64 – What’s in a Name, or Terms of Endearment

Did Sara really have it right with Nick? Was it Grissom who wouldn’t have appreciated being called Gil, or is it actually Sara who does?

Takes place post episode 1104 “Blood Moon,” circa October 2010


“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare


Finally stepping into the quiet of her and Grissom’s condo, Sara was beyond happy to at last be able to shut the door on the rest of Vegas, if only for a little while.

For there was comfort here. Comfort in the simplest of things: the clattering of her keys in the bowl, the freedom to shuck off her shoes and pad through the place in her stocking feet, being able to drop her bag into a chair on her way downstairs, even in how the last of the late afternoon light still streamed bright and warm through the large windows.

Ever since she’d returned to Sin City the year before, their place had frequently been a much-welcomed oasis of normality in a very abnormal world.

Although in truth, werewolves and vampires weren’t all that weird for Vegas. Weren’t weird at all actually.

And Michael Wilson’s gruesome murder even less so. Simple really, when it came down to the whys of it.

Love and hate were very much the same, even clothed as they’d been in something more suited to Stoker than The Strip.

A very thin line, indeed.

As for the unholy alliance which had brought about Wilson’s death, Sara could, as she flipped on the faucet to refill the empty tea kettle, almost hear her husband sagely intone, “‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend,’” and shook her head at this, amused as she always was, well almost always was, by Grissom’s offhanded profundity.

Grissom –

Her slight smile soon turned to a mental eye-roll, recalling as she did so, her earlier exchange with Nick out at Mt. Charleston.

When Sara did stop to consider it, Nick probably did have a point. More than probably if she were being completely honest. Not that she would ever tell him that.

Her comment on crossword clues and Transylvania did sound like pure Grissom.

Not that that was necessarily a bad thing. Not a bad thing at all.

Nor the first time it had happened either.

That she’d begun seriously channeling her husband, or more precisely had begun to adopt not only his love of the arcane and obscure, but also the sharing of it on a fairly regular basis, hadn’t entirely escaped her attention.

It certainly hadn’t her colleagues, this very different side to Sara, even if they were more prone to chuckling and remarking on the tendency behind her back than hazarding to call her on the habit. Although there had been that incident during the summer when after a particularly egregious display of this, Greg had been brave enough to bemoan that she’d been spending way too much time around Grissom. The comment had if truth be told, more flattered than vexed her.

Not that Grissom hadn’t noticed it, too, despite how little time they’d had of late together on the same continent, let alone in the same house. Like the others, at first, he’d been bemused, then amused by it. Sara wasn’t to know this of course. Enjoying the phenomenon way too much to want her to stop, her husband knew better than to say anything on the subject.

As for Sara, it was her opinion that if spouses naturally began to resemble each other over time, as they were reputed to do, there were far worse quirks and proclivities of Grissom’s that she could have picked up.

Although admittedly the behavior did much to detract from the assertion she’d once laughingly given as to why she’d opted not to go by Sara Grissom after her marriage: that there having been one Grissom in the lab already had been more than plenty.

In any case, it wasn’t as if she hadn’t been called Grissom before. Just under different circumstances.

She’d resigned herself long ago to being called Mme Grissom whenever she was in Paris. French naming conventions what they were, attempting to correct her husband’s Sorbonne colleagues was the very definition of une cause perdue.

Hell, she’d even joked to Brass about being Mrs. Grissom.

So it hadn’t been Nicky’s rather apt and probably well-deserved comparison that had vexed or caught her off guard. It was rather his calling Grissom Gil that had if not rankled, then chaffed a bit.

As she set about retrieving a box of tea from the pantry and all the rest of the accoutrements for its preparation, Sara knew if she was being frank about the whole Gil thing, she’d over simplified. A lot.

Truth be told, Grissom wasn’t the one who wouldn’t have appreciated being called Gil. After all this time he probably wouldn’t have minded.

She was the one who minded.

Silly really, it being Grissom’s name.

It wasn’t that Sara was prone to fits of irrational jealousy or possessiveness. Or at least she didn’t think she was. But she couldn’t deny that when he’d first come to Costa Rica she’d objected, and heartily too, that there was no way a bunch of near strangers were going to get to call him Gil, not after she had to wait seven years for that privilege.

And sure, she’d heard other people call him by his first name. Or try to. Nick probably had at some point over the years and she couldn’t remember ever hearing Grissom complain about it. But mostly, few people regularly did.

He was Grissom, just Grissom.

Exactly as he’d corrected her when she’d addressed him as Dr. Grissom after that lecture of his at The Forensic Academy Conference.

And so he’d been just Grissom for those next seven years, until that night he’d invited her to dinner at his old townhouse and gently suggested that perhaps she might call him Gil, at least in private. Of course as he’d been nuzzling her neck at the time, Sara had been more than a little distracted by the warmth of his breath and lips on her skin.

Ultimately, the request proved far easier said than done.

As a sort of compromise — the name, on top of the whole relationship thing still being new and taking a bit of getting used to — she’d taken to call him Gris upon occasion, like the guys sometimes did, albeit with far more affection. And while Grissom had once told her he’d never really been fond of the nickname until she started using it and that he actually did like it when she did, there was no room for misinterpretation when she called him Gil.

But mostly he was still Grissom at work. That hadn’t stopped. Even now, when she spoke of him to anyone else he was Grissom. Marriage for all that it was couldn’t quite change more than twelve years of habit.

Besides, there really were some things best kept private.

Perhaps, she reasoned as she withdrew the whistling kettle from the stove, that was why she’d been almost tart with Nick. Because between them, Grissom’s first name had been as personal, private and intimate as any endearment.

Absently bobbing her tea bag in her steaming cup, Sara recalled the first time she’d done so, called him Gil and not to get his attention or during lovemaking, but as if it were the most natural, ordinary, everyday thing in the world for her to do.

Grissom’s reaction had proven enthusiastic to say the least.

There had been tea then, too. Iced probably, as even late September could be scalding. Unlike most places, Labor Day didn’t signal the end of summer in Vegas. Or at least not the end of summer madness.

She’d just come off a nasty multiple and only barely gotten home, both work and her stop at a new Thai place which had just opened off Industrial having taken far longer than she expected. And while the ever resolute knock on her door signaling Grissom’s arrival hadn’t been unexpected, as she’d been still a little sweaty and sticky, she’d been on her way to jump in the shower.

Which explained why she answered the door in her robe.

Something that seemed to warrant an explanation, if the nonplussed way Grissom had initially regarded her choice of attire was any indication. Not that he hadn’t upon more than a few occasions as of late seen her in far less.

“I really need to get you that key,” said Sara with a welcoming grin, moving aside so he could enter. “Tea?” she offered, going to pull the pitcher from the fridge.

With it a sweltering 90 degrees out, it was hot and Grissom was starting to look it.

“Please,” he replied, and with all the ease and familiarity of one who regularly or at least as regularly as one could with their schedules did so, retrieved a pair of tall, oversized tumblers from the cabinet. As Sara poured tea over generous measures of ice, Grissom suggested, “Why don’t you go have that shower?”

Her nose wrinkled. “The smell that bad?”

While his expression plainly indicated that was the last thing he was thinking, he gave her a puzzled yet no less insistent, “No, dear. But,” he said taking the proffered glass, “I am capable of amusing myself for a little while.”

“I can wait until after dinner,” she assured him.

Taking stock of the as yet unpacked, plastic wrapped brown paper bags on the counter, Grissom grinned, “Your specialty I see.”


He shook his head. “Not at all.”

The long, hard case certainly hadn’t left him in a cooking mood.

What exactly the two of them had discussed as they pulled down plates, extracted silverware and unearthed the usual condiments from the depths of her fridge, Sara couldn’t remember. Maybe work, the case. Maybe the relief of finally being able to put that nasty multiple to bed.  Or more likely, nothing in particular at all. Just one of those not all that monumentally important conversations which make up so much of real life. It didn’t really matter, particularly after what happened next.

Sara did however remember pausing at the sound of her name and turning to register that somehow Grissom had crossed the narrow expanse of her kitchen quicker than she would have thought possible. But before she could express her surprise, say anything at all, he caught her up, his mouth on hers in a kiss far more heady and unrestrained than she was used to from him. It practically curled her toes.

And when they eventually broke apart, he didn’t look the least bit abashed at this sudden loss of abandon. In fact, his eyes and face were alight in ways Sara had never seen them except with her and the two of them alone together. She’d been about to ask what had so suddenly come over him, but he cut off her question with one of his own.

“May I?” he asked, his fingers hovering just above the knot of her robe.

Sara smiled. “You don’t have to ask.”

She never did make it to the shower after that. At least not then. And the takeout was long cold before either of them eventually remembered it.

Except it hadn’t been her answering the door in her robe, what Sara had originally thought might have precipitated that kiss and what happened after. Not that at all.

Only later, when they’d been curled up in bed together did Grissom readily confess the truth, simple as it was. It had been the simple act of her calling him by his first name. For while Sara hadn’t even realized she’d done it, Grissom had.

Apparently, it had slipped out, unpremeditated, easy, spontaneous, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for her to call him Gil.

Perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a big deal. But for her at the time and for quite some time afterwards, calling him Gil felt far stranger than any of the other intimacies they’d begun to share.

Grissom might call her dear or honey on occasion, although with the latter, Sara doubted he realized it most of the time. She rather liked both. Yet another thing she hadn’t thought she would. For some reason, the words didn’t sound so vapid, saccharine or sentimental when he used them.

Dear she would herself do from time to time, but it was frequently more of a tease than an endearment. And while babe might be okay for a guy like Hank, it certainly didn’t suit Grissom in the least. Pet names in general didn’t really either, as he somehow naturally seemed to repel them.

But Sara never actually felt the need for another name. Gil seemed intimate enough. For both of them.

Even now his eyes still lit up.

That hadn’t kept the two of them from laughing first about the strangeness of Grissom’s use of Italian vezzeggiativi, then later, the French penchant for les petits nom d’amoureux.

The two of them had been cuddled up together then too, recently woken from an afternoon nap, warm and snug and still a little damp and feeling far too cozy after having been stuck out in one of Rome’s customary spring rain showers, to surrender to lure and wonders just outside their door quite yet.

Besides, as Rome hadn’t been built in a day, there was certainly no way it could be seen in one. It was pointless to try.

And both were more than content just to enjoy the time they had together.

While he’d called her cara mia then, my dear, not as empty flattery but as genuine and honest as he ever was, still Sara teased that the sole reason her husband had attempted to learn Italian was to flirt with her.

This did nothing to deter him from adding, “Amore mia,” my love. Then, “Cuore mia,” my heart.

“You are,” he insisted in earnest.

She smiled and kissed him, before saying both playful and serious at once, “You have mine. You better be careful with it.”

And he’d replied as solemn as any vow, “Always.”

Then he returned her kiss, brushing her mess of wet hair back behind her ear before reciting,

“‘i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)’”

“E.e. cummings,” he supplied once done.

Sara laughed, “Finally graduated to 20th Century American poetry, I see.”

Which hadn’t exactly come as a surprise. If the titles on the bookshelves were any indication, the previous tenants of their university supplied Quartier Latin apartment apparently tended to favor literatures of the more modern and post modern varieties. Besides, what else was there to do in the evenings? La télévision française was even worse than that of the American variety. And despite the huge strides he’d been making over the last year and a half towards being better in company, Sara knew Grissom, liking his peace and quiet as he always did and had, still far preferred his own.

So his shrugged reply of “It passes the time,” hadn’t been all that unexpected. The wistfulness in his subsequent, “Until you’re here again,” however was.

What Sara didn’t know, as he didn’t tell her and never had, was that he frequently tended to indulge in poetry when missing her. The missing might not have been what it was that first winter after she’d left Vegas, but the verse helped all the same.

Still Sara supposed that cara mia or cuore mia were fairly tame as far as pet names went and had told him so. Unlike the French, who seemed to have a peculiar penchant for l’hypocoristique, the more bizarre and outlandish the better.

That afternoon they’d swapped in chuckling whispers a few of the most absurd ones they could remember.

In all fairness, perhaps they did sound better en français, those terms of endearment. Admittedly mon canard, mon cochon, mon coco, ma cocotte and mon lapin, weren’t that bad really, being ‘my duck,’ ‘my pig,’ ‘my egg,’ ‘my hen’ and ‘my rabbit’ respectively. But neither of them were sure how ma crotte, ‘my droppings,’ was a compliment in any language. And bug lover as Grissom — and Sara too for that matter — was, ma puce, ‘my flea,’ was just a little too weird.

She shook her head even now about it.

Yeah, Gil would do just fine.

Gilbert, however, was another story altogether.

She was still chuckling over this when her phone chirped. Her smile only broadened at the caller ID.

GRISSOM, it read.

Some habits really did die hard.



A/N: Of course technology and spouses don’t always mix well… For some inexplicable reason, my husband has decided it’s the height of all humor for his cell phone to intone in that weird, inflectionless mechanical voice that it comes standard with Ball and chain anytime I ring him. And he wonders why I only use my phone for texting.


To read more about Grissom and Sara’s quiet afternoon in Rome, check out Chapter Fourteen: Caesura in The Incidental Tourists.

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