I just wanted to thank you all for keeping with this and I apologize for all the bad grammar and errors you endured. My next story will definitely have a Beta for it.

And it will be a gritty one, I can tell you that.

And I'm sorry for posting this so late. I really needed to ponder the final chapter and debate where to take this.

I chose to go the route I did for a reason. I'm not one for sequels, so when this story ends it will end. There are no strings that will be left hanging.

And GSR fans will not like it, but the Snickers fans will. Although as I just said. When this story is finished, that's it.



Tom Booker: Sometimes what seems like surrender isn't surrender at all. It's about what's going on in our hearts. About seeing clearly the way life is and accepting it and being true to it, whatever the pain, because the pain of not being true to it is far, far greater

From the movie 'The Horse Whisperer'.

The Saddlebred's chestnut coat gleamed in the sunlight as it trotted around Nick in the circular pen.

But it was not a happy soul anytime Nick approached her, she would rear, her ears back, eyes glaring at him.

So he backed off a bit.

Trinity had just recently lost her beloved owner in a tragic accident. Iris's friend at a rescue camp had taken the animal in to help it recover from its injury, but its spirit was completely broken. It had become skittish, easily frightened. The vets wanted to destroy her, but Iris said she'd take it in much to their chagrin. It was typical of veterinarians to assume the worst because they'd seen the worst. In a way they are like Crimanlists-true to science and its revelations, sometimes forgetful of the spirit of living creatures and their strong will to survive.

Iris, however, was a woman of hope and faith-a faith deeply entrenched in the belief that God gave every creature the will to survive whatever tragedy was inflicted on them.

And she reminded Nick every day of that, particularly on the ones where he simply just wanted to lay in his bed in the guest room-which now seemed more like home-since he filled it with his favourite DVD's and books.

"C'mon lad, the horse ain't gonna fix itself. Get your arse outa bed!" She'd tell him, bursting into his room as if he were a teenager.

"I get out of bed to go to work!" Nick whined as he sat up irritated that she was trying to pull him away from his 'Planet Earth' series, "I wanted ed to watch the part about how long the cameraman sat in the freezing cold hills of Pakistan to catch a glimpse of the Snow Leopard!"

"Oh who cares about some Snow Leopard in Pakistan?

"I do!!! You know how long it took the cameraman to catch that one shot!"

"I don't care, there's an animal in need your help out there lad, and you need to do this Nicky, the Horse Whispering lady is waiting out there Nick. She can tell you what you need to know."

"Fine!" Nick shot up out of bed and stormed out to the barn.

"No, I'm not, but as Regine's friend, I swore on her grave that I'd look after you! And I keep me promises; now go work with that damn horse!!!"

Nick switched off the DVD and headed out to the barn where the horse was. The thing hated him on sight. He wondered if perhaps the vets were right.

The poor soul stood there neighing at the sight of him. Scars could be scene where it had been injured on the flank, the legs, the side of the head.

Nick felt overwhelmed with pity and that's when he decided to give it a go on his own,and then with some help with his friend from the group when he realized that his previous ranch experience growing up at his dad's was no enough.

It had slowly started to trust him.

By now Nick had gone back to work on a restricted schedule and was only doing straight B.E.'s and minor assaults. Nothing intense. Boring as it was, Nick was quite glad for the shorter hours. He looked forward to coming home and spending time with this wounded soul.

Nick wearily approached the animal, whispering softly to it, trying to rope the legs.

Nick had met the horse whispering lady in a victim's right's groups - her partner had been a horse trainer, or a 'horse whisperer' before being murdered in a hate crime.

She'd moved from Utah to Vegas, but couldn't escape the pain, so she joined the group. Nick got to talking to her about Iris's problem horse and she became his consultant.

Iris was delighted for Nick, hoping this could lead to something more.

Nick quickly dashed those hopes as the woman's partner was her lesbian partner, murdered for simply being gay.

"Nice try Iris!" Nick smiled over some vegetarian bacon she had ready for him when he came off graveyard.

"Awww…Nicky..you can't knock me for trying. You know Regine won't have you spending your life being lonely."

"All in good time Iris. All I good time." Nick assured her, "But she's going to teach me some techniques for Trinity."

Trinity was picked by Tre after hours and hours of names being thrown around, and then the young man, who finally cut his hair to a point where Nick could see his eyes again, came up with it as homage to Regine's Christian beliefs.

"Sounds like a good one."

"Plus the horse seems like she has multiple personality disorder."

"Oh get off it!" Iris snarled, "You leave me horse alone. You been through what she's been through losing the love of her life, you understand why she's cantankerous."

Nick got up from the table then and walked out saying, "I know how she's feeling."

"Quit feeling' sorry for yerself Nicky!" Iris barked, "And stop feeding that fat dog of yours me bacon, I just got his weight under control until you came here and started spoiling him again."

Ranger looked up at Nick almost smiling and grateful for some food other then the vet diet, the Texan simply winked at the dog before sneaking more of that veggie bacon to him.

And it was with this pain that Nick approached the horse in a gentle, empathetic fashion. His father would probably have a field day with him saying a horse needed traditional ways of training to 'tame the beast'.

Nick disagreed and felt this poor soul simply needed someone to understand them.

Horses are such emotional creatures; Nick thought as she stood whirling the rope, they simply needed to trust and love.

It reared almost knocking him down, but Nick simply backed away and crawled over the wooden beamed fence.

"So are we the horse whisperer now?"

He turned and saw Sara walking towards him, wearing jeans, a blue v-neck, form fitting t-shirt and sun glasses.

Nick smiled, "Hey there." His heart skipped a beat at the sight of her.

"Hey yourself." She walked up beside him and leaned on the fence.

"How's she doing?" Sara asked as Nick through e-mails kept her apprised of operating horse rehab.

"Oh, better." Nick answered, "She let me get a little closer to her today."

"You always did have a way with animals Nick." Sara told him looking up at him.

Nick nodded, "Yeah, they're less complicated then people."

They were quiet for a moment while the horse walked around nibbling on grass.

"How's it going out here for you?"

Nick laughed, "Iris is kind of a drill sergeant. On my case about spoiling the dogs, and watching too much of 'Planet Earth', it was the last DVD Regine gave me before she died. We were going to watch it together."

"Well," Sara told him, "It's probably a good thing Nick that she's like that. You need someone like that to get you through the rough times. Some people wallow in pity and others just take charge of all the things that need to be done despite the chaos."

"Yeah," Nick answered, "She's certainly doing that and I kind of appreciate it, just don't tell her that."

Sara laughed, "I won't, but is she still feeding you vegetarian food!"


"Hey it's not so bad is it?"

"No Ranger loves veggie bacon." Nick answered gesturing towards the chubby dog laying in the sun, his belly rising up and down and as he snored away.

"You're bad!"

"Yeah I am."

Sara sighed, started, faltered and then came out with it, "Nick, about what happened at the hospital."

He looked down and shifted his weight, "Yeah I've been thinking about that."

"I'm really ashamed of myself." She said, she half-smiled, half frowned at him.

"Don't be." Nick said, "I was out of it. That's all, drugs, shock, grief, pain all mixed together made for one screwed man. I didn't mean to take advantage of you."

"I think it was the other way around." She said nervously, "I took advantage of you. I don't now why. I guess I was feeling the same way. The case, Regine's case took a lot out of me."

"You were amazing Sara, if Blainey hadn't …well..You put together a solid case Sara."

"Thanks Nick. I was, very honoured to do it." Sara folded arms and leaned on the pen watching the majestic animal.

Nick leaned on the fence next to her and then stared right at her nervously, "You didn't tell Grissom about it.."

"God no Nick. I would never do that to him or you." Sara looked stricken by the question.

Nick exhaled in relief and then asked, "Is it okay that we forget about it?"

"Sure I can do that." She answered feeling a little disappointed and yet relieved at his request.

"Good." Nick said turning his attention to the horse.

"Good." She said.

Truthfully, she couldn't put that kiss out of her head, but for Grissom's sake and Nick's sake they'd have to. She was committed to Grissom. She had wanted him for so long, that she couldn't remember a time when she didn't want him. Now that her dream had been fulfilled, she couldn't simply throw it away for what was probably a girlish crush on a man known for being a flirt, except within the last two years since Regine had come into his life, and who knows when Nick would ever be himself again, if ever.

Tragedies be felled this man like rain, and he always plowed through them like a bulldozer, but this particular tragedy was probably the epitome of them all. Nick would probably never be the same man again.

Sara hoped and prayed that he'd find love again. She would never be Regine, but hopefully she would be enough that Nick would be able to finally move on.

"I came here to tell you that O'Sullivan and Sleazebar pleaded guilty to accessory to murder on two accounts and Sleazebar pleaded guilty as well to attempted murder on you."

"He was there!" Nick asked surprised.

"He took a few shots at you he confessed."

Nick shook his head, "What about all the other charges."

"Well, the Feds are looking into the illegal animal trade and the dog fighting charges. Their lawyers are trying to work out a deal."

"They would."

"Well, they're going to jail for a long time Nick."

"What about Blainey's body."

"No one claimed. His parents wrote him off years ago, so he'll be cremated on the tax payer's tab."

Nick shook his head, "Figures."

Sara looked at him again, "It's over Nick. I mean it's not over, but justice has been served."

"Yeah," Nick mumbled, "Doesn't make me feel better, but it's a start."

"They found the kennel where Blainey kept his dogs."

"Yeah, we have them. Thank God we found some animal sanctuaries that are willing to take them so they can be rehabilitated." Nick smiled at Sara, "They deserve another chance."

Sara flushed, "I'm sorry, I forgot you sit on the Board now."

Nick smiled, "Yeah, it's been pretty good except for that. Mostly we talk about staffing needs, fundraising, stuff like that. A nice change from dealing with drug dealers, rapist and murderers."

"Gives a you a warm and fuzzy feeling right?" Sara asked devilishly.

"Haha!" Nick feigned a laugh.

They watched the horse for a bit and then Nick asked, "Do you have some time before your shift."

She looked at him, "Yeah actually I do. Why?"

"Would you come with me to see something?" Nick asked then went on to explain where he would like to take her.

"I'd be honoured." She answered him and then added they needed to make a pit stop before their destination.

As they drove along Nick asked if he could put the CD of Regine singing in, Sara smiled as she listened it.

Regine was singing softly and at points her voice harmonized with Lee. The tune was quite haunting.

So don't get any big ideas
They're not gonna happen
You'll go to Hell
For what your
Dirty mind is thinking

And now that you found it
It's gone
Now that you feel it
You don't

"This song is called 'Nude (Big Ideas)' by Radiohead." Nick explained seeing the look of confusion on Sara's face. She was very up to date with the music scene and knew songs that hardly one else did.

Sara nodded, "Oh yeah, from their last album 'Rainbows'."

"Yeah she just learned that one before.."

Nick cleared his throat heavily prompting Sara to quickly move the subject into a more positive direction.

"She was a beautiful singer Nick." Sara said, "Even better then me. She could sing such a wide range of songs."

"Yeah, I know. She wanted to sing for a living, but parents weren't big on it. Her mother went so far as to say the public doesn't buy record from big, soft girls." He said gripping the steering wheel shaking his head in disgust.

Sara blew out a breath and said sarcastically, "That was nice of her."

"Yeah, well I bet they're sorry now they didn't encourage her, might have kept her alive."

"But, then you would never have known her Nick." Sara said.

Nick smiled, "No, I think we would have met, she'd be like Celine Dion selling out concerts every night here in Vegas."

"Yeah, but then Regine would have been a diva as well, and a French Canadian one too."

"I don't' know." Nick said, "Most of the French Canadian I met were pretty laid back like Regine was, although she had the Irish temper in her so that would brought out the diva in her. I certainly saw enough of it."

The two criminalists laughed softly and unwittingly, Sara reached over and placed her hand over and squeezed Nick's hand as he shifted the gear in order to head up a deep hill.

He rolled his tongue around his mouth and looked at her hand over his and then back to the road.

The hand never moved.

Sara placed the white roses into a small holder built into the head stone.

It was a beautiful marble stone with Regine's full name inscribed Dr. Regine Francis LeBourdais Stoke, DVM on it.

But what got Sara's attention was not the rectangular shaped, clean cut stone but the poem that Nick had asked to be in scripted into it.

Do not weep for me when I am gone

For I have friends in the great beyond

All the little ones I used to feed

Will come to me in my time of need.

They will purr and bark in great delight,

And I will hold and hug them tight.

Oh what a great day that will be

When my furry friends all welcome me.

"Nick, that is beautiful." Sara said smiling feeling tears spring to her eyes, "Where did you find it."

"Regine had this book called Chicken Soup for the Cat and Dog Lovers' Soul. I got in touch with one of the authors who actually had heard about Regine's death and when I asked if I could put this on her headstone he had no problem with it." Nick explained placing his own red roses on the other side of Regine's headstone then placing some daisies on his son.

Then he went behind Regine's headstone and laid another set for the fetal remains he had interned.

"I haven't named him yet, when I do, I'll put something here." Nick said his voice soft and tight as he tried to hold back tears.

Sara looked at him sadly while he regained his self composure and looked straight at her, tears brimming.

"We've been working on it Sara, the therapist and I." He assured her trying to smile.

"I know you have." she said as she moved towards him, arms stretched out.

"I don't think, though, I'll ever be able to talk about it. Maybe I won't even put anything on this stone to remind me." He said welcoming her embrace.

"You don't have to." Sara said, "It's your choice."

He looked back at her and nodded, "You're right. I don't."

They held each other tightly and Nick could feel himself stirring at the sense of a female body holding him, touching him.

God he missed that. On the nights he wasn't having nightmares about shooting Blainey or the night Regine was murdered, the good dreams were the times he and Regine had made love. On that note, those were the mornings he awoke feeling cold and empty inside and wondering if he should take his Glock and join Regine.

Then he'd recall her talk about Heaven not allowing people who committed suicide. They'd talked it about on the anniversary of his burial. She had been home and kicked Lee out for the night as Regine knew this particular May Day was not a good one for him and had put her work aside for him-a rare occasion.

Then she listened empathetically as he talked about suicide, how he almost did it and how sometimes he wished he'd succeeded as the pain afterwards was too much.

"Well, you wouldn't have gone to Heaven had you succeeded in killing yourself Nicky." She said.

"What about Purgatory?" Nick asked.

"No, you'd go to the seventh circle of hell in the middle ring and turn into a thorny bush and be eaten by Harpies."

"Says who?" He asked looking at her strangely.

"Dante!" She answered triumphantly, "In the Inferno!"

"Dante! Oh so you're turning into Gil Grissom now! I have to listen to his literary shit at work and come home to my Dante-spewing wife!" He gulped some beer down and noticed Butterfly glaring at him and it took all his will not to spit beer at the dog-or else feel the wrath of his wife through a night on the couch with the dogs in the bed.

She pondered as she took the clip out her hair and led the red tresses down for his hands to comb through and said, "Yeah! You want me to read some more to you."

He thought about it, "Naaaww..why don't you put on some White Stripes for me and I'll take you into the bedroom and we'll fuck for so long that we'll end up in the second circle of hell that asshole Dante wrote about, you know the place for people who cave into their Lust." Nick grinned knowingly at her-as he too had read the Dante books in college. Not his favourite choice of author, more of a forced effort to earn a pesky credit.

Regine had stood there surprised at Nick's crudeness, then she grinned lusciously at him.

"Hey," She said walked over to the stereo and slipping in Icky Thump and smiled as she forwarded the tracks to the White Stripes version of 'Conquest' and as Jack White began his crescendo she said "Fuck Dante, when I'm with you Mr. Stokes, my filthy-tongued husband, it's always Heaven!"

Nick got up from the couch and pulled her into his arms and they mockingly did a tango to the Spanish tune into the bedroom with Regine muttering that he was her conquest.

"I don't think so.." He whispered salaciously into her ear.

"I think so!" She whispered back.

"If I got my red cape out, you'd be charging me babe. Then I'd have you under control like the matador and the bull."

"You don't need a red cape for me to charge you..and I hate that barbaric sport!" She said as she knelt in front of to undo his jeans.

"Woe!" he exclaimed at her boldness, "I guess I'm about to be conquered."

Nick bit his lip and felt guilty for having such a memory near her grave site.

Sara looked up at him and saw his tears sliding down and smiled, "Memories can be good and painful can't they."

He nodded, and broke the embrace.

"Well," Sara said breaking up the tension, "We better get..well I had better get going. I've got some paperwork at the Lab to do. So if you don't mind getting me back so I can fetch my truck."

Nick smiled, "Yeah sure Sara and thanks for coming with me."

"Thank you for inviting me." She flashed a gap-tooth grinned, "I'm honoured."

"You're the first person from the lab to see it."

"Then I'm doubly honoured Nick." Sara said as she grasped both his hands.

They drove back to the farm quietly, exchanging glances every so often. That energy that claimed them at the hospital hung between them.

Once they returned Sara walked along side Nick and the horse while he brought the creature back to the barn where they fed the creature some oats and carrots and filled the manger with fresh water.

They watched the horse eat away peacefully. Nick could see that emotionally the horse was returning having made a connection to someone. Him.

Now if only he could be that lucky and damn it was hard (no pun intended) when someone beside was taken.

It had been months since he'd been intimate with a woman, touched a woman; tasted a woman and he was like a man in a desert desperate for an oasis.

Nick could hear Regine singing that Radiohead song again thinking about the line about going to hell for dirty thinking. She had sung that line winking at him from the stage even though the song was a somber one. Lee had caught that wink and shook his head at his bandmate-and gave Nick a warning look about distracting the singer!

Now he was alone here with Sara and then he thought about that kiss and how it awoken him or at least part of him and how wished he could feel that alive again and wondered when the hell he would.

Sara whispered, "God she's a beautiful creature Nick, you've done well with her."

"Had some help from a friend."

"Girlfriend?" She said brightening at the idea.

"Lesbian friend."

Sara stared pointedly at him and then giggled, "Well, at least you're mingling with women Nick."

"Don't you start," Nick groaned, "Iris is trying to introduce me to women all the time."

"I like her, she's a dynamo!"

Nick guffawed, "Yeah and a damn pain the ass at times!"

"Well, she's good for you Nick, she's got your day structured and at this point you need it!" Sara said playing Dr. Phil at the moment.

"I need a lot of things," He looked at her and the tension was there again.

Sara stared up him and the sight of his haunted brown eyes filled her heart with longing, even in grief Nick was one hell of a sexy man.

She looked around and noticed that he had closed the barn door before turning to face him, kissing him softly on the lips again and then jumped back nervously awaiting his response.

To her surprise Nick slid one arm around her waist and pulled her to him and continued. This time his lips felt hot on hers as his tongue snaked in. His hand dove under the shirt while his lips then traveled down the side of Sara's face. Sucking on her neck before trailing along to her collar bone while she shivered at the feel of his lips on her neck, tears springing to her eyes woefully wanting this and not wanting this at the same time.

Once again he stopped and looked at her asking her if she was okay with this. She nodded feeling tears going down her face because if there was thing Sara could do for her friend was make him feel alive again and she could live with whatever consequences came with it.

Nick had moved her onto a pile of hay near Trinity's stall where they laid down and continued kissing fervently, urgently.

"I'm sorry," He whispered as he undid her jeans and slowly slid them off.

"For what?" She smiled.

"For this. I don't know if this is the right thing, but I need you right now." His voice choking each word.

"I know you do." She lifted her ass off and started to slide down her pink bikinis with his help assuring him she was taking precautions, "And I need this too Nick."

He lay back down beside and his hands slid into her thighs, his fingers probing her, rubbing the sweet spot while her hand slid under his t-shirt tracing his chest, teasing his nipples with the tip of her index finger, before sliding slowly down and into his pants, marveling at what was there.

She could feel herself getting warm where his fingers were rubbing.

And God was he good! Sara loved the way Nick then slid his whole hand into her thrusting forcefully, filling her up, forming his hand into a fist. She had spread her legs wide for him and closed her eyes while her body trembled and tingled, then to her delight the hand was replaced by his tongue which he applied tentatively and her mewl encouraged him to go on, so he did with slow, long strokes enjoying the musky smell of her.

Nick was mixed bag of emotions, longing, lust, guilt and more guilt. Sensing that Regine would be hurt by this happening so soon after her death as she had not been with anyone for years after her husband died, but he also knew if it had to be anyone, Sara was good choice.

And this was his boss's girlfriend-a fact not lost on him even in this moment.

Her conscious was protesting every moment of this, but Sara fought back by telling herself over and over that he needed this, that it would be his first and momentous step towards moving on and morality be damned if this was going to be what it took.

Sara's soft cry indicated he had succeeded in her reaching the first orgasm. He looked up at her, his erection straining his jeans aching as he whispered for her to sit so he could take off her shirt. As soon it was off, he went to work on her bra which he unclasped from the front, her champagne glass sized breasts waited for him as Nick pushed her back onto the hay and sucked the nipples one at a time gently while she ran her hands through his hair.

Emotions ran high at that moment, guilt hung in the air along with bliss and happiness and relief from both that this itch was going to be scratched to hell.

Nick used his tongue to bring the nipples to life and they perked up beautifully. His hands had made a beeline south and were back at work trying to bring about another orgasm using both his tongue on her breasts and his hand in its previous location, but then Sara made a very important point to him.

"Hey," She growled pulling at his shirt, "I don't think this is fair. You're still fully clothed."

Nick smiled at her and made an immediate cease and desist..

Naked she pulled herself into a kneeling position and pulled off his shirt, never taking her eyes off his as she then gently pushed him onto his back to get to work on the jeans. Undoing that god-awful belt she hated, then with one swift motion she pulled the entire bottom half of his attire off, tossing them aside, kneeling down and taking him into her mouth.

Rubbing his hands over his face and perching himself on his elbows because he was bowled over by this woman's technique. Regine had only begun to become an expert in all things oral thanks to his teaching of how he liked it, but with Sara there was no need to explain anything, she knew exactly what he liked, knew to run her tongue along the vein, roll her tongue around the head. A litany of praise and encouragement spilled from his lips as gripped for something and came up with the damn hay!

The damn hay was scratching at his back and ass, but it not once did it deter him pushing upwards and encouraging her to take him deeper. He was turning into putty at this moment and not once concerned himself about anyone walking in on them.

"Oh man, I'm gonna.." He finally blurted.

"Oh no you don't," She ordered looking up, abruptly stopping what she was doing not caring about a small moan of protest that escaped his lips. There was no way in hell he would ejaculate with out letting her feel him inside, she was not taking that risk.

Nick sat up abruptly and flipped Sara onto her back, lifting her legs over his shoulder and entering her and frantically thrusting away noticing how soaking wet she was, the smell greeting him like fresh bread from a bakery.

'This is what its like,' She thought as she surrendered herself to him again and again feeling him inside of her, his animal thrusts almost lifting her off the hay-strewn floor causing her to grab onto his shoulders to hold on and not hit her on the damn wall behind them and noticing the obvious difference in size from her regular partner-who was damn good for a man of his age-but she could see why Regine had once whispered to Catherine in confidence while at a Christmas Party that there were days she could hardly walk. Sara had winced at that moment of Too Much Information.

Surprisingly, Nick was quiet lover dispelling her theory about southern men treating sex like a rodeo with hee haws, hooeys with each thrust. The only sounds coming from him were small grunts, groans and occasional gasps. She marveled at his intensity and his focus-the same kind of focus he had when he was examining evidence from a crime scene. Sara had joked once that a bomb go could off beside Nick and he'd still be looking at a slide through a microscope or examining contents from a vacuum bag.

As he laid flat on her, his body trembled against hers and she held him even tighter, whispering encouraging words into his ear along with some naughty ones, her hands moving down his back and clenching his ass cheeks emitting a small laugh out of him that sounded heavenly in her ear. Sara never wanted this to end because that would mean life would have go back to what she knew of as normal and it pained her.

A pang of guilt and pain hit her because she knew what she was doing was wrong, but yet it felt so right. The waves of pleasure washing over and over she again as they lay flushed with one another, caressing and touching areas hard at work.. The smell of sweat, sex and hay filled their nostrils and it was sheer heaven.

As for Nick, his empty world that he'd grown used had momentarily released him. He was one parole so to speak. Happiness was an emotion that he had forgotten about and longed abandoned him.

He whispered to her that he wanted to take her from behind and she agreed and as he did, he brought his fingers to the other and teased her.

Sara gasped as this was something she'd never experienced. Jolts shot through her and he wondered if this was something he'd done with Regine.

As a matter of fact, it was. Nick went back to a moment where he had done this with his wife, only a toy was involved that time.

Wanting the memory to stop infiltrating this entirely separate moment, Nick rolled Sara onto her back and entered her again. She didn't deserve an intrusive memory on his part, this was their moment-separate form anything else.

Sara enjoyed the youth and vigor of Nick's lean body. She felt like the nerdy girl in high school who just bagged the hottest guy. It was a victorious feeling-a total revenge of the nerd.

Her muscles were contracting around him and she gripped his back, digging her fingers into his shoulders and rode the roller coaster that took her almost he sky, suspended her there and slowly down again.

Now she could sense was he coming as he picked up the pace and floored her body and Sara encouraged him softly that it was okay to let go and he cried loudly into her ear-the sound sending shivers down her spine. His voice almost at a falsetto as Nick's voice did when he expressed any kind of emotion whether it be anger, grief, pain. In the years she worked with this man, she'd scene him in all cycles of emotion and it dawned on her as she felt him come inside her as he made last thrust before coming to a stop, and the feel of his body quivering was blissful and she wished they could stay this way for eons. His head had collapsed on her chest and she lovingly caressed hair and murmured praise to him.

Although this moment may never lead to anything, one thing she was sure of it would definitely cement their friendship. This wasn't a teenage scenario where the friendship ended because they had become intimate. There were no expectations here, simply a need explored, tended to and relieved.

They had become oblivious to time, but through the window over Trinity's stall she could tell night had arrived and she would soon have to maker her to work. Thankfully, Grissom was out of town at a convention so she would have some time to process this surprising moment.

Nick's breathing had finally steadied and he worked up the courage to look at her and the sight of his face surprised her as tears were brimming and slipping out of his eyes.

She brought a finger up to his face and gently touched them and asked, "So was it that bad?"

He laughed and wiped them embarrassed, "NO! Not at all, I guess I'm just a bit. I don't know..freaked about this."

Sara smirked, "I guess that's one way of putting it. Don't be embarrassed Nick, we've all seen you cry!"

"No shit!" He groaned wishing he could put crazy clue in the faucets of his eyes. Everyone at the Lab knew him as the 'emotional one'.

"Some of us at the Lab find it very sexy!" Sara grinned trying to find any subject matter to deter them from the moment.

"Yeah, and it's also used against me remember!" Nick said to her.

"Oh well don't worry about it. I like it." Sara said with a sexy smile.

Their expressions took on a somber tone and at the same time both asked, "Are you sorry?"

Nick looked at Sara's face, studying it as she awaited his answer and he could tell by her mixed expression that she felt both happy and guilty. She wasn't the kind of girl that cheated on a guy.

"I..uh..don't know Nick." She answered honestly and she could see that his expression mirrored hers-guilt, yet bliss, "But I know..I really, really enjoyed it."

"Yeah," Nick nodded, "I needed this. I feel like a selfish fucker for that, but I did."

"Don't." She told him, "Whatever you're feeling just…don't feel it. I'll feel it for both us okay. You've dealt with enough pain to last ten lifetimes and so let this one by mine and mine entirely got it!"

She watched the wheels churn in his head and although knowing Nick that request was not one that would be easy to honour, but he reluctantly agreed.

Then Sara ran a tongue along dry lips and asked, "So whatever happened to your stance about not dating anyone at work?"

"I'm not dating you, so this didn't count."

"Ohh!" She smirked at him, "Then I guess in this case it didn't count."

Nick laughed and again was somber, "Thank you for this. I know..I know that it doesn't change anything with Grissom."

That name hung in the air filling it with dread.

"I love him Nick." She was straight with him, he deserved that.

"I know," He said as he slowly and regretfully moved off her body and reached for his clothes, passing her bra over as he found his boxers still inside his jeans and lazily put both on at the same time.

They were quiet as they reluctantly dressed. Sara taking one last opportunity to admire Nick's assets so to speak as he had his back turned to her, occasionally turning to peek at her own goodies since it would probably be the last time he ever did.

"Here," He said as he walked behind her and pulled the golden strands off.

Finally she faced him with a sad and brave smile. Nick returned the smile with a forced one of his own not wanting her to know how sad he was that the happiness he felt a moment ago would probably not be one he'd feel again for awhile.

Sara glanced at her watch and said, "Well, I, uh, need to get to my shift. You're off tonight right?" Stifling a giggle by the pun of 'off'.

Nick ran a hand over his mouth and nodded going along with the simple conversation to help normalize things between them.

"Yeah. I'll back on Friday."

"Great!" She answered with a fake brightness, "You and Trinity can hang out."

Nick looked at the horse who was looking rather sleepy.

"Well I got a meeting with the Board at the Humane Society, but yeah I'm gonna keep going with this little project." He focused his attention on Trinity to try and ground himself back so that he would not feel that pit of sadness come back.

Sara stepped towards him and gave him a quick hug wanting to quickly make the departure as painless as possible for both of them.

It didn't work. Nick held her to him tightly and Sara then started to cry into his shoulder, his sobs soon following hers.

They remained that way for a while, neither saying anything because nothing needed to be said. Nick was feeling a fresh loss compounding with the obvious and Sara was joining him this time because this relationship was not meant to be anything more then it was.

Sara hoped and prayed that Nick would find that kind of love he had with Regine soon. He was one of a kind and she knew Regine would not tolerate him being alone. Silently, Sara asked her to not let that happen and to lead Nick to that woman soon.

"You. Are so awesome Nick!" She gasped in between sobs, "Anyone who winds up with you is going to be the luckiest woman alive..you know that.."

"Yeah," Nick croaked, "If she stays alive…first Kristy then Regine.."

Sara pulled away and glared at him, "Don't you dare think that way Nick. It had nothing to do with you, neither of their deaths had anything to do with you.."

"You're not blaming the victims are you!" He said hands on hips readying for a debate.

"Oh god no!" Sara explained, "They were in high risk situations Nick. Kristy by profession, but Regine was standing up for her beliefs and standing up to a complete psychopath-she was one hell of a brave woman Nick. I really admired her for it."

Nick looked away fighting back those damn tears before saying, "So I should stick with safe women, like librarians or teachers or something.."

Sara laughed, "No, I'm saying try not to blame yourself for their deaths. It's not you at all."

Nick pressed his lips and together and then formed a smile, "Thanks Sara."

She hugged him once more, "And you, you always have me as your friend and guidance counselor and I promise never, ever to pass such harsh judgment on anyone who comes into your life, I just want you to be happy!"

Emotions spent, Sara broke the embrace and quickly kissed him good bye and small peck. Racing out of the barn door, moving aside for a beautiful, gold-coloured dog that was smaller then a Golden Retriever wiggle its fat little body into the barn.

She cried as she walked to her car, hating herself for leaving him like that although thankfully it looked as if that chubby dog was going to at least be there.

Gripping the stall Nick took deep breaths trying to reign himself in and felt warmth against his knee and looked down at Ranger's concerned eyes and smiled.

"Wanna go sit in my truck?" He asked the dog, tears streaming down his face, "We can listen to mommy sing for a while right?" Nick went over to a small, plastic cooler and pulled out a Stella Artois-Regine's favourite beer that she swore was named after one of Maria's brown tabbies.

The dog barked in agreement at him and followed Nick to the truck.

Papillion followed them as the Texan crawled in, turned on the vehicle and pressed play.

Then he laughed at the irony of the next tune. What was Greg thinking when he made this damn CD for him?

Stamping, clapping and heavy rhythmic guitar playing followed by Regine singing the Johnny Cash version of 'God's Gonna Cut You Down':

You can run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.

Hoots and hollers of 'Yeah girl you tell em!" by Iris and the local Priest who'd come to visit and he could even hear Warrick cheering at her as the band played on with Regine singing in a deep husky voice,

You can throw your rock, hide your hand,
Workin in the dark against your fellow man.
But as sure as God made black and white,
What's done in the dark,
Will be brought to the light.

Nick wondered if some spiritual being had made it so this song would come on right after Sara left. Had Regine come down and played this tune as a warning to him.

After all, he still sensed every so often. Whenever he was down at the humane society at a meeting, sensing what she would want done with the funds.

He felt her presence with him when he worked with Trinity. Tomorrow he would try and saddle the horse and when that was accomplished, he would the beautiful horse would make a full recovery, wounds still in its soul. But that's how it is when you've been traumatized.

And so often he thought about Blainey, he tried not to, but on that subject, he felt no regret because there was part of him that wondered if Regine had even been there that night because what else made him take notice of the blade even in the moment where he'd been again traumatized by another horror to his life.

He had to kill Blainey to save Grissom.

And then guilt took over his soul and the meaning of the Johnny Cash song was made clear, God was gonna cut him down at some point for tonight. Regine had talked about Karma being a bitch and this would at some point come back and haunt him despite Sara's reassurances, the guilt would follow him around like the rest of the crap that did.

But fuck it for now, he'd cross that bridge when he'd come to it because one thing Nick knew for sure is that he couldn't control everything that happened around him, nor could he change the past and the consequences of decisions he'd made.

Never would he regret any moment he had with Regine because all the pain came with her not once overshadowed the joy she had brought into his life.

Then he sighed and rubbed Ranger's head listening to the shouts and claps as everyone joined in while Regine sang,

You can run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Run on for a long time,
Sooner, or later, God'll cut you down.
Sooner, or later, Gödel cut you down.

And now Nick was slouched in his truck, the seat pulled back and his feet on the dashboard himself singing along,

Go and tell that long tongue liar,
Go and tell that midnight rider,
Tell the rambler, the gambler, the back biter,
Tell 'me that God's gonna cut 'me down

And in the even he was applauding to the CD along with the crowds and smiling. The beer now settling in and easing some of the pain of the last hour he spent with Sara.

Nick could still smell her on him. Her musky scent mixed with the hay. He wasn't sure how he'd face her on the next shift, but he knew he could and she would too.

This wasn't the worst thing he'd ever done, but while he regretted hurting his boss, he didn't regret the sex. He felt alive again, and ready to move forward as Regine would want him to. Maybe she was warning him for future trysts. Who knows?

Papillion crawled on his lap allowing Nick to rub his head. The dog who once hated him now regarded him as their pack leader, although Regine had been working with the little dog's hostility towards Nick taking some advice from Dog Whisperer guy whom she met at a convention years ago and kept in touch.

"He's gay!" Nick told her.

"He's married nitwit!!" She laughed.


Laughing at the memory, Nick took a swig of beer and listened as Regine thanked everyone for coming out tonight, then pulled out the CD and decided to spend the next few minutes in sheer silence.

"I'm gonna miss you babe!" The Texan said and looked up at the stars and silently thanked her for giving him the happiest 18 months of his life. A life filled with more love and laugher then he ever imagined.

Her murder was solved, those who were involved were probably going to be in prison for a long time and her killer long dead.

Would Nick ever find peace within himself? Probably not, but after tonight he was now willing to take the first step towards it.

And with that he silently thanked the woman who helped him with that first step.

Maybe God would cut him down for what they had done and the hurt that Grissom would soon feel once he found out and as the song says, 'what's done in the dark will be brought in the light', but he'd survive whatever may come because that's what life was about for him.

Nick accepted whatever fate held for him as he guzzled down the last bit of Stella Artois and then motioned for the dogs to follow him as he got out of the truck and locked it and then headed back to the house.

Tomorrow was, after all, another day and for the first time in months, he looked forward to it.

And amen to that.