Title: Bewilderment
By: it-glitters
Pairing: Greg/Nick
Fandom: CSI: Vegas
Rating: R
Summary: Nick and Greg find happiness, at least for a little while. Through season 6 and then some changes.

***

"Hey, Nicky!" Greg called as he walked into the locker room. "You looked kind of stressed."

"Yeah, well the fact that one of my first cases back happened to be underground didn't really give me reason to be all that happy." He had no idea why he was telling Greg this.

"Yeah, I wanted to see if you were all right, but I was processing that car."

"No worries but thanks for the thought." Nick paused for a minute. "Did Warrick tell you about getting married?"

"You mean pre or post consummation?"

"Either."

"Nope. I sorta gathered. The ring is a dead giveaway and all. He mention it to you?"

"Not till after the fact. Said it was kind of a spur of the moment drive-through thing."

"That's cheap even by Vegas standards."

Nick smiled at his friend. "I thought so too. I just didn't think it was the kind of thing you said out loud."

"Well, you know me every time I get a chance to insert my foot in my mouth, apparently I take it." It was Greg's turn to hesitate. "I don't know if you had any plans for after shift, but I know I'm wired as hell. I was gonna go kick it at a little bar I know and grab a beer. If you wanted to come, you know, I would enjoy the company." He tried to seem less eager for Nick to come than he actually was.

"Kick it, Greg?" Nick asked mockingly.

"Yeah, well I'm expanding my lingo. You in? Or do you have better plans?"

Nick thought about it for a minute. He had wanted to go out with Warrick, but Warrick had told him that he had to meet up with the new wife. "I'm there. Just tell me where to go."

"You could follow me I mean, if you're leaving now?" Greg didn't know why he was so nervous about going to grab a beer with his friend but then again, so much had changed since Nick's kidnapping.

"I don't see a reason to stay here." Nick grabbed his things and followed Greg out to the parking lot. He continued to follow him to a seriously out of the way bar.

"Jeez, G. How did you ever manage to find this place to begin with?"

"I was seriously drunk and wanted to stay that way so a cab dropped me off here."

"When was that?"

"After the lab exploded."

Nick wanted to delve deeper into the story, but he didn't know how. They had never really talked about the explosion.

"Did you know Griss had ear surgery right around the same time?" Greg asked, changing the subject.

"No. How do you know?"

"The lab has ears my friend. The rat's know all."

"Seriously?" Nick asked with a worried look.

"Oh, the things I could tell you."

"You must miss being privy to all that info," Nick said, sitting at the bar.

"Who say's I'm no longer privy?" Greg smiled impishly.

"Greg the man!" the large bartender called to him. "Where the hell have you been?"

"Alas, the life of a CSI doesn't allow me much free time. Joe this is my friend Nick. Nick this is Joe the owner slash bartender here. Nick works with me." As Joe stuck out his hand, Nick swore he saw recognition light the old man's face causing Nick to wonder what exactly Greg had been talking about at the bar.

"Nice to meet you," Joe said as he firmly shook Nick's hand. "Any friend of Greg's is a friend of mine. What are you boys drinking?"

"The usual, Joe." Joe looked to Nick.

"I suppose I'll have the same."

Joe went to the tap and poured two drinks. The bar was not surprisingly empty given the fact that it was still early morning a few nightshift workers and various alcoholics sat around in booths. Joe left them alone for a bit to join some friends in a poker game. The two men sat silently for a while, sipping their beers.

"Did you tell Joe about what happened to me?" Nick asked without looking at Greg.

"Yeah, I'm sorry. I was pretty messed up about what happened. Joe's sorta been my shoulder since the lab exploded. Same guy I went to when I fucked up my proficiency too."

"You don't have anyone to talk to?"

"Not really. My parents and I had a falling out when I came to Vegas. And I can't talk to Papa and Nana Olaf about anything specific because either I don't want to burden them or I don't want it to get back to my folks. I mean, how good can the situation be when their only son gets shot through a window and burned up and they don't even call. Fuckers." The last part was barely audible.

Nick stared into his beer he had had no idea what it was like not to have anyone to talk to. He came from a big family, then a big frat house and then to the PD. He didn't know what it was like until he got buried alive. Then Warrick got married and then he found out that his most personal struggle had been broadcasted on the lab computer. So now, he felt like he had no one to talk to. Maybe it was the beer on an empty stomach, be he felt like Greg could be his kindred spirit.

"You could talk to me."

"You're just saying that because now you feel sorry for me."

"Maybe that's why I said it but I do mean it. Can I tell you something?" Nick asked, swerving in his stool to face Greg.

"Course."

"I sleep with a light on. Ever since the thing. And the bedroom door has to be open."

"I can't be near an open flame anymore. Griss put me on that case with the woman who lit herself on fire with the vodka, and I swear I was going to quit then and there. I hated him so bad."

There, in the dark bar, they had shared each other's greatest fears.

They had been in silence since the revelations, each too afraid to be the first one to speak.

"Nick?"

"Yeah?"

"You hungry? They've got killer nachos here."

"Yeah, but I totally feel like that's not what you wanted to say."

"Well... I was just thinking, you know, about the team. I was starting to wonder when I would get to join it."

"What are you talking about?"

"Well, it's just that everyone kind of treats me like the kid brother who they let along for the ride." He waved Joe down and ordered the food. Nick thought about what he needed to say next.

"Everyone goes through that, G. You're the youngest; you're new to being a CSI. And you've always been kinda goofy."

Greg let out an exasperated cry. "But I've been trying! I've calmed down my hair! I've changed my clothes, I never go out anymore because I'm always at home trying to be on the cutting edge of information." Greg dropped his head onto the bar and Nick put his hand on the frustrated man's shoulder.

"Don't think that all those things haven't gone unnoticed, or that just because 'Rick and I mess with you that we don't think of you as part of the team. We see how hard you've worked to become a CSI I mean you we're a trainee and running the DNA lab at the same time. I know we don't show it but you really are doing fantastic. And, I'm going to give you some advice too you need to slow it down! You're gonna end up burning out!"

Greg rubbed his hands over his face. "I'm just so frustrated on so many levels. It's been forever since I last got laid."

That wasn't what Nick had expected him to say and his face clearly showed it thankfully Greg was still staring at the bar and not at him. Joe brought their food and another round. He looked at Greg sympathetically and then at Nick he must have decided not to get involved because he left them again to go back to the poker game.

"Man, we all go through dry spells."

"Yeah, when was the last time you got some?"

Nick thought about the question. It had been... 11 months since the one night stand, and... he couldn't remember his last real relationship. He blushed. "You first."

"No way, I asked first!"

"11 months."

"What are you a fucking camel?"

"So you?"

"6 months."

"11 will be here soon enough."

"Fuck you, Stokes." And Nick kind of wished he would.

***

Next story in series - Take Me Home.