Spoilers: Minor ones up to season 4
Archive: Please ask first I might say yes.
Disclaimer: C.S.I. is not owned by me or mine and I'm just stirring the mix to oxygenate.
Author's Note: I shall be posting this to 'Last Chance' on ffnet as it's 'suitable' for the ratings. I have not done two versions this time, so don't go looking for the full smut version. It didn't feel appropriate anywhere in this chapter and I didn't want to put some in just for the sake of it. Normal service may be resumed in Ch. 11 <smirk>. For those who are wondering about continuity of chapters, the omitted chapters are not suitable to post here and are on Irishdachsie's site and adultfanfiction net. Info available on the 'yourtaxdollarsat' work message boards.
Summary: Sara gets a shock, but so does Grissom.
The drive to the hospital was only ten minutes but it seemed like a lifetime to Sara. The only reason that she was keeping it together was that she could see that Grissom was still alive.
Sara couldn't take in all of the next few hours as she was cleaned up and discharged with butterfly tape over her own injury, but she grasped enough to follow what was happening. Grissom had developed a haematoma, a vascular accident caused by the impact in the accident. It had been operated on and cleared and everything had gone well. The surgeon had come to see her once he had finished in theatre.
Grissom was in recovery, and Sara would be allowed to see him once he was taken to ICU.
At her horrified look, the surgeon had explained that it was a precautionary measure and quite usual in these cases.
So Sara had waited some more, fuelled by too much coffee and not enough food. She was asked to sign for Grissom's personal effects and was given them in an envelope. The hospital didn't want the responsibility of looking after them if she could do it instead.
At long last Sara became aware that a nurse had gone to the main nurses station and she had heard the name 'Grissom'. The receptionist had nodded towards Sara.
She was taken to a large ward with four intensive care beds. The nurse explained what was happening and offered to answer any questions that she may have. Three beds were occupied, two on the opposite side of the room, and Grissom on the nearside.
Sara was not unfamiliar with the set up in intensive care, and she had seen enough analysers in her time not to be put off by all the equipment.
But it was quite another matter to see someone that you loved in the middle of it all.
Sara pulled up a chair beside the bed and sat down, taking Grissom's hand in hers. She took care not to disturb anything attached to him and just looked at him. He was exceptionally pale and the dressing was bigger than she had been expecting.
The stress of the last few hours and the accident finally caught up with her and she struggled to keep the tears at bay. Sara reached for the box of tissues on the table and tore out a handful. She wiped away the tears but they kept coming.
She cried as quietly as she could, but the Head Nurse came over after a few minutes and asked her if she needed anything.
Sara shook her head. The only thing she needed right now was lying in this bed.
Eventually the nurse was called away, and by then Sara had managed to stop crying. She rested her head on her left arm and held Grissom's hand with her right hand.
She was exhausted, and allowed her eyes to close briefly.
Grissom's hearing returned first. He couldn't make sense of anything for a moment, but with returning consciousness he realised that he was in hospital. His head hurt like the devil, and his face ached. His eyes were open and the light was too bright for him as his vision returned. He closed his eyes again for a moment. He moved his legs slightly and they responded. Good. His right hand had a drip in the back of it, his left... appeared to be pinned down in some way. It dawned on him with some surprise that someone was holding his hand. Curiosity made him open his eyes part way to see who it was.
Sara Sidle was holding his hand.
What on Earth had happened?
He savoured the feeling of Sara's hand in his own. It felt both strange and yet familiar.
Whatever had happened must have been serious for her to be holding his hand. He focused as best as he could on her face. The first thing he noticed was the butterfly strip on her forehead. Then the blood that hadn't entirely been cleaned up. And the bruising. He felt remarkably lucid for someone just waking up and managed to draw a conclusion.
There must have been some kind of an accident.
On the way to or from a crime scene?
Grissom tried to remove his hand from Sara's before she woke up and realised that he knew that she had been holding it.
Sara's fingers tightened automatically to prevent him from moving away, her eyes opened and her head came up groggily. He could see that her eyes were red from crying.
Grissom was stunned at the joy he saw on her face when she realised that he was awake.
"Oh, honey! I was so worried! Are you okay? How do you feel?"
Sara was on her feet in a moment, leaning towards his face, intending to kiss him.
Grissom recoiled in stunned surprise.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?"
Her voice was uncertain, and her face paled, making the dried blood stand out starkly.
Grissom looked up at her with barely masked impatience.
"Since when have you called me 'Gil'?"
Sara backed away from the bed in horror. She felt faint but she kept going. She had to get a doctor. This had to be a dream. She'd wake up beside Gil in a minute and they'd laugh about it. Yes, a terrible nightmare.
Sara made it to the nurses station and told the Head Nurse that Grissom was awake and that he obviously didn't remember the accident or immediately before it.
She was still speaking when the darkness hovering on the edge of her vision rose up and claimed her.
The Head Nurse caught Sara as she slumped unconscious, gently lowering her to the floor and placing her in the recovery position.
She paged the Senior Registrar who was looking after her patient and then took care of Sara.
When Grissom looked up at the man who introduced himself as his doctor, he thought how much he looked like Greg. At about age twelve.
At least maybe now he would get some answers. Like where the hell Sara was for a start. She had rushed off looking like a ghost and not returned. He didn't know what had got into her. He hadn't meant to sound so brusque, but she had shocked him rigid when he thought that she was going to kiss him.
He would have liked that all too much.
For now he would have to settle for finding out how he and Sara had come to be injured.
Dr Beckett, aka Greg lookalike, returned to the nurses' station where he was directed to the relatives' room.
Sara and the nurse with her looked round when the door opened.
"I have just examined Mr Grissom, and I'm assuming that you would like to be present when I give him my conclusions."
Hope flared briefly in Sara, but died down to a flicker equally quickly. Grissom hadn't asked for her to be present, but the staff had naturally concluded that she would want to be there when he was given the news, good or bad.
Sara nodded and got up slowly. She followed the Doctor back to Grissom's bed in the ICU.
The hot sweet tea that she had been given when she came around was not sitting too well with her, and her stomach churned with anxiety.
Grissom and Sara's gazes sought each other out immediately; hers was anxious, his puzzled, but there was no recognition in Grissom's eyes of Sara as anything other than a work colleague.
They both missed the start of the Doctor's findings as they looked at each other and wondered what the other was thinking.
"... so it seems like a classic case. How far back can you remember, Mr Grissom?"
Grissom mentally shook himself and tried to recall what was the last thing he could remember.
He didn't know.
"What is today's date?"
He didn't know that one either.
"What case you working on Grissom?"
The thought popped straight into his head.
"DB found in a Dumpster. Identified by an unusual tattoo."
Sara thought back for a moment, then nodded.
She turned to the doctor.
"Three months ago."
Grissom's question hung in the air. He had lost three months?
Sara was desperately hanging on to her professionalism with every fibre of her being. She couldn't afford to let even a crack show, or she would lose it completely. She forced herself to appear calm and almost detached. It was one of the most difficult things that she had ever done.
The doctor 'hmm'd' as he looked at his patient and then glanced sideways at the woman standing at the end of the bed.
"As I have just mentioned, retrograde amnesia often follows a traumatic incident. The trauma can be mental or physical, or indeed both."
Dr Beckett immediately noticed that the brunette had stiffened at his words, although his patient just looked confused.
"Well, the trauma is obviously physical. When will my memory return? When the wound is healed?"
"I can't say. There are no set rules to amnesia, any more than I could say that another bang on the head could restore what you have lost. From our talk earlier, you appear to remember everything about your life up until recently - you are aware who you are, what you do - but for some reason, the last three months are missing. Was there anything that was preying on your mind that was especially troubling you three months ago?"
Grissom looked across the end of the bed to Sara. She was looking down at the bed covering, and she didn't look up at him, even when he paused.
"No. Nothing unusual."
His voice sounded abrupt, even to himself. There was certainly nothing new troubling him.
Something old was. Or perhaps he should say that the problem was old.
Sara could not drag her eyes away from the dull, repetitive pattern on the bed's top cover. She felt hugely guilty. She couldn't help but feel that she was partly responsible for the mental aspects of this trauma.
Grissom's subconscious had obviously been looking for a way out.
Sara's intelligence was telling her that she did not coerce anything out of Grissom and had nothing to feel guilty about. She was in no doubt that he loved her, regardless of how that discovery had come about.
Her emotional half was making her feel bad for even asking Grissom for help in the first place.
Layered over everything else was the overwhelming grief of loss. Loss of 'her' Gil, the man she loved so very much. The man who now looking at her with such a frustrated and baffled expression.
She had to have faith. She had to believe that Grissom would get his memory back.
Sara looked down at her hands and drew a sharp breath. She shoved her hands in her pockets to hide their betraying tremble.
The Doctor was still speaking, and Sara tuned back into the conversation some further tests. There will be postoperative swelling, and we may see some improvement once that begins to subside. Quite often these things resolve spontaneously."
The Doctor smiled a professional smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
"Often enough to be encouraging."
Grissom was not convinced and neither was Sara.
One of the ICU staff came over to check Grissom's observations and he suffered in silence while they completed the checks. Blood pressure, pulse, respiration and pupil dilation. The nurse was left in no doubt of Grissom's distaste at the invasion of his personal space.
Dr Beckett took advantage of the interruption to take his leave. Or escape.
"We'll be keeping you in for a few days to check that everything has settled down after the operation, then you'll be discharged to recuperate at home for at least a week."
Grissom looked like he was about to protest, but Sara spoke first.
"Thank you Dr Beckett, I'm sure that your patient will do what's needed to get out of here as soon as possible."
Grissom glared at Sara to indicate that he was perfectly capable of speaking up for himself.
Sara's returning stare indicated that he should quit while he was ahead. Something in her steely gaze must have got through because he subsided without saying anything.
Grissom lay back on his pillows and closed his eyes. It was not in a fit of pique. Even that small non-argument had tired him.
Sara followed the Doctor out of the unit. She caught up with him in the corridor and stopped him.
She was too worried about Grissom to bother about not appearing to be blunt.
"Tell me what I can do to help him get his memory back."
Dr Beckett looked apologetic.
"Nothing. It's no good trying to force him to remember. If it was a traumatic event that has triggered this, making him remember it before his brain is ready could be detrimental to his ultimate recovery."
Sara clutched at a straw.
"You said 'if it was a traumatic event'. What if it wasn't, and it's just because of the physical trauma?"
"If - and I repeat if - it is simply physical, then he may start to get flashes of memory as the damage heals. Moments of déjà vu or possibly even in his subconscious while he is dreaming. Or maybe some word or event could trigger the recall in its entirety. But it must not be forced. If you think that there is something that he has deliberately blocked out, then you will have to wait for him to tell you about it. Unless he asks the right questions, I advise you not tell him what you know."
Sara looked sick.
"Lemme get this straight. I am not allowed to tell him what has happened in the last three months?"
"If you think that something in that time is what is causing the memory loss, then no, you cannot tell him what you know."
"Even if it's something very important that I know he really would want to know?"
"Especially if it's very important."
"But - "
Beckett's pager interrupted Sara's next question. He looked at the screen and turned to go the other way up the corridor, his mind already on his next job.
"Sorry, crash call."
Dr Beckett left Sara standing alone in the corridor. People walked past her in both directions, some looking at her with curiosity, others not even noticing her.
Sara didn't see any of them. All she could see was her own anguish, a deep pain that tore at her insides and left her breathless.
Her Grissom had gone and she wasn't even allowed to try to find him.
She was sure that she would cry later, but right at this moment she just felt numb. She tried to take comfort in the fact that Grissom was alive and mostly well, even if not exactly kicking. It was better than she had expected while he had been unconscious in the ambulance.
Sara wasn't sure how long she stood there, but eventually she surfaced sufficiently enough to walk back to the ICU.
Grissom was drifting in and out of light sleep. The unfamiliar noises of the ICU made it difficult to relax, and he didn't like the lack of privacy.
He heard an extra noise and opened his eyes in time to see Sara start to turn away.
"Sara? I thought that you had gone."
Sara jumped and turned guiltily. She shoved her hands in her pockets again, trying to look relaxed.
"I didn't mean to wake you."
Grissom frowned. Sara's body language was wrong. How he knew this he didn't know, but he did.
"You didn't. Can't sleep with all this."
He looked more closely at her. She looked pale and drained.
Sara looked around at the equipment again. Anything rather than look at Grissom with both love and despair in her eyes.
"No. I s'pose not."
"You need to go home Sara. There's no reason to remain here."
She would have begged to differ; she had reason enough.
"I can't, my purse is still in the Denali. I have no money for a cab."
Grissom frowned and looked around for his clothes.
"I must have had my jacket on, my wallet has enough in it for you to get home."
Sara suddenly remembered the personal effects envelope. She fished it out of the pocket of her jeans and handed it to Grissom.
"Sorry, they wanted me to sign for the stuff because you were unconscious."
Grissom took the proffered envelope.
"This is open. Didn't they seal it?"
Sara flushed with guilt. She had opened it for a very good reason, but one that she couldn't explain here and now.
"Er, yeah, but they needed me to check the inventory."
Grissom looked at her curiously, but didn't question her further. He opened his wallet and took out some notes.
"Okay. Take this. Get yourself home and get some food and rest. In that order."
A reluctant smile tugged at Sara's lips briefly.
Grissom's lips twitched but he didn't refer to her comment when he spoke.
"If you had to sign for these things, you had better take them with you. They're not going to let me leave here today. Or tomorrow.
He took something else from the envelope. He looked at whatever it was in his palm for a long moment, obviously deep in thought.
Sara thought that she heard him sigh, but wasn't sure.
Grissom looked up at Sara expecting to make eye contact, but again she was looking at something else. She looked guilty and he wondered why.
"I'm sorry to have to ask, but Catherine will probably be at work by now. Would you mind getting me a few things from my place, and bringing them in for me?"
Sara swallowed a lump in her throat. Yesterday he would have asked her without thought, today he wants Catherine.
She nodded once and held her hand out for the keys to the townhouse.
He didn't remember that they had already had a second set cut for her, and she couldn't tell him.
Somehow their fingers touched as he handed over the keys, and Sara fervently hoped that he had felt the jolt of connection that she had.
She saw him frown as he pulled his hand back and uttered a terse 'thanks'.
She waited a couple of beats to see if he would add anything, but he didn't.
"What is it that you want?"
Grissom looked startled for a second. What did he want from her?
"Oh. Usual stuff, toiletries, facecloth, and toothbrush. A comb. It's all in the bathroom."
Sara shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other.
"Clothes? Pj's?" She prompted.
Grissom realised that Sara would be going to his townhouse and going through his things. It was a disquieting thought.
"Er, middle drawer, two sets."
Sara had a sudden realisation of her own.
All Grissom's toiletries were in the wrecked Denali. Along with hers.
"Box - underwear?"
Sara cursed inwardly. In Grissom's current reality she did not know that he wore boxers.
Grissom did not feel comfortable discussing his underwear with Sara, and she didn't look too thrilled either.
But he'd bet that it wasn't for the same reason.
Sara sneaked a look at her watch. She would have to find out where the Denali had been towed and collect their stuff.
"Am I keeping you?"
Sara looked across the bed covers at Grissom and scrambled for an explanation.
"No." She patted her watch absently. "I was just checking how quickly I could be back here with the traffic and all."
"There's no hurry. Get your food and rest first; I'm not going anywhere. Have you notified anyone at work about the accident?"
Sara's face went blank. She hadn't notified anyone at work simply because she had been too worried to think straight. The fact that they weren't due back to work for another two days, on Monday night, had only just occurred to her.
"No. No cell, no money. They're not expecting you at work until Monday night anyway."
Grissom had been about to ask Sara if they had been on their way to or from a crime scene when the accident had happened, but another startling thought had occurred.
The incident had happened at midday, so neither of them should have been working.
Why had Sara been with him?
He opened his mouth to ask, but Sara forestalled him.
"I'd better go. You need to rest and work on that memory thing."
She started to back away from the bed, making her feet move even though she wanted to stay.
"I'll be back later with your stuff. I'll let Catherine know what's happened."
Before Grissom could form a response of any kind, Sara turned and fled.
Grissom was left with a thumping headache and his instincts screaming at him that 'something' was seriously wrong.
He hated it when his questions far outnumbered his answers.
As Sara moved further and further away from the love of her life, she tried to figure out how much to tell Catherine. She had to find out what the other woman knew.
What had Grissom told her in that 'phone call?
Two hours later Sara sank gratefully into her sofa. She was almost too tired to eat, but had bought some sandwiches on the way home from the impound yard.
She looked across her apartment to the three cases by the front door and remembered Grissom hauling her cases out and telling her to 'pack for the mountains'.
A lifetime ago.
After having a drink of the bottled water, Sara opened her cheese salad sandwich and took a bite, chewing without enthusiasm. She had to keep her strength up.
She ate the rest of the sandwich methodically, barely aware of the flavour. When she had finished she disposed of the wrapper and rinsed her hands. She looked at the cases. Her back straightened as she steeled herself for her task. She wouldn't be able to rest until she had sorted out the items that Grissom had wanted.
Sara discovered immediately that Grissom's case was locked. Typical.
She picked out the smallest of the keys on his keyring and was surprised when it didn't fit the case. There were only four keys to choose from, so she tried another.
It was the right one and Sara opened the case and laid it flat on the floor.
She was assailed by the scent of Grissom. It summoned up a slew of memories as she hunted for the packed washbag and she found that her cheeks were wet with tears.
Sara brushed them away and sniffed. She didn't normally consider herself a weepy person, but she didn't seem able to stop. She put it down to posttraumatic shock and the grief of loss of 'her' Gil.
She closed her eyes briefly as she sat down on the floor beside the case and hugged the washbag to her chest. She just needed a minute.
Catherine Willows cursed as the phone on Grissom's desk started ringing as she was leaving the office. She was tempted to leave it but it was the 'external' ring tone and might be important.
Like the ten other things that she should be doing right now.
She stalked over to the desk, her eyes rolling skyward in supplication as she snatched the handset up. She managed not to snarl.
She listened for a few moments, then sat down with a thump on Grissom's chair.
"Is he okay? Are you okay? What happened?"
Catherine listened for several minutes, her pale face regaining some of its colour when she realised that both Sara and Grissom were all right.
"Is there anything that you need? Or that we can do to help?"
Catherine pulled a notepad over and wrote down the dates that Grissom would be on sick leave.
"What can they tell you about the amnesia?"
Her tone was serious for more than one reason.
"That's all very well, but you know as well as I do that Grissom has three months of evidence locked away in his head. If he can't testify... "
The consequences could be devastating for some of their cases. Especially for the victims and their families. Jeez.
As she listened she doodled on the note pad, writing three months as '3/12' and circling it a couple of times. The pen stopped moving suddenly.
"What? That's ridiculous! We have to get him up to speed and jogging his memory is just the thing to do it... bullshit, he didn't have anything worrying him. That's crap and you know it. Yeah, figures. Okay, I'll sort his paperwork from this end. No, that's okay, you feel better soon."
Catherine listened for a few more moments, getting ready to hang up and already mentally sorting the shift rota for the next few weeks. At Sara's next question she suddenly sat up straight and shifted gears. Had she been the animal that her name was often abbreviated to, her ears would have pricked up.
"He didn't say much at all. Just that you had to get away because your doctor had been recommending it for some time and that you had resisted her advice. Reading between the lines I assumed that he was taking you to your family for a rest."
Her assumption begged an explanation but Sara didn't correct her or give her any further information. It was very frustrating. Catherine became aware that she was tapping the pen rapidly on the desk and stopped it.
"No, we can cope. You take the time that the doctor suggests, and if you're up to it, you can keep an eye on Grissom. Tell him we'll be in to see him tomorrow. Later."
Catherine put the handset down on the 'phone.
There had been a certain amount of mischievous glee in Catherine's voice as she suggested that Sara take care of Grissom. If anyone could jog his memory she could.
Catherine paused as she had a sudden thought.
Perhaps what she should really be doing was to find out who Grissom had been waiting for the day that she went around to his place and he'd been about to leave, practically shoving her off the doorstep in his haste to get to his guest. He'd not even noticed that he was still wearing his slippers.
Perhaps the mysterious woman had been the troubling event that Grissom was blocking out.
She'd give her favourite new Manolos to know just exactly what had happened in the last two weeks.
Catherine was quite certain that it was not what Gil had led her to believe.
Sara took a deep cleansing breath and let it out gently as she unlocked the front door to Grissom's town house. She used her own set of keys, partly to check that they actually worked, and partly because they were part of the new life that she and Grissom had been going to try to build. She needed to believe that that life would be retrievable.
The door swung open easily in front of her and she stepped into the hallway leading to the large main room. She carried Grissom's case as far as the cupboards in the hall area and put it down. The townhouse was very warm and smelled closed up. Sara found the control for the air conditioning and turned it on to try to make a dent in the heat before she left.
She retrieved the case, carried it through to Grissom's bedroom and swung it up onto the bed. She took a few moments to look around the room.
It was a different style to Grissom's room in the cabin, but it was coolly masculine in light blue and grey, and Sara could see him in it very easily. There was a large double bed, two bedside tables with drawers, a five-drawer chest, and the closet.
Sara wandered around the room, touching a little statuette on the chest of drawers, looking at the Vettriano on the wall opposite the bed and finally coming to a halt beside the right hand bedside table, which was clearly the one Grissom used. A book of poems lay closed but marked with a piece of paper.
Unable to resist, Sara tried the top drawer, but found it locked. It had a very small keyhole, and in a flash of inspiration she tried the smallest key on Grissom's keyring.
To her surprise it did fit and she wondered what he had locked in there that was so important that he kept the key with him at all times.
About to open the drawer, Sara hesitated. This really was private stuff. Perhaps she should wait until her Gil could choose to show her the contents.
She pulled open the drawer and was surprised to find it almost empty. There were just a couple of photographs lying face down, and a computer disk. She picked the photos up and turned them over. She smiled in recognition.
"So that's where they went."
They were two photographs taken last Christmas at work. Greg had insisted on getting a couple of shots to go on the break room's noticeboard. He had seated Sara and Catherine, and had all the men stand behind the two women. Greg was missing in one and Nick in the other, as they had taken the pictures. Both pictures had Grissom standing behind Sara with what she now thought of as a slightly proprietorial air.
The pictures had mysteriously disappeared in January during a noticeboard tidy up.
Sara had been particularly peeved, as she had been hoping to acquire them herself.
Sara smiled as she looked at the two photographs. The pictures were indeed worth a thousand words.
"Well. You crafty... "
She felt considerably cheered up.
She wondered what was on the disk. It looked like the same type that Grissom had used to store the AI stuff off the net, but this one was not labelled, so she couldn't be sure without booting up Grissom's laptop and she wasn't willing to go that far.
Sara replaced everything as it was and locked the drawer.
She felt comforted by her find. If Grissom had been interested enough to take the pictures from the notice board he would find his way back to her.
And if - after a reasonable amount of recovery time - he didn't or couldn't get back, then she would go and find him.
With a renewed sense of purpose, Sara got up from the bed and opened Grissom's case. She hung up the jacket so that it wouldn't be creased, but she left everything else in the case, and left the case open on the bed.
She collected the things that Grissom had wanted but didn't put the rest away. She might not be able to jog his memory directly, but she wanted him to be thinking hard. Leaving the case out and open would make him wonder where he had been - he who never took a break - and why he had been away. The contents would also make him realise that it had been a social break, not a work related one.
Sara went in to the bathroom - more blue and grey - and had a quick look for a spare toothbrush in the mirrored cabinet over the basin.
She found one and unwrapped it, putting the plastic waste in her pocket. She put the toothbrush in the empty holder on the wall. She frowned at it for a moment and then smiled at her reflection in the mirror.
"Don't want to make this too hard for you honey. You use your privilege of rank when you get back to work."
She ran the cold water for a moment and then rinsed the new brush. Then she cleaned her teeth.
Sara wiped the water from her face with the small towel by the basin, and smirked again at the woman in the mirror as she put the brush back in the holder.
"DNA is DNA is DNA. Happy hunting hon."
She was still smiling when she left the townhouse ten minutes later carrying Grissom's things in an overnight bag.
Grissom was relieved to hear that he was being moved to a regular post-operative surgical room now that he appeared to be stable.
Physically at least.
He had been given some medication for his headache and it had been dulled to a faint roar. He chafed at the bit to get out of the hospital altogether and get back to the townhouse for some real peace and quiet.
Doctor Beckett had been back to see him and filled in a few more of the blanks about the accident that put him in hospital.
He now knew that he had been driving and Sara had been his passenger. That the police had been chasing a stolen car and that both the stolen car and the police had ended up hitting the Denali. He was relieved that it had not been his carelessness that had injured Sara.
Grissom figured that he had already hurt her enough.
"Wow, what a shiner!"
Grissom looked up over his glasses at Catherine as she stood in the doorway of his new room. He put down his paper.
She had a big grin on her face as she stepped forward and came around to the side of his bed to get a closer look.
"Nice to see you too."
Grissom's voice was dry as he tolerated Catherine's inspection. He had seen his black eye in the mirror on the wall in the toilet. Actually both of them were black, but his left was worse than his right by far.
"So, how are you doing?"
"They won't let me go home."
"Gee, I wonder why?"
Catherine gave it the full wide-eyed innocent routine and Grissom smiled a little in spite of himself.
"Can't see it myself."
He sobered abruptly and looked at Catherine.
"How is the Lab. doing?"
Catherine waved her hand dismissively.
"Sameo, sameo. It has been busy with you both off; we do need you back at work. "
Grissom's head came up sharply.
Catherine was well aware of Doctor Beckett's opinion about Grissom's retrograde amnesia and the recommendation that they should not push him to remember. But she knew Grissom and he wasn't the kind of man to duck out like this. He was stubborn but he was no coward. If he had a problem he'd deal with it.
It wouldn't be the first time that she had got results by brazening it out.
She might even get some answers to her own questions.
"Yeah, of course you won't remember that you took Sara away for ten days. She's been unwell, some personal thing she has going on."
Catherine waited for the bombshell to explode. It didn't take long.
Grissom's voice was quiet but deadly.
Catherine affected innocence.
"Yeah. You rang me at home to arrange leave for both of you - very short notice by the way - no actual explanation, but we've known for some time that Sara was under some strain from outside work, so we - "
Grissom interrupted Catherine's flow of words. His headache had blossomed anew and his stomach had flipped unpleasantly. He tried to concentrate on the available facts, sparse as they were.
" 'I arranged leave' for both of us does not mean that I took Sara away."
He couldn't imagine what extraordinary circumstances would bring about that event.
Catherine placed one hand on a hip and the other on her chin. She looked thoughtful.
"Mm, I guess we won't know unless we ask Sara. Fortunately she doesn't have amnesia."
Grissom's instinctive reaction had been to say 'no' to questioning Sara, but he didn't say it aloud. He didn't know why he didn't want to ask her, but something in him knew that it unsettled him.
"I'll ask her myself."
His tone was abrupt and ended the discussion.
Catherine had even more questions now.
She decided that tact was the better part of valour for the moment, and changed the subject.
"Okay. Do you need me to run by your place and get you anything?"
"No. Sara is bringing in what I need later. I gave her my keys."
Grissom did not like the dry amusement that appeared in Catherine's eyes.
"Sara is bringing you what you need and has your keys. Okay. Good."
Grissom disliked the way that the suggestive tone made him feel as if he had behaved inappropriately.
" She was here, it made sense to ask her. You were at work. It isn't what you think."
Catherine's smile reminded Grissom of a cat beside a mouse hole.
"Gil, you have no idea what I'm thinking."
Sara thanked the nurse for letting her know where Grissom's new room was and moved along the corridor looking for the room number.
The door to the double room was open and she paused in the doorway before silently crossing the room to place the overnight bag beside bed.
Sara was grateful that there were no other visitors. Grissom appeared to be asleep so she indulged herself and looked at him for a few moments. Like her he sported some colourful bruises, still the purple and darkest blue from yesterday. Someone had cleaned off the dried blood and he looked better than the last time that she had seen him.
It wasn't the first time that she had watched him sleep. Despite the fact that he was in a hospital bed, she felt the same pull to him that she had experienced up in the cabin. She felt a wave of yearning wash over her and she stepped forward without thought, her hand raised to hover near his left hand as it rested on his chest.
She didn't touch him. One touch would not be enough.
Sara drew back her hand and stepped away from the bed. Her eyes were filling up as she turned to leave. She would not come back again. She couldn't do this.
Even as Sara jumped in surprise she dashed her hand across her eyes before she turned back to face Grissom. She gave him her big smile.
"Hey, Grissom. Thought you were asleep. Brought your stuff."
Grissom looked down at the bag and back up.
"No problem. How are you doing?"
Grissom looked at her. His eyes narrowed when he noticed that her eyes were red.
He wondered how long she had been in the room before he heard her put down the bag. The blood had gone but the butterfly strip was still in place. She was almost as bruised around the eyes as him. Her skin looked translucent with fatigue.
Had she been ill before the crash? Had he really taken her away?
Sara nodded as if in agreement.
There was an awkward silence. Sara stood with her hands in the pockets of her pants and looked around the room as if for inspiration.
Grissom couldn't stand not knowing about the two weeks a moment longer.
"Sara, did we -"
He was interrupted by a commotion at the door. Nick and Warrick came in carrying a book of crossword puzzles and grapes respectively.
"Hey Grissom! Sara! Good to see you're okay girl. Man, Gris, you pick the darndest way of getting out of coming back to work."
Warrick's timing couldn't have been worse. Grissom bit back his frustration, greeting the young man with a nod.
Nick, too, questioned him good naturedly about avoiding work and Grissom managed to remain polite.
Having greeted Grissom and handed over their offerings, Warrick turned back to greet Sara more fully.
"So, Sara -"
Grissom silently cursed.
She had gone.
Two weeks later.
Grissom let himself in to his townhouse and shut the door behind him. The cool air-conditioning was a relief from the oppressive heat outside and he resisted the temptation to sag back against the door.
This morning he had completed his final check up at the hospital and had been cleared to return to work. This last week at home had not been required in his opinion, but he had not been allowed to return to work until he was cleared. He was eager to get back to work for several reasons, not least of all was to try to get to see Sara on her own.
It had been a very frustrating two weeks. Sara was clearly avoiding him and she had only been to visit him in hospital in the company of one or more of the others and rarely at that. He couldn't bring himself to ask her to stay behind in front of anyone else and he knew that she knew that.
After he had come home he had asked Catherine deliver the most important of his casenotes covering the last three months to him in the hope that Sara would bring them over, but Nick had delivered them.
Catherine, Warrick, Nick, Brass and even Greg had taken time out from when they should have been sleeping to visit him and tell him about things that they remembered from the last three months. They were hoping to kick-start his memory whilst filling him in on the 'social' memories.
Grissom was getting frequent headaches, but he did not tell the hospital staff in case they extended his sick leave.
Nothing that he had read or heard from the rest of the staff had jogged his memory. Sometimes he felt that he was on the edge of discovery, but it had remained frustratingly just out of reach.
Coming home from hospital to find his suitcase open on his bed hadn't surprised him, but finding a second toothbrush out in the bathroom had.
He had retrieved a plastic sample bag from his spare collection case in his closet and bagged up the toothbrush. Granted he could have put out a second one and just not remembered, but he did not usually do that, preferring instead to throw out the old one immediately. He'd get it to DNA and see what they could come up with.
At least now he had an idea about who to run as a comparison.
Sara opened her locker door and deposited her purse and lightweight jacket. She barely glanced at the calendar taped to the inside of the door. She was early for work as usual.
Her stomach roiled with nerves as she closed the locker and slipped shut the lock.
Grissom would be back at work tonight.
Part of her was pleased beyond measure and part of her was terrified. She was still hoping for a miracle, for one of them to find the key that would unlock his memories and put their lives back on track.
The terrified part of her was convinced that her Gil was never coming back.
She felt as if she were riding one of Grissom's favourite roller coasters.
At least her stomach was at any rate.
Sara had tried to keep busy since the accident, not allowing herself too much time to think about what had happened. She was also guilty of avoiding Grissom. She was worried that she was going to jeopardise his recovery by blurting out the whole truth about the three months prior to the car accident. She had read all that she could about cases similar to Grissom's, and although she was certain that no harm would come to him, she didn't want to take the chance that she was wrong.
Sara had been so lost in thought that she hadn't heard Warrick come into the locker area.
"Hi. You're early this evening."
Warrick looked amused.
"I could say the same but there would be no point. Nick and I came in early to lay on a few things to welcome Gris back."
He lifted the bag and wiggled it slightly.
"You know he hates 'cake in the break room'. So please tell me his treat involves a special blend of his favourite coffee."
Warrick laughed suggestively, teasing Sara as they both walked to the doorway of the locker area.
"Now honey, you know I'd tell you anything that you want to know."
Grissom's voice was like a shock of cold water over the two of them.
Both Sara and Warrick stopped dead, Sara in shock and Warrick in surprise. Warrick recovered first.
"Hey, Grissom. Good to have you back man."
Warrick held out his hand to shake with Grissom. After a moment that Warrick pretended he hadn't noticed, Grissom returned the handshake.
"Good to be back."
He looked at Sara and nodded coolly.
She nodded back, her smile pasted on.
Warrick looked at the two of them squared off to each other and wondered at the tension he could feel. He had the distinct impression that Grissom was angry at finding them laughing together.
He made his escape as soon as he could, leaving Sara alone with Grissom.
He was not going to get in the middle of that can of worms.
Having seen off Warrick, Grissom turned back to Sara.
Seconds passed in silence without either of them appearing to notice.
Sara searched for signs that it was Gil looking at her.
Grissom noticed that Sara appeared fully recovered from the accident. His anger faded in the face of the way she was looking at him. It reminded him of when she had wiped chalk dust off his face. Tender but trying to be neutral. A sliver of memory wriggled in the distance and made him frown in annoyance when it faded out altogether. Something about chalk dust resonated in him.
Sara saw the frown and misinterpreted its reason. She had done something wrong but had no clue what. She nervously fingered her necklace as she backed off and looked around the corridor rather than at Grissom.
"I'll... go join the others. See you later."
She went with alacrity and didn't look back.
If she had she would have seen Grissom stare after her with some speculation.
Grissom returned to his office. He had been in work for a couple of hours, and had already visited the DNA lab. He had set the 'unknown' sample from the toothbrush running, and Greg knew well enough not to interfere if he saw that Grissom had something 'cooking'.
Shoving a pile of casenotes and files to one side, Grissom placed his briefcase on his desk and opened it. He pulled out his diary from home, then replaced his bag on the floor. He didn't know why he hadn't thought of his diary before. Something might help in there if he went back far enough.
He checked his watch. He still had half an hour before handing out the assignments.
Only ten minutes later Grissom found an entry dated within the last three months.
'Sara has asked for my help. It is extraordinary, and I can't believe that I've agreed. I do not know what possessed me, I only know that she when she said that she understood why I would say no, I was stunned by her courage.'
Grissom re read the entry several times and he still couldn't figure it out.
What help did Sara want? Why would he have said no?
Another slightly earlier entry alarmed him.
' Still shocked by Sara's news. Only a year left. She has a difficult choice to make. Does she accept treatment or does she let go gracefully? I don't know what I would do in her position, but she's a fighter. I hope she fights.'
Grissom was glad that he was sitting down.
Sara was terminally ill.
No wonder that he had wanted to forget.
It was several minutes before Grissom could pick up the diary and continue to read. There were further entries, which appeared to be in some sort of code.
'S. 15:00hrs. to discuss help.'
And more recently, within the last two months, a regular entry of just the letter 'S' every three or four days.
Grissom found no more clues, and no entries more recent than a month ago.
'S' was probably represented Sara, but what was going on every three or four days? Was she having chemotherapy or radiotherapy or... or... what?
He forced himself to stop leaping to conclusions, even if it seemed clear cut. He applied his rules of evidence and decided that it was about time that he spoke to Sara.
As her Supervisor.
He waited a moment in his chair then realised that having discovered what he thought was the trigger for his memory loss, he was now waiting for the rush of memories that the truth should have revealed.
At least, that was how it happened in the movies.
Grissom remained depressingly memory free. He repeated the words 'chalk dust' to himself several times as a test and still felt the resonance that he had before. He would have to look for other things that resonated.
He got up out of his chair, left his office and walked towards the break room.
Half way there he was intercepted by Catherine who insisted that he come and look at some piece of evidence that even Greg could have sorted without supervision.
Despite his divergent thoughts, the penny dropped for Grissom while he was looking through the microscope.
He peered up at Catherine.
"You've been sent to distract me."
"Yeah, well, they don't know you like I do, O curmudgeonly one. I told them you don't do the hi's, goodbye's and welcome back's but you know them."
"I thought I did."
Catherine was taken aback by Grissom's serious tone but didn't get chance to question it before he got up from the microscope and exited the lab, leaving Catherine standing there with her mouth open.
Grissom returned to his office and pulled out his cell on the way.
"Sara? My office now."
His voice was brusque and he had returned the cell to his pants pocket without waiting for a reply.
In the break room Sara was left standing holding her cell phone and feeling silly. Her stomach dipped again. This was one meeting that she couldn't avoid.
She made her apologies to Warrick and Nick, and left the room.
Grissom looked up as he heard a knock on the already open door of his office.
He made an effort not to stare at Sara to see if he could see any sign of her illness.
"Come in, and shut the door." He added ' Please ' as an afterthought.
Sara felt a moment of déjà vu as she entered the office and shut the door behind her. She crossed the office and took the seat in front of the desk.
Grissom didn't beat about the bush.
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
Sara's tone was wary. Grissom didn't look like a man who had suddenly remembered that he loved her.
"That you were ill."
He gestured to the book in front of him, and Sara could see that it looked like a diary.
Dear God, had he written it all down?
She went white and felt faint. He didn't remember, but he had all the information. What must it look like to him?
Grissom was alarmed at her lack of colour.
"Are you okay?"
He was half out of his seat, but Sara waved him back. If he touched her it would all come pouring out and she couldn't risk it.
"Yeah, it was just a bit of a shock. I had no idea that you kept a diary, you never mentioned it when - "
Sara broke off.
"When...?" Grissom prompted.
Sara shook her head. He hadn't mentioned it up at the cabin.
"Doesn't matter. Does any of it jog your memory?"
"My memory? Christ Sara, I would have thought that your illness was more important than my memory. It explains -"
It was Grissom's turn to break off. He was about to admit that it would have explained why he wanted to forget - that the woman he cared for was terminally ill.
Sara didn't ask what 'it' explained.
"It's not an illness, it's a fact of life. It happens to thousands of woman every day, it just happened to me a little earlier than most. I just had to live with it."
Grissom frowned in puzzlement. Something she had to live with?
"I don't understand. Do you mean that you are responding to treatment?"
Sara laughed with genuine enjoyment for the first time in ages. Her eyes shone and she gestured with her hand towards the diary.
"You could call it that I guess. You're the one keeping a diary."
If he already knew about her premature menopause, there was no danger in filling in some of the blanks for him. It obviously hadn't caused a brain fizz for him.
" Three months ago I was told during a routine check up that I was perimenopausal and that if I wanted to have a child, it would have to be within a year. I discussed with you the pros and cons of artificial insemination. You were very helpful.
Grissom was beginning to realise that something was seriously crossed in the 'wire' department. He opened the diary and re read the entries with this new information.
"So you're not terminally ill?"
Sara's jaw fell open in shock.
"What? No! Of course not. Whatever gave you that idea?"
Grissom looked a bizarre mixture of sheepish and relieved.
Sara's suspicions were aroused and she stood up to reach for the diary.
"What exactly did you write in there?"
Grissom pulled the book away from her grasp. He didn't want her to see his thoughts and feelings about her.
"Very little. Which I have obviously misinterpreted. I apologise."
His voice was tight. Not unusual in these circumstances, Grissom's embarrassment and relief were translating into anger at the unnecessary fright that he had given himself.
Sara responded immediately to his changed tone. It wasn't her fault that he had scared himself. The stress and worry caused by the state of his health and the progress of her own made her temper a little short too. She stood up to leave.
"Yeah, well, next time don't be so frigging cryptic. Save us all the hassle."
It would have been a splendid exit line as she headed for the door except Grissom's voice halted her halfway across the room.
"So what exactly did you mean by 'you could call it that I guess' when I asked about responding to treatment?"
Sara stopped dead in her tracks, her back to Grissom.
She turned back to face him and their eyes met.
Sara had pictured this moment in a very different setting and she could have wept for that lost dream.
She sighed, and tried to keep the wobble out of her voice.
"It means that I'm pregnant."
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