2004-05-14 - 11:27 p.m.

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Chapter Three

He waited in the living room while she went to put on some clothes. His mind reverted to what he had trained it to do: picture them, coming in the door, playing out all the ways in which they might have ended up where he found them. Each time his eyes stopping just before they reached the blood stained floor.

“Sara?”

“Uh…hang on…yeah?”

“You’d better pack a few things in a bag.”

“Oh. Right.”

He could hear drawers opening and then being slammed shut, Sara mummering curse words. This was good, ‘get angry Sara’ he thought, ‘get mad, at him, at me, whatever, but get angry. I can deal with you mad, just not hurt…that one might break me.’

“Okay. I’m ready as I’ll ever be I guess.” Gil stood blocking her view of the spattered carpet and sofa, making a path for her toward her door. “We’ll have to take your car, I rode here with Brass.”

“No, your Tahoe is out front, you…parked in…oh. Right. Uh, my keys…”

She was disorienting, and her eyes lacked focus, Grissom grabbed the keys from where his brother had thrown them next to the door and ushered her into the hall.

XXX

He felt strange driving her jeep. It felt like an invasion, a thought that shook him even as he realized its insignificance. Sara was folded into the seat beside him, her arms crossed around her, her hands hanging each at it’s opposite hip. He noticed her chin dip; her eyes begin to close, “Hey Sara, tell me about your favorite lab in college.”

She turned to him, confused. “What?”

“Your favorite lab. Was it a biology thing where you got to dissect stuff, was it chemistry where you got to blow up stuff, or was it physics, where you got to…hell, what do you do in a physics lab?”

She rested her head back, her eyes stayed open as she thought.

“Physics. 191r. Advanced Physics lab.”

“Do you remember one particular experiment, anything that made it your favorite?”

Sara looked at him sideways, “Bose Einstein Condensation lab, and don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing.”

“Bose-Einstein…super atom. How’d you do that?”

Sara sighed and explained the experiment, laser lights, low temperatures, she was surprised at how much she remembered. Before she could finish he pulled up at the hospital entrance.

He walked around and opened her door. “Thanks.” Her eyes held his, and he understood, thanks for keeping me awake, thanks for keeping my mind somewhere safe…

She was stiff; her muscles heavy from sudden stress and relent. He steadied her on her walk to the desk and gave her name to the triage receptionist. Brass had called ahead, no more public discussion of the incident was necessary.

“Curtain 3, right over here, honey” A nurse took over his charge. “I’m going to move your car, then I’ll be in the waiting area until you send for me.” “Thanks.” Now she didn’t hold his gaze, now she returned to looking shell shocked and wary.

The moment she was out of view he headed for the men’s room where he vomited, punched a stall wall and vomited again. Standing in front of the mirror he splashed water on his face but did not look at it. The bruises didn’t change him, the scar didn’t fool him.

The car safely parked, he searched out the vending machines. Gum. Breath mints. His phone rang and a nurse shot a look at him, then the sign “Shut off all cell phones.”

On the other side of the rotating door he held the small phone to his ear.

“Grissom.”

“Where are you?” Catherine’s voice was faint, though it was obvious she was yelling.

He walked trying to find a better cell. “Hospital. Can you hear me?”

“Barely.”

“Where are you?”

“Tangiers. You should probably…ah…I can’t have the lead on this.”

Grissom’s eyes tightened, his lip twitched. His voice was quiet, yet unyielding “Call in dayshift.”

“You want to hand this to Eckley?” Catherine couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

“I don’t care. I’m off. I’m taking some time…off.” He could just see Sara’s jeep in the lot from here. In his mind he saw them leaving, window’s down, the wind in Sara’s hair, her singing with the radio. He blew out a breath.

“Time? Warrick said she was okay.” She sounded confused and concerned.

“No. She’s not okay. Neither of us is okay, but maybe we have the chance to be. Take care Catherine. Be careful.” He hung up and shut the phone off.

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