Title: 234 Days Ago
Summary: It's his birthday and its been a long night. The death of Haley has been the final straw
Disclaimer: I don't own them. This is just for fun.
Ray had left the small room,leaving him there with his pain,he was all alone. It is the way he wanted it though,just like his birthday,he just wanted to be alone.
234 days ago he had lost his best friend,his only true friend and now it had hit him with Haley's death,the pain that had been pushed down so deep, was resurfacing again.
He swiped the tears from his eyes with his short shirt sleeve and walked over,took his jacket out of his locker and closed the door. He needed some time alone,away from work,away from the people who would remind him of the recent losses.
The garage wasn't that far away and he thought he was home free when he heard a soft voice behind him,"Hey Nicky,where are you going?" It was Catherine,her voice laced with concern for a man she had known for over ten years,she knew him,she sensed his pain.
"Thought I would leave early, its my birthday." he didn't turn,not wanting her to see his reddened,tear-stained eyes.
"Want to go out for a drink?" she asked,noting that Nick wasn't going to face her,Ray had told her that Nick was upset about the case and had taken Haley's death hard.
"Sure." he felt as if he shouldn't argue with his new boss.
"I'll be out in a few minutes, I need to grab my jacket." she gave him a small smile but he never saw it,his back still facing her as he headed towards the garage.
He continued to walk to his truck,his first thought after she left was to run and jump in his truck and leave but he knew better,she would find him,she had connections through her father Sam.
He opened his door and threw his jacket inside,it was warm outside,the air was still,an eerie quiet lingered in the garage.
Within minutes Catherine opened the passenger door,giving Nick a smile,"Glad you didn't leave me."
He shook his head as he started the engine,"Don't give me too much credit, I did think about it but I knew better with all your bouncer friends." his voice was low,not wanting her to hear the sound of emotion that still was present in his voice.
"I wouldn't have chased you Nicky. I would've given you your privacy." She answered,hoping that he believed her,knowing she would've actually looked for him.
"Sorry Catherine." he turned and gave her a small grin,his face still red and his eyes still watery with unshed tears.
He broke her heart,he was in a lot of pain,it showed."Listen,if you want to be alone, I understand."
"No, its nice to have you with me." he answered,it was honest. He pulled out of the small parking space and headed out of the garage.
"Where do you want to go?" she asked as she watched the road,trying not to make Nick uncomfortable by staring at him.
"What about breakfast?" he asked,not wanting to drink at the moment,it wouldn't have good results,drinking led to honesty and honesty led to being embarrassed and he didn't want to be embarrassed in front of Catherine.
"The usual?" she asked,not thinking,referring to the place where Warrick had seen them last,had shared his last meal.
"Sure. That would be fine." he answered but his voice was still low and sad. He really didn't want to go there tonight.
She caught the sadness in his voice and she didn't want her friend to be sad,wanting the opposite,she wanted to cheer her friend up."I have a better idea. Let's go to my father's new casino and have breakfast in the lounge." she looked over and saw Nick sit up a little bit more at the suggestion.
"Sounds fine." he got quiet for a few moments and then spoke up again,"I miss him Cath."
She nodded,"I miss him too Nicky."
"I feel like a part of me died that day,we were like brothers." he paused as his voice got raspy with emotion,"I loved him Cath. He was my best friend." he was gazing towards the road,attempting to find the new towering casino,tears streaming down his cheeks again.
"I loved him too Nicky, I know how you feel,it isn't easy losing somebody you love." Catherine comforted,her own feelings for Warrick still raw.
He nodded,it was true,it was the hardest thing he had ever done,the hardest loss he had ever experienced and it took a sixteen year old's death to allow him to feel the pain of his loss.
"Nicky,turn here." she directed, they had arrived at the brand new casino.
He slowed the car to turn and pulled into the new garage,the place was still buzzing at five in the morning."Vegas never sleeps." he mumbled to himself as he placed the truck into a parkings space and put the gear into park.
"No it doesn't Nicky." she opened the door,exited closing it back and started to lead the way inside when she looked over to see that her partner was missing.
Nick still sat silently in the truck,he needed a few minutes to compose himself,he needed to get back into control of his emotions.
Catherine waited patiently,pulling out her cell as it rang,it was Greg.
Nick opened his door and grabbed his jacket,shut the door and hit the lock button then proceeded to where Catherine stood talking on her cellphone.
"Something wrong?" He asked as he watched her put her cell away.
"No,Greg was wanting to know if you were okay. He knew you had a friendship with Haley." She gave him a smile and continued walking inside.
He nodded,not saying a word,he didn't want to talk about it."Wow,this is nice." he commented as they walked inside.
"My dad had expensive tastes, most definitely." she smiled as the hostess recognized her right away,motioning them to a table.
Nick followed her to the table and took a seat after he pulled out a chair for Catherine,his gentleman ways not lost on the Vegas girl. "Thank you."
He nodded and took a seat,he looked around at the fabulous décor and the expensive amenities,it was a place of grandeur. "You own this or a part of it?" he asked,not giving thought to the previous conversation that had taken place in the SUV just years back.
"I will remind you Nicky,I don't have any stake in this place. Sam left it to my mother,he knew it could create a problem for me if he left me anything in his will so he left it to my mother,who will eventually leave it to me and Lindsey but that day is still a ways a way."
Nick nodded in understanding,he couldn't help but to think of the man who had given the money to Catherine to assist in saving his life,even though it had been blown up."Sorry Catherine." A silent apology for asking again.
"What do you want to eat Nicky? Re-fried beans or a sandwich with ice tea?" she smiled knowing that is what he normally ordered.
A smile spread over his face,"I do love those re-fried beans Cath."
"I know you do Nicky,maybe you could also try an omelet,they are great." wanting him to develop those taste buds a little more.
"Yuck,I would rather eat Grissom's chocolate covered grasshoppers." he squenched his nose up at the thought.
Suddenly a familiar voice came out of nowhere,"Hey, slipping out of work on me?" Greg grabbed a chair and sat down.
Nick gave Catherine a look of confusion,but invited his friend to eat with them,knowing that it had been planned,but it was okay. "Greg,please join us."
"I think I will." he picked up Nick's menu and started looking over the food items,"Man,this all looks good."
"It's not a buffet Greg." Catherine quipped as he laid her menu down,her choice made.
"What are you going to get birthday boy?" Greg asked,knowing that Nick was not in the mood to celebrate but knowing that he needed his friends.
"Actually I'm not that hungry." he looked up to see even more of the team coming to join them,he was starting to feel uncomfortable.
Riley and Ray came around the corner,both looking rather shocked at the scenery of the new Braun's Palace casino.
Nick almost excused himself from the table but something caught his attention,it was a simple picture of a man whom he regarded as his best friend, a picture of Warrick hung in a very quiet place across the room,the words on the plaques made his eyes tear again,'Our quiet Heroes'.
He stood,pushing his chair away and walked towards the wall,another picture of Holly Gibbs also hung on the wall,under the larger words,Crime Scene Investigators who gave their lives in the line of duty.
"You like?" Catherine and Greg had joined their friend,behind them stood Ray and Riley.
"I love it actually." Nick mumbled to himself,the emotion he was feeling causing more tears to slide down his cheek.
Catherine waved the waiter over and ordered drinks,"We need to make a toast to this wall,Nick would you give us the pleasure?"
He stood quietly,just looking at the picture of his friend,it was the same picture that sat on top of his friend's coffin. After what seemed like an eternity but in reality only minutes had passed,Nick started to speak,just as the drinks arrived.
"You changed our lives,and we think about you every day." he paused so as to compose himself,"Holly,we barely got to know you then you left us,you were beautiful and kind. I still miss your smile and your sweet voice."
The bottles rose and each took a drink,then he spoke again,"Warrick,you were my brother in so many ways. I loved you man and you had to leave me,I still feel a sense of guilt to be the one left behind,the one who should have left first but somehow, for some unknown reason I was given a second chance. It seems unfair,you were so much better at this job than me,yet,you were chosen to leave."
He heard a choked sob behind him,it was Catherine,she too felt the pain of his loss,and Greg who was standing to his left now had a firm grip on his arm,his pain still eviden,tears fell from their eyes.
"I wish I could bring you back,but I know you're in a better place,with your grandmother, your mom and dad. It would be selfish of us to want you back here but our hearts are so heavy now,and all we have left of you are our memories,which we will cherish forever," he raised his bottle and smiled,tears streaming down his face,"I love you bro,you were the best friend I could have ever wanted or needed in this lifetime." They all took a sip,audible chokes of tears and cries were heard,hugs were given and then they took their seat,it was time to celebrate a day of birth as well as the day of the death of their friends.