Author's note: Look at that - You guys motivated me so much that I finished my story. I figured I left you all hanging on long enough. Hope the ending doesn't depress everyone…sorry! And can I tell you guys just  how much I adore all of you? The reviews you keep giving me are the best holiday gift a girl could ask for! You are far too kind to me…but feel free to continue stroking my ego! The characters are not mine and no money is being made, a fact that makes me increasingly depressed.

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The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live – Joan Borysenko

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            Hope is all that is left now. There is nothing more that anyone on the team can do for Nick. They can only stand by helplessly as they hope against hope that he will be alright. The doctors will try valiantly to restore life to his body but their efforts may be too little, too late. Their words echo around the small room, each more frightening then the last.

"Dammit, we're losing him!"

"He's crashing!"

"We need the defib unit here NOW!"

"Come on son! Hang in there."

The doctor's best efforts may not suffice. Medicine is not a miracle. Medicine can be a vital element in saving a life, but one must remember its limitations. Medicine can aid a life but it cannot create it. Medicine is something that has been developed by man. Life on the other hand is something that has been created by something so much bigger then us. Therefore, life can be sustained by medicine but it cannot be manufactured by it. The doctors have become the only soldiers in this devastating physiological war that the body is waging upon itself. The doctors will fight with every ounce of their knowledge and skill but like all soldiers, they are constantly toeing the line between success and failure. One small error can result in deadly consequences. The enemy that they are battling now knows no boundaries and they can do little more than put forth their best efforts. When the ICU is your battlefield and medicine your only weapon, you always run the risk of losing the precious fight. There are no rules of engagement here. All bets are off. There are no guarantees in this fight and no one ever knows whether or not the next blow the body strikes will be the last. The doctors are tireless warriors who have learned to arm themselves with something more than needles and machines. They have taken something that is invisible to the naked eye and forged it into perhaps the most powerful weapon in their arsenal.

HOPE.

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            Sara, Catherine and Greg had raced back to the waiting room of the ICU as soon as Sara relayed the news to them. They were begging the nurses for some sort of information when Warrick and Grissom made their entrance. The two men walked into the waiting room only to be swept up in the chaos and confusion that was taking place. Despite their protests, the team was denied access to the ICU. All they could do was stand at the doors and stare blankly through the glass as the doctors struggled to save Nick. They were the only audience to a heart wrenching spectacle that was playing itself out before their grief stricken eyes. It was unfamiliar territory for them. They were all used to being the directors of the show, or at very least the actors in the drama that was their lives. Now they were relegated to audience members who could do nothing but watch. The events taking place were out of their hands. From their vantage point at the door they could see the doctors prepping needles filled with God knows what, then injecting those needles into Nick. They could see a doctor performing CPR, trying desperately to revive the young man. They could see doctors and nurses pulling out the crash cart, and then shouting to everyone to clear away from the patient. They could see Nick's body convulse as the electrical current charged through his body. They could see doctors shaking their heads. They could see the heart monitor – and the straight, flat line that ran across the screen. They could hear nothing but the all knew the sound that the monitor would be making: a high pitched whine that would not cease. It was a final testimony to what they already knew.

Nick had died.

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Sara had fallen to the floor, her face white with shock. She felt the tears pouring down her cheeks. How could this have happened? How could he leave them after trying so hard to survive? She heard a guttural, animal scream emanating from somewhere. She wondered vaguely what it was. It wasn't until Grissom put his arms around her that she realized that the sound was coming from her.

Greg couldn't breathe. He felt like someone had put a too-tight rubber band around his chest, depriving him of oxygen. He tried in vain to pull air in, but found that there was nothing. The air seemed to have been sucked out of the room when Nick had died. With the loss of Nick's life came the loss of life as they knew it. Something in the atmosphere changed, as it does when a loved one departs this mortal world. It is the end of the world. Not in the literal sense but certainly in the emotional sense. Something within each of them had died in that final heartbeat. Greg finally managed a ragged breath and immediately burst into tears.

Catherine had slammed into Warrick so hard that he thought he might collapse from the force. She was hysterical and he just held her as she sobbed. Her tears soaked his shirt but he made no move to pull away. He personally felt a crushing pain in his chest. It felt like his heart was being torn out while it was still beating. It was a horrible type of pain, unlike any he had ever experienced. He didn't realize it then but he was feeling the pain of a broken heart. It is odd how physical pain is passed on to the loved ones left behind. It is as if they must assume the suffering now that their loved one has moved on. The evil must be transposed onto something and once again it attacks those whose hearts are filled with grief and sadness.

Grissom had dropped down next to Sara in order to try and help her hold it together. She cried out in a way that sent chills up Grissom's spine. He had never heard another living creature make that kind of sound and it tore through him like a knife. It penetrated the depths of his soul. He knew that there was nothing he could do to ease her pain. All he could offer was empty comfort. It was something he needed very much in return. He turned as the door of the ICU, swung open. The doctor had started to step outside, with the intent of breaking news that he could see they already knew. He was coming to tell them that Nick was dead. The finality of those words would pierce their souls forever. The doctor had no sooner opened him mouth when…..

Beep.

His head had swung around so fast that it might have flown off had it not been so securely anchored to his neck. He listened again.

Beep.

The team stopped what they were doing and became a tableau of sudden hope. They all looked at the doctor with the same inquiry in their minds. They all heard it then, clear as a bell.

Beep.

And then….

"We've got a heart beat!" The doctor raced back into the ICU not believing his eyes or ears. But there it was. The blips on the monitor had returned in all their defensive glory. Somehow, against all the odds, Nick had pulled through. His heart had stopped for a minute and in that minute the world of his team had come crashing down. They had sunk into the depths of human grief and had experienced emotions far stronger than they knew how to handle. But Nick had found them. He had gone into the light, only to be plunged into darkness. But he had found his way out again. The light didn't want him anymore. He was allowed to leave the light and fumble his way through the gloomy emptiness. It had taken him awhile, three days to be exact, but he had done it. In that minute his mind had finally managed to firmly reattach itself to the body. With both pieces of the puzzle now securely in place, the body had decided that it wasn't ready to quit fighting yet. It had stubbornly refused to succumb to the evil. Now, by the grace of God, Nick was coming back. He was pushing his way through the fogginess that permeated his brain. He could hear voices. He commanded his eyes to open. They resisted at first, but finally, grudgingly gave in. He blinked a few times and tried hard to focus. There were so many people around him, but he didn't recognize any of them. There was a lot of white. That was his first impression: there were a lot of people in white surrounding his bed. Oh man, he thought. Don't tell me that I made a wrong turn somewhere and headed back to the angels. As his vision grew clearer, he realized that they were lab coats, not wings. Thank goodness he thought. It was the last calm thought he had before the doctors realized that he was awake. They began to bombard him with questions and tests. He didn't mind a bit. It reminded him that he was alive.

            For the second time in five minutes the door swung open. The CSI's stood huddled together wondering what the news would be. They had heard the heart monitor, heard the triumphant cry of the doctors, but that was all. They had no idea whether the return to life had been fleeting, or whether Nick was here to stay. They didn't know if Nick's heart had resumed beating only to leave his body lingering in a coma. It was the uncertainty that was killing them. The doctor did not mince words.

"He's awake. I don't know how, but he is. By all reason and logic, he should be dead but he isn't. He is very much alive. He is going to be just fine."

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Two Weeks Later

            It had been a slow, painful couple of weeks for Nick. He had been released from the ICU two days after his awakening. He was still in the hospital but at least he had his own room. Not that he had had much privacy. Every time one person left, another one came in. But he wouldn't complain. He was just happy to be alive to enjoy the company of people he loved. He had told everyone exactly how much he cared for them, and no one ever left without loving words to carry with them in their absence. He knew now how fragile life is and he was determined to make the most of every minute. He had left this world, if only for a moment, but it was long enough to know that the time here was short. He was going to live the kind of life he should have been living, so that when the time came for him to return to the light, he would not have any unfinished business. He had given his testimony to Brass but found himself feeling unfilled with the outcome. Rachel had been declared mentally unfit to stand trial. She had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and had been sentenced to live out the rest of her days in a maximum security psychiatric institution. The team was just as unhappy with outcome as Nick was. They felt like they had failed the children somehow. They had not managed to secure any real form of justice. They had however managed to give the children a proper burial. The children's remains had been laid to rest on a tiny plot in the nearby cemetery. Their death may have been premature but it wasn't in vain. The evil had been stopped. The woman responsible could never again hurt anyone. For that Nick was grateful. He smiled with anticipation as he waited for his team to arrive. He was going home today. He was alive and loving every moment of it. He had done it. Good had triumphed in the end. The evil had been locked away with Rachel. The evil had been stopped.

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            Miles away, in a tiny room within the psychiatric institution, Rachel was writing furiously on a piece of paper. She spent most of her days doing so. When she wasn't in therapy, she was writing. She managed to hide this from her doctors. She had convinced the guards that she was writing letters to her dead children, but they were so personal that she couldn't show them to her therapist. She had to deal with some of the guilt herself, she said. So they allowed her to write. She laughed as she wrote the same words over and over again

I AM THE NEW MESSIAH.

            They were all so foolish. Didn't they understand that she had the power? They could never wrench her beliefs away from her. She was already working hard to pass the message onto others. She would have her way in the end; she just knew it. The dreamers would be eliminated, if not by her hand, then by someone else's. The good ones were always the most naïve. They thought that by locking her up that they had stopped the evil. They thought that they could stop it, but they forget how widespread evil is.  Oh, they had stopped her, but she was only one vessel for it. They forget that it takes many other forms. They can't possibly keep track of it all the time. It will wait in the dark, sharpening its teeth. It will spring forth and vent its unrelenting fury onto all those who try and stop it. The evil can't be locked away. It can't be buried. Good may have won the battle, but the war is still raging.

The evil will never rest.