A.N: As this story is basically a continuation of "Luck and Destiny", I wouldn't recommend trying to read this one without reading that one first... and it's a long one!
OK, so, my vacation was almost spoiled. I'd just spent the day on the Great Barrier Reef, then returned to the hotel and finally headed to an internet café to check my emails... only to hear that George and Jorja had been fired from CSI! Talk about distressing! Anyway, thank God they're back on the show and it's business as usual. I was worried there for a bit though. I was seriously thinking about boycotting the show!
OK, back to Alex and Nick... Will they? Won't they? Read on and find out! ;)
Alex hadn't moved from bed all day. Unable to quell her mounting depression, she had only gotten up to use the bathroom a few times. Curled in a fetal position, she eyed her bedside phone warily. It hadn't rung all day and she fought between being relieved and being extremely disappointed. Nick had undoubtedly heard her message by now- it was almost 6 pm.
She knew she should be happy because that meant he must believe what she said; that she needed some space. He clearly wasn't going to try and change her mind. And she wasn't sure she'd be able to maintain her resolve if he did call her... especially since she felt a keen sense of hurt and regret because he hadn't called her and tried to change her mind...
She began to drift back to sleep again and welcomed the respite from her misery. And that was when she had the nightmare for the first time.
She was in her old apartment and James Meadfield was aiming his gun at Nick. This time though, when she threw herself at Meadfield's legs, she had no effect and he fired the weapon straight at Nick. She screamed as she watched him crumple to the floor...
Alex jerked awake, covered in sweat and with tears running down her face. She sat up and tried to stop herself from shaking. She tried uselessly to erase the nightmare image from her mind. She clutched her knees close to her chest and cried uncontrollably.
The next afternoon, Alex felt light-headed as she made her way to the bathroom. Realizing she needed to eat something, she went to the kitchen and managed to force down some toast. She looked at the kitchen clock and sighed. 3:26 pm.
Moving to the bathroom, she looked into the mirror with disgust. She'd told both Lisa Albertson's family and the D.A that she'd do whatever it took to make sure James Meadfield received the full penalties of the law, but the pathetic face staring back at her didn't inspire confidence.
How am I supposed to be strong for the Prosecutor when I can't even face leaving my bed?
She looked back at her red-rimmed eyes and stringy hair and frowned. She couldn'tremember ever being this depressed over a guy before. She'd dated Darrell for a long time, and even their break-up hadn't hurt this much. She couldn't seem to shake this horrible sense of loss.
Maybe it was that much more severe because it had all been so unfair; she hadn't stopped seeing Nick because she wanted to, that was for damn sure. She was doing it because she had to. She didn't want to jeopardize the D.A.'s case.
She frowned then, and had to admit that she was even more worried about endangering Nick's job. She couldn't bear the thought of him being hurt in any way, and she knew how much he loved his job. And as much as she wanted to put James Meadfield away forever, she knew deep down she was doing it more for Nick's sake than for any other reason.
She felt a solitary tear roll down her cheek.
It hurts this badly because it's Nick. I'm losing him...
She'd never met anyone like him before and she was fairly certain she'd never meet anyone else like him ever again.
Nick lay in his bed, unable to sleep. He'd been there for hours, but the sleep wouldn't come.
He stared at the phone on his bedside table and went through the same internal debate he'd been having for days; since he'd heard Alex's message.
Space? She needs space?
He felt anger and confusion resurfacing simultaneously.
We only just got together, and it was so amazing... I can't believe...
Then he thought about how Alex had been told about his past; about Kristy Hopkins. He tried to smother the betrayal he felt.
How could she just give up everything we have without even giving me a chance to explain?
He was angry and hurt and broken-hearted. And he desperately wanted to call her and try to tell her his side, to make her listen to him.
He turned away from the phone for the hundredth time and squeezed his eyes shut.
Don't do it, man. She made it clear that she doesn't want to see you.
The shift came to an end and Nick and Warrick hovered near their lockers. The tension was thick in the air.
Nick had snapped at Warrick earlier during their assignment that evening. Warrick had decided to keep it business-like for the rest of the shift and stayed clear of Nick as much as he could.
Damn, is his mood ever going to improve?
Nick frowned as he pulled off his work vest.
"Warrick... I'm sorry. I shouldn't have jumped all over you like that. And over nothing. Man, I don't know what's wrong with me."
Truth was, he did know what was wrong, and judging by Warrick's sympathetic grin he knew there was probably nobody on their nightshift team who didn't know.
Warrick smiled at him. "Don't worry about it, man. If you were an asshole all the time, it'd be a different story..."
Nick laughed slightly. "Thanks, buddy."
They walked out to the parking lot together, and Warrick turned to Nick.
"Listen, man... If you need to talk..."
Nick nodded his thanks. "I appreciate it, Warrick. I guess I just don't feel much like talking right now. But thanks."
Warrick nodded back. "Well, you know where to find me. See ya tonight."
Nick drove past Alex's place and grimaced. He didn't know if he could handle doing this every day. He hadn't realized that he'd slowed down until he heard a car horn behind him.
Sighing, he accelerated and made his way around the corner to his home for what would undoubtedly be another sleepless day.
Alex had been watching her alarm clock for the last 45 minutes. Finally, something inside her seemed to take hold.
What the hell am I doing? I can't lay here forever.
She pulled herself out of bed and went straight to her shower. Her hair was about as unwashed as it had ever been and she couldn't handle it anymore. As she applied the shampoo, her shoulder began to throb.
I guess lying in bed for the better part of 2 or 3 days hasn't helped much.
She decided to get a hold of Alison after her shower and find out what physiotherapist she used.
Alex climbed behind the wheel of her Corolla and began to back out of her driveway. She chewed the inside of her lip as she drove past Nick's house, noticing his Denali in his driveway. She fought the urge to pull in behind it and run into his house... Tell him it was all a big mistake.
She kept driving, heading for the coffee shop.
Later, she found herself with a physio appointment set up, and she ended up spending the afternoon with Alison and a couple other girls at Lake Mead.
She thought she was pulling off the happy, carefree act but apparently Alison wasn't buying it. After the other girls went for a dip in the lake, Alison turned to her.
"Alex, are you doing OK? I mean, I know you've been through some awful stuff, but... Is there anything I can do to help?"
Alex smiled at her friend's kindness... and her perceptiveness.
"I'm fine, really. Everything's going to be fine."
Alison still regarded her seriously.
"Look, this may be a bit presumptuous of me, especially because we haven't really hung out that much, but... You don't seem OK. You look sad. You're trying to be social and everything, but I'm not convinced."
Alex looked down at her towel, not knowing what to say. Everything had gone to crap for her so quickly and she didn't even know where to start. She didn't know if she wanted to even try to explain it all. Alison spoke up again.
"Look, I won't push it. But you've been through so much... If you decide you need to talk about it, I'm here, OK?"
Alex smiled at her gratefully. "Thanks, Al. That means a lot to me. I may take you up on that some time. I'm just not up to it yet, though. OK?"
"OK. But just know you can call me anytime. Middle of the night, whenever."
The other girls returned looking refreshed, and Alison remembered something.
"Hey, a few of us are going out tonight.You should come."
Alex looked at her skeptically. "I don't know if I'm up for that..."
"Come on, Alex. If you sit at home all night, you're just going to be moping. That's unhealthy. Trust me. If you start going out and pretending things are OK, pretty soon you won't have to pretend anymore; it'll be true."
Alex had to laugh at her bizarre logic. "Um, I don't know..."
"Listen, it's an exclusive thing. A guy I know has opened up this swanky new country bar...
"Country?" Alex smirked. "I don't really do country..."
"It's a different style, trust me. Yeah, the music's the same, but he's trying to class up the image. This won't be jeans and cowboy boots... Chic nightclub clothes all the way."
Alex was still looking at her doubtfully.
"Come on, it'll be fun. What have you got to lose?"
As Alex hesitated, she jumped back in. "OK, I'll pick you up around 10:30..."
"10:30? That late?"
"Yep. You working tomorrow or something?"
She grinned at Alex, knowing full well that she didn't have a job. She'd worked her butt off for two years so she wouldn't have to get a job while she was in school. She'd wanted to be able to focus on her studies.
"OK, fine. But I'll drive to your place."
"Well, I better get going. I'll see you tonight."
As she started across the grass, she already felt the sadness creeping back in.
Maybe I can get out of this...
Alison called out to her as she walked away.
"Don't even think about trying to cancel either. You're going!"
Alex shook her head and kept going, slightly amused.
Man, what is she? A mind-reader?
Nick climbed into his Denali and pulled out of his driveway. Again, he'd gotten very little sleep. He was pretty sure he'd just dozed off when his alarm had gone off.
As he backed out, he considered taking a slightly longer route to work tonight to avoid Alex's place. It had been particularly difficult for him to hold back from calling her today. Hell, it had taken all his restraint not to jog over to her place and force her to listen to him.
In the end, he took his usual route. As he turned the corner, he drew in a harsh breath as her townhome came into sight. She was just leaving, making her way towards her car.
She was dressed up.All in black with slight heels, she looked sexy as hell and he swallowed involuntarily. She was digging in her purse for something and didn't see him drive by.
As he passed out of sight, he fought down a new wave of bitterness.
So, she needed space to get her shit together, but she's fine to go out partying?
He felt a dull ache in the vicinity of his heart.
Could I really have been so wrong about her?
Alex finally found her car keys in her bag and got into her car. She stared out through the windshield, not starting up the car.
I don't think I can do this.
Her new cell phone started to ring in her purse and she smirked as she recognized the incoming number.
"Tell me you're on your way. You better not be sitting in your car right now having second thoughts..."
It was uncanny.
Damn, she's gotta have ESP or something. "I'll be there in 10 minutes."