WARNING/NOTE! PLEASE READ!
A/N: First things first, I did something a tad different for this chapter. It's not a continuation of the last one. It gets solved, just not specifically nor in the way you all are expecting. I'm really sorry about that, but I was having such a hard time even starting that scene that it would have just floundered forever and none of you would have gotten a conclusion.
Second, I really, really, really want to apologize for the delay on this sucker. First it was the three months of working overtime and getting ready for my friends wedding all while packing. I'm now in New York, just outside of Rochester (which is quite the move. 16 hours of driving. Euch.) I still don't have the internet on my computer even though it has been three and a half weeks, but my cousin allows me to use hers for that purpose so….
Greg hummed to himself as he ran another batch of evidence through CODIS. He grinned to himself as he caught sight of the ring out of his peripheral vision. Already a month had passed, but just seeing the wedding band caused him to go all gooey inside. Life was good at the moment, but he couldn't stop the niggling voice at the back of his head warning him that something was just around the corner. Good or bad he wasn't sure, but the feeling was insistent.
He knew it had nothing to do with Thad who, outside of Elijah's mother, had been one of the reasons for a lot of his worrying lately.
When he and Nick were 'ambushed' by the man while at the ranch over Easter, things had gotten out of hand quickly. Thad had been in no way afraid to use the knife he had been carrying and after announcing his presence, he had been quick to use it.
Greg still carried a scar across his shoulder from it and Nick had one along his stomach from when he had tried to pull Greg away from the angry man. It was around that time that Bill and Jillian had heard the commotion and called the police.
Thad was now in jail for a minimum of two years along with a fine of five thousand dollars, for both breaking the suits against him as well as intentionally harming a police office. Nick may not have been one officially any longer, but he still carried a badge as a CSI.
Shaking his head to ward of the gloomy thoughts, he thought back to the weekend before, which had been the one month mark of their wedding. He hadn't thought much of it, but Nick said that they were actually celebrating their year anniversary, not the month that had passed since the ceremony. Of course, it was the Texan who had put together the romantic evening.
Elijah had gone to stay with Catherine, Warrick and Lindsey for the night, because Nick's plans would surely be interrupted by the hyper red-head. Especially since Nick had opened the pool to pull it off. He then placed a large amount of floating candle on the water before treating Greg to a picnic at the edge of the pool.
With just the candles illuminating them, it had been a very sensual night. After eating, they had swum among the candles, coming together in the water after only a few moments. When they had left the pool after a heated make out session, Nick had given Greg a deep massage. Thanks to not having any close neighbors and a really high privacy fence, they were able to make love right there at the poolside in the light of the candles.
It had certainly been an unforgettable night, and after their first round of lovemaking, Nick had given Greg what the lab rat considered to be the best gift he had ever received. A scrapbook of their year together.
Nick had spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with his sister Aly, who helped him put the book together. The pictures started from Elijah's third birthday and went on through the reception. Again, much like he had felt months earlier when Jillian showed him the pictures Nick had sent, he wondered when Nick had taken some of them or how he had gotten his hands on them.
There was the picture of him dancing with Lauren followed by another of him dancing with Elijah at the reception. He had requested that the DJ play his and Eli's Beach Boys song and the two of them had been the only ones on the floor, whether due to Nick's or his mother's intervention he was never sure. Both were surprisingly tight lipped about that.
He was jarred from his thoughts as a weird noise came from the fume hood but before he even had the chance to look at it, the CODIS beeped to let him know his results were finished. While he was turning towards it, a loud explosion rocked the lab.
Before he knew it, he was lying on the floor of the hallway, his back in so much pain that it was quickly starting to go numb. Greg tried to push himself up onto his arms, but the pain was too much and a gasp passed his lips before his arms gave out below him.
He was still conscious when the EMT's placed him on the gurney and started rolling him out. The sounds around him were garbled, but he caught various phrases muttered by those surrounding him, "Vitals are stable. We've got full thickness burns on the neck and back."
Greg closed his eyes briefly, not taking in what he had heard but knowing the words were bad, before opening them back up. His blurry gaze fell on his lab and what he saw rocked him to the core. The damage was intense and the fire was still smoldering in some places. He couldn't find it in himself to believe that he had been in that room when it happened. He took one last look at what had been his home away from home before they passed the doors exiting the building.
He once again closed his eyes as the sunlight hit his face and kept them closed as they loaded him into the ambulance. He fell asleep on the way to the hospital, his last thought of Elijah and Nick.
Greg sighed and let his eyes drift shut as Catherine and Warrick left. That whole conversation was tiring on so many different levels. He couldn't figure out what had happened. He wasn't that careless about lab equipment and processes. He knew what could happen. Amending that, he now knew first hand what could happen if things weren't done properly.
He still hadn't seen Nick and Elijah, but he had talked to them on the phone while still in the burn ward. Now, though, he was in a private room and his skin grafts were in place. He missed his loves and wanted to see them in person. A phone conversation just wasn't all that fulfilling.
A soft tapping at the door had him opening his eyes slightly to see who was bothering him now. Nick stood there with a soft, but worried smile on his face. Elijah was gripping one of his hands tightly while his other held a bouquet of lilies. When he saw that Greg was awake, he urged Elijah into the room.
"How you doin' G?"
Greg managed a shrug carefully, "They've got me jacked up on so many pain killers that all I really feel is the itch of the gauze." He looked at his son, "Hey sproglet."
"hi daddy." Elijah whispered and tugged his hand free of Nick's and walked to the edge of the bed. His face was just flush with the mattress and he had to rise on his tip toes to look his father straight on in the face, "you really okay?"
"I'll be doing even better if a certain someone could maybe give me an Eskimo kiss. I miss them terribly." Greg replied, putting his doe eyes into effect.
"i can do that." Elijah took in his father's position on the bed and even his young mind realized that it wouldn't be good for Greg to move. He looked over his shoulder, "poppy?"
Nick took the hint and set the vase of lilies down on Greg's nightstand before sliding his hands under Elijah's arms. He lifted the toddler up just enough so that noses could be met in a gentle rub. Once taken care of and Greg was smiling, the Texan sat Elijah on the edge of the bed. The little red head carefully took his fathers hand in his and held on tight.
Greg looked at Nick and frowned when he saw the cut over Nick's eyebrow and the bruise on the opposite cheekbone, "Were you there?"
Nick nodded, "I was in the A/V lab with Archie."
Nick looked out the window, "Your lab is gone, Greg. They're only in the process of cleaning up right now. It will be awhile before you're able to go back in there."
"That's not what I was asking Stokes." Greg said, his eyes narrowing, "How badly were you hurt?"
"The cut you see is the worst."
"That's good." Greg rubbed his thumb along the back of Elijah's hand, "Who else was hurt?"
Nick shrugged and sat down on the chair, "All of the techs have some minor cuts and abrasions. Sara got a nasty gash on her hand that needed fifteen stitches."
Greg crinkled his eyebrows in confusion, "Sara?"
"She was in the hallway just outside the DNA lab. She caught a shard of glass in her hand when she was thrown off her feet."
"Jesus." Greg hissed.
Nick nodded and leaned forward to press a kiss to Greg's mouth, "I think the important thing is that you're okay. You have no idea how thankful I am that you're going to be okay."
Greg returned the soft kiss before looking at Elijah, "I think I do."
Greg's hand tightened on the railing as he made his way slowly into the basement. Nick had warned him before the leaving the house the night before not to do anything strenuous in case of causing himself pain, but Rayne was there to help watch Elijah and he was bored. After four nights of inactivity following the week in the hospital, he needed something to do. Although why he chose the basement to alleviate his boredom was still beyond him.
Still, when he found himself at the bottom of the stairs his attention was drawn to a box sitting the furthest back by the furnace. He made his way through the hodge podge of boxes until he came to a stand still over the one that seemed to call to him. With his hand on a chair for help and leverage, he carefully lowered himself to his knees.
Flipping open the cardboard flaps, he stared at the box's contents. It was the very first one that had ended up down here after his aunt and uncles death. He reached in and lifted out a picture frame that was face down on top of the pile. Greg held his breath before slowly turning it over. He remembered what was shown on the other side.
Despite being dusty, the picture did not show any signs of wear for the three years it had been down here. It wasn't a professional portrait by any means, but his aunt and uncle were posed on one of their couches with a younger version of himself giving the camera a cocky grin. It had been taken the day he graduated from elementary school if the cap and gown he was wearing was any indication.
He ran a finger along the sweep of his Aunt Sabine's long, blond hair and then looked at his uncle. The red hair and a light dusting of freckles brought back words spoken months ago by Vivian Stanfield, Blythe's mother, "Good coloring. Looks like his mother." But now that he had a picture of his uncle in front of him, he realized that Mrs. Stanfield had been wrong. Elijah looked a lot like his uncle, but much smaller.
Words came to him for the first time since their death and he felt the need to voice them out loud, "It's been an amazing few years." He muttered, smiling at the grin on his aunt's face.
"You have a great-nephew now. I know you always worried about me not having kids, what with my geekiness and mom's tendency to over-shelter me, but I have a wonderful son now and who knows? Nick and I may have more kids someday.
"You would have loved Nick. He is just like you were, Uncle Rick. Maybe that's where my attraction for him started. I always looked up to you and I picked out the same characteristics that I cherished of yours in him as well."
Greg sighed and his eyes misted, "Everyone misses you, but you know? If it weren't for your passing I probably wouldn't have moved here to Vegas and met Nick. I know it's not something to be happy about, you dying I mean, but...it gave me the man of my dreams. Which is probably the only good thing to come of your passing." Smiling once more at the happy couple, he closed up the box but left the picture resting on the chair. It was going back on the mantel in the family room where it belonged.
With the same carefulness he had used to lower himself, Greg rose to his feet. He had just picked up the picture when a slam echoed from above and heavy footsteps stopped at the basement door before starting down. Frowning at the commotion, he started towards the stairs just as Nick came into view, "What's with all that noise?"
The question that seemed to come from nowhere and Nick faltered on the third step from the bottom, his hands tightening on the railing as he regained his lost balance. He gave his husband a brilliant grin before it faded into the look of exasperated concern he had been wearing the past few days when he found Greg doing something he shouldn't be, "What are you doing down here?"
Greg flipped his hand to indicate a shrug and showed Nick the frame he was holding, "I got bored and felt like coming down here. Why are you ignoring my question?"
Nick's grin grew once again as Greg finished speaking. He waved a manila envelope in the air and took the last few steps down to the cement floor, "The noise was me. I slammed the garage door."
"Why?" Greg asked, his over active imagination conjuring the image of the wooden door hanging on one hinge due to Nick's strength.
Nick once again waved the envelope, this time in Greg's face and with a bit more exuberance, "Because of this."
Greg swore at the gauze and tape on his back as he bent his free arm at the elbow to reach the envelope. When he realized his arm wasn't going to go that high, he let out an annoyed sigh, "Will you just tell me what it is?"
A light flush rose up on Nick's neck when he noticed his mistake, "Right, sorry. It's the papers from the court house."
Greg's eyebrows creased briefly before smoothing out and rising as realization set it, "Are you serious? Have you opened it yet?"
"No." Nick untied the short string holding the flap closed and then took a deep breath as he met Greg's eager gaze, "Here goes..."
Nick slid his fingers into the light brown envelope and grasped the paper inside. He pulled it out slowly and Greg sucked in a breath in anticipation. He was slightly fearful of just what that paper said. His anxiety only grew as Nick stared at the sheet while letting the envelope drift to the floor.
"Well?" He asked, bouncing forward on his toes slightly.
Nick looked up at him with wide eyes, "It..."
"Nick? You okay? What the hell does it say?"
Nick shook his head, words apparently lost. He handed the paper to Greg who eagerly turned it to read. What was written there nearly caused him to drop the paper in shock. Their petition had been approved. Nick was legally Elijah's father.
Both men looked up the stairs at the sleepy toddler standing on the landing, who was rubbing his eyes with a closed fist. Nick grinned and bounded up the stairs to swing Elijah up into his arms. He pressed a barrage of kissed to the small face until Greg had managed to make it up the stairs.
A giggling Elijah turned to Greg, his confusion noticeable through his mirth, "what go on?"
Greg looked at Nick, wondering if the love and happiness he felt was as obvious as Nick's, "Nick is really your other father now."
Elijah gave him a disgusted look as he wrapped his arms around Nick's neck, "i knows dat daddy. he be my poppy."
Greg just laughed and buried himself carefully under Nick's free arm. For the first time in a long time, he felt truly content. He would have to thank his aunt and uncle again for the gift that had been given to him upon their death. As he ran his fingers lightly down Elijah's hand, he couldn't help feeling that he would be thanking them for a very long time to come.