Greg's Emotion-Notion and Fruitless Optimism or Why Hopeless Romantics Fall for the Impossible
by Ezra's Persian Kitty

A Crime Lab is no place for hopeless romantics. Greg is doomed.

It wasn't as though Greg chose Grissom; love demands choices of us but is rarely a choice itself... No, Greg preferred to think of it as a process of chemical elimination.

Catherine. Mmm... Catherine was close. Her humor bit at the edges of Greg's masculinity in a way no one ever had before, in a way that aroused him- not in the moment, but later in the dark quiet of a blacked out bedroom, in the remembrance of her smoky voice curling around him and tickling his insides; words turned just so to make him squirm just right. She had those long legs that most women would kill for: perfect for wrapping around whatever was handy; a waist or a pole. And a pale smile bright as the desert. But Greg could never have loved Catherine for long. There were wrinkles at the corners of her eyes that told Greg the saddest stories. She was too real, too connected to everything that drives a person crazy with continual dwelling. She was bone brittle, as though iron strong until taxed to the utmost, when she would crumble like chalk, and chafe twice as dry between his fingers. And in particular moments, her fingers spread like talons, reminding Greg of vultures and how attuned they are to the stench of rotting flesh. There's also a twinkle in Catherine's eye too reminiscent of a Norwegian woman Greg will always think of as Nonna.

Nick. Nick was tempting, the same way as an over-priced chunk of cake. All that extra money just for under-cooked ingredients all spread out on a fancy plate. Greg could flirt with him till the cows came home, but Nick - well - was almost too easy to love. Who didn't love Nick? Nick was going to get a real family, with kids and dogs and whatever version of Picket Fence American Dream (TM) he preferred. Greg had an aversion to picket fences, despite being a hopeless romantic. He could have fucked Nick once or twice, if the cowboy swung that way, but he didn't. Nick was an amalgamation of hot sex and boy-next-door charm that Greg adored but refused to love.

Warrick. Warrick was tasty but out of the question. Greg mooned over sea-deep eyes and soul-conflict and sand-purr voice, but the man's suave elasticity threatened to stretch a person too far out of proportion. Warrick was lanky and slick and could fit into swank or even gangsta if it was required of him. He was meant for a love different from what Greg would have offered.

Sara. Sara didn't come along until it was too late, of course, but she was still worth examining. She still caught his eye, at odd moments, and at the expected ones. She was a nice, down-to-earth flirt with a killer smile and admirable rack, and Greg could have loved the workaholic alcoholic with Daddy issues. But he didn't. Where Catherine was brittle, Sara is paper thin, clothed in a single layer of pressed woodchips that crumples and tears under every stress, every impact. Greg doesn't have enough of what it takes to keep someone like that in one piece.

Brass. Not Jim. Brass. The man was the very definition of his own name. Greg tried to imagine the sort of intensity this man would carry over into the bedroom and found himself fantasizing about the solid bulk of old muscle. But Brass was tough like overcooked meat in his language, all of his language (body and tongue), and there was so little gentleness in him that Greg could almost dismiss the man as an object of love.

Greg did not love 'connected,' or 'easy' or 'slick' or 'nice', or 'tough.' Greg's brand of Hopeless Romanticism extends his reach beyond the realm of possible, beyond even improbable. Greg fell hopelessly in love with Gil Grissom, this utterly impossible man, detached, difficult, immovable, gruff, and vulnerable. He was wired differently than other people, and the mere idea made Greg hard at the most inopportune moments of his workday.

Grissom intrigued him like half a song. Greg followed the melody until the change of key when the tune abruptly cut out and he was dying to hear the rest, straining to hear what wasn't there. So Greg poked where he shouldn't and prodded at inconvenient times in hopes of drawing out more of the song.

A look here, a compliment there; it was enough to make a twenty-something swoon, as though he'd been granted one more measure of music. Added together, it would make a symphony someday.

But Greg didn't fool himself. People weren't simple as songs.

'Oh but if they were,' Greg thought to himself in his more poetic moments, 'if Grissom was a song, then let me be the bloody violin!' and he would amuse himself with sexual innuendo pertaining to every musical instrument he could think of.

It had to be Grissom. He was the most untouchable of all of them. Removed from the world as Greg could never be, and comfortable with himself in a way most people weren't.

And the autistic preoccupation with crawly things was only part of the charm.


For Greg, a hopeless romantic was not someone who believed in happy endings, but instead someone who longs for romance, even (or rather, especially) when it was hopeless.

Greg savored the euphoria that came with being in love, the kick and belly-swing of it, like one of Grissom's roller coasters. And the joy of unrequited love and unresolved sexual tension meant that it was a never-ending ride of uplifts and downdrafts.

Like the kick-in-the-gut ache when Grissom chewed him out for a mistake, or the high-flying swell of the professional accolade or, even better, the wink of an inside joke.

Part of the overall deliciousness of it was that it would never end. Unconditional and still unreturned love would only continue to build, and the pressure on his chest - as long as it never grew sour or resentful - would be the same sort of autoerotic pleasure that came with intentional asphyxiation. So that touching himself in the night was more like sex than masturbation, because Grissom's raw presence in his heart was always there.

At least, that's the way it was when he didn't overthink it. Greg had long learned that contemplation and emotion did not make suitable companions. There were two times that Greg could remember overindulging in the self-pity that, by necessity, accompanies forbidden love (at least, "forbidden" in enough ways to make the term applicable). The first involved a case he could no longer remember, possibly because he blocked it out. But he too clearly recalled a certain anger that accompanied Grissom's presence for two nights in a row. Greg was tempted to describe it as a cloud, even if it was clichéd. There was this desperate rage underlying Grissom's barely constrained exterior, and for the first time Greg felt a pain inside himself that he only ripped larger with the cyclic thought of 'I need to help Grissom but he won't let me; he won't let anyone; he's closed off.'

It was so sad that Greg went out to his car after shift and shakily drove a few blocks to park at an adult bookstore, betting on nobody taking a close look at anyone else, where he could just sit in his car and cry, hunched up over the steering wheel, forehead pressed against the backs of his hands, choking with the nausea that comes from trying not to sob out loud.

The second time he thought too much was when he took some vacation time one June. Not because he wanted a holiday, but because he would lose it if he didn't use it. So he'd packed his underused surfboard and various vacationing paraphernalia and just drove until he saw ocean. He dove into the wild salty wetness of it, just to taste the water and feel the terrible-strong pull of it, and coast like a bobbing cork over the waves.

He'd spent all day arguing with the unremitting fierceness of the ocean, until his muscles were jelly and his bones a heavy mass inside a bag of epidermis sucked thin by the water. He laid full stretch on his stomach on the sand (not on a towel; towels were for wimps), letting the grit cover his wet skin like a layer of protective rock, felt like a lizard laying out under the hot sun, his face half pushed into the beach, eyes closed. He could feel the heat burning through him, from the sun too rarely felt, from his muscles' unexpected burst of use. Then, most painfully, from his heart.

Greg could understand why that particular organ had become associated with feeling. The rhythm of it pounded through his body and he felt his chest grow tight with wishes.

His tears that time were quiet. Soft huffs of breath that pushed away tiny torrents of sand, wetness leaking over his cheeks from eyes squeezed shut, not gracefully in streams but in puddles that pooled into the creases and wrinkles that he already had, and not even thirty yet. His back going up and down with the helpless breaths.

And all he could think about was Grissom. How out of place he would be here. Greg couldn't imagine Grissom frolicking in the ocean and then rolling about in the sand. It would never happen.

It was one of too many happinesses denied to a hopeless romantic in unrequited love.


He'd trained himself not to think about that sort of thing. Instead, he thought about numbers, and elements, and DNA. About processes and equipment, and whether the trouble of flirting with Hodges would be worth the tech's sure-to-be-classic reaction.

Mostly, Greg lived in the moment, day-to-day and unconcerned. Mostly, life was good.

He let his concerns extend to budgeting his porn funds with Blue Hawaiian money and doing his job well. Everything else was emotion-notion: Greg's name for living by the heart with only enough deliberation to keep himself out of trouble. He also added in the occasional self-reminder that hopeless romanticism could be a synonym for fruitless optimism.

But fruitless or no, at least it was optimism. Idealism. Yeah, he could do that.

Especially when Grissom let Greg go on one of his tangents, let him open up a little about coins or Norway or prognostication or coffee. Greg always hoped he'd get something in return, a peek into the life and times of Gil Grissom, but of course he never did. Instead, he had to look for those clues in the middle of casework, when Grissom would disclose little facts about the world that Greg doubted even one percent of the American populace knew. It might not have been personal, exactly, but indirectly it was: it was knowledge in Grissom's head, gray matter at work.

It was one more note in the song.

Grissom was everything Greg knew he loved without thinking, even if he later dwelled on the finer points. This utterly impossible man. The way he saw the world without being a part of it... until the more frightening, realistic moments when he realized he was. How much of a challenge he was to everyone around him, even those who considered him a friend. How intractable he could be, when he was so certain! His stern and occasionally crotchety tone with Greg and others like him. And those too rare moments when Greg saw past it all to the man who had fears and insecurities, just like everyone else, but who hid them so much better.

Grissom. Never Gil. No, Greg never thought that particular allowance would come. Grissom. Gruesome Grissom, some of the lab techs still accused. Grissom was a conundrum of scientific empathy and partial curiosity that Greg knew he could never unravel. Mystery makes the man, he sometimes thought, letting the sexiness of it sink in, deep in Greg's veins and coiling low inside him. Bow legs, barrel-strong, steely hair, and sky-stormed eyes.

Greg was doomed to love. But, he supposed, there were worse things to be.


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