One Way Or Another

Chapter 24

08/29/2005 Same day later in evening

Chapter Twenty-Four

"What do you mean, Rick? What's happened to Nick?" Reilly repeated as Sam took the bags they'd brought with them and sat them down on a table by the door to the room.

Warrick looked at Brass and Grissom, not sure what to do or say. He wasn't sure how to say this to Reilly. She'd been through Nick's first kidnapping with them all and she had helped them to hold up, but she hadn't been pregnant then. Now in her condition, well, he just didn't know how to tell her.

"Warrick Brown! Tell me what the hell you mean right now!" Reilly shouted at him as she came into the room.

"Reilly… it appears that Nick's been taken as a hostage during a jailbreak at the Detention Center." Grissom said, coming up to her. "You need to stay calm… and know we're working on finding him right now."

"We've got an APB out on the prisoners that took him, on the vehicle they were in and we're trying to track it right now." Brass said, bringing a stool over and starting to help Reilly sit down.

When she realized they were trying to keep her calm, she jerked free of Brass. "Don't you dare treat me like I'm made of glass Jim Brass. I'm fine, I just happen to be pregnant. I want to know what happened to Nick. I want to know everything. And I want to know it all now!" The investigator in her was taking over. She needed to put all of this into perspective. This was like any other case, Nick was the case and he was missing. And she was good at finding missing people. She just needed to know all the details and she could find him. That's what she did; find the missing.

Warrick walked over to her and took her hands in his. She met his eyes. She knew that this time she had much more invested personally than on any other case she'd worked; even her goddaughter's. She felt the burn of the tears as they slid from her eyes. She sank down onto the stool as Warrick followed her down crouching on his heels and he began at the beginning.

He had to give Reilly credit; even though he felt her stiffen, she hung onto his every word and waited until he'd told her everything before she started asking questions. The right questions. She was thinking like a detective and Warrick knew it was her way of keeping herself under control. They needed to find Nick and to do that they would need to know every detail inside and out. One way or another, they needed to be sure all the bases were covered.

"Okay." Reilly said taking a deep breath. "So what now? If Nick can't be tracked then where do we go from here?" She asked looking from Warrick to Brass to Grissom. "Have you checked on why Waller was killed? I mean, come on, prisoners get in fights all the time even over a game play, but they're gonna use their fists to settle an argument, not a book. The book is a red herring; it's out of place in this picture."

Grissom smiled; he knew Reilly was smart, but she was latching on way quicker than most professionals would. "I agree; the book does not belong. So therefore, it's there for a different reason."

Reilly looked at Grissom as she thought that through. "Right, the book isn't a red herring; it is important. It's just not the murder weapon. It was put there for a reason, a purpose; and I'm getting the very real feeling that the murder was a cover or a possible means to an end. Waller was collateral damage; the jailbreak was the real crime here."

"Yes, that's what I think." Brass added.

"So what we do now is go back to the scene of that crime. Warrick, you and Brass go back to the jail, meet up with Catherine. I already sent her there. I'll send Greg to help Sara at the hospital with Waller's body. We'll find something." Grissom instructed.

"I don't mean to interrupt or sound stupid or anything, but why would CSI need to swab the prisoners?" Sam asked as she stepped up behind her mother.

"What do you mean?" Brass asked, slightly confused by the question.

"I mean, these guys are already in jail; isn't their DNA already on a file somewhere? Why would you need it again when you can just pull it out of the computer and run it against the DNA found on the book?"

Reilly looked at Grissom and the two slowly smiled as they both realized the same thing. "Good question, Sam." Reilly said. "Inmates in prison have already been convicted of the crimes they were charged with, so we can legally run their DNA when checking against unsolved cases; but inmates in the county jail have not already been convicted of the crimes they are charged with, so we have to swab to obtain their DNA legally for any new crimes that are either unsolved or happen in their presence. It's a part of their legal rights, innocent until proven guilty."

"And not many people know that fact." Warrick added as he realized the same thing.

"So bringing in CSI to work a crime scene at the jail was planned. Whoever planned this, knew CSI had to come and take DNA samples if DNA is found at the crime scene, and they wanted that to happen." Brass finished for all them.

"Which means?" Sam asked, still out of the loop.

"Which means that either Nick or Warrick were targeted to begin with. Or whichever CSI showed up at the scene. Waller was a means to an end and those escaped prisoners knew CSI would respond and that's what they wanted." Reilly replied. "CSI was the target here."

"Nick or Warrick were the targets. We were short staffed and Sara, Catherine and Greg were already working doubles on another case. When the two from swing shift called in, that meant I had to call Nick and Warrick in early for the assault at the jail. Who ever planned this knew they would be the ones called in." Grissom added.

"But why me or Nick?"

"That's what we need to find out." Reilly answered as she turned to Brass. "I want to help, Jim. I'll stay here in the lab, but I need to be a part of this. I can't sit this out and watch. You know I can help."

Brass heaved a huge sigh. "Okay, yeah, but you stay in the lab. You do not go off on your own here." He answered.

Grissom and Warrick exchanged slightly surprised looks at how quickly Brass gave in to Reilly. She wasn't a cop, just a consultant and she wasn't even here in a legal capacity, so they didn't understand why he agreed to let her join the investigation.

"I can help Gil, trust me." Reilly said, as she saw the look between him and Warrick. "You know me, Jim… I always follow orders." She added.

"Right." Both Brass and Sam said in unison.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Nick found himself again sitting in another car with the three men who were using him as a hostage. They had switched vehicles and had left the bar's parking lot without a soul seeing them, or so they thought. As they pulled out of the parking lot and headed into the alley, Nick did not look back to see if anyone may find the sonogram picture of his baby daughter that he'd managed to pull from his vest pocket and drop by the Tahoe. The picture was labeled with Reilly's chart number and the words 'Baby Girl Stokes'. Hopefully they'd figure out why he had left the picture over anything else.

And because he didn't look back, Nick missed seeing the young woman who had come out of the bar and had been walking towards her car, a green Bronco. She saw the men push another man into her car and she saw the same man drop something. She had retreated to the shadows to silently watch as her car drove away with the man who looked to be a far from willing participant judging by his secured hands. She reached into her bag for her cell, and as she dialed 9-1-1 she walked over to the picture lying on the ground.

The witness missed seeing the Bronco stop in the alley behind the bar and one of the men get out and dig around near the bar's dumpster before grabbing what looked to be a dark colored backpack and then quickly return to her waiting car.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

"Brass." Jim answered his cell as he and Warrick were getting into his car to head back to the Detention Center and finish processing the earlier crime scene as well and work on the new crime scene involving the jailbreak. Catherine was already there waiting for them.

Warrick couldn't make out the caller's words, but his ears picked up at Jim's side of the conversation. Someone had found something and it lead to Nick.

"What? Where?" Jim paused listening to the caller. "Are you sure it says Stokes?" Jim paused again, listening to the response. "I'm in my car with Brown. We'll be there in less than ten minutes. Get Vega to meet us there. "He ended the call and then he pushed the speed dial button to call Grissom. While he waited for Grissom to answer, he turned to Warrick. "A green Ford Bronco was just reported stolen and they found Reilly's sonogram picture at the scene along with the Tahoe." When Grissom answered, Jim passed along the same information to him. "Me and Warrick are headed over there. I'll have him process this new scene and you might want to pull Greg from Sara and have him go to the jail and meet up with Catherine. And Gil… we got a witness."

Warrick clenched his jaw as he frantically kept thinking, where the hell was Nick. "If they've switched cars, it'll be harder to find them. I don't see how anything at the scene would tell us anything else other than what we already know. They pulled over, stole another car, Nick dropped the picture maybe by accident. Dead end. Nicky's out there and we've lost him again."

"Rick, you need to get a grip here. Something is going to help us, I feel it. We just got to hand in there. I'm not a science guy, but I know you guys always amaze me with what you can seemingly pull out of thin air. You know as well as I do that Nick's hanging in there, so we have to hang in there. If he dropped that picture it was on purpose, there's a reason for it. You know how important it is to him and if he was afraid of dying, he'd have that picture glued to his chest. No one would have gotten it off him." Jim said flatly. "The witness said he was alive and he's the one who dropped it. We do not give up here; we do our jobs and we find Nick. That's it. And besides, we have Reilly working for our side on this, so I like our odds."

"Yeah." Warrick chuckled softly. "I almost feel sorry for Thompson when Reilly gets her hands on him."

AN: Please don't forget to read and review. I love that everyone is liking the story so far and I'm trying to update everyday, but I have to work sometimes! So that makes it hard to write, but I'm getting there. And I have a lot more surprises planned!

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