TITLE: Neil Sedaka Was Wrong
AUTHOR: Sugah Sugah
SUMMARY: Breaking up is easy to do. Especially when the girl is a liar, and the guy's in love with someone else.
SPOILERS: Up through "One of Our Own"
PAIRING: Ryan/Calleigh implied
RATING: T – rated to be safe
DISCLAIMER: I do not own these characters. I wish I did. Sadly, the only things I own are a beat up car, this computer, and like 20 thousand in student loans.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: And now, the highly anticipated break-up! This is the 5th in The Taste of Love series, following "The Boy Can Dance", set immediately after the ending of the season finale.
Oh, I so called Natalia being the mole. Go me. Now everyone hates her. Yay. Although, it was a little anticlimactic. I was expecting a huge reveal. I was disappointed.
Neil Sedaka, for those who may not know, sang the song "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do".
Reviews are, as always, appreciated. Neil Sedaka Was Wrong
Neil Sedaka Was Wrong
Ryan wasn't claustrophobic in any way, shape, or form, but he was starting to wonder if perhaps he was developing the phobia from having been sitting in such a confined space for so long. The emergency stairwell was hardly the ideal place to be, but it was quiet, and it allowed him to do the one thing he had been unable to do all day, which was think. All he wanted to do was sit and collect his thoughts, to mull over everything – every horrible thing – that had happened today. It was fast turning out to be one of the worst days of his life.
He hadn't known Jessop all that well – as well as could be expected, a patrol officer and a CSI knowing each other – but he had been a nice guy. No one deserved the kind of death that he had gotten, but he deserved it even less. Nice guys like him shouldn't go down in flames like that. Ryan was just glad he hadn't been present to witness it. It was hard enough to get the image of Jessop's burned flesh out of his mind; he knew that, had he seen it, the sight of him flying through the air would have been seared onto his brain for the rest of his life. Ryan placed his head between his knees, took several deep breaths, and waited for the sudden bout of nausea to pass. In the nearly two years he'd worked at the crime lab, he'd grown accustomed to the smell of death, to the sight of grisly murders he often had to process, but no amount of experience could ever prepare a person for processing someone he knew, someone he saw on a regular basis.
This must have been how the others felt after Speedle died. He felt he could finally appreciate the attitude he had gotten his first few weeks at the lab.
The presence of the FBI just made the day go downhill – investigating the disappearance of $12,000 in cash from the Mala Noche takedown the previous week, when no one in the lab had stolen the money. Ryan had been brought in for questioning twice concerning the stolen evidence when he'd had absolutely nothing to do. Their investigation was taking vital hours away from finding Jessop's killer and bringing him to justice, and the fact that the Feds didn't seem to care really pissed him off.
Plus, learning that Cooper had blabbed to the agents about his fictitious eye condition was no picnic. He had a couple of drinks and let the information slip – whatever. What the hell kind of information was that to spill when drunk? When Ryan was drunk, he had a tendency to confess to things he'd done as a ten-year-old, not mention that a friend of his may or may not have keratitis.
And Natalia was the mole.
He should have known. It was his job to search out the mole – Horatio had entrusted him with the very delicate mission, and Ryan had screwed it up. He dropped false hints to everyone in the lab – Alexx, Valera, Cooper, even Calleigh and Delko – but not with Natalia. He didn't want to believe that she could be the mole, though he suspected a part of him had always known and that was why he was having such trouble ending the relationship with her – because he was convinced he might be able to find her out.
But that wasn't true. Ryan was having trouble ending the relationship because he was a coward. Because Natalia was a beautiful woman, and the fact that she showed interest in him was something he couldn't easily ignore. He should know better than to just hop into bed with any attractive woman who glanced his way. Hadn't he learned his lesson with Erica? What exactly was his problem?
Truth was, Erica and Natalia were both substitutes for the woman he really wanted – the woman he was convinced would never be interested in him. But unless he was very mistaken – which wouldn't be the first time – Calleigh had tried to kiss him not two weeks ago.
They'd gone out dancing. Sort of. It couldn't technically be classified as a date, but it had just been the two of them at La Llama, a salsa club near his apartment. Earlier that day he'd mentioned to her that he used to dance, and she didn't believe him. In fact, she found the idea hilarious. So he resolved to prove her wrong. But the plan had backfired. Dancing with her – the way they moved, the way they touched, the way she smelled, the way she felt – it was almost too much. After the song was over, he'd lowered her into a dip, and she'd stretched forward, as if to kiss him. He pulled away at the last second, though it was extremely difficult. He'd wanted to kiss Calleigh for years – he'd been in love with her almost since the day they met – but he couldn't. Not when he was still technically with Natalia.
Still, he'd been waiting for a sign from Calleigh, and that was it. Unfortunately, things at the lab had gotten crazy. After Marisol was killed, everyone was so tense and on edge that Ryan didn't try to approach Calleigh to discuss what had happened. By some unspoken agreement, they both arrived at the same decision, and for the last week or so, neither had made any attempt to talk to the other about the kiss that didn't happen but almost had.
But he thought about it. Every damn day. Every damn night. It was the last thing he thought of when he went to bed at night, and the first thing he thought of when he woke up in the mornings. He thought about it every time Calleigh happened to glance his way, any time she threw a smile in his direction, even if it wasn't aimed specifically at him. He thought about it whenever she walked past him, with that little sashay he sensed she did especially for him. He thought about it whenever they were pouring over photos or dismantling a car and he was so close he could smell her body lotion. He thought about it so much that he felt as though he were going crazy.
And the fact that he could think of little else made it abundantly clear that he had to end this quasi-relationship he had with Natalia. It wasn't fair to her, to continue to see her when he loved someone else. He'd resolved to do it after this whole situation was resolved. Then the FBI showed up and conducted their investigation, and after it was revealed that assistant DA Monica West had taken the money in a futile effort to take down the lab, Delko came to Ryan with an impossible situation.
Natalia was the mole.
Ryan had been sitting in the stairwell ever since. It was cold and uncomfortable as hell, but it was quiet, and there was very little chance of him being discovered, which was what he wanted. He also wanted to talk to Natalia, to find out if what Delko had said was true – it wouldn't be the first time the guy had lied to him – to give her the chance to explain herself, and to tell her that it was over, that he loved someone else.
At least, that was the plan.
The door at the top of the stairwell opened with a creak and Natalia's head poked through the small opening. "Ryan? Are you in here?"
Ryan stood up and went to greet her. "Right here."
Natalia opened the door farther but made no move to enter the stairwell. "What are you doing in here?"
He stopped a few steps below her, looking up at her. "Thinking."
She remained rooted in place, in the doorway. "About what?"
He licked his lips and responded honestly. "Us."
Something flashed in her eyes, but whatever it was vanished almost as quickly as it had come. "What about us?"
Ryan climbed up the remaining stairs that separated them, grabbed Natalia by the wrist, and pulled her into the stairwell. The door slammed shut behind her. She looked surprised at his behavior but made no move to extricate herself from his grip; she obviously didn't see him as a threat, or she would have. He opened his mouth to speak but couldn't quite get the words out. He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer to the question he was about to ask, but he had to know. It was killing him.
"Why did you go out with me?"
Natalia blinked several times, as though she had misunderstood the question. "What?"
He took a deep breath and tried again. "Were you just trying to get back at Delko, or were you just trying to get information?"
She looked positively scandalized by the very insinuation. "That is none of your – "
"None of my what?" Ryan asked, his voice rising higher. He could hear it echoing off the walls of the stairwell, but he didn't care. He was angry; he couldn't remember ever having been this angry. "None of my business? I think it is my business. I have a right to know why you went out with me, don't you think?"
Natalia's eyes narrowed to angry slits. "Don't you dare act like the wronged party, Ryan Wolfe," she said, with enough ice in her tone to give him frostbite.
"The wronged party?" Ryan said. She had used his full name. Warning bells were going off in his head, but he ignored them. "You slept with me just to get information about the lab!"
"And you slept with me because you couldn't have Calleigh!"
Ryan's retort died in his throat. He could only sputter indignantly. How the hell did she know how he felt about Calleigh? And if she knew, did others know? Did Calleigh? When he was capable of forming complete sentences, he said, "That isn't true."
"Oh, please, Ryan," Natalia said, practically spitting out the words, "you called me Calleigh at least once every time we had sex. I'm not an idiot."
Ryan chewed on the inside of his cheek. He had committed the ultimate mistake in a relationship, but he could hardly be held accountable for whatever happened to slip out of his mouth during the throes of passion – though he suspected that may have had something to do with the fact that every time he was with Natalia, he pictured Calleigh's face. Still, he knew it had to have hurt – maybe her ego more so than her feelings. Part of him was glad that he had hurt her. Maybe now she would know how it felt. "At least I didn't use you to find stuff to snitch to the Feds."
"No, you used me to make Calleigh jealous."
He had done no such thing. Not intentionally. He really had liked Natalia. He just liked Calleigh more. He loved Calleigh. And Natalia had no right to bring her into this. He pumped as much fire into his voice as he could when he said, "Like you weren't trying to make Delko jealous by going to bed with me?" She opened her mouth to respond, but he wouldn't give her the chance. "And why would you care about making him jealous, anyway? I mean, you only slept with him to get information, didn't you? Were you trying to make your way through the whole lab? Was Aaron next? Or Dan?"
She didn't say anything, and Ryan again felt the bile rise in his throat. He hadn't really been serious about sleeping with the whole lab. He shook his head and backed away from her. "I can't even look at you right now."
"Ryan," said Natalia, and he noticed that her voice was shaky and that there were tears in her eyes.
"You used me," Ryan said, hoping that he sounded as hurt as he felt. He thought Natalia had liked him – really liked him.
"It wasn't like that."
"Then what was it like?" Again, she said nothing. He could feel his anger bubbling over once more. "I deserve an answer." She opened and closed her mouth several times, but no words came out. Ryan screamed in rage and slammed his fist into the wall. "Damnit, Natalia, answer me!"
Natalia was staring at him with wide eyes; she looked like she was afraid he might physically hurt her. "I didn't mean to hurt you."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing. She hadn't meant to hurt him? What the hell had she meant, then? "And that's supposed to make everything better? That's supposed to make it go away?"
"Please, Ryan," Natalia said in a breathless whisper, "don't hurt me."
He blinked and stepped back. Without even realizing it, he had backed her against the wall and was standing just inches away from her. He would never assault her – he was not the type of guy who attacked women – but he was so submerged in his anger that he wasn't even aware of what he was doing. "I'm not going to hurt you," he said. "I wouldn't do that. You're a mole, you should know that about me."
"Ryan, I'm sorry, I never wanted to – "
Ryan gritted his teeth so hard that his jaw muscles hurt. "You aren't getting any more information out of me. I want you stay away from me. You come near me again, and I am not responsible for my actions."
Natalia recoiled as if struck. "Ryan, please, I'm trying to – "
He held up a hand to silence her apology. Too little, too late. He was done. "And stay away from Calleigh," he said as he wrenched the door open.
He stormed through the hallways, his anger so intense that he couldn't really see where he was going. He was vaguely aware that someone was calling his name, but he assumed it was Natalia and ignored it. He had almost reached the elevators when someone touched him on the shoulder. Positive it was Natalia, he whirled around, intent on screaming at her until his face turned purple, but his anger dissipated instantly when he saw that it wasn't Natalia.
It was Calleigh.
"Ryan," she said, her eyes full of concern, "are you okay?"
He licked his lips, intent on casually brushing off her concern, because right then he felt like he was about to burst into tears, and he didn't want to cry in front of Calleigh. But as soon as he looked into her eyes, he deflated. "Natalia's the mole."
She nodded, her face sad. "I know. Eric told me."
He could feel his eyes burning but forced the tears back. "I feel so used."
Calleigh smiled slightly. "You shouldn't. She fooled us all."
"Yeah, but…" He trailed off, because he didn't really feel like discussing the details of his intimate relationship with Natalia with Calleigh. He sighed and shook his head. "I don't know. I guess I feel like I should have known."
"Me, too. I never trusted her, but Eric seemed to… Ryan, what happened to your hand?"
"Huh?" He looked down at his right hand and saw that it was bleeding. "Oh. I punched a wall."
Calleigh gently took his hand in both of hers and held it up to examine it. "This looks bad. You should get to the emergency room."
He told himself that she was just worried that he may have broken something and that she wasn't coming onto him, because damn her fingers felt good. He almost couldn't feel the pain. "It's nothing," he said.
"It's not nothing, Ryan," Calleigh said. "You're bleeding."
He shrugged. "I'm fine."
She rolled her eyes. "Men." She grabbed his uninjured hand and dragged him toward the elevators. "Come on, I'm taking you to the emergency room."
They elapsed into silence as they waited for the elevator. She was making such a fuss over him; it was unnecessary, but it felt nice. He almost wished he'd injured himself worse, if she was making such a big deal over a few bruised knuckles and a little bit of blood. He turned to look at her, and before he even realized what he was doing, he said, "Natalia and I broke up."
He couldn't be sure, since she wasn't facing him, but he thought she smirked. "I bet that was hard to do."
He almost laughed. "Actually, it was pretty easy. Neil Sedaka totally had it wrong."
The doors opened with a ding, and Calleigh turned to face him. She was grinning. "Good to know."