Sparks of Interest

by Liz

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 three betas, TAE, Smryczko and Rachel, for keeping me honest to the characters

Rating: R language

Where this fits: following Flashes of Avoidance.

Tuesday 11am

Catherine sat on the bench in the locker room trying to remember exactly why she was at work so early. She opened her locker and started getting ready for the day.

"Hi," a familiar voice said behind her.

"Hi, yourself. Are you just getting off shift now?" Catherine turned to look at Sara Sidle.

"Yeah, we had a db out near the airport. Lots of bugs." Sara said, opening her locker.

"Grissom must be in heaven." Catherine remarked, turning back to her locker.

"Not really, it was the body of a young boy, so it was pretty hard on him." Sara said, thinking about Grissom's face when he first saw the body.

"Oh, man, okay. Where is he, now?" Catherine asked, standing to shrug her coat off her shoulders.

"He's in the lab, processing. He's dead on his feet, but you know about time and bugs." Sara said, pulling out her coat and a small overnight bag from her locker.

"Yeah, I do know about that. Are you going somewhere?" Catherine asked, noting the bag.

"I have three days off. I'm going to a yoga retreat." Sara said, smiling.

"Really? That sounds like fun," Catherine said, sarcastically.

"Actually, it'll be great. We're going to be in cabins, no electricity, no phones, just quiet and relaxing." Sara said, lifting her bag to her shoulder.

"What does Grissom think?" Catherine asked, shutting her locker.

"It was his idea. We have a routine that involves private time. I'm going to the yoga retreat and next month, he's going to Brass's cabin in the woods to paint." Sara said, looking at the other woman.

Catherine looked at Sara and noticed a slight sadness in her eyes.

"Is this the first time you two have been apart?" Catherine asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Technically, it will be the first time in six months that we haven't been together or been able to at least call each other." Sara replied.

"I'll keep an eye out for him." Catherine said, with a smile.

"Thanks. Wow, is that the time?" She said, glancing to the clock on the wall. "I have to get going. See you on Friday." Sara said, hurrying out of the locker room.

"Bye, have fun." Catherine said, as she followed Sara out of the room

Sara looked in through the window of the lab room to see Grissom hunched over his tray of bugs. She walked in quietly and stood next to him. For several minutes, he didn't acknowledge her presence, carefully taking notes. Slowly he turned to look at her.

"Hi, have you been standing there long?" he asked, sitting back on the stool.

"No, not really. I just wanted to say goodbye. I'll be back Thursday around eight, or so." Sara said, looking into his eyes.

"I'll make dinner for you then," Grissom said, standing.

He was wearing his gloves, as he was still in the midst of his test. Grissom put both hands behind his back and leaned in to kiss her. She put her hands on his jaw and guided him, returning the kiss passionately.

"Have a safe trip. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine." Grissom said, sitting back on the stool

"I will worry, and I'll miss you." Sara said, massaging his shoulders.

"You should get going, traffic's gonna be murder." Grissom said, his eyes closed against her touch.

"Right, see you soon, sweetheart," she whispered in his ear.

"Take care, honey," Grissom said, opening his eyes to grin at her.

Sara left Grissom alone in the lab and he went back to work.

6:00 pm

Catherine walked out of her office to get a cup of coffee in the break room. She was surprised to see Grissom, doing the same thing.

"Gil, what are you doing here? Are you still processing your bugs?" Catherine asked, as she walked into the room.

"Hi, Cath, yeah just about done," Grissom said, moving out of the way to let her at the pot.

"You should get some sleep before your shift starts again." Catherine reminded him, pouring a cup of coffee for herself.

"Yeah, I'll sack out in the office, probably." Grissom said, moving past her to go to the lab.

"See you later," Catherine said to his back.

Grissom waved a hand as he proceeded down the hall. He walked into the lab and immediately immersed himself in his work.

7:30 pm

"Hey Grissom," Warrick said, sticking his head into the lab.

"Hey, Warrick," Grissom replied, not looking up from his notes.

"Bugs, hunh?" Warrick asked, walking into the room.

"Yep, need something?" Grissom asked in return.

"Have you seen Sara? I thought we might get some food." Warrick asked, standing opposite Grissom.

"She's taking some time off." Grissom said, concentrating.

"You guys okay?" Warrick asked.

"Yeah, we're fine, thanks for asking." Grissom responded, looking up at him for the first time.

Warrick noticed the fatigue on his face and decided to cut the conversation short.

"I'm sorry, I'm distracting you. I'll let you get back to your bugs." Warrick said, backing away from the table.

"Thanks, I'm almost done." Grissom said with a tired smile.

"See you later," Warrick said, leaving him alone.

Grissom looked at the larvae in their stages laid out on the illuminated table and looked at his notes. He was close to being able to call time of death, just a little more development and he would know for sure. He looked at his watch and heard his stomach growl. He needed to eat something before the shift began.


Finally, Grissom pulled off his gloves and rubbed his tired eyes. The boy had been dead thirty four hours. Grissom packed up his notes and evidence and headed to his office. He picked up the phone and called the morgue.

"Morgue," Doc Robbins answered on the fifth ring.

"Al, it's Grissom. The boy was dead thirty four hours." Grissom said, sinking back in his chair.

"Thanks, Gil, I'll call Brass." Doc Robbins replied, taking note that Grissom didn't call him the victim.

"You're welcome, talk to you later." Grissom said, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"I'm around," Doc Robbins replied and hung up the phone.

Grissom depressed the bar on the phone and intercommed the receptionist.

"Judy, it's Grissom." He said when she picked up.

"Hi, Grissom, what can I do for you?" Judy asked, pleasantly.

"Would you order me a turkey burger, no bun, and a fruit salad, please?" Grissom asked.

"Consider it done. Where will you be?" Judy asked.

"I'll be in my office." Grissom said, turning on the CD player.

"Okay," Judy said.

"Thanks," Grissom said.

"You're welcome," Judy replied as she hung up the phone.

Grissom hung up the phone and closed his eyes, listening to the cello music fill the office.

"Grissom?" a voice called.

Grissom opened his eyes slowly and tried to focus. Catherine stood in front of him holding a take out bag.

"Gil, here's your dinner. You owe me $10.00 including tip." Catherine said, depositing the bag on the desk.

"Thanks, Cath," Grissom said, shifting to get his wallet out.

He handed her the money and stood to take his dinner into the break room, turning off the CD player as he walked by.

"You're welcome," Catherine said, following him out of his office.

As he walked down the hallway, his cell phone rang. He stopped to answer it, leaning against the wall.

"Grissom," he said.

"Hi, it's me. This is the last call I can make. I actually snuck off- property. Remember no electronics, no electricity? I just wanted to say I love you and I miss you." Sara said, standing outside the gates of the retreat.

"I miss you too, and I love you." He said quietly into the phone.

"Where are you? I can barely hear you." Sara asked.

"I'm in the hallway outside the break room." Grissom said, slightly louder.

"Did you go home at all?" Sara asked.

"No, I just finished my analysis half an hour ago. I was just about to eat dinner." Grissom replied, waiting to get admonished.

"Grissom, you have to get some sleep. You're short handed without me there. Please try to get a nap in before shift." Sara pleaded.

"I'll try, honey, I really will. God, I could talk to you all day, but I need to eat my turkey burger before I nap." Grissom joked.

"Take care, sweetheart, I love you." Sara said.

"I will, have a nice yoga experience. I love you; see you for dinner on Thursday." Grissom replied.

"Bye," Sara said, waiting to hear him one more time.

"Bye," Grissom said, closing his phone.

"That was cute," Catherine said, standing behind him, her hand on her hip.

Grissom rolled his eyes at her and continued to the break room. He sat down and started to eat his dinner.

Catherine walked back into her office, getting ready to go off shift when her cell phone rang.

"Willows," she answered.

"Catherine, it's Sara," she said.

"Hi, Sara, are you on your retreat?" Catherine asked, sitting down on her desk chair.

"I'm here but it starts tomorrow. I just spoke to Grissom and he sounded exhausted. Could you try to get him to nap before shift?" Sara asked.

"I'll try. I'm almost off-shift myself but I'll go talk to him before I go." Catherine replied.

"Thanks, Catherine," Sara replied relieved.

"You're welcome, gotta go, bye," Catherine said.

"Bye," Sara said, closing her phone.

Catherine closed her phone. She looked at her desk, and tried to organize it a bit before seeking out Grissom in the break room. After a few minutes, she gave up and left her office to walk down the hall. She opened the door and immediately saw Nick and Warrick at the table raise their index fingers to their lips, motioning to the sleeping form on the sofa. Man, he must really be tired to fall asleep in public. Or perhaps he was afraid he would sleep past the start of the shift,she thought. Catherine walked to the fridge and opened it to get a soda and wasn't surprised to see Grissom's dinner, relatively untouched.

"I'm out of here. Can you guys cover until his shift begins?" Catherine whispered.

"Sure," Nick replied softly

"Not a problem," Warrick agreed.

"Thanks, I'll see you tomorrow." Catherine said, leaving to go to the locker room.

9:45 pm

"Grissom? Griss? Time for work," Warrick said, softly from across the room.

Grissom didn't move, still sleeping on his side, back to the room. Warrick looked at Nick, who stood up and walked to Grissom's side. Leaning over, he put a hand on his shoulder. Grissom jumped as if shocked and sat up, his heart racing, trying to catch his breath.

"Sorry, Griss. Fifteen minutes to your shift," Nick apologized.

Rubbing his hand over his eyes, Grissom then picked up his glasses. He looked at Warrick and focused. Slipping on his loafers, he stood slowly and walked to the coffee pot. He poured himself a cup and then turned around.

"Thanks, Nick," he said, and then left, going down the hallway to his office.

Grissom sat at his desk and noticed a stack of memos in his inbox that weren't there earlier. He looked at his email and printed the assignments for the night. Tom Buckley, a CSI2 from days, was going to take Sara's place, since Greg wasn't up to working anything complicated on his own, yet. Grissom sipped his coffee and opened a file on his computer. It was a photo of Sara that he had taken on a case a in the spring. The picture was in black and white, very intense, with high contrast. He allowed himself to be lost in her for a moment. He stared intently at the image on his computer until a knock on the door broke his concentration.

"Grissom? We're ready," Greg said, sticking his head in the door.

"Thanks Greg, I'll be right out." Grissom said, closing the file and setting his computer back to the desktop image of a preying mantis, and locking it.

He picked up the assignments and his coffee cup as he walked to the break room. Grissom walked in and found Tom and Greg sitting at the table.

"Okay, we're short-handed tonight. Sofia has food poisoning; bad sushi. There's a db at the Mirage. Be careful, you two, take lots of photos, I'd rather have too many than not enough," Grissom said, handing out the sheet to Tom as senior man.

"What are you up to, boss?" Greg asked, noting the fatigue in his mentor's face.

"I have a db at a playground." Grissom said, softly. "Take radios; the cell service is sketchy in the Mirage."

"Will do," Tom said, standing.

"See you later, I guess," Greg said, standing as well.

"Call me and let me know how you're doing." Grissom instructed.

"Yes, sir," Greg said solemnly.

Grissom left them, to walk back to his office. He dropped off his coffee mug, picked up his windbreaker and walkie, then headed for his car. He unlocked it electronically and opened the door. Getting in he started the ignition and pushed CD6; cello music wafted through his Denali. He pulled the door shut, latched his shoulder harness, and headed to the crime scene.

Grissom pulled up to the familiar flashing blue and white lights of the LVPD cruisers. Temporary floodlights had been set up and they hurt his eyes. He opened the island between the seats and pulled out his Chicago Cubs baseball cap. Tugging it low over his eyes, he got out of the car and walked to its rear. He opened the back hatch and pulled out his kit. Shutting the hatch, he sighed and walked towards the light.

"Hey, man," Brass greeted him.

"Hey, what have you got?" Grissom said, setting down the heavy kit for the conversation.

"Young woman, late twenties, early thirties, garrotted," Brass stated in a not-so-calm voice.

Grissom looked at him, raising an eyebrow and pursing his lips as he conjectured what had happened. He picked up his kit and walked forward until he was within twenty feet. He looked at the ground and carefully set his kit down, crouching next to it. Grissom opened his kit and removed a pair of gloves. The voices of some young police officers distracted him and he shot them a glare. Brass caught it and sent everyone away from the scene so the doctor could get his mojo working. That's what Brass called it; a state where Grissom left the present and went back to the crime scene. Grissom circled the metal carousel, noting the young woman's body draped half on and half off. He saw the foot prints, the cigarette butt, the chewing gum, but more than that, he noticed that she was thin, had long brown hair, and she was nude. David came to pronounce the body but Grissom hadn't photographed her yet, so there she remained as he painstakingly recorded the site. Grissom circled back to his kit and pulled out his 35mm camera and started to shoot. It took him more than ten minutes. Each time he looked through the lens his mind flashed to Debbie Marlin, the nurse who had been murdered by her ex-lover, Vincent Lurie; then it flashed to Sara as the two women had been almost identical.

He cast the foot prints and then Grissom started on the physical evidence, finally finishing with finger prints. Brass watched him; watching his back. He knew Grissom was tired, but he also knew that the girl had more than a passing resemblance to Sara.

"How you doing? Can I help or get you anything?" Brass offered.

"Clone me," Grissom joked.

"I don't think that would be fair. One of you is quite enough." Brass quipped.

"Seriously, I'm almost done here. Can you have one of your guys run the film to the lab? That would save me some time. Now I just have to walk around and see what else I see." Grissom said, standing slowly.

"Fine, I'll be your partner. We'll walk it together." Brass said.

Grissom looked at him out of the corner of his eye. It was rare for Brass to volunteer his services. Guess I must look as tired as I feel, he thought.

"Great, I could use the extra eyes." Grissom said, with a tired smile.

Wednesday 3:00 am

Grissom finally pulled into the lab, feeling every one of his forty-eight years. He took off his beloved Cubs cap and stuffed it back in the seat divider. He pulled the evidence out and walked into the building. He dropped off the DNA to Mia and took the rest of the evidence with him. Grissom laid out everything in Lab 4, then left to drop off his coat and get a cup of coffee. He walked into the break room and was surprised to see Greg and Tom sitting at the table drinking coffee.

"What are you two doing here? Weren't you supposed to call me?" Grissom asked, irritated.

"We tried but couldn't get through. It was a suicide, gunshot to the head, suicide note, very neat and simple." Tom explained, in a bored tone.

"Great, when you've finished, you can help me. I have loads of evidence." Grissom said, pouring a fresh cup of coffee.

"No time like the present," Greg said, standing.

Grissom looked at him, raising an eyebrow, and left the room. Greg followed immediately and five minutes later Tom joined them. An envelope had been placed on the corner of the table. Grissom set his coffee on a table behind him, well aware that he was breaking his own rules about food in the Lab room. He opened the envelope and started to lay out the photos. As he did, Greg inhaled quickly.

"Do you know her, Greg?" Grissom asked, looking at him quickly.

"No, she...she just looks like Sara, that's all. Never mind," Greg stammered.

Grissom continued to look at him, knowing exactly how he felt. It was the first thing he had thought when he saw the body. Grissom continued laying out the photos and then talked them through it.

"It was a body dump. He posed her, stood over her, had a cigarette, chewed some gum, and watched her." Grissom said, his voice emotionless.

"Is that a garrotte?" Tom asked, peering at the photo.

"Yes. Greg, I dropped off the gum and cigarette to Mia. Can you see how she's doing?" Grissom asked.

"Sure thing," Greg said, and left the room.

"Tom, would you check the prints? See if AFIS has kicked anything back." Grissom asked.

"All right," Tom said, strolling out of the lab.

No sense of urgency with this guy. No wonder he works well with Ecklie, Grissom thought. His pager went off and he saw it was from Doc Robbins. He picked up his coffee and walked downstairs to the morgue. Setting his coffee down, he gowned up and put on fresh gloves. Grissom tore off some sterile tape and put it on the handle of his coffee mug, and walked into the examining room.

"Hi, how you doing?" Doc Robbins asked over his glasses.

"Fine, Doc, just trying to get through the day." Grissom said, a little more honestly than he normally would.

"How long have you been up?" Doc asked, noting Grissom's coffee cup.

"A while; I napped a couple of times but I've basically been up since shift began Monday night." Grissom said, staring at the woman's face.

"What does Sara say about all this?" Doc pushed further.

"She's at a yoga retreat. She left after shift on Tuesday and returns Thursday night." Grissom said, sipping his coffee.

"Tell me, please, that you have Thursday off." Doc inquired.

"Yeah, we both do. Now what can you tell me about the vic?" Grissom asked, now uncomfortable at the amount of personal information he had given out.

Doc turned his attention away from Grissom and back to the body. He pulled back the sheet to her feet and started his monologue.

"Jane Doe number one-two-eight, died from a combination of asphyxia and exanguination. Both carotid arteries were cut. Here, can you help me?" Doc asked.

Grissom put down his coffee cup and lifted the woman's head and shoulders off the table. Doc cut off the garrotte in order to preserve the evidence of the knot. Grissom lowered the body back to the table and held out an evidence bag for the garrotte.

"What else, Doc?" Grissom asked, distracted.

"Evidence of rape at twelve and six. I took a swab and sent it to tox. There's one more thing." Doc said. "Come around here,"

Grissom walked to stand next to Doc, who then rolled the body away from them. There was an ugly bruise at the center of her back.

"God, he put his knee in her back?" Grissom winced at the body and then looked at Doc.

"Looks that way," Doc said, removing his glasses and letting them drop on their ropes to his chest.

"What's that? Mud? " Grissom asked, looking closely at her elbows and buttocks.

"Looks like it. I'll take a sample and send it up to trace." Doc said, slipping his glasses back on.

"Thanks, Doc," Grissom said, heading for the door.

"Gil?" Doc called after him.

"Yeah?" Grissom said, stopping to turn around.

"Don't forget your coffee." Doc said, holding up the mug.

Grissom walked back and took the mug from him.

"These days, Doc, I'd forget my head if it wasn't permanently attached." Grissom commented, looking at him briefly.

Grissom left Doc Robbins staring at him as he left the exam room to strip back to his work clothes. He removed the tape from his mug and headed back upstairs. As he walked into the corridor, he heard someone calling his name. Stopping, he turned around to see Greg walking towards him.

"Got a hit off the gum and cigarette. DNA match to a Robert Cohen of Henderson. Brass is sending a couple of uniforms over to pick him up." Greg said, grinning.

"Good job, Greg. What about Tom? Did he have any luck on the prints?" Grissom asked, sipping his cold coffee and scowling at the taste.

Greg gently took the mug from his hand and walked into the break room. Placing the mug in the microwave, he set the timer before turning to look at his supervisor, who had followed him.

"I haven't seen him since you told me to check with Mia." Greg said, seriously.

The timer went off and Greg handed Grissom his mug with revived coffee.

Too bad I can't revive that quickly, he thought. Cautiously, he took a sip of coffee and smiled.

"Take a look at the cast of the shoe for me so we can see if it came from Mr. Cohen. Oh, and Greg, check back with tox, Doc sent up a vaginal swab. See if it matches the DNA." Grissom said, heading out the door.

"Okay, I'll be in the lab room." Greg said, walking out into the hallway.

Grissom hurried to the prints lab and found it empty. Where the hell was this guy?Grissom found the prints he took off the carousel and started to run them through the computer database. He sat down on the leather stool, sipping his coffee and wishing Sara was there to massage his neck. He had knots on his knots. Grissom let his mind wander, watching the prints flash on the screen. Fifteen minutes later, a bell sounded and the computer kicked back Robert Cohen. He printed the information, and retrieved the second print and ran it. Ten minutes later, the bell sounded again and a brunette woman's face appeared that was all too familiar. The victim's name was Pamela Sweet. She was twenty-four and worked at Harrah's as a cocktail waitress. Her address was not the same as Mr. Cohen. Sighing, Grissom printed the information. He walked to the phone on the wall and called down to Doc Robbins.

"We have an ID on the vic. She's Pamela Sweet, twenty four, Las Vegas resident." Grissom said.

"Thanks, Gil." Doc said.

"You're welcome, bye." Grissom replied.

"Bye," Doc answered, hanging up the phone.

Grissom hung up the phone and then called up to dispatch.

"Dispatch, this is Steven," a male voice answered.

"Steven, this is Grissom. Have you seen Tom Buckley?" Grissom asked.

"Hi, Grissom. He left the building about an hour ago, saying he was going home." Steven replied.

"Did he happen to mention any reason?" Grissom asked, his anger barely contained.

"Not to me, no." Steven answered.

"Thanks, Steven," Grissom said.

"You're welcome, Grissom. Is there anything else I can do for you?" Steven replied.

"No, thanks, bye," Grissom said, hanging up.

He gathered his printouts and his coffee and headed to the lab room. He had barely put the papers on the table when his pager went off. Brass was in the interrogation room at the station and wanted him there. He compiled the photos and printouts into a manila folder and walked to the tox lab in search of Greg.

"Greg?" Grissom called, leaning into the room.

"Yes, Grissom?" Greg answered, looking up from the microscope.

"You're on your own. I have to sit in on the interview with Brass." Grissom said, stepping back into the hallway.

"Where's Tom?" Greg asked, walking after him.

"He left," Grissom replied, turning to look at him.

"He left?" Greg repeated.

"Yeah, and if it's all right with you, he's not ever coming back to work with us." Grissom said, his anger showing.

"It's fine with me. The guy has no work ethic." Greg mumbled, turning back towards the lab.

"Greg, call me with the results." Grissom reminded him.

"Not to worry, boss. I've got you covered." Greg said to him before disappearing back into the lab.

Grissom smiled and hurried to his car. He started the engine and looked at the dashboard clock; five o'clock. He smirked and drove the short distance to the police station. Checking in with the front desk, he headed to Interrogation room Two. Brass was standing outside the room, looking a bit edgy. He turned to face Grissom, heading him off from the room.

"Slow down, he'll wait," Brass said, raising his hands.

Grissom raised an eyebrow, opened the folder and took out the two AFIS printouts, handing them to Brass.

"I didn't have a chance to make a copy yet." Grissom remarked.

"How're you doin'?" Brass asked his friend.

"I'm okay, pissed at Ecklie, but what else is new?" Grissom asked.

"What did he do now?" Brass chuckled.

"He sent me Tom Buckley to replace Sara. The creep left work at four without a word, without even starting his task." Grissom replied with venom.

"So, what, you're the only man on the graveyard shift?" Brass asked.

"I never thought I'd say it, but it's Greg and me until Sara returns." Grissom said with a smirk.

"He's a good kid," Brass said seriously.

"Yeah, he is. Now am I ready to go in with you to talk to Mr. Cohen?" Grissom said, with a small smile.

Brass looked at him. "That transparent, hunh? Look, I need you to observe on this. Don't say a thing. You can be in the room, but don't say a thing. You'll understand readily enough." Brass said mysteriously.

"I'll follow your lead. Here are the crime scene photos." Grissom said, handing over the file with more than a growing knot in his stomach.

Brass took the file and walked into the interrogation room with Grissom in tow. Grissom stood in a corner and observed. Mr. Cohen was well over six feet tall and probably weighed over two-hundred. His hair was long, almost below his collar. He looked at the well-dressed man sitting next to Cohen and sensed something about him. The man looked up at Grissom as he placed his hands quietly on the table. Grissom looked back at Cohen. What was it about this man that was intriguing him?Brass moved to be in front of both men.

"Mr. Cohen, where were you last night?" Brass asked in a slow measured tone.

Cohen started to sign his response and the well dressed man started to translate for him.

"I was at a bar, what is this about?"

"Do you know a Pamela Sweet?" Brass asked.

A muscle in Cohen's jaw started to twitch but he remained silent. The interpreter signed to him without translating out loud for Brass. Grissom watched, reading the interpreter's signs easily. He kept repeating, 'answer him, answer him.'

"No, I don't know her." The interpreter replied.

Brass laid out four photos on the table of the victim on the carousel. He watched Cohen's hands move restlessly on the table. He noticed the yellow nicotine stains on his fingertips.

"Really? You know that's interesting because we found your DNA at the crime scene. So you want to tell me again how you didn't know her?" Brass asked.

Grissom's cell phone vibrated and he left the room.

"Grissom," he replied, standing in the hallway.

"Grissom, it's Greg. We have a match to prints on the garrotte. Your guy has a size thirteen Timberland boot. The number on the sole is fifty five." Greg said, excited.

"Great Greg, head down to the morgue and have Doc check the victim's ears. Call me immediately when you know something." Grissom said.

"Will do," Greg said, hanging up in excitement before saying good-bye.

Grissom closed his phone and walked back in the room. He made eye contact with Brass who nodded almost imperceptibly. Grissom changed places with Brass. He looked at both men and started to sign and speak simultaneously.

"My name is Gil Grissom, and I work at the Crime Lab. I have some additional questions. What size shoe do you wear, Mr. Cohen?"

"Thirteen," Cohen signed as Grissom continued to verbally translate for Brass.

"May I see your shoes please?" Grissom asked, amicably.

Cohen sighed and put both feet on the table. There was beige sand in the groves next to the small label, fifty-five. Grissom also noticed what appeared to be blood between the upper and lower parts of the shoe.

"I'll need those shoes. You'll be given booties when you leave." Grissom stated and signed softly.

Cohen looked at him and Grissom was surprised at the anger in his eyes. Slowly he removed his boots and put them on the table.

"Thank you. Now, Mr. Cohen, the evidence suggests that you had sex with the victim. The evidence also suggests that you held the garrotte that killed her. What happened? She make fun of you?" Grissom asked, raising his voice slightly.

Suddenly, Brass dropped his keys to the floor and Cohen jumped, having forgotten that the man was behind him. Grissom smiled and signed something without verbally translating for Brass. Cohen pushed the table hard, putting all of his weight behind it, pinning Grissom to the wall. The interpreter stood off to the side as Brass pulled his service revolver. The table hit him high on his legs, but Grissom continued to smile, his hands free at his sides.

"So not entirely deaf, Mr. Cohen?" Grissom asked, his smile disappearing, angered at the stunt the suspect had pulled.

"Mr. Cohen, stand up and put your hands behind your back." Brass said, loudly.

A uniformed officer burst into the room, having been watching through the two-way glass. He pulled his cuffs from his belt and handcuffed Cohen, pulling him away from the table. Grissom pushed the table back into position, his normal Teflon faade now creased with anger because Cohen pretended to be deaf. Brass holstered his gun and went up to Grissom.

"You okay?" he whispered, trying to break through the wall of fury that had built up around Grissom.

"I'm fine, I'm gonna take a walk," Grissom said, as he stalked by him.

Grissom got out into the hall and leaned against the wall, trying to slow his breathing. His phone vibrated and he answered it, still breathing hard.


"It's Greg. Doc says no impairment to victim's ears."

"Thanks, would you do me a favour? I left pretty quickly. Would you pack up the Lab room for me?" Grissom asked.

"Sure, you okay? The guy confess, yet?" Greg asked.

"I'm fine, Brass is working on him." Grissom replied.

"Well, I'll see you when you get back," Greg said.

"Sounds good, bye." Grissom confirmed.

"Bye," Greg replied, closing his phone.

Grissom slipped his phone back into his pocket and went into the viewing room. He reached over and turned the speaker volume up and then looked into the room. The interpreter was still standing in the corner, not knowing exactly what to do, as it appeared that Cohen could hear well enough.

"He was right," Cohen said in a soft whispery voice.

"Who was right?" Brass asked.

"The man who just left. I was at Harrah's and she was a cocktail waitress. We had been talking, it's so loud in there, I couldn't hear her but I read her lips and I suppose she must have done the same. She asked if I could drive her home. I nodded so we walked to the car." Cohen said, his fists clenching and unclenching.

"We started to drive but she changed her mind and wanted to go to the park. She started touching me while I drove, amazing I didn't have an accident." He laughed.

Brass looked at the mirrored window and shook his head at Grissom.

"I stopped the car and we started making out. She was out of her clothes in a minute" Cohen continued.

"But then you broke the moment by speaking to her, didn't you?" Grissom said, as he silently slipped into the room.

Cohen turned around and looked at him before turning back to look at his hands.

"And she started to laugh, and call me names."

"So you shut her up, didn't you? Where did you get the garrotte?" Grissom asked, walking around to face him.

"The what?" Cohen asked.

"The wire with the wooden handles," Grissom said and signed to him.

"I've used it before. I keep it in my car." Cohen said, easily.

"There've been other girls?" Brass asked.

"He knows, he knows what it's like, don't you?" Cohen said, looking at Grissom.

"When you raped her, was she alive?" Grissom asked, ignoring him.

"Oh, yeah," Cohen said, smiling and sitting back in his chair.

Grissom stared at him for a long moment.

"Book him for the rape and murder of Pamela Sweet." Brass said to the uniform officer.

"Yes, sir," the man replied, getting Cohen to his feet and hustling him out of the room.

Brass sat on the edge of the table and wiped his hands over his face. Grissom sat down heavily, bridging his fingers and resting his head against them. Brass reached over to Grissom and squeezed his shoulder.

"Nicely played," Brass said, his gravelly voice revealing his fatigue.

"Nice finesse," Grissom replied, raising his head up to look at his friend.

"Uhm, if you don't need me anymore, I'll be going now." The translator said, leaving the room quickly.

"How are your legs? That must have hurt." Brass asked.

"I'm sure that I will have lovely bruises by tonight." Grissom quipped.

"Good thing your girlfriend is out of town." Brass joked back.

"You better believe it." Grissom smiled as he stood up.

"Back to the salt mines?" Brass asked.

"For a little bit, anyway," Grissom replied.

"Take it easy, oh, hang on, take your file." Brass said, standing to collate the photos back into the folder.

"Thanks," Grissom said, taking the folder from him and heading out the door.

Grissom got to his car and took a moment to look at the sunrise reflecting off the mountains. He got in and started the car, pointing it towards the lab. Arriving a few minutes later, he took the folder and walked to his office. The light on his phone was blinking, so he reached across and picked up the phone, depressing the blinking button.

"This is Greg, it's six forty-five, and I'm headed over to the Hamlet Motel to process a 419. Vega is meeting me there. Please call me." A slightly panicked Greg called.

Grissom picked up his cell phone and noticed it was off. He turned it back on and called Greg.

"Sanders," he answered.

"It's Grissom, where are you?"

"The Hamlet Motel, just past the strip, south of town." Greg replied.

"I'm on my way. Vega is there, yes?" Grissom asked.

"Yes," Greg replied.

"Make sure the scene is clear, Greg. Don't let them bulldoze you. I'm on my way." Grissom said, reaching for his windbreaker.

"Gotcha," Greg replied, hanging up the phone.

Grissom hurried to his car and got in. He needed to focus and he needed some energy, so he changed the CD player to CD1. Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall poured through the car and Grissom started to reenergize.

Twenty minutes later, Grissom pulled up to the crime scene. He pulled his Cubs hat out and pulled it low over his tired eyes. He got out of the car, pulled his kit, and went in search of his young partner.

"Greg?' Grissom called as he entered the hotel pool area.

"Up here, Grissom," Greg replied, sticking his nose out of a fourth floor room.

Grissom looked for an elevator and sighed at finding none. He started up the stairs, carrying the heavy kit. The bruises on his legs hurt, he was tired, and he thought he felt the first pangs of a migraine. Seemingly hours later, he arrived at the fourth floor. Grissom walked to the room he thought Greg was in.

"Greg?" Grissom repeated.

A hand shot out of the next room's window and Grissom could barely suppress a laugh.

"Talk me through it," Grissom instructed, setting his kit on the carpeted floor.

"Sally Ann Rodgers, age fifty four from Connecticut. Arrived Friday, has seen five shows, gone to at least that many casinos." Greg intoned.

"Greg," Grissom warned, putting on his gloves.

"Right, cause of death appears to be puncture wound to the chest." Greg said, pointing out the obvious.

"Robbery?" Grissom asked.

"It appears so. The victim's purse is empty." Greg said.

Grissom looked at the body and thought it through. He looked at the rest of the hotel room. It was very neat; almost too neat. He walked carefully to the bathroom and looked around. Finally he returned to the closet.

"Did you take photos?" Grissom asked, over his shoulder.

"Yes, that's all I've done since I got here." Greg confirmed.

"Greg, we have our job cut out for us this morning. Let's get started where the murder took place." Grissom said, picking up his kit.

"The bedroom?" Greg asked.

"No, the bathroom." Grissom replied, walking to the bathroom door and putting on his booties.

Greg looked at him, confused, yet following suit with his own booties.

"God, I love linoleum." Grissom said as he carefully walked across the floor.

They started processing the bathroom, taking extreme care with the foot and fingerprints. Grissom stepped into the shower and pulled the drain.

"We have blood," he announced.

"Here too," Greg said from the sink.

"No weapon, though, right?" Grissom said, emerging from the shower stall.

"Not yet," Greg replied, still finishing the sink.

Grissom walked to the toilet and lifted the lid. He looked carefully and then dropped the lid. He removed the top of the rear tank and looked in; nothing out of the ordinary. Pushing his sleeve up, he lifted both the lid and the seat on the toilet and felt down into the bottom of the bowl.

"Get me a bag, would you, Greg?" Grissom said as he extracted a thin serrated knife.

Greg retrieved a bag from his kit and held it open for Grissom to delicately place the knife. He took the bag and wrote the pertinent information on the bag with his black Sharpie. Removing his wet gloves, Grissom got to his feet and was dizzy for a moment, reaching out for the wall with his fist, so as not to compromise the scene.

"Shall we head to the bedroom?" Greg asked, trying to keep Grissom focused.

"Yes, we're all set in here. Let's try to see what else we can find." Grissom said, following Greg into the bedroom.

Grissom regloved and stood just inside the room. The body had been removed, so they started on the bed. Greg removed his black light unit from his kit as Grissom put on his lab glasses. Greg grabbed his lab glasses as well and started to examine the bed from the head down. On each layer of fabric, they found DNA evidence. They got to the mattress cover and Greg looked at Grissom, who stood with his eyes closed.

"Grissom?" Greg asked, nervously.

Grissom opened his eyes and sank to his knees to look under the bed and found some clothing. He pulled it all out.

"Well, this is interesting. A man's shirt, a woman's skirt and blouse. Have we found her undergarments?" Grissom asked as he bagged the evidence.

"No, none present." Greg replied.

"So the killer took her bra and panties. What about shoes? What kind of shoes was she wearing?" Grissom asked, rocking back on his heels.

"There are no shoes at all in the hotel room." Greg replied.

"Getting weirder every minute. Okay, have we missed anything? We printed the doors, light switches, etc.?" Grissom asked looking around the room, feeling that he missed something.

"Brass said he would check room charges. Otherwise we've done everything else." Greg assured him.

"Okay let's get back to the lab." Grissom said, standing slowly.

He walked to his kit and pulled off his gloves and booties. Securing his kit, he took half of the evidence bags and headed for his car. Greg followed quickly behind taking the other bags himself.

Grissom glanced at his dash board and noted the time; nine-thirty. Don't dwell on it. Just do your job. Sara comes back tomorrowhe thought. He turned on the car and smiled as Comfortably Numb played over the speakers. He drove carefully, arriving ten minutes after Greg. Pulling the evidence bags from the car, he headed into the lab to log them in.

Greg looked at his supervisor as he walked down the hallway and decided to take a chance.

"Grissom? Why don't you rest while I enter this evidence? It'll take an hour and it'll be good practice for me." Greg asked.

Grissom looked at him and thought about what he had said. "Thanks, Greg. If you don't see me in an hour, come grab me," handing the bags to the younger man.

"No sweat," Greg said, turning his attention to the bags in front of him.

Grissom walked to his office and kicked off his shoes before stretching out on the black leather couch. He was asleep very quickly.

10:00 am

The door to the office opened and a man walked in.

"Well, I see the king has fallen." Conrad Ecklie said, standing at the foot of the couch.

Grissom opened his eyes and squinted at his watch. He sat up and put on his glasses, sliding his feet into his loafers.

"Morning, Conrad, here to apologize for Tom?" Grissom said, standing slowly.

Ecklie knitted his eyebrows and Grissom knew he had no idea what had happened.

"Tom left work at four this morning without notice and without finishing his assignment. He was the senior man and he was lazy and rude." Grissom explained, tucking in his shirt as he walked out of his office to find Greg.

Ecklie stood in Grissom's office for a moment before running after him. Grissom heard the footfalls behind him and turned into Ecklie's fist. He fell backwards, his head hitting the floor with a crack. He rolled to his side and rotated his jaw, tasting the blood that came from his split lip. Grissom stood, his hands easily at his sides. Ecklie came at him again, but Grissom danced out of the way. The two men stood facing each other in the main hallway. Any of the labs that didn't have their blinds down we now viewing rooms to this battle. Ecklie stepped in and hit Grissom again, sending his glasses flying as he fell across the row of chairs against the wall. Grissom lost his temper and charged Ecklie. He backed into the door of the break room where Grissom had him cornered. Grissom slugged Ecklie with a left to the body and a right to the face. Ecklie fell to the floor unconscious.

Grissom wiped the blood from his lip and weaved to the receptionist desk.

"Grissom, are you all right?" Judy asked, standing.

"I will be. Would you call the sheriff and tell him what you saw?" Grissom asked, leaning on the counter, his hand to his lip.

"Of course." Judy said, sitting down to make the call.

"Thanks, oh, do you know where Greg is?" Grissom asked, heading down the hallway.

"I think he's in Lab 3," Judy replied.

"Thanks," Grissom said, continuing to walk that way.

Grissom walked into the lab and sat down on a stool. Greg looked up and ran out of the room. Moments later he returned with a refreezable ice pack and a paper towel.

"Don't drip on my evidence." Greg said, dryly, handing the supplies to him.

"Wouldn't think of it. How's it going?" Grissom asked as his phone went off.

"No surprises," Greg replied.

"Grissom," he answered, wiping the blood from his lip.

"It's Brass, what happened?"

"News travels fast. Ecklie attacked me in the hallway." Grissom explained carefully.

"You okay?" Brass asked.

"Black eye, split lip, cosmetic." Grissom commented, holding the ice pack to his eye.

"What did you do to him?" Brass asked cautiously.

"I hit him twice, once in the body and once in the face. I'm a better boxer, though; he went down like a rock." Grissom said with a smile.

"I'm on my way over," Brass said.

"Suit yourself. Greg and I are in Lab 3." Grissom said, shifting his ice pack.

"See you soon, bye." Brass said.

"Right, bye." Grissom replied closing his phone.

"One more phone call, Greg and I swear, I'll be right with you." Grissom said speed-dialing a number.

"You're here, if I have a question. That's all that matters." Greg said, resuming his work.

"Willows," the voice answered.

"Hi, it's Gil. I wanted to give you a head's up that you're about to be made day shift supervisor. I think Ecklie earned himself a two week vacation." Grissom said, trying to sound casual.

"Really? What did he do?" Catherine asked.

"He attacked me in the hallway, physically." Grissom said, his voice showing his fatigue.

"Oh my God, are you okay?" Catherine asked, concerned.

"I'll be fine," Grissom said hearing another call come in on her phone. "That would be the sheriff. I'll see you later."

"Grissom, have you gone home yet?" Catherine asked softly.

"No, I'll explain when I see you. Bye." Grissom said.

"Take care, bye." Catherine replied, closing her phone.

Grissom closed his phone and put it in his pocket. There was a knock on the door and Judy brought in his glasses.

"Thanks, Judy." Grissom said, putting them in his shirt pocket.

"You're welcome, oh, and Sofia called in; still sick. Nice mouse!" she observed, leaving the lab room.

Grissom sighed and looked at Greg's laid out evidence. He stood quietly, holding the icepack to his eye, and observed the table. He walked silently, not touching anything, just looking. Finally Greg couldn't take it, any more.

"What's wrong?" Greg asked, standing as well.

"There's something missing. I can't see it." Grissom said, looking carefully, again.

"Let's talk it out, then. Maybe it'll become clear." Greg suggested.

"All right, go ahead," Grissom said, leaning against the wall.

"Sally Ann Rodgers arrives in Las Vegas for a week of shows and a little gambling. She meets someone, he comes back with her to her hotel room, kills her in the shower, robs her and leaves." Greg said slowly.

"Where's her car? Did she rent one or did she use taxis? Where is her hotel key? Where did he get the murder weapon? Were there any receipts in her purse?" Grissom asked, rubbing his beard in thought.

"No, just a chip from each of the five different casinos; like a souvenir." Greg replied.

"DNA and prints at the lab?" Grissom asked.

"Yes, I took them and the photos over first." Greg said.

"Let's take a walk," Grissom said, pushing off from the wall.

"If I may suggest, why don't you change your shirt and I'll make us some real coffee." Greg said, seriously.

"Sounds good, meet you in the break room." Grissom replied, walking to the door.

He reached for the handle as the door opened and Brass walked in. He stood and looked at Grissom's swollen, blackening eye, the blood on his shirt, and his swollen lip.

"Come on, I have to take photographs for the record." Brass said, walking back into the hallway.

"I have a camera in my office." Grissom said.

"I brought mine. Gil, we need to do this in the locker room. Judy said you really got hit." Brass said softly.

"You have eight minutes, Grissom. The coffee will be ready then." Greg said, slipping out between the two men.

Grissom shut the lab door and followed Brass into the locker room. It was empty, but Grissom was uncomfortable anyway. He took his glasses out of his pocket and put them on the bench along with the ice pack. He opened his locker and pulled out a clean shirt, placing it next to his glasses. Finally he unbuttoned his shirt.

"Come on, Gil. Take the shirt off and turn around please." Brass said, softly.

Grissom's face darkened as he shrugged the shirt off to the floor and turned around. The bruises from landing on the metal chairs were beginning to show, although difficult to see due to the old scars on Grissom's back. Brass took several photographs. He noticed something in the nape of Grissom's neck and reached up. The blood was dry. Brass continued to feel Grissom's scalp carefully and found the lump as he hitched his breath.

"Sorry, you really hit something hard." Brass said, taking a quick photo.

"Yeah," Grissom replied turning to face him.

The bruising extended to his ribs. Brass took more photographs. He took close-ups of Grissom's face and hands.

"Where did a science geek like you learn to box?" Brass asked, checking the digital photos.

"As an undergrad at UCLA, I was interested in blood spatter, so I would go to the local boxing gym. I met Roosevelt T. Brown, and while I taught him to read, he taught me to box. It turned out that we were both pretty good." Grissom said, reminiscing.

Grissom walked to the sink and washed his hands and face before taking the fresh shirt from Brass.

"Thanks," Grissom said, buttoning it slowly.

"You're welcome. I guess I knew this was coming with Ecklie, but I never thought he had the balls." Brass said chuckling.

"He didn't know what Tom had done. He was just coming into my office to taunt me for sleeping. I called him on Tom and he was stunned. He lost it after that." Grissom explained.

Grissom's pager went off and he smiled.

"My coffee is ready. Care to walk with me to the break room?" Grissom asked.

"Sure, I'll play body guard, although apparently, you don't need one. Ecklie was recovering in there when I walked in." Brass said, leaning over to pick up Grissom's bloody shirt, handing it to him.

Grissom hung it in his locker, in case it was needed for evidence, picked up his glasses and ice pack and followed Brass into the hallway. Brass walked into the break room first and stood between Ecklie and Grissom. Grissom ignored Ecklie, heading straight for the freezer and put the room temperature ice pack in the door. He walked up to Greg and received his mug of coffee. Grissom turned around and leaned against the counter, feeling the warmth of the coffee against his sore hands. He sipped his coffee and looked over at Ecklie. Not surprisingly, Tom was administering to him. It seemed Grissom had done some serious damage to the cartilage in Ecklie's nose. Grissom turned around, picked up another mug, poured it full of coffee, handed it to Brass and left the break room. Greg and Brass followed silently.

Grissom stopped in the hallway and turned to the other men.

"Are you handling the Rogers case?" Grissom asked out of the blue.

"I will never know how you do that. Yes, Vega handed it to me." Brass said, sipping coffee.

"Greg, would you continue to the DNA lab and follow up? I want to go over our theory with Brass." Grissom asked.

"Sure, and I'll check on the prints, as well." Greg said.

"Thanks," Grissom said turning to walk to Lab 3.

Brass followed, an amused look on his face. He walked into the lab room and sat on a stool in the corner, sipping his coffee and waiting for Grissom to begin.

"At first it seemed as it was a simple robbery murder, but now I'm not so sure. The victim arrived six days ago. She went to five shows and five casinos. The entire contents of her purse is missing except five chips and five ticket receipts. She was found naked on the bed, but was killed in the shower. Her undergarments and shoes are missing. The alleged murder weapon was wedged in the toilet bowl." Grissom was pacing now, pausing occasionally.

Grissom stopped and put a hand to his temple as the headache that had been shadowing him for the past day started to get stronger. Brass watched him, picking the right moment to shed light on the case.

"She's the third one," Brass said softly.

"What?" Grissom asked, turning to look at him.

"The other two were on day shift." Brass said, watching Grissom's face.

The normally unflappable Grissom was livid at the realization that not only was he facing a serial killer, but that Ecklie had been well aware of it when he attacked him. Grissom put down his coffee on a side table as he started to shake and hyperventilate. Brass quickly walked up to him and pushed him down in a chair.

"Easy, Gil. Easy, you have to relax. Too much coffee and too little sleep. You're okay. Breathe with me, that's it." Brass said, crouching in front of Grissom, his hands firmly on his shoulders.

Grissom reached up and grabbed Brass's biceps, holding them with white knuckles. He listened to his breath as it started to even out, eventually becoming normal. He released Brass's arms and sat back in the chair, leaning his head gently against the wall. Brass stood up and sat in the chair next to him.

The door opened and Greg walked in with a smile that left when he saw Grissom's face. He walked in and sat next to the two men.

"I have a lot to tell you," Greg said, softly.

Grissom opened his eyes, pulled off his glasses, and dragged his forearm across his face carefully before putting his glasses back on and looking at the younger man.

"Tell me," Grissom urged.

"We got a hit on the DNA, Samuel Jenkins age forty-two." Greg started.

Grissom stood and walked to the table, looking at the evidence. His mind went back to the crime scene.

"He's six feet, one-sixty, dark hair, small boned, almost effeminate features." Grissom murmured.

Greg held up the photo and ID information to Brass, incredulous. Grissom was exactly right.

"When he was twenty, he held up a convenience store-" Greg started.

"But something went wrong and he raped and killed the clerk." Grissom interrupted.

"Uh, yeah, right. At the hotel, the prints were his and hers, the blood in both places matches the vic." Greg finished.

"Brass, we need the other files. Greg, this is a serial; the third murder." Grissom said, turning to look at him.

"All right, what do I need to do?" Greg asked, standing.

"Due to Ecklie's outburst, I can't exactly ask him for the other forensic files." Grissom said, pinching the bridge of his nose.

"No, but I can." Brass said, standing, finally.

"We'll be right here." Grissom said, turning his attention back to the table.

"All right." Brass said, leaving the room.

12:00 pm

Grissom and Greg had organized the evidence while waiting for the other two folders to arrive. Greg's stomach growled in protest and Grissom smiled.

"Why don't you get some lunch?" Grissom said, noting the time.

"Great, what can I get for you?" Greg asked.

"I have food from yesterday in the fridge." Grissom replied, studying the photos.

"Grissom, I'm going to get you food. Is there anything you don't eat?" Greg asked, standing at the door.

"Tofu, Sara keeps telling me it's food, but the texture really bothers me." Grissom said, grinning over at him.

Greg grinned back. "Got it, I know just what to get you. Be back soon. Don't get in any more fist fights til I get back!" he teased, missing the look that Grissom shot him.

Grissom settled into a chair and fell asleep waiting for Brass or Greg, whoever showed up first.

"Gil?" the voice inquired.

Grissom opened his left eye, realizing that his right eye was half swollen shut. He sat up and rubbed his beard before saying anything.

"Hi Cath,"

"I understand that you were exercising your right not to fight. You are learning the wiles of the political circle." She grinned as she sat next to him.

"Not enough to save me from a black eye, split lip, and crack on the head." Grissom smiled back.

She reached out to touch his jaw, feeling his beard.

"How do you feel?" Catherine asked softly, her face full of concern.

"Tired, headache, and hungry but Greg is taking care of the latter." Grissom said.

"Well Nick, Warrick and I are here, now. Why don't you eat and then go home until your shift?" Catherine suggested.

"I can't," Grissom said, explaining about Tom, Sofia, and the serial.

"Wow, well, at least try to lie down for a bit." She suggested.

Grissom's pager went off. Greg.

"That's Greg," Grissom said, standing.

He picked up his coffee mug and headed to the break room. Thankfully, Ecklie was no longer there, although bloody paper towels spilled onto the floor by the garbage can as evidence.

"Chicken burrito with beans," Greg announced placing the container in front of Grissom.

"Thanks, Greg, how much do I owe you?" Grissom asked, looking at him briefly.

"The department paid for it, Gil." A deep voice came from behind him.

"Good afternoon, Sheriff," Grissom said, sitting at the table and barely looking up. "You'll have to excuse my manners but I haven't eaten very much recently."

Greg sat down next to him protectively and started to eat his breakfast burrito. Catherine reached into her pocket and pulled out a small bottle of Aleve, setting it in front of Grissom.

"I have to go rally the troops. You'll remember what we talked about?" Catherine asked.

"Yes, Cath, thanks," Grissom said, wiping his beard of hot sauce with a paper napkin.

She touched his shoulder and left the room. Rory Atwater walked to the table and sat down opposite Grissom. He stared at Greg, who ignored him.

"Gil, we need to talk,"

"I'm listening, Rory," Grissom replied. "Greg is my partner on this. He hasn't slept in the last twenty-four hours and won't for another. He stays."

Greg looked at the sheriff and narrowed his eyes before taking a mouthful of his breakfast burrito.

"Fine, Ecklie is suspended for two weeks pending a hearing. Catherine will handle days." Atwater said

"Give her a temporary raise in salary, too," Grissom suggested.

"What about tonight? CSI Sidle is still on vacation? I understand there was also a problem with one of the men from the day shift?" Rory inquired, ignoring Grissom's input.

"Tom Buckley left the job without permission and without finishing his assignment. So yeah, I'm shorthanded, but we'll deal." Grissom said, getting angry all over again about it.

"Where's Sofia?" Rory asked.

"Food poisoning; she had to go to the hospital it was so bad." Grissom noted.

Grissom's pager went off; Doc.

"I'm sorry, Rory, Greg and I have to go sit in on an autopsy." Grissom said, wrapping the other half of his burrito and placing it in the fridge.

Greg came up behind him and did the same thing. Rory stood and pulled Grissom aside.

"Glad to see you're all right." He said, looking directly into Grissom's battered face.

"I'm fine. If you see Brass, tell him where we are?" Grissom asked, smiling as if needing to prove himself.

"I will," Rory promised, nodding his head.

Grissom and Greg headed down to the morgue. They put on their gowns and gloves, but just before entering the exam room, Grissom turned to the younger man.

"You okay with this? I mean, you just ate." Grissom asked.

"There's always your first time," Greg quipped as he walked through the swing doors.

"Mr. Marciano, I believe," Doc Robbins joked as he saw Grissom's face.

"That would be Dr. Marciano, to you," Greg pointed out, with a grin.

"I stand corrected, seriously though, are you okay?" Doc Robbins asked.

"Just let me get to eight o'clock on Thursday morning and I will be fine." Grissom replied walking to the table.

Doc and Greg followed, Greg standing right next to Grissom. Doc pulled back the sheet and Greg made a small noise before running out of the room to throw up.

"Well, that was fast." Doc commented.

"We just had lunch; burritos," Grissom replied, staring absently at the body. "Talk to me Doc, what do you see?"

"Well, I know a little more than you do, really, fifty-four year old female, cause of death, puncture wound to the heart. Death was instantaneous, or close enough. Weapon was some sort of a thin serrated knife." Doc reported.

"Yeah, we recovered it at the scene." Grissom said, chewing on his lip, his hands resting on the table.

"What is it, Gil?" Doc asked, stepping back from the body.

"Evidence of sexual assault?" Grissom asked.

"There was sexual activity. No clear indication of rape. I took a swab and sent it to tox." Doc said, looking at him.

Grissom turned his dark blue eyes to his friend across the table. "You've seen two other women that Brass says fit the same pattern. That was the feeling I got from the woman. This is a serial. I need to see the other women." Grissom said softly.

"What other women?" Doc looked at him, confused.

"They were from day shift," Grissom said, knitting his eyebrows at Doc's confusion.

"This is the first I'm hearing about this, Gil. Let's take a look at the log." Doc said, pulling the sheet back over the victim before heading to his office.

Grissom followed, pulling off his gloves and gown as they left the exam room. Greg was standing in the hallway, still looking green.

"Can you get the files from Brass and lay them out in Lab 3? I'll be up in ten minutes." Grissom said.

"Grissom, I'm sorry," Greg started.

"Greg, don't worry about it. I did the same thing, too; several times in fact." Grissom replied, letting him off the hook.

Greg smiled and turned to walk up the stairs.

"Will wonders never cease? The man with perfect control loses it in the morgue." Doc teased.

"I didn't; I made it up to make him feel better," Grissom said, reaching up again to ease the pressure in his head.

Doc looked at him and started across the hall to his office. He motioned for Grissom to sit in a comfortable chair and settled himself in front of the computer.

"Day shift, women, killed with a single stab wound to the heart." Doc started.

"No, look for women in their late forties, early fifties, killed with a knife, unsolved," Grissom corrected.

"Let me see. Here's one and uhm here's the other. Let me print the reports for you." Doc said, turning around to look at Grissom.

"Let me guess, the CSI in charge was Tom Buckley." Grissom said, his head in his hands.

"Right again, do you want some aspirin?" Doc asked.

"Please, I was interrupted during lunch when I was going to take some." Grissom said.

Doc reached to the side of his computer and retrieved a large bottle of Aleve. He shook it until Grissom looked at him with a tired smile and took the bottle. Doc stood up and got a cup of water from the bubbler in the corner and brought it back to him. Grissom tossed three Aleve into his mouth and washed them down with the water. Grimacing slightly, he stood, handing the bottle back to Doc.

"Thanks, Al, see you later." Grissom said, picking up the reports from the printer on his way out of the office.

"See you, Gil." Doc said, sitting down to his desk, rubbing his beard in thought.

Grissom walked to Lab 3 and found Greg poring over the photos. He sat on a stool and made some room for Doc Robbins' reports.

"What do you have there?" Greg asked.

"These are the autopsy results on the first two victims. Greg, this is getting weirder and weirder." Grissom said, pulling off his glasses.

"How so?" Greg asked.

"Tom Buckley was the lead CSI on both previous cases." Grissom replied.

"Whoa," Greg exclaimed.

"Yeah, exactly, hang on for a minute." Grissom said, walking to the phone on the wall. "Catherine? Can you gather your troops and meet Greg and me in Lab 3? I think this requires a full out assault."

A short time later, Nick, Warrick, and Catherine walked in to the room, and surrounded the table.

"Ouch," Nick exclaimed, seeing Grissom's eye.

"Thanks, Nick. Look I'm just going to lay it on the line, here. We found out earlier today that there is a serial killer that was either overlooked by days or purposely hidden from the rest of the lab. Interestingly, it was Brass who put it together. Greg, talk us through the first two victims." Grissom said, sitting on a stool at the end of the table.

Greg looked at the other senior staff around him, took a deep breath and started, reading from the file.

"The first victim, Leslie James, forty-nine, cause of death, puncture wound to the liver; she bled out pretty quickly. According to the evidence file, the victim had been placed on the bed after death. All of the contents of her purse, and her underwear were missing." Greg started.

"Wait, just the underwear?" Grissom asked, looking up at him.

"Yes," Greg said, returning his look.

"All right, continue," Grissom said, taking notes, resting his head on the meat of his left hand.

"The second victim, Katherine Morgan, fifty, cause of death, puncture wound to the kidneys. Again the victim had been placed on the bed after death. The contents of her purse, her underwear and bra were missing." Greg added.

"He's adding things to his kit," Nick observed.

"He's getting more violent." Warrick said.

"Wait, what did you say?" Grissom asked looking at him.

"Well, the first victim, Leslie James, single puncture wound to the liver. The second victim, Katherine Morgan, multiple stab wounds to the kidneys." Warrick explained.

"Continue," Grissom instructed Greg.

"The third victim, Sally Ann Rogers, fifty-four, cause of death, single puncture wound to the heart. Missing effects were the contents of the purse, bra, underwear, and shoes." Greg finished.

"Was there any evidence of sexual assault?" Catherine asked.

"Sexual activity, yes; but no clear evidence of assault. That being said, Doc took a swab and sent it to tox." Grissom said.

"You have a suspect?" Warrick asked.

"Samuel Jenkins, age forty two." Greg replied, handing him the tear sheet.

"He fits the profile." Warrick said, handing the paper to Nick.

"Wait, was the third vic the only one with DNA?" Nick asked.

Greg searched through the files and a moment later said, "Yes, only Grissom and my vic had DNA."

Nick looked at Warrick and then at Catherine.

"No way, who was the CSI in charge?" Nick asked.

"Tom Buckley," Grissom replied softly.

"Geez, might have known. Lazy son of a bitch! I worked with him once, I mean I did all of the work with him once." Nick said, correcting himself.

"Both cases were Tom Buckley?" Catherine asked quietly.

"The first two cases were Tom Buckley," Grissom clarified.

"Nick, there have been no vehicles at these crime scenes. The victim's hotels are far from the strip; an expensive cab ride." Grissom suggested.

"I'm on it," Nick said, leaving the room for a computer terminal.

"Warrick, you and I are going back to the other crime scenes and reprocess them." Catherine said.

"You got that right," Warrick answered.

"Greg, you and I need to get inside this guy. We need to find the pattern." Grissom said, staring again at the table.

"You need to sleep, both of you. It's two, go home and be back for your shift." Catherine commanded.

Greg looked at Grissom, who shrugged his shoulders.

"I'll see you at ten, Greg." Grissom said, picking up his glasses and leaving the room.

"Thanks, Catherine." Greg said, standing.

"For what?"

"For ordering him to bed. I thought I'd have to slip him a mickey!" Greg said smiling.

"You're welcome." Catherine said.

Greg left the room and Catherine looked at Warrick.

"This is a mess." Warrick stated, shaking his head.

"Yes, it is. Let's organize these files and head out." Catherine suggested.

Grissom walked to his office and closed the door behind him. His head hurt, but it wasn't a migraine. He could barely see out of his right eye. Reaching out to his CD player he turned it on, set it for continuous play and lay down on the couch. He was asleep in minutes.

"Isn't that Grissom's car?" Warrick pointed out as he walked across the employees' lot.

"Yeah, give me a minute. I'll meet you at the main entrance." Catherine said, putting the file in his Tahoe before sprinting back to the lab.

As she neared Grissom's office, she heard the cello music. She opened the door and saw Grissom asleep on the couch. Smiling, she shut the door and walked down to see Judy.

"Hi, Catherine!" Judy said brightly.

"Hi, Judy. Listen, Grissom's asleep in his office. Unless it's me, Brass, Doc, or God, please hold all calls for him, okay?." Catherine asked.

"Oh, okay. Thanks for telling me." Judy said, making a note on her signout sheet.

Catherine turned her head to try to read the note.

"DND?" she asked, shaking her head.

"Sorry, receptionist short hand, Do Not Disturb." Judy explained.

"Ah, got it," Catherine said, walking out the front door to the waiting Tahoe.

6:00 pm

Grissom's cell phone was ringing and on the tenth ring, he finally woke up enough to find it.

"Uhm, Grissom," he answered.

"You're not sure?" Brass asked, chuckling.

"Sorry, I was sleeping. What's up?" he said, trying to unclog his brain.

"We have another victim." Brass said, giving him the address.

"Okay, let me call Catherine and I'll be on my way." Grissom replied.

"Catherine?" Brass asked.

"Yeah, I'll explain when I see you." Grissom said.

"See ya," Brass said.

"Bye," Grissom replied.

Grissom sat up and cracked his neck. He turned off the CD player and went in search of Nick. Five minutes later he found him deeply engrossed in a computer printout.

"Nick, we have another one." Grissom said.

"What? Oh, uhm, okay," Nick said, saving his screen before following Grissom.

"You drive, but I need to stop by my car to get my kit." Grissom instructed.

"You got it," Nick replied, nodding in confirmation.

Grissom collected his kit, gave Nick the directions, and called Catherine.

"Willows," she answered.

"Hi, it's Gil. There's been another murder. Nick and I are on the way. Would you meet us at the Aeschylus Hotel on Grand?" Grissom asked.

"We'll be there in twenty minutes." Catherine replied, closing her phone.

Nick drove in silence, looking occasionally at Grissom. He must be exhausted, he thought. Then to have a fist fight with Ecklie and his next case be a serial killer. What more can happen? Another db with bugs??

"Here we are," Nick said, as he pulled into the parking lot.

Grissom got out of the car and grabbed his kit, searching for Brass.

"Up here, Gil," Brass yelled down.

Grissom looked up and saw Brass on the fifth floor, no elevator, and started to walk. Nick knew better than to offer to help him. By the time they reached Brass, Grissom's face was slick with sweat.

"Nick, can you give us a minute?" Brass asked.

"Sure, Brass," Nick said, entering the crime scene.

"He's getting higher." Grissom commented, putting down his kit.

"What?" Brass asked.

"The last victim was on the fourth floor. He's playing a game." Grissom murmured, biting his cheek in thought.

"You said something about Catherine?" Jim pressed.

"Yeah, she's day shift supervisor until this whole thing is cleared so we're back to two shifts as soon as we get our personnel back." Grissom said, distracted.

Grissom returned his attention to the hotel room's open door.

"Gil, he's escalating. It's pretty bad in there." Brass said, putting a hand on his friend's arm.

"Shit," Grissom muttered, picking up his kit to walk into the room.

The smell hit him immediately and he started to breathe through his mouth, the copper taste invading his senses. He took out his flashlight and looked for Nick. He found him standing over the body, not moving.

"Nick? Nicky? Go talk to the front desk, get all of her information. Go on," Grissom instructed, putting a hand on his shoulder.

Nick walked to the door, picked up his kit and left the scene. Grissom walked to the front door and closed it with his shoulder before gloving up and trying to picture the room as the killer had seen it. He walked to the bathroom where the body was splayed on the floor. He winced at the obvious violence and continued to observe.

"Where is he?" Catherine asked, wheezing slightly from the stairs.

"He's in there, alone." Brass said, gesturing with his head.

"Where's Nick?" Warrick asked.

"He had trouble. Grissom sent him to talk to the front desk."

Warrick and Catherine looked at each other and walked into the crime scene. Grissom was standing in the doorway of the bathroom, stock still. He didn't seem to notice their arrival. Catherine cleared her throat and he began to speak.

"He's getting bolder, this is his hotel room not hers. He brought her back, they had some dinner. But something happened. What happened? Sex was not consensual nor was it in the bed. She's younger than the others, she fought back, maybe she yelled. He didn't take his prizes this time. Warrick, check the outside, this much blood here, there has to be evidence somewhere else." Grissom said quietly.

"I'm on it," Warrick replied, taking his kit outside.

"Where do you want to start?" Catherine asked, walking up to stand next to him.

"I'd like to start at the door and follow his movements." Grissom said as the door opened again.

"Hi, David, I'm afraid you can't move her for a while." Grissom said.

"Mind if I get a liver temp?" David asked, still at the doorway.

"Well, you can at least try," Grissom replied, sarcastically.

David walked to the doorway and gasped at the blood in the room. Grissom was right. She had been filleted; all of her organs were room temperature almost immediately, it was pointless.

"Well, she'd dead," David announced, standing n the doorway.

"Yes, check for rigor, that's going to be the closest we'll come to time of death." Grissom advised.

"Right," David replied.

David put on his gloves and reached for her hand. He jumped backwards.

"Grissom, she's still warm." David said, looking at him quickly.

Grissom walked to the front door and opened it. Brass walked up to him immediately.

"Less than two hours. This guy may still be around. Be careful," he whispered to Brass.

"Thanks," Brass said, pulling his men together.

Grissom reentered the hotel room and regloved. Methodically and painstakingly, they processed the room. Finally they walked out, looking grim and tired.

Grissom looked up at the fairly fresh faces of Nick and Warrick.

"Tell me you have something," Grissom asked, squaring his shoulders to ease his back.

"We have a confirmation on Samuel Jenkins. Positive ID from the clerk. Brass has an APB out on him and his car." Nick grinned.

"Good job, you guys. We have a ton of evidence to process. Let's go to the lab." Grissom said, heading for the stairs.

9:30 pm

Grissom walked into his office and sat down in his chair.

"Have you seen Grissom?" Greg asked Warrick and Nick after catching up with them about the serial case.

"Haven't seen him in half an hour. Probably in his office." Nick replied.

"Thanks," Greg said heading for the end of the hallway.

Greg knocked on the door and walked in without approval. Grissom was asleep, his head neatly resting on his folded arms. Greg retreated, shutting the door, to find Catherine in her office.

"Hi, Catherine, uhm, Grissom's asleep in his office, what can I do to help you?" Greg asked, walking into her office.

"Hi, Greg, well you're the fresh eyes on this. You tell me. What are the similarities?" Catherine asked, from her desk.

"Or differences?" Grissom asked, standing in the doorway of her office.

"I thought you were asleep?" Catherine asked.

"I was, but now I'm awake. How is Brass doing?" Grissom asked, walking in to sit in one of the leather chairs.

"No word yet," Catherine replied, noticing his black eye and the deep dark circles wrought from fatigue.

"Well if our guy sticks with his schedule, we should have another body in five hours or so." Grissom remarked.

"I'm making some good coffee, you guys want some?" Greg asked.

"Thanks, that would be great," Grissom replied.

Greg left the office and Catherine stood up to walk up to Grissom. He stood slowly and faced her. She reached her arms around his waist and embraced him. Grissom responded, simply needing some comfort, some strength, some contact. He straightened and looked at her. Catherine reached up and brushed away the tears from his eyes.

"I promised her, you know? I promised Sara that I would look out for you." Catherine said.

"You are in so much trouble!" Grissom said, with a small smile.

They walked out into the hallway and then to the break room to wait for their coffee. Suddenly, all of their pagers went off; Brass was bringing in Jenkins. Grissom smiled, but his blue eyes were very dark indeed. Nick and Warrick entered the break room.

"Is that right? Brass got him?" Nick asked.

"Seems so," Grissom said, watching the coffee process through the machine.

"Good deal," Nick said, sitting at the table.

"How are you doing with the processing?" Grissom asked, over his shoulder.

"You're right. We found trace DNA at the previous victim's scenes. With this latest vic, our guy was really sloppy. DNA all over the place." Warrick answered, sitting at the end of the table.

"Then there's the blood traces from his room to where we believe his car was parked." Nick said.

"He wanted to be caught." Grissom murmured, the corner of his mouth twitching.

"Seems that way," Warrick replied.

"What's wrong?" Catherine asked, from her seat opposite Warrick.

"He's not done. He's changing the rules." Grissom said, starting to pace to release his nervous energy.

"What do you mean?" Catherine asked.

Their pagers went off and Grissom looked at his. He reached to the coffee machine and poured himself a cup before leaving the room.

The entire CSI team arrived en mass at the police department. Meeting Brass in the hallway, they received their marching orders.

"Nick, you and Grissom are in the room. Warrick, you and Catherine in observation." Brass said.

"But," Catherine sputtered.

"No, no exceptions," Brass said, holding up his hand.

Samuel Jenkins sat at the table while a uniformed officer stood in the corner. Brass, Nick and Grissom walked in. Grissom stood leaning against a wall, observing. Nick sat at the table and Brass paced.

"Mr. Jenkins, you've been busy." Brass began.

Jenkins looked at Grissom and their eyes locked.

"You caught me," Jenkins said, looking at Grissom.

"No, you let us catch you." Grissom replied, the muscles in his jaw starting to jump.

"I have three more to go," Jenkins taunted.

"Perfect seven? We have enough evidence for four counts of homicide, Mr. Jenkins. I'm afraid you're not going to roll a seven this time." Brass said.

"I have a question," Grissom asked. "What angered you about Connie Blake last night? What set you off?"

"She was a guy." Jenkins said, disgustedly.

Grissom looked at this man and it all made sense. What could be more insulting than setting up a woman to rape and murder only to find out she's a transsexual?Grissom smirked and started to walk out of the room.

"You think this is funny?" Jenkins screamed, standing, threatening Grissom.

"No, but how wonderful for a man who wants to be a woman to achieve total recognition, albeit from a sick son of a bitch like you." Grissom replied, walking out of the room.

Nick stood quickly and followed Grissom into the hallway. Grissom stood against the wall, his head tilted back, eyes shut, hands in his pockets. Catherine and Warrick walked out into the hall and stood next to them.

"Why didn't you want me to be in the room?" Catherine asked, hands on her hips.

"Because you fit the profile of the next victim," Greg answered, walking up to the group. "We found his car, the personnel effects, everything.

Grissom opened his eyes and looked at his protg.

"Great, I'm going home. Good night, guys. Good work," Grissom announced, too tired to look at his watch.

"Good night, Grissom," they said individually.

Thursday 2:00 am

He walked back to his office to make sure he hadn't left anything behind and then went to his car. Sara wasn't due back until that evening, he had plenty of time to sleep and go to the supermarket. Getting into his Denali, he drove home.

Following his usual route, he drove down Bingham Street and suddenly realized that one of the houses was on fire. Grissom parked his car and jumped out. Running across the street he ran up to the people huddled on the lawn.

"Is there anyone in the house?" he asked them, the adrenaline fueling him.

"Abuelita," a woman screamed.

"Your grandmother? Where is she?" He shouted.

"Second floor, back room," a small boy in a New York Yankees t-shirt answered in English.

"Call, 911," Grissom ordered, tossing the kid his cell phone.

Without a thought, he ran into the dark building. He pulled his flashlight out and brought his sleeve up to his face to fight the smoke. The staircase was straight ahead. He reached the second floor and crouched as he made his way to the back room. He felt the door and it was cool. Grissom opened the door and yelled.

"Abuelita, Abuelita,"

He thought he saw movement in the right corner and went that direction. He found a heavyset woman lying on her side, still alive. Grissom crouched and put her on his back, summoning all of his reserves. He walked down the hallway to the stairs and finally out onto the lawn. Gently, he laid her on the grass. Standing, he started to cough until he heard a child scream. Grissom looked up to the house and saw a boy in a bright yellow shirt in the third floor front window. Again, Grissom ran into the burning building. The smoke had thickened and the heat had become worse. Pulling at the railing, he hauled himself to the third floor and headed for the front room to rescue the boy. He felt the door and it was warm. Taking a cautious breath, he reached his left hand to the door handle and opened the door, screaming against the pain from his burning flesh on the handle. Dropping to his hands and knees, Grissom went over every inch of the floor, finally locating the young boy curled up under a desk. He removed his Forensics windbreaker and wrapped the boy in it, slinging him over his shoulder as he hurried to get to the staircase. He felt the heat of the fire, flames lapping at his bare arms, and the smoke in his lungs, but all he could think of was getting out of the building with the child.

The fire trucks pulled up and the captain jumped out.

"See to that woman," He shouted pointing to an older woman on the lawn. "Is there anyone in the house?"

"Marito," a woman answered, crying uncontrollably.

The captain picked up his walkie talkie to instruct his men.

"There is a young boy in the house," he instructed.

"And the man with the silver hair," a solemn boy said, his hands twisting the fabric of his t-shirt.

"What? There's a man in there?" the captain asked, kneeling to be at his height.

"Yes, he is the man who saved Abuelita. He gave me his cell phone to call you." The boy confirmed.

"Attention, we also have a male civilian, silver hair." The captain clarified, standing.

"Skipper, look," a firefighter yelled as he ran for the front door.

A man, his clothes smoking, carrying something, lurched out of the house. He handed his package to the firefighter and collapsed onto the lawn.

"Catherine, there's a suspicious fire on Bingham Street." Steven's voice came on the intercom.

"Thanks," Catherine said, picking up Warrick in the break room.

She stopped by Steven's desk to get the precise street address and headed out.

"This is near Grissom's house, isn't it?" Warrick asked as they neared the crime scene.

Catherine's stomach went sour as she noticed Grissom's Denali parked opposite the fire.

"Grissom!" She screamed, once clear of the car.

"Grissom!" she screamed again.

"Lady, who are you looking for?" a firefighter asked her, holding her shoulders.

"White male, late forties, silver hair." She replied, the tears starting to stream down her face.

"Oh, the hero; they're putting him in the ambulance, now. Desert Palm." He answered, pointing behind him.

Catherine turned and Warrick embraced her, hard.

"He'll be fine." Warrick said, trying to reassure her. "Let's call Brass." He continued, helping her to the car.

Warrick started the Tahoe and pressed speed dial four.

"Brass," the voice came through the car radio.

"It's Warrick, Grissom's been hurt in a fire...hell...I don't know...pack up Nick, Greg, and yourself and head to Desert Palm." Warrick said, concentrating on the road and Catherine.

"The house fire? He's the silver haired guy?" Brass asked, leaning against the wall.

"Yeah, seems that way." Warrick said, barely making a turn.

"Meet you there." Brass said, closing his phone.

Warrick pressed 'end' and cheated another look at Catherine. She was very still and pale, pulling her sweater up around her, smelling Grissom on the cotton.

They pulled up to the hospital and rushed to the front desk.

"We're here about Gilbert Grissom," Warrick said.

"And you are?" the nurse asked.

"We're his family." Catherine said, in a chilling monotone.

The nurse looked at Warrick with a slight squint and then her computer screen. She smiled and looked at them.

"It looks as though he has smoke inhalation, some minor burns, and one bad burn on his hand.. They'll keep him until he can breathe comfortably and then release him." The nurse said.

Catherine and Warrick turned to one another and hugged. Nick, Greg, and Brass arrived at that moment.

"He'll be okay, minor burns, smoke inhalation, and the cut on his head from his encounter with Ecklie. Should be out today." Catherine said.

The group gathered round and hugged each other in celebration.

Grissom lay in a room, semi-conscious. He had a mask forcing him to breathe almost pure oxygen, which was really knocking him around. There were second degree burns on his arms and back of his neck. In addition, his left hand was on fire. He tried to move it, but he couldn't. He was aware of people near him. but that was all.

6:00 am

Grissom woke up again, he was breathing easier, but the pain in his hand was fierce. He looked around him and recognized Catherine.

"Cath," he tried to sputter, but closed his eyes to the pain.

She reached to his right hand and squeezed it.

"Gil, you inhaled a bunch of smoke. For right now, whisper. Here's an ice chip." She said, slipping a piece of ice between his lips.

"My hand hurts," Grissom whispered.

"You burned it badly. The doctors couldn't figure it out." Catherine replied.

"Door handle," Grissom responded, wincing at the memory.

"That explains the strange burn." Catherine said, mysteriously.

"The boy?" Grissom asked, softly.

"Doctor said that you got him out just in the nick of time. He has smoke inhalation but should be home in a couple of days." Catherine said, giving his right hand a small squeeze.

"How long?" he whispered.

"The doctor said you can go home as soon as you can breathe comfortably." Catherine said.

"Want to go home now." Grissom whispered, falling back to sleep.

11:00 am

"Gil? Gil? Wake up," Brass said.

Grissom opened his eyes and looked at him.

"How do you feel?" Brass asked.

"Tired, beat up," Grissom whispered.

"Yeah, well all I care about is your breathing, right now." Brass said.

"It doesn't hurt to breathe," Grissom whispered.

"Great, I'm getting you sprung." Brass said, leaving the room.

It doesn't hurt to breathe, but my left hand hurts, along with the burns on my forearms. My eye hurts, I have a headache, it hurt to swallow, and I'm just plain tired. All I want is to go home.

11:45 am
"Let's go, buddy." Brass said, rolling in a wheel chair.

"Where are my clothes?" Grissom whispered.

"Cut off you. I snagged some scrubs to dress you in. Let's go." Brass said, helping his friend out of the hospital gown and into the scrubs.

Grissom settled back into the wheelchair, covering his eyes with his hand, as he didn't have his sunglasses. Brass got him settled in his car and started the engine, air conditioning roaring.

Brass ran the wheel chair back to an attendant and sprinted back to Grissom. He got in the car and pulled the shoulder harness over his sleeping form. Putting the car in gear, they headed to Grissom's town house.

"Gil, wake up, you're home." Brass said, shaking him slightly.

Grissom woke up enough to get up the stairs and into his townhouse. Brass got him to the guestroom bed on the first floor and pulled the sheets over him. He walked to the breakfast bar and set down the envelope of Grissom's personal effects, plus the pain medication. Sighing, he picked up the pen and wrote two notes, leaving them in plain view on the breakfast bar. Brass locked the door and pulled it shut. He desperately wanted to stay, but he had to work. No one was available to stay with Grissom.

5:00 pm

Grissom awoke to nature calling, as well as pain in his throat and hand. He walked slowly to the bathroom. Finishing, he walked into the kitchen to get a bottle of water. On the breakfast bar was a note from Brass.

 Hey, hope you slept well. These are the pain pills from the hospital. Take 
one with water. Write down when you took it. Jim 

Grissom shook out one pill and swallowed it with water. He picked up the pen and carefully wrote five o'clock. He took the bottle of water with him, but only made it as far as halfway across the living room before his world started to spin. Grissom reached for the sofa and stretched out, collapsing under the weight of his injuries.

7:00 pm

Sara drove the last four blocks to Grissom's house and was engrossed by a house that obviously had just had a fire. She pulled up to Grissom's driveway and noticed his car wasn't there. Frowning, she pulled her bag from the car and headed up the stairs.

Picking up the newspaper on the front stoop, she walked into the town house, dropping her keys into the ceramic dish and her bag on the floor; she reached for the foyer light. The living room was dark, so she turned on a table lamp and was surprised to see Grissom. He was wearing pale green scrubs; his left hand and both forearms were bandaged. His eye was blackened and he had deep circles under both eyes. She ran to him, caressing his grey curls and kissing his forehead. What the hell happened??

Sara looked around the living room for clues and saw the pills and notes on the breakfast bar. There was a note addressed to her.

Sara, so much has happened since you left. I can only say that he will be fine. 
He needs peace and quiet. Please call me when you get in so I can explain. Jim 

Sara walked into the kitchen and reached for the phone, her cell phone battery had died on the retreat.

"Brass," the voice said.

"Jim, what happened to him?" Sara asked, her voice catching slightly.

10:00 pm

I can't believe how tired he looks, Sara thought. She sat on the coffee table, occasionally touching him while he slept. I just want to hold him until he heals.

Grissom woke up to a wonderful smell and soft music. He was lying on the sofa under a cotton blanket. Slowly, he sat up, blinking quickly, as if not believing what he was seeing.

"Hi," Sara said, softly. "I understand that in addition to being a brilliant entomologist, you are a superman and a hero."

He reached his hands to her, but she reached further, to his shoulders to help him to his feet, until they were standing together.

"Missed you," he whispered, burying his head in her hair, ignoring her statement.

"I like your new sexy voice." Sara joked, holding him closely, feeling him shake as his emotions got settled. "I missed you more." She whispered seriously.

He pulled back and reached for her face, his left hand at his side; pulling her to him, he kissed her deeply. They stood just kissing in a close embrace until he felt he could release her again without losing her. She felt his grip loosen and relaxed hers to match.

"I was making some pasta." Sara murmured, pulling back to look at the circles embedded under his eyes. "Griss, you need more sleep."

Grissom just stared at her, seemingly unable to make sense out of her words, the energy he had stored while sleeping was gone. He's scaring me with this zombie behaviour, she thought.

"I'm tired, too. Let me get you settled upstairs, and I'll be up in a minute." Sara said, sliding her arm around his waist.

Grissom was beyond exhaustion, so Sara led him to the stairs. To her amazement, he climbed the circular staircase without incident and crawled into bed, falling asleep almost instantly. Sara pulled the sheets up to his waist, pushed a curl from his temple, planted a light kiss, and left him, to go and eat her dinner.

She sat at the breakfast bar and ate as quickly as she dared, feeling her own energy dissolve. She put the dishes in the sink and ran some water over them. Yawning, she picked up her overnight bag and walked upstairs. She placed her bag on the chair and stripped down to her underwear. Pulling open a drawer in one of the bureaus, she took out a t-shirt and put it on. Shutting the drawer, she walked to the bed and crawled in, immediately reaching for Grissom. He was lying on his back, his bandaged arms on top of the sheets. Sara rolled on to her side and put her left arm on his chest, kissed his shoulder and fell asleep.

Friday 3:00 am

Grissom woke up because he was too hot. He sat up in bed, realizing that he was wearing scrubs. He pulled the top off, wincing when the fabric slipped by the lump on his head and then his eye. Standing slowly, he walked to the bureau and pulled out a clean pair of shorts. He stripped out of the pants and put on the shorts. Grissom walked into the bathroom and closed the door. He turned on the lights, keeping the dimmer low, and examined the damage. He face was flushed and he had burns on both forearms. His left hand was heavily bandaged and hurt to flex it. The bruises on his ribs were visible as he leaned over the counter to steady himself. He used the toilet, washed his hands, and walked slowly back to bed. Easing himself under just the sheet, he turned on his side and felt Sara mold herself to his back. He smiled, reached for her hand and kissed it.

7:00 am

The smell of coffee woke Grissom and he smiled. Sitting up slowly, he stood and walked to the bureau. He pulled out a gray t-shirt and put it on, wincing from the pain in his left hand before heading down the stairs. The coffee maker was full, but Sara was nowhere in sight. Then he saw the note:

 6:30 am went to the pool, xxoo 

He poured a mug of coffee, grabbed his keys from the hospital envelope, and donned his Forensics cap, all with his right hand, before heading out to the common pool shared by the townhouse owners, not caring that he was simply in shorts. As he rounded the corner, he saw her performing what he could only guess were yoga moves. He sat down in a deck chair, sipping his coffee, watching her.

She was aware of someone watching her and hoped it was Grissom. Turning slowly, she saw him dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, sipping his coffee. She stood and he smiled at her. He looked slightly more rested, but after hearing from Brass what Grissom had been doing, she knew he wasn't going to be fine for a while. Sara walked over to him and leaned down to kiss him passionately.

"Morning," was about all he could muster, giving slight response to her kiss.

"Morning, how are you feeling?" Sara asked, crouching next to him.

"Exhausted, as if I haven't slept in days," Grissom admitted, his voice still raw.

"How's the pain?" Sara asked, gently moving an errant curl from his forehead.

"Honey, I'd rather have the pain than take those pills again." Grissom confessed.

"I'm sorry. Let's try something. Come sit on the mat." Sara said, drawing him to his feet.

Grissom put his mug down and followed her.

"These are some basic stretching and relaxing moves that might help you." Sara explained.

For the next twenty minutes Sara patiently guided Grissom through several yoga asanas, starting with a modified Downward Dog, taking into consideration his burned hand, each posture relaxing him more. Suddenly, he stopped, his pale face growing paler, and slowly got to his feet, with some help from Sara.

"I have to go home, now, Sara," Grissom stated, looking at her seriously.

"Ah, wet noodle syndrome, I recognize it immediately," she grinned.

"What?" he asked, arching an eyebrow and tilting his head.

"You have the stability of a wet noodle! Come on Griss, let's get you to bed." Sara said, sliding her arm around his waist.

"Only if you'll join me," Grissom said, turning her to face him.

If he only realized how hard it was to refuse him.

"I'll be there when you're ready. You're not ready yet." Sara assured him, kissing him softly on his battered lips.

Sara took him back to bed and got him settled under a simple sheet. He rolled onto his left side, away from her. She reached out and rubbed gentle circles on his back, feeling him relax and finally fall asleep. Kissing him on his shoulder, she went downstairs and was cleaning up the kitchen when the landline rang.

"Hello?" Sara asked.

"Hi, it's Catherine, just checking in, how is he?"

"Just went back to bed; tough couple of days. What the hell happened?" Sara asked, angrily. "He's exhausted, has a black eye, bruised knuckles and ribs." She added with frustration.

"I thought Brass told you." Catherine started.

"He told me the broad strokes, Catherine. How could you let him work since Monday without going home to sleep?" Sara continued.

"Last I looked, Sara, I wasn't his supervisor." Catherine replied hotly.

Sara paused, trying to get her thoughts in order.

"I'm sorry; it's just a lot to go through for him right now. How are you?" Sara asked.

"I'm fine. This thing with Tom Buckley and Ecklie isn't rectified by any means. They both screwed up, big time. Anyway, Nick, Warrick and I are pulling a double. We'll see you guys tonight, if he's up to it." Catherine said.

"Okay, sounds good." Sara replied.

"Bye," Catherine said.

"Bye," Sara answered, hanging up the phone.

She knew he'd be asleep for a couple of hours, at least, so Sara wrote him a note, leaving it on the breakfast bar and drove to her house. She took a shower and put on clean clothes. Packing another set of clothes in her bag, she drove back to Grissom's house.

11:00 am

Grissom rolled over and groaned. He ached from his encounter with Ecklie, the fire, and simple exhaustion. Opening his eyes, he noted that he was alone in bed. He stood up and wandered into the bathroom to take a much-needed shower. He pulled his shorts down below his hips and sat down on the toilet lid. Holding his left hand over his heart, he reached down with his right and pulled off his shorts. Grissom placed them by the sink and reached into the shower stall to turn on the water. Waiting a moment he stepped in and felt the two shower heads assail his body. He held his left hand out of the water and proceeded to bathe himself one handed. Shutting off the water, Grissom opened the glass door and was surprised to see Sara leaning against the counter, holding a towel.

"Need some help?" she asked, grinning.

Grissom walked to her and was embraced in the large towel. Sara shifted it to enclose his waist as he reached for her. Grissom reached for her face and drew her into a long kiss. I've missed her and I want her... now,he thought. Shifting his hands, he reached his right hand around to her back, pulling her against him. His left hand gently held her head, ignoring the pain, as he continued to kiss her. He felt her hands on his jaw, directing him. He rested his left arm across her shoulders, holding her head with his forearm, moving his right hand to her left breast. He caressed it through the t-shirt fabric before he snuck his hand underneath for a one on one session.

"Amazing what a shower can do," she smirked.

"You have no idea!" Grissom parried.

They were still in the bathroom; Sara's back was against the wall as Grissom kissed and caressed her. He murmured her name and she helped him remove her shirt. She wasn't wearing a bra. He reached his injured hand to her head while his right hand moved to her core, feeling her through her jeans. Sara had had enough. She felt him through the thin terrycloth as his hips pressed against her. Her hands slid from his face, one going to his lower back and the other feeling his chest. Grissom groaned and slipped his lips from hers to her breasts, teasing and nibbling them. His right hand fumbled with her pants button, but he finally succeeded, sliding his hand down to her center. Sara's hand slipped from his chest to his manhood through the towel. He groaned in pleasure as she caressed him.

"Need you now," Grissom murmured

She led him back into the bedroom and sat him down on the bed as she quickly stripped out of her clothes. Sara reached to his waist and his towel fell on the floor. She pulled him to his feet as they pressed their bodies together. He slipped his right leg forward to divide her, feeling her warmth on his thigh. They kissed deeply, his fingertips on her jaw, her left hand in his curls; his right hand feeling her core, her right hand feeling him, stroking him to fullness. Gently he turned them to get onto the bed. She lay back, reaching for him with her right hand. His breath caught as she touched him. He reached for her as well, stroking her to readiness, feeling the endorphins kicking in to fight the pain.

"Now, Griss, now," Sara breathed.

Carefully he entered her, his left hand held near his heart, his right forearm near her head for balance. She reached up with her right hand and held his left shoulder steady while they made love. He watched her face, bending to kiss her and her breasts as they brought each other to the brink. Finally he gave in and continued until he felt her climax, following on her heels. He sank to her chest and moaned.

"You okay?" Sara asked, as the moan sounded more of pain than passion.

"No," Grissom managed, lying on her, his left hand pinned between the two of them.

"Okay, easy, roll to your right," Sara said, helping him turn.

Grissom was breathing fast; the pain in his hand was overwhelming. His eyes were shut tight with pain. She reached across and caressed his face, avoiding his black eye, kissing him deeply. His breathing changed, still ragged but now less from pain. He couldn't move, but just lay there focusing on his breathing.

"Just relax, sweetheart," Sara said, murmuring into his ear.

Grissom did just that. He lay on his back while she touched him exquisitely. He groaned, trying to touch her with his good hand, but was gently thwarted. She was gentle and he was still exhausted but that didn't seem to make a difference to his anatomy.

"God, I missed you Sara," he panted, his right hand holding a fistful of sheets.

She continued to touch, fondle, and suck various parts of him until he was totally distracted.

"Sara, I'm coming, honey, you are too good." He panted, almost spent.

She left him and quickly guided him into her center. Tightening all of her muscles, he came easily. She crept up to his face and kissed him deeply.

"I love you," Grissom said in the quiet room.

"I love you, too," Sara replied, carefully caressing his face.

They stayed entangled in bed, Sara resting her head on his shoulder, listening to him fall into sleep. She breathed in his scent; that combination of clean hair, sweat and sex that on the one hand revved her up and on the other hand ultimately relaxed her.

4:00 pm

He pulled her to him in his sleep, feeling her warmth, and speaking unintelligibly. Sara felt him, his breath quickening, a light sweat appearing across his hairline. Grissom hadn't slept well; the cases of the last few days were haunting him. His body was still exhausted, she knew, but she also knew his mind was not. Reaching over to his face, Sara massaged it as she often did and he calmed immediately. Sighing in his sleep, Grissom rolled away from her, resettling on his right side.

Sara had had more than enough sleep and was now almost edgy. Sneaking from under the covers, she went into the bathroom and shut the door. She used the toilet and then started the shower. Sara stood waiting for the water to heat up before she entered Grissom's mammoth stall. She placed herself under the forceful water and reached for the soap.

Grissom woke up to an empty bed. When he reached to the sheets next to him, he realized that they were still warm. He sat up on his right elbow and heard the water from the shower. Slowly, he got out of bed and walked into the bathroom. Quietly closing the door, he smiled at Sara's voice singing a Melissa Etheridge song. He pulled off all of his bandages except the ones on his left hand, dropped his shorts and knocked on the shower door.

"May I join you?" Grissom asked, formally.

"Please do," Sara said, barely able to contain her lust.

He walked into the shower stall and they were inseparable. He reached his left hand to a dry corner of the shower stall and anchored himself. The hot water ran over them, exciting them both. Grissom pushed Sara against the wall and reached around her waist, reveling in her slick wet skin. The water was against his back so she was cold, her nipples hard and sensitive. He kissed her as if it was the first time and then started down her body, stopping every four inches for approval. She could barely contain herself as she started to shake in anticipation.

"Oh God, Griss," she panted in his ear.

He growled in response and stopped being easy and went after her hard. She had never made love with him this way. His aggression was, on the one hand, stimulating, but on the other hand, quite frightening. Still she came with a howl, and he came almost immediately afterwards, the water sluicing over their joined bodies. They stood together and she felt him change, holding her harder until he started to shake.

"Griss, you're okay," Sara consoled him, rubbing his back.

She pulled back to look at his face. The tears streamed out of his eyes and she held him tighter. Sara knew his passion sometimes overwhelmed him, and with the last three days, she expected his emotions to be riding high.

Finally, he calmed to the point where she could simply kiss him without him breaking down again in tears. She reached for the faucet and turned it off. Stepping outside the shower stall, she reached for a towel and waited for him to come out of the shower. Again he held his injured left hand over his heart, trying to minimize the pounding he felt. Sara toweled him dry, trying to be efficient rather than erotic. He reached for a towel as well and they raced to dry each other off.

Their towel fight ended up in giggles and a long hug. He pulled back and looked at her.

"I love you, Sara," he whispered, his voice rough but full of emotion.

"And I love you, bugman." Sara said, kissing him slowly.

They walked into the bedroom. Grissom pulled her bathrobe from his closet and held it for her. It was similar to his, but the silk was a pale blue, setting off her brown eyes. He put on his bathrobe and they headed downstairs. Grissom continued to the lab room to feed his bugs, take notes, and catch up on his life.

Sara waited until she heard the lab door close before she made a call.

"Willows," Catherine answered.

"Hi, just giving you an update. He's fine, still tired, but fine." Sara said.

"Thanks, glad to hear it." Catherine said.

"See you later," Sara replied.

"Right, bye." Catherine said.

"Bye," Sara answered, hanging up the phone.

Sara walked into the lab room and found Grissom on the computer 'talking' with his mother. She stood behind him, leaning over to give him a hug and a kiss.

"Sara says, hi, Mom," Grissom wrote.

"Hi, Sara," Helen Grissom wrote back.

"Griss, are you hungry?" Sara asked, absently massaging the knots in his shoulders.

"Actually, I am, " Grissom replied.

"I'll thaw a chicken breast for you," Sara said, gently tilting his head back to kiss him on his forehead.

"I'll be in to cook in a minute." Grissom replied, his attention returning to the screen.

"Take your time, sweetheart," Sara said, leaving the room.

Grissom walked out of the lab room into the kitchen, smelling fresh-brewed coffee. He put his hands on Sara's waist and she turned quickly, accidentally pinning his left hand against the counter. He pulled her towards him, hissing in pain.

"Griss? What's wrong?" Sara asked.

"My hand," Grissom whispered, raising his left hand above his head, his eyes shut to the pain.

"Oh, God, I'm sorry. Okay, just breathe, let's go into the bathroom, get you some Aleve and change that bandage." Sara instructed.

Sara took Grissom into a short hallway that led to the bathroom next to the kitchen and sat him on the closed toilet lid. He leaned back against the cold ceramic of the toilet tank, his eyes closed. She filled a glass with water and shook three blue pills out of their container. Sara touched his face and he opened his eyes. She handed him the pills and he tossed them into his mouth, before drinking the entire glass of water.

"That's it, Griss. Just relax," Sara said, gently picking up his hand to look at the dirty bandage.

Sara fixed the stopper in the sink and ran tepid water, filling the sink half way. Slowly, she plunged his hand in the water to loosen up the bandage. Grissom sucked in air, resisting the impulse to pull his hand away from her touch.

"Easy sweetheart, I know it hurts," Sara soothed, as she slowly unwrapped the bandage.

In a short time, his hand was bare and she pulled it out of the water to look at it. Sara put a white towel on her leg and lowered Grissom's hand against it to gently dry it. He was quiet, practicing some meditation exercises that Dr. Wu had taught him to reduce stress. Sara dried the back of his hand, and then lifted it up to look at the burn. It was still oozing and red. She transferred the towel to Grissom's knee and rested his hand on it while she retrieved burn ointment and fresh bandages. Five minutes later, his hand was neatly bandaged and they walked back together to the kitchen. Grissom poured a cup of coffee and sat at the breakfast bar, sipping it thoughtfully. Sara started to prepare a tofu dish for herself, after placing Grissom's chicken breast in the microwave to thaw.

"Thanks, honey," Grissom said, softly.

"You're welcome," she said, looking at him briefly.

Grissom picked up the remote control for the stereo and soon Ella Fitzgerald's voice rang out in the living room. He sipped more coffee and let his mind wander.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Sara asked, sitting next to him.

"No thoughts today," Grissom answered, giving her a quick kiss before going into the kitchen to make his own dinner.

Sara looked at him but didn't ask what he meant. Slowly, Grissom removed what he needed from the refrigerator for his quick stir-fry. The microwave bell rang and he removed the chicken breast. Clumsily holding a large fork with the fingers of his left hand, he cut the chicken into large chunks. He moved on to the peppers, mushrooms and shallots before actually beginning to cook. Twenty minutes later, having refilled his coffee cup, Grissom sat down with his stir-fry, trying to conjure up the energy to eat it, after expending so much while making it. Sara reached over and rubbed his back.

"I'm sorry, sweetheart. I wish there was something I could do to make you feel better," Sara said, tears welling up in her eyes.

He looked at her, about to give her a quick response, but was stopped cold by the look on her face.

"Honey," he said, reaching his right hand to her face. "Just having you here is giving me strength, you have to believe me."

Sara leaned in to him and kissed him deeply, mimicking his hold on her with her right hand at the back of his neck. They broke and he wiped away a tear sliding down her cheek, as she did with him.

"We're a fine pair," Sara said, breaking into a small smile.

He looked at her and matched her smile as well, suddenly breaking into a low chuckle. Sara started to giggle and soon they were both lost in easy laughter over nothing at all. Recovering first, Sara tried to be stern.

"Griss, sweetheart, you have to try to eat something. Even I think it smells good." Sara said, pointing to his dinner.

"Yes, ma'am," Grissom said, picking up his fork and starting to eat slowly.

Sara sat back on her stool and watched him. She reached over and brushed a curl behind his ear. This was one of her endearments that he adored. He listened to Ella sing and concentrated on his plate. When he was half through, he put down his fork, sitting back on his stool.

"Honey, that's the best I can manage right now." Grissom said, his voice still rough from the smoke.

"Griss, it's seven. Let's watch some TV and relax a bit before going in to work." Sara suggested.

Grissom picked up the remote and handed it to her before picking up his plate and walking to the kitchen. He reached into the cabinet for a recyclable container and carefully put his leftovers into it. Putting the dirty dish in the sink, he reached for her dish and put it in the sink as well. Grissom walked into the living room and sank into the black leather sofa next to Sara. She leaned forward and he put his right arm over her shoulders, reaching under her arm and hugging her tightly and kissing the top of her head. She turned on The Discovery Channel and started watching a documentary on elephants. Within minutes she felt Grissom's touch on her shoulder lighten and felt his breathing even out as he fell asleep. Sara picked up his right hand and kissed it, holding it against her chest as she fell asleep as well.

8:30 pm

"Griss, sweetheart, time to get ready for work," Sara said, putting a hand on his chest.

He opened his eyes and looked at her, blinking into focus. Sitting up straighter, he flexed his arms back behind him, hearing the pop of his vertebrae. Leaning over, he kissed her cheek before getting up slowly to walk upstairs.

Sara was dressed and filling the dishwasher when Grissom came downstairs. She looked up at him as she poured coffee into their travel mugs. He walked into the kitchen and waited until she put down the glass carafe. She turned to face him, mindful of his left hand. Carefully he put it behind his back as he reached his right hand to the back of her neck, pulling her in for a kiss. She reached for his face, loving the feel of his beard, coaxing him deeper. He pulled back gently, kissed her forehead and gave her a fierce hug.

"I love you, Sara. Sometimes I love you so much, you overwhelm me." Grissom whispered in her ear.

Sara held him tightly, unable to respond to such a weighty statement. She pulled back and looked at him, his blue eyes dark with emotion. She moved her hands to his face, holding him in her gaze.

"You are my life, Griss. Pure and simple. I love you." Sara said, softly kissing his face.

He closed his eyes and felt her feather-light kisses, as her lips barely touched his face. Grissom smiled, opening his eyes when he felt her pull back.

"Thank you," he whispered.

"You're welcome." Sara said.

Finally, he let go of her and walked to the foyer to gather the tools of his job. Sara put the tops on the travel mugs and turned off the stereo before meeting him at the front door. They walked out into the night and locked the door behind them.

9:15 pm

Sara pulled into the parking lot and shut off the engine. Grissom got out of the passenger side of Sara's car and walked around the back of the car to get his coffee from Sara.

"I probably won't be leaving the office tonight, unless we're very busy. Call me a couple of hundred times, would you?" Grissom said, bending down to kiss her softly.

"Sure, I think that can be arranged," Sara said, smiling at him broadly.

They walked together to the door of the building. Sara reached for the door handle and opened the door for him, as his hands were full.

"Thank you," Grissom said, heading in to get his messages.

"See you in the break room," she called from behind him.

"Right," Grissom said.

"Evening, Grissom," Steven said, brightly.

"Hi, Steven, may I have my messages, please?" Grissom asked.

"Sure," Steven said, putting a large wad of messages on the counter.

Grissom looked at the pile and groaned inwardly. Setting his travel mug on the counter, he picked up the messages and shoved them in his pocket before recovering his mug and heading for his office. He stood outside his office and held his mug against his chest with his left arm while opening the door. Slipping the keys into his trousers, he reached for his mug and walked inside. Setting the mug on his desk, he turned on the desk lamp and then his cd player. Grissom walked behind his desk to his chair, retrieved his messages and sat down carefully. Squinting a bit through his glasses, he started to lay out the messages in the order he received them. Then Grissom changed his sorting method and put them in piles of who they were from. Five messages from Rory Atwater imploring him not to speak to anyone without speaking to him first, four messages from Tom Buckley's attorney, four messages from Ecklie's attorney, four from Brass, two from Dr. Wu, and the other forty or so from people he didn't know.

Grissom reached for his coffee cup and took a sip. Listening to Yo-Yo Ma, he sat back in his chair, and pinched the bridge of his nose, summoning up the energy to call Rory. Five minutes later he sighed and leaned forward to place the call.

"Sheriff Atwater's office," the receptionist answered.

"Gil Grissom calling, is he in?" Grissom asked, trying to maneuver his hand, which had started to throb.

"No, he's at dinner right now, but he asked if you would call him on his mobile. Do you have that number?" she asked.

"Yes, thanks." Grissom replied.

"Good bye," the receptionist said.

"Bye," Grissom said, pressing the bar on the phone before placing the next call.

"Atwater," the voice answered.

"Rory, it's Gil," Grissom said, leaning back in his chair, resting his left hand on his chest.

"Gil, thanks for calling me. Hang on; I need to get to a quiet place." Rory replied.

Gil waited patiently, listening to his music.

"Okay, sorry about that. First of all, how are you? Catherine and Brass filled me in." Rory asked.

"I'm fine. My hand hurts and I'm tired. What's up?" Grissom asked.

"I've written a formal reprimand for Tom Buckley and need you to sign it. It should be in your in box." Rory said.

Grissom looked at his in box, the contents of which were flowing onto his desk.

"Okay, what else?" Grissom replied, feeling slight pain from his raw vocal cords.

"Are you going to press assault charges?" Rory asked cautiously.

Grissom closed his eyes, letting the music wash over him.

"Gil? Are you there?" Rory asked, hearing just the cello music over the phone.

"Rory, tell me what you want me to do," Grissom requested.

"All right, I will. I don't want you to talk to the press. I want to handle the whole thing internally. I would ask you not to press charges. I want to demote Ecklie from day shift supervisor to lab administrator." Rory said.

"What does that mean, lab administrator?" Grissom asked.

"Basically, he pushes paper. Catherine will be made head of days, permanently. You'll stay on as graveyard supervisor. You two report to me, Ecklie will report to Catherine. I don't want any interaction between the two of you; you're like oil and water." Rory explained.

"Fine, Rory, I'm too tired to argue. I only ask that you give Catherine the raise that she deserves." Grissom said, his eyes still closed.

"I'll look into it Gil. Ecklie's new job will take effect after his suspension. Buckley's letter needs to be signed today." Rory said.

"I've got to go give out assignments, Rory, if there's nothing else?" Grissom said, opening his eyes, and straightening up in his chair.

"No, that's all, Gil. Take it easy." Rory said.

"I will. Bye," Grissom said, printing out the assignments from his computer.

"Bye," Rory said, hanging up the phone.

Grissom hung up his phone and grabbed the printouts and his travel mug and walked out of his office. Sofia, Sara and Greg sat in the break room making small talk, but stopped when Grissom walked in.

"Sofia, how are you feeling?" Grissom asked, standing at the end of the table sipping his coffee.

"Much better, thanks. I'm just supposed to take it easy." She replied, looking at his battered face and bandaged hand.

"Well, we'll do the best we can. Greg, you have a smash and grab at The Monte Carlo; Emilio's Jewelry store." Grissom said, handing him the tear sheet.

"Geez, a smash and grab? What did I do wrong?" Greg whined.

"You didn't do anything wrong. You're handling this one on your own." Grissom said softly.

Greg looked at him and smiled.

"Sara, you and Sofia meet Brass at the Cargo terminal at the airport; db in a trunk." Grissom announced, handing the paper to Sara.

"And what are you going to be doing?" Sofia asked pointedly.

Grissom looked at her, his eyes darkening, his right hand tightening its hold on his travel mug.

"I am going to try to catch up on the piles of paperwork from the past week. Sara, Greg, don't hesitate to call if you need me for anything." Grissom said, turning on his heel to walk back to his office.

Greg stood and quickly left the room for his crime scene. Sara stood and sighed, knowing that it was going to be a long night.

"Sofia, I'll meet you at the car in five minutes, okay?" Sara said, looking at the other woman.

"Sure, hey Sara? Would you tell him I'm sorry? I wasn't trying to be flippant." She said honestly.

Sara saw that she really was apologizing for her inappropriate question.

"I will, but you should tell him yourself." Sara said, leaving the room.

Grissom sat leaning back in his chair with his feet on his desk. He had removed his glasses and rested his left arm against his chest, listening to his music, trying to meditate.

Sara knocked softly on his door and walked into the office. He opened his eyes, smiled, and closed them again.

"I'm just resting for a minute." He explained in a quiet tone.

She walked up behind him and started to massage his shoulders. Grissom winced as she found and tried to loosen the knots in his muscles. Sara looked to his desk and saw the stacks of paperwork and sighed.

"Honey?" Grissom asked.

"Yes, sweetheart," Sara said, her attention back to him.

"I don't think you're going to be able to do your magic on my shoulders today." Grissom said, opening his eyes.

She stopped and looked at him as he swung his feet off the desk and sat up in his chair.

"She really gets to you, doesn't she?" Sara asked, leaning against the desk.

"Yeah, she does." Grissom admitted, looking up at her.

"Well, for what it's worth, she apologized. I have to meet her at the car, soon. Take it easy. I know you have a lot of work to do. Just don't push it." Sara said, leaning down to give him a kiss.

He kissed her, pushing her brown hair back to see her dark eyes, full of concern.

"I'll take it easy. I just have to go through all of it tonight." Grissom said.

"I'll see you in a couple of hours," Sara said, kissing him once more.

He returned her kiss and then watched as she left the office. Sighing, he looked at his watch; ten thirty, and picked up the phone.

"Brass," a voice answered.

"Hi, it's Gil," he replied.

"Hey, how goes it?" Brass asked easily.

"It goes, trying to slog through paperwork." Grissom said, taking Brass's phone messages and throwing them in the waste paper basket.

"Too bad you didn't burn your right hand!" Brass joked.

"Yeah, look I'm returning your phone calls. What's up?" Grissom asked.

"The boys in arson want to come and ask you questions. I thought you might want me to be there with you." Brass asked carefully.

"When and where?" Grissom asked, putting his glasses back on.

"Tomorrow eight a.m. my office," Brass replied.

"Okay, see you there." Grissom answered.

"Your girlfriend just drove up. I gotta go," Brass said.

"Jim," Grissom growled, and then stopped, feeling the pain in his throat.

"Bye," Brass chuckled and hung up.

Grissom looked at the dead phone in his hand and set it down in the cradle. He quickly thumbed through the rest of his phone messages and pulled out the two from Dr. Wu, tossing the rest in the trash. He reached over to his in-box and dumped it upside-down. Suddenly, the room was quiet as the CD ended. Grissom opened his desk drawer and looked at the spines of the CDs resting there. Smiling, he pulled out Steely Dan's Aja . He carefully pulled out his Yo-Yo Ma mix CD, Cellos in the Mist and replaced it with the more upbeat pop CD. Soon he was lost in his work.

Saturday 3:00 am

Sara walked into the break room and grabbed a yogurt from the fridge. She sat down and started to eat it slowly.

"Hi," Greg said, walking in to pour himself a cup of coffee.

"Hi, how did your smash and grab go?" Sara asked.

"It was cool. I'm just processing now. If you have a moment, I want to show you something in about an hour, you know before I present it to Grissom." Greg said, in his shy voice.

"Sure, we're both back. Sofia is misting the trunk, I'm waiting for Doc to page me." Sara explained, slurping the yogurt.

"Oh it wasn't a trunk of a car?" Greg asked, sipping his coffee.

"No it was an old-fashioned steamer trunk. Doc's unfolding the vic now." Sara said with a grin.

Greg grinned in return.

"Have you seen Grissom?" Sara asked.

"No, not a hair," Greg replied.

"Okay, well, I'm going to check on him, then see how Sofia is doing, then I'll find you." Sara said, standing to throw her yogurt container away.

"Sounds good," Greg said, walking out of the break room to go to Trace.

Sara walked away from him to Grissom's office. She knocked but heard nothing. Frowning, she walked into a dark office to find Grissom asleep on his couch. The pale light from his desk lamp shown onto his immaculate desk, although his waste paper basket was over-flowing. She walked over to him and found a note addressed to her.

Dear Sara, it's two and you haven't called. I have succeeded in clearing my desk and in doing so I think I'm getting a migraine. Please give the envelope for the Sheriff to Steven. I have a meeting with Brass at 8am. No, I don't have any medication here. Scattered thoughts, love GG

Sara picked up the envelope and went to sit for a moment next to Grissom. She listened to his soft breaths and gently ran her fingers through his hair, feeling the lump from his fall to the floor. Leaning down, she kissed his forehead and left him alone. Walking down the hallway, she stopped at the front desk.

"Hi, Sara," Steven said, smiling.

"Hi, Steven. This is a letter from Grissom for the Sheriff. I guess it's important he gets it soon. Also, Grissom's sleeping off a migraine. So unless...." Sara explained.

"Yep, I know the drill, unless it's you, Brass or God, do not disturb." Steven said with a chuckle.

"Perfect, thanks," Sara said, with a grin, walking off to look for Sofia.

7:00 am

Sara felt tired as she finished with the last of the evidence from her case. Sofia was able to get some good prints from the trunk, Doc found a Marine Corps tattoo on his bicep and two titanium rods in the vic's right leg, so they had a good lead on getting an identity.

Greg's jewelry smash and grab exposed an inside job when he was able to prove that much of the merchandise was fake, having been replaced by the assistant store manager over the course of several months.

She cracked her neck and walked down the hallway to check on Grissom. Sara didn't bother to knock, but let herself in quietly. Grissom sat on the edge of the couch with his head in his hands. He raised a hand up to stop her from coming near him. Noiselessly, she turned around and left him alone. Sara walked back to see Greg in trace.

"Hey, Greg, do you have any of Dr. Wu's herbs for Grissom? He's got to meet Brass at eight and is still in a lot of pain from a migraine." Sara asked.

"Whoa, that is so weird. Dr. Wu called me yesterday to pick up some stuff for Grissom. I forgot about it until now." Greg said, standing to walk back to the DNA lab. In a corner on a chair was a small brown bag.

"Let's see what we have," Greg said, while turning on a Bunsen burner to heat up the tea water.

He reached in and found eight small zip-lock bags of herbs each with carefully typewritten instructions. There was also a handwritten note that Greg handed to Sara.

 Dr. Grissom, for migraines, take bags 1-4. 
For other pain, take bags 5-8. Please call to schedule a session. Dr. Wu. 

"Okay, bags 1-4 for migraine I guess in the amounts mentioned on the bags." Sara said, looking at Greg.

Greg nodded and fished out a tea ball, quickly adding the herbs as he noticed the water about to boil. Closing the tea ball, he set it in his Godzilla cup and poured the hot water over it. The strong smell quickly filled the room. Greg watched the second hand on the wall clock and promptly removed the ball after two minutes.

"Thanks, Greg." Sara said, picking up the cup of tea and the brown bag.

"You're very welcome," Greg said, turning off the gas and following her out the door.

Sara continued down the hall to Grissom's office and walked in, softly closing the door behind her. Grissom hadn't moved, still sitting with his head in his hands. Quietly, she put the paper bag on the floor and knelt in front of him, letting the smell of the tea announce its presence. He moved his hands and placed them over hers, guiding the mug to his mouth to sip the tea. It was hot, but not scalding, as it tracked to his stomach. Grissom's eyes were unfocussed, staring at a point on the floor. Silently, they sat together, Grissom sipping tea while Sara helped to hold onto the mug. When he finished the tea, he handed the mug to her and stood up slowly, reaching to her shoulder for balance. He walked to the desk, holding his left arm up to block the desk lamp while looking for his sunglasses. Slipping them on he turned to walk out of the office.

As he passed by Sara, he whispered, "Thanks, give me five minutes."

She nodded and took a quick look at her watch; seven-thirty. Waiting until Grissom had left, Sara pulled out her cell phone and hit speed dial four.

"Brass," a voice answered after several rings.

"Hi, it's Sara,"

"Hi, kiddo, what's up?" Brass asked.

"Grissom is in the middle of a mild migraine. I'll get him there for your meeting, but I can't guarantee how long he'll be able to stay. "Sara explained.

"Thanks, they just want twenty minutes I think. If you think he'll be more comfortable with you in the room, I don't have a problem with it." Brass responded.

"Okay, let's see how he feels." Sara replied.

"Great, see you in a few," Brass said.

"Thanks, bye," Sara finished.

"Bye," Brass said, hanging up the phone.

Sara closed her phone, picked up the paper bag and walked out of the office to the break room to clean Greg's mug. She set it in the dish rack to dry and headed to the locker room to get her bag and jacket. The shower was running and then stopped. Grissom walked back into the locker area, his face grey, his hair wet, and a towel around his neck. Softly, she opened her locker and withdrew her bag and jacket, closing it with the same stealth. Grissom opened his locker and reached for a clean shirt. Tossing the towel over his locker door, he slipped on the shirt, buttoning it slowly. He put on his sunglasses and finally, with great care, dried his hair using the towel. He shut the locker door and put the towel in the hamper before walking back into the hallway. Sara left the locker room and caught up with him easily.

"Do you have everything?" Sara asked quietly.

"My jacket," Grissom said, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Stay here, I'll get it." Sara said.

Grissom leaned against the wall, practicing his relaxing exercises. Sara walked into his office and picked up his jacket from the back of his chair. Heading for the door, she stopped and walked back to his desk. Opening his desk drawer she saw Cellos in the Mist and took it. Shutting the drawer, she turned off the desk light and walked to the door. Sara opened the door and flipped the lock before heading out into the hallway.

"All set," Sara said, slipping on her sunglasses as she walked out to the employee's parking lot with Grissom following behind her.

She unlocked the door electronically and got in. Starting the car, Sara put the CD in the player and set the volume to three as Grissom slid in. She quietly put his jacket on the center divider, tossed her bag and the paper bag in the back seat, set her shoulder strap and backed out of the parking space. Grissom put his strap on and reached over to turn the CD volume up one point. He leaned his head back against the head rest for the short ride to the police station.

Sara pulled into the parking lot, parking as close as she could. They both got out of the car and walked to Jim's office. Sara folded her sunglasses, slipping one earpiece into her blouse. Grissom's sunglasses afforded some protection against the glare of the fluorescent lamps, but he knew he would be better off at home asleep in his dark bedroom. Sara knocked on Jim's office door and heard a grunt that she took for 'come in', so she did. Grissom followed her in, the door closing behind him. Brass had turned off all of the lights in his office except for a bright desk lamp. He had quickly put his waste paper basket on the corner of his desk to block the light from being immediately visible from the front of his desk. Grissom sat quietly in one of the leather chairs furthest from Jim's desk. Brass walked to a small refrigerator and pulled out two bottles of cold water, handing one to Sara and putting one in Grissom's hands. The three of them sat in the darkened room quietly waiting for the arson investigators.

Shortly, there was a sharp knock on the door and two men walked in. The first man walked all the way to the desk and reached over to shake Jim's hand.

"Captain Brass," he said, loudly.

The second man flipped the light switch and stood by the door. Sara was up in a flash and turned the lights off but not before Grissom's waning migraine reared up again.

"What's going on here?" the second man said, raising his voice.

"This is your witness, Dr. Gil Grissom and he's got a migraine. Light and noise exacerbate it. You wanted him here, so here he is. Ask your questions." Brass whispered.

The first man turned, not having seen Grissom sitting in the rear of the office. Grissom was sitting forward, elbows on his knees, resting his head in his hands, as a thin woman sat next to him, rubbing his back. He walked to his partner and whispered something. The second man left the room. Quietly the first man picked up a chair and set it three feet in front of Grissom.

"I apologize, we had no idea." The man spoke softly.

Brass walked around his desk and sat on the edge, his left leg dangling. Sara looked up at the arson investigator and with her left hand signaled to start his questions.

"My name is Lt. Tom Buford and I'm investigating the house fire this past Thursday night. Can you tell me what happened?" Tom asked, his voice smooth and quiet, putting a miniature tape recorder on his knee and turning it on.

"I was heading home on my normal route down Bingham Street. A house was on fire. I stopped my car, got out and ran across the street to a group of people standing on the lawn." Grissom paused, his throat tired, and took a sip of water.

"I asked if everyone was out. The woman said, 'Abuelita'." Grissom said.

"Which means?" Tom interrupted.

"Beloved grandmother," Brass answered.

"The grandson told me she was on the second floor in the back so I went in." Grissom paused again for water.

"Dr. Grissom," Tom started.

"Please, just Grissom," he corrected.

"Sorry, Grissom, please describe in as much detail as you can what you observed in the house." Tom coached.

Grissom paused, remembering the smell, the heat, and his fear. Sara held up her hand to Tom not to say anything. Brass smiled as he watched Grissom get his mojo working.

"I entered the house through the open front door. The first floor was smoky but manageable. I saw flames at the rear of the first floor. The stairwell was directly in front of the door so I headed upstairs. I turned right into a hallway and then left. The smoke was more intense but I could still walk fairly upright, breathing through my shirt. I stood outside the last room on the second floor in the back and felt the door. It was cool. I opened the door and called out for her. I found her unconscious on the floor. I picked her up, put her on my back and carried her out of the house and put her on the lawn." Grissom said, his voice beginning to fade.

It was the most he had spoken since the fire and every swallow was painful. He sipped the water and winced when he swallowed. Sara moved her hand from his shoulder where she had been resting it to his left knee which had started to bounce slightly. She wasn't sure if that was a conscious choice to bleed some of the pain or whether it was a response to the story he was reliving.

"I leaned over and started to cough when I heard a scream. I looked up at the house and in the center third floor window was a boy about seven or eight in a bright yellow shirt. I went back into the house. The first floor smoke was darker and it was very hot. I made it to the second floor; again the smoke was much denser and darker. Finally I reached the third floor and stood in front of the center door. The wood frame was hot. I stood to the side and reached across my body with my left hand, grabbed the door handle and opened the door, burning my hand in the process. I dropped to my knees and started a grid search pattern. I found the boy under a desk. I took off my windbreaker and wrapped the boy up and headed down." Grissom paused, reaching up to his throat.

"Almost , Griss, just a few more minutes." Brass urged softly.

Grissom nodded, taking a small sip of water.

"I put the boy on my back and left the room as fast as I could. The flames were orange, everything seemed to be on fire. I found the stairs and carefully walked down them. They were wood and smoke was coming up through the treads. When I reached the second floor and stood at the top of the staircase, I knew I would have to run the last thirty feet through the flames, so I took a deep breath and just went for it. I remember not seeing the stairs outside the house and leaping over them at the last minute. There was a firefighter standing there. I handed him the boy and that's all I remember until I got to the hospital." Grissom said, leaning back in the chair, his throat on fire, his headache raging.

"Okay, Grissom, okay, just two quick questions. Did you smell an accelerant?" Tom asked.

Grissom shook his head.

"Did you see an adult male on the property other than the fire department personnel?" Tom asked.

Again Grissom shook his head.

"Thanks very much for your help, Grissom." Tom said, standing and turning off his tape machine. "If you think of anything else, Captain Brass has my numbers. I hope you feel better soon."

Grissom mustered all of his energy to sit up in his chair and then get to his feet. He reached his hand out and Tom took it, shaking it easily. Sara put her arm around Grissom's waist as Tom left the room. Brass walked up to him and put his hand on Grissom's shoulder.

"Man, you really are a hero."

"Yeah, well I need to get the hero home. Griss can you make it on your own to the car or do we need Jim?" Sara asked.

Grissom signed I'm okay and smiled as he slowly walked to the door. Sara and Jim walked behind him until he got into the larger hallway, then they flanked him all the way to the car. Sara unlocked the doors and stood by until Grissom got settled. Jim walked her to her door and hugged her.

"Take care, kiddo, and take care of him." Brass said in her ear.

"Thanks, I will. Get some sleep," Sara joked.

"Funny," Brass quipped, breaking the embrace.

Sara got into the car and started the engine, Yo-Yo Ma floated through the speakers and the air conditioning pushed softly through the warm vehicle. Grissom leaned his head back and fell asleep. Sara drove the familiar route to the townhouse and arrived twenty-five minutes later, due to the heavy traffic. She parked and pulled the two bags from the back seat, as well as his coat, before walking around to Grissom's side of the car. She opened the door, noting that he was still asleep.

"Griss? We're home, time to wake up." Sara said softly.

She reached to his right arm and gently squeezed. He moved his arm to get out of her grasp, finally waking himself. Looking around to establish his surroundings, he released himself from his shoulder strap and got out of the car. Following Sara up the stairs to the town house he paused only once, his breath ragged, further hurting his throat. She unlocked the door and walked in, standing to the side as Grissom followed. She put down both bags at the door and hung his coat on the back of one of the stools. Grissom continued into the kitchen and opened the fridge. He looked at his watch but couldn't read the time.

"Sara, what time is it?" he asked softly.

"Nine-thirty," she replied.

He stood in front of the open fridge trying to decide what medicine to take. Finally he decided on the milder medicine, hoping that this migraine didn't manifest itself into a monster as many had in the last year. He pulled a bottle of water as well and put them on the counter. Sara reached over and read the label on the medicine, removing one large pill and placing it on the counter. Grissom opened his water and popped the pill, tossing it back with half the bottle. He took off his glasses, hell he couldn't really see anyway, and headed for the stairs. Sara walked with him, as she had several times in the last months since they had started dating. They had it down to a science; at least they did when Grissom took the medicine in time. Days like today were a crapshoot. Grissom walked into the bedroom and headed for the bathroom Sara took him by the shoulders and guided him to the bed, trying to keep him vertical so she could get his shirt and trousers off. Grissom started to unbutton his shirt and she loosened his belt and trousers, letting them fall to his ankles. Sara held his shoulders as he kicked off his loafers and pants. She helped him off with his shirt and then into bed, dressed just in his shorts and socks. He rolled onto his left side and tried to float against the pain. She sat with him, knowing that he knew she was there, but he was unable to speak. She reached to his shoulders and felt him relax; spooning against his back, she felt him finally let go and sleep.

Quietly, Sara left the bed to get out of her clothes. She was very tired and just wanted to melt into Grissom's bed. Pulling out one of his t-shirts, she stripped to her underwear and put the t-shirt on. Finally she crawled into bed and curved against Grissom's back.

2:00 pm

Grissom reached for Sara in his sleep and couldn't find her, finally waking himself up. He was tired, medicated, in pain, and she wasn't there. The bathroom door opened and she walked back into the bedroom.

She looked at Grissom's face and felt the love that she depended upon. Getting back into bed, she backed herself into his embrace, feeling his heartbeat on her back, his strong arms holding her tightly.

"Missed you," he hoarsely whispered into her hair.

"I love you, Griss, hold me and fall asleep." She commanded.

Grissom listened to her breathe and fell asleep to her rhythm. She stayed awake waiting for him before succumbing to her own fatigue.

5:00 pm

Grissom woke up and was pleased that his chest was covered in brown tresses, a head, and an arm. He loved her scent and reached down with his right hand to pull her closer. She moaned a little in her sleep but did come closer to him. His throat hurt badly and he thought he might actually have done some damage in the interview he gave. He was still tired but it didn't feel mind-numbing any more. He was getting better. Sara reached out in her sleep and the game was afoot.

Grissom brushed her hair back so her face was visible. He rolled her over, slightly on her back, so he could better attack her lips. He reached with his right hand and found the curve of her waist and a bunch of fabric from his t-shirt. Softly he kissed her face as his right hand traced her left breast through her t-shirt. Sara moaned again, reaching her left hand to his chest. He continued to kiss her but his right hand shifted to her mound, cupping it through her underwear.

Suddenly Sara awoke, her brown eyes searching, finding his blue ones.

"Hi," he rasped.

"Oh, God, sweetheart. I'm so sorry." Sara said, her eyes tearing up.

Grissom started to sign to her. He had started teaching her when they started their relationship six months earlier.

It only hurts to talk. Luckily we have other ways to communicate.he signed.

"I understand, I think," Sara replied.

I love you, that's all you need to know. That and I will not be singing any opera tonight.he smiled.

He waited patiently and smiled when she grinned at him. Reaching for his face, she engaged Grissom in a long passionate series of kisses. He reached for her breast, unconsciously making a noise with his vocal cords. The pain stopped him cold. He panted against the pain, feeling Sara try to take the pain away or at least distract him. She was very good at it.

"Tonight, we will practice the art of making silent love," She said to him as his right hand reacquired her and she began to moan.

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