Chapter 6

I forgot to put this in my last chapter: Mrs. Sanders' name is Emma, so I'll be saying Emma from time to time. :)

"You look like shit."

"Me? Have you looked in the mirror lately?" Nick chuckled.

"No, but I bet I look dashing," Greg said in a horrible British accent before breaking out into a small cough. His lungs were permanently damaged, as said by the doctor, and for at least a month Greg would be out of breath easily and coughing…a lot.

"Hey, hey, take it easy man. You don't want to hurt yourself."

Greg nodded as he took a deep breath and slumped back into his pillows, exhausted. He hated feeling that way; he wanted to leave this place and go back to work. But the doctor wouldn't let him, Nick wouldn't let him and it made him frustrated. He had to lay prison to the uncomfortable bed. And he knew he'd be physically drained when his mom showed up. She, apparently, had showed up a few minutes after he'd fallen asleep and he was glad. He loved his mother to death, but sometimes she would not stop fussing over him. He opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling tiredly. He wasn't feeling good for some reason, but he didn't want to alert Nick with his little problems. He looked like he'd been through enough already. God, he was sick of this place; he just wanted to go home and sleep in a comfortable bed with edible food. And even though he'd been awake for not even half a day, he wanted to get out of this hellhole. He never liked hospitals, they made him feel uneasy…trapped…even if he wasn't the patient.

"Hey Greggo, you okay?"

"Huh?" Greg said, breaking out of his thoughts.

"You kinda spaced out on me there."

"Oh…sorry."

Nick frowned and leaned closer to his friend. He looked a bit pale and when Nick had been talking to him, Greg just went quiet while a glazed look passed over his brown eyes.

"You feelin' okay, man?" Nick placed a hand on Greg's forehead and cursed inwardly. Nononono, this can't be happening; he can't be getting a fever again, not when he was just getting better. Greg weakly batted Nick's hand away and rolled his head towards the window.

"Nick stop…I'm fine," he whispered…but he wasn't. He knew something was wrong, but he couldn't tell what. His head was pounding, his stomach was doing flips and he had the sudden urge to vomit. Worst of all, his chest felt funny; like an elephant was sitting on him.

"I'm…get…doctor." Nick's words faded in and out, but it was clear to what he said.

"N-No…no d-doctor. I'm f-fine!"

But apparently Nick didn't listen, because the next thing he knew, a light was shone into his eyes, making his headache worse than it already was, and the nausea grow.

"Something…wrong…medication…side effects…need…change."

Nick frowned as he watched Dr. Mike look at Greg, who was groaning and rolling his head restlessly on the pillow. A thin layer of sweat coated his face and he looked like he was about to puke.

"Greg…Greggo, stay with me man. You're gonna be alright kiddo, just stay awake."

Almost immediately after he said that, Greg's oxygen levels dropped drastically and his head fell limp to one side.

"I need an intubation in here!" Dr. Mike shouted as he laid Greg flat on the bed and shining a flashlight in his mouth.

"Throat is inflamed and swollen," he said to incoming nurses. "Are we ready?"

"Yes doctor."

As all this happened, Nick was shoved out of the room with terror on his face. Greg needed a breathing tube…again!

"What's going on?! What's wrong with my son?!" He heard someone scream…Greg's mom.

"Miss, your son's going to be alright, I promise," said a nurse. "The medication that he's on is causing some problems."

Emma sobbed as she was held back, forced to watch, behind the windows, her only son go through more pain and suffering. Nick stood closer to her letting the woman cling onto his arm tightly as they both watched the chaos inside the room.

"What the hell happened?" Catherine breathed as she ran up to them. Greg's mom could run, but maybe that was because her son was involved.

"Greg, he…he stopped breathing. The medication he's on is causing side effects," Nick said quietly.

"Damn."

After a few minutes, the nurses started leaving the room and Dr. Mike emerged from the room with a weary look on his aging face.

"Well? What happened to my baby boy? Is he going to be okay?" Emma cried.

"Greg's gonna be fine. What happened is normal, I just didn't expect it to be that bad."

"How the hell is that normal?" Nick fumed.

"There were possible risks- more so side effects- with the drug, called ciprofloxacin, we had Greg on. As of right now, we are putting him on something different; however, they aren't as strong."

"W-What does that mean?" Nick said, fear growing at the pit of his stomach.

"It means the meds he's on currently aren't going to help him as much as the last. He'll be sick for a while, possibly a week, before he starts healing properly. His body still hasn't quite gotten to the stage of healing on its own. It's nothing to be alarmed about, I assure you, but in order to keep his immune system strong, I ask that you put on scrubs and sterilize yourself before going in to sit with him."

"What about the tube?" Catherine asked.

"That is a little less serious. In a few hours or so, the throat inflammation and swelling should go down and he'll be able to start breathing on his own again."

Nick felt more relieved when he heard this. He was glad the tube wasn't for a long period of time; he didn't know if he'd be able to see Greg like that again.

"So he'll be okay?" Emma whispered.

"He'll be okay, ma'am," Dr. Mike smiled reassuringly.

"Can I sit with him now?"

"Absolutely. If you'll just follow me, we can get you ready to go in."

Emma nodded before turning to Nick.

"Umm, if you don't mind, I'd like to be with him for a while…alone. No offense and I know your heart is in the right place, it's just that I haven't seen him that much since he left for Vegas. Not even after the beating- which is still a horrible shock to me- and I regret that."

Nick nodded, placing a hand on the woman's shoulder comfortingly. "Go ahead, he's your son. I can wait."

"Just let us know if you need anything or if his condition changes."

"Of course." With that, Emma smiled and left with Dr. Mike.

Soon after, Nick let out a shuddering breath and wiped hand down his face. "God."

"He'll be alright Nicky," Catherine whispered, rubbing circles on the man's back.

"He better." He was not gonna lose his best friend. Never again.

"Nicky, why don't you go home, okay? You need to rest, Hun…especially after your accident. You're gonna run yourself to the ground if you keep going like this."

"I'm fine, Cath."

"When's the last time you slept?"

"…"

"Exactly, so I want you to go home, sleep, eat, freshen up, whatever you need to do, but there's nothing that you can do here."

"But Catherine-"

"No buts. I'll have officers assigned to make sure you stay there if you don't go right now…Nick I'm worried about you. Please, go take care of yourself."

Nick huffed. "Fine. Are you staying here?"

"No I'm going home, too. There's no point in staying here. Greg's got his mom, he's okay and I'm sure Greg wouldn't want us to be like this."

"You're right, he wouldn't. He'd care more about us than himself," Nick chuckled. Greg always had a big heart and he never put himself before others. He could be dying and he'd ask if they or another victim was okay.

"Come on," Catherine said, leading Nick to the exit. "I'll drive you home."

~+CSI+~

Emma stepped into her son's room quietly and slowly, now in clothed in scrubs and the strong smell of sterilizer emanating from her hands. She was afraid that any sudden movements would injure her precious boy even more. This was the first time she'd see a tube down her Greg's throat and it made her sick. Catherine had told her about the other time Greg needed the tube and just hearing about it was horrible. She moved closer and noticed the thin layer of sweat coating his peaceful, yet, pale face.

"Oh, Greggy. Why did this have to happen to you?"

Emma sat down and carefully slid her hand underneath her son's. She sniffed, tightening her grip around his hand and laid her head on his bobbing chest. She had to hear his heart; he didn't look to be alive and she had to know his precious heart was beating.

"Keep fighting sweetie," she whispered. "You'll get through this; I promise."

~+CSI+~

Nick threw his stuff on the floor of his apartment, wiping a weary hand down his face. It'd been forever since he stepped foot in his own place and he was surprised things hadn't started collecting dust yet. Sighing heavily, he dropped onto the couch and rubbed his temples. He really needed a drink. That would take all the pain away. Getting back up, he stumbled to the kitchen and rummaged through the bottom cupboard for his spare bottle of vodka.

"Come on, come on where is it?" He muttered. He needed to block out the hurt, the guilt, the pain. He needed to drink until he passed out…not to sleep…just straight out fall unconscious. He didn't deserve to sleep.

"Finally." He snatched the bottle, opened it and chugged the whole thing down in seconds. The liquid burned his throat, but he didn't care…he deserved it. Slamming the empty bottle down on the counter, he didn't feel any different than before he drank. He needed more. Opening his fridge, he pulled out the case of beer and began downing each bottle.

Ten minutes later found him on the floor, huddled in a corner, crying his eyes out. All he could think about was Greg and how the kid- and now his mother- still didn't know the whole story about how Greg got put in the hospital in the first place. And when they found out, he was going to lose his best friend. Greg was going to hate him. His mother was going to file suit against him. He should've been the one to go into the lake and get sick. He should be dead. He heard someone calling his name, but it was probably just his imagination. It's probably Warrick again.

"Oh, Greggo. I'm so sorry." The last thought he had before he fell into oblivion was the he was gonna have a hellova hangover tomorrow.

~+CSI+~

Sara tossed and turned in her bed. She couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. She just got home from the hospital, because Catherine had told them all to leave since Greg's mom wanted to have some time alone with her son. Sara looked at her clock for the hundredth time and sighed. It was only one in the morning and she had been home for at least two hours. Why couldn't she sleep? Squeezing her eyes closed, she tried to drift off, but it wasn't working.

"Fuck," she mumbled as she blinked her eyes open once more.

"I never knew you had such colorful vocabulary."

Sara gasped and sat up in her bed. She grabbed her sig from underneath her pillow and flicked on the lamp. Who she saw was totally unexpected; totally not real. This couldn't be happening, could it?

"Warrick? What the hell? Am I dreaming?"

"Maybe…maybe not," he smirked.

"What- what's going on?"

"Nick's in trouble."

"What?"

"You have to go now, he's at his apartment and if you don't go now, I don't know what'll happen."

"What do you mean he's in trouble? Is he hurt?" Sara said, stumbling out of her bed.

But Warrick never answered. He was gone, just like that. She must be losing her mind. But now the feeling in her gut was confirmed. Nick was in trouble and she had to go see what he did to himself this time.

~+CSI+~

"Nick? Nick, are you in there?" Sara said, knocking on the door to Nick's apartment. "Nick!" Yep, something was definitely wrong. After Warrick had died, Nick had been a bit…depressed; shut everyone out and drank…a lot. And then just when they thought he'd kill himself, Greg decided to do something about it. Nick almost beat the kid up, but eventually Greg managed to get through to the guy. From then on, Nick continuously apologized for the bruised jaw, because he knew how delicate the kid had been since the beating. He felt so bad that he probably brought back horrible memories for the young CSI, but Greg just brushed it off as nothing, saying that it was worth it. He'd gotten his brother back. That's why she loved Greg so much; he always knew what to say…especially to Nick. She, on the other hand, did not.

There was no reason to believe Nick wasn't home, because his light had been on. So why wasn't he answering the door? Had he done something stupid? Sara became more nervous and she quickly pulled out the spare key that Nick gave her- and the rest of the team- and unlocked his door.

"Nick?" And then the unmistakable stench of alcohol intruded her senses. "Dammit, Nick." Turning the corner only made things worse; the sight before her was heartbreaking. Nick was crying and apologizing over and over to Greg, though he wasn't even there. And then in a split second, Nick's body slumped against the wall, hopefully, unconscious. She reached out a trembling finger and placed it underneath his jaw to feel for a pulse. Closing her eyes, Sara breathed in relief when she felt the rapid beating on her fingertip.

"What the hell were you thinking, Nick?"

And Sara didn't know how she did it, but she managed to get Nick's limp body to the couch. She was exhausted but at least he was comfortable. She was gonna rip him a new one when he came to.

~+CSI+~

He could feel consciousness coming back to him, but it wasn't something he wanted. His head hurt like a bitch and any minute now he was gonna puke all the contents of his stomach onto the carpet.

"Get up."

Who the hell was that? And, man, did they sound pissed.

"Huh?"

"Wake up, Nick."

The Texan blinked his eyes open, only to shut them quickly when a bright light protruded his senses.

"Ugh," he groaned and placed his arm over his eyes to block it out before he became more nauseous than he already was.

"Nick!"

"Wha'?"

"Wake up, we need to talk."

Nick slid his eyes open carefully and found himself starin blurry form of Sara Sidle. Great.

"Sara, what the hell are you doing here?"

Sara huffed and ignored his question. "What the hell is this?" She seethed, holding up a few beer bottles. "You promised that you wouldn't do this anymore. You promised Greg you wouldn't do this anymore."

Nick sat up, holding his head in pain as the headache grew. Hangovers sucked. What did he do? Why was Sara there?

"What are you talkin' about?"

"I'm talking about you drinking yourself to death! Why would you do that? We already lost Warrick, dangerously close to losing Greg, and now this? You could kill yourself. Is that what you were going for?!"

"N-no…I-"

"What if you died!? How would Greg feel? Especially after we almost lost you in the crash and you're lucky he didn't know about that. But if you cared to know, when you had been buried alive, Greg stopped at nothing to save you. He nearly ran himself to the ground…he yelled at Catherine…he cried!

Wow…Greg never told him that. God, what was he doing? Greg needed him the most right now, and he was drinking himself to oblivion. He was so selfish. He could feel his body trembling with tears and he put his face in his hands.

"Oh god, Sara I'm so sorry. I don't know what I was thinking. I…I just feel so guilty about everything. I made him…it's my fault."

Sara's features softened and she sat down next to her friend, placing a hand on his shaking back.

"What are you talking about Nick? You made who do what?"

"Greg…I made him go into that lake…I made him get sick and now…I just don't know anymore."

Sara sighed heavily and wiped a hand down her face. "Nick…you can't blame yourself; Greg wouldn't want you to blame yourself."

"But it's my fault. Maybe if I would've gone into the lake instead of him then-"

"You'd be in the hospital."

"It's better than G being there. Did you know he hates hospitals? Ever since the beating he was terrified of them, and now being there for nearly a month must be horrible for him…even if he won't admit it."

"Greg's brave Nick."

"I know he is, but…still. He shouldn't be alone."

"He's not…he's got his-"

"Mom, I know…but I'd like him to know that I'm here for him. That I'm sorry."

Sara pursed her lips sadly as she brought the older man into a hug. "He'll be alright, Nick."

But Nick didn't respond with words. All that came out were tears, tears, and more tears. He was clearly broken and Greg was his rock; he was everyone's rock and the team was slowly falling apart without him. Grissom was quiet…more than usual. He would go into Greg's lab area for results, but then remember that he wasn't there, look around sadly and then leave. Catherine always went to Greg lab and listened to his music, hoping that it would make her feel better. Like he was there. But it didn't; it just made her cry. Sara would sit in front of Greg's open locker and hold one of his crazy t-shirts that he wore. It smelled like him- Blue Hawaiian coffee and gunpowder. It made her smile. God, she hoped the kid would be alright…she prayed.

~+CSI+~

"Are you sure you don't need me to stay, sweetie? I don't mind."

"Mom, I told you I'm fine. J-Just have a little fever, 'kay?"

"I know honey, but I'm just worried. What if you go into a relapse?"

"For the last time mom, I'll be okay. I have my friends to take care of me…I love you mom, but I'll be fine. The worst is over." Greg added a small grin for good measure as he squeezed his mom's hand soothingly. "I promise, mom, I'll be okay…and if things go bad…I'll…let you know."

Emma looked down at her son hesitantly before sighing. "Alright, but you promise you'll let me know if you're getting sicker again"

"I promise mom," Greg chuckled, closing his eyes, because persuading his mother to leave was exhausting.

"Okay." Emma bent down and kissed Greg's warm forehead while smoothing out his hair. "I love you."

"Love you too mom. I'll call you later to let you know how I'm doing."

With one last squeeze to her son's hand, Emma left the room, homeward bound. She was gonna miss her Gregory, but she trusted his friends to take care of him. He'd be safe; she knew it.

~+CSI+~

Nick walked down the hallway quietly, feeling a bit uneasy about going to see Greg. Not that he was scared of the guy, he was just worried how Greg might react to the fact that he was in the hospital, because of his "best-friend." Emma had called a bit earlier, saying that she was heading home and that Greg needed them the most now. And now he was there, standing in front of Greg's door like he was getting ready to go into the principal's office. Taking a deep breath, Nick slowly pushed open the door to find Greg fast asleep, lying on his side with his cheek slightly propped up on his fist. He looked peaceful and Nick really didn't want to mess that up. Greg didn't need stress. Just as he was about to leave, a weak voice spoke, causing him to freeze.

"N-Nick? Where are you going?"

Nick closed his eyes before turning around and looking at his little brother. His eyes were still glassy and his face was still covered in sweat. He didn't want to do this now…actually not ever, but Greg had to know the truth.

"Ummm, I was just checking on you…wanted to make sure you were alright…how are you feeling?"

Greg sighed in annoyance. Why did everyone ask him that? And in a split second, a streak of anger coursed through him.

"How do you think I'm feeling?" He snapped, curling in on himself.

"Oh…" Nick said uneasily. That was weird.

Greg's eyes snapped open and looked at Nick guiltily. "Oh god Nick, I'm so sorry; I didn't mean to yell at you. I'm just…"

"It's fine Greggo, I understand."

"You sure?"

"G, don't worry about it, 'kay? You're fine," Nick smiled.

Greg smiled back, but noticed something was off with Nick. Without another word, Greg's eyes drooped close and he went silent. Nick actually thought the kid fell back asleep…until he spoke.

"Nicky?"

"Yeah, buddy?"

"H-How did…how did I end up here? I mean did I get hyperthermia? Did I pass out? Did I get shot?"

Nick swallowed nervously, not really ready to answer the question.

"Nick?"

"Umm…" it was now or never. And if he waited any longer, he knew the guilt would eat him alive. "Yeah…I've been meaning to tell you about that…"

So for the next ten minutes, Nick told Greg everything that happened between that fateful Wednesday to now. When he finished, Greg was quiet…which Nick knew wasn't a good thing.

"G?"

Greg frowned. This information was shocking. Nick got him here? He was the reason he was in this godforsaken place? He had no idea what to think and he knew he was making Nick nervous when he wasn't answering. How was he supposed to react to this?

"Greggo?"

He looked at Nick with dark brown eyes, confusion present on his face. He really didn't know what to say; he opened and closed his mouth repeatedly, but no sound coming from his throat. He could tell Nick was getting worried and he had to say something fast…but what?"

TBC

Eeeekkk! REVIEWS! No new CSI tonight :(