Confessions in the Shower by SidheWolf_
Archive: Yes, just let me know where
Disclaimers: Greg, Nick and the CSI shower are not mine. I'm making no money on this.
Authors Notes: Takes place sometime before "Play With Fire"
Summary: Greg makes a confession in the shower.
Warning: Nothing this time except a swear word or two
He hadn't meant for anyone at work to see.
In the time he had worked at the lab, he had somehow always managed to shower either before or after the rush of men coming on or going off shift. But today, as he soaped his hair in an attempt to rinse the stale lab smell from the stiffened spikes before going home, Nick Stokes unexpectedly walked into the shower, a pristine white towel bunched around his waist.
Greg's movements slowed as he realized his back, turned in full view of Nick, was being scrutinized. In an unconscious attempt to shield himself from view, he turned toward the CSI, only to feel like a high school boy, suddenly ashamed of his naked body.
At a loss as to whether a full-frontal or posterior view would be worse, Greg quickly rinsed the remaining soap from his hair and turned off his shower.
But he knew he would not escape so easily. Stokes blocked his way to the locker room and the shocked look on his face immediately told Greg that he would have to explain before he would be allowed to leave.
Nick's first words supported that feeling. "My God, Greg! Who did that to your back?" The words were hushed, a whisper in the silent shower.
His entire body froze. If the water in the shower had suddenly turned to ice, it would have had the same effect. His breath came in gasps, short and sharp, and goose-flesh rose along his arms. He could feel himself start to blush.
He finally forced himself to look into Nick's eyes and saw not only shock, but pity. Greg hated the pity. He had often been forced to live with pity, and seeing it in the face of someone who until now at least, had some respect for him as an individual, was shattering.
He summoned a smile to his frozen lips and grabbed for the two towels he had planted safely away from the spray to keep them dry. As nonchalant as possible, he wrapped one of the towels around his hips, while draping the other around his shoulders, and made an effort to edge pass Nick, who stood at the door to the large shower area, blocking his way.
"Hey, you know how high school jocks are. It was just one of those things...science geek, captain of the chess team... you know...just kid stuff."
Immediately he knew his lame excuse would not be accepted. Nick always needed explanations. You couldn't snow Nick Stokes. Nick always had to verify evidence, and now that the evidence, clearly scarring Greg's back, was in plain view, Greg knew he would want more than a quick joke as an explanation.
Shoving past, Greg quickly scrambled to his locker and grabbed the outlandish shirt which he was wearing today. He slipped it over his shoulders, ignoring the fact that water from his shower quickly soaked into the fabric, plastering it to his skin. Then he hastily slipped on his boxers and jeans, zipping them haphazardly. He turned to find Stokes still staring at him, wide-eyed.
"Kids in your school did that to your back, Greg?" Nick's voice sounded incredulous.
Greg could feel his face flush with color and he licked dry lips before trying to form words. "Nick, it was high school. You remember how high school was, don't you? You probably laughed at dozens of science nerds. You know...the guy with the big glasses who couldn't catch a girl if he fell on top of her."
It was Nick's turn to blush.
"Well...okay, maybe I did my share of kidding around, but, Greg...I never did something like that to any of them! What happened?"
"They thought...well, they thought some things and they never bothered to find out whether they were wrong or not. It wouldn't have mattered anyway. High school is not the place to be the one who's different, and I was just too much of an idiot to know that then. Like I said, it was no big deal."
Greg reached to push his locker door closed and was shocked to find his hands shaking. It would seem that, even now, after all these years, just the thought of what life had been like during those times was enough to send him heading toward a panic attack.
Nick saw the tremor of his hands also, and reached out to snag the sleeve of Greg's shirt, pulling him to sit on one of the benches which ran down the center of the locker room. After he was sure that Greg would remain seated, he grabbed his own shirt and slipped into it while adjusting the towel which was wound around his waist, to keep it in place. Then he again returned to stand behind Greg.
"Take off your shirt, Greg."
The command in his voice was something that Greg could not ignore. He unbuttoned the shirt, which had rainbows and pink flamingos on it, and let it slide off his shoulders, pulling his arms free of the sleeves as it fell. It hung, tucked in at his waist, to drape on the floor behind him. Nick gasp softly, staring intently at the scars that criss-crossed Greg's back.
Gently, before he even realized what he was doing, Nick traced his finger over one of the longer scars.
"Greg, this wasn't just some jock joking around. This had to be some serious shit to leave scars like these."
The gentle touch made Greg shiver, but, try as he might, he could not answer. His shoulders shrugged in answer, but he stayed silent. His head remained bowed and his eyes were glued to the floor at his feet.
Nick stepped over the bench and dropped to sit beside Greg. "How did this happen?" he prompted.
Taking a deep breath, Greg played his last ace. "Look, Nick. It was a long time ago. And after it happened, it finally made me realize that I needed to change a few things in my life or it was going to continue to happen, even after I graduated. That's when I got my butt out and started crusin'...being hip, ya know? I got into ‘Black Flag' music, I learned to surf, and I even got into a little of the latex crowd for awhile. If it hadn't happened, I'd probably still be that sad little Norwegian science geek that everyone laughed at or envied, I'm not sure which. So, like I said, it's nothing to worry about."
But even as the words left his mouth, Greg knew Nick would never be sidetracked from his question. And he was right. Without even looking over at Nick, he could feel the heat as Nick's eyes drilled into him.
He closed his own eyes, and suddenly made an abortive effort to bolt from the bench. But Nick was faster. His hand fastened around Greg's wrist, and he pulled him back down. "I want to know what happened, Greg. I'm not going to let you leave until you tell me how you got those scars across your back."
Greg felt as if a balloon had exploded, deflated, as all the air inside come rushing out. He sighed, then looked at Nick for a moment, as if trying to judge whether he could be trusted with the truth. Then his eyes shifted back to stare intently, straight ahead, as if the lockers in front of him held the key to the universe.
He had to lick his lips again, but finally he began. "I was in high school, a junior, to be exact. My best friend, Chad, and I had worked for three months on a paper we were presenting to a scientific committee at a state competition. We'd spent every moment together, researching, organizing and writing the paper.
"We had stayed late at school one afternoon, working on the paper, and we somehow managed to spill some chemicals in the lab."
He glanced sideways to see Nick's dubious expression.
"Oh, we had permission to work in the lab. Our chem teacher was really excited about the paper, and had pretty much given us free reign to do whatever we needed in the lab. But we were always careful to make sure the lab was cleaned up before we left to go home."
Nick nodded for him to continue.
"Well, like I said, we spilled some chemicals...you know how awkward teenagers can be sometime...and we dashed down to the shower to get them washed off us before we got burned. We really were working with some pretty nasty shit. Then we were going to go back to the lab and clean up in there, too.
"But about the time we hit the shower, a bunch of football jocks came in from a late practice. They figured they'd caught the two queer boys in the shower after they'd just finished goin' at it together..."
Greg took a breath, trying to steady his voice and his body, which seemed to be trembling all over.
"Are you gay, Greg?"
"Would it matter," he answered.
"No, it wouldn't matter."
"Yeah, and it shouldn't have mattered then. But I guess it did. They beat us both. I was luckier than Chad. All I ended up with were the scars from their belts. But he tried to fight back and ended up with a concussion.
"He spent the next month in the hospital, and was never quite the same after that. His family moved, after settling the law suit they filed against the school, but I think Chad ended up in some sort of special education program after that. Needless to say, we never presented that science paper."
"God, Greg. I had no idea."
"Yeah, you weren't supposed to. So listen, Nick. Just forget this little conversation ever happened, okay? I mean, it's not something I like to remember and I'd really feel terrible if any more people found out about it."
Nick looked at him for a moment. Then he took a deep breath and asked the question again. But this time, Greg could tell he wanted an answer and wouldn't be put off. "Greg, are you gay?"
He closed his eye as he answered. "Nick, after Chad, I told you that my entire life changed. That little experience was a big wake-up call for me. I learned that, to survive, you had to be cool. You had to be hip. And you had to be het. When I changed my life, I tried to leave all that behind. If you have to know, yes, I've dated men occasionally. But I'm mostly into women. I just can't let that part of my life destroy what I've got going for me now."
He looked over at Nick again, expecting to see disgust, but was met with eyes that showed something very different. It wasn't aversion and it wasn't pity. It was understanding.
Nick stood and stepped over the bench, again facing Greg's back. Gently, he tugged the shirt from where it was tucked into Greg's jeans. But before he laid it across Greg's shoulders, he again touched the scars that marked Greg's skin. He softly caress them with the palms of both his hands. Then he leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on the longest of the scars. Finally, he laid the shirt over Greg's hunched shoulders.
"I won't say anything to anyone, Greg. And maybe, sometime, if you're feeling a little lonely, you could call me, and we'd get together...just for some coffee or something, ya know?
"Coffee?" Greg questioned.
"Well, coffee...or something." And with that, Nick smiled down at Greg, stripped off his shirt and the towel, which was beginning to droop around his waist, and headed into the shower.
Greg only listened as the water in the shower was turned on, full blast. But he couldn't ignore the shiver which ran through his body or the throb which ached deep in his groin.
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