Title: The Lonely Child
Characters: Greg Sanders, Nick Stokes, Warrick Brown, Jillian Stokes
Content Warnings: Emotional!Nicky, Angry!Greg is Scary, Insecurity, Slight Angst, Meeting the Parents, Schmoop, Not Beta Read
Word Count: 2,385
Note: This is one of a few older stories that I am posting here. This has been on various places online.
Written for the ChocFic Challenge. My prompt was: CSI, Warrick Brown/Nick Stokes: Meeting a lover’s family – “The lonely child looks out and dreams of independence/ From this family life sentence”. Greg wasn’t in the original prompt, and I hadn’t intended to add him. As I started writing though the boys kept telling me he was there too so… I hope it didn’t wander too far from the original prompt.
Summary: Nick takes his lovers home and Warrick has a tough time adjusting, feeling like an outsider. Will he relax or will the Stokes family be more than their relationship can handle?
The lonely child looks out and dreams of independence
From this family life sentenceWarrick leaned against the rail of Nick’s family’s sprawling ranch house studying the landscape in front of him. The differences between himself and Nick had never been more apparent than they had been during this weekend. The second they had landed at DFW it was as if a huge weight was just lifted off Nick. His entire being was almost completely different from what he was in Vegas. Even his speech pattern was different, the drawl he rarely let show back home was thick and lazy here.
Inside he heard a loud eruption of laughter and easily picked out Nick and Greg. Greg was a new addition to their… Whatever it was he and Nick had going on. Bitterly, Warrick tried to be angry at the younger man’s presence, but, that voice of reason in the back of his head that sounded unsurprisingly like his grandmother, reminded him, he was the one that suggested Greg come. It was as if he’d known he couldn’t take this, and wanted at least one person that Nick could have fun with.
He didn’t really understand how Greg was taking all this open and quiet better than he was. It wasn’t as if Greg was some small town boy himself. Greg had grown up in San Francisco in the middle of bright lights and noise. But he, like Nick, just seemed to change once the plane landed. The almost ever present IPod was tucked away and hadn’t been seen since; even his hyperness was somewhat calmed here, as if he just knew how to adjust to this place. He flirted with Nick’s Mamma, was polite and just the right amount of intimidated by Nick’s Papa without coming off as a coward. He was respectful to the siblings and was a hit with the pack of nephews and nieces.
Warrick just didn’t know what to do with them all. His Mamma scared Warrick to death, his daddy made his back straighten and his jaw clench. The siblings were shaky as Warrick couldn’t decide if they annoyed him or were somewhat tolerable, and the children just gave him a headache. He missed the bright lights of the casino signs and the blare of loud neighbors and the sirens of various emergency vehicles. All this place did was make him realize all the things he didn’t have and never had in his life.
“Warrick?” He took a deep breath, recognizing what he’d come to call Nick’s Texas tone. “What are you doin’ out here?”
“Just wanted a moment, Nicky, no sweat,” Warrick offered flashing what he hoped was a passable smile, but at the sight of Nick’s frown knew he wasn’t fooling anyone. “Actually I was thinkin’ of heading back early. I feel bad about leaving Grissom so short handed. I mean I know we got coverage, but…” The sight of Nick’s eyes darkening with anger stole whatever words he was going to offer. As he watched Nick’s jaw move back and forth, as he ground his teeth, Warrick wondered if some day, he wasn’t going to grind them completely away.
“You aren’t even trying,” Nick finally spat angrily, fists clenched at his sides, the hurt becoming visible around the anger in his eyes.
“Nick,” Warrick turned shaking his head frustrated. “What is there to try about? I don’t fit in here! I certainly don’t fit in with your family. You have Greg; he’s practically a member of the family. You don’t need me. I’m just, going home and… Maybe this whole thing isn’t working. I mean this was our test right? I would say it’s apparent it isn’t gonna work between us. You and Greg are a better match.”
“You’re fuckin’ dumpin’ me?” Nick shouted angrily, his shock rising to the surface. “You… How can you just … Goddamnit, Warrick!” Hearing the bang of the screen door as someone came out, Warrick barely stifled a groan as he saw Greg coming up behind Nick.
“What’s goin’ on?” Greg asked moving up to stand behind Nick, placing a hand on the small of his back, in what Warrick knew he meant as comfort.
“Warrick is LEAVING,” Nick growled angrily, Warrick dropped his gaze while he searched for patience and saw his lover’s hands clenching and unclenching at his sides. “Not only is he leaving here, he’s leaving ME.”
“ Warrick?” He heard Greg ask, the confusion easily heard in his voice.
Warrick didn’t look up, but he heard a shifting of bodies and glancing to the side saw Greg had moved in between himself and Nick. “Nicky, lemmie talk to ‘Rick for a moment, huh? Why don’t you go down to the corrals? We’ll meet you there in a bit.”
“What the fuck ever,” Nick spat angrily, stomping off the porch leaving them in an almost eerie silence.
When Greg’s hands touched his waist, Warrick jumped, not expecting the contact, and tried to force himself to relax when he felt Greg’s chin on his shoulder. “You can’t do this ‘Rick. If for no other reason than you love him, even if you’re too scared to admit it.”
“You’re nuts, Sanders,” Warrick said shaking his head. “I ain’t scared of anything. I’m just realistic. Family is a big part of Nick’s life, and it’s apparent I don’t fit into his. I’m just trying to cut this off clean before someone gets hurt.”
“You think you aren’t hurting him, you big dope?” Greg asked and Warrick could almost hear his lips twitching with amusement. “He loves you ‘Rick. This was a big deal to him for you to finally meet his family. Not as some stupid test, but as a ‘this is the man I’m spending my life with’. I’m the afterthought here, you’re the one he wanted to come.”
Warrick snorted. “Yeah well, you’re the right color so you win the prize, I suppose.”
Warrick felt Greg straighten, and when his hands left his sides, he straightened himself and turned to see Greg looking at him. For the first time since he’d come out he could see the threads of anger coloring his gaze. “That isn’t right, Warrick. You can’t just throw an accusation like that around. Have they done something to you? Said something?”
“ No, but come on Greg, you know they want to! We’re in the middle of fucking Texas in case you haven’t noticed!” Warrick waved his hand around, pointing out their surroundings as if Greg had forgotten.
“I know where we’re at,” Greg said tightly. “I also know that unless you’re psychic you have no clue what they ‘want to’ say. You think Nick would have brought you here if he thought they would treat you like that. You think he hasn’t been watching for it. You think he hasn’t made sure they’re bein’ extra good to you, because he’s worried about shit like that? You know, why don’t you quit your ‘they don’t like the black man‘ bullshit, and just admit the real issue here?”
“ Oh, and what’s that, Lab Rat?” Warrick spat back now angry himself.
“That you’re scared shitless that they ARE accepting you because you have no clue how to exist in a family dynamic like this. That you’re scared because you WANT to be a part of this because you know THIS IS NICK. Family, the ranch, siblings and little kids and everything that comes with it, this is Nick Stokes, Warrick. We love this man. Why don’t you stop your bullshit, and admit the truth? Jesus, I can’t believe you pulled some fuckin’ primadonna ‘I’m leaving and going home‘ bullshit on him here of all places. HE LOVES YOU!”
Warrick opened his mouth to argue, but before any words could come out, he sighed, feeling himself deflate. “I just… I don’t know how to do this, man. How the fuck do you know how? I mean you just stepped off the plane and slid into bein’ all Texas and shit. How can you not be nervous?”
At Greg’s astonished expression, Warrick cocked his head to one side wondering what he’d missed. “You think I’m not nervous? Jesus, Warrick. I keep waitin’ for Daddy Stokes to come after me with a damn shotgun, or his Mamma to hit me with her wooden spoon. But, dammit, this means a lot to Nick, and I’ll be damned if I’m not gonna do everything I can do to give it my best effort. And, honestly, after awhile, it wasn’t so hard. They’re nice people, and all they really care about is that Nick’s happy and loved. No one’s asking you to be Texas, Warrick. They just want you to be you.”
Warrick turned back to the rail, and dropped his head. “I fucked this up, didn’t I?”
“ Yeah, you really did,” Greg answered without hesitation, and Warrick couldn’t help but smile. It was so Greg to say exactly what he was thinking without a single thought of censor. “And, you better be haulin’ your ass out there and patching things up with Nick, or I’m gonna get his sisters to kick your ass.”
Warrick outright laughed then, and turned, pulling the younger man into a hug and a kiss before speaking. “Well, we wouldn’t want that now would we?” Warrick watched Greg slip back into the house before setting out to look for Nick.
When he found him, Nick had his arms crossed on the top rail, resting his chin on an elbow, staring out into the darkness. “I’m sorry,” Warrick said without a preamble knowing he needed to get his apologies out from the start. “Guess I panicked.”
“It’s fine,” Nick said stiffly as one shoulder bobbed in a shrug. Warrick held back the sigh, but let the wince go, as Nick couldn’t see him anyway.
“I mean it, Nicky.” He said, trying again as he moved forward until he was standing behind him. Hesitantly, he lifted a hand placing it on Nick’s back where he felt the stiffening beneath his touch. “I was an asshole, and what I did was inexcusable. I guess I’ve pretty much been a jackass, since I got here. I just, your family intimidates me, man. I mean Jesus, I usually only see that damned many people at a crime scene on the strip.”
Warrick heard Nick snort, and saw his head shake. Moving both hands to Nick’s shoulders, he settled into an easy massage, and let himself be happy when his lover started to relax under his touch. “So, does this mean you aren’t leaving?” Nick asked hesitantly, and Warrick did sigh then hearing the pain in Nick’s voice.
He had a habit of forgetting how easily shaken Nick was sometimes. Not that this was some small thing that he’d thrown at him, but a person didn’t look at Nick and see Mr. Sensitive, even if he was sometimes. The insight to that was something Greg had brought into their relationship. Usually, he was the one to deal with the delicate emotional issues. He was the one that pointed out to Warrick how easily he hurt Nick sometimes. How Nick tended to forget himself and his issues in the heat of their competitiveness. It was something Warrick had been working hard on remembering.
“I love you, Nicky, and I ain’t leavin’, not here or you. And, I’m sorry I ever said I was. It was stupid and bullshit. I could no more leave you, than I could stop breathing. I love you, and that damned hyper rat of ours.”
Nick turned, and half smiled before putting his arms around Warrick’s waist, burying his face in the crook of his neck. “Please don’t leave me,” he whispered as his shoulders shook slightly with emotion. Warrick found himself tightening his hold, as he rubbed Nick’s back, whispering promises into his ear.
When they got back to the house finally, Nick rushed off upstairs mumbling some excuse. Warrick watched as Greg squirmed, trying to decide if he should go or not, but finally gave in and rushed off without even trying to pretend he had some errand to do. Suddenly, Warrick found himself alone in the kitchen with Nick’s Mamma and oldest sister.
“Come sit with us, Warrick,” Nick’s mother, Jillian, said pushing out the seat next to her. “We haven’t had a chance to talk since you got here.”
Nervously, Warrick made his way forward, and sat down at the table between the two formidable women, his hands twisting together as they rested on the tabletop.
“I wanted to say how happy I am that you came finally,” Jillian started. “Nick says such wonderful things about you. It’s obvious he loves you very much. I know you helped him a lot after the… after what happened. It was a great comfort to us knowing that he had someone with him who not only loved him, but also could take care of him. It means a lot to us, his father and I want you to know you’re a part of the family now. Both you and Greg are.”
Warrick swallowed heavily unsure what to say. “Thank you ma’am, Greg and I both appreciate you letting us come. Nick means the world to us. I don’t know what I’d do without him, and honestly I don’t want to find out.”
Looking at Jillian, Warrick saw the relief on her face and smiled hesitantly. When she reached over and rested her hands on top of his, Warrick felt something inside of him relax.
Taking a deep breath, Warrick let the tension ease out of him as her hand curled around his. When Nick’s sister asked him if he wanted a drink, he replied without thinking as the conversation shifted to Vegas and Warrick relaxed further. By the time Nick and Greg came back, Warrick was laughing easily with the women, all thoughts of leaving forgotten. The look of joy on Nick’s face as he took in the scene held with such happiness and love and Warrick found himself staring until he felt Jillian’s hands pat his.
Bowing his head Warrick smiled to himself before turning his eyes to Nick and Greg, thankful that one had invited him to come, and even more thankful the other had convinced him to stay.