65 – Everyday

Some people grow on you – like fungus. And even fungus can use a bit of encouragement from time to time.

On her way out of the lab for the night, Sara pops in for a quick word with Hodges.

Takes place post episode 1107 “Bump and Grind,” circa November 2010.

“Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place,”
Zora Neale Hurston


Sara was actually looking forward to having the rest of the night off if only that it meant she’d be able to have a real shower at last. The no heat, stinks of feet lab facilities just didn’t cut it when it came to yuck.

But she hadn’t even made it past Trace when the phone at her hip buzzed with a new text. Normally, this would engender a resigned sort of sigh as she digested the details of her latest page on her way back to the locker room to drop off her bag.

But not tonight.

She did still sigh, also shook her head, even rolled her eyes a bit at her husband’s: I know you’re still at work.

Not that she needed to ask how he knew this. Grissom had always had a sixth sense about such things in the first place, and these days all he had to do was pick up his phone to confirm his suspicions. Sara was starting to rue having given him that new iPhone for his birthday. That and her habit of leaving her locator service on.

But she couldn’t help but smile at his next line: You ever coming home?

Noting the time, she thought about texting What are you doing up at this hour? in reply. Instead ruing the sad fact that sarcasm didn’t translate over smartphone, she typed, Am literally on my way out the door now, dear, before replacing her phone in its case.

Chuckling to herself, she resumed her trek down the hall until the sight of David Hodges donning his ever-ubiquitous white lab coat waylaid her.

Apparently with his man date with Greg put on hold, at least for that night, the Trace tech had opted for putting in a few more hours at the office rather than heading home.

Not that this came as all that much of a surprise. Hodges, who for most of the years Sara had known him had absolutely abhorred working overtime, had been pulling far more than his share of long hours these days. Heck, he was even clamoring to volunteer for field duty, a task she very distinctly remembered him previously regarding as both loathsome and beneath him. To say that things had changed, that he had changed since the start of the summer was an understatement.

And while his preparations lacked for none of their usual thorough rigor, it was obvious that his heart really wasn’t in it. Sara rather had the feeling that at the moment his heart was likely a thousand miles away. For as quietly morose as he looked — and far more than the disappointment of any aborted plans warranted — he plainly had one thing on his mind: Wendy.

Sara knew how that went. She’d meant what she’d told him earlier. Her I get that hadn’t been some idle attempt at empty commiseration. She did understand. Probably better than he could have imagined.

She’d certainly she’d used work as an excuse not to have to deal with her problems. She’d gladly pulled doubles and triples, maxed out on her overtime every month not only to keep her mind occupied but also because she knew if she worked herself to the point of exhaustion, the nightmares weren’t so bad. But that she knew now was no real way to live.

Sara knew, too, how it was to be so stuck in your own head, to be so wrapped up in your own hurt and regrets that you can’t see or feel or think about anything else. It had been like that after that night out in the desert, when the work got to be too much, when every thing had gotten to be too much, when she’d honestly begun to dread Ecklie’s pronouncements about her being a loose canon would come true, feared that she would self-destruct and worst of all Grissom would be around to see it. She’d been so stuck in her own pain, so busy attempting to fight off her own ghosts and demons alone that she couldn’t see anything beyond it.

All of which ultimately left her so terrified that if she stayed she’d screw it all up, that she’d end up destroying the only home she’d ever really known and then not even possess the comfort of knowing such a place existed. So she’d made what had felt like the necessary choice. Even if it hadn’t been the right one.

Takes a while for the fog to clear, indeed.

It did. Took a while to know and understand and decide what you wanted and needed to do. To learn as she’d just told Langston that while some scars really did heal quicker — and slower — than others, she actually had the choice, she could decide what she did and didn’t allow to define her life, define herself.

And it almost took too long.

She’d come so close to losing it all. Too close, she really had, to missing this life she’d never even dared to dream of possessing.

As for Hodges, so much for the possibility of him having taken Grissom’s advice. But then matters of the heart seldom ever proved simple.

After the note she and Grissom had received while in Costa Rica from Catherine briefly detailing among a great many other things, what Catherine had regarded as a strange discussion between herself and the lab tech about whether or not he needed to report someone in the lab having a personal and affectionate relationship, all purely hypothetical of course, Sara had expected to find some sort of change in the Wendy/Hodges status quo when she returned to Vegas.

But no.

Although if Hodges were anything like her husband — and sometimes the uncanny resemblance, particularly when it came to certain things, was definitely disconcerting — she knew it would take more than a gentle bit of prodding. Sara doubted that even obvious and direct would have done much good. Just as with Grissom, you could try and talk to him until you were blue in the face, but unless he realized it for himself it wouldn’t matter. Hodges had to work out his feelings on his own and in his own time. She just figured he would eventually. Or at least she hoped he would.

And there had been something strange that she hadn’t quite been able to put her finger on when she’d gotten back from visiting Grissom in Europe the April before only to find Hodges gone, temporarily suspended. Especially as the next time she’d seen him he’d looked way too content and pleased with himself for a man who’d been given a stint of involuntary administrative leave.

Hence Sara had been surprised, stunned even to hear about Wendy taking a field job in Portland. From the shell-shocked way Hodges had wandered around for the better part of a week after that, she hadn’t been the only one.

Perhaps it really was possible to be too late.

Hodges subsequent unhappiness hadn’t exactly escaped her notice either. Or concern. For while the two of them weren’t exactly friends per se, after working together for the better part of six years, he’d grown on her. Like fungus, she’d often laughed to Grissom. He’d grown on Grissom too, who was likewise concerned, but mostly kept his own counsel on the matter, something Sara understood. She didn’t much believe in meddling. Wasn’t any good at it anyway.

And thinking that circumstances being what they were, and the parallels perhaps a little too close for comfort all things considered, she was probably one of the last people he’d want to see or talk to, Sara had mostly given Hodges a wide berth ever since Wendy left.

Albeit there had been far more to it than just that. And Sara knew it. There’d been her guilt too, which had nothing to do with Wendy, but her own wondering if Grissom had gone through much the same after she had left. From what Catherine had once confessed to her, it sounded like it had been worse. Much worse. And it was certainly hard enough watching Hodges try to cope these days.

What Sara did know for absolute certainty was Tennyson was full of crap. Better to have loved and lost… was pure bullshit.

So she thought it a good idea — a very good idea — Hodges meeting up with Greg, getting out and away from it all, if only for a little while.

Then with a soft, fond sort of smile, she recalled Grissom having one time bemusedly recounted to her the instance when Hodges had attempted to ask him out, as her husband had termed it. But he had been too lost and hurting at the time to be able to recognize Hodges’ offer to go to a lecture together for what it was — an act of friendship. While the effort had failed, both Grissom and Sara readily acknowledged that Hodges’ heart had been in the right place.

The least Sara could do now was to stop in to see if he was okay. That wasn’t meddling. She was simply concerned was all and there was nothing wrong with that.

The actual questions You okay? or How are you doing? usually proving futile in prompting any more real or honest an answer than Fine, Sara chose instead to pop her head and attempting to keep it light ask, “All that field work put you behind?”

Causing Hodges to start slightly. Although his, “Just getting a head start,” came out nonchalant enough.

Casually leaning against the doorframe, Sara observed, “You did good out there,” and meant it.

Hodges snorted slightly, “You mean not bad for a lab rat.”

“No, not bad for a lab rat,” she agreed. There hadn’t even been any of the expected whining she’d heard so much about. “But,” she countered with a grin, “you didn’t get stuck with yuck.”

Hodges couldn’t quite dispute the truth in this and didn’t bother to try.

“So, this mean you’re tempted to come join us on the dark side?” asked Sara.

He gave her a rather noncommittal shrug by way of reply and returned his attention to the sample he’d placed under the scope.

In the somewhat awkward momentary silence that followed as she both tried and failed to find the right way to put her worry into words, Sara wondered where was her husband’s seemingly inexhaustible storehouse of quotations now when she really needed it.

Except Hodges beat her to the punch with a question of his own.

“You miss him?”

The him going as it always did without saying, Sara smiled and said, “Every day.”

She expected his next question to be the inevitable Why? Why she did it, why they did it, why they chose to live as they did, to spend so much time apart.

Ultimately it all was a simple matter of practicality. With the economy what it was and there being even more applicants for even less funding and their grant application moving at the speed of bureaucracy (meaning not at all) after the better part of a year, no news had long ceased to be good news.

Besides, it wasn’t like they hadn’t spent plenty of time apart. Truth was if you stopped to do the math, in the nearly six years they’d been together as a couple, they’d spent as much time physically apart as they had physically together.

It still sucked all the same. The phone calls, emails, texts helped. Her trips back too. Wasn’t enough, was never even near enough, but they were something.

And yet it was a very different sort of separation this time. There was still the missing and the loneliness, but both were tempered by a sense of surety and possession. In some ways their contradictory apartness and togetherness was as much a paradox as so much of their relationship had always been.

What Sara hadn’t expected was how much actually being married changed things. She’d never thought it would really matter, at least not this much, but it did.

But what she’d also discovered was that marriage was far more a state of the heart and mind than of geography.

Maybe everyone else didn’t understand it. Sometimes, she didn’t always understand it herself, and yet, things really were as she’d told Greg the winter before, So far so good. Better than good actually. Even with all their time apart, it was a good life. A precious life.

Sara had been about to tell Hodges this, or at least some part of it, except he seemed to have an entirely different question in mind.

“How do you do it?” he asked.

There were those calls, emails, texts, occasional FaceTime chats, those all too brief and infrequent visits, but in reality, it all boiled down to one thing:

“You just do,” she said.

Hodges took a deep breath as if steeling himself for his next query, the answer to which was the one it seemed he most wanted to know.

“Does it get any easier?”

Yes, would have been the humane answer, the comforting, reassuring one. The polite and politic answer. Sara settled on honesty.

“No,” she replied.

Then swiftly added with a soft sort of smile, “But that’s not always a bad thing. You know what they say, well Grissom does anyway,” she amended, her grin ever growing, before finishing, “‘L’absence diminue les médiocres passions et augmente les grandes, comme le vent éteint les bougies et allume le feu,’” in a fluid sort of French that only comes from having heard a phrase much repeated.

“‘Absence diminishes commonplace passions and enhances the great ones, as wind extinguishes candles and kindles fire,’” she translated, “François de La Rochefoucauld.”

Then with a spouse’s equal measure of pride and disgust she supplied, “He’s graduated to French literature, in French,” by way of explanation and was pleased to see Hodges actually crack a smile of his own at this.

Her phone gave another impatient buzz. Sara glanced down to read the message, Literally out the door, Sara?

“Speak of the devil,” she chuckled. So much for patience being one of her husband’s virtues, at least today. “I’d better take this.”

Hodges nodded, looking slightly cheered, though a bit more pensive than he had before she’d stopped in. But Sara wasn’t so sure that was a bad thing either.

She wished him a good night and despite how hypocritical the warning might be, caution him not to work late before pausing as she turned to go to say, “Oh and Hodges, next time you get yuck.”

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. grissomsgirl72
    Jan 03, 2011 @ 13:19:15

    OMG you never cease to amaze me with your writing…the feeling that Sara and Gil together are complete and that she in some way now understands Hodges so much better with the loss of Wendy…is just fantastic…I just wish they’d let Grissom come home and get a job an UNLV it would make life so much more believable…Great Job! I still can’t learn to post here…oh well!

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