She closed the door, locking it behind her and threw her keys on the same small table as always. Then Sara stood and looked around her apartment. The first thing that struck her was the silence. He usually made it back to whichever place they'd decided to stay first and there was almost always music when she opened the door.
Light. A small bulb over the oven she had left on this morning was the only light in the apartment. She swallowed hard. He didn't usually have much light on anyway, but she could always find him near the warm glow of some light, reading or cooking or working a puzzle. Tonight's light lacked warmth.
It occurred to her as she shrugged out of her jacket that she should have planned ahead. Having something to do tonight would have stopped her from having all this time to notice things.
There was one message on her machine, she hit the button and his voice filled all the empty spaces, "Sara, ah, I'm on the plane and I just wanted to ah, to say…" she deleted the message. Anything he could have said he should have said sooner.
Tucking her hair behind her ear Sara sat on the sofa and sorted through her mail. Envelope after envelope shuffled in front of her but all she saw was his silver hair curling at his neck as his back moved further and further away from her. A long breath slipped out but if felt like a long cry. Abandoning the mail for the kitchen she grabbed a beer and threw away the leftover takeout curry from the fridge. He had ordered it last night, acting as though it were just another night in, as though there were nothing else going on.
She stripped off her clothes as she walked to the bedroom. Standing in front of her dresser she pressed the cold beer bottle to her suddenly flushed cheek. When her eyes closed again she could hear his voice before he gave up, "I'll miss you."
It was like a script. Her line was "I'll miss you too." But she couldn't deliver it. Not because it wasn't true, but because he needed her to say it so badly. "How does it feel?" she asked her reflection in the mirror. "Huh Gris? How many times have I stood there in front of you and laid myself bare and asked you to admit how you felt and been met with nothing but polite acknowledgement? It was your turn."
She had started out strong but her throat caught at the part about it being his turn.
She grabbed sweatpants from the bottom drawer pulled them on, a tee shirt next and then she sat on the bed. Her hand rested next to her on something small and hard. The tie pin was a small magnifying glass with a bug beneath it, a gift she had given him long ago. Before. He wore it frequently when giving talks and somehow it always made her feel good, how much it had pleased him.
She ran her fingers over it now and thought about him this morning. He had been packed for awhile but was gathering a few of the things he kept at her place. He asked her about the tie pin because he'd left it in her jewelry box when he'd spent the night after a court date. She had thrown it to him, not at him, but still, she hadn't crossed the room to hand it to him like she would have done otherwise. He must have left it on the bed when he came to wrap his arms around her and kiss her neck.
She touched her neck with the memory replaying. She'd allowed him to kiss her neck, smooth her hair but hadn't melted into him in the way he'd come to expect.
Less than a week ago she had been blindsided by the news that he was leaving.
"I'm taking a job in Massachusetts."
This is how he chose to tell her. The shock must have registered on her face because he qualified it pretty quickly, "A temporary job, just for a month. Teaching."
No conversation about her going with him, no conversation at all. Just, I'm going, bye. She tried to shake that off, to remind herself that this is the way he had doing things his entire life. He wasn't used to sharing the decision making, of being part of a couple, and so she could forgive him his abrupt announcement. It was what followed that drove her to where she was now.
She had agreed that a sabbatical might be good for him, had said that lately he had seemed tired and burned out.
His response had been the following, "Lately my world has gotten too close. I don't know what I want anymore Sara."
This was how he left it. How could she possibly respond to that? Did he mean work? But work had always been his life, so it couldn't be what was taking away his space. Was she smothering him? It was impossible to tell. He was so difficult to read sometimes. If she presumed that they'd be getting together when they were both off he could feel as though she never gave him time alone but if she made other plans he'd feel like she didn't want to be with him.
Every minute with Grissom was a puzzle in itself and most days she enjoyed figuring it out, but then, "I don't know what I want anymore."
She did the only thing she could do, she told him that he should go to Massachusetts and see if time away from Vegas made anything more clear. She kept her advice as vague as he'd kept his doubts. Since then she'd watched him make all the necessary arrangements and plans. He never chose to speak again about the emotional side of his journey but instead would become engrossed in sharing with her the mundane details of what he would be teaching or whether this would be a good time of year to take his students into the field.
Sara had told herself that their last night together would be some sort of indicator as to whether he was looking for a break from her or something else but after their curry he'd fallen asleep in front of the tv. She woke him for bed and when they were comfortably wrapped up under her sheets he'd kissed her temple and drifted off effortlessly.
This morning she was edgy and angry. She'd wanted him to tell her what he hoped to find while he was away. She'd pictured them lying in bed and his telling her that he knew that he'd been strange lately but that he'd miss her and maybe she could get a few days off and visit him, she'd imagined it going the other way too, him holding her and telling her that he didn't know what the future held for them but that he'd always care for her.
He had been up, showered and nearly ready to leave the apartment when she woke up. He'd said good morning and asked about the pin, which was when the whole throwing thing came up. When she didn't respond to his touch in the way he'd expected he asked her, finally, if something was wrong.
"Nope, you'd better go, you're gonna be late." And she locked herself in the shower until she was certain he'd be gone. She'd avoided him all day and allowed herself to become more and more angry about they way he withheld all of the important stuff.
Their entire relationship, even before it WAS a relationship was her taking a step toward him, opening herself up and waiting in frustrated silence as he simply remained closed. When he found her in the locker room and told her his cab was there her immediate thought was to walk him to the cab. They were at work so a big show of affection was out, but at least walking with him, telling him to have a goodtime that she'd miss him…all these things went through her mind but her body reacted to what she'd been thinking all day. It's my turn to let you guess at how I feel. It's my turn to stand and let you try to extract some hint of emotion for me.
Spend some time thinking about that on Walden Pond.
The phone rang and she dropped the tie pin back on the bed. From the living room she heard the beep and then, "Hey Sara, I just wanted to let you know I landed safely. I" before he could say anything else she grabbed the phone from her bedside table.
"Oh. Good. I just, uh, well, I landed at Logan about two hours ago, just got checked into my hotel. I thought you'd want to know."
"Thank you." She bit her lip and squeezed her eyes closed. It shouldn't be this hard.
"Mmm." It was all she could manage without sobbing.
"You're clearly angry with me, I'm sorry I didn't…I don't know, I'm sorry we couldn't have talked this out more when I was home."
"Is there something to talk about?" her voice was croaking out of a too tight throat.
"Are you crying?"
She didn't respond just sat on the bed and watched teardrops plop into wet circles on her bedspread.
"I thought you wanted me to do this, you said it was a good idea." His voice was quiet.
"I think that if you need to get away then you should."
"I hate that you're crying. Please don't cry. If I thought you'd be this upset about my leaving for a few weeks I wouldn't have taken the job."
"Is that what you think? You think I'm upset because you'll be away?"
"Isn't it?" He was lost.
"Do you not find it even a little bit scary that you don't know what you want anymore?"
It was a long time before he spoke again. When he did Sara listened with her eyes closed and her ear pressed as hard against the receiver as she could stand.
"Honey, I find it terrifying. My work has been who I am for as long as I remember and now I feel like it's nothing more than a job. I've watched people treat each other like crap for so many years now that I think I forgot that there was another way. I forgot that people come home and sit in front of the tv and eat dinner and kiss the person they love goodnight and go to sleep and don't end up dead or killing someone. Being with you reminded me that there are things out there worth living for, and seeing all the evil just makes me that much more afraid that it will be visited upon those I love.
I'm not explaining this right."
"You're doing fine. Go on." She encouraged.
"When it was just me, on my own, I went to work, I solved these puzzles and I went home. Now I come to work, I see the love of someone's life laying dead on the kitchen table and I want to be sick. I don't know if I have the stomach for this anymore. If I don't, what else is there?"
"And I'm so grateful for that you will never even know, but I can't be just your…your…"
He paused and when he repeated the word she could hear the smile in his voice, "love, I can't only be that, I have to be bringing something more. That's why I think this teaching thing could lead to something that might make things better for us."
"I'm behind you, whatever you decide."
"Oh, and Grissom? I'll miss you too."