a/n: Again, sorry about the delay. I found that a decent episode with decent Nick time in it has inspired me. Enjoy!


Nick's steps were quick as he reentered the lab. He bypassed the breakroom and went straight to Grissom's office. He didn't even knock as he let himself in.

"Grissom, I need to talk to you," he said.

"And hello to you, Nick," his boss said. He swiveled in his chair and clasped his hands in front of him. "What is it?"

Nick started to pace. "I just ran into Jill's father."

Gil nodded, a light dawning in his eyes as he figured out where Nick was headed. "Not the most innocent man."

"No," Nick said. "He's not. Have you seen his file?"

Gil quirked an eyebrow at that. "His file?" Nick nodded.

"Suspected of murder, but never proven."

"Whose murder?"

Nick swallowed. "Jill's mom." He waited for that to sink in. "I just stopped by to check on Jill, and he was there. It was getting ugly."

Gil bit his tongue, feeling the anger go through him. "So what do you want to do?"

Nick drew a deep breath. "I want to look at the case."

It took some paperwork and convincing, but the police with jurisdiction over the case allowed Nick to go to review the case.

Grissom, though, opted for Warrick and Sara to go.

"Why can't I go?" Nick asked, fighting to keep his tone in check.

Gil shot him a look. "You're too close." He raised a hand to stop him from objecting. "If you did find something, you'd be accused of tampering evidence because of your relationship with Jill."

Nick rolled his eyes. "I don't have a relationship with Jill!"

Gil paused, raising an eyebrow. "So you say, but the fact that you both were held captive together would seem like you have enough in common."

It was Nick's turn to raise an eyebrow. "Come on, Gris."

"That's my decision, Nick. Live with it."

Nick spent the next three days going through the motions of working. In his off-time, he debated about calling Jill. He gave in once, but the dismissal was evident in her voice.

He wasn't sure what he'd done wrong—well, he knew what he wished had turned out differently, but that was a moot point. Why Jill wouldn't even talk to him, he didn't know. He'd given her space, right?

In truth, he just wanted to talk to her, to be with her, to make things right. He wasn't sure what the best way was for that, but as he drummed his fingers on the counter in his kitchen, he hoped to hear from Warrick soon.

Suddenly his phone rang, and Nick sprung for it.

"'Rick?" he said. Instead, he heard whimpering.

"Leave!" It was muffled, but suddenly became louder. "Nick!"

His throat tightened and his heart sped up. Jill. A shriek pierced the air, even through his phone, and before he could say anything, the line went dead.

Nick grabbed his gun and was out the door in two seconds. His pulse thundered in his ears. The tires of his SUV squealed, and it haunted him. It sounded like Jill's scream. He pulled out his cell phone, ready to call her back, and hope it wasn't something horrible. Just as he went to activate the call, his phone rang.

"Jill?!" he gasped after answering the call immediately.

"No, man," he heard a laid-back voice. "It's Warrick. What's wrong?"

Nick sighed and jerked the steering wheel to the left. "I'm on my way to Jill's. She just called, screaming."

"Was it because of her dad?"

Nick frowned. "What'd you find?"

His friend paused. "He did it, man," Warrick said. "LAPD has issued an arrest warrant, and the insurance company is already jumping on it."

Nick heard the words but couldn't process them. Ahead of him was Jill's house, her front door open.

"I gotta go."

He dropped the phone.

It sounded like a flood of water was rushing through his head. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew it was adrenaline, and he wasn't controlling it well. Nick tightened the grip on his gun, which was out and at his side.

"Don't move!" someone yelled. It was desperate, on the edge past reason. Nick froze just inside the doorway.

Jill's father shifted, ducking behind his daughter. Jill looked enraged, but a trace of fear didn't escape Nick's notice. Mr. Parker held a gun to her head, his hand shaking.

"Let her go," Nick growled. His gun was still at his side, and as much as he wanted to raise it at Parker, Jill mattered too much.

"Let her go!!!" Nick shouted.

Parker let out a gasp, and his face contorted in sadness and anger.

"I already did," he said. Jill's eyes flickered over her shoulder, trying to gain some understanding from her father's words. "I've spent the last ten years trying to get her back."

"Maybe you shouldn't have killed Mom then," Jill hissed, her eyes narrow. Nick expected some denial from Parker, but the man shifted his craziness to the CSI.

"You don't seem surprised," he said. His voice seemed distant, and something about that made the hairs on the back of Nick's neck stand on end. "I killed my wife."

Nick gritted his teeth but stayed his hand. "I know." He swallowed briefly. "I got the police to reopen the case."

Mr. Parker's face darkened noticeably. He moved. It wasn't hurried, but more methodical. He simply pointed the gun at Nick and fired.

Nick dropped to the floor. A scream echoed off the walls. It was primal, and Nick watched as the scene played out before him. Jill swung an arm at her father, catching him in the neck. It stunned the man, but didn't stop him. He turned the gun on Jill.

And that was it. Nick acted.

The shot rang out, and then all was quiet.

"How did he know?" Nick asked, a little dazed as he sat on the curb. He was unhurt, and just watched as the coroner carted off Mr. Parker's body. Nick followed the black bag, heat burning his eyes as he thought what the man almost did.

Warrick didn't miss the hatred in Nick's eyes, nor the sudden softening as the Texan's gaze landed on Jill. She seemed equally stunned, if not more so. She was now without any parent. She was alone.

Warrick shook his head and picked up his thoughts. "I talked with the life insurance company who covered Mrs. Parker. They called Jill's dad."

Nick nodded, still staring at Jill. "And that's what set him off." Warrick just nodded. The two CSIs watched the scene, not even moving when Grissom and Sara moved into the house to process.

Internal Affairs would want a word with Nick. Warrick wanted to bring that up, to prepare his friend, but somehow he doubted Nick really cared about that. He opened his mouth to try his luck at it anyway.

And suddenly Nick was on his feet.

Jill saw him coming. She'd seen him the whole time, even though her ears ached from the screeches of the gurney wheels as her father's body was taken away.

She couldn't bring herself to mourn him. She couldn't bring herself to shut out feeling either. Jill just sat at the base of a tree trunk, leaning against the wood. Life would be different, but not really. Right?

The future was a defense mechanism. It was a way to not dwell on the now, with the flashing red and blue lights, the people, the police, the horror. She could almost hear the news story, and it made her stomach turn.

So the future. Life would go on. School, job, maybe love . . .

Her eyes consciously took in Nick. He looked as torn as she felt. For some reason, she couldn't digest what he'd done tonight, even though it saved her life. Some part of her said it was terrible. Another part of her said it was necessary.

Again, the future. It was safer to think about it even as it pertained to Nick.

Jill scoffed to herself. What future? With Nick? How would she ever tell about how they met? Or if somehow things progressed, how would she tell her kids about their grandfather when Nick was around?

She shook her head to herself and stared at the grass.

He sat by her, and she could sense the tension. She expected some stammering, some lame attempt at comfort. For a brief moment, she wondered what Kostya would have said.

Clear sadness filled her. The Russian wouldn't have said anything. And that would have been fine.

But it dawned on her that Nick hadn't said a thing since he sat. A minute passed. Then two. She didn't hear him try to start a sentence and think better of it. No. He just sat by her side, silent.

She found herself turning her body towards him. Her eyes washed over him, his earthy-toned clothes, the hard lines of his face and body. Her eyes wandered to his. He wasn't looking off at the sky or staring at the ground in guilt. He simply looked back at her. He offered her a slight smile, nothing gloating or victorious or even happy.

Whatever it was, it was fine. For the first time in . . . too long, Jill was pleasantly surprised. She had no mother. Her murderous father was dead. She had been kidnapped. Held at gun point by family, foe and even one friend. Witnessed injustice and Kostya's death. As much as that grated her, hollowness wasn't what she felt.

She wasn't alone.

Slowly, Jill offered a trace of a smile back at Nick.

No, she wasn't alone. And sitting next to her was someone that she could rely on.

a/n: and that's the end. I hope it was worth reading. Thanks for the reviews and encouragement!