Title: A Kind of Christmas Carol
Pairing: Nick and Greg
Disclaimer: Characters belong to CBS and Mr Charles Dickens. I make no money from this.
Summary: Nick gets a chance to change his life, before it's too late. Beta'd by my Christmas Star anmani and banner and icon by Christmas Cracker bflyw.
The Ghost of Christmas Present led him through the strip, and Nick watched as strangers greeted each other with smiles and calls of Merry Christmas. Of course the casinos and bars were still open and the strip was as busy as ever, but the atmosphere was light and cheerful. A rosy-cheeked Santa Claus stood on the corner ringing his bell and asking for donations to his charity. Nick watched as a man and woman came tumbling out of the Mirage, laughing and screaming with delight. The man stopped and tossed a large wad of bills into the Santa’s red bucket, obviously some of his winnings from a good day at the roulette wheel. Perhaps there was some good still left in the world after all.
“Look at all these people.” he said in wonder. “I’m usually asleep during all of this.”
“I have to go now.” the spirit warned him, clapping Nick heartily on the back. “My time is up.”
“Do you have to?” Nick asked. “You have shown me so much. I was just beginning to enjoy myself.”
The spirit nodded. “I’m afraid I must, in fact. But I leave you in the company of the Ghost of Christmas yet to come.”
The strip faded around him, the figure of the kindly spirit fading with it, and Nick suddenly found himself surrounded by thick damp fog, the kind that coats the throat and sticks to the lungs, cloying and heavy.
As the fog slowly cleared, he saw that a tall man stood before him, dressed all in black. “What the…. Ecklie?” Nick asked, for the man did indeed look eerily similar to Conrad Ecklie, only a more skeletal version.
The figure shook his head.
“No, of course not. You must be the Ghost of Christmas future then, right?”
He nodded and beckoned Nick with a long bony finger. Nick followed behind obediently.
The fog cleared to reveal that they were now in the Crime Lab. Nick followed the spirit through the familiar yet different hallways. They had been repainted, he realised after a while. They continued down the long corridor until they were standing outside the break room. Nick looked through the door as Grissom and Sara sat down at the table. He noticed that Sara’s hands were shaking and her face was tearstained. Lines criss-crossed her usually smooth skin, and her dark hair was streaked with fine highlights of silver.
Grissom had his back to Nick, but he could see that his boss now had a shock of white hair, and his frame was carrying a few extra pounds than it was before. He was comforting Sara about something, that much was obvious. But what?
“What’s happened here?” he asked the spirit. But before he could find an answer, the thick fog began to swirl around him again. “No!” he exclaimed. “I want to know what’s happened here. Why are they upset?”
The spirit turned and walked away from the room and into the dense fog. Nick followed, the feel of the tiles on his bare feet changing from hard ceramic to a spongy softness, like grass, the further he walked.
It took him a few moments to realise that they were now walking through a graveyard. The fog turned to pouring rain as they made their way to a freshly dug grave, the coffin laying uncovered in the deep hole. The rain fell heavily on him, and yet somehow he remained completely dry. He looked at the coffin where a few handfuls of soil obscured the gold name-plate.
“Oh right.” Nick scoffed. “Look buddy, I know the story of A Christmas Carol. This is the bit where you take me to the graveyard and show me my own grave, right? This is supposed to be the big reveal where I realise once and for all that I have to change my life. I get it, OK? I have to open my heart to love, I have to embrace the idea of Christmas and all it stands for. I know that. Can we not just leave it at that? I know what I have to do.”
The spirit shook his head and pointed to the coffin.
“I know, it’s the future, I’m dead. And it looks like no one came to my funeral either.” he sighed, looking around the empty graveyard.
The spirit shook his head again and moved from pointing to the coffin to pointing off into the distance. Nick followed the finger and saw the outline of a man approaching, he was dressed in a thick black coat and had a hat pulled low over his face.
“Wait, looks like someone did come.” he said smugly. He watched as the man came closer and laid a single red rose on the lid of the coffin.
Then the man took the hat off and held it close to his chest, finally revealing his face. Nick gasped in shock as he recognised an older version of himself. From the appearance, Nick guessed he was around fifty.
“If I’m here,” he asked the spirit fearfully, “then who is in that grave?”
“Oh Greg.” older Nick sighed. A lone tear trickled from the corner of his eye, stolen and carried away soon after by the drops of rain.
“Greg? No!” Nick screamed, dropping to his knees beside the open grave.
The older Nick carried on. “I’m sorry I missed the service…. I just couldn’t…. But I couldn’t not come either, I just wanted to wait until everyone else had left. I didn’t want anyone else to hear this. This shouldn’t have happened to you, you didn‘t deserve it. You were such a good man Greg, and a friend to me even when I didn’t deserve it. God, if only I’d told you how I felt then we could have been together. You would never have been with him and this would never have happened. Now you‘ll never know how much I‘ve loved you all these years.”
“What happened?” Nick begged his older self. He needed to know.
“But I’ll get him for you Greg, I promise.” the older Nick vowed. “That bastard won’t get away with what he did to you. He’ll pay. And if we can‘t convict him…. Well, he‘ll pay another way. I swear to it.”
Nick watched as his older self placed the hat back on his head and walked slowly out of the graveyard. He turned in panic to the spirit. “What happened to him, did his lover kill him? Could I have stopped it?” He grabbed onto the spirit’s clothes, tears spilling from his eyes. “Tell me this doesn’t have to happen, tell me I can change it. Why would you show me this if I couldn’t? Please spirit. Please.”
He buried his face in the musty-smelling garments, begging over and over again to be given a chance to change things.