The Reaper by SLynn

Rating: R

Season: Five
Up to 'Spark of Life'
Pairings: Greg/Nick

Warnings: Slash/Violent Content/Disturbing Images

Disclaimer: No I don't own them, I just occasionally borrow them for my own twisted purposes.

Summary: The third woman in three months has just died horrifically by a killer the press call 'The Reaper'. Both shifts must now work together before the killer strikes again.

Notes: Thanks to my great beta RivenSky! And FYI, this is going to be a long story. Thanks everyone for the reviews, I appreciate them as this is a new genre for me.

Chapter 2: Take My Hand

Greg was silent on the ride back to the lab, trying to rid himself of the images that continued to play in his head.

Amber Clemson, twenty-six years old, had been butchered, plain and simple.

Grissom had led them through the house, discussing what he thought had happened. That she must have been startled by her attacker, beaten repeatedly in the living room before being drug to the bedroom. Once there she'd been placed in the bed and stabbed so many times they were doubtful they'd ever get an exact count. The scene was then cleaned and staged like the last two.

Alan Jones, her fiancé, had found her that night.

"You okay?" Sara asked.

"I guess," he answered shaking his head, "I just, it's bad enough we saw it but can you imagine what it was like for that poor guy?"

"Remember that the first witness is usually the first suspect."

Greg shrugged but didn't buy it. Not this time. He knew Sara didn't really, that she was just trying to keep him objective, but he agreed with her nonetheless.

The lab was alive with activity.

Sara and Greg made their way to the locker room after dropping off their evidence appropriately, Warrick and Nick having beaten them there.

"Catherine and Grissom want us in the conference room ASAP," Warrick said standing to go.

Sara wasted no time putting her things away and heading out the door, leaving the two of them alone.

"You okay?" Nick asked, echoing Sara's sentiment from before.

"That was a lot of blood," Greg admitted, sinking down onto the bench pulling off the borrowed boots and replacing them with the spare pair of shoes from his locker.

Nick reached out and squeezed his shoulder, worried now. Greg looked up at him, attempted a smile, before putting his hand over Nick's.

"I'm fine," he said nodding and standing in one smooth movement, shoes in place. "I am."

"Alright," Nick said, backing up a bit and giving him some space. Knowing that's what he'd need. That and time. "Let's get going then; we're probably holding them up."

Greg nodded and moved with him towards the door.

They kept the conversation light as they headed out the door knowing they'd have plenty of time to talk later. In the seven months they'd been together they'd learned to rely on each other like that. It was a lot easier then Greg had ever dreamed it could be. Just being together. They'd had some problems, minor hiccups, but otherwise it was all smooth sailing.

Well, not exactly smooth. Nick had been worried about what people would say. Especially what people at work would say. Nick still worried but Greg honestly didn't care. They'd fought about it a few times, the biggest being when Greg had wanted them to go on vacation together several months back. It had ended up working out fine as Nick eventually agreed and with no one at work even noticing, or if they did they had thankfully kept their mouths shut. As far as either of them knew only Sara was aware of their relationship and that was because Greg had told her himself.

The irony of the situation was that people were talking, just not about Nick and Greg. They were talking about Sara and Greg. Their new friendship hadn't gone unnoticed. Most of the lab assumed they were the two involved, something none of them contradicted. First, because the more they tried the more people would believe it. Second, it was kind of funny.

Okay so only Greg found it funny. Sara was fairly indifferent to the rumors, as she always was, ignored them and went on about her business. Nick, in his first real show of jealousy, hadn't liked it at all.

Coming into the already full conference room Greg and Nick sat down in the only two chairs left.

"Okay," Grissom said as they sat down, "I know we haven't finished our processing of the latest scene but where do we think we're at? How did that partial footprint look?"

"It was a right instead of a left this time," Nick answered, "Ball of the foot, just like the last time and sneaker treads."

"A match from before?" Catherine asked.

"Can't say until I compare them," Nick said with a slight nod, "but visually they looked the same."

"Method of entry?" Grissom asked now.

"Different," Warrick answered, "First two times the guy found an open door or window, this time he had to use force. Broke the window nearest the patio door and then let himself in."

"Neighbors weren't home," Sofia added, "so we don't have any eyewitnesses yet. Brass is still checking into it. Warrick and I are going out again tomorrow afternoon to try as well."

"The kitchen?" Grissom asked turning slightly to Sara.

"Was spotless," she answered evenly, "Guy washed everything down with the cleaners on hand. Took the trash with him."

Grissom turned to look at Greg.

"I checked," he said without being asked, "Garbage runs today, the whole alley was empty. All the cans were turned over."

He nodded and looked back at Sara.

"We know that he's been using a knife from the home, but this time he did something different. The first two times he just cleaned them off like he did the counters, tables, and so on. This time he put it and all the knives in the dishwasher and ran it."

"So he's getting better at it," Catherine said taking it in.

"But not escalating," Sofia added.

"Not yet," Sara said, "But he will. Angela Smith, the victim from last month, was beaten to death before he'd even cut her up. And Amber Clemson tonight…"

Sara stopped; there really was no way to describe it. She was almost unrecognizable as human.

"Rage," Greg whispered under his breath, just loud enough for Sara and Nick whom he was sitting between to hear.

"One month," Grissom continued, "All of three of these murders happened on the fifth."

The all sat in for a moment.

"We have to assume that our perp knows now who their next victim is," Grissom said finally breaking the silence. "That right now he's stalking them, getting ready for the next time. So, what do these women have in common?"

"Well physically nothing," Catherine answered, her brow furrowed in concentration.

"They were all middle class," Warrick provided but knew that too wasn't enough.

"We need to find out if these women had anything in common. Anything," Grissom repeated for emphasis, "We need to go back over the last month of their lives with a fine tooth comb."

Everyone was taking notes now, jotting down the particulars they remembered and the possible leads to exploit.

"What about the pipe?" Catherine asked and to Greg's great surprise she was now looking at him.

"It was in the alley," he answered after clearing his throat, "in the middle of the road."

"Possible prints?" Sofia asked.

"I can try but I don't think so," Greg answered feeling a bit better. For a minute he thought they were going to launch into him about stepping on it. "Nick found a fiber caught in the opening that matched what I found on the broken glass near the patio door."

"What kind of fiber?" Grissom asked.

"Um," Greg hesitated. He didn't know. Didn't know if he was supposed to know. "Not cotton. I took it to trace."

Grissom nodded and said nothing more.

Catherine and he had already decided who was going to work what. They'd all process the scene from tonight, each taking a piece and then they'd break into groups and each review a file.

Catherine and Grissom were taking the murder of Karen Krammer their first and only married victim. Warrick and Sofia would take the second of Angela Smith. Leaving Sara, Nick and Greg to go over the current case of Amber Clemson.

By the time the meeting broke it was nearly three in the morning. Swing shift, having been on for nearly twelve hours now decided collectively to call it a night. Greg didn't get a chance to see Nick before he'd left but assumed it was alright if he came over in the morning.

In reality he knew he didn't need to ask but sometimes he felt he should. They were practically living together but being on separate shifts made it difficult. Nick could never just go home and go right to sleep. Too many midnight shifts had made that impossible, but he usually fell asleep around three each night. Greg usually came by after he got off work and they both slept until about noon. They'd get up, spend part of the day together and if Nick worked that night Greg would go back to his place, maybe take a nap if he had to work that night. If he didn't, he'd wait up until Nick showed after his shift and they'd spend the night there.

It wasn't the best arrangement, but it was working. The best thing about being on different shifts, aside from the fact that Nick was actually willing to give the relationship a try now, was that they had more days off together.

The rest of the night passed quickly. The pipe came back as expected, free of prints. The fibers they'd found came back as polyester. They got a hit off one of the knives but the sample was too degraded to type.

Greg was eager to get out of there. Eager to sleep. He hoped he'd be able to shut his eyes and not relive it all but wasn't sure that would be possible. Saying a quick goodbye to Sara in the parking garage, he sped out of there like a man on a mission.

Nick lived closer to the lab than Greg did so it didn't take long to make it there. And he had a key so waking Nick wasn't an issue. Letting himself in he was surprised to find Nick awake, on the couch with his laptop on.

"What did you do?" Nick questioned with a smile, "Run all the reds?"

"I may have bent the speed limit a bit," Greg said putting down his things before sitting next to him on the couch. "Why are you still up?"

"I couldn't sleep," Nick admitted, shutting down the computer and leaning back into the couch.

Greg mimicked the gesture, resting his head against the back of the couch as Nick did. Taking Nick's hand in his and intertwining their fingers with a smile.

"Are you sure you weren't just staying up to make sure I could?" he questioned tilting his head slightly towards him.

"Maybe," Nick said.

"That's sweet."

Nick shook his head at Greg. At his tone. He knew he was being a bit overprotective, that Greg was only calling him on it but he couldn't help it. Last night had been rough on all of them and he knew Greg hadn't seen anything like it before.

"I can handle it," Greg assured him leaning in closer now. "I don't need my hand held."

Nick gave him an inquisitive look before turning his eyes down and holding up their clenched hands.

"Okay that wasn't what I meant," Greg said with a laugh. "I meant that I know that this is part of the job. It isn't pretty. I'm alright."

"I'm just making sure," Nick returned as steadily as he could.

Greg didn't know what to say to that. It was just concern, honest concern, and affecting. He squeezed his hand once and brought his free hand to his face pulling him in for a lingering kiss.

"I am," Greg said when he'd moved away.