Title: A Simple Smile
Fandom: CSI: Vegas
Series: 1) Bewilderment, 2) Take Me Home, 3) Cynics, 4) Blood Spatters, 5) Hello Mr. Sanders, 6) Hitting The Wall, 7) Capable Of Murder, 8) The Good Boy, 9) Crying Shame, 10) As I Lay Me Down, 11) Stoic, 12) You Tell Me, 13) Mother, Mother
Summary: Greg finally lets go - a little bit at a time.
***Catherine stayed until she needed to go into work. She and Nick hadn't discussed anything about Greg's situation beyond what Nick had said when she originally arrived. She moved around the apartment, cleaning and straightening – actively avoiding Nick, but still unwilling to leave. Nick had respected her silence and carried about his day – checking on Greg, showering, and making dinner. He never mentioned that his mother was coming to town – he didn't want to disrupt Catherine's mothering of Greg – because he knew she needed it as much as Greg did.
Nick looked at the clock – it was time for shift and Greg had been sleeping – minus the nightmare – for almost 12 hours. Nick scanned the apartment, but had lost track of Catherine. He made his way to the bedroom and peaked in. He saw Greg, awake and sitting in bed with Catherine. Not wanting to disturb them, Nick hid behind the door and eavesdropped on their conversation.
"How are you doing?" Catherine asked Greg while stroking his hair.
"Alright, I guess. I don't know. The nightmares come and go and the drugs make me feel out of place in my own body."
"Do you need anything?"
"I don't think so. Nick's been taking good care of me."
Nick felt his heart leap with the first joy he had honestly felt in days. For all his doubts, Greg still trusted him.
"I've got to go to work, but feel free to call." She kissed him on the forehead before leaving. Nick ran from the doorway as quietly as he could. Catherine found him in the living room.
"I meant to give this to you when I came in," she said as she handing him a slip of paper. It was covered with the names and credentials of several local therapists. "I just thought, maybe Greg need to talk to someone. And that may you did too. I've been talking to the one at work and it's been helping."
"Thanks, Cath." She gave him a weak nod before leaving.
Nick hadn't heard Greg creep up behind him and jumped when an unexpected hand landed on his shoulder. Nick turned around in time to see Greg jump back.
"G! Jesus, you scared me!"
Greg shrunk back and cast his eyes downward. Nick realized that something must have truly snapped within Greg – before he would have had some snappy comeback about Nick's scaring easy.
"G, are you alright?"
Greg looked around the room as if to verify the reality of his surroundings. "It smells good. I came out to see if there was food." He still wouldn't make eye contact with Nick.
"Yeah, I made some stew. I didn't know what you would be in the mood for, but I don't know if I've ever met anyone who doesn't like stew."
Nick was momentarily confused as he looked at Greg – who broke into his first smile since the attack. "Sara's a vegetarian, therefore she doesn't like stew."
"She can have tofu stew," Nick replied, unwilling to lose the argument.
"Have you ever heard of tofu stew?" Greg was mocking him now.
"Fine! I'm going to make vegetarian stew just to prove to you that I can!"
"It'll taste like feet."
"You taste like feet." Nick knew he had lost the argument and had lowered himself to petty catcalls.
"Yes, Nick. My feet most likely taste like feet." Nick watched as Greg rolled his eyes and stuck out his tongue.
"That's it! You get no stew! No soup for you!" Nick attempted an impression of the Soup Nazi, but couldn't stifle the laughter that broke the illusion. Greg was laughing freely now too.
"I'll call Cath and tell her you're denying me nutrients and she'll kick your ass!"
"I'm...bigger...than...her..." Nick barely managed to spit out the words between laughs.
"You've obviously never fully pissed her off."
They were both laughing so hard now there were tears streaming down their faces. Nick was the first to stop and relish the sight of a happy Greg – the Greg from before.
Wrapped in his own silly joy, it took Greg a while to notice that Nick was watching him. He stopped. "What?"
"Nothing." Nick moved in close and hugged Greg. After a moment he grew bolder and kissed his cheek. He felt Greg shudder. "Do you want me to let go?"
"No. I'm focusing on the fact that this has to be you because only you hold me like this." He knew he was babbling a bit – but he knew Nick would understand his meaning. Greg just needed time to realize that not everyone who touched him was Kelly Gordon or Robert Cohen. "So, I take it they know?"
"Know what?" The question confused and frightened Nick. He didn't know who the they Greg referred to were or what the what was.
"Everybody knows about us."
That was the one thing that Nick hadn't considered at the moment. Nick had had time to process that he was out to his coworkers – he had made the choice to tell them. Greg had not had the benefit of any of that and Nick had a feeling that the falling out between Greg and his parents might have had something to do with sexual preference.
"I had to tell them, they had to help me find you," Nick whispered into Greg's shoulder.
"How'd they take it?"
"They're happy," Nick said as he pulled away and took Greg's face into his hands. "What did you think was going to happen?"
Greg turned his head slightly. "Don't know, I suppose it just occurred to me now that they would have found out."
"It's all might fault." Nick dropped his hands from Greg's face. And then he felt Greg's hands searching for his.
"Don't ever think that. I mean it. It's not your fault..."
The beauty of their laughter was gone now and in an instant Greg had returned to the sullen, fragile state that he had been in since his return. Nick went into the kitchen and served up the stew in silence. Catherine had brought them French bread for some reason, so he cut off large chunks for him and Greg. He put spoons in the bowls and went to the table where Greg was sitting.
"Something to drink?" Nick asked, placing a bowl in front of Greg. Greg didn't say anything – he just sat there staring at his food like he was waiting for permission to start. Suddenly, he grabbed the spoon and started eating greedily. Nick just watched – he had noted that Greg had lost weight in the time he was gone, but neither of them had said anything about it.
Nick went back into the kitchen and poured 2 glasses of water. When he returned Greg had nearly finished. Nick pushed the other bowl and piece of bread toward Greg – who moved his empty bowl out of the way and took the new one that was offered. Nick stood and watched as Greg emptied the second bowl and then drained the glass of water.
"Hungry?" Nick asked, still standing away from the table.
Greg stared into the empty bowls. "Sorry I ate yours too."
"Don't worry about it – there's a whole pot still. You want more?"
Greg contemplated for a bit. "Not right now. But you should eat too."
Nick went and refilled his bowl. When he came back Greg was gone and the idle chatter of the television wafted in. Nick followed the sound.
"Want to watch a movie?" Greg asked when he saw Nick come in.
"Sure, what do you have?"
"I was thinking about the Simpsons on DVD." He paused and looked up at Nick who was still standing at the entrance. "Don't you have to work?"
"No, Griss gave me a few days off to hang with you – that is if you want me too."
Greg nodded and patted the spot on the couch next to him – indicating that Nick should sit down.
"Do you remember my mother?" Nick asked, taking the seat.
"Yeah, she seemed nice," Greg replied trying to get the right disc to play on the multi-player DVD.
"She wants to come out and meet you properly."
Greg put down the remote. "She knows?"
Nick nodded and ate some of his stew.
"And she's ok... with us?" Greg was nervous.
"Yep. She's worried about you. Says you need some motherly love."
Greg looked as if he was about to cry. "Does she know how to make grilled cheese and tomato soup?" he whispered softly.
Any other time, Nick would have laughed at such a remark. Any mother worth her salt knew how to make that classic. But, instead, Nick lifted Greg's chin and kissed him.
***Next story in series - Good Enough.
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