Bitter Lessons - 20/24
Fandom: CSI:Crime Scene Investigation
Category: Romance, Angst
Series/Sequel: Breaking the Ice
Summary: Greg learns a lot he doesn´t like
Warning: Slash, M/M
Disclaimer: I don´t own them but I love them dearly.
Feedback: Yes, please. It´s the icing on my cake.
Released: June 2005
Word Count: 6.260
"See you at the Crime Scene!" The door was shut. Silence. Standing alone in Gil´s apartment, Greg shook his head, slightly amused. Typical. Leaving me here all by myself. He didn´t even bother to wait for one second. Greg snorted. Of course not. Somebody could eventually see us together. A disaster in Gil´s world. In a hurry, Greg rummaged through Gil´s drawers to find a clean pair of socks. He scolded himself for not bringing a fresh pair along yesterday. "Somewhere this organized lover of mine must have a spare pair of socks, damn it," Greg swore loudly.
In spite of his complaining, Greg felt completely happy if not on top of the world. Since the day he had passed his final proficiency and had become a CSI life was fucking great. It didn´t matter he couldn´t find a pair of socks. It didn´t matter he was dead beat because he hadn´t slept much in the last couple of weeks. Reminiscing about the pleasant cause, Greg chuckled, satisfied. It didn´t matter that Sara would be at the Crime Scene as well, making cow eyes at Gil. Since Greg had been outed to her, she acted quite differently in his presence. Nice and relaxed. She even had invited him to have a beer. It was quite obvious since she knew he was gay she could accept him as just a friend. He chuckled once more. A friend, who makes love to the man she has been chasing for years. Yeah, we have sex but don´t worry, Sara. That´s quite it. We have no relationship. You still have a chance to win Gil for yourself. Well, it didn´t matter. For now, everything was just great.
At the back of the drawer he discovered what he was looking for. Impatiently, he brought the pair of socks forward and felt something square and firm inside. He frowned. What the...? Curious, he slipped a hand inside and pulled a small metal box out. For a moment, he hesitated to open it - this doesn´t belong to me - but the moment passed quickly. He snapped it open and discovered a folded piece of paper. Excited, he fumbled it out and identified a photograph. The worn shot of two, smiling men, standing in front of an amusement park. One of them was Gil. He looked young, much younger than Greg was presently. Greg turned the photo to inspect the backside. "Forever - Mark," he read out loud. His heartbeat quickened. Mark. Mark. Is it you who owns Gil´s heart? He examined the happy face next to Gil´s. It was pretty, with a likable smile and dark eyes under a messy shock of hair...Greg gasped, bewildered. That´s me. The picture slipped from his fingers and floated down to the ground. No. Not me. But very much like me. Mark and I could be related. Troubled, he picked his finding up and put it back into the box. Completely engulfed in the socks, Greg put his finding back where it belonged. His fingers trembled slightly. I really need to go now. Gil is probably almost at the Crime Scene, waiting. No need to stay any longer. Nobody would suspect we have been together. Forgetting about socks, he slipped into his sneakers barefoot and left Gil´s place hastily and shaken. Forever - forever - forever. Greg couldn´t get the word out of his head. During his ride to the Crime Scene he didn´t think of anything else and the good spirits he had felt not long ago wore off entirely.
His arrival at the Crime Scene was unspectacular. After he had showed his ID to the officers on duty, he passed through the house. The garden in the backyard was crowded with youngsters, CSI´s and policemen. Although he noticed Gil talking to David, who bowed over a body in a bathing suit. They stood at the rim of a big swimming pool.
Sara had seen him and was coming up to meet him. "Hi." At once, she gave him the details. "Thirteen year old boy who attended a party, was found dead in the pool. Someone called the police but we don´t know who yet. Probable cause of death is drowning, though David isn´t finished with the body."
Already troubled, Greg became yet more unhappy by the news that the case concerned a dead kid. Great. Fucking great. While they were walking to the body, Greg noticed there were no grown-ups except for the police.
Gil awaited them, looking grim.
Unusual anger seized Greg and he armed himself for the confrontation.
Gil didn´t slow down by making small talk. "David is finished with the body and the evidence indicates that the victim received an injury to the back of his head before he drowned."
Greg dared to throw a quick glance at the dead boy. Slender, white, black hair. The eyes already had been closed. Thank God. He shuddered.
"Although there is blood in the water. Search the whole area around the pool for traces of blood or hair and take a sample of the water as well."
Greg sensed the tension in Gil´s voice. The death of a kid had always affected the professional CSI. He had learned that lesson years ago, when Gil and he hadn´t been close at all. Normally, he would have felt sorry for his lover but not today. His irritation about finding a piece of Gil´s past obscured any other feeling, including the horror over the dead kid. "Yes, sir," he barked briskly. Am I just a convenient substitute for the one you really love?
That made Gil look up. He raised an eyebrow and simple confusion filled his face. "Is everything alright?"
No. Who is Mark? "Sure." Greg turned away without waiting for an answer. Accompanied by Sara, he started to search the area for traces.
"What is the matter with you?" Sara asked curiously. "You never pass up an opportunity to talk to Grissom in detail."
"I´m just tired," he lied. He noticed Brass, who was questioning a bunch of youngsters. Some of them looked scared but others just defiant. One boy caught Greg´s attention particularly. A good-looking, approximately fifteen year old who had his arm around the shoulders of a younger boy, who was wrapped up in a red towel. Probably brothers. The younger kid shouldn´t be here at all. Greg shifted his attention back at the terrain around the pool. "Did they party without any grown-ups?"
"Yes, they did. The house belongs to the parents of one of the oldest. I think he´s seventeen. The parents are on vacation for two days and he invited his friends to party. Brass told me when they found their friend dead they were too scared to call the police for an hour."
"Tough luck. They´ll get a lot of trouble from their parents. Do you think the victim hit his head by accident and drowned?"
"Why didn´t anyone notice anything?" Sara asked doubtfully.
"It was dark, loud music was playing, a lot of talking and giggling was going on," Greg suggested, remembering the few parties he had participated in his youth.
"Speaking from experience, aren´t you?" she teased mildly.
"Not quite," he said honestly. "I was the typical geek. Studying was my thing." Plus messing around with my teacher. Accepting I´m gay.
Sara nodded, sympathetic. "Just like me."
They continued searching the ground and Greg noticed something at the rim of the pool. "There is some blood here. Maybe the victim´s. I´ll take a sample." He opened his kit.
Sara got closer to take a better look. "There is a hair too." She fetched her tweezers to save it. Hair and blood sample bagged, they searched further but didn´t find more than a few cigarette butts and collection of chips. Finally done, they went to report to Gil, who had joined Brass´ side. The police had escorted almost every boy and girl home. Only the two boys who Greg had noticed earlier remained in front of Brass and Gil. Coming closer to his lover, the anger flared up in Greg like a heavy heart burn. Forever. Where is he, Gil? What happened to a promise like that?
"Did I understand you correctly, Dennis? You weren´t nearby when your brother was found dead?" Brass asked the older boy right now.
"No, sir," Dennis replied confidently. "I was back there." He pointed at the back of the garden, which was lined with trees and bushes.
Dennis shook his head.
"So what´s the name of the girl?" Brass asked, insightful.
Dennis nibbled on his lip and sighed. "I can´t tell you."
"Come on, buddy. I´ll find out anyway."
"Fine with me," Dennis countered sulkily.
His defiant but also anxious expression reminded Greg of a young boy who was once confronted with the same question. What´s the name of the girl, Greg? - I can´t tell you - What´s the matter with you? You never hid anything from us before - Well, now I do - Greg, what´s wrong? - Nothing. Just leave me alone.
Meanwhile, Brass had dropped the subject and spoke to the younger boy. "Scotty is your name, right?"
The boy nodded, the eyes in his pale face were filled with fear. Nervously, he grasped the towel with his fists and pulled it tighter around his shaking body.
Dennis looked at Greg. He just appeared devastated.
It was a boy, right? Greg smiled encouragingly at him.
As if he could have heard him, Dennis winced and looked quickly away.
"Nobody is going to hurt you, Scotty," Brass said in a friendly tone. "Just tell me where you were at the time your brother Rob was found?"
"I was eating," Scotty whispered.
"Where are their parents?" Greg heard Sara ask Grissom.
"Away for the weekend," Grissom replied quietly not disturbing Brass. "Dennis admitted that his parents allowed him and Scotty to sleep over, but his parents didn´t know that the parents of Dennis´ friend weren´t home either. We still can´t get in touch with them. We´ve informed Social Services to send someone to meet with us at the lab." Unexpected, he turned to Greg. "Can you keep an eye on Dennis and Scotty until we drive back there?"
Greg tensed heftily. Is this part of my job description? Playing babysitter? "Okay," he agreed all the same.
On any other day a nice word from Gil would have made Greg happy. But not today. The gloomy cloud of doubt because of Mark overshadowed everything else. For the first time he didn´t fall for Gil´s charm. Not minding that Sara was whispering their findings to Gil, he turned to the older boy. "Do you want to go into the house and get something to drink, Dennis?" From the corner of his eyes, he noticed Gil´s frown and sensed confusion as well as the urge to take him aside. What´s the matter, Greg? Nah. Gil would never do that. Not in front of Sara and everybody else. Keeping their secret for now and forever under lock and key was still more important to Gil than any worries about Greg´s state of mind.
Dennis tilted his head and observed him closely. "Are you a cop?"
"No, I´m a CSI," Greg replied softly. "My name is Greg."
"I´m thirsty," Scotty attracted the attention to himself.
Greg smiled. "Very well. Let´s go." Slowly, the three of them walked to the house. Greg noticed how tightly Scotty held on to his brother. When they entered through the backdoor, Sara caught up with them. "Hey. Wait for me."
Gently, Dennis put his brother onto the sofa and with Sara´s help he found a blanket.
Greg checked the fridge. "What about a coke?"
"Okay," the boys agreed, while Sara covered them with the blanket.
Greg fetched two clean glasses by the sink and filled them up.
Scotty drank greedily while Dennis just clutched the glass with both hands. Maybe to keep them from trembling.
"Again you left Grissom pretty out in the rain," Sara commented, amused. "I never saw you like this. What´s going on, Greg?"
"Nothing," he spat, while a wave of bitterness rushed through him like burning fire. This mess is my own fault, only mine. I should have talked to Gil about our unsatisfying situation long ago. "There´s a first time for everything."
Sara didn´t buy. "Come on. Something is bothering you."
"Even if, why should I tell you of all people," he scoffed.
She winced and silenced.
He dropped down in an armchair. Well done. Subject closed. But he was wrong.
"You´re right," she gave in. "I´m sorry." She made herself comfortable in the second armchair and Greg was quite surprised by her willingness to talk this through. That´s a first indeed. All this because I´m gay? Bemused, he noticed that Scotty had closed his eyes and leaned against his brother. Dennis took the glass out of Scotty´s hands to put it on the table. Spiritlessly, he sipped on his coke and watched Greg back. His hazel eyes were glazed with sadness. "My dad is gonna kill me."
"No. He won´t. It wasn´t your fault," Greg said.
"It was," Dennis stated matter-of-factly. "I´m the oldest. I was in charge."
"That´s nonsense. Your brother wasn´t a little kid anymore. You couldn´t have observed him every second."
"But I lied to my parents. If they had known Sean´s parents aren´t home they wouldn´t have allowed us to come here in the first place."
"That´s true," Greg agreed candidly.
"You see. It´s my fault."
Greg found no reply to comfort him. Unhappily, he wriggled deeper into the armchair and glanced at Sara. She shrugged, helpless.
Scotty moaned and Dennis pulled him closer.
"Was it that important to you to be here tonight?" Greg continued their conversation.
Dennis blinked and sighed. "It seems so."
"Do you like what you do?" Dennis changed the subject rapidly.
A direct hit. Who did you meet at the party? "Yes, pretty much. Being a CSI is quite a challenge."
"Mmh." Dennis closed his eyes and leaned back.
On the one hand relieved that he was off the hook to question him any further Greg wanted Dennis to give up the truth. But he knew to press harder would be a mistake. A change of course was the better tactic. "Tell me," Greg addressed Sara out of the blue, "why is it you have been so nice to me in the last couple of months?"
"Huh?" she startled. "I don´t know what...well...okay...it was..."
"...my coming out, right?" he finished, confident.
She blushed slightly. "Well - yes."
"Why did that change anything at all?"
"You - flirting with me - always made me feel pretty uncomfortable. I have always liked you, Greg, but I didn´t want to encourage you in any way. Now I know you were just having fun."
"I know. It´s a silly reason. I´m sorry."
"Apology accepted. I can be pretty annoying."
"Really?" She smiled. "Gosh! I never noticed."
They laughed out loud and stopped quickly, looking at the resting boys, embarrassed.
Sara´s voice dropped to a whisper. "Do you want to tell me now what´s bothering you?"
"It´s not very important," Greg understated.
Greg glanced at Dennis. He seemed asleep. "My boyfriend upsets me."
"No. My current boyfriend. I discovered a piece of his past and it unnerves me."
"Talk to him."
"He isn´t much of a talker."
"I know the type." She smiled sadly.
It was that smile which made him remember in an instant whom he was talking to. This is Sara. Sara who is in love with my boyfriend. I´m with the man she´s been chasing for years. Right now we´re thinking about the same man. Greg gulped and kept still.
Sara - thank God - was lost in her own thoughts and didn´t urge him to reveal more.
Luckily, because seconds later, Grissom looked in. "Sara, can I talk to you."
Her face lit up like a Christmas tree and eagerly she followed him outside.
Greg stayed back and wriggled yet deeper into the comforting chair. He sighed once more. Shit. Why do I take everything to heart?
"Are you gay?" Dennis´ question dropped in like a bomb.
Success. I hit the target. "Yes, Dennis. Is that a problem for you?"
The boy blushed. "No. I´m...just...curious."
"I was told cops have to be tough."
"CSI´s," Greg corrected him softly. "Who told you gay men can´t be tough?"
"Rob says so." He bit his lip. "Said so."
Greg sensed Dennis was close to tears. He got up and joined him on the sofa, putting an arm around the sagged shoulders. "Well, he was wrong. Very wrong."
"Rob hated gays," Dennis breathed harshly. "Sometimes I hated him."
Greg shifted closer.
"But I didn´t want him dead," Dennis whimpered.
Greg patted the boy´s shoulder. "I know that. Rob knew that."
"Of course, he was your brother. He loved you. Brothers always fight."
Dennis sniffled quietly and leaned against him.
"You were in the bushes with a boy, right? That´s why you didn´t want to tell Captain Brass."
Dennis wiped over his face. "Yes. How did you know?"
"I´m an expert in that matter," Greg joked dryly. "You have to tell Captain Brass the truth."
"But he will tell my parents."
"Dennis, you have to tell them the truth some day." Oh, what right do I have to lecture him? Do I tell anybody about Gil and me?
"I know. But not today."
"Come on. It´s not that bad."
"Did you tell your parents?"
"No. I told my grandparents - eventually."
Dennis frowned. "Why? What about your parents?"
"Greg!" Grissom rushed in, interrupting their intimate moment. Seeing them apparently snuggling together, he stopped in his tracks.
Quickly, Dennis moved away from Greg.
Grissom gave them a weird look. "We´re heading back to the lab. Social Services will meet us there to take care of the boys until their parents will arrive."
"Did you reach my parents? Did they know what happened?" Dennis squeaked.
"Yes. They are on their way back."
"Oh." Dennis shoved the blanket off and woke his brother.
Grissom looking weird. That´s something, Greg mused in the meantime and felt strangely satisfied by it.
"Officer Nichols and Morrison will you accompany on the drive to the lab," Grissom continued friendly.
"I want Greg to come with us too," Dennis demanded, unhesitant.
"Well," Grissom said, looking slightly surprised, "that´s fine with me. Greg?"
"No problem," Greg replied, squeezing Dennis shoulder soothingly.
Grissom´s eyes narrowed. "See you at the lab." He didn´t wait for them.
"Is that your boyfriend?" Dennis whispered.
Greg burst out chuckling. "No." Kids. He couldn´t stop laughing. "What gave you that idea?"
Dennis shrugged. "Just a guess."
Pretty good guess, my friend. Greg was slightly amused. Even a stranger notices what´s going on. A boy. How can I believe nobody at the lab knows?
Silence filled the car on their drive back. The officers sitting up front didn´t bother them. Greg had made himself comfortable between Dennis and Scotty in the back. I have to stop this. The lying. The hiding. I´m just like this boy next to me. I do want to know our friends what´s going on between Gil and me. This charade has gone on long enough. We should be different. We should act like grown-ups. This is ridiculous. Maybe I´m naive and everybody already knows. Well, the sheriff does for sure.
At the lab, Dennis and Scotty met with a friendly woman of Social services. Greg sensed Dennis wasn´t comfortable separating from him. "Hey, take it easy. Go with her. I´ll check on you later. I promise."
Dennis nodded and they were led away. Greg sighed unhappily. He was pretty upset about...well...just everything. The whole day had been horrible so far. In a trance, he noticed Sara approaching him and followed her to the trace lab. The sight of Hodges, beaming with glee, certainly didn´t help to make him feel any better.
"How´s the teacher´s pet? Did he enjoy the world outside the lab?"
Greg threw him a killing glance. Normally, he was able to ignore Hodges´ snarky comments but not today. Not playing his games was the most effective way to deal with a man like Hodges. But right now Greg was too pissed to think clearly. "Leave me alone, Hodges," he snarled warningly.
Of course, Hodges didn´t. An amused twinkle appeared in his bitter blue eyes. "Oh, is Grissom´s favorite boy not amused by what he learned today?"
"Quit it, Hodges," Sara interfered. "We had to handle the death of a minor..."
"...and what?" Hodges interrupted her, shrugging. "Greg should have known in the first place what´s it like to be a CSI." He grinned. "But did he think about it? No, of course not. All he could think about was to be with his adored boss all the time. Out in the field, Greg thought, he would find a way...."
Greg went ballistic. It happened so quickly, he didn´t realize he had done anything at all.
Hodges gave a muffled cry and crashed into his desk.
Two things pointed out that Greg had done something. His hurting fist and Sara´s shocked face.
Smirking, Hodges rubbed his chin. The devil himself couldn´t have looked more wicked. "Finally. Everybody´s favorite, Greg Sanders, showed his true nature."
"Stop this! Both of you!" Sara scolded. "What´s wrong with you?"
Greg didn´t listen. Furious, he wanted to hit Hodges again, to shut him up for good.
"What´s going on here?"
They whirled around to see Gil standing in the doorway. Sheriff Atwater was right behind him.
There he is, Greg mused bitterly, the center of my universe. His anger was pitched to a higher level. "None of your business, Gil. Stay out of it."
The thoughtlessness of using Gil´s given name caused a heavy response. Sara´s jaw dropped. Hodges chuckled gleefully. Gil´s expression turned icy. The sheriff, on the other hand, winked at Greg in the friendliest way, the most compassionate way.
Perplexed, Greg stared at the man. Is this good or bad?
"Met me at my office, Sanders - in half an hour," Gil snarled in the meantime.
Greg met his look and nodded grimly.
"Are you alright?" Gil turned to the snarky lab worker.
"Yes boss, forget about it."
"You have every right to file a complaint..." Gil continued seriously.
"Leave it," Hodges interrupted angrily and turned his back on them to close the subject.
"Fine," Gil barked and rushed off while sheriff Atwater stayed back for a moment to wink at Greg once more. "Trouble in paradise?" Unhurried, he followed Gil, leaving Greg to Sara. Her stunned expression made Greg almost laugh out loud. But just almost.
"What did the sheriff mean by that?" she asked curiously.
"Nothing," Greg lied, uncomfortably. I cant´t tell you. Just drop it.
"Still the pathetic lab boy," Hodges sniped sarcastically, while his back was still turned on them. "Will you ever grow up?"
"I may be pathetic, but you´re unwanted," Greg snapped back and didn´t bother to give any further explanations. What´s the point anyway? I´m fed up with everyone. I need a drink. "I have to go." He left in a huff and strolled through the lab aimlessly, pretty undecided if he wanted to follow Gil´s order anyway. Hodges is right. I´m still a pathetic little lab boy. I´m not man enough to confront Gil about us. His attitude about keeping our relationship a secret makes me unhappy. Still, I stay with him, drooling over everything he does. Disgusted by himself, Greg found himself eventually in front of the morgue. For a full minute, he paused in his restlessness, motionless.
"Looking for someone?" the confident voice of Al Robbins startled him. The one man who had the ability to make everybody calm down simply by his presence. Right now it happened to Greg. "Can you tell me about the body of Rob Epson?"
"Sure. Come on in."
Gil had to force himself to stay calm. He knew exactly how much the sheriff would like to see him lose his balance. Quietly, Gil gave his report on the present cases; while the amused twinkle in Atwater´s eyes didn´t improve his anger for the better. Damn that man. Since he caught Greg on my home phone that one night, he´s always teasing me. Controlling himself with all his strength, Gil finished his report quickly, eager for Atwater to leave him alone.
But he sheriff didn´t give him the pleasure. "Trouble with the new CSI?" he asked smugly.
"Nothing I can´t handle."
"Are you sure?"
"What are you implying, sheriff?" Gil asked sharply.
"That it could have been too early to make Sanders a CSI."
"Are you questioning my decision?"
"No. Not at all. I´m only considering the fact of..."
Here it comes. Gil clenched his teeth. I expected this daily to happen.
"...his youth and greenness," Atwater concluded wickedly.
An uncomfortable pause followed and Gil shuffled with the papers on his desk. "...ermh, well, I´ll make sure something like today will never happen again. If you will excuse me please, I have a lot of work to do..."
"Very well," the sheriff agreed politely. "I´ll leave you to prepare yourself for a very delicate conversation. I don´t envy you," he teased Gil one more time and then he was gone.
Gil sighed, relieved, but just for a few seconds. The incident between Greg and Hodges concerned him a lot. Greg had never acted this way before. It didn´t fit his character. Greg had never been violent, always quite the opposite. So, what happened today? It must have been something. Gil looked at the watch and frowned. More than thirty minutes had gone by since he had ordered Greg to come to his office. Gil looked at the door. Nobody knocked. Greg wasn´t coming. Meaning he had ignored a direct order. "What the hell?" That´s so not Greg. A hard lump grew in Gil´s throat and made it difficult to breath. I have to find him. I have to fix whatever it is. He stumbled to his feet and started to search the lab for Greg. I hope he hasn´t left the lab already. This wouldn´t be the first time Greg had tried to run away.
Thirty minutes later, Gil had checked everywhere for Greg when he came finally to the Morgue. Thoughtfully, he pushed the door open to find Dr. Robbins in the company of a stressed-out looking Greg. His boyfriend wore a lab-coat and it was obvious he had participated in the on-going autopsy. Where the hell is David? Gil thought irritably.
As quickly as Greg noticed him he looked away, while Dr. Robbins greeted him. "Hey Gil. Did you come by to hear the autopsy result?"
"Sure," Gil said. Certainly, he had come here for another reason but this wasn´t Robbins´ business.
"I already told young Greg here I have come to the conclusion that Rob Epson died by accident," Robbins said matter-of-factly. "He banged his head severely - probably at the edge of the pool - and drowned, already unconscious. The blood and hair samples, found by Greg and Sara will surely confirm this."
Gil approached the body. "Is this definitive?"
"Yes," Robbins said.
"I hope that´s enough to clear Dennis of any guilt and let him go?" Greg sighed.
"What is it about that boy that makes you care so much," Gil snapped.
Greg glared at him. "Nothing in particular. It´s the case I want to solve. That´s it."
"Don´t lie to me! Your behavior towards Hodges is inexcusable. Explain it at once!"
"I don´t have anything to say. Not to you anyway."
"Greg, I´m your boss. I order you..."
Greg slipped out of his coat. "My present problems have nothing to do with work so I don´t have to answer."
"I´ll check on Dennis and Scotty and then I´ll leave for home."
"Fine." Gil´s lips became a thin line. "You want it this way you can have it. I´m not responsible for any consequences."
"It´s you who wants it this way."
"I always told you..."
"Don´t start...again!" Greg threw the coat on the ground and ran out.
A short silence followed in which Dr. Robbins picked up the coat and carried it to the disposal for the laundry.
Gil caught his breath and tried to think clearly. This. Exactly this is the reason why someone never should get involved with a subordinate. It´s just wrong.
"I see your relationship is quite messed up, Gil," Dr. Robbins remarked dryly.
"What?" Gil startled.
"Do you want some advice?"
"Keep your voice down," Gil pleaded. "This is not the place..."
Robbins smiled friendly. "Why? Do you believe it´s still a secret you´re sleeping with dear Greg? Well, I don´t know about the others but I have known for weeks what´s going on."
"Weeks," Gil whispered harshly and then he turned and fled while he heard Robbins laugh.
Gil didn´t notice Sara, when he burst through the doors. How could he? His mind was quite occupied with different matters.
Sara, on the other hand was leaning against the wall to avoid to be seen by him. She had come here to ask Dr. Robbins about the results of Rob Epson´s autopsy. Instead, she had become witness to a heated argument she wouldn´t ever been able to forget in her life. With horror she had first eaves-dropped on the conversation between Gil and Greg and had seen him leave. He hadn´t noticed her. Next, she had heard every word Dr. Robbins had exchanged with Gil. Frozen, she watched Gil walking away, in a panic that he could turn and see her. But he didn´t. Like Greg, he seemed quite distracted. Trembling and breathless, Sara pressed against the wall until Gil had vanished around the corner. Her stomach felt like a knotted ball of pain and her eyes burned like hell. Gil is gay, Gil is gay, Gil is... her mind repeated mercilessly, again and again. For years, I have chased after a gay man. A man who´s fucking the former lab boy. She blinked rapidly to hold back the tears. It was in vain. Hearing someone coming down the hallway, she fled hastily. The tears welled up and she rubbed over her eyes. But more tears kept rolling down her face. Sobbing, she entered the locker room. She had to leave. If someone saw her like that... In a rush she opened her locker to change and wiped over her face once more.
Nick came in. "Hey!" he cheered. "What´s up?"
Damn. She hid her face and tried to even her voice. "I´m going home for an hour. Robbins isn´t finished with Rob Epson´s body and I´ll have to wait," she lied.
It didn´t work. Nick put a warm hand on her shoulder. "What´s wrong? Something about the case?"
"Nothing. I just need to...." It was useless. She sobbed.
Nick turned her around. "Sara, dear, what happened?"
She didn´t answer but buried herself in his arms. Never had she been happier for him to be here. Nick - her friend. Nice and safe. "I...I...am...so damn...stupid," she confessed. Fresh tears sprang from her eyes.
He held her tightly. "Why? Is it Ecklie again? I will..."
"No." The crying stilled a little. But only a little. "I can´t tell you. I can´t tell anyone."
Gently, he stroked her back. "Well, seeing you like this, I think I know anyway." Sara shifted nervously but he held her firmly. "You figured out the truth about Grissom, right?"
Sara struggled free; her eyes became dry and hard as marbles. "You knew?"
"Ermh...yes," Nick confessed, miserable.
"You knew all along and still didn´t tell me."
"I didn´t know all along," he defended himself. "Only for a couple of weeks and just because...I caught them kissing."
Sara flinched in agony. "When?"
"At my party."
Her eyes were dark as night. "Who else knows?"
"That BITCH," Sara spat, already crying again.
"Sara." Feeling her pain, he pulled her back into his arms. "Please, don´t cry."
"Let me go. I don´t need your pity."
"I don´t pity you. I..." Nick´s voice died. ...love you. I can´t tell her that. Not now. She is hurt and angry. She wouldn´t listen, worse, she wouldn´t believe me. "I´m your friend," he concluded simply.
The silence of his apartment greeted Gil mockingly. Only the butterflies in their glasscases awaited him faithfully. Depressed, Gil threw his keys forcefully onto the table, where they slid to the edge and fell over to land nicely on the ground. Gil swore and headed to the bedroom. Rashly, he started to get rid of his clothes and then - he froze in motion. One of the drawers stood open. One particular drawer. Bare-chested, he walked over to take a look. At first, the neat order of shorts and socks seemed untouched. But at a closer look, he noticed Greg must have rummaged through them. Probably to find a pair of socks. Concerned, Gil fumbled at the back of the drawer until he found a small box and opened it. The photograph was still inside. Still, it was not right. It should have been backwards. Not like this with Mark smiling brightly at him. Mark. His fingers holding the photo trembled. Cheerful, funny, devoted Mark. Gil shifted the photo a little bit and for a second the light played tricks on him. Mark turned into Greg. Gil blinked. Greg was gone. Mark smiled at him again. Once they were happy. A long, long time ago. Once they had one of their numerous fights. Don´t think about it. Don´t. But the memory washed over him like a heavy wave, climbing, choking him.
"Are you giving me an ultimatum?" Gil shouted.
"Yes, I am," Mark snapped back. "I want you to change. I don´t like the way we spend time together. All you care about is work, solving your stupid riddles. You don´t care about me or anyone. You don´t care about living."
"Living!" Gil spat back. It sounded as if he had touched something disgusting. "I have a life!"
"No, you don´t. We never go out. We never have fun and we barely fuck anymore."
"I never knew sex was this important to you," Gil scoffed.
Mark wasn´t embarrassed. "It is. I want to live. I need someone who enjoys living as much as I do. Not someone who is just present."
Gil shrugged. "You´ve already made your decision then. What are you waiting for? Go."
Mark touched his hand. "I don´t want to leave you, but I have to."
Coldly, Gil shook him off. "Go. You can´t accept me as I am, there is no point in staying."
"Fine." Mark walked out and slammed the door.
Hours later, Gil was reading a forensic journal, while he slumbered on the sofa. He didn´t bother to be unhappy about Mark leaving. He would be back. It wasn´t the first time Mark had left him. They had lived through this stupid argument already a dozen times. Mark would never leave him. He loved Gil too much. Mark had told him so himself. What´s he complaining about anyway? Gil scolded, frustrated. I have never cheated on him. I have never lied. I have never even laid eyes on any other man. I´m faithful and loyal, I´m...
The phone rang. Self-pleased, he let it rang a few times. See. He´s sorry already. Finally, he picked up the receiver.
It wasn´t Mark. "Sorry, I thought you were someone else."
"Am I speaking to a Mr. Gilbert Grissom?"
"Yes. How can I help you?"
"Are you acquainted with Mr. Mark Yared?"
"Yes." Gil became nervous. "What is it?"
"I´m very sorry that I have to inform you that Mr. Yared had an accident. He had a lot to drink and crashed his car into a telephone pole..."
Gil had a stomach cramp. The phone slipped from his fingers, while the speaker´s voice went on. "...the doctors did everything they could...but he died in the hospital..."
Gil stroked over his eyes. They had become wet. Over twenty years had passed since that day, and, still, he wasn´t able to think about it without crying. He kissed the smiling face on the photo. "I´m sorry, Mark. I did love you." Neatly folded he put the picture back into the box. Holding the metal square tightly, he sat down on his bed and rubbed the bridge of his nose. It appears Greg has found Mark´s photograph. That would be a logical explanation for him being so upset today. Greg has discovered the one and only piece of remembrance I have kept of my lost love. A man who had a close resemblance to Greg. Is it possible Greg had noticed? Gil snorted. Whom am I kidding? Sure, he had. He´s much too clever and observant. A true CSI.
The ringing phone made Gil wince. Again, images of the past hit him. Nonsense. A tragedy like that doesn´t happen twice in a lifetime. Don´t be silly. It could be Greg. Quickly, he fetched the receiver. Are you sure?
"Grissom." It was Brass.
Gil´s relief changed rapidly, while he listened to his friend. "I´m sorry to disturb you, Gil. It´s about Greg. He had a lot to drink and..."
"No. Please no," Gil groaned. Cold fear seized his heart while the phone dropped to the ground to share the destiny of the forgotten keys. But the voice of Brass floated to him, mercilessly.