Author's Note: Well, this is the last chapter. Thank you for sticking with me on my first multi-chapter piece. I appreciate the feedback. I'm in the process of working on two new pieces so I'll be back!
Hours later, Grissom sat reading a magazine or attempting to anyway. He was having some difficulty staying focused. Every now and then, his eyes would flicker to the figure lying in the bed next to him.
He had been relieved when the doctor had told him that Nick would be okay. His CSI had lost a lot of blood and had sustained a few injuries, including a sprained ankle, as a result of the car crash, but there would be no lasting damage. Given the circumstances, Grissom had figured that Nick had gotten off lucky.
Grissom sighed and gave up, placing the magazine in his lap. He was feeling uncharacteristically antsy as his nerves still had not completely settled down. He would feel better once he had the chance to talk to Nick and know for sure that he was okay. Then he could resume his established role as the unemotional supervisor.
Finally, the figure in the bed began to stir. Grissom moved to the edge of his seat as Nick opened his eyes.
Nick's eyes darted around in confusion, trying to figure out where he was and why he was lying in bed. Then the events of the previous night came flooding back to him. He winced slightly as he moved his right arm. He heard movement on his left and his eyes landed on Grissom.
"Grissom?" Nick croaked, making an effort to sit up and wincing even more. "Where's Emily?"
"She's in the next room getting some much needed sleep." Grissom informed him.
After Emily had finally calmed down, he had gotten her to agree to be checked out by the EMTs. They had taken her back to the hospital for an x-ray which indicated that not only was her nose broken, her right cheekbone had a small fracture as well.
The doctor had given her some pain medication and was going to send her home, but Emily had refused to leave. She didn't want to leave until she had made sure that Nick was okay. Since Nick was asleep, the doctor had graciously let the poor young woman collapse in a hospital bed in the meantime.
"Is she okay?" Nick asked, worry etched on his face.
"She will be. Thanks, in part, to you." Grissom replied. "She told me what you did. That was a risky thing to do."
Nick leaned back and sighed. Was he going to get a lecture now? He wasn't sure if he was up for it. His tired mind went on the defensive. "My options were limited. I just wanted to take control of the situation somehow and give her a fighting chance. I wanted her to know that I wasn't ready to give up and neither should she."
"It was still a risky thing to do." Grissom repeated. He paused for a moment before saying, "And a very brave thing to do. You kept your head in a terrible situation and used the advantage of surprise to gain the upper hand against Richard Douglass. Well done."
Nick rested his head against the pillow and smiled slightly at these rare words of praise from Grissom. He closed his eyes for a few minutes and lay so still that Grissom thought for a moment that he'd gone back to sleep until the young man spoke again.
"I've seen a lot of bad guys in my time, some really nasty characters, but this guy takes the cake. I've never seen a man so completely evil, who revealed so much in the pain he inflicted on his daughter. The things he said to her, what he did, the sound of his voice, that look in his eyes - I'll never forget it. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm glad he's dead."
Grissom remained silent, letting Nick's words hang in the air between them. He understood what Nick was feeling but refrained from voicing his own opinion.
There was a sound at the door and both men turned to see Emily hovering at the entrance. She looked down, slightly embarrassed by the interruption she had caused.
Realizing his presence was no longer required, Grissom stood up. "I'm going to check in with Brass. I'll be back later to see how you're doing, Nicky."
He brushed past Emily on his way out. Instead of moving into the room however, she continued to linger in the doorway as if she was unsure as to whether or not she was welcome inside.
"Come in. Have a seat." Nick waved her in with a smile.
Silently, Emily entered the room and seated herself in the chair that Grissom had just vacated. She kept her head down and played with her bandaged hand as she spoke in a quiet voice. "Look, I'm really sorry for everything that happened. I understand if you're mad at me."
Nick was confused. "Why would I be mad at you?"
"Because I lied to you. I lied about my past and put you in danger. You could have died and it would have been my fault." Emily wiped at the stray tear that had fallen on her cheek.
With some effort and a fair amount of discomfort, Nick forced himself to sit up straighter. "Hey, look at me." he said in a firm voice. She raised her eyes to meet his.
"A lot of people have secrets in their past that they want to keep hidden because they're afraid how others will respond. When things happen to people that are beyond their control, they feel ashamed, partially to blame, even though it's completely irrational for them to feel that way. They think they'll be rejected by those they care about if they knew the truth. You don't ever have to feel that way with me. What happened to you as a child was not your fault. What happened to your brother was not your fault. What happened to me was not your fault. I'm not mad at you. No way. You're an incredible woman, Emily, and you have nothing but my respect and admiration."
He leaned back a bit and said with a smile, "Besides, I can't be mad at the woman who saved my life."
Emily couldn't help but return his smile. She moved her chair closer to the bed and leaned forward, concern in her eyes. "Are you really okay?"
"Nothing a couple of weeks of paid leave won't cure." Nick said with a smile. He raised his hand and gently touched Emily's unbruised cheek. "What about you? You gonna be okay?"
She reached up and grabbed his hand, interlocking her fingers with his. "I don't know. This is a weird feeling to get used to."
"What feeling is that?" he asked curiously.
"The sense of freedom. For the first time in my life, I was able to lay down and go to sleep without being scared. I don't have to be ruled by fear anymore. I've been looking over my shoulder for the last ten years. Now I can focus on moving forward. It's going to take some time to adjust, but I think I'll enjoy it." Emily smiled.
A silence fell between them. Emily laid Nick's hand back down on the bed, but left her fingers intertwined with his.
She stared at their hands as she said, "I'm just going to miss Adam so much. I wish that he could have known what this was like - to be free from worry, to know that we were finally safe."
Emily sighed and looked away. "I feel so selfish to be talking about moving on with my life while he's never going to get the chance to."
He squeezed her hand gently. "You wouldn't be the caring person you are if you didn't feel that way, but I'm fairly certain that your brother would be proud of you and happy that you finally have the chance for a normal life. That's what he wanted to give you."
"Thank you," she said, looking deep into his eyes. "Thank you for everything you did for me. I wouldn't have survived if it wasn't for you. You gave me strength."
"I just wanted you to know that you weren't alone." Nick said in a quiet voice. "You're never alone."
Neither one felt the need to say anything else so they sat together in a peaceful silence until Nick finally drifted back off to sleep.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you to consider the evidence: his skin on under her fingers nails; her blood on his clothes; his fingerprints on the knife. All of this physical evidence clearly points to the defendant as Samantha Jensen's killer. He made a threat against her life and then carried it out."
The prosecutor's melodic voice filled the courtroom once again, just as it had a month ago, as she took a step closer to the jury.
She concluded her closing argument with these final words. "He showed no pity. He showed no mercy. He preyed on her fears and made them a reality. I am asking you to bring this man to justice, to make him pay for his crime against this poor young woman. Do not let this man go free so that he can do to another woman what he did to Samantha. Thank you."
She turned on her heel and made her way back to her seat as the smack of the gavel sounded. The judge dismissed the jury and called a recess.
As Emily placed her papers in her briefcase, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned to see Nick's smiling face.
Her face broke out into a similar smile. "Hey there. It's good to see you. You all put back together I see."
Nick chuckled. He spread his hands as if he were on display. "Good as new."
"That's good. I'm glad." she said as they began to make their way out of the court room.
"So, how are you doing?" he asked. Nick steered her over to a bench and they sat down.
"Oh, you know. Keeping busy." Emily gave him a half smile.
Emily had taken some personal time to make arrangements for Adam and sort through his personal belongings in Los Angeles, before jumping back into work. Much to her relief, the media had not caught wind of the events surrounding the murder of Adam Pryor. She was spared from having her past displayed for all of Las Vegas to see on the evening news.
She gave a deep sigh. "I miss him. I will always miss him, but the best way I can think of to honor his memory is to move on with my life. That's what he would have wanted."
Nick nodded in understanding. True victims always stayed trapped in the moment of their abuse, unable to escape the painful memories, but survivors found a way to work through those memories and keep living their lives. Yes, Emily would always miss her brother, but she would not allow herself to get lost in her grief and forget to live. Otherwise, everything her brother did for her would have been done in vain and Emily was not about to let that happen. That determination was the mark of a true survivor and Nick was glad to see that Emily possessed it.
"Well Miss Trent, I believe I still owe you a celebratory lunch." Nick said with a grin.
"That you do, Investigator Stokes. What shall we celebrate?" Emily asked with amusement.
Nick thought for a moment before answering, "Life, love, and new beginnings."
"That sounds perfect." Emily said with genuine affection in her voice.
Nick stood up and offered his hand to the young woman who eagerly accepted it. Together, they walked hand in hand and made their way out of the courthouse and into the sunshine.