This fic follows on Falling Into Place, and both contains spoilers for and will not make sense without that work. You should read that work first.
That snaps Carlos awake, the terror of his nightmare immediately replaced with worry when his eyes focus on Nick, next to him, holding up a hand to his eye.
"Oh, god. I'm so sorry! I was..."
"It's okay." Nick seems to tentatively prod his face with a finger. "You just have a really, uh... strong swing."
"Should I get something? Some ice? Some, um..." Carlos isn't actually sure what he did, but he suspects he punched Nick in the face in his imagined struggle.
Nick shakes his head and chuckles, confusing him. "No, I think I'm okay. If I have a black eye though, we're going to have to spin up some fun story, like Adam hit me in the face with a can of soda when he was playing keepaway."
Carlos should find it funny, but instead he just worries, wrapping his arms around Nick and pulling him against his chest. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to."
"I know," Nick says, snuggling in closer and smiling against his chest. Then Carlos can feel him frown. "Were you having a nightmare?"
"Yeah. I just... sometimes I..." He realizes he had never talked to Nick about Elliot, and what happened that night at the house. "I just have a recurring nightmare, sometimes... from a bad memory."
Nick nods, kissing his chest again, and rubbing Carlos' back soothingly. "Anything I can do?"
Carlos closes his eyes, letting the feel of his boyfriend in his arms push aside the dream. "You're doing it."
"Do you want to talk about your nightmare?"
Carlos looks over at Nick from the bed, standing in his kitchen holding a steaming cup of coffee. He's glad Nick doesnt seem to have suffered any ill effects from his nighttime flailing.
"Maybe?" He actually isn't sure, but he figures he and Nick should probably talk about Elliot, anyway.
He waits until Nick climbs back into bed next to him, setting his coffee down on his nightstand and wrapping him up in his arms, kissing his forehead and waiting for him to start.
"I think Adam and I have mentioned Elliot before. He was my first, uh... well, he was the first crush I had where I guess something could have come out of it."
Nick doesn't say anything, waiting for him to continue, and Carlos closes his eyes, focusing on the feeling of Nick's hands on his back.
"Neither of us were out at the frat house, and I guess I never even knew for sure he was gay. But um... there was a guy at the house, Robert, and... I don't want to get too far into that, but I guess at some level he was homophobic, and Elliot confronted him about it, and he..." He shudders, unable to continue.
"I'm sorry, babe."
Carlos shakes his head. "It's... well, it's not okay, but it is what it is. But sometimes I just remember sitting there, paralyzed as he..." He shudders again. "I just remember the blood. And in my dream, that's me that Robert is punching, and I'm doing what I can to... fight back, I guess."
It seems like Nick isn't sure what to say, instead just kissing Carlos' forehead again and holding him tighter.
"Anyway. I'm sorry I punched you in the face last night." He thinks the apology would be comical if he wasn't so upset at the moment.
"Babe. Don't be. It's not your fault." Nick pauses, as if searching for the right words. "I can't imagine what that must have been like for you. Just... let me know if there's ever anything I can do."
"Thanks. I just... it's maybe really cliche to say, but you make everything better. So just... keep being you."
Nick looks up at him and kisses him gently. "I'm glad."
Carlos stares off into space, thinking. "Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had been braver. If maybe I could have... stopped things from happening."
"You shouldn't feel guilty about what happened," Nick says, and Carlos thinks that he's probably right, even if he doesn't know anything about the situation.
"I know. But I just keep thinking that I should have... done more."
"Maybe you should talk to someone about it?" Nick's looking at him again. "I'm always more than happy to listen, of course, but sometimes therapy is useful, even if just to have someone more detatched from the situation to talk to."
"Maybe." Carlos isn't sure how he feels about therapy, even if he thinks it might be useful. He feels somehow like he'd be a failure if he couldn't work through things himself, or that having a therapist means that something's wrong with him.
"I mean it," Nick says, as if reading his thoughts, and Carlos supposes Nick knows him well enough by now to at least be following his silent thought processes. "I, um... well, my university had free therapist sessions, and I took advantage of it. A lot of my friends did, too. There's absolutely nothing shameful about it. I keep thinking I should find one here, too, but things have been a lot busier and I keep putting it off."
Hearing that Nick's been to therapy helps, somehow, because Carlos thinks that Nick is one of the most put-together and responsible people he's ever known. "Okay. I'll... see what options I have."
Nick nods. "But please don't take that as me being dismissive. I always want to hear anything you want to talk about, okay? And I always want to do what I can."
Carlos smiles now, feeling a little better about things, and Nick smiles with him. "I know. You're amazing, and supportive, and I love you."
"I love you, too." Nick kisses him again.
"And thank you."
"Hey," Carlos says, turning from the pans on the stove as Nick walks in the door behind Adam.
Nick kicks off his shoes and gives Carlos a kiss before wrapping his arms around his torso, his chin on Carlos' shoulder. "That smells good."
"Yeah. I, um... wanted to make casado again." Carlos blushes at the memory of his first meeting with Nick. He hadn't made the dish again since then, and not only because plantains could sometimes be a pain to get.
"That's... that's the first thing you made me, isn't it?"
Carlos nods, turning and kissing Nick's cheek. "It is. I was going to make it yesterday, for our anniversary, except it was a Sunday so we were able to spend the day together and go out instead."
"I love you," Nick says, squeezing Carlos tightly.
"I love you, too," Carlos says, stiring the beans. "Although you might want to go sit on the couch, since I'm going to start frying the plantains soon."
Nick nods, kissing his neck before releasing him and joining Adam on the couch.
"I got you something, babe."
"Hm?" It takes Carlos a second for the words to process -- his brain had been preoccupied by Nick's mouth, wrapped around his cock, and he already misses the sensations. "What?"
Nick smirks and grabs his pants, rummaging around in a pocket before pulling out a small tube of... something.
"Is that... lube?"
"Maybe." Nick wiggles the bottle in front of Carlos' face so he can't read the label, but he can make out a picture of a pineapple.
"Dude. Did you get flavored lube?"
"Maybe." Nick smirks as he pops it open, covering his cock in the liquid. "Blow me."
Carlos doesn't need to be told twice, moving in and eagerly taking Nick's cock into his mouth. The taste hits him all at once, artificially sweet and sickly pungent, and he gags, despite himself.
Nick seems to frown above him. "Is it bad?"
Carlos pulls off, feeling like he wants to wipe his tongue on something. "Sorry. It's just... so artificial."
Nick nods, then smirks. "Then get on all fours," he says, his voice rough now. "And spread yourself for me."
Carlos shivers, that tone always going straight to his cock. And as he gets into position, he tries not to think about the fact that Nick's about to fuck him with pineapple-flavored lube.