Okay, another quickie here. I have a massive thank you to give to everyone who reviewed! Seven off my goal! As I have so much to do, I won't update until I have at least seven more reviews, though. Sorry...

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Chapter Twenty Six # Moving On is Hard To Do #

"Sara, run!"

Sara stared at Nick with confused eyes. "Why, what's wrong?"

"Please Sara move!" Nick screamed as Jason Johnson loomed behind his friend with a gun.

Sara fell to the floor and started screaming as Jason fell on top of her. "Niiiiiiiick! Help meeeee!" She begged, her face contorted with pain. He ran towards her but his legs felt held back, like he was running through mud.

"Sara!" He screamed. "No! Sara, no!"

She disappeared from Nick's view, but when she reappeared she had transformed into Greg, crying and screaming.

"Nick! Make him stop!" Greg sobbed. "Make him stop!"

"No, Greg! Leave him alone!" Nick wailed as Jason and Maria assaulted his young friend.

Suddenly Tali was beneath Jason and it looked like the man went the full way. "NOOOOOOO! Stop, TALI!" Nick shrieked as she screamed, her wide eyes boring into his. "No, no, STOP, STOP! Someone help her, HELP! NO, TALI, GREG, SARA! TALI! TALI!"


"Nick, wanna come play?" Maria crooned.

"Wake up, Nicky!"

"Nicky, please help me!" Tali screamed.

"Pancho! Wake up!"

Nick bolted upright in bed, panting heavily. His dad let go of his shoulders. Nick looked around his bedroom. Rosa stood by his head, clutching at the cross that always hung around her neck. His mom was on the other side, her face fearful. MJ and Ethan hovered by the door, looking half asleep and very worried.

Nick jumped out of bed and pushed past all of them, flying to the bathroom to throw up violently in the toilet. He pushed up the door and flushed the toilet, washing his hands thoroughly. Then he simply fell against the cool tile wall, sliding down until her was sitting curled up in a ball against the wall. He felt like his skin was on fire, and a film of sweat covered his entire body. He could hear his dad talking and people moving around the hall but he didn't know where to.

There was a soft knock on the door, but his dad didn't wait for a response before he came in. He didn't speak. He just walked across the hall and sat down wordlessly next to Nick.

Nick tried to hold it together. "Cisco..." He whispered.

"Yeah?" His dad said quietly.

"I... I'm sorry."

"What for?"

"Being a wimp." Nick's voice was barely audible.

"You're not a wimp, Pancho. You're a scared kid who was shot earlier on today. There's a big difference." Cisco replied softly.

"I..." Nick whispered as his stomach churned. "I don't feel so good."

"You don't look so good. You comin' down with something?"

"I don't know." Nick's throat felt as if it was burning.

"You were screaming pretty loud back there, Pancho."

"Nightmare." Nick's eyes dropped to the floor.

"Oh, really?" Nick's dad rolled his eyes. "About what?"

"I don't wanna talk about it." Nick said honestly.

"Okay. You wanna go back to bed? Its three am." Nick nodded and his dad put an arm around Nick. "Let's go."


Nick stayed off from school three more days with a high fever. He spent the next month with his head down, avoiding Maria as much as he could. His friends noticed the withdrawal but nothing they did seemed to slow it.

Sara continued going out riding with Nick, but his mind was always elsewhere. Greg made even more jokes than usual, but even when Nick laughed his eyes remained empty. Warrick went down to the local nets with Nick increasingly often but nothing really changed, whatever anyone did.

He started acting normal again when Maria was out of school, ill, but when she came back she seemed to be following him around, scaring him every day.

In early December, Nick decided enough was enough. He hauled his ass out of bed early and dragged himself to school, arriving at the same time as Sara. "Hey, Sar."

"Hey Nick. How you feeling?"

"Great." Nick grinned, the long scar on his face shifting with his smile, the first genuine one Sara had seen in a while.

She smiled in shock. "Good."

When the others arrived, they were careful not to show their shock at Nick laughing and joking. When everyone arrived, Nick cleared his throat.

"Guys? I'm sorry I've been kinda distracted recently. I was just sorta...well...I kinda had some home troubles..."

"We forgive you." Greg interrupted.

"Speak for yourself." Tali shrugged. "I don't honestly see anything to forgive. But, I do have something to say..." She glanced at the floor sadly. "Jamie and I broke up."

"What?" Nick cried. "Why?"

"If he hurt you I will disown him!" Greg frowned.

Tali shook her head. "It just, didn't feel right. I didn't love him anymore...he fell for someone else. But he didn't cheat!" She said quickly.

"I'm sorry." Nick said sincerely, and she nodded gratefully.

"It's okay."

"Are you sure he wasn't cheating on you?" Greg asked. "Because if he was I will kick his sorry ass, family or not."

"Thanks Greg, but no." Tali shook her head, smiling sadly.

Sara gave Tali a warm hug. "I'm so sorry."

"It's okay." Tali nodded, hugging her best friend and trying to stop the tears from starting to fall.

Nick swallowed. He couldn't say that he had never wished for Tali to break up with Jamie, but he didn't want her to hurt. As Sara moved away Nick automatically took Tali into his arms.

"Thanks." She murmured with a small squeak.

"You're welcome. If you ever need me, you know where to find me, okay?"

She nodded into his shirt, trying to stop crying. By the time Grissom arrived in the classroom ten minutes later, they were talking amongst themselves quietly.

"Everyone okay this morning?" Grissom asked lightly.

"Meh." Greg shrugged.

Grissom frowned slightly. "Tali are you alright?"

"She broke up with her boyfriend." Morgan explained simply.

"Oh, I'm sorry." Grissom frowned. The bell went and Tali and Archie reluctantly left for their own homerooms.

"Okay, people, I have an announcement today." Grissom declared when the class filed in. "There's going to be a school trip soon in school. We're going to Jamieson's Manor."

"Cool!" Greg cried, a huge grin on his face.

"What's that?" Nick asked.

"It's like this old manor from the 1800s where they film like loads of horror movies and stuff." Greg explained cheerfully.

"Oh, great." Ryan rolled his eyes.

"Anyway," Grissom interrupted, "each student will be placed in a group of ten with at least one person of each year group and two teachers. Your groups have already been chosen-" everyone groaned "-but we've tried to stick people with their friends or people they get on with, mainly but not exclusively from their home room. For example, Russell and I are taking Greg Sanders, Morgan Brody, Ryan Wolfe, Archie Johnson, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle, Warrick Brown, Tali David, Catherine Willows and Mary-Jane Stokes."

"Oh yeah!" Greg hissed.

"It'll be next Thursday, and it costs twenty dollars."

"How is it educational? Not that it isn't an awesome trip..." Natalia Boa Vista asked.

"I've been told film studies, drama, and history. We're getting a tour around the manor, insight into film making and the like." Grissom looked at the sheet. "It is compulsory. If anyone has any trouble with paying the money then come and talk to me. Lists of groups will be put up on the board over here." Grissom pinned a couple of pieces of paper to the home room's corkboard.

The bell went and they all started talking excitedly. "Oh my god, this is gonna be epic!"

"Calm down, Greg." Morgan rolled her eyes.

"I have to agree with Greg, actually." Nick's eyes were shining. Maria walked past him down the corridor and he smirked at her slightly, refusing to let the light in his eyes die.

"Tali'll be pleased, horror movie location." Ryan grinned.

"I think it's gonna be fun." Morgan declared.

"Tali!" Nick called, seeing her walking away down the hall. She turned. "You hear about that trip thing? We're all together, all eight of us. Plus Catherine and my sister."

She smiled. "Good. What teachers?"

"Grissom and Russell."

She grinned more sincerely. "Good."

Nick caught up with her fairly quickly. "To Spanish?"

She nodded. For most of the lesson they worked in silence, until Nick finally plucked up the courage to talk.

"Tali? Are you really okay?"

She looked at him and swallowed. "Ye...not really, no."

"If you wanna talk that's cool, if you don't that's still cool."

"You're not the sort of person who honestly talks about his problems." She muttered quietly.

Wow, that stung...


"I'm sorry, Nick-"

"Don't be, don't be." Nick shook his head. "You're right. And I'm sorry."

Glad they were sitting at the back of the class Tali leaned slightly closer to Nick. "He said those things. About not loving me anymore. I still...I still love, loved..."

She sniffled and Nick put his arm around her. "It'll be okay..."

She leaned into his embrace willingly. "What's wrong with me?" She whispered.

"Absolutely nothing." Nick whispered back firmly. "You're perfect."

"Nick, tell me the truth." Tali's voice cracked.

"You mean the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?"


"In my eyes you are perfect." Nick grinned honestly.

"Thanks Nick." Tali murmured sadly.

"The right guy will come along." Nick assured her.

"How can you be sure?"

"'Coz I'm a genius."

She laughed. "You sound like Greg."

"Shit, I do, don't I?" Nick laughed.

When they reached Chemistry, Sara was relieved to find both Tali and Nick in pre-Maria good moods. "Hey."

"Hey." Tali returned as she sat down.

"How was Spanish?"

"Fine." Tali shrugged. "Nick... Nick helped me."

"That's what he's good at." Sara smiled. "Helping people."

Tali nodded with a mute smile.

"So how're you holding up?" Sara asked sadly.

"Fine. I've felt a lot worse."

Sara smiled sadly, and Tali looked closely at her friend. Ever since Halloween, there had been something different about Sara. Her usually pale skin had a warm glow about it. She had put on a little weight, in a good way, so that rather than being scarily skinny she had an enviable figure. She was more relaxed and laughed more openly and everyday her eyes sparkled. She also talked a lot more about her parents, and had people over at least once a fortnight.

Tali was glad about the change. Sara deserved to be happy.


"See ya, suckers!" Tony called after second period.

"Now where the hell do you think you're going, DiNozzo? You owe me ten bucks!" Don called humorously.

Tony jogged around the corner and ran up the stairs to the library. Tobias Fornell, the school librarian stopped him at the door.

"DiNozzo, if you make any trouble-"

"I won't. I need to look something up." Tony insited.

"One peep and you're out." Fornell warned.

"Yes sir!" Tony muttered, immediately sitting down at a computer. He tapped in some commands and waited impatiently as the internet loaded.

"Hey Tony." Kate Todd sat down next to him, before freezing suspiciously. "What are you doing here?"

"Research." Tony said quietly.

"Why have you lowered your voice?" Kate whispered dramatically.

"I don't want to give Fornell a reason to kick me out, he doesn't like me!" Tony hissed.

"What's wrong with you, DiNozzo?" Kate frowned.

"What d'you mean?" Tony asked absently, clicking on Google.

"You haven't been with a girl for almost two months. That's like, half a century without getting laid for a normal person." Kate insisted.

"Has it been that long?" Tony frowned. "Wow."

"Tony!" Kate protested. "Are you gay?"

Tony turned his aghast face towards her. "NO!"

"Shh!" she hissed with a giggle.

"Sorry." He whispered. "No I am not gay!"

"Okay then. You like someone, though."

It wasn't a question. "That's none of your business."

"Hypocrite! It's your business whenever I look at another guy." Kate paused. "You like someone who won't have you."

"Not telling." Tony said tightly.

"Who is she?" Kate asked with a grin.

"Not telling. I don't like her, Kate." He looked at his friend solemnly.

Her eyes widened. "You're actually in love."

He turned back to the computer. His fingers hovered over the keyboard but he didn't type. "I think I might be."

She laughed softly. "You're scared, aren't you, DiNozzo?"

"No! Well, maybe a little. It feels weird."

"What you mean love instead of lust?"

Tony gave her a look.

"So who are you 'in love' with?"

"Kate, I think this is serious. I can honestly say that I haven't thought about anyone else since I talked to her."

Kate was stunned. "Shit, you are serious."

Tony nodded.

"Like, more serious than Jeanne Benoit last year."

He nodded again.

"I won't tell anyone." Kate promised.

"It won't ever happen." Tony sighed. "She'd never date someone like me."

"Why not?"

Tony leaned up and whispered in Kate's ear.

"Sara Sidle?" she mouthed back.

He nodded, his eyes downcast.

"Well, she is really nice." Kate mused. "Catherine likes her. Well, now she does."

Tony spun around in the wheelie chair. "But she wouldn't date me."

"Why don't you talk to her, get to know her more?"


"I know!" Kate grinned. "Ask MJ and Cath if you can swap into MJ's group, as their senior. Sara and her friends are in that group."

"You are a genius!" Tony grinned, leaping to his feet.

"I know." Kate smirked. Then she looked past him. "Uh, Tony, they're right there."

Sure enough, Catherine and MJ were passing the library doors.

"MJ!" he hollered, leaping over a desk and running out of the library. Kate laughed as Fornell yelled –


This chapter is a filler chapter, I'm sorry, but the next chapter will skip to the trip, for which I have LOTS of things planned including getting back to the ANGST!

Please, please, please review!