Summary: A short one shot. Greg wanders the crime lab like a lost puppy while Nick is away at a conference.
***On the first day that Nick was gone Greg walked into the break room, dragging his feet as he set about making a cup of coffee. He grumbled as Grissom began handing out assignments, pairing him with Sara on a 419 just off the strip. He ignored the amused mutterings behind him from Warrick and Catherine, the smirks they sent his way as they jostled with his bad mood.
Once at the scene he got straight down to business, keeping to himself even while Sara sent concerned looks his way. He batted off her questions and deflected her badly constructed jokes, barely raising an eyebrow as an excuse for a kinky innuendo passed him by. Shaking her head, Sara finally left him alone, moving off to the other end of the alley.
Back at the lab, people began to notice his down-turned demeanour. He answered questions when asked, working through the case with Sara with determined vigour. Even Grissom seemed to notice his mood, but didn't question it, leaving that instead to his not so subtle colleagues. Catherine shot him sympathetic gazes and squeezed him on the shoulder, while Warrick shook his head and rolled his eyes. Greg pretended to be baffled by their actions.
At the end of the shift Greg packed up his belongings and left the lab, carefully avoiding anyone who might try to interfere.
On the second day that Nick was gone, Greg dropped into a chair in the break room looking as stormy as a thunder cloud. There were dark circles under his eyes and his hair was messier than he'd kept it recently. Once again Sara asked him if he was ok and he shrugged her off, focusing instead on the information Grissom was giving. He was with Catherine, with a long car ride ahead of them, and Greg slumped into the passenger seat in silence.
On the way there, Catherine kept up the conversation. She asked him how he was doing, if he was eating enough and getting enough sleep. He nodded in response to each, managing a small joke about his college style eating habits, and Catherine had the good nature to chuckle softly. Silence descended once more, both believing they knew what the other was thinking.
On the third day that Nick was gone, rumours began to flit around the corridors of the lab, reflecting off the glass walls and bouncing around the rooms. Greg caught snippets whispered behind his back as people passed, and he resisted the urge to correct them. Catherine continued to shoot him sympathetic glances, but Greg only turned away, hearing enough from the whispers to know what she was thinking, what everyone was thinking.
The corridors became a maze to him, conspicuous with their absence, leaving him restless and unsure. He paced to unplanned destinations, more often than not finding himself in familiar surroundings, remembering fleeting touches and lingering eye contact, the promise of something more and the ache of fruitless waiting.
He sits down, machines whirring and beeping around him, time passing until Wendy comes back from her break, throwing him a look he can't quite decipher as she throws him out of her lab. Feeling an oddly prickly sensation on the back of his neck, Greg turns and meets the gaze of David Hodges, all-knowing amusement rife in his slitted eyes. Greg frowns but doesn't rise to the bait, choosing instead to walk away and leave Hodges to his own meagre devices.
On the final day that Nick is gone, Greg enters the lab with barely controlled energy pulsing under his skin. He sits in the break room and fidgets, folding paper over and over, making a bird with delicate wings before flattening it to the table top, the paper crinkled and plain. Catherine smiles at him and asks him to remake it, but he declines, ignoring the whispered comments about unrequited love as he walks out of the room.
The shift goes by so slowly however much Greg wills it to pass, minutes ticking into more minutes as he gazes over evidence that leads nowhere but more dead ends. The sun is just emerging from behind the steady horizon when he stands and paces out of the lab, searching for fresh air and a moment alone, away from prying gazes. Stripped bare, he slumps against the side of the building, not noticing the figure climbing out of the car in front of him.
It takes a moment for Greg to look up and into Nick's eyes, standing with his back to the soft orange sun, his body a chiselled outline, sculpted in black. They gaze at each other for moment before Greg launches himself away from the wall, running to Nick and throwing himself into his arms. Nick catches him, wrapping his arms around the younger man and lifting him off the ground, laughing as Greg gasps his name.
Coming out of the building at the end of their shift, Catherine and Warrick gaze at the site before them. Catherine smiles, her eyes glistening with recognition, while beside her Warrick gapes and shakes his head.
"Well, I guess it wasn't unrequited after all."
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