Two updates in a week! I know, crazy right? Especially after a nearly year long hiatus. But when I realized that I posted 'Small Things' exactly 11 years to the day since I signed up for this site, it felt a bit like a sign.
I've been dabbling and working on 'Faith' since shortly after last season ended. Actually, I've dabbled with a few different ways to resolve the cliffhanger and there's at least one more that will probably end up here sometime in the future as well as a few other Quotables on the subject of faith.
This is set post season 13, and semi-post episode 14x1. It mentions a few things that are resolved but doesn't go into much detail. It's not tied to anything else in the Quotable universe and their relationship is just good friends, though you could read between the lines at something a little more if it suits you. I have a few other comments but I'll save those for the end.
I will also forewarn there is absolutely no dialogue in this one-it's a very introspective, character study-esque piece.
Disclaimer: Just a teacher, writing for the joy of it. No profit made save the intense joy I get from a friendly review.
"Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light." Helen Keller
He can count on his hands the number of times he's been in a church since he left home—and every single ticked off finger would represent a wedding or a funeral.
Sometimes he feels a little ashamed for so thoroughly abandoning the religion of his childhood the moment he left for college. Back then it had been about youthful rebellion: he'd been away from his mother's well-intentioned smothering for the first time, free to make his own choices. As he got older, it became more about his work. It wasn't the science itself that made him doubt, as it had some of his peers and then colleagues, but rather the nature of what he saw on a day-to-day basis.
It was hard to believe in any God when surrounded by broken bodies and the pinnacle of human cruelty.
For years it was a point of abnormal friction between him and his otherwise adoring parents—the one thing they just couldn't understand about their perfect, miracle son. Eventually, it just became one of those things they stopped talking about, another thing to accept alongside the crazy haircuts, random hobbies and odd music.
But regardless of the years gone past or the reasons for them, he still remembers Sunday mornings: the rituals, the words, the feeling of both anonymity and acceptance and the quiet, peaceful oneness that immersed you. As a young man itching for identity, those feelings had been stifling and overwhelming-feelings he never really missed until suddenly he does.
It takes him twice as long to get ready to go home after shift (a term used loosely, considering they'd long since stopped tracking hours in favor of tracking any desperate leads). But it's all over now. Morgan is fine and Ellie's behind bars and Jim has lost the only woman he ever loved (it will take days to process, a lifetime to understand, he's sure; right now they just have the facts and they cling to them desperately).
Greg is in the locker room, pulling on his jacket to leave, but his hands are shaking so badly he can't get the buttons done. How many times have they almost lost her? How many shifts now has she nearly not come back?
It makes him sick to count it out yet he can't help how they replay in his mind's eye as he fumbles through his buttons: the helicopter incident, her father's shooting, the fire with the young girl, Katy Hill in the park exacting her revenge and now this. But she's okay. Hurt, in the hospital but okay. Shaken, no doubt, recovering, but still a survivor.
He drops his keys twice attempting to put them in his pocket and he doesn't bother taking his dirty clothes home to wash—they remain balled up in the bottom of his locker, covered in blood and sweat and frustration. (He debates throwing them out, certain he never wants to see anything that reminds him of all this again but refrains).
His first instinct is that he needs to see her, to validate what everyone has already told him but he knows that Morgan is sleeping now—Ecklie's kept them up-to-date as often as he can pull himself away from his daughter. She needs to rest and recover and she'll need company when the grisly toll of this case pulls the sheriff away (he won't want to but there won't be much choice). Besides, he's in no shape to see her now: hands still wracked with tremors, skin pale, hair tugged in every direction, dark lines beneath his normally alert eyes. He knows from experience that you need comfort in times like these and he is not ready to provide any quite yet.
Instead he goes to his car, grips the wheel until his hands are steady enough to drive and debates where he should go. He hasn't eaten properly since she was abducted nor has he slept, yet neither hunger nor exhaustion take the forefront of his thoughts. He turns the keys and lets his mind take him where he most needs to go.
Greg's a bit surprised to realize that his mental autopilot has brought him to a Catholic church just a block away from Desert Palm hospital but he's too weary to question his subconscious. Instead, he locks his car door and trudges into the mostly empty building, sliding into the closest pew to the entrance.
For several long minutes he just sits there, taking in what has become an unfamiliar scene but as the quiet surrounds him and the weight of the day seems to reach its apex, he slides forward and onto his knees. Muscle memory more than a decade old shines through and as he kneels, his hands grasp together before him, resting heavily on the back of the next pew.
The tears come just a heartbeat later—grateful and terrified, relieved and disgusted—his head resting on his folded hands, the liquid falingl to the worn stone floor. He cries until he can't anymore, each sniffle and droplet seeming to ebb away at the weight that has been pressing on his shoulders and his heart since Morgan first volunteered to go undercover.
When the tears are spent, words of prayer he hasn't spoken since his childhood fill his thoughts: thank you's and apologies and promises, littered with nonsense gibberish and half remembered scripture.
Eventually his thoughts drift away and sleep overtakes him: Greg nods off still kneeling, the pew holding most of his leaning weight. He remains that way until the crowd for evening mass begins to filter in, their voices catching his sleeping mind's attention.
Despite the awkward position and short length of his impromptu nap, he feels more rested than he has in weeks. Breathing a deep sigh, Greg pushes himself up (surprised to find he is not the least bit stiff) and settles back to collect his thoughts. One hand comes up to run across his face and, as it descends, he checks the time on his watch. Nearly four hours since he left the crime lab. He's about to stand when the priest walks in, the organ starts to play and evening service begins.
Out of respect, and the memory of desperate thankfulness and grateful promises recently uttered, he sits through the service.
It feels a lot like it once did but, rather than stifling, he finds comfort in the rituals, the words, the quiet, the anonymity and when he goes to take communion, the peace that envelopes him is a lot like coming home. He thumbs through pages and sings with the small assembly as mass starts and each time after and when they share the sign of peace, the elderly woman two pews ahead of him smiles widely when he hurries up to meet her.
By the time that mass is over, he feels like himself again and, more importantly, he feels like the sort of man he knows Morgan will need him to be: confident, grateful, patient and centered, a rock for whatever support and understanding she might seek. He shakes hands with the priest, crosses himself with Holy Water and wears the softest, gentlest of smiles when, twenty minutes later, he walks into her hospital room and takes the chair Conrad offers him.
He settles back and waits for her to wake up, knowing that he's in this for the long haul and that he's not in this alone.
I really think that, given the traumas Greg has faced over the years (lab explosion, fanny-smackin' beat down & fall out) that he would identify better than most anyone (except maybe Sara & Nick) with how Morgan is feeling. I also think it would shake him more than most others for those reasons. That was hinted at very briefly, but I'd like explore that more in the future as potentially a continuation of this or standalone work.
Please know that it's not my intention to be preachy with this story. I grew up in a very loosely Catholic family that rarely attended church but I go now much for the same reasons mentioned in this story. I thought those sentiments would make sense given Greg's family background (most of my Norwegian descended friends come from fairly religious families) and the pull away from it would fit his character. Yet, even for his love of science and rebellious youth, it made sense to me that tragedy might subconsciously bring him back to the comfort of tradition.
Anyhow, let me know your thoughts on this chapter and any ideas/quotes for future installments. Special shout out thanks to crimescenecriminal and the two guests who reviewed last chapter and an extra large thank you to duskbutterfly whose reviews and positive support always warm my heart and motivate me to keep working (also, if you're an NCIS & Neric fan, highly recommend you check out their work!)
Thank you guys for everything!
Best Wishes & Take Care,