|black_dahlia63 (black_dahlia63) wrote in csi_lv_slash,|
@ 2008-04-18 16:22:00
|Current music:||Enter Sandman - Metallica|
"Kjaere" (Nick/Greg, 3/12)
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.
Thanks to – elmyraemilie for creative input and moral support.
AN: The story covers the time span of a year, and will update by one month every week.
Previous instalments here.
January 2nd, 11.00 a.m
If someone had asked him to tell them how many times he’d been in the courthouse over the years, Nick would not have been able to tell them – but he knew that this morning was going to stick in his memory for the rest of his life.
He’d worked the previous evening, spending much of his shift outside; it had rained for most of the night, and Nick was grimly certain that he was going to come down with a cold before the day was out. He’d stopped at the sitter’s house to see Emily, where he’d assured her that he’d be back to get her real soon and that yes, he’d remembered she needed to go and pick out a new coat before school started again the following morning. Somehow he’d managed to eat the hefty wedge of carrot cake that Angie had put in front of him without asking him, which now lay in an unmoving lump at the pit of his stomach; he’d been to Desert Palms to shave away Greg’s stubble, and he’d done this mostly in silence because he was so nervous about what was coming next that he couldn’t think of anything to say.
And now he was here.
He heard his name called, the voice appearing to come from a great distance; he heard Warrick whisper go on, man, we got you, and felt his hand squeezed briefly for support as he rose to his feet. The walk to the witness stand, a journey he’d made more times than he could count, seemed to take a lot longer than usual; when he reached it, he stood clinging to the polished wood for a few moments, and then he took a deep breath.
“One of the most vivid memories I’ve got before all this happened is the afternoon we had our daughter’s fourth birthday party,” he said. “There was a whole crowd of us at Circus Circus – Greg’s parents, my mom, some of the guys from the lab – sitting there eating pizza, pink balloons everywhere, kids screaming,” and he pulled in another breath. “I guess it’s pretty ordinary to most of you, but I had all the people I care about around me – everything I ever wanted, because I had my own family, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever get that.
We exchanged these nearly eight years ago,” he went on, holding up his left hand to display the silver band on his ring finger. “The first time I took our daughter to see him in hospital, she noticed Greg wasn’t wearing his and she raised Cain until one of the nurses found it – she might only have just turned four then, but she still knew how important those rings are to us,” and Nick swallowed down the lump in his throat before he continued speaking. “We adopted her just after she was born, and I can’t tell you how long it took us both before we gave up going in her room a dozen times a night because we couldn’t believe we really had her.
I had to finish my shift before I could go and see Greg the night he was hurt, and it was the longest few hours of my life - I knew he’d been stabilised, and even though I knew what had happened to all those other people that night I guess I was kind of hoping that by the time I made it to Desert Palms he’d be sitting up in bed. He was still in surgery when I got there, though, and I realised right there that it wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.
It’s hard to know how to begin telling you what this has done to all of us,” he said. “Greg’s parents didn’t come to this trial at all, because his mother’s finding all this too hard to face up to – he’s the only child she was able to have, and it was a long time before he told her he was working out in the field, because he knew she’d say it was too dangerous. We’ve got nieces and nephews who want to know when he’s going to get better, and I have to figure out what to tell them too,” he went on. “I told our daughter that if we spoke to him every day, he’d know we wanted him to wake up and come home – and she still goes to see him nearly every day, because she told me she’s worried that if she doesn’t he’ll wake up and forget he has a little girl.” There was an audible sob from someone in the courtroom, and Nick guessed it was Sara, but he knew that if he looked at her he wouldn’t be able to carry on, so he kept his gaze focused on a spot on the wall at the back of the room.
“People are trying to help, but Emily and I still have to go home every day without him, and nobody knows what that feels like unless it’s happened to them. We’ve got a Norwegian children’s book that was Greg’s when he was a kid, and he isn’t there to read it to Emily…I had to learn how to braid her hair properly, because she always said Greg always did it better than I did…every night I’m not working she usually ends up sleeping in my bed, and she never did that before this happened…and whenever I’m late picking her up from the sitter she’s crying because she thinks something happened to me too.
The doctors have told me that since Greg’s been unconscious for this long, it isn’t going to be a perfect outcome whatever happens. He’s probably going to have to learn to walk and speak and feed himself again once he wakes up, but we’ll get through it,” and Nick closed his eyes tightly for a second or two. “We’ve managed to get through everything else, and we can do it now too,” he went on. “They’ve also said he might not recover, that he might just stay the way he is now, but I’m not going to even think about that – because if I do that, it means I’m giving up on him, and when we gave each other these…” and he paused to raise his hand again, looking at the ring through a mist of tears which he blinked away. “We said we were going to be together until the day we died, no matter what happened,” Nick said, and for the first time he looked down at the two people who sat stone faced and book-ended by their attorneys. “Yeah, there are days when I wish I didn’t have to get up and go through all this, because it’s killing me, but if I give up and leave him there it means you and your friends have won – and I waited for this family for too long to ever let you do that. Ever,” he finished, and somehow he managed to mumble a thank you, Your Honour before stepping down and making his way back to where he’d been sitting.
“Come here,” he whispered to Sara, whose face was hidden in her hands; he placed an arm round her as she wept steadily, and the urge to cry himself had never been stronger – but he managed to swallow it, because he was afraid that if he started he would never stop, and then he looked up as the judge began to speak.
“Here you are,” Angie said with a smile as she opened the door. “How did it go?”
“Nick!” Emily shouted, before he could answer the question. “Nick, Nick, Nick!” and she came hurtling out of the sitter’s living room to jump into his arms and hug him fiercely before drawing back to study his face intently. “Did the bad people go to jail?”
“Yes, sweetheart, they did,” Nick said, and he saw the lines of anxiety on his daughter’s face smooth out.
“Can we go and tell Greg?”
“If you’d like to,” Nick told her. “Are you ready to go?”
“I need to pack my bag.”
“Go do it, then,” he said, managing a smile as he set Emily down on the floor, and moments later the door to the bedroom where she slept closed behind her. He leaned back against the front door, suddenly exhausted - and before Angie had time to repeat her question, a familiar figure emerged from the other bedroom.
“Oh, honey,” the sitter said, her cheeks turning pink. “We have company, can you put pants on?”
“It’s not company, it’s Nick,” Angie’s husband replied, scratching his belly - and Nick reflected that it didn’t seem to matter how long you were away from New York, there was always a bit of the attitude that seemed to stick with you. “Well?” he asked, fixing penetrating grey eyes on Nick. “What did they get?”
“Seven years each.”
“God damn it, that’s not enough,” the older man responded. “If this had happened back in New York…”
“Well, it didn’t,” Angie told him pointedly, nudging him into silence as the bedroom door opened and Emily emerged. “Will you stay for coffee, Nick? There’s chocolate cake.”
“I won’t,” Nick said. “Not today – we have to buy this one a new coat for school tomorrow, don’t we?” and he looked down at Emily, who nodded enthusiastically. “Are you going to say goodbye, Em?”
“’Bye, Angie,” Emily said, rising on her toes to wrap her arms round the sitter’s ample waist. “’Bye, Max,” and then she shrieked with laughter as Max lifted her off the ground and blew a resounding raspberry against the side of her neck. “Come on, Nick,” she said when she was released. “Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go -”
“I want a cookie.”
“You brushed your teeth already,” Nick said, looking up from where he sat at one end of the couch; the TV was on, but if he’d been asked he wouldn’t have been able to say what was on the screen. “Have a drink of water and go back to bed.”
“I don’t want a drink of water, I’m hungry,” Emily retorted. “My belly’s gurgling, listen.”
“You should have eaten your supper, then,” Nick told her, his temples throbbing, and he pushed himself upright – hoping, as he headed for the kitchen, that there was still some Ibuprofen in the cupboard over the sink, because he’d been getting these headaches more and more lately. “Go back to bed, sweetie.”
“I’m hungry, Nick,” Emily whined, and the tone of her voice began to grate on his ears. “I need a cookie -”
“You’re not getting one,” he said, opening the cupboard and taking down the Ibuprofen bottle – which, blessedly, contained two more capsules. “You should have eaten your meatloaf when you had the chance,” and he took a glass off the drainer before turning on the faucet. “Now, when I turn round, you’d better be on your way back to bed.”
“Greg would let me have one,” Emily said, her voice low and rebellious, and the glass fell out of Nick’s suddenly numb fingers to shatter in the sink. “Greg wouldn’t let me be hungry all night,” and that was when everything suddenly became too much.
“Well, he isn’t here,” Nick said, turning round abruptly as the battle to control his emotions was finally lost. “Now go to bed, right now, before you get your behind paddled.”
“I wish he was here!” Emily shouted, bursting into tears. “I hate you!” and she ran out of the kitchen – and as Nick stood next to the sink, numb and drained, he heard his daughter’s bedroom door slam shut.
“Go ‘way,” a wavering, tear-clotted voice said, but Nick ignored it; stepping into the room, he navigated the heaps of books and toys before kneeling at the side his daughter’s bed. The only light in the room was the dim glow of the Disney Princess night light that had been given to Emily when she’d been born, and as his eyes accustomed themselves to this semi-darkness he could make out a huddled form beneath the bedcovers; he reached out a hand, pulling the covers away, and his eyes took in a face made blotchy by crying.
“Sweetheart, I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I wish Greg was here too, and I wish I hadn’t made you sad - come on over here, okay?” but when he tried to take Emily’s hand she shook her head, fresh tears spilling down her cheeks. “Emily?”
“I’m all wet,” the little girl sobbed. “I had an a-a-accident!”
“Oh, baby, come here,” Nick said, his heart breaking all over again, and he drew her down into his lap. He rocked her in his arms, her furious weeping almost drowning out the sound of the phone ringing in the next room – and when her sobs finally tailed off, he wiped her face gently with the sleeve of his shirt. “Do you want to come sleep with me?” and there was a nod in response. “Come on, then,” he told Emily, kissing the top of her head, and he rose carefully to his feet. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
Once she’d had another bath and changed into a fresh pair of pyjamas that were really too small for her now, Emily had hardly been able to keep her eyes open – but she hadn’t wanted to be left alone, and so once she’d picked up the tattered photo she’d followed Nick as he’d walked to the kitchen with an armful of bedding.
“Madison says only babies wet themselves.”
“Well, Madison doesn’t need to know about this,” Nick told her as he closed the door of the washing machine and pressed a switch. “It’s none of her business, and you’re not a baby,” and he wrapped his arms tightly round his daughter. “You’re sad, and when we’re sad things are different,” he said. “Shall we go to bed?” and an almost-inaudible yes was muffled against his chest; he felt Emily’s arms go round his neck as he stood up, and he walked the few yards that brought him to his bedroom.
“I’m just going to go and change, okay?” he said once he’d placed Emily on the side of the bed where Greg usually slept, and the four year old’s eyes were already closing as she nodded. He slipped into the bathroom, where he shed his clothing in favour of a pair of pyjama bottoms; by the time he returned to the bedroom, Emily was sound asleep, and she did not stir when he climbed into bed and drew the covers over them both. He lay down before turning off the light, and the last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was the red light blinking on the answering machine next to the bed; but he was too tired, and whoever it was could wait until the morning.
“Nick? Hey, man, it’s Luke – you didn’t think I’d forget about chasing you guys up, did you? I called your mom and got your number, but I guess you must be working tonight – anyway, she said they sentenced a couple of those kids today, and I was wondering how it all went. Anyway, get in touch some time – and give that little girl of yours a hug for me.
To be continued