63 – A Verry Merry Un-Birthday

It didn’t take Sara long to learn Grissom was a man full of surprises. But on a seemingly ordinary Friday afternoon, her husband receives a very unexpected surprise of his own.

Takes place between episodes 1102 “Pool Shark” and 1103 “Blood Moon,” circa September 2010.

*******
While not Christmas, a bit of merriment for the season…

*******

`I mean, what is an un-birthday present?’
`A present given when it isn’t your birthday, of course.’
Alice considered a little. `I like birthday presents best,’ she said at last.
`You don’t know what you’re talking about!’ cried Humpty
Dumpty. `How many days are there in a year?’
`Three hundred and sixty-five,’ said Alice.
`And how many birthdays have you?’
`One.’
`And if you take one from three hundred and sixty-five what remains?’
`Three hundred and sixty-four, of course.’

“Chapter VI: Humpty Dumpty,” Through the Looking Glass, Lewis Carroll

*******

As conventional wisdom would have it, it wasn’t always such a good idea to surprise your distant living spouse by showing up unannounced on some random afternoon. All too frequently, the surpriser ended up the surprisee and usually not in a good way. This Sara knew.

But then Gil Grissom and Sara Sidle weren’t exactly a conventional couple.

And ultimately, Sara couldn’t resist the temptation to do just that — arrange to arrive in Paris without telling her husband she was coming.

True, it meant spending more than a day’s worth of hours during her brief furlough cramped and cooped up on various airplanes, but the prospect of having even two full days with him after all their time apart was by her accounting way more than worth it.

Not that that meant the journey had been simple or exactly fun. Sara was starting to think she really was jinxed somehow when it came to travel.

With it still the height of summer season in Vegas (not that there was much of an off-season these days) and knowing there was no way in hell she’d get off shift anywhere near on time, she made sure to pack to leave straight from the lab. Even so, she had to rush to get to McCarran in time. Then with the airlines running as prompt as ever she almost missed both her connections in Minneapolis and Amsterdam. Her being late getting into CDG always went without saying. That and how even without the bother of having to wait for checked baggage, deplaning and Immigration were the usual nightmare.

Ever mindful of the interminable taxi queues just outside Terminal 2, and the fact that at this time of day, there was definitely no rush in the rush hour parisien, Sara opted for taking the Réseau Express Régional, the RER B suburban city train to connect up with the Paris Métro. Of course with her usual luck, unsurprisingly she missed the soonest train by mere minutes and had to wait a quarter of an hour for the next one.

Thank goodness her husband was if anything punctual. One of the positives of marrying a proverbial creature of habit meant that she could practically predict the time Grissom could be expected to return home in the evening to their Quartier Latin apartment down to the minute.

So that even with all the hassles and delays of travel, she had just enough time to lavish some much clamored for affection on a very eager to see her Hank, squeeze in a hurried and desperately needed shower and change into something more comfortable and fresher smelling than the jeans and t-shirt she’d been wearing for the last eighteen hours before she caught the rattle of his key in the lock.

Now Sara expected her husband to be surprised. And he was. He certainly looked more genuinely flummoxed than she had ever seen him.

First, there was that momentary flicker of mystification when the door had inexplicably opened from the inside. Then he blinked, once, twice in distinct disbelief before his eyes went almost bug-eyed wide in bewilderment.

He may have wordlessly let her divest him of his briefcase, gently take his hand and tug him forward so she could shut out the world behind them, but for a long while or at least what felt like a long while after, he just stood there stock still and staring.

Even her own subsequent slightly tongue-tied and wobbly greeting of “Hi,” didn’t manage much to move him.

Not that Sara could talk. She’d been and felt and done much the same when he’d shown up so unexpectedly in Costa Rica a year and a half before. She’d gaped and wondered, more than wondered then if he was real and not a mirage or some manifestation of wishful imagining. Even after he’d caught her up and kissed her she’d still wondered. Wondered for days afterwards. Sometimes still wondered.

So she understood. She really did.

Nevertheless, her husband wasn’t dumbstruck very often and the temptation to rib him about this uncharacteristic behavior of his was just too great for her to ignore.

Consequently, Sara gave him a far too practiced shrug to go with her more mischievous than anything slight purse of the lips before saying, “You know I could always just g–”

Except she never got to complete her thoroughly idle threat. Having finally regained enough presence of mind and control over his recalcitrant limbs, Grissom cut her off with a kiss and then another until there was absolutely no question of how happy he was to see her.

Wanting nothing more than to be near him and those being the sort of kisses that inevitably made her go weak at the knees, Sara held fast and hard to him and he to her. Grissom, worried it might be a little too hard was about to loosen his hold, only to have hers tighten as she rested her head on his shoulder.

“Sara,” he breathed, the welcome, sheer pleasure and affection plain in the simple way he drew out the two syllables of her name.

He closed his eyes and bent to bury his face in the hollow of her neck and breathe in deep the sweetly floral fragrance left behind from the Pré de Provence lavender soap and shampoo she tended to favor whenever she was in France. It was a scent that was and forever would be for him intimately linked with the wash of warmth and life, the feeling of utter contentment he felt whenever she was near.

“Too long,” he murmured with a sigh and Sara readily nodded her agreement. It was always too long.

Their last not nearly long enough long weekend — in the middle of the week no less — they’d been able to steal away just after the end of the Sorbonne’s spring term had been months and far too long ago.

As for the rest of the summer, he hadn’t been able to get away; she hadn’t been able to get away. Which had made it a very long summer indeed.

“How did you manage,” he began, “I thought Langston…”

“A little creative re-scheduling courtesy of Nick and Greg,” she supplied.

“That was nice of them. You’ll have to thank them for me,” he said and meant it.

“Oh, I think they’re going to want more than just a thank you,” Sara laughed. “They mentioned something about me covering every trash run for the rest of the year and picking up a couple of their holiday shifts. And something about us making sure to name our first born after them.

“I told them not to hold their breath on that one.”

Grissom chuckled; beamed brightly at his wife at this.

Having overcome the last vestiges of shock at its unexpected nature, her reluctantly informing him she’d only be able to stay Just until Monday morning, did little to diminish his delight at her presence. He’d gladly take it.

“So,” he said after a while, “you going to start making a habit of this?”

“Showing up unannounced?” queried Sara in return, as the two of them deftly shifted into their usual almost flirtatious repartee. “Dunno. Why? You complaining?”

“Just curious,” he countered with a soft kiss.

“Besides, it’s not as if you get to have the monopoly on surprises, Gil. I just thought since I couldn’t make it for your birthday last month, your un-birthday was as good an occasion as any.”

“My what?”

“Your un-birthday.”

When he persevered in looking perplexed, she added in a mock derisive tone, “And you call yourself well-read. Haven’t brushed up on your Carroll lately?”

“I can’t say that I have.”

“Well, while you only have one birthday every year –”

“Which is plenty.”

Sara chose to ignore this. “Everyone has 364 un-birthdays. 365 during leap years. Which,” she finished with a barely perceptible perfunctory pause, “makes today your 19,686th un-birthday.”

Ostensibly having decided to reserve judgment on whether to be impressed or not until after she’d replied, Grissom asked with a curious cock of the head, “You prepare that calculation in advance or was that just off the top of your head?”

“Just off the top of my head,” she grinned, then whistled, “19,686. Wow, put that way, you’re right. You are getting old.”

“Thanks. A lot.”

“You’re welcome.”

It was then that Grissom gave his wife a long, lingering appraisal. From his bemused expression it was readily obvious that her usually hyper observant husband had been so caught up in the surprise of the moment that he hadn’t registered what she was wearing — and wasn’t.

Her hair still damp and no where neatly tousled from her shower, she stood there barefoot and barelegged, dressed in one of his shirts, and only his shirt.

Fingering one of the three buttons she’d actually done up, he said, “Did I interrupt you getting dressed?”

“No.”

“Have trouble finding something to wear?”

Sara shook her head. “No, no trouble.”

Then reaching up to further ease the already — and in flagrant violation of the French practice of ever being immaculately accoutered — half-loosened the knot in his necktie, she said, “You’re just overdressed for the occasion.”

Both intrigued and amused all at once, he said, “There’s a dress code for un-birthdays?”

With a breathy sort of whisper in his ear, Sara proceeded to enlighten him. And while his eyes went slightly wide at this, he kept his voice as even as ever.

“I see.”

Keenly following his wife upstairs, Grissom was thinking that if this was what celebrating un-birthdays entailed, he was rather rapidly warming to the idea of their being 364 of them a year. Without a doubt, he was going to thoroughly enjoy his 19,687 and 88th ones.

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