The hospital staff didn't typically allow so many people to be present in one room, particularly when the patient they were visiting had gone through so serious a trauma, but the primary physician knew Gil Grissom personally and had allowed the rules to be bent this time.

"Is he all right, Rob?" Grissom demanded the minute Sullivan set foot in Nick's room.

Sullivan glanced around, taking note of Grissom, his three CSIs, a young man with spiky blond hair, and three detectives before answering the question.

"Multiple contusions and lacerations, cracked ribs, hairline fracture of his right hip, concussion, left pinky is broken, just to name a few," Sullivan replied. "Not to mention on top of all that he's malnourished and dangerously dehydrated. I'm keeping in the hospital for a few days for an aggressive antibiotic treatment; at least until I'm sure his condition won't worsen. All in all, he's a very lucky young man."

"Thanks, Rob," Grissom replied. The relief in his voice was mirrored on the faces of all those present.

"My pleasure," Sullivan told him. "I've got to get on my rounds, but if you need anything, have the nurse page me."

Catherine brushed her hand over Nick's hair as Sullivan exited. "Jim, please tell me we're going to nail these bastards."

"Charges are already rolling in," Brass stated. "Murder one, attempted murder, kidnap, assault of a police officer, just to start. They aren't talking, but they don't have to. Between the evidence and Nicky's testimony, they don't stand a chance."

"Just in case, though, make sure the DA knows what's at stake here," Grissom said. "We can't afford to let them off on a technicality."

Brass nodded to Vega and Lockwood, then walked with them to the door. "We're going to make sure we have an airtight case. Tell Nicky we're glad to have him back when he wakes up, would you?"

No sooner had they left did Nick begin to stir. Everyone crowded around the hospital bed, anxious to see for themselves that Nick was all right.

Nick opened his eyes and looked around. Once the disorientation in his eyes settled, he grinned. "You're all having a party and no one decided to wake me up?"

Laughter rippled through them at the joke. "Hey, man, how do you feel?" Greg asked.

"I'm fine," Nick replied, though his scratchy voice said different. "Y'all didn't have to come down here and check on me."

"Would you rather Ecklie come see you?" Catherine teased.

Nick chuckled faintly. "Man, don't do that. My chest hurts."

"As does the rest of you, from what the doctor says," Warrick chimed in.

"What does he know?" Nick said dismissively. A cloud passed over his face. "Did, um . . . did you get them?"

"We got 'em," Sara assured him, patting his shoulder. "Brass was just here. He said that Abby and Brandt are going down for a long time. You don't have to worry about them anymore."

Nick nodded. A yawn overtook him, and he blinked wearily.

"Get some sleep," Catherine ordered. "We'll be back later to check on you."

She kissed Nick on the forehead and moved to the door. Sara and Greg made their goodbyes, then left with Catherine. Warrick lingered behind, watching Nick with an uncomfortable expression.

"I'm sorry, man," he finally said.

Nick frowned, confused. "For what?"

"For leaving you, for letting you down . . . for not getting to you in time," Warrick stated.

"There's nothing for you to be sorry for," Nick told him emphatically. "You weren't the person who did all this to me. Hell, I probably wouldn't be alive right now if it wasn't for you. So thank you. For saving my butt."

"Again," Warrick joked.

Nick laughed and closed his eyes. Within moments, he was fast asleep.

Warrick studied his friend, then looked up at Grissom. "I really am sorry, Gris," he whispered. "For everything."

Grissom nodded. "I know, Warrick. Me too."

Warrick gave him a startled look. "You too? What for?"

Grissom sighed, his eyes focused on Nick. "Maybe if I'd been paying a little more attention, we could have prevented this. If we'd realized Nick was missing any sooner . . ."

"But we all gave up on him on the boat," Warrick pointed out. "All of us. Except you. You were the one who saved his life."

"It was a team effort," Grissom corrected. "We all saved him. We weren't just going to let him go without a fight."

Grissom looked up at Warrick suddenly. "Go home, get some rest. You've earned it."

Warrick started to go, but paused when he realized Grissom wasn't following him. "You coming?"

Grissom sat down in a chair by Nick's bed and lifted a forensics journal he had brought with him to the hospital. "You go on. I'm going to stay here for a little while."

Warrick's brow furrowed in confusion, but he left without comment.

Grissom opened the journal and began to read. Though in his mind he knew Nick was going to be all right, he wanted to stay close by and watch over his CSI until Nick was well enough to do so himself.

His family was safe once again.

---------------------------The End----------------------------