46 – Pig Tales

Miss Piggy’s witnessed a lot over the years. But this particular tête-à-tête between Sara and Hodges was certainly new.

Takes place between 10×04 “Coupe de Grace” and 10×05 “Bloodsport,” circa October 2009.

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For my ever faithful and long-suffering readers (including the unwitting ones – this means you, Frank) who constantly remind me that there is always much to be thankful for.

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It was early Tuesday morning, mid-shift and quiet for once. Well, relatively quiet. That didn’t mean the lab wasn’t busy. Sara certainly was. In attempts to help reduce the backlog of cases Riley had left behind upon her departure, Sara had volunteered to tackle some of the not so glamourous pick up work.

But she wasn’t about to complain. Even if it meant spending most of the shift in the lab. It was preferable to dead cops and drug wars and bodies fresh from wood chippers. But she did need to get up and stretch her legs, clear her head. After all, Vegas was still Vegas.

For some reason utterly unknown even to her, her feet took her past Grissom’s old office. She knew she really should stop thinking of it in those terms, but Gil Grissom had occupied that space for more than nine years; he’d only been gone a little over nine months. And there were just some things that took some getting used to.

As she hadn’t planned to stop, she was about to continue on back towards the break room and her ever-burgeoning pile of case files when the glint of a jar caught her eye.

A very familiar jar.

Not that its presence there was really all that surprising. After all, Grissom had told her he’d noticed his pig had gone missing at some point while he had been packing up his office. Obviously, Miss Piggy hadn’t gone far.

And perhaps that was for the best, she thought with a soft, wistful sort of smile. The pig really did belong here.

Both curious and thinking of reporting back to her husband about the whole thing, she entered to have a better look.

She’d just begun her cursory examination when an unexpected voice piped up from behind her saying, “Still feels strange, doesn’t it?”

Sara started to find that when she turned it was Hodges standing in the doorway, file in hand.

“You’ll get used to it,” he continued casually, but not coolly. Then he said with a shrug, “Eventually.”

She smiled, remembering how she’d said something similar to Grissom when she’d been back in Paris the week before and he’d asked about how things were going in Vegas. There wasn’t anything seriously wrong at the lab. It was just change and the fact that everyone was always so swamped that there was never any real time or chance for them to deal with it, let alone get used to it, that was the real problem. It had been like that for her, too, since she’d come back. Still was. There just wasn’t the time to process all that had changed.

That it had been Hodges of all people to have mentioned it, struck her as ironic. Of the two most obtuse people when it came to anything personal, David Hodges ranked right up there with her husband. Although she had to admit that Grissom had changed, vastly improved when it came to such things. Sara was fairly certain Hodges had as well.

Still, this wasn’t the conversation she would have thought to be their first real one since she’d returned. While she’d never expected him to be ecstatic to see her again (at least not without Grissom in tow), and he hadn’t been cold or distant exactly either, things were different. Sure, Hodges could be an annoying pain in the ass from time to time, but Sara was long used to that part of his personality. This, whatever it was, not so much. But then things really had been busy, too busy really, for any proper catching up. She and Catherine had had to postpone their end of shift meal multiple times over the last month.

There had, however, been something she’d been meaning to say to him. It wasn’t an apology exactly, but she knew that Hodges hadn’t been thrilled when Grissom left. That she’d been the reason, made her want to at least attempt to clear the air.

So she took a deep breath before saying. “Look, I know things have been different, Hodges. I don’t expect you to understand. Hell, I still don’t understand it half the time, but…”

He cut in with, “No, I do.” Although it sounded so automatic and unintentional and Sara was peering up at him so incredulously that he seemed to feel the need to add, “I really do.”

A long, if not wholly awkward, moment of silence followed this, only to finally be ended by Hodges saying, “Besides, ‘The only constant in the universe…’”

“‘Is change,’” Sara finished, recognizing this as one of Grissom’s (adopted and adapted from Heraclitus) oft-repeated mantras, at least as of late. It had after all been apropos. Her smile was even more wistful as she nodded in agreement. “Best to make the most of it then,” she said.

Indicating Miss Piggy, Hodges asked, “Checking up on the pig?”

Sara shrugged, still slightly chagrined, both at being caught lingering and what she’d been doing lingering. Dead fetal pigs in jars weren’t usually the things nostalgia was made of. And yet…

Nonetheless, she did reluctantly admit, “Yeah,” before she added with the unusual trace of a tease in her voice (as it wasn’t a tone she usually took with Hodges), “She’s been known to disappear from time to time.”

Suddenly Hodges had all the appearance of a kid who’d just gotten caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

“He’s not…” he began, starting to sound equally uneasy.

“Mad?” Sara queried in return. But she didn’t see any real reason to prolong Hodges’ agony. “No.”

“How is…?”

“He’s good,” she readily replied. It felt good actually. As if the mention of Grissom didn’t have to be the elephant in the room any longer. “The teaching is keeping him out of trouble. Most of the time,” she qualified with a slight smile.

Then she thought of something. “You know, if you enjoyed his seminar at Williams,” she said, recalling a not entirely overjoyed Grissom telling her that unbeknownst to him, Hodges had been auditing his course. “I’ve got a DVD of a couple of his latest lectures.”

But before Hodges could even reply, she was already in the hallway beckoning for him to follow.

“Come on,” she said. Then led him towards the locker room. There she pulled the disk from her bag where she’d slipped it for safekeeping when it had come a few days before.

She’d been surprised and yet not, to receive it.

Grissom had mentioned sending it to her during one of their not quite daily chats. She’d originally regarded the whole thing as a joke – because of his reason for threatening to send it, not because she wasn’t interested in hearing his talks. But the DVD had come, international express delivery no less.

She passed the disk to Hodges who peered at its handwritten inscription curiously.

“Ignore that. Private joke,” she hurriedly explained, having forgotten that her husband’s note of

In case of insomnia, insert disk into player.

had been scrawled there. “Long story,” she continued equally rapidly. “Not the least bit interesting.”

Hodges seriously doubted that.

But even if he’d been dumb enough to even think to ask, the question would have been interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Wendy Simms.

“Sorry to interrupt,” she apologized. “But, Hodges, Catherine’s looking for you.”

She didn’t wait for a reply. Hodges barely had enough time to acknowledge the message before she was gone.

Sara watched Hodges watch Wendy go.

And smiled.

And wondered if perhaps Hodges had taken to heart the email Grissom had sent him the previous May, the one Sara was probably not supposed to have seen, but had. It had been in response to a note the two of them had received from Catherine which had contained amongst other news, a bewildering account of Hodges coming to ask Catherine about personal and affectionate relationships within the lab, all strictly hypothetically of course.

It had been a private message; she doubted Grissom even knew she’d seen it. And she intended to keep it that way. But that didn’t keep her from hoping Hodges had taken her husband’s unexpected and unsolicited advice.

“Wait,” Sara called as Hodges went to leave.

He paused, returned to face her.

“How are you doing?” she asked after a moment.

“Good,” he stammered, that not being the question he’d anticipated.

“Staying out of trouble?”

He was even less sure what her question was supposed to mean, but replied, “Of course,” anyway.

Then was even more perplexed when Sara said, “That’s too bad.”

He wanted to ask her what she meant by that, but her phone had chosen that moment to indicate she had an incoming text message. Besides, there was something more important he’d wanted to say.

“You tell him not to be a stranger.”

“I will.”

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A/N: To read the message that Grissom sent to Hodges see “The Sixth Impossible Thing” or what Sara was referring to as a not the least bit interesting story see Letting Sleeping Wives Lie, the second chapter to Always Have Paris.

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