Title: Painful Journeys

By: Goody

Rating: PG-13 for violence and swearing.

Category: Angst, H/C, drama all the good stuff.

Archive: Krazy and whoever else wants it just ask.

Author's Notes: I haven't been able to get this out of my head so I thought I'd share I have the first three chapters done and I'm still going strong so hopefully updates will be pretty regular. This is a Greg and Nick friendship piece, I don't think there are any spoilers and I don't anything worth having except this computer. Take that from me and there won't even be fanfiction. Oh, but I know nothing about football. I picked the teams from the pilot episode when Nick and Greg were talking about their favourite teams. There seems to be a lot of Nick but it really is a Greg angst piece all the way, just wait for it.

Summary: What should have been a normal day for Nick and Greg turns into a painful journey involving friendship, understanding, and violence when past enemies return looking to finish what they started.

It was a normal night in the CSI crime lab. Technicians ran samples and fingerprints, CSI's pieced together clues, and Nick Stokes walked down the hall towards the blaring music that always echoed throughout the building at this time of night to see his favourite lab tech.

"Greg, please tell me you got good news for me," Nick pleaded as he walked into the DNA lab, pausing the CD player as he came in. He had dropped several samples off a few hours ago and they were his only pieces of evidence in his current case, therefore his only hope of catching the murderer/rapist he was after.

"I do, it seems there is a God because the Backstreet Boys have officially broken up," Greg deadpanned as he stared through his microscope at his own hand. He fiddled with the knob and then pushed the hand in front of Nick's face, pointing to a spot near the knuckle, "Do you think that's a pimple or a cut?"

Nick showed no signs of amusement as he looked briefly and announced, "It's a bug bite, which I hope gets infected. What about my results?"

"Not an ounce of concern," Greg mumbled good-heartedly as he briefly inspected the skin again and then spun once in his chair. "Your results? You mean those sixteen different samples you brought me … four hours ago?"

Nick cringed, he supposed he was kind of pushing it to expect them done already, "Yeah, those ones."

Greg's face lit up though, triumphant as he reached behind him and tossed Nick a folder, "Well in that case, here you go. You got two hits: Thompson and Riker."

"Two? How is that possible?" Nick wondered, sifting through the papers.

But Greg was ready with an answer, "Because, the semen was from two different donors. I ran it again when those results came back, your original sample was from two unknowns, not one like you thought."

"Greg, you're slipping up in your old age," Nick teased, knowing it was rare to catch the lab tech making a mistake. "How did you miss that before?"

"Hey don't look at me, that was my day off; Greg was out of the building. Blame the - half a sample a day, don't touch the printer, where are my Rolaids for God's sake - replacement they had in for me," Greg remarked in defence of his DNA dominance.

But Nick quickly dismissed the error as he considered the new implications to the case.

"So she was raped twice – there's a happy thought," Nick mumbled.

"Or, since it was a seedy hotel, she could have had sex with one and then been raped by the other later," Greg offered, his explanation only slightly less disturbing.

"Yeah, but which one?" Nick asked, thinking aloud.

"That would be your job," Greg pointed out. Nick smiled at his cockiness.

"All right, thanks man," Nick said, heading for the door.

"Hit the play button on your way out," Greg called as Nick passed his CD player.

"Sure," his hand stopped over the button as he remembered, "Are you on break in an hour?"

Greg checked his watch, "Fifty-eight minutes in counting."

"Warrick and I are headed downtown for something to eat, you wanna come?" Nick asked.

Greg considered it only briefly, "Sure, long as you promise not to try and foot me with the bill."

"Why, just cause you did it to me last time? Do I look like a revenge kind of guy to you?" Nick asked with mock innocence.

"I don't know, you do carry a gun," Greg pointed out.

"Fair enough, I'll come and get you when we're going," Nick promised as he hit the play button on the CD player and left the room.

Greg was left with only his thoughts to occupy him once more and he inspected his hand again, "Bug bite my ass, it's not even itchy. Maybe I can run a sample through the GCMS."

But the music soon grabbed his attention and he began to dance around the counters as he returned to running and printing his samples.

"Greg, you ready?"

Nick leaned into the DNA lab but saw no sign of the spiky haired lab tech, "Greg?"

A hand suddenly shot up from behind the counter, followed shortly by the top of Greg's head, "Hey, just one minute."

Nick came around the counter, laughing as he watched his friend shuffle along the floor looking through each cupboard, slamming it shut and then moving on to the next.

"What are you doing?"

Greg continued looking and replied, somewhat embarrassed, "I uh, can't remember where I hid my coffee."

"That's what you get for being selfish and not sharing with the rest of us," Nick reprimanded, remembering all the times they had been denied access to the Blue Hawaiian blend.

"Not selfish, protective, there's a difference. Aha!" Greg stood up, smiling.

"Find it?"

"Nope, but I remember where it is, and no, I'm not telling," Greg replied, stripping off his lab coat and pulling on his jacket.

"Fine, I guess I'll just keep playing my new PS2 game by myself. It's a lot funner on single player anyway," Nick mused, knowing how to press Greg's buttons.

"You promised me a game," Greg said indignantly, unsure if he wanted to trade his coffee for video games. Nick just shrugged. Greg glared at him and caved, "All right, I'll share. But you tell Grissom and you're dead."

"Yeah, whatever, would you just hurry up, we only got forty-five minutes," Nick reminded him, ushering the younger man out the door.

"Where's Warrick?" Greg asked, shutting off the lights.

"Got called out on a new case," Nick replied.

"Which means he will undoubtedly be returning later with more samples for your very own DNA god to analyse," Greg said cheerfully as they went down the hall.

"Yeah, Hodges should do a great job on them," Nick smirked.

Greg was not amused, "You wound me."

"You'll live, let's go," Nick ushered him outside and towards the towering Tahoe.

"Can I drive?" Greg asked hopefully.

"Suure, and afterwards you can process a crime scene all by yourself," Nick joked, opening the front door.

"About time," Greg agreed sliding in the passenger side.

The Tahoe backed out of the parking lot and moved into the busy Las Vegas streets, its occupants completely unaware of the black car trailing behind them, the pictures being taken, or the plans being made on their behalf.

A few nights later Nick sat at home, contentedly watching TV. Most of his cases were solved and he had no plans beyond the beer in his hand the remote on his coffee table. But just as he'd settled down the phone rang.

"Just a sec," he called for no reason, knowing he could not be heard by the caller. He snatched the cordless off the charger, "Stokes."

"Hey Nick," the voice on the other end called cheerfully.

"Hey Greggo, what's going on?"

"Not too much, I'm just sitting here, staring at these two pieces of cardboard I got that say 'admission one: Falcons vs. Vikings' you know, the usual," Greg gloated.

Nick's jaw dropped, "You got tickets? How?"

"Let's just say I know a guy who knows a guy who … knows a scalper," Greg replied, his voice dropping near the end.

"You're something man, you better not just be calling me to gloat," Nick threatened.

Greg chuckled, "No, unfortunately I'm calling to invite you along. I'd hate to buy a big foam finger and have no one to poke with it. So, can you make it?"

Nick was very relieved he wasn't busy, "Yeah, I'd love to."

"Game starts at two."

Nick wrote it on a pad, "Two o'clock, gotcha."

"Sweet, I'll come and get you then at …" Nick cut him off.

"No, I'll pick you up." He insisted.

"No way, I'm driving, my ride's a classic," Greg said defensively.

Nick laughed, "Greg, I don't care what you say, classic is just a nice way of saying your car is a piece of shit."

"You say tomato, I say shut the hell up," Greg sing songed, very much liking his car. "Anyway, I'll talk to you later, MTV Music awards are starting."

"Kay, see ya tomorrow. Bye." Nick replaced the phone and sunk back down on the couch, very much looking forward to spending the next day with his best friend at a football game. It would be a nice change of pace and he hadn't seen enough of Greg in the past few weeks.

But he would not have been anywhere near as comfortable or relaxed had he known what was being planned for him. As it was, he drank his beer and watched TV, completely unaware of the danger he was constantly in. He did not know that above him, dark eyes watched and listened gleefully, he did not see the cameras and listening devices that had been placed in his home, he did not feel the dark presence that stalked overhead, and he did not know that tomorrow would turn out to be a very, very bad day.

"Soon Nick, we're going to meet again very soon, and then we can be friends again. You don't need any friends but me."

The next day Nick arrived at Greg's apartment at 1 o'clock, knowing that they needed to get to the game well before kick off. As he parked beside a black cavalier, locked his car and left the parking garage he found that he could not wipe the smile off his face. It had been a few months since he had had a real day off like this, and he reminded himself to thank Greg for inviting him. He hadn't seen his friend enough the last few weeks, outside of work that is. They use to go out for pizza and sometimes drinks after shift, but there had been so many high profile cases the last few weeks that Nick had found little time to get away, not to mention Greg had been glued to his machines, processing endless results for what seemed like endless cases. It would be good to spend time with him again, Nick thought, he missed the constant energy and babble of the younger man. It always amused him in the lab, and he knew today would be fun.

He went up two flights of stairs until he reached Greg's door. He knocked once but then opened the door and walked in, knowing he was always welcome.

"Hey Greggo," Nick called out, trying to find the spiky haired lab tech. Greg peaked his head around from the living room, smiling widely.

"Hey Nick, just a sec, looking for my wallet."

Nick was in no rush, "Take your time."

"Gottit!" he heard from the other room, then Greg emerged, dressed relatively normal but toting with him a huge foam cowboy hat.

Nick stopped him right there, pointing to the offensive, hideous apparel, "You are not wearing that!"

Greg scoffed, "Of course I'm not, and mess up my hair, yeah right."

Nick sighed in relief, that is until Greg shoved the hat on his head, "You're the Texan, you get to wear it."

Nick stood there a moment, not smiling, "You're so lucky I don't have my gun."

Greg held up two ticket stubs, "And you're lucky I'm nice enough to share my sold out tickets. So you wear the hat or you don't get to go."

Nick smiled, then reached out swiftly and grabbed the tickets from Greg's hand, whose face immediately fell.

"Now I'm taking you," Nick smirked, placing the hat gently on Greg's head so as not to damage the gelled spikes, "So wear the hat if you want, but I'm going to the game."

"You just live to ruin my fun, don't you?" Greg asked throwing the hat to the floor as he grabbed his keys and followed Nick into the hallway.

"Just so you know, the Falcons are gonna win this things hands down," Greg taunted once they were in the parking lot. Nick walked ahead of him, eager to leave; he paid no attention to the man in the baseball cap getting out of the black car.

"Keep dreaming, Greg," Nick called out, unlocking the door to the car. He paused, waiting for Greg's reply but heard only a dull thud, followed by a huff and then a louder thump as something hit the concrete, hard. Nick came around the car to the back and was shocked to find Greg face first on the ground, seemingly unconscious, with blood spilling from a gash on his temple and a dark figure looming over him.

"Greg! Get the hell away from him you bastard!" Nick demanded about to rush the strange attacker. He had only gotten a step when he heard the familiar sound of a safety being turned off and stopped short in response. An unwavering gun was suddenly inches from his face, held confidently by an ecstatic Nigel Crane.

"Hello Nick, it's been a long time," Crane smiled, his joy reaching his eyes with sadistic pleasure. This one minute of reunion with Nick brought him more happiness than the entire past week of watching him had, as he waited for the perfect time to re-emerge.

"Crane? Oh my god, how the hell did you get out?" Nick asked in shock.

"You remembered my name, thank you," Nigel said sincerely. "But getting out wasn't that hard, psychiatric facilities are pure chaos. One of my guards got careless; you'd be surprised how much a dead body looks like a sleeping one, and then it's easy to get out once you've got the keys," Crane gloated, hoping Nick would be proud of him.

Nick was too shocked to see his former stalker to really listen and concentrated on making sure he constantly met Crane's eyes in an attempt to draw his attention away from Greg's still motionless form. This man had killed before and was filled with violent delusions, something Nick was desperate to keep Greg from being exposed to.

"What do you want?" he had to ask, though he was not hopeful he would like the answer.

"I want us to take a little trip, hang out," Crane said innocently, smiling. The gun never wavered in his hand though; it seemed that something had happened to him in prison, his delusions had changed somehow. He was no longer nervous or unsure; he was confident and knew exactly what he wanted, and seemed determined to get it. That scared Nick.

"Where do you want to go?" Nick continued, hoping to stall until someone came by, but the parking lot was small and underground, he didn't see another soul.

"That's a surprise, come on," Crane urged, stepping back and indicating Nick should walk forward.

"I don't want to," Nick said calmly, trying to sound friendly and not show any hostility so as not to upset Crane. He was trying to get a feel for the stalker's attitude and determine just how much leverage he had over the psycho, if any.

"Well that's too bad. You were more than eager to spend the day with this pathetic brat," Crane hissed, landing a kick to Greg's ribs but never tearing his eyes off Nick, giving the former cop no opening to tackle him to wrestle the gun away. Nick cringed but that was his only response. In his heart he wanted to rip Crane's throat out but his mind screamed it wasn't possible, not yet, and he also hoped that the less attention he paid to Greg the sooner Crane would leave him alone. "I know you don't have any plans, football's over-rated, so you're free to spend the day with me, your real friend. Cause I know you wouldn't pick this undeserving brat over me."

Yeah right, Nick thought, but his mouth said calmly and soothingly, "You're right, I wouldn't."

Nigel smiled, very happy but gun still at the ready, "Good, now get moving."

"All right, just let me check on him," Nick requested, resigned to the fact that Crane would not leave without him. He bent down to check Greg's pulse and breathing, needing to at least know his friend would be all right before he went away with this madman.

"Oh, don't worry, he's coming too."

Nick's head shot up, his fear deepening, "What? Why?"

Crane smiled, "It's a surprise, I'll tell you later."

"No, he isn't part of this Nigel, just leave him," Nick pleaded, desperate to keep Greg uninvolved. This man was dangerous, violent, and psychotically obsessive, none of which were things that Greg had been trained to deal with, or deserved to face, thought Nick.

"Sorry, but he's coming. Here, put these on him," Crane demanded throwing Nick a pair of handcuffs from his back pocket.

But Nick was firm in trying to keep Greg out of this insane plan, "No, this isn't about him."

"Manners Nick, this is my trip and I want him to come, so you can either cuff him and bring him along or I'll shoot him right now and drag him behind the car." The threat was delivered smoothly, no stuttering or nervousness, verifying Nick's belief that this was a much more dangerous, calculated, Nigel Crane.

Biting his lip in frustration, Nick knew he had no choice.

"Sorry man," he mumbled, pulling Greg's arms behind his back and cuffing them together loosely.

Crane smiled as he took a step back to the trunk of the black car, pulling his keys out with one hand as he held the gun steady and fixed in the other. He turned the keys in the lock and opened the trunk, "Put him inside."

Nick's eyes widened, the trunk was small and he knew, very dangerous, "Why not just put him in the backseat?"

"Because someone could see him and I don't feel like watching the both of you at once, now put him in," Crane demanded, the first tendrils of anger rising in his demeanour.

"He could die," Nick pointed out, also angry.

"He'll definitely die if you don't do it, so which is the better choice?"

Nick had no reply and was forced to push down his own fury as he had to pick up his best friend and place him in the trunk. Greg moaned softly as he was moved. Nick put him down gently and tried to make him comfortable but Nigel was quick to slam the lid of the trunk closed, nearly jamming his fingers.

"Now what?" Nick asked through clenched teeth, knowing and hating that he had just submitted to allowing Greg to be brought along on what was sure to be a horrifying trip.

Crane smiled and tossed Nick the keys, "You drive."

Nick caught them and strode reluctantly to the front seat, his gaze constantly falling to the trunk even as he pulled open the door and sat in the driver's seat. Nigel got in beside him, grinning ear to ear, pleased beyond all reason to be spending the day with Nick. They would be best friends again, he would see to it.

Nick was constantly on watch for Nigel to drop his guard, for the gun to waver in any way, but Crane was focussed and always held the weapon out of arm's reach. Even now it was in his right hand, pointed at Nick and positioned so that if Nick lunged, he would still have time to fire. Now that Greg was out of the psychopath's sight Nick was almost tempted to jump him anyway, fairly confident Crane did not want to shoot him. From his previous behaviour it seemed that Crane worshipped him and wouldn't like hurting him, but he had also thrown Nick out of a second story window – clearly he would do what was necessary to reach his goals.

Clenching his teeth to keep back the biting retort that might get both him and Greg in trouble, Nick pushed in the keys and backed out of the parking lot. He followed Nigel's directions and soon they were heading out of the city and into the desert, and beyond that, only Nigel knew.


More soon I hope, school is always bringing down the amount of writing time but I really like this fic so I hope to finish it quickly, get it out of my system. I hope you're enjoying, tell me what you like and if there's anything I can improve on. More character thoughts, less character thoughts, more dialogue, I'm open to everything.

Anyway, hope you review, I'll love you … well, I'll certainly like you a great deal at least. I gotta go study for my English exam, Goody.