He felt uncomfortable. Parking his car near Grissom’s apartment, Greg sat for a moment, clutching the steering wheel and trying to get his heart to stop beating like the heart of a scared rabbit. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to still the tremble of his hands as they tightened even more on the wheel. His knuckles were white before he could deliberately unclench his hands.
Another breath, and he realized he could smell the moo goo gia pan and the egg foo young that sat on the passenger seat beside him. Deciding that the longer he put it off, the colder the food would get, Greg opened the car door and went around to the passenger side so he could collect the little white paper cartons of Chinese food that he had brought with him.
Catherine had been here yesterday to see how Grissom was doing after his surgery. She had reported to everyone that the operation had been a complete success and that Grissom would be returning to work the next week. Both Nick and Warrick had insisted they knew all along that something had been wrong with Grissom. Sara had been quieter, almost acting as though she was angry that she had not seen any of the signs of hearing loss that Catherine had spotted before the operation.
Greg had remained silent. Ever since the explosion, which had sent him flying through the glass wall of his lab, Greg felt like a different person. He knew the others still watched him. He knew that not only Grissom, but both Catherine and Warrick and seen his hands shake on occasion. But neither of them had mentioned it to him, and Grissom’s words from before his operation still rattled through Greg’s mind. “If you need me, I’ll be around.”
Taking another breath, Greg stepped off the elevator and walked to the door of Grissom’s apartment. He desperately tried to summon his courage. “I need you, Grissom. God knows this probably isn’t the best time, but I really do need you now.”
Before he could change his mind, Greg pressed to buzzer that was beside the door. Almost as if he had been expected, the door opened and Gil Grissom stood before him. Greg summoned a smile, but was met with a dark look. Grissom looked unkempt and disheveled. His hair was tousled and his jaw was covered with at least a day’s worth of beard. Seized by a sudden panic, Greg began to ramble.
“Hi, boss. I thought you might like some Chinese. I know it’s one of your favorites, so I thought maybe you’d enjoy sharing some with me.” He tried desperately to fix a smile on his face.
Grissom stood at the door, studying Greg Sanders. For a moment, Greg really thought he was going to tell him to leave, but then something in his eyes changed and he stood back to make way for Greg to come in. Now more nervous than ever, Greg tried to enter the apartment without stumbling or calling any undue attention to the fact that he was almost too nervous to walk straight.
He stopped in front of a large sofa that nearly filled the living room of the apartment. Looking around, he noticed a bar running between this room and the kitchen. Thankfully, he put down the little white boxes and began to talk.
“Glad to hear everything is okay with you, Grissom. Let me tell you, everyone was sure surprised to hear about the surgery. I know how scary something like that can be, let me tell you. My grandfather, Papa Olaf, had a friend back in Norway...that was before he got kicked out of Norway, but that’s another story...”
“Greg.” The word was soft but the moment it was uttered, Greg froze in place.
Grissom looked at him and smiled. “It smells wonderful, Greg. Let me get some paper plates and we can have some lunch together.”
Another breath and Greg dropped his eyes as Grissom walked past him into the kitchen and reached into the cabinet for paper plates.
“Paper plates, eh? You know, I do the same thing. No need to have to wash a bunch of dishes. Easier to just toss them and be done with it. I knew a guy once...”
“Greg.” The soft word stopped him again. But this time, Grissom returned to stand across the bar from him, watching him as though he were a moth caught in a candle flame. “Greg, are you all right?”
Suddenly Greg felt his hands begin to tremble. Frantically, he lowered them to try and hide them where he hoped Grissom would not be able to see. Try as he might, he couldn’t plaster that smile back on his face. He wanted to run. He wanted to go back to his car and get inside and drive back to his own apartment and forget that he had ever brought Chinese food to Gil Grissom’s kitchen.
But instead, he looked up into eyes that were pinning him in place and moaned, “Nooo.”
Grissom was silent for a moment, staring at him and no doubt trying to decide exactly how to handle the situation. Greg, himself, was at a loss as to what to do now that the secret he had been keeping these past weeks had been revealed. He wasn’t all right, and he doubted that he ever would be again. He didn’t feel like he was alive any more.
Grissom’s eyes bore into him like a drill. Greg turned his back to the man and stared toward to door. He had never even imagined that something like this might happen. All he had wanted was to bring Grissom some lunch and make sure his boss was doing okay after some really serious surgery. He had not wanted to face the fact that his own life seemed to be falling into pieces along a road that was terrifying him.
“I’m sorry. You don’t need this. I shouldn’t have come. I’ve got to go.”
Frantically he fled toward the door, but was stopped by Grissom’s next words. “I’m here if you need me, Greg.”
“I’m okay, Grissom. You’re the one who had the operation. I’m the one who should be helping you feel better. Hey, I don’t have any problems. I’m fine.”
“Are your hands still shaking?”
Greg turned to face him, unconsciously clenching his hands together behind his back. “It’ll stop. You said so yourself. It’ll stop. I just need a little more time. I just need to know...” He left the sentence unfinished.
Grissom rounded the bar and approached him slowly. “What do you need to know, Greg?” His voice was soft and soothing, coaxing the admission out of him. “What is it that you need to find out?”
Turning to stare at the door again, Greg drew a shaky breath. “I need to know that I’m still alive.”
There, he had finally admitted it to someone, but he didn’t feel any better for the admission. The trembling in his hands was spreading up his arms now, and he knew that his shoulders were beginning to shake.
Still unable to look at Grissom, he continued to face the door, but closed his eyes, desperately trying to keep gathering tears from spilling down his cheeks.
“I don’t feel alive any more,” he finally breathed. “Ever since the explosion. I don’t feel like anything is real any more. I could have been killed. I should have been killed. I got blown through a fucking glass wall for Christ sake! I should be dead right now! But I’m not. I’m still here, walking and talking and doing all the things a good lab tech should do, but, God help me, I don’t feel like I’m alive any more!”
By the time he finished, Greg realized that he was shouting. His entire body was trembling so badly he could hardly take a breath, and when he did, it sounded more like a sob.
“Cyrus Lockwood is dead,” he continued. “All he did was walk into a bank to deposit a check. It was just a normal day. He was standing in the fucking bank trying to take care of some business and then suddenly he was dead. I was working in the lab. It’s what I do. It’s my job, for Christ sake! And the next thing I know, I’m flying through a sheet of glass and wondering if this is what it feels like to die!”
The tears that Greg had been keeping inside for two weeks were finally running down his cheeks. Strangely, when he felt Grissom’s hands work their way around his waist and up under his shirt to press into his naked chest, he didn’t pull away. Instead, he leaned back into the safety of that supporting body and let another sob hitch from deep inside.
Slowly he turned into Grissom’s embrace, letting those comforting hands stroke under his shirt and along his back as he dipped his own head against Grissom’s chest. For long moments, he sobbed, only stopping when he realized that Grissom was sobbing as well. He pulled back to look up into the face that was only inches away from his own.
“I’m sorry, Gil. I didn’t mean...”
“Hush.” The one word was spoken as softly as his name had been spoken before.
“Hush. You haven’t done anything wrong. You’re alive. I can feel you and touch you and hear you. I can hear you, Greg. Do you know how beautiful that is? To be able to hear the sounds of joy and sorrow and hope that are all around us? God, Greg! We are two lucky people, and there’s nothing about that to make either of us feel guilty.
“Before you came, I was actually toying with the idea of not ever going back. I thought that maybe it was time I started to pull away and let Catherine take over at the lab. But you came, and I suddenly realized that life is such a gift. We need to accept that gift and enjoy that gift and give that gift to others whenever we can.”
Lifting Greg’s chin, Grissom stared down into his eyes. For a moment, they froze in place and then very slowly, their lips came together. All semblance of reality fled from Greg’s brain as Gil’s tongue slowly pushed into his mouth and explored. Then it slowly retreated, only to suck his tongue into the waiting cavern. He couldn’t halt the moan that escaped as he dove into the abyss that waited for him, dark and moist and mysterious.
He finally had to breathe, but the breath sound more like a gasp. “Oh, God.” he groaned.
Gil pulled back. “I shouldn’t have done that. I’m sorry. You probably...”
“Gil.” It was a plea, and Gil Grissom was silenced. “Please.” Tears threatened in Greg’s eyes again.
Gently, Gil raised his hand and brushed them away with the pad of his thumb. “Come here,” he whispered in return.
Taking Greg’s hand, he led him into a small room with a bed and dresser. “You are alive, Greg. You are alive and you are worthy of that life.” As he spoke, Grissom pulled the shirt from Greg’s shoulders and leaned forward to lightly kiss both nipples, as they stood erect.
Greg could only gasp as Gil Grissom stripped him of his clothes and pushed him back onto the bed. Hooded eyes raked over his naked body and took notice of the erection that jutted from the curling pubic hair at his groin. “Do you want this, Greg?”
“God, yes,” he moaned in reply.
As Grissom slowly stripped the clothes from his own body, Greg watched in silence. When they were both naked, Gil crawled up and over Greg’s form, leaning down to kiss him. First he bathed his eyes in small kisses, tasting the tears that still hung on the lashes. Next he leaned over and pushing Greg’s head sideways into the pillow so he could nuzzle and nip at the ear lobe that presented itself. And finally he allowed his tongue to run down Greg’s neck, flirting with the Adam’s apple that bobbed up and down there.
Taking his time, Gil worked his way down to Greg’s chest. There he gently lapped at the left nipple as he used his right hand to balance on the soft bed. Clasping the right nipple between his index and forefinger, he ran the pad of his thumb back and forth over the little nub until Greg moaned.
Reaching up to again kiss the gasping mouth, Gil spoke softly. “I want you to listen to me, Greg. I want you inside me. I want you to feel what it’s like to be alive, do you understand? And I want to hear you. I want you to let me have that from you. I want every sound you make to find a place in my mind where it can stay forever and remind me that the world is still there. Can you do that for me, Greg? Can you?”
Greg could only nod.
Gil reached into the table beside the bed and brought out a condom. “Sit up,” he ordered.
Beginning to shake again, Greg managed to pull himself into a sitting position as Gil slowly and carefully rolled the condom over his erect cock. After it was in place, Gil pushed him out of the way and spread himself across the bed, lying on his stomach. For a moment he humped against the sheets, then stopped himself and raised his hips in invitation.
“I want you in me, Greg,” was all the invitation he gave.
Slowly, Greg reached for a tube of lube that has somehow materialized on the table by the bed. He squeezed some onto his fingers and then reached between Gil’s legs to caress the man’s cock slowly, from the head down to the root. After several strokes, he eased his hand back, gently cupping the balls that hung there. Then slowly, he brought his hand back further and circled the pucker that was the entrance to Grissom’s body.
Gently, in case this was a new thing for Gil, Greg slid the tip of a finger into that pucker. Gil made no sound at first, but then managed to whisper, “Talk, Greg. Let me hear everything. Talk to me. I want to hear you.”
Pulling the finger back so that it circled once more, Greg moaned aloud. “God, Gil. I’m gonna make it so good for you.”
Adding more lube, he again pushed the finger inside, further this time, as his other hand sought and found Gil’s weeping erection. As he stroked his hand along the vein that ran through it, he felt the muscles inside Grissom’s body spasm and his finger was pulled even further inside. Greg moaned again and began a back and forth motion with both hands. He was silent, but only for a moment as Gil again gently urged him to speak.
“Oh, God, Gil. I can’t wait much longer,” he murmured.
Removing his finger, he again added lube, but this time, it was two fingers that entered the dark hole. He worked them steadily until he heard Gil begging him, and that was his undoing. Pulling his hands away and grasping Grissom’s hips, Greg positioned his own cock at that dark entrance. Slowly he pushed and was amazed to see the head of his cock swallowed into the eager hole. He froze in place and moaned as he threw back his head and fought for control.
“Ohhh.” Was that sound coming from him?
Slowly, he pushed again, and watched, as Gil’s muscles seemed to swallow him. He felt the muscles as they pulled him in, shifting and caressing and soothing him inside the warm heat of Gil’s body. He pulled back then and moaned again as he slid inside. The muscles clenched around him, rippling each time he returned.
One time, during the eternity of bliss that followed, he realized that the sounds he was making were sounds he had never made with anyone else. They were moans and groans and whimpers and grunts that were almost foreign to him. But then Gil flexed his internal muscles again, and Greg abandoned the thought and just strove to live in the feeling that Grissom gave him so willingly.
When it finally ended, when the two of them could hold on no longer and finally gave up the struggle, they both cried out, and came together. Grissom collapsed in a boneless heap onto the bed, and Greg managed to turn his body to the side so as not to crush his partner under him.
For long moments they lay, panting and trying to calm their rapid heartbeats. Slowly, Greg realized just what had happened and he felt the first rush of panic. Grissom was his boss. What would this do to them at work?
But Grissom turned to face him and stared so long that Greg lowered his eyes, unable to meet the steadfast gaze. He prepared himself to leave the bed and find the bathroom, where he hoped he could pull himself back together and then leave quietly, before Grissom was able to speak.
But his fears evaporated when Grissom’s words echoed in the quiet room. “Thank you, Greg”
Opening eyes that he had closed in nervous anticipation, Greg stared at Grissom in wonder.
Seeing the question in the young man’s eyes, Grissom smiled and raised his hand to gently stroke Greg’s cheek. He lightly touched the new scar where the bandage had been only a short week ago. “Thank you for letting me hear again, Greg. It was truly a beautiful thing to hear.”
And suddenly Greg raised his own hand to stare at it in fascination. It was steady. No sign of tremor remained. Greg stretched toward Gil Grissom and threw his arms around his neck. The truth hit him then. The truth was that he was alive and that life, even though a fleeting and ephemeral thing, was still beautiful and worth living.
Their lips met once again, and Greg moaned once more as he drifted to sleep in the safety of those comforting arms.