AN: Hey guys! So this may be the last one… Crazy, huh? I'll tell you what I mean by "might be" at the end, but anyways, if this is the last chapter, I really want to thank you guys for sticking with me even when I made you wait un-Godly amounts of time..
I will also say that I've got some of the best reviews I've ever gotten before, so thanks so much to you guys. And I've also had constructive ones, which are welcomed as well.
And I would like to say that I really enjoyed writing this chapter. It's much more lighthearted which I always think is necessary in fics and in real life. Laughter and smiles really brighten life.
Warning: A few bad words, mainly from Greg. None of them are said in a negative context, but I figure with all he's going through he's allowed to get a little dirtier with his language. I think most of you will be ok with it. No F-bomb though, rest assured.
Random: Listening to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody… gotta love Queen…
Have at it!
"You got a six?"
Greg threw his cards down in frustration.
"That was the third one in a row you've called me on," he said in mock-anger. "Either you're a damn psychic, or you're cheating."
Nick grinned mischievously. "That's a very serious accusation, G. Now, do you have a six or not?"
Greg narrowed his eyes at him then threw the six at Nick who gracefully picked it up and smiled sweetly to Greg.
"I guess it's my turn again," Nick taunted, taking a deep breath, he chose another card. "You wouldn't happen to have a two, now would you?"
This time, Greg threw the cards at Nick, who laughed loudly.
"You bastard," Greg retorted playfully, then went into a fit of coughs.
Nick felt bad, but tried not to show how much it pained him every time Greg would cough because he knew his friend didn't want the sympathy. After it passed and Greg caught his breath, he pulled away from it as though it was nothing. And truthfully, after two days of these coughs, they seemed to not phase him that much at all. Every now and then it would take a little longer to catch his breath or sometimes he would be hurting too bad and would just go to sleep.
But for the most part, he was doing a lot better than any of them thought he would do, and so soon.
"You are officially banned from Go Fish," he said breathlessly as he took a sip of his water.
Nick chuckled. "Oh and are you the Go Fish police?"
"As a matter of fact, I am," he responded boldly.
Nick rolled his eyes at his young friend. He still couldn't get over how well he was taking all of this sometimes, but he knew a lot of it was a show to make his friends feel better, and an attempt to trick the doctors into thinking that he was well enough for a discharge. But unfortunately, they weren't taking the bait. Greg had to stay in the ICU for another day or two, then the plan was to move him to a recovery room where they would observe his progress. So, he still had a little while until he was out of the hospital.
Nick was about to continue their light-hearted conversation when they were interrupted by a knock on the door.
He turned around to see Captain Jim Brass standing in the doorway.
"Hey Sanders," his said as warmly as he could.
Greg laughed silently at his attempt. He knew the man meant well, but he was crap at being all lovey-dovey, which was perfectly fine with Greg seeing as how he didn't want any of that anyway. But he still couldn't help but laugh at his effort, though he was thankful for it.
"How's Sara," Greg asked after giving him a little nod of welcome.
"Good. She's in physical therapy right now and its going well. She should be discharged within the next two days."
"Good." The truth was, Greg hadn't really seen her much since their initial reunion, of which he barely remembered. She had apparently come by a few times when he had been sleeping, and once she actually managed to come in when he was having a particularly rough time with the pneumonia and was being helped by several nurses. He had noticed her by the door, but then she had left and that was the last time he had seen her, and that was yesterday morning.
He hated that. He never wanted anyone to see him in his times of weakness because he truly hated the way it made others feel and the way they looked at him. But, it didn't really matter.
"How are you feeling?" Brass countered, taking a seat next to Nick.
"I'm good," Greg answered. "But, I've come across a very disturbing realization about Nick here."
Brass turned to Nick who smiled evilly then shrugged. "What can I say? He made the mistake of showing me his cards and I wasn't about to give up the opportunity to see the look on his face."
Brass laughed. These two CSIs never failed to amaze him. This was actually his first time seeing Greg awake. He had only stopped by one other time when they were first brought in and talked to Sara about what had happened, and she had looked pretty good considering. And while Greg looked better than he did when he first came in, he still looked pale and sickly and had dark circles around his eyes.
But he had to give it to the kid, he was still smiling and making jokes and it takes guts to do that.
"So I take it you aren't here to play cards," Nick pondered out loud.
"That's actually a good idea," Greg said, perking up. "Having a cop in here to keep you straight." He finished, glaring in Nick's direction.
Brass laughed again. "No, I'm not here for the cards. Just wanted to get a summary of what happened if you're up to it."
Greg sighed in an over-the-top manner. "Alright, if I have to," he replied as though he were a young kid trying to get out of cleaning his room.
"You want me to leave," Nick asked suddenly.
Greg looked at him like he was crazy. "Why?"
Nick shrugged. "I don't know, just wanted to throw it out there."
"Well you don't have to stay if that's what you're getting at," Greg retorted.
"You know that's not what I was getting at, you fool."
Brass cleared his throat to end the friendly quarrel. "Well if you two are done with your lover's spat…"
Both Nick and Greg laughed, which sent Greg into another coughing fit. This being the first time Brass witnessed one, he was taken aback by the severity of it, or at least how it sounded. But what surprised him most is how fast the kid composed himself then began to talk.
"The uh…." He stopped and cleared his throat. He seemed to be feeling a little worse now after that last attack. "First thing I remember is waking up, then going down the hill, or cliff, or whatever it was."
Brass nodded and wrote down a few notes on his notepad. This was the first time Nick was hearing Greg's version of what happened and was really interested in hearing his take on it.
"We stayed in the car for the night, then figured we had to leave in the morning, so we went… left. Its funny, the only reason we went left was because Sara had taken a right at a fork in the road right before we went over, so I thought we'd give left a shot."
He took a struggled deep breath, then continued.
"I was wrong. There was nothing out that way, so we had to go back. But Sara had frostbite so…," he coughed again, temporarily halting the story. "Where was I," he asked after he got some control.
"Frostbite," Brass answered without looking up from his notes.
"Right. So… we took care of that and it started to get dark and I think I blacked out, but the next time I woke up, we were in the cave."
"What do you mean we took care of that?" Nick spoke up. He didn't mean to interrupt, but that was one of the things he had been wanting to hear Greg say.
Greg shrugged. "Well, I wrapped her feet up better, and then I couldn't let her walk so…"
"So you carried her," Brass interrupted sensing that the kid didn't want to come out and say it.
Greg laughed tiredly, his strength seeming to die down more and more by the second. "Ha, I tried to carry her. But like I said, I blacked out before we got anywhere, so I don't really know what happened…"
Brass nodded and Nick felt a little more satisfied with this answer.
Greg had to stop once more to let the coughing pass. After this one, he was more drained than he had been yet, and Nick saw it and it worried him.
"Hey Greg, we can finish this later, right Jim?"
Brass looked up from his notes and at Greg and saw that he was paler and weaker.
"Oh yeah, of course. No rush Sanders."
"No, it's cool, there isn't a whole lot more anyway."
Brass was about to let him continue when his beeper went off. He checked it quickly and was glad to have an official reason to leave and let Greg get some rest.
"We'll have to finish this later, kid. Sofia needs me on a case." He stood up and gave Nick a nod then turned to Greg. "Feel better, ok?"
He didn't stick around long after that, so Greg only smiled and waved as best he could.
"And then there was two," Nick said out of the blue.
Greg rolled his eyes at Nick. "You're so weird," he said quietly.
"I'm weird," Nick responded, raising his eyebrows. "You may be Mr. Cool and Efficient now, but I remember the crazy lab-rat Greg, markers up the nose and all."
Greg sighed and looked up as though he was reminiscing, then started coughing again. After this one, he reached for the breathing mask for the first time in over two hours.
"I think you need to rest now." It wasn't a question or even a suggestion, but had more of an order sound to it.
"Yeah.. But I want to enjoy you while you're here." Nick could hear the exhaustion in his voice, but was a little taken aback by what Greg had just said.
"What do you mean?"
Greg looked away and had an almost ashamed and embarrassed look plastered on his face. "I just.. Hate hospitals, you know? And it sounds like I'm gunna be here a while and it… well it will get lonely, so I figure I should enjoy you guys while you still have time to visit."
Nick frowned. This was the first time he had ever really seen Greg like this. It wasn't that he was being weak or child-like, but he seemed to genuinely fear the thought of being alone. And given what he had been through and what he was still going though, it didn't surprise Nick at all.
"I'm not going anywhere, G," Nick tried to say in a tone that didn't show his pity too much. "And the other's will be coming later, so you need to get some sleep so you can be awake for them," He said. "God knows I've seen enough of you awake," He added playfully to lighten the mood.
Greg smirked then allowed himself to start drifting off. And right before he fell asleep, he breathed out a small "Thanks."
Nick stayed in Greg's room for at least another hour until Catherine and Grissom showed up, at which time he decided he would stop by and check on Sara. He had been more than fine sitting with Greg and really didn't have any problems with staying a couple additional hours, but he figured he would leave Greg with Cath and Griss, and come back after a nap and his shift.
He went down to the second floor, which held the recovery rooms, and quickly located Sara's room. He found her sitting on her bed, on top of the covers, reading a book.
"Is it good," Nick asked, then laughed as she flinched and looked over to him.
She smiled to greet him. "Yeah, it's ok."
"How was physical therapy?"
Sara sighed. "It was pretty good I guess. I walked some today."
Nick raised his eyebrows. "That's good news."
They both nodded and sat through one of those awkward silences when both people want to say something, but neither one wants to break the ice.
"So," Sara started. "Have you been by to see Greg?"
Nick, thankful she was the one to start the conversation off, nodded. "Yeah, and he about attacked me for cheating."
Sara cocked her head at him and grinned. "He what?"
"He got mad because I was cheating at Go Fish."
Sara laughed now. "Really?" She actually did seem surprised when she said this, which made Nick wonder.
"Yeah… you know, I haven't really seen you up there…"
He saw the look on Sara's face and knew he had touched a nerve. She didn't seem angry, but he could definitely tell that it was something she had been thinking about as well.
"What's up," he asked as he took a seat next to her bed.
Sara put the book down. "What?" She replied normally. "Nothing's up, I just think he needs some time to rest is all."
Nick could tell there was something wrong, even though she was hiding it pretty well.
"Ok," he countered loudly as he put his hands up in the air in surrender.
She looked away from him for a moment, then turned back. She could tell he wanted to say something, wanted to continue the subject and even though she didn't want to, she gave in to his look anyway.
"What? What are you thinking," she asked a little annoyed. She had always seen Nick as being like a brother, or maybe just a really close best friend who's a guy, but either way, they had that special bond that told them what the other was feeling, and how far they could push one another. But the best part about their friendship was how honest they could be with each other.
"Nothing… I'm just surprised we're not have to pull you away from him is all," He said causally. "I mean, its not really a big deal or anything, but he won't stop asking about you and it.. Just seems odd, that's all. Usually after two people experience a life-changing event with each other, they become inseparable, but I haven't seen you up there since two days ago. It's just odd, Sara. I mean, if you are a little shell-shocked or afraid to go up there, that's fine. Take your time by all means, but if its something I can help with, then I want to be here."
Sara was shocked. She knew that she hadn't been going up to see Greg much, but she didn't know that it was that noticeable or unusual. She wasn't angry with Nick exactly, but the whole thought of Greg and what they had done together and how it had all ended up had been on her mind the whole time, and here he just went and said it like it was nothing.
"I'm not afraid to go up there, Nick," she began forcefully. "And I tried to go up there a couple of times but he was either asleep or… coughing up a storm, and frankly he doesn't need me up there to keep him awake or anything…"
"You still feel guilty, don't you," Nick replied, ignoring her attempts to stay away from that topic. He immediately saw her stiffen up and knew he had hit the head of the nail.
"No, Nick. You don't understand. I know it wasn't my fault, but I sure as hell didn't do anything to help us out there. In fact, I probably only made things worse. The only good thing that I did was that I just happened to have food in my car, and that wasn't even intentional. So no, I'm not blaming myself, but I do feel bad that its me who's about to be released, while he's the one who did all of the work and is also the one that will be fighting pneumonia for another damn month!"
She ended heaving and her eyes filled with tears of frustration.
Nick had not wanted to upset her so bad and had not known that this was such a touchy subject for her, but he was glad that she had got it out before she started to regret her decisions too much.
"Sara," he said softly as he grabbed her hand. " I've already told you my theory on how much you did out there for him, but I'm beginning to think that the only thing that will help you is if you go up there and see him when he's awake. I mean, I'll be honest with you, the coughs are freaky, but other than that, he acts normal and he looks a lot better…" Nick trailed off, then remembered something Greg had said.
"You know, he just told me that he gets lonely here. I actually think he's afraid of hospitals," Nick began in a different tone. He could see Sara looking at him differently now as well, and knew that he was getting to her.
"Look, he's going to be here for at least another week or two, and you know Ecklie will not allow us much more time off, but you… You're going to be in a wheelchair…" He could really see her mind working now.
"If you really think that you owe him somehow, then you'll go sit with him when you can, because that's all he wants. And believe me, he doesn't see things the way you do. In fact, he doesn't even seem to think that him carrying you was a big deal."
Sara's eyes widened at this piece of information, and Nick couldn't help but feel proud of his amazing abilities to say all the right things.
"Look, just talk to him. I really think you'll be surprised."
Nick stood up from his chair, then leaned down and gave Sara a hug.
"I've got eight hours before my shift begins and I'm tired so, I'll see you tomorrow, ok?"
Sara smiled. "Yeah," she said, and as he began to walk away, she added: "And thanks, Nick."
He just gave her a little wink and was off.
Grissom and Catherine had only been in Greg's room for a little over an hour before he woke up, though he didn't make it known to everyone. In fact, when he woke up, he saw that Cath and Grissom were playing with the cards that he and Nick had been using earlier, and decided to have some fun with it.
They way Grissom and Catherine were sitting allowed for only Catherine to see him because Grissom's back was to Greg. However, Greg could see Grissom's cards and when Catherine noticed he was awake, Greg put one finger up to his mouth to tell her not to say anything.
When it was her turn to ask Grissom for a card, Greg carefully held up three fingers.
Catherine smiled slightly but acted as though she had seen nothing and asked Grissom for a three. Grissom reluctantly handed it over, and then Greg held up five fingers.
"You got a five," Catherine asked with a grin.
Grissom didn't say anything at first and Greg could tell that he was catching on to her mischievous look. But he handed over the five.
Now when Greg looked at Grissom's cards, he realized that the remaining ones were all over five, which meant he would have to use the other arm. And when he tried to bring the other arm to make seven fingers, Catherine got confused.
"Um… a…. five..? Again?" She then started laughing and Grissom turned around to see Greg giggling.
"Greg. Did you just help Catherine cheat," he asked sounding surprised.
Greg shrugged and continued grinning. "Just remind me to tell Nick I forgive him. It really is fun to cheat."
Grissom shook his head and turned his chair so that he was facing Greg now.
"How you feeling," Catherine asked, also pulling her chair closer.
"I'm delightful, and how about you two?"
"We're good," Grissom answered.
"That's good. Man I can't wait to get out of here," Greg said looking around.
"Out of the ICU or just the hospital?"
"Hospital mainly. But it will be nice to get out of here too. At least in the recovery rooms they have tv's."
Catherine and Grissom chuckled. Leave it to Greg to find pleasure in the smaller things.
"Speaking of which, some reporters are wanting to interview you and Sara at some point." Grissom said, earning an eye-brow raise from Greg.
"Reporters? For what?"
And then Grissom remembered that the mediahadn't been there when Greg arrived and he had not been watching tv, so it really wasn't abnormal for Greg to not realize that people all over had been following his and Sara's story.
Catherine laughed. "Um, the reporters that have been going on and on about you and Sara. At first, it was just that you guys were missing, but once they found out you two had been living out in the snow, it suddenly turned into a survival story, and you know how the public eats those up."
"Hmm… that's pretty weird," Greg responded absentmindedly.
"Yeah, don't worry about it now," Grissom spoke up, then looked down to his watch. "Well, I hate to cut our visit short, but we have to go."
"I understand, you important people have got places to be." Greg said light-heartedly.
"No, we just don't have the pleasure of lying around in a hospital all day," Catherine said playfully.
"Pleasure? Is that what it is…" he didn't finish due to another cough attack, but after it passed, they said their goodbyes.
Now Greg was alone and was none to happy about it. He wasn't even tired anymore so it wasn't like he could just go to sleep or anything.
He reached over and got his water then picked up the cards and started to play with them. He couldn't manage to play solitaire, the only one person card game he knew, so he decided he would put them in order instead.
He wasn't too far into it when he heard a small knock on the door frame. He turned and was pleased to see Sara staring back at him. She was in a wheelchair, which caught him off guard, but he got over it quickly and smiled real big for her.
The man-nurse that had accompanied her up there kindly patted her shoulder then left, leaving Sara sitting oddly in the middle of the room, staring at Greg. She looked good, which pleased Greg more than anything. And he wondered how he looked. He hadn't had the chance to look at himself at all and he guessed on top of the fact that he was disgustingly pale, his hair probably wasn't in too good a shape either/
"Sara! What a lovely surprise," He said happily. He had been wanting to see her when he was awake and not having a coughing fit, so it really was quite nice.
She smiled nervously then rolled up a little closer to him, but was still in the middle of the room. Nick was right, he did look a little healthier but not nearly as much as she would have liked.
Greg started to feel weird when she didn't say anything. He could tell something was off with her, but he couldn't put his finger down on what.
"You uh, ok?" He asked, unsure of how to put it otherwise.
Sara perked up, not expecting the question. She was still feeling uncomfortable around him, even though he seemed delighted to see her, and he picked right up on it. Was she seriously that easy to read?
"Yeah, why do you ask," she responded as casually as she could, trying to brush it off.
Greg narrowed his eyes at her then turned away.
"No reason, you just seem different is all," he answered, turning back to her.
"Well for one, you're sitting in the middle of the room still, and for two, you won't look at me for more than two seconds," he said, now sounding a little worried. "You aren't mad, are you," he asked, sounding like he had done something wrong.
Sara was shocked. How could she be mad at him? She dropped her shy, nervous little shell she had come in with, and decided to be honest with him.
"Me? Mad at you? I have no right to be!"
Greg stared at her for a moment, analyzing her until he seemed to figure something out, and when he did, he rolled his eyes and sighed.
"Holy cow, you still feel guilty something?!"
She sat speechless. She really must be easy to read because both Nick and Greg had pinpointed the problem right away. She then watched in horror as he started coughing and only felt worse by the end of it.
"I.. I shouldn't be here," she began, then started to wheel backwards.
"The hell you shouldn't!" Greg exclaimed, still trying to catch his breath. "Sara, we have already been over this! There is no one to blame for what happened, and you should know that by now. So I'm hoping its something else. Please tell me its something else."
Sara stopped when she heard the desperation in his voice. He wanted to talk about this and he wanted to know, so she gave in.
"It's not really that… its just that, well you… did a lot out there. I just… didn't…"
Greg started laughing, which shocked Sara and made her stop fumbling around for words.
"You're upset about that? That's why you didn't come see me? Aw, Sara. You did a lot out there whether you know it or not, and God knows you would have done a lot more if you could've."
"How do you know that Greg? I mean, my feet were hurting, so what?! You were sick as a dog and you had to… carry me around," she spat out disgustedly.
Greg was no longer laughing, but he still didn't look convinced at what she was saying.
"Oh you're completely right, Sara because you're a woman, and women are inferior," He said sarcastically. "God Sara, you are one of the most beautiful, yet tough and manly women I know, no offence. Hell, you're probably tougher than I am, but even Achilles had a weak spot, and it just so happens that both of your weak spots are your feet. Now, one of us had to step up to the plate, so I did. But only because you couldn't. And I know you would have done the same if it were the other way around."
"You want something to blame," he continued. "Blame those shoes you wore."
As she tried to catch and process all of what he had said, he went through another coughing fit that he had apparently been putting off until he got out all of his speech.
"My shoes?" She asked, puzzled.
"Yeah, if you would have worn shoes that would have kept out the moisture, you wouldn't have got frostbite that bad, and then you would have been the one carrying me around. So you see, its all the shoes fault, unless you want to blame yourself for putting on warm shoes too…? Now stop being all girly and get over here and play some damn cards." He finished with a childish grin.
She didn't know what to make of it. He seemed so sure of himself and of everything that had happened. She admired him, she really did. She could've kept arguing with him, telling him he was wrong and how she still felt like it was all her fault. But that wasn't what he wanted because he seemed to know the truth, and Sara would just have to believe him.
She rolled herself up as close as she could get now, feeling much better now that she was with him and he was acting pretty close to normal.
"Will it be Go Fish, then?" She asked, looking at him with a silly grin.
"Ah, you've been talking to our cheater friend, I see…" he replied as he began to deal out the cards.
Sara just smiled and nodded.
"So, I heard you're gunna be out of this hell-whole soon. You got a four?"
"Go Fish. Yeah, but I'm going to be here a lot anyways. You got a nine?"
"Bitch," he said playfully and threw the nine at her. "Why? Man, I would stay at least a hundred yards from the place at all times if I could."
"I should hit you for calling me a bitch, and I have to stay around here because I have a dire need to play cards with annoying dirty-mouthed patients. You have a three?"
Greg smiled and looked at her with such admiration. She was so strong in his eyes, even if she didn't see it herself, and if he had to be stuck out in the snow or on a desert island with anyone, he would choose her every time.
End Notes: Yay!! See, I know I could technically have a wrap-up chapter, but I personally love the way this one ended. I guess if I get a bunch of people demanding a wrap-up, then I'll do it because I'm here for you guys mainly, but I really do like this chapter. So, thanks so much guys for reading and hopefully I will think up another storyline to write again. Hope to see you all soon!