02 – Letting Sleeping Wives Lie

Continued from Homecoming

Gil Grissom paused in the midst of dicing the wild mushrooms that would feature in the filling for the crepes he intended to serve for dinner that night, the better to listen. The apartment was quiet. Too quiet. And for while he’d grown accustomed to it being a lot more quiet there over the last couple of weeks, this evening the silence was more than a little unnerving.

As he distinctly recalled having heard the shower shut off more than half an hour ago, and as she didn’t tend to overly fuss after she got out, Sara should have come downstairs to join him a while ago. At the very least, he should be able to hear her moving about upstairs.

But no. There was just the quiet.

Both curious and concerned, he put down the knife, gave his hands a hurried wash and went in search of her.

That he’d managed to remain in the kitchen for as long as he had had been a demonstration of both willpower and self-restraint. He’d been tempted, sorely tempted after that kiss in the foyer to join his wife in the shower. But the smallness of the stall coupled with the universe not having issued a moratorium on Newton’s law regarding objects being unable to occupy the same place in time and space rendered the execution of said desire both impractical and ultimately unromantic.

And Grissom, appreciating that Sara, despite all her protests to the contrary, had to be famished after her long flight (the airlines and airports’ concessions to vegetarians notwithstanding) had gone up to change out of his work clothes before hurrying down to the kitchen to start on something simple for dinner.

Besides, cooking for Sara had always filled him with a warm sense of pleasure. It had been something he’d really missed while she’d been away.

Just as he had expected, she wasn’t still in the bathroom.

He did however soon located her up in their bedroom, curled up on top of the still neatly made bed — more on his usual side than her own — clad as she was in nothing more than her silk bathrobe, utterly and absolutely fast asleep.

That hadn’t entirely surprised Grissom either, knowing as he did that even on long flights, Sara hardly dozed. That she hadn’t slept for at least the twelve hours before her departure he knew perfectly well enough, too. It had been plainly evident in the hint of heaviness hovering about her eyes that even the most radiant of smiles couldn’t quite conceal.

As it was, sleeping well wasn’t exactly something Sara really did well — or often. Between the overtime, early call-ins and the seemingly ever-ubiquitous nightmares, sound, peaceful sleeps like this one had long been, more frequently than not, a rarity. That had begun to change since the previous December, he’d been happy to see.

Although these days, he hadn’t needed to make note of the fact that no matter how much later he attempted to call her in Vegas she was still at the lab to know better than to believe that over the last few weeks, Sara had been on any semblance of a regular work — let alone sleep — schedule (not like that was really all that practically possible in Vegas).  Grissom wasn’t that naive.

It was good to see her sleeping now.

So for a long moment he paused in the doorway, simply lingering to watch her doze while a fond grin began to tug at his cheeks and softened his eyes.

Just her being there again was enough to leave him wonderstruck.

He probably never would get used to it — her presence.  He hadn’t before she’d gone, not even after all the months they’d spent together. After two weeks apart, it was literally breathtaking.

Grissom treasured it accordingly.

He was, as with the shower earlier, sorely tempted to crawl into bed with her. But as she was currently occupying most of the mattress, however physically impossible that should be considering her slight build, there was no way for him to join her without waking her. Moreover, as these days seven o’clock was more than a little early for him to be heading to bed (after years where it would have been late), Grissom knew his wakefulness would likely only rouse her, and he didn’t want to do that. Irrespective of her needing sleep, Sara did have a tendency to be cranky if unexpectedly woken.

So he tiptoed to the closet and quietly eased it open to withdraw a spare blanket from one of its shelves. For the silk robe, as pretty as it was to look at, particularly when Sara was wearing it, wasn’t very warm. As it was, it had already come loose. As he went to drape the throw over her, Grissom took in the enticing hint of freckled cleavage and the more than a glimpse of her long, pale legs. He gently tucked the fabric around her just to be sure. Autumn nights in Paris naturally tended towards the cool side.

That done, he dallied only long enough to brush a stray strand from her face and place a light kiss into her damp hair before silently shutting off the overhead light and carefully closing the door behind him.

Dinner could wait.

He did proceed to feed Hank, who having come up to investigate what Grissom had been doing and seeing Sara asleep, had been eying the bed as if he would like to join her as well. Even with the promise of food, the boxer had been rather reluctant to follow his master downstairs.

With his usual adept efficiency, Grissom set about wrapping up his dinner preparations and straightening the kitchen. This quickly completed, he tugged the knot at his waist securing his apron free, replaced it on the hook on the back of the small pantry door, and grabbing a bottle of mineral water from the fridge, stepped into the small first floor office, if only long enough to retrieve a couple of manuscripts he’d been asked to peer review for the Annals of the Entomological Society of America. Remembering the last place he’d left his reading glasses took a little longer, but before long, he was comfortably ensconced on the sofa in the upstairs sitting room.

Hank, although having been denied access to both Sara and the bedroom, but not being the sort of dog to hold a grudge, slumped down beside him on the cushions.

*******

By the time Sara woke several hours later, night had long fallen in earnest. She blinked a couple of times in the absolute darkness, disconcerted and temporarily overcome as she was by the sensation of not being entirely sure exactly where she was.

Then realization returned.

Paris. She was back in Paris.

She let out a long sigh of relief. Except that all too soon, the respite was replaced by bewilderment.

If she was back in Paris, then…

Then there should be a presence in the bed beside her. But there wasn’t.

Even exactly how she’d ended up in bed in the first place, took her a moment to recall.

She remembered excusing herself not long after they’d gotten home, on the grounds of being desperate for that long awaited shower. Had loitered longer than usual under the spray, as if enough hot water and French milled soap could wash the remains of the last several weeks away, so that Sara could pretend she had come not just for the week, but to stay.

As she stepped out of the shower to dry off, she’d smiled to see that her favorite pale pink robe, the one Grissom had given her for her birthday several years ago, still hung besides the rattier flannel one of his that she never could manage to persuade him to part with. The silk felt refreshingly cool and familiar against her skin as she toweled off her hair. She’d then pulled it back into a quick, although neater than earlier, ponytail before heading upstairs to change.

As neither of them had any intentions of going out that night, she’d pulled her customary evening at home wear from the closet: cotton pants and simple top. However, because although the weather there wasn’t any chillier now than it had been two weeks before, as it was still a full ten degrees cooler than Vegas currently was, she felt the chill more, so forwent her usual camisole for something warmer and with sleeves.

A sudden sense of there being something different about their bedroom had abruptly interrupted her preparations to dress. The room didn’t smell the way she remembered it.

There was instead a soft, sweet, fragrantly floral hint to the air, one that she immediately recognized as lavender, although of a sort far more redolent than the scent found in the shampoo and soap she tended to favor in Paris.

The what of its presence was easily explained: a large bouquet of tiny purple blossoms sat on the small table on her side of the bed. The why and how she wasn’t quite so sure about.  She sank down on the mattress to get a better look.

Yes, it had been the same bunch she’d picked up at the Marché aux Fleurs,

Paris’s oldest flower market, before she’d left for Vegas, a few days before she’d even known she was going. Except she distinctly remembered having set them on a shelf in the sitting room downstairs. Why her husband, whom to her knowledge had never shown any interest in cut flowers, had brought them up to their bedroom, she had no clue.

Not that that had come as all of a surprise really. Even after all these years, Gil Grissom had yet to cease to puzzle or perplex her on a fairly regular basis. At least that kept life pleasantly interesting.

With that thought she’d been about to rise, when finally the long flights and longer hours at the lab caught up with her, making the mattress beneath her feel ever more comfortable and inviting.

A few minutes.

She would just rest her eyes for a few minutes. It wouldn’t even be a nap per se. Just her resting her eyes for a few minutes. That would be all she’d need to feel refreshed and rested enough to better enjoy the rest of the evening.

So she laid back. And even though she knew the sheets had been freshly laundered, Sara could still smell the hint of Grissom there – that warm scent of his that she always associated with home as she curled up on top of the coverlet. As that had been a comfort she’d sorely missed, she’d edged even nearer to his side of the bed and soon was fast asleep.

Now it was just past midnight, if the barely glowing numbers on the clock that resided on Grissom’s bedside table were to be trusted. And a lot later than Sara expected it to be.

Although she was more concerned about waking up alone, than for having unintentionally slept for so long.

Curious, she got to her feet, and not bothering to dress, only tightened the sash at her waist before heading downstairs to see what her husband was doing not in bed at this hour.

He was, as she soon discovered, sleeping soundly on the sofa a floor below, not quite snoring, but only just. Hank was another story.

Sara had to conceal a smirk and a sigh at the sight of her husband like this, familiar as it was. Grissom asleep on the couch had been a fairly common occurrence over the years. So much so, that she’d frequently questioned him as to why he even owned a bed for all those years before they’d gotten together if he wasn’t going to actually sleep in it. This teasing continued until one evening, when after she’d repeated the taunt for the umpteenth time, he’d turned to her and giving her an almost mischievous smile had replied, “Wishful thinking.”

Still, it was a heartening prospect, him sleeping there upright, his head slightly lolling against the back cushion, with his reading glasses still perched on the tip of his nose and in this case, the sheaf of papers he’d been reviewing sprawled over his lap.

For while Sara’s sleeping habits (or lack thereof) had long often been the butt of jokes and snide comments, Grissom had been almost as bad about not sleeping. So seeing him sleep at all was a good thing.

Until she’d left to return to Vegas, they both really had been better about it. Having been able to keep fairly regular hours in Costa Rica had helped. There had been no middle of the sleep cycle call-ins; and long and late hours had been a rarity, rather than regular part of life. Paris had been like that too, for the most part, a normal diurnal life. Not that either of them really had all that much experience with so-called normal life. It had been a bit of an adjustment – more so than life in the rainforest had been – sleeping when it was dark outside instead of light – and with the mornings being the beginnings rather than ends of the day.

Briefly, very briefly, Sara considered waking him, if only to drag him up to bed to get some proper rest, but as he looked so peaceful and she didn’t have the heart to disturb him, she ultimately decided against it.

And while Hank had given her a bleary sort of peep through half-closed eyes in acknowledgement of her approach, Grissom’s deep, even breathing unwaveringly persevered even as she gathered up the loose pages from his lap and reached over to ease his spectacles free.

She did have to admit that the couch really did look inviting – at least with Grissom there. She decided to join him.

Although Hank wasn’t all that keen about being ousted from his cozy roost, as it was Sara, and the boxer had always tended to harbor a rather soft spot for her, after letting out a single humph of protest, he took his removal with his usual aplomb and settled to curling up on the floor at their feet. Sara didn’t feel too guilty; Hank was soon back to snoring.

The better curl up beside him, she lifted Grissom’s arm, snuggled into his side. His physical presence was even more soothing than just the scent of him had been up in the bedroom, so that despite her already lengthy nap, she soon found her eyes growing heavy once more.

Just before she began to drift off, Sara recalled how Grissom not immune to being on the issuing side of a tease himself would from time to time, rue over the seeming incongruity of her sleeping difficulties and her ease in falling asleep around him, asserting that even if it were only an unconscious or subconscious manifestation, she obviously found him dull. The reality, however, was that she felt more safe and at ease with him than she ever had with anyone else, and she really did sleep better with him beside her.

So before she knew it, she was soundly slumbering again, so deeply that she didn’t feel Grissom’s palm slide over her waist.

For Grissom had stirred as he felt Sara nestle against him, had woken, if only long enough for him, upon finding her next to him, to smile and with a soft, contented sigh, wrap a protective arm around her, before he too dozed off again.

*******

It was still dark and therefore still early when Sara next woke. Yet she knew she’d gotten far more sleep in that one night than she had in a long time.

Normally, she would be okay on four to six hours grabbed when she could get them. For years she’d been lucky to get even that. But she was starting to discover that as she grew older, her body was less and less both keen and able to handle staying up for three days straight.

That morning, Sara wasn’t in any real hurry to start the day. It felt too good just to lay there still snug beside Grissom, simply enjoying the closeness. But after a while her worries over perhaps waking him overruled her contentment, so she very carefully moved to extract herself. Quietly as she could, she went up to finally dress, and came down to make herself a quick cup of French pressed coffee before rather reluctantly trudging into the small office adjoining the kitchen to check up on her email.

She hadn’t had a chance to check in with Catherine before she’d left Vegas and wanted to make sure no questions or issues had already arisen in her absence. Thankfully, none had. There were just a few routine inquiries and reports regarding a couple of the backlog cases she’d been working on, all of which probably could wait until she got back. But Sara thought she might as well make the most of her present free time and take care of them now.

She’d managed to work her way through almost all of them before her inbox indicated she had a new message. She clicked over to find a brief note from Catherine waiting for her.

Sara –

I know you haven’t exactly had a lot of experience with time off from the lab, but you do realize that the whole point of being away from work is being away from work.

Will call if there is something that urgently requires your attention.

Otherwise, I don’t want to see another work-related reply from you until you get back.

Try and enjoy Paris.

That really can’t be that hard, can it?

While she’d had to fight back the urge to ask Catherine what she had been doing at the lab three hours prior to the start of shift, Sara violated Catherine’s edict only long enough to type “Yes, boss” in reply, before in an act of uncharacteristic deference to authority proceeding to immediately log off.

Sara was still chuckling as she stretched and thought about the best way to keep herself occupied for the next hour or two. The sight of Hank, who had stumbled still sleepily into the office to check up on all the noise she was making, gave her an idea. While she and Grissom usually took the boxer out for a morning walk together, Sara suddenly had other plans.

At first, Hank seemed to think that 6:30 was way too early for a walk, but once he realized he was about to get some time out alone with Sara, he seemed far more enthusiastic about the idea, it still being dark out or no.

As Paris was slow to rouse in the morning, Sara had always enjoyed the peace of the near dawn hours. Most shops and cafes were still closed. The mad rush to work had yet to begin and wouldn’t for more than an hour yet.

So there was just the city and the quiet. Just Paris on a cloudy autumn morning. After the two weeks of the hustle and bustle of Vegas, that was something ever more welcome.

Part of her felt guilty, being here on such a day while she knew that all her friends and colleagues had to look forward to in the next several hours was yet another string of 419s. But Catherine had told her not to think about work, to focus on enjoying her time away and Sara had every intention of following this particular supervisory dictum to the letter.

So while they waited for the shops of the famed Rue Mouffetard to throw open their shutters and doors, she and Hank strolled along the Quai de la Tournelle, arriving just in time to catch the last pre-dawn light play upon the gothic towers of Notre Dame.

It hadn’t, despite the bevy of goods and wares for sale at the market, taken Sara long to find what she was looking for: all the trappings for a French version of Grissom’s favorite breakfast.

She’d been occupied in putting up her purchases in their kitchen, absently softly singing to herself as she did so, when a warm “Good morning,” startled her. She looked up to find Grissom standing in the doorway.

“Good morning to you too, sleepy head,” she replied, broadly beaming back at him. Then at the curious glance he was giving to the shopping spread over the counters, she shrugged and supplied, “Breakfast,” by way of explanation. “I took Hank out. Although he wasn’t all that keen on it being that early. We stopped at the market on the way back.” Then gesturing to the carafe next to the stove, she asked, “Coffee?”

“Please.”

Their old habit of replacing the gallons of coffee they used to drink at the office with tea had fallen to the wayside after all those months in Costa Rica. That and the coffee in Paris was far superior to any tea they could get.

Sara handed him a cup as he took a seat on the other side of the breakfast bar. He sat silently sipping at it for a few minutes while she put the last of her spoils away. Finally, he said, “Was I imagining things or did you spend time on the couch last night, too?”

She nodded. “You really should have come up to bed.”

When he replied, “That would have been a little difficult,” it was Sara’s turn to give him a bemused look. He was grinning as he explained, “Someone was hogging the bed.”

“Funny, I don’t remember Hank…” she began as she closed the door to the small pantry behind him shut.

“It wasn’t Hank.”

“Right,” Sara scoffed, her voice so laden with disbelief that Grissom had to bite back a guffaw.

However, any further attempts at a tease on his part were hastily abandoned once her nimble fingers began massaging the knot at the base of his neck.

“You have to be sore,” she sighed. She certainly had been from her own stint on the sofa.

Grissom was about to protest that he was fine, even though in truth he really had woken up stiff and achy, but he was enjoying the feel of her warm hands on his skin far too much to risk doing anything that might make her stop. Before long, he was having a hard time keeping the pleasure from humming at the back of his throat.

When it finally emerged as a series of soft moans, Sara gave a satisfied chuckle and redoubled her efforts as she asked, “Your lecture still not until this afternoon?”

“Uh-huh.”

Fridays were the one day he’d been scheduled for a mid afternoon rather than a mid morning lecture.

“You have any early meetings? Appointments?”

“Uh-uh.”

Despite him being in possession of both a doctorate and a very voluminous vocabulary, it seem that guttural utterances were all Gil Grissom could manage at the moment. In fact, he’d been impressed that he’d gotten out the actual word “No,” when she’s said, “So, no plans for this morning?”

At the curious playfulness in the “Good,” she gave him in return, he turned on his stool to peer up at her.

“You took Hank out already. Got breakfast,” he began. “You have plans for this morning, dear?”

Sara made no reply. Instead, she used the moment to narrow what little remained of the space between them. She slid her palms down from his shoulders until they came to rest on his chest, her fingers absently toying with the top buttons of the oxford he was still wearing. She leaned in and began to brush kisses along the bare skin that lay just above his neatly groomed beard.

By the time her lips made it to his mouth, there could be no question of her intentions.

*******

The rest of the morning passed with blissful rapidity.

They lingered for a while curled up in bed together, long after making love, the two of them quietly content and sated, simply kissing and touching and talking. That was until Sara’s stomach gave an insistent rumble, reminding them both that food was long overdue. They each laughed, exchanged one last, deep drawn-out kiss before surrendering to the practicality of breakfast.

They’d barely vacated the sheets before Hank had commandeered the bed.

*******

Sara had opted that afternoon to join Grissom at his lecture at the Sorbonne. In fact, she had been looking forward to it, interested as she’d always been in his lectures. It had been a while. At least when it came to formal seminars.

For while the pre-conference gossip before the San Francisco Forensic Academy Conference all those years ago had had it that Dr. Gil Grissom was a little dull as a speaker and she’d frequently heard the guys back at the lab puzzle over and even tease Grissom about the impossibility of his talks being all that popular or even interesting, Sara enjoyed them, always had.

Thinking back on it, if eleven years ago someone would have told her that attending a forensic conference would literally change her life, Sara would have scoffed. But it had. After all, that was where the two of them had met, in one of Grissom’s seminars.

While there had been nothing sexy about a double murder in a garage, she’d been captivated by his enthusiasm for the subject, been impressed by the depth of his knowledge and yet surprised by his complete lack of superiority.  Her previous encounters with men of his professional experience and stature had frequently been soured by displays of rampant egotism and swagger. But Grissom had seemed to be more interested in sharing his knowledge rather than lording it over others. Nor was he above admitting it when his theories proved wrong.

In that seminar, he’d introduced her to an entirely different way of looking at the world, one where science really could help explain human behavior and lead to the discovery of truth and sometimes even justice.

While time had done much to tarnish that idealism, it had done nothing to change the way she felt about Gil Grissom, except to deepen those feelings of admiration into love.

The more she thought about it though, the rest of the team would probably have regarded Sara’s attending one of her husband’s lectures as one of those spousal duties one performed in attempt to share in each other’s interests. But she was actually interested, genuinely interested.

Although she’d never imagined that bugs would become such a large part of her life, they had. All those months in Costa Rica had gone to prove that fact. And she’d even been a little chagrined when after she’d described the project she and Grissom were in the process of finding grant money for, Nick had, in attempts to be conciliatory, said, “I bet you were just thrilled about that.” For after all, the whole thing had initially been her idea.

So the second part of Introduction to the Basic Principles of Entomology, while not likely to prove all that revelatory after her years of working and living with Grissom and his bugs, was still something Sara was looking forward to as she stepped into the lecture hall.

She was about to take a seat in the back when a mousy, bespectacled sort of young man hurried up to her and Grissom.

As Sara hadn’t had the chance to meet Grissom’s assistant before leaving for Vegas, the usual formal introductions were in order. But even though Grissom presented his wife to Claude Boutin in his ever-meticulous French, Boutin replied in equally adept English that he was very pleased to meet her.

The phenomenon was something the two of them had often encountered while out and about in Paris. Even the slightest hint that they were native English rather than French speakers (not that either of them could or attempted to pass for the later) would often lead to whomever they were talking with to proceed to continue on the rest of the conversation in English. Although the gesture was meant to be both accommodating and polite, for two people who were intent on practicing and perfecting their French, it made it rather difficult. They continued to persevere anyway. Which Sara now did, insisting on making it through the rest of the usual pleasantries in her not always quite perfect French.

It turned out that Boutin had read the one entomological paper she had co- authored earlier in the year and was quite curious to hear more about the work she and Grissom had done in Costa Rica.

As the young man had already made sure that everything was set to go for the lecture apart from uploading the PowerPoint presentation, Grissom excused himself to go do so and left Sara to amuse his assistant – although the look of amusement Grissom gave her as he went seemed to indicate that Boutin’s unbridled enthusiasm was pretty much par for the course.

It quickly became obvious that Grissom had neglected to inform Boutin about Sara’s current – and his former – profession. Sara decided to keep it that way.

Bugs were simply easier to discuss. More Latin, but less gore.

In any case, Boutin was curious as to where they’d gotten their idea for using the tracking of seed dispersal as a means of demonstrating the integral role insects such as dung beetles played in perpetuating rainforest diversity. Sara chuckled and proceeded to explain that it had been dung beetle racing that had sparked the experiment.

At this, Boutin had interrupted her, not sure it seemed as if he’d heard her correctly. Sara attempted to clarify by informing him that dung beetle races were a variation on cockroach racing, where in this case, the beetle won by being the first to roll its ball of excrement across the finish line. However, this reply only seemed to raise more questions than it answered, as Boutin had apparently never even heard of racing cockroaches before.

As he was giving her a look both she and Grissom had seen on the faces of her husband’s French colleagues from time to time – the one she knew translated to Crazy Americans – she suggested he ask Dr. Grissom to tell him more about the whole thing some time. After all, the dung beetle racing had been Grissom’s idea, even if Bernie and Luis, the camp’s two resident parataxonimists, had eagerly gone along with the scheme.

In any case, any further discussion on the topic was postponed by the arrival of several students whom Sara upon first inspection thought appeared to be way too young to be attending university.

With one last “C’est un plaisir de faire votre connaissance,Boutin withdrew and Sara took a seat at the rear of the hall, hoping to remain as unobtrusive a presence as possible.

*******

A little less than an hour later, the lights in the lecture hall came back up. Dr. Grissom asked if there were any final questions and fielded a couple, before reminding them of their next reading and proceeding to dismiss the class, who with the characteristic exuberance of youth released from the tedium of lessons, noisily packed up and filed out.

While Boutin went to make sure the A/V equipment was properly shut down, Grissom replaced his lecture notes and presentation disk in his own bag. He was surprised to find that even after he had done so, Sara hadn’t appeared to move from her seat at the back.

No, she couldn’t be, he thought as he peered up at her. But he’d only needed to make it halfway up the aisle to have his initial suspicions confirmed.

His wife was slumbering just as soundly as she had been in their bedroom the night before.

He had to choke back a chuckle. Obviously the dark, warm room, lateness of the day, time difference, jet lag and the lack of regular sleep had conspired to cause Sara to unceremoniously nod off in the middle of his lecture.

At least, he rued, she wasn’t snoring.

But instead of being upset or even chagrined, Grissom was more amused than anything. It took him a moment to completely work that tickle of merriment from his throat so that it didn’t permeate his voice when he called out to her. When she didn’t respond, he laid a hand on her shoulder and tried her name again. As this didn’t rouse her either, he leaned in and with a bit more insistence, murmured, “Honey,” as he attempted to gently nudge her awake. It wasn’t until he brushed his cheek against hers that she started, blinked bleary-eyed and bewildered up at him.

“You do realize,” he told her in all mock seriousness, “that it isn’t exactly the best of recommendations for a professeur when his wife falls asleep in the middle of his lecture.”

But he was smiling when he said it.

*******

To be continued in You’re Never Too Old (or Married) to Date Each Other.

*******

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