CSI
Nick's no slut (He's got a man to go home to.) by Catlover2x [Reviews - 7]

“You off?”

Nick looked up from tying his shoes to see Catherine shoulder her bag. “Yeah. What’s up?”

“Want to stop and get a drink? I need to unwind.”

“Yeah, sure. Greg’s working a double so I’ve got a little time.”

“You boys,” Catherine said with a smile. “How are things with you two?”

“Good.” Nick stood up and swung his locker shut. “You know Greg. He mystifies, entertains, makes coffee and cooks, watches over me to make sure I’m okay and maddens me with his supernatural theories on all things criminal.”

“You still having nightmares?” Catherine asked, trying to keep her voice as casual as she could.

Nick looked uncomfortable. “Not a lot,” he mumbled. “Let me just call him, tell him where I’m going.”

Catherine nodded and pretended to powder her nose. She watched Nick’s face in her compact mirror, marveling yet again at the way his face softened and the sound of his voice while he talked to his partner. She wondered for what was possibly the thousandth time how they’d all managed to overlook the obvious connection between the two, chalking it up to mere friendship. Once you knew they were a couple, everything made more sense.

“Okay, I’m good. Let’s go. Each take our own cars? Then we can head home after,” Nick asked. He held the door open to the parking lot for Catherine.

“Sure, that works,” Catherine agreed as he walked her to her car. “Besides if you hook up, you won’t want to drag me back here.”

“Yeah, like that’s going to happen,” Nick laughed. “Greg would kick my ass if I did something like that, especially as he keeps me–” He stopped short, colouring with embarrassment as he realized what he’d been about to say. And of course, it had to be in front of Catherine, who had a sixth sense for sex.

She flipped her hair behind her shoulder and laughed, enjoying Nick’s red face. “So things are good at home then. Good for you. And is it good for Greg too?”

“Well, yeah. I mean, um, what do you mean?” Nick struggled, hoping she didn’t mean what he feared she meant.

Catherine decided to let him off the hook, although she replaced it with another uncomfortable topic. “Is he still having nightmares?”

“Sometimes,” Nick said softly. “Not so much any more.”

Catherine reached out and touched his arm, stroking it gently. “You two are good for each other.”

“I hope I’m as good for Greg as he is for me,” Nick said.

She gave his arm a final pat and said, “You are, Nicky,” wondering how he could ever doubt it. “Meet you over there.”

“See you in ten,” Nick agreed, and closed the door for her.

Nick got into his truck and put it in gear. He wished he was going home instead, but the conditions of their jobs meant that he and Greg couldn’t always plan their off time together. And if Catherine wanted company, he didn’t mind having a drink with her. But he resolved it would be only one.

He caught sight of her walking toward the door of the bar and pulled into the lot, parking quickly so that he could join her before she got inside.

She gave him a brilliant smile as he caught up to her. The music was loud and she spoke in his ear so he could hear her. “Remember what you asked earlier? When I hear music like this, that’s when I want to dance.”

“Not like before?” he teased.

“Not like before. I don’t need to anymore.” Her smile faded and Nick thought they were both being haunted by ghosts of their pasts tonight. But at least the ghosts were faint ones.

“What would you like?” Nick asked politely. With her reply, he made his way to the bar, to get his beer and her drink while Catherine found a small table.

“Let’s dance. Come on, Nick, indulge me,” she pleaded on his return.

“Aw, come on, Catherine, I can’t…”

“Please?” She held out her hand to him and he couldn’t resist the longing in her blue eyes. He knew it wasn’t for him, just for the pleasure of moving to the music.

He got up and followed her to the floor.

Catherine relaxed into his arms. One of the things she’d always liked about dancing was the chance to be held in a man’s arms with no strings attached. At least to begin with, but she knew she was safe with Nick. She closed her eyes and swayed to the music, following Nick’s sure lead. He might act all bashful, but like most Texas boys, he knew how to dance. Idly she wondered why he was always so modest, while Greg tended to strut and brag. It was interesting how the truth was actually somewhere in the middle for both of them.

The song ended and Nick smiled at her, so kindly that Catherine felt the tears sting her eyes. She had not dated since she’d discovered that Chris was cheating on her. Between her awareness of her own aging and her dread that she end up like her mother, dating a string of cheating bastards and waiting hopefully for them to call, she deemed it wiser to stay alone. She had held to her decision, even though she was aching for some human contact.

The way Nick was smiling at her, the way he’d held her when they danced, told her that he’d intuited at least part of her need and had come along with her to make sure she was okay.

“Thank you, Nick,” she said softly.

“Any time, Catherine.”

The singer began another song and Nick looked away, surveying the crowd.

“Oh, no,” he groaned, trying to duck behind Catherine, which was a lost cause. He was a tall man and she was much more slender than he.

“What?”

“See that blonde over there?”

“You know her?”

“Yeah, she’s a fag hag, our faghag. It’s Brianna. She’s always following me and Greg around, asking if she can–” Nick stopped short, blushing again.

“She can what?” Catherine asked curiously.

“Watch.” Nick rolled his eyes.

Catherine laughed. “Well, I’m sure you guys just say no.”

“Yes, definitely!” Nick stressed, “If there’s anything you can be sure of, you can be sure of that! Oh, fuck, she saw me.”

“So what’s the problem? Greg’s not here. She won’t ask,” Catherine said, much amused.

“She’ll think you’re a faghag because you’re with me and then she’ll give me grief for going out with you instead of her– fuck, here she comes. And she looks drunk.”

Catherine giggled. “Maybe you better head her off at the pass, pardner.”

Nick threw her an exasperated look. Everyone was a comedian. “You okay for a few minutes, Cath? Just till I can get rid of her?”

“Don’t call me Cath,” she said automatically. “Of course, don’t worry about me.”

Despite his irritation, she was interested to see that he still seemed concerned about the girl, whether she actually qualified as a friend or not.

Nick focused on Brianna and sighed. He had no doubt he would be pouring her into a taxi soon. No way could he let her drive in this condition.

Sure enough, she fell toward him, forcing him to catch her to prevent her from face planting on the floor. She leaned her forehead against his and squealed, “Nicky! Where’s the BF? Don’t tell me you two are splitsville?”

“No, Brianna, we’re just fine, but you look a little under the weather.”

“Me? I’m just fine, I’m feeling fine. Are you fine? Because I’m fine, Nicky.” She laid her head on his shoulder and snuggled closer.

“Man, you are so drunk, Brianna. I’m going to have to get you home,” Nick murmured as he staggered under her lax weight.

“Yeah, come home with me, Nicky?” she pleaded. “We’ll have fun.”

He got a good grip on her, which was no easy feat because she was both slippery and dizzy. He hauled her as far as the lobby and caught the eye of one of the bouncers, mouthing the words, “Call a cab.”

The bounder nodded, amused, and went to the phone, making the call.

Nick was irritated with Brianna, taking up his time, and worried about Catherine. He’d joined her tonight because the last time she’d asked him and Warrick to join her, she’d ended up with some creep slapping her in a parking lot and look where that had landed her. He was impatient to unload Brianna, who was pathetic at best but could be terribly wearing in her persistence.

At last the cab pulled up, and he unwound her arms from around his neck and with some finagling managed to place her inside. He opened her bag to find her address and read it out to the driver. He judged that the man was fairly trustworthy and would deliver her safely, but just to be on the safe side, he flashed his badge and made it obvious that he’d taken the man’s number.

As Nick turned to go back inside, he caught the bouncer eyeing him with surprise and winked.

The bouncer said, “What the heck, man, easy tail. She passes out. You slip out. No bill to pay in the morning.”

“I’m with someone,” Nick informed him.

“She must be really special, dude.”

“Oh, he is.” Nick grinned at the man’s shocked expression and went back inside the club.

He made his way back to the table where he’d left Catherine, but he couldn’t see her. He stood and looked over the crowd, but she wasn’t dancing. He searched the bar and walked around peering into booths and dark niches without success. Finally he asked one of the waitresses to check the restroom, but when she returned she said Catherine wasn’t there.

Nick sought out his bouncer and asked if he’d seen a beautiful, sexy redhead. The bouncer eyed him doubtfully, as if wondering whether he’d misunderstood Nick earlier. “No, haven’t seen her but if you find her and you’re taken, let her know I’m interested.”

Nick laughed although he was getting a bit nervous now. He dialed Catherine’s number but got her voicemail.

The bouncer said, “There’s a back way. Percy’s stationed there, maybe he saw her.”

Nick hurried to the back and located Percy, asking if he’d seen Catherine.

“Yeah, man, she was with a guy. Seemed like she was going voluntarily. She was smiling and giggling and all.”

“What’d the guy look like?”

“Regular guy, man, you know, 5’10, brown hair, average weight, average features.”

“Thanks.”

Great. The usual suspect. With that description, Nick decided to call it a night. If Catherine had hooked up with someone, she wouldn’t appreciate him butting in. Maybe that’s why she’d turned off her phone. He was concerned, but she was an adult and if Catherine had chosen to hook up with someone, there was nothing he could do about it, especially as he had no way of locating her at the moment.

His cell rang, and he flipped it open. “Stokes.”

“Where are you?”

Nick smiled at the sound of the light, familiar voice. “Still at the bar. Where are you?”

“On the way home. I miss you.”

“Miss you too, babe. I’ll meet you there.”

Nick left the bar and hopped into his truck, hoping that Catherine wasn’t the only one who was going to get lucky tonight.

“Cool!” Greg said. “What’ll you give me if I get home first?”

“Greg!” Nick admonished him. “No speeding, and I’m not going to give you anything.”

“Oh, yes you are,” Greg said confidently.

Nick grinned but didn’t answer. If he knew Greg, he would get his way. As usual.

The End.
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