AN: This Nick and Greg story was written because Nerrianah crafted a wonderful birthday gift for me and I promised her the story of her choice in return. She asked for these elements to be included: Greg and Nick working a case, the boys flirting (without knowing they both like each other), Greg slipping because it's raining and kind of pulling Nick down with him. It's a 7,000 word story told in 3 scenes. I hope she and anyone else who reads it enjoys it. Thanks!

Slipping into Love
By: Ms Maggs


City Limits

"Sanders!" Veteran officer Tony Fontenelli yelled over the crime tape. "How much longer are you and Stokes gonna be? I'm friggin' starving. Back in New York the CSIs work a lot faster than you. You wouldn't survive a day in that city."

"You ever try to bag grey matter from a blown off head?" Greg asked the impatient ex-New Yorker. "It takes time. Believe me, I'd rather be somewhere else too…anywhere else." With the recent news of the multi-million dollar payout to the James family, he was seriously considering somewhere other than Vegas. "I'm doing my job as fast as I can without jeopardizing the quality of..."

"I'm surprised they let you keep your job after paying millions for your screw up." Since he was bored, the cop decided to have a little fun. "You ever feel bad about snuffin' out that no good piece of shit gangsta wannabe?"

His stomach knotting, Greg answered, "I really don't like discussing the…"

"That's a no," Fontinelli laughed. "Yeah, I figured a pasty white guy like you probably didn't shed a tear over a dead black punk. Me either. I say good riddance."

After nervously glancing over his shoulder for Nick and wishing he would return to the living room, Greg addressed the obviously racist cop, "Look…not a day goes by that I don't think about killing Demetrius James, but while I'm sorry that he died, I don't regret my decision, because if I didn't take action, an innocent man would be dead instead. I did what I had to do." He gulped. "And I believe I did the right thing." Unfortunately, being right didn't stop the nightmares that plagued him every day since the ordeal.

"Why the hell didn't you just shoot the son of a bitch instead of making him a chocolate pancake with your truck? That's like intentionally stepping in dog shit with good shoes on."

"I don't carry a firearm."

"Why?" Fontinelli laughed, "Are you scared of holding a big bad gun, Nancy?"

"Don't call me that," Greg snapped, hating the implication even if it was accurate. "I mean it." It wasn't until he moved to Vegas that he felt compelled to hide his bisexuality. "If you want to get out of here at a reasonable hour, you'll stop talking to me." Even though the city was known for its flash and unconventionality, LVPD wasn't gay friendly. There were no same-sex partner benefits offered and some of the cops exhibited intense homophobia and routinely practiced verbal gay bashing. That's why even after eight years, none of his friends knew his deepest secret…not even Nick, the person he wanted to know intimately more than anyone.

"Okay, I won't call you Nancy. I'll think of something you'll like better." The cop snickered, "What does your boyfriend call you when you're bending over for him?"

"Fuck off!" Greg blasted the jerk.

"Ooh, sounds like I hit a nerve." Fontinelli leaned against the doorway. "Here's a tip, if you don't want people guessing you're queer, you shouldn't dress like a friggin' pillow biter. That pink shirt…"

"Hey!" Nick barked from the hallway. "I heard you givin' Sanders a hard time from the kitchen. Ever hear of workplace harassment, Fontinelli?" He hated seeing Greg so riled. "Watch the tape and keep your mouth shut or I'm reporting your badge number." With his narrowed eyes on the cop, he marched over and slammed the front door. "Prick!"

"I've had it," Greg stated as he peeled off his latex gloves. "Seriously, I can't take it any more. I'm done."

"Don't worry, G, that jerk retires in three months."

"It's not just him, it's half the force!" Shaking with tension, Greg said, "If they're not calling me a wimp or wuss, they're giving me crap about Demetrius James. It sucks and I'm done. The city handing over that money to the James family has officially made it open season on my character."

Desperate to make his friend feel better, Nick dropped a hand on his shoulder and squeezed. "Take a deep breath and try to relax. The James thing will blow over soon, and…"

"I love this shirt!" Greg cathartically screamed as he kicked the victim's couch. "My Grandma Olaf bought it for me for Christmas and it's comfortable when I'm breaking my back working fourteen hour shifts!"

"Careful now," Nick cautioned, "that couch could have evidence we need."

"Sorry." Biting back tears, the mentally and physically exhausted CSI plopped onto the floor and gripped his head, "If it's not my hair, it's my shirt. I really thought high school bullshit was behind me, but being in the field around bullies like Fontinelli is just like being back in the locker room at San Marcos High." He pulled in a jagged breath. "Dammit."

"It's good you let that out." Nick assured his friend while wishing he could pull him in his arms and make everything alright. "Holdin' stuff in is what makes ya tense." He adjusted his CSI ballcap. "Hell, I should know, I do it all the time. And, G….personally I like that shirt on you, but if you don't want guys like Fontinelli to call you queer, you shouldn't wear it on the job." He panicked and backpedaled just like he did every time he got close to asking his friend about his sexuality or confessing his own bisexuality. "What I mean is….unlike rational people, guys like him think wearin' a little pink means a man is gay." This would be the perfect opportunity for him to tell me he's gay or bi. He waited with baited breath.

Staring up at his co-worker and best friend, Greg analyzed the cyptic remark. He likes me wearing this shirt, but agrees it makes me look queer. That means he likes me when I look queer, which one would think means he's queer and hot for me in this shirt. He laughed to himself. No, that's just my overactive imagination and wishful thinking colliding and creating the perfect delusion. He also said that rational people know wearing pink doesn't mean a guy's gay, which means he thinks I'm just a guy who doesn't mind wearing pink, not a gay guy. But maybe he said . that last part only to see if I'll agree with him that I'm not gay. Or is he waiting for me to correct him and say that I am gay? He was faced with the same conundrum that had haunted him for years – do I say something definitive, risk our friendship, and maybe reap the ultimate reward, or do I keep my mouth shut, preserve our relationship, and give up on us hooking up?

When his pal didn't answer, Nick said, "You're too stressed and that makes me worry about you, Greggo."

"Wouldn't you be stressed if you just found out the city paid millions to the family of the guy you killed even though you did the right thing?"

"Hell, yeah I would." Nick confirmed before smiling, "And I'd need a little time away from this city to regroup. I think you should go camping."

"Camping?" Greg shook his head. "Thanks for trying to help, but I haven't been camping since I was an teenager and being alone in the woods is a bad idea, because I'm feeling shitty enough that I just might throw myself off a cliff or offer myself up to a bear."

"Not alone," Nick grinned'. "With me. Because we racked up too much OT, we have mandatory time off startin' Friday. I decided to camp on Alegre Mountain and got a permit online yesterday. I was plannin' on goin' alone, but I think you need the break from the city more than me, so I want you to come along. A few days in the great outdoors always clears my head. I come back to work a new man after my little trips, don't I?"

It was true, he did always return in a much better frame of mind. "Yeah," Greg finally answered. "But I really haven't been camping since high school. I'm out of practice, and I'd probably be a pain the ass."

"Nah, you'll be fine." Heading back to the kitchen to finish his task, Nick said, "I won't take no for answer, so give it up, Greggo. Friday…have your gear in your car. We'll load it in my truck and leave after shift." Standing in the doorway, he grinned, "A few days in the great outdoors with me and you'll be a changed man. You'll see."

"Well, when you put it like that." Greg burst into a smile. "Alegre Mountain here I come." He wondered if Nick new alegre translated as happy, joyous and gay.

"Now get your ass back to work."

Once he was alone in the room, Greg reached for a fresh pair of gloves and laughed, "Why are you always talking about my ass, Tex?"


Road Rules

"Get your ass over here, Sanders! Nick yelled from the hatch of his truck. "What the hell, man? I've been waitin' on you for twenty minutes." He had just started to panic, thinking his camping partner had changed his mind. "I was just about to leave without ya."

Disappointed to hear that his camping partner wouldn't have had a problem ditching him, Greg hustled over and clicked the alarm button on his keychain. "Sorry, but Ecklie cornered me…literally. He had me backed up against the wall in the layout room bombarding me with stupid questions that could have easily waited until Tuesday. Sometimes, I really think he's hot for me. Do you ever feel that way?"

"Hot for you? Hell yeah," Nick answered truthfully, but covered it up with a joke, "Whenever you wear a pink shirt."

"Ha!"

"Just kiddin'." Not! Nick laughed, "You think Ecklie's hot for ya, huh. That would explain his quickie divorce. Hey, if you'd rather go away with him this weekend because suckin' up to the big boss would advance your career…"

"Please don't ever mention me, Ecklie, and sucking in the same sentence." Greg shivered. "My nightmares have plenty of fodder, they don't need any new material."

While wondering if it was just the thought of Ecklie that had his buddy freaked or the thought of getting sexual with any man, Nick helped transfer the gear. "This is your tent?" He held up what appeared to be the deluxe 4-person variety.

"Yeah. Why?"

"It's huge."

"It's the only one I had. It's from when I used to go camping with my parents when I was in high school."

"You slept with your parents even as a teen?"

"No!" Greg answered in a hardy laugh. "I just liked to have plenty of room."

"And apparently a lot of stuff. Six duffle bags of supplies and a cooler?"

"I like to be prepared for anything and everything. It's an old habit. My parents had a huge SUV and one kid, so they didn't limit what I could bring."

"Wow, you really were a spoiled only child. I was only allowed to bring one backpack and had to share a 2-person tent with my six foot brother." Nick teased, "I suppose you needed the extra space for all your imaginary friends."

"Yeah, we had a blast playing Monopoly by flashlight and eating S'mores." Greg turned to the left. "Right, Wilson?"

When they were done laughing at the joke, Nick sweetly said, "It's good to see you cuttin' loose, buddy."

"Thanks for forcing me come along," Greg replied through a sunny smile.

"Forcing you? Jeeeeez." Swinging his keys, Nick headed for the driver's seat. "What's next? Payin' ya to be my friend?"

"Nah." Sliding into the passenger seat, Greg wore an uncontainable grin. "Your mommy pays me fifty bucks a week to hang out with you." He unzipped his jacket and tossed it in the back seat.

"Funny you should say…" When he saw his buddy was wearing his favorite pink shirt, Nick forgot his retort and burst out laughing.

"What?" Greg knew exactly why his friend was busting a gut. "What's so funny?"

"You're frickin' hilarious, you know that?" Nick started the truck and kept laughing as he backed out of his favorite parking space.

"Is it something I wore?" Kicking back in his seat, Greg sighed, "We haven't even left the parking lot yet and I'm having a great time."

"I told ya you would." Nick confessed as he drove, "I kinda thought it would be good for me too, 'cause, honestly…I haven't been away with anyone since the abduction."

"Really?" Greg sobered.

"Yeah." It felt good to open up. "At first I just needed time alone after that ordeal. You know how it is…no one can understand all the shit goin' through your head after a near-death experience, and the stupid stuff people would say when they were tryin' to understand just got on my nerves." Nick shrugged. "I guess I got used to not dealin' with people on my time off and before I knew it, I had a new habit – solitude. Campin' fits my budget and I've got a list of places where I never see a soul – Alegre Mountain is one of 'em. You watch, we won't see anyone the whole time we're there."

"I totally get what you mean. I haven't had a date since the beating."

"Yeah?" Nick deadpanned, "And how is that different from your pre-beating lifestyle exactly?"

"Touché."

After a shared laugh and a period of silence, Nick quietly asked, "What about you and Sara? Did the two of you ever…"

"No," Greg shook his head as he stared out of the window. "As humiliating as this is to admit, I think she won't give me the time of day because she's pining for Griss. Pretty sad that I can't beat out a 50 year old in a fugly straw hat, huh?"

"You really think she's holdin' out for Griss?"

"Don't you?"

"Between you and me…I think she has father-figure issues," Nick replied. "Please don't tell her or anyone else that I said that."

"Hey, you know the saying 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas', well how about we make a rule that says what happens outside of Vegas stays outside of Vegas? Then we won't have worry about clarifying that something is just between us or watching what we say or do."

Stopped at a red light, Nick glanced over.

Greg met his friend's gaze. "And we can just be ourselves."

"Sounds good." Accelerating at the green light, Nick couldn't wait to get there.

"So, um…just out of curiosity, who was the last person you went camping with?" Greg tapped his fingers on his Levis while waiting for the answer.

"My brother and his wife and kids."

The unhelpful answer left Greg clueless and frustrated. "Oh." And the two hours of conversation following that disappointing answer didn't give him the information he craved. Every time he thought Nick was hinting that he was gay, he'd say something that made him seem as straight as an arrow.


Pitching Tents

"How old were you when you got your archery badge?" Nick asked as he unfurled his tent.

"Fourteen."

"Seriously? Why'd it take you so long?" The expert archer chuckled, "I woulda thought an overachiever like you got all of his by seven tops. I got mine when I was ten. God, I was so proud. To celebrate, my mom baked me this great cake with a target on it."

"My mom wouldn't sign the permission slip when I was little, because she was too worried I'd get injured."

"Having met your overprotective mom at the hospital, I believe it." Nick snapped his pop-up tent in place and admired his handiwork. "Done. I'm gonna have a beer before gettin' some sleep." Since they had been awake since nine p.m. the previous night, the plan was to sleep until 5pm, and then wake up and enjoy the last four hours of summer daylight.

Greg laughed at himself. "You're done and I'm still working open the knot on my damn tent bag."

"Yep." Popping open a can of Bud Light, Nick took a seat in his favorite camping chair and grinned. "Now I'm gonna sit back, drink beer, and have fun watchin' you pitch a tent." While raising his beer can, he silently laughed at the play on words.

"Good thing we're alone", Greg teased, "because that 'pitch a tent' comment sounded a little perverse."

"No, that's just your dirty little mind workin' overtime." Nick snickered behind his beer can while stealthily checking out his buddy's ass. "I think I'll time you."

"It won't take long." Greg extended his arms as if he were draping them around something. "Not with three of my imaginary friends helping me. Let's get to work, guys."

Nick choked on his swig of beer.

"Now you know why Sara really doesn't want to date me…I'm a goofy dork who makes imaginary friend jokes."

"There is another possibility."

"What's that?"

While laughing at the pile of deluxe tent parts on the ground, Nick said, "Maybe she's a lesbian. She did live in San Francisco for a while and that's the ultimate gay city."

"I lived there too, remember?" Greg smiled at his pal. CSI Stokes, please note that I didn't follow up my statement with 'and I'm not gay!'

Nick waited for Greg to add 'and I'm not gay' and was greatly encouraged when he refrained.Pulling a fresh beer out of the cooler, he said, "I think Sara would be a much happier person by now if she had been datiin' you, because you're good at cheerin' people up, and you're a great listener, that's why I like hangin' out with you." Among other reasons. "I don't think Grissom is what Sara needs."

"Why didn't you ever go after her?" This would be a great time for you to say 'because I want you, Greggo'.

Because I'd much rather have you, Greggo. "Me?" Nick shook his head while grinning wide. "Trust me, she's not my type." You are though. "I think of her as a sister. Sometimes she's my annoying older sister and sometimes she's my needy little sister. It depends on her mood. She's certainly not what Grissom needs. He needs someone vivacious to bring him out of his shell, not an introverted woman with baggage."

"He has to know she wants him, don't you think?"

"Maybe, but maybe not." Nick explained, "Griss is kinda clueless when it comes to relationships." And so are you apparently.

Greg finished pounding in the first stake and then caught his co-worker's eye. "Do you think it's possible for two co-workers to have feelings for each other and not say anything for seven years?"

"Yes," Nick answered without hesitation.

"Why wouldn't they say anything?"

"If each of 'em think the other might not be interested in a serious relationship, then maybe they don't say anything for fear of it ruining their friendship and their work partnership. Great friends that you can trust with your life are hard to come by. Imagine if tonight Grissom confessed his undyin' love for Sara only to hear her say she's flattered, but no thanks? How does he work side by side with her after that? It would be as awkward as hell, right?"

"Yeah, it was bad enough just asking her out casually and getting shot down." Greg reached for another stake. "It sounds cliché, but I guess fear really does stop a lot of people from taking a chance on love." Like me for example.

"Hey, G…"

His heart skipping a beat, Greg glanced over. "Yeah?" The concerned look on Nick's face had him hopeful.

"Check it out." Nick pointed up at the sky. "A storm is rollin' in. It starts out as one little cloud over the mountain and it builds really fast. I usually check the weather report before I drive up here, but I forgot this time." He had been too excited about the getaway to remember or care. "You want some help gettin' that tent up? Because once the cloud pops up, it's usually 30 minutes or less to the downpour."

Since his breath was still caught in his throat, Greg nodded his reply.

"Okay." Nick placed his second empty beer can on the ground and rose to his feet.

"Here's the hammer."

When Nick wrapped his fingers around the handle, they brushed over Greg's and a jolt of electricity surged through his body. Damn. Afraid his attraction was obvious, he avoided eye contact and got straight to work.

While pitching the tent in silence, Greg desperately analyzed the reason for the sudden lack of words. Was Nick just focused on the task or was he worried there might be uneven romantic feelings between them? But uneven on whose side?

Ten minutes later, the tent was up and Nick finally broke the silence. "It's startin' to sprinkle. We got the food up first thing, but we better stow the rest of our supplies, so they don't get wet."

Tossing duffle bags into his tent, Greg teased, "Admit it, you're glad that I brought my huge tent now. If we didn't have room in mine, we'd be hauling everything back to to your truck a hundred yards away."

"Yeah, yeah, okay." Nick chuckled, "This mini-mansion is convenient, I'll give you that." He was relieved they were laughing again. "Just make sure you put three cases of beer in my tent and only one in yours."

"Do you always spend your camping trips tanked?"

"Except for the day I'm drivin' home, yeah."

"Sounds good to me," Greg replied with a chuckle as the sky opened up. "At least it's just rain and not a thunderstorm."

A deafening clap of thunder drowned out Nick's reply.

"Save the beer!" Greg laughed and bolted for the stack of cases, but in his haste, he slipped on a wet patch of ground and lost his footing. "Shit!" He reached out and grabbed for the nearest thing to hold onto, which happened to be Nick.

"Hey! What are you…oh, shit!"

A moment later the two men were on the ground and splattered with fresh mud.

"Are you crazy, Sanders?!" Nick wiped his face.

"Sorry," Greg replied in between belly laughs. "I had to grab something."

"Then I'm glad I wasn't takin' a piss with my pecker hangin' out. You probably woulda ripped it off tryin' to save your ass."

The visual sent Greg into a fit of laughter.

"While you're incapacitated, I'm grabbin' the beer and headin' to bed."

When he saw his buddy strolling for the stack of cases, Greg scrambled to his feet and chased him. "I don't want to be holed up in my tent alone during a storm without booze! Gimme!" Unfortunately the slick ground prevented him from stopping before crashing into Nick and they both ended up on the ground.

"Are you crazy?!"

"Ha!" Greg burst out laughing when he saw the rain cutting trails into his friend's mud covered face. "That's a really good look for you."

"I did a friggin' face plant thanks to you!" When all he heard was laughter, Nick said, "You think it's funny, huh? Let's see how funny it is when it's your face hittin' the ground." With that he tackled his pal and shoved his mug in the mud. "There!"

Flopping onto his back, Greg panted for air and let the rain wash off the dirt. "I always wondered what it would have been like to play football against you." He moaned, "It hurts as much as I thought it would. Damn."

Feeling bad for the full-on tackle, Nick stopped laughing and said, "Sorry, I shouldn't have done that, especially not when you had broken bones not too long ago. I got carried away havin' fun."

"Don't worry about it." Greg winced. "Just help me up, 'cause I'm a little dizzy."

"Really?" Nick jumped to his feet and clasped his buddy's hand, praying he wasn't injured. "Does anything feel broken? Can you…" When he was flying through the air a second later, he realized he had been hoodwinked.

"Gotcha!"

"Son of a bitch!" As rain pelted him, Nick clutched his chest and writhed in pain. "Shit, Sanders, I think you cracked a rib. Where did you learn that move?"

From the look on his friend's face Greg knew he wasn't lying. "I learned how to do that in the self-defense class Ecklie made me take last month." Feeling horrible, he griped his head and groveled, "I can't believe it really worked. I'm so sorry. Do you really think it's broken?"

"Yeah," Nick replied through gritted teeth, "I've cracked ribs playin' ball, so I know exactly what it feels like. I'm gettin' a little freaked though, 'cause it's gettin' harder to breathe. I…" He struggled, "I…I think one of the ribs may have punctured a lung."

"Oh my God!" Scrambling to find his buddy's car keys, Greg begged for forgiveness, "I can't believe I hurt you and ruined our trip! I'm such a fucktard!"

"It was an accident, okay," Nick whimpered in between labored pulls of air.

"I found your keys!" Near tears, Greg delicately helped his buddy sit up. "Tell me if you need to go slower, okay?" He held him close. "I can't believe I ruined our camping trip in the first hour. You have no idea how much I've been looking forward to coming here with you."

"Greg…"

"I'm such a friggin' loser."

"Greg…"

"No wonder I haven't had a date in forever. I'm a…"

"G!" When his friend finally stopped berating himself, Nick winked. "Gotcha."

"What?" Greg asked in confusion as he plopped down in a mud puddle. "Do you mean…"

"Yep." Sporting a shit-eating grin, Nick poked his ribs. "Nothin's broken. I was bluffin'. Ha!" He slapped the soaked thigh of his jeans. "I win!"

"What?!" Greg screamed louder than the thunder crashing above them. "You totally had me believing I cracked your rib!"

"I know," Nick snickered, "it was great."

"No it wasn't!" Still shaking from the drama, the panicked friend blasted, "You're a colossal ass!"

"Hey, now, don't be a sore loser, especially when you started the game." Nick laughed and slicked his fingers through his soaked hair. "My brother and I played each other like all the time. I'm great at it, and I won fair and square."

When Nick patted his shoulder, Greg shoved his hand away. "Don't touch me!" He screamed over the storm. "I was terrified I hurt you! If your lungs were both punctured and the truck got stuck in the mud, you could have died out here. Did you ever think of that?" He turned away and wiped his face. "I already killed one guy this year. The last thing I needed was to do it again. Especially to someone I..."

"Hey…." When sobs replaced his best friend's words, Nick rushed to his side. "I swear I didn't think of that, G." He hung his head in shame. "I really am a colossal ass. I'm so sorry. You're right, I never shoulda…"

"Gotcha!" Greg yelled as he whirled around. "HA!"

"You were bluffing?!"

"I so wish you could see your face right now!"

"You totally got me," Nick remarked in disbelief. "I really thought you were bawlin' your eyes out."

"I know!" the champion cheered, "It was great!"

Seeing how proud his geeky pal was over having the last laugh, the jock conceded, "Congratulations, you get the Oscar." He extended his hand for a celebratory shake.

"Like I'm gonna fall for my own trick."

"I won't flip ya," Nick assured him. "'Cause you were right about it bein' stupid to fool around when we're in the middle of nowhere." He smiled and reached out again. "Scout's honor."

Knowing Mr. Ethical wouldn't break the sacred Scout oath, Greg acknowledged the gesture. "Thanks." The feel of his strong hand gripping his, sent a shiver of delight through his body.

"Thanks for the laughs." Standing eye to eye in the suddenly relenting rain, Nick fought the overwhelming urge to kiss his best friend. "That was fun. I felt like a kid again." He continued the slow, steady handshake.

"I'm havin' great time." The guest beamed a serene smile in his buddy's direction. "Thanks for inviting me to share your solitude."

Wanting to share much, much more, Nick reluctantly ended the handshake and dug deep for the courage to speak his mind.

"Um…" Their faces only inches apart, Greg fought the overwhelming urge to kiss his best friend. "We should probably get some sleep while it's raining, so we're awake when the weather's better later." He wanted to suggest they share a blanket, but couldn't get the words out. "I'm uh…gonna leave my dirty clothes out here to get clean."

"Good idea." Nick's pulse quickened over the promise of exposed flesh. Yeah."

Disappointed in himself for not saying everything on his mind, Greg pulled his water-logged pink shirt over his head and tossed it on the outside of his tent. Dammit! For once in my life could I not be a god damn coward?!

In silence, Nick studied his friend's shoulders. While they were lacking the definition of a weight lifter, they were enticingly broad and he wished he could grip and explore every square inch of them with his hands, mouth and tongue. "Good thing it's not a cold day," he said, while trying to move his eyes off his buddy's flesh. "I um…"

"The rain feels good now that it's slowed, doesn't it?" Greg stole a glance while his camp mate shed his clothes. "Really good," he remarked with his gaze locked on the beautiful body before him.

"Yeah." Nick tossed his muddy jeans over the branch of a tree.

Stripped down to his boxer briefs, Greg strolled by smiling. "I'm grabbing a beer before heading to bed." Taking a deep breath, he tried to summon the courage necessary to make a potentially life-changing move. "Hey! Do you…" He stopped shouting when he realized Nick had followed him and was standing directly behind him. "I was going to ask you if wanted me to bring you another beer?"

"Yeah," Nick said in a voice thick with desire, "Thanks for thinkin' about me."

"I'm always thinking about you," Greg boldly admitted when their eyes met. "Uh…what I mean by that is." Stop chickening out!

Invading his buddy's personal space, Nick anxiously asked, "What kind of thoughts, G?" He hoped for the best. "When you're always thinking about me…what kind of thoughts are you thinking?"

Letting his eyes fearlessly roam Nick's wet, muscular body, Greg answered the loaded question, "You know your theory about Sara and Griss?" Swooning from the heat of his friend's breath and stare, he gulped.

"Yeah." Stepping closer, Nick spoke in a sexy rasp, "You mean how they've probably been too afraid to say anything all these years because they're worried they'll ruin a great friendship if they're wrong about wantin' each other romantically?"

"Uh huh. That." Grinning, Greg found the courage to say, "It just dawned on me that if two male coworkers were in the same predicament, not that I'm saying we are, but hypothetically if we were, an easy way for us to figure out if we both felt the same way about each other would be for us to strip down to our boxer briefs in the rain and see if we pitched tents when we got close. That's how we'd know for sure if we were romantically attracted to one another." He glanced down. "Because hard evidence is undeniable."

After a quick check, Nick smiled at his buddy and tossed his arms in the air. "Mystery solved!"

"Yeah." Greg took a deep breath. "We're here, we're queer, and if you don't kiss me in the next five seconds I'll freaking explode."

With years already wasted due to indecision, Nick didn't squander a second of their post-revelation time. Grabbing Greg, he pressed their bodies together and crushed an urgent, wet kiss over his lips. "How was that?" he asked while cupping Greg's face.

"Perfect. Now do it again." It was hard to believe it was happening after so much time spent wondering if the feeling was mutual, but Nick's sweetly aggressive pace kept Greg fully engaged in the reality of the outrageously steamy moment. He loved everything about the kisses…the alternating brush and bump of Nick's warm, moist lips, his skilled tongue deftly gliding in and out of his hot mouth, and the voracious hunger from years of denial that fueled the smooch.

"Sorry," Nick sweetly apologized, "Now that I've started, I can't stop."

"Uh…who's asking you to stop?" All of Greg's pent-up desire had to come to a head and now that he could freely explore his fantasy man, he couldn't satisfy his cravings and deficits fast enough. "I can't believe this is happening, he rejoiced when they switched to Eskimo kisses. His mouth raw from the passion, he threaded his fingers in Nick's hair and vulnerably asked, "How long have you wanted to…"

"Years," Nick lovingly replied, while gliding his hands over the body that had been the subject of his hottest fantasies. "There were times I thought I'd burst if I had to keep my hands off you. Then after the abduction it turned into more than just physical attraction. " He dipped his fingers under the waistband of Greg's boxer briefs. "What about you? When was the first time you wanted to…"

"The first time we met!" Greg brightened the cloudy day with his glorious smile and spoke from the heart. "You were wearing a worn pair of Levis, a black t-shirt, and a killer smile. You were in and out of my DNA lab fifty times that day and every time I thought you were hotter. After my shift I went home and whacked off in the shower, fantasizing that bottoming for you was a critical part of my new employee training program."

"Ha! Back then I would have backed that program 110 percent," Nick confirmed while dropping kisses anywhere he could reach. "But now I want more than just hot sex with you. If it all works out, and I know it will, I want us to have a white picket fence and retriever." He prayed his best friend felt the same way.

"I'm partial to a girl retriever, what about you?" Greg chuckled as his hopes for a romantic future with his closest friend soared.

Nick joked, "I just want us to have a healthy one." After a shockingly gentle kiss, he huffed, "I'm so pissed that neither of us made a move sooner."

"It's okay. We wasted time, but now we'll appreciate it more. I'm not the same guy I was two years ago. I wasn't ready for a relationship, but now I am" Grinning, Greg slid his hand south and caressed the contents of Nick's pitched tent. "Is this too much too fast?"

Nick shook his head while walking them into the deluxe tent. "It's not nearly enough fast enough."

"Pinch me, so I know I'm not dreaming," Greg laughed.

"I can think of a different way to shock ya." As soon as they tumbled into the tent and hit the ground, Nick yanked Greg's boxer briefs below his hips and dove head first into their first sexual experience.

"Oh! Holy…oh!" Greg's moans of pleasure echoed within the nylon walls. Nick Stokes was consuming him with a ferocity that he only thought possible in his wildest fantasies, but today it was real and happening to him…in the woods…in the rain…with his best friend. It was perfect.

As the minutes passed and the passion built, it became abundantly clear to Nick that the romantically-challenged geek before him hadn't been on the receiving end of anything wonderful in quite some time. The knowledge had him pouring his heart and soul into the moment.

Tears of joy and satisfaction popped out from the corners of Greg's clenched eyes. "So good, Tex…" After the coffin horror, he suspected it was love that he felt for his friend, but now as he reached a crescendo of previously unmatched proportions, he knew for a fact that he would love Nick Stokes with all his heart from now until the day he died…and then he'd sing his praises to anyone who would listen in the afterlife.

"You okay?" Nick sweetly asked as he peered over Greg's belly button and heaving chest. "You're breathin' awful hard, G." He flashed his million-watt smile, "Are you out of shape or has it been that long…or am I that good?"

"All of the above," Greg squeaked before crashing back into the pile of duffle bags in the tent. "Did that really happen? Or did I slip in the mud and hit my head on a log or something?" He pushed out a breath. "The realization, the kissing, the hummer…it was all just a little too good to be real."

"Does the DNA expert need some evidence?" Nick joked as he worked his way north. "Kiss me," he urged, tugging on Greg's bottom lip with his. "Believe it now?"

After a second painstakingly slow, deliciously wet smooch, Greg burst into a giddy grin. "It really happened, and it was so perfect that I'm wishing I took care of you first." Sliding on top of his best friend turned lover, he sheepishly admitted, "It's been a while since I was with anyone."

"What about your 'imaginary friends with benefits'?" Nick teased, always loving a little humor between the sheets. "Please don't worry." He tenderly caressed his anxious lover's cheek. "I'm easy to please and I'm head over heels. Just…" He shivered from the first brush of Greg's lips. "Yeah." He reached out to gently run his fingers through his damp hair. "Perfect." He slowed his breathing. "It…you're perfect." He wanted to make sure there wasn't a doubt in his lover's mind. "Perfect..." In no time he crashing over the edge, thrilled by the act and the knowledge that his life was taking off in a new, beautiful direction.

"It was just like riding a bike," Greg joked in the afterglow.

"How long has it been since you rode a bike, G?" Nick inquired as his mate burrowed into his arms.

Feeling safe and secure, Greg opened up, "I haven't gotten within two feet of another person since the beating…and my last date was like 6 months before that, but she hated me by dessert, so I didn't get any sugar," Greg's laugh approached a giddy giggle. "I fooled around with an old friend when I was visiting my parents about a year and half ago. He and I kind of have this deal to toot each other's horns when we see each other if we're single…which we always are – he's a gay geek." He glanced up. "I'm bisexual, in case you didn't guess that just now. What about you?"

"Girls are okay when I'm feelin' needy and can't leave town." Propping up on an elbow, Nick faced his best friend/lover. "I much prefer men, but until today I've never been with a guy in the state of Nevada. Everybody is 1 degree of separation from someone in this state. I didn't want to risk bein' found out, y'know. I moved here because I couldn't risk anything in Dallas, but then I was afraid for my job and what my friends would think…like 'Rick. I can't imagine him knowing."

"Me either."

"I'd tell you guys I was goin' camping or to see family, but…"

"Booty call road trips?"

"Exactly." Nick clarified, "I was always responsible though. I'm squeaky clean."

The news came as a relief. "Me too."

Nick mindlessly caressed his lover's arm. "I was goin' to Palm Springs a lot, but after the abduction…" He quietly shared, "Honestly, I haven't been with anyone since my ordeal. I just couldn't trust anyone or be that vulnerable with someone, especially someone I didn't know very well." His smile lit the tent. "I've been givin' it up to my hand and thinkin' of you."

"That's a Hallmark greeting if I ever heard one." Greg snickered, "From Hallmark's After Dark collection."

They shared a laugh as rain fell on the tent.

Still buzzing from the day's unexpected events, Greg confessed, "Since we're being brutally honest…what we just shared was hands down the hottest experience I've ever had by a mile, including the ones I paid for at Nevada's finest whorehouse. It was the most meaningful too. I'm not much of a top, by the way, but I have a hunch that'll be good news to you."

"Yeah." A fresh blush on his cheeks, Nick chuckled, "God, this is so weird – we're sexual strangers, but the best of friends. We've known each other for 7 years, G, I know so much about you, but suddenly there's a lot I don't know."

Greg laughed, "Five hours ago we were dressed and collecting DNA, now we're naked and exchanging DNA…not that I mind. For the record, I'm thrilled. But it's so freaking weird!"

"I hear ya. It's surreal."

"Very!" Greg laughed. "So, what are we now? Friends with benefits? Friends and lovers? Boyfriends? What? How serious is this?" With wide eyes he pleaded, "Please say it's serious or will be."

"I want it to be serious,. Hell, I'm hopin' it gets very serious," Nick replied without hesitation. "As I see it we have the toughest part behind us…we're already best friends. The rest is just icing on the cake."

"I think so too."

"Hey, that reminds me…isn't your birthday comin' up, G?"

"Yeah," Greg chuckled, "But you just gave me exactly what I needed, so don't sweat the gift."

"No way, I'm still gettin' ya somethin' special." When he yawned, Nick immediately apologized, "Sorry. I'm beat from work and the anxiety over whether or not this was gonna finally happen."

"Me too."

"Is knowing I want it to be serious enough for now? Or do you need to talk more before you can relax and..."

"I'm good." Greg grabbed a sleeping bag and a blanket. "Here…let's put one under and one over." Once the bedding was settled, he burrowed into Nick's strong arms, and said, "Just so you know…sometimes I have nightmares."

"Me too."

"Okay then, I'll be honest…I usually have nightmares."

"Me too." Nick strengthened his embrace and closed his eyes. "But I have a feeling things are gonna get better for both of us."

"Yeah." His eyes fluttering closed, Greg whispered, "Me too."


AN:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Nerrianah!!!! I hope you liked it and hopefully it made a few other people happy too :D

Now it's back to my 'day job' – The Day Before You.

Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts,
Maggs

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