Disclaimer: I own nothing but the plot!|
Nick nervously flattened his hair and pulled at the hem of his shirt, desperately trying to straighten up even more than he already had before leaving his home. He only had seconds left; he’d already knocked on the door after all. Why he had thought this would be easy was beyond his imagining. He’d taken temporary leave of his senses earlier, his mind blanking with surprise when Greg had asked if he wanted to come over and hang out at his place. He’d agreed immediately, blindsided by the offer itself, but regretted it soon after as it began to sink in just what he’d gotten himself in to.
Nick had never been inside Greg’s home before. He’d driven the younger man home a few times after he’d had too much to drink when the team when out together, but team outings had until now been the limit of their out of work social contact. Not that Nick didn’t wish they had more. He’d had a rather serious crush on his coworker for a long time now, but was too shy to even ask him to hang out. Evidently, Greg had finally gotten tired of it and just sucked it up, asking the question himself. There was no pomp or presentation, unlike his usual MO. Instead it was casual, throw the words over his shoulder like an after thought, we should hang out sometime, my place. Nick had nodded along, doing the same thing later when Greg solidified the offer with a time and date, much to the Texan’s surprise.
So now here he was, wondering if it was possible to be more nervous than he was on the night of his very first date. And this wasn’t even a date. He’d spent an hour sitting on his bed, staring at his open closet, wondering what he should wear. He didn’t want Greg to think that he was stuffy and proper all the time; he didn’t want Greg thinking of him as old. But he didn’t really own any young or hip clothing. He didn’t even own anything even remotely fun. In the end he had ended up throwing on a pair of casual blue jeans that were fitted nicely to his ass and the brightest shirt in his possession. It was white with dark green print shaped in to a swirling intricate design. It had been a present from his brother and, when Nick had stopped to think about it, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever worn it before.
Nick raised his hand to make one more attempt to flatten his hair, changing his mind at the last second because flat hair made him look old, when the door opened and Greg was standing there with a bright smile on his face and a beer in his hand. Nick took a moment to take him in, and was glad right away that he’d put so much thought in to making his clothes casual. Greg was wearing a shirt in a shade of yellow so bright he resembled a cartoon lemon lollipop. His jeans were old and splattered with green paint on one leg. He was also barefoot, and Nick was very conscious that he’d had to search for twenty minutes to find shoes in his home that were not work shoes.
“Nicky, come on in, want a beer?” Greg waved a hand as he strode away, allowing Nick to let himself in and shut the door behind himself. He toed off his black tennis shoes as he took a look around, a little bit surprised by what he found. He’d deny it if asked, but he had fully expected the place to be a complete mess, Greg being who he was and all. But the living room the apartment door opened in to was neat and organized. One side of the room was completely covered, wall to wall, ceiling to floor, with collections of books, CDs, and DVDs. A white couch that looked only a few years old faced a big screen TV with a wooden table in the center. A matching armchair sat mildly off to the side.
By the time the CSI was done scanning the room Greg had returned with a beer for Nick and dropped himself on to the couch. Nick strolled over and carefully placed himself in the armchair, not wanting to seem too forward by sitting right next to his friend. Greg’s eyes followed his movements, making him uncomfortable. For some reason he had the sudden sense of a hunter stalking its prey, but the feeling was fleeting, and he mentally shook his head at himself.
“The game starts in like five minutes if you wanted to watch it,” Greg offered. Nick raised a playful eyebrow and took a deep swig from his beer before giving an answer.
“I thought you didn’t like football G,” he said. Greg laughed as he picked up the remote, pointing it across the room and drawing Nick’s eyes over to the TV. On his initial scan, he hadn’t been able to fully appreciate just how big the thing really was. It covered a good portion of the wall, and he suspected that the tech probably had the entertainment unit holding it custom built.
“Well I know you do, and I do like to be a good host,” he joked. Nick blinked; he appreciated that Greg would do that for him, but didn’t say anything out loud. He was aware that he was a typical manly man, keeping his thoughts and feelings inside, but he couldn’t help that. It was how he was raised. Greg flipped through the channels until the pre-game announcements were flowing through the speakers and an overview of a football stadium in some other state was showing on the screen.
Although he initially embarrassed himself by sinking straight in to the game, Nick was soon able to find his rhythm, and the two of them passed the hours chatting. The more time passed, the more their eyes seemed to gravitate more towards each other, rather than the game, and the conversation picked up more and more, rather than depleting as it usually did when he and Warrick watched the games. By half way through the third hour the TV was nothing more than background noise as they turned in their seats to face each other, both of them on their third beer, and animatedly discussed the latest hint that Warrick and Catherine wanted a relationship.
“I don’t know why they won’t just get it over with,” Greg burst out eventually, an amused smile tugging at the corners of his mouth, “it’s just so bloody obvious that they want each other!” He threw up his hands and Nick laughed out loud, falling against the back of his seat. He winced when he felt his back clinch. He rubbed at it and shook his head.
“I need to stretch or something, we haven’t moved in hours.” He set his beer down as he stood, raising his arms above his head to the point that his shirt rode up above his waistline. He took note of Greg averting his eyes, but thought nothing of it. When he spine felt less like it was being compressed, he scanned the walls above Greg’s head, finally taking in the fact that there were framed photos hanging scattered about in some kind of pattern he couldn’t immediately identify.
Greg stood up too when he noticed where Nick’s gaze had fallen, but only needed to roll his shoulders to loosen his body from its settled position. Nick busied himself so his envy at Greg’s youth wouldn’t show, making a point of inspecting each frame. The first was an older couple he assumed would be the blonde’s parents, and the second was obviously a family photo because it was Greg with the same couple from the first frame. The third frame made him smile because it was a picture of the team, taken by a helpful bartender the day that Greg was officially promoted to CSI level one. The fourth was only of Greg, standing alone on some beach at sunset. The photography was either skillfully done or simply shot at the right place at the right time, because it lit up it’s subject in a rather wonderful way.
It was, however, the last picture that caught Nick’s eye, and he just had to step closer to see it better. He moved until his knees bumped in to the couch, then stood there gaping in what was probably a ridiculous looking manner. The photo had been taken unprofessionally, probably by a home camera, and blown up later. The background was someone’s living room, but that fact barely registered. There were six people standing in a loose group and every one of them was decked out in all black. Silver made a minor appearance as a few spots of jewelry, but the four boys and two girls that were depicted seemed determined to look as gloomy as possible. If it wasn’t already typical enough, not one of them were smiling, and one of the girls was wearing black lipstick. Eventually, Nick couldn’t contain himself, and he started to laugh.
“Who…are they?” he asked in amusement. Greg followed his gaze and a warm smile appeared on his face, like he was reminiscing about old times. As it turned out, he was.
“Ah, that’s my old gang from California,” he admitted. “That was quite the trying time for my mother, to have her boy become ‘one of those goth kids’. She was glad when I outgrew that phase.” Nick turned to look at his friend with an incredulous face, his head going back and forth between the blonde man and the six gloomy teenagers.
“One of them is you?” he exclaimed. Greg laughed and pointed to the boy standing right out in front. Nick, his eyes wide with shock, leaned in even closer. Greg’s hair was dyed a deep ink black, and it fell down to cover half his face, but there was no mistaking those liquid brown eyes. He wore black and red running shoes underneath black pants, held up by a black belt with a few red squares. His shirt was black with a gray winged skull on the chest. His wrists had dual black straps each, and in his hand he held something unidentifiable.
“I cannot believe that is you…” Nick muttered. “What is that you’re holding?” He squinted but couldn’t make it out. When he looked to his side, Greg was smiling a really funny smile.
“A black rose,” he divulged. Nick blinked, but as he opened his mouth to ask, Greg answered his unspoken question. “He dyed it with food dye. It works with any white flower, you just put it in the water.” Nick blinked again, then nodded slowly.
“He who?” was his next question. When Greg pointed, Nick followed his finger to the boy standing right next to the young depressed looking Greg. This boy also had black hair, though he was taller, thicker, and his clothes were more leather than anything else. Maybe vinyl. His eyes were on the camera, though his body language was leaning heavily toward the teenage version of the happy blonde man standing next to Nick.
“Danny. It was our anniversary.” Nick’s head whipped to the side and he choked on his own breath.
“A-anniversary?” he stuttered out. Greg’s smile was indiscernible. He looked half like he was thinking back to the good old days and reliving fond memories. But he also looked half bitter, a hint of sadness shadowing the backs of his eyes. It made Nick wonder, but only vaguely.
“Yeah we were together for most of high school,” Greg said. When he saw Nick staring at him with a wide gaping jaw he finally stopped smiling, frowning now in surprise. “You didn’t know? I thought the whole lab knew I was gay…” When Nick shook his head slowly the smile reappeared, stretching in to a wide silly grin, and he chuckled deeply. Nick just watched him for a moment.
“Are you, uh, seeing anyone right now?” he asked, trying to seem mildly curious. His heart beat wildly in his chest as the first fleeting possibility of his dreams coming true fluttered just at his fingertips. He tried hard to swat it away, berating himself to get serious. Even if Greg was single, Nick was old, despite the efforts he’d gone through to try and disguise that fact. Greg’s eyes on his cut his thoughts off, because Greg’s eyes were laughing and twinkling behind his warm unreadable expression.
“No, I’m quite single,” he admitted. Nick swallowed hard. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other and back again, unsure of what he wanted to do or say next. The two of them stared at each other for a very long time until Greg gave the older man a knowing look. “You know, if you’re going to kiss me, I would suggest sooner rather than later. I’m not the most patient body in the world and you’ve already made me wait quite the long time for you.” He raised one impatient eyebrow as Nick gaped at him, not quite able to believe what he was hearing. However, it only took a few moments before he shook off the stupor and stepped forward to do as he was told.
He could feel Greg smile as their mouths connected in a soft lingering kiss, one he thought they would never share. He sighed gently as they caressed each other, their bodies not touching but their tongues slipping together to battle lazily for dominance. It was over much too soon for something they both obviously waited so long for. He huffed in slight disappointment and frowned at Greg with questioning eyes. But Greg only laughed and touched his face gently as if wanting to memorize the feel of it.
“I don’t really get this, you know,” Nick admitted. “Me? You could have anyone you want, G, and you go for me? I’m so…old!” He rolled his own eyes up towards the ceiling, a little annoyed that he couldn’t find a better work to say how he felt around Greg. The young blonde, however, just grinned.
“You’re not old, you’re deliberate,” he protested. Nick blinked.
“Deliberate?” he repeated, unsure if he had heard the other man correctly. Greg nodded enthusiastically and suddenly he was rambling, talking in that mile-a-minute way that he reserved for subjects he was passionate about. And he was passionate about Nick.
“Yeah, you always think before you act. You’re responsible and you put a lot of thought in to things and you never do anything impulsive because you know how much potential that has to turn out badly. You’re caring and you take things slow so you don’t ruin them by rushing. And I think it’s great really. I always admired how you do that because I could never make myself slow down enough to even consider thinking. So…yeah…” He paused and looked back up at Nick, a blush spreading across his features. “You’re deliberate,” he said again, as if insisting upon a point. Nick realized that his smile had grown so big that every one of his teeth could be seen, and he was filled with the most wonderful warm sensation, spreading from his heart to the tips of his toes and to the ends of his hair.
“Well I guess that’s better than my word,” he said. Then he leaned in and kissed Greg again, this time reaching out and pulling him closer by the hips. The blonde came willingly, wrapping his arms around Nick’s waist and holding tight. The two of them kissed until the world around them disappeared, and then they kissed a little longer. When they pulled apart Nick smirked as he touched his foreheads to Greg’s.
“So, you don’t still dress up like that do you? Make-up, chains, black and silver?” he winked and Greg gave him a lofty little huff.
“What if I do? Maybe I like a little bit of the goth scene when I go clubbing, what would you do about that?” He waited, but Nick only looked resigned.
“I would sigh heavily and kiss you anyway because, really, you’d still look lovely,” he replied. Greg beamed and held him tighter. “You don’t really, though, do you?” Nick asked, his expression a trifle worried. The blonde threw back his head and laughed, shaking his head in amusement.
“No, no. I grew out of that phase a long time ago,” he assured the older man. “I’m just plain old crazy me now.” Nick adopted a scandalized look.
“Never plain, and definitely never old” he protested, and then his look turned sly. “Crazy is a good adjective though. Now…kiss me crazy.” Greg’s laugh cut off as soon as he and Nick were attached at the lips. He appeared determined for them to never come apart and secretly Nick wished they never would.