Nick Stokes stood in the ER exam room, fighting with incredible power to stop himself from laughing. He knew the restrained amusement was reflected in his face, could feel Detective Brass' eyes burning into him. He pulled his lips into his mouth, biting them between his teeth, feeling the smile creeping up on him.
"So explain this to me again," Brass was saying, scratching his forehead with the tip of his pen before poising it above his notepad. "What made you think this was a good idea?"
"Dude," the young man said, shrugging as he indicated the two young women sitting on the hospital exam bed behind him. They were touching each other's hair, their dilated eyes fixed on the tendrils between their fingertips. Their hands moved from hair to face, touching carefully, a shared expression of childlike curiosity. In moments they were kissing, passionately, brunette pushing blond against the bed. "Isn't it obvious?"
"Well, unfortunately for you," Brass continued, motioning for the officers to come forward. "Giving someone LSD without their knowledge is a crime. Hand over the candy."
"Oh, come on, man," he protested, as Nick took the small plastic pumpkin filled with Halloween candy from the man, the officers approaching. "I was just trying to have some fun! They only had a couple!"
"You'll be having fun in jail," Brass stated. "I'm sure you'll find lots of guys in there that want your candy."
And that was all it took for Nick to burst into laughter. He heard his name harshly whispered across irritated lips and coughed into his hand roughly, before bagging and tagging the Halloween candy that had been laced with LSD. Poor guy had almost gotten away with it until one of the girls had begun vomiting uncontrollably, setting off the other into a violent puke-fest. And while taking them to the emergency room had been wise, deciding to stay had joined the long list of mistakes this guy had made in his lifetime.
"Nick," he heard, this time softer. He looked up at Brass, mild exasperation on his face. "Let's get those processed, shall we?"
Greg Sanders had been having a long day, and it was only halfway through. He'd been stuck in the lab doing more favors for Ecklie, and he wished he'd never opened his brown-nosing mouth when offering the first time. Give an inch, take a mile. He should've guessed. Now, he was stuck here on Halloween, the best holiday on Earth. He could be walking around Las Vegas in an erotic costume, drinking his ass off and making out with everyone in sight. Making Greg work on Halloween was just plain cruel.
He walked down the dimly lit hallways of the crime lab, heading to Toxicology to retrieve results on the blood found at the scene, hoping he could wrap this latest case up in a nice, shiny bow for Catherine. If he handed her the right answers, along with big brown eyes and a cute pout, maybe she'd let him leave a couple hours early.
"Henry," he called, his eyes landing on an empty lab. He moved inside, glancing at the files and finding the one he wanted. Opening the manila envelope, he found the results he was looking for and smiled. Yes. Just what he was hoping to find. Time to find a last minute costume so he could join the street parties and – "Ooo, candy."
He reached into the plastic pumpkin, pulling out an appealing bite, unwrapping a chocolate vampire face and popping it into his mouth. Tasted milk chocolate and tart raspberry on his tongue, moved for the door and thought better of it. He turned back, grabbing a Frankenstein face - dark chocolate and coconut! - and headed out before Henry could catch him stealing his candy.
He failed to noticed the evidence bag settled beneath it.
Nick stood in the DNA lab with Gil Grissom, looking over the results of blood found at the scene of their rape case. Greg was focusing down a microscope, and while earbuds were plugged in to either side of his head, Nick could still hear rock music softly from across the room. He couldn't even imagine the damage that was being done to the junior CSI's eardrums.
"Hey, guys," Detective Brass called, standing in the threshold of the lab. "Turns out that the fingerprints from our jock match a cold case from five years ago. Girl at the community college woke up in a different state than when she went to sleep. Tiffany McCarthy, unsolved."
"Greg," Gil said, peering over wire-rimmed glasses at the young man. He cocked an eyebrow, repeating, "Greg."
Nick picked up a plastic pipette off of the counter, flicking it at the young man, grinning as he caught the annoyed expression coming up from the microscope. Greg sat up, pulling the buds out of his ears, loud music blaring before he pressed pause on his iPod.
"What?" he asked, eyebrows raised.
"I need you to run the DNA on Marty Williams," Grissom stated, pulling his glasses away from his face, rubbing at his eyes tiredly. "Check it out in the system. See what you can get from the candy, maybe there were more girls or more men involved. And lose the headphones."
"I got in trouble for blasting my music on the radio," Greg protested, pouting. "This genius doesn't just happen! I need music to concentrate."
Grissom's only reply was to roll his eyes, before turning back to Brass. "We'll get right on it. When are the girls at the hospital going to be ready for questioning?"
"Tomorrow morning," Brass replied, and then concluded on his way out, "That'll teach you to trust a jock."
"Hey, not all jocks are bad people," Nick defended.
"Why, because you were one?" Greg asked, his eyes once again focused on the slide.
"Hey, I never tried to drug girls with Halloween candy," Nick protested, hands raised in defense. "Henry's got it in Tox, by the way, when you're ready for it."
There was an audible gasp from across the room. Greg looked at him, and it was almost like Nick could see the wheels turning in his head. He watched his expression turn from confusion to realization to shock. The young man recovered almost immediately, clearing his throat and looking once more down the microscope and into a specimen he had been studying for a little too long now.
"Henry has the candy in Toxicology?" Greg asked, casually.
"Yes," Grissom replied, slowly, brow knotted.
"Was it...in a small plastic pumpkin?" Greg asked again, casually.
"Yes," Grissom replied again, slowly. "It was also on a small plastic evidence bag."
"What, uh...what was in it?"
Nick pressed his hand into his mouth, trying to fight a smile for the second time that night.
"What!" Greg breathed, putting a hand to his stomach, as if the initials were the secret password to trigger symptoms. "Acid? I ingested acid? I'm about to have an acid trip?"
"How many, exactly, did you ingest?" Grissom asked, sharing a glance with Nick, who was really trying to sober up, honestly. "And how long ago?
"Two," Greg replied, hands gripping the countertop before him. "I ate two pieces of candy thirty minutes ago. Am I going to die?"
"No. It takes thirty to ninety minutes for LSD to set in," Grissom stated, the exasperation apparent in his voice. He regarded Nick with a rather wry expression. "Would you please escort Greg to the hospital?"
"Oh, my God, I'm going to die."
"You're not going to die," Grissom said. "Do you have a room mate?"
Grissom regarded Nick once more. "After the hospital, would you mind staying at Greg's apartment with him overnight?"
"Sure," Nick replied, glancing at Greg, who had blanched notably. "Come on, Greggo. You're gonna be fine, just finish up what you were doing and let's go."
"Call me," Grissom said, closing the file in his hand and exiting the room, and Nick could swear he saw a smile on the older man's face as he left. He could swear it.
"What's an acid trip like?" Greg asked, from the passenger's side of Nick's SUV. Forty-five minutes. It had now been forty-five minutes since he'd ingested the LSD. He was waiting to start hallucinating or – something. It was like waiting for a bomb to go off, but the timer had been busted.
"You know what happens," Nick stated, eyes on the road, but Greg caught him stealing a glance. "Change in mood, delusions, hallucinations, sweating, nausea..."
"Got it," Greg interrupted, holding a hand up. "I haven't felt anything yet."
"Just give it time."
Greg groaned, shifting in his seat uncomfortably. "Have you ever taken LSD?"
"No," Nick replied, and then shrugged. "I smoked a lot of pot in college."
"Who didn't?" Greg asked, his eyes focused on the dashboard. He noticed the tiny patterns in the leather, reached out and touched them with his fingertip, tracing it over the crevices and grooves. His finger found the imprint of letters. It felt...like his epithelials were alive, feeling the leather for the first time, but times a million. He inhaled sharply, turning to Nick with wide eyes, pulling his hands into his lap. "I think I'm losing it. Oh, my God, Nick, I'm losing it. Please hurry."
"Chill out, Greg," the older man said, and Greg could almost see his words, floating through the air in Nick's shoddy handwriting. He looked at the man's face, and it almost...he could kind of...hear the way he looked? He shut his eyes tightly, controlling his breathing, trying to keep it together. He saw Nick laugh. Saw him laugh. "Relax, G. You're going to be fine. They'll check you out and I'll get you home. I'll make sure you live through the night."
Greg's eyes flew open. "Don't say that! I'm not going to die! Am I?"
He saw Nick laugh again. "I got you, G. Don't worry."
Greg sat in the hospital bed, staring at the pulse oximeter attached to his pointer finger. He had taken it off and put it back on so many times, the time it took for the nurses to respond to the Code Blue alarm was becoming longer and longer. Nick had tried in vain many times to distract him with a penlight or an emesis basin or even a speculum he had found in one of the cabinets, but the little red light located inside the pulse ox clip was enough to keep Greg transfixed.
They had been in the waiting room for several hours, having been triaged to the back of the line since taking LSD wasn't exactly an emergency, before they had finally been taken into a room. A nurse had taken Greg's vitals and escorted them to a room, drawing blood and taking a urine sample (which, to Nick's dismay, had been his job to help acquire), and now they had been waiting for a couple more hours, this time for a doctor.
Nick leaned back in his chair, cracking his neck and sighing with temporary relief. His back was killing him, but he was too tired to pace. The sun was beginning to peek in through the curtains, taunting him. He should be asleep right now, but instead he was listening to a heart monitor beep incessantly as Greg removed his pulse ox once more.
"Give it a rest already!" Nick shouted, standing up and moving to the bed. He grabbed the young man's wrist roughly, placing the pulse ox back on his finger. "Leave it there. Don't touch it again. Do you understand me?"
The only reply he received was a blank stare. Nick groaned in frustration, landing back in his chair heavily. He handed Greg a roll of gauze, thanking God that that was enough to placate his attention, unable to help but smile as he watched the junior CSI unravel it and tangle himself with it.
"Mr. Sanders?" he heard from the open door, glancing up to see a pretty female doctor. She spoke with a melodious Spanish accent. "Hello, I'm Dr. Ramirez."
"Hi," Greg replied, smiling dazedly. "I'm Greg."
Nick stood instinctively. "I'm Nick Stokes from the Crime Lab."
"Nice to meet you," she replied cheerily, her personality too bright for this time of the morning. "I see here that Greg accidentally took some LSD?"
"Yeah," Nick replied, nodding as he indicated the young man. "He ate some candy that was evidence. He didn't realize there was LSD in it. We just wanted to make sure that he was okay."
"Well, according to the bloodwork, it was just a mild dose," she stated, flipping through the chart. She looked up, smiling. "He's going to be fine. We can keep him until the effects wear off, but if you're comfortable taking him home, you can do that too."
He looked at Greg, who looked back at him, that stupid smile still on his face. "I - "
"Nicky will take care of me!" Greg exclaimed, interrupting him.
Nick sighed. "I'll take care of him."
He wished he would've eaten those words. He wished he would've swallowed them whole and choked them down. The ride home was a mess: Greg kept touching everything, including Nick, touching his arm, running his fingers over the coarse hair, sending shivers down Nick's spine. He had to remember to breathe, try not to focus on those slender fingers on his skin.
It was easy to forget his attraction to the young man when he was being annoyed incessantly by him.
When they reached Greg's apartment, Nick had to practically carry him up the stairs. He leaned him up against the wall in the breezeway, fishing in Greg's pants for the keys. Greg began to giggle uncontrollably, swatting at Nick with his hands, raising a knee to deflect.
"Chill out, man," Nick pleaded, stepping back briefly, crossing his arms over his chest. This was like dealing with a drunk three-year-old. "I need your keys."
"I have them," Greg replied, reaching into his pocket, pulling them out and jiggling them in the air, taunting him. "Wan' 'em?"
"Yes!" Nick exclaimed, holding out an open hand. "Give them to me."
Greg giggled again. "Come and get 'em."
"No." This was a dangerous game. He didn't want to have to fight Greg for the keys. He didn't want to have to hurt him, although right now, Nick wouldn't have minded. "Give them to me. Now."
"You're cute when you're mad," Greg surmised, and Nick rolled his eyes.
"Greg, just give me the damn keys," he said, stepping forward. Greg held the keys out, but when Nick went to grab them, he pulled his hand back sharply. "Greg..."
"Come and get them."
"I don't want to play this game. Just give me the keys."
"Okay," Greg replied, shrugging. "I guess you're not the man I thought you were."
Nick glared, skimming his tongue over his teeth before stepping impossibly close to Greg, reaching out a hand to grab the keys, but his hand closed around Greg's fist. "Let me have them so I can open the door."
"Not until you admit that you lost."
"I lost," Nick stated quickly, feeling the heat from Greg's body against his. "Keys."
Greg smiled, leaning his head back against the wall behind him, eyes fixed on Nick. He reached his free hand up, touching the side of Nick's face, his eyes moving over his hair, his face, his neck, mouth, nose, back to his eyes again. "You are cute when you're mad."
"Greg - "
Nick suddenly felt lips on his, the shock almost electric. He tried to pull away but there were hands on either side of his face, keeping him steady. He absently heard the keys drop to the ground as Greg turned them, pushing Nick up against the wall, displaying an aggression Nick didn't know he possessed. And he knew he shouldn't have, he knew Greg was tripping on acid, knew the young man probably wouldn't even remember this in the morning, and even if he did he might think it was a hallucination, but he couldn't help but take advantage of the moment and kiss him back. He slipped his hands around that slender waist, pulling at belt loops to get him closer, pressing those hips into his, and maybe he would regret this but right now it felt so good.
Nick wasn't sure how long their lips had been locked, but too soon Greg's were gone. The older man opened his eyes, staring at Greg, who was smiling back at him, and not dazedly this time.
"I can open the door myself." He placed a hand on Nick's chest, pushing himself back before picking up his keys and turning to the door, slipping the key in the lock almost effortlessly. He looked back at Nick, who was still leaning against the wall. "Thanks for looking after me."
"Grissom asked me to stay overnight," Nick said, slowly, almost unable to form a complete thought, let alone a sentence. He pushed himself away from the wall, ready to follow Greg in. "To make sure you're all right."
"That's okay," Greg stated with a grin, waving away the implication. "The LSD wore off hours ago. Have a good night!"
Nick blinked as the door closed, standing in the hallway, bewildered. He opened his mouth as if to say something, but he doubted the closed door would reply to him. Instead, he closed his mouth with a snap, turning away from the door with raised eyebrows. And he couldn't help but smile as he headed down the stairs to his SUV, not really knowing what that all meant but hoping to find out tomorrow.