01 – Homecoming

Always Have Paris

Sara’s first trip back to visit Grissom in Paris proves eventful and extraordinary more for its ordinariness than anything else. And she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Follows For Now and Vested Interests and takes place between episodes 10×02 “Ghost Town” and 10×04 “Coup de Grace,” circa October 2009.

*******

One: Homecoming

Sara gave her watch another weary glance as she finally made her way past Customs. Even though her body was telling her it should only be half past six in the morning, it was just after three-thirty in the afternoon Paris time.

And a few hours later than she had expected to arrive.

But the flight out of Dulles had been delayed and then she’d made the mistake of being seated towards the rear of the plane, so she’d had to wait almost an hour just to get through Roissy’s notoriously slow passport control. Thankfully, she hadn’t checked any bags, because apparently none of the luggage had made it from the plane for pick up by the time she passed by the carousels on her way towards Customs. Sadly, it wasn’t for nothing that Paris’s Charles De Gaulle Airport was reviled for its lack of speed and tendency to complicate even the simplest travel arrangements.

Already nearly four in the afternoon.

She let out a long sigh.

As her plane had left Vegas around one the day before, it was as if an entire day had just vanished. For an aimless moment, Sara half wondered if long distance flight wasn’t really a primitive form of time travel, where time went forward or backwards depending on which direction one journeyed. But as the nature of time hadn’t really been part of her physics studies and the time travel of science fiction was more Grissom’s bailiwick than her own, plus as she really hadn’t slept more than a few hours in the last couple of days, Sara decided to table the existential question for later.

Besides, right now she needed to focus on finding her way out of the Air France terminal and to the train station so she could take the RER to connect with the Paris Métro.

If she didn’t have to wait too long for the next train, she might, just might, be able to make it back to their Quartier Latin apartment before five and be able to have a proper shower at long last. Her most recent, having been a very hurried one grabbed on her way out of the lab, could have barely been classified as a real shower, except by the very loosest of definitions. But while she may have over the years become inured to the smell, she didn’t think her fellow passengers would appreciate the leftover aroma of the two-week old decomp that had been the last case she’d been working on right before she left.

Feeling a little guilty about taking time off so soon after she’d just returned to Vegas, Sara had volunteered for the unpleasant task of processing the personal effects of a rather rank body that had been discovered outside of Boulder City. So a real shower with hot water and something more pleasant than lemons for cleansing was definitely in order. She’d have just enough time for that and to be able to finally change out of the clothes she’d been wearing for the last eighteen hours before her husband came home.

The thought of husband and home made her smile.

That moment she knew would be worth the long flights, crowded planes, the barely recognizable as food airline cuisine, that mad dash to the terminal in D.C. (only to sit on the tarmac for an hour) and the usual regular fuss at Roissy. Back with Grissom again she would be home at last. Thank goodness.

It had been a long couple of weeks; longer than she would have liked or would have even dared admit to herself.

For while it had been good to see everyone again — she had missed them — Sara had not missed sorting through remains sent through a wood chipper, dealing with dead bodies in showers or decomps.

And it was different, being back at the lab this time. The job was just that: a job. That didn’t mean she didn’t give it all of her attention or best efforts, but it was no longer her life, not her whole life, but just a part of that life. And there was a huge difference. She understood that now and it did make things easier. That and having Grissom there with her, even if it was only on the other end of a phone line. Nevertheless, it made the 5,000 miles that separated them seem not quite so distant.

Still, Sara was looking forward to a week where the only dead bodies she had to deal with were the specimens she would be pulling from the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle’s extensive insect collections. Having gone back to work as a CSI in Vegas or no, she had every intention of keeping her previously made promise to help Grissom prep for his practicals.

She had paused for a moment to check her bearings (the terminal’s directional signage really as horribly confusing as everyone griped that it was) when she thought she heard a familiar voice calling her name.

Even though Sara wasn’t a very common name, at least not in France, she was about to shrug it off as a product of an overactive imagination, jet lag, too much overtime at the lab and too little sleep.

Until she heard it again. Clearer. Closer.

She turned.

To find her husband wending his way towards her through the luggage-toting travelers. For a long moment, she just stood there rooted to the spot in stunned wide-eyed wonder, much like she had that afternoon nearly ten months before, when Grissom had suddenly appeared in the middle of the Costa Rican rainforest. The tumult of emotions was much the same — that rush of surprise and pleasure at seeing him there. Except this time he was smiling at her with an air of comfortable self-assuredness that he had been lacking that December day. For today there was no hint of nervousness or shyness in his mien or manner. In fact, he was practically beaming.

And boy was he a sight for sore eyes. Obviously, he had come straight from his duties at the Sorbonne. For while he had managed to rid himself of the encumbrance of the ever much-loathed necktie, he was still suit-clad with barely a wrinkle in sight. Sara, having had hurriedly shrugged on a clean t-shirt and jeans after her shower and having done nothing with her then damp hair but pull it back into a hurried ponytail, knew she certainly looked more the worse for wear than not.

But Grissom didn’t seem to mind or even notice.

Having finally narrowed the distance remaining between them, he greeted her with a bright, affectionate, “Bonjour, ma chérie,” before leaning in to kiss her in the typical French fashion that Sara especially appreciated, particularly when after pressing a lingering kiss against one cheek and then the other, he lightly brushed his lips against hers before returning to kiss her first cheek a second time.

Although she was still far too baffled even after he had pulled away to do much more than stammer, “What are you…? I thought you…?”

For when they had discussed her impending arrival a few days ago, she was pretty sure that they’d agreed to meet up at their apartment after Grissom had gotten back from work. In fact, Sara clearly remembered insisting that he didn’t need to come get her.

The truth was that while Grissom had thought about protesting her dictum at the time, he had decided to feign agreement then show up at the airport anyway.

“Not happy to see me?” he asked, more amused at her response than concerned, and was even more so, when Sara hurriedly replied, “I didn’t say that.”

For she was happy to see him, beyond happy to see him. Ecstatic. Especially as she hadn’t really realized how much she’d truly missed him until that first moment they were back together again.

“But,” she was saying, still sounding as perplexed as she felt, “I thought you had… I mean, don’t tell me you’re already shirking work just to be here.”

He shook his head. Then with an almost guilty sort of grin he began rattling off in rapid French something about classes ending early, the afternoon’s faculty meetings being cancelled, his office hours postponed, the traffic being good for once and her flight being late, all of which meant that he’d been able to get there in time.

She almost laughed at this. Grissom wasn’t any better at stretching the truth in French than he was in English. For even if Sara believed in coincidences (and she knew better than to do so, particularly when her husband was involved), there were just way too many coincidences for it to be credited. But she was too tickled by the fact that he had gone through so much trouble that she wasn’t about to call him on it or even let on that she knew he wasn’t telling her the entire truth.

In any case, he’d obviously wanted to see his wife again as much as she had wanted to see him.

So she let him take her one carryon, if only to free up her hand in order that he could grasp it himself. That was one of the nice things about being in Paris, the feel of the simple warmth of his hand in hers.

Grissom led her outside towards the queue of waiting taxis, smart enough as he was not to mention that she looked too dead on her feet for the train, but still able to acknowledge and take that reality into account.

As he proceeded in his almost too learned French to give directions for their apartment to the driver, Sara sank back into the seat with a heavy sigh, relieved to be off her feet even after all those hours of sitting on the plane.

That done, the journey home continued on in relative quiet. The two of them had quickly learned that it was never a good idea to carry on extensive conversations in the back of any cab in English. Doing so tended to lead to far longer and more scenic rides than necessary, as the drivers assumed that they were green tourists, and as it seemed to be the case in most cities in the world, tourist ignorance was just too tempting not to attempt to exploit.

Besides, neither of them were really in the mood for small talk or vapid chitchat either. Also as the answer to the relatively innocuous question of How was your day, dear? in their case frequently involved the discussion of bugs or bodies – neither of which really were appropriate for public conversation whether in English or French – it was just better to save such discussions for home. Anything else they might have wanted to talk about was a bit more private than that which could be conveyed at the present moment.

In any case, they were both patient and content enough to simply enjoy the quiet comfort of each other’s presence and company, something that had been sorely lacking over the last couple of weeks.

They were just entering the city limits proper when Grissom reached over, covered her hand with his and ran his thumb over her knuckles, brushing it as he did so over the simple gold band she wore there. It was a gesture, probably more unconscious than not, that he’d frequently repeated ever since he’d slipped the ring on her finger at their wedding months before.

As she still tended to absently fiddle with the band herself whenever she was thinking about him, Sara couldn’t really find fault in the habit. Instead, she turned to peer up into his face, only to discover there his smile soft and tender, his eyes warm and full of all the things he would have to wait to tell — and show — her until they got back to their flat.

After a moment, she took his hand, turned it palm up, then letter-by-letter began to scrawl there the words –

Je t’aime —

I love you.

His grin grew and in reply he wrote,

Moi aussi

And I you.

*******

They were barely inside the door to their apartment when Hank, with an uncharacteristic display of energy, bounded up to greet them. Well, to greet Sara at least. He planted two eager paws on her jeans and gave her a beseeching gaze, begging as he did so to be rubbed in that one spot just behind his ears that he always loved so much.

Sara knelt, patting him affectionately and saying, “I see someone missed me.”

Hank proceeded to show her just how much by taking the opportunity to bathe her face in sloppily ardent dog kisses. Despite her long-held aversion to saliva, she accepted his enthusiasms with an amused laugh.

All of which caused Grissom to quip, “I’m beginning to think he likes you better than me.”

Sara gave her husband an exasperated shake of the head. But he knew better than to believe it, particularly as her whole face was now all lit up as if the last couple of weeks, with all their attendant insanity had never happened or at least as if all the unpleasantness hadn’t happened.

She felt Grissom’s hand slide around her waist as she rose to her feet. Her smile broadened as she turned to him.

Apparently not to be outdone by Hank, Hank being a dog or no, Grissom leaned in to kiss his wife, lightly at first, almost tauntingly as he had done back at the airport, but soon the kiss turned long and longingly.

You miss me?” she said once they broke away.

“You have to ask?” he replied. He was about to better demonstrate his point when he found himself prevented by the light pressure of her hands upon his chest.

At the sudden bemused crinkle in his brow, Sara said, her own voice and expression almost coy, “No teasing this time.”

“This time?” he echoed still confused.

“The airport,” she supplied and he smiled, not the least bit apologetic even when she added, “That wasn’t nice, Gil.”

“It wasn’t?”

“It was,” Sara replied, she the one slightly flustered now. “But you know what I mean.”

“It wasn’t as if I could kiss you the way I wanted to there.”

“Why not?”

Instead of explaining, Grissom began as he had at the airport – with the lingering press against each of her cheeks. She turned, thinking he would once again brush his lips against hers, but he didn’t. He caught up her lips and gently eased them apart until they were both lost in a heady open-mouth kiss that there was no way to misconstrue as being reserved.

“That,” Sara had to concede a few moments later, still more breathless than not, “Would have been a wholly inappropriate greeting for the airport.”

*******

To be continued in Letting Sleeping Wives Lie.

********

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

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mbonthecorner
    Dec 16, 2009 @ 14:57:10

    This looks like the start of another great story! I really enjoyed the one you did about Sara and Grissom’s time in Costa Rica. Can’t wait for the next installment.

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