A/N: I have been writing this for what seems like forever! HUGE massive thanks have to go out to 'DearSweetPaperCut' who brainstormed, beta-ed, conspired and basically co-wrote this with me!
this is NOT FOR GSR fans, I warn you now if you are looking for GSR of any kind you will not find it here!
Reviews, as always, are loved! :o)
Greg paced the floor of the break room speaking into his cell phone animatedly. Nick strained his ears to make out what he was saying, he was talking so fast it was almost incomprehensible and Sara smiled over her coffee cup at his confused expression. A stranger would have assumed he was speaking a foreign language the way he was carrying on, he could only assume his friend had got some exciting news.
Nick seized the opportunity to fish under the counter for Greg's 'secret' stash of posh coffee. If he was going to be pre-occupied with a call he may as well take advantage of the lull in his strange need to police the use of it. Anything would taste better than the lab issued sludge but Greg's special brew always cast a warm glow over them as they sunk into the soft chairs and let the liquid work its magic. He brewed himself and Sara a mug and sat beside her watching Greg's exaggerated and wholly unnecessary hand gestures and nods.
"Who's he talking to?" Nick's curiosity got the better of him when Sara passed him that knowing smile of hers.
"Some girl, it's been 30 minutes and counting…."
"A girl, he's talking to a girlfriend? At work?" he wasn't sure why that surprised him, he remembered a time when Greg had been in the habit of collecting DNA samples from all his dates and analyzing them in the lab. The boy had some issues.
"Not a girlfriend. Some girl from his hometown…. So far I have gathered that she will be in town soon for something and he's taking her to lunch."
"And the other 29 minutes?" Nick asked with a smile. Greg had turned to eye them suspiciously, obviously aware of their scrutiny. He ended the call with a smile and flopped down in a spare chair.
Sara raised an eyebrow and regarded Greg suspiciously. "I have no idea"
Greg's grin was wide and excited and nothing he could do would suppress it as he looked at his two friends. He had been handed a golden opportunity, Caitlyn was one of his best friends from back home. She was the one he called twice a week, who always had time to meet him and drink too much beer when he visited, who laughed at all his jokes. She was also 'the one that got away', the one who he had secretly held a candle for since he was a scrawny, geeky teen and she was the only girl he had the ability to form words with. "It's rude to stare you know?"
"We were just wondering when you started speaking Russian Greg, that's a skill"
"You are just jealous because I have a date tomorrow - Caitlyn's in town"
Nick had no idea who Caitlyn was but apparently Sara did. Her throaty chuckle filled the room.
"Caitlyn? From San Gabriel, Caitlyn? The one who went to school with you and knows your mother?" Greg nodded in response to all her questions "that's not a date Greg, she's practically related!"
"Well I am taking her to lunch and she's staying at my apartment for a few days. We'll see how related we are after that!"
By the time shift was drawing to a close Nick felt like he knew more about this girl than her own mother did. A combination of a quiet shift and an over-excited Greg meant he had spent a large portion of the day going over old files in the break room with Greg's voice as the only soundtrack. It was almost guaranteed that after an insanely quiet night a B and E would be called in right before shift change. The only consolation being it appeared to be a straight forward case, they processed the scene and logged the evidence and although it took them into overtime they were finished by lunch. Greg put a call in to the elusive Caitlyn asking her to meet him at the lab before he grabbed a shower in the locker room.
It was a dull, grim day when Nick finally trudged out of the lab. The cloud settled heavy over the skyline threatening to cover the city in rain. Not that it would have much effect on him until later; he intended to do nothing but collapse into bed this afternoon. He slung his jacket over his shoulders, fighting the shiver across his body as the chill hit him and watched as a beat up old Honda screeched into the parking lot.
Music blared from the windows and the driver pulled up near the steps and gazed out of the window with a confused expression on her face. He knew right away it was Caitlyn based on the description Greg had offered all night. She faltered with the handle and almost fell out of the door, a cascade of papers following her and she heaved her purse out of the window and muttered to herself.
"Uhh hi, can you help me please?" she asked distractedly, slipping her wayward hair behind her ear and fighting with her seatbelt.
He took the few steps down into the parking lot with a smile, Greg had described her as a whirlwind but he hadn't expected a natural disaster and yet he was drawn to her somehow. He could have easily helped her from his position by the stairs, he could have nodded in her direction and retreated to his car but something made him move closer to her. Something about her intrigued him, like the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning; even if you can't have a sip the temptation to inhale its glorious scent was always too much to resist. Her smile lit her features as she matched his expression and tucked more loose hair behind her ear.
"I'm looking for the Las Vegas crime lab… I'm meeting my friend there. You know for a city big on signs it's not very well sign posted!" she hazarded a glance around, trying to get her bearings.
Nick reached out his hand to her with a friendly smile "you must be Caitlyn, I'm Nick Stokes and you found the lab pretty well without signs"
She untangled herself from her purse and placed her hand in his and met his eye for no more than a second, she looked away with a strange shyness that he found instantly endearing.
"I followed a police car actually but he just went to a donut stall so I had to wing it from there"
She wrapped her arms around her shoulders, shivering in the cold air; her teeth drew lightly over her bottom lip.
"Come on in and I'll find Greg, you should have brought a jacket" he ushered her through into the foyer shaking off the forbidden thoughts running through his mind.
"Well I thought since Nevada was a Desert it was probably hot"
He had lost count of the amount of people who took the climate in Vegas for granted. True, it was hot and dry most of the time but they had their fair share of cold weather and rainfall. He signed the form for her visitors pass. Judy eyed them suspiciously as he passed the laminated card to her. This time she held his eye a little longer. Nick guided Caitlyn through the corridors towards the locker room in search of Greg.
"Yeah, a lot of people seem to think that. Like they assume in Texas everyone walk's about in chaps and cowboy hats" he smiled at her as she fell into step beside him.
"You mean they don't?" she asked with faked surprise.
Before he could compose a suitably sarcastic comeback she was gone from his side and throwing herself into Greg's out stretched arms. Nick suddenly felt like a spare wheel as he watched Greg twirl her around and then hold her at arm's length to look her over. She placed her hands on either side of his face and kissed his cheek.
"I missed your face Sandy!"
Nick found it very hard to stifle the laugh bubbling up at his nickname but Greg threw him a warning glare over Caitlyn's shoulder.
"I missed you too, you ready for lunch?" she nodded her response as Sara appeared beside them "oh I invited Sara too, hope that's ok?"
"Of course it is!" Sara offered her hand to Caitlyn and the two women smiled at each other and shook hands.
"What is this a private party? I gotta eat too you know!" Nick wasn't sure whether to be actually offended at the lack of invitation or not, the truth was that he was intrigued by Greg's friend as much as it was completely inappropriate. The smile she gave to him really didn't help, he found himself seeking out her eye contact as the four of them walked together to the diner.
If Greg noticed he didn't let it show, lunch passed uneventfully with easy conversation and probably a little too much wine. It had been a long time since any of them had headed out for a boozy lunch. Vegas was the perfect town to work night shifts in especially since the development of 'day clubs' there was no such thing as down time. Before they knew what was happening they were fully embracing the club scene, Consumed by the booze, the music and the atmosphere.
The air was thick and hot as the club filled up, people crammed into every available space and the bar was Jam packed. Sara made her excuses when the line for the ladies bathroom snaked out onto the dance floor and Greg had made a new friend in the form of a leggy blonde with glitter covering every available surface and not much else. Every now and again he would send a beaming smile Nick's way from the dance floor as he swung her around in his arms and entertained her friends.
Caitlyn had disappeared some time ago, he figured she was lost to the bathroom line but out of the corner of his eye he spotted her on the other end of the bar. The glances they had been exchanging all day had become increasingly meaningful but as she met his eye across the crowded bar she expressed something entirely different, her sultry smile and lust filled eyes enticed and enchanted him. He couldn't look away, his eyes locked with hers and the packed club seemed to fade into the background, the thumping sound of the bass faded to a whisper, there was only her.
Nick moved away from the bar, intending to take her up on the look in her eyes but as he pushed through the throng of people to where he thought she was he only found she had vanished again.
"hi, you're pretty" a small red head smiled at him from the bar, she was clearly very drunk, clutching her drink as though it was holding her up. Her voice wobbled as she attempted to stroke his arm with a flirty expression in her eye.
"Thanks, did you see the girl who was here a second ago? Purple top, dark hair?"
"Are you kidding me?" she seemed suddenly irate, her hands flailing about and a frown on her face "I'm hitting on you and you're asking me about another girl? What do you not want to get laid?"
He stared at the woman in shock, not quite registering what she had just said until she smiled up at him and twisted her hair around her finger. Vegas was just full of classy ladies apparently, he was willing to bet she was a tourist. He spotted Caitlyn in the center of the dance floor, smiling and laughing with another man. His hands around her waist and then stroking her arm as she danced, he felt a pang of jealousy. That should be him with his body against her, that should be him swinging her around and hearing her laugh in his ear.
While he was lost in his thoughts and nursing his drink he didn't notice her careering towards him and almost throwing her body at him as the other man twirled her around. She swung her arms around his neck, her lips almost brushing the bottom of his earlobe. The electricity that coursed through him was almost paralyzing, as much as he wanted to raise his hands and grasp her waist or stroke her hair he just couldn't do anything.
"Get me out of here!" she whispered.
The man held fast to her hand, swinging her back to him as she looked at Nick with a pleading expression. He took that as a green light to 'cut in' and whisk her away from his clutches. The next time he had her at arm's length, Nick slid his arm around her waist and steered her in the direction of the bar.
"Thank you, he was not going to leave me alone!" she tried to whisper in his ear but the sound disappeared into the thumping music.
She smiled at him as she leaned on the bar by his side and waved the barman over, he placed two shots on the bar in front of them and she met his eye with a menacing smile. Their tiny glasses clinked together; she didn't drop her gaze from his for a second as they polished off the liquid. It burned down his throat, making him wince a little as he struggled to hold it down. Bringing back an entire days' worth of food and alcohol was not a good look.
"Come dance with me" she pleaded
He started to shake his head in protest but she ran her hand along his arm and grasped his hand with a smile, pulling him towards the mess of tangled bodies worshipping the DJ in his little box. She pulled him behind her weaving in and out of the crowds until they found a space and his conscious thought seemed to have been left at the bar as he watched her move her body with the music. He seemed to have lost control of his own body, his hand lightly ran down the length of her spine and it somehow assumed a huge magnitude.
They were just dancing, it wasn't really a sexual act and yet the feeling of her hip under his hand seemed to be incredibly intimate, the way she met his eye or ran her hands along his arms sent shivers rushing all over him, her breath on his neck seemed to envelop him in a cloud of cocktail scented splendor. It was hypnotizing to witness, her body pressed against his every so often sending shockwaves to the very tips of his toes.
Sexual tension settled over them like a cloak, wrapping them in its warm embrace and destroying their inhibitions. Her body settled against his, her back pressing against his chest and her head rolling back to rest on his shoulder. He ran his hand down the length of her frame resting it gently on her hip. He turned his head towards her, inhaling the scent of her perfume on the exposed skin of her neck. Without thinking his spare hand slid the strap of her dress across her shoulder and placed a slow kiss on the crook of her neck. Her hand ran through his hair, pulling him closer to her and letting a shiver of a sigh escape her lips.
They returned to the bar and assumed the very same position they had been in earlier; the barman passed them two more shots without being asked. It didn't burn as much this time, his throat was probably still numb from the last one. When he placed his glass back down his hand brushed against hers. He almost felt like his heart stopped along with everything else in the room as he met her eye. There was something different there, something enticing and inviting that drew him in and pulled him towards her. Slowly the space between them reduced, her hand found his leg and rested there like it was the most natural place for it to be. He leaned closer, his lips lingering so close to hers he could almost taste them.
He had been trying hard to restrain himself from this moment; he had tried to deny his attraction to her through his loyalty to Greg. The alcohol, the atmosphere and the fact that right now she was just proving to be too irresistible made for a dangerous cocktail of emotions.
Her eyes sparkled in the darkness, like a night sky full of stars; he was hypnotized by the promises in them and the feeling of her skin against his fingers. He drew his hand to her face, his thumb brushing the soft hair draping by her cheek and stroking the silky skin.
"Guys, I… I love you" Greg's arms draped over both their shoulders, his face becoming a barrier between them as he struggled to stay upright. "I love you the most Nick"
"Oh god, are you ok Greg?" he looked a little green around the gills and suddenly Greg lost his lunch and every alcoholic beverage he had consumed that day all over the bar.
Between them they somehow managed to get him home in between his singing and slurred declarations of love. He found it hilariously funny when Caitlyn fished in his pockets for his keys, running a hand through her hair and grinning inanely at her.
"I love you Cait" he slung his arm around her shoulder, almost making her tumble to the ground.
"I love you too Sandy, let's get you to bed"
Her hands trembled as she struggled with the keys in the lock and Greg launched himself to the living room floor. They man handled him into the bedroom with much difficulty, his hands seemed to suddenly be everywhere, Nick was sure he had even tried to kiss him at one point. Caitlyn bundled him into bed and Nick removed his shoes.
"but I reeeeaaalllly love you Cait, we should get married!" he slung one arm around her neck and pulled her face close to his but she carefully uncurled his arm from her, only for him to lace his fingers between hers and gaze into her eyes. Nick was beginning to think there was possibly a lot more truth to drunken Greg's ramblings than Greg would like them to believe and that didn't bode well for him ever being able to taste Caitlyn's lips on his.
"We're not getting married Greg, go to sleep"
"Are you going to sleep with me Cait?" his eyes were already closed but his hand remained firmly clutched around hers. "Cause that would be awesome"
Nick couldn't help but laugh at the desperation in her eyes as she tried to wriggle her hand free from his, eventually pulling free with a pop and ending up on the floor. Her drunken giggles reverberated off the walls as Nick helped her up, they soon dissolved into the air when she stood and met his eye. His hand held onto her elbow, satisfied with the contact but the moment seemed to fizz and spark as they just stood there like someone had pressed the pause button.
"Guys!" Greg shouted as loud as he could even though they were all in the same room before he dropped his voice again and stared at them through narrowed eyes "shhhhhhhh I'm sleeping with Caitlyn…"
They both stood in the doorway regarding drunken Greg falling into a deep slumber at a ridiculous angle in the bed. The moment was gone, his thoughts were now monopolized by the fact that his friend was in love with this girl. There was suddenly a boundary between them they couldn't cross and they both knew it. Caitlyn walked him to the front door and watched him with a soft smile as he made his way to the stairs.
"I had a great time tonight…"
"Me too, we should do it again sometime" he said it before he realized how it sounded, in his head it was merely a polite phrase but as the words became reality they developed a whole different meaning. "Uh… the four of us I mean"
She nodded her understanding, he was sure her eyes dulled slightly with the disappointment. Without thinking he reached out and took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. The kiss he placed on the back of her hand was almost a promise, a secret between the two of them, an acknowledgement that there was something brewing between them that neither of them could yet understand.
"Goodnight Nicky, see you around"
She pressed the door closed leaving a heavy sadness in the air. There was something so genuinely depressing about connecting with someone on that level and knowing nothing could come of it. He almost felt like he had left a piece of his heart behind with her, a piece he could never get back.