It was six months before Lucy went to trial. Jim's shoulder had healed, the only evidence of his injury being a scar that matched the one on his right shoulder. Lori had scowled when he'd suggested that he should get a tattoo under the new scar so that they would really match. Consequently, there was no matching tat.

Jim was scheduled to testify and he was tense. He knew that Lori was feeling torn, even though she had clearly chosen him over her sister. He'd even suggested that she provide an attorney to defend Lucy. The look of relief on Lori's face after that conversation told Jim he had done the right thing. Lucy would get what she deserved in any case. Once the puzzle pieces had begun to fall into place, Nick and Mason had an easy time building a very solid case. Jim's only concern was how Lori was handling it all.

Even though they weren't officially living together, in essence that was exactly what had evolved over the elapsed time. She still had her job and responsibilities and of course, he still had his. But they spent every moment together that they could and Jim was hopelessly and ecstatically smitten, so much so that he was planning to ask a very important question after the dark cloud of Lucy's trial had passed.

The night before the opening arguments, they stayed at Jim's. He cooked for her, sensing that she was far too preoccupied to find any satisfaction in the kitchen. She helped him clean up after and they settled in his living room, her with a magazine and him with a new novel.

He was only a few pages in when he felt her fingers playing on his thigh. Cutting his eyes to his side to see what she was up to, he was amused by her seeming interest in her magazine while her fingers crawled closer and closer to her goal. "Babe?"

"Hmmm…" she responded absently, feigning concentration on her article.

"You um… going to just keep reading that magazine or should I tell you a bedtime story?"

Her eyes fluttered up from the page and she smile. "Oh, I like bedtime stories," she cooed, "especially the ones with the Big Bad Wolf."

Jim chortled. "Actually, I was thinking of Beauty and the Beast," he teased.

"You going to make me your prisoner?" she asked. "Because I think I like the idea of being your captive…You've already captured my heart," she said lightly as her hand began to get more personal.

Glancing down at her hand's progress, Jim quipped. "Seems to me you're the one doing all the capturing."

They didn't make it to his bedroom, electing to stay on the sofa instead as she did indeed capture Jim. He made it his mission to keep her distracted, keep her mind off of the trial that would begin the next day. The distraction wasn't hurting him any either.

As they cuddled on the sofa in the afterglow of love making, Lori leaned up on her elbow and looked into his sated, heavy lidded eyes. Worry crossed her features as she seemed to study his face. "You do know," she finally spoke, "that I'm only doing what I'm doing for Lucy because she's my sister and she doesn't have anyone else, don't you?"

Looking into her worried eyes, Jim nodded seriously. "I know. And I'm glad you are helping her. She'll go to prison for what she did, Lori. But if you hadn't tried to help her, you'd punish yourself and you don't deserve that grief. Besides, that would be the end of us and I don't want that. It isn't in you to turn your back on her."

Lori smiled as she cuddled back into him. "I know you think you're the Beast, but you'll always be my Prince Charming," she mumbled sleepily.

Jim wasn't allowed in the courtroom since he was a witness. He was relieved when Judy Robbins showed up to sit in court with Lori. She needed somebody, he knew, if she was going to make it through the procedure.

He wasn't called to testify until the second day. He had finished his testimony and was just past the Prosecutor's table when he heard a commotion to his right. Looking in the direction of the Defendant's table he saw the bailiff going down and Lucy pulling his weapon from its holster. Jim charged through the railing that separated the visitor's gallery from the tables, headed towards Lori, all the while pulling his own service weapon. Trying to watch Lucy and push Lori down divided his attention but he focused on Lucy when he saw her pointing the gun at him. Seeing the look in her eye, he knew she meant to pull the trigger. The bailiff was recovering but by then Lucy had stepped away from him, so there was no way he could get to her in time to help. Others had stepped in but were too far away. It was on him, Jim realized.

Lucy aimed and tightened her grip on the weapon. Jim raised his to fire when suddenly he realized she wasn't aiming at him anymore. She was aiming at Lori. Panic flooded through him as he pulled his trigger, emptying his clip into Lucy, only a fraction of a second after she had pulled hers. He saw her go down and turned to check on Lori, trusting the bailiff could take things from there with Lucy.

Adrenaline ebbed away and the sight of Lori's blood, so much blood already, turned his legs to jelly. Kneeling next to her, terror took hold. "Oh Baby….no, Baby…..you gotta stay with me Babe," he cried as a horrified Judy cradled Lori's head.

Lori tried to reach for him but missed. Jim caught her hand and held it against his chest with both of his. "Baby…" he cried again. But he knew as he looked into her eyes that her life was fading away. He heard people calling for help, dialing 911 or yelling into the hallway. He heard the sirens as help arrived. But he remained focused on one thing, Lori. Grasping at any hope, he held her gaze, talking to her, encouraging her, coaxing her to hang on. But he knew it was no good and his chest filled with pain as he watched life drain from her eyes. And then she was gone…

Jim didn't remember much after that. Everything was a blur. The paramedics arrived and declared that both women were dead. CSI arrived to investigate as did IA. He vaguely remembered Ecklie somewhere in the mix. And as David Phillips took Lori away, Al Robbins arrived and tried to comfort Jim. But Jim was too shocked, too empty to feel any comfort. Finally it was Nick Stokes that drove him home.

Nick walked into the house with him, asked if he needed anything or if Jim wanted him to stay for awhile. Jim nodded his shook his head "no" numbly and after Nick left, quietly closing the door behind him, Jim turned and looked around the room. His eyes settled on the sofa where just the other night they had made love and as the memories flooded back, he collapsed to the floor, broken.

Two days later Jim Brass dressed in his nicest dark blue suit and took a cab to the funeral home. He asked the funeral director for a moment alone with her and the man complied. Once they were alone, he reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved the ring he'd bought just a few days before. Reaching across the casket, he lifted her left hand and slipped the ring on her finger. "You'll always be my beauty," he whispered. Al and Judy sat next to him at the funeral but he was oblivious. His entire being was focused on the dark wooden casket. And in the cemetery he insisted on staying as she was lowered into the ground. Al and Judy drove him home and as soon as they left, he got in his car and drove back to the cemetery. They had covered her by then and he settled on the grass next to her patch of dirt. And for the first time since she'd left him, he began to cry.

A month later, everything seemed back to normal. Jim Brass was full of his usual quips and when he wasn't making wisecracks, he was cantankerous. But those who knew him well saw a difference and it worried them. Finally one night, D.B. Russell was looking for him to compare notes on a case they'd been working. No one seemed to know where he was. Frustrated, Russell headed toward the morgue to check some details with Doc Robbins.

"You seem frustrated," Doc said as they finished the discussion about C.O.D.

"Yeah, I can't find Brass. He was doing some background checks and I haven't heard anything more."

"How long has he been MIA?" Doc asked.

"No one's seen him tonight."

Russell left the morgue and Doc finished the autopsy he'd begun earlier. Then pulling out his cell, he tried calling Brass but got no answer. By dawn he was worried. On his way home, he drove by the cemetery. As he had guess, there was Jim propped against the headstone, seemingly asleep. Al parked his car and shuffled over. "Russell's been looking for you," he said as he approached the detective.

When he got no response, he stepped in front of the other man and let out a deep sigh. As he took in Jim Brass' pale lifeless face, Doc Robbins pulled out his phone and called his office. After finishing the call, he leaned over and gently closed his friend's lifeless eyes.

The Coroner's Office declared the COD to be a heart attack. But Al Robbins and all that knew him well understood that they underlying cause was a broken heart. As Al and Judy drove home from his funeral, Judy sniffled. "I still can't believe it happened, " Al commented.

"If you'd seen him in that courtroom, Al, you wouldn't be so surprised. When she died, it was if she took a part of him with her. You could see the life beginning to drain out of him."

Releasing a deep breath, Al reflected. "I always knew that under that gruff exterior he had a huge heart that was capable of great love."

"Yeah," Judy smiled sadly, "Who would have thought that Brass the Bulldog could love so deeply."

"Everyone who knew him….everyone," Al concluded.

That night at the lab, Nick and Greg were working a case together. "Man," Nick drawled, "I it just feels wierd without Jimhere, you know?"

"Yeah, seems like we're the only ones left from the good ole days...us and Sara."

"We are. And for him to die like that...out there all alone."

reg stopped what he was doing and looked up at his friend. "But he wasn't alone."

"Sure he was...," Nick said, confused.

"No. You ever looked up the meaning of Lori's last name?"

"Messing? No... it has a meaning?" Nick asked.

"Yeah... it's German for Brass, so its like those two were meant for each other."

Nick looked at his friend thoughtfully for a moment. "Well, that part's right anyway," he said before turning his attention back to his scope. "So maybe you're right. Maybe he wasn't alone."

Greg looked at his friend and smiled sadly before returning to his own slides.


And that's a wrap folks. Please don't throw rotten eggs at me or anything. I didn't like killing off the Brassman but it just seemed to be where the story was going. I already have other stories begging me to write them but I think I'll take a break until this cast is off... only a couple more weeks if everything is going according to plan. Meantime, let me know what you thought about this one;-)