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Heat Wave

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This high blood pressure's got a hold on me
'Cause this is the way love's supposed to be
-The Who, Heat Wave

"Greg?"

Greg looked up, his eyes darting warily towards the DNA lab on the other side of the hall before he looked at Nick. The CSI stood in the doorway to the makeshift lab, lounging there in a way that suggested he'd been there for a while. Turning his head quickly Greg forced himself not to blush. He was on edge enough just being here, he didn't need to get all flustered over Nick right now.

"Are you alright?"

No, but that's not what he says out loud. "I'm fine." He smiles through the lie, keeping his eyes turned away so that Nick can't see the truth. What's one more lie when he already has so many floating between him and Nick.

"You're shaking."

Looking down at his hands, he's not surprised that he is. "It'll stop." He's not sure when but Grissom thinks it will. He'd like to believe that as well but sometimes.... Sometimes he feels like it's all just too much and he's going to break. It's been like that for a while with him and Nick but now, with the explosion, he just couldn't keep things hidden anymore.

"Does Grissom know?"

He nodded again. He didn't want anyone to know but at least with Grissom it would have stayed a secret. Now the entire shift would know before the night was over. Not that they wouldn't have figured it out sooner or later. He worked with trained investigators, chances were at least one of them would notice it.

A hand landed on his shoulder and Greg almost jumped out of his skin.

"Are you sure you're alright?"

"No." A shaking hand clamped quick over Greg's lips as he realized what he'd just blurted. Nick was staring at him, his eyes narrowing slightly before he took a step closer. The proximity did nothing to calm Greg's wildly beating heart and for what must have been the thousandth time since coming to the Las Vegas lab, he cursed Nick Stokes and his adorable obliviousness to Greg's crush on him. He stared at the floor, unable to meet Nick's gaze any longer.

"Greg." The gentle tone in Nick's voice was his undoing and he let his hand fall to his side. Every few seconds a tiny tremor would run through him, visible only in the shaking of his hands.

"Greg, what's wrong?"

Nick took Greg's hands in his, rubbing his thumbs along the backs, and for a second Greg felt hope.

"I dream of fire." He wasn't sure what made him say that. Nick just continued to look at him with a calm face, silently encouraging him to continue. He glanced up, meeting Nick's eyes and suddenly all his earlier embarrassment came back.

"It's stupid." Greg tried to turn, to pull away, but Nick wouldn't let him.

"Tell me about it."

The kindness was too much for him. He'd never expected... and now... He couldn't handle it, not with everything else. Not now. Looking up into Nick's eyes Greg felt himself become undone.

He pulled back sharply, turning his back to Nick. His work was scattered on the table. For the life of him he couldn't remember what he'd been working on.

"Greg." Nick's hands were on his shoulders, encouraging and he forced himself not to wince as one of Nick's hands pressed down on a bandage.

"Not now." That short answer was all he could seem to get out of his lips.

Nick pulled away and Greg could almost imagine the hurt look on his face, but that was just wishful thinking. Nick didn't care about him like that.

"How about after work?"

Greg started again. He'd thought Nick had already left but a glance over his shoulder told him that Nick hadn't moved. He felt like laughing, the irony was just too much for him. He'd been waiting years for Nick to invite him out and all it took was being blown through a wall. If he'd known, he could have done it sooner.

Biting his lip, Greg kept the laughter inside and nodded with his back still to Nick.

"Do you know the way to my place?"

He nodded again. He'd never been there before but he remembered where it was from after the thing with Nick's stalker.

"I'll be waiting after shift."

Another nod and then Nick was gone.

*****

Greg stared at the wood in front of him. He'd come this far, driven all the way from the lab to Nick's house and now he found himself stalling right outside the door. With a sigh Greg knocked lightly. The door opened in seconds. Nick must have been waiting.

Keeping his eyes down, Greg stepped into the house. Nick took his coat while Greg toed off his shoes. A hand on his waist startled him and he looked up involuntarily into Nick's smiling face.

"Do you want anything to drink?"

Greg hesitantly shook his head, not saying anything as Nick led him over to the couch. Nick stayed close to him, sitting right next to Greg instead of taking one of the scattered chairs or even the opposite end of the couch.

"You said you dreamed of fire?" Nick got right to the point, his smile slipping off his face.

"I do. Sometimes. Ever since..." A larger shiver ran through him, shaking him from his shoulders all the way down to his hands.

"Have you talked to anyone about it?" Nick's arm had moved from around Greg's waist to behind his shoulders. As he leaned back into the couch he found himself drawing comfort from the outstretched limb.

Greg shook his head. "Not really." Strong fingers worked their way into the hair on the back of his neck and he sighed, relaxing back into the absent massage with his eyes closed. "Not yet." He found the words slipping from his mouth. "I keep meaning to set up an appointment. I have a feeling Grissom will make me sooner or later."

"Do you want to talk to me about it?" Nick's voice came in a soothing wave and it was easy to forget that there was anything other than him and Nick in the world.

"I can't remember much," he started. "All I remember from the explosion is smelling burning plastic. I turned my back on the fume hood and then boom, I'm flying through glass. I remember looking around and seeing fire and glass. And I was in pain, my back hurt so bad, I thought I was dying." Opening his eyes, he turned his head to stare at Nick. "That's what people normally do when they're blown up or thrown through glass walls. They die. I got both and I'm still alive."

The hand on his neck tightened him, reminding him that he was still here. Nick's eyes were soft, comforting.

"That what you dream of?"

"No." Greg shook his head against Nick's arm. "I dream that I'm in this dark pit, and there's fire burning all around me so that I can't escape. And then Grissom and Sara and all the CSI crew show up at the top of the pit and they tilt these giant vats over and molten glass comes pouring down over me while they laugh." Greg squeezed his eyes shut as he talked, turning his face away so he didn't have to see Nick's reaction. So he didn't have to know he was right.

"You think we'd do that?" Nick's voice was so full of shock and horror that he had to look, to make sure he wasn't dreaming this.

"Yes." He blurted but the look on Nick's face made him instantly change his mind. "No. Maybe." The last was said with a lack of certainty.

Nick's hand moved from the back of his neck and he though Nick was going to pull away. After what he'd said, he'd deserve it. Instead Nick's hands cupped the side of his face, calloused thumbs worrying the skin just below his eyes.

"We care about you, Greg. Even Hodges and Ecklie in their own twisted little ways. No one wants to see you hurt."

Greg knew that Nick was telling the truth but it was hard, sometimes, to believe that. Hard to think so when he spent all day cooped up in a lab where people only visit when they want something. Hard when it felt like he was just another machine in the lab, there to deliver results.

Then Nick's arms were there, pulling him in tight, and Nick's lips were there, brushing against the side of his face, kissing away the tears that had started to dot his eyelids. Nick held him and for the first time since the explosion Greg felt safe.

"Stay with me." He knew he was pushing his luck. Even with everything that had happened, he was asking too much.

"I'll stay," Nick whispered low in his ear.

When Greg woke up the next morning, his back sore from sleeping curled up on the couch, Nick was still there, right beside him on the couch, his face relaxed in sleep. He didn't care about the pain or the fear anymore. It was worth it, just for getting him this far. It didn't matter if there were any more explosions. He could die tomorrow and it'd be alright because for this one moment, he felt like he was in heaven.