Greg didn't stir. He was dead to the world, stretched out upon the black leather couch in the secluded back storage room. Right leg extended down the length of the couch, left leg draped over the back of it. Right arm resting upon his chest, left arm draped over his brow to block out the light. His mouth was open wide as he inhaled short sucks of air with muted snorts, a string of drool trickling slowly down the side of his face.
Grissom was not pleased by this.
"Sanders!!" He shouted again, this time at a higher volume.
At once Greg curled up like a water bug and pulled a cushion over his head. He groaned and slurped the drool back into his mouth but he did not wake.
Grissom stared at him for a moment, then quietly walked out of the room. There was silence for a good thirty seconds before Grissom returned with a large copper hand bell. He strode up to the left side of the couch near Greg's head, lowered the bell just slightly, then shook it vigorously.
The hallways of the lab echoed with the clashing metal ring but, with the exception of a couple of lab rats sticking their heads out of doors, no one took much notice.
Greg, on the other hand, couldn't ignore it.
In a flash he started out of his sleep, flailed his limbs, then slid off the leather couch onto the floor.
Right on his ass.
Grissom stopped ringing the bell, crossed his arms down across his torso, and grinned with contentment.
"Was that really necessary?" Greg complained with a yawn as he rubbed his eyes, his messy brown hair sticking up at all angles atop his head.
Grissom pondered the question for a beat.
"No..." Grissom responded thoughtfully, offering his arm to assist Greg in getting off the floor, "It was just fun. People are always telling me I need to have more fun around here, so I had some".
"Scaring the crap out of me is fun for you?" Greg asked, dusting off his rear end with a few more yawns.
"Yes, when you're twenty minutes late for shift, I would say it is" said Grissom, pointing to the clock just outside the doorway.
Greg's eyes leapt to the clock, then down to his chunky wristwatch as if he could not believe what he saw in the hall and needed to confirm it. He screwed his eyes shut, winced, and looked exceedingly guilty.
"I'm sorry, I got here mega early and just thought I would come back here to chill out. Then I started thinking about the human genome project, and I was making all these chains in my head. I started dreaming, I was finding links between all these chromosomes and then I was figuring out the cause of every disease known to man. I was freaking out in the dream because I couldn't find a pen to write it all down, like I was going to miss my chance to solve the mystery of life itself" Greg explained with sleepy awe, his dark eyes flitting between his imagination and the world right in front of him.
The corners of Grissom's mouth teased at a smile, but he remained sober.
"That sounds fascinating Greg, but you're still twenty minutes late for shift. What's that saying? You snooze you lose? Well, while you were snoozing dispatch came in with a male DB off Devon Highway; suspicious circs, possible homicide, the whole nine yards. Thought it might be a good case to cut your teeth on before next proficiency, but unfortunately you and your teeth weren't there for assignment. I gave it to Catherine as a solo" Grissom told him, peering over the top rims of his glasses to stare Greg down.
Greg's face melted into an expression of the sincerest regret, the warden inside his mind taking a moment to karate chop his conscience before drop kicking his pride.
His level three proficiency was going to be there before he knew it, and he had not forgotten the generous concession Grissom had already allowed when he'd bombed the hell out of his first one.
He had worked hard since then to show up on time, get more organized, to educate himself on every facet of the job even it meant working unpaid overtime to do so. His perfectionist tendencies had been sated with his performance too, almost to the point he was feeling ready to get a little cocky again, but the impromptu nap now threatened to ruin it all.
Greg knew he had to do damage control somehow, but he was still so tired. He thought of making a joke, he thought of defending himself by pointing out that he had technically been twenty minutes early before the nap had occurred, he was tempted to find some way to blame David Hodges for all of it.
Then Greg remembered Warrick Brown telling him that being able to take personal responsibility for his actions was key in getting where he wanted to go, even if it meant a few tumbles back down the ladder here and there. Greg accepted that he had indeed screwed up by making a foolish choice and he made up his mind to own it completely.
He was going to accept the consequences too, no matter what they were.
"It was a dumb thing to do, I should have just sat in the break room with some coffee instead of laying down. It was irresponsible, it won't happen again" Greg professed with honesty, making a point to look Grissom in the eye.
Greg hoped Grissom might dole out his inevitable punishment without a guilt inducing speech of any kind, but his hopes were in vain.
"It's your career Greg. I have high hopes for you, so does Catherine. So do Nick, Sara, and Warrick. We're all behind you, but if you keep stopping yourself in your tracks like this, no one is going to be around to keep pushing you. You've been doing great but if you screw it all up now, that's your choice" Grissom lectured without pulling any punches, giving a shrug that told Greg he was not in any mood to hold anyone's hand.
Greg nodded solemnly, feeling prickles on his skin which translated to shame. The only other person on the planet who had the power to make him feel that way was his own father.
"I understand. I really do" Greg offered, without resentment nor any whining.
Grissom sighed, shaking his head as he leafed through a couple of open case files. He studied a few different pages in a few different jackets, appearing to be making up his mind as he walked out of the room. Greg followed him into the hall with some yawns he tried hiding from view, tucking in his loose green slogan T-shirt and smoothing his hair down as best he could without a mirror.
"I could give you a demerit on your next evaluation for this Greg, but your performance has been satisfactory up until today, I'm considering that. I'm sure I can think of a lighter punishment than a demerit" Grissom informed him, having a look into all the different laboratories with his discerning eyes as he turned the corner toward his office.
Greg wondered just what the lighter punishment was going to be. Hearing such a thing from Grissom filled him with a certain dread, knowing the man had the capacity to be utterly diabolical when the mood struck him.
Greg followed Grissom into his office, watching as he sat down behind his desk with a quizzical look to end all quizzical looks. Greg waited patiently as Grissom took it in turns to examine the folders in front of him and study Greg as if sizing him up to see whether he would best fit on the rack or inside an iron maiden.
Greg was sweating, but only just.
"I want you in the lab today..." Grissom finally announced without any hesitation in his tone, "It's slow out there but there's still some overflow, you can help pick up the slack. Stick with DNA, I'll reassign you if I want you to make the rounds over to tox and trace".
Greg deflated like a slashed tire, but there was no way in hell he was going to argue. He knew Grissom could just let him be an official assist on one of graveyard's active cases in lieu of the primary investigator distinction, but he understood that would have been too light a reprimand.
"Yes sir" Greg responded respectfully, trying hard not to let his disappointment show.
Greg's mischievous side was tempted to ask Grissom whether his assignment had anything to do with the fact Ecklie had been bad-mouthing graveyard for their lag in recent weeks.
Behind Grissom's back Ecklie had played dumb about the overflow problem whilst simultaneously having one of his lackeys collect data on graveyard's output versus budget consumption. The overtime paid out to the techs on graveyard had been blamed for budget problems, and it had been Ecklie who suggested they hire some temps for that particular shift.
Grissom had argued that it was only a temporary solution to the problem, but once the big boys in charge heard Ecklie utter the phrase "We'll be able to contract the temps without having to pay benefits", they were instantly sold.
It had been a headache for Grissom to oversee the training of temps, which were really no different than permanent techs when it came to the effort he had to expend making sure they had things right. There were only two in place so far; one to help Hodges in trace and one to assist Mandy in fingerprint analysis since they had been the two clocking in the most overtime. There was a rumor that a temp might be brought in for DNA, but Mia Dickerson had upped her game.
Greg could plainly see Grissom was capitalizing on the nap misstep by conveniently installing his last best DNA tech with his most recent best DNA tech.
While Greg still would have preferred to be searching garbage bins out in the field to another whole day of running DNA profiles inside the lab, he did feel there was some distinction in helping stick it to Ecklie.
"Tomorrow is another day" Grissom offered kindly, looking satisfied with his decision as he bit into a large apple.
Greg nodded, trying to look as dignified as possible while suppressing a massive yawn. He shook his head around to wake himself as he began to exit, but before he knew it he had walked straight into the wall.
He checked his nose for brokenness, looking back at Grissom sheepishly.
"There's fresh coffee in the break room" He said, giving Greg a look of pity before returning to his desk work.
Greg offered a weak wave, trying to ignore the chuckles of his co-workers as he headed around the corner to the locker room.
Summary: Greg is forced to work in the lab after a royal screw-up and ponders his future as CSI. He gets plenty of advice from most everyone in the lab, and feels dubious about the appearance of a figure from his past.