A/N - The idea for this came when I had a massive communication failure at Sonic. Also I picked Alaska because I asked my boyfriend to pick a city and he said Anchorage. So there you go. As always, thanks for reading, and comments are always appreciated.
Sara Sidle wanted to go home.
"Can anyone tell me what the three classes of elementary subatomic particles are?"
A bunch of uninterested faces suddenly pretended to be deeply involved in their textbooks, presumably so she wouldn't call on them to answer the question.
"I just went over these five minutes ago," she said. "I wrote it on the board. I compared the particles to various members of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Nobody remembers this?"
Gordon Ivie, one of her loudest and smartest students raised his hand.
Finally, she thought. But it was short lived.
"Gordon, please tell me you know the answer to this question and you're not just going to ask if it's on the next test."
He lowered his hand, looking ashamed of himself. She sighed. It was going to be a long day.
After yet another long day, all Sara wanted to do was wrap this class up and go back home. Well, she wanted who was waiting for her at home most of all. But there was still 20 minutes left of the basic physics class she was teaching, so she soldiered on.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Grissom found out from a Botany professor he got to know in Costa Rica that there was a growing Entomology department that needed a teacher. Their time in Costa Rica was coming to an end. They'd been there almost a year and were craving life back in the states so they both agreed to check it out. It wasn't until later that Sara found out just exactly where this university was.
"Come on, Sara, you'll love Anchorage!" Grissom had told her excitedly-well, as excited as he tended to get about things, which was more than usual lately.
"What will I love about it, exactly?" She said, half teasing, half extremely curious.
"Well, you'll love the weather. It's completely different from what we experienced in Vegas. And we'll send for Hank, too. Nick loves taking care of him but I know he's kind of cramping his style. Plus there are less breast implants than Vegas and more moose than Costa Rica. And less mosquitoes," he said, swatting two or three of them away from his face.
It was the promise of Hank more than anything that got her attention. She wasn't so sure about the weather or the proximity, but she was sure about one thing, and that was Grissom. He left his whole life in Vegas to be with her in Costa Rica, and if he wanted to do something different and experience life in Alaska, she'd do it for him. At least for a little while. Besides, ever since she met him at the Forensics Academy Conference so many years ago, she'd wanted to be wherever he was. That's why she left pleasant San Francisco to the sweltering heat of Las Vegas, and that's why she'd leave Costa Rica for the chilly climate of Anchorage.
Sometimes, just sometimes, Sara got homesick. And she didn't even know what she was homesick for, really. Sure, she missed her former colleagues and friends in Las Vegas. There were even times when she wanted to go back to San Francisco, to see her mom again. The time they had together when Sara left Vegas after her showdown with Natalie was something she cherished, and although she didn't exactly need to be with her mom again, she missed her in a very specific way.
She knew Grissom shared the same homesick feeling, but he was adjusting to Alaskan life amazingly well. Maybe it was the weather, the people, the college, or maybe it was something else. Whatever it was, he was happier than she'd ever seen him. Sara was happy, too, but still found herself wondering if Alaska was the right place for them.
Teaching physics at the University of Alaska was...interesting. It had been so long since her college days, and it was getting increasingly hard to relate to the students she taught. They didn't care as much as she used to. Sure, there was the occasional student who reminded her of well, her. But for the most part, she found most of her students apathetic towards their studies. This was somewhat heartbreaking and at the end of the day, sometimes she just wanted to go home and scream. She found something better than that, though. After years and years of going home to an empty house, nobody interested in the stress she just went through...she found a man willing to listen to her, comfort her in the only way he knew how. And sometimes, that was the only thing that got her through the day.
It wasn't that Grissom was the only thing that made her happy anymore. She had her own hobbies and likes and dislikes, and she made a few acquaintances at the college who she hoped would eventually turn into good friends. When she was feeling particularly sad or frustrated, she took it out on the punching bag installed in the laundry room, for lack of a better place to put it. Grissom wasn't her whole world, but he was definitely the better part of it.
Finally, the Class That Wouldn't End did just that, and after going back to her office for a moment to collect her thoughts, Sara starting making her long trek home. She and Grissom, after weeks of looking, finally found a house they loved in Alaska. Unfortunately, it was almost 45 minutes away and their commute was a long one. They tried to carpool whenever possible, but Sara had a night class on Wednesday nights and Grissom's last class was just after lunch. She disliked driving so far by herself on Wednesdays. It was funny how she was now so used to Grissom beside her during their commute. Sometimes they talked the whole way, about Hank or their students or what they would make for dinner. Sometimes they were silent, listening to NPR or a station that was mutually agreed upon. It was nice. Sara always thought it would be annoying to carpool; she was used to listening to her iPod and enjoying the solace that came with her car. But sharing the experience with Grissom made it even better.
Sara stopped at the grocery store a few blocks from the house. It was Grissom's night to cook, and he wanted her to get some ingredients for lasagna. She wanted to get home as fast as possible but still took the time to select the ingredients. Grissom was very picky about his food these days. She wouldn't tell anyone, but she loved cooking for him. Sara knew exactly what he liked and didn't like, and she knew he appreciated that about her.
To surprise her stubborn carnivore fiancé, she also bought a steak. It was on sale and it looked like something he'd devour. When she got to the checkout, however, the steak didn't ring up as on sale.
"Oh, that steak wasn't on sale?" She asked the clerk.
"No, was it supposed to be?"
"Yes, it said it was on sale," she said. Sara had never been good at this. She could always speak up for herself in the most dire of situations, but when it came to trivial things such as steak being on sale, she found it difficult to get through a conversation without feeling like an idiot.
The clerk looked at the label and called over the manager. The two of them took so long talking about it that it made Sara uncomfortable.
"Never mind, it's fine," Sara said.
"You don't want to buy it?" The manager asked, looking annoyed. "We can just run and check on the price."
"No, whatever, I'll get it. Just put it in the bag."
The clerk and the manager were giving her a look. She knew the look. It was the look her students gave her on the first day of class, the "what does this chick think she knows about physics?" look they give before they knew her qualifications. It was the look most people gave her before talking to her; before they knew her thoughts and feelings and emotions. Maybe it was all in her mind, but her whole life, Sara never felt like she made a good first impression. There was one exception to that, and he was currently waiting for her at home. Which is where, incidentally, she most wanted to be.
Sara and her groceries finally made it home. She was, of course, greeted by Hank, who was ecstatic that both his owners were now home. She put the groceries down and let him give her a few kisses, rubbed his belly, and then went into the kitchen. Grissom was making a salad. He looked up from the lettuce and gave his famous "Welcome home, Sara," smile. She never got tired of that smile.
"Hi, honey, welcome home," he said, giving her a kiss. "Thanks for getting the stuff."
"No problem. You know how I like shopping for my man." They both chuckled.
Grissom was listening to the classical music station, so she poured herself a glass of wine and listened to the calming instruments, feeling the stress of her day evaporate into the cellos and violas. She watched as he grated the cheese and prepared the sauce. Both of them knew from experience that even after the toughest day at work, when they got home, they needed silence.
After Grissom put the finishing touches on the lasagna and it was cooking away in the oven, they sat down together in front of the fireplace, ready for the silence to end.
"Tell me about your day," Sara said, taking a sip of wine, feeling warmth that wasn't just from the fireplace. "How was class today? Did you have to talk to Abby again?"
Grissom grinned. "No, I guess our talk from last week is still in her head. She didn't try to answer ever single question. She didn't try to teach the class when she thought I wasn't doing a good enough job. I could tell she had something to say, but she was quiet until the end of class. That's when I got an earful. But at least she waited."
Grissom had an eager student who was starting to become quite the pain in his ass. He said in the beginning, her intelligence and willingness to learn reminded him of Sara, but as he got to know Abby better, he realized she went a step above Sara, and not in a good way.
"Other than Abby, everything went smoothly. Dr. Stanley got a shipment of bugs, and one of them was a rare breed of spider that I've never seen before, so that was the highlight of my day."
Sara smiled as Grissom talked with animation about the spider and his colleagues. Part of the joy of coming home was Grissom's excitement about his work. Before choosing to come to Anchorage, they discussed their other options. Sara feared Grissom still wanted to be a CSI, and was relieved when he dismissed that option right away. The two of them were done with death, and this made their lives a lot easier.
"And when I got home, I took Hank for a long walk. He wanted to visit with Honey, the Labradoodle across the street, but I told him that she was too busy at the salon to entertain him today. He was sad, until I gave him a dog biscuit."
"Well, he certainly is easy to please," Sara said happily.
"Yeah, he takes after his owner," Grissom said. "So tell me about your day. You look a little stressed. Bad class?"
"Not bad, exactly. It's the same as it always is. I used examples from modern movies and TV shows just to try and relate to them, but it still manages to go over their head. They have their iPhones and their Twitters and their laptops and its like school is just a second thought. It's frustrating."
Grissom frowned and took her hand. Sometimes, when there was a lull in conversation, Sara would think back to the early days of the relationship and how he never knew exactly how to empathize with her. Something changed over the years. She didn't know what happened in Vegas to make him ditch everything and come get her in Costa Rica, and he never really told her. But whatever it was, it made him into the kind of man she always knew he could be.
"Give it more time, honey. You're still getting to know these kids and they're still getting to know you. I hated giving lectures at first, but once I figured out the way that works the best for me, everything fell into place. You're an amazing teacher and when they see the you that I see, it'll get easier, I promise you."
"Well, let's hope so," she said. "And thank you."
She told him about the rest of her day, leaving out the steak debacle, and he said all the right things to make her feel good about not only what happened that day, but for the rest of week, too. And when dinner was ready, before he got up to get the lasagna out of the oven, he kissed her. It wasn't a peck, either. It was long and promising and she knew there would be something to look forward to after dinner.
"Love you," he said after the kiss. "I can't wait to marry you and make you an honest woman."
Their wedding was in 6 months, and Sara was having the usual troubles with the arrangements. It was going to be in Vegas, just to make it easier for everyone, and making the plans long distance was hard enough, but even trying to find time to deal with it all was even harder. If it were up to her, they would have eloped by now. But Grissom was always talking about their big wedding and how excited he was to marry her in front of all their friends and colleagues. This side of Grissom, the romantic side, was something she was still getting to know. She hoped he never stopped surprising her.
When the evening was over (after sharing a pint of Ben and Jerry's Dublin Mudslide ice cream and then retreating to the bedroom to burn off calories) and they drifted to sleep, Sara thanked whoever was listening for sending her Grissom. After enduring the most painful of childhoods and then everything else the universe had thrown her over the years, the one thing that was steady in her life was Gil Grissom. She didn't care if they stayed in Alaska forever and she was teaching physics to bored students until she was 90. If she could come home to him, then it was all worth it.