A month after Catherine's attack, Phoebe felt things were getting back to normal around the lab. Cath was determined to move forward with her life and put what happened to her in the past, and if anyone dared give her a look of pity she would politely tell them to get back to work. Phoebe hoped that her supervisor's willpower was contagious. Her own problems were (rightfully) dwarfed by Catherine's, but if her superior could power on, then so could Phoebe. Even though her issues were centred completely around her wedding.
Phoebe couldn't wait to get married to Nick. It was the thought of being his wife that was much more thrilling to her than picking out silverware for the reception, but that's what her mind was mulling over that late Thursday evening. After an early dinner together, Nick had left for his shift leaving Phoebe home alone. After starting a load of laundry, tossing out their take away Chinese dinner containers and changing into her most comfortable sweats, Phoebe sat herself cross legged on the living room floor in front of the coffee table flicking through her large collection of wedding magazines.
The week before, Phoebe had done what she always did when she became overwhelmed with something other than work and called her mother. Penny had suggested her daughter keep a wedding notebook to write down ideas and things that needed to be done. It was a tactic Penny had utilized in her second wedding to Phoebe's step-father, Jack, to keep things organized.
So, Phoebe had taken her mother's advice and started jotting down everything she thought of in a bright pink notebook she had labelled Wedding Crap, but the note-taking didn't ease her anxiety. It just reminded her of how much she had to do. And how little she cared about napkin rings.
With her job, Phoebe was an expert at noticing details. And those skills were apparently transferable. Every glossy page she scanned she noticed another item she needed for her wedding. Table settings, napkin rings, candlesticks, salt and pepper shakers. And then there were the logistics. How many people to invite? Where would they sit? And who would sit with who? What would they eat and drink? Who would had to fly into the city? Where would they stay and for how long? What day of the week was best for the guests with odd work hours? The list was endless.
Their marriage licence had come through the day before, so that was one thing Phoebe was able to tick off her list. But it was the only thing she could tick off. The rest of her night was spent flipping through magazine pages. When the clock hit midnight, Phoebe made herself a cup of green tea and settled on the couch to watch a late night talk show. She rested her elbow on the arm of the sofa and browsed through one of her newer magazines. This one had a feature about different types of chairs for the guests to sit on. And after ten minutes, Phoebe ditched the magazines and stretched out on the couch to watch a celebrity interview.
The shivering sound of her cell phone vibrating against the coffee table woke Phoebe just before sunrise. Yawning, she reached for her phone wondering who would call. It was strange for the lab to ask her to come in this early unless they were short staffed, and she knew for a fact that they weren't because that's why she had the night off.
It was Nick calling. He was frantic. "It's Greg," He said. He gave Phoebe the address, and then told her he loved her before hanging up. Phoebe threw on her clothes, grabbed her jacket and keys and ran straight for her SUV. She was glad it was early in the morning, the roads were empty and she missed a couple of Stop signs. By the time she got to the crime scene, the sun was shining high and a crowd had gathered around the taped perimeter. Phoebe waded through a sea of bathrobes and fluffy slippers towards Brass, who signalled to a young policewoman controlling the crowd to let Phoebe through.
"Greg?" Phoebe asked immediately as Brass held up his hands to slow her down.
"He's gonna be okay," Brass said calmly, touching her shoulder. "He was badly beaten, but he'll live."
Phoebe let out the breath boxed up tight in her chest. "What the hell happened?"
"He was on his way to a crime scene," Brass explained. "Saw a gang beating up a guy so he intervened. Then the gang rounded back in on him."
"Christ," Phoebe ran a hand through her messy ponytail. "Where is he?"
Brass turned and pointed towards two paramedics working on shifting Greg from the alley floor onto a gurney. "Third attack in twenty-four hours.' Brass continued. "Some sort of hooded mob picking off unsuspecting people travelling alone."
Seeing Nick and Warrick processing Greg's car, Phoebe left Brass and walked over to them. As she did, she saw Nick approach a thuggish looking young man at the edge of the police tape. Phoebe rarely saw Nick upset, but when it came to his friends he became fiercely loyal. And whatever the thug said, Nick responded with a swift punch into his jaw.
"Nick!" Phoebe yelled in unison with Warrick.
Warrick pulled Nick back and rounded in on the thug, snatching the phone he was using to try and film Nick's attack. "Nick," Phoebe grabbed his arm as he tried to storm past her. He looked at her like he had just noticed she was there. He was fuming.
"Greg's bleeding to death and that jerk's laughing," Nick was so tense the veins in his neck were pulsing.
"Hey!" Phoebe clasped his tightened jaw between her hands and turned him to face her. "What are you doing? Are we beating up people now?"
"I'm sick of these punks," He said, eyes flashing towards Greg being loaded into the ambulance and then back at the thug who had provoked him. "I'm serious; I'm sick of it."
With their jobs, people being horrible to other people was expected. Phoebe told Nick as much. "Then you're in the wrong town."
"Maybe," He pulled her hands off of him and stalked away.
Swapping a similar look of understanding with Warrick, Phoebe left her fiancé to cool down, retreated to her SUV and followed Greg's ambulance to the hospital.
Being Greg's colleague didn't deem Phoebe important enough to be informed about his condition. The doctors wouldn't tell her anything. It didn't help that in her rush to get out of the house to Greg she hadn't brought her handbag. And her jacket with her CSI ID in it was locked safely in Nick's car. But as soon as Grissom arrived and confirmed Phoebe's identity for the hospital security, she was allowed in to sit with Greg while Grissom talked with the doctors.
There were things Phoebe was used to seeing that she wished she hadn't become accustomed to. Dead bodies, horrific crime scenes, assault victims, grieving families. She wasn't so much "used" to them as she just knew how to prepare herself for what she was going to see and, inevitably, feel.
Phoebe had worked with Greg for years, so she often forgot how young and dorky he'd been when she first started working in Vegas. He was that cute little-brother lab tech in the white coat who listened to Marilyn Manson way too loud. And then he'd been promoted out into the field, and his wiry body grew leaner and stronger. He became more serious, though he never lost his cheeky side . But to Phoebe Greg really hadn't changed. He was still that little brother, and now he lay before her a battered and bruised young man.
Phoebe entered Greg's room and paused by his bed to take in his injuries. His head was heavily bound in gauze and one eye was swollen closed. His arm was in a bulky cast that rested on his bare chest where tight bandages held his ribs in place. His skin was a palette of purplish welts and pink scrapes. The whole image brought tears to Phoebe's eyes before she'd even reached the chair by his bedside.
Carefully, so as not to wake him, Phoebe gently placed her hand over Greg's fingers but didn't squeeze for fear she would hurt him further. "If you wanted a day off I would have traded shifts with you." She said as she sat in the metal chair by his nightstand and IV pole.
"Hey," Greg tried to open his eyes but the swollen one barely twitched.
"You're gonna be fine," Phoebe told him before he even asked.
"The guy they beat up," Greg asked. "How is he?"
"I dunno," Phoebe said. Her knowledge of the case was extremely limited. She only knew what Brass had said about the gang, and then her worry for Greg had taken over. "Has someone called your parents? We should let them know." In reply, Greg just made a funny muttering noise. "What?" She asked.
Though half his face was smashed and swollen, Greg's chapped lips managed to smirk just a tiny bit. "They still think I'm in the lab."
Phoebe's brow knitted together. "Why would they think that?"
"When I was in high school," It took a lot out of Greg to speak, so he was slow with his words. "I never played any sports... no football... no basketball."
The image of Greg as that dorky little brother came back to Phoebe's mind and she smiled to herself. "I never would've guessed."
Greg snorted a laugh but instantly winced in pain. After a few deep breaths, he continued. "My mum wanted four kids... ended up with only one... She always made sure... I stayed close... If I got a nosebleed... she'd take me to the ER. "
"My mum was the same when I was a kid," Phoebe said. "I remember my third grade class were taking a trip to the beach once and she wouldn't let me go because she was afraid I'd get washed away," she told him. "It didn't seem to matter to her that we were going in Winter to take sand samples for some reason, and the teacher assured her there would be no swimming. Mum still wouldn't let me go." Phoebe paused and bit her lip. "I keep work stuff from her, too."
"Yeah, I like her to think I just dust for prints and take photographs of car wrecks instead of..." Phoebe was going to say dead bodies, but with Greg's current situation she quickly caught her tongue. "I mean, she's not stupid; she knows what I do," Phoebe sighed. "I just don't like reminding her."
Greg's face crumpled in a mixture of pain and frustration. "My mum's gonna freak," He said tearfully, turning his head away from Phoebe.
"Yeah, probably," Phoebe scooted her chair closer to Greg. "But then you're gonna tell her that you risked your life to save someone else's. And I think she'll be very proud of you." Greg didn't say anything, but moved his hand and securely gripped Phoebe's fingers.
It was very early the next morning when Greg's parents arrived to watch over him making Phoebe feel like she was invading a family moment, so she decided to head home. Nick was already there, he had texted her. Phoebe got into her SUV and caught sight of a stack of wedding magazines on her passengers seat. She'd bought them the week before and didn't want to bring them into the house until she'd gone through the ones she already had inside.
Phoebe picked up a magazine with a gorgeous model on the cover in a short bridal dress that came to her knees. The model's hair was a deep red in colour, long and flowing. She had a white veil perched above her forehead. Phoebe got the distinct impression that the dress only looked good on that model at that moment in the photography shoot for the magazine. And if someone else tried it on, they wouldn't look nearly as tanned and lean.
Tossing the magazine back to the pile, Phoebe then stuck her keys in the ignition and started her car. Wedding dresses were a whole new mess to deal with. She had a fitting in a couple of weeks with a designer but had no idea what kind of dress she wanted. It would be white, she assumed. But even that she wasn't sure of; why couldn't she have a pale blue dress?
Phoebe exited the hospital parking lot and drove home, still mulling over her dress and the pros and cons of having one like the magazine model that came to her knees. It would be a good length if it was hot out, but Phoebe didn't know if she wanted a Summer or Winter wedding. According to another magazine, the season set the tone for the whole wedding theme. Course, she could get married at night in Summer. It was cooler then, but all her work friends would be, well, working. Hence the term Night-Shift.
And then there were overseas relatives. Phoebe still had some back in Australia but didn't think that flying twenty-four hours for a wedding would please them all that much considering the flight to Vegas and back home would probably be longer than their actual stay. But Phoebe had never really been invested in the creation of a wedding before; she didn't know the specifics and what was "expected".
Crime Scene Investigators had to see the details. See what was beneath the surface. All Phoebe saw when she thought of her wedding was a bunch of stuff she knew nothing about. It was frustrating.
Phoebe arrived home and parked her car next to Nick's in the driveway. She left her magazines in the passenger's seat and went inside. Nick was in the kitchen putting dishes away. He smiled when he saw her. "How's Greg?"
"Sleeping," Phoebe said. "His parents are with him now."
Nick nodded and closed the dishwasher. "Good."
Then, as though a light had flipped on in her mind, Phoebe had a solution to her frustrations. "Nick, will you marry me?"
Nick gave her a strange smile. "I already beat you to it."
"No," Phoebe tossed her keys on the counter. "I mean now."
Nick flipped the tea towel over his shoulder and rested back against the kitchen sink. "What?"
Phoebe felt her heart start to beat faster. "We almost died under that house," She said. "Catherine was attacked, Lindsey kidnapped and now Greg."
Nick looked concerned. "Is this about today?" He asked. "I'm sorry I reacted like that, that guy just got under my skin."
"No," Phoebe shook her head. "It has nothing to do with that, I promise."
Nick pushed back up off the sink. "Pheebs, nothing's gonna happen to us," He said. "We don't have to rush-"
"I'm not rushing," Phoebe cut in. Her mind was suddenly buzzing with all the menial wedding details she had been mulling over. "Do you know what I spent my night doing before you called about Greg? Looking through magazines at chairs for our wedding guests to sit on. And they're all white. But the article is telling me one is eggshell white, one is plaster white and the one that I think is regular white it tells me is actually yellow. And so I pick the yellow and checked online to order, but they're out of stock. The yellow won't be in for another month."
"Okay..." Nick was obviously having trouble following her logic.
"And so I start thinking how little I care about chairs," Phoebe said. "I just don't care. I don't care what kind of table the food is on. I don't care about the food. I don't care about the table settings. I don't care if we have a band or a jukebox or a DJ or karaoke."
Nick moved towards her looking worried. "You don't wanna get married?"
"No. That's all I want," Phoebe said. "Everything else is just getting in the way. I don't want to wait for yellow chairs to marry you. I don't want to wait for a band to be free, I don't want to wait for the new seasonal menus to come out," She smiled. "I just want to be your wife." She felt tears heat in her eyes. "I love you."
"I love you, too," Nick gently took her by her arms and pulled her against him. "That's why we're gettin' married." He moved his hands to the small of her back and held her there. "Doesn't matter what chairs we get."
"Exactly!" Phoebe rested her hands on his chest. "But all of this planning is just a delay for what I really want," Phoebe shrugged. "Because I already feel like your wife. And this," she gestured around them. "This is our home. We're a family, and I don't want to wait for a wedding for that to be formalized." She took the dishtowel off his shoulder and tossed it onto the counter. "And honestly," She looped her arms around his neck and interlocked her fingers. "The idea that I could be your wife by tomorrow morning excites me a hell of a lot more than chairs."
Nick grinned. "You love me that much, huh?"
Phoebe kissed him. "We want to get married. So, let's go get married."
"Okay," Nick laughed. "Okay, let's do it."
Phoebe's heart skipped a beat or two. "Really?"
"Yep," He kissed her and then held her face between his hands. "Chairs don't excite me either."
Phoebe giggled and kissed him again. And then everything sped up. Phoebe ran to the shower while Nick started calling around to see how many of their colleagues could make it. After her shower, Phoebe blow dried her hair for the first time in a long while, didn't bother with makeup and shimmied into her dress. Phoebe only had one dress she really liked, a midnight blue dress with a firm ruffle around the waist. Funnily enough she'd bought it to wear to a wedding, but the bride chickened out and the whole thing had been called off. Phoebe hadn't even gotten to wear the dress.
There was a knock at the bedroom door and Nick stuck his head in. "You ready..." His lips spread into a smile when he saw Phoebe. "You look... so beautiful."
Phoebe curtsied at him. "Get in here so I can see you," She said. Nick had gotten dressed while Phoebe had showered. He fully entered the room to show Phoebe he was wearing a jet black suit with a gray tucked-in shirt and no tie. "You're perfect," She said with a giddy grin.
Nick beamed. "Ready to go?"
"Yep," Phoebe turned to look in her mirror and noticed some of her jewellery on the bureau. "Oh, wait," She grabbed a pair of pearl earrings from one of the bureau draws and put them on. "My grandmother wore these at her wedding, and my mum wore them at both of her weddings," She turned to Nick and smiled proudly. "They're my something old."
Phoebe thought for a second. "Oh, I have new shoes," She remembered. She found the box in the top of her closet for a pair of silver high heels she had bought purely because she didn't have any fancy shoes to wear. Of course, she also had nowhere to wear them until now. "And I'm my something blue," Phoebe gestured to her dress and wriggled her toes in her shoes. "Something borrowed?"
Nick was quiet for a second and then he snapped his fingers. "I've got an idea, come on," Nick seized her hand and pulled her out of the bedroom.
Nick grabbed his wallet and his cell phone, Phoebe picked up her handbag and her cell and the couple were out the door. Phoebe went straight to the car, but Nick ran next door to their elderly neighbours home. By their letterbox they had a line of grinning garden gnomes. Phoebe liked to call them Babushka gnomes because each one got smaller as you went down the line of them.
Nick pocketed the smallest gnome and jogged back over to their car. On his way he pulled a couple of blossoming white flowers from their front garden. He presented the gnome to Phoebe. "Something borrowed," and then he slipped one of the flowers behind her ear.
Phoebe clasped the tiny gnome tight, took the second flower and stuck it in Nick's lapel. "Ready?" She asked him one final time.
He responded by kissing her.