One Way Or Another

Chapter 33

08/30/2005 Same Day 8:30AM-9:00AM

Chapter Thirty-Three

Reilly stared at the woman through the two way mirror in the next room. She'd heard Lauren say that she didn't love Nick anymore, but had still been mad about him being the one to break up with her. She had visited her father while he was working and in the process had met John Smith. She had started talking to him because he said he didn't have anyone to visit him and she had told him about Nick and he had told her he could get her some payback for being dumped if she could get her father to help him get out of jail. She' been leery at first because he was in jail for a reason, but he'd been so kind and soft spoken and he had said all the right things, so she made her father help him.

But neither Lauren nor Coleman had known John was going to enlist the help of two other prisoners, especially Thompson and Jameson. The plan had been Smith would use Nick as a hostage to get away, then rough him up a little for dumping Lauren and make him regret it; then he'd leave Nick somewhere and get away to meet up with her afterwards. But he never showed for their meet.

She said her father knew it was wrong, but he'd done it or her, because she asked him to. He had compromised himself just to make Lauren happy. Coleman had found the book in Smith's cell with the note inside just before the scene was to take place. He hadn't known what it meant, but when he also found out that John was going to kill Waller as the diversion instead of just picking a fight with him as originally planned; he brought the book to the rec room and planted the hair and blood on it and left it under the couch that Waller was found by.

Coleman had tried to talk to Waller to warn him that John was going to kill him instead, but Waller said he already knew that and had agreed to that because Smith had someone wire money to his wife and son for his death.

She said her father had sent pizza to the two CSIs on swing shift that he knew and that it was laced with Ipecac to get them sick. He then called the Sheriff after reporting the crime to police and asked if he could have Stokes called in to be a part of the investigation because he'd heard Nick was a good CSI. And the rest is what they pretty much already knew, except neither Lauren nor her father knew who the unknown female related to Smith was. Only that he had to have someone on the outside to wire money for Waller and help him after he got out.

Coleman admitted to being Jason Hendler's father, but he didn't know how his prints could have gotten on the note and he was adamant that he was not involved in any way.

Lauren said they were both sorry about what had happened to Nick, but Reilly could not feel sorry for them right now. Because of them Nick was still out there at the mercy of Smith and the other two. Because of them she had lost Nick and wasn't sure how to get him back. She continued watching the woman as she wrote out her statement. She watched silently as tears rolled down her cheek.

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Grissom and Brass walked into the room where Reilly stood and joined her at the mirror as she watched Lauren. Reilly didn't try and hide her tears. Grissom looked at her and he knew she was taking this hard. Hell they all were, but he didn't know how to comfort her so he just patted her on her shoulder.

Brass watched Grissom as Brass ended his phone call he had been taking and he raised an eyebrow at Grissom. Everyone knew Grissom wasn't good on the human level, but this was the most he'd seen of the man with the exception of how he handled himself when Nick had been buried alive. The man was getting better, he thought.

"What else did Coleman say?" Reilly asked, knowing Grissom was offering her comfort and knowing that Brass was watching them. She didn't need to take her eyes off Lauren to still see both men's reflections in the glass.

"He said basically everything Lauren has said so far and he wants to take all the blame. As a member of law enforcement, he knew it was wrong and he shouldn't have done it just for his daughter." Brass paused. "It's just amazing that everything in their plan went off without a hitch; at least for Smith. Coleman did say that Smith was a loner and the plan originally did not include Thompson and Jameson helping him to escape. He never knew Smith had even gotten them involved."

Reilly listened as she continued to watch Lauren. "But they have no clue where Nick is right now, do they?" She asked knowing the truth already.

"That's what they say." Grissom said looking down at Reilly.

"I was just on the phone with Vega and they found the warehouse where the guys stayed last night after boosting the Bronco. But they said they weren't they and that they had just missed them. They had abandoned the Bronco so they had to have had a car waiting for them there or they boosted another one and it hasn't bee reported yet. I'm sending dayshift CSI to process the scene and I've called Warrick and Vega back here. We need Warrick to help Archie search camera footage and I need Vega to find Hendler. He's not at his home and he hasn't gone into his office as of yet." Brass said.

"What did they find at the warehouse besides the Bronco?" Reilly asked, finally turning to look at Brass.

Brass sighed before he began. "They found Nick's CSI vest and some things from his pockets – gum, change and his wallet. They also found where he might have been kept secured in a storage room. It looked like the warehouse had been made ready for them beforehand. There was food, coffee and extra clothing at least for the prisoners because we found their orange jumpsuits discarded. They also found a black backpack with typed instructions on finding the warehouse from the bar. Probably was stashed in the alley behind the bar since Warrick found a huge oil leak in the alley like the car was parked there for a minute." Brass paused as he looked at Reilly. "They are definitely getting help from someone and my gut tells me it's someone from Nick's past."

"But who? I don't know of anyone from Nick's past that you guys don't already know of. I mean, you said it yourself, his stalker Nigel Crane is still in prison; Amy Hendler is still in prison and why would Jason care about Nick if he divorced her and has remarried? Besides Gil was the lead on that one and if he's mad at anyone I'd think he'd go after Gil first." Reilly said, looking between the two men. "Walter Gordon's dead and Kelly Gordon's still in prison. Who's left?" Reilly asked as she thought to herself. "I suppose it's possible it could be someone I don't know about or maybe someone with a grudge against his father, the judge, but if that were the case, his mother would have warned him." Reilly didn't mention to either of them that she'd already reached out to a contact in Texas and had them check on the Stokes family and nothing had been out of the ordinary with either his parents or his siblings.

"Shouldn't we call Nick's parents? I mean to let them know what's happened? I know Warrick said to hold off, but maybe we should let them know." Grissom asked her. "Normally that's my job, but I was hoping we wouldn't have to worry them."

"I already called them last night. They're staying available, but they won't be coming out." Reilly said looking up at Grissom.

"Why not?" Grissom was surprised by that, especially how they had dropped everything three months ago to rush to Vegas.

"No, I mean… Look Nick made them promise not to come if something happened to him again. He hated that they had seen him buried in that box and the pain they must have went through just watching him, so he make them promise not to come unless absolutely necessary or if he… if he were to die." She paused choking up a little bit at the conversation she'd had with his parents last night and how hard it had been to convince them not to come. "He didn't want them to witness him again and good or bad, live or die, he wanted them to wait for either outcome. He knew they couldn't do anything physically to find him any better than you guys could. And he made both me and Warrick promise to protect them the best we can from that pain ever again."

"He never told me that. Why didn't Nick talk to me?" But Grissom knew the answer. He wasn't much in the emotional department and Nick was. He wouldn't have understood then if Nick had told him. It was only now that he was just beginning to see how important emotions could be.

"Probably for the same reasons, Gil. He respected you and he didn't want you to be hindered with his parents and because he'd need you working hard to find him just like we all know you would." Reilly paused. "And because he's always felt like he's let you down, disappointed you somehow. He would want us to protect you just like his family." She added softly.

Grissom didn't know what to say, so he just looked at Reilly. Finally he said, "Nick thought that before, but he never has let me down. I am going to have a talk with Nick when we get him back and set him straight on that. He has never given me a reason to ever be disappointed in him."

Reilly smiled as she watched Grissom. He was an enigma. But in a good way. "So Jim, we know where they were, but how do we know where they are right now?" Reilly asked as she turned her attention back to Brass.

"We know there's a meeting in less than an hour somewhere and we know it can't be far from the warehouse because they can't just walk all over town with Nick in handcuffs or whatever or waving their guns around. I've got every square inch with in a five mile radius of that warehouse under surveillance and Archie is working on every camera he can get access to near that warehouse with Warrick helping him out." Brass answered her. "We will find Nick." He added.

"Will we find him in time?" She asked.

"Yes." Grissom answered for him. "We will find him in time." Come hell or high water Grissom was going to find that boy and get him back here where he belonged.

Reilly looked at Grissom surprised, but when she looked deep into his eyes she had the feeling he was telling her the truth; they would find Nick.

"Let me talk to her." Reilly said suddenly, taking both men by surprise. She even startled herself as she hadn't expected to say that, but suddenly she knew she had to.

"No." Grissom said quickly. "You're just a consultant on this case, you can't go in there. You're too close to this case anyway."

Reilly turned to look at him. "Excuse me, but we are all too close to this case and I don't technically need anyone's permission to question her if I want to." She looked back at Lauren. Now was not the time to worry about stepping on anyone's toes. "I'm gonna do this one way or another, but if you prefer Brass can be in there with me. I just need to look her in the eyes."

"Grissom looked at her. "What do you mean you don't need anyone's permission to question her?" Confusion showed on his face as he looked between Reilly and Brass for someone to answer him.

Reilly refused to answer so Brass heaved a heavy sigh as he watched Reilly. She expected him to tell Grissom. "Reilly why don't you go to the ladies room while I have a talk with Grissom since that's what you expect me to do anyway." He said to her.

Reilly had the good grace to avert her gaze from Brass to avoid the stern stare he would most definitely have leveled at her.

Once Reilly had left the room, Brass turned to Grissom. It was times like these when he understood why Nick and Reilly had clashed in the beginning. The woman could be a big pain in the ass when she wanted to. "Reilly isn't a private detective, Gil. Or a police consultant either. She's…"

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