EVERY OTHER GIRL

Spoilers: "Stalker" (219)
A/N: Rated PG-13 for mild violence and adult situations.

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Nick sighed, sitting helpless in a wheelchair as he listened to the doctor's instructions to his fellow CSIs: "No work for a week or so, and he'll need plenty of rest."

He sensed Sara nodding behind him, her hands grasping the handles of his wheelchair. "Will do, thank you, doctor," she replied softly, and began wheeling him down the hall.

Nick turned slightly over his shoulder. "Did you find the glove?" he asked, speaking of a latex glove covered in red dye he'd found at the house of Nigel Crane.

"Naw," Warrick replied, "They think he might've gotten away with it."

Nick watched as Sara's lips twitched into a slight smile, a chuckle escaping as her hand found his shoulder, rubbing the corduroy material. "Didn't you hear the doctor? She said you need to rest."

"Yeah," Warrick agreed, walking alongside Sara as they wheeled him out. "Ease up, Ironside. We'll get you home."

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Warrick sighed through pursed lips while he sat in the driver's seat, both his and Sara's eyes trained on Nick as he headed up the stairs to his condo. "Think he'll be okay?" he asked.

Sara slowly drew in a breath from her spot in the passenger seat, her eyes still on the broad-shouldered Texan. "I dunno," she sighed, then turned to meet Warrick's eyes. She narrowed her eyes just slightly. "Would you mind if I stayed with him, maybe?" She quickly justified her request, so he wouldn't read too much into it... "Just to make sure he'll be alright?"

Warrick shrugged. "Sure, fine by me. If anyone knows how to handle him when he's all pissy, it's you."

She smiled and rolled her eyes, climbing out of the truck. "Gee, thanks." After slamming the car door and waving to Warrick, she jogged up the stairs... catching Nick's attention as he was about to unlock his door. She placed her hand on his back, feeling the muscles tense under her fingertips. "Nick, how about I stay with you for a bit?"

He shot her a glare over his shoulder. "I don't need you to baby me, Sara. I'll be fine."

"I know, but I enjoy making your life hell," she retorted. She nodded toward the now-empty driveway. "Plus, Warrick already took off, so you're stuck with me anyway."

He rolled his eyes and let out a heavy sigh, unlocking the door. He held it open for her and allowed her to step inside first, following her a moment later. Sara took a moment to glance at her surroundings, taking in all the masculine paraphernalia. "Never been inside your..." She cleared her throat, "Bachelor pad... before."

He arched an eyebrow, grabbing a couple bottles of water out of the fridge. "And how is this a bachelor pad?" he asked, letting his own eyes wander the room... finally settling on the 5'10" brunette in the center of it all.

She shrugged, shoving her hands in the back pockets of her jeans. She nodded toward one corner of the room... "The fold-up poker table in the corner... poker chip holder on the shelf..." Her eyes drifted to the coffee table, "Along with your stack of, um..." She arched an eyebrow and turned back to him, a silly grin on her face, "Literature?"

He rolled his eyes, a grin escaping despite his best attempts to act exasperated. "'Maxim' is not porn, Sara," he chided her. "Come on... don't tell me you don't have a few issues of Cosmo lying around like every other girl."

She slowly spun on her heel to face him, the corner of her mouth twitching in a smirk. "In case you haven't noticed by now, Nick, I'm not like 'every other girl.'" And she turned away, still glancing around.

He eyed her while removing the caps from their bottles of water, head tipped downward slightly as he gave her the up-and-down glance through his lashes. "I've noticed," he whispered.

"What?" She slowly turned her gaze away from the picture on his shelf she'd been studying, her sable eyes meeting his.

He shook his head and sighed, coming around the corner of the counter to hand her one of the water bottles. "Here's your water..."

She frowned slightly, forehead wrinkling in confusion as she took it from him. "Thanks..." she murmured.

The pair stared at each other for a moment, brown fusing with brown... before Sara sighed, breaking the silence. "So! What should we do?"

Nick shrugged. "Watch TV, play a game..."

She grinned, quipping, "Or read to each other from 'Maxim'?"

He chuckled, his adorable Texan accent rolling off his tongue. "Hey, they do have some pretty interesting articles."

She nodded slowly, eyebrow arched conspicuously... the fact that she wasn't buying it obvious. "Yeah, sure... the 'articles.'"

When Nick turned to glare facetiously at her, she grinned. He shook his head at her behavior and sighed out, "We could play cards. Poker, maybe?"

"Don't know how to play," she replied.

"Okay..." He paused pensively for a moment, then glanced back up at her. "Crazy Eights?"

"Never heard of it."

"Alright," he sighed, "How about 'Slap Jack'?"

"What's that?"

Nick sighed heavily.

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Nick rolled his eyes skyward for what seemed like the hundredth time in the past few minutes, willing them to stay open. He sat forward on his couch, his chin propped in his hand... elbow resting on his knee... looking quite bored while Sara studied her cards intently, biting down absent-mindedly on her lip. He rolled his eyes once more, his words coming out in a pleading groan. "Would you just, please, GO?"

She smirked, setting down one of her pairs. "I like to take my time."

"Yeah, well... I would like to live to see my next birthday, and if you don't go soon, I don't see that happening." After another moment of silence, he began to whine. "Come on, Sara, it's 'Go Fish'! It's not the state poker championship!"

She cocked her head slightly as she smirked at him. "Hey, don't be all grumpy with ME, just because those rippling muscles of yours couldn't save you from being tossed out a window."

"Hey, I didn't see that coming," he defended, "And my muscles aren't 'rippling'."

"How would you know? Do you flex in the mirror every morning? Do you watch your arms as you do things?"

"No..." He shook his head. "Why?" He eyed her warily. "Do YOU?"

She opened her mouth to reply, then shut it again, finding she'd just stuck her foot in her mouth. Her cheeks flared a bright pink. "N-no..."

She averted her eyes, and Nick grinned at this. "Then how would you even be able to call them 'rippling' if you've never looked at them before?"

She closed her eyes, holding her arms up in surrender. "Look, can we just drop this?"

He held his hands palms-up in a shrugging gesture. "Hey, you're the one that brought it up."

She rolled her eyes and sighed heavily, tossing her cards down on the coffee table. "Yes, I've looked at them, alright?" she confessed, almost angrily. "Want me to tell you I've checked out your ass, too? Because I have!"

He laughed, thoroughly enjoying being able to rattle her cage. "And did you like what you saw?"

"Oh, that's it!" she exclaimed, and vaulted across the coffee table at him, pouncing on top of him and pinning him against the couch as she began rabbit-punching his shoulders.

He just laughed and took the beating, ducking out of her way and holding his wrist up. "Sara, come on! My wrist!"

"A whole lot more than your wrist is gonna be sprained in a second, here, pal!" she exclaimed, and continued playfully pummeling him.

"Alright, fine, you asked for it," he warned her, then lunged at her midsection, tickling any spot on her he could find.

"Nick, I'm not ticklish right th--" She burst into giggles as he hit a ticklish spot, and her fists fell open. She began swatting at him, swinging her legs over his to straddle him, trapping him. "Cut it out!"

"No way, you started it!" he childishly exclaimed, and leaned his head back against the couch as he let out a full-blown laugh... their teenage antics finally catching up with them.

Sara stopped her swatting and sat down on his lap, her stomach muscles beginning to hurt from laughing so hard. When Nick tipped his head back up and met her eyes, however, they fell into silence. She was suddenly very aware of his hands on the small of her back, almost pressing her closer. Instead of fighting it, she found herself gravitating toward him... toward his face... a battle raging between both pairs of sable eyes.

When she felt his hands move up her back slightly, she gasped... tension crackling between them as she searched his eyes. There seemed to be a question lingering in the air... in the now minute space between their bodies, and as Sara felt her lips nearing his, she knew what the answer would be. When she felt his breath hitting her lips, she stopped, eyes focusing on them for a moment before meeting his. Their brown irises fused together intensely before simultaneously snapping shut... and Nick leaned up to close the distance between them.

When their lips were just a hair away from touching, the doorbell rang. Sara, startled, catapulted off his lap while he stood abruptly... both faces flushing before he strode over to the door, pulling it open to find a muttering man on the other side. "I saw this house, I s-saw this house..." the man stuttered, panic in his wild eyes as he pushed his way inside... Nick backing up slightly as his eyes remained fixated on him.

"And you would be?"

"Lawrence Pearson," he replied, still nervously glancing around the condo, occasionally stealing glances at the ceiling. "I'm the psychic working with you on the Jane Galloway case."

Nick and Sara exchanged a look before turning their eyes back to the man that stood in the center of the room... Sara still standing near the couch while Nick stood near his phone. Mr. Pearson continued his nervous mutterings. "I saw a crash... I saw a big, c-crash..." He pointed to the back of his head, eyes vacant and seemingly staring into space. "Somebody staring... th-through the back of someone's head." He suddenly spun around, pointing at Nick. "Green tea!" he exclaimed. He shook his head. "Does that mean anything to you? Green tea."

Nick shook his head, tossing a wary glance at Sara, whose eyes seemed to be focused on the rug. "No, no it doesn't," he told him slowly. "Mr. Pearson, why don't you--" Before he could finish his sentence, the phone rang, diverting three spans of attention. Nick picked it up after the first ring. "Yeah..." He paused, slowly turning as he listened to the other end, Grissom informing him that Nigel Crane, their suspect in the Jane Galloway murder, has been in his house. "Your psychic is here," he told his supervisor, subsequently being told to keep him there.

After hanging up, he turned to Sara, finding one presence in the room missing. "Where'd he go?" he asked, and she silently answered by pointing toward the rooms at the back of the house.

Nick nodded his understanding and reached into a cabinet under the phone, pulling out his spare gun. He held it up, his arm at a ninety-degree angle, as he began stealthily creeping toward the bedroom, calling, "Mr. Pearson? Mr. Pearson..."

Sara began to follow close behind him, and, upon feeling this, he stuck his free hand out, placing it against her slim stomach to stop her from going any further. She gasped at the contact, and when Nick turned to glance at her questioningly, both were startled by two bodies crashing down through the ceiling, Nick's gun flying out of his hand in the middle of the commotion. Both bodies crashing down smashed the coffee table positioned over Nick's Texas rug... directly over a big, green letter 'T.'

Only one of the bodies that fell through the ceiling rose up again... and that was Nigel Crane. He and Nick locked eyes, before both sets drifted to the gun between them... and as Nick lunged for it, Nigel calmly bent down and picked it up, cocking it before stepping back. He gestured with the gun toward the now-lifeless body of Lawrence Pearson. "You, uh... you should be more careful about who you let in here," he calmly informed him, missing the wary, nervous stares of Nick and Sara.

"Oh, and good idea with the, uh..." He slapped the gun lightly with his free hand. "Spare gun. Yeah. Keeping it over by the phone... by your, uh... address book and take-out menus."

Nick's eyes were suddenly and inexplicably drawn to the intruder's attire. "Is that my shirt?"

Sara followed his gaze... eyes widening just barely at catching what he'd caught. Nigel glanced down at his shirt. "Oh, uh... yeah. I'm sorry. I picked this up at the drycleaner's. I just," he chuckled, a bit shakily, "I just get a little confused as to what's yours and what's mine."

"You know what, I think I may be a little confused," Nick drawled softly, daring to approach the madman while Sara stood back, only able to watch helplessly. "How did we meet?"

Nigel looked affronted... offended, even, and he shook his head in disbelief, speaking to Nick as if shocked that he didn't remember. "Sports package!" he explained. "A hundred and fifty channels!" While watching the look of realization settle on Nick's features, he added, "I even threw in a couple of movie channels for free!" He sighed. "We talked forever on that day... like we'd been friends for years. Then afterwards, you started blowing me off! You are so self-absorbed, Nick! You didn't even notice that I was right under your nose the whole time!"

"And Jane?" Nick asked, attempting to get some answers pertaining to their current case.

"Jane?" It took a moment for the name to register with Nigel, but when it did, he nodded. "Jane was cool, but... it never would've worked out." He shrugged. "She had a boyfriend, and well, to be honest, was kind of stuck up. Plus," he added, gesturing between the two of them with the gun, "She would've TOTALLY gotten between us, so I got rid of her. And now?"

The change in his tone caused Nick and Sara's eyes to lock onto him, and Sara watched in horror as Nigel pointed the gun straight in line with Nick's forehead. "Now I'm gonna make sure you remember my name."

Sara's voice shook as she spoke, her heart having been bumped up into her throat. "Nick..."

Nick held a hand up to stop her, his eyes boring into her while Nigel stood with his back to her. "Just stay back, Sair..." he warned her. His voice dropped to a whisper, eyes moving back to Nigel. "Stay back." To Nigel, he began to speak very slowly... as if speaking to a child. "Now Nigel, we've got a D.B. over here... remember? So..." He knelt down near Pearson. "Are you gonna help me with the scene?"

"No, uh..." Nigel scratched his head thoughtfully with the gun for a moment, before lowering it once more to Nick's forehead. "I'm gonna give you a whole new one."

Nick's eyes filled with tears. True, he'd already had a gun pointed in his face before... but it still had the same effect on him. "I hate to disappoint you, Nigel," he whispered, "But this isn't the first time I've had a gun in my face."

Sara watched forlornly, feeling like a superhero without her powers at being unable to help. Her eyes were filled to the brim with unshed tears, and she gulped down the enormous lump in her throat, folding her arms across her chest, almost protectively. He couldn't kill Nick, he just couldn't. She was not going to stand idly by and watch someone she cared for be killed. The sound of Nigel's voice, low and menacing, ripped her from her thoughts.

"Do you know what a gun does to a skull at close range, Nick?" he asked, and Nick nodded emphatically in response... his voice gone. "It shatters it," he continued, "Brains everywhere... like strawberry-swirl whip-cream. And you'd have to clean it all up. Little pieces of skull... and bone... and brain."

"Nigel, I'm a really good listener..." Nick murmured, his voice shaking with the emotions threatening to spill forth. He couldn't die now... he didn't want to. Not now... not ever, really, but especially not now. Not with Sara watching. If he had to be killed, then so be it, but he would not let that happen with Sara in the room. He would not have her live the rest of her life with the memory of watching him die. "Nigel, put the gun down. How do you want this to end?"

"I want you to remember my name, Nick..." Nigel murmured, before his voice rose to a yell. "I want you to remember my name!"

What happened next was a blur... everything moving in slow motion for the two CSIs. Nigel had raised his gun to his chin. Nick had called out Sara's name in a panic, and without a second thought she'd reached for the concealed service gun in her hip holster, extending her arms while Nick ducked, and shooting Nigel once... twice... then a third time in the back, her eyes widening as both he and Nick fell to the ground. That was when everything grew deadly silent.

"Nick!" She threw her gun down and ran over to him, throwing Nigel off of him while she knelt by his side. One hand rested on his chest while the other checked his face for visible injuries. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah..." he managed to grunt, his face contorted in pain while he held his side. "I may have cracked another rib or two, but I'm alright."

She let out a sigh, smiling in relief, and dropped her head to her chest... looking up when his hand cupped her cheek. His sable eyes delved into hers... each set still gleaming with unshed tears. "You saved my life..." he murmured.

She smiled tearfully, leaning into his touch just slightly. "It's what every other girl would do," she told him humbly.

He shook his head, "No, it's not..." and a small smile escaped his lips, "And you're not like every other girl."

The pair shared a smile as Sara still knelt beside him, her hands resting delicately on his chest. Nick swept a hand through her hair and was rewarded with a million dollar smile as she leaned down to kiss him. When their lips were but a breath away from touching, the front door was kicked open, startling the pair once more apart. Brass and the rest of the CSI team stormed inside, Brass and Warrick in front with their guns at the ready. "Guys!" Warrick called, heading over to Nick and Sara while still keeping his eyes peeled... "We got a heads-up about Crane being at your house. We came right over."

Grissom and Catherine joined Warrick, hovering over Nick and Sara. "You alright, Nicky?" Grissom asked.

Nick nodded and began to sit up, wincing at the pain in his ribs. Sara's hand on his chest pushed him back down, and he glanced up to meet her smile. "Just lie still," she instructed him softly, and he nodded.

Upon meeting the questioning looks of the rest of the team, Sara explained their situation. "I shot Nigel Crane, and he fell on top of Nick. He may have another cracked rib."

Grissom nodded toward one of the two corpses. "That Crane right there?"

"Yeah."

Nick smiled at everybody, almost in awe... pride seeping into his voice. "She saved my life," he told them, and watched as a slow, almost knowing smile tugged at the corner's of Catherine's lips.

"I didn't 'save your life'..." Sara jumped in, smirking. "I just... did what I had to do." She sighed, "Gotta look out for one of your own..." and turned to the others. "Right?"

Catherine, who'd still been grinning shamelessly at Nick, suddenly turned serious... nodding slowly at Sara. "Right," she replied, though the Cheshire grin was once more threatening to break free.

"He's gone," Warrick reported, having been checking for a pulse from Nigel Crane.

"So's our psychic," Brass chimed in, hovering over the body of Lawrence Pearson.

"Warrick, call the coroner, tell him we've got two D.B.'s and that we need him here right away," Grissom commanded, and when Warrick nodded in response and pulled out his cell phone, Grissom turned to Nick. "And Nicky, we gotta get you to the hospital."

"Again?" Nick whined, then recoiled upon receiving a look from Sara.

"Yes, again," Catherine chuckled, and pulled out her keys to the Tahoe. "Y'know, I bet they've never had so much business from one patient in a four-hour period," she quipped.

While Grissom and Sara smirked at this, Nick just glared at her.

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"Well, his ribs aren't cracked," the doctor reported... the same doctor that had seen Nick earlier that day. "No moreso than they were earlier, anyway." She glanced to Sara and Warrick, telling them, "Just keep him on the pain pills and he'll be fine. I don't see the need to prescribe anything new."

Sara nodded her understanding. "Thank you, doctor," she replied, then turned to grin at Nick as he came out of the exam room.

The doctor turned on her heel briefly, pointing sternly at Nick while addressing the others. "And make sure he gets plenty of REST..." she told them, then continued heading down the hall.

Grissom and Catherine turned over their shoulders to watch her go for a moment before turning back to Nick and Sara, a silly smirk on Catherine's face. Warrick chuckled lightly. "That's what they told him a few hours ago, and look what happened."

Nick sighed, locking eyes with Sara. A tense sort of electricity seemed to leap from one to the other, and the rest of the team exchanged glances. Grissom grasped Catherine's arm. "Uhh, don't you and I have to be in autopsy with Doc Robbins right about now?"

She smiled and allowed him to lead her away, her eyes still on Nick and Sara. "Why yes, I think we do..."

Warrick, catching on to what they were doing, nodded his head and began to follow them. "Yeah, uhh... I'll catch a ride with you guys back to the lab."

Nick and Sara, completely alone once more, studied each other before fidgeting nervously... Nick shuffling his feet and shoving his hands in his pockets while Sara sighed and thrust her hands into the back pockets of her jeans. After a moment, she glanced up at him. "Why, uh..." She smirked. "Why don't we get you home now, Daredevil?"

He chuckled, "Alright," and followed her out, walking beside her... the two of them occasionally throwing tense glances at each other on the way.

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Once inside his condo, which had been cleaned up remarkably quickly, both their eyes drifted toward the ceiling, and the gaping hole directly in the center. "Man, that's gonna take awhile to fix," he drawled in a low voice.

Sara followed his gaze. "Yeah." A smirk tugged at one corner of her lips, her tone sarcastic, yet filled with concern at the same time. "Just be careful who you hire to do it, huh?"

He nodded silently, the full meaning of her words not going unnoticed. "Yeah."

She nodded toward the back wing of the condo. "Why don't you head to your room... get some rest like the doctor said."

"Since when did you become my mother?" he quipped, glaring facetiously at her.

She mirrored his glare right back at him, finding it slowly melted into a smirk. "I'm not your mother, I just enjoy pushing you around." She shoved him lightly toward his room, following him in.

He turned slightly over his shoulder on the way, smirking at her. "Well cut it out, I'm not your bitch."

She winked playfully. "We'll just have to see about that, won't we?"

He took off his jacket upon entering his bedroom and tossed it on a nearby chair, wincing as he laid down on the bed. Sara rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. "Quit being such a baby."

"Hey, it hurts!" he whined.

"Yeah, yeah..." She checked her watch. "It's probably time for you to take another Vicodin for your wrist, I'll be right back." And she headed for the kitchen before he could protest.

When she returned, she carried with her his open bottle of water from earlier, and one of his pills... offering them to him. He took them with a smile of thanks, and downed the pill quickly with a sip of water, setting the bottle on his nightstand when he'd finished. He then leaned back against the pillows, smiling at her as she sat beside him on the edge of the bed. "You already saved my life, Sara," he told her, "You don't need to take care of me. I can do th--"

"Hey!" She placed a finger to his lips to silence him, her stern tone catching his attention.

For a moment they stared into one another's eyes... as they'd done twice before already... and a small smile escaped Sara's lips, her voice coming out soft. "Maybe I'm not doing this for you."

He searched her eyes, slowly smiling in return, and this time when she leaned down to kiss him... nobody was there to stop them. Their lips melded together in a slow, soft kiss, both sucking in deep breaths at the new sensations coursing through them. Nick's hands traveled up Sara's body, tickling up her sides and gliding over her shoulders and neck before his fingers tangled in her thick chocolate strands.

Sara, in the meantime, was busy grasping Nick's shoulders, skipping her fingertips down his arms and over his chest before moving to his biceps. When she gave them a squeeze, he chuckled against her lips and pulled away. "My 'rippling muscles'?" he teased.

She laughed. "What can I say? I have a fixation."

With that, they resumed their kiss, Nick's hands still threading through her hair while hers traveled his torso and stomach... being extra careful as she glided her fingers over his ribs. When he sighed against her lips, she sighed back... that sigh turning to a gasp as she felt his hands slide down her body to grasp her hips... his strong arms wrapping around her waist and gathering her close seconds later.

At his prompt, Sara parted her lips, receiving the gentle caress of his tongue against hers... her moan lost inside their kiss. He pulled her close again and, taking the hint, she climbed into bed, laying on top of him, freezing when she heard his pained whimper. "Are you okay?" she asked breathlessly.

"Yeah..." he grunted, though it was a lie. When he met her eyes, he chuckled. "Okay, no, but..." He swung her onto her back, turning on his side to lay over her. "There. This is better," he smiled, and his hand caressed her stomach as he leaned down to kiss her once more.

She pulled away suddenly... the abruptness throwing him for a loop. "Nick..." she whispered, and looked up into his eyes while he looked down at her questioningly. She glided her fingers over his lips, tracing them, smiling when he kissed the tip of each one. Her tone turned serious. "I almost lost you today."

He shook his head adamantly. "No, you didn't." He stared into her eyes, the intensity speaking the truth. "Sara, you couldn't have lost me. I wasn't willing to leave."

Her unshed tears from earlier returned to her eyes, blurring his image. "Willing or not, Nick, he still could've shot you."

"Hey, hey..." He reached out and caught the tears as they fell, dusting her cheek with light kisses. "You've just gotta keep in mind that he DIDN'T shoot me... because you shot him first."

"Yeah..." she whispered.

He smiled. "Sara, you will never know how grateful I am for what you did. I mean, I'm gonna be making this up to you for the rest of my natural born life!"

She allowed a giggle to escape as she dried the rest of her tears. "Promise?"

With one look into his eyes, she knew. "I swear," he whispered, and leaned down to resume their kiss... reaching over her to turn the light out.

As darkness blanketed them, the only sounds in the room were that of their kisses, and their labored breathing. Suddenly, the silence was broken. "Did you lock the door?" Sara asked out of the blue.

"Yeah," Nick chuckled, "Don't worry. The only ones that can get in here now are all those rats and bugs that can get in through that whole in the ceiling."

After a brief pause, the dark silence was broken by an exasperated, disgusted whine, "Niiiiiick!" followed by a smack on the shoulder, and Nick's pained chuckle.

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FINIS