Sunday – 10:03 p.m.
"It's not your fault, Gil."
"It feels like my fault. I shouldn't have pushed him to - "
"To what? Take his vacation days? To rest? He needed a rest and you know it. He would've collapsed eventually working the way he was. We all had more down time than him, what with Vincent sick and all."
Grissom sighed and sat back, his eyes fixed on the still form in front of him. Grief swept over him. The doctors prognosis was bad. Really bad.
"They said... They said he won't survive til morning."
Catherine looked away, unable to comfort the man in front of her. In truth, she didn't know how to comfort herself. She wasn't aware she was crying until the first tear had journeyed down her face and dripped onto her hands. She looked up as the door opened.
"Grissom, Catherine. I, I came as soon as I..." Nick trailed off as he stood awkwardly in the doorway. "He's not going to make it, is he." His voice broke and he moved his gaze to the painfully still and pale form on the cot in the middle of the room.
"No, Nicky, he's... he's going to... The doctors said - "
"They said he won't live to see the morning." Grissom's voice was rough with suppressed tears, though they sparkled in his eyes. Nick only nodded, helplessly, like he had no idea how he had reached this point. Like he had forgotten the past week, like he was lost in a maze that he didn't understand. And maybe he was. Weren't they all?
Conversation stopped as they all ran out of things to say. What did you say, when you were standing deathwatch over someone you knew and cared about? What could you say?
"His parents are coming, but they don't think they'll be able to get here before five a.m."
None of them spoke the words aloud. They were all thinking it though.
It's up to us then.
The three of them sat, listening to the slow, laboured beeping that echoed through the room. Wondering why it had come to this.
Previous Saturday – 6:21 p.m.
"You should take some time off."
"You need me here."
"We can get a replacement. Besides, Vincent is coming back in two days. We can manage until then."
"Not with the amount that's coming in."
"You're going to lose the days if you don't use them soon."
"When there's less stuff to process."
"Greg." The sternness of Grissom's voice made him turn. "You haven't had a day off in... well, I can't remember how long, which means it's high time you had one. Or seven."
"You've been pulling doubles for the past ten days. You've been sleeping in the break room. Even Sara has had more time off than you."
Greg reluctantly grinned. "Well, that's when you know it's really bad, right?"
Grissom smiled back. "Yeah. We can handle the load without you for a week. No big deal. But you need a rest."
Greg sighed, but to be honest, Grissom was right. His eyes were ringed with dark circles, almost as if he'd been punched in the face a couple times. He was pale, and haggard, and had even given up on his rock music. When asked why, he had said he just preferred the quiet. But in truth, it gave him headaches.
"Alright." He reluctantly agreed, but was secretly relieved. He would have felt terrible taking time off when they needed him, but as long as it was Grissom pushing him to, he felt better about it.
"I've already arranged for someone to come in tomorrow, so you can have a week starting then."
Greg laughed, rather ruefully. "You had this planned."
"All of us noticed how bad you were looking and decided we could make do without you for a week." Greg raised his hands in supplication.
"I bow to your wisdom, oh mighty night-shift supervisor."
Grissom smiled and left Greg to finish up his work.
-------------Tuesday – 3:17 p.m.
"This arrived for you, Mr. Grissom."
A secretary handed him a letter before heading off to deliver the rest of her charges. Grissom looked down at the letter for a moment before continuing on to his office. He tossed it onto a pile with some unfinished paperwork and sat down to fill out some efficiency forms and eat his lunch.
He was juts finishing his turkey sandwich when his phone rang.
"Grissom." He dotted the last i and sat back. There was no answer on the other end.
"Hello?" He tried again, but again could only hear the sound of breathing. Not heavy, faint. He listened harder. Was that sobbing? Was there someone crying in the background?
There was a knock on the door and he quickly waved Warrick to sit down. Warrick sat silently, slightly confused.
"Who is this." Grissom's voice was hard now, and he breathed a sigh of relief when a voice finally answered him.
"Hello, Mr. Grissom." It was a male voice, and the sobbing in the background could no longer be heard.
"Who is this?" Grissom repeated.
"An old friend."
There was silence for a few more moments. Grissom covered the phone with his hand and whispered for Warrick to get Brass. "Phone trace." He returned to the phone as Warrick quickly left, returning minutes later with Brass, Archie and some equipment.
Archie began to set up as the man began to speak again.
"A trace won't work, Mr. Grissom."
Deciding to be honest, hoping for information, Grissom nodded. "And why is that?"
"If I told you, I'd have to kill... well, not you. But him. And I don't think you want him to die."
"Who is he?" Grissom got a thumbs up from Archie, the machinery was in place. They were being recorded now.
"Guess." The voice held a note of amusement now. He knew he was running the show.
"Give me a hint." Grissom wasn't paying attention to the conversation, just trying to keep the man talking until Archie could, hopefully, get a location.
His hopes crashed when Archie stood up straight and shook his head. They fell even further when he was given the clue.
"He wears a lab coat, and he looks pretty tired."
Grissom's heart froze. "I don't believe you."
"Really?" The man chuckled lightly. "Then why do you sound so scared? The great Gil Grissom, actually scared. That should go down in the history books."
"What do you want?" His voice was strong again, a note of steel had entered it, but doing little to help.
"Revenge." The man snarled suddenly. "You stole more from me than you could ever comprehend. My family, my friends, my life. So, I'd advise you to watch out. I have nothing to lose anymore, and aren't they the most dangerous kind of men, Mr. Grissom? The ones with nothing to lose?"
"Yes, they are." Grissom's voice was steady still, but inside he was battling himself. Part of him wanted to beg and cry for Greg's life, another was trying to figure out who this man could possibly be. Another part was completely sceptical, the scientist part, demanding hard evidence.
Hope flared in him once more.
"If it really is Greg, I want proof."
"Ah, very good Mr. Grissom. I believe that you received an envelope earlier?"
Grissom had forgotten about the others in the room, who were now listening to the recording with bated breath. They looked up when the saw Grissom rummaging around on his desk before victoriously pulling an envelope from the mess. He tore it open and bloody chunks of dyed brown hair fell out.
"Is that proof enough?" The man sounded quite happy now, but Grissom wasn't quite willing to accept it yet.
"No." Grissom sounded angrier now, but he was fighting tooth and nail against reality. "I want to speak to him."
The man chuckled again. "Of course, but he's feeling a little out of sorts right now."
Grissom's stomach clenched, and he waited, praying, as he heard some rustling, and then a faint cry of pain.
"It's for you." The voice sounded vindictive as he gave the phone over. Grissom waited breathlessly for the answer. And his heart broke.
"He- hello?" Greg's voice was slightly hoarse, rough, and he sounded exhausted beyond measure.
"Grissom?" Now Greg began to sob, pain evident through his tears and the phone. "Grissom, please help me, oh god, please help me-"
"That's enough brat." Another cry, and more faint sobbing before the man came back on the line.
"Proof enough?" As if not expecting a reply, he continued. "I will kill him slowly, Grissom. And then I will go after everyone you care about. Your team, the lab techs, friends, everyone. But not you. You will know what I did as I tear away everyone and everything you care about.
"Goodbye, Mr. Grissom."
The line went dead.
Sunday – 11:31 p.m.
The trio sat silently, awkwardly. Each contemplating their own thoughts and memories. The slow, steady beeping had become a monotonous rhythm, the only time marker that they needed.
Nick sat, wishing that he'd had more time to get to know Greg. He'd only just known him, really known him, and now...
Now, now was the problem. Now, they were in limbo, for even the doctors were not absolutely sure that Greg would die. When pressed, they had admitted, however reluctantly, that there was a slim, almost non-existent chance that he would pull through.
Nick wasn't sure if he should cling to that and hope, or forget it and simply accept the inevitable.
Tuesday – 7:05 p.m.
Grissom was sure the day couldn't get any worse. Not after that horrendous phone call. He had always prided himself on thinking ahead, being one step before any criminal mind. Granted, he worked in the aftermath of crimes, but he also ran the top shift in the top lab in the country. He wouldn't ever call himself an expert, but he was damn close.
Which is why his lack of foresight galled him so much, and the consequences would haunt him for the rest of his life.
"Gil, we've done everything we can for now. We have to wait for the evidence. You know that better than anyone."
Grissom favoured Brass with an impassive glare. Brass only shook his head.
"Fine. Call me if you have any genius ideas."
Brass left the office and Grissom, who was searching for any suspects from old files, unimpressed with Grissom's behaviour, and not truly blaming him. After all, it wasn't every day some psycho came along and threatened everything and everyone you cared about.
Feeling anger bubble up, Brass tried to calm himself down. He still felt protective of the lab personnel, even if he hadn't overseen them for years now. He had hand-picked Greg from all the applicants, so he was entitled to feel anger. No, that wasn't right. He wasn't angry. He was furious. And if it was the last thing he would ever do, he would find that lunatic and, well, best not go there.
Brass reached the reception area and stopped to talk to one of the women there, saying goodnight to Jacqui as she signed out.
Pausing a few more minutes, he headed out to his car when he heard a soft cry and wet thud. Looking for the source of the sounds, he saw a dark figure sprint around the corner of the building. Following, Brass sped around the corner, only to find the figure had disappeared. Re-tracing his steps, he saw a dark shape on the ground in between two parked cars.
Kneeling down, he saw it was Jacqui. Examining her, he felt for a pulse. Feeling a faint beat against his fingertips, he pulled out his radio and called for an ambulance. He checked further, finding a bloody dent on her skull.
Swearing softly, Brass waited for help, wondering if it was the same lunatic who had Greg that did this.
Monday – 12:49 p.m.
Grissom stared at the pale figure, his guilt almost overwhelming him. Never, in all his career, had he felt so helpless. So utterly hopeless. Even if Greg did somehow, miraculously, pull through, he would never be the same. None of them would.
The beeping droned on, hypnotizing Grissom. He thought about life, and what it would be like to go back to the lab, short of a DNA tech, a fingerprint specialist, a level three CSI.
He couldn't truly picture the lab without them.
Wednesday – 12:24 p.m.
"Nothing. There's nothing here!" Sara exploded out of her seat, pacing furiously around the table. She stopped, turned, and paced back, all the movements precise, exact.
"We'll find him." Grissom tried to stay calm, but he was close to exploding himself. Two days since the call, that meant five days with that Lunatic. He'd sounded so broken over the phone, by now –
Grissom cut off that line of thought. He had to concentrate. That he had managed to keep the case had been a small miracle, though Ecklie had offered assistance. Grissom just hoped Director Corvallo wouldn't pull him and his team from the case.
Grissom sat back, watching Sara pace the room. Forward, stop, turn, forward, stop, turn, forward, stop, turn. Like a clock, her shoes clicked at even intervals. Finally, Grissom spoke up.
"We will find him. There has to be something." Sara stopped, but only briefly.
"There's nothing. No trace of this guy. We have no idea what case he's even from! All the recently paroled and released convicts are clean, so to speak, we couldn't trace him over the phone, and there is nothing, nothing here or anywhere else!"
Grissom watched her pace for several more lengths before standing. "Let's go."
"Where?" Sara stopped pacing –finally! – and followed Grissom out into the hall. He said nothing else to her until they reached his Tahoe in the parking lot.
"Where are we going?" she asked again, a note of insistence in her voice.
"It's a secret." Grissom smiled, and though it was a little forced, and definitely not large, it was a smile nonetheless. Sara climbed into the car reluctantly. She glanced vaguely around, for the first time realizing how tired she actually was.
Grissom pulled out of the lot and manoeuvred into traffic. It wasn't New York, but the traffic was still difficult this time of day. He was heading to a small diner he knew, a nice little place with decent food at decent prices.
The ride was silent, Sara still ignorant of their destination and unwilling to broach conversation. They both felt awkward, unsettled, but Grissom was determined to give them both a break.
He pulled up outside the diner and turned the car off. "We're here."
Sara sat up, and then looked sceptically at Grissom. "A diner? Shouldn't we be working the case?"
"We both need a break. By the time we're done, Warrick will be back, and we can start fresh with fresh eyes."
Sara looked like she was going to argue for a brief moment, but then nodded and got out of the car. She knew she wasn't going to win this one, and she also knew Grissom was right.
Monday – 1:56 a.m.
Catherine contemplated the events that led to this specific present. She wondered if there was anything she could have possibly done to prevent this particular outcome. Looking back, she saw so many places that she could have acted, it seemed so obvious now.
Not that it had been then.
Then, they were muddling through, trying to figure out who. The why was easy, Doyle had said so himself, revenge. He wanted to visit upon Grissom the same agony he himself had been forced through, losing everything dear to him in a matter of days.
He claimed to have been wrongly convicted, but no one would believe him now.
Two counts of murder, though the toll could rise any minute now...
Catherine looked at Greg. What was left of him. The cut on his cheek a stark brown in comparison with his too-pale skin. His arms bandaged, a cast on his right wrist.
She knew he hated hospitals, especially after the explosion. She suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to take him away from this place. Away from the hurt and fear. He just couldn't catch a break, and Catherine felt somehow responsible for this latest trauma.
Her thoughts turned briefly to Lindsey, asleep downstairs. Her motherly instinct was to go to her, to hold her, to tell her everything was going to be alright, even though Catherine herself wasn't so sure of that.
Common sense held her where she was. Lindsey was asleep, and Lindsey was alive. If she left, Greg might die. She could never forgive herself for that.
So she stayed, listening to that beep... beep... beep... Wondering whether it would stop, when it would stop.
Wednesday – 1:07 p.m.
"What happened?" Grissom and Sara stared at the carnage around them. It was hard to accept. Brass looked around with vengeful eyes.
"Car bomb." Brass' voice was flat, belying the emotion in his eyes. "Warrick's. Went off as he was heading into the building. Killed a receptionist as she was leaving for lunch. Warrick's in hospital, severe burns and some deep lacerations. Not critical, but he'll be there for a while."
Sara stood, feeling slightly numb. She watched as dayshift searched through the debris. It must have been one hell of a bomb, she thought. It had taken out the cars on either side of it, as well as blowing out the windows in the building directly in front.
She turned to see Brass and Grissom treading carefully through the piles of metal that had already been sorted over to Ecklie. She noticed he didn't look happy, and while at one time that would have given her pleasure, at the moment, she was too tired and frustrated.
Never, in all her time as a CSI, had a case been so tiring, nor had one ever hit this close to home. Not that you could get much closer than some vengeful criminal out for blood.
A large black bag being wheeled away caught her attention. The receptionist, a completely innocent bystander, now dead. Because of one man's selfishness.
Anger suddenly swept through Sara, wiping away the numbness and leaving her fuming. What right had he to do this? To kidnap and torture Greg, to almost kill Jacqui and Warrick, to murder a young woman who wasn't even involved in putting away criminals?
Leaving the scene, Sara strode into the building. She was going to find out who he was, even if it meant she was the next target. She would find out who was doing this to her family, and she would get him.
He may have started out innocent, but clean he was far from now.
She strode into one of the computer labs, switching on the monitor and accessing all the files on Grissom's cases since he started as a green intern fresh from college.
That Lunatic wasn't going to get away from this in one piece.
Wednesday – 9:32 p.m.
Nick unlocked his apartment door. He felt drained completely, his mind fuzzy mush inside his skull. He dropped his keys on the counter next to the phone and headed towards his couch, intent on collapsing like a sack of potatoes.
The phone rang.
Nick groaned as he was just about to relax. He heaved himself up again and picked up the phone, to tired to even be annoyed.
"Hello?" There was no answer from the other end of the line, only a heavy silence. "Hello?"
"Hello Nicholas Stokes."
"Who is this?" Nick didn't recognize the voice, but it sounded amused somehow.
"I'm hurt. After the lovely show I've been putting on, you don't recognize me?"
A chill settled in the pit of Nick's stomach. He turned around, looking out his windows for any sign of a watcher. The voice on the end of the phone laughed.
"I'm sure you're waiting for me to threaten you, yes?"
"That would seem your style." Nick continued looking around, his mind adrenaline alert, tiredness forgotten.
"Well, then you're going to be disappointed. Truly. I'm not calling to threaten anyone. I'm calling to do. Actions speak louder than words, yes?"
Before Nick could reply, another voice was heard in the background. And it wasn't the one Nick had expected to hear, this one was far worse.
"Let me go!" The high-pitched girl's voice cried out again, and then screeched. A male voice laughed, the cold one Nick had talked to, before saying something that Nick couldn't make out. A rustling noise followed.
"Hello?" Lindsey's voice was timid, and soft. Nick swallowed hard.
"Lindsey, are you okay? Where are you? Has he hurt you?"
"Nicky, I want to go home. I want to see mommy."
"I know, I know. But right now, I need you to be strong for me. Can you tell me where you are?"
"It's big. And cold."
"Anything else? Street signs or buildings or anything? Can you see out a window?"
"How are you? Has he – Has he touched you? Hurt you?"
"No, but he said he would if I wasn't good."
Nick let out his breath, before focusing again on the phone. "Then do what he tells you, okay honey?"
There came another rustling noise then, and the cold voice was back. "You see, she's alright. I haven't touched her, I'm not like that. Children are our most precious resource, and unless given no other choice, I would never harm one. Keep that in mind, Mr. Stokes."
The click of the phone disconnecting was dim in Nick's mind. There was only one thought running through his head.
The Lunatic has Lindsey. It took several minutes for his brain to start processing at the usual speed, and then another thought overtook the first.
Greg lay in the dark, alone. He hurt, everywhere.
He contemplated vaguely life, the universe and everything. He loved Douglas Adams books, which none of his colleagues would have been surprised at. Adams was a nut like him, crazy – in a good way.
Greg rolled over onto his other side, via his stomach. His back hurt too much, and though he had no idea what his captor had done, he hadn't been given enough drugs to completely block the pain.
He heard footsteps echo down the metal stairs. He thought he was in some sort of warehouse, but since he was still out of it, he wasn't sure.
"Hello, little one."
Greg shuddered away from the hands reaching for him, and all he got for his troubles was a kick to his ribs.
Moaning at the shooting pain in his side, Greg didn't resist as the man pulled him up and forced him onto a chair. There was a camera set up, and the man was wearing plain black clothes and a balaclava. He paused in front of Greg and grinned at him briefly.
Greg decided he didn't like that smile. Too many teeth.
The man turned back to his work, finishing the camera setup, or whatever it was, stopping briefly and taking a deep breath. He began to speak...
Monday – 4:06 a.m.
"How is he?" Greg's parents gingerly crossed the room, as if trying not to wake their sleeping son. That he still was alive was a miracle in itself, Grissom doubted that Greg would be waking up any time soon, if ever.
"He's... alive." Grissom wasn't quite sure what else to say, but in the silence of the room, that statement seemed wrong. But then, what was the right thing to say when your only son lay dying slowly because of a revenge bent madman?
Catherine offered her seat to Greg's mother, Susan. She declined the seat, but when Catherine excused herself pleading a visit to Lindsey, Susan took the empty seat anyway.
Greg's father, David, simply stood, gazing down on his son with a face full of regrets. "I never told him how much I loved him."
His voice seemed broken, as if with the tragedy that had befallen Greg, David too had been broken. Under different circumstances, Grissom felt that he might have found this sort of bond interesting, but this was now, and one of his co-worker's lives was damaged beyond repair.
A doctor came in, attempting to be unobtrusive, and failing spectacularly. He looked uncomfortable, and Grissom wondered how often he had to deal with grieving families. Not as often as Grissom, but maybe that made it worse.
When they got to Grissom, at least they knew, beyond all doubt, that their loved one was dead. In a hospital that wasn't the case. There was always the hope, so the crushing of that fragile optimism must be ten times worse.
When the doctor's brow wrinkled, it caught the attention of the room. They had all been told that there was no hope, that it was only a matter of time. There was nothing the doctors could do.
The doctor noticed the attention he had inadvertently garnered and left as soon as he was able. Nick watched him move away down the hall and turned back to his friend.
He sat just inside the door, watching Greg's parents. They had moved closer when the doctor had entered, displacing David from his spot over Greg. They stayed together, David behind his wife, one of his hands on her shoulder, one of her hands on his. A bond of touch.
Nick felt the soreness from his own encounter with Doyle, and he suddenly wished it hurt more. They had thought Greg was on his holiday, instead he was being tortured by that sadistic monster.
Nick excused himself quietly from the small group, pleading exhaustion. Grissom gave him a fish-eyed stare which Nick ducked as well as he could. Yes, he felt guilty for leaving, but he wasn't sure he could take the guilt when the monitor finally became monotone.
Survivors guilt. That's what it was called. Nick knew that. But it didn't help ease the pain.
He headed down the hall to the elevator. He could at least visit Warrick before leaving. He pressed the button and leaned against the wall.
He was the only one in the elevator, which he was thankful for. He wasn't sure if he could be with people right now, and Nick definitely preferred to use what little energy and patience he had left with Warrick.
The bell dinged, and the doors slid open. Heading down the hall, Nick almost hoped that his friend wasn't awake. Then he wouldn't have to answer painful questions about Greg's condition.
Knocking on the door, Nick slipped inside.
Thursday – 10:22 a.m.
Catherine and Sara sat in the breakroom, the former in tears, the latter trying to comfort her. Grissom, Ecklie and Brass stood outside, talking quietly. Nick was down the hall, talking to Archie and Vincent.
The whole lab was now under lockdown. No one went in or out without a police escort, it was deemed to dangerous for all concerned.
The Lunatic, now a universal nickname, had not called the lab back since Tuesday. Whenever he made contact, it was through a different phone. And the one time that they had lucked out and managed a trace, the call had been too short to complete it.
Grissom doubted that it would have led to anything viable had the call even been long enough.
So far, they had four leads, and that was only a fifth or so through Grissom's long career. Digging through those old files, some sent from other labs where Grissom had worked, he realized just how many criminals he must have pissed off.
Most, if not all, claimed to be innocent, so that particular fact was of no help at all. That Grissom didn't even know what time-frame he was looking for was even less helpful.
At least he wasn't sorting through the raw data himself. Instead, three people at any one time were sorting through copious amounts of files, and the only ones that got back to him were the ones that they deemed fit the criteria.
Which were hundreds.
When Ecklie and Brass left to arrange further protection or aides, Grissom slipped quietly into the breakroom, sitting awkwardly next to Catherine. Sara held her against her shoulder, murmuring soft words which held no comfort at all.
"I thought she was safe. I never thought that he'd... It's all my fault."
Grissom had never seen Catherine so broken before, not even during that unpleasant incident with her ex-husband. Well, incident wasn't the right word. The man had been murdered after all.
Grissom supposed that if he didn't work with death everyday, and if he had liked Eddie more, the case would have had more of an impact. He did have feelings, despite what some people thought, he was just really good at repressing them.
He was brought back to the present by Sara's voice. She and Catherine were looking at him, Catherine steadfastly trying to compose herself, Sara's eyebrows raised in question.
"I was just talking to Brass," he began, gently; "we decided to keep almost everyone here. At least, until this situation is resolved. We don't have the manpower to protect everyone if they all went home, so it will be easier if we all stay here. Plus, everyone is feeling particularly motivated right now, so sending them home would present a problem in and of itself."
He paused then, unsure of how Catherine would take his next piece.
"But I want you to go home. Both of you." He continued on above their protests. "I'm sending Nick home as well, and you will all have police protection, so don't worry on that account. I know this won't help, Catherine, but you need the rest."
Before Catherine could voice a firm denial, Sara spoke up. "He's right, you know. We all need rest, we've been stressed out longer than almost anyone else in the lab."
Catherine heaved a sigh. "Well, that's when you know you should take time off. When Sara is the one encouraging it." She smiled wryly.
Grissom suppressed a pang at Catherine's almost identical words to Greg's right before he left. Shoving down the pain, he smiled back. They were small smiles, true, but they were smiles all the same.
As the pair of women left, Grissom marvelled at how easy it had been to convince them. He never would have thought that Catherine would have been willing to go home, not with Lindsey still missing, but he put it down to the fact that the Lunatic had guaranteed the girl's safety as long as his hand wasn't pushed.
That he had allowed mother and daughter a talk didn't hurt either, and Lindsey's own calm re-assurances had certainly had a positive effect on her mother. Lindsey's cheerfulness, and the Lunatic's own fondness, had grated somewhat on Grissom's nerves, but he had taken it as a hopeful sign. The man wasn't so far gone as to terrify children. Not yet, at least.
Standing and stretching wearily, he checked the clock. He hadn't got much sleep the previous night, and he doubted he'd get much again tonight. Or any, until this whole situation was over.
Smiling wryly, he wandered over to the counter. That was what coffee was for.
I was hoping to get this up in one piece, but this section is fifteen pages, so I decided to make it two. Also, some of you may have noticed how on the beggining of one of the parts, there is no time. That's because the events are concurrent, there is no time difference. So please dont send me messages about how i forgot a bit, i didn't. Thank you.
Please R&R, I'm sick, and its always nice to read people comments. I hope you enjoyed this, and I hope you like the next part as well!