A/N: This is a Nick/Sara oneshot based on the season seven finale. I wrote this for MrsEads who told me she was looking for a Snickers oneshot :D There are references to several episodes, mainly Grave Danger and Gum Drops. Hope you guys enjoy it!
"Nicky, go home—you're not going to be able help to Sara if you're passed out from exhaustion."
Those were Catherine's words of wisdom to him that night before he left the lab with his head hung low. Catherine had tears in her eyes when she had said it—she was obviously feeling as helpless and defeated as he was. But the truth was he just didn't give a damn about himself right now; no, this wasn't about him, this was about something—someone—much more important than himself. This was about Sara.
He couldn't give up on her now; not when she was the only one who hadn't given up on him when he was six feet under in that godforsaken plexi-glass prison. Catherine and Warrick had offered support on the ambulance ride to the hospital and Grissom had given him paid-leave after the incident to recover. But Sara was the only one who had come over every day after shift to see if he needed anything. She was the only one who had brought him a late-night snack from his favorite restaurant on the Strip.
"Eat—you need to build your strength back up. Oh for god's sake just eat it Nick, I'm not leaving until you do and you know that."
The memory of her stubbornness and smiling face brought tears springing back to his eyes that he could no longer hold back. The images kept flashing before his eyes, images that scale model miniature had inspired; she was shaking, her body was fighting the effects of going into shock. Hypothermia was setting in, she was dehydrated. And the worst part was that she was alone to face it all.
"Damn it!" he growled, punching the steering wheel of his Denali with all his might. The horn went off and the car in front of him in the line of traffic did not appreciate it but that didn't matter. Taking his car out of park he swerved out of the line of cars and sped off down the empty path of road for the interstate. He wasn't about to give up on her now. Not now, and not ever.
The miniature Natalie had made showed Sara was in a remote location in the desert. The greater area of Las Vegas was desert, but if there was one place he knew was the definition of remote it was the area just off the interstate. But that also just made him more concerned; the interstate was prone to some of the worst weather in Nevada, and when it wasn't pouring down rain the heat was scorching. He just hoped Sara was still hanging on like the fighter she was.
After twenty minutes of speeding through intersections, yellow (and red) lights, stop signs and alleyways and shortcuts, Nick had arrived at the interstate and flipped the knob for his brighter headlights. He slowed down to 15 miles and hour and kept his eyes peeled for any movement, any whatsoever. He had grabbed his maglite—though it was small, it was quite powerful—and was scoping the area through his window with the ray of light for any signs of her.
"Nick, for what it's worth… you've got me."
"Come on, Sara," he whispered to himself, still scoping the area with investigator's eyes unsuccessfully. "Give me some kind of sign…"
For almost three hours, he coasted the empty interstate road searching for Sara. When his maglite's battery was just about spent, he pulled over to the side of the road and hung his head in defeat. He was running out of road, and Sara was running out of time.
He sat in the Denali almost never blinking and never saying a word for fifteen minutes straight. He had failed, and now she was out in the middle of nowhere under a wrecked car to suffer alone. And suddenly overcome by his anger at himself and at Natalie for hurting the only person who showed him how to feel again, he threw his car door open and stumbled out into the dark empty road, shouting her name for all it was worth. There was a flicker of hope still inside of him, growing dimmer each second, but it was there, and it was telling him that he could not give up yet. She was counting on him.
"SARA!" he shouted. His voice was barely audible over the roar of the rain that was pelting the road and the parked Denali mercilessly. He hadn't really noticed it was raining when he had been in the car. Maybe it was because he himself had been crying. "SARA! SARA, ANSWER ME IF YOU'RE THERE!"
He didn't get a response and he wanted to shout in frustration, in anger, punch a hole through the windshield of the car, just crawl into a hole and die right then and there. If they didn't find Sara, that would mean he would never be able to see her again. He would never be able to tease her in the lab again, he would never be able to snatch the forensics journal she was reading on break away again, he would never be able to see that signature gap-toothed smile of hers that filled every empty crevasse in his heart with warmth ever again. He would never be able to be whole again. He would never know how to love again.
He turned around and raced back to the Denali, throwing the trunk open and taking out his field kit. Inside he had several different-sized maglites and grabbed them all, stuffing them inside his CSI jacket to keep them dry. A spare jacket was thrown over his shoulder and his radio and gun were holstered in his belt. He just couldn't give up on her now. That was not a decision he was about to make.
Flicking on one of the larger maglites he started jogging through muddy puddles of water, the ray of light guiding him along the way over rocks and holes along the way. He could barely see anything from the force of the rain pelting against him but he kept moving forward. "SARA!" he shouted her name louder now, keeping his eyes peeled, his ears alert to any sound around of him of movement or a voice. "SARA, IT'S NICK!"
What he saw next made his heart practically stop pounding its way out of his chest. There were tire treads; they were barely visible from the force of the rain, but they were there. He shined his maglite on them and saw they led away from the interstate. And then, hearing movement ahead of him, he shined the light in front of him. 100 yards away, what he saw made his heart break.
The over-turned car was lying in a puddle of mud and was slowly sinking further into the desert ground like a pile of quicksand. When he came running he saw a mud-covered hand protruding from a broken window, and just underneath the body of the car he saw her laying there. Practically dropping his flashlight he ran over to her and dropped to his knees beside her, grabbing her hand with his and desperately searching for a pulse.
It was there… faintly, but it was there. Faintly, she was here in front of him, alive. "Sara," he whispered to her, the warm tears running down his face camouflaged by the rain. "Sara, it's me, I'm here. It's going to be okay, but you have to wake up."
She started to stir from under her scrap-metal prison. She tried to move the hand he was holding but her arm was pinned under the weight of the car and was bent in an unnatural way. When she let out a moan of pain he stopped her, because his heart could not take the strain of seeing her in so much pain any longer. "Sara, it's okay. I'm going to get help." He reached for his radio with shaky hands and called Dispatch, hoping that he would get a signal despite the horrible weather. There was static but he could make out the operator's voice.
"This is CSI Nick Stokes, I'm at Interstate 15 about four miles out," he shouted into the radio, the only thing he could do against the storm. "I've just found Sara Sidle, I need ambulance and back-up immediately!"
He didn't bother to wait for the Dispatcher's reply. Instead, he turned his attention to Sara who still looked disoriented and in a tremendous amount of pain. "Sara, it's going to be okay now," Nick promised her, rubbing her hand inbetween his to try and provide some warmth. Her body was shaking and fighting hypothermia. Her face was caked in dried blood and muddy sand, and her eyes were red and bloodshot. She had been crying.
"Ni—Nick," Sara croaked. She could hardly believe her eyes. She didn't remember much except for watching Natalie walk away after she had placed her under the car. She lost consciousness shortly after and when she woke up several hours later, she had been sure she was going to die. She had just started to accept it. There was no shining beacon of hope coming to save her this time. It wasn't going to be like all those years ago when her mother had come out of nowhere and stopped her father from coming into her bedroom, or when Adam Trent's luck ran out.
But now, she realized, there was someone coming to save her this time. He was sitting right in front of her holding her and telling her everything was going to be alright.
"I'm right here, Sara," Nick told her, trying to keep it together for her. He could break down later; now was not the time. "I called Dispatch, they're coming. You're going to be just fine, but you have to hang on for me, okay?"
"Nick," Sara had started to sob, trying to pull away from the scrapped metal that was pinning her in place but she didn't have the strength to do so. "Nick I was so scared! I thought I was going to die!"
"It wasn't your day to die, Sara," Nick tried his hardest to smile. "Do you remember what you told me? You told me that it hadn't been my day to die, and it's sure as hell not your day today. So just stay with me!" He could tell she was trying her hardest to do so but she was losing the battle quickly. She was losing strength altogether and her body was in no shape to try and fight off shock.
"Damn it, where are they!" Nick shouted over the roar of the storm, looking back down at Sara. "Sara, open your eyes," he ordered her, watching her slip in and out of consciousness. "I'm going to try and get you out from under the car. Grab my hand." It was his only choice. If he didn't get her out from under the car now, there was no chance that she would survive. Her body wouldn't be able to handle it any longer.
He got to his feet but felt a hand wrap around his ankle and try to pull him back down. He realized that it as Sara, and he leaned back down beside her and made eye-contact with her tear-stained face. "Don't leave me Nick, please," she cried.
"I'm not going to leave you, Sara," Nick whispered to her, brushing a hand against her cheek and gathering mud along the way. "I promise. But I need to get this car off of you, because it's kind of heavy." She laughed a little at this and he smiled just a little. "I'm going to try and lift the car off of you, and when I count to three, I want you to roll out from under it, okay?"
"Nick, it's too heavy, you can't," Sara whispered in disbelief, shaking her head. "Please…"
"I'm not giving up on you Sara," Nick fiercely told her. "You're just going to have to trust me. I'm not going to lose you now. So when I count to three, I want you to use all your strength to move out from under the car, do you understand?"
There was still doubt in her eyes, but she nodded in agreement.
"Okay," Nick whispered. He leaned forward and planted a small kiss on her cheek. The greater part of him doubted it would actually work. He was only one man, and he was trying to lift two tons of scrap metal in worse-than-perfect conditions. He had to kiss her just incase he never had the chance to do so again.
"Alright, Sara!" Nick shouted as he got to his feet. He grabbed ahold of the broken car window with one hand and the underside of the car with his other. The broken glass was slicing into his hand but he didn't notice. "I'm going to count to three! One, two—"
There was a loud moan from the metal and Sara let out a scream as it sunk further into the mud. The middle of the car was now crushing Sara and she could barely breathe, trying to suck in great gulpfuls of air for dear life. "Sara!" Nick shouted. "Hang on! Do you remember what I told you?" When he didn't get a response, he gently nudged her with his foot and tried again. "SARA! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?"
"Y…YES!" Sara shouted back as best she could.
"ON THE COUNT OF THREE," Nick shouted, "ROLL OUT FROM UNDER THE CAR! ONE!"
There was a crack of thunder in the distance and the creaking of the metal from the car grew ever louder.
Nick could feel his hold on the car slipping. There was no way he could ever lift the car off of her by himself, but he had to try.
"THREE!" Nick lifted the car with all his might, feeling veins bulge on his forehead, his arms and legs groan in protest at the weight. All of his might was not enough, and the car didn't move enough to grant Sara freedom.
"NICK!" He turned and saw Brass and Sofia running in the distance. Behind them were three SUVs and the entire Las Vegas Police Department, accompanied by ambulances and the fire department.
"We have to get this thing off of her!" Nick shouted to them all. "I need help!"
Greg, Warrick and Grissom came running and even Catherine came bolting out from her Denali to help and lift the car off of Sara. The fire department was fixed on one side of the car, the officers on the other with Brass and Sofia, and the other CSIs were by Nick, trying to tell Sara to hang on until they got the car off of her.
"ON THREE!" Nick shouted. "ONE, TWO, THREE!"
They all lifted simultaneously and the car lifted. Sara let out a loud gasp of air and remembering what Nick told her, used her strength to roll out from under the car while she still could. Just as she rolled out the car was dropped back onto the ground.
Nick was instantly by Sara's side, grabbing the spare jacket he had brought with him and wrapping it around her shoulders, rubbing at her arms to try and keep her shaking body warm. "Okay, it's okay Sara," he whispered to her, watching her cough and sputter for air. "It's going to be okay."
"Nick," Sara coughed, trying to reach toward his face to prove to herself that he was really there but she struggled along the way.
"I'm here Sara," Nick whispered, trying to smile as he grabbed her hand. "We're all here. You did so good Sara, I'm really proud of you."
"Sir, we need to get her to the hospital now," an EMT told Nick. Instead of setting Sara on the stretcher they brought out, Nick carried her to the ambulance himself, keeping her shielded from the rain with the jacket he had covered her with.
Once inside the ambulance, Nick set her down and allowed the EMTs to hook up an IV. He kept his eyes fixated on Sara the entire time as the ambulance doors were closed up and they drove off. "Hey," he whispered to her among the buzz of the EMTs talking about Sara's vitals.
"Hey," Sara managed to say, her voice hoarse and crackily from lack of water. "…Nick, I…"
"It's okay, Sara," Nick told her, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. "We can talk when you're feeling better. Just rest right now. I'm… I'm just so glad you're okay," he smiled at her as his eyes glistened with unshed tears.
"…Thank you, Nick," Sara whispered to him. A tear ran down her face just as she was falling asleep from the force of the sleeping medication they gave her/
"You're welcome, Sara," Nick whispered, even though he knew she could no longer hear him. "I couldn't stand the thought of never being able to see my sunshine again."
Three months later
He came running down the hallway when she called him and he couldn't help but chuckle when he saw that she was having much difficulty trying to put her shirt on. "Need some help?" he teased, walking behind her and untangling the shirt from around her cast.
"Ha, ha, very funny," Sara mumbled, straightening out the sides. "I'm going to be so happy when I finally get this cast off today. It's driving me nuts."
"Yeah, I was thinking maybe we could go out to dinner to celebrate," Nick told her with a smile, handing her the crutches the hospital had given her for the bulky cast on her leg.
"That sounds nice," Sara smiled. "Have any place in mind?"
"I got us a nice reservation for the Bellagio," Nick whispered, placing a steadying hand on her back as he helped her out the door. "I figured something nice and expensive."
"You spoil me," Sara giggled as he helped her get inside the car.
"Yeah, and you better get used to it," Nick chuckled, placing her crutches in the back of the Denali and climbing in the driver's seat. "Do you like your cast, by the way?" he motioned to her arm.
She laughed when she saw the quite colorful design he had made in big curly letters reading 'SUNSHINE' in various colored markers. "That looks girly."
"Hey!" Nick laughed. "Okay, Lindsey helped me with it. When you were taking a nap yesterday, she helped."
"Well I like it anyway, girly or not," Sara smiled, resting her head on his shoulder.
"I'm glad you do," Nick smiled, planting a gentle kiss on the top of her head. "Because you are my only sunshine, and there's no sunshine when she's gone."
"Okay, that was just corny!" Sara couldn't stop herself from laughing as Nick playfully swatted at her with his hand.