SPOILERS: Minor spoilers for "Lab Rats" and brief mention of events from "The Good, the Bad, & the Dominatrix." Also references pre-season seven episodes ("Boom," "Stalker," "King Baby").
1. We'll Always Have Iowa
Nick is sound asleep when his room's phone rings. He doesn't even stir, and David is too sleepy and too smug over how well-fucked Nick looks to think twice about reaching over Nick's slumbering form for the receiver.
"'Lo?" he mumbles into it, propped up on one elbow and leaning half over Nick because the phone's cord isn't that long. He smiles down at his... lover? Can he call him that after just three nights - three exceptional nights - together? The 'exceptional' part should count for something, he thinks.
"Nick? It's Grissom. I'm-"
"... Hodges?" There's a long beat of silence, in which David, still not fully awake, begins to nod off. The heat of Nick's body against him is drugging, and his eyelids begin to droop. "I must have the wrong room," Grissom finally continues, his bemused tone lost on David, whose only thought is for stretching back out alongside his lover.
"Mm hm," David hums. He reaches back to replace the receiver in the cradle, and sighs. He's already half asleep again, and when he lies back down, he shifts closer to press fully against Nick's back. He nuzzles against Nick's nape, inhaling deeply as he begins to drift, with Nick's dark hair soft against his face.
The trilling of a cell phone wakes him again some unknown length of time later, and David considers ignoring it. Nick has moved back against him, his legs shifting to make room for David's to slide between, and his hand cradles David's arm against his belly. There's nothing that could make David willingly give up am armful of Nick Stokes.
Except, perhaps, for the cell phone stubbornly ringing on, and David resignedly realizes that if he doesn't answer, it might wake Nick eventually. Sure enough, Nick groans and presses his face into his pillow, and David's decision is made for him. He fumbles around until he finds the damn thing and he has to slide his arms free and roll onto his back to do it, so as he flips the phone open, he grumbles a cranky "What?"
"Okay. Hodges, why are you answering Nick's cell?"
David blinks twice and slowly sits up. His mouth opens and closes, and he's definitely awake now, and all too aware that it's not his own cell phone he's holding. Three days of making their own fun in Iowa has ill-prepared David to deal with Gil Grissom finding out.
"I... don't suppose you'll believe me if I say the hotel had to book us in the same room?"
"No," Grissom replies flatly.
David flinches, never mind that Grissom can't see it. "Right, well. You see-"
Grissom cuts him off, for which David is grateful, since he doesn't actually have any idea what to say. "I don't have time for this, Hodges. I need to speak with Nick." 'For this,' Grissom says, but Hodges knows what he means is 'for you' and he makes a face.
It takes some coaxing to get Nick coherent enough to deal with their boss (and even with an impatient Grissom waiting on the other line, David still can't suppress another little thrill of smug satisfaction at that), and it takes even longer to snap him out of the frozen, deer-in-the-headlights impression he does when he realizes that Grissom knows.
"Gris?" Nick's voice is still a little wavering when he takes the phone. David can't find it within him to mock Nick for it. Whatever it is they have now - whether they really are lovers now, or if this was simply about having fun in between lectures and panels and schmoozing over watered-down drinks in the hotel lobby - whatever it is, Nick is as unready to deal with the rest of the world intruding on it as David is. They were supposed to have another full day before they had to even consider what to do back in Vegas.
As he watches and listens, he begins to worry. It's only been a few days, but David isn't ready to give this up. He isn't anywhere near having his fill of Nick Stokes - in bed, or discussing work over shared meals, or gossiping about the other forensic specialists at the conference. But Grissom knows, and David knows how Nick is when it comes to Gil Grissom, and...
"All clear, then?" Nick is saying. "Yeah," Nick yawns. "We'll be back Tuesday. I'm supposed to be off, but I can come in if... Yeah, no problem. See ya, Gris."
Nick snaps the phone shut and flops onto his back with a groan. David remains sitting, not sure what to say, or do. He knows he's royally screwed this up, but he doesn't know how to fix it.
"So," he says, and pulls a face at his own inanity.
"That was worse than being caught by my parents," Nick mutters, and to David's surprise, a snicker escapes him. Unless it's a sign that Nick's about to become unhinged, laughter is the last thing David's expecting from him.
He blinks, and is unable to resist asking, "You were caught by your parents?"
Another snicker, and the dimples David's really starting to love come out in full force. "Long story. Ask me again sometime when it's not..." he peeks at the clock and makes a face, "... two in the morning. Geez, Gris."
David tentatively lowers himself back down at Nick's side, and when Nick rolls to press his face against his shoulder, David starts breathing again. "You're taking this surprisingly well," he notes, but doesn't hesitate to pull Nick closer.
"I had to report in detail to Ecklie when I slept with a girl who was found murdered. Greg examined my used condom, man. Gris and Archie went through who knows how many tapes of me... going about my business." David finds it strangely endearing that Nick doesn't come right out and say masturbating. "I've had every type of person imaginable come on to me in front of Grissom and Catherine and Jim. Warrick and I have been mistaken as strip-o-grams. And there's a lady out there who thinks I like to play baby with Grissom as my daddy. This doesn't even make the top five, believe me."
"Should I be offended that I apparently don't make the grade?" David asks after a moment's reflection.
Nick lifts his head, a breath of laughter gusting over David's neck. He nuzzles close and kisses David's throat. "Maybe if he'd called while we were in the middle, then you'd have a shot."
David thinks that over, then abruptly rolls them so Nick is on his back, grinning up at him as David settles on top. "Maybe he'll call back," he smirks, and covers Nick's laughing mouth with his own.
2. What's Mine is Yours
For probably the fourth time, David fights the urge to find a mirror to check his reflection. Catherine has been giving him odd looks all night, every time she passes by his lab, and now she's staring at him openly as she waits for results. If he has something embarrassing on his face, he's going to kill Sanders for not telling him when he was in here earlier.
It's been one of those nights, and David hasn't had time for so much as a bathroom break since he rushed in barely on time for his shift. He's been in a rush ever since falling out of bed twenty minutes after Nick's alarm should have gone off. He never even got a chance to stop at his apartment before coming to the lab - had to shower at Nick's, and make do with a banana and some yogurt for breakfast, because Nick doesn't eat anything sensible like bagels for breakfast, and there was no time for him to cook David one of his to-die-for omelets.
The work had already piled up on his counter by the time David got in, thanks to the day shift tech being nowhere near as capable as David himself, and there's been a steady stream of evidence coming into his lab since. He hasn't even been playing his usual games taking longer on everything than he has to.
And Catherine's staring is doing nothing for his nerves.
If it were Sanders or Sidle or Brown, David wouldn't be putting up with it, but he's always had the suspicion that Catherine Willows is just waiting for an excuse to make him suffer. David doesn't tempt fate, and he doesn't give Catherine excuses.
"Your accelerant wasn't a class one, it was a class three. An insecticide solvent." That takes Catherine's attention off him, and David happily hands her the print-out for closer perusal.
"Insecticide," she murmurs, and David knows that look. It's the look that means he just cracked her case. He leans back against his counter, giving himself a moment to bask in it, his self-consciousness momentarily forgotten.
And that's all the excuse Catherine needs.
"So Hodges," she says without looking up. "Wanna tell me why you're wearing Nick's clothes?"
The smirk slowly slides off his face. "You have his closet memorized?" he snipes reflexively. Play it cool, he tells himself, there's no way she could really know just by looking at you.
Catherine looks up, and there's a predatory edge to her smile. He keeps his expression bland, even though he's pretty sure he's in for a lot of suffering in the not so distant future. He forces himself not to flinch when she reaches out and runs a finger over the neatly mended tear in the shirt's cuff.
"Nick snagged it on a fence last week," she says, still grinning, still staring at him intently. "He was pissed because it was new. He'd bought it to replace the one he had to throw out after the drunk driver bled all over it a few months ago."
Sometimes he forgets that CSIs are paid to notice everything, and he silently curses himself for dating a man whose every last friend is a CSI, the best of the best when it comes to professional investigators. Gil Grissom's night shift and Nick's adopted Vegas family are the reason the lab enjoys its second-in-the-nation rating. They don't miss anything... like the fact that David Hodges showed up to work today wearing his boyfriend's shirt.
She was probably thinking he was some kind of stalker, like that guy Crane he heard all about when he came to Vegas. Which means he's a dead man, because everyone knows how Catherine is about Nick...
"Sleep through the alarm?" she asks, and David blinks several times rapidly, his panicked thoughts abruptly derailed. He doesn't really know what's worse - Catherine thinking he's a threat to Nick, or Catherine knowing better, and probably correcting guessing why he and Nick overslept. He shifts uncomfortably, and sure enough her grin turns into a smirk. "Here's a tip - keep an overnight bag in your car. Or better yet, ask Nicky for a drawer. Though that shirt is my favorite. Nice to see it getting more mileage."
She winks and breezes out of the lab. David decides now would be a good time for that break they owe him, workload be damned. He seeks refuge in the break room - deserted, because everyone's as busy as he is tonight - and grabs for his cell phone.
"You remember when you thought it was hot for me to wear my favorite of your shirts?" David demands in a throttled voice. He cradles the phone between his ear and shoulder, his fingers busy rolling up the shirt's cuffs so they're hidden under the lab coat's sleeves.
Nick's cough travels over the line before he answers quietly, "Mm hm."
"Did you know it's also Catherine Willows' favorite?"
"I don't know how you people manage to solve any crimes when you're paying so much attention to who's wearing what." Nick is silent, and David sighs and spells it out for him. "She recognized your shirt, Nick."
"So... she knows."
"She says you should give me a drawer."
Nick chokes on his laughter, and the sound of it eases the tension in David's shoulders. "So, does this make your top five?"
"No," David says, now that he's calmed down a little. If Nick isn't acting like it's the end of the world, then David isn't going to either. Grissom has never mentioned what he knows since that night in Iowa, and maybe Catherine won't either. It's far more optimistic than he usually lets himself be, and he blames that on Nick's influence, but nonetheless, it relaxes him enough to add, "Luckily for us, she has no way of realizing whose underwear I'm wearing."
Nick tells him he's a bastard for leaving him with that thought when he's stuck out in the field with Sara, and David goes back to work with a satisfied smile.
3. People Will Talk
He carefully lets the red string slide through his fingers as he bends and eases under the line he's already fastened. He steps over another, taking his time with every movement, knowing from experience that one false step could bring it all down around him. It's taken him close to an hour to string the room, and he's so close to being done that he can taste it.
"I think you missed your calling, Nick."
He startles at the unexpected sound of Sara's voice in the room, but manages to keep his feet and not trip or flail inside the web of string he's spun around him. Looking over his shoulder, he sees her standing in the doorway, grinning.
"Who knew you were so... flexible," she says, and her smirk widens into the familiar gap-toothed grin he's always loved.
"I bet he's got moves you've never even heard of," drawls another voice, and Warrick steps up next to Sara with his eyebrows raised in a significant look. Nick watches him take in the scene for half a beat before he raises his camera and takes a shot at Nick's bent over position. "Nice," he smirks.
"Where have you been, man?" Nick asks Warrick, letting their teasing roll off his back with little more than a good-natured scowl in their direction. He carefully picks the rest of his way to the wall and pins the string in its appropriate place. "You're supposed to be watching my back, not letting people sneak up and harass me."
"I wasn't harassing," Sara waggles her eyebrows at him. "I was appreciating. I'm done with my suspicious circs and thought I'd drop by and see how you guys are doing," she explains.
Warrick snorts. "Well, I'm done with the perimeter, but Nick is taking his sweet time with the primary scene. And be careful Hodges doesn't catch you 'appreciating.'"
"I'm not-" As Warrick's words catch up with his brain, Nick freezes and stares at the pair of them in the doorway. They exchange looks and when they look back at him, they're both smiling like the cat who got the canary. Nick clears his throat.
"What about Hodges?" he asks, gratified when his voice doesn't actually sound as wobbly as he feels. It's been a month since Catherine - two since Grissom - and aside from a few pointed comments from Cath here and there, no one has ever said anything and Nick was starting to think things would stay that way. A couple slip-ups aside, he and David aren't exactly obvious about their relationship. Or so he thought, at least.
"I don't know, Warrick," Sara says in a half-musing, half-playful tone of voice. "Hodges doesn't strike me as the possessive type."
"You kidding me? Remember how he used to get about being the one to give results to Grissom?"
Sara concedes that with a nod. "And he wasn't even with Grissom." She slants a look at Nick. "At least I assume he wasn't. These days, you never can tell with people."
Nick stares down at the calculator in his hands, punching random buttons as he feels the flush creep up his neck. Somehow, he feels like he's sixteen again, cornered by his sisters once they found out he'd gone on his first real date. "David was never in love with Grissom," he confirms in a mutter, thinking 'and six siblings weren't enough? I had to pick up these two?'
Warrick and Sara go silent for so long that Nick has to look up eventually to see what's up. They're staring at him, eyes wide, and Sara's mouth partially open. "What?" he demands.
"Who said anything about love?" Warrick returns, but his shocked look is slowly being replaced by an expression of understanding. Nick kind of wants to wipe that knowing look off his face.
He clears his throat instead. "How did you guys find out, anyway?" he asks, hoping to change the subject. Okay yeah, he's in love with David. He even knows that David loves him back. Sometime in the last month - he's never been able to put his finger down on exactly when it happened - things had gotten more serious. Nick can't remember the last time he was this happy, but that doesn't mean he wants to stand in the middle of a crime scene and declare his love for David Hodges to Sara and Warrick.
Again, he watches the two of them trade significant glances.
"Grissom," Sara says, at the same time as Warrick says, "Catherine." They grin.
Nick rolls his eyes. He should have known, though he hadn't expected it of Grissom. Catherine, definitely. "How long?" he sighs.
"Only a week," Warrick shrugs, and Sara nods along and agrees, "About a week."
Both of them found out at the same time, from different people who found out themselves a full month apart? Nick frowns, not getting it. What, did they sit down and have a meeting about it or something? Probably sent a memo - or better yet, just sent Greg around the lab.
Sara takes pity on him. He watches her face soften and gentle as she explains. "We had that stalker case last week." Nick shakes his head, not seeing the connection. "You came in with circles under your eyes for a few days after. When Catherine asked, you said you'd been having nightmares, hadn't been sleeping much."
"And Hodges was crabbier than usual," Warrick puts in. "After he tried giving me someone else's results, he told me his partner was keeping him up with nightmares."
Nick felt a little lurch of guilt at being reminded of that, even though David had told him he was an idiot for feeling so bad about it - had said if Nick could put up with his snoring, he could handle the occasional nightmare. "That could've been a coincidence," he muses, looking at the two of them and feeling like there's something else.
"You always bring your lunch from home," Sara goes on.
"So, we just happened to notice Hodges started to too. And you always bring the same thing."
Warrick laughs, "You making his lunches for him, Nicky?"
Yes. And his breakfasts and dinners too, not that either of them need to know that. Nick likes cooking and fixing meals for the two of them. He surprised himself by how much he likes it, actually, but David seems to like it too, so Nick doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about the whys and wherefores.
"Anyway, Warrick and I noticed at the same time, and I happened to mention it to Grissom-"
"And I asked Catherine-"
"And neither of them could keep their big mouths shut," Nick finishes for them. He tries to feel annoyed at the invasion of his privacy, but it's not really as if he and David ever set out to keep it a secret. They just... never told anyone. Nothing bad ever came of Grissom or Catherine finding out, not counting this grill session.
"All right," he sighs. "Think I can get back to this sometime tonight, then? You two have your fun?"
"Got a hot date, Nick?" Sara grins.
"Did you just call Hodges hot?" Warrick makes a face.
Eight siblings, Nick thinks with a sigh. Nine, if he counted Greg, and thank God at least he's not here for this.
He wonders how David feels about lots of in-laws.
4. There Goes the Neighborhood
"Whoa, whoa! Stop the car!"
Archie puts on the brakes so abruptly, both men are thrown against their seatbelts. "Christ! What? Did I almost hit something?" he leans forward to peer out the windshield, hoping he didn't just mow down some kid's cat.
Not finding anything, he looks at his passenger. Henry isn't looking out the windshield at all. He's staring past Archie, out the driver's side window, eyes saucer-sized. "Henry?" Archie prods, and gives his friend's shoulder a nudge. "Dude, what-"
Henry points. "Isn't that Nick's house?"
Archie is already nodding as he turns, realizing suddenly what neighborhood they're in. "Yeah, it's-" He stops. That's Nick's house, all right, but that's not Nick standing in the driveway.
"Is... is that Hodges?"
It is. And there's Hodges' car parked at the curb. And there's Nick, emerging from the other side of the car with a box in his arms. Archie watches him say something to Hodges, and Hodges reply, and Nick grin and laugh as he shoves the box into Hodges' arms.
He wonders, suddenly, if he's in some kind of alternate universe, one where Nick Stokes and David Hodges hang out together outside of work, and -
"I didn't know Nick was moving," Henry says.
"I don't think Nick's the one moving," Archie says, surprising himself. He blinks and reaches to shift his car into reverse. He backs it up slowly, around the curve in the street out of sight of Nick's house, and puts it in park.
Henry is watching him with a frown. "Uh. What are we doing?"
"Haven't you noticed Hodges acting weird for a while?"
That doesn't exactly answer Henry's question, but he shrugs. "Yeah. Wendy even said he hasn't been an asshole lately." He sounds dubious about that last, and Archie smirks. He agrees that's probably pushing it.
"I think we've just found the reason." He cuts the ignition, unbuckles his seat belt, and grins slyly at Henry. "Don't you want to find out more?"
Henry seems to catch on, and fumbles with his own belt. He gets his door open and steps out onto the sidewalk. "We're going to investigate?" he grins, and Archie almost laughs at how eager he sounds. Ever since Greg left the lab, the chemist has been dreaming of following in his footsteps.
He locks the car and pulls out his cell phone as they start walking. At Henry's raised eyebrow, he explains, "Camera phone," and Henry's grin widens and he has to stifle a laugh as they come closer to Nick's property. There's a low wall around it, and plenty of bushes. Archie ducks behind them and creeps to a spot where he can see the driveway.
Hodges is walking back toward the driveway as Nick walks up it with another box, but this time when Nick tries to hand it off, Hodges dodges. Nick fumbles with it, off his stride, and Hodges leans in to press a kiss on Nick's mouth while he's distracted.
Archie's hand travels up to his arm and pinches. He feels Henry's hand on his arm a second before Henry pinches him too, and Archie bats the hand away irritably.
"This is like-" Henry begins.
"The twilight zone," Archie nods.
"I was going to say invasion of the pod people." He pulls out his own phone, and to Archie's surprise, starts to dial. God, he's not actually going to call Hodges, is he? "Mandy," he explains at the look Archie shoots him.
"Why are you calling Mandy?"
"Do you want to explain to her why we waited to tell her something this huge?"
Henry has a point. Mandy would kick both their asses if they waited until next shift. She's going to be pissed enough as it is that she couldn't be here for this. That is, if even believes what Henry tells her.
Archie begins to grin again. "Man, Wendy is going to be pissed."
"They're still out there," Nick says as he steps inside, and David drops his hand away from the blinds. "I could hear 'em snickering." He shakes his head and drops his box on the floor. When David begins to scowl, he puts his hands up in a placating gesture. "Just clothes, man."
"They've probably called everyone in the lab by now," David grumbles, and lowers himself to sit on Nick's - no, their - sofa. Nick joins him, and David leans back with a sigh.
"I guess that means we don't have to worry about an announcement when your change of address form goes through," Nick grins, and damn it, David can't help it when his mouth twitches upward in response. Nick's good-humored nature is having a disastrous effect on David's carefully-maintained attitude of disaffection, the longer they're together.
Nick brushes a kiss over his jaw and stands back up. David watches him stretch, his t-shirt lifting to reveal a bit of toned belly as he raises his arms over his head. Absent-mindedly, David reaches to rub a thumb over the strip of skin; he thinks wonderingly that he's never been so familiar with someone, to feel so comfortable with this sort of casual display. He glances up and finds Nick smiling, dark eyes warm with understanding.
"How much longer do you think they'll stay?" Nick asks, squeezing his hand for a moment before stepping away.
David shrugs. "We could just let them know we know they're there," he points out. "But then," he continues musingly, "that'd take all the fun out of knowing they're hiding in your bushes."
"Our bushes," Nick corrects him distractedly.
Warmth stirs in David's belly, and he stands. He decides to leave Archie and Henry to crouch outside as long as they want, and he steps up to Nick and slides his arms around his waist. He smiles at Nick's surprised look, and draws his body against him fully. "Want to go to our bedroom? Christen our bed?"
"Oh, I think we broke it in a while ago," Nick laughs against his mouth, but follows willingly when David tugs him down the hall.
5. Blaise Pascal Said...
'The heart has its reasons which reason knows not of,' Gil thinks, looking on as his team settles in around the break room. Even so, he still finds it hard to believe, every time he sees Nick and Hodges together, or thinks of what he discovered, months ago. He tries to make sense of it, and he watches, looking for the one clue that will make the puzzle come together in his mind, but he no more understands it now then he did when Hodges answered Nick's phone that night.
"Bite me, Hodges," Greg snipes as he drops into his chair at the table, and as Hodges smirks back at him, Gil thinks that at least some things are the same. There was a time when he'd watched Hodges, half-expecting him to reveal some unknown side of his personality - something to explain how Nicky had become involved with a man Gil still barely tolerated most days.
"Looks like someone already did," Catherine drawls. All eyes are on her now, and on Hodges as his face freezes and he slaps a hand over his neck. Gil glances at Nick, where he's sprawled on the couch next to Warrick, because it's better than the alternative - imagining Hodges with love bites... love bites Nicky gave him. There's a slow blush building, climbing up his neck. Warrick sees it too and seems to barely hold the laughter in.
"That's harassment," Nick says when he recovers his voice, pointing a finger at her. He's trying to go for stern, Gil thinks, but it's ruined by the red coloring his cheeks.
Hodges is slow to unfreeze, and even slower to take his hand away from his neck, even after Catherine finishes pouring her cup of coffee and murmurs, "Got you," as she strolls past him to join Nick and Warrick. Gil recognizes it for what it is - Catherine has accepted Hodges into the family she's always telling Gil has formed among the night shift. He wonders if Hodges realizes; Nick certainly does, if the warm smile he's giving Catherine is anything to go by.
"Besides," Warrick joins in, "My man Nicky's the one who shows up in turtlenecks." Nick socks him one and Catherine chokes on the sip of coffee she just took, and reaches across Nick to give Warrick a thump of her own.
Greg is smirking. "Well, Nick getting some action I can see." He lets the 'but Hodges?' go unsaid, though it's clear in his tone. Gil frowns. The three on the couch still. Sara stirs in the seat next to Greg's.
Hodges sets his sandwich down neatly, and meticulously begins to wipe each finger with his napkin. His smirk is incredibly expressive, and Gil can't blame Greg for bristling under it. "Looks like the baby CSI missed some important evidence," Hodges crooned.
Gil doesn't see how that's possible. It's been months, and he long ago figured it for common knowledge, at least within the crime lab. Hell, even Jim knows (and Gil is thankful that his friend seemed just as baffled as Gil has been). It's not like they stand around talking about it over processing evidence, but it's something every one just... knows.
Everyone but Greg Sanders, it would seem. "What?" he snaps defensively now that all eyes are on him. He frowns when Sara puts a hand on his shoulder and leans in to murmur something Gil can't make out from his end of the table. "What?" he repeats, louder this time, pulling away from Sara to stare first at Hodges, then at Nick, who shrugs and smiles apologetic.
"And... everybody knows?"
"Old news, Sanders," Hodges sips at his Diet Coke.
"Why didn't anyone tell me!" Not so much a question, as a demand.
"We didn't tell anyone," Hodges and Nick say together, and exchange a brief glance. Gil doesn't miss the heat there, and again thinks Hodges and Nick? How? He never even imagined Nick liked men - in fact, would have thought Nick the least likely of them all. And... Hodges?
He wonders just what goes on at conventions in Iowa. It's a thought he chooses not to follow very far. "All right," he finally speaks up, and stands. "Sara, let's get back to it."
"Maybe by the time you make Level 3..." Hodges is saying as they leave.
"Oh, stuff it, Hodges."