ever made out in a SUV?"

What a Lovely Way to Burn: In Private

Sara woke up to the rising sun trying to replace the gray morning with light pinks and corals.



She quickly turned over to find Grissom laying on his side, propped up on his elbows, staring at her.

"Morning, Sunshine," he said.

"Griss. It's morning."

"Yes, I know. Hence, the good morning greetings."

She threw her arm over her eyes. She felt like crying again. They had stayed up for a while, after a rather fast and furious session of lovemaking that, once again, somehow managed to find them both on the floor before common sense took over. After, he told her a little of what he experienced before leaving Vegas and the freedom he felt not being completely consumed by work. They started to talk about their relationship but the emotional trauma she had felt over the past month, coupled with their physical release, caused her to conk out rather quickly.

"We have less than 2 days together and I slept all night?" she said.

"Seven and a half hours. I've been watching you for about three."

"Griss. Why didn't you wake me up? I didn't want to sleep our time away."

He leaned over and kissed her on the lips. "What did you want to do?"

She lifted her arm away from her face and scowled at him. He laughed.

"Don't worry so much, Sara. I've been busy planning our honeymoon for three hours now."

She frowned. "Honeymoon? Did I drink huge quantities of alcohol yesterday and passed out?"

He smiled. "No. We're not married, if that's what you're asking. You didn't sleep through a wedding, or an engagement, for that matter. I just have been thinking of how we cheated ourselves when we finally got together. Well, one of the ways we cheated ourselves. Usually, when two people start a new life together, they give themselves at least two weeks—somewhere tropical—to see nothing of the beach and everything of their hotel room and each other. But we just put our clothes back on and went to work without missing a beat. So, you have…what? Half a year of vacation? How about calling in a family emergency and taking two weeks?"

"I don't have any family."

"You have…a significant other. And he needs you desperately."

"I'll think about it," she said, knowing her decision was already made and a phone call to Ecklie was now on her agenda. She felt surprisingly guilt-free.

She lay back down and turned over to face Grissom. After a moment's hesitation, she reached out a finger and gently ran it over his bearded cheek.

"I didn't notice this in the airport last night," she said, "Some investigator I am, huh?"

"When did you notice?"

"I think when you pinned me against the door."

He smirked. "I know the exact moment. Your eyes went really wide and I didn't think it was only because of the…enthusiasm. I'll shave."

"No, I like it. It reminds me of when we first got together. Keep it, unless you really hate it yourself."

"Don't qualify things, Sara."

"Hmmm?" She said, feeling genuinely puzzled.

"I know you're happy to see me but you're still walking on eggshells with me somehow and I hate that I did this to you. Tell me to keep the beard. Period. If I don't like it, I'll argue or shave…but, you don't have to be so…polite. And you don't have to hesitate before putting your hands on me. Ever. I'm yours. Touch away." He smiled warmly.

"Where?" she asked.

"Where what?"

"Where do you want me to touch you?"

"Oh, I'm up for anything."

She smiled and lay her head on his shoulder for a moment. He smelled just like the man she loved. Felt like him, tasted like him. But was he the same? She supposed he was. Just a little lighter, a little looser. More like the man she used to know years ago. She, too, felt lighter this morning. All her tears were cried out, she got some sleep and Grissom still wanted her.

She felt suddenly playful and…bold.

"So you are," she said, after testing his statement.

"I should have known your fingers would gravitate over there," he said.

"Such a burden, isn't it? Being so desirable."

"Hey, someone's gotta do it," he said, slipping his arm around her and flipping them both over until he rested on top of her. Her hands relocated to his back as he lay in the cradle of her legs and rubbed himself against her. "Sara?" he said, in between soft moans.


"Don't know what's gonna happen back when we get to Vegas. We'll give this job thing another try but if I can't handle it anymore…well, we'll work it out. Maybe I'll get a job at UNLV."

"Okay," she said, shifting to get him where she wanted him.

He lifted himself up a bit and stopped.

"We could have a real honeymoon, if you want. I mean—with everything that entails."

"You mean, a wedding?"

"Mmm. If that's what you want."

"Someday, maybe."

He inched himself inside her and it was her turn to moan. Oh, God, how she had missed him. She cupped her hands on his face and pulled him down for a very deep, sloppy kiss. He laughed into her mouth and started moving. Sara groaned louder. He attempted to kiss her neck while thrusting but kept dislodging his lips.


"God, you've missed talking, haven't you?" she muttered between deep, quick breaths.

"Just one more thing. I love you. I meant to tell you…forever."

She dug her fingernails into his back and promptly let go of everything that had bothered her for…years.

She didn't remember when he did the same. There was a lot of sound: panting breaths, quick, loud heartbeats--sensations…pulsing sensations…everywhere…and a blissful heaviness. A muddy mélange of pure feeling all merging. What she would remember, even years later, was Grissom finally trying to move off her and her sudden need to not let him go.

"No, stay."

"I'm crushing you, Sara."

"Just for a minute. If you see me turn blue, you can move."

He laughed and buried his head in her neck.

"Sa-ra," Ah, there was the breathy, wistful "Sara.'

"So, you really love me, huh?" she said, feeling some remnant of that Earth Goddess woman peeking her head into her consciousness.

He lifted his head. "You didn't get a prize when you got me, Sara. I've been warning you for years. I'm not great at relationships. I expect a lot of mind reading on your part. And I kind of need a hammer to the head once in a while to fully comprehend your wants and needs. But, yes, I do really, really love you."

"I'm glad you finally told me."

"Well, when I came to you that first night…I kept rehearsing in the car. 'Sara…I love you so much. Let me show you…. Sara, I love you sooooo much. Let me show you…' Only, I got to your apartment and…forgot my speech." He said with a shrug and she laughed and pulled him closer.

She'd need him to roll over in a moment but nothing felt better at that particular second. A laughing, loving Grissom crushing her with the weight of his solid body…his love.

It only took a pre-engagement honeymoon for the whole Earth Goddess phase of Sara Sidle's life to begin again. And it took that same weekend for Grissom and Sara's true Burning Love phase to begin.

But unlike aluminum and rust…when pressed together, the reaction they created just burned and burned…leaving both parties stronger and better than when they began…without a speck of ash in sight.

The End

A/N: Okay. So this is the last story of the year from me. Apparently, the other last story of the year was a false

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