Appreciation by SLynn
Summary: An art heist, an arsonist and a lot of angst. Takes place approximately four months after the end of 'Precious Things' This is the fifth in a series. Greg/Sara and Nick/OC
Spoilers: Up to 'Nesting Dolls'
Thanks to my beta's Tripp3235 and RivenSky!
Disclaimer: I'm just borrowing and will return them all when I'm done, virtually untouched.
Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here
'Dare You to Move' by Switchfoot
Chapter 1: Should Be
It had been four months and to Greg it seemed much longer even though not much had changed.
Greg was still living alone in the house. It had taken him a month to finally move his couch into the living room and even then he'd only done it at Amy's insistence. She claimed to have grown tired of sitting on the floor but actually she thought he needed to try and move on. He'd kept the house virtually untouched until then and she'd suspected he was actually sleeping on that couch in the spare room instead of in his own bed.
So one day she'd come over and they'd changed the place around together. Greg really hadn't thought it would help but it actually did.
Another big change for him came from Dr. Jennings. She'd insisted he try a sleeping aid. Between the nightmares he was still having all too frequently and Sara's departure from his life she felt he needed the extra help. She prescribed him a fairly light one and he'd agreed to try it. After a solid week of dreamless sleep he was glad he did. Greg hadn't felt that good, at least physically, in a very long time.
Emotionally it was a different story.
Sara and Greg only spoke when they had too. It was almost always work related but occasionally one or the other of them would slip and something kinder would pass from their lips. That in itself was pretty rare but it had happened.
And of course like most breakups the first time didn't exactly take.
There were two occasions in which they'd fallen back on old habits so to speak. Two times where neither of them had really been thinking and let their need for comfort overcome their sense of right. The first time was a month after they'd broken up. The second was two weeks ago after Nick's birthday party.
Greg wasn't proud of either instance, wished it hadn't happened and tried his best to forget they had. That really wasn't easy. But even with those two setbacks as he had termed them, things really were looking better.
Greg wasn't exactly out there dating or anything but he wasn't staying home alone and sulking either. And his not dating wasn't from lack of everyone he knew trying.
Betty had a niece she thought would be a perfect match for him and offered to set him up on a near daily basis. Greg continued to politely decline. Dr. Tracey, with whom he had learned to keep his appointments with, had a granddaughter who was pre-med at UNLV she thought he'd like. Once more Greg gave a very firm no. Catherine had even tried in her own way to get him to at least go out with someone else but Greg wasn't ready yet. The closest thing he came to date was going with Nick, Amy and Karen, once she'd moved into town, to the movies every couple of weeks.
And of course all of that fueled speculation that Karen and he were dating. It wasn't true. It wasn't even close to true but Greg couldn't find the energy to fight it. Amy either, but she had her own reasons. She'd be a liar if she said she didn't think they would make a cute couple, but she seriously doubted Greg was ready for it. And the last thing she wanted was for her little sister to be hurt.
All in all things were getting back to normal.
Greg was no longer so quiet. He was joking again. Laughing again. Acting like his old self and this time it didn't seem like a lie.
Despite the change in his demeanor, nothing had really changed for him. He still felt he had been the real problem in their relationship. That if he'd done something different or better or just been a different person she'd of been able to open up to him more.
That and he still loved her.
But he was trying now.
He still loved her but he was trying not too. Greg was trying to be indifferent and failing miserably. She made him weak in ways he didn't think possible.
But he was trying.
So it was with that attitude, the same one he adopted nightly before heading into work that he left for the lab that evening.
Greg was going to be indifferent. It was his mantra.
Of course he thought that everyone saw right through him. That they all knew he was still pining away. Sara especially.
What he didn't know was that Sara was probably the only one who believed his act.
Sara had no false hopes that she could ever undo the damage she'd caused him. She'd done what she'd always done when things were rough in her life, she'd let her work consume her.
She'd seen Greg's attitude shift subtly over the last couple of months and had been happy and sad all at once. Happy that she hadn't completely destroyed him as the looks she got from both Amy and Catherine seemed to suggest. Sad that it really was over.
She didn't want it to be.
But she didn't allow herself the hope that he still returned her feelings. That though they'd spent the night together twice since they'd officially called off their engagement she really thought it was over. That those nights had been more about loneliness and physical attraction then they had been about real need and desire. Or love.
So each night before she left for work Sara affected a similar attitude. One of unconcern.
Sara pretended to be unconcerned with Greg.
The problem was that Sara was a much better actor then Greg. Her façade was much more believable. No one saw through her act. Nick suspected but couldn't be certain, but that was a close as anyone came to guessing the truth. A single suspicion.
And there they sat.
Sara and Greg sat nearly as far as they could from each other during the pre-shift meeting. Indifference and unconcern aside, being too close did neither of them any good.
Grissom had yet to arrive so Warrick, Catherine and Nick were all chatting like normal. Greg did his best to look like he was involved but his head was a million miles away. Sara didn't even try.
Greg tuned in just in time to hear his name being repeated.
"What?" he asked looking to Catherine.
"I asked you what that DVD was that you leant me for Lindsey?"
"Oh," Greg said thinking about it for a split second, "Spirited Away."
"That's it," Catherine agreed.
"Did she like it?"
"Loved it. I think you're going to have a hard time getting it a back."
"She can keep it," Greg said with a shrug, "I think I've got too much animation in my collection then a grown man is allowed."
Warrick, Catherine and Nick all laughed at this, knowing it was true and Greg smiled as well. He thought Sara did but she'd turned away so he couldn't be certain. She use to tease him about it.
And like that he couldn't believe he was already thinking about her.
Greg turned his head and repeated his mantra about indifference and was spared further conversation by Grissom's arrival.
Instead of immediately rattling off case assignments as they'd grown accustomed to hearing him do, Grissom came in, shut the door and sat down at the table.
"I can't believe I'm about to say this but someone has to go home."
They all looked at him, uncertain if they'd heard that right, each and everyone of them showing their disbelief plainly on their face.
"What?" Catherine finally asked.
"Ecklie has noted that graveyard shift has charged more overtime then the other shifts."
"Just because we're more dedicated…" Sara started but Grissom quickly cut her off.
They all let that sink in knowing how true it was.
"Now I'm not pointing the finger at anyone, we're all guilty, but from now on if you have a day off you are not to be in this lab."
"Griss," Nick started to object.
"No buts," he cut off once more. "I can't stop you from working from home but I can stop you from working here."
They each nodded slowly.
"That being said," Grissom said turning and looking right at Greg and obviously waiting.
"What?" he asked as everyone was now also staring and obviously waiting.
"Greg," Grissom answered, "You're not scheduled to be here tonight."
Grissom rubbed his head in frustration. Nick and Warrick both had to look away or else burst out laughing.
"And shouldn't you be at home."
"Oh, so you were serious about that because I thought it was one of those times when you say one thing because you have to but really you mean something else entirely."
"No it's the thing where I tell you to do something and you actually do it."
"Are you sure it isn't a metaphor…"
"Go home Greg."
"Fine," he said standing up, resigned to his fate.
"And don't come back until Sunday."
"Sunday?" Greg questioned stopping at the door, "But I'm on…"
Grissom stopped him with a look.
"Fine," he repeated shutting the door on his way out.
Instead of heading to the locker room for his things he made his way down to the DNA lab to say hello to Amy.
"That was quick," she said not looking up.
"Really quick," Greg said leaning over the counter to see what she was doing, "Grissom kicked me out."
"What did you do?"
"Apparently my job."
Amy looked up at him now clearly not buying it.
"Ecklie's got a twist in his shorts about all the overtime we've been logging."
"So? He's always got a twist in his shorts."
"Well now we're not allowed to spend our days off at work."
Amy nodded but was secretly glad. Not only did that mean Nick might actually spend a night a week not working but Greg might not spend all his nights in the lab.
"So I take it you're off tonight."
"Yep," he said sitting down in the nearest chair.
"And you're still here because…"
"Because I have nowhere else to be," he finished.
"It's Friday night Greg," she said putting down her test, "Go out. Have fun."
"Alone? No thanks. I'd rather stay home eating Ben and Jerry's in my underwear while I watch Springer."
"Thanks for that visual."
"You know you love me."
Amy laughed and shook her head at him.
"Well, call Karen," she offered finally. "She probably hasn't gone out yet."
"I'm too old to be hanging out with her."
"What? You hang out with me."
"But you're much older then she is."
"Three years," Amy shot back sounding offended.
"It makes a big difference."
"That's it," she said throwing up her hands and walking around the counter, "Get out."
"I was joking."
"I'm not," she said beginning in vain to pull him from the chair, "Go Greg. If you don't call Karen then call someone. Anyone. Call Charlie or Brass even, whichever of them has the night off. But go Greg. Now."
"But I like it here," Greg whined.
"Greg," Amy said starting to sound truly exasperated.
"Okay fine," Greg said getting up and moving towards the door, "but I want it known that I'm really starting to feel unloved around here."
"Duly noted," Amy said with a laugh, unable to stop it at the pert look on his face.
Greg walked out without another word and Amy began her work again.
"Amy," she heard not two seconds later from the door.
She just looked up at him.
"Goodnight," Greg said to her with a smile.
"Call Karen," she returned quite serious.
Greg shrugged but didn't reject the idea outright this time and Amy seemed content with that. She gave him a wave as he moved from the door back towards the locker room.
He still hadn't decided what to do with the night, scratch that, with the two nights he now had off so he headed for the house.
Halfway there his phone rang and catching the name on the ID box he smiled and shook his head as he answered it.
"Amy called you didn't she?" he questioned right away.
"Said you needed to get out more," Karen's voice came on the line with a laugh. "Meet us at Rain in the Palms."
"Who is this us?" Greg asked almost afraid to find out.
"A few friends," Karen answered and then laughed again. "One of them knows the guy who's at the door."
Greg smiled as he considered it.
"Come on," she beckoned.
"Fine," he said like a sigh, "give me half an hour."
"I'll be timing you."
Greg didn't say goodbye just shut the phone and grinned as he pulled into the drive.
This was how it should be. He should be going out with his friends on the weekend. Not caring about what it might look like or who might not approve. He was an adult. He was single. The only person he had to please right now was himself.
Greg could be indifferent. He really could. He told himself that again as he got out of the car and almost believed it this time.
That was until he got inside the house.
It happened every time.
Every time he walked through the door he was flooded with memories of her. Of them. Some good, some not so good.
He tried to tell himself he could be indifferent but really he couldn't.
Greg couldn't stop caring for her.