01 – Stasis

Sara’s second departure leaves Grissom to deal on his own with the sad and almost harsh realities of love and loss and the difficulties of partings.

First part of the Metamorphosis series. Post episode 902, “The Happy Place,” circa September 2008.

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Your absence is the first thing I notice when I step through the door.

What was once — now seemingly long ago — a space full of warmth and light and comfort and joy, seems cold and dark and empty without your presence to fill it.

I suppose it is perversely apt that its emptiness mirrors that which I currently feel inside.

Even Hank senses it, too, you being gone, as he almost fidgets to be free of his lead. And yet, his optimistic footfalls still pad from room to room as if he is hoping to find you here. It is an act I cannot at this moment seem to bring myself to perform. So I sink into the sofa and simply sit in solitary silence.

He returns a few minutes later, his head bowed and his gait reluctant, and lays his head on the couch cushion beside me. When he peers up at me with those big brown eyes of his, they, like the rest of his face, appear sadder than usual and seem almost accusatory. I wish I could believe that his remonstrances weren’t in some ways well-placed or well deserved.

While perhaps sometimes memory is a gift, right now it feels like a perverse sort of curse, as I cannot keep my mind from replaying this last day again and again and again, desperately hoping that this is not another of those last days, the ones that reek of irrevocable finality.

Why are there so many last days now?

I am weary of lasts, last days, last hours, last moments. But that is what these times have been of late, whether I like it or not, full of last moments, last joys, last smiles, last nights of peace and warmth and stillness, last kisses and embraces, last words.

And words, words. Those seem to be all I am left with. Haunting words that still sting and twist and retch. Not just my words, your words, but all the words I want to forget, the ones that echo of pain and heartache and sorrow.

All the words I could not say.

Why is it that when there is so much sorrow all at once, that language fails us the most? When we most need the words to comfort and heal and hope, that they do not come until all we are left with is merely being able to cling to each other and fight the returning emptiness as life and warmth fade away?

But I do not even have that faint comfort now.

I knew, I always did, that your return was not one for good.

It was certainly not the way I had pictured it, your coming home. I had always thought it would be with laughter and joy. Instead, all I could greet you with was silence and tears.

I recall that as I stepped through the doorway to my office only to find you there, I honestly thought that for a moment I had merely imagined you. Though in truth, in some ways you looked so different from how I remembered you, and yet, there was still that same haunted look there, one I knew was remnant of more that just the sudden shock and grief of Warrick’s death and sadly, the light was still gone from your eyes.

You stood there waiting and for what felt like an eternity, I simply stared, until my feet finally remembered how to move. And even as you came closer, I wasn’t sure, wasn’t sure this wasn’t just my wishful thinking, my wanting and needing you that had brought you into being.

I wanted to reach out, touch you, to make sure you really were real, but more than anything, I wanted you warm and close, near and tight.

It was only when we both clung to each other, that I felt the pain I had so desperately endeavored to contain ever since I walked back into the lab wash over me.

You were such a comfort, Sara, in those hours and days. More than you can know or I can say. For you were able to do the things I just couldn’t, to take care of the things that needed to be done.

But no, it wasn’t the homecoming I had imagined for us. There was so little joy to be found in being together again like this. Not because of you, or all the chaos that was going on around us, not because I didn’t want or need you here. I was, and am, beyond thankful that you came. But I knew, I think, even then, that first moment in my office, that this was not the sort of stay for always sort of return.

I think I always knew you couldn’t remain. But that was, and is, one of those knowings I wish I didn’t know.

Yes, I knew this time would come. We both did. You packed lightly. We talked about this. But I never thought it would come so quick, that this time would end so soon. And yes, I guess that as we laid together that one last time in bed last night that I still held onto that hope that you would change your mind, that you could, even when I knew you couldn’t.

So there was no real joy in those last few moments we had, only sadness, because we both knew that it was about to end, this one brief stolen season when you were still able to be here with me.

I vaguely remember that as we lay there you and I, my phone buzzed and had been for I didn’t know how long and honestly I didn’t care.

The dead can wait. I just wanted a few more minutes of life. Just a few more moments before I had to return to the fetid underworld that is Vegas. Yet, I suppose that I, like Persephone, am only allowed to have life and love and freedom for a season before being doomed again to return to the realm of the dead.

But not yet, I wanted to say. No, not yet. The phone be damned.

I was not ready to leave this moment with you, leave even this scant measure of comfort, even despite that heavy sadness of knowing that at some point I must, and you must, and this tenuous moment would pass from reality into memory.

No, not yet. No.

I just wanted to lie there and avidly avoid reality. I didn’t want to think or feel or remember or realize or acknowledge.

Although it seemed that even though we talked about this, about this parting, about how you would be going and I would be staying, it seemed neither of us really wanted it.

Can’t. I hate that word, that and couldn’t. For those two words separated you and I for so long and are doing it yet again.

But I couldn’t go. I can’t go.

And I want you to stay. I need you to stay. But I cannot keep you here. I can’t. I know this. I do. 

You cannot stay. No matter how much I want it, you cannot stay.

But I asked anyway, already knowing the answer.

I suppose reality didn’t quite hit, not in its entirety, not with the full brutal force of it, until you uttered those words I can’t stay here in that voice that makes even the pained into numbness of my heart ache with its despondent finality.

I wonder if that was what it must have felt like to you, that last night we had together before I left for Massachusetts. I remember that your eyes were both dark with a sort of defeatism, and yet wetly bright, when your face met mine in the bathroom mirror. And I remember taking your face into my hands and peering into those eyes and trying so desperately to make sure you understood that I wasn’t leaving you.

And lying there in bed with you, it would have been such a comfort to hear you say those words, I’m not leaving you, just Vegas.

For while my head knows this is true, it is my heart that worries and frets and fears.

And when you spoke about getting away, when I said I can’t, it didn’t mean I didn’t want to. I wanted to say Soon, Sara, soon. Honey, soon.

I wanted to say how wonderful it would be to get far, far away from all of this death and pain, to remember again what wonder and joy and living and breathing and being felt like. That I, too, longed for simpler times, when I could still find refuge in the science, when it could still separate me from the horror we see everyday. 

Oh, yes, if only we could return to a time and place where science and discovery were about life and all its wonders and diversity, instead of about death and human perversity.

You didn’t know, you couldn’t have known because I never told you, that you weren’t the only one longing and dreaming of going away. You didn’t know that I’ve been keeping a file about traveling in my inbox since before April. That I had been plotting and planning and hoping for some time this summer when we could go away, that that was what I was thinking about as I was thumbing through a copy of National Geographic Traveler that night right before I heard the call that Warrick had been shot.

Before that night, I could at least dream of it being possible. But I can’t think that now. Not now. No matter how much I want to.

But I could not heave the words past that lump in my throat. I couldn’t say anything to your longing and dreams. I just didn’t have any more words left, no words to comfort, to heal, to hope, to change what is and what soon, all too soon, was going to be.

So we settled into silence you and I, into that horribly painful knowing silence, the hardest of silences.

Despite that fact, that even there with you still beside me, with my heart aching, with me already longing for you in the absence not here just yet, but to too quickly to come, I wanted to stay in that moment. Stay with your hand warm under mine, your head snuggled into my shoulder. With you here.

And yet, I know, I knew, I couldn’t. I couldn’t forget that the clock was ticking.

We were never good at partings, you and I.

They always seemed so awkward and fraught full of silences that hold so much left unsaid. That this one was not quite so unexpected, didn’t make it any easier.

But how I wish we had parted as I thought we would, with you taking my hand and tugging me out of bed and insisting with the sad faint hint of a smile that I should go before Jim sent someone by to make sure I am all right.

I didn’t expect to see you again at the lab. I didn’t. I thought you would be long gone, the way we had discussed it. The way we had planned. The way I expected it, like I expected the sorrow, the ache.

I did not want you to leave the way you did. I didn’t want us to part as Bryon’s lovers do, so that in meeting all that time later, they are only to be able to greet each other with silence and tears.

I should have realized once the talk turned from purely evidence and science, from that whats of the case to the whys, that it stopped being about just about John and Pam Adler.

And honestly yes, Sara, I am weary of this me here — you there twisted sort of stalemate we have been living all these long months. And I am afraid that this seemingly impenetrable impasse will become just the way things are and always will be.

I do want more than just the knowledge that I am not alone. I want more than long distance phone calls and emails. I want more than just a handful of days with you. I want there to be no more long partings.

I want you, for always. I long to be with you. To feel you beside me when I wake, and then again when I go to sleep. I want us to have a life together. Together together. Without the ghosts and work and the rest of the world between us.

I guess I am not immune to wanting that happy ending either. And I still want it to be with you.

I suppose there was always a part of me that still believed that you could return, that you would, and life could go back to normal, to the way it was before everything got so terribly turned upside down and wrong way out. That the real you would indeed again inhabit these rooms and not just the phantom of you and of all of those lost dreams.

It’s hard to let that dream go, to let you go.

You showed me a wonderful life, but then… And although it wasn’t you that took it away, it doesn’t make it any less gone. So I guess I sat there with you, mourning for the home I knew I couldn’t have, at least not the way I had thought and dreamed I would have with you, at least not right now.

And yes, Sara, I am angry.

I am angry that there is no justice in this world. I am angry about what happened to Nick, to Jim, to Greg, to Warrick and most of all to you. I am angry that you are suffering and that there is nothing I can do about it. I am angry that I have to stay and you have to go. So yes, I am angry. But god, honey, not at you. But most of all, I am angry to find myself so powerless, that I don’t even have the words, any words, and without them, what comfort can I give you?

But your words — those last words — Sara, they hurt.

It felt with you and I in my office again talking about the Adlers as if time had reversed itself and we were back to where we were all those days and weeks and years ago, when you stood in my doorway and told me that you wished you were like me, that you wished you didn’t feel anything.

That was what your words felt like, that same awful accusation.

For the life, or death of me, I couldn’t find an answer to that. I just couldn’t. And we were back to silence, that long damn dreaded silence.

Do you really believe that I want you to go?

Because no matter how much I need or want you to stay, I cannot keep you here. 

That is why you have to be the one to go, because I cannot. I cannot just walk away, not from you, not from work, not from the only life I’ve ever really known. Maybe not not ever, but not right now.

It isn’t because I don’t feel anything. I do.

I meant what I said to Catherine after you first left, more than anything, I want you to be happy. I do, I really do. I want to see the light return to your eyes and your smiles. I want to hear you laugh again. I want that for you, for us.

I don’t want to have to accept it, but I do know that there is always the possibility that in letting you go, you may never come back to me.

But I cannot hold you here. I cannot see you in that pain. So that, too, is why I need for you to be the one to leave.

No, that certainly wasn’t the way I wanted us to say good-bye. Not like that, in the growing silence where I could barely look at you, because I did not want that look to be the last one.

Hank nuzzles my hand, bringing me out of my reverie, returning me to a reality no less painful than the recollections. But I get to my feet anyway and slowly make my way into the kitchen to feed him before I trudge my way into the bedroom to change.

As I enter, I am almost wishing, hoping, for a note, a letter, for a word from you, but I suppose I should be thankful and relieved that it appears that you have only taken back with you what you had brought, that there are still traces of you behind, although the bedroom is neat, almost too neat. The bed immaculately made. The shades wide open, providing the last remaining hints of the light that your presence there usually brings.

When I sit down on the edge of the bed to remove my shoes, the phone in my pocket rings and I want to curse and roar and rage and say Enough! Just let me be.

But it is not to be. Some things never change. 

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Series continues in The Rest is Silence

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