A/N: This was originally posted over at What Makes the Desert Beautiful, but since the site's down for maintenance for the foreseeable future, I'm going to post what I have up here.

This fic includes graphic descriptions of violence and sexual assault. Consider this your first, last, and only warning.


You smell like smoke and death and you're gasping, sobbing and struggling against the ropes. You've pulled the knots tight enough that I'm having trouble getting them undone. My fingers are clumsy, and I don't dare try to cut through them. You won't hold still.

Please. Just breathe. Just--

Hey. Calm down, man. It's me. I got you.

I've never seen you like this. Never.

We've got you. You're safe. I promise, you're safe. Just hold still. Let me get these off you.

Don't touch me!

I'm just trying to get the ropes off. Come on, man. Hold still.

My hand's bleeding. You bit me when I tried to pull the blindfold off. Grissom told me to get it looked at, let him take over. I told him to go to hell.

I don't normally talk to him like that. But there's nothing normal about this.

Don't you fucking--god. Please. Please don't--

Greg, man, it's me. It's Nick. Calm down. I know you can hear me, buddy.

Your face is filthy. I finally get the blindfold undone. It was tied tight enough to bruise and some of your hair comes off with the knot. You don't open your eyes. I don't know if you can. Tears are leaving tracks through the mud and blood on your cheeks, and it looks like you bit through your lip. Or someone did, anyway.

Hey. Can you open your eyes for me? Can you open your eyes and look at me? I need to get these ropes off you--you gotta hold still. Please.

Fuck you!

You look so skinny, so fragile and breakable--broken--in the harsh glare of the floodlight. Brass and Grissom and Sara are standing back at the doorway, watching. I wish they'd leave. Just--leave. They shouldn't be seeing you like this. I don't want anyone to see you like this, bloody and bruised and mindless with fear.

When I get the ropes on your wrists undone I'm braced for a punch. You still haven't opened your eyes, but you curl in on yourself like a withered leaf, forehead to your knees, arms wrapped around your shins. Your ankles are still bound.

From this angle, I can see the old scars from the explosion spiderwebbing over your exposed back and shoulders. I didn't think anything worse than that could happen to you.

You're really crying now, great gasping sobs that threaten to shake you apart. I want to comfort you, but you flinch away like every touch is a blow.


Leave me alone leave me alone leave me alone

Voice trailing off to a whisper. You're too hoarse to speak, but your lips keep moving. Grissom would be able to tell what you're saying, but I can guess enough.

We got you, man. We got you. It's over. You're okay.

You're anything but okay. Two days, it's been. Two days since you didn't show up to work and we found your car behind the diner with the windows smashed in and your blood on the seats and we all thought you were dead. Now here you are, bound and dehydrated and naked on the floor of an abandoned factory, and I'm no doctor but it's not like I need a thorough medical exam to know what they did to you.

I'm not thinking about it. If I think about it I'm going to start screaming and punching walls and that's not what you need from me. Not now.

I'm just going to get this rope off your ankles, okay? We got an ambulance here. They're going to take care of you.

You broke an EMT's nose with a headbutt when we first tried to get you untied, and now they're hanging back. If I can't get you calmed down they're going to have to restrain you.

Greg? Greggo? Come on, man, work with me. I know you're in there. It's Nick. You know I'm not going to hurt you.

Finally--finally, God, finally, you stop crying. Your breath still hitching in sobs and you swallow once, twice, three times. When you speak, your voice is mangled, but there's sense in it.


Tremulous, like a kid woken up halfway through a nightmare, and it breaks my heart to hear it.

Yeah. It's me.

I'm sorry.

You got nothing to be sorry for.

I just--the car--I was stupid--I fucked up and I thought--

I know, man.

They're gone?

Yeah. They're gone. Here, hold still. Let me get this rope off you. Can you open your eyes?


Your feet twitch when I release the rope. It was coarse enough to rub your ankles raw, and dried blood is caked on your pale skin. My hand hovers, hesitant, and you flinch away when I touch your knee. I pull back like I've been burned.

The EMT's sway closer, carefully. Looking at you, their caution seems ridiculous, but I know you're stronger than you look. You'd have to be.

The ambulance is here. They're going to take you to the hospital and--


Greg, you're dehydrated, you're all beat up, you need to go get checked out. Get the tests run.

You laugh. It's an awful, croaking noise.

Get the tests run.


What for?

So the doctors know--so we know--

You already know what happened.

It's true. I swallow hard. My legs are cramped from crouching in this position for too long, and I wonder how long you've been laying here. I can't think straight.

I'm sorry.


Greg, you can't just stay here. You need to be in a hospital.

Come with me.

Who, me? Sara would--

No. You.

You want me to take a look at that?

The EMT is blond, blue-eyed and fresh-faced, can't be older than twenty. He's peering at my hand, I realize, while his partner sets your IV.

The swab is cool and stings badly as it cleans off crusted blood. I can see the indentations of your teeth in the fleshy part of my palm, a near-perfect half-circle, and with a wrench I remember you going on about the marvels of orthodontics. The bite is pretty deep, and it's probably going to scar.

Your eyes are still closed. You're not fighting the hands that clean and prep and set IV's and check your pupil dilation, but you hold yourself unnaturally stiff, like it's taking all your self-control to keep from struggling. You answer questions tersely, in a rasping whisper.

Does this hurt?

Do you have feeling in your toes?

Do you have any allergies to food or medication?

They don't ask what happened, but I guess that's not their job. They fix people; it's my job to find out how they got broken, and right now I really wish it wasn't.

The team meets us at the hospital. I'm sitting outside the ER and staring at the floor between my knees when Catherine and Warrick sink into the chairs on either side of me. Sara must have picked them up, because Grissom and Brass have already cornered the EMT's who brought us in.

Catherine squeezes my knee, comfortingly, and none of us say anything.

In the other room, I can hear Brass's voice raised, but I can't make out the words.

It's just past eleven when the doctor comes out.

He says that you're stabilized. They're moving you out of the ICU.

You'll let us run the tests, but you don't want visitors.

We draw straws to see who'll do the kit. Sara draws the short straw. I feel guilty for being glad.