40a – Lost and Found

Despite what all the fairy tales may say, the wedding is never the end, only the beginning, of the story.

Part of the Marriage of True Minds sequence. Takes place during Grissom and Sara’s honeymoon, circa late winter/early spring 2009.

 *******

For JW, now Mrs. E, upon the occasion of her marriage — with apologies for the unsurprising lateness (of course one shouldn’t be reading fanfic during one’s honeymoon anyway) but with the very best of wishes always, and much joy to you both.

*******

One

“True love stories never have endings,” Richard Bach

*******

“Will you?”

Sara turned to indicate the long line of pearl buttons running down the back of her simple, yet elegant wedding dress.

She and Grissom had just returned from one last leisurely stroll along the sands. Unable as they’d been to resist the waves’ rhythmic rush and retreat, the heady ocean air or pretty star-strewn moonlit sky, they’d lingered hand-in-hand along the shore with all the practiced ease of regular holidaymakers, despite this being in truth, not only their honeymoon, but also their first real vacation together.

“I swear,” Grissom began, his breath hot on her neck, “you chose all these buttons on purpose.”

Glancing back at him, Sara’s eyes sparkled Perhaps.

His only rejoinder was to take his time with said buttons.

After what felt like an inordinately long interval – at least by Sara’s reckoning — and him having only managed to make it halfway through them, she let out a sigh of “Gil,” though more fond than actually reproving.

Normally, his blithe Yes, dear? would have made her smirk and shake her head, but his lips were close, so close, they practically hummed against that sensitive spot just beneath her ear, that in the end, all Sara could manage was to inhale in reply.

Albeit by the time he finally slid the last fastener free, she had regained enough presence of mind to turn, take his face into her hands and render him the one breathless.

Long after, her left hand remained there, resting on his cheek, her thumb brushing against his skin in that same tender way it had the first time she’d touched him, really touched him, out there in that alleyway all those years ago.

And it was Grissom’s turn to sigh and close his eyes before he pressed a kiss into her palm. However, it was the not quite absent brush of his thumb along the simple gold band she now wore which caused his wife to murmur, “We actually did it.”

While her words bespoke more of a sense of hard-won contentment than amazement, and he knew it, Grissom laughed, “Regret it already?”

Opting for a tease of her own, Sara replied, “Isn’t it a little early to be asking that question?”

“After only a couple of hours? Probably. But you still haven’t answered it, Sara.”

“Not at all. You?”

His No was as equally honest and earnest as her own.

Their solemnity didn’t last long, however; the occasion simply wouldn’t allow for it.

From above the whisper of the faintly blue-blushed cream-colored fabric being carefully eased over her head, came Sara’s chuckle of “Although I don’t envy you having to tell Catherine.”

“Refresh my memory,” Grissom said, intently eyeing her as she went to drape her dress over a chair. “How exactly did this become my job again?”

Utterly nonchalant, she rejoined, “You were the one who wrote her saying we had some news. And we both know, Gil, it’s not like you not to finish what you start.”

Grissom made no reply to this, more keen as he was at that moment at enjoying the sight of her barefoot and clad as she now was only in a short silk slip.

And unsurprisingly found himself — and not for the first time that night — absolutely dumbstruck.

Beautiful, he wanted to murmur. So beautiful. 

But he couldn’t quite heave his heart into his mouth. Or find words at all. Which didn’t surprise him either. Sara did that to him. All the time.

It wasn’t until he finally registered her attempts to rub warmth back into her bare arms — the evening air brisk as it frequently was, counter to the widely and mistakenly held belief that the rainforest, like the desert, never cooled — that Grissom was jolted out of his appreciative reverie and able to ask as pathetically obvious as the answer was, “Cold?”

She shrugged. “A little.”

“I have a remedy for that.”

Sara, thinking he might steer her towards the bed, instead found herself suddenly alone in the middle of the room, victim of yet another prototypical, yet no less baffling, Gil Grissom disappearing act. However nonplussed, she knew if she waited long enough an explanation would eventually be forthcoming. Eventually. And it was.

Over the sounds of him rummaging through his satchel came his rather sheepish admission. “I almost forgot. Meant to give it to you earlier.”

Forgot what? She wondered, but it was “It’s not like you to be forgetful,” that she called after him, amused and still more than a little bemused all at once.

Her puzzlement didn’t last long, for he soon returned, a lumpy though neatly wrapped parcel in hand, done up as she was tickled to see in that simple brown paper which Grissom for some inexplicable reason tended to favor and Sara rather secretly cherished its unpretentious simplicity.

“I was,” he offered, “a little –”

“Preoccupied?” she supplied in the start of an old and well-worn exchange between them.

Distracted.”

And he had been, riveted to the spot at the first sight of her descending the narrow steps in her wedding gown. Been struck speechless then, too. Which hadn’t exactly gone unnoticed at the time. Except Sara, for her part, had rather regarded his mute admiration as the highest compliment he could have paid her.

He extended the package to her. “Forgive me one last tradition: nuptial gift.”

“Victorian?” Sara asked, that having been the original source, or so she’d been informed, of the twin sprays of orange blossoms he’d given her to wear in her hair in lieu of a bouquet.

“Slightly older than that.”

Cognizant that there had to be more, she waited and was rewarded with one of Grissom’s patented one-word expositions.

“Entomic.”

Insects. Of course.

She grinned. “A lot older you mean.”

As in millennia older. Heck ants and other insects had been waging war, raising crops, tending livestock and living in intricately ruled cooperative societies 50 million years before human beings arrived on the scene to attempt, albeit not always that successfully, to do the same.

But only Grissom would be thinking bugs now. Sara doubted he ever actually stopped. It was strangely enough one of his more endearing traits.

So she beamed, “I love you,” and planted an affectionate kiss on his cheek.

One which was cut short by her having abruptly recollected her husband having once, and probably more than once now that she thought about it, described in great detail how the males of many arachnid and mantid species used nuptial gifts such as nutritive food items or even seemingly useless baubles like clusters of blown bubbles to divert and keep their mates occupied during sex so that they might live to copulate another day.

“I hope your rationale differs,” she sighed. “I mean you really aren’t that worried I might bite your head off and eat it if you didn’t?”

“Just open it, dear.”

Tentatively, Sara peeled the paper aside. And gasped.

First her eyes and then her fingertips traced the outlines of a rabble of brilliantly blue morphos frolicking amongst the cream-colored blossoms adorning the intricately woven shawl.

That it’s coloration so closely matched the dress she’d chosen to wear couldn’t be coincidence.

“You knew.”

“I had help is all.” Then fingering one of the thin straps to her slip in a way very, very familiar, he added in a tender tone of his own, “I couldn’t resist.”

The gesture and its reference didn’t escape her. Knowing his selection had just as much to do with his recollecting the precise color of the dress she’d worn for at least part of their first date rendered her murmur of “It’s beautiful,” even more breathy.

“And useful.”

“Oh?”

He proceeded to unfurl it with a flourish and drape it about her shoulders before employing the ends to tug her towards him.

“Aren’t you clever?”

Naturally, his smug grin intimated.

Which only made her laugh. “It’s not like you to be cocky, Gil.”

But she kissed him anyway.

And they only broke away for breath.

When they finally did, Sara stammered, still slightly short of breath herself, “I… I uh… Have something for you, too, actually. Turns out great minds really do think alike. Well,” she hurriedly amended, “Not entirely alike.”

For even after all her months cataloging insect specimens for Dr. Velazquez’s biodiversity census or those years working and living with Gil Grissom, entomologist extraordinaire, she didn’t quite have bugs on the brain as much as her now husband did.

But turn about being as it frequently was, fair play, Grissom’s eyes went wide at the contents of her gift: an obviously well-loved and much-thumbed antique gilt-edged black leather-bound volume, the title on the spine worn almost into illegibility, but the cover and front board still vibrant with the graphic depiction of a boat being capsized by an angry great white whale.

“How did you manage–?” he asked, not unsurprisingly, as the one thing there was definitely a dearth of in Costa Rica were books in English.

“Weren’t you the one who said the knowledge of how something is done inevitably spoils the magic of the thing?”

When Grissom simply waited for her to actually answer, persevering in peering at her in that intent way of his, she said, “The Internet, where else? But I do distinctly recall you once saying you wanted a chance to read it again.”

“I did,” he replied with a fond smile of his own, thinking back to that night when the two of them had returned from Desert Palms simultaneously drained and elated to find out that Brass was going to be fine, just fine. They – or he mostly — had spoken about death and dying and all the things he wanted to do before his proverbial time was up.

He’d already gotten to go back to the rainforest one more time. And now this. The international chess tournaments could wait. And since then, he’d come up with a few more things he hoped to do, foremost of all, sharing the rest of his life – however long it lasted, whatever it might hold and wherever it might take him — with the woman who was now his wife.

He returned the thick tome to Sara. “Will you do the honors?”

Me? Right here, right now?”

“Why not?” he asked, taking her hand to tug her toward the small settee where they sat snuggled up close, the book propped open on her lap; her head resting on his shoulder. Grissom’s arm fitted around her, his fingers dallying for a while in her curls before slipping beneath her shawl and along her bare arm, more than a little distractingly, though when he asked, Sara was rather insistent that he not stop.

That this was how he wished to occupy the remainder of their evening, she knew she really shouldn’t be surprised. They may have been married no more than a handful of hours, but Sara already knew this about her husband: Grissom never rushed anything. That and his idea of lovemaking went well beyond sex.

And so she began to read:

                        Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind

                        how long precisely—having little or no money

                        in my purse, and nothing particular to interest

                        me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little

                        and see the watery part of the world. It is a way

                        I have of driving off the spleen and regulating

                        the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing

                        grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp,

                        drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find

                        myself involuntarily pausing before coffin

                        warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every

                        funeral I meet; and especially whenever my

                        hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it

                        requires a strong moral principle to prevent me

                        from deliberately stepping into the street, and

                        methodically knocking people’s hats off—then,

                        I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

*******

“‘I turned in, and never slept better in my life.’”

Sara paused at the end of the fourth chapter and was about to turn the page to begin the next, when her husband reached over to nudge the book closed.

“On that note –”

“Does this mean you think I’m dull as a speaker?” she chuckled.

Setting the book aside, he shook his head.

Although there was no mistaking his intentions when in a distinctly husky rasp he murmured, “Bed,” into his wife’s ear; and Sara, certain he was not suggesting sleep, needed no further explanations or inducements.

*******

Continued in Two

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