Title: The Price of Redemption
Chapter 1 … Revenge for Hire

Rated PG-13 (some violent parts)
Series: CSI
Author: Andorian Ice Princess

Summary: Nick and Sara work a case that at first appears seemingly harmless. But a foe with revenge on Nick is pulling the strings and drawing them into a web of death. Will they be able to solve this case before it's too late? Who will pay the ultimate price? Will the others be able to help? SEQUEL TO "SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE"(N/S, G/C, G/OC)

A/N: Woo hoo! I'm back with another Nick/Sara story. Hope you all like this one and review if you want lots more!!! This takes place at the end of last season and including the opening eppy but only the part where Catherine walked in on Chris and well yeah you know…it's over…and remember for all you stupid flamers out there this is fanfiction! If you have to flame leave b/c I'll just tell everyone you're stupid and if you don't know it's fiction I'll send you a dictionary with a card that says…"get a life"! To the rest that enjoy a good read and like to be entertained this one's for you!

This is a piece of fan fiction. It is written for pleasure and not for profit. The characters of Gil Grissom, Catherine Willows, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Nick Stokes, Jim Brass, Greg Sanders, Al Robbins all belong to CBS, Paramount & Jerry Bruckheimer and Anthony Zuiker. All other characters are my own. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.

END OF "SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE"

"You're under arrest," Brass said to Skyler. "I think you know the rest."

"One day Stokes and you'll pay for today," Skyler threatened Nick under his breath, making Sara look up in dread. "One day I'll get out and…"

1 MONTH LATER

"I just can't believe all the paperwork involved with this Jamison case," Sara said as she let out a large sigh and looked up from the last file she closed.

"Tell me about it," Greg said with a moan as he rubbed his eyes. "How come Nick got off easy? He only had three files to close."

"Because he…" Sara said turning her head in Nick's direction and offering up a small smile. Nick casually looked up at her, they locked eyes, she blushed and quickly turned away.

"Sara?" Greg asked softly. "Uh quitting time is still an hour away."

"Right," Sara said turning back to Greg. "And who is your latest conquest?"

"Ouch!" Greg said putting a fake arrow through his heart. "Yeah like you two are keeping things much more private."

"What? Nick and I are…"

"A number. Yeah I know," Greg smiled. "And I think it's great. I mean you two had the hots before and…"

"Hots?" Sara laughed. "We were…okay who is she? I heard you whispering to Nick and…"

"Her name is Candace and she is a first year police rookie," Greg said proudly.

"Oh and I'll bet you help her with all the moves," Sara teased.

"Yeah especially the handcuffs," Greg said and then quickly stopped, his face red.

"Did I hear handcuffs?" Nick said walking into the room.

"No," both Sara and Greg said at once.

Nick looked at Greg with a look that said, 'who are you trying to fool?' and then back at Sara with 'oh really we should try that,' . "Yeah like you both don't look guilty."

"Greg was telling me about Candace," Sara offered.

"And Sara was telling me what she wants to buy you for your birthday," Greg laughed.

Sara looked at him crossly and then with a frown let out a sigh and turned back to Nick. He looked at her in a mischievous way, making her blush again. "Don't you have work to do Nick?" She asked trying to change the subject.

"That's why I'm here. Need any help?"

"As a matter of fact I do," she said tossing him two files. "How did you get off so easy?"

"Helped Warrick last week and he owed me. Besides today was uh…" he said nervously.

"Oh yeah…" Sara said softly as her mind drifted back to the time they first met Jason Street. "How is Jason?"

"He's back in juvie," Nick huffed. "But he's better than last time and Skyler…thank god he's still behind bars," Nick said heavily.

"Any word on his release?" Sara asked in dread.

"No," Nick said leaning back in his chair. "But you know if it wasn't for him," Nick said leaning close and gently touching her hand. They had only been on a few dates but could feel the passion growing between them more and more each day. The physical attraction was very strong but they also respected each others boundaries and decisions. They tried to keep their budding romance at bay when at work but everyone knew about it – the little glances, subtle touches and flirtatious comments. In the end they stopped trying to hide and simply tried to keep it down in front of the others.

"I know," Sara said softly as she looked at him with a coy smile. She was about to say something when Catherine walked into the room. They quickly pulled apart but she knew what was happening and was happy for them. She was happy for them even though inside she was distraught over events in her own life not turning out how she wanted.

"What's up?" Nick asked weakly.

"Another case?" Sara moaned as she eyed the file in Catherine's hand.

"A new one," Catherine said handing it to Nick, who was closest to her.

"Dead body at the drive-in…you know the old abandoned one on Highway 7."

"Anything special?" Sara asked quickly.

"Go and find out," Catherine replied.

"Right," Nick said looking at Greg. "Hope you didn't have plans for tonight," he said handing the rest of the files Sara was working on to Greg.

"Damn," Greg lightly cursed and then looked at Nick. "I need an assistant."

"Why? You're the best we have," Nick smiled as he turned to follow Sara out the door and into the hallway.

-------------------

"Why so quiet?" Nick asked as they headed for their next crime scene?"

"Just wondering if Jason Street will really be able to testify?"

"You mean if they'll get to him before?" Nick asked in dread. "I worry about that as well. But Brass said they have guys on it and I believe Brass will do whatever he can to keep Skyler in jail. He hates dirty cops."

"I know," Sara said with a frown. "So…" she said softly.

"What?"

"What do you want for your birthday?" She asked casually.

"Handcuffs," he teased, making her lightly blush.

"Careful what you wish for," she flirted back.

Nick looked at her in surprise. "You know just when I have you figured out…what you'll say to something you go ahead and surprise me."

"Sorry," Sara mumbled.

"Don't be. You can surprise me anytime you like," he said as they neared the site.

"I'll remember that," she said with an easy smile as she brought the truck to a halt. They scanned the now yellow-taped off area and got out of the truck and headed towards a police officer who was standing guard.

"Anyone else here yet?"

"You two are the first," the officer said firmly. "Have fun," he remarked in a dry tone. Sara has already walked past him and didn't notice the officer roughly and deliberately bump into Nick.

"Watch it loser," the officer muttered under his breath.

"What?" Nick asked with a frown as he looked at the back of the officer now walking away. He had spied part of his name tag and decided to check on it later. For now he decided to shrug it off and go back to helping Sara. He headed towards her and bent down to examine the body of a dead young man.

"Anything obvious?" Nick asked softly as his eyes continued their scanning.

"Well," Sara said as she started to examine the upper half of his body, leaving the lower half for Nick. Sara carefully peeled back what looked like an extra fold of skin and gasped in horror. "Nick…" she half whispered.

Nick quickly followed Sara's gaze and let his eyes dwell on a small ring of razor blades pressed firmly into the neck, caked with blood and rusted.

"Damn," Nick cursed softly. He looked around the head and then back up to Sara with a frown. "If his neck was cut all the way around and his jugular slit then why isn't there more blood? Where he'd really die?"

"I guess we'll have…" she said as she started to examine his neck area more closely. Nick went back to the hands and noticed strange scratch marks starting at the wrist and disappearing into the folds of the shirt he was wearing. He quickly pushed the shirt sleeve up and stared in horror at the needle marks that stared back at him with dark gaping holes. "He was doin' something," Nick mumbled as he fired off a few shots of the hands, arms and neck. "I'll call it in and get Doc Robbins started on it."

"Right," Sara said as she started to gently fish in his pockets for any sign of ID. When she found nothing she looked up in a frown and started to examine with her eyes the foot of the grave. "How'd he get here?"

"Look like…" Nick said standing up. "He was beamed here?" He lightly mused. "Obviously carried and then the footprints swept away. I'll check the area for blood droplets and take soil samples just to be sure."

Sara continued to examine the gravesite as Nick started to look around the uncovered hole for clues to how the body got where it was. "Who found it?" Sara wondered out loud.

"A phone call," Nick sighed as he read the preliminary police report. "Figures," he lamented in a dry tone. "I hate these anonymous callers. Too much left to chance. I just hope we can find something with the dentals and prints."

"Right," Sara mumbled as she continued to look for clues, anything that might lead them to why this man was dead and how he got where he was. "I wonder what killed him? The blood is pretty congealed so it would seem that he was already dead but…but there are slight trails that look like it was…where the hell did all the blood go?"

Nick looked back at her with a frown. He lightly shrugged and then went back to examining the dirt around the body.

"Hey buddy!" The rude police officer from before called to Nick. "Yo loser!"

"You talkin' to me?" Nick asked in surprise. The cop simply nodded his head yes. Sara looked at him with a furrowed brow. "What is it?" Nick asked quickly.

"Can I call it in or what? You amateurs done your stuff yet?" He asked with a snicker.

"What's his problem?" Nick asked Sara.

"Bad donuts?" She lightly smiled.

"Yeah call it in," Nick said with a frown. "Where did Brass get this winner from?" Nick asked as he headed back to Sara and knelt down on the opposite side of the body from her.

"Not sure but I'd really like to know what killed our guy. It looks like he could have bled to death with the way these razors are dug into the neck, cutting the veins and arteries. But he also could have OD'd and that is strange as well. Plus there are no other signs of a struggle."

"Maybe he was already drugged," Nick commented.

"Or forced to do it," Sara suggested.

"You mean kill himself or shoot himself up?" Nick questioned.

"Either? Or both? We need Doc Robbins."

-------------------

"Long day?" Grissom asked Catherine as she walked into his office, casually dumped a file on his desk and then turned to leave, offering only a yawn and nothing more.

"Something like that," she said turning to face him, leaning on the door post. "You?"

"The usual," he said putting his file down. "Why don't you go home early?" Grissom said with a slight smile.

"Oh gee an extra 10 minutes," she teased in a dry tone. "What will I do with myself?"

"Well I thought you had a hot date tonight," Grissom said in a low tone, slightly grimacing at actually saying the words he hated to hear.

"Yeah…had," Catherine lamented softly as she turned and headed for the locker room.

"Had?" Grissom asked with a slightly raised brow. "Now that is good news," he mumbled to himself as a slight smile started to cross his face.

-------------------

"Why so quiet?" Nick asked on the way back to the lab.

"I kept thinking about something Skyler said before," she started. "Seen one you've seen them all. That was my excuse for not listening in the first place. But then hearing Jason's story…how in the beginning it wasn't his fault, his father forced him and…"

"And now you wonder what made this guy do it?"

"I mean he looked too clean cut to be a junkie," she continued. "I don't know maybe I am just over analysing everything in light of this whole Street/Sklyer incident. I think I just need a break," she said leaning her head on her hand and leaning her elbow on the edge of the window.

"Want to have supper at my place? My treat," Nick offered.

"Really?" Sara asked with a happy feeling inside.

"Yeah sure," Nick replied flashing that killer smile of his to her.

"Wait a minute, you can cook?"

"What and you can't?" Nick teased, causing her to lightly slap him on the arm. "Okay sorry. Only if you'd like to I would be happy to coo…"

"I'd love to have dinner with you," Sara said quickly. "Can I bring anything?"

"Dessert?" Nick teased making her slap him on the arm once again. "What? I meant cake, what were you thinking of?" He said making her face go even redder. Nick turned his attention back to driving and tried to take his mind off Sara being his dessert. He would be lying if he said he didn't want her but knew she had told him she wasn't ready for a regular sexual relationship and he respected that and said he would wait. Trouble was the waiting was starting to drive him nuts. How much longer can I last, he moaned inside?

Sara let her mind linger on Nick's last words and knew inside was probably starting to grow impatient. She had told him on their second date when he wanted to have sex that she just wasn't ready to make it into a seemingly one-night stand. But Nick had surprised her. He had showed his patience and instead of cooling off she noticed his affection and interest in her was continuing to grow. But I'm sure he's getting tired of waiting, she lamented inside. Why can't I just give in? I want to, she moaned inside her mind.

They finally arrived back at the lab and numbly headed into the building, each lost in thought about what the night might hold for them both.

"I'll check in with Doc Robbins and see if the body beat us here," Sara told Nick.

"I'll get these samples over to Greg and join you down in the dungeon," Nick said with a sideways smile. "Be at my place at 6pm?"

"It's a date," Sara said softly, not wanting anyone to hear. Sara hurried past the locker room and was about to push her way through the swinging doors when she heard some soft sniffling and veered into the locker room.

"Catherine?" Sara asked softly as she approached her friend.

"Hey," Catherine said quickly choking back her tears and wiping her now red eyes. "Uh some bad lunch," she lied, not wanting to turn to face Sara.

"You okay?" Sara asked in concern.

"I will be," Catherine said softly.

"What happened? You and Grissom fight or something?" Sara asked not realizing that Grissom was standing only a meters away, carefully hidden by a wall.

"Grissom?" Catherine asked with a slight smile. "We have nothing to fight about. It's Chris."

"What happened?"

"His ego…his other ego," Catherine said looking down at the crumpled piece of tissue in her hands.

"Oh sorry. Did he…well did he apologize and try to…"

"He looked up," Catherine merely offered.

"Oh boy," Sara said with a heavy sigh.

"I was so excited to see him. It had been a hard case and…and I guess I expected more. I mean I know he is surrounded by beautiful women all the time and…" she said finally looking up into the mirror and staring back at her reflection with sad eyes. "Oh who am I kidding," she moaned. "Of course he'd want a younger more…"

"He's nuts," Sara blurted out. "He gave up a smart beautiful woman for some floozy."

"Sara I was…"

"Catherine you took a chance. Isn't that the line you always hand me when something goes wrong or not the way I expected it. You took a chance and it didn't work."

"You're right," she said with a swallow and deep breath. "It's his loss."

"Right," Sara said firmly.

"Right," Catherine echoed. "You're right…it is his loss," she said with a firm nod of her head. "I'm going home to rest," she said in a sad tone.

Grissom just leaned against the wall and closed his eyes. He hated to hear the pain in her voice after she thought she found someone to make her happy, someone different from Eddie. Turns out Chris was just the same.

"See you tomorrow," Sara said after giving Catherine a quick hug and then turning and heading for Doc Robbins lab.

Catherine finished drying her eyes and quickly gathered her things. "I need to just rest," she mumbled to herself as she quickly headed for the doors to go out.

Grissom waited until she was gone before leaving his spot and heading back to his office. He made a note to himself that he would call her that night and check to make sure she was okay.

--------------------

"Thought you got lost," Nick smiled as Sara walked into the lab. "He's still working on it," Nick said with a head gesture towards the head ME. "Want to call it a night?"

"I won't be done here for at least a few hours. I want to make sure I have all the toxin tests done before I make a firm decision," Doc Robbins said as he looked at Sara.

"A night it is," she said with a smile.

"Now go and have fun you two," the older man smiled as he went back to examining the body on the table before him.

"So are you sure I can't bring anything?" Sara asked Nick as they headed outside and to their cars. "I hate to show up anyplace empty handed."

"Okay how about a bottle of red wine. Your choice."

"Wine it is," she smiled as she let her eyes linger with his a little while longer.

"See you soon," Nick said warmly. Nothing will ruin tonight, Nick thought to himself.

--------------------

Sara's mind was a mix of emotions as she headed for home at a speedy pace. She picked up the wine before so wouldn't have to worry about it and just concentrate on getting ready for her first Nick-cooked meal. Nick was so different from any man she had gone out with. HE was of course handsome and witty with a great smile and sense of humor but all the rumors she had heard about him being the great womanizer ceased when she was came into his life. At least that's what she would sometimes like to tell herself. She hurried into her place and then into the shower. She let the warm water start to relax her body but knew her tension for the night was just about to start.

"I know he'll want more," Sara said softly as she stood before her closet trying to decide what to wear. "But it's only been a few dates," she reminded herself. "And they weren't even full dates," she tried to reason. "But I don't feel ready," she said sadly, slumping down on the edge of the bed. She stared at the phone and tried to end the battled in her mind to call Nick and cancel. "He'll have to understand," she said standing up to pick out an outfit. "I'll just have to make him understand." But although the words sounded strong and sure of themselves, inside she knew they were mere words. The actions would be the telling point. They were her real strength.

Nick stood before his closet with only a towel on, some beads of warm water still running down his bare muscular chest, wondering what to wear. He had already started dinner and while it cooked he tried to calm his nerves before his big date. "What is she says no," he softly mumbled to himself as he reached for a pair of dark dress pants. "I can't force her if she's not ready. And in truth we haven't been on that many real dat…but damn!" He lightly cursed. "I want her so bad. Maybe it's the anticipation as well," he sighed as he chose a dark blue dress shirt. "I'll play it by the mood," he said putting on come cologne. "If she is ready then she's ready…if not…" he sighed, taking a one last look at himself in the mirror. "If not I'll die," he lightly laughed as he headed into the living room to set a few things up. He wanted their first home date to be really special and was thankful to Catherine for all the great tips. When he was done he dimmed the lights and stood back with a smile on his face. "She'll love it."

Sara knocked gently on the door and held her breath until Nick quickly opened it. She greeted him with a big smile and let her senses drink the sight and smell of him. Wow he's handsome, she mused inside as she gently stepped into his entryway.

"Wow you look amazing," Nick said softly as he let his eyes linger on her legs. The modest length, fitted skirt did little to hide her natural beauty. The fitted sweater she had chosen showed just enough cleavage to let his mind play tricks with what she was hiding underneath.

Sara walked into the living room and stood and stare in amazement at the room, glowing softly with candlelight, soft music and the smell of something wonderful in the kitchen. "I didn't know you knew how do to anything like this…" she whispered softly.

"Well uh Catherine helped me," he admitted in a sheepish tone. "Can I get you a drink?"

"Sure," she said handing him the paper bag with the wine in it. Sara walked slowly behind Nick as they headed into the kitchen and then took a seat on one of his bar stools facing into the kitchen area where Nick was busy trying to get them a glass of wine. "You have a nice place," she said quietly, her nervousness starting to grow.

Nick handed her a glass of wine but just as she was about to take it he stopped her hand. "I want you just to relax and enjoy yourself…nothing more, okay?" He asked with a kind smile.

"Okay," Sara replied, feeling a great weight lifted off her shoulder. "I thought that…" she started and then stopped. "So uh…what did you make for dinner?"

"Vegetarian Lasagna," Nick replied proudly. "Hope you are hungry."

"Starved," she smiled lightly.

The next hour was spent mostly talking about their day and the dinner and Nick's decorating and finally enjoying the simple but delicious dinner Nick made. After dinner Nick served some Spanish Coffee and they retired to the living room to just relax.

"I love the fireplace," Sara said watching the warm golden flames dance before her eyes.

"It helps me relax after a tough day," he said gently stroking her neck with his finger. He watched her close her eyes a few times and knew she was more than enjoying the moment. Something he was happy for.

"Nick I..." Sara started as she turned to face him. But she didn't realize that Nick had leaned in close to whisper in her ear and instead of his lips touching her lobe they touched her lips. Now they had kissed before but with the warmth in the room and the surprise of the warmth from his lips on hers she felt her body start to heat up even more.

Nick gently cupped her face with his hand and pulled her lips closer to his, crushing them with is wanting hunger. He started to taste them greedily, his other hand wrapping itself around her waist and pulling her into his warm embrace, his mouth now tasting her mouth, playing with her tongue and then starting to nibble on the soft flesh around her lips.

Sara let out small moans of pleasure as Nick's lips started to hungrily devour hers and she responded in kind. She gently grabbed the back of his neck and pulled him closer to her, their bodies now crushing each other. She felt herself arch her back gently and tilt her head back as Nick continued to passionately kiss her tender neck, exploring her flesh with his lips and fingers. She felt Nick gently pull her lower onto the couch until they were positioned with her lying on the soft leather and him gently lying on top of her.

"God I want you," Nick mumbled heatedly into her ear as his hands started to gently play with the edges of her sweater.

Sara felt his warm fingers starting to touch her skin and her skin in places starting to blaze. She wanted him too, there were no doubts now. Until…

"Tell me you love me again Sara," Nick breathed huskily.

"Nick I..." Sara started and then quickly stopped. The only time she had uttered those words were mistakenly during a dream where he died and she thought it was her fault. "Nick…" Sara started once more her words at times muffled by his smothering kisses.

"Tell me," Nick whispered once more.

"I..." Sara started and then reality finally started to hit her full force. "Nick!" Sara said quickly twisting out of his grasp and pushing herself up to a seated position.

Nick quickly got up as well and stared at her in confusion. "What?" He asked in a soft tone.

"Why…" Sara asked with a frown. "I know why," she said sadly as she quickly pushed herself up off the couch and headed for the door.

"Sara wait!" Nick called out as he stumbled to his feet and rushed after her. He stood in front of the door, not letting her leave.

"I never told you I love you Nick and if you think I'll say that just to sleep with you you're wrong. I knew that's what you wanted and told myself…" Sara started in a heated tone.

"I just thought," Nick said apologetically. "Sara I got carried away," he said moving in closer.

"It was just words in a stupid dream!" Sara said in frustration.

"Please, Sara I'm sorry," Nick tried in a soft tone. "The dream. I know I…Sara I'm just forgot and…please don't be mad," he said gently taking her hand and holding against his now rapidly beating heart. "I spoke with my heart and not my head. I know that…"

"I'm not ready. I thought I was and…and I guess I...well Nick I want to say 'I love you' without having to expect…" Sara said quickly looking away.

"I'm sorry. Sara I don't want to rush anything."

"You don't?" She asked in surprise, her eyes now locked once again with his.

"No," he said bringing her hand to his lips and tenderly kissing it. "Sara you are worth so much more to me than a one night stand or a mere sexual encounter."

Sara looked at him and for the first time felt foolish. "Now I feel lame," she said sadly. "I guess I ruined the evening."

"Sara just because you didn't want sex means you ruined the night. We can make out all we want without going all the way. We will when we are both ready. I would not enjoy it if I forced it on you," he said warmly. "Please…I had a great night."
"I did too," she smiled warmly. "And you're right. I guess I panic way too quickly," she said with a heavy sigh. "I just want…well…I just want you not to be mad that…"

"Sara please don't even think that for a second," Nick said in haste. "I want you…yes more than anything I want to have sex with you. I want to make love to such a beautiful, spirited woman. But I'm not going to do it at expense that I will lose you after that. Like I said…when we are both ready. Then there will be nothing to regret and…"

"Nick I don't regret it's just that," she said turning away. "I've been hurt and…"

"And you've heard stories about me," Nick sighed heavily. "They're not true well at least not any more."

"I know," she smiled. "I don't believe them. It's not you…it's me…I just need…I am just cautious is all."

"But don't let your caution destroy our beautiful future," Nick said seriously.

"Future?" Sara asked in wonder. "Nick I..." she started only to have Nick lay a soft finger on her lips to stop her rushed insecurity.

"Why don't we say goodnight on a good note," he said pulling her close once more.

Sara just smiled at Nick as she felt their bodies exchange heat for the last time that night. "Thank you for the wonderful evening."

"You are more than welcome," he said softly kissing her mouth.

"I will try to return the favour," she offered.

"That would be great!" Nick beamed as he kissed her hard once more. "Safe drive home," he whispered.

"Goodnight," Sara whispered as he quickly pulled Nick close once more and kissed him passionately. Nick watched her leave and then leaned against the door and moaned, "I need a cold shower."

Sara drove home with a smile of content on her face. She was sure Nick would have been disappointed and that would have cooled things off. On the contrary, the way he talked at the end make her confident inside that the wait would be worth it. And she knew inside the wait wouldn't be much longer.

--------------------

Grissom stared at the phone, willing himself to call Catherine just to see how she was doing. "Oh for pete's sake," he lamented out loud. "You're just calling to see if she's okay."

He finally built up the courage to dial her number and waited with a rapidly beating heart until he heard her pick up the phone. "Catherine?" He asked in a timid tone.

"Grissom?"

"Catherine," Grissom said with a clear of his throat. "I just wanted to see if you were okay. You seemed like you had a rough day and…and I guess I wasn't sure if you'd be home and…" he rattled off.

Catherine smiled in spite of the tears she wiped away, her eyes still gazing mournfully at a picture of her and Chris.

"Are you okay?" He asked softly.

"I will be," she finally admitted with a large huff.

"Well that's good," he finished in a lame tone, wincing at his stupid choice of words.

"I guess I'll see you tomorrow?" Catherine asked weakly.

"Okay," Grissom replied, wishing she wanted to talk more. But obviously the pain with her and Chris was still fresh and he didn't want to push her if she needed time to heal. "Hey there is a symposium tomorrow night on the fun of forensics and was wondering…well that is if you're not to busy if…"

"I think that would be fun," she replied in a less than enthusiastic tone. "See you tomorrow?"

"Goodnight Catherine," Grissom whispered as he hung up. "That wasn't so bad," he told himself.

Catherine hung up the phone and stared at it with a small smile. "Goodnight Gil," she whispered as she turned off the light, rolled onto her side and tried to get some sleep.

--------------------

Nick walked into the lab the next morning with a good feeling inside of him, rather then the sense of impending doom he should have been feeling had he known that unseen forces were devising a plan to bring his world crashing down around him and send himself on a collision course with death itself.

Rather he let his mind dwell on the way Sara's body felt crushed up against his and how her lips tasted against his. They had kissed before and shared moments of obvious attraction, but the passion and heat they shared last night was a step further then they had ever gone. That made Nick smile even more. And he was right – he had told Sara the truth. He wanted her in his future and was willing to wait until she was sure she wanted that as well. He headed into Doc Robbins lab and was surprised to see Sara standing beside the senior ME.

"Am I late?" Nick asked with a smile as he walked up to them and stood on the other side of the operating table.

"Only by a few minutes," Sara smiled. She noticed how Nick casually smiled back and was thankful that her actions the night before hadn't made things awkward.

"So what killed him?"

"A heart attack," Doc Robbins said frankly.

"What?" Both Nick and Sara asked in surprise. "But what about the drugs?" Nick questioned.

"And the razors?" Sara mentioned.

"Well they defiantly helped," Robbins said showing them the marks on the neck. "He lost a lot of blood which means he was bled somewhere else. But what appears to be the jugular vein in fact is just a large artery. Yes it could kill him but not as fast as having the jugular slit."

"He slowly bled to death," Sara mused.

"Well he had a heart attack…it's odd because it's as if this man injected himself with drugs, the razors were put on his neck and he had a heart attack at the same time."

"Any indications on his fingers to show he gave the drugs to himself?" Sara wondered.

"Nothing. In fact there are no defensive wounds on him of any kind."

"So someone or something held him down or held a gun to him," Nick started. "Another something or someone injected him at the same time someone or something put a on him necklace of razors that sliced his neck, but not enough to kill him instantly."

"And he never struggled?" Sara mumbled to herself.

"And while his mind was racing with fear at the thought of the razors, his body was coping with the drugs and his heart gave out," Doc Robbins added.

"Fear killed him?" Nick asked in surprise.

"He would think of slowly bleeding to death or dying of a drug overdose. So yeah I'd say it was the fear of dying in general…doesn't matter which way, either way would have killed him. The tox-screen on the drugs showed it was laced with arsenic. So it was deadly."

"Who the hell would do this?" Sara asked in dread.

"Who is this guy that they would?" Nick retorted.

"I can answer that," Brass said walking up to them with a piece of paper in his hands.

"You got an ID that fast?" Sara asked in amazement.

"Sometimes the wheels of justice turn quickly," Brass responded as he looked at Nick. "You sure he doesn't look familiar to you?"

Nick examined the body a little bit closer and then looked back up at Sara with a frown. "He looks sorta familiar," Nick sighed as he looked back at Brass. "Who is he?"

"Tyler Davidson. Remember he's the guy who helped you put away Dirk Stanton last year?" Brass said reading his file. "Came up on a fingerprint match."

"Dirk Stanton?" Nick said looking back down at the body. "Oh yeah he was the guy that helped finger that rookie that was scamming other rookies for money. He had his own little thing going until Tyler here overheard…wait a minute? Who killed him, Stanton? I thought he was locked up?"

"According to records he still is," Brass said plainly. "We don't think there's a connection. We have a line on another perp as we speak. Someone that Davidson was working to put behind bars. So far we can't find him. Just thought I'd let you know."

"When you catch him I want a round," Nick said angrily. "I want to know why he killed Davidson the way he did. I want to look the sick bastard right in the eyes," Nick cursed angrily.

"Okay," Brass said looking at Sara.

"Sorry," Nick said looking back at Sara. "Well now that we know who it is I want to check his place out."

"You mean Stanton's?"

"No this other guy. What's his name?" Nick asked brass.

"Well according to our records we're looking for an Adam Badger. I'm going there right now. Want to come?"

Nick looked at Doc Robbins for semi-approval, as if he wasn't sure he should leave if there was more to discover about the body.

"You know what killed him," Robbins replied. "I'm going to now perform my usual finishing touches and if I find anything else on the clothes I'll let you know."

"See you later," Sara called out as she turned to follow after Nick and Brass.

"Hey!" Greg said rushing up to them. "Got the blood test results back," he said showing them to Nick and Sara.

"Not human?" Sara asked in wonder.

"I'm afraid to know," Nick said softly.

"Goat's blood," Greg said with a frown.

"Goat's blood?" Nick asked in surprise as he looked at Sara. "Why the hell would he sprinkle goats blood around the gravesite."

"Any human blood?" Sara questioned.

"Only in this test, where Nick claims came from under the body. And that blood belongs to the victim. The rest is goat's blood."

"This is one seriously messed up guy," Brass mused in a dry tone. "Let's go."

The drive over to their new suspect's place was very quiet as each thought about what the motive for killing Tyler Davidson in such a strange way was warranted.

"He lives here?" Sara asked as they pulled up to a dilapidated mobile home.

"Cozy," Nick mused as they got out of the car.

Brass and the other officer headed for the door first to clear the area and make sure it was safe. "Adam Badger! Police! Open up!" Brass shouted in anger.

When they only heard silence in return Brass directed the other officer to roughly yank the door open and Nick and Sara followed in behind the two police officers.

"Quite the sophisticate," Brass mused in sarcasm as he noticed the assorted selection of Playboy, Guns & Ammo and Monster Truck magazines on a small coffee table.

"Adam Badger!" Brass tried once more.

"I'll check the back," Sara offered.

"Go with her," Brass gestured to his man.

"I don't see any signs of blood or drugs," Nick commented as they started to look in depth at a few pieces of furniture and other items. "No signs to indicate a murder took place here."

"Nor any signs that he had a grudge against Tyler Davidson or any kind of fight broke out," Brass added.

"I don't see any razor clippings or drug use residue paraphernalia of any kind," Nick noticed. "Why did he want him dead?"

"And where is he?" Brass responded.

Sara carefully made her way down the small hallway with the other officer in tow. "I don't see anything back there that…" she called out to Nick and Brass as she stood surveying the small bedroom with her eyes.

"What the…" she said noticing a few drops of blood at the foot of the closed closet. "I've got blood back here," she called out as she went to open the closet door. She pulled the door open and gasped in horror at the sight of a very dead, strangled, Adam Badger.

"Adam Badger?" Sara asked softly, her eyes still on Brass.

"The late Adam Badger," Brass mused dryly.

"Anything…" Nick started as he took his flashlight and started to look for clues to the hanging. "Anything that might suggest why…" he mumbled as his flashlight spied a piece of white paper balled up in his back pants pocket. "Got something," he said gingerly reaching for it. He extracted the paper and handed it to Sara who carefully opened it up and started to read it out loud:

I killed Tyler Davidson. He owned me money and wouldn't pay. I killed him and now can't believe I did that and can live with myself anymore. I can't go on. I want to die. I...

"We need to have this examined," she said carefully slipping it into an evidence bag.

"I'll find something else with his hand writing on it," Brass said as he started to wander back to the front of the mobile home, calling for a coroner and a police unit along the way.

"Well no signs of a struggle, no forced entry," Nick started.

"No defensive wounds or bruises to indicate he put up a fight if it wasn't suicide."

"So maybe he really was overcome with the grief of that grisly death and decided to kill himself as a last resort," Nick suggested as he spied the small stool beside the victims feet, knocked over. He snapped a few more pics while spoke.

"But then if he killed Davidson here why are there no blood marks?" Sara questioned.

"Maybe he cleaned it up?" Nick offered. "And where did the goats blood come from?"

"We need more answers," Sara sighed. "We have too many questions."

"Well I called for a team to seal off the area and for Robbins team to come and claim the body. Call Grissom when you are done," Brass relayed the message to them. "I'm going to check on the motive for Davidson's death and see if the money owing part was right."

"Call us when you have anything," Nick called out to Brass as he left. "I left something in the truck, be right back," Nick told Sara as he headed outside. Nick noticed a few more officers starting to tape off the area as he headed for the back of the truck.

"Excuse me," Nick said in a light way to an officer who was in the way of the door opening.

"Excuse yourself loser," the cop said sharply as he turned on his heel and glared angrily at Nick.

"Man what is your problem?" Nick asked firmly.

"You are my problem," the officer said directly to Nick and then turned and walked to join the others.

"What the hell?" Nick cursed under his breath as he quickly retrieved the item he needed and headed back inside to Sara.

"I can't figure it out. I mean how did a guy as clean cut and descent as Tyler Davidson get involved with a Playboy reading red-neck loser like Adam Badger? What could he possibly own him money for? I can't seem them going into business of any kind together," she told Nick as he walked back into the room.

"Can't see it myself but they must be involved in something that connects them and would warrant their death," Nick said with a frown. "Let me take some more pictures and samples," he said walking up to her. "Then we can leave. This place gives me the creeps."

--------------------

"Well the Donaldson case is finally done," Catherine said walking into Grissom's office. "I think I'll work with Brass on this Davidson/Badger case that Nick and Sara are working on. Strange they can't find anything that would put the murder at any kind of scene. I mean there has to be excess blood someplace."

"Well I have Warrick checking on the farms to see who bought goats recently and I guess we'll go from there," Grissom said with a frown. "But it is odd."

"Well…" she said turning to leave.

"Is today better?" He asked in a low tone, making her stop in her tracks and turn back to him.

"Each day is better," she smiled grimly. "About tonight…" she started.

"You don't want to go?" Grissom asked nervously.

"No I just wanted to know what time you wanted to leave here," she simply stated, putting him back at ease.

"Oh, right," Grissom said matter of factly. "Want to leave here at 5?"

"Sounds good," she said with a slight smile as she turned and left, her slight hesitation making Grissom smile as well.

"Now what do I say to make her think I'm more than just bugs and brains," he moaned out loud as he leaned back in his chair and thought about the night ahead.

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"So we have goats blood but no goat. We have a motive with no motive and a body with no trace evidence of the murder," Nick sighed as he sat back in the lab with Sara on the other side; each studying the evidence they found at the new scene.

"Why a goat?" Greg asked with a frown.

"Why is there no blood?" Sara asked.

"Why can't we find a better motive? So far the people Brass have questioned have turned up nothing. No one remembers seeing Badger around Davidson anywhere and as far as anyone can recall Davidson never did anything to make himself seem like he owed a large sum of money – at least large enough to get himself killed," Nick finished.

"You sure there was nothing else in that dirt sample?" Sara questioned Greg.

"Well I could go and get a few more samples," he offered in a sheepish tone.

"Might be worth a shot," Nick offered. "Go to it," Nick directed Greg.

"Can't see Tyler getting involved to the point of it costing him his life," Nick said softly after Greg had left.

"Well you didn't really know him," Sara tried to justify. "Maybe he had a secret life. It's more and more common these days."

"True," Nick sighed as he leaned back in his chair. "Are you free tonight?" He asked out of the blue.

"No I have uh…I have a class," Sara stammered.

"A class? On what?" Nick asked in interest.

"Cooking," she admitted in a defeated tone. "I can't really cook and so wanted to cook you a meal and…well I know you cooked me a great meal and…" she rattled off.

"Sara you don't have to justify yourself to me," Nick said quickly. "But if you were to wear a school girl…you know what never mind," Nick said with a red face.

"Good thing," Sara said blushing as well. "Sorry."

"Another time," Nick said quickly as he let out a quick yawn. "I think I'll hit the gym for a bit."

They continued in silence for about an hour more as they worked on their evidence and then finally it was time to go.

--------------------

"Ready to go?" Grissom asked Catherine as he stood in the doorway of her small office.

"Ready as I'll ever be," she smiled up at him. "I think I'll bring my jacket in case it's cold," she chatted in a light nervous tone. Why am I nervous, she asked herself? This is Grissom, not…she started and then stopped. They headed for his truck in silence, each feeling the awkward nervousness the other was displaying.

"Catherine I..." he started in a soft tone. "I just want tonight to be fun. Well as fun as it can be I guess…well maybe fun was too strong a word…I guess…"

"I think we'll be just fine tonight," she said in a reassuring tone. "I'm glad you asked."

"Me too," he said letting out a small sigh as they headed for the convention center.

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"I think the rest can wait for the meeting in the morning. Then we'll see what both Warrick and Greg have found," Nick said as he stood up and walked over to Sara.

"Sounds like a plan," she said standing up to meet him face to face. She gave him a quick kiss and then quickly turned to walk away.

Nick gently grabbed her arm and pulled her into his strong embrace. "I will miss you," Nick said warmly as he planted another quick kiss on her lips. "See you tomorrow."

Sara watched him leave and then felt her stomach tighten in nervous knots. She was learning how to cook for him. Well for herself as well but mostly for him. And not because she had to to keep him but because she wanted to and that made it even better. She quickly finished her paperwork and then headed out the door and to her car. Tonight was going to be fun.

"I hope you have fun too Nick," Sara said softly as she headed for her class.

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Nick gathered up his gym bag and headed towards the large building, unaware of the set of eyes keeping careful watch on him. Nick heard a slight noise and turned his head to investigate. When he saw nothing he mentally berated himself for being paranoid and went back to heading for the front door. He past between two large vans and when he neared the front he heard the noise again – kinda like metal being scraped lightly over the cement. Nick turned his head only to be met in the back full force with a piece of metal.

Nick cried out in pain as he stumbled forwards and felt his body slam into the hood of another truck. Before he could turn around he was once again struck from behind with the pipe sending him crashing to his knees.

"Hey pretty boy," a masked man said grabbing a handful of dark hair and jerking Nick's head painfully back.

"Wh…" was all Nick managed before he was kicked in the side with a heavy boot.

Nick cried out in pain as he grabbed his side and tried to keep himself steady. Nick turned to face the masked man but was met in the gut with another vicious kick. Nick felt his eyes instantly water and his body sag closer to the ground. Before he could react the man proceeded to stuff a wadded up cloth into his mouth and start to drag him by his arms towards a wooded area.

Nick tried to fight off his attacker but after sustaining the vicious blows was only able to lightly struggle while the man laughed and succeeded in pulling him into the dense wooded area. The man merely dumped Nick's now sweat soaked body into the bushes and kicked him in the gut once more.

"This is far from over," the man taunted in Nick's ear as he stood up and rushed away from the scene.

Nick lay on his side, his arm still trembling at his side and unable to pull the crude gag from his mouth. Finally after what seemed like a slow painful eternity he was able to yank the cloth free, take a few deep breaths and push himself to his knees.

"Who the hell was that?" Nick asked through ragged breaths as he continued to kneel beneath the large tree he had been dragged under. "Who…"

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"Enjoy you life while you can Stokes," Nolan Skyler said in a low taunting voice as he slowly paced his small jail cell. "For when I get out I swear I will extract my revenge. Your life will be mine and when I am done with it you'll beg me for death. And I of course will grant that wish."

Dear readers…well do you like it so far? Do you want me to write lots more? If so please hit the little review button and let me know and I will! Thanks so much!!!