XXXII - THE HAPPY PRINCE

"The DNA is a match for Eric Greene," Grissom stated this baldly as he walked into the breakroom.

"You don't sound too happy about that," Nick responded, "considering it's the only actual murder we can link to Enoch Winters."

Grissom sighed, "I know. I'm happy it came back a match. It's just -"

" - a little too much." Grissom looked at Greg when the younger man said this and smiled.

"Exactly."

"So, what now?" Sara asked.

"We talk to him. We tell him we've got him. And we hope to hell it'll be enough." Catherine stood grimly. "I, personally, am going to have nightmares about this guy for a long time. He's another Manson."

Brass broke into the conversation, sticking his head in through the open doorway. "O'Reilly has him in Interview 1. You ready, Grissom?"

Grissom nodded. "Let's keep this short and sweet."

* * * * *

"I feel like we've got front row seats at a huge event!" Greg grinned at Nick, before turning his attention to the one-way mirror looking into Interview Room 1. Enoch Winters was sitting at the table, stoic and unconcerned, feigning indifference to the crime scene photos from Magikal, Lifestyles and the desert murders Brass kept sliding at him.

Across the table from Enoch, Catherine and Grissom watched him closely.

"Nothing to say, Mr. Winters?" Brass asked.

"What do you want me to say. I didn't do any of this."

"No, but you planted the idea."

Enoch shrugged, "I never told any of the men to do this."

Grissom had steepled his fingers together and was tapping his lips absently, "Where did they get the idea to commit these murders then?"

"They are well-versed in God's Word. They worked for Him."

"And you didn't have anything to do with it?" Grissom asked again.

Enoch just looked at him, "No. I wasn't involved."

Grissom smiled at this, "So - you're telling me that God spoke to them, and not to you. Why are you their spiritual leader, if they can hear God without your help?"

"Tsk, tsk, Mr. Grissom. You obviously weren't listening. Open your ears and hear." Enoch responded.

Grissom frowned slightly at this, "If you were saying anything worthwhile, I might do that."

"Have you ever read the Bible, Mr. Grissom?"

"Have you ever read the Bible, Mr. Winters?" Grissom responded. "Especially the New Testament? I'm not in a position to throw stones at anyone. I'm surprised that you think you are."

"I have never stated that I am without sin. As a human being, I am fallible. But God forgives - and God instructs. I am merely a vessel. If the men at the commune where led by God to act on his instructions, through my preachings, who am I to say they were wrong? Under the constitution of this fine nation, I am entitled to freedom of speech - but words alone don't kill. I didn't kill those people."

Brass slid the last photo he had been holding - an 8X 10 graduation photo of a handsome young man - towards Enoch. "Recognize this guy?"

Enoch didn't respond. "We found the body. Eric Greene. But you knew we were going to." Brass' tone was grim, but he smiled anyway, "Your men rolled on you, Enoch, for easier prision sentences. We know all about the 'Hands of Righteousness'. We know that you masterminded the shootings at Magikal and the murders at Lifestyles. We know you approved of the murder of that young couple in the desert. We know you instructed your men to kill Scotty. And we know you yourself killed Eric."

"First murders are never as well thought out," Catherine added. "You got your hands dirty with Eric. Wrapped the murder weapon in plastic and hid it with the body. The plastic preserved your fingerprints."

"We've got you, Enoch. And the DA will be pushing for the death penalty. We don't treat hate crimes lightly in Nevada." Grissom smiled. "An eye for an eye, Enoch. And I don't think God will forgive you."



* * * * *

"Is that it?" Greg felt oddly let-down. "It's over?"

Nick smiled at the younger man, and shrugged. "What did you want, Greg? Tears? Winters begging for mercy? He's a cool customer."

"Besides which," Sara inserted, "with everything that's been going on lately, don't you think we've had enough drama? It's good just to know we've got him."

Greg smiled sheepishly, "I know - I watch too much Law & Order. I was expecting - more, somehow. It doesn't seem right that he can mastermind the deaths of that many people and just shrug it all off. He has to be crazy."

Grissom had walked into the room and caught the tail end of the conversation. "He's not crazy; he's a zealot."

"And the difference?"

"The difference will be in how he pleads. Any lawyer worth their salt will try to throw out the insanity defense. Winters won't go for that. If he pleads insanity, he is in essence denying God's Will - or what his version of it is, anyway. He won't deny his own beliefs. The other men will, and they'll get whatever concessions worked out for them by the DA for testifying against Enoch."

"As long as they all go to jail," Greg muttered. "Life imprisonment seems too good for them."

Nick clapped Greg on the back, squeezing his neck, "They'll get what they deserve, sooner or later. There's a special place in hell for people like them."

Grissom smiled at his team. "Good work, everyone. All around."

* * * * *

It was a slow night; anti-climatic. Grissom was working on paperwork when a knock on his office door interrupted him.

"Greg - what can I do for you?"

Greg jerked a thumb at the Big Mouth Billy Bass over Grissom's doorway. "What happened to your singing watch-fish?"

"Batteries." Grissom grunted, waving towards an empty seat. "What do you want?"

Greg shrugged shyly, ignoring the empty chair as he studied Grissom's collection of embalmed creatures. "What happened to Miss Piggy?"

"It's a long story," Grissom smiled. He watched Greg covertly from the corner of his eye as he bent back to the forms he had been filling in. Greg was looking better the last few days. The emptiness in his eyes was receding; his smile flashing more readily to the surface than it had in weeks. Greg picked up a piece of amber with a beetle preserved in it, twisting it this way and that, studying the beetle intently. Sighing, he put it back down on the shelf and turned to Grissom.

"Have you spoken with my Doctor yet?" Greg asked suddenly, "about me getting back out into the field for training?"

"As a matter of fact, I did," Grissom responded. He tried not to smile at the sudden hopeful look on Greg's face, and instead looked back at the paper in his hand. "I was going to come down and talk to you after I got this paperwork finished."

"Did he - can I - " Greg stopped. "Is it good news?"

"Only if you don't mind the extra work being out in the field training will bring you," Grissom replied. "This form here makes it official. As of shift tomorrow, your 'medical leave' - such as it was - is over. You still need to take it easy for a little while -" Grissom raised a hand to forestall anything Greg might have to say, "- but you can start going out again. You'll be working with me a lot. Think you can handle it?"

Greg's smile was huge and wobbly, "Yeah. I can handle it. Thanks Grissom. I don't know - I don't know -"

Grissom rose to his feet and joined the younger man, throwing an arm companionably around his shoulder and squeezing gently. "You're going to be fine, Greg. So, I think I'm about done here." He looked at his watch. "It's 4:00 am. Slow shift. I was thinking of taking everyone out for a really early celebration breakfast in your honor, you think it's too early in the morning to call your girlfriend and invite her to join us?"

Greg grinned, "She's not my girlfriend."

"Not yet," Grissom responded. "Use my phone. I'll round up the rest of them."

* * * * *

They went to Denny's. Not exactly what Grissom had in mind, but it was good enough. Squishing into a big horse-shoe shaped booth, Grissom smiled at his team as they waited for the waitress to come take their orders. Alli had arrived just a few minutes after the rest of them had and had happily squished in beside Greg.

"Anyone call Warrick?" Nick asked suddenly, looking up from his menu. "Doesn't seem right that he's not here with us. It's not everyday Grissom buys breakfast. Maybe I should wake him up and tell him to get his ass down here."

Catherine cocked an eyebrow at him and grinned, "Not a good idea, Nick. It's his night off, remember - I think he and Katie had plans."

"Plans. Right." Nick replied, smirking. "Wouldn't want to interrupt him and his 'plans.'"

Sara rolled her eyes at him, grinning, "You are such a child."

He leered at her, "A child with 'plans' for later." Looking at the menu again, he smiled. "And since I will need fortification, I'm gonna get the hungry man's platter with a side of eggs benedict."

Alli giggled when Sara blushed, leaning closer into Greg and whispering in his ear, "Maybe you should come home with me, and give those two some privacy."

Greg grinned, "Sounds like a plan."

* * * * *

Catherine leaned back in the booth and closed her eyes, yawning. "Tell me we don't have to go back to the office," she muttered.

Nick looked at his watch, "It's 5:30 in the morning. Grissom wouldn't be that cruel, would you Griss?"

"Well, it is a slow night. We haven't even been paged. I guess you may as well all head home. I'll go back to the office and finish a couple of reports."

Brass grunted, "Paperwork can wait. Do it tomorrow."

"Don't let Mobley hear you say that," Catherine snorted. "You know he wants all the t's crossed and i's dotted right away - paperwork and the lack of it emanating from Grissom's office is his biggest gripe."

"Hey now, who's side are you on?"

"You know paperwork isn't your strong suit, Grissom."

"No - but it's yours," Grissom teased. "Want to help me?"

Catherine laughed, "No way."

"Please?"

Catherine slanted a glance at the amused faces of the rest of the team, before rolling her eyes. "Fine. At least if I help, I know it will get done."

Brass smiled, "And everything all works out in the end."

* * * * *

Greg went with Alli back to his - now her - apartment. They had the radio in her car turned up full blast, and had a good natured station war - singing the songs they knew at the top of their lungs - during the drive.

"I've got something for you," Alli suddenly offered, when they climbed out of her car.

Greg grinned, "Really? You got me something? What?"

"Well - I didn't get it. I made it."

"My painting?" Greg asked, "You did a painting for me already?"

Alli started laughing, "No. I haven't done a painting for you yet - it takes longer than a night. It's something I started working on the other night, when we were talking on the phone."

Greg was practically dancing with excitement. "I love surprises," he chortled, hitting the lights in the foyer as they entered his apartment. "Do I get it now?"

"You're an even bigger kid than Nick!"

Greg waggled his eyebrows at her, "You don't know the half of it. Hey, Goliath. How you like you're new digs?"

Alli wandered down the hallway towards the bedroom, "I'll be back in a second. It's in the bedroom."

Greg just grinned and flopped down onto the sofa, muttering under his breath, "Sure I can't join you?" Goliath had jumped up onto his lap, and was purring uncontrollably. Greg tickled the kitten affectionately under his chin, "For such a little guy, you sure have a big purr."

Leaning his head against the back of the sofa, he hummed lightly under his breath. The kitten was kneading his thigh, needle-like claws pricking him incessantly. In the back room, he could hear Alli moving around and he smiled.

"I just finished it tonight," Alli said as she headed back into the living room. She stepped over the back of the sofa and sank down beside Greg, tucking a foot up underneath her as she turned to face him. "I hope you like it."

Greg took the carefully bound artists papers Alli handed him, "What's this?"

Alli shrugged, suddenly nervous, "I made you a book."

"The Happy Prince," Greg read the script on the front cover, and smiled at Alli. Fingering the thick satin ribbon she had loosely tied the pages together with, he flipped open the front page. Jewel-tones of azure and amber, oranges and reds, danced off the page. A swallow flirted with a beautiful reed, and in the distance, windmills twisted lazily in the wind. In a dark calligraphy at the bottom of the page, where the words: 'The swallows are leaving Eastern Europe for Egypt..'

His fingers traced the lettering reverently, feeling the stiffness of the dark Indian ink beneath the pads of his thumb and forefinger. "Is this water-color?"

"Water pencil," she replied softly, "like pencil crayons, but you can apply water to blend the colors where you want it." She reached over and flipped to the next page, watching Greg intently as he studied the image of the happy prince.

"It's me," he whispered, "I'm the Happy Prince."

"I think so," Alli replied. "And I'm the swallow."

Greg felt his eyes burning, "This is the best present anyone ever gave me." He slowly turned through the pages, smiling as he read the story. Each page was beautiful, the pictures vibrant and full of life - even the ones of the broken heart in the dust heap beside the dead swallow. "How can you make a broken heart look so beautiful?"

Alli smiled softly, "It's not really broken. Hearts that love can never be broken; not irretrievably. The Happy Prince just needed someone to love, and someone to love him -" she slid the book from his hands and placed it on the coffee table, before turning back to Greg and touching his face gently - "Just like you."

Greg closed his eyes against her momentarily, "Alli, I -"

"Shh, Greg," she placed a slim finger against his lips, "don't talk. Just feel." Reaching down with her free hand, she took one of his and placed it against her chest. He could feel the steady rhythm of her heart beating through the thin material of her blouse. Letting his hand go, she reached forward and placed her own against his chest, feeling the answering beat of his heart. "I feel your heart, Greg," she whispered. "Can you feel mine, fluttering against your hand like a tiny swallow?"

Greg nodded mutely, opening his eyes and looking at her again. His warm gaze was swimming with emotion, electric and yearning, hopeful and passion- filled. They sat there in silence for what seemed forever, feeling each others hearts beating in tandem. Finally, Greg smiled at her, "Alli?" he whispered, "you wanna go back to my room with me? I'll make you see stars!"

Alli giggled softly as she leaned into Greg and kissed him, "Hey - no fair. That's my pick-up line!"

_______________________________

Author's Note: Okay - I think that's the end, except for maybe an epilogue that I'm sorta playing with. Thanks for your patience - and I hope the ending didn't disappoint anyone. I like it, but I've been agonizing over it for weeks now - literally.

Great big thanks to Jan - you're awesome, and I appreciate you so much! For everyone who has reviewed and sent me emails, telling me what you liked and didn't - thank you. I hope none of you are disappointed. Once the seasonal rush is over, I may pick up this series with a new case file, and continuing exploring the relationships established in this series.