NOTES: Ian Reed is played by Ian Somerhalder, because he has just the right amount of snark and bitchiness and also because he's gorgeous. Think his character in "The Rules of Attraction," which you should also see if you haven't.
I just want to say one more quick thing. I hope this story isn't the stereotypical "Nick's afraid of coming out of the closet." I wanted it to be about a number of things besides that. In the first seasons, Nick was portrayed heavily as having a ladies' man reputation and known for his wild days in a frat at Texas A&M partying and chasing girls. So everyone assumes this about you, and then you have to reveal something about yourself that completely shatters that image; that can be pretty daunting. Second, he was also portrayed as a serial dater, so I also wanted it to convey a fear of commitment. Also the fear of having his personal space intruded upon by another person (in S2's "Stalker" Nick is incredibly pissed that Greg distributed the Crime Stopper newsletter and invaded his privacy), and the fear of allowing things to unfold naturally. I believe Nick is very tightly wound and expresses himself in unrestrained bursts of violence (punching a door frame in S1's "Blood Drops") and when he breaks down emotionally (when he cries, for example, which is usually privately and with frustration). All this to say, I tried to make this story a little more three-dimensional and complex than the status quo, and I hope I was successful. Sorry for the long-winded explanation. Enjoy.
Nick was a man that prided himself on his composure and self-restraint. Sure, there was the occasional outburst, such as punching a door at a particularly stressful crime scene or maybe barking a little too harshly at a suspect during an interrogation, but those were only during those rare moments when his anger and frustrations dangerously bubbled up inside of him until they exploded out of him like twisting the cap off of a shaken soda bottle. For the most part, Nick knew how to keep his cool. He was stoic, poised, carried himself like the territorial alpha male he was, and made sure everybody knew he was in control of himself and everything around him. Peacocking is what they called it in Texas.
But something was happening to him. Something was crawling under his skin. Someone. Someone with a loud mouth and louder shirts and hair that changed colors with the days of the week. Someone that never stopped moving, never stopped fidgeting, never stopped talking. Nick would drive to work and think about him. Process a scene and think about him. Eat in the break room and think about him. Lay down to sleep after a long shift and think. About. Him.
There was something about him. Something about the way he moved so fluidly within the glass walls of his lab. Delicate yet strong hands. Slender wrists. Broad shoulders. Narrow hips. Legs that went on for miles. Physically, but there was something else about him too. He was so much smarter than Nick, which was oddly intimidating but thrilling at the same time. Nick usually only dated cops or bimbos, neither of which ever knew much about science. Or surfing. Or diving. Or latex. Or the myriad number of other things the young man seemed to know about. And then there was the wit and the laugh and that mischievous smile and...
Sometimes, Nick wanted to kiss him just to see what reaction he would get. Imagined pushing him up against one of the tables in the lab, the counter digging into the small of his back. Imagined the usually cocky and overconfident young man flustered and blushing under the harsh florescent lights. Imagined grabbing whatever colorful shirt he was wearing that day in his fists and pulling him into a deep and bruising kiss. Nick was terrified to think the mouthy lab rat would return the sentiment. Excited to think he could finally make him shut up.
These thoughts only served to further convince Nick he was going crazy, and he didn't know what to do. All he knew for sure was that he had an itch that needed to be scratched, and that itch was named Greg Sanders. That, and the fact that he couldn't live like this much longer.
There were nights that were so restless, when Nick's mind spent too much time thinking about him, that he'd drive all the way out to another city miles and miles away to find himself at a gay bar, drinking whiskey and surveying the crowd until he chose his mark. It wasn't difficult to find a man to take back to the bathroom, or his truck, or sometimes a motel. Nick was attractive, he knew his Southern boy charm didn't only work on the ladies. There were nights he'd even find someone that looked like Greg. Tall and lanky with broad shoulders and dark hair. Or blond. Or light brown, depending on what color Greg had decided on that day. Sometimes, as he fucked them from behind, face hidden from view, he'd even pretend it was Greg. Although they usually didn't like it when he called out Greg's name.
He wanted Greg, there was no doubt about it. And sometimes, he wondered if Greg wanted him too. They often shared suggestive conversations that made Nick wonder if the young man was flirting or just being really, really honest. It was hard to tell, because he didn't just act that way around Nick. He acted that way around everybody. It was curious and infuriating at the same time. It made Nick jealous, and he had a sneaking suspicion it had to do with his ego. That territorial alpha male thing.
But Greg was his coworker, and Nick was a professional. He had never gotten involved with someone at work, but it hadn't been for lack of a desire to do so. There was always a possibility of mixed signals or a messy breakup, which could only serve to inject a work relationship with resentment or drama, and that was something Nick hadn't been willing to risk. Not to mention the complications that could arise from getting involved with a male coworker. Discrimination from coworkers or upper management. Constant harassment. Losing his job. Even his closest friends thinking differently of him. And that was a thought he really couldn't bear to contemplate.
So he stayed back a safe distance, drifting in and out of the lab more often than he should, leaning closer than he should, touching more than he should. Just to get a small whiff of that sweet citrus-candy scent. Just to feel the heat emanating off of that tall, lithe body. Knew that safe distance was getting smaller and smaller, especially when Greg had called him out on it. You think Einstein had people hovering over his shoulders all the time?
No. But Einstein hadn't nearly been as alluring.
To be continued.