Author's Note: I've been debating for a while (read: while I was studying for my exams that finished this week) on if I wanted to continue the "story" set up in Written in Ashes. The answer was, quite evidently, "yes, I do." Thanks to my beta, Joe, for looking over this and fact-checking a couple of things for me.

This takes place roughly four months after Written in Ashes. It's not necessary that you have read it in order to understand and/or enjoy this story, however, it may make Nick's point of view easier to understand, so I would recommend it. Nothing recognizable is owned by me. All rights belong to their respective owners.

Nick Stokes turned over in the night, shoving his blanket onto the floor in the process. The air conditioning in his apartment wasn't working. Again. It wasn't that he absolutely needed the breeze of cool, regulated air that the air conditioner provided, but it was a warm night, and his sheets were particularly stifling tonight.

His cell phone trilled loudly, breaking the silence of the room. Opening one eye, Nick glanced at his alarm clock. It blinked 4:45. On a normal night, Nick would still be at work, however, this was one of his rare nights off and he was trying to get a good night's sleep. He groaned and picked up the phone, not looking at the caller ID.

"Stokes," he grunted, feeling the effects of being ever-so-rudely awoken. He had been having such nice dreams...dreams he couldn't tell other people, yes, but nice dreams all the same. He could hear gasping sobs on the other end of the phone line. Concerned, he dropped some of the fatigue from his voice, "Who is this?"

The person on the other end let out a shaky sigh. "Nick," the voice said. "It's Sara."

"Sara. Sara?! What is Sara Sidle, who is supposed to be in Costa Rica living it up with Grissom, doing calling me at 4:45 in the morning?" Nick thought to himself wildly. Out loud, he took a different approach. "I wasn't expecting to hear from you," he said, cautiously easing himself around the fact that he was hopelessly in love with his best friend. His best friend who was dating their former supervisor, nevertheless. Obviously something had to be wrong for her to be doing this...but would Sara tell him what it was?

Sara pinched her forehead and let out another sigh, glancing at her tear-stained face in the mirror that came attached to a makeup compact. "Sidle, you look pathetic," she thought to herself. "Pull yourself together." In a previous time, she would have turned to Grissom to be her shoulder to cry on. Now, she had to find an alternative, and somehow Nick was a more comforting prospect than Catherine or any of her non-CSI friends. Somewhere in the fog of her mind, she realized that Nick had actually responded to her. "I wasn't expecting to call," she replied, lying between her teeth, allowing the sobs to consume her fully. "Figured I'd...catch up with old friends..."

The tone of his voice altered considerably. "Sara, are you okay?" he asked, concernedly. "Is there anything I can do to help?"

She tried to laugh it off, but instead dissolved into a new crying fit. She hated being weak like this, crying so hard. This was why she liked to shut herself off from the world and block out the emotions. It wasn't always possible, but it made for a nice theory. If she could have only...this wasn't the time to be thinking about the "should have done" things. Her crying did not escape Nick's hearing, however, no matter how hard she tried to subdue it. "Sara? You there?" his voice crackled over the phone. Sara had always thought Nick had a nice voice. Comforting, almost. She could listen to him talk and talk and it would soothe her. Not that that didn't sound creepy or anything.

"Yeah, I'm here," her voice cracked as she tried to exude false confidence. "I'm at McCarran. Give me a ride?"

The reverberations in Nick's head would not cease. McCarran. Sara was at McCarran. She was back in Las Vegas?! McCarran. Sara. McCarran. "I'll be there as soon as I can. Don't go anywhere," he said. "Where should I pick you up?"

There was a pause on the other end. He imagined that Sara was, possibly for the first time, truly seeing her surroundings. "American Airlines baggage claim," she finally whispered, too broken down and jet lagged to consume too much energy. "I'll wait for you." She disconnected the call and put her head between her knees, sobbing.

-to be continued-

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