A tragedy strikes Nick and the only way he copes is by finding out why!

Story type: Angst/Tragedy/AU

Characters: Nick Stokes and the team.

Rated M for mature subject manner and violence.

Disclaimer: All the characters, songs, and references do not belong to me, but I thank them dearly for their use.

A/N: All mistakes are mine. I haven't been able to track down a beta, am willing to take volunteers if anyone is willing.

I did as much research on foresnics as I could, but I'm sure there are big mistakes. I'm still learning folks. Be gentle with me in your reviews.

Pray God you can cope.
I stand outside this woman's work,
This woman's world.
Ooh, it's hard on the man.

Kate Bush-This Women's Work

A gaping skull looked up at him, jaw slack, teeth missing.

It was after 2 a.m. on a chilly night in the Nevada desert as shivering Nick Stokes tied a red checkered kerchief around his mouth and knelt down with brush in hand to smooth away the sands carefully.

"Can you just shine that light a little closer to me? Smith. Thanks."

Narrow hipbones dictated that the remains were that of a female. Nick knew that much, then carefully scanned the rest of the 'body', narrowing in on something rather shiny adjacent to the remains.

It still foundered Nick how cold this damn desert could get. Who'd a think of it?

Just then his attention to details was interrupted by the sounds of a vehicle crunching to a stop. A siren beeped out.

Everyone at the site looked up and saw Conrad Ecklie and Gil Grissom get out of the black Yukon Denali their faces looking grave.

Nick's heart skipped a beat.

Was he in trouble? If so it must have been damn serious for the two of them to come out to a crime scene.

He stood up and pulled the kerchief down to his neck.

"What's up?" He asked as his two superiors approached him. They looked at one another grimly before Grissom motioned Nick to come to the other side of the side of the truck and then ordered Greg Sanders to take over the DB. The younger CSI looked surprised to be put in charge of such a scene so early in his fledgling career. He dove in with enthusiasm.

Nick went behind the vehicle, arms folded and body in a stance ready to be berated but instead these words were speaking to him.

"Nick." Grissom told him. "There's been an incident at your home. You need to come with us immediately"

Civilian cars moved to the right to make way for the Denali, sirens on full wail.

Nick sat tightly in the back seat of Grissom's Denali staring at the backs of the heads of his superiors. Gulping in deep breaths to will himself not to grab Grissom and demand what the hell was going on!!! What had happened? All he was told was to get into the backseat and go with them to his house. Immediately.

Nick was used to seeing the yellow Crime Scene tape cordoned around a house, but around your own home panic grips you. Grissom was still stopping the Denali when Nick leaped out, breaking through throngs of onlookers as he made his way to the front door where Jim Brass and a uniform stood.

They tried stopped him, "No Nick, you can't go in there just yet. Doc Robbins will come get you." The balding cop told him gruffly.

Nick pushed the two officers aside and started again racing towards the house. Officers standing nearby blocked his way.

"Let me in!!!" He yelled angrily.

"Nick, I'm sorry you can't come in at that moment." The officer and his partner blocked.

He pushed them aside. They didn't try to catch him. It was Nick Stokes after all. Long time friend.

Nick's brain screamed with questions as he raced towards the mahogany front door of the small, detached bungalow he'd been residing in for the past two years.

The familiar bearded face of Doc Robbins appeared behind a body bag laid out on a gurney pushed by two coroner's assistants, the outline of the body in the bag familiar only to someone who knew it intimately. They gently brought it down the stoop and began to wheel it towards the van.

Nick's heart thumped madly as he looked straight at the Doc hoping for some sign of assurance that a mistake had been made, but they weren't there.

"Whose in the bag Doc?" Nick asked voiced edged on a stream of panic.

"Nick, you're going to need to stay calm." Doc hated this moment more then any other in his long career.

"Whose in the goddamn bag?!" Nick cried out angrily, eyes filled with fear and panic.

Doc sighed heavily and slowly unzipped the bag and braced himself for the reaction.

Catherine then appeared out of the door upon hearing Nick's voice

Nick peered in, and looked up at Doc, his face ashen then turned away, one hand gripping his stomach. He stumbled off the step onto the purple Impatiens lined against the house and collapsed to the ground and retched violently

It was his wife. Regine LeBourdais Stokes. Dr. Regine Stokes. Renowned veterinarian. Community Activist. Animal Advocate. Loved by many. Hated by as many.

Doc hastily zipped up the bag ordering the interns to get it to the morgue as quickly as possible while Catherine ran with lightening speed to the man crouched next to a tiny stone statue of a rabbit. She dropped to her knees to the ground beside Nick gathered him into her arms, whispering comforting words into his ears as his body heaved with shock and grief.

Gil Grissom stood by and stared out at the commotion of police cars, and media that had come to put Nick's grief on spectacle for all of Vegas to see. He stormed over to Ecklie standing between Brass and Sofia standing by helplessly, tears forming in their eyes.

"Can you get the dogs outta here? This isn't a soap opera for all of Vegas to see." Grissom demanded keeping his voice poised.

Ecklie's head nodded abruptly and he made a rapid retreat to the reporters, cameras quickly snapping away, "Folks, may I ask that you move over to the other side of the road and let us do their job. Any questions are to be directed at myself and myself only."

Satisfied that Ecklie was back in his comfort zone, Grissom headed back to the house, Nick was still slumped in Catherine's arms. She was rocking him gently. Lights from sirens and cameras reflected off the FORESNICS lettering on his jacket. Gasps sounding like, "No, God, No!" came from the shocked man.

"Nick," Catherine whispered, "Just hang tight.."

Tears streaked down her face as she comforted her friend. Grissom knelt down in front of them.

"Nick?" Grissom began then stalled before continuing, "Do you want to go to the hospital?"

Nick continued sobbing and then mumbled, "No."

"Someone is going to call your parents. Okay?"

The Texan sat up a bit and nodded.

"I…I have to call her parents..they're in Canada..Quebec.." He stuttered.

Catherine put her hand on his shoulder, "I can do that Nick."

He shook his head, "I need to be the one to do it."

Nick started to get onto his feet, Grissom and Catherine helped him.

"Nick," Grissom said, "Let's go back to the lab and we can do everything there. Okay?"

Nick nodded, tears streaming down his cheeks then stopped, "The pets."

Grissom nodded, "I've had Sara take care of that. Don't worry."

Catherine watched as Grissom quickly led Nick into the Denali with Ecklie following the two.


Catherine had been the first at the scene. When initially given the address, she hadn't put two and two until she drove up the street to the house.

Strolling quickly thinking someone had broken into Nick's home and Regine had shot him. She walked through the front doors, noticing the grave expressions on the officers' faces as they nodded to her.

"Neighbours called in a 911, the dogs were outside barking like mad. Highly unusual for them. Cops on the scene found that the door was opened and when they came in, they

found her there."

"Where's Nick!" Catherine managed to blurt out.

"In the desert somewhere, Grissom's bringin' him." Brass stammered out hoarsely.

In the master bedroom laid Regine LeBourdais Stokes, spread-eagle on the queen-sized bed, t-shirt above up to her neck. Her battered and bloodied nude body for all the world to see. Hands bound up and over her head.

Doc Robbins hovered over her taking her liver temp.

"She's been dead about an hour now. Rigor morteous hasn't set in yet." He told the officers stoically.

Catherine snapped pictures as she asked, "Can we do a scoop and run before Nick gets here."

"We need him to ID the body Catherine."

"Can't that be done at the morgue? In fact this NEEDS TO BE DONE AT THE MORGUE."

"I suppose," Robbins sighed as he motioned his attendants to bring in the gurney, "You know the morgue is not a place for grief Catherine."

"And this is not a scene for Nick to see!" Catherine retorted angrily.

Sara Sidle walked in and shuddered, "Oh Good God!!!!"

Once the photographs were done on the DB, Doc had his interns begin to move the body from the bed to a waiting body bag. Catherine averted herself away from the frightened, lifeless eyes of Regine Stokes.

She was placed gently into the body bag which was sipped up, and strapped.

As she was beginning to be wheeled out, she could hear Nick outside. Slinging her camera around her neck, Catherine made her way out the door through the sea of bodies of police officers, detectives and was greeted by snapping camera from the other side of the line.

By that time, Stokes was hunched over by some tiny statues of rabbits heaving. She knelt down beside him, taking his trembling body into her arms and rocking him like she often rocked her own distraught daughter at times.

Now Catherine and Warrick snapped photographs of the bedroom where the body of Nick's wife was discovered.

This attack was personal and given the fact there was no signs of forced entry meant that Regine knew her killer. That much was deducted from the first once over they gave the house.

Blowing a strand of blonde hair out of her face, the Criminalist focused her attention on the blood soaked bed and its surroundings. Blood splatters were on the side table, the covers. The knife wound poured blood down the side of her neck, forming a blood pool on the floor.

"The struggle appeared to start at the backdoor." Catherine said, eyes gazing around, "Regine heard the dogs barking out in the backyard, probably went to check what it was and that's how our guy got into the house.." Her voice trailed off.

Warrick looked at her, "Sure it was a him?"

The gangly CSI walked over to Nick's side of the room. He could tell not just because of the manly products lined on his bureau. Unlike hers, it was neat, tidy and organized. Everything was in its right place.

Catherine pulled the comforter down, turned switched on the ALS.

With a steady hand, she scanned the sheets, comforts, switched it off and told Warrick,

"There's semen on the fitted sheet just to the right of the blood stains." She announced hopeful.

Warrick looked up and mumbled, "Just a heads up, they were trying for another baby."

Catherine raised her eyebrows, "We'll take it to the Lab anyways, and maybe our killer got sloppy."

Catherine pulled out the bags and shoved them in. Not before noticing something odd.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a pattern on the wall.

"Warrick, do you see that outline there?"

Warrick studied it for a moment, "Looks like a picture was there."

Catherine thought for a moment and headed back to the living and looked over the couch.

"Yeah, I got another one out here. Were these expensive paintings that she owned Warrick?"

"I don't think they were pricey enough to be considered motive. They were prints of some Canadian artist who painted animals for a living."

"Are we sure they weren't originals?"

Warrick shrugged, "Don't know, just going by what she told me at the last dinner that Tina and I had with them. Tina was a bit freaked by the realism of them. She's not an animal person.

Ignoring the bit of info on his wife, Catherine photographed both outlines, and then measured them reading the numbers out for Warrick to take down.

"Well, that's it for now. Let's get everything back to the lab."

"Think the paintings were motive?" Warrick ask her.

"If so, don't you think the attack was a little extreme for that?" Catherine responded packing her camera away and slinging it over her shoulder.

They were interrupted by Greg who had joined them in the past hour.

"Guys come and look at this?"

The senior CSIs walked over to a door that led into the back yard.

Greg shined his flashlight on the floor adjacent to the doggie door which was locked.

Blood spatters and paws prints.

Greg quickly took photographs of it.

Warrick studied them, "Weren't the dogs found outside during the attack?"

Catherine nodded, "There were scratches on the door, and they were trying to get back in. The doggie door was locked, strangely."

"Well perhaps one of the dogs was injured in the attack?" Greg asked while swabbing the samples.

"I don't know." Catherine answered, "I don't recall hearing anything mentioned about an injured dog."

Warrick agreed, "I saw the dogs out in the back jumping around and they looked alright."

Catherine's eyes widened in an epiphany moment, "Unless our killer got bit by one of the dogs."

"Dogs do fear bite!" Greg said matter-of-factly.

The senior CSIs eyed him for a moment.

"Nick told me that once." Greg smiled.

"Well irregardless, we'll swab it and get the Lab to try and run a DNA match. My initial take is that this could be a revenge attack towards Nick."

Warrick nodded, "You know I often wondered about those Mexican gangs he dealt with years back. Nick said that they are not like the Mafia who tend to kill you directly. These guys instead kill your whole family."

"Good point." Catherine agreed, "Hypothetically this fits the profile of such an attack."

"But that was years ago."

"Their memories are pretty long."

-to be continued