Title: House Rules
Series/Pairing: CSI - Nick/Greg
Rating: PG
Notes: Written for the Domestic Challenge over at NGChallengeLJ. Future!Fic and kid-centric. One spoiler note at the bottom.
Words: 1,720

The very first thing that Nick notices as he drives up the driveway, is Elise sitting on the steps outside of the front door with a rather disapproving expression on her face. Her tiny face, all pinched up, blonde hair pulled back into a pair of sloppy braids and out of her face. Nick has to pause a moment to wonder what Greg had done now.

Really, Nick was lucky that they had gotten a daughter that was such a stickler for rules and schedules and never, ever, getting into any trouble. Greg said she was repressed and Nick was to blame, but he couldn't see anything wrong with a perfectly behaved child. Getting out of the SUV and setting the alarm, he heads on over to the seven-year-old, sitting down beside her on the steps as she nearly murders her Barbie's hair with the doll brush in hand.

"Daddy is breaking House Rules again!" she blurts out almost immediately, as if those words had been bottling up inside of her for quite some time. Nick tries not to let his amusement shine through and instead cocks his head to the side, picking up a Barbie with brown hair, all-too aware that brunette Barbies aren't named 'Barbie' at all and the passing thought nearly floors him. Arching an eyebrow at his daughter, Nick toys with the figurine's hair, trying to get some of the snarls out in a much less vicious way than Elise's approach.

"What's he doing this time, Ellie?" 'This time.' In all honestly, Elise reprimands Greg for more infractions of the "House Rules" in a week than she ever commits in a month's time. Greg once said that the Baby Factory must have accidentally left out the 'mischief' genes in the Sanders line and was given the silent treatment for a full three hours from their daughter. She finally caved when he took out an old chemistry text from a bookshelf and promised to help her memorize the periodic table if she shared a bowl of ice cream with him. Sometimes it amazed Nick at just who was more the adult out of the two.

But now, Ellie is just staring at Nick like as if Greg was planning to blow up the house and it would be comical if Nick weren't a little bit worried about what, exactly, Greg was up to this time around. Elise fidgets for a moment, brown eyes open wide before she finally sets her Barbie down into her neatly arranged line of dolls. Twisting, she pulls the second doll from between Nick's strong hands and also places the 'Teresa' doll beside a 'Skipper' doll. Her hands clasp and she places them neatly on her lap, now facing her father.

"I'm not supposed to tell you," she says, sounding like as if she were holding a piece of top-secret government information as a secret. "Daddy said if I told, then he's going to force-feed me cookies right before bedtime. After I've brushed my teeth, too." The absurdity of his daughter's idea of 'punishment' is almost enough to make Nick loose his cool and start laughing, but that would hurt Elise's feelings. So instead, he settles for hiding his laughter in a loud cough, using a hand to cover his mouth and hide his entertained expression.

For all of his amusement, Nick's a little worried about what sort of rules Greg is breaking inside of their house. Hell, half the rules set in place were because of bad moves made on Greg's behalf. Like the 'No melting household objects' rule? Greg's fault. And the 'No taking apart appliances' rule? Also put into place because of Greg. Not that Elise hadn't tried the second one herself- but that was purely because Greg put the idea into her head in the first place. Most of the rules were strictly things that anyone with a hint of common sense should know better than to do, but Greg insisted that unless it was against the rules, it was fair game. Which prompted Nick to making a list of the rules, stashed away in his bedside drawer so that he had proof for whenever one was broken.

Sometimes Nick feels like he's got a kid and a miniature adult running the house, but he can't say he minds. In fact, his life has been far more interesting ever since Greg came into it on a far more personal note than 'co-worker'. Nick wouldn't trade what they have for the world.

"C'mon, Munchkin," he says suddenly. Standing up, he picks his child right up off the steps and gently tosses her over his shoulder. He hears the beginnings of a giggle before the girl stops herself and he assumes she's looking rather stern at the moment. "If you're not going to blab, then I'm just going to have to find out for myself." Mentally, Nick was bracing himself for some kind of Bio-Hazardous experiment being held in their living room, or Greg trying to eat a three-course Ramen meal, or- well, anything other than what exactly he found. Staring ahead, he slowly lowers Elise to the ground and as her shoes hit the floor and she pulls back, she straights out her dress and pipes.

"I told you so," she says in such a matter-of-fact tone without a smug hint to it at all that Nick can't help but forget to admonish her for the phrase. Ellie's eyes widen, though, and she primly walks right back outside- probably to alphabetize her Barbie shoes or something equally anal. Nick doesn't stop her. He's too busy staring at a very guilty-looking Greg.

"...I can explain?" Greg offers weakly, staring at Nick with a weak grin. Everything is silent for a few moments before the, the, the monster that Greg brought into the house started to play with the wire to the lamp, which promptly decided that it was a good time to fall down and break. The two men flinched and there was a horrid yelp as the furry cat went running right across the room to hide in a houseplant.

"A cat? You brought a cat home?" There is a very, very strict rule in the Sanders-Stokes household about animals. Very strict. In fact, after that fiasco with Elise trying to dissect live frogs she found outside at the age of four on their kitchen cutting boards, any animals other than Greg's beloved fish were considered big no-no's. But just as Nick opens his mouth to start in on Greg, the very nearly forty-year-old man who still manages to melt Nick's heart completely, pulls out the big guns. He pouts, staring wide-eyed up at his partner as he gets up to go after the speedy-gonfurball that was peaking its nose out from between the leaves in the soil.

"But he's so cute, Nicky," Greg says suddenly, lifting up the kitten and standing to shove the... thing in Nick's general direction. Ooh, 'Nicky'. Greg's getting desperate, here. He only calls him 'Nicky' when there is something especially big that he wants but probably shouldn't have or do. Nick glowers, arms crossing his chest as he gives the feline a rather stoic look.

"Oh no, Greg. Don't you 'Nicky' me. You are not keeping this... thing. You know the House Rules. And it was you who insisted upon us following the same House Rules as Elise to enforce them," he shoots back in Greg's face, who only pouts harder and gently waves the kitten in his face before taking a few steps closer. The cat is a big ball of fur, all white and orange with a soft pink nose and tongue and big brown eyes that beg for it to be fed and loved and- "Damn it, Greg." Nick sounds angry now, but Greg beams, knowing that he's won. He's been on the receiving end of that tone enough times to know what it means.

"I love you too," he chuckles throatily, pressing in and planting a kiss to Nick's lips, the cat starting to attach itself to Nick's tee, claws starting to dig into him. But, for a moment, Nick doesn't mind the pricking of miniature claws or the completely disaster area Greg's made of the living room, or their little girl who is standing in the doorway with her fist in her mouth so as not to scream in happiness at getting to keep the kitty. Sneaky little brat.

'Doesn't possess the Sanders' mischief gene, my ass,' Nick can't help but think to himself absently as Greg backs him into a wall to give him a rather possessive kiss. Elise comes over and Greg hands her the mewling creature as she holds out her hands in expectation, never breaking the lip lock with Nick. As usual, Greg is taking his breath away and Nick's not entirely sure it's just because you usually run out of oxygen during such a fiery kiss. But all too soon they are interrupted by their own little monster who starts 'Ahem'ing away at them, kitten being held against her chest.

"You're not allowed to do that until bed-time! House Rules, Daddy," she whines quietly, lips pursed together. Greg chuckles up against Nick's lips and slowly pulls back, planting a few short, chaste, kisses to Nick's mouth before withdrawing completely. He turns, beaming at their fiendish girl who must have wanted the cat very badly to play along with Greg's little theatrical show. Nick sighs, leaning down and picking up the blonde and pulling the girl, who was rather small for her age, up against his side to sit on his hip, cat still cradled in her arms.

"Okay, so what's this beast's name?" Nicky asks with a soft sigh, knowing full well he's lost this battle and that this white and orange mass was soon going to be shedding all over and biting everything in sight, just to spite him for hating cats. But it's okay. It's more than worth the trouble to see identical grins on Greg and Ellie's faces, the happiness in their eyes. Nick's just a softie, he can't help it. But he's never been able to deny either one of them anything. And when it's two on one... well, not even an infraction of the House Rules can stop them.

(( I don't remember if one of the guys is allergic to cats and it would be just my luck if they were, but for the sake of this story, they aren't and you'll just have to live with my blatant disregard for canon facts that I can't remember anyway. ))