05 – One Last Night in the City of Lights

Continued from Confessions in the Park on a Tuesday Afternoon.

At four a.m., it wasn’t exactly the middle of the night, but near enough. And way too early for creatures of the day to be out of bed.

So when Sara woke to find the space beside her empty, she sat up and blinked. In the faint almost blue light that spilled from a narrow gap in the curtains, she could make out her husband’s familiar silhouette. From the distant look his face and eyes had assumed, and as they didn’t really have much of a view from their bedroom windows, she knew he wasn’t intent on examining the flower boxes of the flats opposite.

Both concerned and curious, she called out to him.

Readily he turned and giving her a reassuring smile said, “Go back to sleep, honey. It’s still early.”

Part of her wanted to ask him Then what are you doing up? but instead said, “Why don’t you come back to bed. Try and get some more sleep. You have a lecture in the morning.”

He chuckled at this. “I am not so dull, my dear, that I can put myself to sleep.”

Sara shook her head as she slipped from the sheets to go and join him.

“You okay?” she asked, wrapping her arms around him from behind. She brushed a kiss into his t-shirt clad shoulder then rested her cheek there.

He covered her hands with his. “Yeah,” he nodded. “Just couldn’t get back to sleep.”

At least he had slept. For when she had finally managed to fall asleep, keyed up as she usually was the night before a flight, it had been to the sound of his peaceful, deep, even breathing and the reassuring rhythm of his heart beating beneath her ear.

After a while, she could feel the tension slowly leave his spine. But he was still quiet, which made her concerned, even if she knew Grissom had all sorts of silences, and not all of them were bad.

She gave him a squeeze. “I’d offer you a penny for your thoughts, but all I have are Euros.”

Sara was happy to find this amused him.

Although his voice was more pensive than full of laughter when he replied, “Shakespeare.”

“Why doesn’t that surprise me?” she chuckled. “Shakespeare in general or something in particular?”

Wilt thou be gone?” he began, the borrowed words rich and tender. “It is not yet near day: It was the nightingale, and not the lark.

She nodded in comprehension. For the last week, she’d tried her hardest to put the thoughts and reality that she would soon have to return to Vegas behind her. The first couple of days she’d been able to do just that. Wanting things to be normal, she’d willed them that way.

Besides, the mundanities of life still had to be observed.

Laundry to be done. Dishes to be washed. Trash taken out. Dry cleaning picked up. Trips to the market made.

But there were extra walks with Hank, too. Evenings curled up reading or watching movies together. Mornings in cafes where they’d far often been too lost and wrapped up in each other to notice much of the rest of the world.

And Sara had managed to pull enough specimens to keep Grissom’s students occupied for the better part of six weeks.

So it had been easy to believe that these sorts of days could go on forever, instead of being rather so few and fleeting.

However, her already packed bags belied the truth.

Yes, it had all passed ordinarily enough. But the ordinariness in their time together had been what had most served to remind her how much she had missed him while she’d been away and how much she would miss him once she was gone again. Strange how presence worked that way.

And how time had the tendency to slow down to a veritable crawl when you were waiting and wanting it to pass. Yet it sped and rushed and was soon come and gone when you most wanted it to linger.

Still, she had managed to gather up her memories of the last several days, was able to store them away to take back with her so as to have and treasure and cherish them while they were again apart.

That didn’t change the fact that soon, too soon, she would have to go. No matter how strong her desires were to live here and now, in this place, in this time and not to have to think about Vegas, the reality was just too near to ignore.

With that knowing, she whispered in response the lines that followed the one’s Grissom had just spoken, “It was the lark, the herald of the morn, No nightingale.

*******

For a long while, they stood there before the tall French windows, just enjoying the warmth and comfort of being this near to each other.

But when it became apparent that going back to sleep wasn’t likely to be an option for either of them, Sara gave his hands a tug and said, “Come on, get dressed. We’ll go for a walk.”

It was his turn to question the lateness – or rather earliness – of the hour.

At this she laughed and said, “Why not? It’s not like Costa Rica where you have to worry about the bugs.”

He had to admit the truth of this. Even despite the insects, they had frequently used walks to help pass long sleepless nights. It wasn’t really dangerous as long as you stuck to the well-marked paths. Being out late at night in Paris was very much the same.

And it wasn’t like they weren’t used to being up and about at this hour either. Vegas at 5 a.m. was more than familiar, although Paris not so much.

Besides, Sara felt it would be far easier if she felt like she was saying (even if only for a little while) good-bye to Paris rather than good-bye to Grissom.

At night or at least at this hour of the early morning, Paris was quiet. Warm, too, and dry finally. The clouds came and went, revealing the faint glimmer of stars and the bright full moon as Sara and Grissom strolled through the centuries old neighborhoods that in the Quartier Latin at least had been spared Baron Haussman’s purge of much of old Paris.

It was just the two of them. For as fond as he was of walks out with Sara, Hank seemed to have drawn the line at ones begun still several hours before it was light.

They were walking along the banks of the Seine when Sara threaded her arm through her husband’s and said, “Why don’t you fill me in on the rest of your lecture from Friday?”

He replied with a barely contained grin, “I don’t think that is such a good idea. I don’t want to have to carry you home.”

“Are you never going to let that go, Gilbert?”

“Not never,” he said, now utterly unable to keep from smiling.

She nudged him sharply, although more playfully than annoyed, sending them both momentarily stumbling into the street.

Once they had regained their footing, Grissom asked, attempting to be serious, but not quite managing it, “Do I dare ask what the last thing you remember was?”

Sara considered for a moment, then said, “You were outlining the applications behind comparative morphology.”

At that, he really had to work at choking back a laugh. She hadn’t even managed to make it a full ten minutes before falling asleep.

She seemed to sense what he was thinking. For Sara protested, “Besides, it wasn’t my fault.”

“The truth comes out at last,” Grissom sagely intoned.

Sara rolled her eyes. He really never was going to let her live it down that she’d once heard he was dull as a speaker.

“It wasn’t my fault that someone wore me out that morning,” she countered.

Grissom’s eyebrow went up at this. Then he did smile, just for the briefest of moments. But it was a very different smile.  He leaned in and whispered, “Actually that was your fault. You started it.”

*******

His recap of that previous Friday’s lecture took significantly longer than the near hour it had originally taken, mostly because even though as it was an introductory lecture and Sara already knew much of the material, she tended to be far more inquisitive than his usual students. But then she’d always been that way. Just as hungry and thirsty to know as he was.

She was asking him about the practical differences in the functioning mouth parts that distinguished coprophagic and carrion eating insects when he suddenly stopped, took up her hand, the one that had rested for the last hour in the crook of his elbow, and turned it over to place a kiss into her palm.

Momentarily caught off guard by the not unfamiliar gesture, she asked, “Tired of all the bug talk?”

“Hardly,” he replied, although he really hadn’t been thinking about the feeding habits of Sarcophagidae or Calliphoridae. Rather he was marveling over the fact that while change tended to be the only constant in the universe, there were just some things that never did. Sara’s desire to know and understand had changed very little since the first time they’d met all those years ago.

In actuality, he’d been indulging in savoring the memory of that day. Although if she hadn’t shown up a good fifteen minutes before the seminar was to start he probably wouldn’t have taken much initial note of Sara, ponytail or no. While he was still setting up his slide projector, she had, with the air of someone dutifully (although reluctantly) fulfilling one of those department or state dictated continuing education requirements, taken a seat up front and promptly set about in busying herself with the stack of official looking file folders that she’d brought with her. Sadly, many of the students in his seminars were like that, despite what he might have told Nick or Warrick to the contrary.

Except she turned out to be far different than most of his pupils. He’d made it part way through his talk when her hand first went up. While questions weren’t uncommon, in fact welcome, hers was more incisive and thoughtful than the ones he regularly fielded. Her subsequent ones proved to be impressively much the same.

For someone who had seemed disinterested when the seminar started, she’d certainly had a fair (although not a disruptive) number of questions. So he hadn’t been surprised to find that she loitered behind after the session ended. Although they hadn’t made it much passed introductions when her pager went off and she had to excuse herself, having been on-call for the San Francisco PD that afternoon.

Part of him wanted to sigh at how often pagers and then cell phones had done that over the years — interrupted them. Work always did seem to have the most uncanny habit of interjecting itself into the rest of their lives at the most inopportune moments. It was doing so now, too.

Sara was thinking much the same, about the frequent incompatibility of work and life, when they paused to take in the view along the Pont des Arts, the wooden pedestrian bridge that linked L’Académie Française and the Louvre. Popular as it was for its open-air art exhibits and spectacular sunsets, that morning, it was bare apart from the warm golden glow of the street lamps.

They had chosen to stand along the railing rather than sit at one of the many benches Parisians favored for picnics in the summer and had soon lapsed into one of those comfortable appreciative silences.

Their hands brushed, fingers lightly caressing until she took up his hand in hers and held fast.

Sara, feeling the inexplicable tug of the warring desires to stay here in Paris with Grissom and needing to keep that promise to herself that she would do all she could to help her friends, said softly, “Still had the feeling that you wanted to stay?

Recognizing the quote, the ghost of a grin tugged at his lips as Grissom replied, “Ever had the feeling that you wanted to go?

Go or stay?

Stay or go?” he finished with a knowing sort of nod. “But isn’t Durante a little before your time, dear?”

Sara didn’t dignify this with a response. Instead, she sighed as she felt his hand slip from hers, only to come to rest in the small of her back. The feel of it as intimate as it ever was.

“You sure know how to make it difficult for a girl to leave,” she admitted, leaning in to rest her head on his shoulder.

He pressed a kiss into her hair.  “That wasn’t my intention.”

“I know.”

For this time, he wasn’t asking her to stay and she wasn’t asking him to go.

And that was okay.

There would be other walks, other nights together.

They just wouldn’t be tomorrow.

Tomorrow would find her back in Vegas.

But for now, for right now, there was just the two of them — and Paris.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mbonthecorner
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 19:00:31

    “I am not so dull, my dear, that I can put myself to sleep.” My favorite line-even though it’s not in French!

  2. ladylobo2
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 06:45:10

    So I finally broke down at got a WordPress acct. so that I can tell you how absolutly awesome I find your writing and photography! I have been reading for at least a year, maybe more, and it is an injustice to you that I haven’t let you know sooner! I love all your fic! And who knows, maybe I’ll start blogging now that I’ve signed up! Keep up all the fantastic work!

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