Bugs and Horses

by Liz

Disclaimer: The characters of CSI were created by A. Zuiker, and are the property of CBS and its affiliates. All other characters depicted in these stories are fictional; and there you are.

Nods: thanks again to my two betas, TAE and Sybelle, for keeping me honest to the characters and clear in my direction.

Smryczko's Fan Fic Challenge elements: inclusion of a boyfriend of Sara, fudge, blue jeans, A2 jacket, Rascal Flatts' song Bless the Broken Road, the line 'It's a crime to look so sexy', the line 'I should've been a cowboy'.

Friday 5:15 p.m.

"I should've been a cowboy," Grissom remarked softly, sipping his beer.

"Don't you mean you could've been a cowboy?" Sara asked grinning at him.

"Sometimes, I'm not sure," Grissom replied darkly.

"Well, if you'd wear what you're wearing now, then you're right, you should've been a cowboy." Sara teased, looking at him sitting next to her on the long bench.

Grissom looked away from the sunset to look at her, tilting his head slightly. She reached to his chin and guided him in for a kiss. He reached his left hand and put it on her thigh, balancing himself as their kiss continued. Finally, she broke for air and they leaned away for a moment.

Earlier that day
They had driven down that morning after work. Grissom had taken the first shift, letting Sara sleep. As he entered Arizona, the radio station went out. He pressed search and found a country western station. Driving through hour two of an estimated five and a half hour drive, a sad song came on the radio.

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you
Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you, yes he did.

Grissom tightened his hands on the steering wheel and looked at Sara, still deeply asleep. He sighed and continued to listen to the song.

"And that was Rascal Flatts' Bless the Broken Road here today. Next up, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash, Folsom Prison Blues." The announcer said.

Grissom continued to drive, losing his thoughts in the music and the road.

"Sara, honey, you have to drive, now." Grissom said, having pulled off at a rest stop.

"Where are we?" Sara asked, stretching.

"According to your directions, we are one hundred ten miles or so from the ranch." Grissom said, looking at her.

"Okay, I need coffee and then we'll be on our way." Sara announced.

Grissom handed her a cup of coffee and she purred.

"Thanks, sweetheart,"

"You're welcome." Grissom said, leaning his head against the headrest, closing his eyes.

"Griss, I'm sorry, let's change places and you can sleep until we get to the ranch." Sara said, setting her coffee into the cup holder.

Grissom opened his eyes, removed his shoulder strap, and wearily got out of the car. Sara met him near the hood and hugged him before getting into the driver's seat. Grissom sat in the passenger seat, shut the door, and buckled up. He reclined the seat and fell asleep before Sara had adjusted the seat to her frame. She smiled and took a sip of her coffee before heading out of the rest area.

Sara turned the volume up on the radio and smiled when she realized that Grissom had been listening to a country western station. At work, he listened to cello music, at home, the blues and some jazz, and when he needed a recharge; rock and roll, particularly Pink Floyd and other seventies artists. Glancing at the directions, she lost herself in the rhythm of the music, the sound of the tires on the highway, and the umbre and ochres of the desert landscape.

2 p.m.

Sara pulled up to the main office of the ranch and turned off the engine.

"Griss, we're here," Sara said, getting out of the car to stretch.

Grissom woke up and looked out the windshield. He saw the low, ranch-style houses in front of him and the desert landscape. Releasing his shoulder strap, he got out of the car and joined her. Together they walked into the main ranch building. On the right was a reception desk of dark wood. Grissom immediately smelled the mesquite wood burning in a fireplace as yet unseen.

"Good afternoon, welcome to Rancho de los Caballeros." The pretty woman said.

"Good afternoon, we have a reservation, Sara Sidle and Gilbert Grissom." Sara said, reaching for his hand.

Grissom held her hand and removed his sunglasses, slipping them into his shirt.

"Great, we have everything set for you. Brent will be waiting for you at three to take you out for a late ride. Your room is down this path, about a five minute walk. You're staying in some of the older suites, but in my opinion, they're the best; very quiet and you're right on the desert," she added conspiratorially, showing them the map.

"Thanks," Sara said, as she placed her credit card on the counter.

"Sara, I said I'd pay for this," Grissom complained, turning to look at her.

"Griss, this is my weekend. You can pay for the next one." Sara said, squeezing his hand.

He smiled at her and looked around. There was a pool table and a great room beyond, with a piano.

"Dinner starts at six. There is a booklet in your room telling you about the basic activities. Here is the sheet of the things that are scheduled for the week." The woman said, handing Sara the sheet and her credit card voucher.

Sara signed the voucher and folded the sheet, stuffing it in her pocket.

"Do you need help with your bags?" the woman asked.

"No, but can we take our car back to our room?" Sara asked.

"Yes, just drive slowly. Here are your keys." The woman answered.

Grissom smiled broadly, slipping his hand from hers and reaching it around Sara's waist. She turned to face him, her wallet still in her hand.

"Mariposa, Butterfly suite, I love it, and you," Grissom said, kissing her deeply.

Sara responded as well and then reluctantly pulled away.

"Let's get settled. We have a four day weekend here. I don't want to miss a minute." Sara said.

"Oh, believe me, you won't." Grissom said, guiding her out to the car.

He slipped his sunglasses back on and they got back into the car. Sara drove slowly and they found their room. She parked the car and got out, Grissom following her to the rear of the vehicle. They had two duffle bags, and that was it. Grissom grabbed the luggage and Sara shut the hatch to the car. Walking by the cacti, she opened the door and walked in. The suite had a small kitchenette as you entered and then a small living area. Grissom put the bags down and walked to the sliding glass doors that faced west onto the desert.

"Oh, Sara, this is wonderful," Grissom said, softly.

She walked behind him and hugged him. They stood, not moving, for several moments before she hugged him hard.

"Come on, we have to get into our cowboy clothes. It looks like at least a ten minute walk to the corral." Sara said, breaking away to pick up her duffle bag and put it on the luggage rack.

Grissom turned back into the room and started to laugh. It was a low, genuine laugh; one that Sara hadn't heard lately.

"What?" Sara asked, smiling herself.

"A Murphy bed, man that is so cool." Grissom said.

"Get changed, bugman." Sara directed, shaking her head at the minor things that amused him.

Ten minutes later, they were heading to the corral. Grissom was in jeans, boots, and a plaid shirt that Sara had bought for the trip. He attached a tether to his sunglasses and had a red bandanna hanging out of his right hip pocket. With his swaggering gait, he was quite the cowboy. Sara had her jeans and boots, but opted for a white western shirt with pale blue piping. They walked down to the corral, opened the gate, and continued in, closing the gate behind them.

"Hi, is Brent around?" Sara asked into the darkness of the tack room, her eyes not able to see inside.

"I'm Brent. Are you Sidle or Grissom?" a voice answered from the gloom.

"Sidle," she replied.

A man walked out into the bright sunshine. He wore caramel chaps over worn jeans and had a matching vest. He had leather cuffs and a bright blue denim shirt accented by a red bandanna at his throat. His hat was worn low and his handlebar moustache needed a trim.

"Hi, I'm Brent," he said, extending his hand.

"Hi, I'm Sara and this is Grissom." Sara said, shaking his hand.

"Pleased to meet you folks," Brent replied, then shaking Grissom's hand. "Ya'll ride at all?"

"We've just started again. Our last ride was two weeks ago." Sara said.

"Great," Brent said, walking to the chalkboard. "Tonight at dinner, Jimmy will come around and ask if you are riding. He'll match you to a horse based upon my recommendations from today's ride. Grissom, what do you weigh, 185?"

"190, but I guess that's close enough," Grissom said.

"Okay, you're on Pecos. Sara, you're about 125?" Brent asked.

"Exactly," she replied.

"Okay, you're on Smokey. Let's mount up. The horses need to be back by five. They get turned out at five thirty." Brent said, walking towards the remaining horses in the corral.

"Grissom, this is Pecos. Let me tighten the girth and then you can mount up. I'll adjust the other stirrup in a minute." Brent said.

Grissom stood patiently and then mounted his chestnut. Slipping his left leg out of the stirrup, he moved it forward to allow Brent to set the length and repeated the process for the right stirrup.

"Try that," Brent instructed.

Grissom stood in his stirrups.

"Feels even," Grissom replied.

"Looks good. Take him to the gate and wait for me." Brent instructed.

Grissom headed for the gate, feeling the animal beneath him and looking at his surroundings.

"Okay, Sara, this blue roan is Smokey. Do you need a leg up?" Brent asked.

"No, I'm good." Sara said, easily swinging up into the saddle.

"And let me adjust the stirrups," Brent said, walking to check them both. "How's that?"

"Great," Sara said, standing in her stirrups.

"Let me get Chet and we'll be on our way." Brent said, walking to a beautiful paint horse.

Quickly, Brent mounted Chet and trotted to the gate. He turned to look at Sara and Grissom.

"Have you two ridden in the desert before?"

"Yes, we ride outside of Vegas," Grissom replied.

"Okay, here at Los Cab, we walk or slow trot until we are out of the ranch area. Once we are on Federal Land, we trot, lope, the whole thing. Any questions, shout them out, I'm a bit deaf." Brent said, leaning over to open the gate.

Grissom and Sara rode through and Brent followed, leaning again from his saddle to secure the gate. As they walked parallel to the path they had taken from their room, Grissom rode up next to Sara.

"Thanks for this, sweetheart. Oh, and by the way it's a crime to look so sexy," Grissom said, leaning over to kiss Sara.

Brent turned around and caught him at that moment.

"Hey, Grissom, ride up here behind me." He called.

Grissom trotted up easily, tucking in behind Chet.

"Some of the horses don't like each other. Luckily Pecos and Smokey couldn't care less. Just be careful, okay?" Brent warned.

Grissom blushed and nodded his head.

The ride lasted a little under two hours. Grissom and Brent became friendly, dismounting often to examine prints, scat and bugs. Brent cautioned them both not to speak of it, as this was against the ranch rules, a guest getting off their horse on the trail, but this was a special ride.


"Yeah, Grissom,"

"If I wanted to take Sara out tonight, off the ranch, where should I go?"

"Bar 7, there's a bar, and dancing and a mechanical bull. Nobody from the dude ranches goes there." Brent said, turning to look at him.

"Great, I don't know if we'll have enough energy, but if not tonight, then tomorrow." Grissom said with a grin.

They walked their horses back towards the corral and were surprised to see thirty horses and their riders trying to get sorted. Brent had them wait outside until the corral was less crowded with humans and then gestured them in. Dismounting, Sara and Grissom tied their horses up using the thick cotton leads that were loosely knotted around their horses' necks, and walked up to Brent.

"Thanks, it was really great," Grissom said, looking at him directly.

"I had fun, too," Brent replied.

"Thanks, we'll see you tomorrow," Sara said.

"Great," Brent said.

Grissom and Sara left the corral and began their uphill walk to their suite.

5:30 p.m.

Walking in from the porch, together, they pulled off their boots. Grissom sat down on the couch, putting his sunglasses on the table, barely able to move.

"Let's nap and then go to dinner around seven." Sara suggested.

"Okay, do you need to call?" Grissom asked, unbuckling his belt, and undoing the top button of his jeans.

"Wow, uhm, I guess so." Sara said, walking to the phone.

"Hi, this is Sara Sidle in Mariposa 4, and I'd like to make a dinner reservation for two at seven?"

"Thank you, Ms. Sidle, you're all set." The man said.

Sara hung up the phone and sat next to Grissom, who was already asleep on the sofa. She shook her head and kissed him before falling asleep, spooning against his chest.

Grissom woke up and squinted at his watch.

"Sara, it's six-twenty. We need to shower and get ready for dinner." He said, kissing the top of her head.

"Mm, okay," she replied.

Grissom chuckled and stood up, pulling her to her feet as well. They stripped quickly and walked into the shower. The hot water felt wonderful on their various sore muscles, but too soon the shower was over. Grissom dressed in khakis, pale blue oxford shirt, and a dark blazer. Sara put on a full skirt with a linen blouse and a short jacket with western piping. Grissom grabbed the room key and they walked out together into the cool night. It was quiet except for the occasional voice, until they got to the main ranch building. Walking in by the empty pool table, Sara walked to the front desk and looked at the glass jewelry case. Grissom stood behind her slightly, his hand on her waist.

"May I help you?" a woman, whose name tag said, Kate, asked.

"Yes, I'd like to purchase the bolo tie with the silver roadrunner, please." Sara replied.

Kate removed it from the case, and cut the price tag off. Handing the tie to Sara, she quickly wrote out a voucher for her to sign. Sara signed it and turned to Grissom.

Grissom reached to his collar and unbuttoned the wings. Leaning over slightly, he let Sara put the tie around his neck and cinch it up to the collar loosely.

"Very handsome," Sara commented.

"Thank you ma'am, thank you very much." He replied, kissing her on the cheek.

"Shall we?" Sara asked, sliding her arm around his waist.

"You bet," he answered as he put his arm around her shoulder and they walked through to the dining room.

The hostess met them and guided them to a table in the rear of the dining room overlooking the pool. Grissom pulled Sara's chair out for her and then sat down himself. He looked across at her and smiled, reaching for her hand. A waiter came and took their drink orders as they perused the menu. Sara decided on a pasta primavera, while Grissom splurged and ordered a steak.

"Hi, I'm Jimmy and I run the corral." A voice said, making them both look up.

"Hi, Jimmy, I'm Grissom and this is Sara," Grissom said, looking at her briefly.

"Brent says you folks had a nice ride today," Jimmy said, tugging on his moustache.

"Yes, we did, thank you," Sara replied.

"Will you be riding in the morning or the afternoon?" Jimmy asked, his pencil poised to write on his pad.

Sara looked at Grissom and he shrugged his shoulders in response.

"Can we ride both, please?" Sara said, squeezing Grissom's hand.

"Sure, eight forty-five at the corral. See you then," Jimmy said, wandering to another table.

"That will be fun," Sara said, grinning.

"I will be sore." Grissom said, smirking back.

The dinner was wonderful and they enjoyed the peaceful surroundings of the dining room and the terrific food.

"Now, would you like to see the dessert menu?" the waiter asked.

"They're known for their desserts," Sara commented.

"I'm content just to sip my wine, but don't let me stop you," Grissom said, smiling.

"I need the sugar if we're going to go two-stepping tonight." Sara said, looking over the menu.

"Where are you going?" the waiter asked.

"Bar 7," Grissom replied.

"May I make a suggestion?" the waiter asked softly.

"Sure," Sara said, shifting her attention away from the menu.

"It's pretty casual. You'd feel more comfortable in jeans and boots than city clothes."

"Well thanks, uhm, Tom from Prescott," Grissom said, looking at his name tag.

"You're most welcome. Have you decided what you'd like?" he asked.

"I would like the flourless chocolate cake with fudge sauce," Sara said, handing him back the menu.

"I can feel my arteries tightening even now," Grissom said with a chuckle.

"Who says you're gonna get any?" Sara grinned at him.

He raised his left eyebrow and took a sip of wine. Sitting quietly, just looking at each other, they waited for her dessert. When it came, it did not disappoint.

"Whoa, Grissom. I can't eat this whole thing." Sara said, taking a forkful, holding it out for him.

He leaned over the table as she fed him the cake and he groaned.

"That is very good," he said, settling back into his chair.

Sara took a forkful herself and nodded in agreement. She finished almost three quarters of it before pushing the plate away.

"Let's take a walk," she suggested pulling out her pen to sign the chit.

They got up and walked out to the pool and then around the main ranch building, taking the long way to their room. Sara shivered and Grissom stopped, removing his jacket, and placing it around her shoulders. He took her small hand in his bigger one and they continued to walk, listening to the sounds of the desert.

"You still want to go dancing?" Grissom asked.

"Yeah, if you do. But I don't want to make it a late night." Sara replied.

"It's eight thirty now. How about we just stay for an hour?" Grissom said, letting them into the room.

"Sounds perfect," Sara said, reaching to pull him into a kiss.

"Mmmm, fudge," Grissom replied, licking his lips.

"Get changed so we can get going," she instructed, breaking from his grasp,

"Aren't you changing?" Grissom asked, kicking off his loafers.

"No, I think I'll dance in this skirt," Sara said, hanging up his blazer.

"Oh, okay," Grissom said, hurrying to change into a clean pair of jeans and his filthy boots.

He reached into the closet and pulled out a leather jacket, slipped it on and walked back into the great room.

"I've never seen that jacket before," Sara said, walking up to him to touch the soft leather.

"It belonged to my uncle Jack, my mother's brother. He flew bombers in WWII." Grissom said, gathering his wallet and keys.

Sara looked closer and saw the leather name tag; O'Brien. There was a patch on the left shoulder and a large leather patch over his left pectoral. It fit him perfectly.

"Let's go," she said, locking her arm in his.

"No coat?" he asked.

"Thanks, I forgot how cold it is." Sara said, reaching for her sweater.

She put in on and they got into the car. Driving carefully, Grissom navigated off the ranch grounds and they headed into town. Soon, they saw a bright neon sign of a seven with a line over it. Grissom looked at Sara and laughed.

"Ah I get it; Bar 7, very good," Sara said, laughing as well.

The bar was hopping and they had to park quite a ways down the street. They walked back in and paid the five dollar cover charge and walked in. It was very loud at the bar, but the atmosphere was great. Sara tugged at Grissom's sleeve when she noticed the sign by the door:


Somehow, Grissom didn't think that was a joke and was thankful they had locked their service weapons in the floor safe of their room. They walked away from the bar to the next room, which had a dance floor, and sat at a table. Grissom removed his jacket and ordered a Lone Star beer. Sara ordered a white wine and they watched four couples two-step around the floor. Their drinks came and Grissom paid for them, studying the subtle nuances of the different dancers.

"Ready?" Grissom asked, looking at Sara.

"Sure," she replied, removing her sweater and standing.

Grissom stood and guided her to the dance floor mindful of the other couples. He listened to the music and then started to lead her, two-stepping around the dance floor. They danced for three songs before he held up his hands in defeat. She grinned and they walked back to the table and sipped their drinks.

"This is the first time we've gone dancing. You're very good." Sara said, smiling at him.

"Thanks, my mother liked to dance, so every Thursday we would go out." Grissom remarked, wiping his forehead with his sleeve before taking a large mouthful of beer.

"You folks want another round?" the waitress asked.

"Sure," Grissom replied, finishing his beer.

"Ready?" Sara asked, standing.

"You will be the death of me, Sara Sidle." He said, walking up to give her a quick kiss.

She kissed him back and reached her hands around his neck to hold him tightly, feeling his hands on her waist. He led her back on the dance floor and they started to dance. A group of young men walked in and saw them dancing. They were loud and had obviously been drinking. As Grissom and Sara rounded the dance floor, they passed them, hearing a couple of suggestive comments about Sara's figure. She felt Grissom's hands tighten protectively and tightened hers in response. The quick paced song ended and Grissom recognized the tenor of Vince Gill singing a slow ballad. He pulled Sara close and she tucked her head under his chin.

"Hey, old man, let me show you how it's done." The man in the red shirt said, breaking in between them, grabbing Sara and pulling her close.

"Let go of her, she doesn't want to dance with you," Grissom said, trying to keep his temper under control.

"Hell yes she does, old man." came the reply.

Grissom looked at Sara's face and saw the fear as she struggled against the younger man's grasp. Grissom walked up quickly, pulled the man back and punched him in the face. Turning to check on Sara, he didn't see the man come after him with a chair. Getting up from his knees, he knew the brawl was on; Grissom against the man in the red shirt. Grissom didn't want to fight him and kept his hands up and open.

"Look, I don't want to hurt you." Grissom said, backing up.

"It's you who's gonna get hurt, old man." The man his friend's, called Monty, replied, wiping blood from his nose.

Monty threw a punch, but Grissom moved, and popped him again right below his right eye. Enraged, he called for his friends to hold Grissom. They grabbed Grissom's arms but he just stood there calmly, realizing he couldn't get out of their grasp. Sara stood horrified, not knowing what to do, as Monty hit Grissom in the face and then the stomach. The bouncer came in quickly and broke the fight up, kicking the young men out, apologizing to Grissom and reaching for an ice pack that a waitress at his side had on her tray. Grissom held the ice pack in his left hand, reaching for Sara who was white as a sheet. He held her tightly and then guided her off the floor.

"Good right hook," a familiar voice said, as Grissom sat back at their table, taking a sip of his beer.

"Not good enough, I'm afraid, Brent. What are you doing here?" Grissom asked, adjusting the ice pack, looking up at him.

"I unwind here. I came in right behind those kids and figured there'd be trouble, especially when I heard them describing you two in the doorway. I figured you could handle it and I was right, until Monty cheated." Brent said, sitting down with them.

"Hurt much?" Sara asked, speaking for the first time, still scared.

"Nah, but I'm afraid my dancing is done for tonight." Grissom said, sipping his beer.

"Then may I dance with Sara, Grissom? I'll be a gentleman." Brent asked, looking at him and then at Sara.

"It's up to Sara, but you know I still have one good eye," Grissom warned.

"And a helluva punch; don't remind me." Brent said, helping Sara to her feet.

He watched as Brent skillfully lead Sara through some variations of the two step and smiled. Five minutes later, the dance set was over and they came back to the table. Grissom stood and gave Sara a kiss before she sat down. She looked at him, and knew something was up.

"Thanks for the dance, Brent. We're riding tomorrow all day so we'll see you bright and early." She said.

"Thank you, Sara. Grissom, keep the ice on it, you should be okay." Brent said, reaching down to shake his hand.

Grissom winced slightly but took the other man's hand in kind. Brent left them alone and Grissom turned his attention back to Sara.

"Can we go home?" Grissom asked, hopefully.

"Sure," Sara said, putting on her sweater.

Grissom left the ice bag on the table and stood up. He reached for his A2 jacket and slipped it on. Gingerly, he dug his hand into his trouser pocket and pulled out the car keys, handing them to Sara. She took them quietly and put her arm around his waist. They got to the door and the bouncer looked at them and smiled.

"He would never have touched you if they weren't holding you. I'm sorry I couldn't get back there in time."

"Thanks," Grissom said, walking out the door.

"You broke his nose and his cheekbone, if you care. They took him to the hospital." The bouncer called.

"He was so drunk I doubt he felt a thing," Grissom remarked, heading for the car.

They walked down the empty block to the car and got in. Sara started the engine and pulled out, remembering pretty well the way back to the ranch. She drove carefully, the night was very dark and there were no streetlights on the highway.

"Headache?" she asked, stealing a look.

"Yeah, I just need some aspirin," Grissom said, softly.

"Okay, almost home." Sara said, concentrating again.

She pulled into the ranch and slowed down to the speed limit and then slower, noticing guests walking on the road. Finally, she pulled up in front of their room and they both got out of the car. Grissom reached into his pocket for the room key and opened the door, letting Sara walk in first. She walked to the bathroom, turning the bedside light on as she passed, and filled a glass with water, handing him the bottle of Aleve. He tapped out three pills and drank them back with the water. Walking around the lowered Murphy bed, Grissom entered the closet and started to strip. He reached his shorts and got into bed. Sara used the toilet, undressed and put on her nightgown, and set the alarm clock for seven thirty. She turned off the bedside light and crawled into bed, reaching for Grissom, spooning against his back.

4:00 a.m.

"Terry, no, stop it," Sara said, struggling against Grissom's soft embrace.

Grissom woke up and looked at her in the darkened room. He pulled his hand from her belly and rolled back so he wasn't touching her. She continued to struggle until she woke herself up.

"Hey, you okay?" Grissom asked, gently brushing the hair from her face.

"Uhm, what? Yeah, I think so," Sara said, trying to catch her breath.

"Want to talk about it?" Grissom asked, continuing to gently caress her cheek.

"About what?" Sara asked, confused.

"Who was Terry?" Grissom asked softly.

Sara looked at him briefly and then looked away, blinking back the tears.

"I'm sorry, honey. You don't have to tell me." Grissom said, softly.

Sara rolled away from him, her arms crossed over her chest, her knees up. Grissom debated for a moment what to do and slowly moved towards her. He settled behind her, not touching her but letting her know he was there. Sara fell asleep, but Grissom was restless. His headache had returned. He carefully got out of bed and walked into the bathroom, taking three Aleves with a glass of water. He padded into the great room, putting on his brown sweater from his duffle and sat on the sofa in the dark, his head in his hands, waiting for the medication to take effect. As his headache began to ease, he lay back on the sofa and fell asleep.

The alarm clock went off at seven thirty and Grissom didn't move. Sara looked at him from the chair nearest to the sofa and reached over to touch his hair. He stirred and then opened his eyes.

"Morning," he said, his voice rough.

"Hi, how are you feeling? Up for riding today?" Sara asked.

"Sure, let me take a quick shower and I'll be right with you." Grissom said, sitting up and getting to his feet.

He walked to her side and leaned over to kiss her. Grissom took three more Aleves and then continued to the shower and turned on the spray to hot. Pulling off his sweater and his shorts he stood in the stall. His sore muscles from the previous day's ride loosened immediately, but the bruises from the brawl were different. The back of his head and his shoulders hurt where the chair hit them, and his eye, although open, was quite black. He soaped up quickly and washed until he heard Sara come into the bathroom.

"Geez, Griss, this is the longest shower you have ever taken on your own," she quipped.

He turned the water off and slid open the shower curtain, reaching for the towel.

"I'm sorry, I'm a bit more sore than I thought I'd be," he said, toweling off.

Sara bit her lip when she saw the bruising on his chest and eye. The knuckles on his right hand were cut and swollen as well. She turned around and walked back into the great room, saying nothing.

Grissom dressed in his dirty jeans from horseback riding the day before and a clean shirt. He put his glasses on and a baseball cap before tugging on his boots. He walked up to Sara and saw she was holding out his jacket.

"It's cold outside," she said, buttoning her own denim jacket.

He smiled and slid on his A2 jacket, picked up the room key, and headed out of the room. Sara followed, pulling the door shut behind her. He reached for her hand and they walked down to breakfast side by side. Walking into the dining room, they were seated for the breakfast buffet. The waiter brought coffee and Grissom just sat for ten minutes, his mind clear, just floating, waiting for the medication to take effect. Sara got herself a bowl of Muesli and yogurt and sat down across from him. She finished the bowl and sat forward, sipping her coffee. Grissom kept his eyes down while she searched his face.

"Terry was my first high school boyfriend. He was captain of the science club, popular, good looking. He was a year older than I was and, well, it was rough." Sara said, staring at his face.

Grissom reached out for her hand but didn't look at her, instead staring at their hands.

"I guess now, they might call it date rape nowadays but it started out consensual; it just hurt, you know?" Sara said her voice barely above a whisper.

She reached over and caught a tear as it began to roll down his face. Abruptly, Grissom got up and left the dining room. Sara signed the check, put on her jacket, and picked up his, running to catch up. He had walked the back way, where the horse trail was, to have a little privacy.

Sara looked at her watch and figured they had fifteen minutes before reporting to the corral. Grissom had pulled his hat low over his eyes, dug his hands into his jeans pockets, and was pacing, trying to bleed some of his anger off.

She sat down on a rock and watched quietly. He knew she was there, but he had to work through it on his own. Finally he stopped, took off his glasses and wiped his face, before walking up to her. She stood and embraced him.

"I saw the fear in your eyes when he held you and it made me angry and hearing you tell the story just made me angry again; angry and helpless." Grissom said, softly.

"But you weren't helpless, you defended me last night. I felt helpless because I didn't help you." Sara whispered in his ear.

Grissom kissed her softly.

"Aren't we a pair, then?" he murmured kissing her again.

Sara held him tightly and snuck a look at her watch. She kissed him hard and then pulled back, taking his hand as they turned and walked to pick up his jacket. He put it on and zipped it almost all the way before they headed down the road. Grissom stopped and quickly squatted, picking up something. Smiling, he kept it in his hands as they approached the corral.

"Hey Grissom, what you got there?" Brent asked.

"An Arizona Blister Beetle; shouldn't be here in western Arizona but isn't it neat?" Grissom asked, smiling.

Sara started to giggle when she saw Brent's reaction.

"Put the bug down, Grissom. You're scaring the man," Sara said, barely able to contain herself.

Grissom walked away from the corral toward the tennis courts and put the beetle down. He came back to stand next to Sara, waiting for his name to be called, reading the chalkboard roster that he would indeed be riding Pecos again.

"I love you, Bugman," Sara said, giving him a quick kiss.

"I love you, too." Grissom replied.


  Please post a comment on this story.
Search for another story

Failed to execute CGI : Win32 Error Code = 2