41b – The Sixth Impossible Thing

Gil Grissom was the last person on the planet to give advice, particularly advice of a personal nature. But as they say, there is always a first time for everything.

Follows the Notice of Intent, Calling In and Worth More Than a Thousand Words. Takes place several weeks after episode 920, “A Space Oddity,” circa May 2009.

********

For years, ten o’clock in the evening would have found Sara Sidle preparing to leave for work, if she hadn’t been at work for hours already. In the depths of the rain forests of Costa Rica however, the hour signaled the end of the day — Grissom’s occasional nighttime insect specimen collecting operations not withstanding. Despite it having taken a while to get used to, in the end, Sara had found that it had proven to be a nice change.

She was in the process of getting ready for bed when Bernie stopped by the tent she shared with Grissom to give her a heads up before he shut the generator down for the night.

As Costa Rica was so close to the Equator, even in May, the number of hours of light and darkness in any given twenty-four hour period was fairly equal. This meant that while the sun was up everyday before six am, that it was also dark by six pm. Having no other access to electricity, the camp resorted to using a generator in the evenings. Sara wasn’t overly fond of it, as it could be noisy, but had come to regard it as a necessary evil. For once off, the camp would be for the most part dark, for the trees overhead blocked out most of the moon and starlight just as it dimmed the light in the day. And while it didn’t usually take her a full fifteen minutes to wash up and brush her teeth, she preferred rather to be safe than sorry, so she grabbed one of the small battery-powered LED lanterns from the bedside table before picking up her towel and heading toward the communal washing area.

She was surprised to find Grissom still sitting at a worktable seemingly absorbed in something on the laptop screen in front of him. She sighed and shook her head. Even after all these months, there were times when the somewhat slower and less pressured routine at the research station had yet to break him of his tendency to work late.

Some things, Sara rued, never changed.

As she was frequently guilty of this practice herself, she really couldn’t talk. That didn’t mean she didn’t. She just tended to be subtle about it, or at least what she considered to be subtle.

“Bernie’s going to shut the generator down in ten minutes,” she warned him almost in passing, but when Grissom gave no indication of having heard her, Sara stopped. “Gil?” she called softly.

He started.

“You okay?” she asked, placing a hand on his shoulder and giving it a soft squeeze.

He shook his head as if to clear it and said, “Yeah.”

“You sure? Because you’re looking awfully bewildered for ten o’clock.”

“Hmm,” he replied absently.

Not getting any information – let alone any useful information – through the use of subtlety, she decided to go for a more direct approach. “Data not turn out the way you expected?” she asked.

“Message from Catherine,” he supplied.

“Everything -” Sara began, starting to feel worried.

Grissom seemed to sense this. “Everything – everyone’s fine,” he hurriedly added.

“Then why the puzzled look?”

He gestured for her to lean in to read for herself.

There were of course the usual pleasantries.

“It seems you aren’t the only one perpetually behind on your correspondence,” she smiled after reading that nearly a month ago Catherine had received the package that she and Grissom had sent not long after returning from their honeymoon. But the smile turned slightly sad and wistful as she read aloud “Eli’s growing like a weed and looking more and more like Warrick every day.” She gave Grissom’s shoulder another squeeze before continuing. “Sounds like Vegas is still Vegas,” she mused after reading about the latest string of cases. “But none of it seems puzzle worthy.”

Grissom gestured to a section further down.

A few weeks ago, Hodges did something strange. Well, more strange than usual. Wanted to pose a hypothetical.

“That doesn’t sound so strange – even for Hodges,” Sara interjected as Grissom continued to scroll down.

He wanted to know if he needed to report it if he knew of someone in the lab having a relationship, as in a “personal” and “affectionate” relationship – his words not mine. What the repercussions would be and all that. All strictly “hypothetically” of course.

“Strictly ‘hypothetically,’” Sara scoffed bemused. “Like Catherine didn’t see right through that one. That’s almost as transparent a ruse as I have this friend who.”

She paused for a moment to think about what the incident Catherine had described meant. Finally, she intoned, “Hodges and Wendy. I guess it was more than harmless bickering, at least on his end.”

“And hers?” Grissom asked in a way that Sara thought was rather unusually curious for him.

“Well, he does tend to grow on you -”

“Like a fungus. Yeah, I remember.”

“On some more than others, it seems,” Sara grinned. “But then I would imagine that people probably thought the same thing about you — and us.”

She thought he might smile at this, but instead Grissom was eying her intently. “You don’t seem surprised,” he said.

She shrugged. “I am and I’m not. Surprised that he actually went to see Catherine, but not about the why.” Then she returned his gaze. “You had no idea,” she said, starting to understand Grissom’s earlier display of puzzlement.

“Now you don’t sound surprised at all.”

“That you didn’t know? No, not really,” Sara began. “For one, people don’t tend to gossip about such things around you. That and you aren’t always exactly the most socially observant of people, dear.”

He frowned. “Thanks.” And then added sardonically, “Dear.”

Sara merely chuckled softly in response. “You know I just realized it. This makes five.”

“Five?” Grissom asked.

“Remember how the White Queen in Through the Lookingglass told Alice that she often believed in six impossible things before breakfast?”

“Vaguely,” he answered, suddenly not quite sure where the conversation was headed.

“This is the fifth seemingly impossible thing to happen since December,” she explained.

“What were the other four?”

Sara just smiled and ruffled his hair. Before she turned to go, she said, “Gil, I wouldn’t worry about Hodges. He’s an intelligent guy. He’ll figure it out. Or maybe Wendy will figure it out for him.”

Then she leaned in and kissed him. “Don’t stay up too late.”

*******

Grissom remained where she had left him, still lost in thought long after the overhead lights had gone out to leave his laptop to provide the only illumination.

He kept replaying what Sara had said about Hodges’ figuring it out. He hoped she was right. That it wouldn’t take Hodges too long to work out what he wanted to do. Grissom wasn’t quite so certain.

His eyes kept coming to rest where Catherine had typed But I haven’t heard anything about it since.

As loath as he was sometimes to admit it, over the years, Hodges had grown on him. Sure, he could be obnoxious and pesky and downright overeager, annoying and clingy from time to time, but Hodges did have his moments.

Grissom recalled the last conversation the two of them had shared. Hodges had been rather emphatic when he said This job is who we are and earlier when they had been trying to pinpoint the DJK’s territory with Langston, he had be equally adamant in maintaining that This is what we live for.

Neither sentiment set well with Grissom. For they both hit a little too close to home.

For so long, he had thought the same, believed the same, acted the same.

The words he had once spoken to Vincent Lurie all those years ago still rang frightfully true: It’s sad isn’t it, Doc? Guys like us. Couple of middle age men who’ve allowed their work to consume their lives…

How close he had come, not just to loosing Sara – to Adam Trent, to Natalie, to the job, to his own fear and stupidity – but how close, how perilously too close, he had come to never even having in the first place.

Even now, it was still hard not to regard all those years he could have had with her without feeling regret. Regret for all the time lost, regret for all the misunderstandings, regret for the pain he had caused Sara – and himself, all because of his own inability to deal with his feelings, his wants, his own life.

And not nearly enough time had passed to really dull the pain that still lingered in his memories of all those months so not very long ago when he had had to confront the reality of learning to live with Sara gone.

He had been so stupid. Even after the years he had shared with her, he had repeated that same mistake. Only this time, I couldn’t do it became I can’t. Work still took the pot. And he had come too damn close to losing everything because it had taken him too damn long to realize that his job was not his life. That it was never supposed to be the whole sum total and entirety of any person’s life.

He didn’t want Hodges to end up like that, for him to wake up one day to realize that he had never really lived at all. That all he had was his work — and his regrets.

So Grissom clicked on Compose New Message and began to type.

*******

The next afternoon, Sara was beyond happy to have finally finished up the week’s supply requisition and was starting to see why Grissom used to regard paperwork with all the enthusiasm of a person about to have a root canal. But the list was done and finally ready to send out. Of course their Internet connection out here was not always the most reliable, so she clicked on the Sent tab to make sure her message had gone through. Thankfully it had.

She was about to shut down the mail program, when she saw that Grissom had sent out a message late the night before. That wasn’t unusual in and of itself, but whom he sent the message to was. Grissom hadn’t said anything to her about having written to Hodges or even intending to.

She glanced up from the screen. Said Gil Grissom was currently sitting across from her at the wide table diligently at work finalizing the identification on a tray of specimens that had been collected earlier in the day. He had adopted a posture she had seen him take many times over the years: glasses perched at the end of his nose, magnifying lens in one hand as he was intently examining the features of a large Canthidium in order to determine its sex and species. The only thing different, was the glint of the wedding band on his left hand, the sight of which often caused Sara to absently finger her own.

She knew she probably shouldn’t. That the email was private. But her curiosity got the best of her.

Giving him one last furtive look, she clicked the message open and began to read.

It was brief. No more than three lines. But they were pure Grissom and as enigmatic as ever.

Sara peered up at the man who had been her husband for a handful of months, the man she had known and loved for more than a decade. Even after all this time, he was still full of surprises and yet, still utterly himself. She remembered Ana once telling her that that was a good sign – that he could still surprise her, because that meant her life would never be dull.

She smiled. Grissom met her gaze; returned the grin with one of his own soft tender ones she knew he reserved just for her.

Before closing the email window, she reread his message.

Some things in life are puzzles and take a great deal of time and energy to figure out. Others are simple, if only we allow them to be. Be careful not to confuse the two.

Well, that makes six, she thought.

*******

Have a question or want to leave a comment or concern and don’t have a wordpress account? Please feel free to email me at kadhmercer@gmail.com

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. mbonthecorner
    Apr 23, 2009 @ 00:52:03

    Love your work! Keep ’em coming! And thanks for keeping Sara and Gil alive!

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