Passing Notes by embracing shadows [Reviews - 2]

The world was too cruel. First a crazy woman in love points a gun in his face, but he escaped death that time. Then a crazy stalker lives in his attack and tries to assimilate his life by killing him, but he escaped death that time too. And then a crazy man with fatherly motives kidnaps him and locks him in a glass box underground, and he can’t believe he escaped death even that time. But this? No, this was what was going to kill him. They were going to find his corpse rotting here in this very spot years down the road. Death…by boredom. Nick rolled his eyes and closed them, sure that if Grissom spoke any slower he was going to spontaneously combust with frustration. The man had been talking for hours! It wasn’t that Nick was an impatient person – his patience was almost legendary actually – but after four hours of sitting in the same spot listening to the same droning voice talk about the same insignificant subject, he was ready to snap his own neck. Or Grissom’s. He wasn’t really sure at this point which one he would enjoy more.

The piece of paper that fluttered down to the table in front of him all of a sudden caused a simultaneous surge of indignation and flare of confusion. What business had this little piece of paper being in front of him? How dare it intrude upon his boredom? He glared at it for almost a whole minute, arms crossed across his chest childishly, before he saw the light. A distraction! Lovely! The clouds in his face clearing a little at the prospect of having something, anything, to do other than listen to Grissom yammer on. He reached out and grabbed it up before pausing to wonder why exactly it was there. Again it took him a moment of boredom induced lethargic slowness before he figured it out. Someone had just passed him a note. Feeling a little bit like he had traveled back in time to high school he warily opened the note and read the single neatly printed word inside.


Nick stared. He read and reread the single word more than fifteen times. Then he stared some more. Had he really just received a note from one of his adult coworkers containing only a slang word for fecal matter? Maybe he really had died, or at the very least gone crazy. Surely this couldn’t be real. But the paper felt tangible between his fingers. Nick looked up to check and see if anyone was watching for his reaction, but no one else seemed to even register reality. Warrick was leaning back with glazed eyes fixed on Grissom but mind obviously somewhere else. Catherine had her head in her hand, tilted at an uncomfortable angle, and her eyes were half lidded with a sleepiness that threatened to take over. Greg was staring at Grissom with a half alert face that suggested two options: either he was actually paying attention or he was pretending even better than Warrick and was sleeping with his eyes open. Sara had given up on all pretenses and had her head down on the table, encircled by her arms as she gave off light snoring noises.

Nick narrowed his eyes and silently accepted the challenge. I will find you, note giver, he promised in the echoing halls of his own mind. He turned back to the slip of paper and examined it for possible clues like a good investigator would. It was torn from blank printer paper and folded perfectly in half. The single word had been written in the exact center of the paper, consequently folding in half along the crease line. The letters had been carefully printed so that there were no personalizations and there was nothing with which to identify the author. No matter. He was good at what he did, and part of what he did was being a skilled observer. He would watch those around him and wait for who ever it was to crack. The give away could be anything from a smirk to a swift guilty glance in his general direction. Or, if he were lucky enough, he might even get to catch them in the act. Nick grinned evilly at the little note and silently repeated his plot to it, just to make sure it understood its own doom.

Just as he was about to put his plan in to action he blinked and stared, because a second little slip of paper had just drifted down in front of his eyes, landing softly and noiselessly on the metal table top. Nick stared, then he huffed and glared, then he crossed his arms and refused to look at it. It took exactly fifteen and a half seconds for him to give in and peek downwards. It was still there. Sitting quietly and almost too innocently beside its brother. He huffed again, but curiosity overwhelmed him. He reached out and poked at it, satisfied when it did nothing but skitter away at his nudge. He had an irrational feeling of triumph that he had power over the fate of this tiny little note. Once he realized that that was slightly insane and he should probably read it, he was quick to snatch it up and smooth it open, reading the new word given to him for pondering purposes.


This was going too far! He was being mocked! A little bit outraged, Nick tossed the paper violently away from himself and folded his arms in to his chest, refusing to look anywhere near it. Instead he glared around at the people sitting with him. Grissom was standing and gesturing with his hands, his eyes focused somewhere along the wall over their heads. He didn’t seem to notice their collective vegetative states. Catherine had shifted her head to her opposite hand, fighting hard against the encroaching sleep. Warrick had shifted a bit to the right, still glazed and dazed. Neither Sara nor Greg appeared to have moved an inch. Undeterred, Nick narrowed his eyes and looked closer at Warrick, trying to determine whether or not he seemed alert enough to be passing lewd notes. It certainly might be his kind of humor – it did seem to have a perverted male twist to it. On the other hand, the women he worked with were just as twisted and perverted.

And then a third distraction floated along like a tiny white butterfly that he could tear to shreds should he will it to be so. And he almost did. Ready to scream, he instantly reached out and snatched the paper up, the sudden burst of movement going ignored by every other body in the room. Grissom was so far in to his own words that he was blind to all else and everyone else appeared to be lost in their own heads. Less than half of a moment later Nick had a perfectly folded slip of torn printer paper open and smoothed down in front of him, revealing yet again just a single word. And yet again it wasn’t a word he would have ever expected.


Seriously, could he be more confused by this? He scrutinized the words closely, holding the paper mere inches from his face and looking at from many different angles. He lined up the three papers and looked at them through one eye, squeezing the other shut while trying to find some difference. Nothing. He picked all of them up in turn and looked calmly at each. Then he scrambled them together and tossed them away, watching them drift down to the table in a random scatter pattern. He tried glaring, but they didn’t jump up and shout answers. He tried leering but they didn’t cave and shout answers. He tried for a smirk but they didn’t laugh and shout answers. Apparently nothing worked here. He found himself irrationally wishing for a magnifying glass, as if that could help him at all. Not even a microscope could help him here. It wasn’t as if the culprit had scrawled their name so tiny that it was barely…visible…to the human eye…hey!

Feeling triumphant Nick snatched up all three papers and brought them millimeters close, peering in to the corners. The feeling dissipated when his genius idea didn’t pan out like he thought it was. He dropped them to the table and snorted, resting his chin in the palm of his hand and rattling his nails against the table. Then he looked down. One, two, three…four? There were four slips now. He hadn’t even noticed the arrival of the latest development. As intrigued as he was frazzled, he picked it up and stared at it suspiciously. Since it didn’t have any form of mouth with which to tell him where it came from, he settled for opening it and seeing what was inside this time.

Give up?

“That’s cheating!” he burst out. “That’s two words!” Absolutely enraged, he held the paper from both ends and glared as severely as he could, tucking his arms in so it was close enough to practically feel his ire. He hoped it was getting good and scared because he was about to start demanding answers soon! He was just starting to line up his best interrogation techniques in his head when he heard someone clearing their throat. His brow furrowed farther, annoyed that his train of thought had been broken, and continued to stare down the still-pretending-to-be-innocent note.

“Nick?” The Texan blinked as his name was called, and he looked up in confusion, finally registering the fact that Grissom had at very long last stopped talking. In lieu of that, the whole room was staring at him. Greg and Sara both had blank faces, Catherine and Warrick looked deeply confused, and Grissom looked a little frightened. Nick tilted his head and blinked again.

“What?” he asked. Grissom coughed and nodded at something level with Nick’s chest. He looked down and immediately knew what had drawn their attention to him. He looked back and forth between Grissom and the note in his hands, realization dawning on him that he had expressed his protestations out loud. Very loud, in fact. He felt his cheeks heat and flush red, and the back of his neck was suddenly hot as well. He lowered the little piece of paper as he shrank in on himself and slid down in his chair, trying his very best to convince the floor to open up and swallow him whole. It didn’t really work.

“Are you feeling ok?” His boss’s concern seemed to be mostly for his mental state, but Nick didn’t really blame him at the moment. He stuttered a few times through unsuccessful attempts to form coherent sentences explaining the whole situation away. However, after a couple minutes it was starting to look like that was only further convincing the others of his encroaching insanity. So Nick gave up and tossed the small paper down on to the table.

“It’s all your fault, you know,” he accused the small slip, trying his best to ignore the frown growing on Catherine’s face. He really did blame those four little notes. If they hadn’t come flitting along and pretending they were so innocent he might have been able to just fall asleep like everyone else and his whole day would have been fine. But no! They had to intrude upon his down time and force him to think. No one made Nick Stokes think when he didn’t want to! So if you followed his logic – and he thought it was pretty good logic – he really wasn’t to blame for this. He was about to open his mouth and explain all of this when a miracle happen.

Greg giggled. As soon as the sound escaped him he clapped a hand over his mouth, but his control was cracking. The giggle turned in to a snicker, which turned in to a laugh, which turned in to a full out guffaw. Nick stared at his boyfriend with wide eyes, the feeling of betrayal rising in his chest. He gave an indignant little snort and stopped gaping only long enough to yell loudly.

“It was you! It was you passing those notes! You are so dead young man!” He managed to get out of his chair before Greg made it to the door, unsteady on his feet because he was laughing so hard. As the older man chased his younger love through the hallways of the crime lab shouts reverberated around the entire building proclaiming things like “Why do I put up with you?!” and “You are so sleeping on the couch tonight!” Smiles were passed around the break room as Grissom picked up his lecture, making a mental note to fill the two distraught lovers in on the rest later. They appeared to be having fun, who was he to disturb them? He couldn’t help but wonder what exactly had started everything, but really he felt it smarter to just not ask.
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