Dealing

The triple homicide that Nick witnessed—and technically was involved in—didn't lead to any formal charges. He was relieved to find out when he got back to Vegas that the evidence showed he hadn't fired any fatal shots. That, and he was sort of protecting himself.

However, Ecklie didn't seem satisfied with that. He pushed for charges against Nick, regardless of the constant assassination attempts and attacks.

So instead of formal charges, Nick was suspended for two weeks, with no pay. Something about possibly obstructing justice, or not coming to proper authorities. Whatever.

It outraged Catherine, Warrick, Greg and Sara. Grissom even put up a fight about it.

But Nick didn't care. He wanted to get away.

He didn't really have anywhere to live until the insurance people got his house rebuilt, or bought him a new one. He was half-hearted in setting his life back up. Things weren't the same. Maybe it showed too.

"Hey Nick!" Warrick called from down the hall. Nick stopped, his hands holding a bag with some things to take along for the next few weeks.

"Yeah?" Nick said. Warrick jogged to him.

"You okay? I mean, with this whole thing?" It was hard for them to believe. Nick had as fiery a temper as any of them, but Nick just didn't care this time. He nodded to his friend.

"I'll be fine."

A strained silence sat between them. Nick glanced towards the exit, then back at Warrick.

"See you later," Nick said.


He checked into a hotel on the Strip. It was somewhat pricy, but the insurance company was covering it anyway.

Nick wandered through the lobby and into the casinos. The noisy chings and chatter of gambling patrons filled the floor. Nick found himself just walking aimlessly, weaving between slot machines and roulette tables.

His mind was as blank as the nonexistent expression on his face. He wore a black t-shirt and jeans, and didn't even bother with bringing his cell phone or wallet. He didn't need them.

He didn't even know what he was going to do.

It did dawn on him that he should be upset. After all, he hadn't asked to be the target of some shadowy organization's murderous deeds. He hadn't asked for Paige Landry to intrigue him with lies, danger or beauty. But he had done what was needed.

Nick kept telling himself that.

He had his life back now, right?

He'd found his way up to the roof. It was easy, and surprisingly not hard to access. Then again, Nick had been in his share of hotels, roofs, casino floors and pools. Some case or another had brought them into play. The Vegas air was warmer than usual for the time of year, but Nick didn't mind it. He didn't really feel it.

The lights of the Strip danced over his eyes. They blinked, twinkled and enchanted visitors. For Nick, they provided some sort of distraction, maybe even comfort.

He was avoiding the issue.

He knew it. Every time someone said her name, Nick flinched. Wasn't that enough to tell him he might have cared?
Paige.

For all her faults, she . . .

What?! It's not like I loved her! It's not like I was lost without her. Somewhere deep inside of him, he knew that wasn't always true. He'd needed her before, thought about her, dreamt about her, even lost sleep over her. His mind flashed him the feel of her lips. The fervor of her kisses. The mystery and fascination she exuded.

She's gone.

He knew that, and he told his mind as much. He told his heart too.

Nick had never felt such turmoil before. Leaving Texas, changing careers, leaving his family—those seemed like walks in the park compared to this.

What do you have to complain about? You're alive. They let you go. He nodded to himself. He was glad about that. Things weren't over for him—he still had the rest of his life ahead of him.

Nick leaned on some safety railing on the roof. He sighed as he took in those Vegas lights.

The fountain at the Bellagio was running a show. Faintly, he could hear the tune. It sounded like Sarah Brightman, and . . . what's his name? Andrea Bocelli.

Time to say goodbye.

Slowly, Nick felt a small smile reach his lips. His eyes looked to the sky.

Time to say goodbye.

Nick shut his eyes for a moment, just listening to the fading strains of the song. Then, with a deep breath, Nick opened his eyes and turned for the stairwell.

Yes, it was time.


a/n: Yes, that is the end. Don't hate me--it's not all flowers and roses and lollipops, but I hope you've found closure in it. And believe it or not, I'm silly enough to be starting another story, so check it out from my profile in a bit.