DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!

RATING: T – For Teen (for mature subject matter)

SPOILERS: Thru Season 7

SUMMARY: Warrick has found himself at the crossroads in his life. He's making peace with the past, as he tries to earn his future.

A/N:This one came about after watching "Random Acts of Violence" from Season 3. And just kind of took over my brain, like any evil, demonic plot bunny will.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: While my regular beta managed to pull me out of a couple of rough spots along the way (for which I am eternally grateful), I have to give some credit to my other beta for making me want to get inside this character's head.

REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.


Warrick stared restlessly through the fence of the rec center when he watched the city workers chain and lock the doors that day: the day his entire world was turned upside down. He felt like the smallest man to ever exist in those moments. His selfish need to make things right to his own way of thinking had stolen so much from so many innocent people. Travis Phelps had to grow up without his father, and the kids in his old neighborhood may have never known the same strength and support he once received at the rec center.

Alone with his dark thoughts, Warrick performed the same ritual he had in all the years since that day. It was his penance, his punishment for his sins. Not that it made him feel any better, because he honestly felt that he deserved to feel that pain over and over again. Closing his eyes tight, he leaned back into the couch and let the memories flood through his troubled mind.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

In chains, and a county jumpsuit, Matthew Phelps was being escorted back to his cell, as Warrick walked alongside. When they were about to pass through the hallway, the door to the other interrogation room opened up, and Tyrel Constantine, the young man responsible for putting these events into motion walked out.

Matt stopped with the pain of regret pouring off of him as he watched the boy. At the last moment, Tyrel turned around and looked at him, shame and frustration showing in his brief glance, as they led him down the hallway.

Shaking his head in disbelief, Matt lamented his mistakes, "I gave up on him. If I hadn't..."

Warrick stopped him, "He gave up on himself." The look on Matt's face as he turned back to Warrick, just before the officer led him away, would haunt him for the rest of his life. He saw resignation in the once proud eyes of his former mentor, and he knew that some of the blame fell on his own shoulders.

Sensing Grissom behind him in the doorway, Warrick shook his head and blew out a breath before he looked into the face of his current mentor. Nodding his head, he admitted, "I blew it."

Grissom never pulled any punches, and this time would not be any different. "Yeah. But you're not the one who's paying for it."

As Grissom walked away, Warrick felt the pain of truth in his simple statement. Lost in the anguish of his own lapse in judgment, he went off in search of solace. He needed to make sense of the whole mess, before it consumed him completely.

He went where he had always found salvation in the past. Only this time, someone beat him to it, and they were blocking him from finding that peace with the chains they were wrapping around the rec center doors.

The roar of blood in his ears was matched only by the deafening pounding of his heart as he watched his whole world disintegrate around him. Grasping at the chain link fence surrounding the center, he tried to remember the words of his grandmother as he watched the solemn men posting their placards.

RECREATION CENTER WILL BE CLOSED

UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

His grandmother's quiet voice broke the spell of those ominous signs on the doors. "It's always pride that goeth before the fall, baby boy."

He was shocked to find her standing at his side, looking upon the rec center with a solemn expression as it was closed to their community. Struggling to find the words to answer the woman who raised him, Warrick gripped the chain even tighter, cutting into the flesh on his hands and fingers.

Finally, he took a strangled breath and asked, "How'd you know where to find me?"

She shrugged slightly and simply said, "A little birdy whispered in my ear… Somethin' about my boy needin' a shoulder."

Warrick shook his head. He had always known that when the rubber hit the road, his grandmother would always be the first person to step up for him. Only, for the first time in his life, he was certain that even Grams would be hard pressed to get him out of this mess. This was quite possibly the single biggest mistake of his life, and that was saying something.

"I only wish that would help." He hung his head with his shame and frustration. "This isn't some broken window, or ditchin' class, Grams… I've really messed up this time, but I'm not the one payin' for it."

Without warning, he felt like he had been stiff-armed by a three hundred pound linebacker when the older woman's shove landed into his side. "Boy, don't you give me that. I didn't raise a fool, and I sure as shootin' didn't raise you to roll over and die when things got rough." He faced the woman who had cared for him since he was a baby, and saw the anger on her slowly aging face. Warrick never liked seeing the fire in her eyes, and he had always worked very hard to keep that from happening. "You better pick yourself up and do what needs to be done, Baby Boy. Or…" She gave him that look, the one that told him he had better straighten up and fly right, or she would know the reason. "I'm gonna give you what for… You hear me?"

He was still floundering for an answer as she reared up and was about to start again. "What do I do, Grams? The center's closed, Matt Phelps is going to prison, and it's all my fault."

Shaking her head, she gave him a look of pure disappointment. "Did you beat that boy with Matt's fists? Did you give that child the gun and point it at the house? Did you make that other boy steal and lie? No, you did your job, and you let your pride take you someplace you had no business going." She laid a hand upon his arm and spoke again with the same caring grace with which she had raised him, "Warrick, honey, you know what needs to be done. You just have to find it in your heart to do it. Swallow that pride, Baby Boy, and you'll see the way."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

He would always remember her from that day. The way the setting sun sent her silvered hair glowing like a halo. The way her brow creased in the middle as she tried to impart her wisdom to her "little work in progress." The feel of her trembling hand on his arm, as she struggled to make him understand what was needed of him. The soft glint in her tired eyes, as she fought to show him the way to salvation.

Of all of his memories of the woman who cared for him more than any other, that day and those words echoed in his mind the most. And every day of his life since her death, he saw those eyes, filled with unshed tears as she fought to bring him out of the darkness.

As he sat there in the darkened room, a glass of bourbon in his hand, Warrick fought to stay above the waves of depression that washed over him. Dragging his hand down the length of his face, he tried to clear his head of the pain of his past.

The door opened slightly, light spilling into the room as a soft and lilting voice called out, "Warrick?" Reaching out for the light switch, she called again, "Warrick?"

With the harsh glare of the fluorescent lights blasting from over head, he reached up to shield his eyes from the sudden intrusion. "There you are." He was comforted by the sound of her voice, but he was also bothered by having been found in his current state, so he remained quiet as his eyes adjusted to the light. "Ya know…there's something to be said about drinking alone in the dark."

He looked down to see the glass in his hand, and he instantly felt ashamed of his situation. There was no way he could explain away what he had been doing, and he was sure that she would see through any story he tried to make up. Instead, he set the glass down on the side table and shrugged it off. "More out of habit, than anything else."

"Why doesn't that make me feel any better?" Her eyebrow arched with her rhetorical question, but she softened and seemed to let it slide as she sat down on the other end of the couch.

After a few silent moments between them, she pointed at the door and remarked, "You know there're people out there looking for you?"

A sigh preceded his answer of, "Yeah, I do."

She leaned back into the couch and rested her arm across the top, but still kept a safe distance. Distance seemed to be what they did best lately. "It's hard when you can't turn around without being reminded of them, huh?"

Warrick winced at the pain he felt in her carefully delivered words. But more than that, he was hurt by the distance that had grown between them. He knew that he was to blame for a large part of their isolation from each other, but he just did not know how to fix it. Like so many things in his life over the last few years, he wished that his grandmother was there to point him in the right direction.

Instead of telling her what he really wanted to say, he simply nodded his head and shaded his eyes once more.

Her faint acknowledgement of his pain was the only break in the silence that descended upon the room. After a while, the silence became deafening, and he wanted to scream out, yell, kick, anything to stop the solemn and deathly quiet that surrounded everything they did anymore.

"I guess I should get back out there." He sat forward, ran his hands through his hair and once again dragged them over his face to clear away the fog of remembrance from his head. "I know they all mean well, but I'm just not used to the attention."

Sitting on the edge of the couch, he wanted to run, to skip the whole damn thing, but he knew in his heart that he had to be there. He had to see this thing through. If not for himself, then he needed to do it for the people responsible for getting him there, for helping him succeed.

"Is it all the people?" She asked him quietly, but remained seated. "Because you weren't this keyed up at your Grams' funeral."

His face screwed up with her question, because he could not imagine why she would bring that up now.

"Sorry… I just thought, with the dedication and all, it might have brought it all up." The sound of her voice cut into his heart. Why did he always have to think the worst whenever someone questioned him lately? And once again, she took the brunt of his frustrations.

"No, you're right." He tried to relax his shoulders, and not appear so uptight. "I just don't know. I guess I've been focused on this for so long…now that it's basically done, I don't know what else to do."

The silence that filled the space behind him said everything he needed to know, his tunnel vision had cost him dearly. His drive to reopen the rec center consumed a lot of his time and energy, but when the opportunity for a brand new building arose after his grandmother's death, he became possessed.

The last day he saw his grandmother was the day he told her about his marriage. It was one disappointment in a long line of disappointments that he had given to the woman who sacrificed so much to give him a good life. The image that would be ingrained in his mind forever would be the regret he saw in her eyes that day.

He seemed to find that same look in a lot of eyes. He had seen it in Grissom's eyes more times than he cared to remember. Warrick knew that the man who had long been his mentor, the man he still looked to when the chips were down, would forgive everything; everything but apathy and ignorance. That only made disappointing the man cut deeper into his soul. And his words the day Matt Phelps was led away in cuffs fueled his drive to right the wrongs of his past even more.

Once again, her voice broke through the turmoil in his mind. "Do you want to me go out there and stall a little longer?"

Looking back over his shoulder at her, he wondered why she would think he was stalling. The look on her face gave him that answer; habit. He knew then that he had been a good job of stalling nearly everything for the last few years. Every move he made was merely another stall tactic; another way to avoid dealing with the reality of his life, and the pain in his heart.

Warrick shook his head as he turned to face forward again. "No… I need to get it done." He was still perched on the edge of the couch as he looked down at the floor, trying to find the strength to stand again. With a groan of stiffness he seemed to feel a lot more of lately, he rose to his feet.

Reaching over to grab his jacket from the back of the chair, he tried stretching his back a little before shrugging into the sport coat. When he turned to invite her to come along, she instantly rose from the couch to stand apart from him. The chasm in their relationship seemed to mirror the physical distance she kept.

With an uncommonly timid smile, she offered, "It's almost done now." She walked forward and put her hand on the door knob when she spoke in a barely audible whisper, "Then you can finally move on."

Her quiet conclusion puzzled him. It seemed to come out of left field, and he wondered why she would say such a thing. He suddenly felt worried about what she thought his motives were. "Is that what you think I'm doing?" The question left his lips before he could stop it, and the moment he spoke the query, he watched her body become rigid with fright. "You think I'm doing all of this so I can leave?" He practically choked as he tried to speak. The implication of her words served to break through the walls he had been building for several years.

The series of events that brought him to that moment were enough to bring any man to their knees, but Warrick had born them all with little pomp and almost no circumstance. He did all of this through his carefully constructed façade, and dedicating his time and energy into building a new rec center for his old neighborhood. It seemed an impossible task, because he had no idea where to find the money for such a Herculean feat, but he felt compelled to try.

The first event to trigger his mad dash to create a safe haven for the children of Las Vegas came when he was forced to watch as his friend lie buried beneath the earth fighting for his sanity and his life. Watching Nick struggle to hold it together, he knew, without a doubt, that he would have failed in those moments, had he been the one in that box. That feeling of hopelessness as he watched his friend fight for every second of life had given him the strength to change his life. He became convinced in those moments that he could never get enough out of life, and he needed to grab hold of any of it he could get his hands on.

This led to the next big event; his marriage to a woman he barely knew. At the time, he and Tina had only been dating for a couple of months, but they seemed to enjoy each other's company, and they had similar ideas about what they wanted out of life. When he took the plunge, Warrick was ready to make it work at all costs. What he was not prepared for were the reactions from everyone in his life. They all feigned their congratulations, and wished him all the best, but he could see in their eyes the shock and disappointment they each felt.

However, it was his grandmother's reaction to his marriage that shook him to the core. She struggled to hold back her tears when her precious baby boy told her that he had gotten married to a woman she had never met, in a Vegas wedding chapel, without a church service, and without her presence or blessing. And it was those unshed tears that he carried with him in his heart to that day.

When his grandmother died only a month after his conversation with her about his marriage, his heart seemed to go out of everything. He went around on auto-pilot for a long time, just going through the motions. He felt like a ghost at work sometimes, and at others he struggled with an anger that seemed to come out of nowhere. And yet, he never shed a tear. Thinking back, he figured that shock probably played more of a role in his numbness than anything else, but his guilt was the other factor.

Eventually, he channeled his guilt into his work and into getting the center built. He worked tirelessly, day and night, devoting all of his time to saving the streets of Las Vegas, in one way, or another. At first, it was his marriage that suffered, and then his work seemed to be less important.

He kept going like that, until Grissom started to burn out. They all saw it. They all knew it was coming, but they were all stunned when it really came to light. When Grissom left on sabbatical, they each kept their worried minds to themselves, because they all wondered if he would ever come back. But when Grissom told him goodbye, the man shocked him in a way he never dreamed of.

"Whether you know it or not, you're the rock of my team. Catherine's going to be in charge for a while, while I'm gone. Be there for her like you've been there for me and we'll all be fine."

Warrick simply could not figure out why he had shared that with him, or why he thought he was the heart of anything. He was too numb, too separated from everyone and everything around him to be the heart of anything. But Grissom's words hit him hard, and he was forced to look at things differently from that point forward.

However, nothing could have prepared him for the hell that was brought down on their entire team not long after Grissom returned to Las Vegas.

When Grissom got back from his sabbatical he came back a different man. He came back as the man he once had been, only there was something else there; a confidence and self-assurance that was never there before. He watched the man open himself up to the world and the people around him again, and while they all thought his sabbatical must have done the trick, he never could have imagined where the source of his rebirth had truly resided. That was, not until that source was ripped away from all of them; taken away at the hands of a sadistic psychotic bent on making Grissom pay for her perception of his sin.

When Sara was taken, and her relationship to Grissom revealed, they were all in a state of supreme shock and dismay. Not until their exhaustive search successfully located and rescued her, did any of them have enough time to process the information they had been given. Sara's abduction was a horrendous event in his life, but seeing the impact of it on the man he considered untouchable was the ultimate testament to what real pain felt like, and suddenly his own pain was incredibly small by comparison.

Once they were certain Sara would be okay, he was able to turn his focus back to the center's completion. He was determined to fulfill his responsibility to the community, and no amount of personal sacrifice would stand in his way. He needed, more than anything, to wipe the slate clean of the mistakes in his past, if he was ever going make a life for himself.

That was probably what scared him more than anything, the fact that his whole life lay ahead of him, and he was without the one person who had always steered him clear of the big stuff when she could. He actually found himself thinking back to his grandmother more and more as time passed. Warrick was sure that those fools telling him that time would heal his wounds were dead wrong. If anything, the pain of her absence from his life grew a little more with every day.

His grandmother had always been his moral compass, the one by which he judged all of his actions. After a talk with Sara, during her recovery, he realized how much he had used that as an excuse; as a crutch. She told him that he needed to stop living in reaction to the past, and to find his own way in the world by learning from the lessons the past had taught him.

It still amazed him how much everyone had changed over the years of working together. Nick had worried him for a while after the abduction, but he seemed to have found some of that optimism and compassion again. He supposed some of it had to do with the fact that he finally had someone around to make him walk the line. It certainly helped that she had an intimate understanding about his job, and his weird fascination with karaoke.

Greg was still trying to bounce back from his latest beat down. That kid just can't seem to cut a break. First, he was blown up in the lab, and then he had to struggle through the transition to the field, only to end up in the right place at the wrong time, and on the wrong end of a crazy mob of misspent youth. Those kids, roving the streets in wild packs, preying on the tourists that built this town were the final catalyst that propelled him to build a bigger, better rec center. Seeing Greg lying battered and beaten in the hospital told him more than any statistic that the kids of Las Vegas needed that rec center.

Grissom was probably the biggest surprise for Warrick. The man seemed unaffected by nearly everything their profession had to throw at them. Over the years of working under his supervision, Warrick had seen only a few things get under the great man's skin; the innocent death of children, a particularly repugnant drug dealer, and his promotion to supervisor of the whole night shift. The first two made sense to him, because Grissom, for all of his platitudes, was still only human, and subject to all the flaws that entailed. But his reaction to the promotion was a shock. It was almost as though the additional responsibility had forced the man to retreat in on himself. And the longer he held the position, the more distant he became. Warrick felt like he had lost a friend and gained a boss, and that hurt him deeply, though he tried not to dwell on it too much.

The only part of the transformation that made him angry had to do with the inclusion and treatment of Sara within their team. At the time, he was completely dumbfounded about why Grissom felt the need to go outside of their team to investigate the Holly Gribbs shooting. But it was the real purpose of her visit that made his blood boil; she was there to investigate him.

In retrospect, he should have been grateful to Grissom for bringing in an outside investigator, instead of turning him over to Internal Affairs, but he was hung up on the fact that this stranger seemed to have Grissom's ear, when all he felt he was getting was the bum's rush. He resented her presence, and her questions, and the absolute trust Grissom seemed to place in her abilities. It took a long time for that resentment to die out, even after Grissom went against the director's wishes and kept him on the team, despite the findings in Sara's report.

However, what surprised him more than Grissom bringing Sara out from San Francisco was the way he treated her after she agreed to stay on to help fill in the gaps in their staffing. And how his treatment of her reflected on the treatment she received from the rest of the team. He seemed to always keep her at arm's reach, and many times it appeared as though he was either ignoring her, or condescending to her for the passion she held for her work. And even though he knew she was incredibly gifted in their profession, Warrick often found himself looking for little ways to dig at her confidence as well.

Catherine, of course, resented Sara for all of the same reasons he did, but also for the simple fact that she felt like everything she had struggled to get in life had been handed to Sara. When she finally realized that was far from the truth, she tried to warm to the girl, but Warrick knew the damage had already been done, and it would take a serious act of faith on both of their parts before it could ever be repaired. Over the last couple of years, he began to see the glimmer of minor repairs to their working relationship, but he doubted they would ever consider themselves friends.

Greg was his same old puppy-dog self, so he would have chased after her regardless of the circumstances of her joining the team. Nick seemed to be the only person willing to take her at face value, much like the eternal optimist he had been at the time. Rumors around the lab even tried hooking those two up a few times, but he could tell that they just shared a kind of survivor's bond that seemed to make them reach to each other for support. The friendship they shared crossed over the gender lines, and went far and above simple co-workers. While he had long buried the hatchet with Sara before Nick's abduction, seeing the way she came through for him during his recovery made him throw out any residual mistrust from their introduction. Besides, Grams always said that carrying a chip on your shoulder would only make you a hunchbacked fool carrying around the weight of your anger forever.

Maybe all of the false starts, the push and pull, the dominatrixes and paramedics, the independent and solitary existences, the apparent social retardation that those two shared were enough to divert everyone's attention once they finally managed to figure it all out. Not that any of that mattered anymore, because the important thing was that they were together, and together they would be able to get through anything that life had to throw at them. He could see that in crystal clear clarity, and he knew that forever, for them, really would last for all time. There was simply nothing else they had not already endured just to be together, so the actual relationship appeared to be a cakewalk. He could see it in their eyes when they looked at each other, or when someone would just mention the other. But as happy as he was for them, that look always made him a little jealous, and a little sad. He wanted that look for himself.

That sadness was one of the things that brought him to where he stood in that moment. While he worked tirelessly to make amends for his past, and to right the wrongs of his youth, his personal life seemed to suffer the most. There were never enough hours in the day for him to give to everyone making demands on his time. His friendships suffered, his commitment to his job waned, and his marriage seemed to fall apart while he was busy doing something else.

It was no wonder that the woman nervously sitting on the couch would question his actions. He saw the disappointment in her eyes every time he found the courage to look there. Warrick knew that their relationship had been tenuous, at best, for quite some time, but the distance between them had never been so great as it was in that moment. When he saw the anguish on her face, he knew that she truly believed he was doing all of this so that he could walk away from it all; from her.

All of the air seemed to leap out of his lungs as the earth shattering series of epiphanies finally came to bear on him all at once. He backed into the bookcase as his balance gave way, and he struggled to find the words that were strangling in his throat.

Through the haze of his entire world falling apart, Warrick watched as fear transformed her face. "Why would you think that?"

Sitting forward onto the edge of the couch, she anxiously fidgeted under the scrutiny of his confused gaze. "Y-you've been so-…" She wrung her hands together as she fought for the right words. "It's no secret that…you've been unhappy."

He watched as she quickly stood up and turned away from him to continue her explanation. It was as though she was unable to look at him and still retain the ability to talk. Warrick searched his memory for another time when she was not able to look him directly in the eye.

"I-I overheard you talking about a change. And you've been…researching other cities. I guess, I just a-…assumed you were getting ready to leave." His heart leapt into his throat as she told him the reasons for her conclusion.

Warrick never imagined that she was even paying attention to him anymore. He was sure that he would have some serious work ahead of him in order to repair even the smallest connection between them. So, to hear her telling him just how much she knew about the little details of his everyday activities gave him hope that not all was lost for their barely surviving relationship.

He took in a deep, cleansing breath of air, and somehow found the will to lift away from that bookcase. With one careful foot in front of the other, he stepped toward her and struggled with his demons of doubt to make that first important move.

Standing behind her, afraid that even the smallest touch would chase away the faint glimmer of hope her explanation had given him, he held his hands away from her. He swallowed back the lump in his throat and took another steeling breath before he found the strength to speak again.

"I'm not going anywhere..." He reached out to touch the back of her arm, but she turned in an instant and brought her wide-eyed gaze to bear on him. Warrick paused, gathering the courage to say what he hoped would break this tension between them. "I haven't done all of this so that I could leave. I did it so that I could stay. I'm not ready to leave Vegas."

There was a blend of absolute terror and confusion dancing wildly in her eyes when she looked up at him. "I-I don't-… I thought-"

Looking down, Warrick saw that her hands were trembling, and without thinking, he reached out and took them into his. "I can't leave… There's…something here I can't give up."

He drew his gaze up from her hands and let it rest soulfully into hers as he finally spoke the words his heart had been screaming at him for a very long time. "I don't want to be anywhere you aren't. I know I haven't exactly given you a reason to trust my judgment on this lately, but I know what I want now. And I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make you believe that."

His right hand left hers, and came to softly caress her cheek as he wiped away the tear that strayed from her glassy eyes. "I did all of this because my grandmother always told me that I couldn't expect to have a future, if I wasn't willing to make peace with the past." For the first time all day, Warrick had a reason to smile as he looked down into those pools of blue sky behind her tear soaked lashes. "I know I've made a lot of mistakes, Catherine. But I've been trying to learn the lessons they had to teach me, because I want to move on, but not away. I want that future now. But most of all…I want that future with you."

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

As the man at the podium tapped the microphone a few times, everyone gathered in the state of the art gymnasium quieted their conversations and turned their attention to the stage at the other end of the room. All around the room were the movers and the shakers in Las Vegas; the mayor, the sheriff, a couple of state legislators, the lieutenant governor, a few casino owners, a superior court judge and her gaming commission husband in one corner, the district attorney and a few circuit court judges in another. The big surprise of the night was the appearance of Tavian Tombs and his entourage, along with his high powered lawyer, Marjorie Westcott.

Sara instantly steeled at the appearance of the sensational attorney. Witnessing her reaction, Grissom placed his hand along the small of her back and gave her a disapproving glare. However, her reasoning for disliking the media seeking litigator warmed his heart. "How can I not hate that woman? She publicly called my objectivity into question, and she used dirty tricks to try and expose your hearing problems to subvert good, hard evidence. And why? For a high priced paycheck!"

Try as he might, even hearing the muttered curses under her breath could not make him think any less of her. Her fierce loyalty to the truth and the people in her life had always been one of her most endearing traits. So, he simply held onto her and made sure to keep Sara outside of arms' reach of the woman for whom her ire was directed at the moment.

When they heard the tapping of the microphone, Sara turned to him and commented, "I was starting to get worried… Warrick's been missing for a while now."

Grissom only nodded, knowing that man was carrying around a great deal of weight on his shoulders. Not only because of his vision finally coming to fruition, but because of the uncertain future he had been struggling to reach.

It was on the anniversary of the death of Warrick's grandmother that he learned about the truth behind Warrick's apparent drive to complete the new community rec center. He also discovered that the man was desperately trying to restore his sense of self, and to find the direction that he needed in order to put his life back together. Warrick Brown was trying to live the life he was always meant to live, and no one was happier than Grissom.

For many years he stood by and watched as Warrick played at being the man he was raised to be. Always doing his part to point him in the right direction, Grissom wondered many times if he would ever find his own way. There were many wrong turns along the way, but eventually the younger man finally seemed to have found the path he was meant to take all along.

In Grissom's mind, tonight would be a milestone for the ambitious young man. The only thing left for Warrick to do was to prove to himself that he had indeed made peace with his past, and to finally repair the relationships that had suffered over the course of his trial of penance. One relationship in particular seemed to weigh heavy on the mind of his friend. He could only hope that providence would smile on Warrick once more.

He was shaken from his thoughts and reflections by the tug on his arm. His line of sight was directed by the cryptic words of his suspiciously smiling wife. "I don't think we have to worry about the outcome anymore."

Following the tilt of her head to the front of the stage, he found the reason for her comment walking through the crowd as the man at the podium started the introduction.

"Ladies and gentlemen… We have all been brought here today because of the work of one man with a vision for this community. On behalf of the City of Las Vegas, the Clark County Commissioners Office, and the staff here at the rec center…"

Grissom completely ignored the talking head local politician making the announcement. "I would like to present Mr. Warrick Brown." His attention was fixed on the smiling face of one of the best CSI's he ever trained as he walked hand and hand to the stage with one of his dearest friends.

As the crowd applauded his entrance, Grissom watched as Warrick stopped at the stairs to the stage, clasped Catherine's hands to his chest before placing a tender kiss on her cheek, and ascended the steps to perform his other task for the day. The woman left standing at the foot of the stairs looked up to the podium as Warrick reached for the microphone. Grissom held onto his wife a little tighter when he recognized the glow that he knew very well radiating from his old friend's face. He had seen that same glow emanating from the woman in his arms.

Thanks to the warm feeling surrounding his heart, the only part of the speech that Grissom would remember was the end.

"And so I would like to welcome you all to the first day of operation at…" Warrick handed the ceremonial scissors to Judge Witherspoon and waited for her to begin the cut on the big red ribbon. "The Cleo Brown Community Recreation Center."