Crimson Puddles

Her fingers drummed impatiently on the steering wheel as she waited for the light to change. It was another two minutes before the lights all turned red. She sighed as she watched the unlucky blue pick up stop, and the driver tried to force himself to relax. She could tell it wasn't easy. At least I got stuck behind three other cars… The light turned green, and she waited for a few seconds to give the other cars ahead of her some space.

Finally, it was her turn. She gently stepped on the gas, and looked at the driver of the truck curiously as he seemed to grow anxious… She shook her head, and focused on the back of the car in front of her. There you go again… overanalyzing everyone you see… Her thoughts were cut short when she heard the distinct sound of someone flooring it. In a split second her eyes flew back to the pickup that was only a few feet from her car now…

She didn't have time to brace against the impact as her SUV was propelled through the intersection, and she winced as a smaller green car rammed her head on. God, this is going to be bad… She was once more jolted by the final impact as her SUV plowed into another smaller vehicle that had been stopped at the light to her left. In the distance she could hear glass break, and people yelling. Car horns were blaring widely, and she saw the form of the man who had rammed her jump out of his truck and run off down the street. She felt a shower of glass spray over her shoulder, and winced as someone began to grab at her arms.

"Can you move? Are you ok?"

She stared blankly at a man wearing a nice suit was trying to talk to her. After several moments the words started to register, and she shook her head to clear the lingering dizziness.

"Yeah… I think I'm fine…"

"Can you move? You'd be safer if we could clear you from the vehicle…"

"I think so… my shoulder hurts, but I think I'm fine."

"Ok… take my hand, and we'll get you out of there…"

She quickly took the offered hand, and let herself be pulled through the window. Once out she found herself sitting awkwardly on the hood of a white car. She could see dozens of people staring angrily at the scene that was now in their way of getting somewhere on time. Well… at least it's not my fault…

It wasn't even ten minutes later when she saw the familiar red and blue lights flashing. As the first officer came up to her she quickly tucked her hair behind her ears and out of her face. She sighed as she noticed the paramedics make their way towards the scene. That guy had already checked everyone. Thank God, no one was hurt… that freaking maniac could've killed someone…

"Hey, excuse me… hey, watch it, CSI… excuse me…"

Catherine's head whipped around when she heard the familiar Texan accent coming closer. Her eyes hastily searched through the crowd, but she couldn't see him anywhere.

"So… looks like you're going to be needing a lift for a while…"

She jumped as the voice came from behind her.

"Hey, Nick. I thought you knew better than to sneak up on people…" She smiled as she turned to face him, but her smile vanished when she saw the sudden look of guilt and pain take over his once smiling face.

"I-I'm so… I'm sorry Catherine… I… uh… I should've known better…"

"No, Nick… I shouldn't have said anything. I guess my sarcasm isn't as clear as it could be…"

The following silence was deafening, and Catherine couldn't help but notice that Nick's hands were shaking. She looked towards him, but realized that he had suddenly become fascinated with the ground.

"Hey, I thought you had the night off?"

"Oh… well, I heard that you got in a wreck over the scanner…"

"Please tell me you weren't just sitting around waiting for something to happen."

"Huh? Oh… no… it was just on. I was… uh… reading."

"Hmm… so what bird has caught your fancy now?"

Nick laughed, and gave Catherine a smile. She arched her brows. Regardless of the jokes, and comments, she was truly impressed at how enthralled he was by birds. Something about it made him so different from anyone she had ever known.

"Oh… uh, just some parrot found in South America…"

"Well, I'm not sure when the knowledge of that bird may come in handy, but you never know. Tell me, do you ever go bird watching?"

Nick didn't bother to hold in another chuckle. "Nah… guess I never found the time… but, uh… well how are you? You're not hurt or anything, are you?" He was glad that he could hear the concern in his voice, and he knew Catherine caught alot more about people than anyone else he knew. At least she knows how concerned I am...

"No, I'm ok. I was just on my way over to some old house. I'm running solo tonight, so it could take a while."

"Well, since you need a ride anyway, maybe I can help you out a bit."

"Oh, so you weren't really listening to your scanner? Or do you just keep your kit by your door?"

"Actually I do keep my kit by my door. Of course I didn't grab it…"

"Oh, then how do you expect to help?"

"I've got a spare kit in the backseat. Not to mention plenty of other supplies stored away…"

"Well, I guess that's settled… I just have to give that officer over there my statement and contact information…"

"Well, I'll be waiting for you."

Half an hour later they found themselves walking up to the dimly lit house. It was eerily silent and the officers standing watch seemed rather pleased that someone had finally arrived.

"What took you so freaking long?"

"Hey, hey, hey… just give her a break. Some guy rammed her SUV and took off running."

Catherine smiled as the officer immediately went silent, and looked at her regretfully.

"Oh… uh, well sorry to hear that ma'am."

"That's quite alright, my partner here is just having a hard day…"

Nick chuckled a bit more as they entered the dark house. He noticed instantly that all the lights were on, and that everything was still nearly pitch-black. How could anyone live in this place?

"Is it just me, Nick, or this place a bit…"

"Dark? Yeah… it's kind of creepy…"

"Well, you want down that hall, while I tackle these rooms here?"

"Great. I'll let you know when I've solved the case."

"Well, then you'd better get busy; I'm not a pushover. And, if you don't get down that hallway I'll be waiting for you at the finish line."

"Yeah, whatever, Catherine." He smiled as he began to walk down the hall searching for any clues to help them discover what had happened here.

Catherine shook her head and laughed as Nick began to process. After a few moments she headed into the large dining room, and immediately saw some dark puddles on the wood paneling. She pulled out her ALS, and in moments she had the confirmation; it was blood. She slowly followed the drops as they led into the kitchen, and stopped at a wall. Why the hell would someone who is bleeding walk over to a wall that's got nothing on it?

"Hey. You find something?"

"Yeah, Nick… a trail."

"Of what?"

"Crimson puddles…"

"That's a new one. I've sure never heard it applied to blood, or anything else,before…"

"Ah… well, Lindsey was reading some lines from her school play…"

"I guess that explains why I got my day 'off' early…"

"Well, I don't exactly get to see them too often… besides I missed opening night so that you could get some rest."

"Well, I guess we're both fools then… Now is it just me, or is it weird that the blood ends at this wall?"

"No, Nicky, it's not just you. In fact I was just trying to figure it out before you interrupted me."

"Well… it is an old house… maybe there's something in the wall… these dark panels would hide any cracks…"

Catherine watched intently as Nick began to feel around for something that would give way in the wall. Suddenly his hands stopped over what felt like a small bump. Unsure of what it might do he carefully positioned himself with his feet spread, and he slowly pushed the small knob in.

Catherine's mouth opened in horror as she saw the floor beneath Nick's right foot disappear, and in moments he fell completely out of her sight. Oh God… Please be ok… please…

She quickly moved closer, but the floor panels were suddenly back up. Her fingers felt over the same knob, and she tried desperately to push it. After a few moments she realized it wasn't going to budge.

"Hey! I need some help here! And call the paramedics!" Her heart raced, and she silently prayed that the paramedics wouldn't be necessary as she began to stomp on the floor panels, and searched desperately for another way to open the trap door…

"What happened?"

"There was some kind of button, it opened a hole in the floor, and Nick fell in... Then it closed back up..."

"Stand back..."

Catherine forced herself to take a step back. The officer felt along the wall, and he too found the button impossible to push. Then she heard it. They both stopped for a moment as they heard someone screaming from below the floor paneling.

"Oh God... Nicky, I'm so sorry..."She whispered as the officer began to kick on the area of the floor that she had indicated was where he'd fallen through. The cries were growing more frantic, and they could hear Nick's voice distantly screaming. Hold on Nick... please... just hold on...

"Here!" another officer called out as he passed their miniature battering ram to the stronger officer.

"Here goes nothing..." He shouted as he forced it into the floorboards, and they all hurried forward as the panel gave way, and Nick's screaming now battered their ears directly.

Without hesitating Catherine had pushed past the other officers and down into the pure darkness that suddenly engulfed her. She felt something begin to crawl along her leg, and in an instant she had her flashlight out.

The tiny room was suddenly illuminated, and she could see the floor littered with all sorts of bugs. Nick was standing nearby; he was clawing frantically at the bugs that were climbing all over him. Without hesitating she rushed over to help him, and carefully swiped the bugs back onto the ground.

"Oh God... Hey you guys up there! Is there a small bag up there that contains any syringes?"

"Uh... yeah, why?"

"Throw them down to me now!" Her feet instinctively continued to crush the bugs that were making their way towards Nick, and she quickly brushed the ones one him away. "It's ok Nick... It's going to be ok."

"Here you go! We're getting some rope for you guys!"

"Come on Nick... we're going to get you out of here..." She spoke gently, but firmly as she held a syringe ready.

She grabbed Nick's trembling hand, and wrapped the rope around his waist. Her eyes quickly surveyed the rest of the room before the rope was let back down, and she barely had time to register the body that was covered by various insects lying in the corner. She heard Nick scream loudly again, and without another moments hesitation she furiously climbed the rope, and in seconds she was back in the dining room where the officers merely watched Nick shaking violently. Lying next to him on the floor was yet another dead bug. This could be one hell of a long night...

"Come on, Nick... we're going to get you out of here ok?"

She gently took hold of Nick's shoulders and held him close. He was trembling less, and tears were streaming down his face as she led him outside.

"I-I'm so sorry... I'm sorry... I shouldn't have flipped out... I should've stayed calm..."

"It's ok Nick. There's nothing to apologize for... I'm going to call Grissom and have him take over. Then we'll get you home, and I can get this all straightened out ok?"

"Thanks... thank you so much Catherine..."

She smiled awkwardly as he pulled her into a hug, and let out the rest of his tears.

"My door is always open Nick... you can always come to me... with anything ok?"

He weakly nodded his head, and sighed. After a few moments he wiped his eyes, and offered Catherine a smile.

"Thanks,'s not everyday someone saves your life... I owe you big time."

"I'd be careful making promises Nick, people tend to cash in on favors real quick."

"I think I'll take my chances... "

"You want to talk about it?"

"I-I can't... not now, but we will... soon..."

"Whenever you're ready, Nick. No one is going to push you." She smiled again, and gave him another long hug before pulling out her phone and dialing Grissom's number.

To Be Continued…
Next Chapter: Nick goes to pick up Lindsey as a favor, but finds that the favor turns into something even more. Grissom takes over the scene with the rest of the team, and Catherine talks to Ecklie about the situation
Notes: This chapter was shorter than it was supposed to be, but I think it turned out pretty well. The story will mainly focus on Nick and Catherine, but the real plot isn't really in play yet. Please take the time to review; I always enjoy reading your thoughts, comments, and even constructive criticism is good!