Nick hates when Cody's gone. Doesn't really matter so much why - visiting his mom, dating some chick. Even pulling a different shift, although lately it seems like the powers that be have gotten it figured out. Nick with Cody's a great MP. Nick alone is a loose cannon, a maverick. Cody without Nick... Nick won't even think about that.

This last week's been tough, Cody gone back east, Nick going through the motions. He's called in sick the last two days, and that's how come he's here at the airport, perched on a hard plastic chair curved in all the wrong places, waiting for Cody.

It's not exactly even a lie. The way his pulse pounds, his heart wants to explode, his mind can't focus, any doc would put him on bed rest. Or maybe tranquilizers. Either way, Nick figures he's not fit to work. Not til Cody's back in his place by Nick's side.

Cody who can still Nick's temper with a look, calm his fears with a touch. Gives Nick a reason to be strong, a reason to be the man he is.

The flight's delayed, long interminable minutes keeping Nick alone, letting him taste the edge of who he'd be without Cody. It's frighteningly close, always has been. Nick owns that.

It can't take hold - Nick won't let it, can't let it. Cody's seen him raw, broken, stripped bare, but this is different, darker.

Cody's his light against the dark, his way, his truth. Where Cody leads, Nick will follow.

Cody's surprised to see him, but not as surprised as Nick thinks he'll be. A quirk of an eyebrow; a hand on his arm; and Nick is whole again, heart beating in its accustomed rhythm, blood pumping round his body, air flowing in and out of his lungs. He's fit and healthy, a smart guy, a helicopter pilot. A great MP.

"Miss me, big guy?"

"Hardly noticed you were gone, man. Your mom buy you that shirt?"

"You did, you jerk."

The week apart was hard on Cody too. It's in the way he leans into Nick in the cab, the soft touches as they walk - reassurance. They're balm to Nick's soul.

"You on your lunch break, Nick? When you gotta get back?"

Nick shakes his head. He doesn't need to explain. "How's Chinese for dinner? There's a game on later."

Cody just grins. He doesn't need to explain either. "Thanks, pal. It's good to be home."