Part one.

(Revised on March 2006)

Gil Grissom/Greg Sanders Slash.

Set after Viva Las Vegas

R for language and some sexual content, (nothing graphic).

Greg's planning to find another job. Then a college friend of Grissom's commit suicide. Will Greg help?

Greg entered his apartment and closed the door. He didn't have much energy for anything, except lean his forehead against the door.

"Shit, shit, shit." He muttered.

What a shitty day.

First he had failed the proficiency test due to a stupid mistake. After all the hard work –going on the field on top of his normal duties - he'd failed the test.

Sure, Grissom had offered to give him another chance, but now it was a moot point since Chandra had decided to leave.

That was another reason to be angry about: She was quitting after only a couple of days at the lab; why couldn't she tough it up a little? And why the hell couldn't his friends help? They could have been a bit supportive; they knew how much he wanted this! And now they had ruined it-


He had ruined it. He had used the bathroom at a crime scene -even Hodges knew was a no, no.

And all because of that large latte he had before joining Grissom at the crime scene.

And that was only the beginning; bad luck had followed him after talking to Grissom. He should have come home to rest, but he was tense and angry, and he needed some sort of release, so he went to the Desert Disco instead. It was the one his friends frequented.

He went in there, looking for a familiar face, and he spotted Tim, a friend he could always count on for a good time. Tim had a stressful job that left him almost no time for a personal relationship, and since Greg didn't want one either, it was perfect for both.

Tim was sitting at the bar, nursing a beer.

"Hey!" Greg greeted.

"Sanders! Just the one I was hoping to see tonight! Wanna dance?" Tim screamed the question in order to be heard over the music.

"Don't have much time for that." Greg screamed back, "I'll be on call tonight."

Tim understood immediately.

"Screw the foreplay, then." Tim said, putting some money on the bar. "Let's go." He said, pushing Greg towards the exit. The dancing couples made their getaway difficult; the floor was packed. Just before they reached the door, Tim playfully pulled Greg into his arms and kissed him. Greg responded –sure, why not? He needed something to boost his self-esteem.

And then, just as he pulled back and looked around for the exit, he met the startled gaze of his boss, Gil Grissom.

Greg groaned as he remembered Grissom's expression of disbelief. They stood, frozen in place for what felt like an eternity but were actually only a few seconds.

Tim shook his shoulder.

"Let's go-" He urged.

Greg didn't move; Grissom was practically blocking the entrance.

Fortunately, Catherine appeared just then. She didn't see Greg; she pulled Grissom aside and told him something. Moments later, they walked towards the club's private area.

Greg gazed after them. They didn't have their kits with them, so they weren't investigating a crime scene. Maybe they were only interviewing someone-

Tim impatiently shook his shoulder.

"What is it, Sanders?" he screamed in his ear. "We got to go!"

"My boss is here!" He screamed back.

"So? You're off the clock right now! Come on!" he said, playfully pushing him towards the exit.

They had gone to Tim's place and carried on their routine of fast, hard sex on the couch, but the mood was somehow broken –and Tim blamed it on Greg. Tim did not sympathize.

"This is all because of your boss, isnt it? Why are you so worried?" Tim asked, "He saw you kissing a guy; big deal! He's not gonna fire you over this, is he?"

"No." Greg glared, picking up his shirt.

"Because if he tries, I'll sue his ass; you can count on it-" Tim said, using the 'case closed' tone that often put people off, "Is he some kind of homophobe?"

"No. No, he's not-" he said, feeling compelled to defend Grissom, "He's a tolerant guy."

"Then what's the big deal?"

Greg didn't know how to explain it; all he knew was that before turning away, Grissom had looked at him as if he were disappointed. And Greg had always worked hard at not disappointing Grissom.

What he still couldn't figure out was what Grissom was disappointed about: That he was kissing a guy or that he was showing feelings of any kind.

"Greg?" Tim insisted.

"I guess-" Greg started, "I guess I feel as if my father had found out about me."

That touched a nerve. Tim's father didn't know that his son was gay, and was always urging him to get married so the family business future could be ensured.

Greg left shortly after that. His parting apology,"Sorry I wasn't better company tonight," did not get much sympathy from Tim.

"Yeah, well." He shrugged, "Next time you pick me up, make sure your boss is in his office, Sanders; you're no fun when he's around."

Grissom and Catherine had waited almost half an hour before Maxwell Patterson, owner of the Desert Disco, came back to his office. Mr. Patterson was and one of three men suspected of forgery in a case they were just starting to investigate.

"Sorry I kept you waiting." He said, flashing a friendly smile.

Catherine handled the questioning. Patterson didn't seemed worried; he had allowed them to sit alone in his office as a grand gesture that said, 'see? I have nothing to conceal' – and he was confident that his own manner would put him above any further suspicion. He didn't know that his ingratiating manner was making Catherine suspicious.

Grissom sat in silence. He was aware of Catherine's questions and Patterson's answers, but his mind was overcrowded with images – the dancing couples, Greg turning his face to kiss that guy, and the kiss itself. It had been a shock for Grissom... and also, apparently, for Greg.

Even in the semi darkness, Grissom had noticed the 'oh, shit' expression on Greg's face as they looked at each other.

Grissom would have gone over this scenes over and over in his mind, if Catherine's questioning hadn't taken a turn for the worse. It was time to intervene.

"Catherine?" he interrupted, "We have other interviews to do," he added in the calm, 'you've gone too far,' tone she knew so well.

"We'll be in touch, Mr. Patterson." Catherine said as a parting shot.

They didn't talk until they got to the parking lot.

"You were too quiet back there," she glared, "I could have used your help."

"You didn't need it." He said amiably, "You were having too much fun mauling that guy on your own." After a pause, he added, "You were too aggressive, you know."

"I wasn't." she glared, "I just don't believe in babying creeps. Those guys-" she scoffed, "If they're not guilty of one thing, they're guilty of another. They're all the same."

Grissom waited for her to get into the driver's seat, and then he cautiously climbed in.

"I take it the honeymoon is over." He said after a moment, "What did he do?"

"Who?" she asked evasively.

"You know, who: That guy you were dating. The club owner."

"That rat." She mumbled, and that was the only thing she would say.

He didn't need more explanations; he understood.

"I'm sorry, Catherine." He said sincerely.

Greg forced himself to go through his usual pre-shift routine: Shower, clean clothes, cold pizza, and the best coffee he could afford.

He dreaded the thought of meeting Grissom, but by the time he arrived at the lab he had calmed down, and he had even found a good side to all this: Grissom was a discreet guy; he would not tell anyone what he'd seen.

Grissom would simply –and hopefully- keep it quiet.

But what if he didn't?

Frankly, Greg didn't know what to expect from Grissom, and so, after

thinking it over, he decided to talk to him –the sooner, the better.

Greg looked everywhere and finally found Grissom just as he was about to enter the morgue.

"Hey, boss, can I talk to you?"

"Sure." Grissom said and stopped. His face was expressionless, and that encouraged Greg.

"Hum." Greg looked around, "It's kind of private, so-" he said.

"I'm busy, Greg." Grissom said, buttoning his lab coat, "Is this about a case?"

"No, it's not." He said as if it should be obvious.

"Can't it wait until after this autopsy?

"No." he said, but without much conviction. "I mean, yes it can wait, but-" he hesitated.

"Yes?" he prompted.

"I just wanted to know if... if what you saw tonight..."

Grissom stared at him as if he really didn't know what Greg was talking about.

"You know." Greg said and paused, waiting for some reaction from Grissom. When he got none, he added, "You were at the Disco, and I was there too, and you saw me, and-" he hesitated, "and I wasn't alone, and-"

Grissom could have let him go on, but he was too busy.

"Greg." He interrupted, "I never get involved in my coworkers' private lives." He paused, hoping he had made a point. Just to make sure, he asked, "All right?"

"All right." Greg said, but he was so relieved, he couldn't help to add, "I was worried, you know? I mean, you never know what people's reaction is gonna be. People change sometimes-"

"Greg?" he interrupted again, "I'm very busy. And so are you."

"Yes, sir." Greg said formally. "We're cool, then?"

"Yes." Grissom said, turning away.

A couple of weeks after that conversation, Greg reluctantly came to a disappointing conclusion: Grissom might not get involved in his coworkers' private lives, but he was obviously not cool about what he'd seen. Grissom had been avoiding him.

In the weeks prior to that incident Grissom had taken Greg along on several of his investigations, but not once since that night. It seemed justifiable at first; after all, each of the other CSI's had plenty to teach him.

But when a case involving maggots came up and he offered to help, Grissom refused, and sent him to work with Catherine... who did what she always did: Make him go to the lab to process her DNA samples. This, despite the fact that there was a new chemist there.

Which brought him to his second problem: Jerry, Greg's second choice to replace him at the lab, was making it plain that he was under too much pressure and didn't know if he'd be able to handle it for long; not unless the CSI's cut him some slack.

Greg had convinced Jerry to give it a try, but didn't know if the guy would last much longer. Greg suspected that if things didn't change in the next couple of weeks, he was going to be back in the lab and all his efforts to be CSI would be for nothing.

Greg had begun to wonder if the time had come for some radical decisions. There were other options after all.

That night, Grissom called for a meeting to discuss their current cases. They were listening as Nick explained that the Prosecutor was not relying on the evidence, but on the witnesses, when his phone rang. He answered, expecting to hear from Robbins, who had promised to deliver the results from an autopsy, but it wasn't him.

It was someone who Grissom had not heard from in years.

"It's Carl Bernard." The voice said.

Grissom frowned.

"Bernie?" he was genuinely surprised. He could not remember the last time he had talked to Carl.

"Gil, I've got some bad news."

"What news?" he asked, and he rose from his seat, turning his back on his colleagues for a little privacy. "Bernie?"

"It's..." he hesitated, "Look, you might want to turn on CNN-".

"What happened?" he frowned.

"It's John." He faltered. "He's dead."

The surprise on Grissom's face changed to disbelief and, for what seemed like a split second, to pain. He made an enormous effort to speak.

"Hold on a second, Bernie" he said; he turned to his team, "Sara, could you turn on the TV? There's something on CNN that I'm supposed to see-"

Sara used the remote.

There was an ongoing report.

"-shot himself at his home this afternoon." an anchorman was saying. He was sharing the screen with the picture of a white-haired man. "Dr. John Garrison had not showed any signs of depression prior to his death, but there is some speculation-"

"John Garrison." Repeated Sara. "Isn't he one of your old friends from college?"

"Yeah." He mumbled, his eyes fixed on the screen. The anchorman was explaining that Garrison had taught a class at UCLA the day before; he had calmly told his students that he wouldn't be seeing them for a while; that he was going away. In fact, the anchorman added, Professor Garrison had been forced into taking early retirement due to health issues-

Grissom stared at the screen for a while, even after the news turned to sports. Then, he mechanically picked up the phone again.

"Gil? Are you there?"

"Yeah." He said hoarsely. He cleared his throat and added, "Thanks, Bernie."

"I thought you'd want to know -"

"Yeah. Thanks. Do the others know?"

"I don't know," he said. "So far, I've only talked to Janice. She says we should all get together for a wake. She says Johnnie would have liked it-"

"She just wants an excuse to drink." Grissom said, smiling faintly. He suddenly became aware that everybody was looking at him. "Bernie, I've got to hang up; I'll talk to you later."

Grissom pocketed his phone and returned to his seat. There was a moment's silence that Nick broke.

"Poor guy" he said.

"So, Grissom." Said Catherine, "What do you think happened to him?"

"We hadn't talked in years." Grissom said simply, and then he looked at Nick, "Go on,"

"With what?" Nick asked innocently.

Grissom glared impatiently.

"With the case, Nick."

The CSI's glanced at one another. They had assumed that Grissom would need a moment alone after the news, but apparently he was ok.

A couple of days later, Greg decided to talk to Grissom.

He had put off this conversation several times already, out of respect for his boss. Grissom had enough in his mind; not just the cases but also the death of friend.

Time was running out, however, and Greg needed to make some arrangements.

He knocked on the door, even though it was open. Greg no longer entered Grissom's office as if he were a pal dropping by to talk; now he waited until Grissom asked him in.

Grissom was so deep in thought that Greg had to knock twice. He looked up.

"Yes?" he asked.

"Hey, boss," Greg said tentatively, "Can I talk to you?"

Grissom nodded.

Greg entered the office and took a seat.

"I haven't seen you that much these past couple of days." he said tentatively, "You ok?"

"Yes." Grissom said curtly.

"I guess it's been kind of hard for you," he said gently, "I mean, because of what happened to your friend-"

Grissom looked expressionlessly at him. Greg tried again.

"Were you two close? He looked older than-"

"Greg," he interrupted, "I'm busy right now."

"Oh. Sorry. I thought-" Greg began, and then stopped. Clearly, Grissom didn't want to talk about his dead friend. "Here," he said, taking an envelope from a shirt pocket. "I've just got a letter from the Journal of Forensic Sciences," he said, "Wanna see it? It's-"

"Greg?" Grissom interrupted, "If this isn't about work, then maybe it can wait."

Greg was taken aback. He wanted to share some good news with the only person who would really appreciate them, but it seemed that Grissom just wasn't in the mood for anything for work.

Well, that was fine by him. It was about time they talked about work.

"I'd talk to you about work if you gave me an assignment, but you didn't." He pointed out, "Again."

"I need you to give a hand to that guy Jerry. He's been delaying our cases-"

Greg took a deep breath.

"I thought I was going to work in the field," He said, "Besides, Jerry's doing a good job." He said, "He's working as fast as any human being would-"

"-and I want you to help him." Grissom said, in a tone that didn't let any room for discussions.

They stared at each other.

"Grissom," Greg started, "Are you..." he paused, "I mean, is there anything..." but he couldn't finish.


Greg wanted to ask if there was anything the matter. He couldn't shake the feeling that Grissom had been avoiding him, but he didn't know how to ask without sounding like a whining little kid. And so, he changed the subject.

"Look," he said, "I've been meaning to tell you-" he started, "I'm going to need a couple of days off," he said, "You still owe me some vacation time, and, well..."

"How many days are we talking about?"

"Four days."

"Four days?"

"Yes, sir." He said formally. "Starting on Thursday the 15th."

"Next Thursday?" he frowned. "Greg, we're behind on several cases-"

"I know," Greg interrupted. "I'm going to make sure that Jerry catches up," he added, "But I need the time off." he said firmly. He wasn't going to beg –not yet. "I've been invited to the Forensic Convention in Chicago." He said.

"Have you?" Grissom frowned.

"Yeah." He nodded, and then he smiled faintly, "Remember the article I wrote for the Journal?" He paused for effect, "It won a prize," he said, "They're going to include it in the next issue."

"Really? Congratulations." Grissom said, genuinely glad, "I didn't know."

"Yeah, well." Greg looked pointedly at his boss, "We haven't had time to talk lately."

Grissom looked down. For a moment it seemed that he was searching for something to say, but he was actually reading something from a sheet of paper on top of his desk.

"You don't need four days, Greg." He said, and then he looked up, "The Journal is presenting its awards the first day of the convention."

And he lifted the sheet so Greg could glance at it; it was a schedule. Greg had received one just like it in the mail. Actually, everyone at CSI got one, but few were really interested in going to the convention; it cost money, and few had the time.

"I'm planning to stay for he entire convention," Greg said slowly, "I'd like to check out the meat market."

"Meat market?" Grissom frowned. He knew that people attending conventions in search of a job were sometimes called fresh meat, but that didn't make things any clearer, "Why?" he asked.

Greg avoided Grissom's curious stare and instead focused his attention on the wall behind his boss. It was easier this way.

"I want to see what my options are." he explained.

Grissom was sincerely puzzled.

"You're looking for a new job?" Grissom asked, "Why?"

"Well..." Greg paused, "I really want to be a CSI, Grissom, I don't think I'll never become one if I stay here."

"Greg, you can't just become a CSI, you need training and experience-"

"-and I'll never get any experience if you keep sending me back to the lab." He retorted.

"A CSI needs to learn about patience too, Greg." Grissom said in a slightly patronizing tone.

"I can be patient." Greg replied, "But you've been-"

But he could not finish what he wanted to say because Catherine entered the office just then.

"Hey, Grissom," Catherine said, ignoring Greg. She looked supremely pissed off. "Did I understand correctly that message you left on my phone? Something about taking four days off, just as the cases are piling up?"

"Yes." Grissom nodded, looking not at Catherine but at Greg. "I need you to take over while I go to the Forensic Sciences Convention in Chicago."