Real/ize part 1 - It Must be Love - by Sara's Girl
AN - Part 1 in a series of themed one-shots, I hope. Reviews are much, much appreciated.
I don't own Nick or Greg, or anyone at CSI, other than Karis, who belongs to me...
I can't decide if I love Karis or hate her…I was channelling John C McGinley a little when I was writing her, that may or may not be obvious ;)
Something was missing. Nick knew that something was missing, he could feel it. He looked around the break room as he poured his coffee, as though he might find it pinned against the wall or carelessly dropped under the table. He did it though, knowing that the missing was not a physical object. It was this…feeling, this odd sensation low down in his belly that he could not resolve. A gap, and a twinge.
Ever since he had started working swing shift, he couldn't shake it. It felt seriously weird working during daylight hours, but that wasn't it. Having Catherine as his boss; that would take some getting used to, but he knew he would in time. That wasn't it either.
Nick leaned against the table and sipped his coffee, pulling a face immediately. This, too, was wrong. Because no one made coffee like Greg did. Something about that thought pulled at Nick and he frowned against it, shifting his weight slightly and lowering the cup. It was a loss, sure, but even he didn't like coffee that much. Not like Greg.
It felt quiet around the lab without him.
Nick shook his head and gulped down the rest of the coffee with some effort. He needed the caffeine, regardless of the taste. His sleeping pattern had not yet adjusted to the shift change. He supposed he missed them all, really. He would never say so, but it was true.
He missed Sara's seriousness, her unwavering focus on a case that bordered on the obsessive, the way she could – with the right words and a well-timed joke – be shaken out of it and persuaded to smile. Nick enjoyed making her smile because it was a challenge, and because the result was so rewarding. It could light up a whole room.
He missed Grissom too, even though missing Grissom was a strange idea to get his head around. The man was so detached, so dispassionate, not like Nick at all. Nick wondered if Grissom had ever missed anyone. Thought he probably did care, in his own way, and there was no denying what the older man had taught him over the years. He even – and he never thought he would say this – even missed the man's endless quoting of famous literature. For every crime scene, a quote, from Shakespeare or Hemingway or Poe.
And Greg. Nick supposed he missed Greg, too. The place seemed somewhat lacklustre without him. Suddenly feeling sick, Nick turned and stared accusingly at the coffee pot, which only steamed gently in response. He placed his cup in the sink and stalked out of the room.
He had results to collect, but as he moved through the corridors, he found himself struggling to remember what they were, or where he needed to get them from. His feet seemed to be carrying him along at cross purposes to his own will, along a well-worn path. He was standing outside the door with one hand on the glass before his mind started to flicker into action again.
That was it. He needed to know if the victim had drugs in her system. He needed to go to Tox. And yet. Here he was, standing outside the DNA lab. Nick frowned again and rubbed the back of his neck distractedly. He stared through the glass dumbly, dark eyes unexpectedly meeting the sharp green ones of the swing shift tech. She lifted an eyebrow inquiringly. The feeling of something being missing was intensified ten times over just by standing here. Not that it made any sense.
Telling himself firmly that he did not need any DNA results, Nick instructed his feet to move; and move in the direction of the Tox lab. His body was clearly not in the mood for instruction, however, as all of five seconds later he found himself standing inside DNA, facing the swing tech over the glass counter and realizing with mounting horror that he had nothing useful or constructive to offer in the way of conversation.
The dark-haired tech regarded him impassively for a moment or two, apparently unperturbed, before picking up her pipette and resuming her work. Nick watched her, for want of anything better to do while he waited and hoped for normal service to resume in his head. Observed the way her curly black hair escaped messily from the clasp she had tried to contain it in. Listened to the soft scratch of stiff lab coat fabric as she moved. Realized he did not even know her name.
"What can I do for you, Nick Stokes?" She asked eventually, not looking up from her work. He was surprised, and guilt-ridden that still he could not recall her name but she knew his.
"You know my name." Stating the obvious. Good start, Nick.
She raised her eyebrows but still she did not look up.
"Yes, well, you CSIs will walk around with it stitched on your clothes. Just like your mom used to do with your school stuff, huh? I notice things."
Nick frowned, yet again, looking down stupidly at his black t-shirt.
"I know you're not wearing it right now," she snarked. "But I do have something we lab rats like to call a brain. Jeez, I thought you had to be smart to be a CSI."
Nick took an instinctive step backwards at her hostile tone and raised his hands in a placating gesture.
"Greg would never speak to me like that," he muttered darkly, more to himself than anyone else.
Greg always had a smile for him. Greg would never imply he was stupid, even in jest.
To Nick's surprise, his half-whispered remark made the cranky tech look up and smile. It was a smug, knowing smile, and her green eyes glittered.
"Sanders? Well no…of course he wouldn't," she murmured.
Placed the last test-tube back in the holder. Turned to her computer keyboard, fingers sliding deftly and throwing a soft tap-tap-tapping into the silence.
Nick just stared at her, completely baffled by her remark, and the smirk with which it was delivered. What the hell did she mean by that? After a minute's silence, though, the tech's smile faded and she looked exasperated once more.
"Seriously, dude, is there something I can help you with? Because I got stuff to do, you know?" She gestured toward a pile of evidence bags with a flick of a gloved hand.
Nick shook himself, hoping to kickstart his dazed brain, and stepped backwards toward the door.
"Ah, no, not really," he admitted, still backing up slowly. "Sorry to have…ah…disturbed you. I'm looking for something. I think I'll just – "
He pointed vaguely down the corridor and fled the lab as fast as he could. His pace increased by the knowledge that the tech was watching his progress all the way down the corridor until he was out of sight.
X X X X X X
Nick thought about his exchange with the DNA tech on and off for the remainder of the shift. He had a case, a convenience store robbery gone bad; and he worked the scene with Warrick with almost all of his usual focus. But there were some tasks that, after doing the job as long as he had, allowed him to run on comfortable autopilot and that was when his thoughts drifted back to the DNA lab. Again and again. He crouched on the dirty tiled floor of the run-down store, ignoring the stretch along the back of his thighs from staying in position for too long. Smoothed the print tape along the bottom shelf with sure fingers, idly watching the edges flatten against the moulded plastic. Thinking. It was as though she knew something he did not.
And anyway, who speaks to someone like that on first meeting? Nick knew that he had high standards when it came to politeness, his mother had instilled in him the importance of manners at a very early age, but even so. He shook his head, holding his breath for a moment as he carefully lifted the tape and held it up to the light to examine it.
One good print and three partials. Great. He hummed with satisfaction and fixed the tape to the card, storing it away. It was the way her face changed when he mentioned Greg, he thought. He hadn't meant to mention Greg at all, and certainly had not meant for her to hear it. Nick sighed heavily, sitting back on his heels and watching Warrick lean over the counter with his camera.
Something was still missing. He wished he knew what it was.
By the end of the shift, Nick had decided firmly that the green-eyed DNA tech, whatever her name was, was a very strange individual indeed and that best practice was going to be avoidance. Aside from the fact that she made him feel uncomfortable, he was embarrassed by the way he had acted. It was not like him at all to be lost for words. He did not know what it was, then, at the start of the next shift, that compelled him to make two cups of coffee instead of one. He added milk to the second one, but not sugar, playing on the safe side. Picked up both cups and headed for DNA, pushing the heavy glass door open with some effort using only his hip.
He felt it again, straightaway, and with such force he had to tighten his grip on the cups to keep from sloshing coffee out onto the floor. Maybe it was her. Did he find her attractive? Nick stared at her again for long seconds, eyes travelling over the unruly hair, dark blue lab coat a little too big for her small frame, deft, slender, gloved fingers. She was pretty, sure, in a disorganised kind of way, but he didn't think that was it.
Telling himself firmly to stop over-analysing, Nick moved to set one of the cups down carefully.
She had not even glanced up to acknowledge him until this point, and the sudden harsh volume of her voice rent the small space and made Nick jump, in spite of himself. He froze, sliding nervous eyes to hers. Tried to remember, vainly, why he had decided to walk voluntarily back into the lion's den.
"Do you know how much that GCMS cost? No...I don't suppose you do, Mr CSI." She rolled her eyes and motioned impatiently for Nick to move to the other side of the lab. "Ok, so if we can keep all hot liquids away from the expensive equipment, that would be just great."
Nick stood very still for a second or two, mouth slightly open. Cups held out in front of him, inches from the tabletop. What was this woman's problem? And more to the point, why was he allowing it to become his problem?
"Tell you what, Nicole. Just pass it here." She smiled with one corner of her mouth and held out a hand.
She did not reply as she accepted the cup and breathed in the steam deeply. Nick's mind was racing as he set his own cup down on the counter and faced her over it.
"Nicole?" He repeated, knowing there was an edge to his voice.
"It suits you," she replied, shrugging, as if that were the end of the matter. "This coffee sucks."
Once more, Nick seemed to be lost for words. He cast around in his head for some sort of appropriate response to being called a girl's name and having his coffee insulted – the coffee he had made for her out of pure goodwill – but came up with nothing. Only that feeling of loss, again intensified, clawing uncomfortably at his insides. When he did speak, at last, he was horrified to realize too late that he was apologising.
"Sorry. You're right, it's disgusting. What we need is Greg's coffee, but he's not in for hours yet."
And there was that twinge again, that ache. But he felt himself smiling too, the unconscious movement of his facial muscles serving only to confuse him further. The tech caught his smile and responded with a smirk of her own. She turned away for a split second and tapped something into her keyboard before returning her eyes to him. They seemed to pin him right to the spot, and Nick squirmed uncomfortably under her scrutiny.
"Greg's coffee. Sure. And by the by, my name is Karis. K-A-R-I-S. I realize you didn't ask, but I figured you could use a little help with your manners."
Nick was stunned. His manners? His?
"You don't say much, do you Nicolette?" She grimaced as she took a sip of what was, admittedly, brown sludge. "Maybe you're the strong, silent type, huh? Ok. Now run along, I'm sure you got important CSI stuff to do, who knows..." she laughed harshly and set the cup down. " Someone might have come back to life while you were standing here."
"Right. Karis. Sure," Nick mumbled as he turned and walked slowly out of the lab and down the corridor, looking for someone, anyone, who would speak to him like a normal person.
He felt twisted inside and he did not think it was all to do with the way Karis was treating him. After all, it didn't really matter what she thought. He hated how everything felt different since the shift change. How when he walked through these halls, the faces were, for the most part, unfamiliar. He had worked enough double and triple shifts to recognise most of them, but it wasn't the same.
It was silly, but he ached to sit at the break room table with Sara and Greg, laughing or eating lunch, or batting theories back and forth. He was full of admiration for the amount of energy Greg had for making fun of Sara, or himself, even though he was effectively working both in the field and in the lab. Trying to hard to prove himself. He always had a smile for me, Nick thought as he threw himself down into an empty chair. Not like some people.
Something unidentifiable crept through him as he sat there, something warm. Something that seemed to wrap around the ache inside him and smooth it over, just for a second. He registered, with surprise, that he was smiling, before the smile slipped from his face and the dull feeling returned. Weird. He had only been thinking of Greg.
X X X X X X
"Well, good evening, Nikita," sang Karis as the door clicked shut behind Nick.
She had her back to the door, but Nick was somehow less than surprised that she knew it was him. When he had started the walk towards DNA on the third evening, he had stopped trying to fight it. Maybe it was a distraction, not that he had any particularly bad cases at the moment, but even so. He had always found his distraction in the DNA lab, listening to Greg talk about anything from his bizarre sexual predilections to his frankly enormous and diverse collection of interests, some of which Nick often suspected were made up on the spur of the moment to impress. He realized now that he never minded that, he just liked to listen to Greg talk.
A none-too-subtle cough shook Nick out of his reminiscence and he handed Karis the cup that he had neglected to notice was burning his hand. There was something else he had failed to notice, too. Karis was playing music. The lab had been silent during his two previous visits, and he was mildly surprised, having assumed she preferred to work in silence, unlike Greg, who liked his music loud and unrelenting.
Nick was even more surprised when he listened for a moment and recognised the song.
"You like the Beach Boys? That's...interesting."
He smiled at her over the top of his coffee cup, reminded once more that he should not judge by appearances. He would have imagined the cool, acerbic Karis listening to something pretentious or darkly classical. Not happy, jangly songs about girls and surfing.
"Yeees..." she replied, a warning note evident in her voice, before she changed tack abruptly and shrugged. "I'm a California girl."
"Greg's from California," said Nick, before he had time to formulate a more intelligent response.
What Greg had to do with this, he had no idea, but Karis was laughing.
"He sure is, Nanette." And again with the typing. She hit return and leaned on the counter, facing Nick. Her green eyes were positively gleaming. "Where would we be, without your razor sharp powers of observation? Honestly, I shudder to even imagine."
Nick felt suddenly exposed, as though she could see through him, through all of his protective layers down to his very core. Reflexively, he crossed his arms over his chest.
"What part of California?" He asked, just to say something. Noticed his accent came out a little more pronounced that usual, a sure sign to anyone who knew him that he was feeling defensive.
"I could ask you the same question, Nina."
"I've been here years," Nick shot back, having no idea why it mattered. Karis only smirked and shook her head, allowing dark curls to flick over her shoulder.
"What makes you think I haven't? You're the one that's new on this shift, not me."
He hadn't thought of that, and not for the first time within these walls, he felt stupid.
"I never saw you before," he offered weakly, knowing it was no excuse. Maybe it was true what she said about CSIs.
"Come on now, Noreen, pull yourself together. It's not my fault if you can't notice what's right in front of your damn nose."
Nick sighed and turned to leave. He hated swing shift, it was official.
"And I don't mean me," called Karis, her voice floating out to him just before the door swung shut.
X X X X X X
This time, Nick did everything he could not to think about what Karis had said. It seemed like her words were cutting closer and closer to a truth he was not quite ready for. The missing. Fortunately, it was a heavy shift and Nick needed all of his concentration for the evidence. He was concentrating so hard, in fact, that he did not notice Greg until he was almost on top of him. Nick did not see the younger man, but felt his warm breath on the back of his neck as he leaned over the table in the layout room, poring over a stained check blanket.
Nick closed his eyes briefly, feeling the rush in his stomach. The shock. He hated being crept up on, and Greg knew that – he hated it too.
"How about you back up a little there, Greggo? What are you doing here, anyway? Your shift doesn't start for over an hour."
Nick turned around, noting with satisfaction that Greg had taken several steps backward. He realised he had not set eyes on his young co-worker for well over a week, not even to talk to as one started work and the other finished. He took in the same old grin, the warm dark eyes, the toned-down spikes of dirty blond hair. Long limbs, languid posture, baggy jeans and dark fitted t-shirt. Everything was the same, and the familiarity flooded Nick with something like relief.
It seemed like everything was new worlds of surreal on swing shift, and the sight of Greg looking so, well, Greg, was heartening. Nick was smiling, and he did not want to stop.
"I'm a busy man, Nick, things to do, you know? Got to keep the game up…and plus, I kind of need the overtime." Greg's grin turned rueful, lopsided. "They weren't kidding about the pay cut."
"It's good to see you," Nick replied, patting Greg on the shoulder. He felt warm.
"You too, man."
Nick wished he had more control over his mouth, because by rights he should have just smiled and left it at that. They were guys, and guys did not doing mushy stuff, even if they were really good friends. Instead, what he said was:
"I miss you...um...what I mean is, I miss you all, you know, night shift. Sara, and Gris – well mainly Sara. Tell her I said hi."
Nick closed his mouth and patted Greg on the arm one more time before making a swift exit from the room leaving a confused former lab tech behind. He headed for DNA, with a quick detour via the break room for coffee, as he knew he would. He was still smiling as he pushed the door open and held one cup out, no longer risking looking for a spot to put it that Karis would approve of.
"Oh good grief, Norah, if you could see the look on your face."
She pushed an errant curl from her eyes with the tip of her little finger, holding the rest of her gloved digits clear of her face. Nick was puzzled. He tried to look serious.
"Yes," she continued with a sigh. "I've seen him too."
"Sanders, as if you don't know. He was in here about five minutes ago trying to tell me I was listening to the devils' music."
"He used to say that about the Johnny Cash CD in my car," offered Nick, not really aware of Karis any more, just lost in the flash of memory, Greg sitting in the passenger seat of his car, one finger on the eject button, an exaggerated grimace on his face, the other hand clamped to his ear in mock pain. They were driving to a scene, and Greg had somehow managed to berate him about that one CD all the way there.
"Out," instructed Karis, taking the cup and pointing at the door. "I have far too much to do to hold your hand while you tread the line between reason and insanity. Let's face it, we both know which side you're going to come down on."
Nick did as he was bid, and smiled on and off for the last hour of his shift. He smiled all the way home, too.
X X X X X X
The next shift, Nick did not take coffee with him when he visited the DNA lab. This was not a social call, he actually had results to collect from Karis. Not that he supposed the other visits were strictly social, either. He took her bad coffee, and she verbally abused him. It was a strange trade-off, Nick decided, but he was still trying not to overthink things.
"The DNA under her fingernails is her own," said Karis, her tone efficient as she proffered a printout.
"That's strange," Nick replied, almost thinking out loud, remembering a similar case a few years ago. Greg was eating noodles that day, though he had no idea why he would recall something like that. "A couple of years ago, Greg and I had this case where –"
Nick closed his mouth abruptly at the look on Karis' face. It chilled him. She spoke.
"Ok, that's it. That is the absolute limit. I point blank refuse to keep my mouth shut another second longer."
"Keep your...mouth shut? What? You?"
"I've been reserved, Natalie, I really have. Believe me." She tapped at her keyboard again. "So here's the thing. I've had a little...let's say down time...this week. That, combined with the fact that you seem to have been drawn in here like the proverbial moth to the proverbial flame led me to put together a little visual...a presentation, if you will."
"I kind of miss presentations," Nick mused, "Greg used to – "
"That's it – right there! You just can't help it, can you?" Karis spun her monitor around with one hand so that it faced Nick. He regarded it, frowning. The screen was flooded with colours and lines, a page full of graphs, charts and numbers. He squinted to see the words, but it did not matter because clearly he was going to get a full walk-through.
"So. Here's one that shows how long it takes you to mention him from when you walk through the door." She pointed with her pen.
"Here's one for how many times you mention him, per visit and per day." Green eyes flicked briefly to Nick's, then back.
"This one is for how often you get a soppy ass smile on your face when you talk about him. That's currently standing at 100. Well done there, very consistent."
She almost smiled, then, resting one hand on top of the monitor and tapping on the screen. Nick was stunned, and said nothing.
"And this one here, well, it's not very scientific, but I think it gets my point across. I like to call it 'How dumb is my CSI guy for not knowing he's in love with Greg Sanders?"
"You scored a ten, right there, Nadine."
Karis smiled then, and it was a smile Nick had not previously witnessed. Not a smirk, or a grimace, or even the sardonic lift of one corner of her mouth that was almost a smile. This smile exposed both rows of small, straight teeth and crinkled the corners of mocking green eyes, softening them. She looked warm. Just for a moment, too quick for Nick to even smile back, before the cool mask dropped once more over her features.
Nick stood, dumbstruck, as Karis pulled her monitor back around, snapped on a pair of gloves and started into a fresh pile of samples. She was ignoring Nick as she normally did, giving no sign that she had just given him the verbal equivalent of a punch to the stomach, other than the soft, contented humming that Nick heard escaping from between her pursed lips.
Because that was ridiculous. He wasn't in love with Greg. Greg was a guy. A man. He was...Greg. Nick felt that strange warmth rising in his gut once more and he pushed it down. Karis was way out of line. She didn't even know him, not really. And yet he got this feeling, when she looked at him, that she could see every secret he had ever kept.
Maybe the ones you keep from yourself, too, suggested the little voice in his head. Nick hated that little voice. It was the one that said things that made him uncomfortable, the one he could not quiet. The one that made him feel like he was missing something. That voice had wanted to talk about Greg quite a lot recently. What Nick had not realized, however, was that this treacherous voice was somehow escaping his lips for those in the real world to hear. Namely Karis, it turned out. Damn.
Nick sat down heavily on the locker room bench, then jumped, startled to realize where he was. He did not remember leaving the DNA lab. Or even how he got here. No doubt Karis would truly believe he had lost his mind now. God damn Karis. Everything was fine before he spoke to her. Perfectly fine. Ok, a little weird, but fine. He didn't have almost total strangers calling him girls' names and telling him he was in love with male co-workers.
Allowing a long, low groan to escape, Nick dropped his head into his hands, resting elbows on his knees.
What was she trying to do to him? Love Greg. In love with Greg. He shivered, but it was not an unpleasant sensation.
What was love, anyway?
Nick knew that seeing Greg made him smile. Knew that he liked to have him around. In fact, knew that it hurt not to have him around. Things felt immeasurably better when Greg was near him…the nearer the better. He knew how much he touched the younger man, even if most of the time he shrugged it off as normal guy's stuff, or better still, did not think of it at all.
He knew that he loved the sound of Greg's voice, his laughter. His funny, mocking asides and his outrageous stories. Nick knew that he admired Greg's drive, his determination, his relentless good humour in the face of difficulty. Nick knew, and paid attention to, what Greg liked and disliked. He didn't think he could even take a stab at what Warrick's favourite song or food was, but he knew all about Greg, information stored away somewhere within him, just in case.
All this he knew. And there was still more, that he thought he might know. He thought he liked Greg's dark eyes fixed on him as he worked – he missed that. He thought that his fingers itched when Greg wore short sleeves because actually, they wanted to reach out and stroke that soft pale skin. God.
But still, Nick could not be sure. There was no getting away from the simple fact that, well…come on, Nick, he urged himself. You can think it.
"I am, yeah, but thanks for straightening that out."
Nick's head shot up at the sound of his voice, his momentary embarrassment dissolved as he saw Greg, lounging against the lockers, a small smile of amusement curving his lips. And Nick was looking at those lips. At his hair, slightly askew. Wanting to touch. And…fuck. Yes. Fucking Karis.
Greg was staring at him now, mouth slightly open, silent. The tip of his tongue flicked out and ran over his lower lip nervously.
"Um...you ok Nick?"
He took a deep breath, knowing that the raw newness of this feeling meant he could not lie to Greg.
"Yeah. Apparently...apparently, I love you."
Greg pushed himself off from the lockers and sat down next to Nick. Did not say anything for a long time.
"Is that a problem?" He asked eventually; so softly, uncharacteristically gentle. Nick ached and shuddered, suddenly wanting to be touched, knowing it was exactly what he needed to soothe the ache away. Knowing that now.
His heart was racing at the nearness, the warm, rich smell of Greg. It was intoxicating.
"I don't know," Nick said honestly. "I wasn't expecting it."
"Ok," ventured Greg. "Well, sometimes unexpected is good. I kind of like surprises. I'm surprised right now, actually, and I like it very much."
Nick looked up, straight into Greg's dark eyes, a jolt of electricity carving down his spine. His eyes are spectacular, he thought. He had noticed them, he knew that now. He had just failed to notice that he was noticing them. So open and sparkling with something new. Excitement, hope. Tentative, but unmistakeable. And the smile...god. Sara's smile was something, it really was, but Greg's smile could light the darkest space.
Finally hearing the other man's words, Nick forced himself to focus, though he wanted to let the room swirl around him as it was trying to do.
"You like me, Greg?" Disbelief shot through every word.
Greg said nothing then, just continued to smile and reached out, threading strong, warm fingers through Nick's and holding on tightly. Nick looked down at their joined hands and sighed with relief. He had known somehow, that he needed the touch, just not quite how much.
"Yeah, I like you. Glad to see you finally got with the program."
Greg laughed and Nick realised, not for the first time, how much he loved that sound. And Greg was leaning forward. Greg's free hand was on his face, the other one still gripping his firmly. He felt Greg's thumb stroke his cheekbone lightly and shivered. So close now.
Surely he couldn't want this. His thoughts still tangled and wrestled as the last seconds closed in. He couldn't want Greg Sanders to kiss him. Not here. Not anywhere. He didn't...but he did, he wanted it. His whole body was crackling with it, the yearning intensified until it became unbearable, with only one solution. At the centre of the ache was Greg, and he needed it. Right now.
He did not know if he had thought the world would somehow implode if his lips touched Greg's, but either way it didn't. That warm feeling he had been pushing away overtook him, coursing through his veins, heating his skin. Greg's lips were soft but firm, unlike anything Nick had experienced before. And, he suspected, nothing would ever feel quite like them again. They fit. Greg did not just allow himself to be kissed, like so many women he had been with. He was energetic, enthusiastic, skilful, his want and need reflected in the way he was urging Nick's lips open with his tongue, gentle pressure, a light flick into his mouth and a careful, slow tracing of the soft, moist flesh.
Nick realised suddenly that he was the one sitting there and being kissed. He gave in at last to his urge to touch, and pulled Greg closer by the tops of his arms. Greg shifted awkwardly, at the wrong angle on the bench, and Nick heard himself groan with frustration. Not wanting to relinquish this delicious connection now he had it. Greg clearly had other ideas, and without breaking the kiss for a second, was twisting and climbing over him, straddling his lap and threading fingers into his hair. Nick thought he might pass out from sensory overload. He kept his eyes squeezed shut but the combination of Greg's smell in his nostrils, Greg's warm, bittersweet taste on his tongue and Greg's steady, shifting pressure in his lap was almost too much. Nick's head was spinning, and all he did know for sure was that he no longer felt like anything was missing.
Greg looked down at Nick as they broke away, eyes clouded with desire. Resting hands heavily on his shoulders and sitting back in the position he had somehow found his way into during the kiss, kneeling on the bench, knees either side of Nick's thighs, pressing him back into the wall.
Both were breathing hard, and Nick fought for each one, knowing that any kind of control right now would be a start. His erection was straining and pushing uncomfortably against his zipper; and he could feel Greg's response hard against his thigh.
"I don't get it," he managed at last. "I don't think I'm..."
"What? Gay?" Greg stage-whispered, arching one eyebrow for dramatic effect.
Nick wondered how Greg seemed to be so in control. Perhaps because he had seen this coming. Perhaps because he was not the one being pinned down.
"You think too much." Greg kissed him again, softer this time. "Let's not worry about that for now."
He pushed Nick back against the wall once more and claimed his lips. Nick gasped, feeling the breath stolen from him but not wanting to break contact, sinking into the kiss and losing himself. He pushed his tangled thoughts into a dark corner and brought his hands up to grip at Greg's hair, trying to pull him closer. But Greg was pulling away, breathing ragged. His eyes wide and dark.
"We have to stop."
"I'm supposed to be working and you're supposed to be at home, that's why."
He breathed out, slowly, deliberately. Allowed reality to settle in around him as Greg slid back onto his feet and opened his locker. Nick watched him for a moment. He did a good impression of calm.
"Right. Maybe I'll take Karis out for a beer. Figure she deserves that much," Nick mused, talking mostly to himself. Standing up and stretching.
"Karis. The DNA tech from swing. She helped me figure out a few things."
"Seriously, Nick, who?" Greg looked confused. Nick wanted, suddenly, to kiss the expression off his face, but right now he was distracted by the matter in hand.
"You know, Karis. Dark hair, green eyes, kinda mean. Calls people by girl's names? Come on Greggo, I thought all you lab rats knew each other. She knows you."
"There's no-one here named Karis, Nick." Greg paused. "Are you feeling ok?"
Nick paled. Thought back over the last week. Greg knew Karis, he had to. But then…she might have said she had spoken to Greg about music, but he had no way of knowing for sure. In fact, had he ever seen Karis speak to anyone but him? He knew he hadn't mentioned her to Warrick or Catherine, he had been too ashamed of them finding out how she spoke to him.
..."You don't say much, do you Nicolette?"...
Something cold traced down his spine. Surely he was not so far gone he was making up lab techs. If he was going crazy...a lot of this would make sense. Greg. Oh, god. If he had somehow–
Nick's train of thought was abruptly cut off by the sound of warm laughter. Greg's.
"Oh, man, you are too easy," Greg gasped, leaning back against the lockers, giggling helplessly. "Karis is great. Although I didn't know how great, until just now. I think we both owe her a beer or ten."
Nick, realising he had been had, coloured and pushed Greg hard away from him, quickly shooting out a hand to grab him before he actually lost his balance.
"But why did she..?"
Greg shrugged. "Knowing Karis, probably just to amuse herself. I'm not complaining."
Nick stepped closer and pinned him against the lockers. His voice low and urgent.
"Kiss me again."
As Greg's lips touched his once more, the missing piece slid into place and locked. Firm. The rest, he could figure out later.