CSI: They Held Him Down: One Shot|
Greg knocked on his front door and took a step back. He’d never been here before and under the current circumstances he was unsure if he’d be welcomed or not. They weren’t close friends, but they were friends. They watched each other’s backs at work, occasionally going out for coffee after shift. But nothing more than that.
He had to admit there was at least a one sided attraction, though he wasn’t sure he would ever admit it out loud to anyone, especially Nick. To do that... well, who knew what the reaction would be. And besides, he wasn’t sure he was ready to face the consequences yet.
When the door finally opened Nick stood there staring at him, his hair disheveled, wearing nothing but pajama bottoms and an extra large t-shirt. His face was purple and the swelling hadn’t gone down any during the day. Greg tried not to cringe at the sight, knowing it wouldn’t dissipate for awhile from his own experience.
“What do you want?” Nick’s lips barely moved, his voice harsh and unforgiving.
“I’m sorry.” He hadn’t meant to start with an apology, but there it was, already out of his mouth. “Warrick told me what happened. Said they had to give you stitches on your back.”
“Yeah, so?” Nick winced as he moved slightly.
Greg felt a blush creep over his face, knowing this was not what Nick wanted. “I... I just thought that maybe... maybe you could use some help, that’s all.”
“I don’t need your apologies, or your help. I’m fine.”
“I don’t want you here. Go home.” Conflicting emotions rose within his one good eye while the other was swollen shut.
Greg stepped forward and looked Nick in the eye. “Let me in.”
“Go home.” Nick started to shut the door but Greg stopped him.
“I’m worried about you. Look at you. Who’s to say this won’t happen again?”
“Hey, I’m not gonna judge you because you got beat up. Look at what happened to me last year. It happens. I just want to be there for you as a friend the way you were there for me when you worked my case. You need someone to help you change your bandages the same as I did. It’s not admitting you’re weak. It’s just a fact.”
“I don’t want you to see...” Nick stopped short, as if spitting out the rest of the sentence would surely gut him in the most painful way.
“See what they did to you? Then you’d better be wearing a ski mask tomorrow.”
“No...” his resolve was weakening as a single tear fell from his eye. “Please... just go.”
“They did this for a specific reason, didn’t they?”
Nick nodded and swallowed a lump in his throat.
“Can we not have this conversation out on your front porch?”
The older man sighed and stepped aside to let Greg enter the house he’d always dreamed about, wondering what Nick’s decorating tastes were like. But now, none of that seemed to matter anymore. He watched as Nick gingerly sat down on the couch in the livingroom. Everything he’d need to change his bandages were laid out on the coffee table. He moved to sit beside him picking up the tube of ointment.
“You need to stop that,” Greg admonished quietly, setting the tube down again. “Turn around and help me get your shirt off.”
He thought he heard a slight whimper out of Nick and the sound surprised him. But then Nick was turning and he lifted the shirt off his back and over his shoulders and head to reveal a large bandage covering his shoulder blades. Greg ran gentle hands over bruised skin, feeling Nick relax under his touch for a brief moment before he tensed up again.
Without a word he began to lift the white tape from the left side. He was shocked to find the stitches holding together a large letter that had been cut deep into his skin: ‘F’. He stopped cold, not even daring to breathe.
“Please don’t hate me for this,” Nick managed.
Greg squashed his fear and pulled back the rest of the bandage: ‘...AG’.
“Oh dear Lord,” Greg let out in a single breath, his fingertips gently brushing over the word etched into Nick’s pale skin.
Nick’s shoulders began to shake a little as quiet sobs racked his body, something Greg never thought he’d see in the tough, older CSI, even if he was more emotional than most men.
“Please don’t hate me.”
Greg ceased all movement, realizing the ex-cop was begging. He was begging for his life.
“No, Nick. God, no. I could never hate you. I... I’ll admit, I always wondered if those straight rumors were true. But this...” his voice lowered to a whisper. “This was not how I wanted to find out.”
“Don’t apologize, Nicky. You have nothing to be sorry for.” Quickly giving himself something to do, Greg began to clean around the stitches, putting fresh ointment on. “The bastards who did this... they’ll have a lot to be sorry for once I’m done with them.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Greg struggled to keep his anger at bay. “I know a support group that could help. They meet every Monday and Thursday and you can just walk in.”
“For this? For me? Don’t joke around. I don’t need it right now.”
“I’m not laughing. Am I? This is... for lack of a better term... their specialty. Look, you can come with me if you want. I usually go on Thursdays.”
Nick whipped around to look at Greg, hissing in pain as he did so.
“Nicky, don’t do that. You’ll tear a stitch.” Taking Nick’s shoulders gently in his hands, he guided the older man back to his original position so he could tape the fresh bandage to his skin.
“It’s hard your first time cause you don’t know anyone and you don’t know what to expect and you’re nervous about talking about your own situation. You think people will laugh at you, or tell you their problems are worse. But it’s not as bad as it seems the first time. And if you come with me you’ll know someone there. But I don’t have to be there, if you don’t want me.” Greg paused. “I’m sorry. I’m rushing. I didn’t mean to.”
He finished with Nick’s back and helped him get his shirt back on before moving to face him. Nick stared at the hands fidgeting in his lap. Greg stilled them with one of his own and lifted his chin with his finger as tears dripped onto his hands. Greg wiped them from his face with his thumb.
“You don’t hate me,” disbelief colored his voice.
“No, Nicky. I actually like you quite a bit. But let’s not get into that right now. It’s not important.”
This wasn’t the direction he wanted things to go tonight, but it seemed as if he had no choice. Viewing the circumstances, it also looked as if Nick just might need to know the truth, whether he was ready to give it or not.
“How much?” Nick asked in a voice that reminded Greg of a small, shy child.
As he looked deep into the beautiful brown eyes before him, he could see nothing but complete vulnerability there. Moving slow, he cupped Nick’s bruised face gently with both hands and placed a light kiss to the corner of his mouth. “That much, and more,” he whispered, pulling away.
Fresh tears had sprung to Nick’s eyes.
“Are you ok with that?”
Nick nodded, surprising him yet again. After all this time he’d been afraid to find out if he could ever get a chance with Nick Stokes. Now, thanks to some horrid bastards he would have to kill later, he had the answer he’d been praying for.
But it wasn’t that simple. He had to make sure Nick understood things, that he wasn’t there to take advantage of him or hurt him in any way. “I want you to be comfortable with me. If you’re not... for any reason... at any time... would you tell me?”
Nick’s hand suddenly gripped Greg’s wrist, his eyes shining with more unshed tears. “Please, just don’t leave me alone.”
And Greg understood the many ways in which Nick had meant that one sentence. He would not leave Nick to bear the burden of those hateful scars alone. Nor would he leave his side for the rest of the night, and if possible, the rest of his life.
“Come on, lie down. You should get some sleep. Everything’ll be ok. I’ll be right here. I’m not going anywhere. I promise.”
“I can’t sleep. Not on my back. Not at all.”
“Lie down anyway. We can at least watch tv.”
Nick lay down on his side resting his head in Greg’s lap, facing the screen. While he wasn’t completely relaxed, he wasn’t entirely tense either, for which Greg was grateful. Greg reached for the remote and switched on the tv, easily finding a channel they could both agree with, though he was paying more attention to Nick than the characters moving on the screen.
Time passed, but Nick’s breathing didn’t slow and his eyes stayed open.
“How did they know about you?” Greg finally asked in a near whisper.
“Said they followed me from Club Fandango.”
Greg’s eyes popped out of his head. “What the hell were you doing there, Nicky?! You should know that’s the sleaziest gay club in the whole city. The most dangerous too.” He knew he shouldn’t yell at Nick in his current state, but Nick had to know how dangerous the place was.
A long time passed before Nick said anything. He stuttered at first and then began to speed talk, “I... I’ve had... I’ve had a crush on you for a long time. I just wasn’t sure if it went the other way. I’ve been lonely for so long now and I...”
“You went looking for cheap company because you thought you couldn’t have me,” Greg put the puzzle pieces together.
Greg rested the back of his fingers against Nick’s cheek. “Nicky, I’m yours. I’m here for you now. Just promise me you’ll never go back there again. I’ve known many people who got hurt there. It’s not safe.”
“I promise... You mean it?”
“I would have told you sooner...”
“But you thought I’d deck you if you said you liked me?”
“Like I said, I’ve known people who’ve gotten hurt.”
“And they go to this group?”
Nick’s lips trembled. “This is so new to me... I’m scared.”
“You don’t have to be.”
“What if I can’t stay for the whole session? Just thinking about it...”
“It’s ok. You can leave whenever you want. I won’t make you stay and neither will Jack.”
“Jack Benton. He heads up the group.”
“Why do I feel like I...”
“He’s dating Bobby.”
“Bobby D. Ballistics tech?”
“Yeah. You don’t know it, but there are several of us at the lab and in the department as a whole.”
“Really. You’re going to have all the support you could possibly want, and then some.”
Fresh tears sprang to Nick’s eyes as he reached up and gripped Greg’s hand in his own, holding it against his wet cheek. Greg leaned over to rest his head against Nick’s shoulder, offering as much comfort and support as he could.
After a long while Nick’s tears subsided and he fell into an uneasy sleep fraught with nightmares Greg could only assume were creations his mind had come up with from the attack.
While he knew Nick would be fragile for a long time after this, he was more than happy to take on the job of building him back up from where he’d fallen, into a new, stronger man. He hated seeing Nick this way, seeing him in so much pain, physically and mentally that even if they weren’t destined to be together, he would do anything to help him, no matter what it took.
That night, and every night thereafter, when a nightmare would wake him, Greg was right there to sooth Nick back to sleep.