49 – Tête-à-tête

Sometimes the conversations we think are private prove to be not quite so private after all.

Takes place just prior to 10×08 “Lover’s Lanes,” circa November 2009.

*******

Jet lag sucked. There was no way around it. It just sucked. And it was always worse coming back from Paris than it was going. It was having all those hours to do over again that were the problem. Made the days seem even longer than they already were.

And they were frequently long enough as it was. Of course that wasn’t anything new really.

As her flight had inevitably been delayed, Sara had come straight into work from McCarran, pausing only long enough to have a very quick, very cold shower in the lab locker room before changing clothes and joining Langston and Doc in autopsy.

She seemed to be doing that a lot lately — coming in to a dead body on a morgue slab. But at least this time it was only one, and not that of a cop. And Ecklie was nowhere to be found.

One took what little good news there was whenever one could.

And the case would have been fairly straightforward, cause of death was blunt force trauma from a large chunk of construction debris Greg had found at the scene, apart from one thing: they had absolutely no clue who the victim was.

Not that that was all that uncommon at first blush. Most bodies came in that way. But usually six hours into a case they knew something. This guy had no ID, no wallet, no cell phone. His clothes and person were utterly nondescript; his prints and DNA weren’t in CODIS or any other database. No one had reported anyone of his description missing.

So for right now he was John Doe 276 and Sara, Greg and Langston were in the midst of processing his clothes in hopes of finding something – anything — that might help to identify him.

It was well past one in the afternoon when with its usual impatiently insistent buzz, Sara’s phone interrupted their work. Reluctantly, she unclipped it from her belt to check to see who was calling. Instantly recognizing the twelve-digit number, she swiftly excused herself saying, “One second. I just need to take this.”

From the bright way she was beaming, it obviously wasn’t Ecklie or Catherine or Nick on the other end of the line. So neither Greg nor Langston were surprised to hear Sara, in rather thick Parisien, warmly greet her husband with “Bonjour, Gilbert,” or the answering sound of a hearty chuckle from Grissom’s side before she slipped into the hall.

Not that the hall was all that private.

Greg, with absolutely no pretense towards surreptitiousness whatsoever, watched her through the glass. Langston at least had the tact to pretend he wasn’t listening to her continue on in rather animated French.

When she returned only a minute or two later with a hint of color still in her cheeks, it was to find them both pointedly examining the evidence on the light table.

“What?” she asked; Greg’s manner she knew to be far too nonchalant to be believed.

“You two could be talking about the weather and it would still sound sexy,” Greg replied.

Sara rolled her eyes.

“How about we get back to work,” she suggested.

*******

Nearly eight hours later, Sara was still at work, finishing the inputting of the last of their findings, however limited they had been, into the Imperiled Missing Adults Database.

As she certainly hadn’t needed help with that, she’d insisted that Greg, who was looking uncommonly haggard for him, go home several hours before. She’d hoped Langston had done the same after he’d run the last of their samples to Trace, but you never really did know with him.

For her part, it wasn’t as if she was in all that much of a rush to return to the apartment, at least not quite yet. For truth be told, Sara wasn’t all that keen to be there alone again, not after four days and nights of having someone to be at home with. Work was better. Easier.

She sighed as she hit upload on the completed profile.

And it was time for the waiting to begin.

For the practice of forensic science frequently required, along with a cast-iron stomach, a great deal of patience. As any confirmation could take hours — or days — or may never come at all — this was quickly shaping up into one of those be patient cases, the kind that would likely remain open and unsolved until there was a hit from the database or some new evidence came to light. If in a few days, there hadn’t been any progress, they’d release John Doe’s photo to the press in hopes that someone might come forward with an ID. Of course, if he wasn’t a local, and it was highly likely he wasn’t, the attempt might not prove to be any more fruitful. But they would still try.

Just how long Sara had been occupied finishing up hadn’t been readily apparent to her until Langston popped his head in the door and said, “You planning on working through to the next shift?”

Sara glanced down at her watch. Damn, it was nearly nine already.

“Wasn’t planning on it,” she replied with a sheepish shake of the head. “But probably.” Then she gave him a curious, penetrating look. “You did go home, right?” she asked.

“Unlike you, yes,” he replied amusedly. “Around four,” he supplied.

It was good to see him smile again. Before she’d left for those few fleeting days in Paris, Ray had seemed even more withdrawn and subdued than he had been when he’d first come back from his trips to Miami and New York. The cause for his change in demeanor was simple and yet profound.

Earlier, on their way back up from autopsy, he’d excitedly told her how the missing Madeline Briggs had finally made it home to her mother, and Sara had been supremely gratified to hear that some stories still had happy endings.

She echoed the lightness of his tone. “And back already?” she queried. “Glutton for punishment?”

“Still playing catch up,” he supplied.

“That never changes,” she sighed.

“And,” Langston replied, “old habits really do tend to die hard.”

“True,” Sara conceded knowingly.

Strangely enough, she had said as much to Grissom only hours before, after he’d rather loudly bemoaned the fact that he really shouldn’t have been surprised that yet again he’d called only to find her still at work.

Sara’s phone chimed, indicating she had a new text message. She peered down at the screen to read:

Possible 419. 300 Las Vegas Bowling Alley.

“Another call?” Langston asked.

Sara nodded. “You know what they say: No rest for the wicked.”

When she moved to hurriedly straighten up the files that had been strewn – neatly, but strewn nonetheless – across the tabletop, Langston gestured that he would take over.

“I can finish up here,” he said by way of explanation. “Besides, don’t you still have a phone call to return before you head out? After all, it is morning in Paris.”

Morning in Paris —

She had promised to call Grissom back in the morning. His morning, not hers.

But how had Langston known that? The only way he could have was if he…

She didn’t get the chance to finish that thought as Ray was saying, “Oh and, Sara, I wouldn’t worry too much about your French being rusty.”

That stopped her dead in her tracks.

Mon français est un peu rouillé, enfin, plus qu’un peu. My French is a little rustymore than a little, the exact reason she’d given Grissom when he’d asked, French today, dear? That and if the last past couple of days were any indication, she needed all the practice she could get, had been her excuse for continuing the rest of their conversation entirely in French. Being five thousand miles from Paris not withstanding, there was no way she was going to let her husband get the best of her in the French department, him having a tutor who was a fellow of L’Académie Française or no.

Plus, she had figured that conversing in French in the lab provided a modicum of privacy, or at least the illusion of it. She just hadn’t realized how illusory that privacy had been. She certainly hadn’t counted on one of her coworkers knowing French. But while it hadn’t taken her long to realize that one could and should never underestimate Raymond Langston, she frankly hadn’t even considered the possibility that the good doctor might be au fait with le français.

Thinking back to exactly what she had confessed to Grissom right before they’d signed off and realizing that her tête-à-tête hadn’t been so private after all, she colored even deeper than she had when to her assertion of

Je sais que c’est nul mais je viens juste de partir et tu me manques déjà —

It’s pathetic, I know. I’ve only just left and I miss you already,

Grissom had replied with

Ce n’est que quand tu es là avec moi que tu ne me manques plus —

When you are here is the only time I ever stop.

She let out a long rueful sigh and said to Ray, “Well, at least you don’t read lips.”

Langston gave her a reassuring grin. “Don’t worry,” he said. Then with an easy fluency, he added, “After all, Il n’y a qu’un bonheur dans la vie, c’est d’aimer et d’être aimé.”

Recognizing the quotation, Sara nodded appreciatively. “George Sand,” she said.

There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.

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