Disclaimer: I do not own CSI or its affiliated characters. Characters not in the series are my own.

A/N: This is the fifth story in my series, Chronicles of Las Vegas. It's not necessary to read the first three stories in order to understand this one but if you want to go from the beginning, A Midsummer Nightmare would be your starting point. :)

Warning: The subject matter of this story I feel is quite disturbing. I'm still giving this a 'T / PG-13' rating but I would be willing to up the rating if you readers feel it's necessary.

"Rock-a-bye baby, on the treetop,

When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,

And down... will ... come... baby...




She clutched her doll as she heard the shriek. Huddled in the corner, hoping they wouldn't find her. She didn't cry out, that would only make them angrier, it would all be over in ten, maybe fifteen minutes. She closed her eyes, counted to a hundred in her head and hugged the doll tighter, praying that it would all pass over.

She heard banging on the wall, an almighty crash, something shattered. Footsteps coming up the stairs, the shrieking getting louder...

... and then the door opened...

It was just like any normal Friday evening at the Emergency Unit at Desert Palms hospital. Nurses and interns darted around treating various casualties. There were the usual drunks who bumbled in having been involved in a fight or having acquired some interesting artefacts embedded into their skin. Then also, there were the kids who wouldn't stop jumping on the bed, or those who didn't take no for an answer, now screaming for a cast for their broken arms. Then there were the people who couldn't put the superglue down and were now sporting outrageous barnets in the shapes of traffic cones, a daft hat and even a dead ground squirrel.

However even the bustling and chaotic ambiance of the emergency room could be broken up, as the double doors sprung open and four paramedics wheeled in a gurney through the room. The waiting crowd quickly parted to let them through. One of the paramedics shouted to a doctor and three of them immediately rushed into action, following the gurney through the double doors towards the operating room.

There was silence in the immediate moments after the gurney had passed through the room, even the wailing children had paused for a moment, because what had been laid on the gurney would have caused even those with the strongest stomachs to quiver slightly.

The receptionist stood down for a moment to nip to the bathroom. She put on the tap and rinsed her eyes, washing away the images of the child, the child covered in blood, blood and bruises. Her eyes were shut, they had been forced shut by the swelling around her face but even then she could see the girl's tears illuminated by the lights, staining her purple and battered face. She rinsed her face again, hoping to wash away the image. Fifteen years she'd worked there and this was the first time she'd genuinely been disturbed by something which had passed through those doors.

What had the poor girl done to deserve it?

Nick walked slowly down the corridors of the ICU at Desert Palms Hospital, kit ready in hand. He peered into each of the individual rooms, witnessing patients almost mummified in bandages, some of them requiring support and moaning out to a doctor or nurse. On the fourth door he read the name, DURMAN, LARRY and quickly walked past the open room, not wanting to look at the man lying in that bed.

He turned a corner and saw Brass gazing through the window of a room around half way down the corridor, Brass, noticing Nick's footsteps approaching him turned to face Nick, giving him a faint smile and the two of them began talking at the entrance of the room, "Hey Jim," Nick said, "sorry I'm a bit late. What have we got?"

"Baby Doe," Brass sighed, his tone of voice heavily implying bad news was ahead. "A couple, on their way home from dinner found her at the side of the road; they pulled over and called an ambulance. Catherine, Sara and Ray are over there right now processing that scene, Greg's in there collecting her clothes."

"Is she gonna be alright?" Nick asked, fearing the worst.

Brass gave him a glum look and shrugged his shoulders, "I don't know, doctors say she's critical, could go either way, but he did say they've ruled out hit and run, wounds are inconsistent with a traffic accident." He paused for a minute and subtly gulped, "this girl was beaten."

Nick nodded slowly and peeped through the open doorway. He saw a few flashes of light and a figure lying on the bed although he was unable to make out any details. Another thought passed over his head and he instantly felt ill thinking about it. He blurted the question out anyway, not willing for it to seep in his mind for the rest of the day. "Any signs of sexual assault?"

"Doctors haven't checked with an SAE kit yet," Nick looked at him bewildered for a moment. Brass raised his voice, "look Nick, the hospital's main priority is to keep her alive, our investigation comes second to that I hope you realise."

"Yeah, yeah, I just thought... don't worry," he faltered off. He wasn't feeling particularly tired or restless however he could tell the case had already begun to take its toll and he hadn't even met the victim yet.

"Look Nick. I need to go back and question our nine-one-one callers, you and Greg'll be alright here?"

Nick simply nodded, Brass taking this gesture as a reason to leave, giving Nick a look which said 'don't get too intimate with this one.' As Brass disappeared from sight, Nick hovered by the open door knowing he'd have to step inside at some point. He thought about turning back momentarily, hoping the image would not remain etched into his mind for eternity, joining those consisting of his time buried underground and of his friend, his best friend, his lost...

Nick stepped inside the room, cutting out these images as a sense of tranquillity and macabre engulfed him. There was a deathly silence, disturbed only by Greg ruffling items around in an evidence bag or the sinister metronome of the heart monitor attached to the body. He walked over to the head of the bed where the child lay, what was left of her. He imagined a pretty, happy girl underneath the sea of bruises which engulfed her. Tiny lacerations lined her cheeks and exposed skin, and her long, blonde hair had been dyed to a different colour. Red.

"Hey," Greg said to him, and Nick found an excuse to look away from the girl and converse with his colleague.

"Hey." That was all he muttered back. No comments, no jokes, no light-hearted remarks. Even the most light-hearted member of the team had been reduced to a faint glow. "How much've you done here?"

"I've bagged her clothes," Greg looked around at the evidence collected and rummaged through the various bags which lay on the table on the side, "I've taken a cheek swab, hair sample, and I've collected the blood in errm... her hair. Doctors found a lot of glass embedded into the lacerations, I've got them too."

"Okay," Nick said quietly, "you printed her yet?"

"No, I was about just about to do that actually."

"Don't worry I'll do it," Nick said, putting on a pair of latex gloves and retrieving a ten card and ink. "Could you give me your left hand first?" Nick asked the unconscious child, taking her hand gently and printing it as carefully as possible. Greg gave him a weird look as Nick asked the girl for her right hand. "Hearing is usually the first thing to come back from unconscious patients," Nick explained to him.

"Yeah I know that," Greg replied quietly, "it's just a... don't worry."

"Does she have no one here to be with her?" Nick asked, ignoring Greg's comment.

"I imagine her parents don't know anything of this," Greg said sadly, "I tried looking through the clothes for any name-tags. None whatsoever. Bit strange for a mother not to do that, I mean, mine even labelled all my individual socks and unde..."

"Not all of us wore a leash as a child, Greg," Nick joked, for the first time that evening.

Greg smirked a little and looked back at the child as a nurse came in to check up on her. "In the past, I was embarrassed by my overly-protective mother. A case like this comes up and now, I'm glad she raised me that way." He collected the evidence and put it into a crate, "right, I think we're finished here for now." He reached the door of the room, "you coming?"

"No," Nick passed him the ten card. "Take that back to Mandy; see if she can get a hit off anything. I'm gonna stay here for a bit."

"Nick, remember what Catherine said you need t..."

"I don't care about what some evaluation says I need to work on," Nick snapped. Realising he'd crossed the line he quickly apologised. "She needs someone here, someone here for her for when she wakes up." When she wakes up or if she wakes up? A horrible thought made its way into the back of Nick's mind. "I'll be down in a bit, you get a head start."

Greg, realising that he was not going to be able to convince Nick otherwise agreed and left him with the girl. Nick sighed and walked back to the girl's bed, her heart monitor ominously beeping, her only way of communicating to him. He pulled up a chair and sat down beside her. He began taking off his latex gloves, but realised that it would be unwise to leave his DNA over a victim.

He took a good look at her face, imagining a pair of vibrant eyes staring up at him amidst the scars of her ordeal. He gently took her hand into his and clasped it firmly but not tightly. With his free hand he reached up and began stroking the girl's hair softly.

I'll be here for you.

The night sky was filled with flashing lights. There were two police cars pulled up at the side of the road where the girl had been found. Ray pondered the scene, taking photos whilst Sara and Catherine looked elsewhere in the vicinity. The stretch of road sat adjacent to a ditch, leading to alleyways which led to housing estates further away. Whilst the scene was not in the middle of nowhere, it wasn't the most populated part of town either and Ray deduced it's likely this could have been the primary scene.

"I've got blood here!" Catherine called out, shining her flashlight on the floor. Ray went over to have a look and sure enough, there were several droplets of blood on the floor radiating away from the side of the road. "They look relatively circular, could be gravitational."

"So she probably wasn't attacked here," Ray deduced, "can you find a blood trail?"

"That's what I'm looking for," Catherine muttered, crouching down to try and find a trail. Ray saw her scan the area thoroughly, brushing away the grass in search for more blood. Ray crouched down and photographed the blood drops that were found at the scene. Testing it with phenolphthalein identified it as being blood. "I've got some more over here," he heard Catherine call out. Ray walked over to where she was crouched and repeated the same procedure again.

Within five minutes they had found that the trail was leading away from the roadside and towards the housing estate further afield. "You reckon that's where our victim was attacked?" Ray asked Catherine, pointing at the houses in the distance.

"I got a call from the hospital," she replied, "they said she was found with glass embedded into her skin, as if she'd gone through a window."

"Great," Ray muttered, "another case of someone being thrown through a window."

"Well I guess that makes things easier for us. We just look for the house with the broken window."

"Hey guys!" Ray heard Sara call out from an area closer to the road, "come over and have a look at what I've found."

The two of them walked back towards the crime scene and the flashing police car lights. Sara held up a light blue blanket, it was streaked with what looked like blood.

"That looks a little big for a child's toy," Catherine remarked. "Bag it and send it back to DNA, I reckon this belonged to our attacker."

"So our attacker assaults the girl back at the housing estate," Ray began talking, "then drags her away and ditches her on the side of the road, leaving her for dead."

"Then they ditch the blanket and take off," Sara finishes the story. "Possibly to clean up after themselves? Cover their tracks?"

"If she's gone through a window, she must have been attacked inside right? Most likely in a house? Possibly her own home?" Catherine deduced. "This looks a bit like a case of child abuse to me and maybe we should step up our progress to look for the parents."

"Or we might be looking at a kidnap victim?" Sara pointed out, "I'll get back to the lab and scan through the Missing Children database, see if we can get a match based on her description."

"Okay then," Catherine said, "Come on Ray, let's go for a walk."

He glanced at his watch for a moment. Ten past two. It was at that moment he'd realised he'd been sat here almost two hours, watching her sleep. Or watching her die? Nick quickly erased that thought from his mind and continued to sit there, thinking, letting the beeping of the monitor lull him away from reality.

He didn't know why he'd found himself so tied to this girl, he didn't know her, she didn't know him. The moment he stepped foot into the hospital he realised there was someone in need, he was almost furious with Brass and Greg at first, who just came in picked up what they needed and left her, left her alone. They're just doing their jobs he had told himself although he couldn't help but think that he wasn't doing his.

The team knew that Nick found cases which dealt with children difficult. They had never forgotten the time when they were searching for a missing girl whose family had been slaughtered over some drugs. How everyone else had given up, but he hadn't, how he'd found that girl in the nick of time. They knew somewhat about his background, about his childhood although it wasn't something they felt compelled to bring up. He'd even mentioned it to Catherine once when they were working a case although he almost instantly regretted it.

Holding the child's hand, he thought about his future. He wanted children; however work had gotten in the way of starting a family and having turned forty earlier that year, there was the underlying thought that time was starting to run out and looking at the child lying there motionless was putting him off even thinking about it.

"Urrm excuse me Mr Stokes," a nurse walked in to the room uneasily. Whilst he had been sitting there, several nurses and doctors had walked in and out to check on the girl's status, some came simply to say 'hi' and have a quick look, others came in to boost the dosage of morphine and painkillers. "I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

"I can't leave her alone!" Nick blurted out. The nurse held up a small box which Nick immediately recognised. Slightly embarrassed by his comment he got up and made his way out of the room and sat down on set of chairs and placed his head in his hands, dreading what the nurse might discover.

"Thank you for coming down voluntarily Mr and Mrs Wilson," Brass told the couple from across the desk, "for the purpose of the investigation we need to know exactly how you found Baby Doe."

The two of them nodded and Brass could see that they both looked relatively distressed. It was Mrs Wilson who spoke up first, "the two of them were... were driving back from dinner downtown," her speech was jittery and it showed, "it's our first anniversary tomorrow" she smiled at her husband.

"Congratulations to the both of you," Brass said, not without enthusiasm although he was eager to press on with the questioning.

"I saw something on the side of the road," Mr Wilson began speaking, "I thought it might have been an animal, like a cat or a fox and slowed down in case it ran out into the road."

"The headlights illuminated it and we saw it was... we saw..." Mrs Wilson looked horrified at having to retell their evening, "it was the girl."

"I pulled over and we ran out and saw her. She was covered in blood and glass..."

"I went to the car and pulled out a blanket and placed it around her, Mac called nine-one-one."

"Was it light blue, the blanket?" Brass interjected, having heard that Sara had found a blanket at the suspected scene.

"No, it was red," Mrs Wilson continued talking, "we handed it to the paramedics who took her to Desert Palms. We wanted to go with her but they wouldn't allow us."

"Is she going to be alright?" Mr Wilson asked with a look of desperation on his face.

Brass sighed admitting, "We don't know but she's still in a critical condition. On behalf of everyone I'd like to thank you both for calling her in, I'll let her know who to thank when she wakes up."

The couple nodded and got up to leave. Mrs Wilson asking as she left, "will you keep up updated?"

Brass nodded and replied, "as best as we can."

Another hour had passed rapidly as Nick sat beside the girl. The nurse who had collected the SAE kit had left without telling him her findings, leaving him in a state of anxiousness. This couldn't get any worse he thought to himself. Taking the girl's hand in his again, he began talking to himself, hoping that he'd get a sign of movement from the girl.

About ten minutes later he thought he heard something... a murmur, a whisper in the air which was getting louder. He felt a hand tighten within his and he called out to a passing doctor.

"Mommy..." the girl whispered wearily, "... mommy..."

"Your mommy's on her way dear," Nick spoke to her softly, "can you tell me your name please?"

"Mommy... mommy, where's mommy?" The girl was beginning to speak louder and quicker, becoming panicked as the heart monitor began to quicken.

"Mommy's coming sweetie," Nick talked soothingly, "you'll be..."

"Mom! Daddy!" she cried out, now beginning to scream. Nick felt a hand leave his as doctors began piling into the room, he stepped back and let them take over, looking away from the girl, now sent into a fit.

A high pitched beeping sound struck Nick cold as it became apparent that something was wrong. Nick stepped out the room as the doctors swarmed over her, passing through various drugs and monitoring systems. The beeping got louder and faster and the shouting became more panicked and disorderly.

Then a noise which raised the hairs on the back of his neck sounded out, one continuous bleep, the focus of the doctors immediately changed to emergency resuscitation as the shouting continued to emit over the monotone.

Then there was silence.

It was then, that Nick wanted the chaotic noise back, because he knew what the silence meant. With a scream of despair he walked over to the trash can and kicked it across the corridor, collapsing into a chair with his head buried in his hands, allowing tears to cascade to the floor.


- That was quite a difficult story to write, particularly the last scene but I hope you enjoyed it anyway.

- Larry Durman is a character from the previous story, Rush Hour. (1x03)

- Part two, I hope will be available tomorrow but I've fallen a bit behind with the story but I'll update it as quickly as possible. Reviews and feedback are very much welcome. :)