When You're Not Looking
by Lar

Nick wakes up to the uncomfortable feeling of being watched, something he was so fucking sure was done with when he left the rehab that it makes him want to growl before he even bothers to check and see if it's Tressa. His hand's already grabbing the pillow from behind his head as he sits up, fingers biting into the foam under the cover. He grabs so hard he can feel it breaking up, crumbling from the pressure of his grip and when he sees Kelly standing there, his hair looking like it was combed sometime last week and his forehead wrinkled in concentration, Nick flushes red. Triggered off on a guilt trip for no damn reason at all and that pisses him off, too.

"Jesusfuck, Kel, what're you doing here?" He runs one hand through his own hair and frowns at the greasy feel of it, fighting the urge to rub his hand on the couch to get rid of it and wishing he'd taken a shower instead of just flopping down here and fallen asleep. Avoidance, and fuck that for making him feel another rush of guilt. Nick does throw the pillow then, and feels the sweat trickle down his back.

Kelly shrugs, the cushion missing his head and glancing off his shoulder, and he takes a step back to compensate. Way too unsteady on his feet and he sways, making Nick flush all over again in that rush of panic. He jumps up, sweaty fingers closing on Kelly's arms, sliding over the skin as he pulls. Sudden yank that tumbles Kelly onto the couch with him. On top of him, to be technically correct and Nick grunts at the impact.

He's still not used to contact, all that time in rehab where it was plastic and white walls and too much lemon-scented disinfectant. Some ungodly amount of money every damn day he was there and it was still just an expensive curtain pulled over the wire frame of an institution. Attempts to refer to the personnel as Nurse Ratchet just got him a tight, humorless, professional smile and he gave up after a while. It just made him want a fucking drink and that's what got him here to begin with, right?

Kelly lays where he falls, deadweight with the boneless liquid languor of the massively drunk. His head lolls on Nick's shoulder and his breath is sharp. Almost 100-proof as he sighs, and Nick breathes it in a little too deeply, a little too eagerly. Kelly licks his bottom lip and Nick mimics him, wondering if he can taste the same sweet, hot tang of whiskey that Nick has told himself to forget. Too much goddamn bottled water between here and the last taste of it, and he's too busy being bitter for a long while to realize that Kelly's just... sitting there on him like some kind of oversized puppet. Hasn't really done more than breathe on him and make his legs hurt from the weight of Kelly's body pressing his thighs into the sofa. Pins and needles there now as he tries to shift him onto the couch but Kelly protests, his hand coming up to grab at Nicky's shirt, fingers clenching it into a sweaty, wrinkled knot.

"Sorry." The word comes with another one of those hot puffs of air against his face, and Nick sighs.

"Sorry you're crushing my balls? Get the hell off then and we'll be fine," His voice wants to be rough and annoyed but his hand comes up and the fingers that were going to pull Kelly's from his shirt instead cup his cheek. Rough stubble against his fingertips and then the same slick glide of black strands when Nick moves to cup the back of Kelly's neck. "Come on."

Kelly shifts his weight, but he curls into Nick instead of obligingly dumping his ass on the couch. "Not your balls."

His voice is muffled but Nick can translate. Years of drunken, fucked up training, ten thousand nights of making the same sounds on a dozen different couches, in a hundred different beds. He ruffles Kelly's hair, wrinkles his nose at the smell of stale smoke that rises from it. "What then?"

Kelly's chest hitches and for a heart stopping second, Nick thinks he might actually cry. But it passes when he coughs instead and shakes his head, his hair sticking up in points where Nick's fingers have rubbed through it and it brushes against his cheek. "Should have been both of us. In there."

One hand waves towards the doorway he walked through and Nick looks at it blankly, as if there's some kind of answer to the latest puzzle of his brother's ramblings. He's never been a particularly sweet or sentimental drunk. Not nasty so much as blunt and with even less ability or desire to filter out what might be best kept in his head. "My fault, kept on goin', talked you into it, tried to stop and I couldn't fuckin' let it go."

Ah. Nick's chest makes the same tight hitch and he lets his head lean over on top of Kelly's. The smoke's not so bad, really. He's used to it, and it's a damn sight better than anything else he's had this close to him in a long time. Comforting in a way Tressa's perfume wouldn't ever be, and sometimes he wants to tell her thank you for the way she never lets on. But that'd mean saying it, making a point of it and that would mean all kinds of things wouldn't be able to stand in place. Some things only work while you pretend not to see them.

So Nick nuzzles into the dark hair, and breathes in the smoke and the sweat, and feels the soft exhalation against his neck before he lifts up and kisses Kelly's cheek. Brushes his lips there and closes his eyes as he leans back down. "Next time you come with me," he murmurs.


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