Rating: K+ for some angst

Warnings: Swearing

Spoilers: Pre-Season 1 until after the episode "Leaving Las Vegas" (Before "Sweet Jane")

Relationships: GSR, pre-Season 1 GrissomOC mentioned

Summary: Grissom is Greg's biological father. Greg doesn't know. Grissom tells Greg before leaving for his sabbatical, but what will the repercussions be?

A/N: Hello everyone! This fic is...well, a little plot bunny that's been hanging around my mind and refusing to go away. What started as a songfic mutated into a multi-chapter fic. C'est la vie. In any case, this fic is based off the song "How I Go" by Yellowcard, and the italicized words at the beginning of each chapter (save the prologue) are from the song. The prologue is to the tune of "The Saddest Song" by the Ataris. I do not own any of the songs, characters, etc. I fully understand the probability of what I have written being nil, but that's ok with me. If you don't like the idea, then don't read it. The prologue basically details Grissom's life before the beginning of CSI. ITALICS in the prologue indicate a flashback. In any case, please read and review! Thanks!


"Still a few more months
Until your birthday
Yesterday was mine"

Gil Grissom closed the file folder and set it on the desk. He blinked once, wearily, and rubbed his eyes. Glancing over at the mounting pile of paperwork in his inbox, he sighed. Gone one day, take one day off, and everything seemed to pile up.

Of course, he shouldn't complain. Youngest coroner of LA county at the age of twenty-two. It wasn't such a bad job, he supposed. Long hours and mostly autonomous, but not bad, all in all.

He pushed the paperwork aside and reached for the meagerly small stack of birthday cards. He looked at the return addresses, flipping through them. Most were from old college buddies and professors, but one stuck out, an address he didn't expect.

Brow furrowed, he opened the envelope and removed the contents: a folded letter, a hand-made card, and a picture. Grissom unfolded the letter first and read it slowly, not missing a word.

"Dear Gil,
Happy Birthday. I'm sure you're surprised to hear from me. I'm surprised I wrote to you. I thought you might want to know about your son.
I sent you a picture of him. He's such a beautiful boy. Luckily, he looks nothing like you. Gil, he doesn't know. About you. As far as he knows, Peter is his father. I'll probably tell him later in life, but I won't tell him who you are. That's for him to find out on his own.
Oh, he wrote you a card. I told him you were one of 'Mommy's friends', so he wrote to you as such.
Good-bye, Gil. I just wanted you to know what you were missing from your life.
--Else Sanders"

Grissom set the letter down and exhaled deeply, closing his eyes for just a second. Else…Elisabeth. Hojem when he knew her, back at school. They had met in an entomology class, when she was 18 and he 19. A month later, she was pregnant, and he was…terrified.

So he had done the worst thing he had ever done in his entire life—broken ties with her and moved on with his life. She had moved home, given birth and married some guy named Peter Sanders, and that had been the end of it.

Grissom had almost gone to visit one day, three years ago, shortly before her marriage to Peter.

He hadn't gone. He couldn't bring himself to, hadn't been able to face her and his son. He didn't think he would've been able to live with himself if he had gone. As it was, he could barely live with himself, but had he gone, had he looked into his son's eyes…

Sighing, he picked up the picture and, taking a deep breath, really did look into his son's eyes.

"You'll be turning five
I know what it's like
Growing up without your father in your life"

Grissom had to bite back a curse as he looked at the picture. His son was beautiful Big, dark eyes, large and playful, hair not quite light, not quite dark. He looked just like his mother…just like Else. Tracing the picture absently with his finger, he flipped it over and read the back. "Four years old—May 5, 1979."

He turned it back over and looked into that little boy's eyes again. "Will you ever forgive me?" whispered Grissom aloud. The picture didn't answer; the smile was still perfect, if slightly crooked, those big eyes still innocent and trusting, frozen forever in a single moment.

Closing his eyes briefly, Grissom remembered his own vague memories of his father. He wasn't a bad man, his father, but he was rarely home, and when he was, he was quiet and distant. Still, he had missed him when he died, but was glad to know him for that brief time.

His son would never even know his father.

Grissom took a deep breath and picked up the birthday card. It was made from a sheet of construction paper. He half-smiled at the front, which featured a crayon-drawn blob that might be a birthday cake and the proclamation "Hapy Britdy!"

He opened it and read the massage inside, feeling his heart clench at the childish writing. "Hi Mister Grisum! My Mommy sez yur her frend, and I shuld tel yu hapy britdy.
My britdy is in 9 monts. My mommy showd me how to count.
I gota go. Hapy britdy, Mister Grisum! Maybe sumday, yu can be my frend, to!
Greg Sanders"

Grissom felt tears prickle in his eyes and he cleared his throat loudly. "I hope I can be your friend, someday, too, Greg," he whispered hoarsely. "I hope so, one day."

"So I pretend
I'm doing all I can
And hope someday you'll find it in your heart
To understand
Why I'm not around
And forgive me for not being in your life"

Grissom slid his key into the cold metal of the lock and twisted it, hearing the blot slide into place. The satisfying click seemed to echo in the emptiness he felt inside. If Else's letter had meant to hurt him, it had done its job and then some, reopening guilt he had stored away for years.

He had abandoned her. He knew that. 18 years old and pregnant and he had left her, choosing his academic career over his son, over that sweet boy whose picture he had hidden away in his desk. His son was being raised by another man because he hadn't been man enough to accept the responsibility.

Grissom had tried to argue that his future was important, that he was needed, especially as coroner now. But nothing could argue with the look in her eyes when he told her that he was leaving her, and nothing could argue with the guilt that threatened to consume Grissom even as he stood outside the morgue in downtown LA.

If Grissom had been a drinking man, he would've high-tailed it to the nearest bar to lose himself in a pungent liquid. As it was, he was going back to his empty apartment, to watch TV until exhaustion claimed him.

What was worse was knowing what could've been, what could be. He could be going home to see what new thing his son had made in preschool that day. He could be going home to a sweet, wonderful wife.

Instead, he had traded that for lonely nights and lonely days, with dead bodies for companions.

He had abandoned his son in hopes of finding a life with meaning. Now he wondered if the meaning had been his son all along.

"I remember waiting
For you to come
Remember waiting
For you to call
Remember waiting there to find nothing at all
I remember waiting
For you to come
Remember waiting
For you to call
Remember waiting there to find nothing at all"

Greg Sanders sat in front of the TV in the living room. His mother, standing behind him, was checking her lipstick in the reflection on the window. Had Greg been older, he might have been able to articulate his concern; as it was, at the age of two, he was still just barely able to string a coherent sentence together.

His mother seemed exceptionally anxious today. She had told him a few minutes earlier that a man would be coming to visit him. His father.

Greg's young mind could hardly wrap itself around the concept of a father. As far as he knew, it had always been him and his mother, and he would even have argued staunchly that his conception had been immaculate if, of course, he knew what either immaculate or conception was.

He didn't know a father, a dad, a daddy. Sure, his mother had had boyfriends, men she brought home from time to time. But never a constant male figure, never this illusive father.

Behind his, his mother checked her watch and swore softly under her breath. Greg looked up at her, solemn-eyed. "Mommy, where da?" he asked.

She closed her eyes briefly and knelt to wrap him in a hug. "I don't think he's coming, sweetie. He's probably really busy."

As she held him close, Greg looked out the window at the blue, cloudless sky, wondering vaguely what his father could be doing that was more important than him.

The doorknob to the small San Gabriel house turned, and Greg Sanders was up and out of his chair and racing like a juggernaught toward the door, grasping the knees of the figure coming in. "Daddy!" exclaimed the four-year-old boy, his face lit up like a Christmas tree.

Peter Sanders laughed and reached down to pick up the already-giggling Greg. "Hey, Greggo."

Greg latched his arms around Peter's neck, kissing him once on the nose. Still giggling, he said, "I love you, Daddy."

Peter Sanders squeezed Greg just a little tighter, a proud smile on his face. "I love you, too, son."

"Maybe someday
You'll really get to know me
Not just the letters read to you
I pray I'll get the chance
To make this up to you
We've got a lot of catching up to do"

Eleven years had passed since Grissom had received a card from a young boy that shared thirteen of his alleles. In the years that passed, Grissom had moved to Las Vegas and become a criminalist.

He had some friends, some real friends. The pieces of his life were falling into place. And well they should be. At 35, he should be settling down.

He was, in a way. But there was still no special woman in his life, and he wondered if there ever would be. He had loved a woman once, and part of him still loved her. A much larger part of him loved the boy he had never seen, the son he had never met.

Frowning, Grissom looked around his office, almost as if checking to see if anyone was there. He reached into his desk and pulled out a pad of paper with a half-written letter on the top page. Picking up his pen, he read what he had written thus far.

"Dear Else,
I got you latest letter. I'm glad you told Greg. From what I hear, he's a smart boy. He would've figured it out eventually.
In any case, since you told him, I was wondering if I could come by your place one day and introduce myself."

Grissom wet his lips and tightened his grip on his pen, continuing the letter. "I'd really like to get to know Greg. He's my son, and, well, I don't know. Please give me the chance to make up all the time we've lost.

Sincerely Yours,
Gil Grissom"

Almost three weeks passed before he heard back from Else, and after reading her letter, he thought it might've been better had he not written in the first place.

You want to make up the time with Greg? You can't make up for abandoning him. You don't deserve to know Greg.
You spent 15 years ignoring him. Why should that change now?
Do not contact me or Greg ever again, do you understand?
Elisabeth Sanders"

Grissom set the letter on his desk with shaking hands. All his hopes had dissipated with a few viciously penned words.

His son was 15 now. Probably had braces. Maybe he even had glasses, like Grissom did at that age. Grissom didn't even know what color his hair was now.

All he had to go off of was an old, grainy black-and-white photograph from 1979. He pulled the photograph out from his desk and looked at it sadly. "We'll meet someday," he whispered before putting it back in his desk. "Someday."

"So I pretend
I'm doing all I can
And hope someday you'll find it in your heart
To understand
Why I'm not around
And forgive me for not being in your life"

Grissom sat in the break room, gazing morosely down at the cup of coffee in his hands. It was terrible coffee, and he absently wished he would hire someone who could actually make halfway-decent coffee.

A knock sounded on the door and Detective Jim Brass strolled in. "Hey, Gil," he said, setting a file folder down on the table.

Sitting up, Grissom set his features into his usual stoic expression. "Jim. Did you track down our vic's car?"

"Yeah, it was abandoned in an alley. They're towing it as we speak." Brass sat down at the table and studied Grissom carefully. "Is everything ok, Gil?"

Grissom swallowed and shook his head slowly. Before he knew it, he was pouring out the entire story to Brass, who listened carefully. When Grissom was finished, Brass sat back in his chair and exhaled deeply. "Wow. That's touch," he mused aloud.

Smiling wryly, Grissom muttered, "Understatement of the year." Sighing, he leaned forward and asked, "What do you think I should do?"

Brass frowned. "Not much you can do. I've got a kid myself. Ellie. She's a…handful. And if there's one thing I've learned from her, you still gotta give them room to grow and figure things out. Going to see Greg now, after he's just learned the news, is probably not a good idea."

"So I should wait more," sighed Grissom. "I don't know if I can."

"You're gonna have to," said Brass standing up. "Kids also teach the important lesson of patience."

Grissom stopped him from leaving. "Jim, how do you do it? Your job, I mean?"

Pausing, Brass looked over at him. "I know that everyday, I put away one more bastard that could've hurt my little girl. And that's enough at the end of the day. That's enough to let me sleep again."

"I remember waiting
For you to come
Remember waiting
For you to call
Remember waiting there to find nothing at all
I remember waiting
For you to come
Remember waiting
For you to call
Remember waiting there to find nothing at all"

Music pounded from the stereo so loudly that the door shook on its frame. Greg Sanders lay huddled on his bed, wrapped in his blanket, next to the tattered remains of the first teddy bear his "father" had gotten him.

Greg chuckled bitterly to himself, the last of his tears oozing salty paths down his cheeks. He had raged when he had found out. Sobbed, screamed, cursed, the works. But none of it changed the fact that the man he knew as "dad" was not biologically related to him.

And so his whole life had been a lie.

His first act of violence once he had stormed to his room had been to destroy his first chemistry set, the very one his "father" had given him.

Chemistry, biology, science…he had loved it, and it had betrayed him. Or he had betrayed himself. He'd been too stupid to notice, too blind to see it.

Suddenly, he sat up. Standing, he strode to his desk and pulled out a spare spiral notebook. He picked up a pencil, paused for a moment, then began scribbling rapidly.

"Dear Dad,
I found out today. About you, I mean. That my dad's not my real dad. I just hope you're happy, wherever you are. 'Cause I'm miserable now, thanks to you.
I hate you, you know. From what my mom tells me, you left me and her when you found out she was pregnant. What kind of asshole does that? I hate you, and I will never stop hating you.
I just wish that you coulda stuck around long enough to maybe get to know me or something. But you didn't even want to do that.
You're selfish, and arrogant, and if you died tomorrow, in all honesty, I could care less."

By this time, the tears had started fresh down his face, blurring his vision so he couldn't even see what he was writing. They fell like raindrops on the paper, and he shoved it away from himself, furiously wiping the tears off his cheeks. "I hate you," he whispered, dark eyes burning. "And I will never forgive you. Never."

"Forgive me
I'm so sorry
I will make it up to you"

The nine years that followed had taken their toll on Grissom. They showed in every line of his face, every gray hair on his scalp.

He was halfway happy now. He had a good team. Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Nick Stokes, with Jim Brass to head them all. A good team.

And he had thrown himself headfirst into his work, trying to atone for his previous sins. He had been Catholic, once, after all. Perhaps this was his penance.

Sighing deeply, he took his glasses off and set them on his desk, rubbing his eyes tiredly. Another double shift, and—

A knock on the door interrupted him mid-thought, and he called, "Come in."

Judy poked her head in. "Mr. Grissom, your candidate for DNA tech is here for his interview."

Grissom's brow furrowed. "I don't recall scheduling—" he started, but a voice from behind Judy cut him off.

"You didn't schedule it. I did." Brass's tone was even, and bore no room for argument. He turned to Judy. "Set him up in the break room and we'll be right there. Thanks." Once Judy left, Brass stepped into the office and shut the door behind him.

Grissom looked up at him calmly. "This is new, Jim. I didn't realize you were so into setting up personnel interviews."

Taking a seat, Brass set a file folder down on the desk, but didn't give it to Grissom, keeping his hand on it instead. "This application found its way on to my desk, and I thought you might be interested, so I scheduled an interview."

Raising one eyebrow, Grissom asked dryly. "And what made you think I'd be interested?"

Brass dodged the question. "You should see his credentials. Stanford graduate—Phi Beta Kappa—and worked for the San Francisco police department as their lab tech for two years, and—"

"Jim." Grissom's tone was calm, but bordering on impatience.

Meeting his eyes, Brass said quietly, "The kid's name is Greg Sanders."

Grissom thought his heart had stopped. He stared at Brass, speechless. "Coincidence—" he started, but Brass shook his head.

"Did some digging. His mother's name is Elisabeth Sanders, maiden name Hojem. This is for real, Gil."

Grissom desperately wanted his brain to start functioning again, but everything seemed to be going in slow motion. "We can't tell him."

Brass looked confused. "What do you mean, we can't tell him?"

Standing, Grissom started to pace. "We can't tell him. Last thing he needs is to come in for a job and leave with a father."

"What about the job?"

Grissom waved a hand dismissively. "He has the job. If he's as qualified as you say, then he's perfect." Grissom stopped pacing and turned to Brass. "Promise me you won't say anything."

Brass held his hands up. "Hey, it's yours to tell, not mine." He jerked his head toward the door. "Now c'mon. Even if the kid has the job, we still gotta interview him,"

"Right," said Grissom. He led the way to the break room, barely able to contain himself. When he arrived, he paused before going in, savoring his first look at his son.

He was tall. Taller than Grissom by an inch or two at least. And he was skinny, something he surely didn't inherit from Grissom. His hair was brown with some fading brown highlights and was sort of spiked. His eyes were the same rich chocolate that they had been in the picture, but they glowed with a warmth that no photograph could capture. He wore a hideously ugly button-down shirt and a pair of loose blue jeans and Converse shoes. And in Grissom's eyes, he was perfect.

Taking a deep breath, Grissom went in, offering Greg his hand. "Mr. Sanders. I'm Gil Grissom, CSI Level 3 and head CSI for the night shift. It's nice to meet you."

Greg's eyes seemed to glow as he answered, "Nice to meet you, too, sir."

Brass came in as well. "Mr. Sanders? Detective Jim Brass, Supervisor for the night shift." He continued exchanging pleasantries with Greg while Grissom just sat back and studied him.

Greg was like a ball of kinetic energy, shifting in his seat and tapping his feet and hardly able to keep still. He had a youth-like quality to him that defied his age. There was a magnetism around him that just drew people in. He was one of those people you couldn't not be friends with.

After about twenty minutes of Brass's questions, Grissom cut him off. "Mr. Sanders, you have the job. Welcome to my team."

Greg's eyes lit up in shock. "Really?" he asked, his face breaking into a grin.

"Really," answered Grissom, hiding a smile. "You start Monday. Be here 8 pm, sharp."

Greg stood and shook Grissom's hand heartily. "Thank you, Mr. Grissom," he said, still grinning. "I look forward to working with you."

As Greg turned and walked away, Grissom felt a true grin break across his face. "So do I," he whispered to his son's retreating back in response. "So do I."