Author: PonchoLives
Title: Resignation and Rejuvenation
Category: Angst/Drama

Disclaimer: I own nothing except that laptop that this story was composed on.

Summary: This takes a peak into what Nick might have been feeling about his relationship with Grissom, the promotion, and his own self-evaluation during the events of "Eleven Angry Jurors". One shot.

"The pump on Aaron's farm is diesel. Your sister was cremated with unleaded." Nick stated clearly.

The meaning of his words were not lost on Faye Minden.
He had caught her in a lie. There was no doubt about it. Now it was time to see what she was going to do about it. Would she cover up her lie with another one or would she tell the truth?

Faye opted for the first choice.

"You know what? Thinking back now, I-I remember Aaron's pump was empty, and, uh, he insisted we drive over here. He used mine. Sorry for the confusion." Faye said rather breathlessly.

She looked at Nick in anticipation, hoping that the CSI would buy her story one more time, but he did not meet her eyes. Instead, Nick had focused in on the barn as if noticing it for the first time.

"Excuse me." he said, brushing past the woman.

"Please say you believe me." Faye called out after him, but her plea was met with silence.

Nick walked inside the barn and looked around, taking in the barrels lined up along side the wall. He saw the various tools lined up on the table and walked over to it. He sprayed them and waited to see if the anticipated reaction would occur. The cutters glowed blue, indicating the presence of blood.

The CSI gave a mental sigh. He was annoyed. Annoyed that Faye Minden had lied to him. Annoyed that he had played an unwitting pawn in her vendetta against her brother-in-law. Annoyed that it had taken four years for the truth about Rita's disappearance to finally be revealed.

Grabbing the cutters, Nick walked back outside and headed towards Faye and Detective Vartann.

"I believe you, Faye. You see, blood evidence doesn't disappear over time. Your sister was murdered ... by you." Nick told her with some mild satisfaction. All of his hard work had not gone to waste.

That was it. The case was solved. There was only one thing left to do. Tell Grissom.

Nick rode back to the lab alone. He had pushed the thoughts that had been nagging at him for a while to the back of his mind because he had needed to focus on the case, but now, he allowed his mind to wander back to his brief conversation with Dorsey.

When he had heard that Sara had been recommended for the promotion, it had hurt like a knife in the chest. He could still hear Dorsey's words echoing in his head.

"I heard the rumor, and I'm sorry. Everybody on the day shift says that you deserved that promotion. You ask me, Grissom only gave Sara a higher evaluation because of their history."

It wasn't that he thought he was a better CSI than Sara. He knew how talented she was. No. It was the implication that Sara had been chosen over him because of her special relationship with Grissom. She had an unfair advantage in that regard. All he wanted was a fair shot and he never seemed to get one where Grissom was concerned.

Honestly, he didn't know which was worse: knowing that he didn't get the promotion or knowing that other people were talking about it. He was never one who craved the spotlight and to think that the lab techs and those on the day shift were whispering behind his back about how he had been overlooked by Grissom irked him. Mainly because their conversations, according to Dorsey, would center around his lack of a relationship with Grissom.

Nick could only imagine what they might say to each other.

"Poor Nick got screwed over by Grissom. Again."

"I don't understand why Grissom doesn't like Nick. He's much more personable than Sara."

"Sara only got the recommendation because she's got a personal relationship with Grissom and everybody knows that Nick and Grissom aren't close. He never stood a chance against Sara."

"Nick must have ticked Grissom off again. Grissom's never happy with anything Nick does. I feel bad for the guy. It must stink to know your boss doesn't like you."

Nick gripped the steering wheel in frustration until his knuckles turned white. It wasn't that he hadn't tried to establish a relationship with his supervisor. He had tried. Repeatedly. His efforts to bond with the man had only been met with stonewalled silence. He had been shut down at every turn. He didn't know what it was about him that Grissom didn't approve of. Maybe it was his ability to empathize with victims and their families. That was something had always been a point of contention between them.

Yes, Nick would admit that there could be danger in getting too connected to people. He had learned that the hard way and had since tried to be more aware of the danger. But isn't there also a danger in never having any connection with people at all? Isn't the ability to connect with others part of what makes us human? Doesn't it give meaning and purpose to our lives?

Grissom wasn't a man who was secure in his emotions so maybe that kept him from understanding who Nick was, and Nick would admit that there were times when he himself had trouble understanding his supervisor. He had tried to be more Grissom-like at times, but that still hadn't made Grissom like him better or help himself understand the man.

Nick sighed as he pulled into the parking lot and got out of his SUV. Once inside the lab, Nick found Grissom in his office. He knocked to signal his presence and Grissom waved him in. Instead of going inside and taking a seat, Nick hung back a bit.

The younger man launched into the evidence that he had uncovered and concluded his findings by saying, "Faye killed Rita to be with Aaron. And a couple of weeks ago, hears he's getting engaged to her younger sister Terry. They couldn't handle it, man. She just freaked. So she tried to pin Rita's murder on Aaron."

"Four years ago when I decided to close the case, did you agree with my decision?" Grissom asked.

It wasn't a question that he had been expecting, but Nick went ahead and answered it. "Well, you were following protocol."

"And now?" Grissom asked with a trace of curiosity in his voice.

There was a certain freedom that came with knowing that he'd already lost the recommendation which allowed Nick to speak the truth without reservation.

"Now I'd fight you on it, yeah." he said with the smallest trace of defiance.

"Why?" Grissom asked.

Nick could sense that Grissom was testing him but he wasn't going to let it phase him. "Rita Weston was a dependable, predictable girl. We never answered the question why she just woke up one morning and walked away from the rest of her life."

Grissom did not seem too impressed with his answer. "It happens. And that's what the evidence was telling us."

"Well, that's what the physical evidence was telling us. We should have dug deeper. You can't just ignore the human element, Grissom." Nick said these last words a bit more forcefully than he had intended.

"I agree, Nick. But when you start to have feelings for the people involved, you risk your objectivity." Grissom said in that all-knowing tone of his.

Nick didn't back down. He wasn't some green CSI to be intimidated by the boss. He was going to stand up for himself and speak honestly to the man he had considered a mentor for so many years. "So what? You know, I'm always getting criticized for empathizing with the victims and their families, but that's who I am. That's how I do my job. And as far as the promotion goes, it's all good, man. I can live without it. I'm not you."

The minute that he said these words, he knew they were true. He wasn't Grissom and he didn't want to be Grissom. He wanted to be himself and to do his job the most effective way he knew how. Deep down, Nick knew that the promotion wasn't what was important to him. It was all about respect. He wanted Grissom to respect him, to respect his mind and his abilities, to respect him as a CSI.

There was no doubt in his mind that he had learned a lot from Grissom, but Nick had also learned that he couldn't deny who he was. His emotions were part of what made him a good CSI. His ability to relate to the human element is what made it possible for him to find out what really happened to Rita - something that Grissom in all of his scientific wisdom had not been able to. He wasn't about to sacrifice that part of himself to please his boss.

"Good. We certainly don't need another me around here." Grissom stated simply. There was a touch of finality in his tone and Nick knew that the conversation was over.

Frustrated, Nick let out a little sigh and turned away. That was the way things always ended between them - with him getting shot down by Grissom. He now realized that this was the way it would always be. Nick had finally resigned himself to the truth that Grissom was never going to give him the approval and respect he wanted. For some reason, the man just wasn't capable of it. Nothing Nick could do would change that. After years of trying, he finally had come to this realization.

He made his way home, feeling incredibly weary. Tension had crept into his muscles and he just wanted to relax now.

When he got to his place, he walked into his bathroom and turned on the shower. Steam from the hot water began to fill the room as he pulled off his sweater and jeans and tossing them aside.

Nick stepped into the shower and fought the urge to recoil against the heat of the water. Instead, he rested his head against the tile and stood in the stream of the water, letting his body get accustomed to the temperature. The water rushed over his aching muscles, washing away the frustration and disappointment of the day.

In the end, it wasn't Grissom who defined his worth as a CSI or as a person. It was himself. As long as he could look at himself in the mirror and say honestly that he had done his best, what more did he need? He knew his own abilities and what he was capable of even if Grissom didn't. He knew that his ability to connect with people was as much of a strength as it was a weakness. If Grissom couldn't see that, it was no longer Nick's concern. He had spoken his peace.

In a way, it was somewhat liberating. It was as if in Grissom's office, during those brief moments, he had severed his dependancy on Grissom's approval with one fell swoop. Now he was standing on his own with his self-worth no longer relying on the validation given by another person. Though he knew that part of him might always crave approval from Grissom, he knew now that he was in a place where he no longer required it for him to be able to see the value in himself and his abilities. That was a good place to be.

Nick smiled at this thought and brought his head back into the stream of the water. Squeezing his eyes shut, he let the water beat against his face. He stayed like this for a few minutes and then reached up with one hand to shut the water off.

Nick stepped out of the shower and started to dry himself off with a towel, feeling rejuvenated in more ways than one.