DISCLAIMER: They're not mine, I promise to put them back where I found them. No money made, no infringement intended.
NOTE: In my little world that team split thing never happened. Special credits go to Sasha, for allowing me to play with her idea and incorporate it into this story. A big thank you to my beta Krys for all her help. Quoted lyrics in chapter 28 written by William Blake, the ones in chapter 33 written by Hermann Hesse.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

Strong Enough
By Karen


Chapter 29

"Sara?" A soft pair of lips briefly brushed her forehead before pressing against her cheek. "Wake up baby." Catherine whispered into her ear.


Smiling brightly at her lover, Catherine waited till Sara opened her eyes to lean down and kiss her. "Hi." She murmured against Sara's lips. The brunette wrapped her arms around her and Catherine happily snuggled into the embrace.

"Why do you have clothes on?" Sara mumbled still half asleep, nuzzling Catherine's hair.

"Because we have to go to work soon?"

Sara sighed and rolled them over so she was lying on top. A small pout gracing her lips she sleepily gazed into the smiling blue eyes. "Says who?"

Catherine chuckled reaching up to tuck dark strands of hair behind Sara's ears. "Did you hit your head when I wasn't looking?" She pulled the brunette down for another soft kiss and hugged her close. "I made coffee."


When Sara made no effort to move from her spot Catherine chuckled again and ruffled the soft hair beneath her fingers, receiving muffled purrs in return. "You're adorable…" She whispered kissing Sara's temple, "But we have to get up." Yawning a little Sara sniffled and snuggled closer. "Jim called." Catherine said getting Sara's immediate attention. She gently brushed the warm cheek, smiling into Sara's eyes, "Warrick woke up an hour ago."

Sara smiled, relief washing over her. "Is he okay?"

"Yeah." Catherine nodded, "I thought maybe we could go see him before work."

"Of course." Sara smiled before leaning down to capture soft lips once more. Glancing at the watch she rolled out of bed, "I need a shower." Offering Catherine a hand Sara pulled her up, "Don't we have to pick up Linds first?"

"Nancy is picking her up today."

"Do your feet hurt?" Sara asked turning towards her, suddenly looking worried.

"No, they feel much better." Catherine was surprised when Sara smiled and gently took her hand leading her towards the bathroom. "What are you doing?" Sara's smile turned into a mischievous grin but she said nothing, her fingers already tugging at Catherine's shirt trying to pull it out of her pants. Catherine tried protesting a little, "Sweetie, we don't have the…" She trailed off when Sara's lips silenced her, strong arms wrapping around her back pulling her close. She couldn't think of anything other than giving in.

"Didn't I tell you you were overdressed?"

From where she stood he looked like he was sleeping. Eyes closed, breathing even, long arms resting by his sides but Sara couldn't be sure. She let the door close with a soft click and moved towards the bed but her coat got caught and jerked her back. Muttering curses under her breath she turned to open the door again. Refusing to look at an amused nurse watching her from the hallway, Sara grumbled and pulled her coat out with a little too much force and stumbled backwards knocking over a small chair in the process. She squeezed her eyes shut at the noise that filled the small room and held her breath before turning around slowly to find a startled Warrick staring at her wide eyed, trying with all his might not to laugh.

"Did I wake you?" She chose the most ridiculous question and that finally cracked him up.

"It was worth it." He managed between chuckles and she rolled her eyes.

"I'm a menace." Sara mumbled smiling sheepishly, a deep blush creeping up her neck.

"Nah," Warrick chuckled reaching a hand towards her, "That was adorable."

A shy smile curling her lips, Sara approached and gently took his outstretched hand squeezing it a little. "On a scale from one to ten, how badly does it hurt?"

"Uhm, four?" Warrick offered uncertainly.

"Oh, good." Sara let go of his fingers, leaned over and gave him a crushing hug. Thinking he had to be anything but comfortable having her press onto his wound like that, she tried pulling back a little but Warrick grinned and pulled her close. He ignored a quick pang of pain shooting through his abdomen and gently rubbed her back, still happy just to know nothing happened to her. "Jesus, Warrick." Sara mumbled, her voice cracking, "Scare me like that again and I'll shoot you myself."

"Sorry," He chuckled, "Forgot to duck."

Snorting a little and pulling away, Sara sat beside him taking Warrick's hand again. He looked tired, his eyes were sleepy and he was obviously in much more pain than he cared to admit but that goofy grin on his face made Sara smile back. "You're an amazing friend, Warrick." She told him softly. There were so many emotions Sara had to deal with; she knew she probably owed Warrick her life but for some reason that knowledge hadn't been as terrifying as she would have imagined. It actually felt pretty amazing to know she had people around her willing to protect her. She knew she would have done the same for them.

As if reading her thoughts Warrick just shrugged a little, "Don't worry about it, Sara. I know you'd cover my back too."

Hearing him say that somehow allowed her to find a little comfort. "I'll never forget what you did for me." Sara promised.

"It's what friends do." He smiled patting her hand, "So come on, wipe that worried look off your face. I'll be all right." Sara sighed and leaned back a little, happy to see the familiar glint in his eyes. "We did catch the bastard, right?" Warrick asked after a while.

"Yeah. The doctors patched him up and he should be released soon."

"He won't get away, Sara." Warrick grimaced a little and Sara got up to help him settle more comfortably against the pillow.

She nodded before saying, "Jim will probably stop by to get a statement later." Warrick nodded tiredly. Offering a glass of water to him Sara admitted, "He might get away with Eddie's murder though. Maybe even with that arson."

"I don't know," He mumbled, "Sure, there's a lack of evidence…"

"And witnesses."

"That too. But you're forgetting Kiner is in Jim's hands now." Warrick grinned slowly, "I doubt he'll have fun." They both smirked a little.

"True." Sara finally agreed sitting down on the bed again, "And he definitely sealed his fate when he shot Candeece Black."

"Probably never considered she might have had backup, eh?"

"I know he won't get away. It's just a matter of how many crimes we'll be able to pin on him." Sara dropped her gaze to her hands. The guy was looking at the possible capital punishment already and she still felt as if she had failed.

Warrick tried moving slightly and groaned in discomfort then settled back down. "You're right. He might not be too cooperative." He sighed and tried to smile at her. "At least we've got him off the streets."

"You've got nothing to lose." The calmness in Jim's voice belied his true emotions. He had been watching Mark Kiner fidget uncomfortably in his bed for nearly twenty minutes before finally entering the hospital room himself. That was an hour ago. But then again, he had time.

"Nothing to gain either, if you ask me." The young man in front of him wouldn't look him in the eyes.

"I wasn't asking, Mr. Kiner."

"You're wasting your time."

"Am I?" The detective leaned further resting his arms on the bed panel, "Every available CSI is going through your apartment and that dump you call your office as we speak. I wonder what they'll find."

The disheveled man looked up. "Why would I help you?"

"It might ease your conscience and possibly your punishment." Jim offered scratching his chin.

"Give me a break." Kiner snorted.

"Nice pun but I couldn't possibly." Straightening up, Jim continued to pace around the room. "The real question is would you prefer the death row or would life imprisonment be more satisfying for you?" He asked casually after a few moments.

"Go to hell!" Kiner barked at the detective.

Locking eyes with Kiner and ignoring the raging fire in them currently aimed straight at him, Jim smiled sweetly and decided to take a seat again. "Let me explain, Mr. Kiner." He shifted slightly to get more comfortable. "You are facing several charges for murder, arson, attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, resisting an arrest and whatever else we might see fit. Now I suggest you give it some thought." When the man remained quiet, Jim went on, "We both know most offenders with life sentences eventually get out of prison. Now is your chance to use your wit and dazzle me and I might help your sorry ass avoid the needle."

"Did you have a nice nap?" A familiar voice asked gently and Warrick turned his head around. Catherine was smiling at him from the doorway.

He nodded a little, small smile playing on his lips. Sara said she would come but he had a hard time believing it. "I had a dream too." He told her softly watching her approach with caution, almost like she wasn't sure if she was supposed to be there.

"Yeah?" Taking a seat on the edge of his bed just like Sara did a while ago, Catherine cocked her head to the side searching his eyes. He nodded again, his eyes turning more sad.

"It was bad. I couldn't breathe…" Warrick started, watching a small frown appear on her forehead. "Thought I was gonna die." Catherine gently took his hand, the memories of last night coming back to her too vividly. "You were there too," His voice was thick with emotion, "You told me everything would be all right." Watching Catherine's eyes fill with tears as she realized what he was doing, a sudden fear that she might leave gripped Warrick's heart. If she did he'd never get another chance to ask forgiveness. "I believed you." He lightly squeezed her fingers when she looked away, "I did. And things weren't so scary any more."

"It wasn't a dream." Catherine whispered, looking up into his eyes again. She found it impossible to look at him and not cry, knowing she could have lost a friend, knowing what he did saved the life of the woman she loved.

"I miss you Catherine." Warrick told her, hating and fearing those quick little tears that kept rushing down her cheeks. Her eyes were so sad it almost felt unbearable to look at her and keep breathing, knowing everything he had to say would only bring her pain.

"It's all right." Catherine offered but it wasn't enough, he needed to say everything. She wanted to reach up and brush his face but he wouldn't let go of her hand.

"No, it's not." Warrick shook his head a little. "I never told you how sorry I am. I almost left without telling you." They kept looking at each other and Warrick realized she wasn't about to run. She wasn't moving from her place and he felt safe enough to loosen his grip a little. "I'm sorry Cath."

"I know." Catherine nodded. She felt grateful Warrick didn't even try to diminish his apology with looking for excuses for everything that happened. A small tear threatened to spill from the corner of his eye and Catherine gently caught it with her thumb. "Me too."

"I want my friend back." Warrick whispered almost inaudibly but Catherine heard him clearly and leaned over to wrap her arms around him.

"She never left." Catherine promised and kissed his cheek, feeling his arms tighten their hold around her. She rested her head on Warrick's shoulder and took a deep breath before saying, "There's something else I've wanted to tell you."


"Remember what I once told you about Sara? That one time you asked me why I fought her so hard."

"Yeah." Warrick nodded, thinking that must have been years ago, "That you couldn't let her close, fearing you'd break if you ever lost her."

Catherine closed her eyes for a while before saying quietly, "I've let her close." There was a moment of silence between them before she pulled away a little to look at Warrick's face. She never expected to find a smile on his lips. His eyes looked so soft and his smile grew and Catherine could feel he didn't mind knowing. Warick simply nodded a little and Catherine choked back the tears, "You saved me from breaking. Thank you."

"Any time, Cath." He smiled opening his arms again and Catherine snuggled back into her friend's embrace finally relaxing a little. "Any time."

"You scared me, you know." She said quietly not waiting for a response. Playfully slapping his arm Catherine threatened in a teasing tone, "I may have to hurt you if you ever pull another stunt like that." She wasn't surprised to feel a low chuckle rumble from deep within his chest.

"Go stand in line."


Chapter 30

Rolling a cigarette between her fingers Sara contemplated for a while if she should light it. Whether it was a habit or a need she couldn't really say, maybe it was both but sometimes there was this irresistible pull she didn't feel like fighting. It felt easier to give in, almost comforting to fill her lungs and let everything fade away with each exhale while she watched the little puffs of smoke leave her in a rush.

The small bench she was sitting on felt cold and uncomfortable, the wind was getting stronger and she briefly wondered if it would rain again. Waiting for Catherine at the back entrance to the hospital she kept staring at her hands, her mind replaying her brother's words over and over again making her feel all the more confused. Things were happening so fast in the last few weeks, everything was changing and Sara's head kept spinning every time she tried thinking back to sort them out. Just when she thought she might finally be able to relax a little her past once more came rushing back.

Smiling when familiar arms sneaked around her waist Sara leaned into the soft body behind her. Catherine's lips found her cheek and she turned her head a little to kiss them briefly. "Didn't even hear you…" She trailed off trying to pull Catherine to sit next to her but the blonde had other ideas.

Her lips found Sara's earlobe, teeth nipping lightly before she trailed kisses down her neck. Sara threw her head back suppressing a moan when she felt Catherine suck on her pulse point. "Can't keep my hands off of you…" She murmured against the soft skin, "One look at you and I don't feel like going to work at all." Her hands were trailing over Sara's arms and shoulders, her words making Sara's breath hitch.

"I was just about to suggest that." Sara breathed out.

"Really?" Catherine smiled, "Wanna play hooky with me?"

"Griss would kill us."

"Nah, that would be too much hassle for him." Catherine glanced over Sara's shoulder towards the cigarette her lover kept playing with, then back to Sara's eyes, "Besides, he'd have to find us first." She wiggled her eyebrows and straddled the bench letting Sara pull her close with her free arm. "Better not let Jim see you." She added conspiratorially. When Sara's eyebrows lifted questioningly Catherine smiled a little, "As soon as I so much as mention smoking he pops nicorettes in my hand."

Chuckling, Sara looked down. "Been there…" She murmured putting the cigarette back into her pocket before turning fully towards Catherine and wrapping her in a hug. She sighed and buried her face in blonde hair, grateful for the sense of calmness washing over her.

"God… I want you close." Catherine murmured into Sara's ear, her arms sneaking around Sara's waist again.

"How close?" Sara smiled and wrapped her arms more tightly around the slender form.

"Really, really close…" Snuggling into the embrace, Catherine tucked her head underneath Sara's chin and sighed contentedly. "I want you with me all the time."

Humming softly when Catherine started trailing more kisses down her neck, Sara couldn't help teasing a little, "Wouldn't that be dangerous? You might get tired of me."

"Not a chance." Looking up a little Catherine brushed her lips along Sara's jaw. "Trying to wiggle out of my grasp already?"

Gently cradling Catherine's face Sara looked deeply into the blue eyes, "Never." Watching a small smile play on Catherine's lips she traced them with her thumb. "I love you Catherine, you're stuck with me. I'm not letting you go." She leaned in and their lips met in a tender kiss but as Sara learned not long ago, their kisses usually didn't stay chaste for long. Soon she felt Catherine's tongue slide along her bottom lip and whimpered when sharp teeth gently sank in moments before Catherine buried her hands in Sara's hair pulling her closer. Sara wasn't sure whose moan she heard when their tongues finally met, each time it felt like the first and she could do nothing but kiss back hungrily, feeling lightheaded and not wanting to stop.

When they finally pulled apart Sara buried her face into Catherine's neck, smiling happily and not giving a damn about making out in public. "I love you too." Catherine whispered feeling Sara tighten her hold around her. She kissed the top of Sara's head and for a while just held her close. Sara wasn't letting go and Catherine decided there was something bothering her lover, she seemed too quiet. Gently lifting her chin she kissed the tip of Sara's nose.

"What's wrong?"

Catherine's gentle fingers brushing against her cheek felt so good. Sara closed her eyes for a moment, leaning into the touch before kissing Catherine's palm and pulling away from her a little.

"Steven called." She said opening her eyes again to meet Catherine's gaze. "They've called him from the hospital last night. Mother isn't doing well." She sighed when a deep frown appeared on Catherine's face and leaned in to rest her forehead against Catherine's. "I don't know what to do."

"Oh baby…" Catherine pulled her in a hug again, shaking her head in sheer frustration for not knowing how to help, her heart breaking when Sara snuggled even closer. She held on tight, leaving soft kisses in Sara's hair. "We'll get through this, Sara. I promise you."

Stealing glances at her troubled lover, Catherine remained silent for the most part of their ride to work. Her cell phone broke the silence as they were approaching the headquarters and she reached in her purse to check the message.

"This is strange." She mumbled, "It's Nancy's number. She usually just calls… Oh!"


"Linds sent a message from Nancy's cell," Catherine explained with a big smile, "Saying I owe you two a whole lot of ice-cream."

Sara grinned, her eyes on the road again, "She did well then." Beaming with pride for her little protégée's success, she chuckled softly at the memory of Lindsey reciting the poem through a mouthful of pancake.

"What were you doing this morning?" Catherine asked, happy to see Sara smile again.

"Reading Blake's poems."

"Ouch…" Catherine joked, "And?"

Still focused on driving, Sara reached her hand to entwine her fingers with Catherine's. Chancing a glance at Catherine's amused face, the brunette grinned, "And now you owe me ice-cream."

Rummaging through her locker lost in thought, a small gasp escaped Sara's lips as Catherine unexpectedly hugged her from behind. She closed her eyes and sighed, enjoying her lover's closeness. Warm hands trailed across her back making her shiver as Catherine's lips pressed into the bare skin of her shoulder. "I loved waking up in your arms…" Catherine murmured softly, her breath hot against Sara's earlobe.

"Care to make a habit out of it?" Sara teased placing her arms over Catherine's.


More kisses covered Sara's neck and shoulders till she slowly turned in Catherine's arms to meet her lips briefly. Ending their kiss she pulled away to look at Catherine.

"Are you okay?" Catherine asked worriedly, not entirely convinced when Sara nodded her head.

"I am when I'm with you."

A smile played on her lips but Catherine didn't miss the sad expression in dark eyes. Sara tried lowering her gaze but Catherine's finger hooked underneath her chin wouldn't let her. The blonde felt helpless watching the sadness settle in deeper, Sara's efforts to cover her inner turmoil failing miserably whenever their eyes met.

Brushing Sara's face with her fingers Catherine softly offered, "Then let me be there for you." Knowing there was no escape from the dreaded subject already confusing her so much, Sara closed her eyes and leaned into the touch. "Please, Sara."

She felt lost and uncertain but the gentle plea made her look into the gorgeous blue eyes and it melted her heart to find so much love in them. "I know you're hurting." Catherine whispered to her, "I know you think you can somehow spare me, protect my feelings, but it doesn't work that way." Her eyes filling with tears, Sara didn't know how to respond. The last thing she wanted was to bring more pain to Catherine. "Whatever happens we can deal with it together. Just don't shut me out."

Nodding, Sara lost her battle and hot tears rushed down her cheeks breaking Catherine's heart. She crushed the brunette in a hug squeezing her eyes shut, desperately fighting to stay somewhat calm. There was so much more she wanted to say.

A pager went off shrilling loudly but neither moved an inch. When Sara's breathing calmed and Catherine felt like she could speak again without breaking, she offered not yet letting go, "If you don't think you should go and see your mother again, I'll understand." Sara pulled away a little and Catherine gently brushed her tears away. "But if you do, that's okay too. And if you want me there with you, I'll be there Sara."

"Really?" Sara asked so quietly Catherine almost didn't hear her.

"Sara…" Her voice breaking, Catherine watched in amazement as her lover's soft eyes slowly filled with hope. "It was killing me before to know you were going through it all alone. Don't you know how much it hurt to let you leave, how hard it was for me to watch you suffer and not know how to help? How much I wanted to be there for you when..."

"You were there for me, Catherine." Sara found her voice back, "You were the only one there, my only strength."

"I felt so useless." Catherine admitted quietly, her gaze dropping to the floor.

"You kept me going, whether you knew it then or not." Sara cradled Catherine's face, her thumb lightly trailing over trembling lips, "Knowing I could come to you was the only thing holding me together." She stepped closer and enveloped the smaller woman in a hug, ignoring the pager going off again. She smiled when Catherine let out a string of muffled curses and defiantly snuggled closer to Sara. "I love you so much." Sara whispered dropping light kisses in blond hair.

"I love you too, baby." Catherine murmured nuzzling Sara's neck, smiling at the thought she'd never tire of hearing or saying those words.

They shared another kiss, silently promising each other everything with it and left the locker room hand in hand.

Already missing Catherine's presence since the blonde decided to stop by her office; Sara sighed and went to Grissom's office only to meet him half way down the hall. He seemed excited about something, waving at her to hurry.

"What's up, Griss?"

"We're meeting up with Brass in the break room." Grissom informed her, "He's got news. Where's Catherine?"

"She went to her office."

"I'll page her. I need to pick some test results from Greg." Grissom decided, "You go meet Jim."

Rounding the corner she saw the detective already waiting for them. He ended his phone call and turned towards her.

"Oh, you're gonna love me!" Brass exclaimed grinning goofily at her.

"I already do." Sara chuckled, "What's up?"

"I used all my little tricks; the ones that won't do any damage in court of course, lied a little, stretched the truth a bit…" He babbled excitedly and then paused, the smile on his face stretching nearly from ear to ear, "In the end it worked."

Sara kept looking at him confusedly, not daring to hope or even ask anything and Jim's smile grew bigger before he proudly exclaimed, "We've got a confession, kiddo!"


Chapter 31

For a moment Sara wasn't sure she heard him right but Jim nodded his head a few times, "We've got it." Sara's eyes widened slightly, she didn't have the time to try and find her voice back because the detective went on, "Kiner refused to take the blame for the arson but he confessed to everything else."

Shaking her head a little, Sara finally mumbled, "Everything? How did you…"

"It gets better." Jim grinned and wiggled his eyebrows a little, "I may have stumbled upon some evidence too." Putting his arm over her shoulders he gently guided her towards the break room. "I paid another visit to our friend Mr. James Ladder. Nervous guy, I'm guessing he doesn't like being locked up… Anyway, for some reason he told me a few things he forgot to mention before."

"Like what?"

"Apparently Mark Kiner talks in his sleep," Taking a seat at the table Jim handed her a folder, "Which is how Ladder, while sharing a cell with Kiner, found out about the gun in the first place. Among other things."

Sara looked up from the files she had been glancing over and Jim continued, "Candeece Black wrote in her testimony that Kiner shot Eddie during an argument, then picked his pockets and took off with Eddie's wallet." Shaking his head a little, he shrugged, "Ladder said he broke into Kiner's apartment and got the gun from a small safe, the one I'm sure I would have otherwise missed during the search by the way, and listed a few other items he also found in there."

"The wallet being one of them?" Sara asked, noticing Grissom slipping into the break room.

"Yes. The same one Candeece had described as Eddie's. Nothing interesting inside it except that it was all stained with what I assume was blood. Not that it matters now…" He trailed off rubbing his forehead. "We've also found a few credit cards in Eddie's name but most importantly, there were a lot of written declarations in there, proving people have received loans from Kiner. Names, dates, amounts, everything. One of them clearly stating Eddie's loan payment, along with considerable interest, was due the very same day he had been killed."

"Why would Kiner keep all those things that could possibly incriminate him?"

"He's a sick bastard?" Jim offered shrugging. "He said he had forgotten about them. Once I showed him Candeece's testimony and the promissory note we found, he cracked."

"Must be from all the medication." Grissom joked joining them at the table. "How much money are we talking about?"

"$30,000." Jim told them.

"Enough to kill for, apparently." Sara mumbled, turning around when the door opened and Catherine and Nick walked in.

"I thought you were at the hospital." Grissom said when Nick offered a sheepish smile.

"I was." Nick nodded heading to the coffee maker, "Warrick shooed me out."

Catherine took a seat next to Sara waiting for someone to fill her in, "So?" Nick had already mentioned to her on their way to the break room that Jim had news about Eddie's case.

"He's going down." Sara told her softly. "Jim dragged a confession out of him."

Glancing between Sara and the beaming detective, Catherine felt more confused than ever, "Kiner confessed?" Sara nodded.

"We've searched his home this morning." Jim chimed in, "Found a few things that might help us back his confession up."

"Wow." Catherine mumbled in shock, grateful for Sara's warm hand covering her own and squeezing gently. She looked up into the dark chocolate eyes and couldn't help but smile a little, still unable to believe they might have gotten a break. "Really? I mean, after all this time?"

Sara shrugged a little and Jim got up from the table, "Stranger things have happened. I still need to take your statements guys. After that it's out of our hands."

"We're all here, let's do it now." Grissom suggested.

"So, are we calling the case?" Sara asked following Grissom to his office. Brass had just left with their statements promising to keep them updated. Strangely enough, there were no new cases rolling their way just yet and she figured she needed to have a talk with Grissom.

"I'd like to wait a few days, just to be sure there's nothing we've missed." He held the door open for her. "There are a few things that still need to be checked concerning the death of Robert Black."

She nodded taking a seat facing his desk, "You think it's possible Kiner had nothing to do with it?"

"You know me, Sara. I don't like to speculate."

"Yeah, well… it's eerie quiet around here when there's no evidence to speak to us." She mumbled. Grissom actually smiled a little and Sara assumed it was safe enough to breach the subject. It was still hard as hell to look him in the eye. "About our argument at the scene that day…"

"Sara, let's not go there." Grissom offered taking a seat.

"I really think we should." She sounded nervous and he decided to let her continue. "I don't want to look for excuses. I just need you to know I'm sorry."

"All right."

"No one can tell how all of this will be presented in court, but if it weren't for your insistence to reopen the case…" She trailed off lowering her eyes to the floor. "No child should ever lose a parent and then go on living knowing no one was to answer for that."

They both thought about her own misfortune for a moment and Grissom briefly wondered if there even was such a thing as lighter side of pain. He waited for Sara to look up and smiled at her, "We're okay, Sara."

It took a while but he had finally realized she was lost to him forever and once it settled there was still nothing but tenderness he felt for her. He still wanted her happy and knew he always would. Sara didn't know what to say, the softness of his eyes confusing her and Grissom added, "Lindsey will be all right too. She has a lot of loving people in her life." She couldn't do anything but nod.

Just when she thought the moment might be right for her to leave, Grissom unexpectedly asked, "How's your mother doing?"

Sighing, Sara admitted quietly, "Not good." She wasn't sure what else to tell him since she knew so little herself. "She already had two strokes; the second one left her paralyzed. The doctors say she's been refusing food…" Sara covered her face with her hands and sighed, this really wasn't helping. She felt helpless and angry and both served well to confuse her even more.

"Don't you think you should be there?" Grissom inquired softly.

"I thought about it." Sara admitted, "It's just that she didn't seem too happy to see me the first time… As if it wasn't hard as hell to show up in the first place." She couldn't stop thinking there were so many things she should be resenting her mother for. And still everything seemed to just fade to background each time she would remember the pale shell of a woman her mother had once been.

"If you need to leave, you can."

"I don't know if I can face her again." Sara whispered in agony, embarrassed at her admission and completely aware how truthful it was.

"Then don't go alone." Grissom said and Sara turned her eyes towards him. "Take someone with you. Ask Catherine to come along."

Completely stunned, Sara kept staring at him. Grissom raised his eyebrows questioningly and she managed to stutter out, "She… already offered… but…"

"Then what's the problem?"

"Warrick's in the hospital, you're already one CSI short." Sara reasoned.

"That's my problem." Grissom insisted, "You already have enough on your plate. I'll call in a few favors, get someone from dayshift to help out if need be. Don't worry about it."

"I don't know what to say." She admitted blushing slightly.

"Say 'Thank you Grissom'." He smiled at her and she had to smile back, if for no other reason than for the complete absurdity of the situation.

"Thank you Grissom." Sara offered.

"You're welcome. You have both maxed out on overtime as it is." Taking his glasses off for a moment, he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I'm not going to lie and say you're not needed here, but right now your mother may need you more." He gently wiped the glasses before putting them back on, his gaze once more directed at Sara, "Even if it doesn't seem that way."

"It would only be for a few days." Sara rushed to add and Grissom agreed nodding slightly. At a loss for words she simply offered again, "Thank you. It really means a lot to me."

Considering their conversation finished he smiled and nodded, grabbing a folder from his desk and getting ready to go through it again. Sara took a hint and was about to get up when she spotted a small hairy spider crawling up Grissom's arm. Her eyes widening in horror she stayed glued to her chair. "Err… Griss?"

He calmly looked up from the file in his hand. "Yes?"

"How many of the spiders you keep in this place are… venomous?" Sara asked not letting the green hairy monster out of her sight. It seemed to have found something interesting on Grissom's sleeve and Sara gulped nervously.

"Nearly all of them." He told her, thinking how it must have been the first time ever she took any interest in his little friends. "Why?"

"Erm… Because one of the little fuc…erm… buggers is crawling up your arm!" She nearly shrieked out as the spider continued his journey upwards.

Grissom finally looked down and smiled, "Oh, that's Kermit. My new green lynx spider. Do you like it?"

Sara kept staring at him thinking he had to be kidding. "Kermit?"

"Well, I figured Peucetia viridans might sound too scientific for such a little guy."

"You don't happen to have Miss Piggy around here somewhere too?" Sara asked getting up, grimacing when Grissom gently caught the spider in his palm.

"Funny." He mumbled smiling.

Backing up slowly with her back to the door, Sara narrowed her eyes watching the spider's close inspection of Grissom's hand. "Don't they jump?"

"Sure." Grissom nodded, "Lynx spiders are hunters. They don't use a web to capture a prey, they pounce on it in a cat-like manner."

"Lovely." Sara mumbled unenthusiastically. Her hand already on the knob, she couldn't help asking, "And that doesn't worry you?"

The question actually earned her a light snort from Grissom. He turned his palm a little, watching his small pet struggle not to lose its balance. Looking up at Sara, Grissom dismissed her gently, "I'll see you both next week. Better leave before I start handing out assignments."

"Bye, Griss. Bye, Kermit." Sara quickly disappeared; certain she now understood the true meaning of twilight zone.

Part 32

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