A/n: Hi again! Thanks for the encouraging reviews for Chapter 17, as always, I really appreciate them! Here’s the next chap for you! I *think* I have one more chapter to go before I end this story. 2 more at the most unless I find another mess to stick the guys into, lmao. “It’s me.” “I was just wondering if you’d call at all.” “I need to be sure you’re clean.” “Well, do you think I am?” “I’m not sure yet.” “But you still call.” “I’m desperate.” “I’d imagine.” “What makes you think Nick’s innocent?” “I don’t at first. You have to understand that John Weiss was a good man, he had quite a reputation around here. His death is a great loss to us.” “I understand, I’m sorry too. What changed though?” “You know Officer Randy? He-” “Yeah, nice guy.” “Well, he and I got to talking yesterday after we found out about John’s death and he told me that something wasn’t right. He said Nick dropped by yesterday looking for you. He left in a hurry and almost forgot to return his visitor’s pass. Randy was on duty and he had to yell at him to stop and give it back at the counter he was at.” “Was John Weiss running after him?” “Yeah, Randy said he heard John Weiss calling out for someone to stop but he didn’t realize he was referring to Nick. He also told me that when Nick hurried over to the counter and returned the pass, he looked sober enough. He didn’t smell any alcohol on him and his eyes didn’t look glazed, two things that he should easily detect on him.” “Did Randy mention anything else?” “Well, not really. But while we were talking, we realized a lot was amiss. Nick came by definitely not drunk at all, I mean, if he was that drunk to the point of overdosing in between that time, someone here would have noticed and have him arrested. So during the course of his visit here until the crash happened, he was moving right? So when did he have time to overdose himself?” “You have dirty cops working with you. Nick and I just happened to find the truth and got mixed in this chaos.” “We can help.” “You’re getting yourself in a bad mix.” “Look, we weren’t hands on involved in this case so we have no idea how far this case has gone but you need us as much as we want to help you guys out. The only thing we ask is that no one must know of our involvement.” “I understand. We have some ideas and you have the resources. If you’re willing to do this, we have something that you and Randy can help us with.” - Beyond anything else, the one thing Nick had difficulties in facing, was pure humiliation. He learnt that the police officer had to be anywhere he went to once the cuffs were off and that meant leaving the bathroom door ajar while Brian gave him a sponge bath. Even Brian’s attempt at rationalizing about the zero chance of an injured man jumping off from the fifth floor of a tiny bathroom window didn’t deter the officer’s decision. Making his way back to the bed proved to be just as painful as getting out of it. He didn’t tell anyone but he had been holding back the much needed bathroom break until Brian came at about eight in the morning. The officers who rotated shifts in front of his room had no trouble in telling him how much they hated him. Nick sort of understood that, he did after all, killed their own ‘kind’. “Could you please hurry up, I need to be out there.” The police officer asked Brian, who was struggling to tie the strings of Nick’s hospital gown on his back. “It’s the last one, you can put that handcuff back on if you want.” Brian said, just as cold. “I need to see your hands first.” The officer said. Brian waved his hands up in the air. “See, nothing here. You want me to jump and see if I have a key stuck somewhere in my body?” “No that’s fine.” The officer spat before putting the handcuff back on and quickly left the room. Brian went ahead to put the IV bag to it’s original place and noticed that it needed a refill, whatever it was they were feeding Nick. He stole a glance at the IV needle buried somewhere under his skin and couldn’t help but cringe. But within a second, Brian had managed to transform back into the positive, smiling Brian that Nick desperately needed to see. “Okay, one more thing to do and you’re set.” Brian grinned. “And what is that?” Brian motioned him to give him a second and went digging into his bag. He pulled out a baby powder. “Dab some of this on your neck here…and some on your face there…” Nick couldn’t help but let out a soft chuckle. “There ya go, all pretty.” “You really came in well prepared.” “Well, I didn’t remember this one though. It was all Baylee’s idea.” “Oh?” “Yeah, he wanted to come along and I told him I’ll be busy giving Nicky a sponge bath to be watching him.” “You really are serious about not telling white lies to your son.” Brian nodded. “And then he said ‘well daddy, you need to bring my powder so Nicky will smell nice just like me’ and he grabbed his powder and dunk it into my bag.” “Like a basketball?” “Like a basketball.” Nick fell silent as Brian went ahead to fold up the hospital gown Nick had on the night before and placed it in the disposable bin at the corner of the room. Everything that goes out of the room had to be checked by the officer on duty. Brian wasn’t envying their job at all. “Have you send some securities over to your house Bri? Just to play safe.” “I have. You don’t worry about that.” “Of course I worry. I don’t want anything to happen to them. Is Leigh freaked out?” Brian laughed. “You know, I think she’s more afraid for all of us just cause we’re still here in this city where they pretty much can do anything.” Nick stared at the handcuff and said nothing for a few seconds. “Last night I wanted to roll over on my side and totally forgot I got this thing on. Made the loudest noise ever, must be a record or something.” “Did you hurt yourself?” Brian asked, worried. “It hurts like a mother.” Nick said. “But that’s not the reason I’m telling you this. I sorta yelled out in pain and nobody came to see if I was okay. You remember that time when I got hospitalized for dehydration? All I had to do was groan and someone will come in and make it all better. Now, I’m just another white trash who got so drunk and killed a good man.” Brian leaned his head to one side and reached out his hand to touch the tip of Nick’s chin. “Hey, why the negativity now? We’re getting out of this mess Nick, all of us. They’ll know the truth soon enough.” Nick said nothing, still afraid to meet Brian’s gaze. “Nicky, before you woke up, we almost give up. You should see Kevin then…he thought it was his fault that he lost the two videos that will stop all this madness. We all thought there was no way we could prove to anyone what these guys were doing. We thought we were all doomed, just waiting for the moment they’d strike and kill us off and make it look like one huge accident and everything will be well in their world again. But YOUR idea…baby…I wish all the critics and the haters in this world can see what a smart guy you truly are.” Nick smiled, already feeling better about himself. But it didn’t last long when he saw Matthew Lee walking towards his room. This time, he had come alone. Brian noticed him too and the smile was gone from his face. He wished the others were there with them too but he decided he had to make do. Nick needed assurance and Brian was going to give him one. Let the gnome handle this. “Are you ready for this?” Brian asked Nick. Nick nodded. “Yep. It’s now or never.” “How fitting Nick.” Nick let a small smile, careful to not let it be seen by the Chief. The moment Matthew Lee was let in by the officer, he proceeded to close the door and covered all the blinds. “Wow, didn’t know road killers get special treatments.” Nick scoffed. Matthew Lee’s only reaction was to smile and took out his notepad. “This is how things are going down. You’ll be released in two days, upon which a press conference will be held for you. You WILL go out there and confess to all the charges pressed against you. And then you’ll live in a nice cell until a verdict is passed. Failing to do this, will ensure untimely deaths of the entire Carter clan. Now while we’re all aware of the dramas going around in your family, I know you never wish death upon any of them. Especially not to your sisters and brother. Are we clear?” “You’re not getting away with this.” “You want to try out that theory? Be my guess.” Matthew Lee challenged before going for Brian. “As for the four of you, life needs to continue as normal. I will have eyes following your every move, never doubt that. One false move and I’ll kill your mothers and fathers, wives and…son.” Brian almost lost his cool, he could feel the rush as blood blushed his face. “I see I hit a nerve there Brian. You’re welcome to challenge that theory too if you want.” Brian already had his mouth half opened, ready to give the asshole a piece of his mind when Nick suddenly cried out in pain. Even Matthew Lee was caught off guard and turned his attention back to Nick, who had a contorted look on his face while his free hand clutched his chest. It resulted in the IV needle being pulled forcefully off of his arm and making a mixture of white liquid and drops of blood mess on the bed. “Brian…I…can’t…breathe…” Brian sprung into action. He stared at Matthew Lee, telling him that he meant business. “You better get some help before they get suspicious of what went on in this room.” Matthew Lee ran for the door and alerted the officer to get help. He kept looking back to see Nick looking paler by the second. His cuffed hand wanting desperately to be free and his free hand spreading spots of blood all over his hospital gown. “Deep breaths Nick, you can do it baby!” “I…can’t…” After what felt like forever, a doctor came rushing in with a nurse. Seeing the mess, he frowned and quickly ordered the nurse to come back with the necessary items to stop the bleeding. He took Nick by the arm and patiently guided him to a series of slow and controlled breathing until his breathing was back to normal. He then proceeded to check his blood pressure and temperature. The nurse did an excellent job at stopping the bleeding while everything was still going on. Brian stood by him and held on tight to his cuffed hand, assuring him that he wasn’t going anywhere. “You’re doing great Nick, just take it easy and everything should be okay.” The doctor said before looking at Brian and then at Matthew Lee. “Look, I understand you’re doing your work, but you’re agitating my patient to the point that he had a panic attack.” “I couldn’t care less if he’s having a heart attack doctor. He’s a drunkard who just killed another human being, I’m here making sure justice is done.” The doctor seemed to grow impatient with Matthew Lee and that was exactly what Brian had expected. “Chief, I don’t think I’m making myself clear enough to you. Lets talk in my room, we’re not going to let my patient have another attack from our discussion.” Once they had left, Brian turned his attention back to Nick. He looked exhausted. He pushed the strands of hair from his face and carefully wipe the sweat from his forehead. The nurse was replacing the IV bag with a new one. “You really did a number on your arm Nick.” She said as she tried looking for another vein that she could use. “This will sting for a bit okay?” Brian didn’t think that Nick even bothered about what little discomfort he was going to feel. He was beyond tired. It didn’t take long for the nurse to complete the procedure and had that white liquid pumping into Nick’s body again. “I’ll come back in an hour for his daily medications, till then, make sure he gets enough rest.” Brian said his thanks and watched as she walked out of the room. The police officers were changing shifts and Brian busied himself with the fresh pair of hospital gown and blanket that the nurse had stopped by to change. He knew Nick would rather have his help in that department than a stranger. “Brian, I think I’ll wear this one for now. We can change to a new one later tonight.” Nick said. “Are you sure?” “Yeah…I don’t want to have to call the police again to get me off this cuff. I’m too tired to do all that.” “I’m sorry you have to go through all that. Does it hurt?” Nick tried moving his arm a little and felt the pain was already numbing away. “Nah, but the blood sure scares the heck out of me.” Brian squeezed his shoulder lightly and motioned for him to lye back down as he pulled the new blanket up to his chest. “You pulled it off brilliantly Nicky, now the guys have more time to do what they gotta do while Matthew Lee is occupied.” Nick was already half asleep but offered a small smile. “I deserve…an Oscar for that…” The last thing he heard was Brian’s soft chuckles before he allowed himself to succumb to the bliss of sleep.