XXVI - FAMILY

The small waiting room outside surgery was packed. Grissom and the rest of the team had arrived about 10 minutes after Greg had finally been wheeled into surgery, and Nick and Warrick had been relieved to see them.

Grissom had quickly filled them in on the arrest of Oscar Fennil. "He finally admitted he did it. On the advice of his lawyer. The DA let him plea bargain to 4 counts of murder one and attempted murder. Serving all sentences concurrent, death penalty off the table. Of course, if Greg - well, the charges would change."

Brass was grim. "As soon as he found out that Greg was a CSI-in-training, he buckled. Didn't want to get nailed for attacking an officer."

"But why go after Greg? I don't understand it. He had nothing to do with the Battle of the Bands." Warrick's shook his head. "What was that all about?"

"He's jealous of Greg. Smart guy, great drummer - way more talented than him. The other murders gave him a sense of invincibility. And, he thought Greg had figured it out, and was taunting him."

"Taunting him? Figured what out?" Nick was angry. He had tensed up considerably as Grissom had been speaking, and he looked like he was about to explode.

"His shirt. Oscar saw his shirt. There's a reason the writing analysis came back negative - Oscar is ambidextrous. He wrote the note with the opposite hand of what he normally does, to avoid a match."

Sara was beside Nick, sliding her arms around his waist, leaning into his chest. His arms automatically tightened around her, but she could feel the barely suppressed rage in him. "Yelling isn't going to help Greg, Nicky. You have to relax."

His shoulders slumped. "I can't help it. You should have seen him when they wheeled him in. It's a good thing I wasn't there when Oscar was being questioned - I would have lost my job for sure."

Grissom smiled grimly. "He'll get what he deserves."

* * * * *

The silence was unbearable. Everyone had stopped talking ages ago, and now just basically sat there, waiting for news. Every time they heard footsteps behind the swinging doors leading into surgery, they tensed. They had all taken turns reading the various pamphlets Dr. Jansen had provided them, and now there was nothing to do but wait.

Nick was grimacing into his coffee cup when the doors he was so focused on finally swung open. He stood quickly as Dr. Mellows and Dr. Jansen strode towards them. Around him, the other CSI's also stood, moving closer together in a gesture of solidarity and support.

"Well?"

Dr. Mellows acknowledged everyone with a nod, before looking at Nick. Sara was clenching his hand so tightly, he could feel the bones in his knuckles grinding. "The implant is in, and it's been tested so we know it works. Now, we just have to wait for Greg. He's in recovery right now."

Dr. Jansen added. "He flat lined once during surgery. Not for long, but it did happen. The lower ventricles of his heart and some of the surrounding muscle tissue are exhibiting signs of trauma. I think it's a good thing we performed the surgery when we did. Greg is fighting with all he's got, but it wouldn't have been enough."

Grissom stepped forward. "What's his prognosis?"

"It's still up in the air right now. It depends on a couple of factors - the first one being the defibrillator working properly and getting his heart rate back to normal. That has to happen soon. The second thing we're waiting for is for Greg to wake up. The fact that he's been unconscious for so long now," Jansen sighed. "Well, it's not good. We also have to get his blood pressure stabilized."

Dr. Mellows interrupted. "And then, of course, Greg's will is going to play a large factor in this. In my experience young men like Greg generally react negatively to this type of situation. They think they're too young to be experiencing heart problems, too young to need a medical implant. He is going to need a lot of emotional support from you to get him through this. The sooner he accepts what has happened, the better his chances for a full recovery. Dr. Jansen here has filled me in on Greg's familial status, so I've made arrangements - in this case - for non-family members to have visiting privileges. I would suggest you all go eat, go change - whatever - and give him a few hours in recovery. After I've monitored him for a while, I'll let you visit him. Perhaps, we'll have better news."

* * * * *

After a quick breakfast down in the hospital cafeteria, everyone had agreed to meet back in the waiting room at noon. Grissom had driven everyone back to the Orpheum to pick up vehicles, and Warrick had retrieved Greg's keys from his clothing before they left.

Stroking Silverbelle across the roof as he unlocked the door, he murmured, "Hey Silverbelle, don't give me any trouble today. I have to take care of you until Greg is better. He'll be okay."

* * * * *

The kitten had been ecstatic to see Nick and Sara when they arrived back at Nick's place. Her meowing and rubbing against Sara's legs had made her giggle, and she had picked the small animal up and cuddled it against her face. "Hi kitty, I missed you too."

Nick had smiled slightly at this. "You need to name her, Sara. You can't just keep calling her 'Kitty'. Unless that's what you name her."

"It's hard to think of a name right now. I'm so worried about Greg I can't concentrate." The sudden heat of tears filling her eyes made her blink. "I'm so angry. And I'm scared. What if something happens to him?"

Nick had leaned against the counter top in the kitchen, and was now looking up at his ceiling fan, blinking back his own tears. "All we can do is pray now. Pray and shower. I want to get back to the hospital. What if he wakes up and no one's there? He'll think we don't love him."

Sara smiled at that, and rubbed her nose in the kitten's soft fur again. "You're just a big softie, Nick. You're so open with your emotions. I really appreciate that about you." She gently placed the kitten back on the floor. "Come on. We'll save time and conserve water if we shower together."

* * * * *

"Stop beating yourself up about this, Gil." Catherine's voice was soft, her eyes gentle. "It's not your fault."

Grissom sighed. "If I had only gotten to the stage sooner. If I hadn't bought him that damn shirt -"

Catherine scoffed. "What? How can you blame yourself? You didn't know. And Greg loved the shirt. I think you notice more about the people around you than I ever gave you credit for. You're a good man, Gil. This isn't your fault."

Grissom shrugged, shaking his head. "Logically, I know this. But in my heart - I blame myself."

* * * * *

Greg had been moved to a private room by the time everyone returned to the hospital. Dr. Jansen had informed them that his blood pressure was stabilizing, and that his heart rate was evening out. The tiny implant had been working overtime, already having been called into action twice to shock Greg's heart back to an acceptable rhythm. "If you're in his room, and you see him tense up, do not be alarmed. It's the defrib., doing what it's supposed to do."

Grissom's first sight of Greg lying in the hospital bed immobilized him with grief. There were tubes in his nose for oxygen, electrodes taped to him to monitor his heart beat, a large IV with several bags of various medications dripping into his arm. Greg looked more like a corpse than a human. He noticed Sara walk immediately over to his side, bending down to kiss his cheek, her eyes overly bright.

"Hey Greggo. Good to see you." She ran her fingers through his hair, which a nurse or orderly had brushed or smoothed down for him, and quickly messed it up. When it was sticking up all over the place, she stood back and admired her handiwork. "There. That's better - now you look more like the Greg I know."

Catherine was next. "Hey Greg. We're all here. We're waiting for you to wake up, so hurry up and open your eyes. I need you to get better quickly and come back to work, because Vincent is going to drive me insane."

His CSI's were crowded around Greg's bed now, touching his arms, his hands, almost as if their touch could send new life in to his unconscious limbs. "Greg." "You're going to be alright, Greg." "We miss you, Greg." Their soft murmurs overlapped each other, becoming an encouraging buzz in his head.

Grissom stepped forward, and reached out to take Greg's hand. "Hey Greg. It's me. I just wanted to tell you, you broke the case. We have Oscar, and he's admitted to the murders. We couldn't have done it without you." His voice was hoarse, on the point of breaking. The others, who were used to seeing Grissom always in control, stared at him in concern and disbelief. Grissom was crying, and he did nothing to hide his tears.

"I'm so sorry, Greg. It's my fault." Catherine was immediately beside Grissom, leaning into him, providing support. He acknowledged her with a weak smile. "It's all my fault."

"No, it's not." The soft whisper took everyone by surprise. They had been so focused on Grissom and his anguish, they had not seen Greg slowly opening his eyes. He smiled at them weakly. "What? Did somebody die?"

* * * * *

Dr's. Jansen and Mellows had been called to Greg's hospital room within minutes of his regaining consciousness. After speaking to him for a few minutes to determine how he was feeling, they had given him a perfunctionary exam. Grissom and Nick had sat on either side of Greg, holding his hands, as Dr. Mellow told him about his implant. When the doctor's finally left, the room was silent.

Greg was quiet, closing his eyes and turning his head sideways into his pillow, trying not to cry.

"Greg. Talk to us, Greg." Nick's voice was gentle and insistent. "We're here for you, buddy."

He felt a cool hand stroking his forehead, and opened his eyes to see Catherine standing at the top of his bed, concern in her eyes. "You'll get through this, Greg. You'll be back to work in no time."

"Nothing will ever be the same again." Greg's voice was broken.

Warrick stepped into his line of vision, behind Catherine. His blue eyes were full of understanding. "Things change. It's a fact of life. You got to go with the flow, man." He smiled wryly, trying to inject a little humor into an otherwise tragic situation. "Besides, you're Bionic now."

Greg huffed wetly. "I feel more like the Tin Man." He closed his eyes. "But this is not Oz, and the wizard is never going to fix me." Tears were streaming from his eyes, and he closed them tightly against his friends. "Please, just leave. I want to be alone."

Grissom, who had said nothing since the doctors had left, leaned forward, gripping Greg's hand tightly.

"We're not leaving you Greg. You need your family with you."

Greg opened up his eyes and stared at Grissom. "I don't have a family."

Grissom merely squeezed his hand tighter. "Yes, you do."

~FIN~

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Author's note: Okay. I have to stop here, or I'll wear out my welcome. I hope you all enjoyed the story and the ending - I promise, my next story will continue where this one left off - with Greg, and the repercussions of his attack. Please R&R - email suggestions - whatever you want to do. I really appreciated every criticism and review I read, and I take all suggestions seriously.

Also, I think I fell in love with Greg while I was writing this story. Help me.