I Give You (All That I Am)

By Kat Reitz and Perryvic

Fire and glass wrapped in smoke and pain. The dreams became more vivid rather than less, and he was scared to go to sleep even here alone in his tiny apartment because of the dance of memory behind his eyes. It wasn't like there was anyone to disturb, though, and if it took him thirty minutes to make a cup of coffee right now, what did that matter? He wasn't slowing anyone else down. If he laid on the couch and struggled to move enough to go to bathroom, or cried because the damn burns hurt too much and he wasn't allowed another pain pill until an hour or so down the line, he wasn't letting anyone down apart from himself. Thank God he had pretty low standards.

He wasn't getting better. Things hurt more, things were worse now in his recovery than they had been in hospital. He was more alone, more in pain and more plagued by dreams that repeated over and over.

Stir-crazy would've been a kindness to call it. It was winding him into a full on depression because he had this idea in his head that he didn't want people to feel bad about the whole thing. They had enough on their plates without worrying about a stupid lab tech, an accident-prone son who obviously couldn't survive out in the big wide world just as they predicted.

Greg Sanders could do whatever he wanted. Pretty much all he wanted to do was get back to work, but part of getting back to work was resting. Resting meant staring at walls, and it was all circular in jumping on that downwards spiral.

He missed interacting with people most of all, which was strange, Greg guessed.

He'd seen more of people in hospital than here at home. He hadn't dared tell his parents, because his mom would freak and worry herself to death and demand he leave Vegas. He was his own man, but his mom could wear down anyone. He'd seen her literally go on for years if she thought something was for someone's own good. She was a classic case of 'meaning well' and holding too hard and he might as well smother himself literally rather than go back there and have it done figuratively -- she'd have the resignation letter typed for him in under five minutes.

He shouldn't be disappointed but after Catherine got off of suspension, and there was the whole wrangling about who was being supervisor, they were backlogged and....

He couldn't actually remember even speaking to anyone for over a week.

Not that it surprised him. Paul was dead, after all, which meant they were understaffed, and the lab was still in shambles, just had to be, and Gil was probably, well, Greg wasn't sure. He wasn't sure of much, and that kind of sucked. And there wasn't a damn thing on the TV, at least not something he hadn't seen a hundred times or more.

If he didn't have a laptop he probably would've gone insane but it was difficult to type with shaking hands and he just couldn't stop them from trembling with fear. Post Traumatic Stress. Whatever. Fear was probably more accurate. Right now he couldn't even hide the shakes so there was no chance of going back to work early or convincing them that hey, he was fine, rubber ball Greg bouncing back, no problem. They were trained to detect lies, they'd see right through him.

Gil was probably grieving because he had just lost his life partner. Paul and Gil had been one of those perfect couples and there had been times where he tried to convince himself that it was that he was attracted to about Grissom, just an archetype. Logic won out because he wasn't attracted to Paul at all, and logically he should've been hopelessly fixated on the both of them, not just Gil. Maybe he was still off on compassionate leave or something; that might make sense. Grissom could be a bit absent minded at the best of times, let alone with a bereavement hanging over him.

And there was the guilt, in fresh hot surges. It had to have been something he said that sent Paul right into that trap, no matter what Grissom said. And maybe that whole thing about Paul putting the container near the burner that Grissom had confessed, well. That was an accident. Probably picked it up, then looked to see if he could identify it and put it down again because of the stress of the case and the pressure from the Sheriff to solve the serial murders. Happened a hundred times a day in CSI. Made him feel better that it wasn't Catherine even if she'd done the time for it.

It was sort of tidy, Greg thought, that the person who set it all into motion accidentally wasn't there to give him answers. Wasn't even there to get the slap on his wrist that he would have gotten if it had all come out, although being dead was pretty much the ultimate slap on the wrist. Greg wondered if Gil had told Catherine, because she had a right to know. For all her talk of accepting and moving one and living with mistakes, she had to be affected by the thought she had blown up a colleague, a friend. At least Greg hoped she might be just a little, even if that was self-pity.

He wondered, too, what Gil was doing. And there it was, that circular thinking that brought him back inevitably to Grissom as it had done since his first day at the lab and Grissom had tapped him for blood.

He spent way too much of his time wondering about that instead of doing something productive like wonder what the hell he was going to do about groceries. There was no way he could get to the store, no way he could carry anything but he was getting pretty damn low on ...well everything. Food he could order in but there was only so long he could do that. He needed milk. He needed coffee and somewhere along the line he had to go get more meds.

Maybe he could... no, they were too busy to call. He could get a taxi. Maybe there was somewhere local where he could call in an order or something.

He started to poke around online, hoping for the name of one of the local grocery stores to come up in a search of zip code and 'grocery delivery'. Probably not, but it was that or he could starve to death on his beat up old sofa. Of course, doing it at a more normal time of day would have been a good idea. Greg was trying to stick to the nightshift schedule. It was a little fuzzy around the edges because at the start he wasn't even sure if he'd woken up for more than a few hours in the twenty-four, and he still got tired now.

Stupid shaking hands. Stupid Google. Come on, he was the life and soul of the party, he wasn't a loser, a quitter, he wasn't obsessed with Grissom, he hadn't blown everything by not stopping the love of Grissom's life go off to get killed...

The knock at the door surprised him so much that he twitched physically and then ended up going, "Owowow.." under his breath.

Someone was at the door? And he hadn't even ordered dinner yet. Shit, that meant getting up. Fuck.

"I'm coming!" he called out in a rusty sounding voice. "Hold on."

It was embarrassing how hard it was just to stand up. Some discomfort the doctors had told him. Yeah right.

Those doctors didn't have rippled burns across their backs, didn't have the sore leg muscles, the pieces of glass that had cut and healed and still left him aching in their wake. The Doctors were just basing their opinions on observations, and pain wasn't actually a visually based observation.

Probably by the time he got to the door whoever it was would've died of old age.

He made it and with far too much effort managed to get it open and discover the last person he would have thought could possibly be there. "Grissom?"

"Hi." It was understated, accompanied with a vague gesture, and Grissom looking uncertain of what he was doing there. That was fine, because Greg didn't know what Grissom was doing there, either.

"Uh..." Greg hesitated a moment and held himself up with the doorframe. "...you want to come in?" he asked belatedly. Grissom had lost weight. He looked pale for him, and haggard.

Not good. "Thanks." He pulled up a smile, and stepped in carefully. "I thought someone should come by, see how you were doing, if you needed anything..."

"New skin?" Greg said without thinking and then smiled a little belatedly to make it a joke. He couldn't ask Gil to do stuff for him. Not when he was obviously so cut up. "I'm... I'm fine. Just thinking about grocery shopping."

He tried really hard to move normally but it was an enormous failure. His normal bounce came out like some grotesque twitching puppet movement as he hitched with pain every time he over extended a movement.

"I can't provide you with new skin," Gil smiled, "but I can help with groceries." Why was he offering at all, though? He could have, should've been anywhere but there, standing in Greg's apartment and quietly closing the door behind him.

"No, no it's fine I'll... uh." He realized he wasn't making a very convincing picture of being able to do anything as he almost staggered back to the couch. "I'll be completely useless at doing anything actually. Um, I can make coffee if you don't mind it black. I kinda ran out of creamer and milk."

He still had the enormous bottle of water that he had to drink every day for the burns. He knew a lot of burns victims died of dehydration, which was a cheerful fact he could've done without remembering. He didn't want that to be him.

Gil slipped his hands into his coat pockets, surveying Greg's apartment, or what he could see of it. "That's okay. How are you? Really, Greg."

"Recovering," Greg answered. "Pretty bored." Damn, his apartment was a mess. Grissom never missed anything so it would be obviously that he barely moved from the couch and hadn't done much in the way of cleaning or anything. He just wanted to say he was terrible, he hurt so much it made him feel sick, he was depressed and low and no one had called him. But he couldn't, not to Grissom, who had lost the love of his life. "How are you doing?"

Gil rolled his shoulders. "I'm still here. Boycotting the social convention of saying that I'm fine." That would be Grissom, and he was keeping that half smile up as he looked at Greg. "Detective Lockwood was shot and killed yesterday."

"...Shit," Greg had to sit down. "What happened?" This was a really bad time to be in LVPD by the sounds of it. First him, then Paul, now Detective Lockwood, who was a pretty damn good detective, nice and mellow and easy to work with on scenes by all accounts that Greg had heard.

"Bank robbery. He tried to protect a woman and her child, and one of the perps shot him. It's been interesting to watch unravel."

"Have you been... back at work?" Greg asked feeling obscurely guilty. It made him feel like he was malingering, being a wuss.

"After arguing with Brass about it." Gil wandered further into his apartment, encroaching slowly. "There isn't anything for me to do at home."

"Oh. Well, you know if you want company, it's not like I'm going anywhere." The words were out before he even thought about it. "You know, with not exactly moving much and all that. Have a seat. Or poke around things. Don't think I've had a CSI come visit yet who hasn't done that."

"It's instinct. Paul always locked all the interior doors in the house when anyone visited for just that reason. Mostly to see Catherine frown." He didn't seem to be poking around, though, just watching Greg. "You said you needed groceries?"

"I can figure out a way of getting some," Greg said hastily. He smiled ruefully, trying to hide his hands. "I stupidly thought I'd be better than this by now."

"People tend to push themselves to heal faster than is actually possible. I was going to say that if you were up to going out, I'd drive you to the store and push a cart around for you," Gil offered. "Or you can make a list."

He wanted to go out. He was really sick of this place and it meant more time with Grissom, and....

And he wanted more time with him when Paul had just been killed? Taking advantage, that was pretty low. But maybe, maybe he needed someone to talk at or something, and here he was. Not going anywhere.

"I'd love to make it out of this place. Don't think I've seen or heard anyone for a week," he said and belatedly realized how self-pitying that sounded. "I mean, if you don't mind, that would be fantastic."

"I'm offering," Gil reiterated. "You're probably stir crazy, and I'm... not far behind."

"I'm a little slow right now," Greg apologized. "No rocking and rolling going on."

"I think you have the right to be slow. Given how you were hurt." Gil pulled up a chair, after not too much contemplation about it from the looks of it. "If you want to go get changed, I'll just wait."

Greg nodded awkwardly and pushed himself up to leave and tried not to swear under his breath. "Make yourself at home. Might take a while." He headed into his room at a snail's pace, completely perplexed by Grissom turning up. Why? Because he was bored? Interested? Why?

Because he was bored was a pretty well-acknowledged motivation for Grissom. He did a lot out of sheer curiosity, so maybe that was what it was. He was curious about Greg.

He wasn't sure what to do. He wanted to have longer with Grissom, but right now he was in a bad space after Paul. Greg couldn't take advantage of that even if he measured up and Grissom was remotely interested, which he didn't and Grissom probably wasn't. He was... too young, too immature, he got nervous and made a fool of himself. No, nothing like Paul, even if Paul had made a mistake and moved the container.

He emerged eventually from his room, moving slowly.

Gil was peering at his stack of DVDs by then, and Greg had to struggle not to feel bothered by that because he'd reached that point of sick lazy where the DVDs weren't even in the right cases. Normally he was pretty organized.

"Hey, sorry. Told you I was slow." This was going to wipe him out. "You hear from any of the others?"

"Hear from?" Gil cocked his head, watching Greg while he stood up.

"Cath, Nick, Warrick?" Greg asked, hungry for office gossip that he was usually right in the middle of winding the rumor mill. "I guess everyone is busy. So..."

"They have a heavy case load," Grissom said and it was presented as a reason rather than an excuse. "Maybe now they'll have more time to come around."

Greg swallowed a little trying to keep a half smile on his face. "Oh yeah? Why's that then?"

"I went back to work." There was a surprise. Grissom moved closer to him, still regarding him with that curiously intense speculative gaze. "I decided to see how you were doing, since I'm not being allowed to work doubles."

"Oh." Greg answered. "Okay. Groceries?" he suggested. They hadn't spoken to him, and there was a prickle in his head that no matter how busy he was, he made time to check up on a friend. Five minute phone call if nothing else, a quick Hey, how're you doing? email. It hurt oddly enough. It shouldn't, but it did because it meant maybe they didn't see him as more than a work colleague.

It weaseled into his bones and made him feel miserable, even though Gil was there, inclining his head slightly while he moved back towards the door to Greg's place. "Groceries. We've missed having you around the lab. The swing shift guy who's been stepping in for you is horrible."

"...really?" It was ridiculous how much it lifted him to hear that. He wanted to slap himself for having no self-respect, let alone self-esteem.

"Really. He's slow, inaccurate, it's..." Gil got a little ahead of him, but he waited for Greg, and then opened his door for him. "Been rough. The place is still wrecked."

There it was again, random surges of guilt as if it was somehow his fault. Really, he had to pull himself together. "Wow, maybe I should ask for a pay raise when I get back."

"It couldn't hurt. Brass is the supervisor for the moment -- it might be temporary, it might be permanent." And not Gil. Would Gil even want to be the supervisor if someone offered it to him? Probably not, but that was just Greg guessing. All he could really do was guess and try to sit on his guilt.

"Jim?" Greg was a bit surprised "But he is a detective... does he know CSI?"

"He was the supervisor before Paul was," Gil noted as they started outside. "He's done this before."

"Oh right. Right," Greg nodded and winced. It hurt and he had to concentrate on getting to the car. Then there was the fact that Grissom drove an SUV, and that it was going to require climbing into which normally would be nothing but right now was as daunting a prospect as climbing a mountain.

Somewhere between Greg closing and locking the door and him reaching the door of Gil's car, Gil had been watching him, and pulled open the side door. "Do you need help?"

"No!" Greg said immediately and the flushed with embarrassment when he couldn't damn well pull himself up. Fuck. He looked down. "This, this is a stupid idea. I can't even get in the damn car!"

His frustration flared up, hot and scarlet with embarrassment.

"Let me help you up. You have scar tissue," Gil pointed out and he was being so damn patient and Greg just couldn't understand why, he really couldn't. "Seriously, Grissom. Why are you doing this?" Greg knew he was feeling out of sorts. "I mean, you don't really... I know I irritate you, always have. "

"You amuse me." Oh, that was, actually, sort of off putting, but Grissom seemed to catch himself. "I find you amusing, not irritating. I'm doing this because... someone should, and I'm tired of being at home."

So, boredom and obligation. Grissom probably wanted someone to take his mind off things. Okay, dent to the ego or not, he could do that. He could be distracting, and amusing. He could play the game. He could be a shoulder of sorts.

"Well, hey, let's see what I can do in the way of distraction," Greg said, aiming for bright rather than sulky.

"You can let me help you into the Tahoe, to start," Gil murmured, offering him a hand to his side.

It was sort of funny, but at least he could be useful that way. Paul had been a pretty firm, spectacular guy in real life, and no small bit scary. Greg was some pale quirky distraction comparatively, but hey. He could do that, and it was kind of nice to actually have someone interested in him for a change.

They went to Greg's regular grocery store. Gil grabbed the cart, and they chatted their way through the place.

He managed to talk at random, a week's worth of words spilling out in random observations and stories, his talking in total contrast to the way he moved. He managed to be told strange facts about bananas, hear tales of the time when Gil had investigated murder by exploding tin can, watch Grissom rise to the challenge of naming a case related to an item in each row.

"Ice-cream, now, I think is too common to find at a scene." Spats and murders both, people up and roaming late at night for a snack only to stumble down the stairs to their accidental doom.

"But this is pistachio," Greg protested. "Can't be that many with that combination. I mean, cookies and cream, yeah, but not pistachio."

There was a look on Gil's face, one of deep contemplation as he shook his head. "Huh. I remember pecan and more types of the basic flavors and cherry garcia, but not pistachio."

"Yes! I finally win one..." That made him feel a little triumphant. "Shame I don't like pistachio." He smiled at Gil, willing the man to smile back. It sort of worked. Gil seemed mellow, but detached, there and interacting, but not actually there, which was disconcerting.

"What've we got?" Greg asked. "What do you like?" He wanted to do something as simple as get Gil to start and enjoy eating. He looked like he'd lost weight. Greg remembered something vague about Paul being the guy who liked to cook, but he wasn't sure. Maybe. There were too many maybes.

"What do I like?" Gil peered at him, then back to the fridge. "I'm pretty fond of strawberry, actually."

"Strawberry's good." Greg replied. "Lets get some of that... oh, and maybe some vanilla. I like the syrups sometimes." If he'd been more mobile he would've been moving manically around.

He wasn't, though, and Gil was reaching for the ice cream. "What kinds? You know, this has reminded me that I need to get things, too. There's plenty of fish food in the house, but..."

"Chocolate, caramel, maple, raspberry. They can be used for other things and...." Oh, now that wasn't the sort of thing to mention. "What're you short of? You look like you've lost weight."

Gil looked down at himself and gave a little shrug. "Paul and I rotated who cooked when, and I've just..." He reached to put the syrups into the cart. "Catherine keeps inviting me over or out, and so does Jim, but it's not the same."

"Pretty difficult to do it on your own," Greg agreed, ignoring the brief sting that Grissom got that attention. He was entitled, though. He'd known Jim and Catherine for decades. "I eat a lot of quick meals " Sometimes he actually cooked properly. "Poppa Olaf taught me."

"Is it traditional food, or?" Gil asked. They started down the aisle again, and Gil kept pushing the cart to a slow pace that matched what Greg could offer.

"Both. Poppa Olaf is all about trying new things and keeping hold of the old." He'd been the one who had encouraged Greg to break free of his mom's cast iron grip. Encouraged him to be a bit of a rebel, even if it caused the most spectacular arguments in his teens. "If you have a hankering to experiment, I'll cook some time for you. Something traditional."

"I think I'd like that. Did I make you eat the chocolate covered crickets?"

"I think I volunteered." Greg grinned a little. If he didn't hurt so much this would be perfect. The depression had momentarily passed away. "Seriously, you might be volunteering to eat fermented trout, you know."

"I wouldn't mind." Gil glanced down the long line of checkouts. "Is there anything else you need to get?"

"I think we filled up. I don't have much room for much else in my kitchen." It wasn't much more an alcove of sorts. He was going to be able to decorate with cans, which was kind of nice. Not that he was going to have to stack cans on the countertops, but that he had a lot of one shot, easy to cook food now. And milk. And bread. And bananas. And....


He wanted Grissom to come over, because he felt a lot better when he was near. His hands were still shaking, but he tried hiding it by holding on to things. "Wanna grab a DVD or something? Watch a movie or two?"

He tried not to sound too desperate.

"Sure." Gil glanced at him as they meandered towards a checkout. "You're lonely, Greg. It's all right to be lonely."

Dammit. He ducked his head away, not trusting himself to respond to that. It had sucker punched him, that one phrase. "Guess everyone is busy, huh?" He didn't have that many outside friends anymore. It seemed pathetic to moan and whine about something temporary when Gil was permanently alone. He literally hurt for him, that loss unimaginable.

"Busy? Working doubles," Gil shrugged. He started to offload Greg's cart onto a conveyor belt. "The workload hasn't stopped. It just... hasn't stopped."

People were dying out there, getting killed and his friends had to deal with it short-handed. Stupid to feel out of it, resentful. He was okay, he was on a sort of vacation while they were under pressure.

"Now I really do feel bad," Greg said, trying to help.

"Don't feel bad. You're not running around out there robbing banks, are you?" There was that wry tone of voice, the arched eyebrow. "No? There we go, then."

"Not sure I could run much of anywhere," Greg sad lightly. "So Jim banned doubles for you? Wow, that's like... breaking a natural law."

"The sun rises and sets. Rain is wet. Grissom works doubles." Gil set the ice-cream on the conveyor, and stacked the syrups up near it. "I'm at a loss for time."

"Me, too," Greg said. "So, hey come over anytime. If you want. Seriously, if you want company. I'd come over to yours, but it'll be another week before I'm mobile I guess."

"It doesn't even really feel like home anymore, so..." Gil rolled his shoulders. "I'm a poor host anyway. Let me get this."

"I'm not broke, Grissom, you know how much I get paid," Greg protested. "It's more than enough that you helped me out."

Gil put his hands up slightly, and actually moved to get to the cashier before Greg could. "If I'm going to be spending time over at your place, that means I'll be eating your food. Just... let me."

"Okay... sure," Greg was a little startled by Grissom's insistence. "I'm definitely making you dinner in that case." He looked up and saw the cashier's knowing look.

It would've been all right if she was actually right with that knowing look, except that he and Grissom were going to go back to his place, watch a DVD, and then Grissom would go home, sleep and go to work, with no funny business in between. "Only if I can help."

"Deal," Greg said. "I do good fish balls. Or gravalaks. The fermented trout really isn't worth it, but we used to grave cure meat a lot."

"Grave cure?" Gil fished his wallet out. Greg wanted to wander through his wallet, just to see what was in there. People's wallets said a lot about them, and Gil's was probably full of random things, but he was paying for Greg's groceries, smiling vaguely at the cashier. "You're going to have to explain that to me."

"Impart a family secret?" Greg tried for mock horror. "Well okay, I'll tell you about it on the way home." It was bagged up and looked like he had Grissom as a visitor at least for tonight. So he was going to make the most of it, because there was no guarantee he would be coming back.

He was about a week out from going back to work, and the last two had been pretty relaxing.

Gil came by to see him after every shift, and they talked or watched movies, or whatever. Talked about the case, talked about how Greg was doing, anything, everything. Greg was there, and Gil wasn't allowed to work doubles yet, and it just seemed to sort of work.

He still got nervous sometimes, but outside of work Grissom seemed to enjoy his random talk, or at least use it as a springboard to something else. He'd enjoyed it a lot more when he started to actually be able to function and move. But the better his healing went, the more mental issues he had with nightmares plaguing him.

That was pretty much to be expected.

He'd been pitched through a sheet glass window, and set on fire in the same instant -- he was lucky he'd been facing away from the source, but he was even luckier that the department's fire suppression units had actually worked. But he still had nightmares, and they mingled up with moments before and hours after the incident into surreal puddles of sleep-thought that left him waking up in a cold sweat. He didn't tell Gil, even if the other man commented every now and then about how tired he looked. He just passed it off as recovery. Tonight was movie night again though, Grissom's pick.

Tonight? Today. Whatever it was, when their schedules were all half assed and reverse to reality. Grissom had brought some bad noir movies and left them at Greg's place, so Greg was sort of pre-assuming that that was the movie choice before Gil even got there.

He nearly had it down to a fine art. Selection of drinks, a variety of snacks, and foods he had noticed Gil seemed to like. There was always something new and unusual to try as well. He'd find something, Grissom would bring something ad they'd have an adventure in eating, with the knowledge there would be something they both liked.

It was better than going stir crazy without socialization. Nick had dropped by once, briefly, on a Saturday, but he'd seemed a little bit at a loss for what to do with Greg when there wasn't much for Greg to do. They couldn't go out and play a game of basketball or anything. But then Gil had come by, and that had been fun, a little different, watching Nick and Gil talk a little. Then Gil had been called in for a shift, and Nick had muttered something about how it was good that Greg was being a friend to Gil, that he'd really seemed to fall apart.

He hadn't thought of it that way. Yeah, he wanted to help Grissom, but he'd thought this had been about Grissom doing him a favor not him being a friend to the other man. He had been doing that before any of this and all he needed to do was get over himself. Really, being blown up could've been worse. He had no doubt losing someone was worse than any physical injury.

He was pretty sure that if someone offered Grissom a choice, he would have chosen to be the one in Greg's place, rather than lose Paul. And Paul was... well, sort of quirky, sort of scary sometimes, but generally a good boss, and yeah, there was that whole hands around the neck moment, which had freaked the holy hell out of him, but Greg had been disoriented and drugged and he knew it.

The knock on the door had to be Grissom.

"Come in, Griss," he called. He still wasn't as fast as he wanted to be, but he headed for the door anyway.

Hands around the neck. It had been just... skin crawlingly weird and he half blamed the pain meds.

Because, seriously, what the hell? Paul didn't usually give him the time of day, but he'd come to visit Greg in the hospital and made sure he was all right, and... And.

Gil waited patiently for Greg was unlock the door, and was waiting with a biggish brown paper bag in hand. "Good morning."

"Morning," Greg said brightly. "How was work? Any good ones? Well, interesting ones... you know what I mean."

"It was quiet, and I had time to finish some write-ups. I've brought coffee beans and donuts." He hefted the bag up, and Greg could smell the warm odor of coffee, and a hint of something fruity.

"Mmm, coffee beans," Greg approved. "Well, we got a few things to see us through the film. Today's special is some lefse potato bread which I made myself and is pretty healthy if I say so myself and nice."

"You can't go wrong with fresh made bread," Gil smiled, closing the door behind him. He seemed a little less lighthearted than he usually did. "I won't be able to come by for a few days. I'm taking some time off work for surgery."

"...what?" Greg felt a completely unreasoning sense of panic that stopped him dead. "What for? I mean, what's wrong? Is it serious... well, surgery is always serious and ...Jesus, Grissom, you're having surgery!"

Gil moved oh so calmly past Greg, setting the bag on the kitchen table. There was a bag of fresh coffee beans, and then interesting looking donuts wrapped loosely in squares of paper. "I have a genetic hearing problem. The surgery's been scheduled for a while now."

"Why didn't you tell me about it?" Greg said automatically reaching to take the beans. "I could... I can drive now. Do you need a lift?"

"I'll be all right," Gil shrugged. "I'll just be out of commission for a few days. It's outpatient."

"Yeah but, you shouldn't be on your own," Greg protested. Coffee was being made automatically. "I'm pretty sure Catherine would be there if she wasn't working all the time."

"I don't want you to feel you need to be there just because you have the time for it," Gil countered. "It's going to temporarily deafen me. I won't be much by way of entertainment."

"So I know a bit of sign, I can brush up on that," Greg offered. "Come on, Griss, I know what it feels like to be alone after a hospital visit and it sucks. And who said you had to be entertaining?"

It caught him off guard a little, Greg could tell, while Gil moved to grab a plate to put the donuts on. "I'm not a good sick person."

"I figured." Greg half-grinned. "That's the point of being sick. I can come over and look after you for a few days. It's not like I'm going anywhere right now."

Gil was silent for a long, long moment, but then he turned to Greg with the plate. "All right. Where did you learn sign?"

"Stanford. Roommate with hearing impairment. He was trying to teach me all the swear words within about an hour of us meeting," Greg revealed. "I haven't really used it since and it's probably bad and slipshod."

"My other question is what led you to believe that I know sign?" Well, duh, because people in the office talked, but oh, hell. Maybe he wasn't really aware of that.

"Uh... well, someone mentioned about your mother, and, um. Okay forget I mentioned anything," Greg flushed a little. "Coffee?" He poured a couple of cups.

When he turned back, Gil was smiling. "My mother's deaf, and I was raised in a deaf-cultured household, actually. The same disease that I'm having the surgery for was what took her hearing."

"Really? But.. the surgery's going to save your hearing, right?" Greg asked. He didn't want to think of Grissom losing his hearing permanently because that would mean him leaving CSI. If Grissom left CSI, there was no reason for him to see Greg anymore.

"Right." Gil cradled the mug in his hand. "My doctor expects no complications. And you and I will be going back to work at around the same time, if your doctor hasn't given you any bad news lately..."

"No, no, news has been okay," Greg answered. As okay as permanent scarring could be. There were a few spots that no skin graft was ever going to cover. "I'll be okay to go back then."

Shaking hands included.

He'd just have to work slower. Even working slowly, he knew he was going to be more competent than whomever they had in from swingshift. "Good, great. You've been missed at work, and I mean that. I think you'll like our newest member of the team, Sophia. She's... something else."

"Is that something else, something else or... something else?" Greg served up the coffee and breakfast.

"She talks her way through a scene," Gil finally declared after apparently finding the most polite words he could. "I'm still getting used to it."

"Everyone has their quirks. I though Nick and Warrick did that sorta thing?" Greg asked. "I use music to get through a rush batch."

"If you see this in action, even you'd be impressed." Gil moved to help where he could, and he was pretty comfortable moving around Greg's place. Greg hoped he was going to be half as comfortable over there. "I use music, but it's probably a different type."

"Yeah, probably a little less grungy. Nick is country and western, Cath has every different type," Greg mused as the headed to the couch. He'd tidied the place up a lot as Grissom started coming over. It took him all day, but he had a lot of time.

A lot of time, and hey, it'd needed to be done. It was that or stare at walls, and eventually that did get boring. Particularly when they'd pulled back his pain meds dose. "There's no way to preface a sentence with 'back in the day' without sounding very old. But I'm still a big Pink Floyd fan."

"Yeah? They're classic," Greg said genuinely interested. "Ever see them play?"

Breakfast was there, coffee, donuts, movie ready to roll, Grissom there. For a moment, a brief moment he let himself imagine this was real.

"Back in the early seventies. When they weren't classic yet," Gil grinned. "The tickets were a gift from my mother, and I was probably all of fifteen, sixteen." Gil sat down beside Greg on the sofa, casual. "What horrible film do you want to watch first?"

"I put in one of your horrible films," Greg said. "Why are we watching them if they're that bad?"

"They're art." Gil smiled widely, and added, "They're also hysterical. Sometimes movies aren't so bad they're good."

"Cult classics." He let his mouth spread into a grin. "I can deal with that."

Just like he could deal with looking after Grissom for a few days. He'd even enjoy the fact he was being allowed this close. It was nice, and it was company, and Gil was someone he'd always wanted to know better. Now he could.

Grissom hadn't been lying. He really wasn't good at having to rest and do nothing and the painkillers they sent him out with made him a little loopy. He was mentally storing up their conversations for later blackmail material.

It was weird to be in Grissom and Paul's house, though. Grissom's house.

The fact that his boss had a house with a small back yard and rooms other than a front room and just... things felt weird, and Greg wasn't sure why. It was halfway like someone else still lived there, because there were painting things that just didn't seem to be Grissom.

Not all of the pieces of art were comfortable for him to look at for long. They were technically brilliant, but made him uncomfortable as he observed, something too dark in the subconscious. Some he loved and could stare at, losing time as his eyes slid over familiar shapes. Some he could recognize Grissom in, and from that deduced the artist had to be Paul, with a bizarre dichotomy of styles evident in his pieces.

Still, he was causing Gil amusement with his rusty signing. He hadn't been that fluent in college, really, and might've just implied he was better than he was to get Grissom to agree to him coming around.

The worse part of it had to be that he was just as rusty at understanding, and he guessed that after Grissom had whipped out the first smooth sentence in ASL, and left Greg in the dust. But pen and paper were pretty good, and Gil could vocalize pretty normally even if he couldn't hear it for the padding stuffed in his ears post surgery.

They managed to communicate and he was getting better at the signing again even as Grissom was getting better from the surgery. He had a damn good memory, always had, so he was already memorizing phrases and storing them up and popping them out with increasing regularity. It was worth it to see Gil smile at his improvement.

He cooked for Grissom as well, as he promised, paid back the grocery trips, even stayed over on the couch because he knew Grissom must have been feeling a bit exposed. It was comfortable and creepy at the same time, because Grissom's place was nice, but if Greg really believed in ghosts, then he would have found the source of his nightmares. Paul-as-a-Ghost couldn't have been pleased with Greg crashing out there.

He was pretty sure Paul knew... had known about his hopeless attraction to Grissom. At the time it had been hopeless, and pretty much still was because now he was competing with a memory, an ideal that was impossible to knock down to the level of mere mortals like himself. Paul had been murdered, he was a martyr and that made him untouchable and Greg felt bad for even the smallest glimmer of a wish at the back of his mind that it wasn't like that. Grissom did talk about Paul, mainly while he was on the painkillers.

Paul apparently had loved his fish, because it was hard to tell on the outside whether they were male or female, and they were pretty uncomplicated. This wasn't exactly a short sentence, but it was still rambling and a little disjointed while Gil measured out the fish food.

"Fish are relaxing to watch," Greg agreed as he did the dishes. "Looked after some really noisy goldfish ones. For a roommate. Always spitting gravel." He tried signing that as he spoke turning towards Gil.

Grissom could read lips, too, and it was funny to watch him sign that back Greg with the careful corrections. "At each other?" Gil stayed turned towards him, that slightly blown look still in his eyes. "None of the fish do that here."

"They were totally delinquents," Greg replied. "You have better behaved fish."

He made note of the corrections. He had no idea what he had actually said inadvertently.

"Paul tried to train them to swim through hoops for a while," Gil smiled, wandering away from the tank a little. "Didn't work."

"Mmm. Memory issues," Greg replied getting that bit right in sign. "Huh. How are the pain killers working?"

"Too well." Gil said it and signed it carefully, smiling as he patted Greg's shoulder while he passed him. "I appreciate you being here."

He managed not to flinch. The soreness was bearable now, even if looking in the mirror wasn't. "I appreciated you being at my place, too, Griss."

Yeah, pain meds made him weird.

"It's been different. Since Paul..." Gil signed while he talked, still careful to be clearer. "I feel stupid, moping like this."

"Hey, you've lost the man you loved. Things aren't going to just get better overnight," Greg replied, trying to lift his mood. "Wish I could say it would."

"It didn't have to end that way." Gil sat down on the sofa, watching Greg. "He decided it was going to end that way."

That made Greg frown. "Huh? He decided? Oh, you mean he felt he had to be the one to confront his mother. I guess he had issues with her. I can understand that..."

"She wanted him to stay a girl," Gil shrugged, and Greg was almost sure that he'd heard that wrong.

He didn't know what to say to that. "Stay a girl?" he repeated weakly and he was sure his sign came out as just indicating surprise at it being a girl.

Gil nodded. "So of course they didn't get along, but."

"It's still a tragedy," Greg agreed, even as his mind started thinking about endogenous hormones and XX hairs, and hands around his neck and racing, racing, racing around in circles because the answers were coming up wrong. No, that couldn't be right. "You loved him."

"He was one of a kind." Apparently, and Greg's mind was just spinning as he thought of that XX hair and Paul's reaction when he said it, and endogenous hormones, and oh, hell.

But what if? Was Paul really transgendered or maybe his home life had been really fucked up and Gil wasn't being clear about it?

"It must have been difficult for him," he said sympathetically. "Even later on."

"Not so much. He had a regimen. He had everything structured and it was mostly good. Things worked well most of the time. I should have paid more attention."

He tentatively rested a hand on Gil's shoulder before signing. "Paul loved you. Everyone knows... knew that. He was closer to you than anyone."

"And then he killed himself."

"No, no, Grissom, he didn't. He was murdered," Greg said hastily, hearing the self-recrimination in that short phrase.

And Gil caught his eyes and then shook his head, before looking away and reaching to pick up a remote. "I'm rambling. I'm sorry."

"Drugs do that," Greg replied. "Let's watch the show, huh? Chill out some. It's been hard on you."

It was quieter watching a film this way. Gil couldn't really chat and look away if he wanted to keep reading the screen, and it left Greg with too many thoughts to deal with.

This couldn't be real. Gil was saying it as if it was common knowledge now. Which, logically it would be in the department after an autopsy. He'd been in the hospital and they'd just told him that it had been Paul's mother and Paul her last victim in trying to talk to her without back up.

But... But... no, wait Gil telling him that Paul had been the one to move the canister. Did that mean it had been deliberate? What did that mean for the other things?

It changed everything when Paul was the one who moved the canister. It meant that the hair hadn't been planted, had been a mistake, and Paul had been cleaning up his mistake if it was his.

But he'd thought Paul had been a guy, so a XX hair with endogenous hormone was his mom and some sort of menopause treatment and that had made sense. But if Paul had been XX, a transsexual... Fuck. He couldn't say anything. He couldn't tell Gil that his beloved life partner had been a murderer. Had also tried to murder him twice.

Had killed a list of people, all in the name of who knew what, and Greg didn't know what to do. Did he tell Gil, or...?

He couldn't tell Gil. No, that was start and end of it. Grissom didn't miss things. He never missed things.

Greg would have to keep silent, no matter what.

Greg shot awake clawing at his throat and neck, heaving for breath. The images were sharp and bright lingering with the sense of cloying horror and fear that mingled memory with dreams.

Paul squeezing his throat, or god... even that horribly vivid dream where he twisted and he felt the snap of his neck because his hands had been here and here, which were the exact points needed to do that with minimum of fuss.

Ever since Gil's revelation he hadn't been able to sleep. He was meant to be back at work and his hands were shaking again, his eyes shadowed as sleep broke into dream-splintered pieces all through the long Vegas days.

It wasn't the mood he'd wanted to go back to work in, but he had no choice. Gil was going to swing by the doctor's and get the cotton removed so he could return to work, too. Or at least that was the plan, and he wished he could pull Grissom aside at work to talk to him. Keeping what he'd pieced together a secret was pulling him apart. He wasn't made for that.

He thought he could, because he'd kept his own feelings a secret for so long. But then it had only been himself that he had been hurting. Now there was a whole other ethical dilemma involved and Grissom...

Grissom who valued truth above everything else and there was a truth waiting to be told.

He could either follow them, step-by-step, or start with a certain point and plot it backwards.

Grissom wasn't a shoot the messenger guy. He'd never taken someone off at the neck for giving him bad news, and he didn't seem like he was going to start just because it was Greg.

But things had been good. Tentatively good with Grissom, despite his bereavement and Greg's own post traumatic stress, and he didn't want to ruin that. He really didn't want to ruin that, but there was no way he could hold onto it.

So he forced himself to get up, get ready for work, pull himself together and just go. Maybe he could bury the distraction in the intricacies of DNA analysis and watching CODIS do its little dance.

By the time he was in work, putting on the smile, not looking at the rebuilding of the lab behind him he had decided that he needed evidence before he did anything stupid. Otherwise it was suspicion, or something like hallucination and Grissom wouldn't listen to that. He needed to... read up, find out if the pieces fit. He knew how to solve a puzzle and it had to be right. CSI Wannabe, they called him, but at least he bothered to try and understand what things meant and how it worked.

He had no idea how to get to the evidence, though, because there wasn't any. There was just his memory, and the rest had gone up in the explosion. Where was he going to start finding enough evidence to convince Grissom of anything?

He could look at the case files on the lab computers. Maybe... maybe correlate it to when Paul had taken leave, or not, as the case might be. Double check everything. CODIS might have a stored profile of the hair he ran in the computer back ups -- not good enough for court but perhaps enough for Grissom. He had spent time helping Gil out at his place so getting a hair from a hairbrush wasn't difficult.

Now that he and Gil were easing back into work, trying to get up to speed, hanging around the lab with his fucked up back and neck was okay.

Hanging around the lab, scoping out work on the computers... Perfectly fine.

He looked at his hands, seeing them shake, and grimaced at the traitorous movement that marked him as damaged. He was processing DNA for Catherine and Nick, and he was still as good as ever on that front. He didn't go looking for people, though. He didn't go to the break room; he didn't peer over people's shoulders...

He was trawling the computers instead.

There was nothing solid, and he took that as a testament to the fact that Paul had been slick. He knew how not to leave evidence behind, and maybe the most evidence had been in his own death. Had he killed himself, too?

It was difficult to tell, but there was a correlation in terms of leave and murders. He felt his hands shake again and he clenched his hands, remembering the touch of Paul's fingers over his throat, nerves twanging so much he nearly went through the roof when someone came in behind him.

"Had any interesting results?" Just Grissom. He wasn't even sure when Grissom had suddenly become 'just Grissom', scary and intimidating and intense, but not.

"Uh." He'd been about to just start babbling because he did that a lot to Grissom but he stopped himself. "Nope, got two running through CODIS at the moment. I give Nick ten minutes before he starts chasing up."

He tried to discretely hide the screen.

Half the time Grissom was blessedly oblivious and half of the time he was too sharp, too quick on the update. "What case is that?"

"Oh, old stuff, just... catching up." His hands shook even more as he felt a surge of stress. He wasn't lying, not yet, he wasn't lying.

Gil's eyes danced off of the screen, and dropped to his hands. "Your hands are shaking."

"I... uh... yeah..." Greg looked at his hands and then at Grissom. "They... they won't stop." It was a muttered admission. "I... thought I'd be okay. Different lab but..."

"What can I do to help?" Oh, god, and Gil was pulling up a chair and Greg briefly thought that it was almost as bad as if his mother had pulled up a seat after interrupting him masturbating.

"Uh..." Greg felt his mouth go dry. "I'm not sure you can."

"Why?" He was too close, too casual, on that line between boss and friend that Greg had always wanted Gil to skirt and eventually cross.

And he chose now to do it when he was all to pieces. "Because." It was a lame answer and there was an insistent urge to just spew out the accusations there and then instead of constantly thinking about it.

"Do you want to step into my office, clear your head a little? I promise that the lab's not going anywhere," Gil assured calmly.

"Yeah okay," Greg answered. Anything to get him away from the computer screen. "It gets to be a little much every now and then."

"I know that feeling." Gil stood up slowly, lingering like he wanted to offer Greg help to stand but wasn't sure where Greg stood on the matter.

Greg got up without the help. They were at work and he wanted to try and appear professional as he headed to Grissom's office. He could use some coffee actually.

Griss had a little coffee machine in his office, water, things like that and he could start there. "You're supposed to take two fifteen minute breaks a shift," Gil advised. "Use them."

"If I do that, I start thinking about things," Greg pointed out. "And then I get shaky."

And Gil was herding him into his office, still quiet. "Why?"

Part of the truth, he could tell part of the truth. "Just, you know, blowing up and things." He was nervy though and he knew it.

Gil opened the door, glancing down the hallway. "Sit down and rest for a minute, Greg. I mean it. Is being back in the lab bothering you that much?"

"No, no. It's just every now and then," Greg replied, furtively glancing away. He was practically radiating guilt.

He just wondered if Gil knew what was up. Grissom moved past Greg, towards the little coffee machine, and started to make a cup. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"Uh." Greg sat again. The problem was when he started talking he couldn't seem to stop. "It's just, you know disturbing. I want to get over it, move on and it's difficult because it just... you know, creeps up on me and... stuff."

"Greg." Gil turned a little, and gave him a familiar look. "You're rambling. Which means you're covering something."

"I uh." Greg's mouth went dry. He cleared his throat. "I... uh..." He was flailing helplessly.

That caught Gil's attention, and he turned towards Greg, starting to walk towards him with a mug in hand. "Mm?"

He could feel his resolve crumbling and it was amazing how Grissom could reduce him to a nervous Wreck with a few syllables and a stern look. "Grissom, I... okay, look I... Shit, I can't say this."

That didn't make things end any quicker. "No, sit down and say it."

"No, no there's no real evidence, just..." Greg was really struggling now. "It's about Paul and.... you loved Paul."

It was hard to read Gil's face, but he didn't move. "It's about that hair. Isn't it?"

He knew? The shock must've been on his face even as he gaped like one of Paul's androgynous fish. "You know? You know about him?"

"I..." Gil looked tight faced, miserable, as tense as he'd seen him. "Started to get the idea of it after he died."

Gil had known, Gil had known that Paul had... if Gil knew there probably was evidence and he knew he had to look stunned because for a long moment he felt like he couldn't breathe.

"He did it." It was a statement as much as a question.

"I can't prove anything." Gil set the mug aside, and moved a little closer to Greg. "I thought if I said something, they'd dismiss it as a... grief reaction."

"But..." The nightmare images behind his eyes were almost flashbacks. "You knew he tried to... he tried to kill me, Griss, not just once, but twice and you didn't say... I've been having nightmares about that, about the explosion and that I was going nuts and...."

"I don't think he tried to kill you. The explosion, it -- I don't know, Greg. I can't be 100% sure, because all I have is my gut instinct on this."

"Grissom... Gil, he came to me in hospital and he put his hand around my throat, on my head. I was too out of it on drugs to realize what that position was then but... but you tell me. You tell me what he was thinking then," Greg shot back surprised at the flare of anger that pushed him forward. He reached over and placed his hands on Gil where he could feel them in his dreams. Tight around the throat then the heel of the hand at a point where a sharp movement would twist and snap the head around or crush the larynx.

Gil shook his head, shifting under his hands. "I, he tried to kill you then. That's, there's no other interpretation for that."

He took his hands away, unable to deal with someone confirming that out loud. "Shit. Shit, I'm sorry. I should've just stayed quiet. It doesn't change anything does it? Can't prove it, never will be able to prove it, and what difference does it make?" Aside from apparently making him hysterical.

"It...." Gil still looked miserable. "It means that neither one of us are jumping to insane conclusions."

"Shit." Greg looked at his hands, which were shaking badly, and he was breathing like he was having a panic attack. "I thought I was wrong. I mean, I'm usually wrong about conclusions."

"I wanted to be wrong." Gil looked at Greg's hands, too. "I'm sorry. I still don't know what to do about it. Re-open the case?" And bring with it a hundred crooks clambering for appeals because one of their own had been crooked.

"There's no evidence," Greg said finally. "No credible witnesses." He didn't count himself as one.

"Except us." And all sorts of realities intruding, Grissom standing two feet away looking sad and thoughtful, and he wasn't lashing out at Greg. Even after the hands on the neck moment.

"I'm sorry," he blurted out as his emotions crashed back down again. "Really sorry, Griss." What else could he say? He hated seeing Grissom like this. "It's okay, I'm sorry."

"He tried to kill you. There's nothing to be sorry for. You did your work, told him your results, and he tried to kill you. That's not the action of a rational man."

"I don't know, some people might say wanting to kill me is the definition of sanity." The flippant response fell a bit flat.

"No, Greg. No one here wants you dead." Gil rubbed at his face. "Do you uh. Want coffee?

"Yeah. Yeah okay," Greg sat down heavily. So much for all his plans. Now the knowledge was just there out in front of them both, and he didn't know what to do.

Gil turned his back to Greg, and went back to making that cup of coffee for him. He was quiet, and the hissing started, the slow burble of espresso down to the carafe. "Now two of us are keeping this secret."

"How long have you suspected?" he asked pushing his shaking hands flat against his thighs.

"At the autopsy. Al decided C.O.D out of hand, and I... bristled." Gil turned towards him. "Sugar?"

Today he would have sugar, because he was pretty sure he was nearly having a shock reaction. "Please," he said. "Bristled? Why? What did he say?" Here he was having a meltdown, and it was Gil who had been living with the knowledge that the man he loved had been a murderer. That had to be worse in some ways, especially for Gil, who was considered without equal when it came to finding killers.

"That his mother must have jabbed him and worked fast, putting him in that noose. The first thing I thought was that Paul must have worked fast, getting up there after he jabbed himself."

"And then you wondered why you thought that." Greg said. He did that sometimes, skipped over logic and ended up at an answer that felt right but he wasn't sure why. "Griss, I'm really sorry. I didn't mean to..." He wasn't sure what he didn't mean.

"No. Don't be sorry." He turned towards Greg with the coffee cup, and then he was pressing it into Greg's hands. "I should be sorry for thinking you'd never put it together. That it wasn't there to put together."

"Well, it's not like I'm a CSI," Greg admitted and gripped the cup hard, feeling the heat seep into surprisingly chilled skin. "I was talking more about, you know... Paul being your partner."

"Paul had problems with his identity, and depression." Gil turned back, pouring a cup for himself. "And he was... great. I wonder why I didn't notice this sooner."

"Because when you love someone, you don't look for problems, only for happiness." Or tried to, anyway. Maybe that was just his own nature. "I got screwed a few times by significant others in my time."

"I'd like to hear about that when we're not at work." Gil sat in his desk chair, still sipping at the mug. "Are you going to be okay through the rest of your shift?"

"Are you?" Greg countered. "I'll be okay." He could still do his job and then some.

"I'll be okay, too." Gil took another hard sip from his mug, and then settled with it in his lap, watching Greg. "Though I feel like going out for a drink now."

"Something for after work maybe," he said. "None of this is your fault, Griss."

"None of this is your fault, either." Gil twisted his mug in his hands.

Maybe, or maybe not. He had driven Paul crazy; Greg had known that. He did it just by wanting, even if he never made a move on Griss. Most people wanted to blame someone when a loved one died, themselves or someone else. Dammit. "Well, I best get back to work." He stood hesitantly.

"I'll see you after shift?" It was as much a suggestion as a question.

"Sure. Uh, here or back at one of our places?" Greg asked as he turned to leave.

"Here, and we'll work it out from there." Depending on how bad the shift had been, Greg figured. Depending on whether Gil managed to keep his head above water, and if Greg managed the same.

Maybe it would be drinks, maybe it would be some sort of conversation, but what worried Greg the most is that it might be the end of any chance he had with Grissom.

Meeting after shift had involved dodging Nick, who was caring and nice and not the issue Greg wanted to deal with just then, and conferring briefly with Grissom that he should take Griss's keys, because Gil was going to stop and grab groceries on his way back, and that one of those grocery items was booze. Cheaper than a bar, and a lot more comfy, as far as Greg was concerned.

He did go and change briefly, because stress had made him feel uncomfortable and tense and the hot shower had helped, even if it had been five minutes. It meant he'd only had time to get into Grissom's house and get slightly creeped out by the thought of Paul living there, hating him enough to want to kill him. Or maybe he was just a target of opportunity. Neither was a good scenario and he was a little numb inside from shock. He'd worked for Paul for years. This wasn't a stranger who had done all this. This was Paul, his boss. He was probably going to have issues with authority figures for years because Paul was his boss, and he'd tried to kill him, and had killed all of those people. People in cases they might've been able to prove with time.

Now Jim was his boss, at least temporarily and he just had this nagging suspicion if he fucked up Jim would not mess around with explosions but would just shoot him. It didn't do a lot for his self-esteem, and he knew it was ridiculous and his reaction had been bad when he discovered Gil knew. Gil didn't miss things, but he was human. Of course he wouldn't want to put two and two together and make homicide.

He still had. Even though he didn't want to, he'd realized it, and Greg wondered if that made it more likely somehow, or if he and Grissom were both a little insane from everything that had happened.

The fish were making faces at him in their tank.

A childish part of him wanted to make faces back. Grissom's place was familiar. He'd slept on this couch a few times recently when he was helping Gil out. Round and round the thoughts went in his head. If Grissom had known, why had he made the effort to see him? Did that mean he didn't blame him? Did it mean all of this was guilt?

If it was guilt, then... then Greg wasn't sure what he could do to fix a problem that was ultimately internal and all his issues, period, full stop. Just him and his ability to blame himself for everything, if Gil didn't blame him.

He wasn't sure he could just turn that off. He'd never been able to, just said, 'Don't worry, it was my fault,' to any problem that came up, desperately looking for approval. He could flirt but never believed someone wanted him, because who would?

He was sort of a mess, and now he was a mess twice over, internal, external, and yet Gil was inviting him over for drinks and trusting him alone in his place. He still startled at the sound of another set of keys opening the door.

Grissom, it couldn't be anyone else. "Hey Griss," he called out. "I... got stuff out. Didn't know if you wanted a movie."

Gil had a few grocery bags with him -- some of them with real food, and then there was the twelve pack of beer. "That's fine. How was the other half of your shift?" Breakdown free?

"Made Nick happy with a CODIS hit. Pulled up some good trace for Warrick," Greg replied as if nothing had happened at all. "Nothing too exciting."

"Good." Good because Gil probably thought that Greg needed exciting like a hole in the head. "I wanted to apologize for what happened."

"What? Why? Nothing for you to apologize about." Greg was genuinely surprised. It had been Paul that had the issue. He realized he didn't doubt Grissom at all. If that had been when he realized what had happened then he believed him because he just didn't lie. He might not be open about things, but he didn't lie.

"For not saying something to you sooner. You've been a great help, and a good friend, and I owed you that much." Gil set the groceries out on the counter, moving methodically, getting two glasses.

"Well I guess it's not something that comes up in casual conversation," Greg half joked. "It's not your fault."

"Paul was my partner for years, and I never saw it coming." He cracked a can, and poured it into the glass. "It's hard not to feel responsible."

"Well, you're not." Greg said grabbing a can himself. "You're the one who should be getting some sort of apology."

"I think Paul thought that killing himself would..." Gil shrugged, and tapped the edge of the can against the lip of the glass. "Fix everything."

"Fix everything? How? I mean... how?" Greg couldn't get his head around that. He didn't bother with a glass and cracked open the can and swigged back a mouthful.

Gil set the can down, and lifted his glass to take a swig. It was sort of funny, that they were standing at the bar of Gil's kitchen, drinking. "I think he wanted to stop himself before he became someone else."

"You might need to go over this in detail," Greg said taking another swig, realizing he was drinking with the intent to get drunk as quickly as possible. "I'm not quite following."

"In a way, he had fractured his personality. There was a part of him who still wanted justice, and a part of him who wanted to be normal." Gil took another swig, and then grabbed the twelve pack and jerked his head towards the living room.

Greg got up and followed, and he really wanted to just wrap his head around the whole concept. "Split personalities? Schizophrenia? Multiple personality disorder?" he asked.

"I'm not sure if it was clinical or conceptual, or something that came with his depression." The sofa was more comfortable a place to crash, and he was at least familiar with it after Gil's surgery.

"He had depression?" Greg was starting to realize how little he knew about Paul. He prided himself on picking up all the little snippets of information about people at the labs, but Paul had been an expert at camouflage from the sounds of it.

"He wouldn't do anything for it. I tried to talk him into therapy, but...." Gil shrugged, and Greg tried to imagine that-- dealing with personal issues, and then going to work like there was nothing at all wrong in the world. Paul and Gil always seemed so mellow, so into their work and calm.

"Oh." He grimaced. "I didn't know that. Guess I didn't really know that much about him." He was trying to fit what Gil was telling him with the image in his head of a man that killed so many others

"Funny -- neither did I." Gil took another hard swig, and Greg wondered what stage of mourning this counted as.

Anger maybe? He drained down that beer and decided he wasn't nearly drunk enough for this to make sense. He reached for another. "He was protecting you," he said eventually, having giving it some alcohol fuelled thought. "Paul was protecting you. He loved you. Everyone could see that." He'd seen it all the time. Every look, every gesture, the way they shared wry smiles or Grissom gave that quiet laugh.

"I can't understand it. Philosophically, as an investigator, I can see where it comes from. It doesn't make it make any more sense. If he hadn't... done what I think he did, everything would still be carrying on. Like it did every day. There was nothing inevitable about any of this."

"Would it? Things were, you know... getting closer together. There's only so long before there's a slip like the hair. He was righting injustice, but it had started, you know, escalating." More beer. Beer was good.

"I meant the murders at all. He had his life's goals. I don't... viscerally understand why he put that all at risk." Gil slouched back in the sofa, and looked at Greg.

"Well, I guess that's what mental illness is all about," Greg replied. The second beer was disappearing fast and he hadn't felt like eating after all the revelations. "Compulsions to do things. His whole... whole life was built around the pursuit for justice. Everything. I mean, he probably couldn't walk away from it without denying who he was."

"I'm allowed to wish that he could have." Gil took a slower sip now, finishing off the glass before he set it down and reached for his second. "How can you drink out of the can?"

"You didn't do that as a student?" Greg answered. "Used to do it all the time. We never had enough glasses, they got broken, easier just to get the can and go from that. No cleaning up just into the trash and gone."

"Bottles." Gil lifted his eyebrows, and then added, "Or kegs. They hadn't invented cans when I was in college." Smartass.

"Yeah, I heard that rumor," Greg grinned at him. The numbness was being fuzzied by a warm alcohol haze. Wow, he had to have lost his tolerance in the last few weeks.

"Do you want something to eat? We could put a movie on." With the understanding that, like most of Gil's taste in movies, it would be bad. Greg was comfortable with that fact, and it felt like a normal morning after the shift with Grissom.

"Sure. Sure what've you got?" Greg asked, half lolling back a little.

"Old westerns?" Gil finished decanting another beer into a glass. "Paul had a preference for dramas. Room with a View." Gil would probably hold onto them forever, but it was hard to guess. He got up to get a DVD and put it on as background distraction. Greg swore he heard one of the fish spit gravel.

"Pick one you like. Nick likes Westerns. Well obviously, it's like a law. I think he'd be disowned if he didn't like them, being from Texas. I always wondered if he had an actual cowboy hat somewhere. Warrick says he does but I haven't seen it yet." Oh joy he'd reached the babbling stage. And he was just sober enough to realize it. He could probably delay it with a little food, but he might as well enjoy the rest of the ride downhill, if he was honest with himself.

He hadn't craved alcohol for a long time. Usually only for break ups and moments of real depression. Everyone had them, especially when they spent years of wanting with no hope. But hey, the second beer was nearly gone. "Catherine's got a cowgirl outfit, she said, with rhinestones and white leather boots. I'm not sure if she's telling me that to mess with me though."

"I should try to organize a Halloween party," Gil decided, turning the TV on and quickly flipping between remotes to get the movie playing. "What would you show up in?"

"Mm. Well, I might go as a pirate. I think I could pull that off. They can be quirky. I'm all about quirky. Don't think I could carry off Batman, although latex...or leather, leather is good. If done tastefully. That's not a costume though, that's my clubbing gear. How about you?"

Gil seemed to be thinking about it as he sat down on the sofa. "I'm not sure. I might dress up as the Undersheriff."

Greg nearly choked on a mouthful of beer, trying to imagine that. "You want to scare people?"

"Isn't that the point?" Gil finally gave him a smile, and seemed to relax into sitting beside Greg while the movie started up.

"Hmm, well I could go as a vampire, and threaten to bite peoples necks," he said and somehow he was on his third beer. "Or wrists... that's pretty sexy." He only had alcohol to blame for the fact he trailed fingers on Gil's wrist.

"Wrists are sexy?" Gil sipped at his, and he didn't seem drunk at all. It was less than fair. Way less than fair.

Of course he did have a greater body mass, and the lack of sleep wasn't helping but... oh god, wrists were sexy. "When they're attached to a sexy guy." What was he doing? This was not the time. Swigging more beer was not helping either.

Gil snorted, and looked sideways at Greg before he took another swig off of his glass and set it on the coffee table. "It's a good thing I like you."

Oh, oh that was a warning off. Had to be. Only his hands had a life of their own and didn't want to stay were he told them. "Well, I've only got your word for that," he said and the words came out with a challenging flirt and this really was a bad idea.

"It's a good thing, too, that Jim's your boss right now." And then before fear had a real chance to settle in, Gil turned in towards him and kissed him.

Wait, wait... wow...

Greg's conscious mind was waving desperate hands saying this wasn't the best time to do this but the pent up frustration of years of unrequited watching and hopeless patience leapt into the kiss and went for it. The alcohol had knocked his common sense for a loop.

It wasn't as if he could take it back, because he actually hadn't started it. Gil leaned into Greg, and the frustration had a place to go, a body to move against, a mouth to kiss, because he could feel how much Gil wanted him.

He really hoped that wasn't alcohol skewing his perception, because Gil was solid and warm and he wanted badly to make things better, to love him how he'd always wanted to and thought there was no chance of making a reality. His hands were touching lightly, looking for skin as he kissed back and made himself dizzy with the wanting of it all.

Gil pulled back, and he heard Gil exhale hard. "Before we go any further, I want to know if you..."

"If I what? Bottom, top? Like men?" Greg babbled desperate for Gil to continue. "Please, don't make me beg... well, okay, you can if you want, if you're into that, but..."

It got a laugh out of Gil. "Okay, okay, that's, those are answers I was looking for."

"Wow, really?" Greg grinned back. The beer was dulling his inhibitions again. "Can we do more of the kissing now?"

"Yeah." There was the heralding sound of the bad westerns on the TV, but Greg was concentrating on the fact that Gil was leaning into him again, hands settling carefully at Greg's sides.

The warm buzz could be alcohol, but right now common sense and inhibition were out the window and he was loving every touch and contact as he nibbled on Gil's lip a little and then kissed him again tasting beer.

It wasn't a bad taste, and it was already in his mouth, too, but beyond that he could taste warm and familiar and he moved his hands to try to touch Gil back. He wanted Gil, he wanted to touch him, taste more of his skin so he just... did. His mouth started roaming and his fingers seeking skin under the shirt.

Gil's skin was something Greg wanted to read with his fingers, spelling words he'd gotten refreshed on with sign with his fingertips. Gil pulled back, broke the kiss, peering down at Greg.

"Don't stop," he begged as his fingers traced want, need and love on Grissom's skin.

"I was thinking about getting us a little less dressed." He lifted his chin, and started to pull at Greg's t-shirt.

"Oh god yes," Greg wriggled out of it. "Yes..." He was intoxicated enough not to care about new scars and imperfect skin that might've stopped him before.

Maybe it should've stopped him, but Grissom was, well, Grissom. And Paul had to have had scars and Greg wasn't going to think about that, or how much of a bad idea it was that they were doing that on the sofa.

All that mattered was the fact he could taste and touch more. Some people got aggressive when they were drunk, some maudlin, or sleepy. He got flirty and horny which was the only reason he ever got laid in college, because his normal conscious mind was too busy chasing its own tail to get on with licking every inch of someone's body. Now, though, his mind could do whatever, because Grissom was looking at him, eyes intent while he pulled Greg's t-shirt up over his head, and let it fall to the floor.

"Sex-God Grissom," he said only half joking as he fumbled with his belt and shirt. It was enough to allow him access. "I want you."

"No pressure." Gil seemed mellow, amused, relaxed, maybe, and he was sliding a hand down Greg's back, and the touch was particularly sensitive around his tailbone. "Now I'll have to try to meet your sex god standards."

He arched a little, his newly healed back giving him a mixture of sensations. "Shouldn't be hard for you," he said, and took the opportunity to dive back in to devouring Grissom's neck and now his semi-exposed chest.

The sofa was sort of tight -- not too much room to look or enjoy, and he wanted more room. He wanted a bed, or hell, the floor. Something where he didn't keep hitting his knee against the sofa back. He tried tugging him that way, showing what he wanted. Somewhere where he could spread his legs, or settle in to suck cock. "Floor... bed... something," he mumbled against Grissom's skin.

"Bed." Bed, when his pants were starting to fall down, so when Gil pulled back, started to stand up, Greg figured he might as well let them drop to the floor.

Naked was the way to go. He nearly spoiled the effect by tripping forward on the folds of cloth but the journey to the bedroom was a little indistinguishable because he was kissing Gil and savoring that rather than paying attention.

Gil wasn't the kind of guy to laugh at another for poor coordination, anyway. If he tripped, oh well -- he tripped, and they moved on, carried on with kissing until they were in the bedroom that Gil had once shared with Paul.

Greg was uncoordinated and his attempt to pounce Grissom was somewhat haphazard, but he tried. They ended up on the bed, and Gil laughed, hands on Greg's hips to steady them both when they settled backwards onto the mattress. "Hi."

"Hi," Greg replied as they rebounded a little. "For a minute there, I thought my angle was off and we were gong to bounce on the floor."

"The floor doesn't bounce much. I know." Gil moved, scooted backwards, and it was a nice, big bed, lots of room.

Greg prowled up, as best he could, to clamber up to him. "Mmm, you know, you're pretty comfortable," he murmured.

"You're not going to pass out on me, are you?" Gil petted a hand down Greg's back. "How are you the naked one?"

"Because... hey, that's a good point," Greg started pulling off Gil's half open shirt with his teeth, and pulling at his pants with his hands.

Gil moved to help, shrugging out of his shirt as quickly as he could, but the pants took more work, since Greg was over his lap.

"Equal opportunity nakedness..." he declared eventually. "Wow, now I can get my hands on everything."

Gil was going along with it, comfortable with it, half-smiling, eyes watching Greg, tracking and tracing him more with looks than touches. "Anything in particular you want to get your hands on?"

"This... and this... oh and this..." He was touching Grissom all over. "Definitely this." He looked directly at Gil's cock. "Perky."

The funny part was that he was there, and Gil was cooperating, and the whole thing wasn't only in his head, restricted to fantasy. Gil reached out to pull him in close, kiss him again.

He kissed right back. He loved the feel, the taste, everything about Gil, and he was loose and boneless as he tumbled with him. By all rights he should've been tense and high strung to get to this point, but he wasn't. He was comfortable, and maybe that was part beer, part empty stomach and part placebo effect, but as long as Gil was going along with it, Greg was happy.

His hands reached for his cock, touched the smooth soft skin, and caressed it gently. He looked up to signal the intent that he was going to suck his cock and adroitly asked permission with his expression.

"Please. I want to do that to you, too, we'll..." Get to it, get around to it.

That was a thought to conjure on and Greg was glad then he'd taken a shower before coming over. It didn't stop him sliding down and settling to lick and kiss at Gil's cock. He was finally doing it, wanting to make it so good that it would fill a need Grissom would never know he'd even had.

He didn't think it would -- after all, he guessed that that was what Gil and Paul did, maybe, except he didn't want to think about their sex lives, he wanted to have his own, and sucking Gil's cock while Gil threaded his fingers through Greg's hair was pretty awesome. He'd imagined it often enough, fantasizing as he jerked off. Now he was hard as he did it. Really hard, and wanting as he sucked, feeling his hands on his head, gripping tighter with each moment.

He could tell that Grissom wasn't going to last, that it had been a while, too long since he'd gotten off that way, and Greg was happy to oblige, happy to suck until Gil was struggling not to shove up into his mouth.

He broke for air. "How many times can you come in a night?" he asked because he wanted the works. He wanted it all if he could because there was a nagging part of him saying this couldn't possibly be long term. It had to be desperation on Gil's part; a rebound reaction to Paul's death and it might be a one-time deal.

"I..." Gil seemed to pull himself together, and blinked. "Twice."

"Good, 'cos if I suck you off I don't want to miss out for afters," he said. "Unless you want to skip to that part now."

It startled Gil, he could tell. "No, I think you deserve more workup than that," he said slowly, rubbing a thumb against Greg's temple. That was good, and he smiled before going back to sucking and sliding his mouth around Grissom's cock. It was easy to settle into the movement up and down, drawing it out until Gil fell back, relaxed and let his limbs go loose except for his hands, which gripped Greg's hair as if it was the only thing anchoring him to the earth.

It was almost a shock to realize he had come; he had made Grissom climax and just lose muscle tension. There was no sour taste to him that some men had and Greg just remained sucking, almost nibbling a little even though he was technically done.

Gil was breathing unevenly, and petting at Greg's hair lazily as he recovered. "Hmmn, come up here."

He crawled up, half sprawling over Grissom and pressing his own erection into his thigh.

Gil exhaled, fingers still petting at Greg's hair, and then down to the nape of his neck, tracing his spine. "Hi."

"Mm. You enjoyed that?" Greg asked hopefully. He pressed against him feeling the sensation of skin on skin, hot and slick after the exertion.

"I enjoyed that a great deal." Gil swallowed again, letting his other hand idle down Greg's side.

"Good, because it's only for the grace of nearly three beers that I'm not shooting my own load if you know what I'm saying," Greg said frankly. He was one step away from purring. "I'd hate for it to be over."

"What makes you think it'd be over?" Gil sounded mellow, contemplative, and Greg still felt wild, out of control, like he wanted to hump Grissom's hip.

"Just... I want you," Greg replied, and he did rub against him, unable to help himself.

"You want me how?" Gil's hand was sliding down, resting against the curve of his ass.

"Fucking me senseless?" Greg said. "Or you know, I can switch out? I'm flexible like that, only you know... I have this whole authority fantasy thing."

He didn't expect Gil to laugh, or maybe he did. Gil's fingers trailed down the cleft of his ass, sliding between the cheeks. "Do you want to elaborate?"

"You get forceful sometimes, when you're wound up in a case. You have this... tone and it makes me hard when you tell me to process your stuff, tell me there's no other case but yours and then push things around. There have been times I wanted you to push me up against the wall of the lab and have me right there."

"I know I've pushed the boundaries of propriety a few times, but I don't think I'd take it that far." Gil moved, and used his hand just lightly touching between Greg's ass cheeks to get him to slide over a little on the bed. Finally, it seemed like he was going to reverse things.

He'd willingly move anywhere for more of that touch and he moaned and wriggled into a better position to be fondled.

"Mmm. Roll over and I'm going to see if I can find lube around here." As a parting motion, Gil leaned up to kiss him.

He kissed back gratefully and rolled over shivering with anticipation. "Should've brought some, but I didn't hope that much." He didn't think things would get that far, but it seemed like they would, and Gil sat on the edge of the bed, carefully rummaging the drawer in the bedside table.

"Tell me you've got some," Greg asked twisting his head to look over his shoulder.

"It's in here somewhere. It might have gotten shuffled around when I packed up Paul's things."

Greg made himself comfortable, and then pushed his ass up a little in what he hoped was an inviting manner. Truth was he didn't have a solid preference. He'd had times when he bottomed and swore he'd never top again, but he did. He enjoyed sex -- there was no way he didn't enjoy it, take it when the opportunity provided. "And... there, found what I was looking for."

"It probably would be uncool to applaud or cheer or something?" Greg half asked. If anything he wanted it more.

"We're not going for coolness awards here." Gil moved, and showed Greg that he'd found a condom and lube. "It's just you and me."

"Well, I'd like warning before you invited anyone else," Greg said smiling at him. "Though I'll try anything once."

"I tried a threesome once, in college. It...." Gil waved his hand side to side slightly. "Lacked the intimacy of one on one."

"But the idea is interesting." Greg considered the idea through a beer filter. He wouldn't kick Catherine out of bed -- more likely to be the other way around, or Nick, or Warrick or anyone he worked with if he really thought about it. "Though I think I want you all to myself."

"Sometimes the idea is more exotic than the reality." Gil was back close to him, and he seemed comfortable, moving between passion and talking and passion again.

Greg tried to force himself to settle down some. He did have control when it counted although he wasn't showing too much of it tonight. "I'm thinking with you the reality will be better."

"No pressure." Gil smiled, and leaned, kissed him again while he slid a hand down to fondle Greg's dick.

The softness that had crept in while he had been waiting vanished and Greg almost immediately found himself pushing into Grissom's hands. He felt hard, but more than hard, he wanted more. He wanted more than Grissom petting his dick, he wanted Grissom to turn him over and fuck him, slow and hard.

"C'mon, Griss," he said, unable to stop flexing his hips. "I want to really feel you."

"Feel me how?" Gil seemed to want to hear it, wanted to draw that out of him.

"I want to feel you push into me. Hard... and, and I want you to drive me and you crazy with it until you really have to let go," he half babbled. He wanted it so much it made him ache.

"How long's it been?" Gil nuzzled a kiss against his jaw, giving Greg's dick a squeeze. "Turn over."

Greg rolled over eagerly. "Too long." He couldn't actually remember the last time he'd had sex, let alone with a guy. He'd spent a long time fixated on Grissom. To start with, he'd tried to blot it out by trying everything going, but eventually as it didn't fade he just... stopped doing much at all.

"Then as much as you want me to 'C'mon', I think I'll take my time." Gil leaned over, kissing the back of Greg's neck.

Greg groaned. "Griss!" he half pleaded. "What if I promise to fulfill any of your sexual fantasies if you just get on with it?"

"Hmn, you're assuming that I have a lot of sexual fantasies." But Gil moved down, just a little, kissing over the scarred skin of Greg's back while he let his fingers linger down to Greg's ass cheeks.

"You must have some," he replied shivering and nearly stuttering as Gil did that. "I told you one, tell me one of yours."

"What I'm doing right now has to rank up there." Greg could feel him, kissing down his back, a finger teasing dry against his asshole, just trying to get him worked up.

He squirmed; he always did when touched there. "Come on, you love experiments, don't tell me you haven't got some interesting thoughts in that head of yours," Greg said partly as a distraction.

"I do. I just haven't been fantasizing lately." Oh, and Greg expected him to stop, but he didn't. Bad timing on that particular conversation, and that was a reason not to do this when a little loosened up on alcohol.

He went quiet, and just felt the sensation of Gil kissing his back, then the feeling of a little cool slick sensation rubbing against his ass.

That was promising and he arched into that, feeling new tissue pull here and there. "Mmm," he responded, trying for non-contentious encouragement. He didn't want to put his foot in it again.

He wanted to kick himself, but the urge started to fade once Gil started to slowly work a finger into his ass. Just the one, slowly, and his other hand rubbed at Greg's ass, relaxing the muscles.

He felt good and some of his tension left his muscles and he made responsive noises. "That feels good. I'm not that tight, Griss, you can go faster."

"Are you sure?" Gil pulled that finger out, and slowly pushed it back in, and after a moment he started to twist it, like he was looking for something. "I'm out of practice with this."

Huh. That seemed to imply he'd been mainly the bottom in his relationship with Paul. "Doesn't feel that... holy shit!" He felt it when Grissom hit his prostate. Most people he had been with didn't go looking for it before they started.

Gil laughed quietly. "There." He gave another press, stroking it with just that one finger, and Greg could feel himself clenching madly around Gil.

"Oh shit." He had to gulp for air to try and calm himself because his own cock was twitching and he didn't want to be surprised into coming. Much more like that and he was going to have to squeeze himself back from the edge.

"Easy, how's that feel?"

"Fantastic," Greg said pushing himself up, trying to get his hand underneath him to control himself. "Just... need to... take a precaution here unless you want to do it."

"I promise not to drive you to distraction." Gil added more lube, and he liked the addition of more lube.

There was always room for more and he squeezed himself hard enough to take the edge off. "We can do that another time."

Gil pulled his hand back, and shifted, reaching beneath Greg to stroke him over top of his hand.

"That's not actually helping me hold it back, Griss," he said, though he was practically purring under the stroking.

"Why hold back?" But Gil stopped, and let his hands move down to Greg's hips, positioning him. "So, you're ready?"

"More than ready," Greg said. "And I'm holding back so I don't come the moment you push into me."

"That's flattering." Gil knelt up behind him, and he could feel the head of Gil's dick up against his asshole.

He deliberately pushed back, feeling the burn. "And true."

"Slow..." Gil sounded tense, put a hand at the small of Greg's back. "Jesus."

Yeah, that felt amazing. Fucking amazing. "Deeper. Harder." He heard Gil laugh again, a quiet chuckle when he started to thrust, slow, sure, but deeper.

Finally! It was easy then to move into it, to move with Grissom, savoring the feel and burn, the push and gasping shudder. It felt amazing. Gil knew what he was doing when he thrust, knew how to roll his hips forward, and move into Greg's thrusts.

"Fuck! Yeah... yeah, oh..." He moaned and gasped with each movement. He'd never been quiet during sex and there was no way in hell he could be quiet now. No reason to be quiet. Gil clutched hard at his hips, and started to hammer into him, quiet, quieter than he'd imagined, but Gil was less about sound and hearing than he might've been.

He could understand that now, but it didn't stop him being vocal. He responded, giving Gil feedback that he was loving it, needing it and enjoying everything. Gil responded to that feedback, moved harder, faster, driving Greg on, and it made Greg give up on control.

That was what he loved most of all. He trusted Gil implicitly and just lost himself. It became a timeless zone of ecstasy. He was chanting breathless versions of his name, encouragement, expletives, and in the end just gasps of air as he reached for an unbearably intense climax.

He'd been close for so long, and now he was there and it felt fantastic, clenching around Gil, feeling Gil still moving within him until he went still, too.

He collapsed into the pillow, panting hard. "...seeing stars."

"That was..." Gil moved, pulling out o him slowly, and Greg guessed he was getting rid of the condom, too. "Amazing."

He turned over and tried to look seductive, "Was it good for you?" he asked tongue in cheek, although he wasn't really very connected to himself.

"It was good for me. How about you?" Gil moved to lie down beside him, still smirking a little.

"Will I feed your ego if I say best ever?" he replied, sprawling out. He couldn't believe it had actually happened.

"My ego's okay as it is." Gil stretched out beside Greg, and exhaled, sliding an arm over him. "You're not going to regret this when you've shaken off the buzz?"

"Me? No... I..." A little of his uninhibited state had faded, and there were niggling doubts flickering at the edge of his mind. "You sure I haven't taken advantage?"

Gil's fingers stroked slowly over his ribs. "I'm sure, Greg."

"I mean it's not been that long since... and...." He didn't want to be the rebound fuck, the grief finding an outlet. "I want to be... more than just every now and then."

Gil was quiet, peering at Greg's shoulder, his collarbone, and then he shook his head. "You're not just every now and then. I can't make any sweeping promises. But I'd like to... try."

Grissom rarely failed when he tried to do something. Greg let a broad smile settle on his expression. "I'm not going anywhere, Gil, and I've got no secrets. No pressure."

"You pieced together my secret." Gil lifted his eyebrows a little. "No pressure."

"It wasn't yours, it was his." Greg reached to put arms around him. He was quiet a moment. "It's okay to still love him, you know."

"I don't really expect that to go away any time soon." Gil felt comfortable, with him and with what they were doing, and maybe that was enough for a while.

"It doesn't have to," Greg murmured.

He couldn't ask Gil to forget Paul, to hate Paul because he'd tried to kill him. Gil had loved Paul, and he didn't want Gil to lose that. He could hold Paul's memories forever if that was what he needed. Greg knew he would still be there regardless of how this panned out in the cold light of day when Grissom realized what he had done. At the end of the day, Greg loved him and if he had spent every day at the lab yearning for the impossible then he could be gracious in his apparent victory. He recognized that, in the end, Paul could've killed him, but chose instead to end himself, so in a way he had saved him. And if that was the only way to rationalize it, that was what he was going to do.

Here and now he was going to hold onto this miracle and maybe tomorrow it would be a horrible mistake, or Grissom wouldn't be ready, or would realize one of the hundred and one reasons that existed why it wouldn't work. Greg could hope that it meant something and would be a seed for the future. Paul hadn't shared all that he was with Gil, and Greg knew one thing; if he got to take this chance, that was one mistake he wouldn't repeat.