The Perfect Heart

Chapter 15: Waiting in Limbo

Nick sat in one of the uncomfortable guest chairs in Sara's hospital room silently wishing for her to finally open her eyes and tell him she was okay. She looked awfully small in that hospital bed, and the white sheets and gown made her seem even paler that she was. Of course, the dark circles under her closed eyes didn't help any, nor the IV line inserted in a vein on her right hand which allowed much needed electrolytes to drip into her system. She'd been hooked up to another IV line until about a half hour ago, that one having been a slow blood transfusion. Thankfully, her red blood cell count had risen back into normal levels and stabilized with the transfusion and was no longer in danger of dying from blood loss. But she had yet to wake up. It had been nearly fifteen hours since she had fainted on Warrick in the locker room in the CSI lab, and she had yet to open her eyes, squeeze his hand, or give any sign that she was close to waking. Her doctor assured Nick it wasn't because she wasn't going to wake up, but rather because of the trauma her body had just gone through; it needed time to recuperate and build strength back up, and the easiest was to do that was through sleep.

When he'd gotten the terrible phone call from Warrick he'd been about to leave the crimes scene having stowed away all evidence in his department issued SUV. He'd thrown proper protocol out the window, however, and had raced to the hospital rather than the lab to log his evidence. He knew there would be chain of custody issues as well issues over his decision to break protocol, but he didn't care; Sara was much more important to him that the case. At the hospital, Warrick had quickly filled him in on what he knew, which wasn't much to say the least. Sara was still in with the doctors and they were still trying to stop the bleeding with drugs. He then squeezed Nick's shoulder in support, took the SUV keys from his co-worker, and left to bring the evidence in, after making Nick promise to call in a half hour with an update, even if there was nothing new to report.

And now, fifteen hours later, Nick thought to himself, shaking his head in frustration. Fifteen hours and all they'd managed to do was stop the bleeding, thankfully without surgery. But Sara wasn't waking up yet, and they were no longer going to have a baby.

Everyone from the lab had stopped by over the past fifteen hours, even Hodges and Ecklie, but the only people Nick had let in the room with him and Sara had been Warrick and Greg. Warrick because he had been there, knew it all, and had been a pillar of support for both Nick and Sara. Greg, Nick had allowed, because he knew Sara would have wanted him there. She and the lab tech were pretty close, and she would have wanted him in the know, especially since he'd called the ambulance and brought the paramedics to her in the locker room. Plus, he was Greg and he'd been so worried, and Nick knew the younger man was better of knowing what had happened than worrying himself sick with what ifs and possibilities. Neither of them had stayed too long, mostly out of respect for Nick and Sara, and because it was hard to see her looking so small and vulnerable in that hospital bed. Sara had always appeared so strong, and to see her like she now was instilled fear in the two men. No matter what happened, Sara had always been the rock everyone held on to, but now? Now, everything they ever thought they new was shattered into a million pieces, and it was a frightening concept to wrap one's mind around.

"Hey there," Nick finally spoke to his girlfriend. "I don't know if you can hear me, or sense that I'm here, but I just…I need you to wake up, okay? I need you to tell me you're going to be okay." He reached out and stroked the side of her face with the back of his knuckles. "I'm scared, Sara, and I need you with me. I can't lose you, so you have to wake up now." He didn't expect a response, not this time, or like the previous ten times he'd tried talking to her to get her to open her eyes, or squeeze his hand. No response came.

Catherine cornered Greg in his DNA lab. Greg knew why Sara had been rushed to the hospital. Greg had been allowed in Sara's hospital room, where only Nick and Warrick had been allowed in as well. Nick was still there and not seeing anyone right now, so Catherine couldn't ask him what was wrong. And Warrick had blown her off, telling her that unless Sara told him otherwise, he wasn't going to breathe a word.

"It's private, Catherine, and not for public consumption," Warrick had practically snarled at her when she kept pressing him for details.

"I know that!" she had snapped back indignantly. "I'm just worried. One of my friends is in the hospital and you're the only one here who knows why!"

"And it can stay that way for all I care!" Warrick had shouted back. "This is Nick and Sara's business and I, for one, and going to leave it at that! The very last thing Sara needs right now is more rumors and gossip around the lab. Like the stress of it before with the techs, Grissom, and you, wasn't enough for her!"

"Warrick…" Catherine had said, suddenly contrite as his words finally hit home.

"Just go away Cath, before I say something we'll both regret later," Warrick had warned her softly, shaking his head and staring at the floor.

And so Catherine had left him alone in the corridor outside the ballistics lab with every lab tech looking on from the doorways to their respective labs. She marched passed them all, head down so that she wouldn't be forced to make eye contact with anyone and see the sorrowful expression on her face. She'd gone too far; she knew that now. She'd pushed too much at Sara and now Warrick seemed to have reason to believe that had been part of why Sara was in the hospital. He hadn't come right out and said it point blank to her face, but she could read between the lines as well as his body language. He was in full protective mode, and for once it wasn't her that he was protecting, but rather Sara and Nick, and god held anyone who stood in his way. She didn't want to share the commiserating looks the lab techs and other CSIs would have on their faces after hearing Warrick's outburst.

As she had passed by Greg's DNA lab, she took a hard right and swung into the young man's domain, intent on getting some information out of him. Though she knew that Greg couldn't be bullied easily, he was a far cry from Warrick and his overzealous loyalty. She coughed to announce her presence and watched a war of emotions do battle on Greg's face before settling on equal parts sympathy and resoluteness. She wasn't going to get anything out of the DNA tech without force.

"Greg, look, before you begin by saying that it isn't your place to talk, let me just say that I'm just a worried about Sara as you are, and I want to help, but I can't if I don't know what's going on," Catherine said before Greg could chase her away, hoping a preemptive strike about being caring and concerned could win her brownie points. The blonde CSI rubbed the back of her neck and looked down at the floor apologetically. "I know that Sara and I haven't exactly been the best of friends, and I'm sure a lot of that's my fault. I just want to put that behind us and start over. I want to know how to help."

"Then just back off," Greg said quietly. "The last thing she needs right now is a lot of questions from nosy people and rumors about this and that within earshot."

"There wouldn't be any rumors if she and Nick weren't keeping any secrets," Catherine replied defensively.

"So they're not allowed a private life?" Greg countered, trying desperately to stay calm and not cause anymore difficulties for his friend in the hospital.

"No, that's not what I'm saying," Catherine countered. "I just mean that friends shouldn't keep secrets from each other. They shouldn't be afraid to talk to each other."

"You have to trust someone in order to do that. Tell me, have you given Sara and Nick any reason lately to trust you?" Greg said softly, looking at Catherine for the first time since she'd entered his lab. "No, you haven't. You didn't stand up to Grissom to help Sara and you certainly have been hounding her with enough questions to make her rethink ever telling you anything ever again. Back off, and then maybe, when they see you aren't out for gossip, then they might come to you."

"It was never about gossip, Greg. I just wanted to know the truth," Catherine said.

"And it was always there, Catherine. They never hid their relationship; they just didn't announce it to the world."

Detective Jim Brass walked swiftly down the hospital corridor, reading the room numbers, looking for 3-457. Sara's room. He had a small bouquet of night lilies, which he knew to be her favorite flower from an offhanded remark she'd made once. She'd said it was ironic that her favorite flower was the flower most often used at funerals, especially considering her life and her job. He'd only understood part of that comment, but it had stuck in his mind, lending belief that something tragic had happened in the woman's life before he'd met her. He'd buried her words in his mind for future investigation, and had only remembered them recently when he'd been trying to decide what type of flower to bring to her.

Finding the door to room 3-457 closed, he knocked gently and waited. Warrick had warned him that Nick wasn't letting anyone in, and so he should remain outside until he answered the door. A few moments later, the door cracked open and Nick stood there, blocking his view of the woman he'd hopefully get to see. "Hey, Nick. I just wanted to stop by and give these to Sara and see if there's anything I can do to help."

Brass stood there as Nick looked him up and down, seemingly gauging the detective's demeanor and reason for coming. Brass knew most people from the lab who had stopped by had done so only to find out what had happened. To Brass, that wasn't important; only Sara was and if she was okay. It didn't matter to him the reason she was in the hospital, only that she was and needed her friends.

"Those are her favorite," Nick replied quietly, nodding his head at the lilies.

"I know. She mentioned that once," Brass said.

Nick then stepped aside and let the detective into the room. Brass paused as soon as he'd entered, not believing that the pale woman in the bed was Sara. She looked so sick, so weak and vulnerable that Brass didn't want to believe it was the same person he'd known for the past three and a half years. Sara was always so strong and independent, and to see her hooked up to machines and IV bags broke his heart. Whatever was wrong with her was serious, serious enough to have turned Nick into a protective sentinel and Warrick and Greg into avid supporters. The first idea that came to mind was that she had some terrible illness or disease, the big one being cancer, and that her chances weren't good. Or maybe something degenerative, like multiple sclerosis. He ruled out an injury such as being shot or stabbed, since this had happened in the lab's locker room with Warrick present and not at an unsecured crime scene. There was one other possibility that came to mind, and he almost ruled that out, being very improbably, except that it wasn't. She was seeing someone and so…well, it was possible, though not something he'd have believed Sara would have ever let herself have to deal with.

Nick walked past him and took his seat, reaching out and holding one of her hands. "Come on in, Jim," he offered. "There's another seat."

"Thanks," Brass said, snapping out of his thoughts. He approached Sara in the bed, leaning over and giving her a fatherly kiss on her forehead before settling into the chair opposite Nick. He took a moment to study the other man in the room, taking in the dark circles under his eyes, the slump of his shoulders, the worried expression on his face as he stared at the woman in the bed. Nick didn't look like he'd slept at all since he'd raced to the hospital. In fact, he looked downright exhausted. And, if he hadn't slept at all in the past eighteen hours, then he surely wouldn't have had anything to eat, either. Brass silently cursed himself for not thinking of that before and bringing something for Nick to eat. "I can sit with her for a while, if you want to go grab something to eat or catch a few winks. I'm off duty and there's nowhere else I'd rather be."

Nick sighed, his exhaustion evident. "No, it's okay. I have to be here. I can't sleep right now because I'm afraid that she'd wake up while I'm sleeping. I have to see her wake up. I have to be here and talk to her, reassure her, and, of course, be the one to break the news to her about the baby. It has to come from me."

"Okay, Son," Brass replied. He had suspected, but to actually hear that statement come out of Nicks' mouth still shocked the detective. However, he had the good grace not to look surprised or to pry. Instead, he stood up and offered, "Then how about I run down to the cafeteria and find you something edible?" He didn't get a response, nor did he actually believe that he would; the man was too focused on Sara. Just as Brass was about to leave the room, he heard Nick call out softly to him.

"Just you and Warrick and Greg know."

"And most likely Grissom," Brass informed him.

"What?" Nick demanded, standing up in shock and disbelief.

"He's the supervisor, and this happened at work, so he gets sent a copy of her medical report," Brass said softly, turning and leaving the hospital room, determined to help Nick and Sara any way he could, even if it was only with a bouquet of flowers, food, and as an iron door between them and Grissom.