The Observer - By Sara's Girl
AN – I thought it might be fun to have Grissom be the last to know something for a change. This is one of the first Nick/Greg fics I ever wrote and is a re-post from WMTDB.
Reviews are my absolute favourite, so yes please :)
Disclaimer: I don't own nobody, me, promise.
X X X X X
Gil Grissom was an observer. He watched, and he noticed. Nothing got past him. He knew that when he didn't say anything, people assumed that he did not see, but he always did. Standing alone outside the crime lab, zipping up his jacket, he let his eyes wander across the street. Take that woman, sitting in her car. Talking on her cell phone. Grissom watched her lips intently, seeing her words.
"I'm so sorry, darling, yeah…I have to work late again. I'm in the office. Going to be in the boardroom all night, I'm afraid."
She was smiling, despite her words. Grissom's eyes fastened on a letter folded carelessly on the dashboard. Confirming a reservation for a suite at the flashiest hotel in town. She was cradling the phone between her ear and her shoulder, so she could lean forwards to apply lipstick in her rear-view mirror. Grissom didn't need to hear her voice to know that she was probably a good liar, and that the person on the end of the phone believed every word. He shook his head and turned away. He noticed his colleagues too. Noticed how hard Warrick's unexpected marriage had hit Catherine. Said nothing, but noticed. Noticed how sometimes Hodges smiled when he thought no one was watching him. Grissom prided himself on picking up what his team were not saying. Nothing surprised him any more, and most things made him disappointed in the human race.
Tonight, half of the team had the night off, but as usual he was working a double and had stayed far longer than he should. He and Sara had been batting theories back and forth for hours now, examining and re-examining the evidence until it just didn't make sense any more. Sara said she didn't sleep, but even she was beginning to look rough around the edges by hour 25. She had sent Grissom out into the Vegas night to bring back sustenance.
"Feed me, or I go home, Gil," she had said, yawning and stretching. "There's a great little late-night deli just off the strip."
Grissom had elected to walk the short distance. The day had been warm and humid, but now it was growing cold rapidly, the wind whipping up and lifting the silver hairs on the back of his neck. He was looking at his watch – 11pm – and wondering what Sara would want to eat, when he noticed someone out of the corner of his eye.
Standing outside the nearest restaurant was his youngest CSI, Greg Sanders. The restaurant was an expensive-looking, fancy place and was set well back from the road. Grissom almost didn't recognise his employee, he looked so uncharacteristically well-dressed. The hair was just as unruly as usual, but he was wearing a nicely cut black suit with an aqua green dress shirt and smart, sensible shoes. Grissom didn't think he had ever seen Greg in a suit outside of his court appearances, and even then he would protest noisily to anyone who would listen. Tonight, however, he looked comfortable and relaxed. The top button of his shirt was undone, revealing a flash of the silver chain he always wore around his neck.
He was alone, standing just to the left of the door, hands in his pants pockets. The wind stirred up a little and Greg shivered, jumped on the spot a little like an over-energetic puppy, reminding Grissom that Greg in a suit was still Greg. The entomologist was just about to raise a hand in greeting and get the younger man's attention, when he pulled out his cell phone and spoke. In spite of himself, Grissom squinted to follow his conversation.
"Heyyy…are you done, already? You're not impressing anyone by leaving a huge tip, ok?" Greg smiled. "Ahuh…sure…look, just hurry up, I'm getting cold and I need your mouth to warm me up. Hmm…well, for starters anyway. Just be quick, ok?"
Greg snapped the phone shut and grinned, shifting impatiently from one foot to the other. Grissom was drawn in. He was torn between the shame of the accidental voyeur and the curiosity of the scientist who has the chance to add one more observation to his collection. He knew Greg hadn't seen him yet. With characteristic ghost-like stealth, he slid behind a large SUV in the parking lot of the restaurant, near the door, and continued to watch. Despite his dispassionate exterior, Grissom was intrigued by the relationships of others, and he wanted to know who Greg was waiting for with such enthusiasm. He couldn't picture what Greg's unseen partner would look like. He watched the door, unblinking. Would she be like Greg, all attention-seeking colours and patterns and flourishes, or the complete opposite, or would she –
Grissom's train of thought faltered as a very smartly dressed Nick Stokes strode out of the restaurant. The watching man narrowed his eyes and automatically began to flick through scenarios that would fit this unexpected turn. He didn't believe in coincidences.
Then it all happened so fast. Nick turned, and his eyes locked on Greg. Walked towards him, slipping off his long, heavy wool coat as he moved.
"Sorry I took so long," he murmured. Grissom was lip-reading intently now with growing astonishment. Nick wrapped the coat around Greg's shoulders, using the movement to pull him close to his chest. Greg's smile was dazzling.
Grissom's mouth dropped open a fraction.
"Hmm…you're forgiven, I think," Greg whispered. He leaned forward and kissed Nick, hard. Nick laughed into his mouth and kissed him back, wrapping strong arms around Greg and the coat, which was far too big for the younger man.
They did not separate for quite some time, and Grissom began to worry that they would be starved of oxygen. Finally, they pulled apart, Nick spinning Greg around on the spot with a high-spiritedness that the supervisor had never before seen in his usually calm and stable employee.
"Happy anniversary, Greggo," said Nick, his left hand moving to caress Greg's face as he spoke.
Grissom didn't catch Greg's response because his attention was caught by a sudden, brief glint of silver as the restaurant's outdoor lighting reflected off Nick's hand. Grissom, curiosity piqued, leaned forward and pushed his glasses further up his nose. Was he mistaken or was Nicky wearing a ring on his third finger?
Grissom was staring now, barely seeing the two men kiss again, still standing so close that they might be one person. He stared at the plain silver band. The ring that exactly matched the one hanging from the chain that never left Greg's neck. The one that he would tuck into his shirts at work but that sometimes fell out as he leaned or stretched. It had meant nothing before, and Grissom had seen it a hundred times or more. But now? The picture, finally, was crashing into place. How was this possible? He had never seen Nick wearing a ring like this before, not ever. He noticed things like that. Didn't he? And yet, as he watched them, things started to make sense.
Their working relationship was professional and efficient; especially these last couple of years, to the point where it had actually lacked warmth. Witnessing this intimate moment between the two colleagues, Grissom realised that their brief, economical exchanges in the lab and in the field were the result of overcompensation, not indifference. He cast his mind back to the lab explosion when Greg was injured. He had never seen Nick at the hospital and had assumed that he was unconcerned, had surmised that perhaps the two men just weren't that close. On re-evaluation, he realised that Nick's constantly dark-ringed eyes and slightly sharp manner at that time were more than likely results of night after night spent in a plastic chair by Greg's bedside, not the heavy caseload he attributed it to when pushed.
He thought about how when Nick was kidnapped and imprisoned underground, Greg's reaction had been the most muted out of all the CSIs. It was like there was nothing there; his usually bright eyes were dull and empty. The expression of pain on his face as Catherine and Warrick had climbed into the ambulance with Nick and left him behind should have been telling. Grissom recalled the day after Nick had been discharged from hospital, which found a white-faced Greg Sanders standing in his office. Asking for a week's personal leave to go to California because someone in his family was in a bad way. It was obvious. How had he not realised that that person was Nick? The agonised relief on his face when Grissom had agreed. Of course, he had taken Nick away from everything, somewhere safe. When they had returned, a couple of days apart, Nick had looked tanned and almost back to normal, and Greg…that was when Greg had started wearing that silver chain around his neck and had never taken it off. Grissom rubbed his eyes and exhaled sharply with disbelief. How had he been so blind to them?
Dozens of exchanged glances, snap reactions and unmistakeable displays of emotion, missed. They flicked through Grissom's photographic memory like a slide show.
Nick's look of absolute delight and pride when Greg made CSI.
Greg's contempt and barely concealed jealousy when he saw the napkin with the phone number and lipstick on it, given to Nick at the case at the wedding.
The way they were looking at each other now, Grissom raised his eyes to see them once more, still standing in right outside the restaurant, completely lost in each other. How had he missed it?
Lost in his thoughts, Grissom suddenly realised that the two men were moving and were headed right for him. He glanced around and looked for an escape route. He knew they would be horrified to know that he had witnessed their private moment, and he was beginning to feel a little guilty. They were only about 20 feet away from him now, but looking not at him, but at each other as they walked. Greg was laughing, Nick's arm slung carelessly around his waist, grinning, clearly caught in some private joke. Grissom seized his moment. He turned, straightened up and started to walk away all in one swift movement, taking long strides to put distance between himself and the pair before he was seen.
When he judged that he was at a safe distance, Grissom stopped and dialled a familiar number.
"Sara, it's me."
"Gris? Where are you? Don't tell me the deli's closed…I was really looking forward to a really big avocado and veggie meatball sub." Grissom could almost hear her pouting.
"Avocado and meatball? Really? That's – never mind that, I need to ask you something."
"Ask me what? I can guarantee that anything you ask will be much better received if it's asked with a sandwich," Sara pointed out, hopefully.
"You'll get your sandwich, never fear. It's about Nick and Greg."
"You found out, huh? It was about time."
Grissom was stunned. Sara knew? Who else knew? His brow furrowed, he removed his glasses and turned them over and over in his hand.
Sara laughed. "Everyone knows, Grissom. Everyone except you." Hearing her supervisor's sigh at the end of the phone, she continued, trying to hide her amusement at his obvious disappointment at being the last to know. "I found out before they, um, went to California. Greg told me. The others…well, it was kind of obvious to anyone who didn't have their head shoved down a microscope all the time." The last sentence she said softly, hoping not to offend with the bluntness of her words.
"Sara, how did I miss this?" The words just kept coming back to him, haunting him. He noticed everything. Nothing surprised him. Ever.
"They were worried about their jobs, Gris. That you might move one of them to another shift. It's nothing personal," Sara tried to placate him, knowing how he hated to miss anything. "Go get me that sandwich, come back to the lab, and I'll tell you all about it."
Grissom walked toward the brightly lit deli, slipping his phone into his jacket pocket. Thinking. Re-evaluating. Learning, always. Nick and Greg. Greg and Nick. He slid the puzzle pieces into place, surprised at how neatly they fit, like they had always been meant to. Clearly, his observation skills needed some work, but he was nothing if not hard-working.
X X X X X
Back at their apartment, Greg and Nick were taking off shoes and coats, not bothering to turn on the lights as they both knew the bedroom was the inevitable next stop. Greg ran his hands down Nick's back and pulled gently at his shirt, tugging it out of his waistband, fingers connecting with the warm skin underneath, making Nick gasp. He turned to face Greg.
"Don't you go touching me with your cold-ass fingers." His southern accent was honeyed and a crooked smile played on his lips.
"Oh really? What would you like me to touch you with?" Greg arched an eyebrow.
"Come here and I'll show you." He pulled Greg to him roughly and kissed him, hard at first, then slower, softer, holding back a little. He pulled away, eventually. Looked into Greg's anxious eyes.
"Nothing's wrong. I just wanted to tell you again, how much I love you. And how happy I am that you're with me tonight."
Greg eyes were shining and he laughed softly.
"Where else would I be, Nicky? It's our first anniversary," he replied, unconsciously touching the ring around his neck, running the delicate chain through slender fingers. "I love you too."
"You know what I mean. By the way, I think it's time Grissom knew. Now come to bed with me, ok?" He pulled Greg by the hand, eyeing him meaningfully.
"Ewwww….please don't say Grissom and bed in the same sentence! That's seriously gross, Nicky."
Nick laughed and pushed Greg down onto the bed. "What are you going to do?"
Greg was already unbuckling his belt. "I have an idea."