The red-haired woman sighed as she got out of her car in the parking lot of the hospital. Three months. It had been three very long months since the team ran into the room of her best friend. Three months since they had lost Ecklie (not that anyone considered that a loss). Three months since Nick had smiled, but worst of all, three months since she last saw his beautiful blue eyes. She walked through the too quiet halls to his room, feeling like she had never left. The nurses all greeted her by name and commented on the baby bump. Sara smiled politely and agreed that it was getting quite big, but there was no enthusiasm in her and if the nurses noticed it they didn't say anything.
They could understand that this woman was only barely trying to keep alive because the man she loves, the father of her baby, was lying in a coma with very little chance of ever waking up. One nurse in particular remembered that day, the day that life for this sad, young woman changed…
3 months earlier,
They heard the screaming and the sounds of a struggle, but couldn't get into the room. Nurse Tamia Winston tried calling for security, but found the in-house communications down. About ten minutes later, everything went quiet – eerily quiet. Then, out of nowhere, a bunch of people came running down the corridor, shouting for everyone to get out of the way and clear the hallway. Nurse Winston refused to leave, arguing that if someone got hurt, they would need medical attention. The guy issuing orders (who she later found out was Captain Jim Brass) didn't chase her away after that. A couple of police officers took their places on opposite sides of the door; Captain Brass counted to three and then kicked in the door. A collective gasp went around then.
Two men were lying on the floor, the blood pools under them growing bigger. No one dared enter because a third guy was standing with a gun pointed at the door. He let out a horrible laugh and started talking. What he said didn't make sense to Tamia, but judging by the faces around her, they understood perfectly.
"For 30 years I had to work with this son of a bitch. He didn't even work as hard as I did, but he got promoted over me time and time again. Every single day, I had to hear: 'Grissom this, Grissom that'. 'An asset for the Lab, one of the best entomologists in the country.' I am sick of it! Now he's gone. Finally, I can get rid of his fucking shadow and I can shine for a chance."
The man kept rambling. Brass tried to get him to drop the gun, but he just smiled. Suddenly the smile dropped of the man's face and he looked down at the man by his feet. A look of realization came over his face as he noticed blue eyes looking at him. Then a soft voice shocked the people even more.
"I forgive you, Conrad."
Then the gunman started crying and quick as a flash put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Shouts of 'no!' went unheard as the man's lifeless body dropped to the floor. Tamia closed her eyes for a second and ran into the room, checking the man's pulse out of habit. Running back to the door she shouted for doctors and nurses to come for help. She turned back to assess the room and saw a red-haired woman kneeling by one of the men (the one who spoke, with the crystal blue eyes) talking softly to him, tears streaming down her face. He slowly lifted his arm and cupped her face, only to drop into unconsciousness seconds later.
The other man was surrounded by a black man and a sandy haired guy, but he was unconscious – showing no signs of waking up. Just then medical help streamed in shoving everyone out the door.
A couple of hours later the bad news was given about the coma and the red-haired woman became the sad person she is now.
Back in the present Tamia watched Sara walk into the room and sighed. It was just too sad for words.
When Tamia left after her shift a couple of hours later, she saw a blond woman walk in to relieve Sara. They had been doing this for three months. When will it end? The nurse thought sadly.
Across town in an apartment building a man was sitting with his fourth beer for the day, and that was only because the whiskey was finished. He had gotten off work early because he hadn't been concentrating anyway, so he got sent home. He knew his friends were covering for him, but he really couldn't care less. Worst of all, these days, getting drunk didn't help either.
Nick sat in his gloomy apartment, reeking of alcohol. He heard the knock on the door, but didn't get up to answer. Whoever it is will get the message and leave. The knocking stopped and Nick thought he was home free, but suddenly the door slammed open, revealing Brass, Warrick and Greg.
"What do you want?" Nick yelled in anger. He just wanted to be left alone!
"We want our friend and brother back," Greg said softly following the older men into the dirty apartment. It was only then that he saw Al Robbins and Catherine behind the first three.
"He's gone. Leave him alone!" Nick yelled again.
"We can't do that Nicky." Catherine's mothering tone was making him feel even worse.
"Grissom wouldn't want this, Nicky." Al said, knowing it would hit home. The Texan flew up and threw himself at the doctor. Brass and Warrick, who were stoic until then, grabbed Nick and threw him back on the chair.
"Shut up! What do you know about what he wanted?" Nick screamed, his anger slipping away slowly as tear began rolling down his cheeks.
"I know, because he's my friend," Al said calmly. "Just like he's Cath's friend and Jim's. You see? You are not the only one suffering, Nick Stokes."
"Just shut up, please please just shut up!" Nick's voice cracked.
"We need him back too, Nick," Warrick spoke up. Nick grabbed the sides of his head and started screaming for everybody to just leave and shut up. Brass watched the whole scene unfold and walked into the bathroom stepping, over empty beer cans and other bottles; seeing a shower, he opened the cold water tap and went back into the living room. He caught Al's eye and nodded.
Suddenly Brass leaned down and grabbed Nick by his collar and dragged him to the bathroom, followed by Warrick who quickly caught on.
"What are they doing?" Greg asked shocked as the three disappeared down the short passage.
"You can't argue with a drunken man, Greggo." Catherine sighed, looking at the mess around her.
"They are going to sober him up," Al explained as he saw the confused look on Greg's face. He turned to Cath. "What are we going to do?"
"We are going to clean. Maybe he will feel better when he sees he doesn't have to do this alone."
"Ok, I will start in the kitchen, you two start here?" Al asked.
"Can I help?" Sara asked from the door. No one had seen her come in. She glanced around the room, shaking her head. "He's still blaming himself."
"Sure." Cath walked over, giving the younger woman a hug. "Who's with Griss?"
"Sofia. The doctor said I had to take a break." Sara shrugged.
"Shall we?" Greg asked, coming out of the kitchen armed with black bags and other cleaning supplies.
A few hours later Sara was back at the hospital. She walked in and smiled as she heard Sofia reading softly. She felt lighter since she spoke with Nick and was glad he was able to come to terms with what happened. It was three months overdue, but necessary.
Sofia looked up as she walked in, putting the book down.
"How did it go?" the blond detective asked.
"Ok, I guess. He finally told us what happened. We cleaned his apartment while Brass and Warrick sobered him up. He still blames himself." Sara sighed and went on to tell Sofia what happened in Nick's apartment. Sofia laughed when Sara told her that Brass called Nick a wet dog after his first round in the cold shower. After a while, Sofia reached over and took Sara's hand in hers.
"He will be fine. You'll see," she said.
"I hope so. Problem is, the only one that can help Nick to get over his guilt is the one person who can't help right now," Sara said as tears came to her eyes.
The two women looked at the still form on the bed- each sending prayers to heaven that he would come back to them.
While the world waited for him to wake up, Grissom was having his own little war. He didn't know how long he was in this abyss, for lack of a better word, but he was getting ready to give up hope of ever getting out of it. He tried walking, running, jumping, screaming, but nothing worked. So he figured that maybe he wasn't meant to get out of it. He sat down on the floor and closed his eyes. Who wants go back to a world where he would be in pain in any way? What's there for him? Loneliness and death? No, sir, he wasn't going back. The head slap came out of nowhere and it made him yelp.
"What the …?" he shouted and whirled around. He saw his father standing there, glaring at him with eyes so similar to his own.
"I didn't realise that you were a quitter," his father said angrily.
"I'm not. I'm just tired. Too tired of all of this," Grissom said, feeling shy all of a sudden.
"Whatever, sounds like you are quitting to me," Gil senior said. "It is your choice though, but before you decide, let me show you something."
"Fine," Grissom mumbled.
Suddenly they were standing in the lab. A small boy ran to Sara, who had just come out of the break room. Grissom couldn't hear what they said, but there was no doubt that the boy was his son. Warrick came down the hall and the boy ran to him. A pregnant woman next to him.
"How is he?" Sara asked. Her voice impossibly soft.
"The same," Warrick said, sadly.
Grissom turned to his father and frowned. His father gave him a small smile before explaining.
"You died. Sara was pregnant with your son and, as you can see, he is a healthy boy. Love bugs too. Catherine took over your job and her relationship with Brass ended. He just couldn't take the idea of not seeing his best friend anymore and became reckless. He was shot on a raid a couple of days before he retired. Greg left the crime lab and opened his own store. Warrick stayed, as did Sara. Warrick, as you can see, has found love and Sara is just keeping alive for little Gil and nothing more. Al retired not long after you died and had a stroke that claimed his life a few years later."
As his father was talking, the scenes flashed before him. Brass' grave, Al's, Greg's store, Catherine looking old and worn out, Sara looking weary, Warrick - the only one actually living.
"What about Nicky?" Grissom asked shocked at how his family was falling apart around him. Could he leave them like this?
"You see, Nick blamed himself for what happened to you. He drank himself into a state and drove his car into a pole. He didn't get too hurt, but had a mental breakdown." They were standing in a mental hospital and his father pointed to a man standing by the window. Grissom walked closer and the man turned and looked straight at him. There was no fire in those brown eyes, he kept talking and Grissom had to really strain to hear him whisper the same phrase over and over again.
"Sorry Grissom, sorry dad, sorry Grissom, sorry dad, sorry Grissom." And Grissom felt his heart break.
In a blink of an eye, they were back in the horrible place from before.
"You have the power to stop all of it. All you need to do is fight." His father suddenly disappeared. Grissom felt empowered by the desire to keep his team safe and started climbing the rock in front of him. Higher and higher and he will kept climbing until he reached the top.
About a week after Nick's intervention, he was standing outside Grissom's room. He hadn't been there in three months. He just couldn't stand to see the man he looked up to lying there. He took a deep breath and walked in to find Sara sitting next to the bed reading.
"Hey," he said softly.
"Hey, good to see you out and about." She stood up and smiled as she hugged him.
"Yeah, thanks to Brass' cold shoulder and the rest of you showing me what a jerk I was." He looked over at the still form on the bed. "What did the doctor say?"
"Well, there is a big chance of brain damage, but we won't know unless he wakes up." She chose her words carefully.
"Which could be never?" Nick said closing his eyes.
"Yeah…." Sara started saying, but a moan from the bed cut her off. Nick turned into a human statue and Sara ran up to the bed.
"Grissom? Baby, can you hear me?" She reached for the call button while not taking her eyes of the figure on the bed. His eyelids opened slowly and he slammed them shut again. Groaning as the light hit his eyes.
"Sara?" His voice was hoarse from disuse and for the first time in three months he turned his head and his blue eyes locked onto her face. Things are going to be ok now…
So what do you think? Epilogue or one more chapter. Reader's choice; put it in your review or pm me and there will be an extra chapter, or maybe a sequel.
Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed this story as well as everyone who put this on their fav or alert list. It was a blast writing this, even if I took so long to finish it. I am working on another CSI story, but will only post if I'm done writing it. Thanks to C. Nicole, my wonderful beta who makes my life easier.
Till next time, Flea….