A/N- Well here is the last chapter. I thank all of those who have read this follow up to Devil's Breath. Also want to again thank my Beta slappywhite. My next fic is a Nick/Greg one that I will be posting as soon as I have it all typed up. It is written but not typed. I am starting another new one with a Sara/Greg focus. Again thanks for reading...final thoughts would be lovely too. ;)
He looked at the crucifix hanging over the small alter. He had grown up Catholic but couldn't remember the last time he had really gone to mass. Perhaps that was the reason so many bad things had happened to him. But why to Marie? What had she done to deserve death?
"Greg, honey, are you feeling up to this?" He looked over at his mother, who had come to sit down next to him in a pew. "I'll be okay, Mom," he said softly. He appreciated their presence, even though they hardly had a chance to know Marie.
"Okay. Well, I'm going to meet up with your father. He is speaking with Marie's father. We'll be back in a few," she told him. He just nodded his head and gave her a small smile.
He was again briefly left with his thoughts until Dr. Rayon came to him. "How are you holding up?"
Greg stared up at the crucifix again. "Do you think I'm being punished for not practicing my faith anymore? Do you think things would be different if I had prayed some?"
Dr. Rayon was a bit startled but fascinated too by Greg's new thoughts. "You must think you are if you are questioning it. So you are Catholic then?"
Greg looked up at the Doctor from his wheelchair. "Yeah, I guess. I mean I was brought up in the church but have not been since I moved here to Vegas. So what do you think about what I asked?"
Dr. Rayon sat down next to him in the pew. He looked up at the religious figure. "I'm not Catholic but I think we believe in the same God. I don't think it is punishment. I have known people who have gone to church everyday and still had horrible things happen to them. I believe he likes to test people's strengths and weaknesses, in hopes of making them better in the long run. Some are successes, some are failures. Where do you think you would fall?"
Greg looked sadly at him. "Failure," he said solemnly.
"And I figured you would say that but you are wrong. You are a success. You are still here. You have a big heart, Greg. When you thought you could never love again because of what Robin Weaver did to you, you let Marie into your life. You got over your fears and were able to love. I think in time you will find love again. You feel guilty about killing a murdering devil because you are not like him. You care about life and death. That makes you a good person. You have passed your tests, if you ask me," he told the younger man.
Greg looked thoughtfully at the alter. "Maybe but still why me? Why did I have to go through all of this?"
"Why does anyone suffer? Marie suffered before you even met her. All those others in therapy you've met. All the families of the victims you've had on cases. They have all suffered. You are not alone in this world. There is different kinds of suffering all over the world; people hurting others. Why does all this happen? Perhaps we will never know for sure. But those, like Marie, who pass on, their suffering is over. I am sure she is in a safe, happy place now."
Greg rolled his head back and sighed. "A place I could not provide for her."
"You did the best you could, Greg." The voice was not his doctor's. He turned around and saw Major Somers standing there with his parents.
"Believe me, as much as you try to protect people, someone will always get hurt or killed. I've lost many comrades in war who were trying to protect others. I've lost my wife and now my daughter and there was nothing I could do for either. We can't win every battle, Greg but at least we are trying and winning some others along the way."
Greg felt some comfort in his wise words. "Thanks," he replied softly.
"Come on, the service is going to begin soon," his father said to him. Greg nodded. "I'm ready."
The service was in the small chapel of the massive church. All of his co-workers had come in to support him. The service was short as only her father spoke besides the priest. Greg could not bring himself to say anything; it would have been too hard for him. Plus he did not feel strong enough to go through it.
Her casket had been left at the bottom of the alter for viewings. Her father had her dressed in a dress Greg had said was her favorite. Greg waited for most of the others to leave before he was wheeled up to her casket, with the assistance of his father.
"Can I be left alone with her for awhile, just to say my goodbye?" He asked his parents and his shrink who stood nearby.
"Sure, we can do that," his father said to him.
He waited until they walked away before he rolled himself closer to the casket that held her body. He took a shaky breath before looking in at her. He looked in the open casket and suddenly felt the reality of her death settle in. She looked like a sleeping angel and perhaps that is what she really was now. She wore a white sundress, which suddenly reminded him of the dress she wore in his dreams and nightmares. He wondered if she would just speak to him out of the blue. He shook his head at his silly thought.
"I miss you. I miss you so much it hurts. I never realized how much I loved you until I lost you. I'm just glad I was able to express my love to you in the little time we got to spend together." He looked down at his own hands.
"We should have been able to spend the rest of our lives together. But he took you from me." His voice shook as he spoke. "He won't take away anyone else's loved one anymore. I somehow took care of that, although I'll never know why he took you or the others now. I messed up, again. We'll never have all the answers we wanted because I lost it." He looked at her white, peaceful face again. "But he talked about you and what he did to you. I couldn't control my actions after that point."
Tears sprung to his eyes. "What he did to you…I'm so sorry. I should have been there to save you. You didn't deserve to go through that again. I'm sorry." He gazed down at her. "I suppose you are in a better place now. No one will hurt you ever again, but I wish you were still here for me. Does that make me selfish?"
He wiped the tears from his eyes, ignoring the pain he felt in his chest. He took a painful, shuddering breath. "I love you, Marie. I'll always love you. I'll never forget you. You helped me get through something I never thought I would. You showed me that I could still be loved. I'm not sure I will ever find someone who could accept me like you did but I will always have my wonderful memories of you to keep me trudging through this now dark life, without you. I just hope I can make you proud."
"I'm sure you already do, Greg." He looked around and saw Grissom standing there smiling solemnly at him.
"I thought you all already left," Greg said as he tried to clear his voice.
"I talked with your parents and Dr. Rayon. I told them I wanted you to make a full recovery and no matter how long it took, your job would be waiting for you. I'm sure Marie would want you to keep fighting the good fight in helping catch criminals."
Greg looked back at her ghostly face. "I guess she would." He felt tears threaten again. "I just wish I could have saved her too."
"We can't save everyone but you saved any future victims Cory Ricoh would have had. You saved Kate Hall."
Greg nodded slowly, forgetting about the girl Cory Ricoh had downstairs, about to rape and kill. He stared back at Marie. Grissom decided he said what he needed to. "I'll let you back to your time with her now. I just wanted you to know that before I left. Take good care of yourself, Greg."
"Thanks Grissom." After he was gone he decided it was time to truly say goodbye to her.
"You're not going to be buried here but I promise to come up to Colorado and visit your gave when I can." Tears ran down his cheeks as he tentatively touched her hair. "You'll always be in my heart. You made me happier than I've ever been. I'm going to miss you so much. I love you." He brought his hand to his mouth, as he suddenly could not control his sobbing. All the grief he had been holding onto suddenly poured out of him. His heavy sobs caused him pain but he did not care. It was pain he felt he deserved to feel.
He did not know how long he was there crying before he felt a hand on his shoulder. "I think it's time we take you back to the hospital now, Son." He looked up with red, puffy eyes at his father and nodded.
Dr. Rayon and his mother stood nearby, all watching him carefully. Dr. Rayon could see him grimace with each breath he seemed to take. "Yes, it is time we take him back."
He remained quiet and solemn on the drive back to the hospital, looking out the window as dusk began to set. His mother sat beside him, glancing over at him every so often to make sure he was okay. He had calmed down so his breathing was not as painful as it had been earlier. Now he was just ready to get to sleep again.
"Your parents said they talked to you about possibly taking time off out of town once you are out of the hospital. I think it would be a very good idea," Dr. Rayon spoke, breaking the silence.
Greg kept his gaze out the window. "I agree," he said softly to the surprise of everyone.
"You would be willing to come home for a while then?" His mother asked cautiously.
He finally turned his head to look at her. "Yes, I would like that. I haven't been home in a few years and I need time away from Vegas to clear my muddled head."
She smiled at him and placed her hand on his thigh. "Well, you are always welcome to come back home. We'll always keep your room for you."
He nodded and smiled meekly. "I know."
"I think it is a good decision. I can recommend a good doctor to be there for you in person, if you want. Or we can keep appointments by phone if you prefer to just deal with me but you are still required to see a psychiatrist for work purposed," Dr. Rayon advised him.
"Can I think about how I want to go about it? I mean I'm not going to be going for a few days yet, obviously," he replied sheepishly.
"Sure that is fine. Just as long as you let me know before you leave town."
"I will," he said as he saw the hospital come into view. He sighed in relief knowing he could rest his weary body soon.
A couple of days later Greg was being released from the hospital. His mother had flown back home to prepare for his stay there, while his father stayed behind to assist him in packing some of his things for his month away. They planned on taking turns driving his car to California so he would have his freedom to get around when he was there.
Greg decided to continue working with Dr. Rayon over the phone or by computer video chat for his sessions while he would be away.
His father drove him to his apartment once he was freed from the hospital. Greg was relaxing on his sofa, watching TV with his dad when a knock came on the door. His dad answered the door for him. It was Nick. He wanted to stop by and see Greg before he left for a month.
Nick came in and saw Greg and smiled. "Hey, how are you feeling?"
Greg looked at him. "I'm feeling better. What's going on at work?"
"Same ole, same ole." He looked at Greg's dad and hoped he would get the hint that he wanted to talk to him alone.
"I'm going to go for a walk for awhile, get some fresh air," Mr. Sanders said, getting Nick's message loud and clear.
Nick smiled appreciatively at him. He took a seat next to Greg once his father was gone. Greg looked at him suspiciously. "Okay, what's going on?"
"Are you sure going away is the best thing to do?" He asked bluntly, getting to the point.
Greg raised his eyebrows. "Why? What do you think will happen? Do you think I'm suicidal again?"
Nick was ashamed to say it but he was. Knowing he just simply pulled the trigger to kill Cory Ricoh, he could just as easily snap and try to take his own life again.
Greg could tell by his silence that he was right. He felt a bit angry. "That's it, isn't it? I really messed up your faith in me, haven't I?"
Nick sighed heavily before speaking. "I'm sorry but I was there when you held that gun to your head and just about killed yourself. And then I was there when you shot Cory Ricoh. I've seen you lose control a few times too many since you were kidnapped."
Greg looked down at his hands in his lap, feeling a bit of shame. "I guess I can see your point."
"It's just that it's hard seeing one of your best friends do things like that. I'm just concerned," he explained further.
Greg turned his gaze to him. "I can understand your concern but not where going away falls into it. I mean I'm staying with my parents. In case you forgot, my mom is a worrywart when it comes to me. I doubt she'll let me near the kitchen knives, worried I might so something. She's probably hiding them as we speak," he said with a bit of a smirk.
Nick chuckled a bit. "Yeah, she probably is." His face became more serious again. "You're really going to be gone for a whole month?"
"Most likely, unless my parents drive me totally insane, yeah a month. I need this though. I've really been thinking about it and I just need time away from Vegas. Too many bad things have happened here to me lately. I just need time to straighten things out in my head and try to convince myself the world is not against me," he said truthfully, with a sheepish look.
"Well, I can understand that, I guess. I'll miss you being around but if it means when you come back you are more like yourself again, well then it is worth it," Nick told him with a smile.
"Thanks Nick. Hopefully this will be the end of my bad luck. Only thing I have to do when I get back is my deposition for Robin Weaver. At least I will not have to see her in person again. The prosecutor said the case is solid even without my testimony."
"That's good that you can just do a deposition and not have to see her again. Well, I wish you the best then in your time away. We'll have to hang out when you get back."
"Sure, it's a deal," he replied with a small smile. Nick talked a bit about a case he was working on before Mr. Sanders came back and Nick decided to leave them.
Two days later, Greg was in the house he grew up in with his parents. It was weird being there after so many years. It was good though. He could not wait to go to the beach for a day to just get away. He only wished he had been able to take Marie to the beach with him. She was gone before he ever had the chance to share so many things that he wanted to with her.
He sat on his bed, hugging his arms around himself wishing he were holding her. Ever since his breakdown at the funeral he had realized her absence more deeply. He spent a lot of time remembering all of the things they did together and how she made him feel like a man again after Robin Weaver had humiliated him.
During his month away, he took time to visit old friends in California and travel around the state a little. It was time well needed away from the insanity of Vegas.
Now that he was back in Las Vegas, he felt the excitement of the city that made him apply for the job in the first place.
He had called Nick and told him he was back in town. Nick invited him over to his place to catch up.
He knocked on his door, dressed casually in jeans and a t-shirt with his jacket. Nick opened up the door. "Hey! You look good. Even a bit of a tan," he smirked. "Come on in." He opened the door fully and allowed him to walk in.
"Surprise!" He heard and then saw several of his co-workers inside Nick's living room. "Welcome back, Greg!" Nick said to him as he patted him on the back.
Greg felt warmth come over him as he saw his co-workers and friends welcoming him back with such enthusiasm. He was actually speechless briefly, just having not expected such a welcome back.
"Wow! I never thought I would see Greg Sanders speechless," laughed Warrick.
Catherine came over to him and have him a hug. "You look well rested, Greg," she said to him as she stepped back from the embrace. He blushed a bit under her motherly gaze.
"I feel well rested," he finally said. "You all definitely surprised me, thanks!"
"It was Nick's idea. He wanted you to know we missed you while you were away," Grissom told him, smiling at him with interest. He wondered if his young CSI would finally be able to get his life back to normal again without incident.
Greg turned to Nick. "Thanks man. It's nice to know I was missed. Any news I should be aware of in my time off?" he asked them. They all took turns talking about their cases and ones still active.
After a few minutes of the focus off of him, Nick asked him how he was doing now. Greg gave an earnest smile. "I'm doing okay. Time away is what I really needed. I had lots of time to think. Met up with some old friends and went to the beach and also did some hiking. It was good."
Grissom smiled at him. "Well we all are glad to hear that. So when do you plan on coming back to work?"
A grin curved on his lips. "Well, I had planned on calling you later tonight and asking when I can start again."
"As soon as I get clearance from your doctor and Ecklie, you are back. I'll be in touch with them this evening and I will let you know when I know," Grissom told him.
"Sounds great. Now I'm hungry. Where's the food?" He chuckled. They laughed along with him and proceeded to start eating the pizza that they had delivered.
Greg stuck around after the others left. Nick was off that evening, so he said he could stick around for a while.
He was happy to be back and the welcome back party really made him feel better. "You really do look good, Greg."
Greg felt his face flush a bit. "Thanks. I do feel good."
"So you've come to terms with everything what has happened?" Nick asked him, still somewhat cautious.
He seemed to think it over for a couple seconds. "Yeah I have. I actually made a trip to Colorado before I came here to visit her grave. It brought real closure seeing her name on that tombstone. I still miss her like hell, but I know I have to move on. I know she would want me to."
"What about killing the guy?"
Greg sighed as he looked at Nick. "I'm not going to lie and say I'm totally okay about it, but he was a monster and we don't have to cost tax payers more money by keeping him in prison," he said with a bit of a smirk.
"True. Are you still having nightmares regarding everything?"
Greg shrugged. "There are always going to be nightmares, Nick. You of all people should know they never completely go away." He watched as Nick nodded his head slowly in agreement.
"Sorry, I guess you are right there." He looked upon Greg with a certain understanding for a moment before changing the subject. "So are you ready to go back to work and dealing with murderers and crazies again?" He asked with a small smirk.
"Yeah, it still makes me feel worthwhile when I know I've helped put away the crazies," he grinned.
"Speaking of crazies, you're back just in time for Robin Weaver's trail. Are you going to attend?"
Greg shook his head. "Not if I do not need to. I've put that behind me as much as I can. I rather not get involved in it again if I'm not needed. The evidence is solid enough and she basically confessed to a point anyway."
"They are pursuing the death penalty…do you support that?" Nick was curious.
Greg got up and walked over to look out the window. "It does not matter. Last time I saw her, a lifetime in prison would have been bad enough for her. She gave all her victims death to end their suffering. If they gave her the death penalty, they actually might give her what she could never do for herself, end her own pain. In either case, she has suffered and will continue to do so. As long as she does not create new suffering for others, it does not matter to me." He remembered her saying she was sorry the last time he saw her. He did not forgive her then, but now he realized it was not that she really wanted his forgiveness but for herself. She wanted to forgive herself for not ending her own suffering when she had the chance.
"I've forgiven myself for my mistakes. I don't think she ever will for hers." He said out of the silence that had been in the room.
Nick stared at the back of Greg's head, realizing what he was saying. "You're truly going to be okay then," he simply said.
Greg turned around and smiled at him. "Yes, I believe I will be."