"CSI Stokes, you have a visitor in the lobby, CSI Stokes to the lobby please". Nick was just finishing up an arson case and was almost done packing the evidence away when the page came.
"Greg, you want to finish packing this up so I can go see who's here?" Nick asked as he hastily taped the box shut he was working on.
"Sure, take your time the longer it takes to file all of this, the less the chances are of picking up a last minute case!" Greg half joked. The team had been unusually busy causing several double and triple shifts in the past week or two.
Nick patted Greg on the back as he left the layout room to head towards the lobby. He had to agree with Greg, this last case had caused his third triple shift in a little over a week. He was dog tired and just wanted to go home and pass out for a few days.
Nick rounded the last corner and gave Judy an inquiring glance as he passed the reception desk. Judy nodded towards a man standing across the lobby admiring the pictures the Sheriff had put up depicting the different equipment that the lab worked with.
Nick made it across the span of the lobby in just a few long strides, stopping a couple of feet behind the man. "May I help you sir?" Nick questioned.
As the man turned around Nick was stunned to see it was his former roommate from college. "Nick Stokes! You haven't changed a bit man!" Much to Nicks surprise he was deftly pulled into a brotherly hug.
"Brady Magnus, what brings you to Vegas?" Nick stated with a note of shock as the taller man let him go. Shock because the reason he was a former roommate was because of a misunderstanding between him and Brady over a girl, to which Brady had made no bones about wanting nothing more than Nicks head on a stick for.
"Aw Nick, you don't think I would still be upset over her after all these years do you?" Brady laughed at the uncertain look on Nick's face.
"Well Brady, you did say that you wanted to kill me. And if my memory serves me correctly, you tried to run me down with your car." Nick half chuckled at the memory.
Nick had introduced Brady to the team and they were now sitting at a diner having coffee and talking about old times. Nick had a feeling he was missing something though. Brady had been serious about wanting Nick dead back in college. Could a person get over being that angry with another person? In his line of work it usually didn't happen. I'm just being paranoid. Nick thought to himself, but he wasn't sure, so he decided to just ask him. They were in a public place after all, it's not like Brady would just up and kill him with all of these witnesses, right?
"Brady, don't get me wrong man, this is great reminiscing about college and all, but what happened that you decided that it was okay for me to keep breathing?" Nick gave Brady an unsure smile.
"Well Nick, my friend, I realized that we were both young and full of ourselves a bit, we were on the football team after all! And I realized that you might have been right, she might have played us both against each other. Besides, friends should never let a woman come between them, am I right?" Brady beamed and slapped Nick on the shoulder affectionately.
"You make a good argument for forgiveness Brady, I'm glad you aren't still angry with me. I really didn't know she was dating you." Nick swatted Brady back, not as affectionately as he saw something pass over Brady's face that he couldn't quite place.
"Nick, I need to go find a hotel room. But I want to meet up with you very soon for dinner, my treat. You pick the time and place and I'll meet you there." Brady offered as he threw a ten dollar bill out to pay for their coffees.
Nick wanted to invite Brady over to his place, but with all of the long shifts his place was a complete mess and he really did need to get some serious amounts of sleep before his next shift. So instead Nick suggested a few places to Brady that were nice but not outrageously priced. They exchanged cell numbers and parted ways for the night with every intention of spending more time together while Brady was in town.
When Nick got home he realized that he shouldn't have had so much coffee, as he was pretty well awake by this time. After picking up for about an hour he realized that he was going to need some help getting to sleep. After rummaging around his medicine cabinet for about ten minutes he finally found some all natural sleep aid and took one before heading to the kitchen to make some chamomile tea that he kept on hand for just such an occasion. Half an hour later he was finally in bed falling asleep.
"Hi, my name is Vanni, I think we have Lit class together don't we?" Nick turned to see what to his 19 year old mind was a true Greek Goddess.
"Uh, yeah Lit gasp, um I mean Lit class, right1" Nick blushed at his own blunder. There before him stood the perfect woman. Long black hair that touched the small of her back and shone like it was made of glass, piercing deep brown eyes and lips that made a perfect pout. Not too skinny and hot too thick either, the picture of perfection to Nick.
"And you are?" She questioned with a slight giggle that made Nick smile.
"I am, what? Oh, I'm Nick, Nick Stokes, pleased to meet you ma'am." Nick drawled as he offered his hand in greeting.
Vanni blushed slightly as she offered her own hand. "I was wondering Nick Stokes. Would you be interested in tutoring me in Lit. I seem to be having a problem understanding the love story that we are covering."
Nick wasn't naive so he had no trouble picking up on her cyphered message. "Oh, I think I could help you with that little lady." Nick let his Texas accent flow like cream as he patted the open seat on the bench next to him.
Nick spent the following weeks running himself ragged between football practice, classes, his part time job at the convenience store and spending as much time as he could with Vanni. His teammates were constantly trying to pry information out of him about his lady friend, but he dodged them for almost two months before he finally told Brady about his girl.
Brady was floored, to say the least. "Nick, does Vanni have a twin sister by any chance?" Brady hoped Nick said yes. Because if he didn't, his best friend was sitting here gloating about being with his girlfriend Vanja.
"Nope, she's an only child so I guess you're stuck with Vanja buddy!" Nick laughed, figuring that his girl was so sweet that his friend was a bit jealous. But what happened next caught Nick completely off guard.
In one swift motion, Brady stood up from the bench he and Nick were sitting on and threw Nick into the lockers causing several rows to fall like dominoes. It took three of their teammates to pull Brady off of Nick and get him out of the locker room. When a couple of other teammates went to check on Nick, they found him dazed and a large gash on the back of his head where Nick's head caught a locker vent.
It took until Nick was leaving the school infirmary an hour later to realize that what he had told Brady was very similar to what Brady had told him about Vanja. They couldn't be the same person could they? Nick pondered as he walked back to his dorm. They couldn't be, his Vanni was too sweet to be using not one but both of them. And Brady's girl Vanja sounded just as sweet. Nick decided to get a picture he had of Vanni and show it to Brady so he could see that they weren't the same person.
Nick felt luck that Brady wasn't in their dorm room when he got back. Nick took out a picture of Vanni and himself that they had taken in one of the photo booths on campus. It was cheesy, but it made Vanni laugh, and Nick couldn't resist her laugh.
Half an hour later Brady walked into their room and saw Nick sitting on his bed. Brady walked past Nick to his own bed and pulled out a shoebox producing a picture to show Nick. As they looked at each other the realized they had the same idea. So they swapped pictures. Nick stared at the picture stunned. Brady used the opportunity to once again lash out at Nick. They scuffled for several minutes in their room before it spilled out into the hallway. It didn't take long for the fight to be broken up and both of them escorted to the Deans office.
After shaking hands in the Deans office, Nick meaning every word of his apology, Brady on the other hand just wanting to keep out of trouble, the two were allowed to return to their dorm pending one or both being re-housed. Nick was taking the long way back, hoping to avoid any more outbursts from Brady. Truth be told, he had almost a foot on Nick and about twenty five pounds. Not that he needed it to do real damage to Nick if he wanted to. Brady also trained as an amateur boxer.
Nick was lost in thought about the situation when out of nowhere a pair of headlights blinded him. Nick heard the squealing of tires a fraction of a second later. Reacting on instinct, Nick dove for the bushes to his left. The car clipped his foot causing him to roll down the small embankment. Nick tentatively worked his way back up to the top being careful not to jar his broken foot any more than he had to. When he reached the top he was horrified to see the reverse lights on the vehicle and hear, yet again the squealing of tires as the driver tried to finish him off.
Nick rolled back down the embankment again, not giving much thought to his foot on the return trip. This time Nick lay there completely still for nearly an hour before he climbed back up the embankment, cautiously checking for the car before he came completely out of hiding. To his relief and disappointment, the car was gone, but with taking the long way back to the dorm, Nick had over half a mile to walk to reach the dorm, further if he went back to the infirmary.
"That's just my luck." He thought to himself, "I pick a nice quiet weeknight to get myself run over." It took two hours and no traffic to make it the half mile to the dorm. Luckily for Nick, there were still other students up in the commons. Lucky for two reasons, the first was that he didn't have to walk any further to get help for his broken foot. The second reason was when Brady showed up shortly after Nick. Brady was so enraged that he hadn't killed Nick when he ran him down that it took six students to hold Brady back while some others took Nick out of the room and hid him in one of their rooms.
By the time the police arrived however, Brady had gotten free and found the room they had stashed Nick in. Brady had just broken the door down and had Nick by the throat when the police reached the melee. It took both of them to remove Brady's hands form Nick's neck just as Nick was blacking out.
Nick startles awake from the dream and it takes him a few seconds to realize where he is. Rubbing his hands over his face to get rid of the last remnants of his dream Nick gets up and pads into the bathroom. Looking at his reflection he considers whether Brady could have really gotten over that rage. Nick was angry too over it. Vanni/Vanja had played them both. And apparently they weren't the first friends she had played her little game on.
Nick recalled testifying before the board about what had happened and hearing six other students tell very similar stories. Vanni it turned out was really Emily Nester and she had been kicked out of two other colleges for the same thing. Nick refused to press charges against Brady after finding this out, but the school had no choice but to expel Brady for the assault. Until last night Nick hadn't heard from Brady since then.
"Why did you really come Brady?" Nick asked himself.