|black_dahlia63 (black_dahlia63) wrote in csi_lv_slash,|
@ 2008-03-30 13:56:00
|Current music:||Happy Heart - Andy Williams|
When I posted a recent fic called “A Time To Be Born” on WMTDB, several people asked if there’d be any more Emily stories…so she’s in this new fic, but there’s also a repeat visit from another character that my long term readers may well recognise. This tale follows canon up to the attack on Greg, but then things take a different path – not sure if that counts as AU or just plain “what if the ep had ended this way?”. Huge thanks must go to the fantastic Nina, both for linguistic help and for helping me to hammer out the bare bones of this story over a meal at Gatwick Airport earlier this week…missing you already, hon!
Title – Kjaere
Author - black_dahlia63
Characters – Nick Stokes, Greg Sanders, various OC’s
Spoilers - Fannysmackin’
Rating – PG
Warning – Serious angst, but hey…people kind of expect that from me by now, right?
Disclaimer – not mine, don’t sue.
AN: The story covers the time span of a year, and will update by one month every week.
If you missed “A Time To Be Born”, links to all 4 chapters are here.
November 29th, 5.50 p.m.
“You’re pulling!” Emily said, her voice rising in pitch as she squirmed on the edge of her bed. “That hurts!”
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Nick replied, and he drew in a deep breath before returning to the task at hand. A minute or so later, his daughter’s thick red hair was lying between her shoulder blades in a slightly uneven braid, and he tied a black and white spotted ribbon around the end. “Okay now?”
“Greg does it better than you,” Emily said in a soft, mutinous voice, and she stared down at her knees. “When’s he gonna get home?”
“As soon as he can,” was the answer, and Nick leaned down to plant a kiss on top of Emily’s head. “You ready to go?”
“- and Miss Jane said I get to have the goldfish this weekend,” Emily said. “Well, he’s not a proper goldfish, ‘cause he has a black spot on his tail, and that’s why we all named him Spot,” she went on. “Jack had him last week, and his little sister nearly flushed him down the toilet -” Almost without drawing breath, she went on to recount a lurid tale about how she wasn’t Madison’s friend any longer, because Madison had splashed paint on her on purpose during art time that morning – and Nick, sitting with his daughter in his lap as she prattled away, felt his throat tightening until it was difficult for him to breathe.
The cuts and bruises on Greg’s face had healed long since; it was the injury that hadn’t been outwardly visible, the swelling of his brain following one of the many blows meted out on that dreadful night, that had left him unmoving and unresponsive for over a month now.
“The doctor told me Greg can hear us, even if he doesn’t act like he can right now,” Nick had told Emily before bringing her into this room for the first time. “So if we keep talking to him, he’s going to know we’re here, and he’ll try really hard to wake up and come home.” Of course, that hadn’t been all the doctor had said; the previous day he’d said that Greg could wake up tomorrow, Mr. Stokes, but it could take a lot longer - the undertone of these words being that the mere fact that Greg had been unconscious for this long wasn’t a good sign. But Emily had taken Nick’s words as gospel, and every day the four year old had sat next to Greg’s bed chattering about everything under the sun; topics of conversation had ranged from what had gone on at kindergarten to things that were stage whispered in Greg’s ear - “Nick dropped his keys down the garbage chute, Greg, and I heard him use a really bad word,” she’d said four days previously, and this had made one of the nurses laugh so much she’d earned an irritated stare from the doctor who’d just come into the room.
“And you know what, Greg?” Emily was saying now. “Nick can’t fix my hair like you do - he pulled almost all of it out before we came here.”
“It wasn’t almost all of it,” Nick said, somehow managing to smile as he spoke. “It was about half of it,” and he reached forward to squeeze Greg’s left hand as it lay motionless against the pale green hospital blanket. A silver band graced the ring finger, and Nick thought back to the first time he’d brought Emily in to visit Greg; some of the wounds had still been visible on his face then, but it hadn’t been these which had caused Emily distress. “He’s not wearing his ring!” she’d cried out. “The bad people took it, Nick!” Despite Nick’s assurances that the people who were taking care of Greg must have locked it away somewhere safe, Emily had fretted until a sympathetic nurse had retrieved a brown paper envelope containing the ring – and now, the first thing she always did upon entering the room was to check that the silver band was still where it belonged.
“We need to go, G,” Nick said, raising Greg’s hand to his lips and kissing it. “Someone needs to start getting around for bed.”
“Not yet,” Emily protested. “I didn’t finish telling him…”
“We’ll see Greg again tomorrow,” Nick said. “You can tell him then, okay?” and he lifted Emily towards the bed. “Say goodnight, kiddo.”
“’Night, Greg,” Emily said, planting a noisy kiss on Greg’s cheek – exactly the way she’d always done at bedtime, Nick told himself, and the image was so painful it rendered him powerless to move for what seemed a long time. Eventually, he forced himself to set Emily down on the floor, and he leaned over the motionless form in the bed; he whispered love you almost silently against Greg’s mouth, smoothed back hair that was getting far too long – then he stepped back, breaking the connection, and took his daughter’s hand to lead her from the room.
“Are you fixing the cereal?”
“Just as soon as you get your jammies on,” Nick called from the bedroom, and there was a shrill “Okay!” in response.
Their little family had created traditions, some of them fairly unique ones; one of these had been invented by Emily for what she called “no-school-no-work” nights, when nobody had to be up early the following morning. They would all get into their pyjamas, and they would sit at the kitchen table to eat a bowl of cereal before going to bed – Emily’s rationale being that if they ate breakfast early they could all sleep in until almost lunchtime the next day.
And it was hard for Nick to maintain this now that there were only two of them there, because he could never take his eyes off that third chair - but as long as Emily wanted to carry on doing it, he would indulge her.
“You need to take your cue from her,” the play therapist at Desert Palms had told him; she was a strawberry blonde named Ginny, and she and Emily had been spending time together while Nick talked to Greg’s doctors. “She’s going to be up one morning and down the next,” and she’d fixed her gaze squarely on Nick’s face. “She may want to stop coming to see Greg every day, and I know that’s going to be hard for you to accept, but you’ll have to respect it…”
Sighing gently, Nick removed his clothes and put on his pyjama bottoms; he moved to the window and closed the blinds that would shut out the daylight a few hours from now, and once he’d done this he left the room and padded barefoot along the hallway that led to the kitchen.
He took down two bowls from the cupboard – and even this small thing hurt him immeasurably – before filling them with Cheerios and carrying them to the table, where Emily waited expectantly; he retrieved a carton of milk from the fridge and a pair of spoons from the drawer next to the sink, and then he pulled out his chair and sat down opposite his daughter.
“What shall we do tomorrow?” he asked, once they’d been eating in silence for a minute or so. “You want to have lunch at McDonalds and then go to the zoo? We haven’t seen those parrots for a while -” and then his spoon fell from his hand when he saw Emily’s face crumble; shoving his chair back, he moved to kneel in front of her and took hold of both her hands. “Em?”
“Greg always comes to see the parrots with us, we can’t go without him,” Emily said, and big tears rolled down her cheeks to make tiny circles on her pyjama top. “He -” and her chest heaved with sobs, making it difficult for her to speak. “He’s still asleep, Nick, and I’ve been talking to him every day…”
“I know,” Nick said. “I know you have,” and he lifted her down off the chair to cradle her in his arms; he stroked her hair, murmuring softly in her ear, and eventually she lay limp against his chest. “He can hear us, sweetie, it’s just taking him a long time to wake up,” he told her, and then Ginny’s words were at the forefront of his mind again. “Em, look at me,” he said softly; after a long pause, his daughter lifted her head - and red-rimmed eyes, still swimming with tears, held a silent plea to make everything better again. “It’s okay if you don’t want to go and see Greg with me every day,” he went on softly. “I don’t want it to make you sad like this.”
“If I don’t go every day, he’ll forget me,” Emily said, her voice wavering, and fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. “He’ll wake up and he won’t remember he’s got a little girl.”
“No, he won’t,” Nick said, suppressing his own tears by sheer force of will. “He won’t ever do that,” and he kept one arm securely round Emily as he continued speaking. “Remember what we told you about how we got you? Alison had you here,” he said, gesturing towards his stomach, “and when she gave you to us, where did we have you?” and he watched Emily lift one hand to place it over her heart. “That’s right,” he said quietly. “Greg’s always got you there, just like I have, and that’s never going to change – it doesn’t matter what those people did to him, okay?” he continued. “We’ll see what we feel like doing when we wake up tomorrow, how would that be?” and he received a tearful nod in response. “You want any more cereal, or shall we get you to bed?”
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow, mom,” he said. “Yes, I’ll give her a kiss for you – love you,” and he ended the call. Scrubbing a hand through his hair, he walked back into the kitchen and took a Snickers bar from one of the cupboards; he set it on top of Emily’s place mat on the table, knowing that she would look for it when she woke up. “Saturday candy,” one of Greg’s childhood traditions that he had passed on to their child – and Nick knew that when he got up Emily would be watching cartoons, her mouth smeared with chocolate.
Almost as though everything was normal.
He turned off the lights and walked along the hallway, pausing to glance through the doorway of Emily’s room; the Disney Princess lamp threw flickering light over the figure sprawled in the bed, illuminating what was clutched in her outstretched hand.
It was a photo, crumpled from repeated handling, taken at Emily’s fourth birthday party two weeks before the night that had changed all their lives; Emily was blowing out the candles on her cake, while Nick and Greg were standing either side of her and grinning into the camera. She never went anywhere without this picture now, even setting it on the bathroom sink when she brushed her teeth – as though, by carrying it, she could have everything back the way it had been.
If only it was that easy, Nick thought, his heart aching, and he made his way into his own bedroom. He climbed beneath the covers, wondering whether this would be one of the nights – and they were becoming more frequent – when he would wake up and find Emily curled up next to him…then he turned off the light, and now that he was alone he finally allowed himself to shed tears.
To be continued.