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[personal profile] zou2

This is my first fic in years.  Thank you alyse for a quick beta. 

This is dark and angsty and not necessarily the Nick that I think really exists, just one who could have. 

As I have no other place to post this fic (ff.net is just too scary) it will just live here for now.  Maybe someday I'll figure out html, or it will find a home.

 

Golem  by zou

 

 

He was Golem.

 

A being created out of mud and sticks, made animate by some mystical force for the sole purpose of serving and protecting others.  He was not human.  Although he had learned to mimic their mannerisms -  to laugh, to smile, to cry -  he was not like them .  Words were put into his mouth, his duties and obligations clearly set out for him, the expectations of how he should live and act ingested as his daily fare.  He did not really exist, and with the incantation of a few words he would crumble back into the basic elements out of which he had been created. 

 

He was Golem.

 

When he was nine, a last minute baby-sitter had scared him.  She had fondled him, kissed him, had him kiss her in places he didn’t like.  She had touched him and had him touch her.  She had made strange sounds and had even hurt him a little.  But the one thing she had not done, either because she didn’t think it was necessary or simply by oversight, was to tell him to keep it a secret.  So he hadn’t.

 

He had told, and the family had been in an uproar.  Some accused him of lying, of making up stories; she was a “good girl” after all, the daughter of a “good family”. She would not do such a thing.  His older brother and some uncles had laughed and bragged that he was a “Stokes” alright, having women throwing themselves at him at the ripe old age of nine.  A child prodigy they had joked.  His mother had cried and been unable to look at him.  When he tried to crawl into her lap, she had made a hasty retreat to her bedroom with a “sick headache” and the need for solitude.  His father had stormed, accusing him of somehow causing this to happen.  And Uncle Pete had said nothing.  He waited for his opening, when no one else was looking, and stared into Nick’s deep brown eyes and mouthed the words “our secret”.  And so it was.  Nick was always a compliant child, had always done what adults had instructed him to do.  So Nick kept that secret.  He would have kept the other, if she had only known to ask.

 

He was Golem.

 

Another family uproar and again Nick was the center.  His future was being planned and he was little more than a spectator.  The battle lines draw between relatives.  One group argued that he should attend Rice University, stay in Texas and cultivate the good ole’ boy network.  Get a degree in political science and then go on to law school.  With family contacts and debts owed, Nick could move into a position at a prestigious law firm for a few years, and then onto higher ground.  Another group argued Ivy League; he had the grades, he’d make the right “political contacts” and then onto law school and a political career.  Maybe spend some time in Washington, on the Hill, get some work done for the folks back home.  Help lobby for more corporate tax cuts and write offs.  Make people “owe him” and then move home to begin calling in markers.

 

The arguments had been going on for hours.  Seventeen-year-old Nick had not been asked his opinion, it had not occurred to anyone that he should be consulted.  He was a “good boy”, a compliant boy. He had always done as he was told, just ask Uncle Pete.  Why would anyone think to ask him now?  The voices rose and tempers soared.  Then out of the blue a single voice asked, “What do you think, Nicholas?” 

 

The room fell into silence.

 

She was the only one with the power to stop this flood, and the will to do so.  She was the matriarch, Grandma Stokes, but lovingly called “Grammy Scrub”, so named for the scrub that doted the Texas plains.  She, like it, had blown into Texas, somehow grabbed hold of a piece of hard-packed, dry desert soil and put down roots.  She was tough and hardy and no one dared cross her.  She had come to this unforgiving land in the dustbowl years.  She had married and buried two husbands, birthed 10 children and buried 4 of them.  She stood barely 5 foot 4 inches, her skin now stretched taut over bone.  The passage of years had reduced her from the solid, substantial woman she had been in her youth to a wiry creature of hard edges.  But the fire still burned. She could still stand toe to toe with any man, whether a wrangler, a judge or one of her own brood.  Her clear blue eyes looked not so much at a person, as through them.  She suffered fools and liars badly, and if she thought you were either, she was happy to tell you.  And while her voice had grown wispy with age, it was like the Texas wind, powerful enough to strip skin from bone.  And she had asked, “What do you think, Nicholas?”

 

Nick hated being the center of attention.  He was there simply to find out what their decision would be, not to actually participate.  Now all eyes were on him.  He could not look at them, could not see them judge him and find him wanting.  Instead he concentrated on his hands, pushing them hard against his thighs so as not to move them with nervous energy.  His father hated when he talked with his hands, said it was “low class”.  The silence dragged on.  No one would speak until Grammy Scrub had her answer.

 

“Well, Nicholas?”  She was the only one who always called him Nicholas.  She didn’t like nicknames or diminutives.  She always said, “If you wanted to call him Nick, you should have named the boy that.”

 

“I don’t know,” he finally forced out past lips so dry that he’d had to peel them apart for the words to escape.

 

“Bullshit, boy.  You’re not an idiot, you must have an opinion.” Again, the Texas wind demanded.  She was not going to settle for the answer that the rest of the family would have happily accepted, before moving on to once again decide his fate.

 

Nick finally looked up, meeting those ice-blue eyes, and, seeing in them some understanding, he took a chance.  It wasn’t a real opinion, not about schools or jobs or anything, more a desire, a need that he had, something he had never once voiced out loud. A calling of sorts.  “I want to help people,” he whispered, more a supplication than a statement.

 

She looked long and hard at this seventh child of her seventh child.  He had always been different.  He was not like the rest of the Stokes clan.  They were from hardy, big-boned German stock.  They were blond and blue-eyed and had had enough brains, brawn, grit and sheer dogged stubbornness to wrestle Texas to the ground like a yearling calf and brand it as their own.  This child before her was not really a Stokes.  Sure the boy carried the name, but he was an O’Connell, his mother’s people:  Black Irish.  Not bad folks, but more controlled by their emotions, gentler creatures. They had been poets and musicians, writers and teachers.  Their souls soared and fell with the triumphs and tragedies of their fellow man.  They were not exactly soft, but they were not Stokes. There had been a sadness in this child since he was small.  One day she had looked deep into those brown eyes, so different from her other grandchildren, and seen a pain that should not have been there.  Should not be in the eyes of a five-year-old boy. She had not been able to bear the idea of what caused it, so she had looked away.  She saw that same sadness now, and again she looked away.

 

“Well, there you go,” she declared, turning to the rest of the family horde.  “The boy wants to help people.  Find a way to make that happen.”

 

With that proclamation she returned to her seat and the battle lines were once again drawn.  In the end, Nick’s quiet plea had made no difference.  It was decided that he would go to Rice, get a degree in political science, then go onto law school.  He could “help people” by taking on some clients “pro bono” from time to time.   Uncle Pete had congratulated him at the end of the day, and said he was happy that Nick would be staying close to home.  Said he’d have missed Nick if he’d moved too far away.

 

He was Golem

 

As ordained, Nick studied political science.  In an unprecedented bit of rebellion he had quietly taken extra classes as well.  When he graduated his family was stunned to discover that he had also earned a degree in criminology and a minor in biology.  He’d been on the Dean’s list every semester, had graduated cum laude and had pledged the “right” fraternity.  But on the day of his graduation, all he heard about was what a waste his extra degrees would be.  If he really wanted another degree, it should have been in finance, or something useful.

 

Nick had taken a job interning at a law firm, while he studied for the law school entrance exam.  He hated everything about the law.  He hated the over air-conditioned offices, the loop-holes that let the guilty walk away, the gamesmanship, the hours at a desk, the hours of isolation.  He couldn’t breathe.  He needed air, he needed sky, he needed to move.  He needed to be helping people.  The day of the exam, Nick suffered his second moment of rebellion; he didn’t show up.  Instead he hiked out into the foothills and set up camp.  He used his study guides to start the campfire and he sat all night under the clear Texas sky and watched the stars.  He felt small and insignificant, not like he did at home, but in a calming way that nature had a way of imparting.  It was one of the few moments of calm, of belonging Nick could remember in his life.

 

Like the books in the fire, Nick’s world disintegrated in one spectacular conflagration.  He had betrayed the family.  It had been agreed.  It had been planned.  How could he do this to them?  He was a stranger.  He was selfish. This would kill his mother.  Nick had taken all the words, had internalized every sin cast upon his head.  Then he had packed the few belongings that he could not live without and had left.   Uncle Pete watched him leave, but never said a word.

 

He was Golem

 

For a while Nick thought that he was finally becoming his own person.  He’d found a job with the police department.  He’d done it based solely on his own merits, not by calling in markers or dropping his family name.  He thought briefly of changing his name so no one would connect him with the Judge and the DA, but in the end he figured it didn’t matter.  It wouldn’t change who or what he really was.  He missed his family, not for any reason other than it was easier to be and do what they dictated rather than search out answers on his own. 

 

Nick spent three years helping people, just as he’d told Grammy Scrub he had wanted to do.  He’d seen more pain and suffering than he thought possible and some days he thought of crawling back and asking for forgiveness.  Maybe that sterile law firm wasn’t so bad.  Maybe he could get used to it.  Maybe after years of breathing that filtered air he could get the stench of death and bodily fluids out of his nose.  But even as those thoughts drifted through his mind he knew he wouldn’t do it.  As hard and lonely as it was, he was living the life of his own choosing, and he reveled in the small victory he felt at that.  But, as the days and months passed, Nick felt something was missing.  He had ceased to exist, had been cast adrift, had been orphaned.  His sacrifice of self had to have been for a greater purpose than responding to petty crime and domestic violence calls.  There had to be something more.  Sure, he was helping others, protecting them, as was his function, but somehow it still wasn’t enough.  He needed to do more.

 

He was Golem

 

Nick hated walking away.  He hated the moment when he ducked under the yellow tape with his little notepad in hand and left it all behind.  He hated going to the station, reducing everything to nouns, and verbs, double-spaced on form number 1034 and then filed it away.  He wanted to know more.  He wanted to know the how and the why.  He wanted to understand the mysteries that the tiny bits of evidence scooped into bags meant.  He startyed staying behind when the rest of the cops left.; watching the forensic team in their macabre dance. He talked to them – interegated them. He started taking classes again.  He had always loved science, the beauty of it, the simplicity of it, the rules.  Now he devoured it with a new purpose.  This was his calling.  He finally knew what he was meant to do. His sacrifice of self, of family, finally had a greater meaning.  He was taunted and teased by his fellow officers, but when he graduated, and Nick’s name was called and he was handed his degree in forensic science, it was his brothers and sisters in blue whose cheers filled the auditorium to the rafters. 

 

Only Uncle Pete watched as Nick received this diploma.  He had been the only member of the family who stayed in touch with Nick.  It was still their secret.

 

He was Golem

 

Nick graduated near the top of his class, and within days of receiving his bit of vellum, he’d been contacted by the Las Vegas crime lab.  He knew its reputation, and he had read numerous articles by one of the lab’s supervisors, Gil Grissom.  Faster than he’d thought possible, Nick was moving to a new position, to a new life in Nevada.  He’d never lived outside Texas, yet the blast furnace wind and the stark desert landscape made him feel at home and welcomed.

 

As he worked each crime scene he knew that this was his place.  The reason for his creation was now complete.  He could protect people, keep them safe.  Not from death, but from the unknown.  That is what scared people most.  Not the dying, but the not understanding how and why it happened.  This is what had been missing.  He especially liked working the night shift; that way he was able to watch the stars and feel small.  It was a comfort.

 

Nick tried hard to be liked, to fit in.  But it was so hard, so tiring, acting human - pretending.  It was so much easier to be told what to think, how to feel.  To have your actions dictate – your life planned.  To have your words and opinions spoon-fed.  To simply serve at the behest of others.  There were times that he craved it like a drug.  Craved it so much that he followed Grissom around like some abandoned puppy begging for attention.  Some thought he wanted Grissom’s acceptance, his praise, or maybe even his love.  Others simply believed he was a brown-nose, trying to move up the ranks.  They were all wrong.  He just wanted someone to tell him how to be.  How to feel.  What to think.  He so often felt adrift and out of control.  He needed direction, purpose, criteria, control – a master

 

He was Golem.

 

Then life started to change.  Nick reached out to a battered soul, wanting to protect her.  He had seen something in Kristy that no one else had.  It ended badly, but Nick had marveled at how Catherine had fought for him.  Just as if he’d been human.  No one had ever fought for him before.  It made him drunk.  In this euphoric state of “humanness” Nick shared more with Catherine, the part about the baby-sitter, the part that wasn’t “a secret”.  He told her she had been the first he’d shared the story with.  He could not bear to have her know that his own family had not believed him – had not protected him.  Again her response had been to treat him as if he’d been human.  She’d made no accusations; she’d been angry on his behalf, she’d shown compassion and perhaps a little pity.  It was the worst possible thing she could have done to him.

 

They said Nigel Crane was crazy.  They said that he had wanted to take Nick’s life -become Nick.  They were wrong.  Nick knew that Nigel had seen what none of the others had.  Nigel knew what Nick was.  Knew he was not human.  Knew that Nick was a mythical creation who needed to be controlled in order to have purpose.  Nigel didn’t want to become Nick; he wanted to control Nick.  And the scariest part of it was that, had he gone about it a different way, a less violent fashion, if he hadn’t drawn attention to himself by killing Jane Galloway, he might have succeeded.  And if he’d asked Nick to keep it a secret, he would have done that as well.

 

He was Golem.

 

Nick listened to Grissom’s explanation, and marveled at the man’s mind.  All the bits of knowledge he had at his disposal to come up with such deep and magnificent justifications for Nigel’s behavior.  Nick didn’t believe Grissom’s theory, but there was no point in disputing it.  His opinion didn’t matter after all. Nick knew the truth now, recognized his fantasy for what it was.  Understood that no matter how much he wanted it to be true, he was not human like the rest of them.  The truth had come crashing down on him, like the ceiling of his apartment, to lie in shattered pieces at his feet.  Nigel had known, like Nick’s family had known, like Uncle Pete had known.  Nigel had seen the truth.  Nick was not real, was not human, was not worthy of being treated as such. 

 

Sara had said it was over and she was right.  It was over.  Nick would never again forget what he was, who he was.  He was nothing more than a creation of others, owned and controlled for their will, their whim.  He had been foolish to believe that he’d ever be anything else.  He was a servant, a slave and he would never again be tempted to believe otherwise. 

 

Nick moved through his life, doing as he was told.   Reacting the way he was expected to.  He tried to blend, tried not to make waves, to have no opinion.  He again became the empty vessel for others to fill.  He stopped trying to be human.  He spoke less, smiled less, laughed less, and focused on his work.  That was why he existed after all, for the pleasure and purpose of others. Grissom didn’t seem to notice any change.  Catherine asked him a few times if he was okay, but never pushed him to talk. Her life had taken on enough drama to keep her focus.  Sara, with her typically myopic worldview, didn’t even think to ask.  She had proclaimed it “over” and therefore it must be so.  Warrick watched him, but never stepped over the carefully created boundaries they had set early in their relationship.  Greg stopped asking him to join in events outside work after the second dozen refusals.  He seemed confused by the change, but never pushed Nick for an explanation.  Brass had just looked at him with sad eyes, as if he knew something, but never said a word. 

 

And Uncle Pete called and came for a visit.

 

He was Golem.

 

 

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