Henrika- My first posted CSI fic! I've had a couple of them, but this is just the first one I ever considered good enough to type and post. And no, I'm not a newbie to writing fanfiction. Check the profile.Some spoilers for Grave Danger, but they aren't really spoilers since I think most of us have seen that episode. Angsty Greg ahead. Read on! Enjoy! Review!
Postnote- Would have got this up sooner, but the log-in was being really screwy.
It had been a month since Nick had been buried alive. A month since the group thought they were going to lose the Texan CSI. A month since all of them had changed. A month since Ecklie had reformed the original nightshift and let them get back to work.
Nick and Greg walked into the locker room, their case over. Nick hadn't worked solo since that night, but truth be told, no one was willing to let him quite yet. "Nice catch Greg. Pretty smart to check inside the pudding. You have to admit, that's a unique way to hide a small pistol!" Nick laughed.
Greg smiled. "Bit harder to hide it in the cookies right?"
"Very true." Nick pulled off his vest and shirt, exchanging them for a dress shirt in his locker. "Hey, you coming with? Warrick and I are headed out for some drinks."
Greg looked up for a moment, contemplating. After the incident, the entire lab had drawn closer together, the nightshift becoming even more like a family. They had even started including him, something that had been rare before. "Not tonight Nick. You and Warrick live it up for me though."
"Alright man. See you later." Nick pulled on his jacket as Warrick showed up in the doorway.
"Ready to go?"
"Later Greggo." Warrick waved and Greg returned the gesture.
Once the pair had left, Greg went about unbuttoning his shirt. He slipped the garment off his back, and then paused strangely, examining the plain green shirt. His mind skipped back to something Hodges had said a month ago, in a conversation over a round of 'The Dukes of Hazzard' game.
'You know, far be it from me to wax nostalgic, but, uh, I kinda miss the old Greg. Ugly T-shirts, goofy hair, semi-pornographic magazines…'
'Yeah, well, at least I had style to change.' He had shot back.
He missed who he used to be. When people kept telling you you weren't the same, it got to you after awhile. He fisted the shirt in his hands. The green material crumpled under the pressure, a button digging into the palm of his right hand. It was so…normal. He had wanted them to take him seriously as a C.S.I., not just the zany DNA tech. He had changed, toning down everything about himself. Then people had noticed, but only to say that they missed who he used to be.
Greg suddenly felt like crying and buried his face into his shirt. He knew his hands were shaking, something they hadn't done since after the lab explosion. That thought in itself sent him spiraling into bad memories. Under 30 and already having a mental breakdown. He thought, suppressing the insane laughter that bubbled up in the back of his throat.
He was angry with himself. Nick had made an amazing recovery, the only mental effect being that the man was slightly leery of being alone. (There were other things, things that Nick refused to let the team know about, things he kept well-hidden and only let out in the presence of the psychiatrist he had been appointed after the severe trauma.) But Greg felt guilty for feeling bad for himself.
By all accounts, his life was going great. He had gone from DNA tech to C.S.I. in a very short amount of time. He was alive, even though turning a few more inches toward the fume hood when it exploded would have killed him. He had a nice apartment, neighbors who didn't mind his work schedule, and friends he could hang out with when he wanted to (Though they were growing more distant as they realized that Greg was rarely available.)
Papa Olaf lived in San Francisco, but they kept in touch with technology. His parents had died in a car accident when he was sixteen, and he had gone to live with him. The rest of his family, both Sanders and Hojem, lived on the East Coast. He barely knew them, but he'd get cards at Christmas and he would faithfully do the same.
Greg curled up on the cool bench, his face still covered by the coarse material. So why do I feel like everything is going wrong? He wasn't crying, but it felt like his whole body was shaking from the unrealized sobs. He knew he should get dressed and go home before someone found him like this, but he couldn't find the strength to move.
And somebody found him.
"See you tomorrow Grissom." Sara called down the hall as she stepped into the locker room."
"Good work today Sara." She heard him say before he went into his office.
Sara moved towards her locker, freezing when she caught sight of the shirtless, quaking man, curled on the locker bench. For a moment, she thought it was Nick and her stomach dropped. Then she saw the matted brown-blonde hair and felt sick. "Greg?" She said cautiously, wincing as he stopped moving, his whole body tensing up. "Greggo?"
She moved around to sit by his head, concern growing as she noticed how tightly his fists were balled around the shirt covering his face. She lightly touched his wrist and he whimpered. "Sara?" Her name came out muffled.
"Yeah, it's me. Are you okay?" She could have sworn she heard a derisive snort at that. "Are you sick?"
"No. I'm okay. Don't worry about it." Came the muffled reply.
"Then why don't you take the shirt off your face and go home?" She asked gently, surprising herself with the soft tone. She pulled lightly on his wrist and he let his hands go limp, the shirt slipping to the floor. Sara couldn't help analyzing his expression. The normally vibrant light in his eyes that had dimmed lately had finally gone out. His enthusiasm was gone. His eyes were bloodshot and it seemed that the deep black circles under them had materialized overnight. It looked like he had given up hope, it was the only way she could think of to describe it, but she couldn't tell why that was the case.
"I will. You go ahead." He tried to smile reassuringly, but failed, and they both knew that he had failed. "Sorry." He offered weakly, still unable or unwilling to sit up.
"Greg…" Sara started, grasping the edge of the bench and leaning backwards. She trailed off as she caught sight of his exposed back. And the burn scars that covered half of it. She had seen them before, recently in fact. But even in the close quarters of the decontamination shower, she had never seen them up close.
The scars spider-webbed across his flesh, some of thicker ones to one side. He was turning when the explosion hit. She realized. The rubbery white tissue had faded some, but she knew that they would never go away completely. She reached out hesitantly, her fingers lighting on a thin scar near his neck. He instantly stiffened underneath her touch, but made no move to leave. "Do you still have the nightmares?"
"I don't know what you're talking about." He said suddenly, sitting up and grabbing a plain blue T-shirt from his locker. He kicked the green one into the bottom of his locker and slammed the door. "Don't worry about me Sara." He said, successfully faking a smile this time. He moved to put on his shirt, but stopped as Sara stood, coming up behind him.
"You don't have to do this you know."
"Hide behind yourself. You're obviously upset." She traced another scar. "I still have nightmares." Greg jerked forward, pulling on his shirt, but he sat back down and Sara did the same. She wrapped an arm around his shoulders as he dropped his face into his hands.
There was a long silence before Greg spoke, shakily, "Sorry."
"Don't apologize. Now tell me what's wrong."
"He smiled weakly, looking up at her. "Everything?"
"Greg." She warned.
"Sorry." He struggled for words for a moment. "I do have nightmares, but they've been showing up less." She nodded encouragingly. "I guess I'm just feeling a bit lost."
"Why?" Sara prompted when he didn't seem willing to say more than that.
"I don't know…no, I do know. I hate who I've become."
"Yes, as everyone keeps telling me as well."
"You too right? I just wanted you guys to respect me as a C.S.I., but I think I sacrificed my personality. Now it's just…hard to, I don't know." He trailed off helplessly, hanging his head again.
"If you're unhappy with what you've become, then change." Greg looked up in surprise, meeting the reassuring look in Sara's eyes. "We do respect you. You do good work and you've got great instincts. Be who you are, not who you think we want you to be." Greg took a minute to absorb that.
"So does this mean you'll let me post that horrendous prom picture of your all over the office?" He smiled angelically; sincerely. A true smile.
"Hey, hey. I said great instincts, not fantastic."
They both smiled.
"It's never a problem Greg. We're all here for you."
Henrika- Originally had this idea during Greg's lab tech days. It would have went that Nick would have accidentally spilled coffee on him, "Geez Nick, do you hate the shirts that much?" and then would have progressed in much the same way. Though I think the original idea had Greg/Sara as the pairing. Here it's just more of a friendship/family type deal. Hope you liked it.