One Way Or Another

Chapter 27

08/30/2005 Same night 4:00AM

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Reilly moaned lightly as she slept.

Reilly had been glad when Brass had pointed her to this bar. She had needed to get away after finding Lexie and getting her to the hospital. She couldn't stand there in the waiting room knowing what had happened to her over the last three days. It was her fault she hadn't found Lexie sooner and now she was going to have to live with what had happened to her like one learns to live with a scar; except this scar couldn't be seen, it was on her soul. She would have to live with this the same way Reilly had been doing for what seemed like forever.

Reilly had just finished her third shot when the man came up and sat quietly down on the bar stool next to hers. She looked up into deep chocolate brown eyes and sighed. Oh goody, she thought, my favorite person in the whole wide world had found me. God why couldn't him and his eyes just drop off the face of the earth? "What are you doing here? Are you following me?"

"No. Why would I want to follow you?" Nick responded. "You made it very clear that you were only tolerating me as a CSI and because Brass needed me. Remember, you said it was nothing personal, you just didn't like me or my science shit." Nick chuckled as he remembered the way she'd looked at him when she'd said those words.

"Yeah, well, just 'cause I said it, doesn't mean you listened now does it? Especially since you're here of all places." Reilly asked for another shot. The bartender raised one eyebrow, but poured the shot for her. Reilly grabbed it and threw it back in one gulp.

She could handle the burn, but on her empty stomach she knew she'd be feeling the effects of her self-medicating alcoholic haze any minute now.

"How many of those have you had?" Nick asked. When Reilly remained silent, he looked at the bartender who held up four fingers.

"Traitor." Reilly told him as she felt the first welcomed wave of fuzziness coming on.

The bartender just laughed and shrugged his shoulders as Nick smiled at Reilly. Oh, God, don't give me that perfect smile of yours. Your perfect white teeth and perfect full lips irritated her so much right now. Then when he threw out his perfect Texas drawl every now and again, she had to fight the urge to hit him. Or maybe it was the urge to just jump his bones.

She shook her head to clear that thought from her brain; she did not need to go there. This man was a nuisance, he argued everything with her, and he was arrogant to boot.

"Maybe I should get you back to the hotel; Brass is looking for you anyway. Your goddaughter was checked in the ER and released; she's back at the hotel waiting for you. Sam too." Nick said as he took a drink of his beer. He knew they weren't leaving right away; they'd be there till Reilly was ready to go; this was her show right now. She knew he'd wait for her.

"Not go…go…goiiinng back." Reilly slurred, listing a little towards Nick. She sighed; God, she needed another drink, but she didn't have the energy to ask. Besides the bartender was a traitor. He was on Nick's side. Everyone was on Nick's side. With his beautiful eyes, perfect teeth, full lips, perfect smile, perfect body..,. Mr. Beautiful Perfect man, she thought.

"Okay." Nick said smiling slightly.

Reilly looked up at him. "Stop smiling at… at me. And stop looking at me… me with… with those damn eyes… eyes of yours." She really couldn't think clearly when he used those eyes in that puppy dog way of his. "It's… it's driving me… me friggin' nuts over… over here." She swallowed hard as she watched him still smiling at her.

As Nick continued the smiling, he said again, "Okay."

"I'm not… goiinng back… not now. Can't face them… Lexie or Sam… not right now." Reilly said sitting up straight and looking at the man. "And Brass can… can kiss my ass if he thinks I'm go…gonna take a lecture from him for not list-istening to his chauvamistic… chauvasistis… his male atti-attitude thing he has a lot… lot of. I found my goddaughter no… no thanks to him, the LVPD or even his precious pain in my ass CSIs."

"Okay." Nick said again still smiling.

"And sh-shtop saying okay!"

"Okay." He smiled.

"You think you're funny, Nick Shtokes?"

"I think I'm hilarious."

"Ha ha. Well, you're not. You are a pain in my ass too… 'member?"

"Well, I could be." Nick said softly for her ears only.

Reilly turned to look up at him surprised. "Wha-What did you say to me?" She tried to blink her confusion away, but was having little success. "Did you say… damn I can't think… what did you say?"

Nick looked at her and sighed. "Look, even if you didn't listen to Brass, you didn't endanger anyone, but yourself. Brass knows that, but the problem is that even though you're a consultant with the police department, you didn't have any legal right to be here in Vegas and if we hadn't found Lexie, you could have been hurt or you could have endangered civilians."

"Well, I did find Lexie, and I didn't get hurt or endan… endangerous anyone. Everyone's hunky dory here. Yeeeppp, just hunky dory." Except me, she thought. I'm not hunky dory at all, emotionally that is. But that's my secret.

"Reilly you can't blame yourself for not finding Lexie sooner. You did the best you could. In fact Brass said it himself, he's never seen any detective he's ever known work the way you do and get the results you get. They're just amazing. Because of you, Lexie's children have their mother back and Sam has her best friend back." Nick paused as he took another swig of his beer. "Besides, Lexie has a long road ahead of her and she's gonna need you there for her. Sam told me that you are probably the only person who could possibly understand what Lexie's been through." He added softly.

Reilly's head jerked up at that. "What do you mean? What did Sam tell you?" She was sobering up fast and she did not want to have this conversation especially with Nick. She didn't like this man, except maybe when he gave her a look with those beautiful eyes of his. Damn, what is he doing to my head? I can't possibly be thinking of him in that way…can I? Oh, damn, I'm a goner.

"Don't blame Sam and she only told me a little, not the whole story, but enough to know that she's right. You're the only one who can sympathize with Lexie. You can help her get through all of the stuff that comes next." Nick turned and looked at Reilly. Really looked at her.

Reilly felt that same old fear start to seep into her bones. What had happened to her was over fifteen years ago, but sometimes she couldn't help feeling vulnerable and helpless all over again. She hated feeling that way. It was like he was back in control again.

"Lexie was raped, Nick Stokes. Repeatedly. And that is something I cannot sympathize with."

"You know what I mean Reilly. You can help her by telling her your story. Maybe even tell Sam the whole story. She says you've never told anyone everything. She's worried about you since you just took off like you did. She's the one who asked me to find you."

"Okay fine Nick. You want me to go to Lexie and say, 'Hey, don't cry honey, because I know what you've been through myself. I was raped too. So let's all talk and then everything will be all better'? Well, not gonna happen. I put a lid on that a long time ago and I promised myself no one, and I mean no one was ever going to hear me talk about it. Not some stranger in a strange office; not my family with their sympathetic eyes; not you with your damn eyes. Ever." Reilly said. She was not going back there again. Not for anyone. Not even for Mr. Beautiful Perfect man, Nick Stokes.

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