Note: so this postep is a little late...but for some reason I couldn't get Nick's reaction out of my head from the autopsy scene...the whole episode of "Pirates" was just...well...incredibly dark and moving in so many ways. This is just a little, short, I thought I'd get out of my head before it was lost forever. Just my thoughts on how Nick may have dealt with this case...after his strong reactions in autopsy! Let me know what you think!

All he wanted was to quit feeling. All he wanted was to fall into the numbness, the blissful numbness that came with not caring, with not feeling.

The feeling in the pit of his stomach, though, was enough to put his senses on overdrive. He hadn't felt that way around the morgue since he was a rookie. It was a strange feeling, one he hadn't expected to feel. That queasy, unsettled, rumbling feeling in the depths of his bowels. The feeling of his stomach staging a full blown revolution.

The victim on the table was a shell, a body frozen in time. Fear masked her face. Her face. He'd never seen a face so…so pale, so fragile before. Her eyes were hollow, frozen in place. Had he looked deeper into them he could have sworn he could see her soul still inside her.

Her eyes were what haunted him now. Her eyes were what kept him awake. Her eyes were what kept him rooted to his sofa in the dark of his living room.

He'd heard what happened out in the desert, what that man claimed to be doing in the name of science. He'd seen the house, smelled it, but couldn't make himself go into the basement. He could only imagine what had gone on down there, and for how long.

Some called it ethnic cleansing. One man called it his pursuit for the perfect, Aryan race.

He couldn't get past it. The indecency, the madness that drove people, that drove his career. He couldn't get past it.

Then there was the smell, that all consuming, suffocating smell.

Urine, blood…utter fear.

It was the stench of death.

He felt his stomach churning again, the bile rising in his throat. It was all he could do to make it to the bathroom. Collapsing in front of the toilet, he emptied the minimal contents of his stomach. He was left with a burning sensation and a hollow feeling. He hated that feeling.

His soul ached for Zoe Kessler, for the life she'd had before her, for the potential her mother boasted for her. His soul ached for the fact that that potential would never be reached, would never grow into a reality. Another life cut short. His life was filled with them, with death.

He thought, by now, he'd be immune to these feelings. Hell, he should be used to death by now. Death was a natural part of life. But, there was nothing natural about Zoe's death, about most of the victims he encountered in his job.

He leaned his head back on the cold tile of the bathroom wall. He couldn't move, couldn't pick himself up off the floor. He didn't dare close his eyes. The images were still too real, were still too fresh. The images still haunted him in the black of his mind. He could feel the cold of death holding on to him, its grip was unyielding.

He'd almost gotten used to that feeling, the feeling of death's grip. It'd been a feeling he'd experienced more than once. And, well, since last summer when he'd felt death tighten its hold on him, he was beginning to fear he'd never be rid of it. The relief he'd felt as the hold was released, especially within the past months, had been overwhelming. But, now he could feel his heart wrenching at the cold grasp he was once again subject to.

He wasn't sure how long he'd stayed in the bathroom. The pain in his lower back, though, told him he'd been there longer than he'd intended. It was almost time to head into work, another shift.

Slowly, he stood, stretching the muscles in his tired body. He hadn't slept in a couple days. The dreams, the nightmares had been too much. His prescription of sleeping pills had expired several months ago, and he'd been too busy to get a new one made so he simply didn't sleep.

Turning on the shower, he allowed the small bathroom to fill with its therapeutic steam. He could almost feel his muscles relax as he breathed in the warm vapors. The hot water hit is back as he stepped into the streaming flow of water. It felt like tiny needle pricks on his skin, a feeling that came to be soothing, unlike the last time he'd felt the sensation. This time around the feeling was comforting, was invigorating.

Relishing in the hot shower, and it's calming, relaxing powers, he slowly stepped out and dried off. It was almost ten thirty. He'd have to hurry if he didn't want to be late.

He loved his job. Most days there wasn't a thing in the world that could make him give it up.

Most days.

The days, though, he was met with a Zoe Kessler, or Cassie McBride, or Ryan Chase, he could almost hand in his gun and badge without a second thought. Days like yesterday, he could easily give up, find a ranch and retire. But just as much as those cases made him hate his job, they were the very reason he kept going and worked harder. Zoe Kessler, Cassie McBride, and Ryan Chase were the reasons he went home, attempted to sleep a few hours, ate a meal, and returned to the lab the next night. They were the reason he lived his life.

They were the reason.

He could feel death's grip easing up a bit, now. He could breathe a little easier, could see a little more clearly. Walking out of his bedroom, he returned to the dark living room. Picking up his car keys, and his wallet, he walked out the front door.

Today, Zoe Kessler was no longer a victim.

Today, she was his reason.