57 – Love in Bloom

It’s spring and while romance may be in the air in Vegas, it can’t compete with the quiet passions of Paris.

Follows “Here and There” and takes place between episodes 10×15 “Neverland” and 10×17 “Irradiator,” circa March 2010.

*******

Springtime in Paris.

It was something poets wrote of.

And Grissom had been looking forward to it, particularly after the worse than most cold, damp and dreary winter that year.

There was as yet, just the hint of it, spring, in days like this one, where the sunshine, blue skies and warmth presaged the rest to come.

Normally, he would have liked to linger, dawdled even, to enjoy it on his walk home from the Sorbonne.

But not that particular afternoon.

Sara was back for another of her all too brief visits.

And he’d been looking forward to coming home all day, to enjoying their one last evening together before she had to return to Vegas. And not just because of that kiss she’d sent him off to work with that morning. Although that was certainly provocation enough.

There hadn’t been anything in particular that morning to prompt such a heady and all too distracting an act. It had been an ordinary morning, just like any other they’d spent in Paris together. They’d taken Hank out for his customary morning constitutional, loitered perhaps a little overlong in a small cafe just off the Boulevard St-Michel for de rigueur cups of strong, rich café au lait, accompanied by an assortment of croissants and pain au chocolat, and only just managed to return home in time for Grissom to hurriedly shower and dress for his late morning lecture.

He’d been about to gather up his briefcase to go when Sara joined him at the door, proceeded to give his necktie a tug to further straighten it, then smoothing the lapels on his suit jacket, gave him a long, appraising glance that quickly turned appreciative before inclining to kiss him adieu. But instead of their usual relatively brief and restrained leave-taking, she pulled him in for one of the more long, lingering sort that left him muttering, “Tease,” under his breath once he’d regained the ability to breathe again. Sara had only smirked and said, “So you have a reason to look forward to coming home,” before shooing him unceremoniously out the door.

Like he really needed any further inducement.

He certainly hadn’t protested when Mme Laurent, the indomitable doyen of the Languages Department and member of France’s elite L’Académie Française whom Grissom had the fortune (or as some of his colleagues maintained his misfortune) to have as his French tutor, had phoned earlier that afternoon to make her excuses for having to cancel their usual Tuesday afternoon la langue française lesson. Grissom hadn’t been convinced and had the distinct feeling her pretense had less to do with a however regrettably suddenly recalled appointment and much more to do with her comments from a few evenings before.

They had been attending an evening reception following a faculty lecture Grissom had given at the Sorbonne. He’d been waylaid by several of his Life Sciences colleagues while M. Morel from le laboratoire d’Entomologie du Musée National d’Histoire Naturelle had managed to corner Sara. When he’d eventually disengaged himself, it was to find Sara still politely (and rather valiantly he thought) attempting to listen to Morel continue to expostulate in very animated and rapid French. Briefly, she met her husband’s gaze, gave him a soft smile; he raised his glass to her fortitude. She was returning the gesture when a voice from behind Grissom had exclaimed, albeit only loud enough for him and not the rest of the room to hear, “C’est scandaleux!”

Pardon?” he’d asked in return as he’d found the usually steely-eyed and sharp-tongued Jeanne-Marie Laurent shaking her head in amusement.

She’d leaned in, her tone conspiratorially low and had shifted into English for good measure before saying, “The two of you. You and your wife.”

Curious, Grissom had waited for her to continue.

Which she had with a sigh. “The way you two look at one another. And you married. To each other no less,” she tittered. “Absolument scandaleux.

He had of course made no rejoinder to this, even if he’d had to quickly turn from her to hide his grin. For he’d been having a hard time keeping himself from beaming in pleasure at this observation.

Perhaps it really was scandaleux, with him at his age no less, to be in love with his wife like this, but he was. And had long begun to cease to care who knew anymore.

He found the house unusually quiet as he stepped through their front door. Although Sara’s keys had been in the bowl when he’d deposited his own there, so he knew she had to be home. Grissom dropped off his briefcase and went in search of her, discovering no sign until he’d reached the third floor where he’d caught the still distant sound of what he would have sworn was singing overhead. He ascended the narrow steps up to their private jardin sur le toit, rooftop garden, to find his wife there, her back to him and the door, kneeling and apparently diligently at work potting plants and in the way that most people do when they are wearing headphones, crooning a little too noisily off-key to a song he didn’t immediately recognize.

Grissom chuckled at this.

“Sara –” he called. Once. Twice. Then a third louder and more insistent time.

She was it seemed utterly deaf to the rest of the world, for he received as his only response Hank lifting his head to give him a bleary-eyed and yet recriminating glare for having been disturbed in the middle of his mid-afternoon nap.

Still, Grissom didn’t want to unduly startle her. So he gently slipped his hand over her shoulder. Sara started anyway, quickly rose and spun to face him as she yanked the ear buds from her ears.

“Please,” Grissom began with a grin, “tell me you haven’t been taking music recommendations from Greg again.”

Sara stared at him, looking surprised, and if not quite guilty, distinctly caught. Although why he couldn’t fathom.

“What are you –” she finally stammered. Then giving her watch a hurried glance said, “Don’t you have — I mean — You’re home early.”

All of which caused Grissom to shake his head and reply, “Why do I get the feeling you aren’t happy to see me?”

“No. No,” she insisted, still sounding flustered. “Just not expecting you to be back so soon.”

“You’ve been busy,” he observed, taking in how Sara had single-handedly managed to clear up all the old garden detritus of the dead leaves and die back, as well as had made short work of not only the neat stack of empty pots that had populated one shady corner of the rooftop, but many new ones. “You do all this today?”

As her husband sounded so impressed and amazed, Sara was a little loath to burst his bubble. But she did admit, “You did have work yesterday, too, you know.”

The truth was, Sara had been looking forward to springtime in Paris, to those few fleeting days she and Grissom would have together. And the weather was finally starting to cooperate. Even if it was still mild and cool compared to Vegas in March, that gradual return to life and greenness had begun. It was warm enough that all around them, plants were starting to take root and grow once more, which made it the perfect time to put into effect something Sara had been plotting for some time now.

So she’d spent the last two days raiding the botanical treasures of the old canopy-lined streets of the Marché aux fleurs, Paris’s century-old flower market in the Place Louis Lépine, on the Ile de la Cité just a few blocks from Notre Dame.

“It’s only taken me eight years,” she said with a slight shrug and the hint of a self-deprecating smile, “to return the favor.”

Catching the reference, Grissom grinned, too. “Except instead of one plant…”

He withdrew his reading glasses from his suit pocket and crouched down, the better to peruse the sea of freshly potted seedlings spread out before him. From the Latin names scrawled in what he knew to be Sara’s best attempts at legible handwriting on the tall, thin wooden identification stakes, not only had his wife greatly expanded the kitchen garden the previous tenants had established, but had also added an impressive variety of decorative ornamentals.

At his inquisitive and indeed thorough examination, Sara offered up the explanation, “After this winter I thought you could use a little extra color. And some more insect-friendly plants.”

In fact, from what Grissom could discern, most of them were. Soon there would be riots of whites and blues and yellows and purples to attract bees, and reds and oranges for butterflies. With a steady succession of brightly colored flowers and sweet smells, the sheer diversity of plant species would provide rich sources of nectar throughout the spring and summer.

Obviously, Sara had managed to put into practice all the botany she’d picked up under Ana’s expert tutelage during their months in Costa Rica. Not that Grissom had ever had cause to doubt Sara’s diligence as a student.

“Should keep you busy and out of mischief until your exams in June,” she half teased.

Grissom gestured to the plants, the newly filled pots and bags of soil and compost. “Do I even want to know how you managed to get all of this up here?” he asked.

To which she replied, “Turns out chivalry’s not dead after all. At least not in Paris.”

“I see.”

“It was supposed to be a surprise. A late anniversary present actually. A really late anniversary present,” Sara conceded sheepishly. “So much for surprises.”

“I am surprised,” Grissom replied and meant it, too. And pleased, beyond pleased, at the gesture, he leaned in to show her just how much.

Sara retreated a few steps saying, “I’m filthy. Your suit –” and almost stumbled over several pots before he caught her up by the elbow to steady her. He cut off her final protest of “You’ll get dirty,” with an utterly unconcerned kiss.

For a moment, Sara was able to resist reaching up to wrap her arms around his neck, to not quite lose herself completely to the kiss, but only for a moment. Then she surrendered and her earth-caked fingers instinctively slid over his shoulders so that when they drew apart, she caught sight of the grime on his otherwise immaculate suit and attempting to brush it away sighed, “See I told you –” before he kissed her quiet once more.

As there was just something about the warmth of the earth beneath your fingers and the feel of the sun on your back (and yes, there was the inevitable stiffness and ache from stooping and bending and kneeling for long amounts of time), Grissom asked, “You want some help finishing up?”

Sara beamed. “Only if you go and change first.”

And while Grissom disappeared off to divest himself of his usual suit and tie work ensemble, Sara went to replenish her stock of potting soil and compost. He soon returned, dressed in an old t-shirt and jeans and bearing a tray of refreshments. He popped the top of a bottle of Lorina and proceeded to pour out the ice-cold sparkling French limonade. Sara wiped the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand before taking the glass her husband offered her.

“Merci,” she said and he returned her smile.

And soon they set to work, at times chatting and others, quiet together; and each equally comfortable and content in either state, as they so long had been and done over the years.

Having finished up repotting the last of the seedlings, Sara was dusting off her hands when she felt Grissom’s gaze upon her. He hadn’t actually realized he’d been staring until her expression turned puzzled and she asked, “What? Do I have…” before attempting to brush whatever she thought he’d spotted from her face.

Although she was by then fairly well coated with a fine layer of dirt, that wasn’t why he’d been looking at her in that penetratingly insistent way. With her flush; almost glowing from both the work and the sunshine, the sight of her was nothing short of arresting. Although so often these days, he’d found Sara so.

Perhaps she should have been used to it by now, the way he was looking at her, but Sara never had gotten use to his displays of open admiration. The color rose in her cheeks.

And her averted gaze settled on a thin scrap of leftover twine. Sara reached for it, then Grissom’s hand, turned it palm up, and wrapping the string around his wrist, punctuated the knot with a neat bow. He wordlessly watched her do all this, waited for her to finish before he peered up at her as if to inquire what it was for.

“So you don’t forget,” was all she said.

That wasn’t likely. And he told her so. But Grissom didn’t undo the string either.

Instead, he ran his thumb along her cheek and relishing the way her face and eyes soften at his touch, he narrowed what little distance remained between the two of them. Inhaling the richness of earth and the tang of sweat that fragranced her skin, he kissed Sara much like she had him earlier that morning.

Unsurprisingly, before long that kiss turned into something more. After all, it was springtime in Paris.

*******

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mbonthecorner
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 19:02:08

    I had to chuckle at your mention of pain au chocolat. It is my hubby’s favorite pastry, and despite numerous visits to France with me, it remains just about the only thing he can say in French! Loved the story, as always.

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