Gil Grissom looked at his hands. He had brought several journals, books and magazines to keep him company. In the end, all that reading material had found its way to the floor. It had been three days since Nick's arrival to the hospital. Gil had gone home for one night to try to recover, but his thoughts had been plagued by nightmarish images from the warehouse. He had been given a week off by the lab director, however, so he soon found himself back in this room.
Nick was out of the ICU and had been transferred to the psychiatric wing. Grissom had been told that no matter what the results were on Nick's first evaluation, it was hospital procedure for him to be closely monitored in this specialized unit. Dr. Hall was now his primary care giver, and the supervisor had already met with him numerous times to receive his reports and prognosis. Nick was still be closely watched for any lingering effects of his heat stroke, and he still had to remain in a calm environment for his recovery. All in all, the young CSI was still exhausted and weak from his ordeal and still needed full medical supervision.
The psychiatrist had informed Grissom that Nick was responding well to the medications he'd been given. Nick was no longer suffering from his psychosis, but he was experiencing a fairly severe form of depression. The CSI was still receiving sedatives to keep him calm. Nick was experiencing many frightening memories, but could not actually recall many details of his experience.
Grissom lightly placed his hand on Nick's shoulder and squeezed it, without much of a response. He was allowed to visit, since it was determined that his presence might help in Nick's mental recovery. Gil wiped at his face with his hand; he was still very tired himself. The entomologist was happy that his coworker was no longer hooked up to a ventilator. It was still distressing to see several tubes snake out from under his sheets: the IV line was still in place, a pulse ox clipped to his finger, and all sorts of cardiac leads stuck to his chest.
Gil was so intent on counting all the intrusive instruments that he didn't see Nick's eyes open and focus on him.
Nick moved his heavy head to one side, but couldn't bring himself to lift it off his pillow. He felt completely drained of energy and didn't have the inclination to talk to anyone. Sure, he gave the shrink short and clipped answers to his little survey and appraisal, but Nick's mind was so fried, that he couldn't articulate his thoughts well enough to give any real solid information on how he was feeling. Not that he felt like sharing anyway. It just wasn't his "thing", and it's not like he deserved to feel better.
He had been given a condensed and very sketchy account of what had happened to him and Grissom. Nick was sure that Warrick and his physician were leaving a lot of gaps unanswered for many reasons. His partner had practically lived in his room, despite the fact that all Nick did was sleep. After a while, even the presence of his best friend started to make him irritable.
Nick was plagued by some horrific nightmares, strange and scary hallucinations, as well as weird images of himself. The young man swallowed. Some of the things he saw himself do were the most disturbing things of all. As he now observed his boss, it terrified him that maybe some of those things were real memories and not figments of a dark imagination.
Nick wasn't blind. The room had very little light, but even where he lay, the CSI could see the bruises all along the left side of Gil's face. Nick's eyes wandered over his mentor. He noticed the ugly bruises on Grissom's left forearm, as well as that stark white sling that his right arm was in. Nick felt a wave of self recrimination wash over him; it must have caused his body to react, as his broken hand twitched slightly and he hissed in pain.
Gil was brought out of his own deep thoughts when he noted that his CSI was awake. Nick grit his teeth and allowed a small groan to escape.
"Are you all right, Nick?" the supervisor asked, ready to hit the call button if needed.
The younger criminalist's eyes flew open at that question. 'Are you all right, Nicky?' resonated in his head.
"F-fine," he croaked.
Nick instinctively pulled away from Grissom's worried stare. The object of his discomfort diverted his attention, and Nick glared at his right hand. Four of his fingers were in braces, except for his pinkie. His entire hand was twice its normal size and it was bruised all over. Grays morphed into black and blues all over the exposed skin.
"You have four broken fingers, and several more hand fractures. The doctor says with physical therapy, that there won't be any permanent damage," Grissom explained.
Nick blinked. Permanent damage. He shook his head and stifled a choked sob.
Grissom chewed his lip, his fingers inching ever closer to the nurses' buzzer. "Are you in pain? Do you want me to call the nurse?"
"N-no," he stammered.
Nick still didn't look at him, had not once locked eyes. Grissom adjusted his weight in the chair. Now that it wasn't a crisis, his mind seemed to have become bogged down.
Nick fixed his gaze at the ceiling. He ignored how sore his throat still felt. His thoughts were so hazy. Nick's eyes traveled the IV line, wondering how many medications they had him on. He just wanted to be alone. He deserved to be isolated, kept far away from anyone.
"I-I understand if I have to face charges... or... i-if... you want me to leave the unit." Nick found himself saying the words before his thoughts were solidified.
Grissom sighed. "Nick, there's no need for disciplinary action, none what so ever. You didn't do anything wrong."
The room filled with Nick's choked laughter. Grissom squinted in confusion. The older criminalist wondered if he'd ever have a normal conversation with his CSI ever again.
"Nick, look at me," Gil instructed.
Hesitantly, the other man turned his head and looked over at his boss. It was the trepidation and utter lack of hope in his empty eyes that really grabbed Gil.
"Nicky, you're a very smart man, and you have great instincts. When you're able to cope with what happened, I hope you also realize that none of it... and I mean nothing was in your control. We've seen what PCP can do people. How it can make even the most lucid and well adjusted individuals act in completely irrational ways."
Grissom leaned over the bed and gently grabbed Nick's uninjured wrist for added emphasis. "You were a victim of a crime. We were both held captive and forced to endure a madman's deadly game. You were not in control of your actions, and under the circumstances... I'm very proud of you."
Nick was stunned. Deep inside he knew his boss was correct, but somehow he felt ashamed for letting the drugs affect him like they did. As a scientist, he knew that such foolish ideas were not very plausible, but never in a million years did he think himself capable of such actions... of such thoughts.
Where did the drug's influence end and his own inner demons begin, he wondered.
"I gave in to a homicidal rage... and you're proud of me? For what? Not killing you?" he asked in disbelief.
"I don't have to tell you about violent and psychotic behavior from a PCP overdose, do I?" Gil asked in a somewhat challenging tone.
Nick coughed a little, rising to the bait. "No... I mean... I guess not."
Grissom knew this was not the time or place to have an in depth discussion about this. He wanted to begin the healing, to help Nick overcome some of his doubts before they festered. The criminalist knew they covered some important ground today. But his CSI was tired and clearly the conversation had wiped him out.
A nurse walked in, casting the room in silence again. She smiled at her patient as she checked all of his readings, made notations of his outputs and wrote them in his chart. "Dr. Hall thinks it's a good idea that you get up and walk around a bit today, Mr. Stokes."
Nick nodded absently, even though he knew he didn't have the strength to get out of bed.
"I'll be sure to have an orderly help you out. If you're feeling up to it, maybe you can handle a shower instead of your sponge bath." The older nurse patted his shoulder playfully at his wide-eyed expression. "Not that any of us mind, you know," she teased gently. "Not every day we get patients as handsome as you."
At Nick's continued shocked stare, the nurse hurried along with business. "Time for your medications." She had a couple syringes prepped, and began injecting them in Nick's IV.
The criminalist cringed at the sight of the syringes.
The nurse noticed his anxiety and quickly disposed of the needle. "It's all right hon, it's just something to help clear out the remains of that nasty stuff in your system."
Nick felt slightly embarrassed, but he knew it would take some time to get over certain anxieties. As time went by, there would be less of the poison remaining in his system. He hoped all of his new fears would disappear as well. Nick knew it wouldn't be that easy, but time healed all wounds. Or, he prayed it would.
The nurse left and Gil got up to gather his things. He sensed Nick's immediate nervousness, but he put the man at ease. "I'm just going to get some dinner. I'll be back."
"Good," was all that Nick managed to reply.
Grissom gave Nick one of his books to read and headed out. The supervisor felt better after having this conversation. He would stop by Dr. Hall's office to let the physician in on the progress made today.
Nick had spent almost a week in the hospital, in fact he was one day shy. He wondered if it was some insurance thing. Maybe the rates went up if you stayed the full seven. His jeans felt looser around his waist and his shirt was a bit larger. He'd lost weight from his stay and the dehydration, but the CSI knew he'd gain in back eventually. He had a pretty clean bill of health, considering all that he'd just gone through. Nick's doctor advised him to seek therapy for several months, at least till all his symptoms disappeared.
He was released an hour earlier then he thought, so he waited outside after one of the of the nurses wheeled him to the exit.. Nick opened the doors, and the slight breeze felt good against his face. It was a warm day; the sun was still low in the sky, so the stifling heat would grow as the day went by. Nick didn't know if he would ever get used to that kind of heat again. One thing was for sure, he'd carry at least a bottle of water on him at all times.
He had started down a small row of steps, when he saw a familiar Tahoe being parked several rows of cars ahead of him. Grissom had insisted on picking him up which Nick had found a little amusing, since he he was certain Warrick had protested that decision vehemently. Nick had decided against informing Gil about the earlier release, as the young criminalist wanted a little time alone to think, not to be overly crowded. Nick watched as his boss exited his vehicle and strode towards him.
Nick rested his injured hand against the side of his leg. He never realized how much he used it, till every movement caused him a great deal of pain. The criminalist sighed, he'd been told he had at least another week off to recuperate. Then he had to pass a mental health screening just to go back to do lab work. Who knew when he'd get back in the field?
Gil was standing next to him now, a small smile on his face. Seeing his boss in such a good mood made him a bit nervous. He matched his supervisor's easy smile awkwardly.
"You know Warrick could have done this. You didn't have to take time out of your day," he said, still slightly uncomfortable with this kind of attention from the boss.
Grissom ignored Nick's hesitancy. "Do you need any prescriptions picked up?"
"Ah, yeah. Ya know, just preventative stuff." Nick followed his boss as they started walking to his car.
"We'll pick them up on the way."
Nick arched an eyebrow. "We goin' somewhere?"
Grissom smiled and slipped his glasses back on without a word.
Gil Grissom and Nick Stokes sat in the VIP section of the Las Vegas Stars. The entertainment hub of Nevada did not have any professional sports teams. However, they did pride themselves in their AAA baseball team. The graveyard supervisor had called in some favors and pulled some strings. Now both criminalists were enjoying themselves in an air conditioned and enclosed booth above the stands with an overview of the field.
Nick chomped on a hot-dog greedily; after so many days of hospital food, this was pure heaven. He stood up and cheered as one of the Stars hit a line drive.
After an hour Nick remained seated. He still fatigued fairly easily, but that didn't stop his enthusiastic grin. Gil looked over and allowed himself a similar smile. It was good to see his colleague so joyous. Nick Stokes was still a jock at heart.
"So, what are you going to do all week?"
Nick shrugged. "Been meaning to find a new workout program. Think I'll look for a local gym."
Gil shook his head. "What, you're not buff enough?"
Nick shook his head. "Nah, just want to add some mass." He shrugged. "My doc says I might need something to channel any anxiousness I might continue to feel."
Nick looked over at his boss; some of his uneasiness about being around the elder man had dissipated. "Um, thanks for doing this. Thought I'd spend all day at home."
Gil tilted his head to one side. "You'll have plenty of time to rest. Figured you might enjoy an outing."
Nick narrowed his eyes, but his smile was still there. "Grissom. We've never hung out outside of work before."
"Maybe that's been a mistake," Gil admitted.
Nick squirmed in his seat. "Gris..."
"You don't have to be so anxious around me, Nick. I may be your boss, but we're colleagues. I've always respected you as a CSI. You don't always have to try measuring up to some impossible invisible stick."
"I know... I mean... I don't."
"There it is again, Nicky. I might not tell you what I think all the time, but if you stop trying to measure your self worth against mine, then I'll try to be a bit more human." The supervisor allowed a slight grin, knowing he could take a jab at himself.
Nick turned away, his cheeks slightly pink. "Yeah, I can try."
The two men watched the game continue, and in the end the home team won. The CSI's got out of their seats and made their way home. The silence in the car was easygoing this time, the friendship between the two criminalists more solidified. The desert heat, the tiny warehouse, the madness of a cult leader, would eventually become a memory. The aftermath of their ordeal would be with the both of them, but each CSI was learning to take the bad elements of the experience and find something positive out it. As Nick had said once, experiences like that make a person. With Gil Grissom and Nick Stokes, taught them much about themselves; their inner strengths, their character, their friendship, would endure long after the emotional and physical scars had faded.
Author's notes: Another end to another story. Sad to see this one complete. I want to thank all my faithful readers and new ones that have followed this journey. Thank you so much for all the feedback everyone has submitted. I felt this was a proper conclusion, as I did not want to beat a dead horse or let this story become stifled. I am not a doctor, I just did a ton of research and I had a wonderful beta who kept me inline, thank you Kris!
There are a couple one shots up my sleeves, a co-authored post Grave Danger fic with Shacky soon. The on to a new casefile. See everyone soon.
Your words are fine. Thank you for the wonderful support! Hope you're nails are better.
Thank you again for the support! See you next time.
Thank you again.
Nick did have to get the right treatment, but his stay was not too bad. Thank you for all of your feedback.
Thank you very much for all of your detailed comments. Hope this was a satisfying ending.
Here you go my friend. Thank you for being so supportive!
Thank you very much. I have never watched House. Must be from my days of writing ER fanfiction, more kind of the Peter Benton approach.
Reading chapter 8 o 9 back to back I bet was a big whirlwind. Thank you for the praise, the research wasn't too bad, had to write a chart, that's all!
You're welcome. This story was quite a catalyst for what I wanted to explore, while keep Gil and Nick in character. Plot device are nice that way. Thanks again.
Thank you, you're so sweet. Glad all the jargon wasn't in the way, I had hoped it added realism.
Hope there was no medication needed to read this one. You're always been such a wonderful supporter all this time. Thank you.
Thank you again for all the support.
I really did not want a matchup between Jorge and Gil, felt better with time devoted between Nick and Gil. Hoped the ending resolved most of it. Thank you.
Nick did go through the ringer, poor dear. Glad you enjoyed all his trials and tribulations, but our CSI will always come out of any thing I do to him!
Thanks. I felt the bulk of the warehouse how a ton of hurt and comfort, I just didn't want the story to become stagnate. Thanks again.
Yes, that certain childhood incident will come into play soon. Sometime during the summer. Thank you.
Amy- What is VS? Thanks for pointing out the little things that I should change..I'll be sure to update that. Glad everything else was realistic with the needed action.
Thank you again. Nick will be able to cope with this with the right help. I think he was in a good place where the story ended.
. I'm not a doctor, thanks for thinking!