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Story Notes:
Written for my Advent Calendar 2009. Prompted by: cupidandphyscho who asked for CSI, Gil Grissom/Nick Stokes, I shall believe by Sheryl Crow
That not everything is gonna be the way
You think it ought to be
It seems like every time I try to make it right
It all comes down on me
Please say honestly you won't give up on me
And I shall believe
And I shall believe


Nick knew it wasn't going to be easy to deal with, physical recovery aside; he'd prepared himself to die in that box. But the reality of it didn't really hit him, until he realised that he wasn't dealing.

He'd expected things to go a certain way, the curse perhaps of his job, he knew how things 'should' go, but they didn't.

There was a set path, a series of events that a person recovering typically went through, every kidnapping case he'd worked on, every case where someone had nearly died and yet somehow managed to survive against the odds – told him that things were supposed to go a particular way, but they didn't.

At first, Nick was frustrated, he was trying, God he was trying, he was going to his shrink, he was making an effort to go out with friends, but it just made it worse, the more he tried, the harder it seemed to get, he'd get angry, lash out, the bricks he'd carefully stacks up coming tumbling down on him and leaving him buried again, feeling like he had nothing and no one to hold on to.

He wasn't alone, he knew that, logically, in his mind, he had his friends, Warrick, Catherine, Greg, Hodges, they'd all come around. Drank a few beers, watch a movie, played chess, or cards, chatted about what was going on at the lab. It just didn't feel like enough.

"I'm thinking of quitting," he told Catherine quietly, one of the few days she'd come to see him alone.

"Nicky..."

"Don't," Nick said. "I... it's not working Cath, it's not going like I expected, none of it, I still feel... trapped."

Catherine hadn't really helped, but she'd tried and Nick tried to listen to what she was saying, but just like everything else it didn't *fit* - it wasn't what it was supposed to be and Nick still felt empty and alone, like he'd never really left that box in the ground.

A week later, in the middle of the afternoon, Nick was out in the garden, watching the birds in his birdbath, when he realised he wasn't alone.

"I let myself in," Grissom said, sitting beside him.

"That key is for emergencies," Nick said.

"I consider one of my best CSI's quitting an emergency," Grissom told him.

"Catherine told you," it wasn't a question; she was the only one who knew.

"She was worried. I'm worried," Grissom said.

Nick sighed. "It's not like I thought it would be."

"What did you think it would be like?" Grissom asked.

"There's a pattern, every case we've ever worked, there's a pattern, a person recovers – takes all these little steps and... I'm not," Nick said.

Grissom nodded, thoughtful, when Nick looked at him. "Do you know the only certainty in these situations, is that nothing ever goes the way you expect."

"I still feel like I'm there Griss, I'm not and I know it, but it feels like it, like I'm all alone in this clear glass box and I can see everything around me but I can't touch it," Nick said. "How long is it going to be before people stop waiting for me – before people give up. Ecklie won't hold my job forever and my friends, I try, I really try but..."

"No one is giving up on you," Grissom said.

"You can't know that, it's what happens, I've seen it often enough," Nick said.

"I promise you Nicky, I won't give up on you," Grissom said, his face was calm, passive, but there was something in his eyes, something Nick couldn't quite read, but he wanted to... Gods he wanted to believe it was what he thought.

"I..."

"I won't give up on you," Grissom repeated, his hand reaching across the distance between them and resting on Nick's own.

"I..." Nick swallowed the lump in his throat. "I believe you..."

Grissom's smile was reason enough to believe him, the soft, easy smile he rarely showed anyone, but here he was showing Nick.

"You'll get through this Nick, in your own way, whatever it takes, however long it takes and I'll be here," Grissom said.

Nick nodded. Feel Grissom's hand squeeze his, he really did believe him.


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