DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: M - Mature (language, sexual situations, adult subject matter)
PAIRINGS: GSR & Yo!Bling pre-established in previous fics of this timeline.
SPOILERS: Sequel to "Displacement", "Transitions" and "Vicissitudes" - Number 5 in the Discovery Series
SUMMARY: Sometimes, the best way the deal with the changes all around you is to stop fighting and evolve in response to them. GSR/Yo!Bling/Nick-OC
A/N: Here it is... The very last installment of this story. It has been an astoundingly long journey, but an amazingly rewarding one, as both a writer and a fan. I hope that you've enjoyed this little world as much as I have, and thank you all for making it so much fun to get lost in it for a little over a year now. From Displacement all the way through to this behemouth, you have helped me to find my voice and to improve my writing. Thank you, and Goodnight.
REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.
10:15 – 2007.03.10
McCarran International Airport
She hated being late, almost as much as she hated being short; both of which were making her crazy as she trudged her way through the terminal. Her bags were heavy from cramming as much into them as possible, and they weighed her slight frame down more than she had anticipated when she packed them. As the computer bag slipped from her shoulder once more and nearly took her down in the process, she wished she could just chuck the whole mess and start over.
Her computer bag was stuffed with all of her notes and books for a paper she was desperate to finish over the week, as well as a healthy mix of music. After her last trip to Vegas, she quickly learned that she and her uncle shared no interests in music, and she was not about to spend another week listening to the twang twins flavor of the day. She had her own CD's, her MP3 player, and a beefy selection of off the wall stuff loaded onto her laptop. There was a guaranteed week of twang-free entertainment in that bag.
The suitcase was another matter, altogether. Normally, her little pilot case would be fine for a week's worth of fun, but she was going to be working at the lab some of that time and it required a lot more than jeans and t-shirts. That meant she had to take her father's stupid spare garment bag to drag her decent clothes to Las Vegas. It also meant she was forced to get creative with her personal essentials. Fortunately, in a demonstration of her astounding brilliance, her grandmother told her to leave her toiletries at home, and have her uncle take her on a trip to the store for some smaller size stuff. But none of that helped her haul that blasted garment bag from the airplane to the arrivals deck through a crowded airport. She had already stopped to retrieve it from the floor three times, and not once did anyone stop to assist her. Chivalry is dead in Vegas.
The only thing keeping her from completely losing her mind was the fact that she was able to rest her tiny, weary body on the train as it took her from the D-Gates to Terminal One. She gladly gave up the chance to sit down in favor of setting her bags down in place of herself. She received several strange looks from the other travelers on the train, but she could have cared less. She was interested in only two things; handing off those bags to her uncle and relaxing in front of his big screen for a few hours as the man slept.
She had taken the earliest flight out of Dallas-Fort Worth on purpose, but even that meant her uncle would have to stay up late to get her. The idea of calling someone else to pick her up had crossed her mind on several occasions, but she knew her uncle would have been hurt at the insinuation that she felt like an imposition. It was always a tricky balance between logical assumptions and Southern propriety in her family, and as much as her uncle fought against many of those proprieties, he was still a sucker for being a true gentleman.
When she finally had the doors to the arrivals deck in sight, she breathed a huge sigh of relief. She was a little shocked when the person walking beside her spoke. "Sounds like someone is glad to be home."
Not wanting to insult the man, she simply smiled and nodded her head, but as she thought about what he said, Neeley Stokes began to wonder if the fickle finger of fate had not just pointed her in a new direction.
The man held open the door for her the instant he saw her struggle to find a free hand, and she thanked him. I guess it's not all dead, just mostly.
Once outside of the terminal, Neeley searched the line of cars for her uncle's pickup. Instead, she found him leaned against a CSI SUV looking like he was actually asleep on his feet. When he did not motion to her from his position, she instantly knew his eyes were closed behind those dark glasses and she chuckled.
She took a few steps toward him and then decided to be her father's daughter. Taking in a deep breath, she prepared to let loose with that trademark Stokes bellow. "NO PARKIN', MEANS NO PARKIN', JACK!"
Nick nearly fell over with shock as he was rudely disturbed from his twenty winks. He began to sputter, even before his eyes were fully open. "Look, I got official business, and I-" Once his eyes were open, he instantly found his niece practically doubled over from laughter in front of him. "Nice… You came out here just to scare a few years offa me, didn't you?"
Slowly recovering from her laughter, the diminutive girl with eyes just like his shrugged her one shoulder and said, "Nah… That's just a bonus."
He pulled himself away from the vehicle and managed to grab hold of her bags without too much trouble. But the moment he picked up the computer bag he groaned and asked, "Good grief… What've you got in here? Bricks?"
Without missing a beat she calmly answered, "Barbells." The roll of his eyes was the reward she got for her joke. "So, did you get stuck with the on-call, or what?" She gestured at the departmental vehicle as he moved to open the door for her.
He fought back a huge yawn and barely got out, "Nah… Mel needed to borrow my truck after her shift to move."
"Mel?" She searched her memory for a face to go with the name.
"She started after you went home… The new chick?" He set the computer bag on the back seat and carefully hung the garment bag from the hook before slamming the door. As Nick walked around the front of the SUV to the driver's door, Neeley pieced together their conversations over the last few months to figure out who he was talking about.
When he clumsily hopped back into the seat, she finally remembered. "Right! The one that Catherine hired. The one Wendy told me had all the guys falling over themselves." She thought about his comment and had to ask, "But why is she moving again so soon?"
"Oh, she ah… She hated the place she found when she got here." He started the engine and continued, "The drive alone was makin' her nuts. Plus her girlfriend only lives like ten blocks from the lab. They figured livin' together'd at least give 'em more time th-"
"Her What?!" Neeley was completely blown away by his absent-minded revelation. After going through a little corner of hell bringing up the subject with him at Christmas, she was flabbergasted by his nonchalant treatment of the issue with someone else.
"Didn't I mention that before?" The sly look on his face told Neeley he was pulling her leg. "Sorry… But somebody once told me that kind of thing ain't no big deal, and I shouldn't judge anybody on account of it." He shrugged and returned his attention to the road when he added, "Strange though… 'Cause she looked an awful lot like you. I musta been mistaken."
"Ha, ha ha, funny man…" She quickly tried to change the subject. "So, since you got the work truck, does that mean you took the on-call for her to move?"
"No… That's where it gets complicated." Nick wiped his hand over his face just before they pulled onto the highway. "If she gets a call, Mel's gonna come back and get the Tahoe. Otherwise, she's gonna swing by Grissom's to pick Greggo up tonight on her way in to work."
Neeley was confused by his explanation. "So, how does that get you your truck back?
"Well, 'cause we'll be over there, too…" Nick slapped the dash and shook his head. "I didn't tell you about the barbeque yet, huh?"
"That would be a no." She chuckled at his forgetful mishap.
"Okay, so… Sara and Grissom invited everybody over for a barbeque so they could have a chance to meet you." Nick paused to turn off of the highway, but Neeley was confused when she failed to recognize the direction they were headed. "Anyway… Gris has to be in D.C. Monday mornin' and he's not sure when he'll be back…" Nick seemed to ponder that bit a little while longer, and then he wondered out loud, "Maybe I should find out which flight he's on Sunday night. I could swing by and pick him up on the way to save Sara the trouble."
Neeley was intrigued by his musings and decided to try to ply some more information out of her uncle. "Since when do you try to make Sara's life easier?"
He shrugged and answered, "I guess since I found out she's pregnant."
"Are you serious?! When did that happen?" Neeley began to think her uncle had been withholding a lot of information lately.
"I have no idea… That'd be kinda creepy to ask." When he winked at her, she knew that he just kidding.
"Ha, ha… When did you find out, Mr. Hilarious?"
"Oh, well, in that case… Thomas kinda spilled the beans last night at the party when they were tryin' to sneak out under Catherine's nose."
Neeley laughed, because she had a pretty good idea about what happened. "Right, so they got busted and Thomas couldn't think of anything else to get away clean, right?"
"Somethin' like that." Nick shook his head and chuckled. "Anyway, since this is the only time they'll both be in town, they wanted to throw a little party for you."
"That's awful nice of them… Especially for people I've never actually met before."
"Yeah, well, Steph and Wendy have been talkin' so much about you since your last visit that it makes pretty much anybody feel like you've never left." Nick laughed at his own explanation, which made Neeley realize that he was probably dead on with the reasoning.
"Great… So, I now have a reputation to live up to here, as well?" His laughter as they turned onto another unfamiliar street answered her question. "Okay, so we've got the barbeque tonight, but when do we start workin'?"
"Ah, not 'til Sunday night… Apparently I've maxed out on OT for this pay period, barrin' any major cases." He brought the car to a stop at the red light and they waited for the green.
"So, other than this barbeque and workin' nights…what amazing adventures have you got planned for me this time, Uncle Nicky?" she asked as they pulled away from the light.
He chuckled at her question and cocked his head to the side when he replied, "Oh, I got a lot for ya this time around… No slackin' on this trip."
"I expected nothin' less… Especially after Daddy said you were to make sure I earned my keep while I was out here this time." She laughed as she recalled her last phone conversation with her father. "He thinks I'm comin' out here for wild nights and goofin' off."
"I don't know what you got goin' on with Wendy at the lab, but I'd hardly call it goofin' off. But regardless, I've got a lot to do in the next week, and I'm gonna need a real hand." Nick shot a thumb over his shoulder into the back of the SUV when he continued. "So, I'm hopin' you packed some grubbies in those bags, 'cause you're gonna need 'em."
"Well, not exactly." She tried to work out a way around that request when it hit her. "But maybe we can pick up some sweats and a package of t-shirts from Wal-Mart or somethin' when we get my personal stuff."
"Personal stuff?" Nick was obviously confused.
"Yeah… They won't let you take hardly anything on the plane anymore, so Grams suggested that I just get my stuff when I got here, and dump it before I come home."
"Oh yeah… I forgot about that stuff. And that's a really good idea. Just remind me when we leave for the barbeque and I'll stop on the way." Nick turned into a complex of townhouses and Neeley tried to figure out where they were actually headed. He must have noticed that she was looking around, because he asked, "What's the matter?"
"Nothin', I guess… I was just tryin' to figure out where we were goin'. I mean, you look like you're about to drop from exhaustion, so I thought we'd be headin' straight home." She thought about what he had said for a moment and then asked, "And why are you so tired, if you didn't work last night and you aren't on-call… Unless you stayed up all night at that retirement party drinkin'."
Nick laughed at her questions and her confusion. "No… The only thing I had to drink last night was the champagne when we toasted Gris. I was drivin' last night, so I was good."
"Then what's the deal with the Dawn of the Dead look today?"
He kept a tight lip as they pulled up in front of a row of townhouses and put the SUV into park. When he jumped out of the car, she realized he was attempting to avoid answering the question. Neeley followed suit and exited the car, but she was not about to let him off the hook.
"Are you plannin' on answerin' me?"
Nick took her bags from the back seat and started walking towards the townhouse on the corner of the closest row. "Well, you remember how you said I needed to…" He paused just before he reached the doorstep and contemplated what he was about to say. "How'd you put it?... Oh yeah, that I needed to have a cranial-colonectomy."
She laughed at his recollection, and then she clarified her previous statement. "Right… I told you it would help you to pull your head out of your own ass."
"That's the one. Anyway…" He looked back at her as he walked to the door and opened it with a key. "I took your advice, and I've made a few changes since you were here last time."
She was even more confused than ever as she watched him walk inside the townhouse. Neeley followed after him while she shook her head and tried to remember if her grandmother had said anything about her uncle having moved recently. "So, you figured movin' would accomplish that for y-"
Before she had a chance to finish her question, a woman appeared from the darkened area to their left as her Uncle Nick walked through the corridor. "Hey, I'm glad you're back. I'm gonna need to get some new banker's boxes for these notes before I can have my under-grads come by to move this stuff to Beulah's warehouse. I didn't realize how flimsy some of these had gotten. And there's no way I can keep any of this stuff and still get all of your furniture, plus the big screen in here." She stopped when Nick came into view and then she turned to notice the pale faced, open mouthed young woman standing in the corridor. "Oh! I totally forgot you were one of his errands this morning."
Neeley was in complete shock at the sight of the geology professor standing there, but she was quickly thrown into a total stupor when her uncle leaned down and kissed the woman on the mouth a lot longer than a friendly kiss. "I've got Mel's leftover boxes in the back of the Tahoe, and I'm dead on my feet. Think you can keep her busy while I get some sleep before the party?"
The raven haired woman smiled and then wiped something off Nick's face before she answered, "I'm sure we can find something to keep us occupied without you."
Her Uncle Nick continued through the townhouse with her bags and called back over his shoulder. "Best behavior now, Squirt… And I'll just drop these bags in the guest room."
Within seconds, her uncle had left the bags in the first room and then disappeared into the one at the end of the hall. She was still trying to find the power of speech when the woman in front of her began to walk toward the kitchen.
"Did Nick stop and get you something to eat? Because I have some muffins here, or I could make some eggs, or something." The Doc opened the fridge and disappeared for a moment. "I hope you don't mind the guest room. It's a little girly, but I put fresh linens in there, and you'll have the hall bathroom to yourself. Sorry about all this mess, and I really wish I could stick around longer to help, but I've got to fly back to D.C. tomorrow night for this stupid trial thing."
Neely was still awe struck by everything, but she suddenly became aware that the woman was still speaking to her. "I'm sorry… I ah…. I just need to get something out of my craw a second…" The Doc gave her a strange look, and then she shut her eyes tight as she screamed at the top of her lungs, "I FUCKIN' KNEW IT WOULD WORK!"
With the faraway sounds of her uncle's laughter, Neeley returned her attention to the smirking and blushing woman in front of her. She stepped up to the island and said, "So, eggs would be great, but let me do it. That way you can tell me everything."
A/N2:There will be one more chapter in this little AU which should be starting sometime in June. It won't be nearly the monster these have been, and it will also include a series of Photoshopped images to assist in telling the story. As it will be largely visual in nature, I will be unable to post it in its entirety to this website. Please check out my own FanFic website, and the Geek Fiction LiveJournal Community.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: I would like to take this time to thank the numerous people who have assisted me in some way down the line. To the myriad of betas who have pitched in along the way, you have my utmost gratitude. I am a prolific, verbose and extremely impatient writer, so any and all help you were able to provide was appreciated and treasured, no matter how small a part that may have been. To all of the amazing people who have kept reading this long and winding series, you have instilled in me a confidence for writing that has been a fantastic source of encouragement for me in this project as well as others. This fandom has quite possibly one of the most astoundingly supportive readerships I have ever had the pleasure to witness. To my most trusted beta, who has kept me relatively sane over the entire span of this project, you have my undying gratitude and devotion (and a healthy dose of various cinnamon related products) for everything you have done. You can count on a very rewarding visit come August.