He hovered in the doorway of the hospital room, the quiet whirring of machinery and beeping of monitors assuring Nick that the unconscious man in the bed was still alive. The physician on call had informed him that Michael Webster had sustained multiple head injuries, enough that his brain had shut down. They were only keeping him alive until his parents arrived in town. Twenty-two years old with hair that had been blond before it had been stained red with blood, and as Nick raised his camera to the latest victim of brutal assaults, as he focused one eye into the viewfinder, pressed the shutter release button, there was a moment right before the flash that the young man on the bed almost looked like Greg.
He shivered at the thought, pondered the possibility. It had happened to Ian Reed. It had happened to this man. It could happen to anyone. Anyone young and cruising the gay clubs in town. Perhaps the assailants were trying to send a message. Nick heard the complaints trickling down from upper management; business was in sharp decline, patrons afraid for their lives, for their friends, their loved ones.
Michael Webster should have stayed at home. Wouldn't have needed to if Nick could just find these punks. Carefully, he combed the young man's body for any trace evidence he could find. Everything would be contaminated from the hospital, but he could only hope that something – just one thing – could lead him to making a connection. That was all it took most of the time.
An oily substance on his face that could've been medical salve. Organic material, probably dirt and grass and whatever else had been on the ground was combed out of his hair and carefully placed into a bindle. Fingernail scrapings. Clothes dumped into evidence bags.
Nick placed a hand on top of the dead man's wrist. Squeezed gently, reassuringly, and left.
Upon returning that evening, Nick placed his evidence on an examining table and began to log everything into the box of files he was quickly accumulating thanks to the multiplying assaults. He pushed his glasses up and pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping anything in one of these evidence bags and bindles would reveal something useful. These people were getting bolder, more violent, and now someone would probably end up dead – at least a vegetable, and what was the difference? He couldn't figure out these attackers. They had to all have had clean records for no DNA or fingerprints to match in any of their systems.
"Maybe they're aliens," Nick said to himself, shaking his head with a rueful smile. He pulled another file, heading to the bottom of the log when his eyes caught Ian Reed's name scribbled in an unfamiliar handwriting. Dated recently. Curiously, he thumbed through the file. All DNA evidence had been reprocessed one week ago. Why? Had something gone wrong with the results? Had his evidence been compromised? Why would Greg request some guy from Days that Nick didn't even know to handle Nick's evidence without consulting him first?
Nick wasn't sure, but he had a sneaking suspicion. He was an investigator, after all.
Quickly, Nick strode to the DNA lab, pausing at the doorway to watch Greg as he carefully measured and mixed chemicals into a small glass beaker. Stood in the doorway until the young man's eyes met his, and he knew – he knew Greg knew what this was about. He entered the room and tossed Ian Reed's case file onto the glass counter top, careful not to disturb the evidence Greg was currently processing.
"Care to explain this?" Nick asked, crossing his arms over his chest. Greg remained attuned to the test in front of him, but his eyes moved from the file to Nick and back to his work quickly.
"I was just doing what you said," Greg responded, almost casually, but Nick could feel the tension between them prickling at his skin like a live wire, causing the fine hair on his arms to stand on end.
"Excuse me?" he asked, after a beat. He couldn't possibly imagine a reality in which he'd asked Greg to send his evidence to someone who wasn't considered the best DNA technician outside of Quantico, Virginia.
"Well," Greg began, carefully placing his glass beaker onto the table – carefully avoiding Nick's eyes, "you said that if anyone found out that the person who had processed that evidence happened to also be the same person that was in a relationship with the victim, it would probably not be good for court, right?"
"That is what I said, yes."
"So...I had Edwardo from the day shift reprocess it, and now the problem is solved."
Nick was floored. He felt heat creeping up his neck and into his ears as he rubbed his jaw with one hand, feeling the anger bubbling up inside of him. He pressed his palm firmly against his lips, almost as if that alone could stop the rage from boiling over and spilling out of him in harsh, biting words. It didn't work.
"Let me get this straight," Nick said, his voice rising as he continued to speak. "You decided to waste the department's time and money so you could continue screwing some guy that you just met?"
"The damage was already done at that point," Greg offered timidly. "I was only trying to fix my mistake."
"Who gave you the authorization to do this?" Nick nearly yelled, visibly startling the young man.
"I asked Grissom," Greg replied hastily. Nick's eyes widened before his face contorted into a scowl, and when he took a step forward, he was satisfied to see Greg take a nervous step back. "I told him there was a possible conflict of interest and explained the situation and he said it was fine." Nick took another step forward. Greg took another step back, laughing uneasily. "In fact, he said he appreciated me being honest with him and thinking about the integrity of your case."
"The – the integrity of my – ?" Nick shook his head, and this time, when he took a step forward, Greg had nowhere to go. The younger man was pressed into the counter, wincing as the hard corner dug into the small of his back. His face was flushed, his eyes cast to the ground with a humility that Nick had never witnessed from the cocky lab rat before. He was practically trembling with fear, stammering as he tried to talk his way out of the situation. And then a thought struck Nick through the haze of red. This was the perfect image of his fantasy. To crawl beneath Greg's skin and break down all of his brashness and self-assurance until all Nick was left with was – this.
And he shouldn't have. He shouldn't have. But, God, how long had he been wanting this? How long had he been waiting for it?
He reached out and grabbed the lapels of Greg's lab coat, roughly pulling him close. Greg threw his hands up in defense and closed his eyes as he braced for violence but it never came. A small sound of surprise escaped from between the young man's lips as they met Nick's in a forceful, bruising kiss. Nick was unyielding against the mouth captured beneath his, pushing his tongue into warm wetness, mapping his territory and claiming ownership. Possessively placed one hand at the nape of Greg's neck, gripping with strong fingers as he demanded more, demanded everything.
Pulled back as abruptly as he had begun, heard Greg gasp audibly, and then again when Nick grabbed a fistful of hair and forced Greg to look at him.
"Don't let me see you with him again," Nick growled, his eyes drawn to those kiss-swollen lips, his ears honed on the young man's harsh breathing, acutely aware of the searing heat of Greg's body against his. "Do you understand me?"
Greg only nodded, eyes wide, mouth hanging open in shock, and Nick could've laughed if he wasn't so fucking ready to jump right into the fire between them and allow the flames to consume him. He removed his hands from Greg, straightening out his lab coat and smoothing the wrinkles down as he took a step back. Left the shell-shocked lab rat standing there against the counter, and as he stepped out of the room and began down the hall, he allowed one last look beyond the glass walls of the lab to see Greg still standing there, touching his lips with trembling fingertips.
It was only later, when Nick was assisting Sara with collecting evidence in a hotel room that it finally hit him, what he'd done. He'd kissed Greg Sanders. Not just kissed, he'd literally cornered him and devoured his mouth and told him exactly who he belonged to as if he were some kind of crazed, infatuated stalker. Right in the middle of the DNA lab, which could have been a fishbowl for all those glass walls were worth. What if someone had seen them? Watched as Nick – straight-laced, by-the-book Level 3 Crime Scene Investigator Nick Stokes pushed Greg into a counter and shoved his tongue down his throat?
Nick Stokes was not impulsive. He owned a house and had gotten a reasonable rate on his mortgage due to his excellent credit score. He'd worn the same brand of underwear since he was sixteen and never let his oil change slip past three thousand miles. He went to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays no matter what, and he never skipped leg day. He was predictable and level-headed and in control of his life. What the hell had he been thinking?
"Are you okay?" Sara asked, eyeing him curiously from the other side of the bed.
He sighed. "Have you ever let somebody get under your skin?"
"In a good way or a bad way?" she inquired, a knowing smirk forming at the corner of her mouth.
"I have no idea," he admitted, shaking his head forlornly.
"Well," she began, shrugging as she returned her gaze back to the wall before them. "If you're not sure, then maybe you should think about it before jumping in feet first."
"I feel like that's all I do," he stated, rubbing a cotton swab across the splatter of what was probably semen. "Think about it, I mean."
She looked at him again, considering him for a moment too long. Her eyes clouded with something he couldn't quite read, and he frowned slightly.
"Just don't think about it too long," she said finally, focused once again on her work. "People get tired of waiting, Nick. Waiting breeds...resentment."
Nick nodded thoughtfully, wondering briefly from what personal experience Sara had drawn that sentiment. He thought about her words for the rest of the evening as they worked on some bizarre case of poisoning involving a husband and wife and secretary that may or may not have been a mistress. He wondered if there was a resolution in which he could win. Jump in feet first, as Sara had put it, but what if he wasn't ready? Then what if he made Greg wait too long, until Greg grew tired of waiting, until Greg began to resent him?
And what was it that he wanted exactly? Was this really just something he had to get out of his system? A purely sexual desire that could be extinguished with just a casual fuck and then he could move on? He'd certainly been through this before, with Kristi Hopkins. Felt that chemistry, felt that fire, had to touch, had to get burned. He remembered how messily that had ended, and thought he had learned his lesson then. Remembered the age-old saying, the one he'd promised himself he'd live by from then on: Don't shit where you eat.
Yet here he was again. Unable to fight the urge to touch that fire until he burst into flames.
Maybe he should just talk to Greg, explain that this was a bad idea. Remind him about Kristi. Remind him how office romances could end, that they could wind up hating each other, and then how were they supposed to work together after that? Sure, everyone liked to believe they were a professional, that they would act appropriately at work despite personal feelings, but what if they ended up like Brenda and Bobby Dawson? A nasty divorce, and now Bobby was working the night shift while she got to remain on days because they couldn't spend one day without ending up at each other's throats. If it could happen to sweet Bobby Dawson, it could happen to anybody.
But then he'd think about Ian Reed's hands all over Greg, and his stomach would turn so violently he swore he'd throw up.
He just needed more time to think. Not too much time. Just a little bit of time. Away from Greg, with no distractions. So he threw himself into his work, resorting to the ever reliable and possibly adolescent tactic of avoidance. It was amazing how one could hide within the maze of the Las Vegas Crime Lab, especially when there was the never ending steady stream of crimes being committed each night.
Sooner or later, Nick knew his number would be up. He could only avoid Greg for so long before they inevitably ran into each other. He'd managed to dodge one bullet already, oddly spotting him in the LVPD computer lab, but the young man had been so distracted by his research into their poisoning suspects he hadn't noticed Nick's double-take in the doorway. Later, Sara had gushed about Greg (once again) breaking the case, and he'd told himself that Greg had gone the extra mile to impress Sara, not him.
Then, finally, Nick had been in one of the lab's garages, processing an SUV for one of Grissom's cases when it happened. He'd been focused so deeply on the contents of the glove box, the dashboard, the center console, that he hadn't even heard anyone approach.
"Wow, is this the car the guy was killed in?" Greg asked, sticking his head into the doorway of the vehicle, effectively scaring the shit out of Nick.
"He was killed in the warehouse and don't sneak up on a person like that," Nick stated with irritation, as his heart returned to normal sinus rhythm.
"Well, now you know how I feel like, ten times a day," Greg said, and it was not lost on Nick that he was now trapped inside of the SUV with Greg blocking his exit. Neither was the proximity of the younger man, his warm body and the scent of his cologne and citrusy hair product overwhelming Nick's senses. "So what's this Millander guy's thing?"
"He saw his dad killed when he was a kid over some money dispute," Nick replied, bracing for the conversation he knew was coming. Surely, Greg didn't sneak up on him and corner him only to ask about the case Nick was assisting Grissom with.
"Ends up killing guys himself," Nick continued, catching sight of something in the center console of the SUV. "Check that out. Eight digit number with a dash?"
"Huh," the other man murmured. "Pep Boys receipt? Dry cleaning tags?"
"Well, whatever it is, it happened during the summer. Paper only burns itself into plastic in high levels of heat."
"So what kind of paper item would you shove into the center console in the heat of summer?"
"Something you didn't want," Nick speculated, "or something you had to keep."
"Why haven't you called me?"
Nick smiled into his chest. There it was. He looked up at Greg, into those intense brown eyes clouded with apprehension, and all the words he'd been practicing for the past week just fell away.
"I don't have your phone number," Nick finally replied, almost casually.
"No. Do you have mine?"
"Oh. I guess not," Greg said quietly, and his posture relaxed only briefly before he crossed his arms over his chest, pouting considerably. "That still doesn't explain why you're avoiding me."
"I haven't been avoiding you," Nick stated lamely. "I've been busy. I do occasionally work around here, you know."
Greg tossed him a look that told Nick he wasn't buying it. The young man opened his mouth to argue further when thankfully, mercifully, Nick's pager went off. He made a hasty grab for it and read the message on the display.
"Pow wow," Nick said, shuffling past Greg to get out of the car, careful not to touch him. "We'll talk later."
Quickly, Nick headed out of the garage, was almost out the door when he heard Greg calling from behind him.
"I haven't broken up with Ian, you know."
Nick paused in the doorway, his shoulders tensing. And he didn't know why it bothered him so much that after making a rather bold and public declaration of interest in the young man, that after asking Greg – demanding – that he never see him with that Ian Reed ever again, that after rendering Greg speechless after giving him a kiss that Nick had believed was an eleven on a scale of one to ten, that Greg still had not told this guy to fuck off.
He turned to face the other man, whose chin was raised almost definitely like a child challenging his parent, but Nick could see the uncertainty in those expressive eyes that always betrayed him.
"Why not?" Nick asked, speaking before his brain had the chance to filter his words.
"I don't know if I have a reason to yet," Greg replied simply, shoving his hands into his lab coat pockets, eyes casting to the floor. Nick set his jaw, turning to leave again when Greg added hastily, "I've done this before, Nick. This whole walk on the wild side, dirty little secret thing. I don't want that. Not with you."
"What do you want?" Nick dared to ask over his shoulder.
"All or nothing what do you want?"
Nick spun in surprise, blinking at the frankness of the question. Not that he hadn't been expecting it, especially when he had asked first, but Greg breathed the words all in one sentence, rushing as if to address the issue before Nick could escape. Cornered him in the SUV and now pushing his agenda when Nick wasn't ready, when he didn't have time to have a proper conversation. This wasn't the way Nick worked. He was controlled and calculating and why did Greg think he could just throw all this chaos into his life without consulting him first?
"I'm tired of this back and forth nonsense," Greg continued, at Nick's silence. "I've tried to be patient, because it's you, and I've wanted this for so long – so long. You flirt with me day in and day out, and I live with that, because I don't want to push you. You invite me to your house and I literally throw myself at you and you do nothing, and I live with that because I don't want to push you. You kiss me in the middle of my lab and then avoid me like some immature teenager, and I live with that because I don't want to push you. But my patience is running out, Nick. I have feelings too, and I'm not going to let you screw with me until you ultimately decide that you're too scared to be with me or with a man or with anyone in general or whatever it is that's going on with you."
Nick didn't respond. He didn't have the words. Because those expressive brown eyes didn't only betray Greg, they betrayed Nick too; they saw right through him.
Greg barked with mirthless laughter. "Oh, I've got your number, Nick. When you're done acting like a child and start remembering that you're a man, don't come crawling back to me because I've already got one."
He felt Greg's stinging words as the young man brushed past him, grazing his shoulder forcefully on his way out of the garage. He felt Greg's stinging words as he stood in one of the conference rooms with Warrick, Sara, Catherine and Grissom to discuss their current case. Felt Greg's stinging words as he opened his locker to see that brown novelty tee-shirt sitting on the shelf in a rumpled ball. Felt them as he got into his truck to drive home, felt a heat spreading from his gut as he sat in his driveway with the engine idling. Felt it spreading to his limbs and his face and his brain. Felt heat in his cheeks, shame and humility at those stinging words.
"When you're done acting like a child and start remembering that you're a man, don't come crawling back to me because I've already got one."
Nick was nothing if not a man. He was from Texas. He knew how to ride a horse and had placed third in his county's team roping event during the rodeo his senior year of high school. He'd played football for the Aggies in college and joined a fraternity and drank an entire case of beer one night at a party because he'd been dared to. He pissed standing up and didn't apologize for taking the newspaper into the bathroom, not even at work. He was a man. He was a real man. And this – this Ian Reed that could've been a fucking model for Gap or Calvin Klein or whoever the hell had that billboard with the underwear model in midtown New York – he was only half the man Nick was. He would bet his entire paycheck that Ian didn't even drink beer. He probably drank those fruity premixed cocktail drinks that came in glass bottles and had almost 0% alcohol content. Nick could subdue him in one, two maneuvers max, drop him right to the fucking floor within seconds.
"When you're done acting like a child and start remembering that you're a man, don't come crawling back to me because I've already got one."
He couldn't stop hearing it, over and over again, those scathing, biting words that had been so snidely thrown at him by that irritating, infuriating, uncontrollable, cocky Greg Sanders. Who did he think he was talking like that? Nick wasn't some pretty, scrawny underwear model, he was a man, and as he put his truck in gear and reversed out of the driveway, he was going to make sure that Greg knew he was a real man if it was the last thing he did on this earth.
Twenty minutes later, a little past nine o'clock in the morning, Nick pounded his fist against the front door of Greg's apartment as if he were a police officer serving a warrant. He had seen Greg's car in the parking lot, knew he was home, and suddenly the thought struck him that he might not be alone. Shit. What if Ian was in there too? What if they were eating breakfast together, or sleeping or – what if they were fucking?
Shit. When exactly had he lost his ability to think before acting? Before speaking? What was it about Greg that just made him lose his entire sense of self-control that he'd so carefully maintained his entire adult life?
He was about to sprint from the breezeway and back to his truck when the door opened to reveal an obviously just awoken Greg wearing only his boxers and an undershirt. The young man peered at him from beneath half-lidded eyes, quirking an eyebrow and a knowing smirk.
"What do you want?"
"Can I come in?" Nick asked, hesitantly. "Or are you not alone?"
Greg struggled to compress a smile as he opened the door exaggeratedly wide, gesturing for Nick to enter. He stepped inside, his eyes quickly surveying Greg's apartment. He'd never been here before, although he'd heard about the wild parties the young man liked to throw. It was clear to Nick that Greg made significantly more money than him or that he was aptly good at saving, if the large television and surround sound system were any indication. Dark furniture punctuated with splashes of bright colors: pillows, pictures, souvenirs from other states and countries. Sneakers haphazardly thrown in the entryway, jackets hanging over the oversized armchair, magazines and books and CDs strewn about featuring an array of various and sometimes surprising genres; messy, but Nick had already imagined as much before ever entering the apartment.
There was a small violin hanging on the wall that appeared to be several decades old, and Nick found himself drawn to it. The instrument was extensively decorated with a carved lion and mother of pearl inlay.
"Hardingfele," Greg said, in an accent Nick didn't recognize, and he turned to the other man curiously. "It's a Hardanger fiddle. Norwegian violin. That one belonged to my great-grandfather."
"Do you know how to play it?"
"No," Greg replied. "Why are you here, Nick?"
Nick took a deep breath, nervously rubbing the nape of his neck. What was he doing here? Something about football and underwear models and beer and wine coolers. Something about pissing standing up and now Greg was rolling his eyes and heading back to the front door.
"Wait," Nick said, catching Greg by the wrist, pulling him hard – too hard, and then Greg's chest was pressed right against his. He leaned forward, ready to capture that mouth in another kiss when there was a sudden sting against his cheek and Greg was pushing himself out of Nick's arms. Nick pressed his hand to his face, touching his hot skin, looking at Greg with shock etched on his face. "Did you just slap me?"
Greg crossed his arms. "What? You think you can just come over here and shove your tongue down my throat again and everything's going to be okay? What kind of guy do you take me for?"
"You slapped me," Nick said, incredulous. He hadn't been slapped since he was in college, by a girlfriend named Betty Beasley after she'd walked in on him screwing her roommate. And he'd certainly never been slapped by another man. It was emasculating. It was infuriating. Nick had never been so angry and so aroused in his entire life.
He took a step closer to Greg, who was suddenly appearing as if that may not have been the best idea he'd ever had. Strode three more swift steps towards the young man, closing the space between them, reached out with both hands and grabbed Greg's biceps, pushing him up against the wall, shaking the picture frames hanging there. Pressed his lips against Greg's mouth and he did shove his tongue down that hot, velvety throat. Felt a thrill shoot through him as Greg responded to him, grabbing Nick's jacket and pulling him closer, moaning into Nick's mouth.
"You don't think I'm a man?" Nick tore his mouth away from Greg to ask as he pressed his erection into Greg's hips. A whimper escaped the other man's lips so, so softly, and Nick was sure he'd never heard anything sexier. "Does this feel like a man to you?"
Greg lunged forward, capturing Nick's mouth in another rough kiss. Turned them until Nick's back was against the wall, shoving him into it with a dull thud. Pushed Nick's jacket off, tugged at the hem of Nick's shirt, warm fingers finding their way onto Nick's skin, touching, clutching, scratching, searing. Nick could feel Greg's own hardness against his thigh through his jeans, could see a dampening tent in the young man's thin boxers.
Desperately, Nick pulled Greg's undershirt up, pausing as he caught sight of a fading bruise right beneath Greg's collarbone. He didn't allow Greg to remove his shirt completely, only pulling it off of his head and leaving his arms in the sleeves. He pulled it behind the other man's back and down his arms, twisting it, forcing Greg's elbows together behind his back, trapping him. He gripped at the bunched fabric with one hand, the other indicating the bruise. The love bite.
"What is that?" he asked, his voice even.
Greg smirked with kiss-swollen lips. "What does it look like?"
"Did he put it there?"
Greg shrugged, then gasped as Nick scraped his teeth over the offending bruise. Worked the delicate skin until a new bruise formed, masking any indication of any prior indiscretions. He looked up to see Greg's amused expression and scowled.
"Are there any more?" Nick asked. Greg shook his head. "Good."
Nick pulled Greg away from the wall, turning them towards the back of the couch. Pushed Greg forward, bent him over it, the shirt still bundled tightly in Nick's grip. Scrambled to unbuckle his belt and open his pants with his free hand, pulling his dick out before pushing down Greg's boxers just enough to expose that perfect ass. He shoved his erection against warm, smooth skin as he grabbed Greg's hard, leaking cock in his fist.
"Fuck!" Greg exclaimed, pushing into Nick's hand. "Oh, fuck, Nick. Fuck."
Nick leaned forward, draping his chest over Greg's back, pressing his lips to Greg's ear. Nibbled at his earlobe briefly before sticking his tongue into Greg's ear. Delighted in the breathy whine that followed.
"Where are your condoms?" Nick asked.
"We're going to go into the bedroom," Nick drawled hoarsely, thrusting his dick against the cleft of Greg's ass, "and I'm going to show you how much of a man I am. Is that what you want? To get fucked by a real man?"
"Yes," Greg responded breathlessly, nodding. "Oh, fuck, yes. Anything you want. Anything."
Nick smiled at Greg's rambling enthusiasm, reluctantly taking a step back and releasing his hold on the fabric clutched in his hand, allowing the winkled shirt to fall to the floor between them. Greg turned, snaking his arms around Nick, grabbing his ass to pull him forward into another heated kiss, rubbing their cocks together, the heat of Greg's erection and the delicious friction of skin on skin nearly causing Nick to blow a load right there.
"Stop!" Nick gasped, pushing Greg away. "Bedroom. Now."
Greg grinned cheekily, stepping out of his boxers and tossing them playfully at Nick's chest. Nick watched the now naked young man walk away from him, watched that lithe body move fluidly, almost gracefully down the hallway. Watched him turn back to regard Nick with such an expression of hunger and lust that Nick's heart skipped a beat.
"Are you coming, or am I going to have to take care of myself?"
"No. No, no," Nick responded hastily, leaving a trail of shoes and socks and jeans behind him as he eagerly followed. He entered the bedroom to find Greg lying on the bed propped up on one elbow, legs spread, one hand lazily stroking his hard cock. A choked sound escaped Nick's lips as he stood in the doorway and considered just how gorgeous Greg looked right now.
He watched Greg's eyes travel up and down the length of Nick's body, his gaze lingering on Nick's erection, his tongue slowly skimming over his lips before he bit his bottom lip and made a small noise of appreciation. And if Nick's skin hadn't already been flushed from arousal, he would've certainly blushed then.
"Come here." Low and throaty, as Greg patted the bed. Lubricant and a condom right there beside him, no mistaking what was about to happen. Nick obliged willingly, climbing on top of Greg, capturing that mouth beneath his once more. He grasped Greg's erection, pumping the impressive length, twisting, flicking his thumb over the head. Watched Greg's head drop back and was rewarded with a low moan.
"This is mine," Nick breathed into Greg's neck, gripping his cock harder.
"Yes," Greg agreed, nodding. "Yours. It's yours."
Moved his other hand down the back of Greg's thigh, cupping his ass, squeezing firmly. "This is mine."
"Yes. Always. Always."
It was exciting, this power he had over Greg. The ability to reduce the usually eloquent and chatty lab rat to simple words and broken phrases. The ability to elicit desperate, breathy sounds simply by touching him just so. He wanted to unlock every secret, learn every button to push. Wanted to push him right to the edge, wanted to figure out how to hold him there until Greg begged for release, wanted more, more, more until Greg was only a writhing, pliable mass beneath Nick's hands.
"On your knees," Nick commanded quietly, because this was what he'd imagined for so long, this was what it was like in his fantasy, what it was like when he'd fucked all those nameless, faceless men at the bars. But this wasn't a fantasy, this was real, and as Greg began to reposition himself, Nick reconsidered. Because he didn't have to pretend anymore. "Wait. I want to see you."
Something flashed across those expressive brown eyes, but Nick couldn't – wouldn't – read it. The young man laid back against the mattress, spreading his legs on either side of Nick's body, reaching for the lubricant and handing it to him.
"I want to watch you do it," Nick said, pushing the bottle back into Greg's hands as he leaned back on his haunches. Watched with dark eyes as Greg squeezed lubricant onto those long, dexterous fingers and slipped one inside that waiting hole, gripping his erection with his other hand. Nick grabbed his own hard cock, squeezing firmly at the base to stop himself from coming right there at the debauched sight. "Jesus, Greg. You are so hot."
"Nick..." Greg gasped, slipping another finger inside, twisting, scissoring, pressing. "Nick, I want you. Please. Give it to me, please."
Nick tore the foil packet with his teeth, rolled the condom onto his hard member and slicked himself up with lube. Leaned forward to lick a bead of sweat forming on Greg's upper lip, tasted salt, and gently pulled Greg's hand away. Threw Greg's knees over his shoulders, lined himself up and pushed forward, breached that tight ring of muscle and Jesus Christ Greg was so fucking tight and warm and –
"Fuck,"Nick groaned, carefully watching Greg's face to make sure he wasn't hurting him but the young man's eyes were rolling in the back of his head, a good indication to continue. Nick leaned forward once more, brushing his lips over the warm, smooth expanse of Greg's shoulder, murmuring into his skin as he entered him in one long stroke. "Greg, you are so...you're so..."
"Nicky," Greg breathed, clutching at Nick's back with blunt nails, pulling him closer, and the older man felt a thrill rush through him at the endearment uttered so softly. "Oh, Nicky, please, fuck me, please."
Nick wanted to take his time, wanted this to last, but Greg was whispering dirty sweet nothings into his ear, urging him on, and he couldn't help himself. Bent the young man practically in half, knees to his chest, braced his hands against the mattress on either side of Greg's head and pulled nearly all the way out before ramming hard back inside that tight, velvety channel.
"That's it," Greg encouraged. "Show me how much of a man you are. Fuck me like a man, Nicky. Fuck me!"
Harder, Nick pounded into the body beneath his, grunting through gritted teeth as his hips connected roughly with Greg's ass. Greg cried out with each impact, bracing his hands against the headboard above him, the bed shaking on its frame, wood knocking against the wall with a methodical thud-thud-thud. And then tight muscles began spasming around Nick's dick as Greg screamed, his back arching off of the mattress as he came hard between their two slick-sweat bodies, hot come shooting across Greg's stomach, his chest, and Nick had never seen anything more stunning in his life.
Faster, more erratically, Nick began pumping his hard cock into Greg until he felt the heat building up in his gut, spreading to his balls, and he was so close, so close. Greg snaked long fingers around the back of Nick's neck, pulling him closer, pulling him into a deep and feverish kiss.
"Come for me," he purred into Nick's mouth, and that was all it took for Nick to topple right over the edge and into sweet release. With one more thrust he slammed into Greg hard, groaning into Greg's mouth as he shot his load deep inside and God it was so much more than anything he'd ever fantasized about.
Numbly, he felt Greg remove his legs from Nick's shoulders and drop them to either side of Nick's body. He collapsed, boneless, onto the young man beneath him, his cheek pressed against Greg's shoulder, his breath ghosting across feverish skin. Felt fingertips tracing light patterns across his back, sending a shiver down his spine.
"You better not run," Greg warned playfully, but Nick could hear the edge of insecurity in his voice.
"I don't think I'll be able to," Nick retorted lightly, indicating the stickiness between them. "We're going to be stuck together pretty soon."
"I meant what I said. All or nothing."
Nick raised his head to look into warm brown eyes. Watched the intensity of emotions dancing across them: fear, doubt, fire, hope. Watched them search his own eyes for answers Nick wasn't sure he had.
All or nothing. Greg was giving him the option. Now that Nick had gotten this out of his system, he could go back to his old life. Go back to watching one hundred and fifty channels on his satellite television, drinking beer, alone. Go back to finding himself on the occasional date with some blond bimbo or random police officer hoping to make a connection. Continue to climb the ladder at CSI, from Level 1 to 2 to 3 to that new leadership position opening up next year. Work, eat, sleep, repeat. That was his life. It was uncomplicated. It was predictable. It was comforting. He was happy with his life. Right?
Why would Greg even want to be with someone like that? Uncomplicated, predicable, comfortable. Greg was everything Nick wasn't. Greg was wild and courageous and impulsive and fun. Greg could have anyone he wanted, someone gorgeous and young and fun like Ian Reed who wasn't afraid to be bold or spontaneous.
"Why me?" Nick asked suddenly, because he had to know.
And Greg answered, without even hesitating. "Nick, it was always you."
Nick felt his chest tighten. He remembered the words the young man had said in the crime lab's garage earlier. I've tried to be patient, because it's you, and I've wanted this for so long. How long? Months? Years? What did Greg see in him that he couldn't see in himself? Or is that what Greg wanted, predictability, stability? Comfort? Was Nick capable of giving it to him?
It was a long fall from the top of a pedestal. Perhaps he should just walk away. He knew Greg would let him. But he knew if he did, he'd never be able to look back. Knew this was his only chance at whatever it was Greg was offering.
Because it's you.
"Nick?" A quiet pleading, as tentative fingers touched the side of his face.
It was always you.
Nick pressed his lips against Greg's, his tongue urging those soft lips apart, gently searching, encouraging, imploring. Hands clutched desperately at his shoulders, as if Greg was afraid if he were let go, Nick would disappear. Nick deepened the kiss, his tongue pressing further, and he hoped that Greg could feel everything Nick didn't think he could say.
He pulled away, dark eyes meeting his, still searching, still questioning.
"Do you want to grab some dinner after we wake up?" Nick asked softly, his thumb brushing over Greg's bottom lip, and Greg smiled, blushed, and Nick had been wrong before. That was the most stunning thing he'd ever seen.
To be continued.