Weeping Monster by QueenOfTheUniverse [Reviews - 3]

CSI: Weeping Monster: One Shot

A/N: This is a very dark story, not for the faint of heart. Anyway, I really do hope you enjoy this story just the same. Take a key note from the title: you may want Kleenex. The lyrics are from “Weeping” by Josh Groban, since he seems to be inspiring me a lot lately.


I knew a man who lived in fear
It was huge, it was angry, it was drawing near
Behind his house, a secret place
Was the shadow of the demon he could never face

There was nothing I could do. Greg took drastic action that day, and he felt justified in what he did. I was trying to help him. Yet he was the one who thought I needed saving. I don’t regret my choices. And I don’t hate him for what he did. I could never hate him. He was a gentle man with an edge, hardened by experiences I would never know. If I’d only known that truth... Perhaps then I could have gotten through to him.

Greg was a great friend. He always had an ear to listen to your troubles, and he always loved going out to breakfast, or staying up late to play video games, if that’s what you needed after a tough shift. He always put others before himself, something I greatly admired in him. So few people did that anymore.

Even with his constant happiness and bright, beautiful smiles, people began to notice something about him after awhile that baffled them. If he was so great with people, why wasn’t he involved with someone? Catherine tried setting him up with some girlfriends of hers, and Warrick tried sending him on blind dates with random girls he knew from the strip. But Greg didn’t want any of them. Whenever someone suggested a date he would turn his back and ignore them.

At first, I thought this meant I had a slight chance at winning him over if he didn’t like me enough already. He never seemed to turn away from me when I got too close on purpose. When he passed his proficiency he laughed with everyone while I clung to him, too happy for him to be able to let go.

But there were times when he was propositioned for a date that I was able to watch him when he didn’t think I saw him. The look on his face turned to stone, so harsh, and unbending, it was as if he’d locked his heart up in a dungeon deep down in some dank castle and wasn’t ever planning on resurrecting it. I could easily see huge, black, fire breathing dragons protecting it from everything and everyone.

No one could make any sense of it, and after awhile they stopped suggesting girls and the subject was never brought up again. I never quite knew what to say to him so I didn’t say anything at all. But hope remained. Perhaps that look was one of disgust at being offered girls when he preferred guys? I wanted to believe that, but at the same time a niggling thought told me it was something else, something much bigger.

“Greg, Nick, you’ve got a 419 on the strip.” Grissom handed me the slip of paper with our assignment. “Brass is already waiting for you.”

The night Grissom assigned us the Stephano case was the night I began to see something different in him, something no one else had ever seen before.

“You know, this place used to be one of the biggest casinos back in the day,” Greg gushed on our way to the scene. “Really gave Sam Braun a run for his money.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“Eh, they tore it down, put something new up after Braun took the patrons away. Though it was more than twenty years after the place was abandoned.”

“What’d they put up?”

But for once he didn’t answer.

When I looked over, his eyes were locked on our crime scene coming up, and the answer to my question.

We pulled up in front of The Twilight, a prominent gay club, myself at the wheel. On the pavement in front of the door, cops were milling around while someone put up the crime scene tape to cordon off the area around the dead body of the owner. I started to get out of the SUV, but Greg still sat motionless in the passenger seat.

“You coming, G?” I asked, using the nickname I’d given him years ago.

He didn’t say anything. I moved back into the vehicle to see him staring at the body, his eyes growing dark.


“I wonder what he did to deserve that beating,” he said in an unemotional tone I wasn’t used to hearing from him.

I looked back at the body. Whatever had happened, it was personal. The club owner had been badly beaten, and by the looks of it, several people had been involved and they hadn’t made it a quick job.

“You guys coming, or what?” Brass called in the direction of my open door.

“Greg, we gotta go.” I got out, grabbed my kit, and left him there to stare at the sidewalk.

“What’s his problem?” Brass asked, nodding toward our coworker.

“I wish I knew.” I shook my head. “I’m sure he’ll snap out of it in a moment and be right with us.”

“How long’s he been like that?”

“Only since we pulled up a few minutes ago. So, what have we got?” I tried to push my worries about Greg to the back of my brain and focused on what Brass was about to tell me.

The Detective broke his gaze at Greg’s still form and looked over at me. “Club owner was closing up for the night. His best patrons stayed through his closing on a regular basis. Tonight they left a few minutes early when his partner showed up to walk him home. But when they heard a fight break out they ran back to find him like this and called the cops.”

“This certainly wasn’t one of those sleazy clubs,” I noted. “Everyone knew everyone here. Like a bar down south. Only the patrons are friendlier and don’t carry shot guns.”

“Right. Here comes Greg.”

I turned to see my teammate approaching, his facial expression a look of caution.

“I tend to stay as far away from these places as possible,” he finally spoke, not looking directly at either of us, but somewhere in between. “But I’m assuming he was queer by the look of him.”

“Yeah. His boyfriend looks just as bad. He’s inside.”

“The sooner we get started here the sooner we can get out of here and close this case,” Greg’s voice was cold as stone.

Both Brass and I looked at him, studied him for a moment, but he didn’t seem to notice.

“Nick? I’ll cover out here, and you can take the inside. Ok?”

“Yeah... sure...”

I walked with Brass through the front door while a rookie cop held it open for us.

“Aren’t you supposed to be bossing him around?” Brass asked. “You’ve got seniority over him.”

“Yeah, well, in this situation, I’m not quite sure what I should be doing. He seems so out of it. He’s never been like this before.”

The second body was lying on the floor, in a fetal position, his hands raised to protect his face. He was covered in blood.

“I’ll do my job here, but can you just keep an eye on him? Let me know if he changes any?”

“Yeah, sure.”

We worked the scene and it was weird. Greg didn’t talk much, and when he did, it was in terse statements about the evidence he’d found. I was used to his jovial laughter and occasional jokes, the usual banter he provided as he extolled his knowledge related to the case. Even separated by a wall, the strained silence was deafening. Brass commented, saying he’d tried to get Greg to talk, but the CSI wasn’t speaking to him either.

We packed up the evidence and headed back to the lab in continued silence when we were finished hours later. I went to see the bodies Doc Robbins had hopefully gotten to while Greg took the evidence to the layout room.

“Severe head trauma killed the partner, James Stephano,” Doc informed me as he moved the man’s body to point out the deep gash in the back of his skull. “If it helps, I think Donald Stephano was forced to watch.”

“What makes you say that?” I asked.

“I found salt tracks on his face.”

“He was crying.”

“Yeah. Donald’s COD was a punctured lung and heart. They beat him so bad his ribs broke. That’s what punctured his organs. He bled out internally.”


“This has ‘hate crime’ written all over it, you know.”

“I know. Thanks, Doc.”

Back upstairs, I found Greg and relayed the CODs for both victims. His only response was a grunt before telling me he’d dropped off our hair and saliva samples at the DNA lab.

We didn’t find out much more that night.

When Greg and I were finally alone in the locker room at the end of our shift, I tried to find out what was wrong. “Talk to me Greg,” I said when he sat down hard on the bench a few feet away from me.

“About what?” He didn’t even look up at me as he dug through his locker.

“Tell me what’s going on. What’s gotten into you today?”

“Nothing.” His voice was stone.

“G, you always take time to listen to everyone else’s problems and troubles. What about your own? Why won’t you trust me with them?”

“Because there’s nothing to trust you with.”

He finally looked up, fixing me with an icy glare, and it stunned me. This wasn’t the happy-go-lucky guy I knew. Not by a long shot. But he hadn’t completely pushed me away.

“I’m only asking you to talk. I won’t tell anyone. I swear.” I settled a hand on his arm for emphasis.

“Damn right you won’t! Cause I’m not telling you shit!” he shrieked, yanking his arm out of my hand.

He was gone in an instant, leaving me to stare after him when Warrick wandered in.

“Yo, what just happened? Greg looked pissed.”

I continued to gaze dumbly into space, still trying to wrap my head around it myself. “I don’t know.”

“Well, whatever you said, or did... don’t do it again cause he looked ready to murder someone. And that’s a scary thought.”

“I’m FINE!” Greg screamed out in the hallway.

My blood froze at the sound of his voice. Something was wrong, I just didn’t know what.

A door slammed shut and moments later Grissom appeared. “Do you know...?”

“No,” I answered before he could finish. “He’s been like this all night.”

“Well, maybe some sleep will help.”

I doubted whatever was wrong had anything to do with lack of sleep but I didn’t want to get into a discussion about it so I kept my mouth shut.

He built a wall of steel and flame
And men with guns, to keep it tame
Then, standing back, he made it plain
That the nightmare would never ever rise again
But the fear and the fire and the guns remain

The next night when I arrived at the lab there was a note on my locker saying the day shift DNA tech had gotten to our case. The saliva sample came back with a positive match on a guy who’d spent time in jail beating up a gay guy on the strip a few months back.

Searching the lab I found Greg back in the layout room, face straight as an arrow, going over the evidence we’d collected. He didn’t look up as I entered the room. Apparently, nothing had changed since the night before.

“We have a suspect,” I said. “Brass is bringing him in now.”

Greg only nodded.

My cell phone rang just then.


“Nick, Brass here. Suspect is in custody and coming in. You want to start heading over to the station for the interrogation?”

“Yeah. Yeah, we’ll be right there. Thanks.”

He came with me, though I’d half expected him not to. The suspect, Walt Mathews, was already in the interrogation room when we arrived. He was wearing loose jeans, sneakers, and a white t-shirt. His hair had been buzzed short, and his blue eyes were piercing in their quality. I couldn’t wait to see him in an orange jumpsuit. Brass was with him.

“Ah, Gregory Hojem Sanders, funny to see you here,” Walt sneered.

I hadn’t even told Greg who the suspect was, but I was suddenly thinking I should have. I looked from him to Greg. I couldn’t determine what was going through his mind. His eyes were locked on some point two inches to the left of the guy’s head. His face was icy and cold, as seemed to be the usual lately.

“You two know each other?” Brass asked.

“Yeah,” Walt nodded with a smile. “We went to high school together. Didn’t we, kid? Ha. So, what side are you on here? Don’t tell me you’re seeking justice for those fags they say I killed.”

My face grew hot and my hands turned to fists unconsciously, rising, ready to pummel him. Offended didn’t even begin to cover how I felt just then. If I’d been left alone with the guy, I would have beat the crap out of him for that one word. That one single word he had to use. He’d said it so casually, like it didn’t really matter, like he was talking about a spoon or a towel, an everyday item. I forced myself to turn my back on him for a moment, to gather myself together before I lost it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Brass watching me, but he didn’t look too concerned as he flipped his eyes back to the suspect.

The sweet face of Danny Till, my ex, came to my mind. He’d been the best thing that had ever happened to me. He was smart, funny, and always knew what to say in every situation. Thinking about him always helped me calm down because I knew he wouldn’t want me to blow up.

“They deserved what they got,” Walt said, nodding at Greg when I turned back around. “I commend whoever had the guts to do it. Congrats to them!” His nod to Greg, at least in my mind, appeared to be a silent communication, something only the two of them would know and understand. I looked at Brass and he seemed to be wondering about their connection too.

“I’m only looking at the evidence. I don’t choose a side in this job.” Greg’s facial expression hadn’t changed, even as he spoke.

Walt laughed. “Sure you are, kid. You know as well as I do that you choose sides even before the case begins. You chose your side all those years ago back home.”

“Hey!” I called out to the room. “This isn’t about what happened between you two before. This is about what happened to the Stephanos last night.”

“Of course it’s not about us, is it kid?”

Greg kept his mouth shut, and his body still and I was ever so grateful.

“Where were you last night?” Brass asked the suspect.

“You’ve got nothing on me!”

“We’ve got a saliva sample from Donald Stephano’s shirt that matches your DNA,” I explained. “Wanna tell me why you were at his club?”

“Sure, I walked past. Saw him, spit on him for the fag he is. What else would you expect me to do? I certainly didn’t stick around, if that’s what you’re asking.”

Walt never admitted to anything. But at least we had enough to hold him for awhile. And his alibi was just as sleazy as the bar he claimed to have been at all night. I was sure we’d get him, and if the rest of our evidence came through, we’d get the other guys who’d been with him. We had to. Someone had to seek justice for the Stephanos. What happened to them never should have happened.

Greg stayed silent throughout the interrogation. He hadn’t even bothered to take notes. I wanted to call him on it, ask what was wrong, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. Right then, I would have given anything to have Danny at my side to give me direction, but he wasn’t there, and as I left the interrogation room I groaned, knowing it was because of Greg that Danny was gone from my life. I was so transparent, even my own boyfriend noticed I was falling for my coworker. I still wondered, many months after Danny left, whether or not Greg could tell as easily as he had.

Greg didn’t say anything on the way back to the lab either. Not that I figured he would. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what went on between them during high school. Viewing Greg’s facial expression, it hadn’t gone well, whatever it was. And while he was our suspect, and I probably should have been asking Greg to remove himself from the case if this guy was gonna get to him that badly, I didn’t want to risk pissing him off more than I had the night before. So I didn’t say anything and hoped his decorum would stay clean throughout the rest of the case.

Greg went tracking down other evidence while I sequestered myself in the layout room to go over our victim’s bloody clothes. I looked up when I heard a commotion out in the hallway to see Greg tripping over a cart full of supplies for the DNA lab. He didn’t fall, but cursed loud enough as if he had fallen and taken the chemicals with him. When he righted himself, the look on his face told me something was horribly wrong, more so in that moment, than had been previously. It held a mixture of pain, loss, and above all else, anger. I quickly got up to see if there was anything I could do, even when I knew I should just let well enough alone. But by the time I got out into the hall and called his name he was already turning a corner and disappearing.

I didn’t know where he was going as he went through the emergency exit and started climbing the back stairs. All I knew was that he was angry over something and I was hoping to calm some sense into him. When I reached the top I was greeted with a softly closing door. I’d never been up here before but I needed to make sure Greg was ok, so I forged ahead. Opening the door, I was surprised to see all of Vegas in a beautiful view laid out before me. It certainly was breathtaking. No wonder he wanted to come up here to the empty roof. Then, sounds of defeated sobs reached my ears as I closed the door quietly behind me.

Turning to my right, I saw him standing by the edge, shoulders shaking violently. The sound twisted my heart into knots so bad it hurt me physically. I never thought I’d hear him cry. I didn’t want to hear him cry. I needed him to be happy.

Without realizing what I was doing, I’d rounded the corner of the stairwell that jutted upward from the roof. I hid from him. Hid, and listened to him blatantly weep because he didn’t know I was there. I didn’t know why, or what caused it, but I could feel shame rolling off him in waves.

“Ben, what did you do to me?” Greg’s voice cracked, and I peeked around the corner, surprised at hearing his voice. He was talking to someone, but no one had been up here when we arrived and no one had followed me. He was staring off into the deep, expansive sky. “After all these years...” he continued, the shame creeping into his voice. “I can’t get it out of me! I was only sixteen Ben! What the fuck did you do to me?!”

Who was this Ben he was talking to? And just what had he done to Greg? To my beautiful Greg? Why was he so upset? I saw him turn and slump down against the wall, tears streaking down his face. I wanted to go to him. But I couldn’t bring myself to move. He clearly wanted to be alone and I didn’t have the heart to interrupt him. Instead, I swallowed the lump in my throat and listened.

I didn’t know how long we were there, but I heard the door shut right behind me and I knew he was gone. Gone back to pretending once again, keeping his true self as hidden in that deep, dark, metaphorical closet as he could. Giving him just enough time to return to the lab in peace, I followed him back down the stairs.

“Most of the hair was cat hair,” Hodges boasted, appearing from out of nowhere.

I hated it when he did that. Making the irritation clear in my voice, I asked him what else he had for me.

“I’m looking at the rest. I just thought you’d want to know about the cat.”

I turned to leave.

“Oh, hey, is everything alright with Sanders? He seems out of it today.”

“I’m sure he’s fine,” I said, and left him in the hall.

When I found Greg in the layout room going over evidence he asked me rather tersely where I’d been, without even looking up at me. I said I’d been in the bathroom.

It doesn’t matter now
It’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came ‘round
I heard its lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping

The lab was backlogged from Dayshift and Swing. Waiting on evidence for our case was getting old, fast. With no new case to process, I was stuck going over what little we’d already gathered two nights ago while Greg was forced to help out in DNA. Finding the same spots of blood in the same places I’d seen them before, giving no new angles with which to work, I sighed and began packing the items away. It would do no good to waste time staring at things if I didn’t have a clear head to come up with new information.

And my head certainly wasn’t clear. While I was staring at the blood spatter on Donald Stephano’s shirt, I couldn’t help picturing the same blood spatter on Greg, and the thought was so startling I almost dropped the key piece of evidence on the floor.

I didn’t have much to go on, since Greg wasn’t giving up any information, but I knew from past experience with tough cases it didn’t always mean there was nothing out there. I just had to look for it.

Once the evidence was logged back into the evidence room, I made my way to a computer in an empty lab.

“I can’t get it out of me! I was only sixteen Ben! What the fuck did you do to me?!” his words had been echoing in my head since he’d first uttered them and even now, after a million times hearing them, my heart continued to break.

My first search granted me nothing in the official capacity under Greg’s full name. I felt relief flooding through me and was glad to know it most likely meant he hadn’t done anything worth getting arrested for. I tried the search again, this time adding Ben’s name. But again, I came up empty. It didn’t help that I knew nothing about Ben, including his last name and birth date.

Eventually, I moved from official records to the internet, hoping for something, anything, that might help explain what had possibly gone on in Greg’s past to cause whatever was happening now.

Typing in Greg’s full name and Ben’s first netted me thousands of hits. I ground me teeth in irritation, but surged on anyway. I had the time to kill until someone needed me elsewhere.

Over an hour later, I stumbled upon a website entitled “Walt’s Ramblings”. I perked up at the name, remembering the suspect who’d questioned Greg about the victims in our case. Clicking on the link, I found a blog awaiting my perusal, announcing that some of the information in said blog was from a previous website started years ago which was now defunct. There was a picture near the top of Walt. And it was our suspect clear as a bell, though he looked ten years younger and sported an ugly mustache. I began to skim the pages one by one, and the facts piling up began to scare me. He made mention of beatings all over the country, of hate crimes, most dealing with the homosexual community, and he was in favor of each and every one of them.

I hated to think Greg knew this man and wondered what that meant for Greg. Had he, at one point in his life, been friends with Walt? Perhaps they’d shared the same views. Perhaps they still did. It would easily explain why Greg was being so touchy about our case. The thought made shivers run down my spine, and I found myself rubbing my arms to keep myself warm, despite the high room temperature.

Suddenly, I wasn’t sure I wanted to know the truth. I stopped scrolling down the page and got up to walk aimlessly around the room. Did I want to know that Greg hated gays and lesbians? If he did, that included me. And I liked him. Danny knew I liked him. That’s why we weren’t together anymore. I squeezed my eyes shut and rubbed them, hard, with my palms, watching as the stars burst behind my eyelids again and again.

I had to sit down, and finish going through Walt’s blog. It might be good for the case against him. And if something was eating away at Greg, I loved him enough to find out what it was so I could at least try to help him, whether I liked it or not.

I sat back down and continued reading. When I reached the final one I found an article from a San Francisco newspaper. The headline read “Gay Teen Beaten to Death”. The article had been the only one scanned into the computer, which made it stand out from everything else he’d written about. The date was June fourth, 1990. Greg would have been sixteen at the time. And he had lived in San Francisco when he was a teenager. I knew that much. I skimmed the article. Ben Horrowitz was the gay teen who’d been murdered on a street corner late one night. And Greg Sanders had been with him.

Greg had been beaten to the point of near death and if it hadn’t been for a cop on foot patrol that night, he would have died.

I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. I turned away from the computer, wrapping my arms around myself, afraid that if anyone walked in they were sure to see a green face. I didn’t like the thought of Greg nearly beaten to death. Just because... because why? The article hadn’t said why. But, it was probably because he was hanging out with Ben. What more reason would Ben’s attackers need? The cop had found him mumbling ‘I’m a monster’ beside the dead body. ‘I’m a monster. I’m a monster.’ Over and over and over again. But no one had managed to get the reason behind the words out of him.

Looking back at the page I found something else. Underneath the scanned article Walt had typed the words: “He deserved what he got. The blood was fantastic.” I hit the print button just before my lunch returned from my stomach.

Once my stomach had calmed down I went in search of Greg. I needed to confront him about the situation. Maybe if I got it out there that I knew what had happened to him he would open up and things would be a little easier. Maybe.

He entered the locker room just as I was putting the print out in my locker for safe keeping. And he did not look happy.

When I told him I knew about Ben his eyes went VERY dark, seriously scaring me. If I could have backed up, and gotten the hell out of Dodge, I just might have. But the smart side of my brain told me that would not help the situation. So I kept my feet planted and did my best not to sound terrified by my own coworker, by the guy I’d had a crush on for so long.

“So, you know about the monster,” Greg said.

Monster? Just because Ben was gay didn’t mean he was a monster. I almost felt offended by the accusation, but somehow I knew he didn’t mean it. He couldn’t have. Could he?

His already dark eyes went even darker, his pupils turned pinpoints boring into me. At one point I might have called them chocolate. At one point I wanted to drown in them. Not anymore. But I was still sure there was hope. There had to be. And maybe someday I’d have the pleasure of drowning in his beautiful chocolate pools.

“Greg...he was your best friend,” I tried. “Just because he was gay...”

“You’re safe. The monster has been locked away. You’ll never see it, so don’t worry.” His voice was harsh, painful to hear. Who talked about their best friend this way?

I willed my feet to move closer. “It might help if you talked about it. About what happened?”

“Leave me alone! I don’t want to be a part of your heroism act. I don’t need saving!” he exploded.

I took a step back and tried a new approach. “I’ll understand if you don’t want to talk about it. Really, I will. But if you can’t. Maybe... maybe you should take yourself off the case.”

“What the hell, Stokes?! Just because there’s a monster lurking nearby you think it’s gonna just come out and ruin your perfect little case! Well, I’ve got news for you.. It won’t. It’s safe around here. I’ve made sure of that. I’ve spent my life making sure of it! So don’t come to me thinking you can save me cause you can’t!” He made to back away from me toward the door. “There’s nothing to save here.”

I went to reach for his hand before he darted out of the locker room. I needed to understand just what was going on. Ben was dead. Greg had watched him die. Or had he not comprehended that fact? Did he believe Ben was still alive? Maybe he thought... I was no psychologist... but... did he really believe that Ben, the gay monster, was trapped inside himself? Or did he actually see Ben standing beside him? Did he want to make sure people knew he wasn’t gay just because he’d been caught standing beside Ben on a street corner?

“Don’t touch me,” Greg’s voice was cold, not even holding a hint of the warmth I knew had to exist somewhere within him. His next words, coupled with his calculating stare, twisted my heart into a fierce knot, “Don’t you know what I am? You shouldn’t care so much about me.”

And then one day, the neighbors came
They were curious to know about the smoke and the flame
They stood around outside the wall
But of course there was nothing to be heard at all

I couldn’t help but care about him. It was written in my DNA. It had to be. I tried, for hours after work, to determine what I would do if I could not care about him. Was it possible for me to suddenly not care? No. It wasn’t. It hurt too much when I thought about forgetting him and letting him go.

I decided not to confront him for awhile to keep him somewhat happy. Hodges was no closer to identifying the strange hair we’d found on James Stephano than he was a few nights ago, so Greg continued to go over what we’d already collected. I watched him through the glass wall as I passed by the layout room on my way toward the break room.

Under normal circumstances, I would have asked Greg to join me for a break. He looked like he could use one. His features were harsher in the bright overhead lights than they had been the night before. His cheeks were more sunken and his slender hands seemed more fragile. Dark circles underlined his somewhat dull eyes. Maybe Grissom was right. Maybe he wasn’t sleeping well.

I made a detour to the locker room to grab the article I’d printed off the other day. Knowing the newspaper that had run the article, I’d been able to find their website, and found a few other articles in relation to the case. They were small, mere follow ups, but anything was better than nothing at this point.

Sitting down with a fresh cup of lab sludge I began to go over the newer articles. There didn’t seem to be anything new. Days after Greg had been found and saved, he was still mumbling the same lines, though he did stop every now and then. It became less frequent over time. No one got any information about the beating out of him. Either he didn’t know who the gang was, or he was keeping his mouth shut to keep himself alive. No one knew for certain. One day he stopped mumbling, and life went back to normal.

“Hey, what’s this?”

I jumped at Warrick’s voice right behind me. When had he come in?!

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you, man. What are you reading?”

I quickly hid the articles. Greg didn’t even want me knowing about his past. There was no way I was going to share it with the rest of the lab.

“Nothing,” I lied. “Just some articles related to our case. But they’re not helping.”

“Ah. How’s Greg doing? He still looks pissed off. Didn’t even say ‘hi’ when I saw him earlier in the hall.”

“Don’t ask. I got my head bitten off last night. I’m smartly avoiding him tonight. We’ve got nothing new, so I’m just gonna let him continue to go over the evidence alone.”

“You sure that’s a good idea? Seems he went down hill right at the start of the case. Maybe it’s the case getting to him.”

“I’ve thought about it. Suggested maybe he should take himself off the case. That’s when my head got taken off.”

“Ouch. Does Grissom know?”

“I’m not sure what to tell him. It’s not like Greg gave me a reason for not wanting off the case. I don’t know what’s going on with him.”

“Griss commented about him needing sleep awhile back...”

“I doubt that has anything to do with it. This came on sudden. One minute he’s acting all normal, then we get the case and everything turns upside down. I’m honestly worried about him. I don’t want to see him this way, but he won’t let me near enough to help him, if that’s what he needs. I can’t determine anything.”

“You like him.”

I didn’t look up. I was over talking and I knew it. I should have just shut up.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. “He’s a good friend.”

I wanted to deny everything. He couldn’t know about my crush because what if it got out to Greg? How would he react?

“No, I mean, you like, like him. As in, more than a friend.”

I looked up sharply at Warrick to find him staring down at me. He was serious. How had he known?

“I’m your friend, I’m supposed to notice these things, Nick.”

And he was a good mind reader too. I’d forgotten that.

“We haven’t hung out in a while, but I do remember you telling me about Danny. You seemed really happy with him. You never did tell me why you two broke up.”

I shook my head, unsure if I really wanted to tell him.

“He broke up with me,” I said simply.

“That’s too bad. That one time I met him, I thought he was a really nice guy. He seemed to really care about you.”

“And Greg?”

“He scares me. And I never thought he could be capable of that.”

“My friends,” he said, “we’ve reached our goal
The threat is under firm control
As long as peace and order reign
I’ll be damned if I can see a reason to explain
Why the fear and the fire and the guns remain”

It’s nearly a hundred degrees outside yet Greg arrives at work sweating in a black, long sleeved shirt. He doesn’t bother to change out of it either and holds the sleeves past his wrists, nearly covering his slender hands. His skin is pale, his eyes slightly bloodshot.

The lines on his face, look like they’ve been carved into stone and not even weather will erode them away over time. I want to reach out and smooth them out with my fingers. I want to hold him close, calm his anger and his fears, but I know he won’t let me.

Seeing him in the hall, I hang my head, wishing I could do something for him. Anything. Anything at all.

“Greg? Are you alright?” Grissom’s voice. “I know I’ve asked this before, but I just need to know.”

I look up to see the supervisor just a few feet away from Greg.

“I’m fine,” Greg says, and his voice is quiet, no longer angry. “The threat I may have posed earlier no longer exists. Everything is fine.”

He’s lying. He’s too calm. His features too harsh. Everything is not fine. It’s the exact opposite.

“Good. I’m glad,” Grissom says and he walks away without another word.

Just like him not to notice how bad things really are. But then Greg’s words return to me. Threat. He’d called himself a threat. I needed to know what exactly that meant. He was angry, but that didn’t mean he was a threat to the lab. Or even to the case. He was keeping personal things separate, not choosing sides, like he’d said. He wasn’t a threat. He couldn’t be. I knew, somewhere, underneath that suddenly thick exterior was a sweet, loving man. I just had to find him first.

Not seeming to have seen me watching him, Greg left the hallway and found his way back up to the roof.

Hoping I could get him alone up there where he might let me finally talk to him, I followed him one more time. When I got to him, he was crying again. I stopped a few feet away where he couldn’t see me, unsure how to proceed. I just knew I need to get through to him. How many times had I said that all week? It felt like too many. But right then, I’d do whatever it took because it seemed as if my window of opportunity was fast closing.

“I’m a monster,” Greg whispered through his sobs. “I’m a monster. I’m a monster.”

Maybe I could finally answer everyone’s question.

Greg continued to talk to himself, “Ben, how could you do this to me? You ruined my life. Will you ever understand that?” Greg sucked in a huge breath of air only to let it out in one quick whoosh. “All because I almost kissed you that day. I wanted to. How could you make me want that? I’m glad I didn’t. People think I’m a complete screw up. That would have only made things worse. Stupid fucking cop shoulda just left me there. I didn’t need saving to live this life.” He sniffed back his tears.

“Nick’s a really nice guy. I don’t want to hurt him. But he’s trying to save me. He thinks I need saving. Like that cop. He doesn’t realize it’s too late. I’m beyond saving. Ben, I... I... I think I want him to save me. You made me want that.”

My heart leaped into my throat. Greg wanted my help. He had it. I’d do anything.

“I almost wish he could,” Greg continued, oblivious to the fact that I was right behind him. “I wish he could. But it’s too late.” Anger came back to Greg’s voice, forceful, to remind him once again why he couldn’t let me near.

A knife thrust into my heart, its sharp edges twisting and cutting. I felt like I was on the verge of collapsing for many long moments, just barely able to hold in screams of agony. Greg hated himself. But, if he’d let me, I could help him. I knew I could.

It was now or never. Slowly, I approached him, stood directly behind him so it would be harder for him to escape. His stony features and angry outbursts had scared both me and Warrick, but what scared me more, at that very moment, was the sharp knife in his right hand.

His long black sleeves were pushed up to his elbows. Old scars lined his left wrist. They looked like they’d been there for years. Perhaps since that day when he was sixteen years old. Fresh scars outlined the old. Bleeding. One was bleeding.

My heart pounded. I didn’t want to lose him to this. I couldn’t. My mind screamed at me to do something.

“Greg...” my own voice was trembling.

He didn’t even jump, as if he knew I’d been there the whole time.

Gently, I reached around him and took his slit wrist in my hand. I tried to cover it.

“Please don’t do this,” I begged in a near whisper. You don’t have to live in fear and denial of who you are. I won’t hate you for it. It’s normal. It’s ok.”

“Just because you exist doesn’t mean there aren’t others who would still hurt me, kill me. I’m fine.” Anger edges his voice, but it’s a quiet anger, unlike before.

I moved closer, pressing my chest into his back, holding him close, not wanting to let him go for anything. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was afraid to lose him, afraid of what it would do to me.

Greg’s muscles tensed beneath my touch. “Stay away from me,” he tried. “You can’t know what this is like. I won’t let you. I don’t want you to get hurt. Just leave me alone and go find a girl to sleep with.”

I gave a nervous laugh. “Warrick’s been after me to find someone for years. But I could never do it. I guess because you were always there. Always laughing, always smiling, that beautiful smile. You were always happy. And I don’t want to see you like this, Greg. This isn’t you. This isn’t who you’re supposed to be.”

“I’ve been lying to you, Nick. This is who I am. Who I’ve always been.”

“But it doesn’t have to be. You can be happy. And I think Ben would want you to be. Wouldn’t he?”

Greg turned in my arms, his grip still tight on the knife, his dark, piercing eyes staring into mine.

“You would sentence yourself to an eternity in hell, just for me?” He looked so vulnerable for just a split second.

“I would do anything just for you,” I admitted.

I found my fingers caressing his cheek, wanting to kiss him so badly, to kiss away his pain. And I wished he would let me, but I didn’t want to rush him, so I was careful to only let my fingers touch him. I wished he could understand just how much I loved him, how much I cared about him, how much it killed me to see him like this, to see the blood running down our arms as I tried to put enough pressure on his wrist to make it stop.

I wished I’d known sooner just how tortured his soul really was.

“I can’t love you, Nick,” he said. “No matter how much I might want to. I’m not sending you to hell.”

Pain thrust into me. Sharp. Demanding. I stumbled away from him. My world began to spin all of a sudden. I tripped on something, fell backward. A headache came on. My eyes slid closed. My shirt was wet. Soaked. Warm and sticky. My fingers, hands, arms, legs trembled. Greg? What have you done? I couldn’t stand up. No strength. Forced my eyes open. All I saw was Greg. His hands were empty. But bloody. Spatter. Dripping. Both wrists. Shaking. Eyes changing color before me. So cold. So freezing cold. I wanted to ask him why. Why he’d done this. But I knew. And all I could do, before he collapsed beside me, was look into his beautiful chocolate brown eyes... and tell him I forgave him...

It doesn’t matter now
It’s over anyhow
He tells the world that it’s sleeping
But as the night came ‘round
I heard its lonely sound
It wasn’t roaring, it was weeping.

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