Issues by SLynn
Disclaimer: I own only the thoughts in my head and the characters you don't recognize.
Notes: Okay, are we all ready for the end? I hope so, because here it is. Finally. : ) It's been fun writing this and yes, I am thinking up a third. Last time I know I said that I wasn't sure when I'd get a sequel out and then bam it was done, but this time I mean it. I'm fixing to move and have no idea what to write, other then I really do want to continue this as a series. So, I do have some ideas about a sequel, but nothing concrete. It will definitely deal with some of the lingering angst from this piece and the first and yes, probably lots more Nick and Amy. I may even write one just about them. I'm not sure yet. So give me some time, let me get my ideas all lined up and I will return.
Thank you so, so much for everyone who took the time (yes, I know this is long) to read this and especially for everyone who took the time to review it. It really kept me motivated and focused and I hope you like this ending. This is the most I've ever written in the shortest amount of time, so I will be going back and editing soon. I realize that there have been mistakes made, thanks to everyone who has gently pointed them out!
Specific thanks this time to: Sandersgirl, Miss-Andromache (I may write the Nick/Amy piece just for you – I think you like them even more then me if that's possible!), white rose01 (can you believe I debated NOT killing him – I considered a trial for a sequel, but decided not too; you're right, he needed to go), fading-lights, ThreeDollarBill, fwe (thank you again for reviewing my story!), carolann, GottaGetGreg (BTW – love your name! and yeah, I never really came out and said Amy was Asian until now – I thought I had, but re-reading I realize I just implied it with her last name, Chen; I'm not too good at the describing the characters part!), Em (you've been on to me the longest re: Dr. Fenton – I even threw in the red herring bomb guy because of you), samsgurl23, and Jen (I hope I can continue to keep everyone's attention this well, at least through this chapter!).
Particularly, I loved everyone's guessing! I realized as most of you knew it was Dr. Fenton and that I'd never really set anyone else up to be the villain. Trust me, that will not happen again. So even if you knew it was Dr. Fenton, I hope you were at least surprised that it was Greg not Amy he was after. : )
Now, on with the show!
Chapter 33: Home
The week Greg spent in the hospital passed almost in a blur.
His parents arrived that first day worried, but saw that he was okay. With just minimal information and continuous coverage to go off of, they'd really expected the worst. Maggie Sanders had cried, wept at the sight of him. She'd of pleaded with him to quit immediately and just come home if she thought it would make a difference, but she knew better then that. Jeff Sanders was stoic, tried to be reassuring to both his wife and son, but it had been hard.
Ecklie had stopped by that first day as well. He'd arrived with Brass and they'd conducted an interview. It was a formality really. The first two officers on the scene had witnessed the last part of the attack. They'd seen Greg get stabbed and that he had clearly fired in self defense. It was open and shut, at least as far as Greg was concerned. The matter of Dr. James Fenton was a different story.
In his basement, with his printing press, they'd found stacks of journals. He'd kept very detailed records of those he'd killed, dating back at least ten years. He'd escalated his killing over the last two, but had averaged at least couple each year. If his notes were true he'd 'sent on' over forty people. Not all of them had been patients or even acquaintances; some just appeared to be random strangers he'd observed on the street. Dr. Fenton had collected a startling amount of information about their lives too. Each person had a journal of their own, Greg included.
The media continued to feed on it. Ecklie had tried numerous times to convince Greg to grant an interview or at least attend a press conference, but he refused out right. He didn't care if it cost him his job he wasn't going to do it. Greg wanted it all too just go away if possible. Eventually, Ecklie relented and offered himself up to the press in Greg's place. For the time they seemed placated.
The only silver lining to the whole ordeal was that the review board reversed their decision. They'd had little choice. The media really was playing Greg out to be the hero, even if he didn't want to be, and the initial report being that he was a CSI stuck. Ecklie hadn't wanted to correct it, hadn't wanted to say that he was only a lab tech, a recently demoted lab tech at that, so he had him reinstated.
He wouldn't come back right away, they'd ordered him to take a month of administrative leave, but it was paid and he'd get his old job back, even on his old shift. The only criterion to be met was that he and Sara could not work directly together. He was okay with that. Sara was put on paid leave as well. Although not hurt, she was still witness and still a victim. She'd been a part of it too.
The irony of the whole thing, at least in Greg's opinion, was that now they were demanding that he go into therapy. Not just him, Sara too. Sara had flat out refused. Had refused so much that only when threaten with her job did she agree to attend the mandatory two-week group therapy course. Greg hardly blinked an eyelash at it. As soon as he was out, he'd go. Another great irony in his opinion, his fear of therapy seemed to have vanished.
Two days before Greg was to be released, Sara asked Nick and Warrick to move their things into her place. She hadn't been to the apartment since the incident; she'd stayed with Amy on the nights she didn't spend at the hospital. As soon as the scene had been released she got Greg to terminate the lease. He didn't mind, neither of them thought they could live there again.
Nick and Warrick had agreed to help without argument; the only problem was that between Greg and Sara they had way too much stuff to fit into her apartment, despite its sparseness. Most of it ended up in Nick's garage. Sara and Greg had discussed it before, but now it looked like they'd go through with it. Once he was out and better, they'd house hunt. It was a huge step but felt almost natural. In the mean time she was sure to bring the things she knew Greg would want the most to her place, mostly meaning his CD's and hair gel.
The day of his release had been strange. The press that had surrounded the event during the course of the week had been sporadic, had seemed to have died off some, but they'd all come back on that day. They knew Greg was leaving and everyone wanted a picture or a sound byte. It was decided that his father would accompany him out and it had been pandemonium. He actually needed a police escort as his father wheeled him out to the waiting car. Once inside Jeff had tried to say something reassuring to his son, but couldn't. Greg understood. What was there to say?
They'd agreed that a small group of people would be waiting for him at his and Sara's new place, formally just Sara's place. It had included the regular team, Amy and Sophia and of course his parents. It had been nice and reassuring. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits. They'd talked and laughed like nothing was wrong. And really, nothing seemed to be. Greg still couldn't get around quite so quick, but otherwise he really did seem okay.
The party broke up naturally. Warrick, Catherine and Grissom left first. They were on that night and had things to take care of before going in. Sophia was next; she said how much she was going to miss his company on days but was glad he was going back to where he belonged, home. Nick and Amy stayed longer. The three remaining couples all got along very well; talking with good humor for most of the night, but even that had to end. Nick was on that night and had to leave before it got too late.
Jeff and Maggie Sanders were the last to leave. They had an early flight back in the morning and were really sorry to go. They'd come and gone so much to Vegas over the last year it was becoming second nature, but of all the times they'd left this was the hardest. They'd come to accept that accidents and disease could take a loved one, even their son, but having almost lost Greg at the hands of a madman had been difficult to swallow.
After they were alone Greg had begun to help Sara put things away, but had very little success. He realized he didn't know where anything went and had to give up.
"Don't expect to get away with that excuse forever," she chided.
Greg laughed like he'd been caught. It had been nice.
He laughed for real when he got a good look at her bedroom.
"Hey Sara," he called out to her. "Can you come here for a minute?"
"What is it?" she asked, curious as to the tone of his voice.
"How are we both supposed to sleep in that?" he asked, indicating the bed. The double bed. He'd had a king at his place where they'd spent the majority of their time until now.
"We've slept here before," she said dryly, not seeing his point.
"No," he said shaking his head, "we didn't sleep then. Other stuff, yeah. No problem. We take up less space. But sleep, side by side? No. Not going to happen."
Sara told him he was being silly, but to prove his point he lay right down in the middle, and looked up at her. She laughed at him before leaning down and crawling up towards him smiling the entire way. She curled up beside him, arms around round his chest with her head on his shoulder.
"See," she said into his ear, "plenty of room."
Greg didn't say anything for a minute.
"You're falling off the bed aren't you?"
"A little," she admitted with a laugh.
He scooted over and turned on his side to look her in the eyes.
"So are we really buying a house?" he asked.
It was hard to tell if he was being serious.
"If you ever want a bigger bed then this we may have no choice."
"Seriously, if it's too weird or too soon, we don't have too. I'd understand if you want me to go find my own place again."
"No," she answered sincerely, "I want this. We should have something that's ours."
"We could rent something that's ours," he offered.
Greg was insistent on giving her an out. He didn't want one for himself, but he didn't want Sara to feel obligated. Not like this. They'd talked about it before, but it had just been talk. Idle. A sometime in the future kind of thing. This was now and it was serious.
"I want something real, something like a home." was all she said and it was enough.
The next day was their first official day on administrative leave. It was also their first day of group therapy. Another stipulation Sara had was that she wanted to attend the same sessions as Greg. He didn't mind, thought it might even be fun. It was going to be her and him and a bunch of other cops rattled by recent cases and talking about how they were still fine to do their jobs. Greg had even joked that at least they'd have the best story to tell.
The time off had been good. They'd never spent so much time together and were pleasantly surprised to find that it suited them. Mostly they house hunted, called realtors and figured out exactly what they could and could not afford. With both of their incomes they'd be able to get something fairly nice. Not 'Amy's condo' nice, but definitely livable. Three bedrooms in a good neighborhood was all they were asking for.
On their second week off it happened. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but Greg had just assumed since it hadn't yet that it just wouldn't. But it did. At the grocery store as they were checking out someone recognized him. They'd actually made quite a scene about it too, asking him all kinds of questions he wasn't ready for. Greg tried to shrug it off, insisted he didn't know what they were talking about, but it was obvious he did. Eventually he had to just walk out leaving Sara to finish up and find him in the car five minutes later.
They didn't talk about it that night but the next day after Sara had gone on her morning run she'd come back to find that Greg had dyed his hair.
"Was there an accident with the bleach?" she asked innocently.
He shrugged and said nothing, just kept his eyes on the television.
"I'm not sure about it," she said sitting down next to him on the couch, "I was getting use to the natural look on you."
"I needed a change," was all he responded.
She understood. Playfully she ran a hand through it. Oddly enough, he looked more like himself then he had in ages. Parts of his hair now patchy blond, odd angles in every direction.
"Admit it," he said with a smile, "you always liked it better this way."
"Maybe," she said smiling back.
For a moment they said nothing, she just looked at him intently.
"Is this about yesterday?" she asked, still running a hand through his hair.
"A little," he relented.
She just nodded once and kissed him slowly before getting up to change and shower. They didn't need to talk about it again.
Group therapy complete, they still had two weeks of paid leave to go. Greg had been right, they did have the best story and it hadn't been nearly as bad as Sara had thought it would. She'd wondered briefly if Greg would start private therapy again, but didn't ask. She trusted now that he would tell her when he'd decided.
At the end of the third week they'd driven to California to see his parents. It had been a good long weekend. She'd shown him the places she'd always loved in and around the bay area and he did the same for her. It was their first real vacation together and their first road trip. Greg finally got to drive. Having survived the experience with their relationship intact, buying a house seemed like child's play.
The last week off they'd spent packing. They'd picked their house and were moving in a month. The buyer had accepted their offer and was eager to sell. They'd gotten a great deal on a three bedroom home in Summerlin. It all felt very natural.
The Friday before they were to go back to work Greg was scheduled to go for his first post-remission bone marrow tap. Greg hadn't said anything about Sara coming with him, so when the time came she was surprised that he'd assumed she would. Of course she did. She'd never seen one before, so he warned her ahead of time. It wasn't pretty, but it was fairly painless. Dr. Tracey and Sara had an animated discussion about Greg's new hair style, teasing only. Dr. Tracey secretly saw it as a good sign that he really was getting on with his life.
Reluctantly she brought up therapy. Dr. Tracey harbored a great deal of guilt for what had happened to both of them. Greg had assured her every chance he got that it wasn't her fault. That there was no way she could have known, but it did very little to relieve her feelings on the matter. She still had a list for him, ready if he was willing, with one or two in particular she thought would be a good fit. Greg agreed to take a look at it, but made no promises as far as actual sessions went.
On their first night back at work Greg thought he might have an anxiety attack. For some reason he was just that nervous. Maybe because he hadn't officially been in the field for so long or maybe because of recent events. He wasn't sure. Sara wasn't nervous, only excited. Greg had always enjoyed what he did, but never on the same level as Sara. Where he ate, she breathed. It was a necessity for her. He loved it about her, but couldn't quite understand.
They'd arrived early. Sara, eager to begin, tracked down Grissom to learn about the newest cases. Ones she could possibly be involved in. Having nothing else to do until the staff meeting began, Greg went in search of Amy.
"Hey stranger," she said as he came into the lab, smiling big at him.
"Lose a contact again?" he asked. She was in her glasses tonight.
"Nick knocked them into the sink," she replied, trying to look put out but failing.
"How's that going?" he asked, smiling back at her as he pulled up a chair.
Nick and Amy had never come out and told anyone they were dating, they hadn't had too. It was too obvious to put into words.
"Good," she grinned, "real good."
"Good," he said grinning back at her.
They both laughed at themselves. It was kind of a crazy moment. They were both ridiculously happy in relationships, having never expected to be.
"When's the moving party?" she asked casually, still checking results.
"Three weeks. As I understand it you and Sara will be supervising, or in other words, drinking margaritas."
"My kind of party," Amy replied with a smirk.
"Hey," Nick said from the doorway, "stop flirting with my girl. Time for the staff meeting."
"He ruins all my fun," Greg said with a wink, before getting up to go.
"Break at two?" Nick stayed behind to ask.
"Okay," he agreed, "but I pick the place then."
Amy gave him a grin indicating a yes, which he returned before heading down the hall in a hurry to catch up with Greg.
"It's you and me tonight," he said, tapping him on the shoulder.
"Oh great," Greg said with mock exasperation, "is it too late to go back to days?"
"Yeah, that's cute." Nick returned as they came into the break room.
Grissom was already there, waiting on them.
"Okay," he said as Greg shut the door behind him. "Now that we're all here, let's begin."
Greg smiled to himself, taking a seat near Sara, ready to go.
Glad to be home.