Wow...this is it. I would like to thank my agent, and my manager and my...wait who am I kidding. No really I would like thank everyone for their continued interest in my story. It really was a pleasure to write for all of you and I'm glad you enjoyed the story. As you can tell from my ramblings obviously this is the last chapter.
I would like to throw out a special thanks to Tefla my beta. If it wasn't for her I wouldn't know the difference between too, to and two. AHH! Wait I still don't and that's why I have a beta (tee hee). I do know that two is a number. Just joking people. Puh-lease.
Now I present the last chapter of Appendix for Murder. Enjoy!
"They're alive!" was all Grissom heard from the hallway. With those words said they were all moving. The group of CSIs crowded into the small room to see for themselves that they were still alive.
Grissom could see Warrick stooping over Nick's unconscious body and Sara had taken a position next to Erin.
"Let's get these damn cuffs off of him."
Brass moved quickly with a key and preceded to uncuff Nick. With the utmost gentleness they slowly moved Nick's arms to his side. Both men slowly turned Nick over to get a really good look at him. They could finally see the extent of Nick's injuries. The CSI was obviously in bad shape. His face was bloodied and bruised. His right pant leg was caked with dried blood from the gunshot wound he received earlier that evening. He probably had other injuries that they couldn't see either. This man had been through a lot.
The detective stood up from his position only to be replaced by Catherine. She touched Nick's cheek wishing all his pain were to leave suddenly, but she knew it was a futile wish. This was only the beginning of another painful recovery.
Brass grabbed his radio, "This is Brass. We need the EMTs down in the basement."
After Brass had said that the bomb squad commander stepped up, "Captain that's not a good idea. We need to get these people out of here."
The CSIs pulled their attention away from the two victims and looked up to the commander.
"I thought you said that this building was safe," Brass questioned.
"Yes sir. We did say that, but this is only a precaution. We have less that six minutes before the bombs are supposed to go off. I would feel a lot better if we cleared this whole building of all personnel before the time we have runs out."
Brass was about to say something when the commander continued.
"Look Captain I have the utmost confidence in my men, but we aren't perfect and this isn't a perfect world. Sometimes we miss something. It rarely happens, but I would rather not take the chance."
The detective considered his words as Grissom made his way over.
"Jim he's right. We should get out of here just to be on the safe side."
He sighed as he spoke into his radio, "This is Brass. Hold the EMTs. We are coming to you." He looked over to the commander. "You better give the order to evacuate then."
The commander nodded at the suggestion. "This is squad leader. All personnel evacuate the building. The explosives are set to discharge in less than five minutes. I repeat all personnel evacuate the building."
Grissom walked back over to the group, "Sara and Greg: you two take care of Erin. Warrick and I will carry Nick. Let's get going people. I don't know about you, but I would rather not be buried alive."
Warrick and Grissom bent over Nick and grabbed the unconscious CSI by the arms and hefted him so his arms were over their shoulders. Though unconscious, that move caused Nick's face to scrunch up in pain. The group of people in the room noticed the flinch, but decided it would be best to have the injury looked at once they were out of the building.
Sara and Greg repeated the process with Erin. Once both of them were in the arms of their rescuers the group made their way to the elevator. Nick chose that moment to start waking up.
Nick could feel himself being moved. Where were his captors taking him now? He had to get away and help Erin. Though he was just barely conscious he didn't want to tip his hand. He wanted to keep the element of surprise for as long as he could. He assessed his injuries and found his arms hanging limply at the side of his body – he was no longer cuffed! Nick knew he didn't stand a chance in hell of saving Erin, but he was going to go down trying.
The stabbing pain in his ribs was becoming unbearable, but he wanted to try one more time. He had to - both for himself and for Erin, but where was Erin? Was she with him? Was she still alive? He would worry about that later. Right now he had the element of surprise on his side and he was going to take advantage of that.
Nick's head hung forward as two men held him up. Though he didn't actually look he could feel that there were more people near him. It would be a little more difficult … but manageable. He did play football in high school and in college. He slowed down his breathing and swallowed back the lump that had formed in his throat. It wasn't often that a person knew the exact place and time of ones own death, but he surmised that his time was coming soon. He had no doubts that what he was about to do would cause just that – his death.
He tried to remain limp in the arms of his captors. He didn't want to give anything away. The element of surprise was his greatest strength at the moment. He took a few small soothing breaths again not wanting to even hint that he was now conscious. It was now or never. He opened his eyes and only saw feet since his head was down. He gathered the strength he had and yanked his arms free of his captors. He turned to the right and punched his captor in the face. He felt the man release him and fall back with a grunt. The man wasn't down for more than a second before he felt the hands of another grabbing him from behind.
He turned with his fist in the air and screamed, "If I'm going down I'm taking some of you with me."
Warrick and Grissom kept a firm hold on the unconscious man between them. They were trying to be cautious of Nick's injuries. They didn't want to hurt him anymore than he was already. From the looks of it he had been put through the ringer more than once. Nick was as limp as could be. That's why he was so surprised when Nick yanked his arms free from both him and Warrick. He watched in slow motion as Nick turned to face him and punched him in the face. He could feel himself fall back and grunted when he hit the floor.
He looked up to see Warrick recover from the sudden shock and grab Nick from behind.
Grissom shuddered when he heard Nick say, "If I'm going down I'm taking some of you with me."
Warrick held on to Nick for dear life. He never really knew how strong Nick was until now. He looked over at the four officers in the elevator and two came over to assist him while Catherine bent over to check Grissom.
Nick was still struggling, but stopped screaming. He had played his cards and lost. Now he was going to die.
Catherine bent over to check Grissom who was feeling his jaw.
"Gil are you alright?"
"Yea I'm fine. Remind me to never go boxing with him."
Catherine helped Grissom up and they both looked over to Warrick and the officers who held Nick. The CSI just looked down to the floor. He was a beaten man.
"He's incoherent. He must think that he's still with Harris." Brass stated.
"What can we do? Do you think he'll respond to us?" Sara asked.
"Well there's only one way to find out." Catherine replied.
"Catherine be careful. He's strong." Grissom said still feeling his jaw.
She smiled at him as she inched closer to Nick. She stood just in front of him and placed her hand on his cheek and spoke to him. Sara, Greg and Brass all watched with anticipation.
"Nick … it's Catherine. Your safe now."
She glanced at Warrick and Grissom hoping that Nick would recognize her voice. Warrick could feel Nick tense up again.
"Nick man … we got you."
Nick could have sworn he heard both Warrick and Catherine's voice. Why would they be here? He was still at the mercy of Harris, but something deep down told him that he was safe. After all he had punched one of the men and he had been beaten for less in the past.
He heard those soothing words again … he was safe … Erin was safe. He had to believe those words or there was nothing else to believe in. He swallowed down the bile that was rising and forced himself to look up and into the eyes of the person that was speaking to him.
Catherine stood in front of Nick telling him that he was safe. Deep down she just wanted to see those big brown eyes stare back at her to acknowledge her. She feared for Nick and everything that had happened to him. 'Please Nick look at me.' She silently urged.
Her thoughts were rewarded when he lifted his head and looked at her. She could see the fear and trepidation in those brown eyes. She smiled at Nick and told him again that he was safe and no one would hurt him.
Nick looked up to see Catherine standing in front of him. She had her hand on his cheek. He let out a small sob. It was his way of releasing the fear he was feeling.
"Catherine?" He whispered.
She smiled when he recognized her, "Yea Nick. It's me. You and Erin are safe now. You are going to be okay."
"Erin where is she? She was shot!" he frantically looked around the elevator.
"She's right here Nick and she's still alive." Sara responded.
"Yes Nick. We are all here. We came for you."
Nick just realized he was in an elevator and his eyes got big. He looked over to Brass who stood just a few feet before him.
Brass could see the wheels turning in Nick's head. 'Uh-oh … the last elevator ride he was in didn't turn out so well.'
"Nick. It's okay." He said in a calming voice.
Nick shook his head and tried to move to the back of the elevator. The group of people in the elevator looked over to Brass for an explanation.
"Nicky it's okay. The building has been evacuated and there's no one in the lobby waiting for us. Nick do you hear me … you're safe."
Grissom looked from Brass to Nick and finally understood what was bothering him. The last time Nick was in an elevator he witnessed three people murdered in cold blood right in front of him.
"Nick, man it's okay. Brass is right there's no one there."
He listed to both Brass and Warrick and finally choked out an "Okay" and he visibly relaxed.
"How is she?" Nick asked quietly not taking his eyes from Erin.
"It's hard to say. She lost a lot of blood, but we all know that head wounds bleed a lot." Sara replied.
"Has she regained consciousness at all?"
Sara looked to Greg who shook his head no.
"Damn it! This is all my fault. She would have never been involved in any of this if it weren't for me."
Grissom placed a hand on Nick's shoulder, "Nick this isn't your fault. The person responsible is behind bars."
Nick head jerked in Grissom's direction, "Harris is in jail?" he asked not believing it.
"Yes he is. I had the pleasure of watching him being taken into custody. He won't bother you anymore. You have my word."
Nick noticed a bruise forming on Grissom jaw, "Did I do that to you?" he asked.
Grissom felt his jaw, "It doesn't matter Nick. It's over. Harris won't bother you anymore."
Nick's mind was finally at ease another name to add to the list of names to pack away. Harris would join the long forgotten others – Amy Hendler, Nigel Crane and Walter Gordon.
It was the longest elevator ride they had ever taken. Realistically it was only a minute or so, but it seemed like a lifetime. They finally reached the lobby and they all exited the elevator into the lobby.
The bomb squad commander glanced down at his watch as the group emerged into the lobby. Nick's head darted around the lobby looking for hidden attacker, but there was no one just as Brass and Warrick had said.
"Come on people. We have less than two minutes to get ourselves out of here. We have to pick up the pace."
The CSIs did as they were told and double-timed it out of the building where they were meet by four EMTs and two gurneys. The lowered Nick and Erin into the gurneys and they all took off running away from the building.
Nick couldn't help but squint at they made it outside the building. He had been underground for most of the morning so the usually welcomed sunlight bothered him. He could feel himself being guided towards an ambulance where some EMTs were waiting for them.
Everything was happening so fast it was a blur. The only constant he felt was Warrick's arms holding him up. He was safe again. He knew his friends would come for him. The group was just about to the ambulance when Nick heard the bomb squad commander speak into his radio.
"This is squad commander. Is everyone clear of the building." The commander said into his radio.
"Yes sir. Everyone is accounted for."
Nick listened with intent then looked to Warrick, "What's going on 'Rick?"
Warrick looked like a deer in headlights. He had hoped that Nick wouldn't find out about the bombs. It was obvious from the beginning at least when Nick regained consciousness that he didn't know anything about the bombs or he would have said something.
"It's just a precaution Nick."
"A precaution for what?"
Warrick looked to the others for help. Grissom stepped up to the plate, "Nick I'm not going to lie to you. Harris planted several bombs in the building to explode. The bomb squad thinks they may have found them all, but they wanted to be on the safe side and have the building completely evacuated when the bombs were set to go off."
Nick's face paled at that bit of information, "Thanks for being honest."
The group of rescuers made it safely to the parking lot and helped both Nick and Erin into the waiting gurneys. As they just made it a loud explosion was heard from the building and then another.
"Well I guess the commander was right. They aren't perfect, but then again who is?" Brass said.
Nick jumped and tried without succeeding in holding back a scream. He looked at the smoking building coming with the terms that he was almost in there when the bomb had gone off. Sure the bombs were not in the basement where he was, but the bombs were meant to bury him and Erin. He felt a chill go down his back. His friends had really come through … again.
He could feel the eyes of his friends on him.
"I'm okay. Just a little shaken and pretty beat up, but I'll be okay. Please check and see if Erin is okay."
"Okay Nick, but we are going to be watching over both of you." Catherine said with a smile.
The two paramedic teams began to work on both Nick and Erin. Catherine watched over Erin just as Nick had asked. They finally heard a moan coming from Erin's side of the gurney as she opened her eyes. She looked around confused.
"Where am I?"
"Miss do you remember what happened?" One of the paramedics asked as he was taking her blood pressure.
Erin looked at the paramedic and shook her head no.
"Do you remember your name?"
She nodded, "Erin Matthews."
"That's great. What's the last thing you remember Miss Matthews?"
Erin thought about it for a while, "Please call me Erin."
"Erin it is." He said with a smile.
She smiled back, "The last thing I remember I was getting ready for work yesterday morning."
The paramedics glanced at each other then at the waiting CSIs, "That's just fine Erin. You are doing great. You have a pretty bad head injury which could be the reason for the memory loss."
Erin nodded at the paramedics' explanation then looked at the people standing around her gurney.
"Do I know you?" she asked Sara.
"Yes you do, but it's alright. My name is Sara Sidle."
Erin nodded again. She glanced over and noticed Nick being examined. She could see the bruising and the blood all over his face as well as his leg. She grew concerned. For some reason she felt a connection to him, but she couldn't remember what the connection was.
She could feel a tear starting to form in her eye, as she continued to watch the paramedics work on Nick. Erin could see the grimace on the man's face as he was poked and prodded by the paramedics. She watched as the paramedic checked his ribs where he elicited a scream of pain. That scream gained the attention of all around them.
The man seemed a little embarrassed over that and she could hear him mumble an apology to everyone for that outburst. She was drawn from her attention to him when she was asked a question.
"Do you remember what happened to him?" a man with a beard has asked her.
"Hmm … I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention."
"Do you remember what happened to him?"
"His name is Nick."
"Nick." She said trying to feel any familiarity with the name, but nothing was coming from it. "I'm sorry I can't remember anything. This is so frustrating."
"Don't worry about it Erin. We are going to take you to the hospital now." The paramedic said.
"Okay." She looked over to Sara who was doing her best at smiling.
"I'm going to come with you to if that's okay." Sara stated.
"That would be nice. Thanks."
Once the paramedics had secured the straps on the gurney, they lifted the stretcher as gently as possible to prevent Erin from being jostled off. She could feel herself being lifted into the waiting ambulance. Erin took one last look at Nick while he was being cared for.
Sara followed Erin into the ambulance. She had already made arrangements to meet them at the hospital. She felt guilty for once again leaving Nick, but she knew that he would want her to go with Erin to make sure she was all right and being cared for.
People smothered Nick around his gurney. He tried to see if Erin was okay, but was unable to see through the people gathered around him. He could have sworn he heard her talking, but was brought out of that thought when the paramedic checked his ribs. He inadvertently screamed out which scared everyone around him. His cheeks flushed with embarrassment.
"Sorry about that. You just hit a bad spot." He mumbled.
The paramedic smiled, "Hey don't worry about it. Happens all the time. I'm sorry I hurt you."
Nick nodded as the paramedic continued his assessment of injuries.
"Mr. Stokes … where else are you hurt?"
"Um … well you already hit the ribs. I would have to say my leg then my head."
The paramedic listened intently to what Nick told him about his injuries.
"What happened to your leg?"
"Okay. I'm going to cut your pant leg to check the wound."
Nick braced himself for the pain, but the paramedic was gentle enough not to hurt him. The paramedic cleaned and dressed the wound the best he could, but he could tell that the bullet was still logged in there.
"How's the pain now … in your leg?"
"Well the wound looks inflamed. You may have an infection starting. How long ago were you shot?"
"What time is it now?"
Nick thought about it as he watched the fireman going in and out of the building.
"I would say I was shot between twelve and two this morning. I can't really remember."
"Well I'm going to start an IV on you then we are going to get you to the hospital."
Warrick had kept an eye on Nick as the paramedic assessed his injuries. He flinched every time Nick hissed from the pain. It had only been a matter of hours since Nick was taken, but he had been through hell. He was going to make sure that he was there for him.
Catherine watched as the ambulance drove off carrying both Erin and Sara. She knew that Sara had felt guilty for not watching Erin better. Erin may not remember all that, but Sara still had that memory fresh in her head. She looked down at the beaten and worn CSI who was still being worked on. She bent down next to the paramedic and Nick looked at her.
"Nick, they just left with Erin. Sara went with her."
"Good. How is she?" he asked.
Catherine looked at the paramedic who nodded for her to continue. Nick noticed the exchange between the two and started to worry.
"Catherine, what's wrong with her? Is she all right?"
"She's fine Nick. She woke up and was talking to the paramedics only a few minutes ago."
"Then what's with the look?"
"Sorry about that Nick. I just wanted to make sure you were okay enough before I started to explain things."
He kept silent waiting for her to continue. He could feel Grissom, Warrick, Brass and Greg all step closer to hear her as well.
Grissom already knew about Erin's memory loss. In a way he felt that she was lucky. He was sure that this was probably the worse night of her life - judging by the way they both looked. She was lucky and would remain lucky if she couldn't remember. Erin would be able to get on with her life without freaking out or worrying. He only wished Nick could do the same thing. Unfortunately he could see the haunting that plagued the man's eyes. He would recover once again, but who knew how long it would take him this time.
Nick waited for Catherine to start. She cleared her throat.
"Nick, Erin has sustained some memory loss."
"She can't remember anything after getting ready for work yesterday morning."
"She can't remember anything?" he questioned.
"Nope. Nothing about what happened."
Nick took the news better than she thought.
"What do you mean?" Catherine asked.
"She's lucky if she can't remember anything from tonight … I envy her. I only wish I couldn't remember too. I do know that the pain will eventually fade. It always does."
It had been seven days since his abduction and he was finally being released from the hospital. His gunshot wound had become infected and he did spike a fever, but they fought it with antibiotics. He would have to walk with a cane for a few weeks until the leg was completely healed and then he would have to go through some physical therapy. They weren't able to do much with his ribs except wrap them and give him some painkillers.
Erin had been released four days earlier from her injury. Though she still couldn't remember the events of that day she still felt compelled to visit Nick one last time before she left the hospital.
He remembered the conversation well. He also remembered how uncomfortable she felt when she walked into the room. It was a little easier when Sara came with her.
Nick lay in his bed reading a magazine when he heard a knock at the door and two head poked in. It was Erin and Sara.
"Come in." He said with a smile.
He noticed a slight hesitation in Erin, but she eventually made her way into the room following Sara in.
"So what brings you two ladies to my temporary humble abode?"
"Well Erin was just released and wanted to come by and say good-bye." Sara explained.
"Ah … so you are finally getting out of here. Lucky you." He said with a smile.
"Yep. The doctor says that there wasn't much more they could to do help me." She explained as she played with her hands. "He says that I may never remember that day. It could be that I'm repressing the memory or it could be from the head injury itself."
Nick listened to her explain what the doctor said and then once she was done he spoke.
"Listen Erin, I'm going to be honest here and say that I hope you never remember that night. Not a day has gone by since that night that I wish I was as lucky as you were to not be able to remember. Take it as a good thing and don't worry about it. This is a memory not worth having … trust me."
He looked into her eyes and he could see them starting to glisten.
"Will you be all right?" She asked as her eyes started to tear.
Nick looked over at Sara then back at Erin, "I have a lot of good friends who will help me get through this. I will be fine. Trust me when I say that." He said with a smile.
The memory faded when he heard a knock at the door and Warrick walked in with his discharge papers and a wheelchair.
"You ready to get out of here?"
"I was ready three days ago." He replied with a smile.
Warrick made his way over to the bed and helped Nick up. Nick had already been wearing his sweatpants, a T-shirt and had his shoes on. He sure wasn't kidding when he said he was ready. The taller man helped Nick into the wheelchair and the two left the room and headed out to the truck.
It was evening when Nick was released so the strip was in full swing as they drove by. Warrick decided to give Nick some space and not to prod him too much. He knew Nick would talk when he was ready. Warrick pulled up to a red light and stopped his truck when he heard Nick.
"Well I'll be damned. Warrick take a look at this." He said pointing out his window.
That statement made Warrick very curious and he leaned over to see what Nick was looking at. Nick looked at Warrick whose mouth opened in surprise. Sitting next to them at the red light was a little old lady about eighty years old driving a 1960 Buick Sedan, but that wasn't what grabbed their attention. It was the CPR dummy that was strapped in a seatbelt in the backseat.
"Well I'll be … you know we still haven't solved that case yet."
"Congrats Warrick. It looks like you just got a break in the case." Nick said with a smile.
One thing for sure about Vegas: just when you thought you'd seen it all something else would come along and surprise you.
And there you have it. Again it was a pleasure and I appreciate the reviews that you sent along. Please review one last time and let me know what you thought. Thanks and see you out there.