Title: To Not Die In Vain (18/18)
Fandom: CSI: Las Vegas – Miami – New York
Pairings: Grissom/Greg, Horatio/Speed, Mac/Danny, Warrick/Nick, Don/Eric
Disclaimer: Hello, my name is Emono, and I am part of the CSI cult. I do not own it, and I admit that...this is where you applaud me.
Summary: Greg's death has affected everyone in one way or another, and people make some serious decisions with their lives.
Warnings: Usual warnings, some angst but some good stuff too. Lots of changes.
"Allow me to exaggerate a memory or two
Where summers lasted longer than we do
Where nothing really mattered except for me to be with you
But in time we all forgot and we all grew."
---"Folkin' Around" by Panic at the Disco
The church was cooler than outside, it seemed even the House of God had a/c. A lone figure made his way between the pews, the only one there this early on a Friday. He moved slowly, as if reluctant in such a large place. It was a beautiful church, a dome ceiling and lit only by the light that came in through the stain-glass windows showing pictures of the Virgin and angels playing violins. The man stopped at the end of the row, gazing at the layout of unlit candles on the display.
That man was Eric Delko.
Eric bit his lip, he hadn't been to church in some time...ever since he realized he was in love with Don and that his hetero-days were over forever. He always felt dirty, walking amongst other devoted Catholics...knowing he was hiding a dark secret.
Tossing those thoughts aside, he pulled out a lighter and lit the end of an incense stick. Walking along the row, he silently lit a blood-red candle for everyone he was there to pray for. He counted them off silently, watching the flames spring to life.
Horatio, Speed, Nymphadora...Mac Taylor, Danny...Warrick Brown, Nick Stokes...Gil Grissom...Don...
And finally, the largest candle in the middle, he lit for Greg Sanders.
They had all been through the ringer these past few years, finding love and losing love...getting blown up and shot...buried alive and born...beat to hell and back...
Taking a heavy breath, Eric walked over to the Virgin alter and eased to his knees. He closed his eyes, kissing his fingers and crossing himself while murmuring the prayer his mother had taught him so long ago. Eric produced a deep emerald rosary from his pocket, gripping it tightly in his fist. He ran his thumb over the beads, breath nearly catching as he fell into the familiar routine of Catholic prayer. The air smelled of sandalwood and jasmine, the scent welcoming like a warm blanket.
But his jeans bit into his legs, the floor hard beneath his knees. That was the point, he surmised, pain equals redemption and all that bull.
"I have committed the sin of greed, I ask forgiveness" Eric began with the simple prayer first, lips barley moving "I have committed the sin of lusting after another male, I ask forgiveness. I have committed the sin of doubt in love, I ask forgiveness..."
The rest of his prayers were a mix of Latin and Spanish, fingers twisting over the beads in rhythm to his words. He got lost in the mist of prayer, he didn't hear the figure that snuck in behind him. The man was taller than himself, looking around in genuine appreciation.
"I didn't think to find you here of all places, sweets."
Eric tensed briefly, then let his shoulders sag. Long fingers trailed along the back of his neck, ending up curling over his shoulder.
"Don..." Eric didn't open his eyes, but his fingers did still "Why aren't you at Greg's funeral?"
"Cause I called ahead, they said you weren't there" Don knelt beside his lover, taking in the surroundings "And I missed you...mostly worried."
"You're always worried, amor" Eric cracked an eye open, slipping a smile in his lover's direction "We really should be at his funeral."
"We should" Don shrugged, running his thumb absently over the tattooed ring on his finger "But I...I just didn't think I belonged there. I didn't know Greg that much, I only knew what I heard through Danny."
"Same with me" the Cuban sighed, resigned "Only through Speed. But he was a sweet kid who liked to push his limitations...I liked him."
"He was good" Don ducked his head, giving a small prayer "I quit the NYPD."
There was a pregnant pause, Rosary beads dropped to the floor.
"What?!" Eric snapped, turning on his knees to glare at his lover "Why the hell did you do that? Are you mad?!"
Then he began to spout some rapid things in Spanish, gesturing wildly while his eyes smoldered like embers. Don watched, attention rapt on the scene before him. No matter how angry his lover seemed, he couldn't get over how beautiful this man was and how much he loved him. Eric had been shot, beaten, discriminated against even...and yet he was still the fiery man he loved.
When Eric calmed down he managed to speak up, "I've got some money saved up, been stashin' away for about a year now. I wanted to buy a house with it, get away from it all."
Dark eyes showed hurt, "Where are you going?"
Don smiled at his lover's dim response, "I was thinking...maybe Horatio could use someone like me down here?"
Eric couldn't hold himself back, he launched himself into his lover's arms.
"So..." Danny started, staring at his lover across the table from him "Don quit."
"I know" Mac sipped his coffee, eyes locked out the window at the rising sun "I co-signed the papers with the Chief...he wanted to be with Delko, and now he's got his wish."
"What are we gonna do?" blue sought out blue, but his lover wouldn't look at him "If we're not careful, we'll look up one day and be alone."
"I don't think we should have to be there for that" Mac traced the rim of his coffee cup, he couldn't meet those fierce blue eyes if he was going to keep talking "A relative of mine, a better-off one, died recently. It seems he left me a hefty amount...and I was thinking we should leave on it."
Danny gaped, but didn't say a word.
"Maybe somewhere in the bottom of the Appalachian Mountains" Mac cleared his throat, trying not to sound too eager "It's nice there, really nice. It can get cold at night, but the clouds touch the mountains there. I think you'd like it Danny, I really do."
Danny swallowed nervously, "Don't tease me, Mac...it's not funny."
"I'm not teasing, love" Mac reached out, bussing his knuckles along the line of his lover's face and meeting their eyes "Run away with me?"
"Yes..." Danny breathed, leaning into the touch "Fuck, yes."
"Look, 'Dora, the ocean!" Speed whispered excitedly, holding his squealing daughter in his lap and letting her feet get lapped at by the waves. It was evening, and he was introducing his baby to the water for the first time. They sat near the water's edge, where it thinned out enough to barely move the sand. She was thrashing happily, bringing her hands down and taking fistfuls of the sand with the water over it.
She seemed disappointed when it left.
"No, Isis" Speed scolded the cat as she tried to edge toward the water, scooping her up easily into the crook of his arm. She hadn't gotten very big at all, but she sure as hell was fluffy. "Do you want to get hurt?"
Nymphadora was easily distracted by the cat, leaning over his arm and burying her face into her soft fur. She cooed, and as if she knew what would happen if she hurt Isis...she didn't fist her fur.
"Daddy's smart little girl" Horatio approached his family, sitting beside his husband. He offered his arms willingly, and Speed slipped their baby girl into her father's arm. Instead, the scruffy CSI took the cat completely into his arms and gave her his full attention. Isis purred contently, closing her eyes and keening into his touch.
"You were at that meeting for an awfully long time" Speed cast a glance at the red head, watching him blow on Nymphadora's stomach and making her giggle "Something big's happening, isn't it?"
"You could say that" Horatio looked over, letting his daughter play with his shirttails "A big decisions been made, and I was offered the Director's position for the second time this year."
Speed gave a snort of amusement, "Like you'd ever."
Horatio's facial expression didn't change, "I've got a family to think about now, Tim."
"But..." Speed froze, eyes going comically wide "H, you love the field. It's your thrill, right? How could you ever think of accepting it?"
"Oh, I didn't think" Horatio lightly ran his fingers through his daughter's dark red hair "I did one better...I took the position. And before you say anything, just listen...it's a bigger pay check, less stress, and I can manage both day and night shifts so things will run smoother. The way I want them to."
"Your God-complex kicking in again?" Speed's tone was more teasing than spiteful, and he actually smiled "You really think it's best?"
Horatio looked his husband right in the eye, "I do, Tim."
"Well then, who am I to deny you?" Speed leant over, kissing the red head's cheek "And maybe, just maybe...I can stick to the lab more. After all, we've got a kid to think about now."
Isis bit his hand, eyes fierce.
"Two kids" Horatio corrected him, watching his lover pet the cat apologetically "And now Rick can't mess with us...the only person he could ever run to is me."
Speed looked up, noting the rapidly setting sun. He sighed out, holding Isis a little more tightly for something physical.
"H..." dark eyed locked with azure "I already miss Greg. I can't stop myself from thinking I'm going to hear his ring play on my cell again...or that he'll burst through the door demanding a tape of us...or that stupid mutt of his will try and eat Isis again."
Horatio smiled sadly, "We all miss him, Speed."
"I know" the scruffy CSI looked over at his baby "Nymphadora...you would have loved your Uncle Greg."
Then something happened neither could explain.
"Greg!" Nymphadora squealed, slapping her pudgy hands on her father's thighs "Greg!"
"That...that can't be" Horatio was breathless, but a note of pride burst forth " 'Dora shouldn't be able to speak for at least another month and a half."
"Say it again, 'Dora" Speed leant in, eyes wide once more "Greg?"
She smiled and squealed, "Greg!"
They just looked at each other, proud parents and sorrow-filled at the same time.
A soft, jazz tune flooded Warrick Brown's apartment. It had a nice flow, a relaxing melody that sent any listener into a daze. Warrick's eyes were closed, his fingers working over the ivory keys easily as he poured his heart out into the song. His nerves were on edge lately with the new shift-changes, but that's not what kept him up at night.
Greg...Greg was dead. Shot and killed in cold blood by that punk bastard who thought Greg had killed his brother. Then Ecklie had swooped in, becoming Director of the Crime Lab and giving out new positions. Sofia was now the day shift manager, Catherine of the swing shift. Not to mention the two new hands that had hired to replace Grissom and Gil, one a green-root right out of seminars and the other an arrogant ass who decided right off he was better than everyone else and that Greg was a careless fool (not to mention the slide remarks about Grissom and his relationship with the boy.)
It was strange, working under Catherine...but it only made it worse to know Grissom was gone and doing God-knows what. After the funeral, Gil had left without another word with that black dog of his.
His saving grace was that Nick was working the swing shift with him.
"Hey" came a sleep-coarse voice beside him, a warm body settling next to him on the bench. Warrick didn't need to open his eyes to know it was his lover, fresh out of bed. "You know I don't sleep right unless you're there."
"Oh, I know" Warrick's fingers slowed, but didn't lose the song completely "I couldn't sleep..."
Nick reached out, hesitantly adding a few keys of his own. It didn't exactly fit the song, but made it something different entirely, "It's weird...without Greg and Griss around."
"I knew the team would break up one day" Warrick sighed mournfully "But not under these circumstances, Nicky. One dead and the other as good as? It's not right..."
Nick tisked bitterly, "It's never right, 'Rick."
Warrick stopped altogether, the last few notes lingering in the air around them as he looked over at his lover helplessly, "What are we supposed to do?"
"What can we do?" Nick rubbed at his eyes sleepily, repressing a yawn "Just grin and bear it. If we smile through it, Ecklie will know he can't hurt us."
Warrick let his fingers trail up, brushing his lover's cheek, "He can."
"Not if we don't give him a reason" Nick blanketed the hand on his face, smiling sadly "We'll just have to tone it down at work...make sure we keep it casual."
Warrick grinned despite himself, "Does that mean no more quickies in the storage room?"
"Or making out in the locker room" Nick flushed a little, but was matching his partner's grin "No matter how fun it may be."
As the sun was beginning to rise in Las Vegas, Calleigh Duquesne found herself being handed a cup of coffee. She smiled at the blonde woman, keeping their eyes locked as she took a sip, "It's good, color me shocked."
"You can imagine the color I was when I found it" Catherine sat down beside the Southerner, smiling warmly "It's...Blue Hawaiian. The last of Greg's coffee...it had a little sticky note that told me to help myself. I think it was Grissom's writing, but I didn't think it mattered."
Calleigh stared down at the mug mournfully, "He really was such a sweet kid...he flirted like anything and loved more than most people."
"A good kid, a good CSI" Catherine agreed, taking a sip from her own mug "Did you hear? I got the promotion I wanted...I'm the Queen of the Swing Shift now."
"Horatio mentioned something like that" Calleigh's lips curved "Are you as happy as you thought you'd be?"
Catherine sighed, "Not so much...but I like the responsibility and the pay's good. I'm just glad I've got Warrick and Nick by my side instead of the replacements."
Calleigh made a face and nodded in understanding, then brightened up, "Did you hear? Don quit his job, he's staying in Miami with Eric now. Horatio hired him just before I left, now Don's our main field agent."
"Really?" Catherine's eyes brightened at this "I always knew those two would work it out, what with those bonding rings and all...they were serious. And...how is Horatio?"
"Promoted" Calleigh confirmed the rumors that had been whispering in Willows' ears "He's now the Director of the whole Crime Lab, and Speed's sticking more to the DNA lab these days. That's the only reason Horatio hired Don, to groom him...to replace him as our supervisor."
"From New York crime fighter to Miami-Dade supervisor" Catherine brought the cup to her lips, staring off "What a lucky, lucky boy."
"And he should be so lucky" the Southerner added "It was either him or a complete stranger that would tear us all apart. I was next in line, but I'm not near ready enough. Ever since Eric got shot, it's been difficult for him to adapt to change. Oh! Almost forgot, I've got pictures!"
Calleigh dug through her purse briefly, brandishing a few glossy photos. Willows accepted them, looking upon them with adoration.
"Oh, look at little Nymphadora..." Catherine cooed "And that nursery is beautiful. Paid for by the very honorable Director himself?"
"Of course" Calleigh tisked "H's buying this little girl everything, he re-did one of his studies for her. It isn't conventional, it's mint-green for one...but color psychology insisted that people are more likely to get angry in a yellow room, so Speed demanded everything be in a scale of green. He hates pink and orange, so traditional rooms were out."
Catherine listened to the woman ramble, smiling sweetly.
"I just got word from Mac and Danny" Catherine changed the subject, sifting through the pictures and admiring pictures of the baby trying to stand and one of Horatio playing airplane with her "They're quitting as well. It seems as if Mac's finally ready to get the hell out of New York, he's going to take Danny towards Virginia it looks like."
"Really?" Calleigh rose a brow at this new information "From what I've heard, Mac wouldn't even do that for the woman he loved awhile back. And for it to be his idea...Mac must really love that boy a lot."
"Oh he does" Catherine assured her, pointing out a particular picture of Speed rocking the baby to sleep in the hammock "Can I have a copy of that? That is the sweetest thing ever, right there."
"It is, isn't it?" Calleigh cooed, then glanced at the older woman "So...how's Gil? He looked horrible when he left he funeral."
"I wouldn't know" Catherine's smile dropped "I haven't...he hasn't decided it's worth it to call and I won't be the one to go crawling for him. Frankly, Calleigh, I wouldn't know where he is. I miss him...but I've got my own to worry about."
"He's your family too, you care and worry for him" Calleigh reached out, her fingers curling along the woman's cheek "I can see it in your eyes."
They stared at one another for a long minute, but reality soon crashed down on them when Ecklie stepped into the break room.
"Oh Catherine?" his voice was sickly sweet "Your shift has started, and there are cases that need to be dealt out. Warrick and Nick are in your office..."
"Of course" Catherine stood, the Southerner's hand falling from her cheek almost reluctantly "I hope to see you again before you leave, Calleigh."
"Maybe I could help?" Calleigh stood, turning on her full Southern charm for Ecklie "I'm a level three CSI down in Miami, could I...tag along?"
Ecklie looked her up and down, "Of course...maybe you could bring up the expectancy of this lab in the rookies place."
"Thank you so much" Calleigh bowed her head to him a little, feeling a little dirty to put on the display in front of Catherine. But the woman took it like a Queen, head held high and a smile on her lips.
Back in Catherine's office, Warrick and Nick spoke quietly.
"Calleigh Duquesne's here?" Warrick let out a low whistle "That woman...she can chain me up and whip me any time."
"She's gorgeous" Nick smirked "If I wasn't happily committed, I'd be her dirty little secret. Too bad Catherine's called dibs."
Warrick paused comically, "...Catherine?!"
"Oh yeah" Nick nodded, half-lost in a daydream "With Calleigh around, Catherine's gonna be pretty distracted. She probably won't admit it, but she loves her."
"Hm" Warrick watched the two blonds approach the door "I never pegged her as the type."
"You never do until you catch them mid-kiss" Nick's smirk widened as his lover gave him a 'you didn't?!' look "Oh I did, and it was hot. Too bad for you, they're more careful now."
Warrick closed his eyes tightly to try and will away the images, "Damn...it's gonna be hell working with them today."
R&R, I feed off it