Disclaimers: The characters belong to Anthony Zuiker and CBS, and no profit is being made from this story.

Notes: This started off as two lines of dialogue that popped into my head for the "Lines You Will Never Hear on CSI" thread of the Television Without Pity forums (hint - one of them is at the beginning and the other is near the end). "You got burned bad, huh." Catherine to Gil - "Burden of Proof"

It was an apparently slow night for crime in Las Vegas, so Grissom was taking advantage of this unexpected lull to let the other CSIs on his team work on the few assignments they had, while he stayed in his office to catch up on some long-deferred paperwork. Usually that was the last thing he'd want to do, but during the past few days, he had found it increasingly difficult to be around people, so he was actually enjoying the solitude.

He tuned the radio to his favorite classical station, listening, and occasionally humming along, as he worked on his case reports. While he was in the middle of one of them, he sensed that someone was standing near his desk and looked up. One of the lab technicians, Greg Sanders, was standing in front of him in his usual state of what could best be described as enthusiastic agitation.

"I did knock," he said, somewhat defensively. "But I guess you didn't hear me."

"So what is it, Greg?" Grissom asked a bit impatiently, wishing that just for once he'd spare him the theatrics that he liked to indulge in and get right to what he was there to say.

"Well, I just got those DNA results from the case you and Catherine were working on..." He indicated the computer print outs he was clutching. "The blood in the car matches the victim's, the epithelials match the suspect, and there's a pretty good probability you're my real father."

"Excuse me?"

"I said, there's a good probability you're my father. You see, what I did was get the sample from one of your used coffee mugs and..."

Grissom suddenly remembered when this had probably happened. He and Greg had both been in the break room drinking coffee when a call had come in for people to go out to a 419, and he remembered being on his way to the sink to dump out the remainder of his coffee and rinse out his mug before leaving when Greg had stopped him, saying, "I'll take care of that for you, Griss." He must want something from me, he remembered thinking wryly, not knowing at the time how right that was.

Breaking away from his thoughts, he noticed that Greg had stopped talking and was now looking at him expectantly. For what seemed to be a very long moment, they kept staring at each other, both of them unable to say anything. Then, in a brusque and detached tone that surprised even him, Grissom said, "To be honest, Greg, I don't know what you expect me to do with this information."

In a considerably more deflated manner, Greg said, "I just might be interested."

"Well, I'm not."

Putting his head down, Greg mumbled, his voice barely audible, "Sorry to have bothered you." He dropped the print outs on the desk, then turned and quickly left the room.

After he left, Grissom picked up the print out that was on the top of the pile and stared at it, frowning slightly.

"So what do I have to bribe you with now to get my test results?" Sara called out teasingly as she poked her head into the DNA lab. When she didn't get an answer, she entered the room and walked up to Greg's desk, where he was sitting with his head bowed down. Looking more closely at him, she could see that his eyes looked red and damp, he was sniffling, and there were several used tissues wadded up on the desk. Since she hadn't remembered him coming down with a cold, and she didn't think he suffered from allergies, she knew there must be something else going on.

"Hey, Greg. What's wrong?" she asked gently, and was alarmed to see his eyes fill up with tears that spilled out and fell silently down his face.

For a moment, he seemed unable to speak. She put a supportive arm around his shoulders, handed him another tissue, then waited patiently until, finally, he got out, "I just did something really stupid..."

Sara stormed into Grissom's office, slamming the door behind her. "What the *hell* did you think you were doing?" she demanded.

Looking at her calmly, he said, "I take it you've spoken with Greg."

"I just went to the lab to talk to him and found him in there crying his eyes out. He's devastated, and I don't blame him. How could you be so cold, so...insensitive? Or should I even ask?"

Sighing, he said, "Sara, it's...complicated."

That wasn't exactly the response she had expected. "You mean it's true?" she asked.

"It's...probably true," he admitted.

Seeing how genuinely troubled he looked, her anger subsided. She walked over to the chair nearest his desk and sat down, ready to listen to whatever he wanted to say.

Finally he said, looking somewhere to the side of her, "It was the year I turned 18. I had just graduated from high school, and I was working full time at the coroner's office for the summer. There was a nearby diner some of us used to hang out at, and that's where I met her. Karen. She was a couple of years older than me, a pre-med student who was working her way through college as a waitress, and when things weren't too busy, she would come over to where I was sitting at the counter and we'd talk. I remember feeling this immediate attraction to her - she had a warm, friendly personality, as well as a bit of a crazy streak, and the most beautiful soft brown eyes I'd ever seen on a person..."

Well, she *sounds* a lot like Greg, Sara thought.

"And she was the first woman I had ever met who actually seemed to *like* my talking about bugs and dead bodies."

"Your ideal woman," Sara said with a slight smile.

He smiled back briefly, but then, with the same distant look, continued, "The only problem was that she was already engaged to someone who was in the service and stationed in Europe, so I had pretty much resigned myself to the idea that she was unavailable. But then one day she mentioned she had car trouble, and, since I imagined myself to be an expert on engines back then, I offered to help her out. So after work, I gave her a ride home and took a look at her car. When we got there, it turned out that I couldn't help her with her car, but she asked me to stay for dinner, and one thing led to..."

"Greg?" she quipped. "Sorry."

After lifting an eyebrow at her warningly, he said, "*Anyway*, after that night, we started spending more time together. Eventually she told me that she was having second thoughts about her engagement and that she was going to tell her fiance it was off when he came home for leave in the middle of August. But instead..." He paused there, as if what he was about to say was still painful for him.

"After he had left, she came to me and told me that she didn't think we should see each other any more - that she had changed her mind and was going to marry him after all. After that, I stopped going to the diner and never saw her again. It was months after that that I found out that she got married and was expecting a baby."

"And you never considered that it might have been yours."

"Well, I did...but what was I supposed to do? Beg her to come back? Make her prove the baby *wasn't* mine? She had made her choice, and it wasn't me, so I had to learn to live with it." He sat back in his chair, staring out at one of his bug displays, suddenly looking very haggard and sad.

You could have at least *tried*, Sara thought. You could have looked for her, talked to her, done *something* instead of just giving up. But why doesn't it surprise me that you didn't?

"So what are you going to do now?" she asked gently.

"What do you mean what am I going to do? There's nothing *to* do. I can't be a father to him now. He's a grown man - he's 27 years old. It's too late."

"Maybe not."

Sighing, Grissom asked, "Why did he even have to do this in the first place? He's already got a father, doesn't he? Shouldn't that be enough?"

Looking at him as if she couldn't believe how clueless he was, Sara said, "His parents got divorced when he was 9, his father remarried when he was 10, and he hasn't seen him since he was 18."

"I didn't know that," Grissom said, wondering how Sara had managed to get all that information.

"No. Why *would* you?" she asked in a voice that sounded more resigned then angry. She stood up and began to leave the room. As she got to the doorway, she turned and said, "Just talk to him, Gil. Please." And with that, she walked away.


It was a few hours later, close to the end of the shift, by the time Grissom made it down to talk to Greg. When he got to the lab, he stood at the window for a moment, staring inside, but instead of seeing the young lab tech at work, he was imagining a scene from years ago...a busy diner with a counter filled with people, a Gordon Lightfoot song playing on the jukebox, and, in the middle of it all, a young woman wearing an apron with her note pad stuck in one of the pockets, her long brown hair tied back into a ponytail, moving from customer to customer, smiling, talking, joking with each one. Looking over in his direction, she gave him an extra-bright smile, then, as someone from the kitchen called out "Hey, Karen," she turned her head...

...and then turned back into Greg, who was standing at the counter with his eyes closed, rubbing one side of his forehead in a way that was all too familiar to Grissom. He entered the room, and going up to Greg, asked him quietly, "Are you all right?"

Greg looked up, appearing surprised at that rare display of concern from Grissom. "Headache. Caffeine withdrawal, I guess. I've been trying to cut back."

"Looks more like a migraine to me. Mine started getting worse when I was about your age. Are you taking anything for it?"

"I just took some ibuprofen a little while ago. That usually works for me. It doesn't interfere with my work," he added defensively.

Barely acknowledging that, Grissom motioned over to the desk and said, "Greg, could you come over here for a moment? I'd like to talk to you."

Looking apprehensive, Greg sat down behind his desk, waiting while Grissom settled into a seat near him. "I'm really sorry..." he started again, but Grissom held up a hand to stop him.

"No, I'm the one who should be apologizing now," Grissom said then added, "Look, Greg, I'm sorry if the way I reacted to your news before upset you. But you have to admit you didn't exactly pick the best way to tell me."

"It took me almost three years before I got the nerve to even test you," Greg admitted. "And I was afraid that if I took the time to think about it, I'd never tell you. I guess I shouldn't have."

"You *do* know that what you did could be considered a serious breach of my privacy, and it might even be grounds for dismissal."

Looking anxious, Greg asked "You're not going to fire me, are you?"

"No, I'm not." Then, with an unexpected chuckle, Grissom added, "I have to admit I admire your initiative in getting the sample. We might end up making an investigator out of you after all. Although, if you had wanted to know that badly, all you really had to do was ask."

Now it was Greg's turn to be surprised. "You mean you knew?"

"I suspected. Remember last fall when we made up that list of people to be contacted in case...well, you put down your mother's name. Her *maiden* name. Karen Price. And I remembered you were originally from the Los Angeles area and...while I may not be as good as math as I am in science, I *do* know how to subtract nine months from May 1975. So what made *you* suspect?"

"Well, I think I always kind of knew my dad wasn't my real dad - I mean, he was 6'5" and had blond hair - that is, when he *had* hair. And, about a year before he and Mom split up, they started going to doctors to find out why she hadn't gotten pregnant again, and one of them told them that he had such a low sperm count he probably wouldn't be able to father a child. That's when he accused her of sleeping around while he was away and called her a lying slut who'd stuck him with someone else's brat to support..."

Grissom winced inwardly at those words.

"And, then, when I was about 12, I was looking through one of the closets to see if my dad had left any of his Playboys behind, and I found this box with one of my mom's old diaries where she mentioned you. Just your first name, but there aren't that many "Gils" around, especially ones who worked as a coroner as a teenager, so it wasn't *that* hard to figure out. Plus...there was this picture..."

Grissom was sure he knew exactly what picture Greg was talking about. One day that summer, he and Karen had gone to Disneyland where, after a lot of persuasion, he had finally been able to talk Karen into going on the Matterhorn with him despite her dislike for roller coasters. After they had gotten off, he had grabbed Karen's camera from her and found someone who agreed to take a picture of both of them. He still remembered what the picture looked like, even though he had torn it up years ago - Karen, looking pale and shaken, but still smiling bravely and clinging to his arm while he had his head turned to her instead of the camera and was looking at her proudly with one of his rare wide grins. He didn't think he had ever been that happy before that day. Or since.

Pulling himself away from that memory, Grissom said, "Look, Greg, I don't know what you're expecting from me, whether it's money or..."

Looking shocked, Greg quickly said, "No! Nothing like that."

"Because if you're hoping for any kind of change in our relationship, I'm afraid I'll have to disappoint you again. I may be your biological father, but as far as I'm concerned, I'm still just your supervisor and nothing more."

Looking clearly disappointed but as if he was doing his best to try to hide it, Greg nodded and said, "I understand." He began to stand up as if he was now eager to get away from the conversation. " that it?" he asked.

After a moment's consideration, Grissom said, "Well...there *is* something else you probably should know. I don't usually like to talk about this, but my mother - your paternal grandmother - had a condition called otosclerosis which eventually caused her to become totally deaf. It's hereditary, and... For about the past year, I've started noticing symptoms, so I went to a doctor and, a few days ago, I was also diagnosed with this. And while there's probably only a very small chance that you might be affected, I think you should be aware..."

At first, Greg looked at him with what seemed like disbelief. Apparently hoping Grissom hadn't been serious, he quipped, "You're just saying this so I'll stop playing loud music in the lab, right?"

"Well, there is that," Grissom acknowledged with a bit of a smile. ""

With that, the look on Greg's face turned into deep concern. "God...Grissom...I'm really sorry. Is there anything I can do?"

"No, not really. Just don't tell anybody else about this, all right? I know I'm going to have to start telling people eventually, but right now I'm just getting used to it myself."

Greg nodded again. Then, as if the motion had aggravated his headache, he reached up and began rubbing his forehead again.

Noting that, as well as how pale and tired the young man looked, Grissom said, as he got up to leave, "Say, Greg...Since things are so slow here, why don't you take some sick time and go home a little early? I'm sure Vincent will be able to finish up whatever work you've got left when he gets here."

With a hint of one of his sly grins, Greg said, "Nepotism already?" At Grissom's warning look, he said, "I think I'll do that. Thanks, Griss."

"Take care of yourself, Greg. I'll see you tomorrow," he said over his shoulder as he walked into the hallway.

By the time Grissom got home after the end of his shift, he felt mentally, as well as physically, exhausted but was still too wound up to even think about going to sleep. He poured himself a glass of scotch from the bottle he kept in the kitchen, taking it into the living room and setting it on the table next to the chair. Heading for the closet in the hallway, he searched through the cardboard box that held his long-neglected vinyl record albums from the 1970s until he was able to find the one that he wanted, then took it into the living room. Carefully removing the record from its jacket, he gently placed it on the turntable of his sound system. As he sat back in his armchair, he sipped his drink while he listened to the song that reminded him so much of the summer he had been with Karen:

I can see her lyin' back in her satin dress
In a room where you do what you don't confess
Sundown, you'd better take care
If I find you've been creepin' round my back stairs...
She's been lookin' like a queen in a sailor's dream
And she don't always say what she really means
Sometimes I think it's a shame
When I get feelin' better when I'm feelin' no pain...

While he listened, he closed his eyes, which had suddently felt moist and burning. Must be eyestrain from all that damn paperwork, he decided. Because he couldn't possibly be *crying* right now. Or could he?

A/N: Yes, the lyrics quoted at the end are from the song "Sundown" by Gordon Lightfoot which was pretty much heard *everywhere* in the summer of '74. I was originally going to go with the equally ubiquitous "Annie's Song" by John Denver, but for some reason it just seemed too sweet for Grissom (even a lovesick teenaged Grissom).

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