Notes: Yes, it's the final chapter! I really hope you like it, and its resolution, and there are, of course, more notes at the end of the chapter. Oh, and to KrazyKid, of course you can archive Twelve Ways to Grieve. That would be fantastic.
Chapter Fourteen: Curable
The funny part was, he'd never once doubted that Grissom would show. He didn't fix himself up for Grissom - - he just waited downstairs in the bar with his usual brand of bedhead and drank a lot of Coca Cola, because with his current hangover, he didn't want to go anywhere near alcohol. He calculated time and distance and the variable of what kind of mood Grissom was in, and in two hours, he had company on the seat next to him at the bar.
Grissom gave his order to the bartender and said nothing to Greg.
Beginnings were the hardest part, but he had a lot to make up for, so Greg pushed his glass away, his fingers slipping against the frosted edge, and stared at the bar. He couldn't make himself look Grissom straight in the eye - - he was afraid of what he might see. The horrible anger - - or worse, forgiveness, when he knew he didn't deserve it.
"I'm sorry," he said quietly. "I'm so sorry."
"I forgive you," Grissom said, like that was going to solve anyone's problems. Greg knew that Grissom was telling the truth - - that he wasn't just accepting the apology for the sake of moving on - - he knew that he was forgiven, but that wasn't enough.
"I was - - I said - - what I said, I shouldn't have said. I never meant that." He struggled to find the right words, but could only find his own, and had to settle. "I should have known that he wasn't going to come, and even if he had, it wouldn't have mattered. I had everything I wanted, and I just - - gave it up. Like that. Because of him."
He found the courage to look at Grissom, who was gazing at him evenly, with no readable expression in his pale blue eyes.
"And I shouldn't have done that," he said. "I guess there's something of him in me after all."
"You're nothing like him," Grissom said, but perhaps he no longer sounded as sure of that as he had before, but then his voice steadied. "You're not your father, Greg."
"There's enough of him in me," Greg said shakily, and laughed. "Like a virus, I guess. I'm infected."
Grissom smiled at him, and that almost killed him, because he'd known he was forgiven, and had believed it, but not all the way through until that smile - - that coddling gentleness that told him Grissom still believed, despite everything, that Greg was the only victim.
"There are cures," Grissom said.
Greg thought, desperately, of what he had given up. The early morning silence in Grissom's house as the two of the drank coffee or hot chocolate. The comforting, slightly chemical scent of the lab. Master of his domain, right? The horror movies with the analyzed blood spatter and Grissom relentlessly hogging all the popcorn. The plantain in his fruit salad. The Post-it notes. The aching, slightly heartbreaking feeling that had built up inside him - - being home.
His father had known, somehow, the exact time and the exact way to bring him down. But he couldn't even blame his father for this, because he had let it happen. He had gone along with the expectations, and actually believed that what passed between them would mean more then months of care - - months of unexpected fellowship.
"I'm sorry, Grissom," he said again. "I don't have an excuse this time. I just - - I should have trusted you. I should have stayed."
"Yes," Grissom said. "You should have." That remaining gentleness on his face helped wash some of the hurt away, against Greg's will. He would have liked to keep that guilt, but Grissom was tearing it away from him by continuing to stay, continuing to look at him with that strange touch of affection. "What are you going to do now, Greg?"
"I don't know," he said honestly. "I really screwed things up, Grissom. I don't know how to make any of it better."
Grissom squeezed his shoulder, and unexpected but welcome gesture of comfort that caught Greg off-guard. It was gone in an instant, but it had been real. It had had meaning.
"You'll figure it out. I'll help you."
He tried to smile back, and made it. Just barely, but it was there, and genuine. "You know, the last time I went out drinking, I ended up in a coma. I was kind of scared that it would turn out the same way this time, but I figured I had nothing left to lose." He swallowed the last of his Coke and tapped it down on the bar. Through the red glass, the rest of the room winked into a bright blur. "But I don't think that'll happen, this time."
"No. I don't."
"May I ask why?"
"Because, this time, I'm with someone I trust. And I don't think that you'd hurt me - - and I'm sorry about when I hurt you."
Grissom shook his head. "No more apologies, Greg. Apologies don't let anyone move on, and that's something I'd like a lot right now. Moving on. Do you think we could leave?" He looked around the Siesta Inn with palatable disdain. "I've never liked this place."
"You want to go?"
"Yes," Grissom said. "With you, obviously, or I wouldn't have come."
Greg watched in silence as Grissom settled both tabs with a hearty tip, and then he led Greg outside and into the waiting Tahoe. It was sleepily mixed with the night, making it hard to find, and Grissom led him to the passenger's side.
Feeling like he was sleepwalking, and wearing a dreamy sort of smile, Greg opened the door and climbed inside. The warm air settled over him like a blanket, and he snuggled back into the seat, letting his muscles slowly relax.
He had been so tired for so long.
Grissom slid the car out of the parking lot and onto the strip of long black road. The headlights made arrows through the dark, and the night fell in around them as they drove in silence. Finally, Grissom asked him, "Where do you want to go?"
Greg knew that he could name any kind of destination, and Grissom would take him there. Mexico. Maine. Kentucky. Rome. South Africa. Some obscure little city in some obscure little country that, to reach, they would have to buy maps and travel guides. The moon.
He could go anywhere from here - - absolutely anywhere at all.
Greg leaned his head back against the seat.
"Take me home," he said.
Grissom smiled and turned for the dim lights on the horizon.
"Home it is."
And there we have it.
After placing poor Greg and poor Grissom through a relentless downpour of angst, they are now back on their feet and on the road back home. I've really enjoyed doing both "Blood in the Water," and this story, with its slightly more appropriate title. *grin* And I have to thank you all so much for always reading, and making this all splendidly worthwhile. And just for you, I did not pull out that sneaky twist ending I had in mind. Also, then this would have become a trilogy, and the angst would truly never end.
We're better off this way, I promise, but if you want to know what the twist was, you can e-mail me.
Don't worry, I will not give up on the Greg-angst. He's far too much fun to torture, and I have this vague crazy plotline that begins with a literal bang - - of a gun - - and then tells the story backwards to show exactly how Greg ended up in his situation, and what went wrong to take him to that point. . .
Poor guy. We all have it in for him.
Again, thank you for all your wonderful feedback.