Nick and Grissom sat in chairs in the hall between the bedroom, kitchen, and living room. They had processed the living room, the second bedroom, and hall bathroom. There was no way they could processes the living room, the enclosed porch or the perimeter with all the people, and even after Grissom asked numerous times, the FBI and DEA weren’t about to remove their presence until Mason was out of the bathroom. The bedroom had cleared out, leaving just the female DEA. She suddenly left too, joining two other DEA at the end of the hall.
He overheard her tell them, “I’m done with this. We’re busting the door down. Call the local SWAT and get us what we need to break down the door.”
Nick looked at the door and then at Grissom. Grissom was watching the DEA agents. Nick got up and headed for the bathroom door, half expecting someone to order him back to his chair. He reached the door and thought for a moment. Nick patted his pockets, his hand stopping on his vest’s breast pocket and the small stack of business cards he kept in it. He dug one out and crouched down, pushing the card halfway under the door.
Behind him, Grissom turned to speak to him and stared for a second before looking up and seeing him at the bathroom door. He stood and walked to the door, but didn’t say anything.
“Hey, Mason,” Nick said to the door. “My name’s Nick Stokes. I’m with the Las Vegas Crime Lab. I don’t know you, but, uh, there’s a lot of blood out here and I’m pretty sure it’s not all your boyfriend’s. You’ve been in there for a while, and I’m starting to worry that you’re not okay. See my business card here at the door? Could you come take it so I know you’re alive? Otherwise I’m going to bash this door down.”
At first, nothing happened. He saw a shadow move under the door and then his business card disappeared.
He smiled, pressing his hand on the door. “That’s a girl. What happened to you tonight would screw with anyone’s mind. I should know, Mason. I’ve seen enough of the aftermath. It may not seem like it, but you’re really lucky. Most of the time when I arrive, the other women, they’re… Not so lucky. I’ve never been where you are right now; I won’t lie and say I have been. But you know I’ve been someplace close. This one time this guy kidnapped me and buried me alive.” Nick stopped talking. He was overwhelmed by the emotions the memory awakened.
“Why?” a muffled voice asked from the other side of the door.
“Why’d he do that to you?”
“He believed his daughter was wrongfully imprisoned.”
“Did you have her arrested?”
“No. It was just a broad sweeping move. I just happened to be the right guy in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”
“How long were you buried?”
She didn’t speak for a long time. Nick hugged his knees, waiting patiently.
“I never saw the guy coming,” Mason told him. “One minute we were eating supper, the next… I was thinking I hadn’t seen Barbados.”
Nick had no idea what she was talking about, and it worried him that she may not either, indicating she’d lost more blood than he first thought. “Are you hurt badly?”
She didn’t answer the question.
“I take that’s a yes,” Nick said.
It was hard to hear her answer, “Yes.”
“GET OUT OF THERE!” a voice bellowed.
Nick looked up, seeing the DEA and two FBI agents storming towards him.
Grissom grabbed the bedroom door and slammed it shut. Outside the door, a lot of yelling erupted, although Grissom’s voice wasn’t among those yelling.
“Who was that?” Mason asked.
“That DEA woman.”
“I hate her,” Mason snarled.
“I can see why. She’s kinda bossy.”
“You have no idea.”
Nick smiled. “Well, my boss cut her off at the pass.”
“I don’t feel good.”
“How do you mean?”
“I feel weak.”
“You’ve lost a lot of blood, haven’t you?”
“I know we just met and all, but, could I please come in and help you? Looks like one of the paramedics left their kit out here. At least let me get the bleeding slowed down and then, you know, you can kick me out.”
“Only you can come in.”
Nick got to his feet and grabbed the paramedic bag. “Only me.”
The door lock clicked and it opened a crack. His hand touched the door handle when the bedroom door burst open, and the DEA and FBI burst in. Nick rushed in, slamming the bathroom door and locking it
“OPEN THE DOOR!” the DEA woman screamed, beating on the door.
“Not until she wants me to!” Nick yelled back. “Just calm down!”
“I AM GOING TO HAVE YOUR BADGE!”
“I don’t have a badge you idiot!”
“THEN YOUR JOB!”
“Whatever,” Nick told the door as he turned.
The DEA and FBI continued beating on the door and ordering him to open it. He waved them off and turned.
What he found behind him startled him. A small, fragile looking woman in her early thirties was wrapped in a blood soaked silk robe. Blood covered everything in the bathroom. Nick looked away, setting the paramedic bag on the sink and opened it. He was a little taken back by the contents.
“Wow. I guess I never realized how much they pack in these bags,” Nick told her. “I’m no paramedic, but let’s see if we can figure out what’s what, okay?”
She didn’t answer and he didn’t press her to.
He found bandages, a pair of scissors, gauze pads, tape, and a bottle of sterile water. He turned, finding her pressed into the corner trembling. Nick slowly sat the items down.
“What’s wrong, Mason?”
“You’re gloves,” she said.
Nick looked at the translucent white rubber gloves he wore. He looked up at her.
“They guy was wearing gloves?”
“There’s purple ones in the bag. Would it help if I changed them?”
Nick pulled off his gloves and pushed them into his pocket. He dug out a pair of purple gloves and then turned back to her. She was still shaking.
“Do you want to sit down on the toilet or the tub edge?”
She moved around to the toilet and sat down. Nick crouched down in front of her, wetting a gauze pad with the water. He reached up to her face and she jumped. He stopped moving, holding still until she was comfortable with his hand near her face. She slowly moved back and held still while he cleaned a cut on her cheek.
“Were you scared?” Mason asked.
“When you were buried alive?”
Nick looked her in the eyes, tearing up a little. “Terrified, Mason, out of my mind.”
She nodded. “Me too.” She started crying.
Nick saw a washcloth inside the shower and grabbed it, handing it to her.
“Better stop those before they get in these cuts. The salt will burn.”
She smiled a little, dabbing her tears.
Nick continued cleaning and bandaging her cuts.