the ghosts in the halls

r | major character death | violence

I. one

In a moment of desperation, he tries telepathy.

Grissom can't be too far away, after all. It's difficult to multi-task. He's got to watch the gun and try to summon his supervisor and watch the gun and pray to God and watch the gun and think about reaching for his and watch the -

"There was blood... everywhere," she says.

And there's going to be more blood, unless he can figure a way out of this. Where's Grissom? Grissom is brilliant and intuitive, and he knows everything, so why hasn't he figured out that Amy's the real killer?

(Because Jason's talking, but he's not saying the right things. He's not offering an alibi, and he's not mentioning that Amy paints the floors.)

"No one else could see it... but I knew it was there."

There are tears in his eyes now, and they're making it hard to see. He wants to blink them away, but he's afraid of showing weakness in front of her. He's not sure why; maybe it would help. His mouth opens, and he tries to tell her that he's a good listener, that they could talk about this, that everything will be okay if she'd just put the gun down.

"A dead body is so heavy."

He can't remember how much he weighs.

"Amy..." Her name escapes his lips, barely higher than a whisper. He's good with people; he's always been good with people. All he has to do is figure out a way to talk her down.

Where in God's name is Grissom?

(In the car. It isn't until they're three miles down the road that Jason mentions the floors. Grissom will order them to turn around, but it'll be too late.)

"Please, don't."

Ashamed. Ashamed to be begging for his life, even as he clings to the hope that his words will stop her from -

Grissom hears the shot as he bolts from the car.

(The floors will have to be repainted again.)


II. two

He wouldn't be here if Jim hadn't said something to him.

Of course, Jim wouldn't have had to say anything to him if Sara hadn't agreed to do this. But ultimately, he'll blame Culpepper. He won't put this on her head.

His gun is... somewhere. There's blood on his face, on the brick wall of the alley, on the floor. He's expecting the FBI to come around the corner any moment.

(It doesn't matter; it's too late.)

Her body - it's not a body, she's not dead - is several feet away. As he dodges blows, he tries to see if she's still breathing. There's blood on her back, but not nearly enough to be fatal. As much as she played up her skill in unarmed defense, he clings to the hope that she was able to fight off at least the worst of his attack.

He cries out, for Sara, for Culpepper, for anyone.

(There's some response off in the distance, but it doesn't matter.)

He lands a few punches, and for a moment, he thinks he might have won. But there's a sickening crack as he's shoved backwards, and the world gets blurry. With his remaining strength, he clutches his murderer, desperate to keep him from returning to Sara. The thought of her body - raped, strangled, bloody, lifeless - is too much. Curse words escape his lips.

"Keep your fucking hands off her, you bastard."

There's a groan from Sara's direction. Then footsteps. It isn't until he sees her safe in the grasp of a FBI agent that he releases his captive.


Somehow, through the haze in his head, he realizes it's the first time she's ever called him by his first name. There are a million things he'd like to say to her, but none that he'd like to say in front of an audience.

(It doesn't matter; this is his last chance.)

"Not your fault, honey."

Tears in her eyes. He hopes the single term of endearment tells her everything he's afraid to say.

Culpepper's calling for an ambulance. There's a FBI agent twisting the perp's arm. It sounds like it's broken. She's touching his wounds, as if she thinks she can heal him.

"I'm sorry," she chokes out. Her bloody face is the last thing he sees.

(With his final thought, he wonders if it will be burned into his retina.)


III. three

"Suspect on location!"

He echoes Catherine's words, because she's no longer in any condition to say them herself.

Warrick's frozen for only a moment at the sight of his partner's body, crushed against the wall by an unknown man. The suspect runs, and he has to choose between chasing him and checking on her. He stops by her crumpled frame, expecting her to push him away, to tell him that she was fine, to urge him to run after the suspect.

She's lying on the floor and it's not until he's right in front of her that he realizes there's a huge, dark red smear on the wall.

(Calm down; it might not be her blood.)

The thought of telling Lindsey that her mother is -

(don't say it don't even think it)

- doesn't appeal to him.

Clumsy fingers. His dark skin against her pale (too pale) flesh. There are cops in the building now, running past him, and he tells himself that the pounding of their feet on the ground is the reason why he can't make out a pulse.

He sprawls her out on the floor, not giving a damn about the evidence he's contaminating. CPR performed with shaky hands, all while he screams at her to wake up. He reminds her of her child, over and over, hoping that the thought of Lindsey will be enough to pull her back from the edge.

(She's already jumped.)

The paramedics can't help. He shoves Hank against the wall; it takes two cops to pull him off. It's worse than before. He grieved for Holly, but he had loved Catherine.

Grissom and Sara materialize out of thin air. All they seem to care about is processing the scene. Their faces are stoic as they kneel over her body. He yells at them, but they don't flinch. She looks at him with a mixture of pity and sorrow as she promises they'll do everything they can to get the bastard.

(They won't catch the guy.)


IV. four

Gene shoves him, once, and it only reinforces his belief that he's face to face with a murderer. If he's willing to push around a guy who's over six feet tall, he probably had no problem shooting a little girl.

His anger's seething, and now it's not just anger at Gene, but at the neighborhood, the world, the kids who picked on him at school. Before he knows it, his hands are around the man's -

(boy he's a boy)

- neck.

He can see Aimee Phelps. He can hear her laughing and playing and dancing.

"You son of a bitch," he snarls into Gene's face. His victim's eyes are bulging now, and his fingers are clawing at his arms, desperate to get him to stop. It seems like only a moment, forever, but finally, his mind clears. He realizes what he's doing.

(It's too late.)

The body slumps to the floor. It's just a body now. Lifeless. He stares at his hands, almost as if he expects to see blood on them. Moments later, his pulse is still racing as he sits on the bed and cries. Catherine once told him that everyone had the capacity to be a murderer, under the right circumstances. He had brushed her off. He wasn't like that.

(Even now, he doesn't believe it.)

He could flee, but he calls 911 instead. Because he wasn't raised that way, because there's too much evidence. His arrest doesn't surprise him; the unwillingness of the DA to plead down to manslaughter does.

(It all turns out to be moot, anyway.)

It happens at lunch, when two skinheads jump him from behind. He's dead before the guards even notice what's happening. One of them jokes that it will save taxpayers the cost of a trial.

(Nick and Catherine determine that it wasn't random - retaliation for a case that he had solved two years ago.)


V. five

Someone had to tell Catherine. As supervisor, he supposed the task fell on him. He captures Sara's eyes, silently asking her to take the burden off his shoulders. He's never been good at this part of the job, and even though he knows she's not either, he doesn't care. He doesn't want to do it. She blinks, slowly, as if she didn't get the message, and his gaze is drawn to the cut on her forehead, her ashen skin, the bandage on her hand.

(And for a moment, he feels bad.)

"I should tell her," he says.

"Yeah," she replies after a long moment.

They still just sit there. She's picking at the bandage, slowly unraveling the gauze. She'll need a new one before the day is done. It strikes him that it's too cold in here, colder than he'd really expect a hospital to be.

"I was going to order flowers." Her voice is loud. So loud that the woman at the nurse's station glances up at them. "I didn't know what to get him, though. I've never sent flowers to a guy in the hospital before."

It's pointless conversation. Even more so, now. He supposes it's her defense mechanism or something, but right now, it just makes him uncomfortable. He just wants to leave. He wants to flee the building before they remove the body -

(his body)

- from the room.

At a time like this, he should probably be saying something about how Greg was like a son to him. It sounds like the appropriate thing to say. It doesn't really even matter that it's not true - it sounds like the right thing to say. At a time like this, he should be saying the right thing.

"I guess I could still get him flowers for his... service."

He resists the urge to snap at her. Her voice is still too loud. She's picking at the bandage again, with her eyes unfocused and her mouth screwed up in a frown. He's not quite sure she knows where she is, or what's going on -

(of course, she knows what's going on - she was in the room when he flatlined)

- but he still feels like yelling at her. Yelling at someone. He's furious with someone, with everyone.

Catherine. He'll have to tell Catherine.

(This isn't going to be pretty.)


VI. six

It was arrogance that let her think she could drive home like this. It was the first time and it looked like it would be her last.

(Really, she hadn't thought she was that drunk. Or that impaired.)

She closes her eyes. How many times had she heard that from drunk drivers? And she needed to face facts now - that's what she was. She had only had two beers - no, two and a half - but it had been enough to fuck her up.

Someone's telling her to hold on. She doesn't see much point. All she wants to know is whether or not she hit the kid who ran out in front of her car. Little blonde girl on a red bike and what the hell was she doing driving on the street at this time of night?

No, someone tells her. The girl's fine. The girl's fine.

It hurts to breathe. Someone is telling her that the ambulance is coming. She tugs at the steering wheel, trying to understand why it hurts so much.

(The trees. The car hit the trees.)

Her legs hurt and her stomach hurts and she doesn't understand why the airbag didn't deploy. She knows her body well enough to know she's dying. Or maybe she just wants to die. When the paramedics get here, they'll take her to the hospital, and then they'll test her blood. And even though she's sure she's below the legal limit -

(she is she is she is she's certain and she doesn't feel drunk anyway)

- when they find out she's been drinking, it won't be good. She can't help wondering what Grissom will think. Maybe he'll lose respect for her. Maybe he won't even come to her service. Maybe he'll blame himself. Maybe she blames him. She doesn't know why she's worrying about this now.

She's coughing up blood now. Someone tells her to hold on.

The phone's on its third ring when it finally breaks through Grissom's concentration. He sits up a little straighter when the caller says her name. He drops his glasses to the floor when he's told she's not okay.

(He cries silently in his office, with the door closed.)