Phantom Pain

Note: Short fic written for the Nick slash ficathon, for afterthedream, who wanted "Morning something (kissing or sex, it matters not), and playfulness". I haven't written Kevin/Nick in ages (and only a couple of times all in all), but it was not so difficult, once I set my mind to it. But I did miss my Howie... 🙂

Nick knew as well as anyone that they had been been officially broken up. They had just "taken a break", after ten years of "living in each other's pockets", or however PR liked to put it. And it was the honest-to-god truth, even, as far as it went.

Nonetheless, Nick knew what being part of a close-knit group, a family of adopted co-workers/brothers/substitute-parents/role-models/friends/teachers/lovers felt, after all it had been his life for longer than was probably healthy. Nick just had to look at the long list of descriptions he had for them to know that -- no four persons in anyone's life should play so many important roles. But there it was, history, no matter how well-concealed at times, and Nick knew what it felt like not to have that anymore, to be on his own all of a sudden.

Which was why he always put mental finger quotes around the "just taking a break, not broken up" holy cow of PR.

True, it had been his decision to go solo, risking the biggest fight in the history of the group, safe maybe the time when AJ had really, really reached rock bottom, but that was not mentioned, one of the many unspoken guidelines to self-preservation. And he had not regretted it, afterwards, had on the contrary relished the freedom, the intoxicating freedom of suddenly being alone, of standing of his own feet for the first time in his life. It had enabled Nick to finally grow up, become his own person.

This did not change the fact that there were empty patches in his heart, hurting with absence, like severed limbs that twitched and reminded him of things Brian would have said, things AJ would have done, of Howie's fingers in his hair and the warmth of his hugs, and of the fury blazing in Kevin's green eyes whenever he caught Nick doing something "utterly and completely stupid and careless, Nick, how can you be such an idiot?".

He probably missed that the most, in those days right after, when Kevin was not speaking to him except through words of wisdom via Brian or Howie and sometimes even AJ. Nick should have been glad to be rid of him, of his constant surveillance, his certainty that Nick would remain a stupid teenager forever. But the truth was that Nick missed Kevin most of all.

He missed the tension crackling in the air between them, subtly changing as he slowly but surely left the teenage years behind, infuriating but also vigorating Nick like nothing else ever had. Kevin got under Nick's skin like no one else and remained there, like an invisible tattoo, branding Nick. Owning him.

Nick was not quite sure when he had begun to think of Kevin in these terms. It had felt like a completely natural progression, as if he woke up one morning and had decided that he belonged to Kevin. All in all, he was quite content with the way things had turned out. It felt right.

Convincing Kevin of that was quite another matter. It was not exactly as if Nick could just go and blurt it out over coffee, even after Kevin started talking to him again. Words were not his strong suit anyway, and Nick really did not want Kevin to start lecturing him on grammar again, not when he was trying to make the other man see him as an adult, as someone worth considering for, well, a serious relationship. Or at least for extramarital (because Nick really liked Kristen) sex until the day one of them dropped dead, preferably not while busy fucking each other's brain's out. Nick had never liked that part of Basic Instinct.

After all his considerations about the importance of appearing like a rational (and attractive) adult, Nick should have known that things would go just a bit differently.

Of course they had seen each other during the "time off", and every time Nick had felt Kevin under his skin, tickling his senses. But nothing had prepared him for the shock of sheer -- rightness that overwhelmed him as he entered the studio where they wanted to start writing and recording again, and found Kevin sitting in front of the piano, playing softly a random tune. Nick felt his heart constrict and all words left him as his mouth dried out. This. This was what had been missing.

Kevin stopped playing and stood up as he noticed Nick and grinned widely, joy at seeing him dancing in his eyes: "Wow, Nick -- you're the first! And that at seven in the morning, I'm impressed! You must be growing up, after all..."

It was strange, but hearing this made something inside of Nick click. He still could not talk (no loss, really), but he almost flew across the room and threw himself at Kevin. Only years of practice kept the slightly smaller man on his feet, and Nick was once more surprised that he was actually taller than Kevin.

What started out as one of Nick's normal full-body hugs changed abruptly as Nick breathed in Kevin's familiar scent and felt the strength of his grasp, the muscles of his back as he shifted to keep them both upright. Without stopping to think he leaned back just enough to lock eyes with Kevin.

Then he dove in, ignoring Kevin's startled gasp as their mouths met.

At first Kevin was stiff and unmoving under Nick's lips, his body rigid with surprise and shock, but suddenly, as if he had finally connected all the dots and liked the picture he saw, he relaxed and started to participate. Nick almost fainted, so much blood left his head and made his whole body tingle, pooling hotly in his loins. He groaned into Kevin's mouth and pushed their hips together, triumph flooding him as he felt Kevin's hardness against his own.

Just then, when things started to get interested, a loud whistle and hooting tore apart the cloud of bliss Nick was currently enveloped in.

"Oh, holy shit, D -- I knew it, I fucking knew it!" AJ sounded as if he had just struck gold, and Nick and Kevin whipped their heads around just in time to see Howie slip him a bill grumblingly, at the same time smiling so wide his face threatened to crack.

Nick felt his face grow hot and then cold as he realized that he would now have to face the consequences of his actions. And that there was no way AJ was going to let him live this down. Ever.

But Nick figured that it might just be worth it, because there was something in the way Kevin's hand was still grabbing his butt possessively that told him he was never going to hurt from absence again.