A/N: As promised, now that I've finished Nostalgic for Disaster, here we go with Hate Me. Pairings will be revealed later on. I do not own CSI, their characters, CBS, or any other known entity that may appear here and throughout the rest of the story. If I own them (because I do have a couple own characters that will creep in), I'll let you know. The story will be first person point of view, and through dialogue and cues it's revealed who's telling each chapter (as well as chapter titles). If that gets too confusing, let me know. Song lyrics at the bottom and in the summary are from "Hate Me" by Blue October, which is where the title comes from, and I do not own the song. The idea came to me while listening to it, though. I hope you enjoy, and please review.

Cocktail Hour Memories

It was weird. Surreal, almost. He'd been promoted to CSI level 2, and then after that shift, he was gone, leaving just a short note in the break room. 'I'm gone. Don't call me, I'll call you,' it said.

I was the one who found the note. He had pinned it to the back of a bag his favorite coffee, almost as if it were a memento of him. All I could do was sit down in the chair and wonder why.

Why did Greg Sanders just up and leave?

Nick had walked in shortly there after, and I still hadn't started making the coffee. I just kept staring at the note in my hand. "What'chu got there, Warrick?" he had asked me.

"Note," I told him, handing it over. He read it before stopping and looking at me.

"He really gone?" I shrugged.

"I don't know what to make of it." Sara was the next to come in and find out what happened, followed by Catherine and Grissom. We wondered if Greg was really gone, what was going on. We tried calling his apartment, his cell phone. We got no answer both times. Landlord said he'd moved out the night before.

"Make no mistake," we told Ecklie. "Greg Sanders is gone." On recall, Ecklie didn't seem all that shocked, but to this day, I don't quite understand why.

We had searched for him for a while, but it was all in vain as we realized that he didn't want to be found. There was only one thing he didn't cancel- his cell phone. But he didn't use it or keep it on. So, after six months of searching, we gave up.

It's been two and a half years since we stopped looking. Nick and I are enjoying cocktail hour in Miami, at a conference. He and I are presenting our topic together, since we worked together on it. We're also both here to plug the lab, as we need a sixth graveyard CSI, per Ecklie's request. We've had a lot of trouble keeping the sixth. In fact, just before we left, Grissom fired Mike Elders (our sixth), but didn't tell us why. We found out through the grapevine, though, that he failed his firearms proficiency because he was too drunk to really stand and shoot. Ecklie, however, wants us to maintain an even number of CSIs, so that when we go out, there's less of a chance that one of us will be alone. As we stand by the drinks, Nick turns to me. "So, should we mingle, or just stay right here by the drinks?" he drawls. I shrug.

"I don't get why we have to promote ourselves at these things," I tell him. "Our numbers speak for themselves."

"But how will they get the numbers if we don't give them out?" Nick does the air quotes, and I know that he's quoting someone, probably Ecklie.

"Research, Ecklie. That's part of our job." Nick laughs.

"Yeah, I know, rii-" He stops mid-sentence and walks away. Confused, I follow him, and watch as he walks over to a guy talking to a girl. He puts his hand on the man's shoulder, and the guy turns around. "Greg Sanders, as I live and breathe," Nick says. My eyes go wide. Greg sorta smiles.

"Nick, Warrick," he says somewhat warmly. The girl with him looks at us briefly before telling him she'll see him later. He nods, and she walks away. The three of us stand there, neither of us knowing what to do next.

"Funny runnin' into you here. Who are you reppin'?" I haven't quite found my voice yet, and Greg chuckles softly.

"No one, exactly. I'm presenting my own thesis." Nick nods. "You guys just here on business or a little more personal?"

"We wrote a paper together, so we're presenting our findings." Greg nods.

"You guys still making bets on everything?"

"Nah, we gave that up."

"Damn. How come?"

"Hasn't been the same since you left." Greg nods, looking a little pained. I half-want to hit Nick for saying that. Greg kind of looks like he's been through hell- his eyes have enormous bags growing under them and he lacks his usual luster.

"Yeah. I miss you guys."

"Why don't you come back? We got an opening. Haven't been able to hold anyone there since you left. I think in the three years you've been gone, we've had about 20 CSIs try to take your place."

"Wow. Damn." Greg falls silent, and Nick and I stand there awkwardly, not knowing what else to say. "Thanks for the offer, but I'll pass. I like where I work now."

"Greg, where do you work now?" I ask him softly.

"It's not important," he replies evasively.

"Are you still running?" He shrugs.

"What are you running from?" Nick asks.

"It's not a matter of from, Nicky," Greg replies cryptically. "Look, I don't want to talk about this here or now. I promise I'll call or drop you guys an email soon, okay?" Nick and I nod. "I gotta go. My boss wants me to promote to younger guys, and I'm guessing Grissom or Ecklie or whoever's in charge now wants you to do the same."

"They're both still there." Greg nods.

"Great. I gotta go. I'll see you guys later, okay? I'll make sure to catch your presentation."

"We'll do the same." Greg nods again. "Good luck, Greg, and take care of yourself, yeah?"

"Yeah, man. You too. Great seeing you again." We nod, and Greg walks away. Nick turns to me, mildly shocked.

"Did that just happen?" he asks me.

"I believe so," I reply.

"Should we tell the guys back at the lab about this when we get back?"

"I don't know. We might be getting their hopes up for nothing."

"Yeah, true. Maybe we should just not say anything."

"We have some time to decide, Nick. Let's talk about this again on the plane ride." He nods.

"Good plan, Rick. Now, do we mingle more or call it a day?" I shake my head.

"I've had more than I can take for the day. I say we hit the liquor store down the street and have a party in our room." Nick and I have two separate but adjoining rooms for the conference.

"Sounds good. Let's roll." We leave, setting our plan into motion. But all I can think about is Greg. He looks a lot like hell, and I doubt if he'll call or email us like he said he would. Part of me wants to try and befriend him again, to help him through whatever's made him look so bad. But I know that even if I try, he'll run away again. I sigh, and Nick looks over at me. "I know how you feel," he tells me after watching me for a minute. He and I are close enough that we don't even need to talk. All we have to do is look at each other and just about know what the other is thinking. "But he wants his distance. There's nothing we can do."

"I know," I reply sadly. "I just wish there was."

"You and I both, Rick, but he's gotta want help." I nod.

"Let's get plastered and forget about it."

"Sounds good."

I have to block out thoughts of you
So I don't lose my head
They crawl in like a cockroach
Leaving babies in my bed

A/N: So there's the intro! Let me know what you're thinking!