40c – Fish or Cut Bait

Between bug hunting safaris, long walks along the beach and being able to make love at two in the afternoon, Grissom and Sara’s honeymoon was proving just as sweet as the custom’s name suggests. But when Grissom goes fly-fishing, a holiday already full of firsts and surprises turns even more so.

Part of the Marriage of True Minds sequence. Follows “Lost and Found” and “How You Play the Game” and takes place during Grissom and Sara’s honeymoon, circa late winter/early spring 2009.


“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after,”

Henry David Thoreau


A/N: I don’t know about you and where you are, but with all the snow and winter weather here, I could certainly use a little time in the tropics. 

With a special thanks to Frank for the fly-fishing lessons. Even if we never managed to catch anything, they certainly proved productive.

And the very of best wishes to A for a very speedy recovery.


That hat, rued Sara with much affection and her usual shake of the head.

Though it wasn’t that old straw hat of his which caused her to pause to snap a picture. Well, it wasn’t just that hat. No one back in Vegas would believe any of it otherwise, but there he was, Gil Grissom, Ph.D., one of the world’s foremost forensic entomologists, erstwhile career crime scene investigator and more recently first-time groom, standing shorts-clad and knee-deep in the middle of one of the many rivers of Costa Rica’s Pacifico Sur, fly-fishing of all things.

Or at least attempting to.

It was hard to tell how it was going from where she was standing, but the act proved absorbing enough that her arrival went wholly and uncharacteristically unnoticed by her typically hyper-observant husband.

At the thought of husband, Sara smiled. Even if she was still getting used to thinking of Grissom that way, she had in the course of the few days the two of them had been married found she rather liked how it sounded.

But no, no one probably would believe it. Probably the being married part most of all. She hadn’t quite wrapped her head around it herself. Not nearly enough weeks had passed since he had simply shown up at camp one day for even his presence to lose its novelty. This, this was something else entirely.

Sara knew, too, she had Ana and Stephen to thank — and blame — for it. Well, the fact that she and Grissom were off on their first holiday alone together. That they turn their unexpected bout of time off into a honeymoon however had been entirely Grissom’s idea. Albeit that hadn’t kept him from being nervous when he attempted to broach the subject.

They had been in the midst of getting ready for bed after one of those long, but utterly satisfying field days. Although with her having been busy out and about checking traps with Bernie and Luis while Grissom mostly pulled desk duty with Stephen, this had been the first time they’d had even a moment alone together since kissing each other good-bye for the day not long after sunrise.

At the unsteadiness in his murmur of, “I was thinking…” Sara peered up at him from where she was seated about to undo the laces of her boots. Her And this is different from usual how? expression so plain on her face she hadn’t needed to utter the actual words.

Grissom ignored it in any case as he plowed on with, “Stephen had an interesting question –”

“About?” she prompted when he didn’t immediately elaborate, both curious and concerned, as the one thing which seldom ever disconcerted Grissom was questions. The man practically thrived on them.

“How long we were planning on staying,” he finally supplied.

Sara smirked into her shoes. “And here I thought they liked us.”

But apparently far too preoccupied with whatever else he had on his mind, Grissom didn’t rise to the tease. Instead he pushed on with some apparent difficulty, “He and Ana wanted to know if we’d like to stay on on a more official and permanent basis, at least through the end of the dry season.”

This both did and didn’t come as a surprise to her. Anyway, Sara was far more interested in his answer. “What did you tell him?”

“That I had to talk to you about it first.”

Evidently the time where the two of them made separate decisions had passed. It was a strange, yet much welcome development.

“And what do you think about it?” asked Sara, touched.

“I was about to ask you the same thing.”

“You seem to like it here,” she said. Which was more understatement than anything. Despite the rigorous physicality of much of the fieldwork, these days Grissom displayed more energy and enthusiasm than Sara had seen him do in years.

“I do. And the place certainly agrees with you,” he replied hazarding his first smile since he started.

Except for some reason what Sara noticed at that moment was that Grissom hadn’t gotten past the top two buttons of his camp shirt. And something about this made her next words come out uneasy. “I could say the same, but, Gil, this isn’t the number two crime lab in the country –”

“Honey,” he interjected before she could get going, “we’ve had this discussion. None of this is in any way a demotion. So?”

“I’d — I’d like to stay.”

“So would I,” he agreed and they shared a smile.

Sara returned her attention to her boots.

Grissom however took a deep breath. “They did have one condition.”


“We take some time off.”

She laughed. “Are you sure they aren’t tired of us?”

Turned out just as Grissom had earlier insisted, tiring had nothing to do with it. Ana and Stephen had to be in San José for a few weeks and since they had all worked through Christmas, Ana thought it best to give the guys some time with their families and as Bridget had returned to the States not long after the first of the year just in time to start the new semester, that would just leave Grissom and Sara and there was no point or even way to run camp on a skeletal staff of two no matter how competent that two might be.

When he’d finished explaining this to her, Sara said, “You know strangely enough, I don’t feel like protesting being sent on a mandatory vacation this time.”

But while Grissom wasn’t any more the vacationing type than she was, that didn’t explain why he was back to wearing that oddly anxious expression.

“I, uh, I thought, uh, maybe we might make it a honeymoon actually,” he stammered.

Sara’s eyes went wide.

Then when she didn’t respond quite quick enough, he hurriedly amended, “Or not. I know we never talked about setting a date or anything. It’s… It’s okay if you want to wait –”

As this was the exact opposite of what she wanted, Sara rose and cut him off with an adamant, “No. It’s a great idea,” she genuinely enthused. “Really.”

And she kissed him in such a way which left no room for doubt.

So here they were. Nearly a week married and thoroughly enjoying their honeymoon and first vacation together. And Grissom was out fly-fishing of all things. And in that intent and yet perfectly at ease way of his which was just so quintessentially Grissom. Some things, Sara supposed, didn’t change.

The shorts however were new. True, he had arrived in a pair of convertible pants, but the one thing you learned quickly in the rainforest was shorts were for tourists and the foolish and Grissom generally not answering to either, this along with the fact that shorts weren’t exactly regulation lab wear back in Vegas, meant that Sara seldom if ever saw him in them.

At least she wasn’t gawping which had been his response that first time when in preparation for a quick dip, she’d stripped down to her swimsuit. Even though the attention ultimately proved flattering, from the way he’d been gaping, Sara had initially worried that she must have somehow managed to do something awe worthy, like suddenly sprout two heads. It wasn’t as if her one-piece had been all that revealing for heaven’s sake and Grissom had certainly seen her in far, far less. Yet none of that kept him from staring or sheepishly muttering in explanation something about having never seen her in a swimsuit before. For her part, Sara only shook her head and asked him to help her with the sunscreen.

Still, this afternoon she hadn’t been able to keep the fond affection from her voice when she called, “You really should wear shorts more often, Gil.”

His only reply was the verbal equivalent of an eye roll, if Grissom ever rolled his eyes, which he didn’t. “Thanks.”

“I’m serious,” she insisted.

“And that, my dear, is the scary part.” And while in truth he was happy to see her, Grissom proceeded to tease, “So did you come for a reason or just to –”

“I brought lunch,” replied Sara, gesturing to the bag slung over her back, “in case you were hungry and not in the mood for sushi. And before you ask, no, it’s not my cooking.”

“Then it’s safe to eat then.”

Although more amused than nettled, Sara said, “You know I can just go and leave you to fish in peace –”

For even though the forest wasn’t exactly all that quiet, not with all the water rushing, leaves rustling, insects buzzing, birds cawing and monkeys barking, despite what should have been a discordant cacophony, it was peaceful all the same.

“Don’t do that,” he said and meant it. Whereas he had been solitary and fairly contently so for much of his fifty-plus years and as much as it had come as a surprise just how much, he truly enjoyed the everyday presence of the woman who was now his wife. Consequently, he was happy to see her pick her way along the shore until she found a relatively clear spot to make camp.

“How’s the fishing going?” she called over her rooting around in her pack. “Catch anything yet?”

While he hated to admit it, he hadn’t. So far the experience had proved far more Zen-like than practicable. And slightly wetter than he had imagined that morning out at Mount Charleston.


This admission seemed to both perplex and amuse his wife who said, “I thought you said Costa Rica has great fly-fishing.”

“It does.”

“Just not here?”

“Fly fishing is about more than just catching fish you know.”

“Really?” asked Sara paused in mid unpack perfectly prepared to be enlightened.

“Good for thinking for one.”

“Oh? What about?” For you never really knew with Grissom.

“Life. The universe. Everything,” he supplied airily.

“I thought we already had the answer to that one.”

“Forty-two?” Grissom rejoined with the punch line to an old Douglas Adams joke long familiar to them both. “I was working on what the question was.”

“Any luck?”

“Not really.”

“That’s too bad,” she said returning to rummaging through her bag.

Grissom watched as with a triumphant flourish, Sara withdrew what she’d been so intent on unearthing: a bottle of peach schnapps. He smiled, knowing without having to ask that the liquor wasn’t meant for human consumption. For some reason Lepidoptera found the mixture of fresh fruit doused in cheap alcohol absolutely irresistible. And while it was frequently true that in Costa Rica if you sat still long enough the bugs would come to you, the lure had the added benefit of rendering the butterflies more than a little tipsy and therefore lethargic enough that they were far easier to catch, in this case if Sara’s ring light mounted macro lens camera setup was any indication, on film.

But it was the way she reached up and deftly avoiding the plant’s resident colony of Azteca alafari, expertly snipped a stalk of yarumo that made him grin. The cecropia’s large multi-lobed leaves made for great photographic backgrounds, far better than the plain plastic bowls or cups used to hold the drunken fruit, but the trees tended to be myrmecophytic, frequently playing host to multiple species of ants which though thankfully didn’t sting, did have the nasty habit of swarming whenever they felt their home was under attack which meant you had to be careful, very careful. But then Sara was always a quick study.

“Actually, I was mostly thinking about you,” he ventured after a moment before adding, his pleasure at this plain, “And here you are.”

This comment hung there between them for a long while like Grissom’s frank admissions were often wont to do, until he offered nonchalant once more, “Besides, fishing is more about the process than the outcome anyway.”

“Like sand castles?” supplied Sara.

For a few days before, she had emerged from their cabin, freshly changed out of her swimsuit to find her husband sitting on the shore apparently and unsurprisingly lost in thought.

“I’m almost afraid to ask,” Sara said then, taking a seat beside him.


“That gleam in your eyes usually means trouble.”

Not that Grissom’s trouble was trouble per se, but still she didn’t quite believe his assurance of “No trouble.”


“No, not bugs,” he said with a smile of his own, thinking it probably a fair question.

“What then, philosophy?” The man could quote Shakespeare in his sleep after all.

“More like architecture. Sometimes it’s best to leave the philosophizing to better men. Like Blake.”

And he quoted in that ever-knowing way of his:

“‘To see the world in a grain of sand,

And to see heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.’

“‘Auguries of Innocence,’” he supplied at her blank look.

“Pretty,” she replied, “but that doesn’t really answer my original question. Architecture, Gil?”

“You can’t tell me you grew up on the coast and never built a sandcastle, Sara.”

It was then she noted that it wasn’t in an abstract or pensive sort of way, how he was rubbing the sand between his fingertips, but in a matter far more precise and calculating, as if he were testing its consistency.

She shrugged. “You spend all that time building them only to have the waves wash them away. I guess I never saw the point.”

“Does everything have to have a point?” Grissom asked in all seriousness. “Haven’t you ever done something just for fun?”

This was rather rich coming from him. So she countered, “Have you?”

“Plenty,” he answered. “So why not?” he said echoing what had become over the last several days a rather regular refrain between the two of them.

“Build a sand castle just for fun?”

“Or ars gratia artis, art for art’s sake, if you need it to have a purpose,” he offered.  When she persevered in her hesitance, he added, “You got something better to do?”

However it was more Grissom’s impish, boyish enthusiasm rather than his cockiness which ultimately won her over. And as there was no point in ever doing anything only halfway, the two of them spent the rest of the afternoon pillaging the cabin’s various cupboards for pots and pans and other assorted containers with which to construct their castle. Of course this meant that what they eventually built in no way bore any resemblance to conventional sand castles. A fact which didn’t bother either of them in the least.

Admittedly, Sara was still a little sad to watch it all wash away, but the process had been fun, different, but fun in that unexpected way so many of the strange and unusual things Grissom proposed they do frequently proved.

Back in the present, Grissom was nodding. “Like sandcastles. So why don’t you join me?”

“I think I’m good over here. Got plenty wet yesterday, no thanks to you.”

“You won’t end up in the river. I promise.”

“Yeah, I think you promised that yesterday. Didn’t keep us from getting soaked,” said Sara. Then unable to keep the tease from her tone, she observed, “You’d think you’d never saw a dragonfly before.”

“I hadn’t. Not a Rhodopygia hinei,” he replied reasonably. “You have to admit it was an impressive specimen.”

It was. There was no mistaking its vivid, nearly impossible blood-red hue, but Sara wasn’t entirely sure it was worth almost sinking a canoe for. When she reiterated as much to him, Grissom only intoned, “You can’t sink a canoe.”

To which his wife laughed, “Then how did we almost end up in the water?”

“Capsize yes, sink no,” he said. “There is a difference.”

“I still ended up soaked.”

In the end, all Sara’s protests didn’t seem to faze Grissom. He was still wearing that imploring expression she never really could resist.

And why not? It wouldn’t be the first strange weird unusual different thing they had done. Their honeymoon had been full of them after all. So she bent to unzip her pant legs into shorts and splashed her way out into the middle to meet him. Despite the heat of the day, she shivered slightly; the river tickling as it passed the back of her knee in that place only her husband knew she was ticklish.

Except when Grissom held out the rod for her to take, Sara simply stared at it as if were utterly foreign. Not that it hadn’t been quite some time since he’d last wielded one himself before this trip. With work and life what it was, he hadn’t exactly had all that much opportunity since his grandfather used to take him out and back then he’d honestly been far more interested in digging up worms and night crawlers than any actual fishing.

“I take it you never went fishing as a kid either,” he said.

“Yeah, alcohol and water really don’t mix. That and one of my foster dads used to say there was a fine line between fishing and sitting in a boat looking stupid.”


“Yeah, he really wasn’t.” Then swiftly changing the subject Sara asked, “But you don’t use real flies in fly-fishing, do you?”

Grissom looked slightly aghast at the concept. “Traditionally, they’re made up of fur or feathers, but these,” he said reeling the line in to show her, “are the modern version.”

“Neoprene?” she said more out of surprise than an actual question, as it seemed far simpler to recognize the material used than to identify the species of bug the abstract shapes were supposed to represent.

“Waterproof, lightweight. It’s built to sit on top of the water exactly like real insects do.”

And he said this in such an erudite manner Sara couldn’t help but say, “I can almost see it now. The title of your next applied entomology lecture: ‘New Materials, Insect Mimicry and Their Applications to the Sport of Fly-Fishing.’”

“I’m glad I amuse you,” deadpanned Grissom.

She laughed. “You usually do.”

She’d certainly smiled more, laughed more since he’d come to Costa Rica. He had, too. If it came at one or the other’s expense, neither seemed much to mind. It was worth it.

“Back to the fishing,” he said, extending the pole to her again. “Thumb on top. Hold it firm like a handshake.”

Sara did as he instructed.

“First, you need a wide open spot. Don’t want to snag in the trees.”

“Yeah, but then at least I would have caught something.”

Unsurprisingly he opted to ignore this. “You want each cast to release a little more line. If you do it too quick, it bunches up. Wait for the ripples to disappear before you bring it back in. Then slowly work your way to the spot you’re looking for.”

“What are you looking for?”

“Fish like structure. Breaks up wide-open spaces. Makes them feel more secure. See those rocks over there? Perfect spot. Try it.”

And Sara did indeed try to replicate what she’d earlier observed Grissom do. Except she failed so miserably she barely missed getting tangled up in the understory. Nor did she fare any better on her second attempt, when her own momentum nearly knocked her into the water. Although Grissom’s self-deprecatory admission of “I almost did that a couple of times, too,” did much to mitigate her awkwardness.

“Maybe we should focus on technique first,” he said, having her take in the line once more before securely linking the hook to the pole. “Now close your eyes,” he instructed. “Think of yourself as in the center of a clock. Extend back to ten then forward to three as you release.”

At least, Sara mused as she tried a third time, the one good thing about doing it this way meant you didn’t have to see how much of a fool you were making out of yourself. Her husband seemed to think she was making progress in any case as he made what she knew from long experience to be approbative noises.

“Just remember it’s more about control than power. Almost like a dance,” he offered.

“Dance?” she echoed.

“Let me show you,” he said. Although instead of taking the rod from her as she expected him to, he positioned himself behind her, one hand on hers, the other about her waist. Her eyes went wide at the contact, so innocent and intimate all at once that she almost missed his saying, “More waltz than quick step.”

Even more disconcerting, he proceeded with his breath hot on her neck and his lips brushing her ear, to hum Blue Danube of all things as he guided her arm forward and back in time with the tune.

Perhaps if she hadn’t initially bristled at the unexpectedly close contact, it wouldn’t have gone any further. But what most people they knew didn’t know was Grissom could have a bit of a mischievous side to him when the mood suited him. As it apparently did now. That and he could and did flirt and tempt and tease and torment like the best of them. To be fair, Sara had done her own share of flirting and tempting and teasing and tormenting, particularly over the last several days so she couldn’t exactly talk.

Not that she could, as the powers of speech seemed to have utterly deserted her at that moment. It was hard enough to concentrate on what he was saying with him so distractingly near. The memory of other moments much like this, coupled with the press of his body, that almost intoxicating nearness definitely more hindered than helped. Actually distraction didn’t begin to cover it. Not that Sara was about to admit it.

But the last thing any of this felt was studious.

So when in response to her breathy “Please tell me this wasn’t how you learned,” Grissom’s rejoining “No, dear,” buzzed along the hollow of her neck, it only confirmed her suspicions that her husband was indeed doing it on purpose. He didn’t let go of her in any event, not even when she laughed, “Good. Otherwise I just might have to start worrying.”

“Sara–” he sighed and at the half groan, half moan while not intended as such Sara found sexy as hell, she went to turn.

There was only one problem. Flustered as she was, she’d forgotten she was standing in the midst of a rushing stream a top slightly slick stones. So that when she slipped, she did the only natural thing: she took Grissom down with her.

The resulting crash startled several of the characteristically curious toucans from their roosts. Over their recriminating chatter and clacks, Sara asked, “You okay?”

“Yeah. You?”

“Yeah. Except I distinctly recall you promising I wasn’t going to end up in the river.”

“Actually,” he said, helping her to her feet, “this is entirely your fault.”

“At least I didn’t do it on purpose,” she countered. “Unlike you. At the beach two nights ago,” she reminded him.


“You dumped me in the ocean and all you can say is ah?” demanded Sara and when no reply on his end was forthcoming, splashed him soundly out of pique.

For Grissom had. Technically, it had been Hank’s fault. The boxer had gotten a hold of something dead and smelly and while the fascination hadn’t exactly come as a surprise — like master like dog indeed — there was no way they were going to let him back into the cabin like that. The simplest solution had been to drop him into the sea. Hank had spluttered, looked shocked and frankly horrified in such a way Sara had been unable to keep from doubling over with laughter. However, it wasn’t quite so amusing when her husband proceeded with little ceremony and even less grace to do the same to her. She’d proved as indignant as Hank, for she hadn’t been all that keen to find herself flat on her ass amidst the waves. Which meant that of course it was only fair that when he went to offer to help her up, she tug him into the water with her.

“I’m not so sure Hank’s forgiven you yet,” said Sara.

Perhaps that explained why the boxer seemed perfectly content to remain behind that afternoon. He’d certainly been fast asleep in the bright patch of sunlight on the porch when she’d left.

“Wait a second,” she said, just noticing now. “You’re missing something. Your hat!” exclaimed Sara.

His hands shot to his head. Somehow that old straw hat of his had managed to get dislodged in all the kerfuffle. Sara spotted it bobbing several meters downstream. They both tromped after it before the current could carry it much further. Sara got there first, snatching it up. Relieved they both stood there panting, a little breathless and more than a little wet.

Grissom reached for it.

“Allow me,” Sara insisted and replaced it on his head still full of river water. “Now that I did do on purpose,” she admitted as the rivulets streamed down his face.

With as much dignity as he could muster, Grissom proceeded to wordlessly wipe it away. He had that look, as if he were considering something. Retaliation perhaps or so Sara feared.

“I think we’ve scared off all the fish,” she said sheepishly.

“Probably. But there’s another spot a little further up stream.”

“You’re going to risk more fishing with me?” came her incredulous reply.

“Maybe not the best of ideas,” he had to concede. “But no. I heard it was good for swimming. As we’re already wet –”

“True, but I don’t have my suit.”

Grissom didn’t seem to see the problem. When he intimated as much, Sara laughed, “Since when are you into skinny dipping, Gilbert?”

Truth was that particular possibility hadn’t occurred to him. But now that she mentioned it, he only grinned, glad Sara hadn’t been the one who got away.


To read more about some of the other snapshots from Grissom and Sara’s honeymoon and the team’s reactions back in Vegas, see Worth More than a Thousand Words.


Have a question or want to leave a comment or concern and don’t have a wordpress account? Please feel free to email me at kadhmercer@gmail.com

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