Note: written for comment_fic on livejournal. (SPOILERS IN PROMPT AND FIC for last few eps of S1)
Prompt was: G/Sam, since Dom's death, G hasn't even had a chance to catch his breath
Even knowing that the other man could see right through him, G put up a tough front. It was what they did - men like him, like them - the delicate antagonistic dance between masculinity and intimacy. Where a nod and a look means, "I know you're breaking in two, but I'm going to let you have your pride and pretend you're fine." And that kindness, that allowance, that "I know you need to pretend you're fine because that's all you got right now" is, paradoxically, an act of softness. It's a knowing and delicate handling of ego and feeling and fear, and it is like nothing so much as a caress.
Sam can do this dance with G. He is maybe one of four people in the world who can grab G's arm without getting a defense stance in response, he is one of maybe two people in the world who has seen G cry, and he's pretty sure he is the only person in the world who has heard G say, "I wouldn't mind staying with you. Like, even when we move onto different jobs." Which, Sam knew, was as close to wedding vows as Callen would likely ever get.
So Sam gives G his space, lets him set his jaw and attack the crises and clusterfucks that follow Dom's death, one thing after another messing with G's head, and every time Sam asks, G just has that look of "I need to act like this is okay, the act is the only thing holding me up."
Until it's not, it can't, and G puts his head in his hands and kneels on the ground and lets himself wonder, just for a second, if it's even worth it, if it's even possible, to keep going.
And then Sam's arms, strong, impossibly strong, pulling him up, a perimeter around him of muscle and warmth. And G doesn't want this, doesn't know how to do this, but Sam whispers, "Just breathe. Take a second, G, take a breath. Just breathe."
And G, pressing his face into the crook of Sam's neck, breathes in, the scent filling him up, reminding him that the world had more to give him than bullets and fires and unanswerable questions. And for the first time in weeks, G felt like he was actually getting enough air.