IntersectionsAuthor's Note: So, this is my very first story. Like ever. Be kind, but be honest. Tell me what you like and don't like and I'll promise I'll take it under review.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Time Setting: After "Fannysmackin'" in CSI, and post-"Chosen" in Buffy.
The night had been a long one, with a run of the mill B&E morphing into a homicide when a body had literally fallen out of a basement closet. Greg had already pulled a double the night before and with the new discovery of the body, it was looking like a triple. After all the initial hullabaloo had calmed somewhat, Grissom had taken one look at Greg’s exhausted face and told him point blank to go home and take the rest of the shift off. He hadn’t put up too much of a protest, but after driving home and then tossing and turning in bed for two hours, he knew he needed to get out and clear away some of the sick adrenaline that still coursed through him after that body had fallen into his lap.
It was about four in the morning when he chose a meandering route to the liquor store near his apartment, not really paying attention to his surroundings. His head jerked up when he heard a low chuckle.
“Well, well, well, what have we here, boys and girls? What a lovely present.” The voice was male and mocking, and as those words were finished Greg felt himself yanked into a dark alleyway and pinned to the wall. He felt more than saw two other shadows come and press themselves to his sides. His whole body froze and his heart started to jackhammer. The man’s face was still in shadow, but his eyes gleamed in the darkness, glowed a sick yellow. He leaned forward slowly, still chuckling, and Greg could see by the lone street lamp that penetrated the alley that his brow was ridged and deformed.
With a gasp, Greg flashbacked- Shouts and jeers and that that awful sound of flesh hitting flesh, grunts and groans-
Those awful eyes, slit-pupiled like a cat, the hulking boy with the rock upraised-
The hands, grabbing, pushing, hitting, scratching, pain pain pain-
Screaming mindlessly, Greg flailed, battering outward with fists and legs, writhing frantically against those arms, not again, not again, not AGAIN!
With a startled oath, the guy let him go, but Greg was too far gone to care, yelling out over and over with his eyes screwed shut, lost in memories. Briefly, at the edge of his awareness, he was aware that more people had joined them in the alley, and that the sounds of fist hitting flesh was not just in his mind, but all around him.
Suddenly, it seemed like everything just stopped, and the only sounds were those of his harsh breathing and the little whimper in the back of his throat he couldn’t quite control. Greg sensed a large shape coming slowly nearer, and he shrank back into the rough wall of the alley, eyes now opened wide in the darkness.
The shape immediately stopped and then called out in a soft, rough tenor, “Marie, would you come here please and see if this guy's all right?”
Another shape detached itself from the darkness, this one much slighter and smaller. As they came closer, Greg could see it was just a young girl, with mousy brown hair and cute wire-rim glasses perched on an upturned nose. She looked about 14. Still hyped up on adrenaline, Greg’s mind noticed all these details with a distant clarity, and he watched as she held her palms out open in front of her as she advanced.
“Sir? Are you all right, sir? Did those muggers hurt you anywhere? We heard the shouts and when we came over they split. Are you very far from home? Can we call anyone?” Her voice was soft and had a deep southern drawl, and Greg felt most of the tension melting away at its smooth cadences. He swallowed several times and tried to say that he was fine, but his voice came out more of a croak from all the screaming. He settled for shaking his head no.
Marie looked over her shoulder and then turned back to him and asked, “Sir? Would you let Xander come over here? He’s not one of the bad guys, I swear! Please? He can help you get home.” Greg nodded slightly, and the man approached just as slowly as Marie had until he was finally in the weak light of the street lamp. He was tall, with broad shoulders and shaggy dark hair. Greg’s breath caught a bit in fear when he saw the black patch covering the left eye, but then he was struck dumb when he looked into the man’s remaining eye. That brown orb was so filled with compassion and a kind of bleak understanding that Greg felt all the remaining tension in his limbs leave abruptly and he swayed.
That warm eye softened even further and the man leaned forward, still slowly, to catch his arm and said, “Come on, let’s get you home.” Still looking at Greg he raised his voice a bit and called out, “Jamie Lynn, you take Anna and Grace back to the Center and get some sleep before your math tests tomorrow. Marie, you’re with me.” Greg heard some muted grumbles, and then he watched as three more girls, all between the ages of 15 and 18, shook their heavy boots and rollerblades popped up and snapped into place. They skated out of the alley, already starting to laugh and smile as they left.
Taking a firmer grip on Greg’s arm, the man, Xander, looked closely at him and said, “Hey, what’s your name? Where’s home?”
Still in a daze, this time Greg managed to stutter out his name and address, and the next thing he knew he was moving. On his right, Xander kept up a steady patter of soothing nonsense interspersed with questions about schoolwork to Marie, who was on his left. Cushioned by Xander’s warmth on one side and Marie’s soft drawl on the other, Greg let himself just float away.
The sunlight streaming in his open window woke Greg, the sun’s setting rays angling to fall right across his face. Still drowsy, it took him a minute to recall everything that had happened the night before- the case, the body, the late walk, the deformed muggers, Xander. It seemed like some bizarre dream. He sat up slowly, noticing that he was still in his clothes from last night, although his shoes were off. Looking over to the nightstand, he saw a pad of paper with writing on it and a business card. Pulling it over to him, he read:
I've been where you are. When you can't stand it anymore, call me.
The business card said simply, Xander Harris, The Jenny Calendar Center for the Gifted, with a telephone number. A cell phone number was handwritten below that, in the same style as the note.
Putting the note and the card back on the table, Greg Sanders sat back on his bed, pulled his knees up to his chest and stared out the window into the Vegas sunset.