Before you squee to hard! This is a small segment that has been added to showcase the transition between Hurricane Season and Family.
To be honest I had every intention of having the edits for Family finished by Advent … but 2020 happened and best laid plans fell by the wayside. I’m still working on it, it’s just not going to be done this year, like a few other stories.
But here you go … the opening prologue for Family.
Title: Prologue – A Time For Every Matter Under Heaven
Author: Bj Jones
Prologue: Las Vegas – November 2005
Warrick made sure to arrive at work early.
He knew what was going to happen, and he wasn’t going to miss it for the world.
For the past six weeks, he’d been playing the role of lonely Mate, having heart to heart talks with those who would listen, wondering if he should just quit and go back to New Orleans.
He deserved a damn Oscar for his performance.
He deserved Sainthood for not killing the bitch.
After everything that had transpired with Turning Alistair, Warrick had walked back into their rooms, only to stop at the couches, and stare at so unexpected a guest.
For his part, Nico simply sat in casual pose, as though what was happening fell into the category of ‘everyday occurrence’, and there was nothing weird about any of it.
Warrick waved his hands at Dorian Grey, only to pause when Pearly popped in, grabbed the guy, and popped out again. “That is never not going to be strange.” He looked at his Mate, and gestured to where Dorian had been sitting. “Explain?”
“I told Alistair I had someone on the inside.”
“But, Dorian Grey!” Warrick walked over to the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of rum and two glasses before taking Dorian’s seat on the couch. Pouring them each a glass, he pushed one across the coffee table. “Again. Explain.”
“It’s a long story, and very complicated. But needless to say, Dorian isn’t stupid and does what’s good for Dorian. Working with me is good for him, especially as he doesn’t trust Imenand. According to him, I at least honor my promises.” Nico reached over and grabbed the drink.
“And what are these promises?” Warrick was incredibly turned on by the power Nico displayed. Though he’d always known his Mate could play politics with the big guys, he usually chose to stay out of the drama.
Nico gave him a long, appreciative look. “Even you know the story of Dorian Grey.”
Warrick downed his drink, contemplated pouring another, but decided to swig straight from the bottle instead. “You have his painting.”
“Not at the moment. Imenand has it, and has been blackmailing Dorian with it for the past century. I promised him I would get it, and keep it safe. Well, once Neal gets his ass out of jail.”
“I’m taking it, Imenand doesn’t know you’re working with Dorrian? And how do you plan on finding the thing?” Warrick passed the bottle to his Mate, who gave him a wicked grin before taking a hefty glug at it.
“I’m sure Sherlock would love such a challenge.”
“I really really want you to fuck me right now.”
Nico winked at him, and set the bottle down. “Oh, I’m going to, but we need to discuss our next play.”
Warrick leaned back in his seat, completely attentive but not hiding his arousal.
“Pirate.” Sylum’s Clan Leader shook his head, making both of them laugh lightly. “I need you to go back to work and put on the performance of a lifetime. So much has happened in New Orleans, it’s going to take years to recover, and with the attacks that were obviously left over from Richelieu, you’re just not sure if being in Vegas is a good idea, especially as your darling Mate is really contemplating his priorities and has stayed behind, seeming unlikely to return.”
“I might just come in my pants. I love it when you go all Ceasar on me.” He was across the expansive couch, straddling Nico’s lap, kissing him with everything he had. “It’s just so hard being away from you.”
“Remember that when we get wrapped up in our careers and forget what’s important.” Nico had both hands on his Mate’s ass, pulling him closer as they got lost in each other.
So, being the good Mate he was, and the cautious Co-Leader of his Clan, he did just what he’d been told.
He went back to Vegas, gave everyone the much edited version of what had happened during Katrina, and how Nico was having a hard time leaving his beloved Manor and desperate city, especially in the face of so much disarray.
Gil had suffered a panic attack. Though he took to heart what Warrick had said, and didn’t call Nico instantly, it was amazing what a clan war, a burial, and a hurricane could do. He actually waited a full week instead, then called to check in on Nick. He didn’t demand answers, or explanations. He just wanted to make sure he was doing okay.
Warrick’s respect went up for him just a little, but that still didn’t mean the man would ever make it into his famous black book of potential partners for his Mate to share a bed with.
Sara naturally showed her concern, but instead of bitching or going off on Nick for not able to handle the job, she took over his cases for him, and made sure he had the credit when they were solved.
Greg eyed him suspiciously, but kept quiet and let Warrick do what was needed to be done.
Bobby telling horror stories of what he’d seen for himself during Katrina, only helped to reinforce the seriousness of what was happening in New Orleans.
Brass was in on it, as Nico doesn’t keep things from Thomas. Besides, Jim was a member of the founding fathers of Sylum. Over the centuries he’d seen his Quartermaster be a right bastard, but the deadly calm he showcased in the face of their current situation, was a reminder of the truly vicious pirate he actually was.
It had been a long time since they’d played this type of game, though having to flip between French, Spanish, and Pirate while having any given conversation, was starting to get some attention. Gil stared in fascination, Greg smirked and blinked a few times, and he swore Sarah was taking notes.
Well, she was too content to give a shit about anything.
Which only meant he was going to enjoy this moment all the more.
Stopping at the front entrance, he schooled his features, yanked the door open, and stalked into the lab.
The receptionist glanced over at him, giving him a bright, cheery smile, and a thumbs up.
He gave her a duly confused look, then made his way to his locker.
“Hey!” Greg bounced into the room. “Been to the breakroom, yet?”
“No.” He leaned back and gave him a hard stare.
Greg ignored his mood and gave him a wink before running off.
The locker door slammed shut in irritation, as Warrick left the room.
He made sure to control his steps. There was no need to rush. After all, he had ‘no idea’ what was waiting for him. It wouldn’t be good for anyone to see him skipping down the hallway singing, ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me’.
The squeal from Sarah – or was that Gil? – was the first thing that caught his attention, and he stopped in the middle of the hallway, only to find a few of the labrats sticking their heads out of their areas, looking around in confusion.
“What was that?” Hodges demanded.
“How should I know?” Warrick snapped, before continuing his journey.
Which rudeness cost him a disgusted snort from his colleague.
Not that he cared.
There were other things to worry about.
At the breakroom door, he took a breath, rolled his shoulders back, and stepped inside to see Nick with an armful of Sara.
Okay, so it had been her doing the squealing.
Channeling his inner Kirk Lazarus, Warrick let his mouth drop open, his eyes grow wide, and his face turn to shock. “What the fuck?!”
“Surprise!” Nick gave him a cheeky smile, then gestured at Sara who still hadn’t let go. “I would give you a proper hello, but you might have to wait your turn.”
“Fuck that.” Warrick pried Sara off him, and set her carefully to one side before yanking Nick into his arms and kissing him hard.
In turn, Nico grabbed him by the belt loops, pulling him closer deepening the kiss.
Neither of them had to fake how much they’d missed each other.
And for Warrick, such moments of reconnecting, reminded him just how much Nico’s presence centered his Soul.
God, he had missed this.
The feel, smell, taste of his Mate.
“Warrick! What the hell?!” Gil’s voice rose at least two octaves, thinking he had just caught his subordinate making out with some random dude in the breakroom.
Duly chastised, Warrick pulled away from his Mate then looked back at Gil, giving their supervisor a clear view of who he was kissing. His irritation at being interrupted, was more than clear. “What?” he demanded.
“Nick!” Gil dropped his armful of files onto the table, and moved across the room, only stopping short when Warrick refused to move.
Nico chuckled, kissing his Mate one last time, then patting his ass before moving out of his embrace. “Hello, Gil.”
Grissom couldn’t help what came next, and he had his arms around the Texan in seconds.
Though they had talked several times over the past few weeks – Nico letting him know about the slowness of New Orleans’ recovery, his frustrations with the government, and his anger at nothing getting done – seeing him in person settled something inside of him. It was likely that part of him was always eager to keep his Nicky in view and ensure he was safe. He knew it was irrational, but he’d given up caring about that quite a while back.
“Gil, get your hands off Nick’s ass!” Sara snickered lightly, happy to see Nick back. “Or I’ll let Warrick kill you, and help him cover up the crime scene.”
“My girl, you do love me.” Warrick put his hand over his heart, then held out his fist smiling as the two of them bumped knuckles.
“I just couldn’t bear seeing you mope around any more.” Sara teased him with a grin. “Besides, Nick has cases he needs to catch up with.”
Gil finally let go, blushing slightly at being caught coping a feel. Still, he gave Nick a knowing wink, and enjoyed the soft chuckle it provoked. “It’s good to see you. Are you staying? Or is this a formal…?”
“I’m staying.” Nick patted him on the shoulder, noticing how his friends both relaxed at his words. “I talked to the Sheriff, and we’ve come to an agreement on how to handle my absence. After everything with the kidnapping, the trauma from Katrina totally set me back. But I’m good now.” He gave them both a wink. “Or more to the point, if I’d stayed in the city any longer, I would be up on charges for murdering the Mayor, the Governor, and a few other righteous assholes who think the hurricane was punishment from God for New Orleans being filled with immorality.”
Gil rolled his eyes at the vast nature of human stupidity. “Though I’m sure New Orleans could use your support, I’m glad you’re back. We’re actually quiet today. If you want to work with Sara, she can catch you up on your older cases…”
“Well, look what the wet cat dragged in!” Brass stood in the doorway, giving Nick a smirk. “You could’ve warned us.” He glared pointedly at Warrick.
“I came in this afternoon, met with the Sheriff and Ecklie. I wanted it to be a surprise.”
“Oh, I’m sure it will be.” The dark humor in the detective’s voice was indicator enough of how much he was actually going to enjoy what came next.
“What is going on here?” Catherine’s voice came from the corridor, and Nick had to give Brass credit for not cackling evilly but instead stepping graciously into the room, holding the door open for her so she could get a full view of the proceedings.
It was one of those moments in life when everything slowed down.
Nicolaus put on his best Nicky Stokes smile, as she walked in. “Hey, Cath.”
Warrick shifted closer to his Mate as Brass closed the door behind them, making sure to keep the lab’s gossip hounds from seeing things.
Gil glanced from Nick to Cath, then glanced over at Brass, who seemed like his normal grumpy self. Then his gaze shifted slightly to Sara, who moved closer to Nick.
Something was going on, and he was pretty sure it wasn’t good.
“I’m surprised to see you.” Catherine held herself in check, making sure to not react in more than comradely concern. “I figured with everything, Vegas would be the last place you’d want to be ever again.”
“I don’t like unfinished business,” Nick answered honestly.
“And the Sheriff is okay with you just taking so much time off? I mean, there’s only so much you can get away with, and you’ve been gone for six weeks.” She couldn’t quite smile at him, but at the same time she was doing her normal motherly routine.
“We had a good discussion about Mental Health, and how it affects this type of job.” He didn’t smile at her easily either. “I’ll be doing double duty for a while, plus I maxed out my vacation, sick days, and holidays for the next ten years.”
Gil chuckled slightly. “Welcome to the night shift.”
Nick laughed in reply, then turned to Sara. “You took my cases?”
“Yep, and solved a few of them too. As it seems tonight of all nights, we’re actually quiet, let me catch you up.” She took his arm, and led them out of the room.
Only Warrick, caught the side-eye she gave Gil, who did nothing more than nod slightly in acknowledgement.
“I’ve got my own case, and I’m sure Brass here was stopping by to tell me he found my missing shooter?” Warrick deflected the moment.
“Of course I did.” Brass rolled his eyes, then gestured to the door. “I’ll even drive you to his bad guy hangout.”
Gil waited until he was left alone with Catherine.
He stood there for a moment, noticing how tense and irritated she was, and struggled to know whether he should confront her with what had just happened, or leave it well alone. Instead he stalled things, by grabbing his papers and organizing them fussily over the table top.
“Are you okay with this?” she asked, tone slightly snappy. “Of course you are, your boy is back.”
He took a few moments, then looked at her squarely, knowing she was one of his oldest friends. “Yes. I’m happy Nick is back. He’s a damn good CSI and I would hate to see him go. I would’ve understood it though, if he’d gone. He came back from being kidnapped, and that took some force of personality to pull off. What’s that famous line – the best revenge is to keep living? That he holds no anger or hatred toward those who buried him alive, will never cease to amaze me. He’s a better man than I am. Hell, I still want to throttle Gordon. The hurricane? That wasn’t personal, that was an act of nature, and it stole so many lives. The people of New Orleans, are his people. They may not know it, but he takes care of them. Have you even read any of the reports coming out of Louisiana?” He wasn’t sure she was even listening, but he pressed onward regardless. “No evacuations were issued, people drowned in their homes, no one is taking responsibility, and everyone is pointing fingers at each other. No one cares, Cath, but he does. It’s what makes him a good CSI. He cares. Yeah, I bitched about it for years, mainly because he was different from how I wanted him to work. But he’s not us. He’s not me. Hell he isn’t even Nick Stokes, he’s Nicolaus Meridius, and I would follow him into hell if he needed me to.”
“Warrick let you fuck him?”
“Nick let you fuck Warrick?”
She stared at him in shock, not knowing what to say, surprised at Gil’s response.
He just gave her a sad smile. “Catherine, I’m not sure what’s going on here, but Nick and Warrick are Mates, bonded in ways you can’t even imagine. You’re pissed that you can’t get Warrick’s dick. It hurts, I know. You’re pissed your mother was in on the whole Vampire thing, and didn’t tell you. Well, that’s on her, not them. I don’t say this often, but grow up. You’re acting like a spoiled child who didn’t get what they wanted for Christmas.”
And with that, he grabbed his folders, leaving her there to contemplate his words.
Brass glanced over the top of his car.
Warrick Calhoun wasn’t someone he’d set eyes on for a while.
“You’re okay leaving her in there with Nico?” he asked.
“My boy can handle himself.” Warrick gave him a knowing stare. “Besides, this is a long con. It’s not going to be outright war, just small annoying cuts.”
“You want me to keep an eye on her more closely?” When Thomas had sat him down to explain what they’d discovered, not just about Nico’s kidnapping but what the hurricane had washed in too, it had taken him a while to regain some calm. And to be honest, Brass still wasn’t sure he was all that calm. To think someone he’d befriended years before, was part of an attack on his Clan Leader and his Clan itself, had the pirate itching to get out.
“Nah, we’re just going to lay low. Nico’s called in Bauer. And he’s got his new pet mercenary taking things on.”
Brass laughed like he’d just ordered an all out assault on an enemy vessel. “It’s moments like these a pirate lives for!”