Disclaimer: Not mine.


It was a quiet night, relatively speaking. No new cases, no closing cases, no I've-just-found-a-new-link-in-the-chain-of-evidence cases. Everyone was working through the muddling mire in the middle of the case, when loose ends are still unravelling and everyone's waiting on printouts and no one wants to look Grissom in the eye with their half-formed theories and shaky evidence.

The entrance door opened, and someone unusual stepped in. The receptionist glanced up from her paperwork to see a tall woman in a ruby-red satin evening gown approach the desk tentatively. Her rounded hips swayed with the graceful movements of her long legs, despite the suspiciously pointed heels.

The sleeveless dress clung to her like the taut skin of a fresh peach. Dark red gloves, the same colour as the dress, encased her hands and arms up to her elbow. Her neckline was rounded rather than plunging, and was edged with a layered gathering of material that draped over her left shoulder to fall to the floor as a train. Her head was hooded by another swathe of glossy material- only the glow of her eyes and the painted red of her lips could be seen. A few wisps of pale blond hair ghosted from the rim of the hood, creating an eerie halo-like effect.

Classy lady. Not quite the person whom the receptionist would have expected to see. She expected a worker in late, clothes askew and sleep-deprived eyes frantic with worry. The bored desk worker opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again as the tall woman raised her hand in a quieting motion. She glanced around nervously before stepping close to the desk and resting delicate musician's hands on the smooth surface of the desk.

"Please," she murmured softly, in a husky voice that whispered like the wind through spun sugar. "Please, I need to see someone who works here."

The receptionist frowned. "May I ask who you are, madam, and who you wish to see? You must appreciate that we cannot allow simply anyone to waltz in off the street." It had been a long night on the desk, and she was in no mood for mysterious blondes with cliché problems.

Mindless of the gloss on her lips, the other woman's tongue flicked out briefly to wet them, a typical nervous tick. "You must understand…"

"Carrie? What seems to be the problem?"

The office worker turned from the woman to see a slightly irritable-looking Gil Grissom striding towards them. She heaved a mental sigh of relief. "This lady is requesting to see one of the CSIs, sir," she replied, narrowing her eyes at the stranger.

The stranger who had all but whirled round at the sound of Grissom's voice. She had twisted so her back was to him and she was even now drawing up the hood even more to obscure and shadow her face.

Gil frowned at the slim, almost imperceptibly quivering form. The woman's shoulders were tight with tension and her hands were drawn up, fidgeting restlessly with the smooth material of the expensive gown. Her posture was guarded and cautious.

"Miss?" he asked, coming towards her and nodding at the receptionist, who looked back to her computer screen with one ear still on the conversation.

"Mr Grissom, I presume?" the voice was no less tight or strained. "I need to talk to you."

"And your name is…?"

The woman turned. "You can call me…Gretl."

Gil gave her an inscrutable look from behind the reflective faceless shields of his lenses, then nodded abruptly and gestured for the woman to follow him to his office. Carrie watched them go, silently surprised by Grissom's willingness to allow an unidentified stranger into the crime lab. Must really be a slow night, she mused, returning to the game of Solitaire she had been playing on her computer.

Gil closed the door behind the stranger with a sharp click and indicated for her to sit down. She didn't move from her position in the centre of the room. The supervisor made a mental note of it, his mind automatically filing all the information he could gather about her from her manner, appearance and mode of speech. He folded his arms and confronted the woman. "What can I help you with?" His tone was brusque, firm. It was his I-want-answers-now-or-I'll-dock-pay voice. It seemed to work.

'Gretl' shivered as the command in his voice reverberated through his words. She turned, keeping her head bowed submissively, and hesitated a moment before taking a step towards him. She walked in small, determined steps towards the imposing man. Gil didn't move, keeping his arms folded, a barrier, defensive. Patience on a monument. The woman kept walking until she was directly in front of him. Her head tilted and then suddenly, she lunged forwards.

Her mouth met Gil's with a gentle force, a sweet pressure. Gil froze as the full warm lips pressed against his, a harmonious warmth suffusing into him. Locked for an eternity in a nano-second, the man stood paralysed, paused, held. Eyes wide open, all cognitive thinking shut down. For an instant, hauntingly familiar brown eyes looked directly into his, desire flaming in liquid orbs. Then, as they snapped shut, time remembered how to pass.

Gil reflexively pushed at the tall form and staggered backwards, unnerved, unmanned, unarmed. He gaped at her, raising a hand to his face to touch his lips. His fingers stained with the red of the woman's gloss. His mind reeling. His thoughts scattered. Vulnerable. Panting, heightened breath, elevated heartbeat. Calm down, Gil, before your chest explodes. Underlying fear. My space, my territory, my shields, my safety, my land. Violated.

The woman one again stood with her head bowed. Her face shaded. Her identity hidden. Faceless invader. Eyes shadowed. Shutters down. Unthreatening. Harmless danger. The riptide that pulls you under. The rattlesnake with a broken tail.

"I'm sorry," the words were whispered. "I'm so sorry. I couldn't…" She stopped abruptly. There was a break in the voice- emotion pushing at the words, forcing them. 'Gretl' stepped back and hastily turned to leave.

Partially recovered, Gil strode forwards and grabbed her arm, spinning her back to face him, ready to demand answers. As he did so, the hood slipped off her head. Forcibly twisted back and unbalanced, the woman's face was revealed.

Gil's jaw dropped. "Greg?"

Horrified, the young lab tech gazed back at his superior, the shoulder-length wig framing his face with highlighted blond ringlets. Artfully applied eyeliner and mascara darkened his eyes and gave him a slightly seductive look, and the expertly used lip colour completely disguised the shape of his mouth. A faint, delicate blush had been touched to his cheeks, now stark red against the pale skin as Greg's face drained of blood. The young man's eyes were huge and round in a kind of panicked hysteria, his chest was heaving as downright fear seemed to sweep through his body. Gil realised he was visibly trembling and, with an instant revelation, released his steadily tightening grip.

Greg sprang away from him like a startled rabbit, his gloved hands automatically reaching to soothe the red weals on his arms, caused by the vicelike grip. The older man jut stared at him, still unable to process, unable to comprehend what the hell just happened. "Greg," he said, faintly, unconsciously steadying himself on the back of a chair. "Did you just come into my office in an evening dress and kiss me?"

"Uh-" Greg swallowed hard and made a few more raspy squeaky noises before giving up on speech and nodding his head wretchedly. His eyes looked even brighter than they had a few moments ago and Gil registered with a start how close he was to tears.

Feeling very tired all of a sudden, Gil moved to slump into his chair and rested his elbows on his desk, covering his face with his hands, surreptitiously wiping at the remaining gloss on his lips. When he'd secretly wished for some activity in the lab, this hadn't exactly been what he'd had in mind. "Why?" he asked, after a few seconds of tense silence had elapsed.

There was no answer. Gil glanced up to see Greg, unmoving but still quaking and looking ready to bolt at any minute. He gestured tiredly for the younger man to sit down. Awkwardly, suddenly as shaky on his heels as he had been confidant before, Greg complied. His movements were quick and jerky. He fidgeted restlessly with the loose material of the train on the dress and steadfastly refused to look at Grissom.

Gil directed a penetrating stare at the man opposite him. He really couldn't quite register the surreal event that had just taken place. He took in the dejected, kicked-puppy-miserable form of the lab tech. He had to admire the courage it had taken, but he needed to understand. "I'm not sure that outfit is quite what the dress code means by 'smart/casual'," he remarked, with the slightest suggestion of a smile. Greg just squirmed, obviously desperate to run and hide.

"Greg?" Gil said, as gently as he could. "I need to know-?"

"I'm sorry!" Greg blurted out, interrupting him. His head shot up and woebegone brown eyes finally met Gil's own. His voice rose a note with each statement. "I just…I can't…I couldn't keep living like I was, seeing you everyday, feeling these urges everyday. I thought, maybe once I could…I don't know, I'm sorry!"

The older man shushed the younger, raising a hand to tem the outpouring of garbled explanation. Greg stopped immediately and hung his head again. "Just once, I wanted…just one time, then I could console myself with the thought that it had happened," he whispered, bitterly. "Huh, that really worked."

Gil was taken aback. "So, why the dress?" he questioned, purposefully avoiding the issue of 'feeling urges everyday'.

Greg sniffed pathetically. "I just like pretty things. I thought, maybe if I was pretty it might somehow work, that somehow I wouldn't mess it up."

By this point, Gil could physically feel his heart ripping in two. He reflected, wryly, that it was ironic that a kiss with his boss would reduce this bright, brilliant soul to heart-stopping misery and dejection.

"Hey, Greggo," he said, evenly, in the tone of someone trying to calm a spooked horse. "You don't need an evening gown or expensive jewellery to look pretty. You're…stunning."

Greg started, giving Gil a floored look. Gil had to agree, it was something of a stupefying revelation even to him. "The dress helps," the supervisor added, weakly.

"You- you think I'm…" Greg's eyebrows were climbing to his hairline and he was looking a Gil with a mixture of hardly-daring-to-hope, desperately-wanting-to-believe and this-better-hadn't-be-a-dream. "Does that mean…?"

Again, Gil's lips twitched in his typical, enigmatic half-smile. "Maybe. But first you'll have to tell me how you got such a convincing shape from simple gown."

"Custom-made. Padding," Greg replied, his face lighting up and his whole demeanour leaping from thoroughly depressed to brighter than the most beautiful desert sunrise. "Gris-"

"It's Gil," the older man interrupted, leaning forwards to cup Greg's cheek with his hand. Greg leaned into the touch, still unsure, still tentative, but looking like all of his Christmases had come at once. Gil's smile blossomed into a full on, proper grin. "Now shut up and kiss me, you mad fool."