Greg nearly stopped on his way to the door of the interrogation room. He was truly tempted to step between Nick and Warrick and look in before he walked into the room. But he didn't. The first time he saw this man, he wanted no barrier. He didn't want the protection the glass offered. He wanted to face it head-on.

He stopped before the door and closed his eyes. His fear rose to the surface, and the best he could do was push it down a bit. Greg knew his friends stood just outside the room and watched. He knew they watched for him. This knowledge gave him the bolster he needed to push any trace of fear from his eyes and step in.

Slowly walking to the table where the prisoner sat chained to the chair, his head low, Greg studied the man before him. The graying hair took him by surprise. With a memory, time stands still. This man had aged. In his current position, he looked harmless. He looked like nothing more than a defeated shell. But Greg had to see. He had to know.

"Look at me!" he demanded.

Slowly, the prisoner looked up. And Greg looked into the eyes of a killer. Only they weren't glazed and black. They were a warm green. As he studied the man, Greg noted the changes. His mind suddenly flashed on the face of his past, and he could see the same face in the man in front of him.

"You're Carl Ridgemont. You killed my family. You tried to kill me," Greg recited, without emotion.

Carl's eyes flickered with what Greg might have thought was sadness and regret.

Deciding not to sit, Greg leaned back against the one-way mirror and peered at Carl.

"I have a few things to say to you. But first I want to know why," Greg growled. Slowly but surely, the fear Greg had initially felt was turning over into anger.

"I was a heroine junky. I broke into your house to steal something. Anything. I just needed to get a fix. But you came home. I don't remember much of what happened. But I remember waking up the next day covered in blood. I was in an alleyway in downtown San Francisco and I didn't remember how I got there. I knew I'd done something bad, and I knew where it happened, but I honestly don't remember attacking you."

Greg watched Carl sit back, his shoulders slumped.

"Why turn yourself in now?" Greg asked.

"My daughter died this last year," Carl softly stated, "and for the first time I truly understood the pain I had caused. I turned myself in for my children. And for you."

Slowly, Greg circled the room, pacing in the room and in his mind. He needed to finish this, but he didn't know how. He thought he'd know what to do when he finally saw the killer, but he paced the room at a loss how to proceed. Then something his psychiatrist said came back to him.

Go back to where the emotion began. Tell him what it's done to your life.

"You destroyed my world," Greg said quietly, almost in a whisper. Then, feeling a strength he didn't he had, he walked over, sat across from Carl and continued.

"My parents were my world. And I want you to know what you killed. So I'll tell you about them. My father used to put on soft music every night. Then he'd dance with my mom. I loved to just watch them hold each other and move to the sounds. Not because they were graceful, but because you could see a deep and abiding love for each other in those moments."

Greg paused to collect his thoughts and continued again.

"When I had the measles, my dad stayed home from work for two days so that he and mom could be with me when I was so sick. Dad spent those two days coloring with me and rocking me to sleep, while mom would wipe my forehead off with a damp cloth to cool me down. Then she and dad would sing to me."

"Mom loved to cook, and once a week she would send me to my grandparents' house, while she cooked a special meal for my dad. I know now that it was their chance for romance. And once a month she would cook a special meal for me, while dad and I spent 'guy time' together."

"We were happy. There was no doubt that the happiness would continue. But you took that from us."

Carl looked away when Greg made the statement, "And you nearly took my sister."

"But Grace is alive, healthy, and happy. And I've looked into your eyes."

Greg stood and walked towards the door. The weight he'd felt since he was a small child fell away like a cloak. He looked back at Carl and stared intently.

It finally came to him. The one elusive thing he never thought he'd have. He knew how to end it.

"I've been told the only way to get rid of the pain is to forgive. I never thought I'd say this, but I forgive you. Not for you, not for your children, although I feel for them. I forgive you for me."

With a lighter step, Greg opened the door and stepped through.


Greg stood outside the security checkpoint and waited while Dan bent down and stuffed his day planner into his carry-on.

"Okay, you're coming to San Francisco next month, right?" Dan asked. "Let's plan on going fishing. Bart still has that old boat of his, so if you don't mind bailing every hour on the hour, we shouldn't sink."

"Yeah, I'll be there," Greg said, shifting from one foot to the other.

'The boy still hasn't learned to hold still,' Dan thought to himself, then smiled. 'Wouldn't be Greg if he did.'

He stood up straight and put his hands up on Greg's shoulders, and his expression sobered.

"I know I've told you how proud your parents would be of you. But I want you to know how proud I am of you. It's been a pleasure to watch you grow into a man."

Greg pulled Dan into a tight hug. Slowly drawing away from one another, they said goodbye, Dan heading off to the security check.

Greg looked at his watch. If he hurried, he'd make it to work on time. With a spring in his step, Greg headed into the office. For the first time, he felt great about his future, and looked forward to the challenges.

~The End~