This isn’t his scene.
Not by a long shot.
The only time he’d ever be caught at a club like this would be for his job, armed with his kit and a flashlight.
Instead he’s armed with a drink and his car keys that he keeps fumbling with, his eyes darting around not for details but for an escape. The club is far more occupied than the standard sports bars he’s used to haunting, and not only that...there’s just so much touching.
Dancing bodies bumping, grinding up against him, enclosing him in walls of flesh.
Fingers stroking him, painting him with glowing streaks revealed under the ultraviolet rays that act as the only source of light in this crowded void.
He knows Greg must be loving this--and as he twists around, gently prying apart two women who were doing their best to garner his attention, he spots the man with a wide grin on his face, holding the hands of the friends he had introduced Nick to just moments before, as he’s wrapped from behind by to Nick’s knowledge is a complete stranger, and as he grinds his way towards Nick with a fire in his eyes. Loving the rush of constant connection, feeling the frenzied adrenaline orchestrated by the loud, pounding music that throbs in Nick’s temples.
He’s getting quick, fleeting shots of intimacy that, as far as Nick is concerned, should be worked towards and savored and committed to, not just...tossed aside and turned into a story that’s passed down through multitudes of conversations to friends and co-workers and strangers alike as an offering to make another fleeting connection for the sake of filling a social requirement.
But maybe he’s just too traditional to understand this subculture, to understand this form of love. He does recognize that love comes in all sorts of shapes and forms and can be displayed in more ways than the ones he’s used to and has learned from his experiences...
Which is why he’s doing his best to give this a shot...
Despite the fact that everything in his body is screaming at him to leave.
Greg finally manages to worm his way over to Nick. Nick forces a smile, not wanting to bog down Greg’s spirit.
“Hey! You having fun?” Greg screams into his ear.
“Yeah, yeah, man this is...cool,” Nick lies through his teeth, before downing his drink, before something snakes between him and Greg--a fairly attractive woman that any other day, Nick would be more than eager to get to know, but he was here with Greg, on a date with Greg, and just wants to spend time with Greg, the individual.
Not Greg, the cog in the hive mind of a rave.
He must not do a good job at hiding this, because Greg squints at him, studies him for a rare moment in which he puts on his investigative persona outside of the the playing field of investigation, to examine his victim.
“If you want to leave, we can leave,” Greg lowers his voice from a shout to something softer, but still loud enough that Nick can hear.
“Nah, man, we don’t gotta--I can just--”
“Hey, if you’re not here, I’m not here. C’mon!”
Greg tugs Nick’s pants and brings them towards the wall. He leads Nick as they sidle along to the door, and exit the dance floor to a much quieter, but still just as occupied hallway that leads to the bathroom, the bar, and most importantly; the exit.
“Greg--” Nick begins as soon as he can hear his own voice, but Greg just turns around, puts a blue finger to his lips.
“Drop it, Nick. My canvas was running out of space anyway,” he winks. He pays their tab and pulls Nick’s shirt out of its tucking in his jean pocket, unfolding it and touching Nick’s chest to make sure his body paint had dried. He helps Nick put on his shirt before the leave the club, and the car ride--driven by the more sober Greg--is spent mostly in shamed silence, on Nick’s part, feeling like he ruined Greg’s night.
“I appreciate you giving it a try, you know. I know it’s not...your thing,” Greg quells his feelings.
“I mean it, Nick,” Greg puts his hand on Nick’s knee, shaking it gently to get Nick to look up at him. “I was shocked that you had even said ‘yes.’“
So was I, Nick can’t help but think.
“I just...I feel like I’m always carting you around to sports bars and parks and makin’ you do things you normally wouldn’t...do, ya know?”
“Isn’t that what a relationship is? Getting out of your comfort zone to try things just to make the other person happy?”
“I...suppose,” Nick mumbles.
They fall into a silence until they reach Nick’s house, and while Nick immediately unbuckles his seat belt, he doesn’t immediately jump out of the car, sensing there was more to say--but he didn’t know where to begin.
And once again, Greg takes the lead.
“You taught me that, you know. I’ve had relationships before but none that were as...I don’t know, meaningful? I’m used to just...fleeting flings, mostly sexually charged but you’re...you’re showing me there’s more than that, that sometimes you need to find yourself in life to find others, too and...and that’s what I love about you.”
Nick turns his head, shifting sideways in his seat so that he’s facing Greg, who is smiling sadly underneath the many coats of paint, hand prints and fingerprints that would surely cause CODIS to go into an overload.
“You’re changing my view on things too, G. You know I was a bit too...wound up when we first met--”
Greg snorts, and they both bow their head in a fit of giggles.
“--You’re showin’ me there’s more ways to have fun than just...what we’re used to. Sometimes it’s important to just...let go. Get loose. Don’t think about tomorrow, just live in the moment, because...tomorrow might not...come.”
Nick lets out a shuddering breath that he didn’t realize he was holding in, and reaches for Greg’s hand.
“Did you wanna go back?” he asks.
“Do you?” Greg asks back.
Nick honestly doesn’t know the answer, but in that moment, it doesn’t matter. He soaking in the present, feeling the progression of a new level of empathy and understanding, one that he had only reached in a relationship once before, before it all went wrong.
It’s scary...and wonderful.