Title: Pretense
Author: SLynn
Rating: T
Greg/OFC shades of Greg/Sara
Up to '4X4'/Season 5
Disclaimer: Does anyone actually read this?

Summary: A case hits too close to home for Greg, causing turmoil in his life. Set late Season 5.

Notes: I can't believe I'm doing this. At this point I figure the only way I'll ever finish another CSI fic is to just plow through one, and while I don't have a lot of this written, I've got enough where a little encouragement might go a long way. I can't promise frequent updates, I can only promise to try and finish this one. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

"I swear it. I swear. That's... that's not me. It's not."

Greg shut his eyes briefly, suppressing a yawn, and shook his head in what was becoming a well practiced motion. Mentally cursing, he wondered how long this charade would last.

"I was nowhere near that store."

"So you're saying what?" Greg asked, pointing again to the pictures that lay on the table between them. "This isn't you?"

"No. No, it's not."

"Okay," Greg sighed, his eyes flitting briefly to the clock hung behind their suspect. He'd been awake way too long to be dealing with this now. "Suppose for a moment, I believe you."

"It's true."

"Okay, suppose it is true. This isn't you," Greg continued, trying his best not to be overly confrontational, or cocky, as both Sara and Sofia had repeatedly warned him against. "That means that somewhere in Vegas there is another man that is your height, approximately your weight, with your build, hair and eye color."

"Hey," the man said as he leaned back in his seat, "I'm just an average guy."

"Aren't we all?" Greg muttered as he dragged out all the photos, pointing to each for emphasis as he continued. "He's got the same tattoo across his chest. He's got the exact same shoes you're wearing right now, in the same size. He drives the same make and model car as you. And, he happened to make off with ten of the exact same MP3 players that you just so happened to have recently acquired from a friend who has mysteriously, and conveniently, left town."

"It's not me," the man persisted looking more relaxed than Greg felt.

"We're running the serial numbers on those stolen players. They're going to match. We're also running your DNA sample against the blood we found at the scene on the smashed cases. And don't think that wearing long sleeves means we didn't see the cuts on your arms. We did. We've got fingerprints. Shoe impressions. Tire impressions. Eyewitnesses. It's even on video. So, unless you have a twin brother you haven't told us about, and I did check, so I know you don't, we've got you."

"I want a lawyer."

Greg nodded briskly and swiftly gathered his collection of photos into a pile to take with him, before standing to go without another word said.

Outside the door, as he'd expected, Sofia and Brass were waiting.

"You did your best," was all Brass said, before hustling past him into the holding room.

"Why does the way he says that make it sound like an insult?" Greg asked Sofia, who smiled in return.

"You got cocky again."

"I know."

"Don't worry about it," Sofia assured him. "You were right. You've got this guy."

"My luck he probably does have a twin. I lied. I didn't check."

"It's really unlikely he does," Sofia said consolingly, as they headed back towards the lab together.

"But, seriously, what does it take? I have mountains of evidence on this case, which when you consider the severity of the crime, is itself nearly criminal. Think of all the time I've wasted just to prove this guy's guilt; all the taxpayer money that is going for what is just legally past the petty theft stature..."

"So they weren't even good MP3 players?" Sofia momentarily interrupted.

"No. He took the generics when there was a stack of iPods right there. But that's not the point."

"Well, good. I was beginning to think you didn't have one."

"My point," Greg said, without missing a beat, "is that he's so obviously guilty and yet... why wouldn't he just admit it? I had him. I had him."

Sofia laughed as Greg pulled open the break room door and dropped his photos onto the nearest table in defeat.

"Brass will probably spend two minutes with him and he'll be singing like a canary."

Sofia continued to chuckle under her breath as she poured them both a much needed cup of coffee.

"Singing like a canary? Really?"

"It's an expression."

"From about fifty years back. But, I know. I do know what you mean," Sofia finally admitted as they sat down. "You're being too hard on yourself. Greg, they never confess."

Greg stopped and looked at her with clear disbelief.

"They don't," she persisted.

"They do, just not to me."

"You're extra impossible today, aren't you?"

"I've been awake now longer than I can remember, so yes. Yes, I am."

"Well, at least you're off tonight," Sofia said with a smile. "Go home. Get some sleep. Come back tomorrow and we'll do it all again."

"I can't wait," Greg answered with mock enthusiasm as his cell phone rang.

Checking the number, he quickly switched the ringer off, before stowing it away again and looking back to Sofia.

"Wrong number?" she asked archly.

"I'll call back later," he said through a yawn.

"What if it's important?"

"Did I miss something?" said Sara as she walked into the break room, having caught only the last part of Sofia and Greg's conversation.

"No," Greg returned. "Oh, unless you wanted to watch me fail miserably at interrogation, you did miss that."

"Oh," Sara said, a smile just forming on her lips, "well, I've seen that before."

"Thanks," Greg said, smiling back at her as she sat down next to him at the table.

"Well," Sofia said, getting to her feet and dumping the remains of her coffee into the sink. "I'd love to stay and chat, but not all of us have the night off."

"Not all of us worked all day, either," said Greg.

"Yeah, yeah," Sofia laughed, as she made her way to the door. "You should return that call. Soon."

Greg shook his head with a smirk before calling out, "Goodnight, Sofia."

Sara nodded at the other woman as she retreated out of the room, watching her for a moment before returning her attention back to Greg. He'd taken his phone out again and was evidentially deciding on whether or not to act on Sofia's advice.

"Who called?" she asked after a long pause

"What?" Greg said, looking up at her, clearly lost.

"The call Sofia mentioned? I take it that it was something important?"

"Oh," said Greg, shaking his head as he got to his feet and stuffed his phone back into his pocket. "No one. Sofia's just..."

Greg trailed off with a shrug, giving off every indication that it wasn't something he was going to discuss.

"It's not important," he finished, only briefly meeting her eyes. "Man, it feels later than eleven, doesn't it?"

"Yeah," Sara agreed, trying to shake off the awkwardness that had suddenly cropped up between them. "It does, I guess."

For another long moment, neither of them spoke.

"Well," Greg said, slapping his hands together as he rocked on his heels, "I'm going to go now. Home. So..."

"You're not going out?" Sara asked, genuinely surprised. "I thought you always had plans on your nights off."

"I might," Greg laughed, "but I don't even remember what day it is, so I can't say for certain."

"It's Friday," Sara answered with a laugh of her own.

"Friday," Greg repeated, his grin turning to a grimace as he took out his phone again and checked the screen. "Friday. Well, that's just great."

Greg trailed off before he scrubbed his hand over his face furiously, putting his phone away for a third time, and gathering up his case file from the table.

"I've really got to go," Greg said with a shake of his head as he quickly made an exit. "Have a good night, okay?"

"Don't forget we're on call tomorrow."

"I won't," Greg called back without looking, practically racing away.

Greg had honestly thought his night couldn't get any worse, until now. This was worse. This was worse than worse. This was going to ruin not only what was left of the night, but possibly all of tomorrow and the next day as well. If he was lucky.

Waiting for the little privacy his car offered, Greg sat in the driver's seat and let out a deep breath as he dialed a number quickly on his cell phone and waited, unsurprised as it went straight to voice mail.

"Listen," he said right after the beep, "I am so, so, very sorry. I don't have any excuse that's good enough and... and... if there is any way-"

Greg stopped mid-ramble as his phone beeped, indicating an incoming call.


"You know you're a jerk, right?"

"I am," he agreed, shutting his eyes as he let his head fall back against the seat. "I know. I should have called."

"No, you should have been here three hours ago like you promised. We had plans."

"I'm sorry. I really... I got caught up at work and..."

"Greg," she sighed, cutting in, "you always say that."

Greg tried to think of a rebuttal, but there was no truthful one, so instead, an awkward moment of silence dragged out between them.

"I know how important your job is to you," Kristen finally said. "And that you're not doing this on purpose. I just wish every once in awhile I was what was important to you."

"You are," Greg said quickly. "Please, just... let me come by and we'll talk... or we can still go out if you want? It's Vegas; everything is open."

"No," she said, her voice getting quiet. "I don't think that's a good idea."

"Why not? I can be at your place in twenty minutes."

"Because the last time this happened, and we went out anyway, you fell asleep at the movies."

"I really am a jerk."

"You're not," she relented and he could just sense the smile behind her words. "You're just tired and overworked and have a ridiculously demanding girlfriend."

"Yes," he laughed. "How awful of you to expect me to show up for our dates. Oh, and to want to spend time with me, way too demanding."

Kristen laughed along with him and Greg felt the tension begin to leave his body.

"So," he dragged out, "I am sorry. And, I promise, I'm going to make this up to you. Am I off the hook?"

"You really think you're getting off that easy?"

"I was hoping..."

"No, no," she laughed. "No way."

"Okay," he sighed, fighting back another yawn. "Can I at least be off the hook for tonight? Can I come by and see you?"

"I don't know..."

"I could bring you dinner," he suggested.

"It's nearly midnight," she laughed. "I ate hours ago."


"No," she said with a sigh. "Just go home. Get some sleep. Call me tomorrow, okay?"

"You sure?"

"Yes," she answered. "Have a safe ride home."

"I will."

"No, you won't," she said, laughing again. "That's why I remind you."

"I'll try to then," he said. "Is that better?"

"Yes. Goodnight, Greg."

"Goodnight," he said, shutting off his phone after Kristen hung up on her end.

Shaking his head, and pausing only a moment longer, Greg went to start the engine, when a loud noise made him jump and look up.

"What are you still doing here?" Nick asked, having slapped his hand, hard, on the roof of Greg's car.

"I had to make a call first," Greg answered, not bothering to get out of the car, opting instead to just roll down the window.

"Checking in?"

"More like apologizing," Greg admitted. "I forgot we had a date tonight and..."

"You stood up Kristen?"


"Good job."

"I know," Greg said, somewhat impatiently. "Why wasn't I warned that being in the field meant I would no longer have a life outside of this lab? Or at least one I would remember, because I get here and it's like some kind of space-time thingy where I forget everything else exists."

"You were warned," Nick laughed. "You just didn't pay attention."

"That's probably true."

"Well," Nick said, standing up straighter and beginning to back away, "I won't keep you. Go make it up to her."

"Thanks," Greg said with a nod as he rolled the window back up, waved, and started up his car.

The drive home only took fifteen minutes. At this time of night, the majority of the traffic was on the Strip, not on the interstate. Pulling into his apartment complex, and completing his night, Greg found that his neighbor had, again, parked in his designated spot.

Stopping to write as angry of a note as a three-by-three sized Post-it would allow, Greg spent another ten minutes looking for and procuring a parking space, and ended up not getting inside until just after midnight.

Just as he'd changed out of his work clothes and had begun to rummage through his refrigerator for something edible, there was a knock at the door.

"I brought you dinner," Kristen said as he'd opened the door.

"You really are the best girlfriend ever," Greg said as he took the package from her and set it aside, pulling her into his arms and kissing her. "I love you."

"Don't think this means I'm not mad," she warned. "I am. I just know your eating habits and figured if I didn't bring you something, you'd be forced to have ice cream for dinner or something worse. But I'm still mad. Very, very mad. I can be mad and still care."

"That's why I love you," Greg continued with a smile.

"I love you, too," Kristen returned, leaning up to kiss him again.