Greg’s not sure how he ended up here. He and Nick aren’t friends, not really, and if anybody had asked him 24 hours ago, Greg would have sworn he was the last person Nick would want helping him move.
But maybe that’s why he’s here; maybe the last thing Nick wants is for someone he cares about to witness him cutting and running.
Not that anyone would blame him, not after he found a guy living in his attic, like that’s the kind of thing that happens in real life. Except apparently it does, because Nick’s still got bruises from the attack, and he’s standing in the middle of his living room surrounded by boxes and looking kind of haunted.
Greg only found out he was moving by accident. It was just luck or bad timing or whatever that he happened to be stocking up on Pop-Tarts and Ramen when Nick came into the grocery store looking for boxes.
He probably wouldn't even have said anything when he spotted Nick, except they were parked practically right next to each other, and when Nick looked up from loading boxes into the back of his truck and saw Greg, it felt natural to blurt out, "are you moving?"
Nick hesitated for a second, like maybe he was thinking about denying it, but then he'd raised one shoulder in a shrug and said, "looks like."
"Want some help?" Greg had offered before he even thought about it, but once it was out there he didn't want to take it back.
Nick had huffed an embarrassed sort of laugh, and even though Greg knew he had nothing to be embarrassed about, it was was still kind of cute. "Most people don't offer to help someone move."
"Yeah, we'll, you've known me long enough by now to figure out I'm not most people."
It got him another laugh, anyway, along with a cute little blush when Nick dipped his head. "I guess you aren't."
Which was how he found himself following Nick home, helping him pack books and DVDs and the family pictures Nick said his mom sent in frames for pretty much every holiday. And he’s known Nick for years, but Greg’s pretty sure he learned more about Nick in those few hours than he ever did at the lab.
He shows up again the next day, and Nick just raises an eyebrow and lets him in. Like he’s still not exactly sure he really wants Greg there, even though they both know he can use the help. Greg tries not to take it personally; he’s pretty sure Nick doesn’t really want anyone here, because admitting he needs to leave the house where he was stalked means he’s actually human after all.
Not that Greg’s dumb enough to say any of that. Instead he keeps up a running stream of small talk while they load boxes into Nick’s truck, and once they’ve got the first load done Greg turns to look at him. “So where to?”
“I…uh…I rented a place off Durango.”
“Oh, yeah? My apartment’s off Durango too,” Greg says, but he doesn’t think anything of it, because there are a lot of apartment complexes on Durango. Still, he doesn’t hate the idea of Nick being his neighbor; he’s not thinking too hard about why he likes the idea, but he doesn’t hate it.
Nick’s not moving into his complex, as it turns out. He’s right up the street, though, and Greg points out his own place on the way by. Nick nods without looking over at him; his jaw’s clenched kind of hard, and Greg can’t tell if Nick just doesn’t care where Greg lives, or if he’s preoccupied with thinking about why he has to move in the first place.
Once they pull up in front of Nick’s new place Greg hops out of the truck and reaches for the box Nick hands him, then he follows Nick up a flight of stairs and waits while he unlocks the door and leads Greg into an empty apartment. It smells like carpet shampoo, and Greg sets his box down in the living room and looks around.
“So what about your furniture and stuff?” he asks. “It’s not like we can fit your couch in your truck.”
“I’ve got some movers coming to bring the over the big stuff tomorrow,” Nick answers. He reaches up while he talks and rubs a thumb over the bruise just under his eye while he says it, and Greg wonders not for the first time how Nick can stand going back to that house at all.
Greg opens his mouth to ask if Nick’s had the cable hooked up yet, but he catches himself just in time and closes it again. Nick’s still looking at him, so it’s no surprise when his eyebrows go up like maybe he’s expecting Greg to have a seizure or something. And he can’t really blame Nick for that either, because Greg doesn’t exactly have a reputation for knowing when to shut up.
“My place isn’t far from here,” he says instead, and for a second Nick’s expression goes from confused to surprised. Surprised, but not horrified, and Greg files that thought away for later.
“Yeah, you said,” Nick answers, hand on the back of his neck now, like he’s trying to figure out the best way to shoot Greg down.
“Right, so I was just thinking, if you didn’t want to hang out in an empty house all night, you could come over, watch the game or whatever. Technically I think you’re supposed to buy pizza when people help you move.”
He stops talking and flashes Nick his best grin, and when Nick lets out a chuckle Greg figures he at least doesn’t hate the idea. “Listen, G, you’ve already given up a lot of free time to help me out. You don’t…”
“My day’s already shot anyway,” Greg reminds him, because he’s not above playing the guilt card if he has to.
For a few seconds Nick just looks at him, and Greg’s bracing himself to get shot down when Nick blushes a little and nods. “Yeah, okay.”
“Yeah?” Greg says, and he knows he’s grinning again, but when Nick grins right back at him, Greg figures he doesn’t really mind. “I mean…great. That’s great.”
When Nick laughs at him again Greg decides shutting up is probably in his best interest. It only lasts until they finish unloading the truck, but once they’re back in Nick’s truck and headed back to his house for a second load Greg starts up with another story about the lab. By the time they get back to Nick’s house they’re both laughing, and Nick actually looks relaxed for the first time in awhile.
It only lasts until they walk back into the house, and as soon as Nick spots the hole in the ceiling the tension’s right back in his shoulders. But Greg figures that’s okay, because he knows now that he can get Nick to relax again. Even if tonight doesn’t go any further than pizza and a couple beers, Greg thinks they might be friends now, and that’s…well, it’s a start, anyway.