A few students in Dr. Grissom's Forensic Science and Entomology class talked amongst themselves about the dark-haired woman in the back of the classroom who was silently absorbed in a thick paperback novel.
"I've never seen her here before," one girl whispered to her friends. "I don't think she's a student. Maybe she's a new teacher or something."
"Of course she's not a student, Marcie!" a blonde girl said with a roll of her eyes. "She's way old! I mean, look at her——she's gotta be…like…thirty!"
A short redhead perched on top of the blonde's desk spoke up. "That's Dr. Grissom's wife, you dummies! Her picture's on his desk." She pointed to a small wooden picture frame at the corner of the teacher's desk. "See? Right there. Dr. Grissom, his wife, and their daughter."
"Even if she's as old as thirty, isn't she still kinda young to have a teenage daughter already?" the first girl wondered.
"She probably got married in high school or something," another girl piped up. "My parents did."
"Only 'cause you were already on the way," the blonde stated knowingly.
"Oh shut up," her friend huffed, turning her attention elsewhere.
Some other students threw paper airplanes back and forth, and one young man was writing furiously in his notebook in an attempt to finish the homework he had neglected.
But the class immediately quieted when Dr. Grissom entered. Chaos quickly turned to order as people ceased their talking and dashed for their respective seats.
Grissom twitched an eyebrow as he spotted the beautiful brown-eyed woman sitting in the back row, with the soft chestnut hair and unique gap-toothed smile.
Sara closed her book with a grin and waved her fingers at her husband.
Grissom chuckled to himself as he walked to the front of the room and set a slim briefcase on his desk.
"Good afternoon, everyone," he greeted the class with a smile.
A handful of students returned the greeting as everyone pulled out their textbooks and notebooks, ready for the afternoon's agenda.
Sara was impressed with how smoothly Grissom instructed his students, and how quick and eager they were to learn.
They all seemed to absorb the material quite competently, but if someone didn't understand something, Grissom would patiently explain it in simpler terms until they did understand.
Sara was proud of her bugman.
Occasionally, Grissom would ask a trick question that nobody raised their hand to answer. The first time it happened, Sara smirked to herself and couldn't help putting her hand up.
Grissom resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "Yes, you in the back," he called, feigning ignorance of her identity.
In one collective movement, everyone turned around to look.
Ignoring the inquisitive stares of Grissom's twenty students, Sara smartly gave the correct answer and explained why it was a trick question.
Grissom threw her a smile. He was proud of his sneaky Sara.
He called on her a few more times throughout the class, but only when no one else offered an answer.
Seemingly all too soon, the bell sounded and class was over. Students loudly shuffled papers and books and backpacks, but not a single one dared leave the room without Dr. Grissom dismissing them first.
"I want you to read pages two-forty through two-fifty-three in your textbooks this weekend, and we will discuss those pages on Monday," Grissom told the class. "Thank you and have a good weekend."
Everyone made a mad dash for the door, talking in a jumble of loudness again now that they were free to do so.
Grissom tossed a few things in his briefcase and sauntered over to Sara, helping her up from the cramped student desk.
Sara normally would have ignored his helping hand and easily slid off the seat herself. But due to her growing middle encumbering her movements lately, she was coming to appreciate her husband's thoughtful (even if a little overbearing) attentiveness.
Sara's pregnancy had been an unplanned surprise to them all, but was quickly welcomed with happy anticipation by each of them. She was now on a long maternity leave, after finding it difficult to complete any part of her job without either becoming sick from the usually ignored smells in the lab and at scenes, or being in potential danger from something or someone. It was just easier and better to take a break from it all for a while.
"What are you doing here?" Grissom asked, sliding an arm around her and leaning down for a kiss. "I thought you'd be taking your customary nap this afternoon."
"Word on the street is there's a good-looking forensics professor at this university," Sara answered with a wink. She patted her rounded middle and added, "Emily and I thought we'd come and see for ourselves."
"Word on the street, huh? You sound like Greg."
Sara shrugged, grinning widely.
"Well, if I see any 'good-looking forensics professors' around, I'll be sure to send them your way," Grissom teased back. "But I'm afraid the only professor in this classroom is the old man you married."
Sara put her arms up around his neck and kissed him deeply. "You're not old, Griss," she said seriously. "And you are awfully cute."
Her kiss had an odd but familiar flavor. After the second one, Grissom pulled back slightly to look her in the eye. "Have you been dipping your broccoli into chocolate syrup again?" he asked suspiciously.
Sara nodded with a guilty smile.
"Honey, that's gross," Grissom laughed.
"It's not my fault! This kid of yours is making me crave really disgusting things." She unwrapped a peppermint candy disc and popped it into her mouth. "Like those barbequed ribs you made last night. Nasty."
"Well for their being so disgusting, you sure enjoyed eating them," Grissom retorted good-naturedly as he followed Sara out of the classroom and locked the door behind him. "Just wait till everyone in Vegas knows that Sara the Vegetarian ate meat," he added with a wink.
Sara laughed at him. "Right. And then I'll make sure everyone knows that Dr. Grissom the insect-lover squished a bug."
"That was an accident," he defended himself with a little pout. "I didn't see Fred on the floor until it was too late. My poor Castiarina Erythroptera."
Sara patted his arm sympathetically. "It was a quick death——I'm sure Fred didn't suffer."
"How did you get here, anyway?" Grissom questioned, changing the subject. "Your car's still in the shop, and I know you didn't walk your beautiful self all the way here in your condition."
"Catherine dropped me off. She came over at noon and helped me finish that wallpaper in the nursery," Sara answered, linking her arm with his as they strolled side by side through the deserted hallways. "We made good time, too. Got here just about ten minutes before your last class started."
Grissom looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "You know, I'm still surprised that Catherine forgave us as easily as she did, for not inviting her to our wedding."
"I'm pretty sure the fact that she got your job as supervisor helped a little with that," Sara answered matter-of-factly. At the broaching of that subject, Sara peered at Grissom just a little bit unsurely and asked, "Are you never sorry you gave up your old life?"
Grissom stopped walking and turned to look at her. "Are you kidding? I have a good job here, Sara, and I really enjoy it. But most importantly, I've got a beautiful and brilliant wife, a great adopted daughter, and another little baby girl on the way." He wrapped both arms around Sara and kissed her soundly. "You are my life now. Honey...what I've got, I wouldn't trade for anything in the world."
Sara gazed up at him with adoring brown eyes. "Aww...I love you."
"And I love you." Grissom brushed away a spontaneous tear that had escaped Sara's eyes. "Hormones, and all."
Sara gave him a mock punch on the shoulder, but threaded her arm through his again with a smile.
As they resumed their walk to the parking lot, she lightly bumped her hip against Grissom's and teased, "You know, I couldn't help noticing how many young, pretty girls are in your class."
"Really?" Grissom responded with a smile. "Hmm. The only pretty girl I noticed was the one in the back who kept raising her hand to show everyone how smart she is."
Sara gave him a shameless grin. "Just trying to be your star pupil."
"Here she comes," Sara pointed from her perch against the car's front fender. They both waved to Katie as she crossed the schoolyard and headed for the parking lot.
"Hey!" Katie said happily as she approached her parents, brandishing a white envelope. "I got a report card today."
"And judging by the grin on your face, I'd say it's really good news," Grissom said warmly.
"You bet!" Katie pulled a sheet of paper out of the envelope and held it up for both adults to see. "All A's! Well...except for gym class, cause I'm not that good at sports. But other than that B, I got all A's!"
"That's my girl," Grissom replied proudly. He gently tugged one of Katie's dark curls and pulled her into a fatherly hug. Then he released her into Sara's waiting arms.
"We're so proud of you, honey." Sara beamed with delight as she wrapped her arms around the young girl.
Katie hugged back, firmly but carefully so as not to hurt the baby at all. "Oooh!" she giggled, pulling back from Sara's middle. "Emily kicked me."
"She wants to join the fun," Sara chuckled, patting the spot the baby had kicked.
"Sorry, sweetie," Katie said to her unborn sister. "You gotta wait just a few more weeks."
Ever the helpful daughter, she held open Sara's door to the car as Grissom helped Sara squeeze gingerly inside.
Then Grissom slid behind the steering wheel while Katie hopped into the back seat.
"Your Aunt Cath and I got the nursery walls papered today," Sara told Katie. "Maybe you and I can bribe your dad into taking us shopping again tomorrow," she added with a sweet smile for Grissom.
A wide grin spread across Grissom's face——his usual reaction of late whenever he was referred to as a father and a husband. Eight months had passed now since his wedding day, and he was still on that figurative Cloud Nine. He was a hundred percent in love with his wife, and wasn't afraid to show it anymore.
In stark contrast with the lonely years before, Gil Grissom's life now held a phenomenal feeling of love and belonging, and he blissfully cherished every second of it.
"Shopping sounds like fun," he immediately agreed to Sara's suggestion. Not because he liked shopping (he really didn't), but because it gave him an excuse to show off his family to the world.
"Awesome!" Katie answered enthusiastically. As a 'big-sister-to-be', Katie had been given the honor of choosing the nursery's decor. To Sara's initial dismay and Grissom's pleased amusement, Katie had chosen a theme of bugs.
Grissom and Katie shared a strange love for insects, and he seemed to encourage it every chance he got. Now he was getting an early start introducing them to Emily, too.
Sara didn't really mind anymore. She figured any kid of Grissom's would probably love bugs anyway, no matter what she had to say about them. But if nothing else, she would at least make sure the house had plenty of butterflies and dragonflies to balance out the spiders on that weird new wallpaper in the baby's room.
With thoughts of her growing family in her head, Sara turned partially sideways in her seat to look at her husband as they headed home.
Grissom eyed the smile on her face. "What?" he asked curiously.
The smile remained as Sara shook her head. "Nothing." Fading sunlight bounced off her wedding band as her hand lifted to brush lovingly through the salt-and-pepper curls at the back of Grissom's neck. "Just wondering if anybody has a right to be this happy."
Keeping one hand on the steering wheel, Grissom's other hand gently caught hold of Sara's fingers. He pressed a kiss to the soft skin on her knuckles, then slipped his fingers between hers. "Funny, I was wondering the same thing."
Katie watched Grissom and Sara with a tear of happiness in her eye, her heart bursting with joy at the knowledge that her once-naïve childhood dreams had finally come true. She now had a mom and dad that she really belonged to, and her new baby sister would be born in a few short weeks.
In Katie's eyes, life was perfect.
Now if she could just convince her parents to get a dog...