Disclaimer: Yes, I secretly own a CBS and am a multi-millionaire. What are you going to do about it?
A/N: I did this fic for the Geekfiction's Summer Blockbuster Ficathon and have decided to share. And due to the fact that I seem completely unable to complete a multi-chapter piece, this is a one-shot. Also, I'm British, so if you see a word that looks wrong, I probably did spell it wrong, or it could be the British equivalent. This isn't beta-d either.
Walsh: Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown.
He was locked in a box, he couldn't get out. His breath quickened, panic was spreading through his veins, fear pressed down on his chest. He was going to die. He was going to die here in this see-through box and never wake up, never see his friends or family ever again, never hear his doorbell.
Hear his doorbell?
Nick woke suddenly from his warped dream, and realised that he had fallen asleep in his chair in the living room. The shrill ring was replace by thudding, as if someone was trying to bring down his door, and he was reminded of what woke him from his disturbed slumber.
The doorbell. Obviously someone wanted to see him, but he wanted to be left alone. Nick ignored it for a bit, until he heard a roll of thunder and started to feel guilty. He stood up and slowly made his way over to the entrance of his flat to find out the source of the disturbance.
Looking through the peephole (something he had never done before now, but he knew he would soon make it a habit) he discovered the very persistent knock belonged to Sara.
Slowly he slid open the door to reveal the thin woman. She was drenched, having obviously been caught in the rain on his sans porch doorstep, holding a six-pack in one hand and a package covered by her coat in the other with more beer and what looked suspiciously like ice cream on the concrete beside her.
"You didn't think to rent a flat with a cover over the front?" she asked jokingly, making no effort to push past him even though it was still raining.
He shrugged. "It was cheap."
She nodded in understanding and remained mute. He was a gentleman and she knew that. He was eventually going to let her in, despite his want of solitude, and so, grudgingly, he stood aside, catching her triumphant grin as she stepped forward.
Removing her shoes, she headed straight to the kitchen without asking, and he silently cursed Vegas for raining at the least preferable moment, though he had to admit luck wasn't generally on his side recently.
Before she'd arrived, and before he'd fallen asleep, he had been thinking about the past week and his 'experience' as he'd taken to thinking about it - that somehow making it less real than 'the abduction' or something similar. Tonight was his first night out of the hospital since then, and his meeting with Kelly had only made his mind constantly flick to ithat/i glass box.
Sara pulled her coat off the top of the bundle she had been holding, revealing it to be a stack of three pizzas and some DVDs.
"What do you feel like watching?" she asked, spinning round, one eyebrow lifted slightly.
"Which one Nick?" she said, cutting him off.
He dropped his shoulders and let out an annoyed sigh.
"I just wanna be left alone," he said harshly, not caring about hurting her feelings. He wanted to forget what happened to him, and although it hadn't been working before she arrived, he convinced himself it was going to after she left.
"I know. Now, pick a film."
"Sara," he said, pausing to make sure she wasn't going to interrupt again. "I appreciate what you're doin', I do, but please, please, go. Please."
" 'You may think you know what you're dealing with but believe me, you don't'. " He must have looked confused because she continued by saying, "It's from 'Chinatown'. I have that here actually," she said, picking up a DVD from her pile.
"Grissom," he accused and she smirked.
"We've spent a lot of time together over the past week. The quoting must be rubbing off."
"And what am I 'dealin' with' here?" he asked.
She put down the thin box and stepped towards him. "Nick, you've been through… something. And I've been… there, and I know that shutting yourself out is one of the worst things you can do."
"This is comin' from you," he countered sarcastically.
"Habit," she whispered, and suddenly her eyes and smile seemed very sad.
They looked at each other for a long moment before Nick let out a sigh and reluctantly said, "What films did you bring?"
Her smile got wider, albeit not happier, and she showed him the array of titles and genres. He picked a romantic comedy, and she didn't question him on the usual choice for a male, but he felt he had to justify his actions anyway, telling her it was a distraction and she just nodded.
They settled down in front of his large-screen-plasma-wall-mounted television (his most prized possession apart from his treadmill and trainers) and started eating the pizza – vegetarian for her, meat feast for him and a margarita to share – and drinking their beer.
The film past without a thing uttered apart from Sara's occasional half-hearted laughs and Nick's chuckles-turn-sobs, which he was grateful she ignored.
They stared at the black screen way after the credits had past, each waiting for the other to break the silence that had stretched between them. Nick, of course, broke it first.
"So, been spending a lot of time with Grissom. What am I meant to gather from that, Sar?" he enquired to lighten the sombre mood, plastering a cheeky grin onto his face for effect.
"I have been spending more time with iall/i the team, Nicholas," she countered, matching the grin with a sly smile. "It's what happens when a member of the team is off. If hadn't have been talking to Catherine more I would have left when you told me to – she's very forward and firm in her ideas, y'know. And the pizzas are Warrick and Greg inspired."
"And the ice cream?"
"Girls eat it when they're sad, so I thought I'd find out if it worked with you," she replied, smiling brightly.
"I'm your experiment," he said in a jocular tone, while removing the lid from 'Ben & Jerry's Low Fat Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream'.
"So, if you've been spendin' more time with Cath, then does this mean you've had a full on cat-fight, 'coz I kinda wanted to see that," Nick teased, while simultaneously cramming as much Ben and Jerry's into his mouth as humanly possible.
"Ha," came the sarcastic response. "No, while I will admit we are a bit angrier because of lack of sleep, we have not 'had a full on cat-fight'."
"You can have not enough sleep?" he asked incredulously.
"Okay, contrary to popular opinion, I don't not like sleeping, I just don't like what comes with it."
"And that would be?"
Sara's face took on a slightly pained expression, as if she was fighting some internal battle, forcing Nick to prompt an answer from her. "Look, if we're gonna do this whole bonding thing, you have to be honest and open and all that stuff too."
It was clear that she hadn't expected the conversation to take this turn, but nevertheless, she responded. "I don't like the dreams side, or, in my case…" she paused, the interior conflict obviously still waging. She drew a deep breath and said quickly, "I don't like the nightmares."
Sara looked to the ceiling, then to the floor and slowly, desperately, around the room, anywhere but him, knowing that she had brought this on herself it her attempt to help Nick.
"Hospitals… play a big part," she finally revealed jerkily. "And death."
If Nick had been confused before about her revelation that she experienced nightmares regularly, he was well and truly lost now.
She finally looked up at him, and he was shocked at what he saw. She had the appearance of a young child who is embarrassed at being scared of a monster in the closet. She looked scared, almost guilty, an expression Nick had never seen decorate her face.
"I'm scared of hospitals," she said in a very small voice.
Nick was surprised; for some reason he hadn't thought Sara was truly scared of anything, she was always so strong, but this explained the slightly sharp intake of breath she took before entering the buildings, or how her hands sometimes involuntarily clenched into fists when they walked down the corridors.
"Why?" he asked, now truly perplexed.
She took a deep breath and revealed, "I used to spend a lot of time there as a kid." She looked away again before continuing. "Whenever my parents got into a fight that was worse than usual, or my brother and me were in a really bad state, we would go to the hospital."
"You have a brother?" Nick asked in spite of himself.
"The doctors would treat us," she continued as there had been no interruption, and Nick had the feeling that she hadn't heard him. "And the nurses would look after us, and it didn't bother them that we were in there almost as often as they were. They could have stopped it..." she drew another breath, "but they didn't."
Tears were glossing over her eyes and a lone one slipped out, like a tributary, down her pale face. Nick looked at her in disbelief – he had always thought that Sara had grown up in the perfect household. Catherine could be heard saying that Sara couldn't understand what it was like growing up in the real world when they were angry with each other, but here was proof that Sara's childhood had been a lot less than ideal.
"Your parents… abused you?" he asked gently. She nodded slowly. "Why?" he asked reflexively, internally kicking himself as soon as he said it.
"Alcohol. Drugs. Hatred. I'm not sure, I don't know," she said jerkily, a sob catching the last word.
"I was raped when I was nine," Nick blurted out. He wasn't sure why he said it, but he just somehow knew that Sara was the right person to tell. It was like he now knew she would understand.
Sara turned her water filled eyes up to him, and after a few seconds nodded slowly, as if puzzle pieces were slowly fitting together in her head.
"Who did you tell?" she asked, her voice very different from usual.
It was Nick's turn to look away now. "No-one, apart from Catherine. I was always too embarrassed… and guilty. I thought it was my fault."
"But it wasn't," Sara said. It was a statement, not a reassurance, but it was also as if she was trying to convince herself of that in her own situation.
There was an easy silence in the room before Nick asked flatly, "Did you sleep with Grissom?"
Sara shrugged slightly. "Yeah. I have before and I will again, it's not a big deal," she replied, her voice just as devoid of emotion as his.
"Does he know what you told me?"
"Some." She turned to look at him. "I trust him.
"Y'know, our… situations. Your abduction, my dad's death. They aren't that different."
"Your dad's dead?" Nick felt as though he had missed a very important piece of the conversation.
"My mum murdered him." She was staring straight ahead again, and although she wasn't letting any feeling into her voice, Nick could see the pain in her eyes. "They aren't that different because we won't get justice. Your guy killed himself, my mum got away on self-defence. Neither of them are going to be punished for what they did, and so there's no closure. No end. That's the worst bit, the never-ending part." Her voice was now bitter and full of hatred, a stark contrast to the emptiness of before.
"They say time changes everything," Nick said, hope spilling into his voice despite himself.
"They were liars," she whispered quietly. "We're all liars."
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