A/N: A little something, sorta vignette. I guess it counts as one. Okay, fine - it iis/i a vignette. Nick/Greg-friendship piece. Or.... Well, you figure it out.brbr
The annoying voice of the phone ringing pierced through Nick Stoke's dream. A dream about apple pies, and vanilla sauce, and a tall, red building that had candid hearts for windows and seven different colored walls, and a weird guy who wouldn't stop calling him Icky-Nicky. It's was a nice dream, weird but nice, and now it was over. With a grunt he peeked his head from under the covers, glancing at the clock. His forehead crashed back against the pillow as his brains registered the time; it had only been barely an hour since he'd stumbled to bed after a long shift.
And the annoying ringing still wouldn't shut up.
He rose his hand, subdued to his destiny, with his face still buried against the pillow and felt his way to the phone on the night stand, almost causing it to fall down on the floor. He was forced to turn his head to see, squinting at the light that poured through the badly-closed blinds of his bedroom window.
Before the phone could have a chance to ring again, he grabbed it and pressed it against his ear. "...lo?"
"I can't sleep," a male voice whined from the other end of the line. It sounded pathetic. And he recognized it.
Nick rolled on his back, closing his eyes against the blinding light - how did he forget to close the freaking blinds - and tried to steady the phone so that it didn't need to be kept up on his ear. "Greg..." he gave an annoyed moan.
"I can't sleep!" Nick could almost hear him stomping his foot.
"Well, I'm sorry to hear that, man," he muttered, rubbing his eyes. They seemed to weigh a ton. The sleep was only beginning to wear off from his weary eyes and... Wait a minute. Was he still dreaming? He must be. Greg was calling him to tell him that he couldn't sleep. It's a dream. ...Right? "Are you about to call me icky?" he grunted to the phone, mentally crossing his finger, hoping that he'd still be in the black, unconscious, someone-knocked-you-cold state of mind commonly known as sleep.
"What?" came a confused answer.
On the other side of Las Vegas, Greg was pacing his living room. From the deep red painted wall opposite the window to the couch and back. His hand ruffled through his wild hair as he walked, making it even messier. He was dead tired but he couldn't, just couldn't, lay down, keep still, shut up and lose consciousness. Right at that moment, that option seemed like something from outer space. "You gotta help me, Nick. This is... Let's just say it's really annoying. I mean, this has been going on for... What day is it? Wednesday. So that makes... Three nights. Days. Three days, and --" An audible yawn from Nick's end stopped Greg's rant and his pace. He stopped dead on his tracks and frowned to the phone. "Were you sleeping?"
Nick's tone sounded exasperated as he answered. "Noooo, of course I wasn't." Man, it was too late for sarcasm. Or too early. Depends on how you look at it.
"See, Nick," he waved his finger in the air as he spoke, "that's the kinda thing that drives people away from you, I've told you that."
"No, you haven't."
"Well, I should've had."
Greg pinched the bridge of his nose. A headache had been banging his temples for hours now with this edgeless, useless thud that didn't really hurt but drove him insane. His sigh echoed back to him from the walls of the empty apartment. His tone was soft, tired, as he spoke; "Listen, I'm -- I'm sorry, I shouldn't have called. I'm sorry I woke you. You go back to sleep, okay? I'll... see you tomorrow." Before Nick could respond, Greg disconnected.
He stared at the phone in his hand. Finally, after a second, he put it down on the table with a heavy sigh, rising both of his hands to rub on his temples. The pacing begun again. To the wall. From the wall to the kitchen door, and from there to the couch. Christ, this sucked. Fourth day in a row. It was kinda starting to affect his work. And his sight, apparently. He closed his left eye, then open it again and closed the right one to look at the picture that hung on the wall. It looked fuzzy.
The sudden ringing of the phone made him whirl around, staring at the ringing thing wide-eyedly. Bewildered, he rushed to pick it up.
"So what are you doing now?" the yielded voice of Nick Stokes sighed from the phone.
Greg couldn't help the little laugh that rose from his chest. "Well, I'm standing in the middle of my living room. Do you want to know what I'm wearing?" he teased.
"I think I can live without that information, thank you very much. What the hell are you doing standing in the middle of your living room?"
"I'm..." He hesitated as he glanced around the room that was only illuminated by the afternoon sun filtering through the half closed curtains. "Thinking. Walking. As I said, I can't sleep."
"And there's your problem."
Greg frowned to the red wall. "What do you mean?"
He was sure that if he had strained his ears, he would've heard a 'duh' from the other end. "Would you mind explaining me how exactly you are going to get any sleep with standing in the middle of your living room?"
"I haven't stood here all the time."
"You're standing there now."
His foot started tapping the floor impatiently. "Your point would be?"
"That maybe you should go to bed."
"I tried that but it's so cold and lonely there. And my ex got my teddy-bear, amongst other things she took, when we broke up so I ain't got no one to hug. I gotta tell you --"
Nick's voice cut the sentence, obviously desperate for him to stop joking and get to the point. "Greg..." he groaned.
"Well, I've been home for six hours now. Don't you think I've tried every way I can think of?" he responded, his voice this time a little less light, starting to rub his temple again. Damn this headache. "I've tried them every night -- day, and none of them works. I just keep lying there and staring at the roof."
"How 'bout closing your eyes?"
"You're not helping, Mister Smart-ass."
"But what a lovely ass it is."
"Shut up, Nick, we're not talking about your ass here."
In his apartment, Nick was still lying on his bed with his eyes half-closed, looking at the opposite wall as he spoke. His brains were still trying to comprehend the situation, or how he'd gotten into it, as he run his hand through his hair, yawning widely. "Have you tried reading something before you go to bed? Not Dostojevski, something light. And, no, Greg, not your Playboys."
"I don't read my Playboys," came the immediate respond.
"Exactly." Instead of answering Nick's previous question, Greg stayed quiet. After a long beat Nick asked again. "Well, have you?"
"What? -- Oh. Yes. I read the TV Guide."
Nick threw his hand in the air, as if stating the obvious to his drawer standing in the corner of the room. "The TV Guide," he said, not so much as asked but repeated, rolling his eyes. Of course.
"The entire TV Guide. VCR codings and all. That's boring if something is, and it didn't work."
"Done. Might've as well drunken an extra strong blend triple espresso."
"A little jog around the block a couple of hours before sleeping?"
"A warm -- what are you doing?"
"What are you doing?"
"Walking around the room."
"Yeah, Wizard of Oz, stop doing that. Go to bed."
"Oh, yeah... Right..." Nick could hear footsteps, the door opening and a thud as Greg walked to his bedroom and crashed on his bed. "Okay, lying on the bed, check."
"What are you wearing?"
The sound of Greg's warm chuckle rang to his ear. "Oh, now you wanna know what I'm wearing?"
Nick rolled his eyes to the empty room. Again. "Ha, ha. I wanna know if you're dressed too warm."
"Nope. Just boxers and a T-shirt. A Stanford T-shirt. It's way cooler than that crappy sweat you have from --"
"Greg," he interrupted. "Focus."
"Right. Okay. ...Right."
"Close your eyes."
"Okay, done. What now?"
"I'm gonna tell you a story."
A violent burst of laughter almost shook the phone that Nick was holding. "A what?" the uttered words were heard through the laughter.
"A story," Nick's voice stated matter-of-factly.
"You're gonna tell me a story?"
"Exactly. See now? You are a clever boy."
"And that is going to help me how exactly?"
Nick propped himself up against the pillows, now somewhat more sober or at least awake enough. He might as well make sure he slept so that he wouldn't be calling him again anytime soon. "Well," he started. "When I was a kid my mother used to tell me stories. You know when I couldn't sleep or I was afraid of the dark or what ever problem might have come up at bedtime. I really liked that. She had a very soothing tone when she told the stories, and even if I didn't want to go to sleep, I always did when she did tell the stories. They were really cute stories, now when I think about it. They didn't make that much sense she always just came up with something, started talking about some thing she'd seen that day or remembered from something at that moment and she told me about them, created plots around them. Told me how the things had ended up where they were when she'd seen them or where they'd been before and..." His voice trailed off as he frowned to the sounds coming from the phone. "Greg?"
The line was quiet.
"Greg?" he repeated, this time almost whispering. "Are you still there?"
The only audible sound from the other end of the line was the silent sound of breathing. If he could've seen Greg at that moment, he would've found him lying on his bed with his arms and legs spread in every possible direction and his mouth hanging slightly ajar, snoring quietly in his sleep, the phone still trapped between the pillow and his ear. But Nick couldn't see; instead he just imagined as he listened to the restful breathing that sounded from the phone. He smiled as he finally was certain that Greg had dozed off. After a second, he hung up, placing the phone back on the nightstand. He rose up, walked to the window, closed the blinds and walked back. Then he crashed back into the bed, pulling the covers over his ears, nuzzling against the soft pillow.
In two seconds, the black cover of sleep crept over him again and a quiet snoring, quite like Greg's, filled the room.