DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: T for Teen
SUMMARY: Greg Sanders comes to terms with his place in life.

A/N: Came across the quote in this story on a friend's away message today and it just started talking to me. Oddly enough, it had a Norwegian accent when it talked. ;) This is my first attempt at a character study of Greg Sanders.

REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.

"You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them -no matter how old or impressive they may be -- as if they are children. For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much -- we simply grow taller. O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales."

- Leo Rosten

Greg Sanders was not a serious man by nature. Not that he was incapable of being serious, but he had made a conscious choice to not dwell on the harsh realities of life whenever possible. Most people thought it made him a clown, and Greg was fine with that. It usually meant people would underestimate him, and made those that didn't easier to spot as his real friends.

Sara was probably the first at C.S.I. to really see through that fool's front. And Sara Sidle never underestimated anyone. It was one of the many things that attracted him to her, but in the end Greg could see that what she was attracted to was not looking back at him in the mirror. It was the way she handled that fact which made them friends.

Warrick was probably the second. Not at first, but definitely later, when he saw how hard Greg worked to improve his standing in the field. Warrick was the one who showed him the ropes in those first disastrous days of field work. He took Greg seriously, and made him believe he had a place as a C.S.I. Losing Warrick was one of the hardest things he had ever experienced.

Grissom was different from the rest in many ways. Not because he was probably the smartest man Greg had ever known, but because he never held it over anyone's head that he was the smartest person in any room. He was gruff sometimes, but he was the boss and that was his job. Greg respected him for being able to keep everyone working together as a team, even the ones who never quite seemed to fit in. Most people thought Grissom was deficient on the human side of things, but Greg eventually figured out it was only because he kept apart from the personal stuff in order to protect himself everyone else. Anytime he was able to garner a glimmer of praise from the man, Greg was filled with more pride than he could ever describe. Grissom truly was his mentor.

With Warrick gone, and Grissom and Sara off on their next great adventure, Greg was struggling to find his place at C.S.I. once more. He was no longer the Lab Rat, no more the New Guy, and he felt like all of the excitement had drained out of his life. Writing the book had been his way of holding onto the shine, the glamour of being on the inside of Vegas life. And with that chapter closed as well, Greg found the shine was clouding over.

And that was when another stage of his life began, that of teacher.

Dr. Ray Langston was anything but a rookie. But he was far from being a seasoned professional, too. Ray was starting over fresh in a realm that was vastly different from anything he had ever done before. He was a scientist, but a pure one. He was an academic, but his days of being a student were long forgotten. And this was Greg's first real test as a teacher.

He worked with Riley when she first came on board, but Riley wasn't fresh out of the gate. She already had the skills, she just needed a little seasoning on the logistics of working as a C.S.I. in Las Vegas. Riley didn't need him to show her anything. He just acted as a tour guide until she got her bearings. And just like everything else about her, Riley caught on quick. She was a great addition to the team, even if her arrival was something of a harbinger for him. With Riley's arrival, Greg was forced to accept the fact that Sara was never coming back. Riley had a lot to live up to, and it was not going to be easy, but Greg was sure she would rise to the occasion and make a name for herself. Riley was just one of those people.

Greg's first night out with Ray had been an exercise in patience. By the time they were packing it in to head back to the lab, Greg suddenly had a tremendous amount of respect for Sara and Warrick. Not once during his early days did they ever yell at him for being a tool. They always spoke with even tones and answered all of his questions, no matter how idiotic they might have been.

On the way back to the lab that morning, Ray asked him how he was doing. It actually felt strange for someone to be asking him anything like that. He was just Greggo, the clown from DNA. Greg, the rookie C.S.I. Greg, the perpetual kid. He was not prepared for the role of Greg Sanders, teacher.

Expressing his shock at being in the role of teacher with such an esteemed man, Greg was surprised by Ray's response. He told him no one ever truly grows up, and that to live a full life, a person should never stop learning. "We are all just children, staring into the face of the future and asking, 'what's next?'"

Greg liked that answer, and it was then he truly became a teacher, as well as a student, and they worked well together. Greg found his patience. Ray found his stride. And at the end of each new skill, at the end of each case, Ray would look at Greg with another smile, brimming with enthusiasm and ask, "What's next?"