If I Should Die Before I Wake by Sidhewolf

Fandom: CSI
Pairing: Nick/Greg
Rating: PG
Status: Finished
Archive: Yes to all Greg Sanders sites. I’ll post to WWOMB whenever it can be reached again.
Email: sidhewolf@hotmail.com
Authors Web Site: None
Series/Sequel: None
Disclaimers: I am making no money off this story. I own nothing.
Spoilers: None
Summary: When Greg and Sara are assigned to work together things don’t go well.
Warnings: There is more of Sara than I ever thought I’d write in this story, but I still think I like it. Not a death story, even though the title might imply that it is.
Note: This is probably my last story for a while. School is starting in a couple of weeks and that means I'll be back to work. I've really enjoyed writing this summer and I thank everyone who has been so kind to send encouragement. And you never know. Maybe I'll find some time to squeeze in the odd story now and then this winter. Sidhewolf


Of all the luck. Why was it that, when Sara Sidle wanted nothing more than to be only a minor part of the investigation team for a change, it was her luck to end up being primary investigator on a case somewhere out God knows where?

She knew Grissom was being more of an ass than usual tonight, and he had to be doing this on purpose. He really must have it in for her. Ever since her little incident with the traffic cop, he had watched her with that same expression he used when studying one of those insects that lined the shelves of his office. And tonight was no exception.

After coming on shift, she had gone into the break room to put her sandwich in the small refrigerator they all used for personal meals. Warrick and Nick had been arguing over which two teams would be playing in the World Series this year. Catherine had come in, mumbling something about Lindsey and the problems she seemed to be having over the summer vacation.

Sara honestly didn’t want to work with any of them tonight, but the thought of having to face a crime scene on her own was more daunting than she wanted to admit. Tonight, Sara Sidle wanted nothing more than to be second in command, not something that happened very often in her world. She wanted to bow to the expertise of someone else and let them take charge tonight.

Secretly, she hoped she and Catherine would work together. Lately, whenever she worked with Nick or Warrick, they always seemed to watch her with eyes that said they knew more than they would admit. The embarrassment of almost facing a DUI was something she was trying desperately to put behind her.

Sara knelt and opened the small refrigerator door, quickly stuffing her tuna sandwich inside without taking time to smell any of the odd smells that might be coming from things left there too long. And she really didn’t want to know whether Grissom had any new experiments that involved the refrigerator going on this week.

Thinking of him somehow seemed to make the man materialize. Gil Grissom entered the break room, carrying assignments for the night in one hand, and a stack of papers in the other. Behind him, nearly bouncing with excitement came Greg Sanders.

Sara sighed. Greg was still so hyped by the fact that he was being trained for fieldwork that he never seemed to stay still for a second. He bounced into the room grinning from ear to ear and rubbing his hands together as if he truly were some kind of mad scientist hatching an evil plot to destroy the universe. His spiked hair and wild shirt made the impression seem too real for Sara. She turned and headed to the sink to refill her water bottle.

“No, no, no,” came Greg’s voice, as he stepped toward her and, from somewhere, produced a fresh bottle of water. “Backwash. Bad for you. You don’t want to use that old bottle again. Think of the backwash. Here, I got a new one for you. We’re going to be partners tonight!” His voice nearly squealed with excitement and he seemed to bounce even higher on his toes than usual. His smile showed far to many teeth for Sara’s liking.

Her own mouth dropped opened at Greg’s news, and she turned to looked at Grissom, who had stopped at the table long enough to drop the stack of papers and hold up the assignment sheets for everyone to see.

“Oh, no. Grissom, no,” she mumbled. “Please don’t do this to me. Not tonight.” But he ignored her and glanced toward the others.

“Catherine, you and Warrick. There’s a report of a hit and run over on Paradise. I want you two to take that one. Brass is already on his way. Nick, you and I are still on that rape over at UNLV. Sara,” and he stopped long enough to let her know the assignment was not going to be one she was going to enjoy. “Sara, I want you and Greg to head out to The Valley of Fire near Overton. We got a report of a possible DB alongside the road near the Visitor’s Center.”

Sara stared at Grissom. Her mouth was still opened and her eyes showed her disbelief. As the others left the room, Sara pushed the water bottle back into Greg’s hand and slipped past him, meaning to catch Grissom before he, too, fled.

She knew he was trying to out-distance her, but she picked up speed and her long legs quickly cut the space between them. Nick saw her coming and ducked into the Trace Lab, mumbling something about picking up a report from Hodges.

When Grissom didn’t bother to slow as she neared his retreating figure, she finally stopped and brought her hands to her hips. “Why me, Grissom?” she shouted.

Glancing back over his shoulder, Grissom raised his hand and shook his head, then continued out toward the garage.

“Damn!” she clinched her fist and pounded her thigh.

Nick hurried past her. “Hey, you’re a great teacher. He’s just a little excited. Be patient,” he said, and waved as he went out the door, trying to catch up with his fast disappearing boss.

Catherine and Warrick pasted her next. “Have fun,” Warrick grinned and Catherine’s smile even showed some sympathy. Greg’s excitement at doing fieldwork had taken on proportions which most of the others found hard to deal with, too.

Surprisingly, it seemed that Nick had been able to take the younger man under his wing and help him manage and direct his excitement in the field more than any of the others. The two of them had been assigned together more and more, and the other CSIs had felt a sense of relief in not having to deal with Greg’s enthusiasm. But tonight, it looked like Sara was going to be the one to face that zeal.

“Here’s your water.” Greg’s voice was still excited, but also a little hesitant. “I thought we might get thirsty. It’s about 30 miles out to the Moapa Reservation, then we turn off I-15 onto Highway 169 and it’s only about 5 miles to the Visitor’s Center. It really should be a nice trip. The scenery out that direction is spectacular. The weather’s clear. I guess we’re taking the Tahoe? That’s great! It’s got a good air conditioner. That should help. It’s been extra hot lately, but I’m still going to take a heavy jacket. When we got called out to the bus accident...”

“Greg!” Sara thought that if she had to listen to the sound of Greg’s continual chatter for the next hour, she was going to lose what was left of her sanity. She turned to look at him.

The moment his name had been shouted, Greg’s mouth snapped closed and he stood silent, simply smiling at her.

“Yeah?” he finally grinned.

“Greg, I’m really not in the mood for this tonight.”

He was silent for a moment longer, as if thinking. Then he asked, “Is it ‘that time’?”

“What?”

“Of month. That time of month? Cause if that’s the problem, I’ve read about this herb that’s great for that sort of thing.”

“Oh, God. Just go get in the car.”

“Can I drive?”

“Don’t even think about it!” she snapped.

***

They filled up the Tahoe at a station near the outskirts of the city, then hit the I-15 Interstate going East toward Mesquite. Greg had gladly filled the car and bought two more bottles of water and a cup of yogurt from the deli section in the gas station.

“Breakfast,” he announced when he got back in the car. “Wanna share?” For some reason his bright smile irritated Sara even more than usual and she simply rolled her eyes and frowned at him.

Sara refused to let him drive, thinking that if she remained in the drivers seat, not only would they get where they were going quicker, but she would have something to keep her mind occupied other than Greg’s ceaseless chatter.

The night was nice, even for the end of August. The sky was beautiful with only a hint of clouds covering the moon at times. The air conditioner in the car kept the dry desert heat from becoming bothersome. Usually August was the month when she often thought about returning to her home in San Francisco and leaving the heat and dryness of the Nevada desert behind. But always it came back to the fact that she felt the pull, the draw, to stay near the one person who she felt a need to impress, Gil Grissom.

The man seemed to torment Sara’s life. She wanted to break through his rigid exterior and try to touch the person she felt was hidden inside. But every time she thought she had a chance to break through that harden outer shell, something seemed to happen to thwart her advances. If the truth were told, Sara decided that all she really wanted would be for Gil Grissom to simply acknowledge her worth in some way.

As she drove, her mind danced in thought and she suddenly realized that Gil Grissom and her father were two men who were very much alike. They were both capable of brightening her life with nothing more than a word of appreciation, but hearing it from either of them was something she suspected would never happen. After having Grissom pick her up from the police station when she had been brought there on the DUI, she now felt that her chances of ever really getting that acknowledgment in any good way was almost extinct.

Greg was rattling on and on about some herb that he though would really help her if she would give it a try. She barely managed to stifle a groan. For much of the trip, she had actually been able to tune him out, like the twangy music on that country/western radio station she hated listening to when she and Nick were on a case together. Then she noticed that Greg was offering her the bottle of water that he had brought along.

She glanced at him quickly, for the road through this part of the canyon was tricky. He grinned at her and shrugged the bottle toward her. She again wanted nothing more than to wipe that silly grin off his face. The last thing she wanted to deal with was the enthusiasm and eagerness that showed in that smile.

It wasn’t really the fact that she didn’t want the water. It actually looked quite inviting and she was thirsty. But she suddenly had the urge to scream at Greg, if for nothing more than the fact that he was so excited about his new work, and she was becoming more and more disillusioned every day with her own job.

But for whatever reason, Sara twisted her head around to look at him. “Stop it, Greg,” she snapped. “Get that damn thing out of my face. How can I drive if you keep shoving things in my face?”

The look of hurt that surfaced in his eyes somehow seemed to irritate Sara even more. She knew she should simply keep quite and finish the drive toward the Visitor’s Center of the park. But somehow, everything bad in her life suddenly seemed to rise up to the surface, like a nasty pimple on a teenager’s chin. And all she wanted to do at the moment was shout at Greg so that he would feel as miserable as she had been feeling for the last year.

“Who do you think you are, Greg? You think you’re some Einstein who’s too smart to stay in the lab and do work there? You think you’re smart? Berkley? Stanford? Free ride? Well, hey Einstein, some of us have to work for what we get. Yeah, some of us didn’t have rich relatives that could foot the bill and pay our way. You’re not so great, you know. I don’t think Grissom even wanted you out in the field, especially after the way you just stood and watched that bus driver cough up blood and die. How long did you just stand there, huh, Greg? Did Nick finally have to go and get some help himself?”

The shock on Greg’s face should have been enough to silence her, but she was feeling too good watching his every emotion play across that face.

“And what about the lab explosion, Greg? What about the lab, huh? Sure, Catherine might have left some evidence under the fume hood, but who was it that really left the hot plate on? Could it have been you? Could you be letting Hodges take the blame so you can play ‘poor little Greg’ and get everyone’s sympathy? After all, that’s probably why Grissom finally let you out in the field, right? You were too damaged to stay in the lab any longer. I heard you couldn’t even pick up a page of test results without shaking so bad you almost dropped them again.”

Greg was staring at her now, shaking his head, his mouth opened and his eyes glistening in the light from the dashboard. “No, no, Sara. No, it’s not like that,” she heard him plead.

And then suddenly everything happened so quickly that she never would be able to remember the exact sequence of events. Greg looked away toward the front windshield and his eyes stretched even wider in sudden alarm. He dropped the water bottle as he pointed toward the approaching highway. The road, which was empty of traffic this late and this far from the city, had suddenly taken a U-turn and, just as the Tahoe rounded the bend, a pair of luminous green eyes flashed into view. “Watch out!” he managed to scream, but it was far too late.

Sara hit the deer at full speed, the thud of the Tahoe drowning out all of the other sounds except the screech of abruptly applied brakes. Then, try as she might, she felt herself losing control of the steering wheel. The last clear thing she remembered as the Tahoe dropped over the steep embankment, was feeling her seatbelt snap free and Greg’s hand pushing her toward the opened door. She vaguely heard his voice yell for her to jump, and then everything went black.

***

It was dark when she regained consciousness. Everything was silent and at first she thought maybe she had somehow gone to sleep at a crime scene somewhere outside and had been left behind by the others. Then she felt the pain, and she knew she was in trouble.

Her ankle throbbed with every beat of her heart and both her wrists ached. She tried to concentrate on where she was and slowly memory began to trickle back into her brain. She and Greg had been on a case. They were heading out to The Valley of Fire to investigate reports of a body someone thought they had seen near the Visitor’s Center. She had been angry with Greg, something about a water bottle. She thought she remembered a deer crossing the Interstate, and then there was nothing.

Struggling to sit up, she tried to focus her vision, but everything still seemed blurry and indistinct. She raised her hand to touch one particularly sore spot on her forehead and had to catch her breath because of the pain that small movement caused her wrist. Raising her arms, she realized her wrists were both swollen and bruised, but she could move her fingers if she was very careful. Probably not broken. She must have landed on her wrists when she fell.

When she fell? And suddenly, memory washed back to her like a giant wave coming in from the ocean. Greg had pushed her out of the car! The car had been careening down the side of a canyon and Greg had popped her seatbelt and pushed her out to safety. Oh, God, where was Greg?

“Greg!” Her scream cut through the quiet night air. It slowly echoed away leaving only silence. She screamed his name again, panic beginning to take over. “Greg, where are you? Please, Greg, answer me.”

Nothing but silence answered at first, but then she thought she heard a noise below where she stood, perched on the side of the craggy hill. Heedless of the danger, more afraid of being alone than falling, she struggled onto her feet and limped toward the muffled sound, holding her arms crossed over her chest to try and protect them if she fell.

After a trek of sliding more than walking, she finally reached the bottom of the ravine. What she saw made her stop and gasp as panic again surged through her body. The Tahoe lay on its side, the only truly recognizable part was the undercarriage of the vehicle, which faced her as she halted her decent. From the far side of the vehicle, she could hear someone moan, and she pushed herself to approach, hoping to find Greg uninjured. But she couldn’t stifle a gasped at what she found.

Greg lay sprawled on the sand, his lower body pinned beneath the vehicle. His chest and arms were the only part that was visible to her as she approached. Sara wasn’t sure at first if he was even conscious, but then the moon came out from behind a cloud and she saw that his eyes were opened. Again she heard the soft whimper which had drawn her down the hill in the first place. She stumbled toward the wreck, trying desperately to reach Greg.

As her body leaned against the vehicle, he cried out in pain.

“Greg? Greg, are you okay? I’m here, Greg. Are you okay?”

“Don’t move the car, Sara,” his soft plea barely audible. “My legs are trapped underneath and I can’t get out. If it moves, it could crush me even worse.” His words were punctuated by another gasp as Sara inadvertently used the vehicle to steady herself.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she whispered as she knelt beside the trapped figure.

There was a gash across the left side of his forehead and his left arm lay stretched out above his head. Looking over at the Tahoe, Sara realized that, from his waist down, Greg was indeed pinned in place by the vehicle and was unable to move.

It was then that panic hit, full force. Leaping back to her feet beside his trapped body, she thoughtlessly turned and began pushing and heaving at the vehicle, trying vainly to shove the car off his body and free him. From somewhere, the vague memory of reading about how adrenalin gave people extraordinary powers swelled in her mind, and she continued to attack the Tahoe, even as Greg’s screams echoed around her in the dark desert.

It was finally the silence and not the screams that stopped the frenzy of her mad attack. She could hear the last of his screams disappear across the desert and the quiet that returned in their place halted her desperate battering of the heavy car. Her wrists began to throb with every beat of her heart and she wondered why they hadn’t hurt until now. She drew her hands back from where they rested against the frame of the Tahoe and stared at them stupidly. The silence sent a chill creeping down her back and she whirled around to stare behind her at Greg.

He lay unconscious, still trapped beneath the Tahoe.

“Oh, God! Get it together, Sara,” she whispered to herself. Scrambling away from the immovable vehicle, she returned to kneel beside Greg once more. His face was pale in the moonlight and he no longer gasped for breath but now seemed to be barely breathing.

“Don’t you dare do this to me, Greg Sanders,” she muttered. “Don’t you dare leave me out here alone. Come on, wake up.”

Taking a deep breath, she reached down and let her fingers stroke across his cheek. “Greg? I’m sorry. Greg? Come on, Greggo. Wake up for me, would ya?”

After several moments, Greg moaned and his eyes did flutter opened again.

“Sara?”

“Yeah, I’m here. Are you okay? You left me for a while. I got scared. Sorry about that,” and she pointed to the frame of the Tahoe which still lay across his hips and legs. “I couldn’t move it.”

“Hurts,” was his mumbled reply.

“Yeah, Greg. But I’m gonna get us some help.” She began feeling for her cell phone, which she always kept in her pocket. Pulling it out, she could only stare in dismay at the crushed device. She gazed at the useless phone for a moment and then looked back to Greg.

“Greg, you have your cell with you, don’t you?”

“Umm?” his voice was dazed and Sara realized that he was probably going into shock.

“Greg! Greg, where’s your cell? Mine’s not working. I need your cell phone, Greg.”

“Back pocket,” was her only answer.

Looking down, Sara knew there was no way to reach the phone. From his waist down, Greg’s body was trapped under the frame of the wrecked Tahoe. His phone was trapped under the vehicle as well.

“Shit!”

She heard a coughing laugh from Greg. His eyes were closed again, but there was a crooked smile on his face, and his white teeth gleamed in the moonlight, giving Sara the eerie impression of a skeleton mask on Halloween.

“Never heard you swear before.”

“Well, I’ve never been at the bottom of a ravine with my partner trapped under a Tahoe before,” she returned. Kneeling at his side once again, she leaned down and touched his forehead gently. Her wrists now ached badly and she began to wonder if maybe she had broken them in her mad attack on the car.

“Partner?” he asked, in a weak but teasing tone. “I’m your partner? Hey, I gotta tell Nick about this. He’ll be jealous,” and he chuckled again.

“You took quite a smack on the head, Greggo.”

He nodded in agreement, but said nothing more.

Looking over her shoulder toward the vehicle, she smiled to herself when she saw Greg’s water bottle lying on the ground where it had fallen out. Reaching over, she grabbed the bottle and pulled it toward them. Fumbling because of the pain any movement caused her wrists, she ripped a piece of cloth from the hem of her blouse, then wet the rag and gently cleaned the cut on Greg’s face. She shuttered as the silence of the vast desert grew around them again. She had heard no car on the road high above them and it seemed as though they were alone in a measureless and empty wasteland.

Her mind tried vainly to remember some of the first-aid training she had gone through so often. Why was it that, sitting in a class, listening to a lecture of what to do for a broken bone was so simple, while being in the middle of the desert alone and at night with an injured man seemed like the most incomprehensible of situations to deal with?

Okay, she did remember you should keep a person who is in shock warm, and lower their head to keep it below the level of their heart. She was unable to move Greg’s body to lower his head, but she did find his jacket on what was left of the front seat of the Tahoe. Carefully she snagged it through the broken windshield and lay it across his shoulders.

“There. How’s that? Feeling any warmer?” she asked in an effort to break the silence that seemed to chill her to the bone.

“Uh, yeah.”

Picking up the water bottle again, she opened it and held it to his lips. He took a small sip, but then coughed and refused more.

“Uh-uh. No more. I don’t know how badly I’m hurt and I don’t think it’s a good idea to drink anything if I have some sort of internal injury. I heard something snap when I hit the ground, but I don’t know what it was. Could have been a leg, or maybe my pelvis...or it might have been my back.” As he spoke, his voice hitched in his throat and he turned his head away from Sara to try and hide his fear.

Sara dropped her eyes in despair. She should have known not to give him any liquid, but somehow she felt as though her mind was working one step behind her body.

“Yeah, you’re right. We’d better wait until help gets here. I’m sure there’ll be someone along any moment who’ll see us down here. Just hang on. We’ll have you out of here and back in Vegas in no time.”

Greg tried to smile, but that only made the thought of a Halloween skeleton rush into her mind again. She looked away but patted his shoulder gently and then settled herself beside him.

“If no one comes along, I’ll try to climb back to the top. I think both of my wrists might be sprained, maybe even fractured, but I’ll see if I can make it back up to the top, okay?”

“Mmm.”

For a moment all was still, but Sara felt the chill of fear growing and turned again toward Greg. He lay with his eyes closed, and she saw that he was shivering, even beneath the jacket she had tucked around him.

She reached to pull it tighter. “Everything is going to be okay, Greg,” she said. But even as the words left her mouth, she wondered if it were true. They were alone on what seemed to be a nearly deserted stretch of highway, and no one was expecting them to return to Vegas for at least another couple of hours at the earliest. Looking down at Greg, she wondered if he even had a couple of hours.

The quiet kept growing and the need for some sort of noise overwhelmed her. Shouldn’t you keep a person with a head injury awake? She really did need to make sure Greg didn’t lose consciousness.

“Hey, talk to me, Greg,” she demanded. “I want you to talk to me, okay?”

Opening his eyes, he tried to smile up at her. “I’m not sure I should say anything. Seems like the last time I tried to talk to you, it was like the prelude to a major disaster. God knows what might happen now that you have me at your mercy.” His smile widened in an effort to show he was teasing, but the words hurt nevertheless.

“I’m sorry about that, Greg,” she said. She reached down to take his right hand in hers. “I don’t know what’s been the matter with me lately. I guess I’ve really been a bitch to work with, huh?”

“A gentleman never calls a lady a bitch,” he mumbled.

Sara chuckled. “Yeah, sure. I’ll bet the word ‘bitch’ has been circulating freely around the lab lately.”

“Wouldn’t know. I’m in the field now, remember?” he replied.

This time it was her turn to smile down at him. “So what do you think about doing field work, Greg? Do you think you’re going to like it or do you miss the lab?”

He was silent for a moment, then let his eyes meet hers. “I really do like working in the field, Sara. I’ve wanted to do this for so long. I’ve wanted to see where all those little parts and pieces that you guys kept bringing me to analyze actually came from. But I’m just so afraid that I won’t be good enough for this sort of thing. And after screwing up so bad when I was working that bus accident...”

“Hey, Greg. That was totally understandable. It was the first time you’d been right there, first at a scene. You don’t have anything to apologize for. I should apologize to you. I should never have said what I said to you back there.”

Greg tried to shrug his shoulders, but stopped when the small movement made him wince. “So what’s been bothering you so much lately?” he asked, trying to keep the conversation going.

Sara was silent for a moment. She rubbed his hand gently and glanced at him. His eyes were closed again, but he seemed to be breathing okay. She could tell it was hard for him to stay awake. Maybe if she did some of the talking, he would be able to listen and keep himself from slipping into unconsciousness.

“I guess the last couple of years haven’t been very good for my personal life, ya know? First I had a friend who lied to me about something that was really important. Then there was Hank.”

“Ahh, Hank,” Greg’s voice broke in and he opened his eyes to look at her. “I kept trying to tell you that Hank was no gentleman, but would you listen? Noo, you just kept right on seeing the guy. Next time, don’t even write to ‘Dear Abby’. Just come to good ol’ Greg. He’ll tell you which guy would be right for you, okay?”

Sara chuckled and smiled down at him. “You’ve got a deal,” she said.

“But it’s not just my personal life. I’ve really been having a hard time with work lately. Sometimes it’s just hard to make myself even come in and work on a case. I just don’t have that drive that has always been such a big part of my work.” She sighed.

Greg watched her, trying to judge whether he should ask the question that had bothered him for a long time. Finally he gave another aborted attempt at a shrug and ask, “What kind of case is it that seems to bother you, Sara? Is it the rape cases?”

She pulled her hand away and rose to step away from him. “You really are a good observer, Greg, but I don’t think this is something I want to be talking about right now.” She turned her back to him and carefully leaned over to check inside the crushed front seat of the Tahoe, pretending to look for something.

“Sara, were you raped?”

She turned back to look at him, angry now. “You have no right to ask me that. I don’t care how badly you’re hurt. I don’t care if you’re on your deathbed. You have no right...”

“I’m sorry,” he said and dropped his eyes. “You’re right, it’s none of my business.”

She felt the tears as they dropped to her cheek and she turned her back to him again to hide her misery the only way she could. It took several moments for her to get herself under control and when she finally was able to speak again, she had to take a deep breath before she could get the words out.

“Yeah, I was,” she finally whispered.

Everything was quiet for a moment, but then Greg spoke. “Come here, Sara.”

She shook her head no.

“Please, come here.”

She drew another breath and made herself turn to face Greg. He lay very still in the moonlight. He seemed even paler than before but he held his hand out to her, encouraging her to return to him. She stepped closer and sank down again to take the offered hand.

“I was just starting college, an undergrad,” she began. “It happened at a party. I didn’t often go to parties. I was too studious...that’s what my friends said. But they all talked me in to going to this big party and one of the guys trapped me in a room all alone and he raped me. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t call for help, I couldn’t kick him, I couldn’t do anything.”

Sara sobbed once, but went on. “After it was over, he told me that if I ever told anyone else about it, he’d kill me. I was just a kid, only eighteen years old, for Christ sake. I was scared shitless. I believed him, so I never told anyone, not even my parents. So now do you see why it’s so hard for me to work those cases? I see what happened to me happening all over again. And the worst part is, it’s not getting any better. The longer I do this sort of thing, the harder it gets. I really don’t know if I can keep doing this kind of work much longer.”

Greg clutched her hand, refusing to release it when she tried to escape his grip. “I’m so sorry, Sara,” he finally whispered. He took a moment to catch his breath. His body was again shivering with chills and droplets of sweat ran down his face

“Have you ever talked to anyone about this?” he asked.

Sara wiped her eyes with her free hand and tried to smile at him. “I talked to ‘Dear Greg’ about it one night out on the desert,” she answered. “I told him all about it.”

Greg tried to smile, but coughed instead and then whimpered. Sara grasped his hand tighter as he arched into the sudden pain.

“Lay still, Greg. Someone will be here in a minute. I know they will. Just lay still, okay?”

Greg gasped and moaned again, trying to relax. “Nick will come,” he whispered. “Nick will come get me.”

“Sure, Nick and Warrick and Catherine will all come. Just relax. Please.”

“Sara,” his voice took on a begging tone.

“What, Greg?”

“Sara, I want you to do something for me.”

“Greg, stop. Everything is going to be fine. Just lay still for a little longer. I know they’re on their way. Just stay calm. They’ll be here any time now, I’m sure.”

“No, Sara. I really don’t feel good and I have to make sure Nick knows in case I don’t make it. Please, Sara. Please, tell Nick.”

Sara felt tears creep down her cheeks again, but she stroked Greg’s cheek gently with one hand while still holding his hand with the other.

“Sure, Greg,” she whispered. “What do you want me to tell Nick.”

“Tell him I love him, Sara. Tell him I love him and I always will. Don’t let him cry for me, Sara. Tell him not to cry, okay?”

Her mind suddenly jumped as the words he had spoken registered in her fuzzy brain.

“Greg, are you and Nick...”

“Just tell Nick I love him, Sara. Please,” and Greg’s eyes closed.

“No, no, no! Don’t you dare give up on me now, Greg. You come back here. I won’t tell Nick anything if you don’t come back here. I won’t tell him anything. Don’t you go!”

She clutched his hand tighter and frantically leaned forward to let her other hand slide down and find the pulse in his neck. It was weak but it was there.

And then she heard tires screech to a halt and voices echoing far above her.

She could hear Gil Grissom calling her name and the sounds of movement on the hillside above her. She threw back her head and screamed as loud as she could possibly scream and then she heard them as they came slipping and sliding down the embankment toward her.

Strangely, it was Gil who reached them first. He pulled her up and wrapped her in his arms. “Honey, are you okay?”

Why hadn’t her father ever sounded like that? She buried her face in his chest, but then pulled back to look into his eyes. “No, Greg’s hurt,” she said frantically. “He’s trapped under the Tahoe.”

Looking toward his pinned body, she saw Nick Stokes slide to his knees beside Greg and grasped his hand in panic. “Greg? Oh, God, Greg, take it easy. We’re gonna get you out of here. Just hang in there a little longer, babe. Everything’s going to be all right.”

Sara smiled and then relaxed back into Grissom’s protective arms.

***

She only had to stay in the hospital that night and the following day. Grissom had stayed with her the entire time, calming and soothing her when she awoke later with dreams that made her scream. Why hadn’t her father ever done that?

They had X-rayed her wrists, but found they were only sprained and not broken, as she had feared. Her ankle was also sprained, but the doctors suspected a concussion and insisted she remain in the hospital for at least 24 hours. When they finally released her, Catherine made her come and stay at her house for a couple of days.

While she was staying with Catherine, she found that Grissom had received a call from the park ranger soon after she and Greg had left for The Valley of Fire. The ranger had located what tourists had thought was the body of a person and found that it was only an antelope which had become entangled in a fence along side the road and died. The park ranger had called Grissom to let him know there was no need for them to send a field team to investigate, but when Grissom tried to call Sara on her cell, he found that it was out of order and could no longer send or receive a signal.

Both Grissom and Nick and become concerned after repeated attempts to get in touch with both Sara and Greg had failed, and had decided to take a trip out toward The Valley of Fire themselves. It had only taken a short time for them to locate the spot where the Tahoe had left the road and the rescue crew had been called immediately to free Greg from the wrecked vehicle.

After being transported on a backboard, strapped down to keep him from moving even the tiniest bit, the doctors had found that Greg had, indeed, broken one of his legs in the crash. He was going to be confined to a bed and crutches for as long as eight weeks, and Sara knew he would be chomping at the bit before half that time elapsed. But at least there had been no serious internal injuries and even before Sara left the hospital she was told he was on the road to recovery.

However, it was nearly three days before she was finally able to see him again. Grissom had insisted she take some vacation time to recuperate from the accident. She found that, like Greg, she became easily bored without the lab and field work to keep her occupied. She finally decided a vacation now would be a good time to visit her family in California. Maybe there she could finally come to terms with some of the things in her life that were causing her problems. But before she left, she really wanted to see Greg.

He had only been allowed one visitor at a time when she was discharged, so she had decided to wait until he was better before trying to see him. Truthfully, she wasn’t even sure whether he would want to see her. After all, she was the person who was really responsible for the accident that had stranded the two of them in the desert.

The door to Greg’s hospital room was pushed partly opened and she forced herself to approach. When she heard voices from inside the room, she almost turned to leave, but stopped when she realized that the voices she heard were those of Nick and Greg.

She quietly stepped to the door and peered into the room, not wanting to interrupt their conversation. Nick stood, leaning over Greg, gently kissing him on the lips. Sara felt like an intruder but remained silent and continued to watch as he pulled back and took a breath, only to dive in again for another, longer kiss.

They finally parted and Sara watched as Nick’s hand gently caressed Greg’s cheek. She watched as Greg turned into that caress and kissed Nick’s palm gently

“God, Greg. I thought you were going to die. I don’t know what I would do if I lost you. I don’t think I could live if you died and left me all alone.”

She saw Greg smile up at Nick, and this time the smile left no impression of skeletons or frightening Halloween masks. The only thing she saw in this smile was love.

“You know I could never leave you, Nick,” she heard him whisper. “I love you too much.”

She knocked gently on the door then, and noticed that Nick stepped away from Greg slightly. Greg tried to push himself back into the folds of the hospital sheets, but it was difficult with the traction, which held his leg immobilized.

Sara entered the room and smiled at the two men.

“Sara!” Greg seemed genuinely happy to see her. “They kept telling me you were okay, but I was worried when you didn’t come by to see me.”

“Hey, you had other visitors,” and she nodded toward Nick.

Sara was sure that both men blushed at her words.

Shaking her head a little, she changed the subject. “Um, listen Greg, I’m heading out of here for a while. Grissom wants me to take some time off and I’ve decided that might be a really good idea. I’ve decided that maybe it would be a good thing if I went home for a couple of weeks, saw my family and maybe did some talking with them. So I’m on a flight later today. I just wanted to say,” she hesitated, not knowing exactly how to continue.

But Greg remained silent, knowing that she had to say the words herself.

She frowned and tried again. “I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ Greg. Thank you for everything you did out there.”

He watched her face for a moment and then smiled at her. “I didn’t do anything out there, Sara. Remember, I was pinned under a car the whole time. You did everything that needed doing. And now I do believe that you’ve got the right idea about where to go with the things you found out about yourself.”

She looked from Greg to Nick and back again, then broke into a wide grin. “Okay, guys. And I do believe you two might have some ideas about where you might want to be going, too. See ya in a couple of weeks.”

She turned her back and waved good-bye over her shoulder, only glancing back long enough to see Nick turn a wonderful shade of tomato red and Greg burst into hysterical laughter.

“See ya soon,” she heard Greg call after her, and his laughter followed her down the hospital corridor.


Did I mention that I love this author? Actually, I probably shouldn't say that at the bottom of a romance. But you know what I mean. It was a Sara story that was actually good (no offence to Sara fans). Anyway, you must know the drill by now. HOME or FANFICS?