Disclaimer: Just like everyone here I am merely borrowing the characters to give them a chance to do something other than work. I have no ties to any of the other recognizable elements in this story.

A/N: Just a quick little piece about the newest/youngest CSI since he was so down after the last episode. No real relationships or much involvement of anyone-else, but still fluffy.

Spoliers: Sparks of Life

Dedication: To Isa for taking the time to review one of my other ramblings and for writing a fantastic piece of fiction: Night Stalker, Dream Stalker.

Interlude 3: In which Greg finds someone to Hug

It had seemed like rather spurious advice at the time.

What good is going home and hugging a pillow going to do? Maybe if I had a person or a pet to go home to...but a pillow? She can't be serious. She heard I used to be a funny guy? What the hell does that have to do with this? Just because I'm growing up…I'm tired of just being the goofy sidekick. So I had a tough time with a burn victim. I mean she was still alive, usually they're dead and I don't have to wonder about what they're going through. What now?

Greg still hadn't figured out what to do at the end of shift. He didn't really want to go back to his empty apartment, but he didn't have anything else.

Look who needs a hobby now. When did I become one of them? A work-a-holic without a life? Okay Sanders…can't just sit here in the locker room. You need to leave work at some point. Okay I know I want out of this tourist trap, I need some normality.

He was driving home, with little of his mind paying attention to the motions, glazedly taking in the familiar scenery when something caught his attention. Greg quickly changed lanes and pulled off the road into the mall parking lot. This wasn't the touristy type of mall like the ones found in the casinos downtown, but a two story mall, the likes of which could be found in almost any suburban town through out the country. It was early, the mall was just opening, and there were only a few cars in the lot. Greg smiled to himself.

I'm sure I can find something here to entertain and distract myself for a little while.

The first place Greg went was the arcade, but none of the games held his attention. The fighting, shooting, and car crashes reminded him too much of the crime scenes he processed everyday. As a lab tech he'd only had to deal with the pieces, not really thinking about how they fit together into a whole, never allowing the connection between people's actions and what he processed to fully form in his mind. Now that he saw both ends of the spectrum every night the connection was burned into his brain. No, the arcade was not going to be his solace this time.

Greg wandered the mall, observing the few early morning shoppers. Most were women, slightly older than him, trailing small toddlers too young to be in school. They looked frazzled and drawn, but most looked happy or at least content. He felt a little awkward watching them, analyzing them, looking for future suspects or victims.

Lord, I've been spending way too much time with Sara and Grissom. I'm becoming an antisocial watcher. Time to stop that. I'm supposed to be the socially adept one, not that I'm quite in Warrick's class, that man should have his picture next to the definition of smooth.

Greg wandered into the music store. He didn't have as much chance to blast music anymore. It wasn't really acceptable behavior while at a scene, but he needed to update his tunes.

Who am I kidding? It was never really acceptable behavior at the lab either. It was just nice to be able to make them all smile. I always used to wonder why it was so rare. Now I know part of it is the fact that it's difficult to repress certain emotions without pushing down everything. It's hard to smile when you can still picture last night's conversation with Doc. Robbins.

He browsed through the albums released over the past few weeks and then the rest of the rock section. It had been a while since he'd bought anything new so he grabbed Green Day's American Idiot, Yellowcard's Ocean Avenue, and the Black Eyed Peas' Elephunk, even though they weren't new to him.

It's about time I gave my brother back his CDs.

He had a short, polite talk with the cashier, but when he walked out of the store he still couldn't quite shake the image of a gauze wrapped body.

Nope, can't head home yet. Hmm…where next?

A high pitched squeal followed by a giggly whine caught Greg's attention.

"Come on Mom, please? Can't we do it just this once?"

"All right honey. Consider it an early birthday present."

Greg turned towards the conversation to see a little girl with curly brunette locks, a large smile, and a periodic table shirt tugging on her mom's arm pointing towards the Build-A-Bear store.

That looks like a good idea to me too.

He wandered over towards the store front.

"Hi. Welcome to Build-A-Bear. Can I help you pick out a special friend for you to adopt today?"

The greeter addressed the small girl as she stood wide eyed in front of the toy selection. Greg smiled as the child wandered back and forth carefully eyeing the example of each animal calmly considering her choice. The bright green goofy looking frog had already caught his eye. The young voice piped up next to him.

"Are you going to make that frog? For yourself? It's pretty silly looking. Kinda like you."

"You think I'm silly looking huh?"

"Well, you're hair is pretty funny looking. Why is it so many different colors?"

"I got bored one day."

"My name's Kimberly. What's yours?"

"I'm Greg. Which bear are you going to build?"

"Oh I'm not going to make a bear. I want the white tiger, like the ones at the Mirage. They're very pretty. My daddy takes me to see them sometimes if I ask really nice."

"So, now that you've chosen your new friend we need to stuff them. Please come over this way. Would you two like to help each other out?"

Greg snapped back to reality and looked at Kimberly's mother, rather embarrassed and hoping that he hadn't freaked the woman out. She seemed to fit the general profile of women in the mall this morning: maybe five years older than him, slightly shorter than him, with light brown hair twisted into a loose bun. She appeared to be taking her daughter's new friend in stride. He decided he should probably introduce himself.

"Hi. Greg Sanders. I didn't mean to intrude…"

"It's not a problem, Mr Sanders…I'm sorry if Kimmy's bothering you. She's a very curious child, never met a stranger. I worry about her sometimes, but you seemed harmless enough."

"I suppose I am, but please don't stop worrying about her. I've seen and heard about enough wierdos in my line of work to tell you that not everyone who's dangerous looks it at first glance. Oh, and please call me Greg. I still look around for my dad when people mention Mr. Sanders."

"I'm Emily Glickman. What do you do Mr…Greg, that you've seen so much?"

"I work at the crime lab here in Vegas."

"What's the crime lab do?" put in Kim, from her seat next to the stuffing machine's crank, unwilling to be ignored during her activity.

Greg turned to look at the young girl, hunkering down to her eye level.

"We go with the police to places where bad things happened and try to figure out what went wrong. I used to be the person in charge of matching the skin and hair people left behind to suspects."

"You work with DNA?"

"Yes, but how did you…?"

Greg looked up at Emily.

"I'm afraid that's my fault. I work as a lab tech in the biology department at UNLV. Kimmy's come to work with me on several occasions and she likes to try to get the students to explain their work to her."

"Well I guess that explains the T-shirt."

"Yeah, it was her Christmas gift from the group last year. She adores it"

Greg smiled and turned back to Kimmy and they talked about how she liked going to work with her mom. Before long the frog and the tiger had been stuffed and it was time to give the animals their hearts.

"Kimberly would you like to kiss this heart and make a wish for your tiger before you give it to him?" asked the store clerk.

"I want Greg to do it."

Greg couldn't help but smile at the young girl. She was how he pictured Sara as a child, well at least how she should have been had she had the chance of a normal childhood.

"All right Kim, but then you have to put Frogger's heart in for me."

"Frogger…that's a silly name, Greg. Here this is for Misty."

The two traded little plastic hearts and kissed them. Kim tucked the heart she was holding into Frogger and whispered something in his ear. Greg, feeling light hearted from this experience, meowed at Misty before putting in her heart. Kim giggled at his antics, while her mom rolled her eyes. The two watched as the store clerk carefully sewed the animals shut.

"Did you want to pick out outfits for these two?"

Greg picked out a pair of board shorts for Frogger, but Kim decided that Misty didn't need clothing.

"She's a tiger. Why would she wear clothes?"

Little kids are so logical. Life always seems so simple when you pose it to them.

The animals were given birth certificates and placed in their carrying cases. It was time for the new friends to part ways.

"Emily, Kim it was nice to meet you. Make sure you take good care of Misty here. I hope I'm not overstepping, but this is my work number, let me know if you ever want to come down for a tour of the lab."

"Cool! Could we Mom, please?"

"Maybe some other time, Kimmy. Thank you Greg, for being so nice to Kimmy."

Greg shook hands with each of the women, getting down to Kim's level to say goodbye to her. He started to walk away, feeling much better than he had when he'd arrived at the mall.

"Hey Greg…what did you say to Misty when you meowed at her earlier?"

"I told her she was very lucky to have you as her mommy and to look out for you. What did you tell Frogger?"

"I told him I hoped he cheered you up, cause your eyes were kinda sad when we started."

"Thank you Kim. I hope Misty helps keep you happy too." Greg said slightly surprised that she had picked up on his turmoil.

I suppose kids are much more in tune with that kind of stuff than adults are. After all most kids haven't had to build walls around their hearts yet. Oops, no more melancholy today.

Greg gave the girl and her mother one last smile before heading off to his car. Suddenly exhausted he drove straight home. He locked his front door behind him, kicked his shoes off in the hall, threw Frogger's box on the floor and tumbled into bed, clutching the stuffed animal. He woke up feeling much refreshed and ready to face the new day, with more enthusiasm than he had believed possible at the end of his last shift.

"What is this?"

"It looks like a stuffed frog, Gris."

"I can see that Sara, but what is it doing in the middle of the break room?"

"Why don't you read the note that's sitting right beside him?"

Grissom picked the simple typed piece of paper up off the table.

"Hi. My name is Frogger. I've been specially made for the Las Vegas Crime Lab. Having a bad day? Give me a squeeze and let me know what's wrong. Kimmy guarantees you'll feel better after."

Greg smiled unnoticed from the doorway as he watched the subtle tension around Sara lift as Grissom closely examined the toy before giving it a quick squeeze.

This really was a good idea. I should thank Sophia later.

A/N 2: Okay so I lied. There was def. some GSR in that last scene.