Disclaimer: I do not own CSI or anything.


CHAPTER 2

Once at the vet, it didn't take long for Hank to pass. And Grissom was proud of his boy. He held on as long as he could. Still, it wasn't enough. Never is.

Grissom stood up and gathered the courage to leave. But before he could, he stroked Hank's head and bent down to give him one last, tear-filled kiss. "You mutt," he said, his words catching on small, soft sobs. "I love you. Thank you, Hank. You were always there for me."

After one more kiss, Grissom stood again. He swiped a shaky hand across his mouth and eyes. He was ready. He was ready to leave the vet's office, alone. But he looked down at Hank once more. He looked so peaceful. Just like he does when Grissom would leave the bed to go to the bathroom and find he vacated filled by his canine protege, who would fake the "can't move; fast asleep" pose better than anyone. Even Sara Sidle.

Sara. What was he going to say to Sara? Lately the two of them had a hard time communicating at all. But when they were with Hank... things seem more fluid, more complete. He was a piece that fit the puzzle of their relationship. And now that piece was missing.

He wanted to talk to her, but then … he didn't.

An even thicker fog of melancholy encompassed Grissom as he left the exam room. Once outside, he noticed how dark the room was. He looked at his watch and saw the time 7 p.m. He had been at the veterinarian's office for almost five hours. He must have spent at least three and a half hours in that room with Hank. He recalled dozing for a short time, but mostly Grissom just recalled memories of his dog. When Hank first came into his life. All the time they spent in the park at Vegas. The numerous shoes and underwear the dog destroyed. The faithful friend and traveling companion he was. They both traveled a lot. That couldn't have been good for Hank's system. Maybe if they just settled in one place...

"Monsieur Grissom?"

Grissom turned around startled. It was the young receptionist. "Vous voulez un café?"

A cup of coffee... Grissom doubted he could drink anything at the moment. "Non, merci," Grissom replied softly with a smile. It was so late, Grissom wondered if the Dr. Malle was still here. "Umm.. S'il vous plaît. Le docteur est encore là?"

"Oui, un instant." The receptionist left to fetch the doctor.

Sitting on one of the reception chairs, Grissom checked his phone messages as he waited. Four missed calls. All from the same woman.

Why would she be calling so much?he thought. Then it hit him. "Ah dammit. The reception."

He quickly dialed. "It's Grissom."

"Professeur! You had me worried," said the woman on the other line, her English bearing a Portuguese accent. "Where have you been? I called. I went by the appartement..."

"Hank died."

Amalia, Grissom's secretary at the university, let out a long sigh. Along with being his subordinate, Amalia and her husband, Denis, another member of the Sorbonne, had befriended both Grissom and Sara. "Oh, professeur. I am so sorry."

"Thank you."

"Oh, poor Hank. He was your filho."

"Yes," Grissom replied honestly. "He was."

Amalia could hear the pain in Grissom's voice. Perhaps if she could make him laugh. "Denis and I were so worried you did not arrive earlier today. I had thought you were just being... what do you say? Antisocial? ... Yes. Doing that again."

Grissom wanted to chuckle but didn't. "No. That's not the reason."

Amalia conceded those efforts might be futile, for now. "I feel terrible for you. Where are you?"

"At Dr. Malle's office."

"I will pick you up and take you home."

"That's not necessary."

"Shut up."

Amalia, while usually completely professional with Grissom, had taken pointers from Sara on how to deal with the enigmatic entomologist. Certain situations called for strict resolutions. As Sara said, "Don't let him give you too much shit."

Amalia knew this was one of those times. Sara is in America and wouldn't want her husband walking the streets at night alone and in this mood. "I can leave in a few minutes. People are leaving now for dinner. I will pick you up and take you home. You are welcome to stay with my family..."

Grissom internally groaned. While he was close to the family, he didn't want to be around people, then Amalia seemed to read his thoughts.

"... But I know you would want your privacy at this time."

He breathed a sigh of relief. "I could always take a taxi."

"You will stay there and wait for me, professeur."

"OK. OK," Grissom was also aware that Amalia took pointers from Sara, and knew when to quit. "Merci."

Grissom hung up the phone and felt totally exhausted. Dr. Malle found the American a few minutes later, sitting with head hung low in his hands. He placed his hand softly on the man's shoulder. Grissom looked up, his eyes red-rimmed and swollen.

"Monsieur Grissom, we have some papers to sign."

With a nod and a supportive hand from the doctor, Grissom stood up and followed Dr. Malle to his office. Before they left the reception area, Dr. Malle turned off the lights leaving the room in complete darkness.


"I cannot believe her," Amalia said as she slammed her hands on the steering wheel of her Peugeot. "She had to have been listening into our conversation."

Grissom sighed. The situation before them was the last thing he needed. He, Amalia and Aloisio — Denis and Amalia's toddler son — were only a block away from the apartment when Amalia noticed a familiar figure outside his front door.

Many professors of the Sorbonne had aggressive admirers, and Professeur Gil Grissom was no exception. The problem was his most ruthlessly flirtatious admirers was Sylvie Martin, a business manager of grants in the biology department. She preyed on men like a hunter, and played on men's sexual appetites and vulnerabilities to gain her prizes.

When Grissom called, Amalia and her husband had just finished hosting a before-dinner reception for members of the department. Among those in attendance was Sylvie. And it would not surprise Amalia that Sylvie would listen in on another extension if she knew Amalia was speaking with Grissom.

While Grissom is generally clueless of flirtations from students, Sylvie's aggressive nature was not lost on him. But he had to be careful with his relationship with Mademoiselle Martin; she held the key to his funding at the university and had been working with Grissom on a possible textbook deal. While he would never give in to her advances, she couldn't put her off completely.

Politics. Even a half a world away from Vegas, Grissom couldn't escape the snare of political smoozing.

But knowing the woman was in front of his apartment did not bode well. "I really don't want to deal with her," Grissom said, despondently.

"I am so sorry, professeur. I should have taken the call outside, but I didn't know she would listen..."

"Amalia, this is not your fault."

"Bardajona," Amalia said, under her breath, leading Grissom to arch his eyebrow and gesture to the Aloisio.

Both adults looked at the smiling child. Amalia shrugged and said quietly, "He has heard worse." Then she continued in a sing-songy voice, "Hein, Aloi? Tu as entendu pire, non?"

"OUI!" the child exclaimed happily in such a way that even Grissom had to smile.

Amalia smiled at both her companions. Grissom's smile was a small triumph. "I cannot convince you to stay with us."

"Thank you, but I just need to … be alone."

"I understand," Amalia said, knowing the answer before it left Grissom's mouth. "But I am not leaving you here, alone, with her."

Amalia knew Sylvie would go to any lengths when chasing a man, and Grissom was completely unaware of Sylvie's ingenious tactics. Amalia knew of a time when Sylvie learned how to forge the handwriting of a wife and wrote a series of notes to a phantom lover to trick her husband into believing she was leaving him for a younger man. And who was there to pick up the pieces when that husband fell apart after reading the notes? Sylvie.

So Amalia and Grissom both sat in the car and thought of options. Grissom's office was out of the question, because Sylvie might actually go there to find Grissom. Plus, Grissom had no clothes there and didn't want to go back and forth in the morning.

Then Amalia had an idea. She searched in her purse and found what she sought. "You have two choices. I have the key's to my brother's studio. He is out of town and I am supposed to feed his fish and spiders. I'm sure you will not have a problem with either."

The comment garnered another smile. "I can't do that... he wouldn't want a stranger in his place."

"Nonsense. You know, Rene. He got the second spider because of you."

Grissom did know Rene, and his studio was only four blocks away. He could walk to his place in the morning and then take the train to work. It was a viable solution. But Amalia did have two ideas. "What's the other option?"

"I go and forcibly make Sylvie leave, perhaps by her hair, if necessary."

Grissom shook his head. While creative, it was not a practical solution. "Amalia, we both know that is not a good option."

"It would be my pleasure."

"I'm sure it would, but I think Rene's studio is a better option, if you sure he will not mind."

"I shall call him?"

"S'il vous plaît."

Amalia hit a speed dial on her cellular and covered the mouthpiece as it rung. "See? You should stay in Paris for another semester. Your French sounds much better."

"Obrigado."

Amalia gave him a surprised look at his use of Portuguese, but kept her comment to herself as her brother answered the line.


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