The first time, he woke up alone.

Stared at the ceiling and listened to the pitter-patter of rain against his window. Soft edge of darkness creeping across the room and he didn't move until his alarm rang. Harsh and deafening in the silence and he threw aside the covers. Made his way into the bathroom and avoided the mirror, knowing what he'd see and not wanting the reminder.

Drove to work like nothing happened and drizzle turned to downpour. Beating against the metal above his head but it was winter in the desert and he was used to it. Made the summers seem a little less severe and besides, he liked the soft swoosh sound his windshield wipers made. Left the radio off and opened the window, letting in the cool, damp Vegas air and breathing deep.

Spent the day in the lab, processing endless samples and the light wasn't quite right. Faded like someone had hit a dimmer switch and for a moment he could almost convince himself it didn't happen. Some elaborate dream that would fade with time, vanish with the rising sun and tomorrow, everything would be clear.

Lasted until Nick walked into his lab. Shuffled really, eyes downcast and handing off DNA samples like he couldn't get rid of them fast enough. Stretch of awkward silence and he knew it was real. Flash of the previous night drifting across his vision and he felt drunk, unfocused and then Nick was leaving.

Glass doors swinging shut behind him and Greg still hadn't spoken a word. Voice caught somewhere in the back of his throat and he could still taste Nick on his tongue. Still feel the lingering impression of fingerprints across his skin and he fought against the urge to dust his arms.

Swallowed a wave of hurt and kept on working.


The second time, he welcomed the rain.

Icy water cooling his heated skin and he vowed to remember. Commit every detail to memory so that tomorrow he would know this wasn't a dream. Recall it with vivid clarity and he went out of his way to mark Nick. Finger-shaped bruises on shoulder blades and bright red circles along the pale expanse of Nick's neck.

Kept his eyes open, absorbing every expression, every flicker of emotion so he could close his eyes and conjure up the image at any time. Rain soaked Nick, pressing against him just outside his door, perfectly imprinted into his mind for all eternity. Wanted to keep it safe and he fought against the slight tremor running through his hand when he tried to open his door. An impossible task with Nick draped against him, bucking and thrusting and moaning into his ear. Fingers creeping beneath his shirt and he stumbled when the lock gave way.

Closed the door against the rain and they fucked in the front hallway.

Woke in his bed, not really remembering how he got there but too chilled to care. Shifted onto his side, watching Nick dress, sliding into faded jeans and Greg feigned sleep. Breathing low and steady and Nick didn't look up, focused on his task and Greg could practically feel the tension in the room. Rolling off Nick in waves and he found himself holding his breath.

Exhaled when Nick disappeared through the door and he waited until he heard the front door close before climbing from the bed. Floor cold beneath his bare feet and he stumbled to the shower, setting the water just this side of too hot and climbing under the spray. Scrubbed until he was raw, prickling pain radiating through the scars on his back and he welcomed the distraction.

Didn't see Nick in the lab for three days.


The third time, Nick showed up on his doorstep.

Shoes muddy and Greg didn't complain about the hour. Opened the door and let Nick in, catching a raindrop on the back of Nick's hand with his thumb before leading Nick into the bedroom. Damp clothes dripping on the floor and Nick shivered, pulling Greg close and murmuring something Greg couldn't understand.

Set about removing Nick's clothes, slowly and methodically, like he was evidence to be processed and care had to be taken. First time in weeks he'd seen Nick smile. Ignored the sudden fluttering of his heart and pulled Nick down onto the bed, the early morning sun breaking through the clouds, filtering through the blinds and casting bars of light across the mattress. Disappearing just as quick.

Woke ensconced in Nick, warmth radiating through his limbs and it took all his willpower to shift out from under the warm body pinning him down. Crept around his apartment, dressing in silence and Nick was still asleep when he slipped outside. Drove through rain hazed streets and made coffee in the break room.

Spent the day fighting the urge to call home and see if Nick was still there.

Told himself he wasn't disappointed to find his driveway empty, wasn't expecting anything but darkness as he unlocked the door. Stripped down to his boxers and crawled into his unmade bed, smelling Nick on the sheets and burying his face in the pillows.

Breathed deep and pretended not to care.


The fourth time, he cornered Nick in the locker room.

Meant to demand an explanation and ask just what game Nick thought he was playing. But Nick smiled, looking so much like a lost child that the words died on Greg's tongue. Replaced by an invitation and Nick touched his elbow, running fingers along the material of Greg's shirt, smiling sheepishly and nodding his acceptance. Went home to wait.

Paced restlessly for endless minutes before Nick showed up, still looking lost and just a little bit nervous and Greg no longer remembered why he was upset. Opened the door wide and Nick glanced over his shoulder before stepping inside. Brushed his way past and they made it as far as the couch.

Guarded his tongue at the feel of Nick's hands, ghosting over scars and skin and Greg felt like he was being read. Skin like parchment, imperfections the writing of some strange braille language and only Nick understood their meaning. Completely enraptured by their story and he wanted to ask Nick what they said.

Sofa soft beneath him, molding around him and then he was covered in Nick. Blanketed in warmth and sweat, the scent of sex heavy in the room and Nick never stopped touching. Never stopped tasting and Greg lost all sense of space and time.

Whispered Nick's name when he came.


The fifth time, he was bored.

Absently running samples that didn't need processing but the day was slow and the lab hadn't seen a case in days. Shifted restlessly in his seat, heat creeping up into his neck and he glanced over his shoulder to find Nick watching. Poised in the doorway, leaning against the frame, flicker of indecision in his eyes.

Smiled something close to welcome.

Wasn't surprised when the day ended and he found Nick waiting beside his car. Wet hair plastered to his head and water running down his face like tears. Sight enough to take his breath away and he left his car in the parking lot, climbing into Nick's truck and shivering against the cool leather of the seats.

Awkward stretch of silence the entire trip and then he was standing in Nick's doorway wondering if this meant something. Some form of acknowledgement because he'd never seen the inside of Nick's house. Wondered if he'd be expected to leave come morning. Thought maybe he should but then Nick's hands were on his shoulders, steering him into the bedroom and Greg forgot to ask.

Forgot everything but the feel of Nick's fingers, the sensation of Nick's tongue trailing down his neck. Settling on his collarbone and he reminded himself to breathe. Hands clenching the sheets beneath him, fingers twitching with the need to touch but he remained still. Silent and he didn't trust his voice; knew the wrong words would come out and he bit his tongue.

Hard enough to draw blood, acid taste filling his mouth and he whimper when Nick swallowed him whole. Cried out at the first feel of fingers, pressing deep inside, twisting and crooking until his vision blurred and he came down Nick's throat. Opened his eyes and Nick was pressing inside, slow, agonizing stretch that curled his toes and left him struggling for air.

Slipped outside just as the sun was setting, calling a cab from his cell and waiting in Nick's driveway.


The sixth time, he vowed would never happen.

Went out of his way to avoid Nick and temptation; creeping through corridors and glancing over his shoulder until he could feel the paranoia settle under his skin. Lasted until Nick found him in the break room, exhausted from a double shift and too off his game to do anything but stare. Nick blocking the only exit and dozens of carefully crafted excuses died on his tongue.

Kissed Nick hard and just a little bit desperate, ignoring where they were and the tiny voice in the back of his head telling him to stop. Ignored everything but the feel of Nick's shirt clenched between his fingers, the small whimper he knew belonged to him and the taste of stale coffee on Nick's tongue.

Pushed away almost forcibly, noting the vague look of shock in Nick's eyes. Murmured something that sounded like an apology and circled around Nick and out the door. Practically ran down the hall, brushing past anyone in his way and he could practically feel his heart trying to pound its way out of his chest.

Didn't stop shaking until he was back in his lab.


The seventh time, he fell in love.

Ignored the ringing of his phone, the four messages; all from Nick. Paced restless down his hall, back up the other side and around his living room. Ran a hand through his hair and someone was knocking on his door. Knew it was Nick but answered it regardless, trying his best to scowl and failing miserably.

Halfway to voicing all the little thoughts he knew needed saying and Nick was kissing him. Soft and something close to worship and the words evaporated. Lost to heat and a tenderness he didn't want to analyze. And then Nick was pulling away, hands lingering on his cheeks and he swallowed hard, licking the taste of Nick off his lips and not moving.

"I thought you understood," Nick whispered but the words echoed in Greg's ears, sounding far too loud for the early hour.

"I don't want to be your fuck buddy," Greg replied, pulling back and Nick's hands fell gracelessly to his sides.

"You're not."

Outside, it stopped raining.