Disclaimer: Are you crazy?
Spoilers: "Daddy's Little Girl"
Summary: A post-ep fic and my attempt to explain Sara's cryptic line.
A/N #1: Whenever I'm confused by CSI, I try to fill in the blanks (oh, and there are so many blanks) with my own story. This was conceived sometime during the forty minutes I spent standing in a crowded train about twenty yards from Hoboken. "We're having a problem with the signals. We'll be moving in a few minutes," the conductor said. Yeah, right. And a nice big screw you to the assholes sitting in my vicinity who didn't give their seat up to the pregnant lady who was standing near me.
A/N #2: And please excuse my shitty French.
A/N #3: I get into some (not very sexy) health issues in this fic, so if that's not your cup o' tea, stop reading now.
To This I Say, Chivalry Is Dead, Sir
He found her at her desk, picking the walnuts out of a vending machine brownie while gently swaying in her swivel chair.
"What was that about?"
She licked a bit of chocolate off of her index finger, smacking it against her lips before raising her eyebrows. "What was what about?"
"You're little reflection on the general status of human relationships back there? Ring a bell?"
"Oh, right. The status and limitations, I believe, is what I was addressing."
Grissom stood in front of her with his jaw clenched. He had come to work with a spring in his step for the first time in weeks. He received the call the day before; everything was fine. The load was off his shoulders. That is, until Sara happily hefted it back on in his office mere minutes before.
"We went on a date."
She tossed the brownie wrapper in the wastebasket under the desk. "Three weeks ago."
He watched the cellophane hit the rim and fall in, and then faced her, at a loss for words.
Sara leaned back in her chair and looked up at him. "You know, normally if I go out with someone and he doesn't call me back, I pretty much get the message. That tactic doesn't really work when he doesn't call back and I see him every day. I know it'd be awkward, but a simple, 'Sara, I don't think this is going to work,' would be a lot easier than running out of the building the second our shift is over." She stood up and wiped her palms on her hips. "It's really too bad, Gil. I had a good time that night." He watched her try to smile, but her eyes betrayed her sadness. "I'm glad we tried, though."
She walked out of the room and he didn't have the will to follow her.
Grissom figured she'd wear something black, but she wore pink. Blush, he corrected, remembering the paint chips his mother had brought home years ago when she was choosing a color for her bedroom. There were sixty different shades of pink, and fourteen-year-old Gil couldn't tell the difference between any of them. Oh, but he could now. Sara was wearing blush. The pale silk sheath revealed the small dusting of freckles on her neck and shoulders. More than once that evening did Grissom find himself wondering just what other parts of her body were graced with freckles.
He told her about his graduate studies and she sat, enthralled, hunched forward with her elbows on the table. In between the detailed accounts of his thesis and his year spent studying in England, he watched her breast push against the side of the table and noticed her bad posture. It suddenly hit Grissom that Sara's mother probably never told her to keep her elbows off the table. Or to sit up straight, something his own mother had demanded of him throughout childhood. Their salads came and she unwittingly used her dessert fork; he it found terribly sweet and sad.
She excused herself and got up to go to the bathroom. He stood.
"Oh, do you have to go, too?"
He narrowed his eyes, confused. "What? Oh…" Grissom felt a pang in his heart at the thought of her never being treated with the common courtesy a man gives his date. Knowing she would feel embarrassed if he explained the custom, he came up with an excuse. "No, just…stretching my legs. Stiff knees."
Grissom watched her walk away, feeling by turns upset and amazed. Though Sara had relayed to him the events of her childhood – violence, murder, foster care – he never really dwelled on it, couldn't dwell on it. She was Sara – smart, strong, assertive. It never occurred to him that those were characteristics she had to nurture on her own. He had watched her carefully for a decade, but not carefully enough. He had seen the confidence, but not the means through which it was acquired. The dedication it must've taken – to finish high school, to go to college, to not succumb to the demons in her past – it almost appalled him, the thought that Sara most likely had to fight so hard for all of it, so hard that the man who had loved her for the better part of ten years didn't see the effort it took.
Only now, when he was interacting with her on a purely social level, did he see the chinks in her armor. She used the wrong fork, sat like a thirteen-year-old boy, and wasn't aware of the proper etiquette with which a gentleman should treat a lady. Her mother probably never breathed a word of it. He knew her father didn't. And it was likely that in the crowded foster homes where Sara grew up, good manners weren't a high priority.
And yet she was so very nice, so very sweet. To maintain that through years of social vacancy made Grissom's throat tighten with emotion. He swallowed with much difficulty when he saw her approaching the table. This time, he figured it best he didn't stand, though habit had him shift awkwardly in his chair.
She smiled quizzically at him. "Do your knees hurt?"
He coaxed her into conversation about her life, though he noticed she steered clear of anything that happened before college. She had lived in Paris for a year, a fact that surprised him.
She nodded. "I studied sociology. I figured I'd take a break from physics for a little while."
"Did you like it?"
Sara gave him a small smiled as she rubbed the back of her neck. "It's a very good school."
"But did you like it?"
She shrugged. "I don't know. The city was beautiful. And the public transportation was very convenient."
Grissom pursed his lips. He had always looked back on his year at Oxford with fondness. Sure, he had been a nerd, but he was with like-minded nerds. Their small, concentrated group had shared many terrible insect jokes over pints of Guinness as they pondered the mysteries of life and watched Monty Python. "Didn't you speak French?"
"Very badly at first," she laughed.
"So you speak it now?"
"Oui," Sara smiled. "Well," she amended, "I'd be able to survive. I'm very rusty."
It excited him, this new knowledge. Sara spoke another language. He wanted to ask her to say something in French, but was wary of putting her on the spot. She didn't seem too excited to rehash her year abroad and he didn't feel like making her uncomfortable. Still, as she took a sip of her wine, Grissom couldn't help but imagine her whispering exotic phrases in his ear, her husky voice sending chills down his spine. "Do you ever want to go back?"
She shook her head. "I don't think so."
"I don't know. I guess I felt like such an outsider the whole time I was there. I didn't really know anyone. Most of my time was spent in the library anyway. It's not like I was homesick, though" she said, rolling her eyes. "I did make a friend – a really nice old lady in my building. Her fiancé died in World War I and she never married. Her apartment was full of pictures of the two of them – she was a photographer. Philippe, was his name. She actually gave me a picture of him before I left. I still have it." Sara's fingers began to fiddle with her earring as she looked off into the distance. "Vous trouverez votre Philippe."
Grissom raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"
Sara blinked. "Oh, that was something she used to say to me."
"What does it mean?"
"Nothing," she said quickly, smiling as she straightened out the utensils in front of her. "Just something about her fiancé. She really loved him."
He drove her home, walked her to her door, and declined an invitation for coffee. It would be a done deal if he set foot into her apartment. Though Grissom didn't believe that Sara was offering more than coffee, he knew that there wasn't much control left in his body to keep himself from doing nothing more than politely chatting. He'd make a move; he'd touch her, lean in, kiss her, and if she didn't show any resistance, they'd be in bed before the coffee finished brewing. Grissom would never label Sara a loose woman; she had, in fact, had moments of endearingly prim behavior that intrigued him. But she also never failed to respond to him when he got close.
And he wanted to get very, very close.
So Grissom gave her a soft kiss goodbye, pressing his lips to hers while he kept one hand on her hip so she wouldn't move up against him and destroy his resolve. He was intent on taking his time with her, on treating her like he knew no one else in her life had. He would open doors for her, pull out chairs for her, do everything short of throw his coat over a puddle for her – there was little rain in Las Vegas.
Her eyes were wide with what he suspected was desire. Grissom quickly took his leave before his plans could be undone. For the first time, he felt sure of himself when it came to Sara. He had always hesitated before, partially because he worried that the relationship would do no good for her. She'd be suspect at work for sleeping with the boss if anyone found out. Their activities would no doubt be restricted due to the fact that he was nearly fifty and not in the greatest shape; if she was hell-bent on climbing a mountain, the most he could do was wait for her at the bottom with a bottle of water. She was so vibrant, so alive. He feared he would bring nothing to the relationship, that he would enrich her in no ways. Their date had quelled those fears. He could be good to Sara, could treat her like the delicate being in blush silk that she was. So much of her life was spent just surviving and now was his chance to help her with that, to ease her burden, and eventually when he kissed her goodnight, he'd be there to hold her as she slept. And she would hold him.
Grissom smiled as he opened his front door. He slipped off his jacket and loosened his tie. Social success was something he rarely had a chance to bask in, so for the moment, like a teenaged girl asked out on her first date, he lay on his bed, fully clothed, and grinned foolishly at the ceiling. She had looked so beautiful sitting across from him in the dim restaurant. He studied the picture he had of her in his head, her long neck, the freckles. Grissom remembered her breasts and started to wonder if she had worn a bra. He didn't recall seeing the telltale sign of the straps through the silk, so he let himself believe she had been bare under the blush fabric. His hand wandered down to the bulge in his trousers and he sighed happily as he worked his pants down in practiced fashion. Her taste, however faint, was still on his lips as he imagined it was her delicate fingers working him towards climax. He could practically hear her breathe French into his ear, "Vous trouverez votre Philippe." He had no clue what the words meant, but it was beyond sexy to hear. She practically pouted it, her lips full and inviting as she uttered the mysterious phrase. Grissom's left hand joined his right as he groaned out loud, imagining his Sara in front of him.
As his breathing began to increase, he moved faster and then stopped suddenly. Something was not right. There was a lump, small but noticeable, above his right testicle. He ran his hand over it again to make sure it was there and then pulled away, rubbing his palm on the bedspread vigorously as if it were now dirty.
Grissom got up out of bed and shed the rest of his clothes before marching into the shower. He turned the hot water up until it was practically scalding the epidermis right off of him. No move was made to touch anything below his waist as he stood under the hot spray, scared witless for more than an hour.
He called in sick the next night and played chess against himself with the Weather Channel on in the background, muted.
The following night, he got to work early, divided the assignments up between his crew before they arrived, taking the case four hours North of the city. The small-town double murder kept Grissom out of Vegas, away from Sara, and busy for four days. He would work straight through the night and into the next day until he was too exhausted to think, until the hard, dirty motel mattress looked welcoming.
When he returned to the lab, Sara was waiting with a hopeful smile. He gave her a curt greeting and then excused himself to go see Hodges. She would only approach him once more in the upcoming week, and Grissom had to wonder if it was because she knew he was avoiding her, or because he was just doing such a good job of it. He hoped it was the latter.
When the insomnia would get so bad the sleeping pills failed to work, Grissom would sit at his computer, staring at the search engine on the screen. He had typed 'testicular cancer' dozens of times, but never clicked the Search button. He could only stair at the word 'cancer' and shudder. Life was like this, he thought bitterly. God gives and He takes away. Grissom kissed Sara and this was his penance.
On his twenty-ninth hour without sleep, his fingers floated to the keyboard and he phonetically typed out Sara's French message. Links to French-to-English dictionaries popped up and he clicked one of them. Slowly, Grissom pieced together her words, correcting the spelling as he went. Philippe, the World War I soldier, was a given. 'Vous' was easy enough. Deciphering verbs in a foreign language proved more difficult. It took him a solid ten minutes to get it right, "Vous trouverez votre Philippe": "You will find your Philippe."
Grissom blinked at the screen.
He felt his eyes grow moist.
There was no more time to waste. He deliriously checked the time and noted it was four in the afternoon. Grissom fumbled through his Rolodex and found the number for his general practitioner. The receptionist apologized as she informed him that there were no more appointments for the rest of the day, and said she'd do her best to pencil him in for early the following day. He mumbled his thanks and then hung up the phone, typed in the words he had feared, and, this time, clicked Search.
Research. Tons of research. When he arrived at work that night, Grissom had a plan of action. If diagnosed, he would be aggressive in his treatment. There would be no wallowing. This wasn't going to be another otosclerosis for him.
Dr. Morton, a small man of considerable age, had been Grissom's doctor since his arrival in Las Vegas. He was a kind, gruff man, the type of guy who could clean up at cards and then spend the money on his grandchildren. What Grissom appreciated most was his ability to assess a situation. Dr. Morton would've made a brilliant CSI had he chosen death instead of life. He immediately read Grissom's face upon entering the exam room and could see that small talk was not an option. "What's the problem, Gil?"
He blurted it out. He told him his fears, he explained his research; he even mentioned Sara.
"Ah, so did she find it? A lot of times, it's the wives and the girlfriends who notice these things first, and then they badger you young men into doing something about it."
Grissom swallowed the lump in his throat. "No, no she doesn't know."
"First thing's first," Dr. Morton said, putting on his stethoscope. Grissom did the obligatory inhale and exhale while the doctor spoke softly to him. "Testicular cancer is rare for men your age. It's rare, but it's treatable. Very treatable. You say you just noticed it?"
"Well…almost two weeks ago."
"Okay. Let's see what we've got." The doctor took a penlight out of his pocket. "You're a scientist, Gil. You know a tumor is a solid mass. If the light shines through, then we can pretty much rule out cancer. Of course, we'll double check, but it will be highly unlikely." Dr. Morton located the lump and then proceeded to shine a light behind each testicle. "This process is called transillumination. Tell your friends."
"Yeah, right," Grissom said, rolling his eyes and relaxing a bit at the doctor's dry humor.
"Ah, see, the light is shining through. That tells me the mass is filled with liquid."
"What does that mean?"
"Oh, it's probably a spermatocele – an epididymal cyst -- most likely due to a blockage in your epididymal ducts," Dr. Morton explained. "Harmless so long as it doesn't get any bigger." He removed his gloves and threw them in the garbage. "I'll have the technician come and perform an ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis."
"Wait," Grissom said, holding up a hand, "if it doesn't get bigger, I just…keep it? I keep a lump on my testicle?"
"Are you in pain?"
"Your body will eventually reabsorb the fluid," the doctor explained.
"How…how long will that take? Days?"
Dr. Morton shrugged. "It depends."
"So…I mean…what about…"
"Are you trying to tell me you don't want your girl seeing this?"
Grissom was sheepish. "Yes."
"Oh, you young people. When will you learn appearance isn't everything? Okay, we can have it removed. You'll be back to sexing up the chicks in no time."
Relieved, and not a little embarrassed, Grissom awaited the ultrasound technician in silence. The diagnosis was confirmed and an appointment was made for the following day to remove the cyst. He returned to work after the appointment, cautiously optimistic. He was eager to repair any damage he had done concerning his relationship with Sara, and was disappointed to see it was her night off.
He wouldn't see her for the next two nights, as he didn't want her or anyone else to see him limping from the pain in his groin after the spermatocele was removed. Grissom spent his time off envisioning his next date with Sara. He wanted a chance to show off all the chivalrous moves his mother had drilled into him as a boy. He'd take her to the opera – not the movies, as she was probably accustomed to. He would send her flowers, not a plant, with a card that read, 'With love, Gil,' and not the acerbic, 'From Grissom.'
Everything was perfect until he waxed poetic about Thermite.
"I guess some people just shouldn't be together," she had said.
He wanted to cry.
Flowers were sent and ignored. He assigned her the biggest case, making her the lead with him as her second, and still she paid him no heed. He asked her out to the opera, she said she didn't enjoy listening to people yell songs in foreign languages.
"How about the ballet?"
"Sometimes I think you look like a ballerina," he murmured quickly.
Sara stared at him and shook her head.
When he knocked on her door, she didn't bother answering. "I know you're home," he said in a loud, clear voice.
"So what?" she answered sharply. "I'm home. So what?"
"I love you."
It wasn't how he imagined saying it, or where he imagined saying it, but it was all he could do to find a way in.
"Did you hear me? I said that I love you."
"You kissed me and then you acted like I didn't exist. I assume after this 'I love you' business, you plan on running me down with your car," she said dryly.
"I was scared."
She said nothing, so he continued. "I was scared; I am scared," he confessed to her door. "My dad died when I was nine. He died in front of me. Heart attack. My mom is deaf. I almost went deaf a couple of years ago. I had surgery to correct it right after you asked me out." He thought he heard the doorknob jangle. "After I kissed you, I went home, jerked off and found a…a lump."
The door swung open and Sara stood there in her bathrobe. "Don't even joke about that," she said tersely.
"You think it's a joke? I'm not joking." He took a step closer and then closed the door behind him. "There I was, imagining you naked and…"
She crossed her arms over her chest, hugging herself. The emotion in her eyes was so powerful it frightened him. "Is it…is it…"
"Cancer? No. It was a spermatocele – a plugged epididymal duct. It's fine. I had it removed," he explained softly.
"Let me see."
This was not the direction he expected the conversation to go. He expected a hug, perhaps – some small gesture on her behalf that would signal the continuation of their relationship. She raised her eyebrows as if to say, 'What are you waiting for?'
Sighing, Grissom unbuckled his belt and dropped his pants. Again, it wasn't the way he imagined how this first in their relationship would take place. But there he stood with his pants and boxers gathered around his ankles at Sara's request.
Sara kept her eyes on his, though. "Which one?"
He was confused. "Which one what?"
"The right one."
She bent down and examined it, and Grissom shook his head in disbelief at no one in particular. He exhaled loudly. She would eventually find the tiny scar, he knew, but he wasn't sure of what she'd do after that. Her breath tickled him, causing him to squeeze his eyes shut and think of baseball, caterpillars, anything but the woman inches away from his penis.
"Are you in pain?" she whispered, her hot breath making his shudder.
"I-I'm fine. Sara…"
He wanted her to stand up straight, but she stayed low.
But before he could finish, she leaned forward and placed a small kiss on the scar. Wide-eyed, Grissom watched her stand up and remove her robe. "Can we…have sex? I mean…are you able to…you know…safely?"
He didn't mean for their first time together to be a quick bout of sex on her living room couch, but as Grissom lay there, sweaty and exhausted with Sara lying on his chest, he decided it was time to toss his well thought-out plans in the trash.
"You kiss me and then ignore me," she said sleepily, "so what does sleeping with you get me?"
An engagement ring, he thought. It was on the tip of his tongue. But that was all probably too much for her to handle in one day. So he kept it light, smiling down at the top of her head as he kissed it and said, "A trip to Paris. To see the opera."
He'd give her a ring there.
A/N #4: I know you're thinking, 'Dude, testicles? You had to go there?' Yes. Yes, I had to.