Nick walked up to the ER admittance desk, smiling when the nurse looked up.
“I came in with a patient last night. Her first name is Mason; I don’t have a last name—”
“Nick Stokes, Crime Lab?” the nurse asked.
“Just a minute.” The nurse went into a room and came back with Doctor Baker.
The woman motioned Nick to follow and they walked to a secluded corner of the ER.
“She’s gone,” Baker said.
Nick stared at her.
“Oh! No. I mean… Not dead. We moved her to her room and about twenty minutes later, a lawyer with the DEA supervisor arrived and they took her.”
Nick looked down. After they had taken all the evidence, he couldn’t say he was surprised by this.
“She asked me to keep her in recovery until she could write you a letter. As crazy as tonight has been in here, I obliged. Here.”
Nick looked up at the envelope Baker held out. He took it from her.
“Thank you,” Nick said.
“This has been one strange night with you C.S.I.” Baker walked a few steps. “Oh, how is Greg Sanders doing?”
Nick turned. “What?”
“That boy was in here four times last night. He was a mess by the time we got him convinced to go home.”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him all night.”
“Probably because he kept ending up in here,” Baker said as she walked away.
Nick walked back out to his Escalade and got in. He tore the envelope and unfolded the piece of paper inside, reading Mason’s last words to him:
I’m not a civilian, I’m FBI. I knew I was in over my head, but I stayed because I wanted to put away the bad guys. I know you understand that. I failed, and I’m being pulled from the case. There’s something I want you to do for me. Never let go of that sweetness in you. It was strong enough to save me; it will always protect you.
Nick folded the note back into the envelope. He sat for two hours staring at the instrument panel, trying to figure out how to mend his broken heart.
Grissom walked into his office and sat down at his desk. He dropped files on one side and then picked up a pen to start signing off on the ones sitting in the middle of his desk. He stopped, hearing someone mutter something. Grissom looked up, seeing no one in the hall. He lifted his pen to write and heard the muttering again. Grissom looked up – there was still no one in the hall. He got up and walked to the door, reaching out to close it, and heard plastic rustle behind him. He turned. He could just barely see the edge of a gurney at the back of his office. Grissom slowly walked around the tall shelves hiding it and stopped, staring at Greg. He wasn’t sure what surprised him the most: Greg looking like he’d been in a bar fight, that he was holding a case file while he slept, that he was sleeping on a gurney that was sandwiched between the shelves and wall, or the fact he was sleeping on the job. Grissom reached out and shook his leg.
He didn’t respond.
Grissom shook his leg harder and said louder, “Greg.”
Greg’s arm flinched, but he didn’t wake up.
“Let him sleep,” Grissom heard Catherine quietly say behind him.
Grissom turned, finding her standing in the door looking over a case. She held it up. “Needs your John Hancock. Which pile is the done ones?”
“Why is Greg sleeping in here? No, why is he sleeping on the clock? Where did this gurney come from? And why does he look like he’s been in a fight?”
Catherine walked over to Grissom’s desk, setting the file in the middle, and then headed for the door, fingering him to follow.
Grissom joined her in the hall, watching her shut his office door.
“Greg had a really bad night. He’s sleeping in your office because he took a Percocet at the hospital and I was taking him home when I got called back here for another call. So I asked David to bring him up a gurney so he could sleep while I worked on the call. I’ll take him home after my shift. And he’s not on the clock. I couldn’t find you, so I woke up Ecklie to sign off on medical leave for a week. What else do you want to know?”
“When you say a bad night—”
“He was hit in the face by a pickup mirror, dragged about twenty feet by his camera strap around his neck, almost ran over, shot in the butt, beat up by a kid, had a vase dropped on his head, and a woman sliced open his hand.”
Grissom looked in the direction Greg was sleeping. “I thought my night was bad.”
She smiled, patting Grissom’s arm. “My worst night couldn’t compare to his. So, let him sleep. I have work I can catch up on until he wakes up.”
Grissom looked at his watch. “I’ll take him home when he wakes up.”
“Are you sure?”
“Thank you.” Catherine dug a ring of keys out, handing them to him. “His keys.”
Grissom took them and went back in his office. He walked around the shelves and shook Greg’s shoulder.
“Greg.”Greg muttered something incoherent, but he didn’t wake up. Grissom watched his C.S.I. for a minute. He pulled the case file from Greg’s hold. He opened it, staring at the empty file, and then smiled and shook his head. Grissom went to the locker room and pulled a blanket from a locker at the back. He went back and spread it over Greg.
“Ten matching epithelials…” Greg muttered in his sleep.
Grissom gave his shoulder a pat and went back to his paperwork.