Title: Again

Author: kyrdwyn

Rating: PG

Summary: Missing scenes from "The Stalker"

Spoilers: Oh yeah. "The Stalker" mostly, also "Pilot", "Cool Change", and "Primum Non Nocere". Also, some of the dialogue is taken directly from "The Stalker".

Disclaimer: CBS, Alliance Atlantis, Anthony Zuiker, and a whole bunch of other people are probably tracking me down for playing with their toys without their permission. I make no money off this.

Feedback: Please.

Archive: to my site and Fanfiction.net. All others please ask first.

Many thanks to Tammy and Tayla and Jordyn, my beta readers.


Why did this happen again?

Sitting outside the hospital room, he looked like every other worried friend or relative. His forehead rested on his clasped hands, elbows on his knees. He was fighting a hard war against the tears that wanted to fall. He couldn't cry. He felt a tear slide down his cheek, losing one battle in the war.

He shifted in his chair, trying to ease the ache in his shoulders as he waited. The weight on them was almost unbearable. It was his fault that his best friend was in there, unconscious and bleeding and with who knew what other medical problems. Two story falls were not conducive to good health.

Neither was getting shot, which was what happened to the last person he'd let go into a house alone.

He let his arms and head drop, keeping his eyes closed. He knew what the others would say. This wasn't his fault. They had just gone to talk to a potential witness. The house looked empty. He'd gotten a phone call, had to take it outside to hear. That phone call hadn't even been important, though it had related to the case. Not when weighed against

what had happened in the house. It was odd - the last time he had failed someone like this, he hadn't been in the house, had been off gambling for a corrupt judge. Now, he'd been five feet away, and for some reason, felt even guiltier about this. He'd been there - he should have heard something, known something was wrong. Something to prevent what had happened.

They hadn't let him into the ambulance; he'd had to drive over on his own. He'd spent the drive alternating between praying and calling people. He'd hear the shock in their voices, the immediate worry and fear. None of them had sounded like they blamed him for this.

He stood, still feeling the ache in his shoulders. The guilt that he doubted would ever go away. God, this was his friend! The man who had been there for him when he'd almost relapsed back into his addiction. Realizing that Nick was there with him, determined to

stay by Warrick's side, had stayed his hand. He'd withdrawn his money, left the table, and gone with Nick to the casino's restaurant. He ached with the need to play, but he couldn't do it in front of Nick.

Nick had been there for him, but he hadn't been there to watch Nick's back. Now Nick was lying in that bed, condition unknown.

Footsteps echoed down the hallway. He looked up to see the others hurrying toward him. Catherine and Sara had identical expressions of fear and worry on their faces. Grissom was behind them, his usually curious expression replaced with concern. As they approached, Warrick braced himself for their questions.

Catherine reached him first, her hand coming up to rest on his arm. "How is he?"

"They're still working on him. They haven't told me anything."

Sara glanced toward the room that they were waiting outside of. "What happened?"

Warrick shook his head. "We went to talk to Crane, I got a phone call…next thing I knew Nick was thrown out of the window."

Grissom didn't say anything. Warrick couldn't tell what the man was thinking - if he blamed Warrick or not. Warrick had already cost one of Grissom's people her life, on her first night, no less. Now it was Nick in the hospital.

They all settled into waiting poses. It was all they could do. Warrick didn't think any of them, even Grissom, could concentrate on the case right now. Grissom was leaning against the wall next to Warrick, who let Sara and Catherine take the couch he had been

sitting on. It was a solemn ten minutes before the doctor came out. Warrick and Grissom immediately straightened, Grissom hanging up his cell phone. He'd been trying to call Brass. Catherine and Sara stood up. The doctor spoke before anyone could ask how Nick was.

"Concussion, two cracked ribs, sprained wrist, five stitches to the forehead. It could have been a lot worse."

"But he's going to be all right?" Warrick asked, needing to hear her say it.

"He needs rest, but I don't see why he can't go home relatively soon."

"Thank you doctor," Grissom said. When she was gone, Warrick turned to Grissom, still upset.

"Damn it. Grissom, this guy was right there, I could have had him." He didn't want to say what he was really thinking - that he'd let Nick down twice. By not being in there with him and by not catching the guy who had done this to him.

"You helped out Nick. It was the right thing to do." Grissom replied.

"Doesn't feel like it," he replied. It didn't. Because it shouldn't have happened to Nick in the first place.

Warrick barely listened to Catherine and Grissom. He wanted to go back to the scene with them, but he knew Grissom was right -- he had to calm down. He needed to reassure himself that Nick was okay. The doctor's words were one thing. Seeing Nick okay was another.

He sat down next to Sara. She put her hand on his shoulder. He looked at her, seeing the sympathy in her eyes.

"It's not your fault."

"Yeah, it is."

Sara shook her head. "No, it's not."

Warrick turned to her. "I left him alone in there, Sara. I went to take a phone call, and let him go in alone."

"So, what, every CSI that gets hurt from now on its your fault?'

He glared at her. "I left Holly alone. I left Nick alone. One's dead, the other could have been."

"Oh, so this isn't about Nick. It's about Holly."

"It's about me letting people down."

Sara shook her head. "You didn't let Nick down, Warrick. You took a phone call. Heck, I'm the one that called you, I should be blamed for taking you away from him."

"Don't try to make me feel better, Sara. It isn't going to work."

She sighed. "Nick's not going to blame you either, Warrick."

He didn't say anything for a long time. Sara stayed silent as well.

"Nick doesn't have to," she finally heard him whisper. "I blame me."