14 – Caesura

Continued from It Never Rains but It Pours

 

“When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you’re not here, I can’t go to sleep.
Praise God for those two insomnias!
And the difference between them.”

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

*******

Dong.

Dong.

Dong.

Sara started slightly at the distant, drawn out throaty peal of the bells of Santa Maria a Trastevere striking three.

Although never having meant to doze off, apparently she had. She blinked, still drowsy and a little dazed at the unfamiliar sound, glad however that the tumult hadn’t roused her husband. But then after all his months in Paris, Grissom had far more practice sleeping through the tolling. Church bells weren’t exactly a Vegas sort of sound.

Despite all of his earlier pretense and protests of reluctance about not needing un pomeriggio pisolino, an afternoon nap, he was even now sound asleep and softly snoring, the reassuring weight of him curled up and nestled against her as he’d been nearly an hour before.

Careful not to wake him, she eased the blanket a little tighter about Grissom before leaning to breathe in that ever-reassuring scent of him and place a kiss into his still damp hair.

That rain — she thought with a mental sigh and shake of the head, even now not quite able to believe it.

Turned out that sudden spring rain showers were normali in Rome. Or at least that was what the ever helpful and amichevole front desk clerk at their hotel proceeded to inform them when they’d shown up sopping wet and dripping and technically several hours too early for check-in.

While neither Grissom nor Sara had progressed enough in their Italian to be able to begin to adequately discuss the perils of the weather, no explanation had been necessary. Their appearance spoke volumes in any language. The albergatrice had simply shaken her head and proceeded to withdraw a key and their luggage before leading them to their room. That and she’d handed them a spare umbrella just in case. Of course by then, it had stopped raining. The gesture had been appreciated all the same.

They shucked their soaked shoes the minute they made it through the door. Sara disappeared into the bathroom for towels while Grissom unearthed dry clothes from their bags.

Quickly, they stripped down. Sara gave his hair an affectionate toweling off before taking care of her own. She was in the process of slipping a fresh top over her head when she noticed her husband’s eyes upon her. The usual warm appreciation she was yet ever surprised to find there was tempered this time with tiredness.

If truth be told, Grissom looked, slumped as he was on the edge of the bed clad only in his boxers and undershirt, utterly wiped out.

With La Sorbonne not exactly requiring all that many all-nighters — from their professeurs at least — even with his inevitable periodic bouts of insomnia while Sara was away, these days Grissom had been getting a fair share of sleep on a fairly consistent basis. He certainly slept far more and far better than he ever had working in Vegas, as there he’d frequently been lucky to get four or five hours a night, well technically a day. But having been away for nearly the last year and a half, he was more used to the regular hours and regular rest of a far more diurnal lifestyle. Which meant that the not even three hours of shut eye stolen very early that morning sitting up on the train did not a decent night’s sleep make.

That coupled with their early morning hike up and down several of i sette colli di Roma, those five hundred plus steps each way at the Vatican and their multiple mad dashes in the rain had exhausted the last of his energy.

Even the caffeine buzz from the rich cups of espresso (cappuccino not as a rule drunk in Rome after 10 a.m.) which they’d indulged in at the café on the roof of St. Peter’s had long ago expired.

“How about a nap?” suggested Sara gently.

At the frankly disbelieving glare she gave him at his dogged “I’m fine,” Grissom quickly amended, “Just need a little coffee.”

“No more coffee.”

No matter if the copious consumption of those tiny cups explained the habitual Italian alertness and general gioia de vivre, they’d already had plenty enough for the day and with his blood pressure, Grissom especially.

“Besides,” she added, “You’re not any fun or good to me dead on your feet.”

Grissom didn’t deign to reply to this, thinking the dirty look he was shooting his wife answer enough.

Sara only grinned. “They’re good for you, you know, naps.”

Causing him to counter, “Hypocrisy doesn’t suit you, dear.”

As she couldn’t refute this, Sara decided to attempt another tack. “Anyway, isn’t the afternoon nap a Roman tradition?  Probably a byproduct of all those large lunches and severe caffeine withdrawal.”

“Neither actually,” Grissom corrected. “Ghosts.”

“Ghosts?”

“Ghosts were thought to walk during hora sexta,” he explained, “the sixth hour, between two and four p.m. modern time.”

“So people stayed in and didn’t go out?”

“Right.”

While part of her was really tempted to call bullshit on this one, knowing as she did the unlikelihood of it actually being the case, Sara decided it better to intone, “Well you know what they say: When in Rome…

“‘Cum Romano Romanus eris,’ ‘When in Rome do as the Romans do,’” Grissom finished. “Pope Clement XIV. Although the sentiment has its root in Augustine’s Letters: ‘Cum fueris Romae, Romano vivito more, cum fueris alibi, vivito sicut ibi,’ ‘When you’re in Rome, live in the Roman fashion, when elsewhere, live there as they live.’ Good words to live by.”

While she certainly agreed with the sentiment, Sara chose instead to say, a fond smirk belying the vexation inherent in her words, “I’ve never been quite able to figure it out. Do you just like showing off or are you naturally an insufferable know-it-all?”

But before an understandably affronted Grissom could answer, she leaned in, kissed him lingeringly on the cheek the way she’d done up in il Giardino degli Aranci and murmured in a softer, far more wheedling tone, “Come to bed, Gil.”

Grissom, never being the sort of man who needed to be told twice, allowed his wife to tug him beneath the sheets with her.

As he was honestly mind and body too tired to be interested in anything more and they both knew it, her whispered yet insistent qualification of “Just sleep, and only sleep,” was more playful than anything.

Besides, Grissom was more than content to be cuddled up against her, his head resting on her chest, relishing as he did so in the feel of her fingers bleeding warmth through the thin cotton of his t-shirt. Or at least he seemed so, if the way his sighs and soft moans had soon deepened into snores were any indication.

Nearly an hour later, they still lay like that — him fast asleep, Sara just awake and content herself to lie there and listen to his deep even breathing for a while, still smiling at his snoring and wondering how she’d ever managed to sleep through it.

After much of a lifetime spent sleeping alone, she’d been genuinely surprised when she and Grissom had first gotten together to find she rather liked falling asleep with someone in the bed beside her, then waking up that way, too.

Well, if the person was Grissom. Snoring and cover stealing notwithstanding. Although when it came to the covers, Sara had long secretly believed that he tended to thieve them unconsciously on purpose so as to insure her needing to snuggle closer to him to keep warm.

It wasn’t as if there hadn’t been other men, other boyfriends. The occasional youthful fling and fairly frequent lapses in judgment like the one with Hank that went on way too long. But not that many really. But more than a couple too many, considering most of them had proven to be lying, cheating bastards in the end. Needless to say, her track record hadn’t exactly been stellar.

So there’d been sex, but sex was just sex, or at least could be. Sleeping with someone was far different. For her, the trust it required made it in some ways even more intimate an act than sex and certainly not one shared lightly.

That and bad dreams and chronic insomnia didn’t exactly make for the best bedfellows. So there hadn’t been a helluva lot of that much actual sleeping together going on.

With Grissom it had been different. The first time she’d woken up with him hadn’t felt like the first time, and yet even now after all the years, the sensation hadn’t ceased to surprise her.

Not that they’d had all that much opportunity in the beginning. Work being work, even simply sleeping hadn’t been all that frequent of an occurrence. But they learned to make the time. Learned too despite all their natural awkwardness, how to negotiate what being together meant. How to convey hopes and wants and fears. They were still doing that, figuring it all out. Would likely spend the rest of their lives doing just that.

While the insomnia and nightmares might not have just magically vanished simply because they were together — the subconscious didn’t work like that, intimately tied as it was to both memory and fear — Grissom seemed to think it was well worth the risk having her in the bed beside him, so Sara eventually stopped dreading the prospect of waking him. And to her surprise, she’d soon discovered that when she woke up in a cold sweat beneath the blankets, her ears still ringing with the screaming as they so often did, she didn’t need him to tell her it was okay, it was going to be okay.

She could feel it.

Even the simple way his hand would curve gentle and warm, protective at her hip proved a greater comfort than she could have imagined all those years ago when hurt and heartbroken as she’d been, she’d asked Grissom if he wanted to sleep with her.

It was a strange, unexpected peace.

For it was one of the few times and places in her life she felt safe. And comfortable with him in ways she hadn’t been with anyone else. Not even herself. All of which made it easier to surrender to sleep, to let go of that control.

And these days harder to sleep alone.

In the same way the house was sometimes just too quiet, she found her bed empty without Grissom to share it. For the first few nights whenever she returned to Vegas, she tended to toss and turn and far too often would despite the fact that they hadn’t slept together in that particular bed for months, wake with the disquieting surety that he was there in the bed beside her.

That particular afternoon in Rome, with him so warm and alive against her, Sara thought she could really get used to this again, to slipping off to sleep only to wake up with him again. It would certainly be nice to try.

That she wasn’t the only one to think so really had come as a surprise.

Before they’d become friends and lovers, all of her earlier observations indicated that Gil Grissom tended to be uncomfortable with, even actively shun, touching and being touched. So that when their verbal affection eventually gave way to more of the physical variety, the fact that he craved, enjoyed and was pleased by that sort of contact had genuinely confounded her. Inexplicable as it was, Grissom liked being held, was even partial to cuddling, particularly these days when they spent so much time apart.

Not that Sara was complaining. She just never would have thought it.

But then her husband always was full of surprises. Had been since the moment they’d met. Was even now when she should have become inured to it. Still, he succeeded in baffling and bewildering, shocking and awing her on a fairly regular basis.

Like that kiss.

Surprise didn’t even begin to describe it.

Furtive, impromptu, public and passionate in that tender way of his, she’d been temporarily stunned into stillness. It hadn’t exactly been the bacetto she’d given him earlier. But before long, she’d yielded to the moment and returned all of his kiss.

Not that they hadn’t seen plenty of amore on display that morning. There was just as much romanticismo in the spring air a Roma as there was romantisme à Paris. The Italians were equally as appassionati as the French were passionés, if not more so. In any case, it was quite readily apparent that both cities were made for love and lovers. Kissing and other various public displays of affection, certainly custom of the country.

Sara would have considered chalking up the whole incident to being another one of those When in Rome moments, if Grissom hadn’t been growing generally more affectionate in public ever since he’d shown up in Costa Rica a year and a half before.

Nor had there been anything customary in how once his lips finally withdrew from hers, he’d confessed in a quiet, yet no less nakedly honest murmur, “I’ve been wanting to do that all morning.”

Like so much of the ordinary extraordinariness of their life together, Sara held fast to that memory, treasuring it in her heart accordingly.

She was thinking back to that moment, smiling over it and her still slumbering husband, when as it so often did, his deep measured breathing shifted into the resonating, almost thundering rumble of a snore. Sara had a hard time containing her grin and an even harder one restraining herself from laughing.

How she had – or ever – slept through that, she’d no clue.

The sound was strangely endearing. Or perhaps that was just all the time spent away talking.

Of course his denials were even more so, earnest as he ever was in insisting that she had yet to actually prove he did indeed snore.

He’d just let out an even louder, if that were possible, snore when Sara recalled that her new phone came with a built-in voice recorder. While attempting to prove one’s spouse wrong was likely not the use the designers had envisioned for it, the temptation to do just that quickly became too much for her to resist. Particularly as Grissom had left the phone on the table next to her side of the bed.

Even slightly pinned beneath him as she was, she should be able to reach it without disturbing him. She inched her fingers towards it. She just about had it —

When his stentorian snore seemed to stop mid breath.

And her husband awkwardly propped himself up on an elbow to peer bemused and bleary-eyed at her.

Not sure if she’d been caught or not, Sara decided as she’d rolled onto her side to face him to feign ignorance if not innocence. However that didn’t keep that twinge of guilt completely out of her bright, “Hey, sleepy head.”

From his almost incoherently mumbled Hi in reply and the way it was taking his eyes a while to focus on her face, she needn’t have worried. Evidently, he’d been still too sleepy to notice anything amiss.

Happy and pleased though he was to find that his last waking thought before the steady iambs of her heartbeat had lulled him into sleep had proven true, that Rome and more importantly Sara was still there when he woke, in truth, he hadn’t quite emerged from that not quite dreaming, not quite awake state.

Still, it was a reality Grissom knew better than to take for granted. Her here with him.

Almost instinctively, his palm found its way to curve about her hip. For at the feel of her gently smoothing his hair, her touch as soothing as it ever was, his eyes fluttered briefly shut again. Only once her fingers settled at the back of his neck did they reopen, revealing a blue as placid as a still deep pool.

Grissom knew the science behind the sensation. How touch had a calming effect, slowing the heart rate and decreasing blood pressure while simultaneously increasing the levels of melatonin and serotonin in the system. But curled up with Sara beneath the blankets in this here and now, he found the science didn’t really matter much. Touch spoke louder than rationale or reason; conveyed so much more than words. In that way, the quiet tenderness that flowed between them often proved more profound and lasting than any fleeting flash of passion.

But there was amusement more than desire to be presently found in his wife’s gaze and subsequent query of “What were you saying about not being tired? Your snoring would certainly indicate otherwise. ‘Sawing logs’ I believe is the expression,” she laughed.

“Right,” he intoned evenly.

“Admit it, Gil,” she persisted. “You snore.”

“You’ve yet to prove it.”

Even if part of her was practically clamoring to tell him she’d been just about to do just that before his having woken up had put an abrupt kibosh on her attempt, the rest of her realized that having proof would only ultimately take all the fun out of the teasing. And she enjoyed it all too much to want that.

Besides, as she wasn’t typically the first one asleep at night and the last one up in the morning, and yet had been for much of this trip, it hadn’t escaped her notice that her husband was having more trouble sleeping than usual.

Something that concerned her.

Again attempting to flatten his damp hair, which however short as it was, continued to persist in standing up at rakish angles, she said softly, “You sleep at all last night?”

Venturing to give her a reassuring smile, Grissom replied neither truthfully nor not, “A little.”

“When?” Sara persisted.

“Somewhere after Milan I think.”

With a shake of her head, she sighed, “No wonder you were tired.”

Then however sure there was more to it than only that, she said, “Internet insomnia?”

But instead of replying, his hand moved from her hip to her cheek and as he’d done out in the rain, Grissom brushed back her hair and kissed her, soft and gentle this time. And she let him, even knowing as she did, that there was something he wasn’t telling. Not yet at least.

Truth be told, Internet insomnia had been the least of it.

It hadn’t been about finding places to go or things to do, the reason he’d been wide-awake scrolling through the guidebook on her phone long past three the night before.

He had been having problems sleeping on this trip. Ones that were more than those to be expected from the natural excitement of the journey and days about to come. Nor had all their various misadventures been keeping him up either.

However irrational as he knew the reason to be, he just didn’t want to waste what comparably little time he had with Sara sleeping.

But then when was the heart ever rational or reasonable?

So the fewer and fewer days they had remaining, the harder and harder he found it to surrender to sleep at night or return to it in the morning.

Now with the days they’d already spent together far outnumbering the ones remaining, and him not wanting to miss a minute with her, he’d begun actively struggling against sleep in the same way that for so long he’d actively struggled to sleep.

Could it really already be Tuesday?

He knew it was.

Rued how time, like it was so often wont to do when she was here, hurried past. No matter how hard he tried to hold onto it, it continued to slip through his fingers. The minutes and hours too quickly turned into days.

Anyway, he figured he’d already slept through enough of his life as it was. So that at times like these, he tended to agree with Ben Franklin’s assertion that “There will be sleeping enough in the grave.”

And the night before it had been so good to see Sara rest and sleep and have a little peace.

There had been some confusion somewhere regarding their train reservations, which meant that while they still had the no larger than a coat closet compartment to themselves, they’d have to sleep in separate berths. But considering how packed the train had been with most of Europe’s airports continuing to be closed, they’d been lucky to have netted seats to Rome, let alone beds.

Therefore, they’d each taken yet another unexpected change of plans in stride. Although Grissom tended to attribute his wife’s easy acquiescence in this case more to exhaustion than forbearance.

For she’d sunk onto the seat beside him and within minutes, her head had begun to drop and droop onto his shoulder.

He probably should have gotten up to make the bed. But he hadn’t had the heart to wake or disturb her. And he’d wanted too to keep her close to him, as he was in reality not all that keen on having to sleep alone.

So he’d carefully eased her down until she rested curled up like a cat in his lap. It probably wasn’t the most comfortable of sleeping arrangements, but at least the compartment was more comfortable than having to sleep in the break room with only her arms on the table for a pillow.

As for himself, it wasn’t like it had been the first time he’d slept sitting up, nor was it likely to be the last. In any case, he’d actually gotten fairly adept at the practice over the years.

It was worth it.

For a long while he’d sat there with her like that, ostensibly intent on reading, or so Sara had found him when she’d stirred several hours later.

“Gil?” she’d asked, blinking up at him in the blue light, her voice still thick with sleep.

“Go back to sleep, honey,” he’d replied, pressing a kiss into her hair.

Whatever real somnolence-inducing effect his words or this gesture had, she’d soon settled back against him and slept.

Curious as to whether she also had that afternoon, he asked her, “You been awake all this time?”

To which Sara shook her head. “Dozed off,” she begrudgingly admitted.

Grissom chuckled, “I do seem to have that effect on you.”

She smiled at this, particularly when he added, “It’s hard not to take it personally,” in the same tone he’d once employed not long after they’d first begun regularly sleeping together to ask her if sex ordinarily made her sleepy.

They’d been nestled up together after waking early one evening when he’d apparently finally gotten up the nerve.

That she’d answered without any hesitation, “No, just with you,” hadn’t seemed to strike him as reassuring.

More bemused than anything, he’d replied, “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to take that.”

Sara had laughed and kissed him and said, “As a compliment, Gris.”

Lying there together with him, this time with all of Rome still waiting outside their door, she snuggled ever closer, telling Grissom, “I always sleep better when I’m home.”

“Home?” he echoed.

As nice as the quiet 16th Century cloister turned albergo was, he didn’t think of it as home per se.

She shrugged, took up his hand, and interlacing her fingers with his said, “Wherever I’m with you, I’m home.”

When she put it that way, Grissom couldn’t agree more.

*******

Continued in Il Bel Far Niente, or More on The Beauty of Doing Nothing

*******

A/N: Caesura: a pause, especially for sense, usually near the middle of a verse line; any break, pause, or interruption – Dictionary.com

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. grissomsgirl72
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 18:19:46

    Awe, sometimes the thought of a still sleepy just waking up Grissom makes me envious of Gina getting to see that with Billy. I imagine he would be quite adorable, blinking back sleep filled eyes, his hair (when it was longer…lol, mushed and standing all over)…and just once I wish I could be a fly on the wall…but this story gives me that opportunity…and I adore them all…keep going…great job as always.

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