Author's Note: Oneshot. Post season eight finale, For Gedda. Character death. Nick's POV.

Disclaimer: I don't own any characters mentioned.

Summary: We all have monsters living inside us, bringing out those emotions we wish we could
forget. But what happens when Nick can't let go of the regret he's feeling? He gets too close to the edge. Is he even planning on hanging on?

Acknowledgements: Thanks to Amanda for proofreading it for me.

The Edge

"...Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes they win."
-Stephen King

He was close to the edge. So close he could almost see the drop, the huge rocks looming up towards him, just out of the shadows.

His eyes wandered towards the edge, then out towards the horizon. The moon was hanging lazily in the velvety star strewn sky, its half crescent shape lighting up the desert. A light breeze blew through his short hair, spraying him with sand.

He took a step.

Was that his own heart hammering as if it was having a race in his chest? Was that his throat closing up with tension? Was he this man, broken but not bleeding, close to the edge of insanity, the edge of this world and the next, the edge between life and death?

He took another step.

He was a foot from the cliff. Another step and he would be over, gone, and eventually forgotten about. Would anyone remember him, the way he remembered his best friend? The way he thought about Warrick every second of every day? The way he mentally and physically punished himself for not being there for his friend as he lay slumped and dying in his car?

Would this be the last time he felt his heart thump and murmur in his body? The last time he would ever think, ever feel?

Tingles ravaged his exposed arms, running from the tips of his fingers down to his toes. Adrenaline was pumping through his veins, but so was dread.

He looked over his shoulder, back at his awaiting vehicle, the lights still on. Someone would see it and wonder what was going on. They would wander over and find his crumpled body wrapped around a rock.

What would it feel like to die?

Funny how he worked with dead people, and hadn't even spent a moment thinking about what it would feel like when he himself died. Would his life flash before his eyes, the memories of joy and misery rushing through his mind?

He took a half step closer.

He could now look down and see the roving shadows; the shadows of death that were waiting to claim him as their own. They were patient. They knew he would join them sooner or later. Everyone did at some point… especially those close to the edge.

What would everyone think when they found out what he had done? Would they be in disbelief? A strong man like Nick would never throw himself off a cliff, they would think, but then… then the truth would emerge, baring its ugly head: Nick wasn't as strong as everyone thought him to be.

Would Catherine scream and rage when she heard what he had done?
Would Grissom shed a tear, like he had for Warrick?
Would Greg break down, his emotions flowing freely, almost like a glacier stream in the spring?

Nick peered down. The shadows of death beckoned him onwards, but he hesitated.

Hesitation… how many lives had that saved? Did people realize that they could fix all their problems right before they jumped, or right after? How could he solve this problem, though? He couldn't bring Warrick back, and he couldn't turn back time to fix his stupid, damning mistake. If only…

Fear made his throat constrict. He started to wheeze; he couldn't breathe. He swallowed, trying to clear his throat, but it did no good. His limbs had gone numb; his body void of feeling, yet he could still feel his heart beating as if it was a trapped animal. An animal trapped in a snare, just waiting for a predator to come along and finish the job.

He hadn't even realized he was crying, sobs echoing throughout the deathly silent desert. Who was he crying for, though?

For Warrick, a man who had lost his life too early to be acceptable?

For Grissom, Catherine and Greg, his best friends who would be going through hell when they found out what he had brought upon himself, upon them?

For his parents back home in Texas? They thought he had been saved after he was buried alive all those years ago, but it was just the calm before the storm. He was no longer saved. He was completely lost, a soul without a body.

Or was he crying for himself, a man who was barely forty and was about to jump to his doom?

He shuffled forward a few inches.

Could he do it?

Was his life so devoid of everything that he had to throw himself over… over into the unknown?

He was bawling now, huge droplets of salty tears running down his cheeks and landing onto his CSI vest, one settling on the nametag that read 'Stokes.' His tortured howls of agony and anguish mixed and joined with the haunting howls of a lone desert coyote.

His breathing labored, his heart beating ferociously quick, he gazed down into the abyss.

Was this his time to go? Was it really anyone's time when they took their own lives?

He raised his foot, intent on stepping off.

He had never known such terror. He felt almost as if he could die of fright, but if that were possible then maybe he wouldn't need to take that step.

The wind whistled around him, kicking up dust but he didn't notice. He seemed to be trapped inside his body, but at the same time he was outside of it, watching from afar with horrified eyes.

There were so many questions. Questions that had no obvious answer. Questions that no one would know until the end. The last few words on the last page of their life. So many questions…

He leaned forwards.

He was flying, falling, floating; it all meant the same thing.

The air tugged on his clothing, his face, his hair.

He was flying. He knew it.

He opened his eyes.

The ground was just one flat expanse of land, getting closer by the millisecond. There was no doubt in his mind that this was the end.

Warrick, I'm sorry I couldn't save you.


Nicholas Parker Stokes
Born August 18th, 1971
Died May 29th, 2008
"The monsters in your mind may have won the battle,
but the angels in your soul will help you win the war."
We love you, Nicky, and we always will.