Swimming Against The Tides by Static_Disturbed [Reviews - 1]

-posted on LJ at nickngreg a few days ago.

Their street is quiet and dark, lit only by streetlights and porch lanterns. All of the kids who are normally careening in and out of each others backyards are all safe and tucked in. Their parents are in bed too, or huddled together in front of television sets or on back porches, talking about their days and their kids and their normal middle class existences. The temperature is steadily dropping and he can see his breath explode in front of him with each violent sob. Tears slip between his lips and itís a taste he's gotten too used to these passed few weeks. Crying alone in your car at night with the keys dangling in the ignition, unturned, probably isnít normal. But he doesn't know what else to do.

Greg loves Nick. Loves him in a way that he can't explain or rationalize. Loves him in the way that when Nick was down there, down there dying, he couldnít breathe either. Couldnít speak or feel or make sense of anything and the world stopped spinning. And when they found him it was like the world started moving again. Except now him and Nick are two steps behind everyone else and they canít seem to make up for that lost time, and it feels like theyíre miles away from each other.

Greg knew what it was like to be a survivor. He knew about recovery and learning how to carry your scars. He knew that you never Ďgot betterí when something horrible happened; you just had to figure out how to put it behind you. And he wanted to help Nick do that more than anything, but lately their life together had become a lot like swimming against the tides. No matter how hard they worked they never really got anywhere.

He has to be strong for Nick though. Has to swallow arguments and objections and has learned to listen to Nickís body language. Knows that when he tenses up, knuckles and back and jaw, that he just wants to be left alone. Knows that when his breathing hitches and his eyes start to dart around that he needs a hand on his chest, and one against his face to remind him he isnít alone. And when Nick wakes up screaming and crying in the middle of the night Greg knows to turn the light on and then wait a few minutes until Nick starts to realize where he is before he wraps his arms around his lovers neck and shushes him back to sleep. Heís gotten good at these things but itís not a routine he wants to keep up. Because Nick doesnít talk to him or even really look at him. He canít cry in front of Nick; has to be strong for Nick.

So for the past two weeks heís been sneaking out to his car once Nick has fallen asleep; at least an hour before any nightmares will set in. He cries and he screams and punches the steering wheel because heís helpless. Hopelessly in love with a man who wonít talk to him; a man whose smile used to make him feel like he was on a roller coaster and now who only makes him ache powerlessly.

And Greg hates himself for it but every night he brings the keys with him, forces them into the ignition and screams at the little voice in the back of his head telling him to just turn the key. Telling him to leave Nick and the pain and the silence in rearview mirror and just drive.

He glances back at the house; at the home they built together and his stomach drops when his eyes fall on the open door and the person framed in it. Nick cuts across the front lawn in pajama bottoms, a white t-shirt and bare feet. Opens the passenger door, sits down and closes it behind him. He takes a deep shaky breath and looks at Greg; really looks at him for the first time in a long time and watches him choke on a sob. Hesitant, Nick reaches across the seat and takes Gregís hand in his, links their trembling fingers together.

ďWeíll do this together from now onĒ, he promises in a strong voice that Greg hasnít heard in a long time and he can only nod and try to take control of his tears. For a few moments they just sit in the silence and watch their breath dance in the air before they climb from the car and start back towards their home; fingers still intertwined.

And they arenít quite caught up with the rest of the world yet and the water is still fighting them, but for the first time in weeks Greg can breathe easy because he knows that he isnít going it alone anymore.
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