CSI: Remember the Name: one shot|
A/N: This story picks up right after “For Gedda” and is told through a Love POV. Anything Nick and Greg are speaking in italics means it’s “translated” Norwegian. There is also slight OOC for Greg who steps up to the plate to become the rock of the team during the crisis of Warrick’s death, but it’s all good, and I do like seeing him this way sometimes. Anyway, please enjoy!
“I need you,” was the first thing Greg heard when he answered his cell phone, as if the man on the other end was trying to remember each Norwegian word correctly: “jeg... trenger... deg.”
Greg was on his way home from having breakfast with the rest of the team and thought Nick’s call had something to do with the waitress Warrick had been joking with him about dating. Probably he needed to be rescued from a potential bad date he was being set up with.
“No... no... plane... please... don’t go... Jeg trenger deg...” Nick sounded desperate, almost scared, as if he would have burst into tears if he could. It didn’t make sense that Nick would use a language he hardly understood, all of which told Greg the situation was serious.
He wrenched the car to the side of the road with a jerk of the wheel before hitting the brakes. “What’s going on?”
“Jeg trenger deg.”
Worry began to set in. Something was wrong.
“Nick,” he emphasized his words, “where are you?”
“The diner,” he finally spoke in English.
Greg pulled a fast u-turn and sped back down the street.
“Please hurry,” Nick begged.
And that was enough to make Greg step harder on the gas pedal.
An ambulance was at the diner when he arrived, lights flashing, but no sirens blaring. Nick, standing near a dark car as Greg ran over, turned to him, his eyes shining with tears, before he looked back at the body slumped in the driver’s seat. Greg followed his gaze and a lump formed in his throat when his saw Warrick, eyes closed, fresh blood running from the wounds in his head onto the upholstery.
“Oh God, Nicky, what happened?”
He pulled his boyfriend away as a white van pulled up marked ‘coroner’. Nick looked like he could have thrown up at the sight of David Philips but turned into Greg instead, his arms held close to his chest and his forehead resting on Greg’s shoulder.
“I don’t know. Just hold me, please.”
Greg obliged, knowing that if he’d been given a choice he wouldn’t have done any different no matter who was watching. Over Nick’s shoulder he could see Ecklie already processing Warrick’s car while Jim Brass talked to the patrons and the employees of the diner. Among them was the red headed waitress Warrick had been telling Nick to date not even half an hour ago. Hearing his friend’s voice in his head made his chest tighten. He had to take several deep breaths to calm down and even that didn’t work entirely. Holding Nick grounded him, however, reminding him he’d have to be the strong one because Nick was already falling apart.
Stephanie was watching them from where she stood with a look of sadness and disappointment that had nothing to do with the death of Nick’s best friend. She now understood, upon seeing them together, that Nick’s smiling at her earlier wasn’t because he wanted to go out with her.
Hoping he’d be able to hold it together himself, he spoke comforting words in Norwegian. He’d learned a long time ago that Nick didn’t need to know every word to feel comforted. He just needed to know that Greg was speaking only to him.
“The car is blue. The book was the most boring book I’d ever read in my entire life, and to think it was about DNA. The dog barked at the mailman everyday. The librarian put the books away. I saw the boy of my dreams walk into school today. He was new... I can’t believe this just happened. How could this have happened. He was alive and now he’s not... how... why? Now I know what it feels like to be on the other side, to be the grieving mother having to identify her child in the morgue. Only it’s not quite the same.”
It was a plus that his language wasn’t as popular as Spanish or even French. The likelihood of the nearby officers knowing what he was saying to Nick was that much smaller. He could tell Nick he loved him over and over without raising questions no matter where they were.
“Nicky, stand up. Brass is coming.”
Nick straightened and turned to face the detective but didn’t leave Greg’s immediate side.
“Greg, what are you doing here?”
“I called him,” Nick said in a shaky voice.
“Right. Well, I just placed a call into Grissom. He’ll be here shortly.”
“Good,” Greg nodded. “So, what did everyone have to say?”
“They all heard the gun shots and corroborated that you, Nick, ran out to see what had happened. So, it looks like you’ve been cleared. And trust me, that makes me feel much better.”
“Wait a minute...” Greg stepped forward. “You listed Nick as a suspect?!” Greg let the anger show in his voice and on his face.
“You know how these things work. He was the first on the scene. I had to clear him. Believe me, I wanted him cleared. The last thing this team needs in another scandal.”
“I know.” Greg backed down, but he still felt hurt that his boyfriend was considered a suspect, even if it was standard procedure.
“Greg, I thought you left.” Both Nick and Greg turned to see their boss, with Catherine not far behind, getting out of her car in a hurry. “What are you doing here?”
“You didn’t say you called Catherine,” Greg looked over at Brass.
Greg turned an icy glare toward his boss. “You called Catherine. Nick called me. Is that a crime? Warrick’s dead. Don’t you care? Why does everyone keep asking me the same damn question?!”
“I’m sorry. I guess it doesn’t matter...” Grissom trailed off, taking in the scene, his eyes lingering over the car and the body David was setting on a gurney.
“Warrick? Warrick?! Oh my God! Nooo!” Catherine screamed when she saw him.
She reached her arms out as she ran towards the car. A cop stopped her. Warrick’s body was zipped into a body bag and the gurney was pulled toward the waiting van.
Nick lunged forward, crying out, as Greg caught him and tried to hold him still. He held him back, through all of his struggling, watching the coroner’s assistant load his coworker in the back of the van to take him to the morgue.
It was unreal. The whole situation. Everything felt like it was happening in slow motion and he couldn’t believe it. He knew he wouldn’t be waking up from this on the plane bound for Los Angeles in the hopes of getting his book published. But it still didn’t seem real enough.
The van doors closed, David got in, and started up the engine. Nick was still struggling, still yelling something he couldn’t quite understand through the rushing of blood in his ears, but his grip on the other man didn’t lessen until the van had pulled away and Nick had slumped into his embrace. Greg nudged him back to standing upright.
“Guys, I hate to do this, but we’re following procedure here,” Brass said a moment later once everyone was more or less huddled together. “Ecklie needs to swab all of your hands.”
As if on cue, the Assistant Director appeared with swabs in his gloved hand.
“Ecklie, Warrick’s one of my best CSIs, you couldn’t possibly think I had something to do with this!”
“There you go again... always looking out for numero uno.”
“You’re devoted to your team, Gil. Everyone of your CSIs is one of your best. We all know that. And you also know I have to do this. You all left before he was shot. I have to rule you out. You know who our main suspect is in framing him for Gedda’s death, how do I know the mole isn’t one of you?”
Grissom sighed and held out his hands.
“You too, Nick. I know everyone in the diner corroborates your story, but I need physical evidence too.”
Nick held out his hands.
“No one is to breathe a word about this to anyone,” Brass said once Ecklie was finished. “Because of our suspect situation I’ve got someone working on a place for you all to stay, at least for tonight. I can’t let you or anyone else here out of my sight. This is too high profile now.”
“We’re working this case,” Catherine stated.
“No. You’re not. You’re too emotionally involved. This time is different. That’s why I called Ecklie,” Brass nodded toward the CSI continuing to work over the car.
“You know he’ll forge the evidence,” Nick countered. “He’s done that before!”
“He’s assured me he’ll let Grissom know of any evidence he finds.”
“And I’ll watch over his investigation personally.”
“Thank you, Jim.”
“I don’t think you understand. I need to work this case. I can’t just sit by and do nothing!”
“You have no other choice, Catherine. Come on,” Grissom said in a soft voice. “Come sit down.”
“I’m not gonna just sit down! Who the hell do you think just died tonight?!”
Grissom lead her away to a nearby bench even as she yelled at him.
“I have some phone calls I need to make and I don’t have the numbers on me,” Greg spoke up.
“Phone calls? To whom?” Brass asked, an accusatory look in his eyes.
“I’m supposed to be on a plane in six hours to LA. I’ve got meetings with several publishers for that book I wrote. I’ll need to cancel...”
“Right. Right. I forgot about that. I’ll have an officer get those numbers for you from your place.” Brass motioned an officer forward. “Tell him what you need and where it is. He’ll get it for you.”
While the detective went back to talk to the employees again and tell them about the situation, Greg gave the officer a short list of things he would need from his apartment along with the phone numbers. Nick never left his side.
“You can’t make us do this! I have a life! I need to work... the owner will...”
“Trust me, the owner knows and is in full cooperation with us on this investigation. Come on people, we’ve got a motel secured around the corner. Let’s go.”
When they reached the place it was clear they’d taken over the whole dump. Cops were crawling everywhere.
“All the rooms have been checked. We’re good to go,” Detective Sofia Curtis met them half way across the parking lot.
“Just so you guys know only Brass, Ecklie, and myself know who was killed tonight. We want to keep this as low profile as we can,” Sofia said, leading the team to their rooms while Brass handled the others. Then she stopped. “And guys... I’m really sorry.”
“Me too,” Greg whispered, though he doubted anyone other than Nick had heard him.
When he saw the door leading into Nick’s room from his own he let out a breath of air he hadn’t realized he’d been holding in. He didn’t go to Nick right away. Instead, he waited for the cop to bring his things from his apartment. Once the bag arrived he made his phone calls, delaying his meetings and cancelling his flights, and changed into his sweat pants and a t-shirt before knocking on the connecting door to Nick’s room.
Nick opened the door to stare bleary eyed at Greg, his beautiful eyes red rimmed from digging the heels of his palms into them. He hadn’t allowed himself to cry yet.
Greg held up the bag the cop had brought him. “I washed the laundry you left at my place the other day. I’ve got fresh clothes, your favorite sweats along with your Aggie t-shirt, and your toothbrush. Why don’t you get changed, it’ll help you feel better.”
“He’s not dead.”
Greg looked up at Nick.
“He’s not dead, Greg. We suspected a mole in the department. This was staged to get the mole.” Denial. It was written across his face.
“Nicky... it’s not...”
“Brass just wants us to think it’s real so we don’t tip off the mole.”
Greg reached out and pulled Nick into his arms. “Oh, Nicky, I wish that were true. I really do.” Tears stung his eyes, but he held them back.
Nick pushed him away with rough hands. “You want him to be dead! You’re jealous because I was friends with him first!”
Nick’s sudden anger almost scared him, but he hid the panic that rose within him and while he wanted to shout, to yell, to set him straight, to tell him that he wasn’t jealous of his friendship with Warrick, he didn’t. He stood with his back against the wall where Nick had shoved him, letting his boyfriend get all of his hurt and anger out without interruptions.
“You hated him! I know you did! You hated him because the
two of us would go out for beers after work and I couldn’t invite you because he couldn’t know about us. That’s why you don’t believe me! But it’s true! All of it! Warrick’s not dead. I’m sorry to tell you, but he’s not! He can’t be!” Nick began to choke on his words. “He just can’t be... not after we got him off the murder charge... not after everything we’ve been through... no... it’s just not true...”
Greg moved from the wall when Nick finally broke down in tears and pulled him back into his arms, guiding him toward the bed where he managed to get him changed into his pajamas and under the covers. He lay down beside him. For a long time he didn’t say anything, just ran a soothing hand across his back, ignoring the pain of losing a friend building up inside himself.
He’d never been as close to Warrick as the other members of the team, true, but they had been friends. Warrick was a great CSI, had taught him some of the most important things about the job, had taken good care of him when he was a fledgling in the field, and he would miss him.
Already things seemed weird, like the team wasn’t whole anymore. Sure, once there was Holly Gribbs, but her death hadn’t meant as much because she didn’t get the chance to become a real team member. The same was true for Keppler. But Warrick had been a part of the team ever since Greg could remember, and as part of the team, had helped to make it whole, even through all the rocky parts of their lives and their job. He’d always kept an eye on Catherine, making sure she was ok during rough times. And he’d been there for Nick before Greg had come into the picture as his boyfriend.
Remembering his last private conversation with the man, his throat choked up. If he’d only known what was going to happen to him.... Warrick had been talking about going to prison for a long time, being away from the team, wondering who was going to look after them while he was gone, especially Catherine. And now, he would never be coming back at all. No chance at a retrial...
Greg began to murmur words in Norwegian to sooth the both of them, “the red barn, plants, bugs, chair, floor, desk, white board, picture, necklace, ring, poster, bag, box. The box holds many secrets as does the key ring...” he spoke until Nick’s sobs had quieted and his boyfriend had fallen asleep and then he kept on murmuring, to keep his own mind sane, letting the words wash over him again and again.
Feeling every light exhale of Nick’s breath on his skin, he thanked God it wasn’t Nick who’d been killed. He hated to think that. He didn’t want Warrick to die, but he couldn’t help himself. He spoke that in Norwegian too until he lost all sense of time and his eyelids drooped heavy. He stayed awake for as long as he could, mumbling, feeling the need to watch over Nick in case he woke up. But he didn’t and sleep eventually claimed him.
“Ok, so what have we got, Ecklie?” Grissom asked when everyone was situated around the small table in his motel room the following morning.
“Not much. I’m happy to report that all of your hands tested clean for GSR. Whoever this guy is, he knew what he was doing. The gun in the front passenger seat was wiped clean.”
“So, not suicide?”
“Couldn’t be. The way the gun was positioned. He was shot in the head twice.”
The team sighed in relief but grimaced at the news as they were shown the photographs of the gun.
“There were no fingerprints anywhere on that car that didn’t belong to Warrick.”
“Ecklie, is that passenger window open?”
“Is a matter of fact, yes. I figure he must have known the guy, rolled down the window to talk. Part of the reason I had to test you all.”
“He knew exactly what he was doing!” anger crept into Catherine’s voice.
“He had a conversation with Warrick so the window would be open. That means no glass fragments got on his clothes when he fired his gun,” Greg surmised. “Warrick wouldn’t suspect anything if he knew the guy either. And since he’s on the passenger side, just take one step back and there’s no blood spatter. He kills and walks away clean.”
“This could easily be the work of the mole tying up loose ends. He would know how to deal with the evidence.”
Greg looked over at Nick who’d been quiet all morning since they’d gotten up and reached under the table to grasp Nick’s hand in his own, giving it a reassuring squeeze. Nick looked up at him with tired eyes, and though he didn’t say anything, Greg was still grateful for a response.
“Warrick would see a case to the end... no matter what and the mole would likely know that too.”
“All the more reason to kill him.”
The door banged open and Brass barged into the room. “Guys, we may have something. Now this cannot go beyond the walls of this room. You understand?”
“One of the cops at the diner said they saw Undersheriff Jeffery McKeen walk into the ally where Warrick’s car was parked just before he went into the diner... and that was roughly five minutes before everyone heard the gun shots.”
“Shit. The Undersheriff?!”
“Well, we did suspect the mole was someone higher up.”
“Yeah, but this is just going to play out like your darkest nightmare. Probably worse. There’s no way we’ll get a warrant for anything on him.”
“He’s the perfect mole. No one would suspect him.”
“So, how do we bring him down?”
“We can’t. We don’t have enough evidence. But I’m not done yet. You’ll never guess who was just found out in the desert.”
“Officer Pritchard?” Greg guessed.
“You got it. Signed, sealed, and delivered. Looks like he committed suicide. We’re waiting on you, Conrad, to process the scene for us. Maybe this’ll give us more info.”
“Damn it. Another cop. Well, let’s get going.” Ecklie started for the door.
“Conrad, wait.” Gil stood up. “I would like someone from my team to go with you.”
“You know I can’t allow that. You’re all too emotionally invested in this case. Gil, I can’t count how many times you’ve covered for his mistakes. Catherine... I think it’s more than friendship. Nick... you two were as close as best friends.”
“I’ll go. Warrick and I were never that close. I can be objective.”
Ecklie studied Greg for a moment. “Ok, fine. Let’s go.”
Greg stood up and turned to Nick. “Jeg elsker deg.”
“Be careful out there,” Nick finally spoke, his voice close to a whisper. “We don’t need anything happening to you too. Jeg elsker deg.”
Everyone in the room watched them with curiosity.
“We’ll get him,” Nick clarified in a hurry when he saw the stares.
The team nodded, seeming to understand Nick’s translation.
“'We’ll get him', is that what that means in English?” Ecklie asked as he and Greg walked behind the Captain to his police cruiser.
“That’s what he told me. He doesn’t know what language it is, but one day I was stuck on a case, one of my first as a CSI, and he told me that and it helped me deal. And we did get the guy.”
“Maybe he’s taking after Grissom,” Brass suggested.
“But if he were, he’d know what language that is,” Greg countered. “And he would have said so.”
In the silence of the car ride out to Pritchard’s body Greg remembered the first time he’d used the Norwegian phrase. His boyfriend had been upset after a nightmare concerning fire ants and he’d uttered the phrase in the dark of night, repeating ‘jeg elsker deg’ many times. It was the first time he’d ever spoken the language to someone who didn’t know it, the night he’d learned that babbling in Norwegian calmed Nick like nothing else could, and the first time he’d said ‘I love you’ to Nick in any language. He grinned at how easily everyone had swallowed Nick’s lie.
“So you weren’t close to Warrick like everyone else,” Ecklie commented, bringing him out of his thoughts.
“So, we have a suspect. What will you do if the evidence shows he’s innocent?”
“If the evidence says he didn’t do it, then that’s what I have to go with. Sure, I want someone to rot in prison for killing him, but I want it to be the right person, not the first available suspect. That’s what matters. Because if I make a mistake, or incriminate him, fix the evidence to look like McKeen did it, and he didn’t, then an innocent man goes to prison and the real killer gets away. And if the real killer’s still out there, who’s to say something similar won’t happen to someone else on the team, to Catherine, or Nick.” Greg shivered at the thought.
Ecklie muttered something unintelligible under his breath.
Brass looked back at the CSI in his rearview mirror. “I like the way you think, Greg.”
The police Captain, Assistant Lab Director, and Level 1 CSI found Officer Daniel Pritchard hanging from a tree limb out in the middle of the desert, originally found by a low flying plane. A wooden chair had been knocked to the ground below his feet and his car was parked not too far away.
“I’ve got handcuffs on him.” Greg photographed the evidence. “And they’re bloody.” He grabbed a swab from his kit and took a sample. “I don’t see any wounds on his body. This can’t be his blood.”
“What’s the rail width?”
He measured them. “The same as the ligature marks on Gedda.”
“Then we just tied him to Gedda’s murder.”
“Provided this blood belongs to Gedda... wait... there’s a fingerprint in the blood.”
Ecklie tried the door on the car. “No signs of forced entry here. But the door’s locked.”
Greg carefully patted the body’s pockets and dug out a set of car keys. He tossed them to the Assistant Director who dusted them for prints before unlocking the car.
“I don’t see anything amiss here. Doesn’t look like he was dumped here to make it look like a suicide.”
“There’s nothing on him that says he was killed in any other way besides hanging himself. No ligature marks, no bullet holes, no blood. Nothing.”
“Could have been poisoned.”
“When David gets here we’ll get a sample of his blood to tox, see what he’s got, if anything.”
“But I don’t see signs that anyone else was here.”
“So, then what’s with the cuffs, do you think?”
“Well, this ensures the evidence doesn’t go anywhere, unless someone hacks off his arms,” Greg explained. “It also means he can’t change his mind about hanging himself.”
“Change his mind?”
“Well, if he was strong enough, he could have climbed back up the rope. I’ve seen people who could do that..”
“Ok, then. If you say so.”
“I just found the suicide note.” Both Greg and Brass turned to Ecklie and listened while he read the note out loud. “I have seen one two many murders I wanted nothing to do with. I didn’t want the CSI to go down for something a bad cop did and I’m tired of being the money delivery boy. No one will miss me. In fact, a few people might be relieved at my passing. I can only hope this message makes it into the right hands. I’m sorry. Signed, Officer Daniel Pritchard.”
“So, what did you come up with?” Greg asked Ecklie when he looked up from his pager and saw the older man returning from QD.
“I managed to get a report he’d filled out only last week as a comparison document. And, yes, that suicide note was real. Not forged in any way. You?”
“Just got paged to the print lab about the hand cuffs. Also, I checked in with Mandy. The DNA of the blood on the cuffs was a match to Lou Gedda.”
“Ok, well, that’s something, at least.”
Greg led the way to Mandy’s lab where she greeted them with a handout.
“You were right, Greg. The fingerprint found in the blood on the cuffs belongs to non-other than Undersheriff McKeen. All the other prints were not in the blood and belonged to Officer Pritchard.”
“Great. The press is going to love this.” Ecklie scanned the document. “Mandy, you do know you can’t talk about this to anyone, right?”
“I’m all over it.”
Ecklie walked out the door, staring at the sheet.
“He meant to say ‘thanks’. He’s just a little preoccupied.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
Greg left the lab and dashed down the hall to catch up with the other man who was talking to Henry.
“Tox results came back negative,” Ecklie announced when he arrived at his side. “Nothing there.”
“Great. I guess that proves our suicide theory.”
“Guys, I’ve got something you might wanna hear.” Archie darted out of his lab when he saw the two CSIs headed his way.
“What have you got?”
They followed him into his lab.
“I found another file from Harper’s email accounts. He liked to tape himself giving thoughts and theories to different cases he was working on. He had them set up to automatically send to his email account and delete the original version on the computer. I did some digging and found the last one. He was, indeed, talking to himself just before he was killed.”
Archie cued up the sound bite.
“I still don’t understand why this guy wants me to look into Gedda. It’s not like he can do anything with the information I’m providing him. But I guess as long as he’s willing to pay me for all my troubles...” the Private Investigator sighed. “So, on the new date in question, Gedda was seen handing an envelope over to a police officer. His name tag said ‘Pritchard’. Don’t know him. He opened the envelope and looked to be counting bills. Heard Gedda make a comment ‘Tell McKeen I said thanks.’ I wonder what McKeen’s up to now. The cop didn’t say anything, just nodded before getting back into an unmarked car. Looked civilian...”
“That’s where it looks like someone tried to erase the file,” Archie said. “But they only got part of it while it was in edit mode before they accidentally sent it to his email. Then, it looked like the file was deleted so they didn’t pursue it further. It continues, maybe fifteen minutes after his last comment about the car.”
The tech pushed a few buttons on his keyboard and the file picked up again. “Hey Lenny!” Undersheriff McKeen’s voice boomed out in a happy greeting. “Oh my God... Pritchard? What have you done?! You killed him? What the hell?!”
“I’m sorry Sir! I... I... Gedda made me do it!”
“He said he caught Harper looking into his activities.”
“Son-of-a-bitch! I’m gonna kill the bastard! How could Lou do this to me?! He’s gonna ruin everything!”
“And that’s it.”
“That sound like a threat to you?”
“It’s just too bad we didn’t get to hear the murder actually taking place.”
“I just called Sofia, she’s bringing everyone from the motel over here,” Brass mentioned when Greg and Conrad got to the police station. “With the incriminating evidence you found, we’ve got him, no questions. I’m sure they’ll be safe.”
“What if he had accomplices? We already know Pritchard was involved,” Greg couldn’t help but ask. This was his team’s life at stake if there was more than one mole working together. This was his boyfriend’s life in danger.
“There was no evidence to support an accomplice, Sanders. Quit worrying so much.” Ecklie disappeared into the interrogation room leaving the youngest CSI with the detective out in the hall.
“He’s right, Greg. You’ve seen the evidence. No one else is linked to this. But I know you’re concerned for the team, and that’s a good thing. Don’t worry. We’ll get the scum bag.”
Greg nodded his thanks, and together, they followed Conrad into the room where Undersheriff Jeffery McKeen waited for them.
“We’ve got evidence linking you to all three murders and one suicide,” Greg began before the other two had a chance to open their mouths.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. I know you were investigating Gedda and Lenny’s deaths. I heard about Warrick. I’m so sorry, Greg. I know you two worked closely together. But I don’t know about a suicide. And really, I’m only guessing about the murders.”
“Funny thing, Undersheriff... we didn’t tell anyone who died last night. Only those who were working specifically with the evidence knew. So, you shouldn’t even have known about that,” Brass accused.
“I’m the Undersheriff. I know about everything that goes on around here. What are you implying?”
“You were there when Pritchard killed your friend, Lenny Harper. You had to have helped him clean up the scene.”
“Why would I do that? I distinctly remember telling Brass to put every man on his murder. Why would I do that if I covered it up?”
“You’re smart. You wanted to throw us off. And you would have gotten away with it too. But you found out who ordered the hit on the guy, and you wanted revenge for your friend. So you found Gedda, intending to kill him. I’m guessing you then learned that Gedda was actually sending a message to Warrick, letting him know he was on to him, by killing Lenny. Only you got the message first. That’s why you decided to frame Warrick for his death.”
“You don’t know any of this.”
“We’ve got you on tape threatening to kill Gedda. We’ve also got your finger print in Gedda’s blood on the handcuffs used to hold him in his barbers chair. You were there when that blood was fresh, only no one saw you handling evidence at the scene and those weren’t the cuffs we found on him when we arrived. You were the one who used Pritchard’s cuffs to hold him. You were the one who beat him up, used Warrick to shoot him, and then changed the cuffs to make it look like Warrick had been there all along. You knew he wouldn’t back off from finding out the truth and you couldn’t let that happen.”
“Wait a minute... what?” McKeen looked up at Greg, a little intimidated by the young CSI. “How can you...? But I...”
“Someone saw you walk down the ally where Warrick was parked last night. They saw you go down there five minutes before he was shot,” Ecklie leaned on the table, as if McKeen was nothing other than a common criminal.
“So what did you and Warrick talk about?” Brass asked. “Or did you just make him think you wanted to talk, let him roll down the window and then blew his brains out? Huh?! Which is it?!”
“Tell me something, McKeen, if we go into your office right now... will we find a bottle of chloroform in your desk drawer? Or perhaps in the back of your filing cabinet?”
There was a long pause. McKeen stared at a single spot on the wall and blinked.
“You know what silence in the interrogation room says, don’t you, Undersheriff?”
“He’s screwed because I’m gonna kill his ass!” Nick burst into the room, pure anger running through his veins, turning his face a light shade of red.
Greg pushed his chair back, got to his feet and shoved Nick toward the door in one fluid motion. “You’re not supposed to be in here, Stokes! You’re not on this case!”
Sofia stood out in the hallway with the rest of the team, their mouths gaping at them both as the door slammed shut behind them. He pressed his finger tips into Nick’s chest to make his point once they were away from Brass and the others. He didn’t care if he left marks on him.
“You haven’t seen the evidence. You don’t know he’s our suspect. Just because we’re talking to the Undersheriff...”
“I don’t need to see the evidence! I know he did it! Just let me at him!”
Greg felt his blood boiling to new heights.“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” he screamed. “I’m doing this for you and the rest of the team, you dip shit! You don’t know anything! So back off! So help me God, if you ruin this damn investigation I’ll kill you!”
While Nick didn’t understand Greg’s hateful words he understood the wrath Greg was unleashing on him and backed down, almost looking ashamed of himself and a little scared of the other CSI.
“Sofia, get him out of here!”
When Nick didn’t move, Sofia grabbed his arm and pulled him backward. Greg spun on his heal and went back to the interrogation room.
“Now, where were we?” he asked once the door was shut behind him, as if he hadn’t just screamed his head off. “Ah, right, you were about to confess to killing CSI Warrick Brown...”
“We got him,” Greg announced to the large group of lab techs and CSIs huddled together in the lab’s break room. Grissom had already told them the news about Warrick not too long ago. “And before you ask, yes, the evidence will stand up in court, thanks to all of you wonderful techs who worked it all out in record time.”
A collective sigh of relief filled the room.
“Thanks for working the case, Greg.”
“Why wouldn’t I, Griss? You have no need to thank me.”
The supervisor nodded. “I wish I knew where Sara was. She needs to know about this...”
Just as Greg saw the annoying lab rat, known as Hodges, slip out of the room, he caught sight of Nick, and the hurt look haunting his eyes. He moved closer to his boyfriend, quelling the instinct to wrap his arms around him and make the hurt go away.
“What did you say to me?” Nick asked, fear from Greg’s earlier wrath evident in his voice.
“I’m sorry I yelled.”
The exact words he’d used against his boyfriend came back to him and he found himself eternally grateful Nick didn’t understand enough Norwegian to know what he’d been screaming. He’d threatened his own boyfriend, his coworker... he already felt bad enough for hurting the man he loved... but if anyone else had known that...
“But what did you say?”
“It was colorful language I hope never to have to use around you ever again. Please just forget it happened.” He couldn’t help the guilty feeling creeping into his soul and wondered if it would ever go away.
“But you don’t get mad. You never yell... and that was... that was worse than mad. What did you say?”
“Jeg elsker deg. Please, please, forget I yelled at you.”
“You hold a power over him, you know that?” Sofia appeared beside them. “I don’t know what you said to him... but he’s been terrified, fretting about it ever since. Hell, you had me scared.”
“Nicky, I just didn’t want you to compromise the investigation. I just said some quick things to get you to go away. You know how the smallest thing can turn all of our hard work into nothing.” Of course this was the truth, but it didn’t stop the building guilt.
Nick blinked slowly as he comprehended Greg’s words and actions. “You’re right. I know. I shouldn’t have threatened him like that. I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help it.”
“It’s alright. I understand why you did it.”
“Greg saved your ass, Nick. You do realize that, don’t you? You threatened McKeen’s life. He’s the Undersheriff... well, he was the Undersheriff. That little stunt you pulled could have ended badly for you, and that’s the last thing your team needs right after Warrick’s death.”
Nick looked up at Greg as he spoke to Sofia, “I already owe him so much... one more thing...”
“Don’t worry about it, Nick. You don’t owe me anything. I’m just looking out for you, like Warrick would. Just promise me you won’t ever do that again.”
“I promise... Dear God I can’t promise that enough.”
A voice cleared its throat and everyone stopped talking to see Al Robbins in the doorway. “I thought you’d want to know... his body’s been released for burial. I’ve been told the funeral will be the day after tomorrow. Greenhaven Cemetery. Nine am.”
“Thank you, Al. We appreciate the news.”
Catherine pushed her way through the somber crowd and out the door. Greg saw her go and darted after her, leaving Nick with Sofia.
“Catherine, are you going to be ok?” He walked beside her toward the front of the building.
“What do you think?” She brushed several tears roughly from her face. “Why didn’t I tell him how I felt sooner? I should have just said something. But then Tina happened. How could I have fucked it up so bad?”
“You’re not the only one with those thoughts, you know.”
“I’m not stupid. But you should know I don’t want to hear that.”
“What are you doing here, Greg?”
“Comforting a friend. Would you rather I not?”
“I don’t know,” she sighed.
“You know he always looked out for you. Even when Tina was in the picture. He was always there for you.”
“He was always there for Nick too. What’s your point?”
“I don’t think your feelings for him went unnoticed.”
“It’s a little late for that now,” she sniffed, sitting down on a bench in the hallway. “But I appreciate your gesture.”
He sat down beside her. “I’m just doing what I can.”
“Greg...” Nick’s voice reached his hears.
He looked up to see that Nick had followed them. He stood up again, resting a hand on Nick’s arm. “You want me to take you home?”
“Nick,” Catherine got up and threw her arms around him in a tight hug. Neither of them said anything, letting their tears speak for them instead.
Greg let them have their moment alone, wondering where Hodges had gotten to, half inclined to erase his previous thoughts that the tech was grieving and think that perhaps he was just being normal, stupid Hodges who didn’t care about anyone but himself.
“It’ll be ok. We’ll survive. We always do,” Catherine said between tears as she and Nick pulled away from each other.
“Yeah. We always do.”
“Where are you going?” Greg asked her.
“I don’t know. The desert maybe. I don’t think I can go home just yet to face my mother and my daughter... I don’t think I can do that after all this.”
“Take care of yourself,” Greg gave her arm a squeeze. “And call me if you need anything.”
“I will when I run out of Vodka at three in the morning. Maybe I should tell you my coordinates so you can find me.”
Greg pulled her into a tight embrace and held her for a long while.
“It’s what I’m here for.”
When they reached the front door the three of them were surprised to find Hodges there with an easel he’d swiped from the layout room. Greg didn’t know where he’d found the large picture of their fallen friend, but it didn’t matter. He was just setting the picture on the easel when the three of them stopped to look at it. Someone had already set a vase of blue flowers beside it.
Catherine ran out the door with fresh tears in her eyes and Greg let her go, choosing to stay with Nick this time, because his boyfriend needed him that much more.
Hodges gave them a curt nod before leaving them alone with Warrick’s memorial.
“Greg... what if I’d left the diner with him?” Nick questioned. “You know? Maybe I could have done something to save him... he could still be alive right now...”
“Shhh. Stop it. There’s nothing you could have done.”
“But what if I could have saved him?”
“If you’d gone with him, chances are I’d be going to your funeral too. And you know I couldn’t handle it. Please don’t make me think about that.”
“I’m sorry.” After a few minutes Nick turned to Greg. “Thank you.”
“For working the case, catching McKeen, and keeping me inline.”
“It’s just part of my many job descriptions. Don’t worry about it honey.”
Nick’s fingers fumbled with the knot at his neck. “There’s just so much I didn’t get a chance to tell him, you know?” He dropped his hands in frustration when Greg reached around him to fix the mess he’d made as they stood together in front of Greg’s bedroom mirror. “I wanted to tell him about us. He was my best friend and I just really wanted his support. And the last thing I said to him was a lie. I said I’d think about asking the waitress out. But I knew I wouldn’t, so I lied. He and I used to share so much together, and then when you came along, I stopped. I never got to share the most important part of my life with him.” When Greg was done he turned around. “Greg, the last thing I said to my best friend was a lie... when I should have just told him the truth and lived with his reaction even if it was horrible.”
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you,” Greg’s voice was soft. “I just didn’t know how or when.” Nick’s eyes searched his. “I talked to him the other day. When he was still a suspect. I just wanted to tell him what to expect, see how he was doing... But he didn’t care so much about all that. I think it’s only right that you should know what he said and I think he’d want you to know the truth, even if he couldn’t tell you himself, like he wanted.”
Nick blinked. “G...” his voice wavered. “What are you getting at?”
Greg heard Warrick’s voice in his head as he repeated his friend’s words, “‘He thinks I’m blind, doesn’t want me to know. But I’m not blind. He’s been attached to you since day one, giving you nicknames and hovering over you in the lab every moment he could. Just promise me you’ll take good care of him for me, Greggo. I need to know Nick’s going to be ok without me.’”
“So he knew... all this time he knew,” Nick’s voice had lowered to a whisper and tears were pooling in his eyes.
“He was going to tell you if he got out of his mess. He wanted to talk about it, to keep your relationship honest. He just didn’t know how to do that and wanted to wait until all the hysterics died down.”
“He’s ok with us?”
“Yes, Nicky. He’s ok with us.” Greg paused for a moment, taking in the joy and sadness mixing together in Nick’s eyes. “...and I don’t think he would want us to stay hidden.”
Greg reached into Nick’s pocket and pulled out his boyfriend’s keys. He took a silver band off the key ring.
“It might just be a promise ring, and technically not a real wedding ring yet, but I did promise to carry out his wishes. We don’t have to say anything to anyone... just wear the rings.”
He slipped it onto Nick’s left ring finger. A tear rolled down the other man’s cheek and Greg wiped it away with his thumb.
“I should have said something to him...”
“You couldn’t have known.”
This time he dug into his own pocket and brought out his own keys, holding them up for Nick.
“We don’t have to do this if you don’t want to...”
The funeral was a small affair held in an even smaller cemetery hidden from the street behind several rows of flowering trees. When he and Greg arrived, Nick recognized a dozen or so police officers, Sofia Curtis, Captain Brass, and Grissom. There were a few people from the neighborhood where Warrick had grown up and a few of the friends he’d managed to keep throughout the years, but these Nick didn’t know enough even to name.
Nick was so tense from the past few days and now having to go through the funeral, he doubted even the deep tissue massage Greg was promising for later would relax him much. Being there with other friends of Warrick’s he’d never known wasn’t helping either and just plain felt weird. Should he go talk to them? Or not? Would they even want him to? It didn’t feel right to stick to his own kind, the people Warrick had worked with, as if there was some sort of line dividing them, cops versus civilians. Standing beside Greg, he was grateful his boyfriend had no intentions of leaving him during and after the service, so whatever he did, he wouldn’t be doing it alone.
“Hey guys. How’re you doing?”
Nick looked up from his feet to see Brass in his dress uniform only three feet away, looking solemn.
“I don’t think there’s any good way to answer that.”
The detective nodded.
Grissom and Sofia were the next to appear beside them. No one said anything by way of a greeting. There was no need. Neither did they move to talk to anyone else, the dividing line staying in place.
He doubted many actual cops or detectives would show up, besides the few that were there already. The whole lab would have shown up but crime never took a moment off and everyone else had voted that Warrick’s team should be the ones to get the time off. That meant the only other person they were now expecting was Catherine. From the corner of his eye he saw the minister arrive with a black Bible in his hands. Where was Catherine? The funeral was due to start in just a few minutes. It wasn’t like her to be this late for anything. Least of all, Warrick’s funeral.
“Oh my God...” Nick followed his boss’s stunned gaze to see a young brunette get out of a silver rental car and walk through the trees toward them. “...Sara?”
“I’m so sorry guys. I read the obituary in the paper. I had to come.”
“I’m glad you could make it.” Gil pulled her into a tight embrace, before he let her go for a round of hugs with everyone else in the huddled group.
“It’s good to see you,” Nick said when she got to him. “Though I wish it didn’t have to be here.”
“Yeah, me too.”
A slight brush to his hand brought his attention to Greg who was waving his cell phone in the air.
“I have to make a phone call. I’m not going far.”
No one questioned Sara’s sudden return or her odd departure many months ago. They also didn’t mention the kiss she’d bestowed on Grissom right before she left. Nick was just thankful she’d shown up, knowing it was the least she could do, and what Warrick would have wanted.
“Where the hell are you?!” Greg hissed into his phone. Nick turned to see him standing under a nearby tree. “Get your ass over here before I have to come find you and kick it! You’d better not still be drunk. The minister’s already here and you cannot miss this!” Greg clicked his phone shut and rejoined the group just as the minister was calling everyone together.
As they gathered to one side of the closed coffin, Nick was unconscious of where everyone was standing, but made sure he was beside Greg. It was true, he did hover over Greg a lot, but it was only because he needed the close contact, almost couldn’t live without the other man since they’d gotten together.
“Sorry I’m late,” Catherine breathed, slipping into the small space on Greg’s other side. “I almost didn’t come.”
“I called you.”
“Yeah, thanks for that. And so you know I haven’t had a drink in twelve hours just to be safe before coming here. But it would have made this a hell of a lot easier.”
“Good. I’m glad you’re sober. Now, guess who showed up,” Greg nodded in Sara’s direction.
Catherine’s eyes widened when she saw her ex-coworker. “Sara? I didn’t think...”
“I know. It’s ok. We can talk later.”
The minister began to speak, taking their attention away from the reunion. When she shut her eyes against the sight of the casket, Greg took Catherine’s hand in his in a comforting gesture and Nick wondered how he could do it; wondered how Greg could be a rock for both of them when he must have been torn up inside himself. When this was over he would have to get his act together and be there for Greg. In the meantime all he could do was wish fervently that Greg could be holding his hand in public as easily as he was holding Catherine’s.
When the short sermon was over time was given to anyone who had something to share about Warrick. Brass talked about the CSI’s drive at work, how he was a great asset to the team and the lab as a whole. Grissom would have done it, but everyone knew he wasn’t good at this sort of thing, so the Captain had volunteered before he’d even had a chance to either protest or botch it up. Catherine somehow managed to gather her courage and talk about his passion for his work and his devotion to his friends with only a few tears falling. And a few of the guys he’d grown up with mentioned his nerdiness in highschool and how much he’d changed over the years, yet stayed the same; how he’d survived and grown no matter what anyone threw at him. And it was true. Everyone knew it was true.
Now it was Nick’s turn at the podium. Scanning the small audience he found the love of his life, giving him all the support he needed, telling him through his shining eyes that he could do this. Gripping the podium for support, he took a deep breath and began the short speech he’d quickly rewritten that morning:
“Warrick has always been a great friend to me, the best I’ve ever had. He held me up during the times I needed someone and didn’t have anyone else. I’ll miss the times we hung out after a particularly grueling shift, or the celebrations we had when we solved a huge case that had been baffling us for quite some time. But it wasn’t until this morning, as I was getting ready to come here, that I realized just how much of a good friend Warrick actually was.” Here, he tried not to choke on his words. “I wish I’d realized it sooner so I could have told him. I can only hope he knows my gratitude for everything he’s ever done and said, because he’s given me the courage I didn’t have, to be who I truly am.” Nick looked toward the heavens. “Warrick... if you’re listening... thank you.”
When he made eye contact with Greg again he found tears in his boyfriend’s eyes, rolling down his cheeks. And while most of the audience didn’t know what he’d meant in the end, he’d been able to say it out loud and he already felt that much better for it.
Nick walked back to his spot beside Greg with shaky legs, almost unsure he’d make it back in one piece. A hand with a silver band on its ring finger reached over and grasped his, intertwining their fingers together, and his muscles began to relax for the first time since they’d arrived. Who knew the simple act of holding hands could sooth his turmoil into a calm he hadn’t known for a long time? A small smile crossed his now trembling lips through his tears as he squeezed Greg’s hand, never intending to let go. He may have just lost his best friend and he knew it would take a while for him to get over it, if he ever could, but he still had Greg standing beside him, holding him together... and Warrick was ok with that.
In loving memory of
Crime Scene Investigator
Las Vegas Police Department
October 10, 1970 - May 15, 2008
A/N: This is one possibility of the events that could follow “For Gedda” and I hope I’m somewhat close to how things actually happened or will happen. I analyzed the evidence from this episode as well as Cockroaches for hours just to be able to come up with a plausible theory, and then had to throw it out and start over again when I realized I was only making things up to make the story easier to write. So I really hope this theory works for you guys.
Viewing the last ep, I have reason to believe Warrick didn’t know about them if they are currently together, but one never really knows, as I think I just showed with this story. I didn’t want the ending to be completely sad, and I thought it would be interesting if Greg and Warrick had talked about Greg’s relationship with Nick and Warrick’s position on the team as the ‘rock’ that Greg becomes. And you’ll note, Warrick only asked him to look after Nick, but Greg knew he’d have to watch Catherine too, at least for awhile.
Anyway, I do hope you enjoyed this, and please do let me know what you think. I appreciate each and every one of your comments.