Nick showed up on Greg's doorstep three weeks after their 'breakup' with five pounds of Greg's favorite coffee beans, three dozen red roses, one rare coin the dealer said was the best he could possibly get for his money, one mint condition Playboy issued the month and year of Greg's birth, and a stomach full of rampaging, killer butterflies.
When Greg opened the door, he gave only a cursory glance to the stuff weighing down Nick's arms and looked at him in the eye for what felt like hours. Finally, he sighed and gave Nick a little smile.
"You coming in?"
Nick nodded mutely and let Greg take some of what he held, then followed him inside.
"Are you going to explain?" Greg asked mildly.
"Yeah." Nick's palms were sweaty and his face was hot. "I, uh, freaked out."
Greg snorted. "No shit?"
Packages and flowers fell to the floor and Nick wrapped his arms around Greg, breathing him in and wondering how he'd ever thought he could live without this.
The first time Nick ever said, "I love you," it was into the crook of Greg's neck. And, for the first time, too, Greg said it back.
Their first fight started with a simple statement – like most arguments do – and turned into something huge and hurtful and spread like a brush fire.
"Why don't you just move in?" Greg asked.
Nick blinked, and his mouth sort of opened a little and stayed like that, no words coming out.
"I mean, you're here every day anyway, and ..." Greg shrugged and ran his hand over Nick's bare back.
And suddenly it was too much, all at once, and Nick realized that somehow this had gotten serious, serious in a way he wasn't sure he was prepared for. Serious in a way he was absolutely terrified of.
"I ... I can't do this."
Greg just kind of smiled. "It's okay if you want to wait a little longer – no pressure or anything." He leaned over to kiss Nick's shoulder, and it was too familiar, and way more than Nick ever bargained for.
Nick flinched and jumped off the bed. "No, I can't do this. Us. This thing ... I can't do it anymore."
He must have thought it was some kind of joke, because Greg was trying to tug him back into bed with him, still smiling. "What, you're breaking up with me now?" he asked with a teasing voice.
"Yes. No." Nick frowned. Somewhere along the way, when he hadn't really been noticing, he and Greg had evolved from friends who messed around to – what, boyfriends? Guys in a serious relationship. Who were talking about moving in together. And he'd either been completely oblivious to the fact or he'd been purposefully not paying attention.
Nick grabbed some clean sweats out of a drawer – the drawer Greg had given him months before, and that should have been a huge tip-off but it hadn't been – and quickly got dressed.
"Nick?" Greg sounded scared now, and hurt, but Nick couldn't think about that now. All he had to do was run.
Running was hard to do when your lover had his arms around you and was looking at you like that, all worry and not understanding.
"This ... this thing. Me and you. It's over. I can't ..." I can't be with you. I can't let this be my life. "I can't do this." Nick pulled away again and this time, Greg let him.
"Can ... can we talk about this at least?" There was a waver in Greg's voice, and Nick knew he had to get out of the apartment right then.
The look of pain on Greg's face almost, almost, made Nick change his mind and turn around again. Nick felt like he'd just kicked a puppy, or kicked himself, because he felt it, too, deep down hurt in his chest and gut.
But he left anyway.
They ended up at Greg's place after shift. Nick was nervous as hell, and Greg kept looking at him like he expected he'd bolt any second.
"Coffee?" Greg offered, but Nick was moving across the room so fast he barely got the word out before he was pinned against the wall and Nick was kissing him like he couldn't – like he'd never – get enough.
"You. Just ..." Nick said, pressing against Greg and running his hands through is hair. "Just you. Only want ..."
Somehow they made it to Greg's bed, stumbling together, kissing, groping, and then falling onto rumpled sheets while Nick tried undressing Greg as fast as he could. It turned out he wasn't so good at undressing Greg as he was at undressing women, or maybe it was just every time he exposed new skin he had to stop and touch and taste, see how different the skin felt under the pads of his fingers versus his lips, tongue, or side of his face. Somehow in the midst of all Nick's exploring, Greg managed to get Nick naked, and part of Nick's brain was shy and modest but it was so eclipsed by the part of his brain that screamed Yes and Now and More that it didn't even matter.
Greg seemed to understand every gesture, ever sigh, every hungry moan that came out of Nick's mouth. He never went too facts or too slow, and Nick learned more about sex and sensuality in that one day than he'd learned in his entire life. Greg was all about sensation, and he was both unselfish and greedy in turns, tender and rough, demanding and submissive all at once. It was stunning, the fact that Nick had been fighting this for so long, and Greg was the one thing he'd needed the whole time, like water in the dry heat of the Nevada desert.
Nick's first freakout began with taking a personal day. Grissom didn't ask any questions when he called in, and since there wasn't any big case to work, it didn't seem to be a problem. He spent the day going through his address book and wondering if he should call an ex-girlfriend, although for what, he wasn't exactly sure. Should he pick up some anonymous girl at a bar for some heterosexual-reassuring sex? That wasn't really his style, but neither was kissing his (male) coworkers. Maybe he could call an ex and ask her if he was – how did you phrase the kind of questions you're not really sure you want the answers to? "Hello, you know, when we were together, did I seem particularly gay to you?"
He ended up just laying in his bed, just staring at the ceiling, trying desperately not to think about the way Greg's body had felt pressed against his, or how Greg's mouth had opened under his, hot and wet and tasting like cinnamon.
Nick's freakout continued when he returned to work. He managed to avoid Greg completely, and even though that should have made things easier, it somehow made the issue even bigger, and Nick found himself almost hopelessly looking for just a glimpse of Greg, no matter what happened as a result.
By the end of the third day, Greg cornered him in an empty lab.
"What the hell is going on with you?"
Nick winced and looked around, trying to find an escape route. "Nothing, man. Just working."
Greg gave him a level look that told Nick he wasn't fooling anyone at all.
"I don't want to talk about it," Nick finally mumbled.
"Fine." Greg looked disappointed – not just with the answer, but like he was disappointed in Nick.
"I'm ..." What, sorry? Crazy? Very much not gay except for that one time when I tried to climb into you by kissing you so deep and hard I can't think of anything else now?
"It's okay, Nick," Greg said, smiling like it really was. "I get it. It didn't mean anything."
If it didn't mean anything, why did that statement hurt so badly?
"We're cool," Greg went on. "You can stop freaking out now."
Nick bit his lip, hard, and tried to pull his gaze away from Greg's lips. And then he said something that went against everything he'd ever known about himself. "Wanna come over to my place after shift?"
It had been a long shift, and the sun was already shining bright in the sky. Greg said his battery was dead, and asked Nick to jump him off. It was hot, and both of them were sweating and the air smelled like exhaust and gasoline. Something – some word, a look – brought them together. The second Nick's lips touched Greg's, he wanted more. Greg just leaned back against the side of his car and let Nick kiss him, hard and deep, deeper and more, until neither of them could breathe and Nick had to pull away, panting and hot in a way that had nothing to do with the desert sun.
Nick's first freakout soon followed.
The first time Greg touched Nick, it was an innocent thing, a clasp on the shoulder, fingers tightening there in a moment of congratulations on some case they'd broken. Just a quick touch, over before Nick knew it, but memorable just the same. There was heat and thrill and confused happiness just from that. Greg grinned at him like nothing monumental had happened, and Nick grinned back even though his heart was racing and his face was warm and flushed.
The first time Nick met Greg, he fell in love. He just didn't realize it yet.