Disclaimer: I have no connection to TPTB or anyone involved in controlling these characters.
Spoilers: Several conversations and happenings from numerous episodes which have already aired are mentioned, up through the current season.
A/N: This is more of a rant than a fic. I suppose. I've been watching the syndication run on Spike TV, where they're currently showing the first season. And I'm being consistently amazed at how much personality all the characters used to written with. It seems to me like the writers have gotten incredibly lazy over the years, leaving the viewer to decipher the small flashes of human interaction based on aging evidence. I felt like I had to write something. This is what resulted.
The Metamorphosis of Gil Grissom
He'd never been excessively adept at social interaction, but he hadn't always been this bad. At one point he'd actually had the confidence to ask a beautiful woman to dinner and actually go. He remembered sitting across the elegant table from the curvaceous blonde in a romantically lit restaurant with a perfect view of the strip. Terri Miller had been a smart vivacious woman who excelled at her job and he'd had the rare opportunity to connect with her. Of course work had interrupted as always with a request for him to come examine some bug riddled corpses. He'd turned back from the phone conversation and the seat, which she'd occupied moments before, had been empty. He'd started to worry about his hearing after that. Sure he'd been focused on giving instructions to the deputy on the scene, but he hadn't even heard her push her chair back. She'd just disappeared, something he'd never understood.
That was probably where it had started, the erosion of his confidence, but he wasn't sure, he'd never actually been able to identify the tipping point. Not all of his confidence had gone, but the part that of his confidence that had allowed him to take that tentative step out of his shell and issue a dinner invitation seemed to have taken an extended vacation. Somewhere along the way he'd begun to withdraw from all social interactions. He'd stopped feeling giddy at the thought of a simple child's birthday party (Lindsey never had appreciated his gifts anyway, too scientific.) or smiling like a kid with a shiny new toy when Sara asked him to tape her up. His moods had darkened and he'd become harsher in his criticisms when one of his team had messed up. He'd stopped going to meals with his team after shift (of course Ecklie's maneuver made that impossible now). He'd told Sara to get a life while slowly withdrawing from his own. And he hadn't realized that others had noticed the change.
He supposed Catherine and Brass had tried to warn him, stop the withdrawal, and entice him back into the world. It had taken several years for any of it to register. The lab explosion hadn't done it, and even the infamous dinner invitation from Sara hadn't been quite enough to tempt him, not with surgery and the possibility of not recovering looming. The first crack had come from a source so unexpected that he hadn't even realized it was happening. Greg Sanders had always amused him with his quirky hair, eclectic music, and his penchant for inappropriate remarks and family tales. Watching the young man mature and grow into a CSI had reminded him of the early days when he'd been enamored of his job instead of merely obsessed with it. The consistent puppy dog face Greg wore, and his eagerness to please had wormed its way into becoming the first fissure the heart which had over the years become an icy block. The final wake up call had come from a loss so big he'd never even imagined it. He'd thought that by keeping his emotions and relationships locked in the lab he was being safe. Then Ecklie had shattered his illusions, his world ripped apart, his family torn in two.
After that he'd tried to start paying more attention to what was left to him, to Sara and Greg. When Sara had had her fights with Catherine and Ecklie he'd known that the time had finally come for change. It had taken every scrap of confidence, courage, and bravado that he could muster to make his way to her apartment, to breach the wall between work and life. He'd never expected her to actually let him in. Oh, part of him had hoped, but the realist who'd locked everything away for so long had truly believed that he was too late. The fact that she'd trusted him so completely, telling him things that no one else in Las Vegas new had begun the return of his confidence. It had given him back the ability to trust his impulses and to act on them.
When he thought about it, it seemed to him that Sara was the reason that he'd been able to flirt with Sophia and ask her to dinner. He knew that everyone who'd heard about it had been surprised, but then again nobody knew the full story. He was working his way up, gathering his confidence. Drinks with Brass and Catherine had been the next step. Of course even he'd been surprised to hear the words coming out of his mouth. The shocked look on Catherine's face had been well worth it though.
He knew his journey had yet to be completed. He'd yet to test out his newly found confidence with Sara, but as the newest blonde in his life had said, "What we are never changes. Who we are never stops changing." He, Gil Grissom, had allowed that change to continue for too long in the wrong direction. It was time to form a new habit, to allow the changes to be for the better, to bring him closer to the people around him, not farther away. Life had already proven to him that distance would not solve his problems or those of his friends.
Later in life when he thought back on this time, (though normally he tried to avoid such a thing) he would recall that just as he could pinpoint no one thing which had sent him over the deep end neither could he choose a single event as the one thing responsible for his return. It would always surprise him, because of his highly trained investigative skills and his attention to detail. All he would really remember was that whatever the reasons it had taken way too long. Too long without the comfort, compassion, and companionship of another human being. Too long to remember that people aren't meant to be alone. After all humans are mammals, and mammals are inherently pack animals. No man is made to be an island.