A/N: I just want to thank everyone that reviewed, because believe it or not, it´s what makes writing satisfying. Also special thanks goes to Sabrina, my beta reader. Without her - well, let´s just say it would be a much more bumpy ride than it was. And not to forget my mom who helped me out with some ideas:-)
Okay, there´s the promised last chappie. Read and enjoy!
by Nicol Leoraine
The darkness was slowly abating, giving way to the first rays of sunshine. Brass was surprised at how much time elapsed from the moment he entered the building and secretly wondered how it was that no one came looking for them. But the cold air hitting his face was sufficient enough to make him more alert. He scanned the surface, searching for any motion. By the looks of it, he wasn´t the only one.
Brennan once again reached for his radio, which he had picked up before forcing Brass out of the building.
"Collin, do you hear me? Where the hell are you, kid?" his voice took on a pleading tone and both he and the detective were surprised to hear the responding crackle.
"Josh? I´m still in the building," came the reply and Brennan caught the tremble in the voice, his eyes narrowing with suspicion.
"Get the hell out, Collin!" he barked, but to his dismay the radio was turned off.
"Collin!" he screamed, then turned all his attention to Brass, and in that moment the detective knew that it was his time. The gun was pointing right at his head and there were no words, only a cold stare.
"I´ll find Collin, and on the way kill all your friends. And you will die, without a chance to know if I succeeded." It sounded like a promise, more than a threat, and Brass realised there was no time like the present to act. Seeing the finger tightening around the trigger, he let himself fall to his knees.
Brennan instinctively fired but the bullet went several inches above the detective´s head. Still, there was nothing stopping him from firing a second or a third bullet and he was about to do so.
"Drop the gun!" sounded in the silence and Brass couldn´t say who was more surprised, him or Brennan, to hear the voice so close. Josh slightly cocked his head and with a smile whispered:
"One of your friends, Jim?"
The night was slipping away and it was light enough to see the figure making his way towards them - slowly and carefully, the gun quite visible in his hands. Brass let out a silent thanks, then showed Brennan his best smile.
Maybe it wasn´t the right thing to do. Something in Brennan´s face changed and Jim saw the determination in the hard eyes.
"I won´t hesitate to shoot. You almost killed one of my man." the statement cut through the air and for a second it looked like Brennan finally understood that it was over. He slightly lowered his gun and Grissom allowed himself the hope that it would truly end here and now, without more injuries.
That was when Brennan gave a feral growl and lunged himself at the closest person - which was Brass. The detective´s eyes got wide, but he didn´t have time to react. The body hit him full force and they both ended up rolling on the ground.
It's hard to take a breath when someone´s hands are clutching at your throat, literally trying to break your neck. Brass could do close to nothing to fight off the attack, mostly because Brennan´ was driven with twenty years of hate. He still kicked and tried to pry the hands off his throat. Brennan was now breathing in his face and Brass could smell the stinking breath. He grimaced and repaid the killing stare with his own.
They rolled, both opponents coated in the damp sand, none of them paying attention to the outer world, struggling - Brass for the chance to take a breath, Brennan to end his act of revenge.
But Brass was losing. He could hear the distant calls of his friend, but everything was getting fuzzy. Black dots invaded his vision and he knew the lack of oxygen would quickly put the fight out of him. So he could only gasp in surprised relief, when his opponent went suddenly slack, the hands clutching his neck falling lifelessly to the ground.
The weight was pushed off of him and Brass started coughing as his lungs got their fill of oxygen. The black dots were starting to abate and he managed to push up his head, only to look at the worried face of Gil Grissom.
"You okay, Jim?" the scientist asked and was more than relieved to hear the quiet reply.
"About damn time," Brass muttered and blinked. "What the hell-?" he looked to his right and saw the still form of Josh Brennan, his hands securely handcuffed behind his back, eyes closed. He couldn´t see if the man was breathing.
"He´s just unconscious," Grissom said, then added: "I knocked him out. I couldn´t shoot when he lunged at you, didn´t want to risk hitting you."
Brass nodded, but couldn´t take his eyes off Brennan.
"Jim?" the silence made Grissom nervous, not that he needed any more stress. He was sure that his pulse was well above average and the migraine finally returned with full force.
"He said there was a bomb in the building. He should have the detonator."
"I already searched him. Couldn´t find anything," Grissom shook his head, but stopped and Brass could see the ´look´, the one he had when something just clicked.
"The radio!" he practically lunged for the thing that was now laying in the sand, silent. Grissom frantically looked over it, but could find nothing wrong about it. Still, the look didn´t fade away and Brass gingerly rose to his knees, taking several deep breaths and willing the world to stop swaying. But he stood and took a few wobbly steps to the place where Grissom crouched, eyeing the radio.
"It could be the radio itself is the trigger."
"I figured most frequencies were jammed. If not, you and Kevin would´ve radioed to the station for some backup."
"Yeah, we tried but couldn´t get through. Nor the cells."
"Well, what if one of the frequencies is the trigger?"
Brass blinked, trying to not think about what could´ve happened if Kevin had kept trying to get through to the station. He shook the image of an exploding building off, and looked back at the unmoving form of Josh Brennan.
"Collin is still in the building. But he sounded weird. Think that one of our guys got him?"
Grissom shrugged. He doubted Nick or Kevin were in any condition, but then there was still Sara or Jenkins. Thinking about Sara, he remembered the ID card that was now in his pocket and felt the shiver run down his spine. Was she all right?
Just then the radio came to life. Both men jerked, eyeing the building as if it was about to blow up. But nothing happened, and they turned back to the device, listening.
"J-Josh? W-what´s going on?" a young voice stuttered and Grissom´s eyes narrowed. Brass held out his hand, silently asking for the radio. Grissom gave it to him.
"Collin? This is detective Brass."
"W-where is my uncle?" the startled voice asked.
"He´s under arrest. Where are you?"
"Brass? Are you okay?" the voice definitely didn´t belong to a kid anymore and as Brass looked at Grissom, he saw the corner of his mouth turn up in a smile. He was never happier to hear the voice of Catherine Willows.
For a moment, he doubted inviting all of them to his small apartment was such a good idea. His doubts only increased when he found out he didn´t have enough chairs, but both Warrick and Nick relieved him of this problem when they made themselves comfortable on the thick carpet, leaning against the couch or, in Warrick´s case, against the wall. Kevin also wasn´t taking up too much place, as he was just sheepishly watching the group from the corner of the room, still embarassed by the events, as well as baffled by the invitation.
Brass couldn´t help but grimace as he thought about how he treated the rookie. No wonder he acted startled now. It wasn´t an everyday occurence that a higher ranked officer called you to his home for pizza and beer. And Brass had to smile as he remembered the shocked look on Kevin´s face when he told him. There was no way the rookie could´ve refused the invitation.
"Beer anyone?" Brass asked and heard a murmur of approval. He gave each person a glass with the cold ale, everyone but two. .
"Nick, what about you?" he asked and saw the man in question roll his eyes.
"How about some coke?"
"Same for me," the rookie said from the corner.
"Hey, why don´t ya join me here? I could use some moral support from a fellow nondrinker."
"Kevin, are you sure you don't want a beer?" Brass asked.
"Thanks, but I´ve had my share of drugs this week. Don´t need a hangover on top of that," Kevin replied quietly, but he did come out of his corner and slump down next to Nick, who grimaced in complete understanding.
"Here are your drinks," Brass handed them their cokes and eased himself to a chair. He was glad that Kevin was up and around, for a moment he was scared the kid had lost it. Once help arrived, Kevin was brought straight to the hospital and he was kept under observation until the last traces of the drug vanished from his system. That took almost a day and as he heard, it wasn´t easy on the kid. The drug was potent and kept him in the throes of his nightmare for several more hours. But the doctors finally released him and although he was still pale around the edges, he looked much better.
Grissom also watched the two youngest, his eyes stopping on Nick´s bandaged hand. He couldn´t help the shiver as he remembered how close they came to losing him - or anyone else from his team for that matter.
Nick sipped on his coke, unconsciously rubbing at his chest. When he came out from the shower that morning, he saw the big bruise on his sternum. He knew how close it was for him, even though he didn´t remember much of anything that happened in the complex. Everything was fuzzy and a few moments were totally gone from his memory. Still, he remembered the scared look on Grissom´s face when he came to, and the reaction of Sara and Warrick when they found him and Kevin in the lab. Nick had to admit he had dozed off and his heart almost stopped for the second time when someone turned on the light switch. He scrambled to his feet and blindly turned the gun on the two figures, but the room swayed and he was back on the floor. To his surprise, two pair of hands slowed his fall and in the next seconds he couldn´t breath as Warrick pulled him into a bear hug, closely followed by Sara, who had tears in her eyes. Nick didn´t understood why, but he didn´t care. He was just glad to see Sara alive.
The next hour was a blur as the group met up, the relief upon finding out no one was seriously injured making him giddy. He had a foggy recollection of a ride in the ambulance, then woke up in the hospital, slightly drugged. His hand had become infected and they had to give him antibiotics, thus the reason why he wasn´t drinking a beer now. But Nick didn´t care, the doctor told him that the burns weren´t so serious and that there shouldn´t be any permanent scarring and also no lasting damage from the electrical shock he received. That was all he wanted to hear.
The door bell announced the arrival of the pizza boy and Brass went to open the door. Jenkins and Sara stood at the same moment, when he called for someone to help him with the boxes. They blushed and Grissom´s eyes narrowed. He still didn´t know all the details and he started to wonder just what happened between the two of them. He was watching them for a while now and saw the looks they were throwing at each other.
Catherine caught Grissom´s look and she almost inperceptibly nodded, the smile playing on her lips.
Grissom was truly surprised to find out she and Warrick were in the complex, too, and hearing about their adventure with the sniper, he wondered just how lucky they all were. It seemed more like a miracle that none of them died.
Given the fact that the bomb squad found several packs of C4 across the whole building, each having a detonator triggered by a radio signal, it was truly a miracle they didn´t accidentally blow themselves up, what with Kevin and Jenkins trying several frequencies to call for backup.
Movement and loud voices brought him back to the present and he saw Warrick sniffing at the contents of one box, while Sara peeked into another.
"Did you order some vegetarian pizza? You know I don´t eat meat." No sooner had she spoken than Warrick pushed a box into her hand, looking slightly disgusted.
"Here, I think this is yours. Full of broccoli, olives, mushroom and stuff. Urgh. Where´s the one with the meat?"
Sara gave him an offended look, and looked at Catherine searching for some support.
"Sorry, but I also like some ham on my pizza," Catherine replied with a grin.
"Hey, can I have a slice?" Jenkins asked and Warrick and Nick exchanged a surprised look, that quickly turned into a snort. Jenkins didn´t notice, though, his eyes were only on Sara.
Brass watched the bickering over the pizza, feeling content for the first time in the last few years. He let them enjoy the food, allowing himself a little more time to think about what he wanted to say. Finally, when the last slices of pizza vanished and the second round of drinks was passed out, he took a deep breath.
"Maybe you wonder why I called you all here. I know it´s not something I do often, sorry if it made some of you nervous. But... I felt I owed you all an explanation." He raised his hand, stopping several protests with one move.
"No, please, let me. I know you probably know most of the things, from the interrogations or just from the talk around. But... I want you to know what started all of this. I need to tell you about Josh Brennan, about his brother Steve. About what I did that caused the events three days ago."
This time when he stopped, there was no one trying to speak, only a slight nod from Grissom and an expectant look from the others. And Brass knew that they would listen, because that was what friends do.
Well, that´s it. What do you think? Loved it? Hated it?
I always say that you must read the whole story to know if it´s good. Please, tell me what you thought, so I can make it better in the next story.
Send me one last review, pretty please?