AN – this is totally unconnected to the 'oneshot of doom' that I'm in the middle of writing. It's just something that crept into my head last night and refused to leave.
My first and probably only entanglement with the whole For Warrick unpleasantness.
Essentially, just a series of moments, set during that episode, from Greg's point of view. Slashy. Inspired by 'Hanging by a Moment' by Lifehouse.
Reviews are loved so, so much. Yes please, and thank you :)
For Jennifer, who loves this song, and now so do I.
You don't keep me waiting. I don't know if I expected that you would. Everyone knows you're painfully, almost pathologically punctual, but I think the fact that today is your best friend's funeral gives you licence to be out of character. But no. It's 9.59am when you step out onto the sidewalk. I said I'd pick you up at ten. For the funeral. Warrick's funeral. Not that those exact words have passed between us. 'I'll give you a ride tomorrow,' I'd said. You just nodded and thanked me without making eye contact. If you'd questioned me, I'd have said it was because I live closest and there's no use taking two cars. Which is true, but it's not the only reason.
You didn't ask, anyway. And we didn't say funeral. Not saying it won't stop it being true, but there's no use in saying that, just to make a point. I always have too many words at times like this, anyway. My words won't make you feel any better, I know that, so I swallow them down with the coffee I bought on the way over here. It's too strong and nothing tastes right out of a paper cup, but I drink it anyway.
I don't get out of the car, and I don't think you know I can see you leaning against the front door of your building. Taking deep, fortifying breaths. Rubbing a hand across your face. I can't see your eyes and I'm glad. There's something brittle about the way you hold yourself that makes me hold my breath until it hurts. I look away before you notice me watching.
You smell like soap, and something that's so unique to you that I'll be reminded of this journey every time I get into my car for the next week. I don't mind, not really. I quite like the thought that you might leave something of yourself behind. Trace. Fingerprints. All that stuff. You shift uncomfortably in the passenger seat. Run a forefinger under your stiff collar. Straighten your lapels. I want to laugh, but I bite my lip. Somewhere in the back of my mind, it amuses me that you're as uncomfortable with this sort of formality as I am. You look good though, inappropriately so.
Eyes on the road, but I can still see you through sidelong glances that are almost involuntary.
"Starbucks, Greggo?" you say suddenly, and your voice sounds so normal that I have to catch my breath.
I glance down at the cup I'm holding between my thighs. Swallow hard. "Uh, yeah," I manage.
"I thought you were dead against all of those big, soulless, corporate chains?" you prod.
I stop for a red light and turn to you slowly. You're teasing me. Smiling. It's lukewarm; more like an attempt at a smile than anything else, but all the features are in the correct configuration, even if the spark is absent. I almost want to pull you up on your use of the word 'dead', but if you haven't noticed then neither have I.
"Nothing like running late to make a guy compromise his principles," I rasp. Mouth dry. A gulp of cooling coffee as the lights turn green. I smile too, and my levity makes me feel sick, even though you started it.
You laugh, and I choke on bile at the back of my throat. I love your laugh, and that isn't it.
I drive around the block twice before I find a place to park. Frustrated, I swear under my breath and then feel instantly guilty.
"Sorry," I mutter. You don't reply but I can feel you frowning from here. I don't know if it's because of my cursing or my apology, but I'd take either back if it helped. I want to smooth the lines out of your face.
When I switch off the ignition, the silence is suffocating. I focus on the small sounds of seatbelts being released, the creak of seat leather as you move. Breathing; yours slow and steady, mine shallow and erratic.
There's so much I want to say to you, but it's not the time. It's never the time. Tension; sweet, sharp, precise, squeezes my spine and I bite my tongue hard. I open my mouth, ready with some platitude, and close it again.
I hope you don't notice that my hand is shaking as I set my coffee awkwardly on the dashboard and jump out of the car.
It's warm for October and I'd take my jacket off while we walked if it didn't seem somehow disrespectful. I imagine Warrick giving me a lecture about propriety like he did at that crime scene one time, and the thought lifts me. I don't suppress my grin in time, and you ask me what I'm thinking about.
I hesitate for a second but tell you eventually, and you smile too.
"I think he'd be happy to know that stuck with you," you say, slowing down to fall into step with me just as I increase the length of my strides to keep up with you.
Try as we might, we can't seem to stay in step. You're ahead, or I am. Stop, start, slow down, speed up.
I'm tempted to grab your arm and drag you to a halt, so we can start from the same place.
I daren't touch you, though. I'm always afraid I won't be able to stop. It's you that stops, for no reason that I can see. The church is in view and I can see Sara, standing very straight and as close to Grissom's side as she can without actually touching him.
You're standing far too close for comfort, and I instantly drop my eyes to the ground, but you're not looking at my face. I really hope you don't hear my breath catch when your hands come up to straighten my tie. When I risk a glance, your forehead's furrowed in concentration. Fingers pulling and twisting, making minute adjustments. My collar feels impossibly tighter, but it's probably my imagination. That, and the fact that I can feel the heat pouring off you, and the gesture feels so ridiculously intimate. I don't know what to do with my hands.
Your words as you withdraw your hands confuse me. I look up straight into your eyes and I'm caught before I realize my mistake. The pain, I expected. But not the fear, and something else that I can't quite identify. Whatever it is, it burns me, and all I can do is nod mutely.
Whatever you need, I'd give it to you, if I could be sure you'd have it from me.
You sit by Sara and Catherine in the church. Or, rather they sweep you up and ensure that you sit between them, as though they're somehow responsible for keeping you afloat. I watch as you're led away from my side, and maybe I'm wrong because, although Sara looks stronger than I've ever seen her, I think you are the one holding Catherine up. Not the other way around.
It took years to be accepted into what I saw as the inner circle, and even now I'm all too aware that I'm on the periphery of it. I'm not a best friend, or an almost-lover, or a surrogate father. I'm not even sure that he ever lost his last shred of suspicion about me, or that we were close enough to be called friends.
Even so. I know what it is to lose a good person way before their time.
"I'm going to miss him so much," says Grissom, and I've never seen him so close to the edge.
Pain is dull, smooth, heavy. When I see your tears out of the corner of my eye, it twists, knifelike, between my ribs. It takes everything I have to keep my hands where they are. Not to reach for you. I've not touched you many times before, but none have been as difficult as this.
You are the last to leave. Which is no mean feat, as it turns out, because no one wants to be the first. It's almost as though it's a competition, a struggle, to stay the longest after the service is over. As though the longer we stay, the more we cared about him. Cared. I've never had a problem using the past tense, even though it's supposed to be a bad sign. Perhaps I'm being flippant. I know that wouldn't surprise anyone.
I just watch from the door, and wait. As long as it takes. It's not my place to disturb you, or suggest gently that it's time to go. The silence here is peaceful rather than oppressive; the soft candlelight forgiving. You look younger, just for a moment. Like you did when we first met, and before I knew what it was like to love someone so much that words become meaningless, and actions become impossible.
A firm but gentle touch on my arm makes me jump. Catherine's eyes are red but her gaze doesn't waver for a second. Immersed in cold guilt, I search for some excuse as to why I'm standing here staring at you. I come up with nothing, and Catherine shakes her head dismissively.
"Make sure he gets home ok, will you?" It's a whisper, but her words still echo in the space.
Her expression is so intense that I forget to be insulted.
"Yeah. Of course. That's why I'm..." I stop at her arched eyebrow. "I'll wait outside."
The midday sun is harsh when I step outside. It's disorientating, walking straight out from heavy, hushed darkness into bright light and everything moving at regular speed. My eyes hurt. I go to loosen my tie, feeling silk under my fingers and, remembering your touch, I let my hand fall away.
When you half-stumble out onto the street, you blink painfully. Your hair is lying all wrong. It's an effort to keep my hands by my sides.
I'd take it all away if I knew how. Perhaps I do, or at least I would if it was anyone but you. You have this ability to make me feel like the awkward kid I know I'm not any more. I've spent years trying to prove that I'm an adult, that I'm capable.
Look how clever I am. Look how hard-working. Look how experienced. I know I've tried too hard.
This time, when we fall out of step almost straight away, it seems appropriate. I like irony, and it gives me something to think about other than how much I want to shove you up against someone else's car just to see what happens. We've had so many almost-moments that I don't know what to think any more. Glances that last a second too long. Touches that might not be accidental. Words almost said. I'd love to ask you, just to find out if it's all in my head.
I'm terrified that it's not.
"Where do you want to go?" I ask, half a step behind you.
You catch my nearly-empty coffee cup as it slides across the dashboard when I make a sharp right. Shove it into the compartment in the passenger door. Open the window and close it again. Pull at your collar as if it's choking you.
It's usually me doing the fidgeting, and it takes every ounce of control that I have to stay still. It seems important that I do. Maybe because Warrick was always your calming influence. Maybe because even though I know it's practically impossible, you need stillness right now and I have to try.
I know you're looking at me. Heat, all over me, tingling under my skin until I want to scratch it off.
"Greg?" you ask, and I don't think I've ever heard you sound so uncertain.
"Yeah?" My voice isn't as even as I'd like it to be. I feel as though my neck's going to snap with the pure effort of not looking at you. The road is clear, so it must be obvious. "What?"
"It doesn't matter."
The softness in your tone dissolves my irritation and I ache to comfort you. When I look away from the road, our eyes meet in a flash of unexpected understanding and just for that split-second, I'm laid open. Inviting you to fall into step beside me. Something flickers in cocoa-dark irises and I look away hurriedly.
The hand resting on your thigh in a painful attempt at casual twitches as though you're about to do something massive, and I wish you'd reach for me because it's not my move, Nick. Not this time. My hands grip the wheel so hard that it's hurting me but I won't let go.
"Will you be ok?" I ask pointlessly.
Staring at the steering wheel. Tracing moulded plastic contours with nervous fingers. I don't know what I have to be nervous about any more. My job's done. I got you there. No one fell apart. I got you home safely again. I haven't bothered turning off the ignition because I don't want you to feel like you have to stick around and be grateful for my support, or talk about your feelings.
I'm not your best friend, I'm not deluded. I know I'll never replace him. I'll never be as empathic as Catherine, or someone to look up to like Grissom. Sometimes I think I could be so much more. I'd give anything for the chance to try.
You sigh, and the hand on your thigh clenches into a fist. "Will you?"
"Answering a question with a question?" I inhale sharply. Soap. Coffee. Fear. You. I roll my window down.
"What if I am?" you shoot back.
"Could you stop it?"
"Greg?" Your voice turns soft beside me and my stomach turns over.
"Come inside. Please."
I can't decide if it's an invitation or a request, though I don't suppose it matters. I'll take it.
You are silent as we cross the street and walk over to your apartment building. I have no idea what to do or say. Or what's going to happen next.
We're almost at the door before I realize that we're perfectly in step.
Your hallway smells like lemon floor cleaner.
I've been here before, but never alone. Those guys' nights...football on TV, poker games. Breakfast, sometimes, after shift.
Me, you and Warrick.
I didn't cry at the service, and yet that prosaic, almost accidental thought makes my eyes sting. I breathe in hard and tighten my gut against the sucker punch. Concentrating so hard that I'm only half-watching you repeatedly fumble your keys and fail to open your door.
When they slip from your hand and drop to the floor, the sharp clang of metal on tile startles me. You stare at them for a long moment and the strangled sound that escapes your clenched lips is so unlike you, and it claws at my insides.
You rub fitfully at the back of your neck, pull at your collar again, run a restless hand through your hair. That hand is shaking as I drop to retrieve your keys, and I can't take my eyes off you. I'm not even going to try. I'm frozen, crouched on the floor. My hands must be warm, because your keys are freezing.
If you fall apart now, after all this time, I'm not sure if everything I have is enough to save you.
"Greg, man...get up off the floor."
I'm so relieved to hear you speak that I stand up too quickly, grabbing your doorframe for support. Co-ordination deserting me, I stumble. Your steadying hand on my arm is unexpected. I regain my balance and you don't let go. There's only so long I can pretend that the pattern on the floor interests me, and I drag it out for as long as possible.
"I'm up," I point out, staring at your tie.
"Yeah," you say softly, absently. Not moving your hand. It's just resting there on my forearm, spreading heat through two layers of fabric, as though it belongs there. I think I could get used to it, if it did.
I know this isn't the time, and yet I can't seem to move out of your way. Not unaware of how ridiculous I am; standing between you and your own front door. Holding your keys in one hand and watching, horrified, as the other comes up to stroke the fabric of your tie flat against your shirt. Too close. Close enough to smell your anxiety and hear your breathing hitch.
"Would you..." you begin roughly. My palm flat against sharply lifting ribs as you try to draw oxygen into your lungs. I can't breathe, either. "Would you please look at me?"
I can't, I want to say. Mouth too dry. Suspended by my very last thread of control. It's all wrong, but I can't take another almost-moment. I look up abruptly, just as your fingers slide onto the skin next to my collar. Too rough for a caress. Too gentle to be forceful.
Our eye contact is defiant. Past the point of no return, I need you to see me. Every single thing I feel for you is written across my face, I know it is, and you don't move away. You look so tired. Dark eyes wet; bright with pain, fear and hope. Palm rough against the back of my neck. A shiver I can't suppress in time.
Your sudden smile is tiny and fleeting but it's genuine and it's enough. I'm leaning forward, free hand slipping over dry skin and into your hair and lips on yours, for approximately half a second before you react, pressing me into the door and kissing me back with a dizzying mix of uncertainty and conviction. I want to ask you if you know what you're doing but I'm lost in big, warm hands cupping my face so carefully, the slide of your lips over mine and how this soft, hot collision of tongues, over and over, makes me feel so desperate that I want to cry.
Compressed between your full weight and the unyielding grain of the door, I can barely breathe, but I daren't stop kissing you in case this is my last chance. I don't notice the keys sliding out of my slackened grip but I hear them clatter to the floor for a second time.
You draw back at the sound, eyes black, skin flushed. You look more alive than I've seen you in weeks, and I hardly dare hope that I'm responsible. Blinking dazedly, you bend to pick up your keys. I close my eyes. Tentatively lick your taste from grazed lips and lean back against the door, comforted, aroused, aching, confused.
"What are we doing?" I ask before I can stop myself.
Your eyes flick to mine as you slide the key into the lock at the first attempt. Hands no longer shaking. I step away from the door.
"Making up for lost time?" you suggest, pushing the door open and holding out a hand to me.
Desperate for changing Forgetting all I'm lacking I'm falling even more in love with you There's nothing else to lose
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
Chasing after you
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'll take your invitation
You take all of me now...
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
I'm living for the only thing I know
I'm running and not quite sure where to go
And I don't know what I'm diving into
Just hanging by a moment here with you
There's nothing else to find
There's nothing in the world
That can change my mind
There is nothing else
There is nothing else
There is nothing else
Forgetting all I'm lacking I'm falling even more in love with you There's nothing else to lose
I'm falling even more in love with you There's nothing else to lose