Characters: Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Ella Jackson
Series: Love and Science
Written For: whogeek
Prompt: Greg locks his keys in his car.
Summary: Nick tries to rescue Greg and ends up meeting someone important in his life (that he's met before, although he doesn't remember this) and gets some advice on winning his man.
Spoilers: for my series, slight for CSI
Warnings: Ella harasses Greg unmercifully, Nick is sheepish and stutters, Greg would rather not leave Nick at Ella’s mercy.
Disclaimer: No one recognizable belongs to me and sadly I am not making any money off this and I did not win the lotto last night either. :-(
Author's Note: Of course my lovely whogeek gets many thanks for this. And I guess that’s about it tonight. I want to keep going with my writing so I’m gonna just post and run.
Greg stared through the window of his car, then heaved a sigh, and lowered his head; banging it gently on the roof of the vehicle. “Damn,” he grumbled. Lifting his head, he repeated the motion and the word and lift, repeat, lift, repeat.
He was still doing it when he heard a familiar voice behind him. “Whatever it is, do you really want to damage that brain of yours, Greggo?”
The younger CSI yelped in response and stumbled backwards; only Nick’s quick reflexes saving him from landing on his ass on the ground. “Don’t do that!” he demanded.
Nick bit back a chuckle, figuring it wouldn’t help matters, and asked, “What’s got you trying to give yourself brain damage?”
Greg motioned towards the car he’d been banging his head against—literally. “I locked my keys in my car. Which means I have no way to get home and no way to get into my apartment when I get there.”
“That’s easy enough to fix,” Nick said. “Lemme run back in and grab a slim jim and I can pop those locks for you.” He leaned closer to look at the car. “I can have you in there in a few minutes.”
Greg’s eyes widened. “Is there any way you can do it without letting everyone know? Do you have to go back inside? I’d rather everyone didn’t know that I’m an idiot who locks their keys in the car.”
“So what are you going to do then?” Nick asked. “If you won’t let me pop the locks.”
“I don’t object to you popping the locks, I object to you going back inside to get the jim thingy.” Greg ran a hand through his hair. “Look I know it’s probably a big inconvenience, but could you give me a ride to my ex-roommate’s bar? She’s got a spare set of keys to my car.”
“Sure.” Nick motioned towards his truck. “Hop in.”
“You know having a big truck for no reason is sometimes a sign of overcompensation,” Greg commented as they got into the truck. “I mean. What exactly do you need this truck for?”
“You do know I grew up on a ranch, right, G?” Nick asked as he put the truck into gear.
“Well, yeah, but I mean.” Greg waved his hand indicating the city around them. “Flat land. Unless you go out into the desert. And how often do you do that?”
“Are you implying something?”
“No. Or well. I tend to ramble when I’m nervous. I’ll shut up now.”
Nick chuckled. “You don’t have to shut up. I’m just wondering what your point is.”
“I’m just wondering why you need the truck.”
“Where am I going?” Nick asked instead of answering and the next few minutes were taking up with Greg giving directions to the bar. When Nick was sure he knew where they were headed, he turned his attention back to their prior conversation. “I bought the truck out of habit. And I had it before I moved here. I do head out into the desert sometimes. I like to camp and paraglide. It’s a whole lot easier to bed down in the back of the truck than pitch a tent every time.”
Greg bit back his first response to that and the moan that wanted to escape as images of Nick spread out in the back of his truck raced through his brain. Instead he pointed towards the bar, banging his fingers on the glass of the window. “That’s the place!”
Nick pulled into the parking lot, finding a spot easily and following Greg towards the door. “So who is this girl anyway? You said she’s your ex-roommate?”
Greg turned around, walking backwards for a minute. “You met Ella. She came with me to the hospital.”
“Ah. I don’t really remember that,” Nick told him. When Greg looked at him in confusion, he admitted, “They had me on the really good drugs.”
“Oh. Well, that might actually be a good thing. Ella’s…a unique experience.”
“And you aren’t?” Nick asked with a smile to take the sting out of his words.
“Ella is in a class all her…” Greg was interrupted by a voice yelling across the bar, “G! G!”
“Ella?” Nick guessed.
Greg nodded before calling back, “Hey, ‘bama babe!”
The girl behind the bar, wavy-blonde hair held back from her face by a bandana and bright blue streak hanging loose, scooped up a peanut and threw it at Greg, hitting him on the nose. “Stop calling me that!”
Greg leaned over, kissing her noisily on the cheek. “But you looooove me.”
“That’s debatable. What are you doing here?” She seemed to notice Nick standing awkwardly behind him and grinned at the dark haired man. “Hi. Nick, right?”
“Yeah. Hi. Nice to meet you. Again apparently.” Nick held his hand out to her. “Sorry, but I don’t exactly remember meeting you.”
Ella shrugged gracefully. “Extenuating circumstances.” Turning to Greg, she reached out for his ear, but he’d obviously had practice avoiding her grasp because he ducked away. She glared in response and asked again, “What are you doing here?”
“I need the spare keys to my Jetta,” Greg explained quickly. When Ella just stared at him, he sighed. “I locked my keys in my car. Could I please have the spare set? And I’ll return them to you when I meet you for breakfast tomorrow.”
“I don’t have them here. They’re at the apartment,” Ella responded. She fished a set of keys out from under the bar. Holding them out to Greg, she snatched them back when he tried to take them. “You go to the apartment, get your keys, and bring mine back. And I will kick your anorexic ass if you leave my apartment unlocked again!”
“One time! I did that one time!” Greg yelped as Ella glared at him. “And you’re never gonna let me live that down, are you?”
“Nope,” Ella answered. “Go get your keys, boy.”
Greg stuck his tongue out at her, saying something in Norwegian in response.
“Like I have any idea what you just said. Just go get your keys. And try not to lock mine in my apartment!”
“Yes, Ella, right away, Ella.” Greg flipped her off and turned to Nick. “Come on. We can leave your truck here. It’s actually faster to walk.”
“Why don’t you leave Nick here, GG?” Ella suggested. “There’s no sense in making the poor man walk all the way over and then all the way back. He can have a drink on the house and wait for you.”
Greg eyed her. “You’ll behave? I can trust you with him?”
“Greeeg, how long have you known me?” Ella asked as innocently as she could manage.
“That’s why I’m asking. I do know you,” he pointed out.
Ella made a motion as if crossing her heart. “I promise not to give him the wrong idea.”
“El-la,” Greg warned.
“Greggo, I think I can handle myself,” Nick broke in. “Go get your keys. It can’t take you that long.”
Greg looked between the two of them for a minute before slipping the keys Ella had given him into his pocket. “I’ll be back as soon as I can,” he told Nick. “Ella, just…” He sighed. “I’ll be back.”
Ella shook her head after he’d dashed away. “I’m not sure if he meant that as a threat or a promise. So, cowboy, what can I get you to drink?”
“Cowboy?” Nick questioned.
“What? You think GG and I don’t talk?” Ella asked. “Drink?”
“Ah, root beer? If you’ve got it. But really, cowboy?”
Ella turned, fishing a bottle out of a cooler behind her and popping the top off with a smooth motion. She set it on a coaster and slid it over to Nick before she answered him, “I figured you’d like it better than ‘Tex’. Thanks for bringing Greg over here by the way. I can’t believe he locked his keys in the car again.”
“I offered to pop his locks, but he didn’t want anyone else to know he’d done it,” Nick answered.
“That sounds like GG,” Ella replied. She turned at the yell from farther down the bar. “I’ll be right back.”
When Ella returned, Nick smiled easily at her. “So. You’re Greg’s best friend? How long have you two known each other?”
She stared at him for a moment then burst out laughing. When he continued to look at her, she finally stopped, and said, “Oh my god, you’re serious. Wait. You don’t remember Greg telling you about me? Really? Dude, he rambled for like three hours.”
Nick blinked. “I knew I was kinda doped up. I didn’t know I was that far under. No, I really don’t remember anything he said. I know he was there, but not specifics.”
“Wow. Okay. Um. This…could be a little…awkward.” Ella ran a hand through as much of her hair as she could before turning and calling out, “Hey, Toby! I’m taking twenty in back!”
The other bartender waved back at her. Nick had been aware of him, but he’d been in the peripheral of his vision, busy with other people as Greg and Ella spoke and obviously not concerned with what was going on. “What?” Nick asked as Ella motioned for him to get off the stool he’d taken a seat on.
“This isn’t exactly a conversation you want to have in public, I assume?” she asked.
“No. I guess not,” he replied as he followed her into the office. “Are you allowed to be back here?”
Ella kicked a chair away from the desk, indicating he should sit. “It’s not a big deal. It’s the boss’s office, but we all kinda camp out from time to time.” She took her own seat and then looked at him. “I can’t believe you really don’t remember. GG’s been in a panic for weeks because of all the babbling he did.”
“Okay. What did he say?” Nick asked after a moment. “Because now you’re starting to make me wonder.”
“Only now?” Ella replied. “I’d have started to worry a while ago. Especially knowing GG.”
“I didn’t say I wasn’t worried. Just wondering. And why do you call him ‘GG’? I mean it’s not his initials.”
“It’s his stripper name,” Ella answered with a straight face. She burst out laughing again when Nick blanched. “I’m kidding. I don’t know. I’ve called him that for years. Just started it not long after we met and it stuck. And it’s been almost seven years.” At his confused look, she elaborated, “GG and me. We’ve known each other almost seven years.”
“That’s pretty much as long as he’s been in Vegas,” Nick commented.
She nodded. “Yeah, I know. I met him a couple of months after he moved here. And we moved in together not long after that.” At his look, she added, “Purely platonically. So I have to ask you, Nick. What are your intentions towards my boy?”
Nick choked on his root beer. “My what…your who?”
“I just want to know if you’re jerking him around or if you actually plan to do something about what…” she stopped. “And you have absolutely no idea what I’m talkin’ about. And GG is gonna kill me when he figures out what I said. Fuck me sideways.”
“You’re not really my type, darlin’,” Nick drawled.
“Well, I’m glad to hear that. I think.” She leaned closer to him. “I’m only going to say this once and we’re not ever going to tell GG that we had this conversation. Don’t hurt him. You might work with the cops, but I’m from Alabama. And nobody is going to find you if you hurt my boy. Do we have an understanding?”
Nick gulped. “All right then. I guess that’s why Greg calls you ‘bama babe?”
“Among other reasons.” She glanced at her watch. “GG should be back soon, but Toby’ll tell him we’re back here. Anything you want to ask before he gets back? Anything you want to know?”
“You mean besides the obvious?” Nick asked. “I don’t even know where to start. You and Greg obviously know something I don’t and I’m beyond confused.”
Ella sat back in her chair. “It’s not that I know something you don’t. Just…” She shrugged. “I can’t explain it to you. You’re at a disadvantage right now because of not remembering, but I’m Greg’s friend and I’m not going to fill you in. I will answer questions though.”
“So how come you and Greg ended up living together?” Nick asked.
“I had the roommate from Hades,” Ella answered. “Didn’t pay the rent, would take off for days, was just horrendous. I met GG here one night and he got completely shitfaced. He was so bad he couldn’t remember his address and I ended up dragging him home with me. We talked the next day and I talked to him about moving in with me. At least he was more responsible than the idiot I had been living with.”
“And you just trusted him?”
“Not just. I mean, I knew he worked in the crime lab and even though I invited him that day, we did talk and stuff before it actually happened, but yeah. It was actually only recently that he moved out.” She paused as if thinking about it for a minute. “Besides, I could have totally taken him. He’s always been such a skinny shit.”
Nick burst out laughing at her comment. “I don’t know if he eats. Or at least he doesn’t eat like a normal person.”
“Oh he eats. Boy can put away a full cow I swear. He just never gains any weight.”
“Do you mind if I ask you a question about Greg?” Nick questioned.
“Isn’t that the point?” Ella asked.
Nick ducked his head a little. “Yeah. I guess so. So. Um. Is Greg. I mean. Is he. Do you know if he’s interested in…well…anyone…in well…umm, me? Maybe?” Nick was bright red by the time he finished stammering out what he wanted to say and Ella was hard-pressed not to start laughing at him.
She bit back her smile and her first response which was Aren’t you adorable?! to try to figure out how to answer him. “I…don’t want to answer that? Not because I can’t, but because I think you and Greg need to talk to each other rather than me or other people. But I can give you some advice if you’re willing.” When Nick nodded, she continued, “Make a gesture. Like a big gesture. Well, not a big, big gesture, but put some effort into it. I know! Feed him. I mean he eats like crazy and he clearly has some kinda amazing metabolism to stay skinny the way he eats. I mean he rarely eats an actual good meal unless someone else actually feeds him sooo…I dunno. Feed him. Like a good Texas dinner or something.”
“Wow. You really are friends with Greg. Babble much?” Nick asked when she finally paused to breath. “Wait. He can’t cook?”
“I know. Eagle Scout, right? He can cook. He just… He can’t focus. He forgets. Doesn’t go shopping or turns whatever he makes into science experiments.” She shuddered. “It’s just safer.”
“I love him to death. But. Seriously. The boy is a menace in the kitchen.”
“Well for one thing. He tends to get distracted.”
Nick blinked slowly as he looked at her. “Distracted?”
“Not by me!” Ella yelped as she caught his eye. “God! And I thought my mind was in the gutter!” She shuddered. “But yes. He gets distracted. And then there’s burnt food. And the fire extinguisher. And threats of calling the fire department. And once exploding eggs. So it’s just safer that he doesn’t cook.”
“Exploding? Eggs?” Nick asked slowly.
Ella rolled her eyes. “Yes. Apparently if you leave eggs in boiling water for too long, you boil the water away and they explode. So it’s just safer if he doesn’t cook.”
“Yeeeeaaah,” Nick said. “I’d say so.”
“This is why I didn’t want to leave you alone with him! Now I really look like a dork!” Greg blurted out from the doorway.
“Nooo. Now you look like a dork,” Ella pointed out. “Keys?”
“I can’t believe you. You’re just… Not helping, Ella.” Greg threw a set of keys at her which she caught easily.
“Aw, you know I love ya, baby,” she said, getting to her feet and slipping an arm around his waist.
“Shut up,” he said affectionately. “You just love poking fun at me.”
“Well, yeah that too. Breakfast in the usual time and place? I gotta get back to work.”
“Not today. I just wanna go home and face plant on my pillow,” Greg replied. “Nick, you ready? Or you wanna get more gossip from my best friend?”
Nick got to his feet. “Nah, I’m good. Let’s get you back to your car. Thanks for the help, Ella.”
“Help? What help?” Greg looked from Ella to Nick and back again. “What did you tell him?” When Ella just grinned in response, he groaned. “I. Am. So. Screwed.”
Ella pressed a kiss to his cheek. “Look at it this way. Your life might get more interesting.”
“Ella. I don’t want my life to be more interesting. I just want…” He sighed as she walked away. “El-la!” Turning back, he found Nick grinning at him. “Seriously. What did you two talk about?”
“Don’t worry about. You’ll find out,” Nick promised.
“Cause that’s not ominous or anything,” Greg replied. “All right. Come on. Let’s head back to the lab. Listen thanks for bringing me here instead of going to get the slim jim.”
“That’s okay. I think I learned a lot tonight. And got some good advice.”
“Some good. Wait. What did you mean by that? Nick? Nick?”
Nick’s only answer was a chuckle.