Note: This is my first attempt at fanfic, normally I write original stories but I re-watched all nine seasons of the CSI: New York series and my imagination wouldn't shut down. This is the result. Thank you for spending your valuable time reading. Comments are welcome and appreciated.
A young woman with a long, thick brunette braid and bright green eyes carrying a laundry basket barreled down the hallway. She was always moving fast, almost in self-defense as if she was trying to outrun what life was going to throw at her next. Normally it wasn't a problem as everyone in NYC tended to move fast but this time she nearly ran into the back of a man standing immobile blocking her path. Emerald O'Ryan recognized the man in her way and though her throat closed for a moment she made herself relax and joke in a cheerful voice, "Adam? Yo, Adam. Earth to Adam … slow traffic should stay to the right."
Adam turned painfully and blinked at her but appeared to have trouble focusing.
The young woman dropped the basket – thankfully not spilling the contents though she wouldn't have cared if she had – and cried, "Oh my God Adam … what happened?!"
Slowly he answered, "Uh … I … I think I lost my keys. Or they have them. I can't remember. I'm pretty sure they have my phone. For evidence. I kinda remember someone telling me that. Dunno for sure about the keys though. My iPod is at the office. That I do know."
The answer was typical Adam, more information than you'd asked for but still somehow leaving the original question unanswered. Still, it was obvious that something had happened but whether it was work-related or something else wasn't. What was also obvious was the beating written on Adam's face in numerous cuts and bruises. Anxiously she asked, "Where's Michelle?"
"I … I don't wanna … talk … about her."
Emerald … Emi to her few friends of which she named Adam one of the best she'd ever had … realized something was wrong … very, very wrong. In a gentle voice that was threaded with a barely discernable Irish lilt she said, "Come along Adam. Let me help you clean up."
"This is so wrong," he said, shaking his head. Another out of context statement accompanied by a brief resistance to the hand she'd put on his arm before allowing the petite woman to pull him towards the door to her apartment, a few doors down from his own.
Trying to understand what was going on Emi asked, "What's so wrong?"
When Adam stopped and ran both bloodied and bruised knuckled hands roughly through his unruly hair in angry confusion Emi determined to remain calm though it wasn't easy. Carefully she asked, "Which this? Me? I'm just a friend helping a friend and that's not wrong." She gently pulled and he allowed himself to begin walking once again.
"No. Dammit Emi, I screwed up. I'm sorry. I'm so damn sorry. And now it is all screwed up and all I can do is stand here like a fool and be sorry about it. Which is useless. Just like me. I know it is useless but I can't stop being sorry because I am." Then abruptly Adam stopped talking so fast Emi heard his teeth clack together. He also started grinding his teeth which was something he did only rarely and only when he was extremely stressed out.
Emi opened her apartment door with the keys she had clipped to the belt loop of her nearly too loose jeans. She'd never regained the weight she'd lost and couldn't seem to dig up the desire or inclination to replace the parts of her wardrobe that needed it. As she pushed the laundry basket through the door with her foot she continued to pull Adam along though he was only barely cooperating, on the other hand neither was he resisting very hard. "First, you're not a fool Adam Ross and unless you want me to light into you about it you'll stop calling yourself that. It's not at all healthy. Second you already said you're sorry even though you have nothing to be sorry for. I mean assuming you are talking about what I think you're referring to. As for what is screwed up, that you'll have to explain a bit more for me to understand. Now come along and sit. You're too tall for me to reach this way."
"Why do you even want to? Why should you want to?! I …"
"Adam," Emi put her hand on his chest when he seemed to finally understand where he was and tried to leave. "I don't know what has happened but you look like you've been brawling, and not the kind you get into at Uncle Haw's gym … looks more like something that would happen at the bar next door. And you never brawl. Well, almost never. You can't help if you're part Irish. Normally you have more commonsense. Unless your Irish falls out and then all bets are off. But that's just being a man in general and an Irish man in particular. So whatever you were brawling about has obviously upset you because you aren't the type to brawl for the fun of it. Now sit and even if you don't want to tell me, at least let me clean you up." The casual observer would note that Emi shared some of the same problems as Adam … when they were nervous or upset they tended to ramble with non sequiturs, run on sentences, and broken phrases littering their conversation. It was one of the first things that had made them friends; it was like an inside joke they shared that annoyed others but which they could see the humor of … at least when it was with each other.
Adam didn't want to share a joke right then, inside or not, so kept the words piling up in his brain behind his teeth. He tried to not even let what he was thinking show in his eyes but it left him looking feverish and on the edge of a break down. Finally he allowed Emi to guide him into a vintage aluminum chair with a cracked vinyl seat that had seen better days that was pushed under a matching two person table, all of which looked like they had been scavenged from an old diner remodel. In point of fact Adam knew that is exactly what it was since he had been with Emi when she found them in the scrap dumpster and helped her to drag them out and bring them home when she needed to downsize her furnishings. The fact barely flitted across his consciousness but it still managed to cause him pain. He wanted to say I'm sorry again but refused to let the words out knowing they were useless.
Emi was worried. In the nearly three years she'd known him she'd seen Adam in many extremes of mood; from so happy and energetic that he reminded her of the hysterically funny puppy she'd had as a young child before moving to NYC; to the less pleasant facets of upset, nervousness, and painful shyness. A few months ago she'd seen him furiously angry and that time he'd come close to frightening her. She'd seen him speechless only a few times but normally due to surprise or awe at something wonderfully unexpected … like their first kiss. But she'd never seen him like this.
She opened a bottom cabinet in the miniscule kitchen of her efficiency apartment and took out a first aid kit even Adam's co-worker Sheldon Hawkes would have thought well of. Setting it down on the table she opened it and used its contents to gently clean the cuts and abrasions on Adam's face. It was obvious he – or at least someone – had already tried to clean some blood away but it had only been a cursory effort at best.
Adam barely registered what Emi was doing. Or perhaps it is more correct to say that Adam was ignoring what she was doing. He'd learned early in life to ignore physical discomforts and pain. But the other pain he was feeling, that was impossible to ignore no matter how hard he tried and it felt like it was eating his soul. He felt like a fool. He was a fool. Yet here she was treating him like … like … like she used to. Like nothing bad had ever happened. Like he hadn't made the choice to break her heart. The knowing of that giving him more pain than he has from all the cuts and bruising combined. But feeling her broken heart meant he didn't have to feel his own quite so much.
Trying to avoid gazing at the fragile looking woman standing closer to him than she had been in almost three months Adam's eyes roamed the nearly closet sized space she lived in. It was crowded but Adam knew that it had been the only place available at the time that let her keep her security deposit. She hadn't been able to stomach the idea of staying in the other apartment. Not after …
Then his eyes found two pictures in frames set side-by-side near the day bed that also doubled as the unit's sofa. One was of a young man with a face even more sensitive than his own and the other was of a young child, a girl, holding a stuffed rabbit. Adam winced.
"Is it sore?"
It took a moment for Adam to form an answer because he couldn't decide whether she was referring to the cut she'd been cleaning with antiseptic, or his heart. He answered about both by saying, "Yeah."