56 – Here and There

It’s never easy to be thousands of miles from the one you love. Nor is the why of having to be so always immediately comprehensible. But even with the distance that spans between them, Grissom and Sara still manage to be together all the same.

Takes place post episode 10×15 “Neverland,”

circa March 2010.

*******

“It’s getting late,” Grissom began, although even from over the phone, his reluctance was plainly evident.  He didn’t really want to have to hang up, but he knew they both needed to and soon.

“As you have to be back into work –” he continued. There was a beat as if he were doing the math in his head before he finished, “In less than six hours.”

At this, Sara gave the clock on the bedside table a curious glance. It was nearly five-thirty, which meant it was almost half past two in Paris and well past her husband’s usual bedtime. She smiled, both amused and baffled by how the two of them could have lost track of time in such a spectacular fashion. Perhaps it was the fact that she’d yet again gotten off work late, and with work being what it was, over the last couple of days, they really hadn’t had a lot of time to do much more than speak in passing.

“What about you?” she asked.

For in one of those strange confluences of time and circumstance, with Sara back to working Grave and Grissom nine time zones away, they actually shared sleep schedules these days.

“I don’t have class until tomorrow,” Grissom replied. “My tomorrow, not yours.”

“At least you’ll have lots of bright and eager minds to look forward to,” Sara chuckled ruefully. “Me, I get a bunch of morons who do stupid things stupidly thinking they won’t get caught.”

Grissom shared her amusement for a moment before he said, his voice both soft and insistent all at once, “Be safe.”

“I will,” she promised. And meant it as much as it was in her power and control.

Neither said good-bye. Instead, Sara gave him a still hesitant, “Good night, Gil,” to which he wished her an equally reluctant, “Good night, dear.”

Nor did either immediately hang up; each not quite yet willing to sever the connection.

But in that long moment where there was only breath, what Juliet meant when she spoke to Romeo of parting being such sweet sorrow that she should say good night till it be morrow was realized in real life.

*******

With a soft smile, Sara closed her phone and gave the bedroom, which apart from the absence of plants, had changed very little since Grissom had inhabited the space, a fond glance before pulling back the sheets to get ready for bed.

Even after all these months, it was still strange to find herself living there without him, regardless of all the times he’d reminded her that the apartment was, and had always been, her home, too. Strangely enough though, it was not because Grissom was so notably absent, but because he was so very much present.

Perhaps not all ghosts were bad, nor memories either.

For he seemed to linger there, in all the rooms where they had spent so much time together. Sometimes, she would even wake in the evenings to the phantom smell of pancakes.

Maybe she just kept expecting him to walk through the door one day.

Until then, even if he was not physically present, Grissom was still there all the same.

That was what was so markedly different about their being apart this time. He was there and there was never any doubt or question that he was, simply loving and supporting her and being there for her. And it all in such a way as if he had done far more than just taken to heart the aged notario’s final admonition when he’d married them:

Tener cariño por el uno al otro.

Take care of each other.

She’d meant it, too, what she’d told her husband earlier that afternoon, when he’d confessed to being frustrated when he couldn’t be with her when things like the Rose fiasco once again reared their ugly heads:

“You are, Gil. You are.”

For he was.

Although admittedly, it was getting harder and harder to return to Vegas after each of her all too brief Paris sojourns.

But over the last nearly six months, even their being apart and then together again had invested their lives with an almost reassuringly regular rhythm. As her return grew closer and closer, the anticipation of that arrival grew. Then there was always that first rush and flush of pleasure in seeing each other again, which eventually gave way to the even greater joy of merely being together. And often, it was the ordinary, that quiet and restful simple ordinariness in the time they spent together that Sara found so refreshing after Vegas. Although it was never time enough, not really. And always, there came, too, the inevitable knowing and ache of the leave-taking soon to come. Then the actual going, before it would begin all over again.

It wasn’t easy.

And Vegas hadn’t changed. At least not for the better.

But she had.

The time away had been good for Sara. Given her a chance to catch her breath and breathe again, to think and regain a little — actually a lot — of perspective.

She wasn’t in Vegas now because she was running away from something or someone, not from Grissom, their marriage or their life together, not even her own life. Not this time. Vegas was simply where she needed to be right now and this, what she needed to be doing.

And both she and Grissom knew it.

They’d talked about it on her first trip back to Paris, when it had become plainly evident that her temporary return to Las Vegas was likely to be a lot less temporary than they’d first planned. And while Sara had been honest when she’d told Grissom that what she wanted to do was finish what she’d started, or at least try to, they both knew there was more to it than simply attempting to tackle the immense backlog of cases that Riley’s abrupt departure had left unresolved. For Sara hadn’t come back for Vegas or the job and certainly not to get Conrad Ecklie out of a jam, but rather to help the friends who had become over the years very much her family. She stayed for that same reason.

And for herself.

For she’d spent most of her career struggling to keep her past and her personal life out of her professional one. But there were always certain cases, like the Rose one, where she just couldn’t. They cut a little too close and deep. And so often the misery at work would bleed into and infect her life outside it until it had, like a slow-acting venom, eaten away at her until there was nothing of her left.

That was why she’d left Vegas that first time.

And part of why she’d told Grissom she just couldn’t stay.

Although it had been so hard then, too hard, to see him like that, so unwilling to feel or be anymore and her to be so seemingly powerless to do anything about it.

Ultimately though, the truth was she’d run away.

And Sara knew that it would be easy, so terribly easy now, if and when she got frustrated, disgusted or disillusioned with it all to say screw it and pack up and return to Paris to be with Grissom.

Yes, it would be easy.

And yes, she’d been tempted, sorely tempted to do so more than once.

But she’d also found that so often the easy thing was seldom ever the right thing. Or the needful one.

And she’d spent so much of her life running away, too much of it fleeing life. First, she’d tried drowning it out in alcohol, then worked to the point where there was nothing else. But ultimately, and perhaps worst of all, she’d literally run away from her life and all the things she just didn’t want to deal with.

Sara didn’t want to do that anymore. Didn’t want to run just because it was hard or difficult or painful to stay.

She didn’t want to be afraid either.

She’d decided that the night of the storm when they’d been off on their honeymoon. Decided out in the pouring rain that it was time to stop being afraid. Time to stop running and face it — her fears, her life, herself, all that had happened.

And face the fact that she knew she couldn’t change the past, couldn’t undo what had been done, take back the words or deeds, unmake the mistakes. But it was, however, possible to stop living in and for that past.

True, Sara still worked long hours, sometimes even longer and more of them than she had before, but not because she was trying to avoid living or even dealing with her own life like she had for so long.

And it was different being back this time. There were still the horrors, the appalling horrors in the things people did to themselves and others. But it wasn’t as all consuming as it had been. So Sara found she was able to work again, be useful, be there in ways she’d hadn’t been for so long, wrapped up as she had been in her own private pain.

She thought about the difference between this year and the last, between not being able to stay and returning.

It was simple:

Time. Peace. Love.

And Grissom.

*******

With a sigh and a wistful shake of the head, Gil Grissom clicked his phone shut.

Sometimes, it really was the hardest thing about him being here and Sara there, him not being able to literally be there for her.

Particularly with all the Simon Roses of the world.

So hell yeah, he worried.

He knew too much not to, having been part of that world for too long not to know just how dangerous it could be. After all, how many times had she had to pull her gun since she’d been back? While he understood it, the need for it, that didn’t mean Grissom had to like it. Even if Sara seemed to take the whole thing in stride. She simply made time for extra practice at the shooting range. Practice makes perfect, she’d intoned when telling him about it. He hoped she never have to use it. That none of them would. But being a CSI wasn’t always the safest of jobs he knew, too.

And that wasn’t even taking into account the men like Rose who went so blithely about destroying the lives around them. Even if Rose hadn’t been involved in any way in the death of Will Sutter, Grissom hadn’t been pleased that he and the horrid things he’d done had resurfaced yet again.

For there were just some cases that never closed, not even when they’d been solved and put to bed. Even after they’d been put before a jury and decided, they still lingered and haunted and hurt and wrecked havoc.

So he worried, Grissom did.

After all, it was his job to worry about Sara. In some ways, it always had been. Although it was a lot different now with her as his wife from what it had been when he’d been her boss, even from when they’d been lovers. The benefits were certainly better in any case. Of course none of that had changed the fact that he’d been so inept for so long in worrying and taking care of her. Even now, being all too well aware of just how much Sara hated to be reminded of his worry and concern, he tried to do it as quietly as possible. But ultimately, he couldn’t help it. It was just part of loving her. He just kept it to himself as much as he could.

None of which made it any easier being apart. He worried about and missed his wife, even if he understood why Sara had needed to go and why she’d needed to stay and be so far away for so long.

And things were different this time, so different from the last time when there had been far more than just geography separating them.

These days, her robe still hung on the back of the bathroom door, her toothbrush sat on the sink, her soap and shampoo in the shower as if she’d just stepped out and would soon return.

Still, he missed her.

It was lonely in Paris without her.

Not for lack of people or trying. His new colleagues were more than happy and eager to share their city and culture and language with such an earnest student. And it wasn’t as though his actual work didn’t keep him occupied and pleasantly so.

But it wasn’t the same.

It was though, a far different lonesomeness than the one he’d had nearly a lifetime to grow accustomed to, the one he’d so long accepted as part of life, at least a part of his own.

Until he’d met Sara.

Admittedly, that life had been a little lacking. He hadn’t needed Catherine to inform him of that fact. It had just been how he’d spent nearly his whole life living and he’d just supposed that everyone got used to it, to living behind the walls they’d built around themselves, as he had.

And he’d still had his work. In reality, his had been a life consumed by work. For he’d always been better at working than living, at thinking and reasoning than feeling and being. And it had been far easier to go on dissecting other people’s lives than daring to risk having one of his own. So he’d settled on being a spectator to his own life and the ones around him. A specter, too.

But that hadn’t been life or living really. No, he really hadn’t lived at all, just as he had once told Vincent Lurie. And it was sad, to live like that. Never to touch or feel, or allow himself to touch or be touched, separated as he’d been from it all by more than just the thin layer of his latex gloves.

No, that wasn’t life — or living.

Until Sara, he hadn’t really given much thought to having or even wanting someone to share his life with. Even once he had, his fear had managed to do an excellent job at restraining him from doing anything about that wanting.

It had just been too hard to risk everything he’d ever worked for in order to have her. Not just at the lab, not even there really, but rather the world he’d spent his entire life building and creating. One of insulated intellectualism; of the mind and knowledge and knowing. Of order and method. Of certainties and sureties.

For he was certain that being with Sara, sharing his life — his world — himself — with her would change everything.

He’d been both right and wrong.

Yes, things had changed. Patterns and habits had to be rearranged. But his life hadn’t been diminished in any way because she was in it. Instead, it and he had expanded.

True, it meant having to feel and be and he had never been adept at exploring that foreign and unfamiliar territory of his own heart. Meant, too, risking being hurt, being burned as Catherine had once called it. And even then, he’d screwed up, made more mistakes than he could count and had almost lost it all.

Tennyson must never have loved and lost, if he genuinely believed that it was better to have done that than never to have loved at all.

Eventually though, he’d figured it out.

Doc had had it wrong. Grissom hadn’t been running away, nor running at all. He’d just realized — finally — the who and what and where and when and how and why that most mattered to him. That it had always been true that what he most loved and wanted in the world was Sara.

So he’d left Vegas.

And had not for one moment regretted that decision, despite all of Sara’s fears and concerns that someday he would. He only wished he would not have waited half as long as he had to as Catherine had once politely put it: lift his head up out of that microscope.

For Shakespeare had been wrong, too. Journeys didn’t end in lover’s meetings. They began. That was what this life with Sara had been, beginning after beginning, still was, but it was also continuings, too.

Sure, the him here, her there hadn’t been anything like what he’d had in mind. But if being with Sara had taught him anything, it was that all too frequently what one had in mind was often wanting. What happened, all that couldn’t be planned or foreseen, those were the things that made life what it was.

All he knew is he wanted to share it all with her.

*******

Six thousand miles apart, or more like 5,500 as the crow flew, both Grissom and Sara reached over to shut off the light.

Then Sara rolled over to her husband’s side of the bed, tugged his pillow towards her and snuggled into it; Grissom shifted to Sara’s, where the sweet fragrance of lavender, so reminiscent of her private scent, was unfortunately tempered by the more redolent odor of dog. Hank, despite all his pouting and protesting her absence, had readily commandeered Sara’s usual spot.

It wasn’t long before they were both fast asleep and dreaming, relaxed and contented as they each were from their latest conversation and warmed too by the longing and promise that had remained although unspoken in that long pause before either hung up.

Soon. Soon.

*******

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

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ladylobo2
    Apr 05, 2010 @ 12:17:08

    And here I thought I would have to wait until Tuesday to read something from you! Love it! Their connection is amazingly strong and your insight just makes it okay when I see episodes without Sara. Always have you in mind while I’m watching, knowing you’ll let me know what they’re doing.

  2. mbonthecorner
    Apr 13, 2010 @ 18:03:15

    “Even after all these months, it was still strange to find herself living there without him.”

    I’ll say! But thanks for your efforts to make sense of this stranger-by-the-month CBS plotline! You do such a great job of filling in the holes that they leave.

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