A/N: Possible 'Nesting Dolls' spoiler, and there is Gil/Sara and Gil/Nick.
The diner was busy when they entered, but Catherine snagged a table next to the front window that had just been cleared. They sat down in the warm morning sunshine, ordered coffee, and managed five minutes of silence before Catherine gave into her curiosity. "Tell me."
Gil smiled a little. "Where should I start?"
"How about why you're actually are asking me for advice." She smiled back at him, belaying her harsh tone.
He took a sip of his coffee. "Did you know that Sara is in love with me?"
Catherine choked back a laugh. "Gil, everyone in the lab knows that she's in love with you, hell, you even know it some days."
Gil nodded. "Did you also realize that Nick is also in love with me?"
She didn't look surprised, she never did these days. "No, that he had a bit of a crush, yes, but- you're really getting tied up over this aren't you?"
She knew him so well. He flagged the waitress over and ordered them both the daily special. When she left he looked into Catherine's eyes. "I am, I tried to think it through on my own, to deal with it on my own, and the easiest course of action should be to tell them both that I don't feel anything for them, and hope they can deal with it."
Catherine smiled. "And we're here right now because you can never take the easy route." She tilted her head, regarding him as she might any witness or suspect in their line of work. "Not that I'm not flattered that you chose me as your confident, but why me? Is it because of Warrick?"
Gil smiled slightly, she was kind of touchy about her new relationship at times, and if Ecklie ever found out she would defend it to the ground. It was only around her friends that she got nervous, and that was why he was sitting here with her. "Not exactly, but it does mean you do know about affairs with someone younger." He winked.
Catherine reached across the table and smacked him lightly. "I'm twenty-nine and not a day older and you know it."
He laughed a little. "And you look younger, my dear." He sobered. "There is something else. Last night I-"
A frown replaced her smile, and Gil could tell that she mentally cataloguing him. "You had sex with someone last night."
"Do I have to guess, or are you going to tell me about it?" At a different time, with different people involved she would have been teasing and over drinks they would have pried details of each others sex lives out. Regretfully, this was different.
He sighed into his coffee cup, creating little ripples. "Sara. And I shouldn't have, but despite appearances I am human, and-"
"Why are we here now then?"
Because she had been sweet, and soft, and compliant, giving herself and not asking for much in return. Not overtly at least. "Because she is everything I should want, I'm everything nobody should want, and afterwards-" He couldn't seem to finish a sentence today. Gil put down his coffee cup and absently brought a hand up to brush against his lips.
Catherine narrowed her eyes slightly. "What you just did suggests longing, but your tone suggested a certain type of disenchantment with Sara's charms. Contradictory. Where does Nick fit in?"
"He kissed me. After I told him that I had found out about his feelings for me. Then he walked away." Gil noticed that he was rubbing his thumb across his lips and dropped his hand to the table.
She gave him the sad smile that he rarely was on the receiving end of. The one that said 'I sorry, but I can't really help', "Well, what is your heart saying?"
His heart, that weary neglected portion of his being. That was the problem, wasn't it? Over the years he had been careful to only pursue strong, terrifyingly intelligent individuals whose careers were as important to them as his was to him. He hadn't been in a long term relationship for at least ten years, and- had it really been that long?
Something of what he had been thinking must have shown on his face because Catherine grinned at him. "You just realized how long it's been, haven't you?"
"Yes, since Rachel, and that was only, what, eight months?"
She nodded, "And she's married with two kids and is working as a consultant in Detroit. And since then-"
"Several aborted attempts at relationships and a handful of one night stands." He could list them all, and he really didn't want to add Sara to the ranks of his emotional disasters.
"You're lonely. Is that why you slept with her? Is that why Nick is on your mind?" Catherine could be amazingly blunt when she needed to be.
"It feels complicated. More complicated then simple loneliness." And it did. Every time he tried to examine his feelings one way or another he came up to a mental wall. Both Nick and Sara were attractive to him in a way that he tried not to think about most of the time, and he was closer to both of them as friends and co-workers then he had been with any of his brief liaisons since his last real relationship. In fact, he was closer to his team, and he still considered Catherine Warrick and Nick his team, than he had been with very few people in his life. They were his family. But there was no turning back now.
Catherine let them sit in silence until their meal arrived. "If you are still unsure about where you want to go with it, sleeping with Sara was the worst thing you could have done."
Gil resisted a natural urge to cringe, and poked at his food. "I know that."
"In fact the only thing worse you could have done would have been to sleep with Nick as well."
He sighed. "I know."
They ate in silence for awhile. Then Catherine spoke up. "Well, what I think you should do is-" Which was when her pager went off. She pulled it off her purse and peered at it for a moment. "Well, dayshift appears to be swamped; they're calling us in early." She put the pager away. "We'll finish this later. Don't do anything else stupid."
Gil nodded. "I'll cover breakfast. Go on."
She smiled at him and pushed out of her chair. "It will all work out, one way or another."
The crime scene was fairly fresh, a hit and run, unusual only in that, there were two victims, an older woman and a young man who appeared to have no relation to her. Nick and Warrick were combing the intersection for evidence; Catherine had headed back to the lab with their preliminary findings, and to sit in on the autopsies
Warrick set down an evidence tag and photographed some blood spatter. "So, how did your case work out? I haven't heard much about it."
Nick looked up from where he was scooping pieces of a smashed headlight into a bindle. "The perp turned out to be the wife, she was clever, but too angry to lie when confronted."
"That's how it usually ends up in those kinds of cases. Was it fun working with Grissom and Sara again?"
Nick shrugged. "Not bad, I mean other then having Sara glare and snipe at me the entire time, having Greg tell Grissom how I feel about him, and then after listening to a confession of murder, having Grissom try and talk to me about emotions."
He looked over at Warrick to see his friend wince. "Ouch man, you okay?"
Nick smirked at that. "Fine. How where you guys with me gone?"
"Three break-ins, and a suicide; busy, but simple." Warrick photographed a piece of evidence and then slipped it into a bindle.
"Nice." Nick got up and walked over to his truck to get the tripod so that he could document the skid marks. "These tire marks are kind of odd, don't you think? It's almost like the vehicle had two different tire types."
Warrick knelt next to the marks in question. "Yeah, I see what you mean. It could make an ID difficult if we are working with a modified vehicle."
Nick looked over at the small group of people Detective Vega was interviewing. Warrick followed his gaze. "Do you know if anyone saw something we can follow up on?"
"Not yet. But someone had to have, there was an anonymous call to 911, and when the paramedics arrived the old woman was still breathing."
Warrick nodded. "Yeah, I'll head over and see how things are going. You want to take everything back to the lab?"
"Yeah, I want to get started on possibly identifying our vehicle." Nick snapped a final picture and started gathering everything up. "Besides, if you and Cath are working different angles of the case, I don't have to worry about carrying around a bucket."
"Bucket?" Warrick sounded wary.
"Yeah, to throw on you two when things start getting personal." Nick straightened up and patted Warrick on the back. "I used to have to do it when I was a kid and the dogs started at it."
Gil walked into the break room at the beginning of shift to find Greg flipping through some hopefully work related journal and Sara rolling a coin over her fingers, watching the door expectantly. "I have the assignments." Greg looked up, and Sara nodded, smiling. "Sara, you're on a possible body dump at this address," He handed the assignment slip to her. "And Greg, you're with me." He motioned the young CSI to follow him.
Sara looked up from the assignment sheet in her hands. "What do you to have?"
"A possible double homicide. We'll know more when we get there."
She nodded a small frown on her face, and Gil and Greg left. They were heading out to Gil's truck when Greg gave into his curiosity. "Double homicide?"
"Possible murder-suicide according to Brass."
"Huh, another first for me tonight then."
At the scene Brass was speaking to the paramedics. Greg hopped out of Gil's Tahoe, evidence kit in hand, and after shifting into park and turning off the truck Gil followed. He didn't think he had even been as young and eager as Greg.
Gil met Brass' eye, and got the nod which meant everything was good to go. "Come on Greg." They entered through the front door, Gil keeping close to the wall, eyes on the carpet; he put a hand back to make sure Greg was doing the same. "If it was a double murder we don't want to compromise any possible prints left behind by the murderer." He heard a rustle that meant Greg had nodded, they walked carefully along the hall, peering into rooms that they would process later, until they came to a large open living room off of the kitchen. A man lay sprawled on a leather loveseat, shot in the forehead, and in a chair across from him was the body of a woman, a handgun on the floor at her limp fingertips.
Gil looked over at Greg, pleased to see the assessing gaze that was a must have in all CSIs. "Where do we start?"
He saw Greg make a quicker, more nervous survey of the room. "Well, the coroner has already been in to pronounce. So we start with each victim and work our way outwards."
Gil smiled. "Good idea, let's get to work."
As they processed the scene, Gil kept one eye on Greg, carefully pointing out things that he thought the young CSI might like to know, or pointing out something Greg may have otherwise missed. To Gil it was as close to a textbook case as he had ever seen. What was a mystery was why, as it always was, but he knew that the evidence would tell them. They finished up their preliminary relatively quickly, calling in David to collect the bodies for autopsy.
Gil stood up from where he had been kneeling next to the male victim, and picked up his kit. "Come on Greg, time to take a quick break and look around the rest of the house."
Greg nodded and took out his flashlight. "Top to bottom or bottom to top?"
"We're already on the ground floor." Gil tried to look like he wasn't criticizing; he owed Greg a milder supervisor after the younger man had managed to survive a personal conversation with Gil. Unfortunately Greg didn't look reassured. "Unless you'd like to start upstairs?"
"No, that's alright." Greg walked over to the kitchen and started making sweeps with his light.
They went though the house slowly, taking their time, Gil making an effort to not just lecture, but to ask for Greg's observation's first, then add his own thoughts which were backed by more years of experience that he wanted to think about. By the time they made it to the last two rooms on the top floor, Gil had already run through what they had found in the living room several times, and was ready to head back down and see if there was anything they had missed. He opened the door to what he assumed was the master bedroom and the only thing that caught his eye was the small collection of empty drinking glasses on one of the bedside tables. Their dead couple had been thirsty.
He was just about to suggest that they head back down to the primary crime scene when Greg spoke up from the last room. "Gris, you might like to see this." Gil walked back to the bathroom, and peered over Greg's shoulder.
Greg's flashlight was trained on a body in the bathtub, female with slit wrists, and very dead. Gil twisted to look down the hallway. "David you need to come up here."
The possible dead body had turned out to be a disturbingly real mannequin, and had left Sara at loose ends. She walked briskly towards Grissom's office, hoping that he and Greg wouldn't be back from their scene yet, and she could just call and head over. One of the techs had mentioned that the double had turned into a triple.
Sure enough, Grissom's office was empty, and a quick look around the lab did not turn up either of her team mates, so Sara pulled out her phone and dialled, leaning against a nearby wall, and shifting her hips just to enjoy the slight ache of a morning after a well spent night before.
"Grissom." He sounded a bit hassled; Sara wondered if Ecklie or the sheriff had shown up at the scene.
"Hey Gris, its Sara, it was a false alarm. Want me to head over?" She felt her lips move into a smile, it felt so nice to talk to him, even over the phone.
"No, that's alright. Greg and I have it covered. You could close up the Eriksson case though." Sara's smile slipped away, three dead bodies and here she was being assigned to paperwork.
"Alright, I'll see you back at the lab." She bit back an urge to close with 'I love you' and ended the call.
She walked back the way she came and went into the lab which held the evidence from the gunshot victim who had come in the shift before. The shift in which after, Grissom had asked her to breakfast, to apparently make up for the way he had dealt with the unavoidable knowledge of her feelings for him. And when she had asked if he wanted to go to her place for coffee, he had said yes.
Sara let her body run on autopilot, ordering the evidence to create a log, sitting down at the computer to burn the simulations onto a disk, and let the rest of the day run through her mind.
He had barely closed the door to her apartment behind him before she kissed him. And he had responded, hadn't pushed her away, just wrapped his arms around her and gave as good as he got. If she had had her way they wouldn't have made it to the bedroom, but he had steered them gently, and when he removed their clothes and started mapping her body with warm lips and questing fingers, she appreciated the effort. Afterwards, wrapped in his arms, sweaty and sated she had allowed herself, for the first time in years, to open up her dreams of the perfect relationship that she was sure the two of them would share.
Now, sitting here, stuck doing paperwork, her usual plethora of fears and insecurities related to Grissom came up again. Had she disappointed him? Was she not enough? What had she done wrong? It was hard for her to believe that he would let his feelings towards her spill out into their working relationship. It could be something about the case he was working, something like that one case where the victim had looked a little bit like her, and maybe he was protecting her. A small smile formed on her lips, she didn't appreciate the protecting, but she did appreciate the thought.
She saved her work on the report and stood up. Some of the techs would know more about what was going on then she did.
"We found a vehicle ID." Nick held a slender file in one hand. "Vega has someone bringing it in right now."
Catherine looked up from a file, a smile slowly filling her face. "That's great." She indicated an empty chair next to her. "Come sit with me while we wait for it." She paused, and held up a hand. "Wait, grab us some coffee first."
Nick dropped the file on her desk. "Sure thing, boss." He walked over to the break room, slowly, exchanging greetings with everyone along the way, and offered coffee to most of them. If Catherine wasn't in a hurry then neither was he.
When he got back she had most of the evidence from the case spread across the desk. He handed her a coffee, and sat down another in his hands. "Are we going to wait for Warrick?"
Catherine took a sip and shook her head. "He has a court appearance in the morning, so I sent him home." She pushed a photo of the tire treads towards him. "Tell me how you two figured the car out."
Nick grinned, she was much more laid back then Grissom ever had been. "Well, from the bystanders descriptions and the treads we picked up we ran a search for a black modified sedan. We didn't pick up much, but then we headed out with a description to a couple of the local chop shops asking about who would do that kind of work, found the shop, talked to the owner, and here we are waiting for the vehicle in question to be brought in."
Catherine nodded. "Waiting, so much of this job is waiting. And reports. My paperwork has tripled since I became supervisor." She smiled and put down her coffee and leaned forward, chin resting on steepled fingers. "Now that we have that out of the way, tell me about what's going on with you and Grissom."
Nick barely refrained from spitting a mouthful of coffee across the table. "What?"
"Come on, I've been dying for some gossip lately, well, for the sort that doesn't come from Hodges."
"Yeah, what is our beloved trace tech up to these days?" It wasn't a subtle distraction tactic, but Catherine knew enough about him that she didn't need more ammo on him beneath her belt.
"A lot of talk, not a lot of action. Makes me miss Greg."
"No trying to distract me."
"If I talk does that mean you'll tell me about you and Warrick?"
She winked at him. "Maybe, depends on how good the gossip is."
"Too bad, because there is nothing to tell."
"Really?" Her eyebrows raised in disbelief. "You had yourself assigned to a case with Grissom and Sara, and walked away the same? I'd think the scratch marks from at least one cat fight would be showing."
Nick chuckled. "It was fine." He narrowed his eyes a little. "Wait, have you been talking to Warrick?"
Catherine became innocence personified. "Me? Why would I talk to him? All I do with Warrick is-"
"Never mind, I give up."
Catherine grinned. "Good. Now tell." She glanced up behind him to the clock on the wall. "We've got at least three quarters of an hour. Make it nice and detailed."
"Nothing to tell, although, you and Warrick may be taking second string in the most anticipated office romance pool."
"Why?" The look on her face told Nick that she knew more than she was letting on, but he continued anyway.
"Given the conversation Grissom and I had at the end of the Right case, and the smug look Sara sent my way tonight, leads me to assume that she has finally caught him."
Catherine smirked. "You know what assuming does."
"What?" He was interrupted by his pager going off, and he pulled it off his belt to see who it was. "Towing delivered our vehicle."
Catherine pushed away from her desk and got up. "Already? Well then, I guess we'll have to postpone the rest of this conversation."
"Thank goodness." Nick got up and opened the office door for her.
She smacked him lightly. "Hey."
Greg was walking back from a very enlightening interview with parents of the three cohabiting deceased when he saw Sara, face cold and set, walk out of one of the labs and into the evidence room that he and Grissom had taken over for their case. She slammed the door behind her.
Torn between hightailing it, explosions of any sort made him wary, and trying to see what was going on, he stood in the hall and saw Sara lean forward across Grissom's desk, posture tight and angry. Grissom leant back in his chair, his face going from bland to annoyed, brows lowering, lips pinching. Greg knew that look fairly well.
He watched as Sara straightened and spread her arms, and felt someone move to stand beside him. "What's going on?" It was Bobby from ballistics, which meant that everyone else from this wing was probably standing around as well.
Greg shrugged but didn't look away, Grissom was pushing away from his desk and standing up, Greg could hear muffled words now, the two of them were obviously shouting. And then Grissom walked around his desk and to the door of his office, not looking at the growing crowd of spectators, but at Sara. He opened the door and Greg could finally hear what was being said.
"-at work right now. Do you know what that means? You leave your personal life at home, and concentrate on the job." Uh oh. This didn't bode well for Sara, she was gaining a bad reputation for insubordination, and if she wasn't careful there wouldn't be any choice but for her to quit or be fired. And Greg didn't want that, first of all she was his friend, and second she was a great criminalist who didn't really deserve a black mark on her record.
"If that is how it works, then let me work on the case." Maybe she might, a little.
"Sara. The door is open, we have witnesses, and I'm giving you a choice to avoid embarrassment or an official reprimand. I'm not assigning you to this case because of previously discussed reasons, which you obviously haven't resolved yet. Either go home, and come back for tomorrow's shift, or tell me that you can continue working tonight and can take the mugging that just came in."
Sara didn't say anything for too long a time, and Greg took a few tentative steps towards the door, hoping to interrupt before Assistant Director Ecklie showed up.
"Let me go in first Sanders." And he was too late. Greg stood to the side, a feeling of helplessness sinking in, as Ecklie walked in and broke Grissom and Sara's glaring contest. "Would you to like to tell me why you have decided to disturb the entire lab?"
Greg caught Grissom's eye from behind Ecklie and had up the transcripts, then pointed down the hall. He would hide in the lab they had commandeered for the case until this all blew over. And hope to hell that the damage wasn't irreparable.
"Would you to like to tell me why you have decided to disturb the entire lab?" The anger in Ecklie's voice was nearly palatable. Gil supposed it was warranted, the last time Sara had caused a disturbance, he had told Ecklie that he would take care of it, and obviously he hadn't. Both of their jobs would be on the line now.
"Sara just needed me to explain my justifications as to why she was not assigned to the case the Greg and I are currently working on." Gil kept his voice mild and his eyes on Sara, hoping that she would keep quiet.
Ecklie stepped inside Gil's office and closed the door. "And was your explanation satisfactory?"
Sara stayed silent.
"Well?" Ecklie's face was going an interesting shade of red. Gil idly wondered what the man's blood pressure was like, but shook it off in the very real possibility of an immediate dismissal.
"We sorted it out."
Sara shook her head.
"Do you have something do add Ms. Sidle?"
"Good. I'll be adding this incident to both of your files. I think that makes it two strikes. And Ms. Sidle, I might be expecting a shift change if I were you."
Gil noticed the anger vanish from her face, replaced by surprise, a brief flash of happiness, before settling back into a fair facsimile of the anger that had coloured it before. He hoped that she didn't think that a transfer to another shift would change anything.
Ecklie shook his head. "I have no idea how you people have kept your jobs this long." Obviously he had interpreted Sara's facial expressions the same way Gil had.
"Is that all?"
"For now." He watched Ecklie exit his office and stalk back down the hall. The man fancied himself a predator, but he reminded Gil much more of a scavenger. He turned back to Sara. "Come with me. We're going to take a bit of a walk." She looked like she wanted to protest, sullen anger still clouding her features. He held up a hand. "This isn't negotiable."
She followed him down the hall and out of the lab, Gil carefully didn't look at the various employees who were still more interested in the most recent inter-office blow-up then their jobs, and when they got to the lobby he held the door open for her.
"If the rest of that sentence is not going to explain your behaviour, I don't want to hear it. Ecklie nearly fired the both of us, and it would have been within his rights." He felt like some sort of parent when he spoke like that. This was slightly disturbing, considering the recent change in their relationship.
She was silent for a moment. "After everything that has happened, that's what you have to say?"
Gil wanted to shout at her, to point out that this was why he hadn't started anything before, that she wasn't able to keep her personal life and work life separate. You just had to look at her relationship with that paramedic to know that. But he didn't. "Sara, I would have been a bad supervisor if I let you work this case."
"You wouldn't have known why I shouldn't work the case if you were just my supervisor."
He really wished he didn't have to do this. "Perhaps that is the problem."
"It's not going to work out is it?" Her voice caught a bit on the last word.
"I don't think so."
"So, that's it?" Gil tried not to see the tears gathering in her eyes.
"No, I know what you're going to say 'You're a great CSI' or 'You are a part of the team', well Grissom, maybe I didn't want to be 'part of the team' I want to be part of a team with you. I love my job, and I've made some great friends in Vegas, but maybe it's time for me to move on." She attempted to smile. "Ecklie will be changing my shift anyway, I'll start with that." She reached up to touch his face briefly. "I'll take the mugging." She dropped her hand and turned away.
Gil watched her walk back into the building, head held high, posture perfect, and he didn't feel the sense of loss that he had been expecting. He followed her, slowly, they had the rest of shift to get through, a case to solve, and he had to get his emotions straightened out.
As he pulled open the doors to the lobby, Gil realized that Greg would still be waiting to show him something case-related, and that the young CSI was going to be suitably unimpressed with Gil's explanation. He would apologise, or something. Although, it would be easier to give Greg most of the story, so that he could he ahead in the gossip polls.
Greg waited in the lab for ten minutes before getting edgy. He had watched the techs and other assorted personnel drift back to their places of work, and had known that Ecklie had finished being a black cloud of doom, and since no one had come in to talk to him, it was likely that Grissom and Sara were still members of the Las Vegas police department.
He put the finishing touches on his report of the interview, and debated calling up Brass to make sure that both their reports matched. That might be embarrassing, although not as embarrassing as having someone reviewing the case notice discrepancies. Greg flipped his phone open and closed a few times, and nearly jumped when Grissom walked in.
"Greg, you had something to show me?"
Greg looked up, Grissom looked, fine, if not a little tired, but that was usual. "Yeah, Brass and I interviewed the parents."
"Whose parents? Nicholson's, Williams', or Lee's." Grissom sat down on the edge of the table.
"All three sets, actually. They're trying to arrange a joint funeral." And it had been hard watching Mrs. Williams cry silently and even harder to see the disgust in Mr. Nicholson's eyes when he spoke of his daughter's living arrangements.
"So, the three were indeed in a relationship?"
"Yes, and from all accounts, the parents and her medical records, ZoŽ Nicholson suffered from clinical depression, and when she got low she became suicidal." Greg could see Mrs. Lee in his mind's eye, telling him about how she would spend time with ZoŽ when the young woman couldn't work, and he could also see the scowls on the Nicholson's faces, how much they had disliked their daughter's lifestyle, and that everyone else seemed okay with it.
"And she finally was successful. The coroner's final report states that her wounds were self-inflicted and her death has been ruled a suicide." Grissom tilted his head to look at Greg's transcription of the interview. "You think you know why, don't you?" His tone was mild, inquisitive, so Greg nodded.
"According to the William's and Mrs. Lee, their children were very much in love, and happy. The Nicholson's on the other hand, weren't so accepting." Greg flashed back for a moment, hearing Mrs. Lee speak 'We understand, even if it's hard to believe are children are gone, they were each other's lives.' He shook it off.
"And their daughter committed suicide. Our society puts such pressure on those within it."
Greg winced; he could imagine Megan Lee and David Williams coming home, laughing and happy perhaps, and going upstairs to find ZoŽ's body. He couldn't imagine how it would hurt to lose a loved one like that, but he could see David arranging himself on the loveseat, looking Megan in the eye, his body collapsing after the shot, and Megan's tearstained face as she brought the gun to her head.
He opened his eyes to see Grissom looking at him with empathy in his eyes. "Cases of passion can be the most difficult for us to comprehend. Our choice of career doesn't necessarily lend itself to attracting the most open and loving of individuals."
Greg looked at the transcript in front of him and sighed, he wasn't meant to say personal things to his boss. "Grissom, you know that thing we talked about a couple of days ago? If there is any part of you that returns the feelings of either of them, even a little bit, you owe to them, and yourself to do something about it." Greg tried to dampen his blush reflex. "In our line of work we know how easy a life can slip away."
Grissom nodded, looking as serious as he did at his worst moments.
The sun was nearly directly overhead by the time Gil made it to Nick's apartment. There was not much time before swing shift started, not if Gil actually had to talk about his feelings. But he ignored the part of him that wanted to wait for another day, maybe one that they both had off, perhaps in the next decade, and listened to the 'Catherine' part of him that told him to deal with things now, before they went bad.
Nick answered on the first knock, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt looking like he was about to head out for a run. "Hey Gris, is something wrong?" His brown eyes seemed to take in everything at that moment. Gil could almost feel the lines around his eyes being measured.
"No, nothing. I was wondering if we could talk." Hypersensitive now, Gil wondered if Nick could hear a slight hoarseness in his voice from shouting.
Smiling a bit Nick opened the door wider, and motioned Gil inside. "Well come in then. I've got coffee. Just tell me the conversation isn't going to be as embarrassing as our last one. I was blushing for like an hour afterwards."
Gil bit back a natural urge to return the banter, knowing that if he did the conversation would end up going nowhere and he would be left no closer to Nick than before. Taking a seat at the end of the couch that was offered, he threw out any hope of being able to go with a pre-planned speech. Looking Nick in the eyes, he opened his mouth to start talking. Then he shut it again, and shrugged.
Nick sat down next to him, his brown eyes filled with compassion, but he didn't say anything. So Gil tried again. "I've screwed up a lot over the years, but I think I would like to try again with you."
"Gris-Gil." Gil smiled a little bit, and Nick grinned back at him. "If you seriously think this is a good idea, I'm all for it. But I'm not the kind of guy who does casual." He moved a bit closer. "But I would be lying if I said that I've never thought about us, together, and it would take a man much stronger than I am to even contemplate saying no to you."
Resisting the urge to reach out and close the remaining gap between the two of them Gil, nodded and spoke. "Is that a yes?"
"It's a 'yes' if we take it slow. I'm not going to let you hurt me if it is in my power to stop it, and I don't want to turn into another Sara."
Gil had the wherewithal to wince, but slid closer to Nick, their thighs touching. "Thank you."
"No problem." And then Nick leant forward enough to brush his lips against Gil's. "No problem at all." Nick murmured against his mouth. And Gil wrapped a cautious arm around the other man and sealed the kiss.
It was more than he could have hoped. Nick was solid and warm in his arms, easily keeping the kiss gentle and slow, and yet not chaste at all. Gil carefully pulled Nick's lower lip between his own, tasting, and shuddered at the small sound Nick let out. Then Nick put his hand on the back of Gil's neck and deepened the kiss, opening his mouth and running his tongue lightly across Gil's upper lip. Gil lost himself in it, the taste, the push of tongue against tongue, they way Nick's hands tightened on Gil every time their lips parted briefly, and the electric shivers that began to radiate out from his lips and down his spine.
A watch beeper went off some inestimable time later and they drew apart. Nick smiled. "That means I have to get ready for work." He leant forwards to kiss Gil again briefly. "You made me miss my run."
"Sorry." But he wasn't and he knew that Nick wasn't either.
"Yeah right. You should head home for some sleep."
Nick was smiling, and Gil smiled back. "Good idea."
He stood up, and Nick did as well. "I'll walk you to the door." They walked slowly, and Gil basked in the proximity of Nick. When Nick reached around him to open the door, Gil stole another kiss, putting all of his turbulent emotions into it. Nick responded, and Gil could feel something inside of him dethawing. When they pulled apart they both were kiss flushed and happy.
"Could I call you about perhaps having dinner one evening?" He reached out and brushed a hand against Nick's cheek.
Nick leant into his hand a little. "That would be nice. I'm due for a day off Saturday, you?"
"It can be arranged." Gil removed his hand and stepped backwards out the door. "Have a good shift."
"Thanks." As Nick closed the door, and Gil turned to walk to his truck, he couldn't help but think that something good had begun.
Catherine slid into the booth across from him and glared at him accusingly. "You're smiling."
"I am." Gil could feel his smile widen.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?"
"After we order." Gil looked up at their waiter. "Two of the daily specials, please."
"And coffee." As soon as the waiter left, Catherine resumed her glare. "You're smiling."
"You already said that." He let her stew for a moment until their coffee arrived. "I believe that I have solved that issue I had asked you for advice on."
She leant forward, always eager to pry something of his personal life out of him, "Really? And I take it you're fully satisfied?"
She coked back a laugh. "I don't really need the details behind that tone of voice."
"What, the one you've been sporting for the last month and a half?"
"Yes, that one. Are you going to tell me what happened? You did ask me for advice after all."
"Advice of which I received very little." Gil sighed, his smile slipping a little. "I'll start with the less cheerful part first. Sara, it's over, if it was ever anything to begin with."
"Oh, Gil, I heard about it from Greg." Catherine reached across the table to lay a hand on his arm. "It'll get better. How about the happy part?"
"Nick." Gil felt his smile return.
Summary: A case of passion, some temporary team reshufflings, a few emotional revelations, and enough jealousy and unrequited love to satisfy a teenager.