Title: "Sins of the Father"
Disclaimer: I own nothing except for the laptop on which this story was composed.
Summary: Nick and Grissom investigate the emergence of a cult-like group involved in the disappearances of several individuals. As the tension outside of the case mounts between the two CSIs, it produces dangerous aftershocks that have tragic repercussions for both men. Set one month post "Boom" in S1.
Author's Note: The Prodigal Author has returned! After literally months of working on this story, it is now ready for posting. This has truly been a labor of love and it chock full of angst just like I promised. Have fun and thanks in advance for reviewing!
Fire. Burning. Consuming. Overwhelming. Uncontrollable. Deadly.
As the red and orange flames danced chaotically before him, he was struck by the power and awesomeness that a fire raging possessed. It would have been a beautiful sight were it not for the fact that this fire was completely wild, signaling destruction and quite possibly, the end of life as he knew it. The flames reached high into the sky, causing the darkness of the night to flee from its presence. They seemed to have a mind of their own as they licked the wood, consuming everything in sight.
Ash spewed forth from the monster that raged before him, covering him from head to toe. Though his face was dark and dingy, he made no effort to wipe himself clean. Smoke swirled around him, engulfing him in its darkness. His eyes burned but he made no effort to wave it away. The intense heat radiating from the fire hit him full blast. His cheeks burned painfully, but he did not throw up a hand to shield them. The smell of the fire assaulted his nostrils, making the insides of them sting. He coughed repeatedly but made no effort move himself away from the fire's presence. He was beyond caring about his own personal safety. It didn't matter now.
Firemen rushed all around him in an effort to tame the blaze, but it seemed to be unmanageable. He knew that he should probably get out of their way, but he had long since lost control over his motor functions. Instead, he stood idly by, watching the flames consume the building before him. Most of the screaming had stopped and that was about the only thing for which he could be thankful. Now all he heard were the shouts of the firemen and the sound of water rushing out of hoses at an incredible speed.
A fireman rushing by finally took notice of the man standing mesmerized by the flames and he called out a warning to him. "Sir, you're gonna have to back away from the building!"
He didn't answer. He just stared at the flames, hypnotized by their dance of destruction.
The fireman approached him, placing a hand on his shoulder. His voice was still raised so as to be heard over the roar of the blaze. "Sir! You're gonna to have to back away! It's not safe here!"
He turned to face the fireman, staring blankly at him. He felt the nagging sensation that he should know the name of the man before him, most likely having seen him at a crime scene before, but he could not recall his name.
The fireman recognized the look in the man's eyes. The man was in shock and for good reason. When they had arrived on the scene, he had come stumbling out of the burning building behind two others. He had looked frantically behind him as if he had lost something and then turned to rush back inside. He had to be physically restrained until the reality of the situation had sunk in, making him stand there like a wax work. Though he felt a sting of pity for the man, the fireman could not take the time to coddle him. He needed to get back to work before the fire spread to another building.
Gently but firmly, the fireman grabbed the man's arm and began to lead him away. He was grateful that the man did not protest but went willingly with him. He felt like he was leading a small child rather than a grown man.
"Are you injured, sir?" He asked above the roar of the flames as he took in the man's appearance. He didn't appear to be injured, but it was always best to ask anyway.
Even though he was staring at the fireman, the man gave no indication of having heard his question.
The fireman lead him over to a place that was safe and out of the path of his hard-working brothers. He plopped the man unceremoniously on an upturned crate that faced away from the fire, thinking it was best that he didn't continue to stare at the burning building.
"Stay here. I'll get an EMT over here to make sure you're okay." the fireman said.
He shot the man one more look of sympathy before departing. The physical damage caused by a fire was nothing compared to the emotional damage it caused. There was perhaps nothing more upsetting to him than to see the survivor of a fire fall into that complete state of helplessness. Though he and his brothers might be able to save the building, he could not save the man sitting on that crate. The fire had already done its worst damage.
Now released from the mind-controlling hold of the fire, Gil Grissom's head sunk into his hand, completely exhausted. He couldn't remember the last time he had felt this tired. Every fiber of his being ached with an overwhelming sense of fatigue. An enormous weight was crushing him as he tried to stave off the feeling of hopelessness that threatened to engulf him.
Though death is never a good thing, you can consider yourself lucky if only one dead body turns up in your case. Two bodies is bad. Three bodies is a tragedy. Four bodies is catastrophic. What this case had turned up, though, was nothing short of a massacre.
Numerous fatalities of that he was certain. At least two people that he knew of were on their way to the hospital, but his immediate thoughts and concerns were with the two people he knew for certain were still trapped inside that burning building. Dead or alive was uncertain.
Regret. Disappointment. Shame. Sorrow. These were things that he was not accustomed to feeling. At least, not all at once. His heart was pounding, each beat driving home the fear that this was all his fault. This situation might have been avoided were it not for his pride and stupidity. He was the supervisor. The man in charge. The leader. He was ashamed to admit that he had failed miserably at that task over the past few days.
He should have offered more encouragement than criticism. He should have had more understanding rather than being judgmental. He should have been more forgiving rather than letting himself be ruled by his anger. He should have behaved more maturely instead of letting himself get drawn into that fight with Nick. He should have patched things up with him rather than letting his CSI leave angry. He should have helped Nick instead of leaving him behind in that burning building.
But it was too late for "should have's."
Though he did not particularly want to talk, part of him wished for Catherine's comforting presence. She was the only one who would have an inkling of the various emotions battling inside of him. With the slight touch of her hand, she would be able to convey so much sympathy and support and by only speaking a few words, she could make him feel hopeful again. It was something that he desperately needed. The other part did not want her anywhere near him because her presence would just remind him of his failure. Catherine would not have let this happen. She would have handled things differently. Of this he had no doubt. She had tried to caution him, tried to get him to understand, but he had been too stubborn to listen, something he now regretted.
No doubt Catherine would be here soon. Warrick and Sara too. Probably the Sheriff as well. Not to mention the media. The news of this tragedy would not be contained.
It was like a bad dream, one from which he expected to awake at any moment, but he knew that this was not going to happen. It was real. This was reality - hard, cold, and staring him in the face. Nothing was going to change that. He wasn't an emotional man, but he felt this choking sensation build up in his throat and his eyes were stinging in a way that he knew had nothing to do with the smoke to which they had been subjected.
Someone approached him from the side and he heard the scrapping sound of another crate being dragged over next to the one on which he was seated.
"I'm sorry, Gil." the gruff voice of Detective Brass said.
Grissom sighed inwardly. If Brass was here to get his statement, he wasn't sure he was ready to give one. Everything seemed like such a blur to him and besides, even he didn't know all the details. The person who knew the details was Nick and he might not be making a statement any time soon. He waited for Brass to say something, but the man remained silent. Jim just sat on his crate, staring straight ahead just like him.
Grissom found unexpected comfort in the company of Brass, which finally brought him to the place where he could speak again. When he did so, his voice was barely audible. "Jim?"
"Yeah Gil?" Brass asked, turning his head to look at the CSI.
"How did it all come to this?" Grissom whispered.