TITLE: The Taste of Love
AUTHOR: Sugah Sugah
SUMMARY: And they finally get it right…
SPOILERS: general season 4
PAIRING: Calleigh/Ryan
RATING: M – rated to be safe. This could get ugly later.
DISCLAIMER: I still don't own them. Don't sue.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: What may possibly be the final story in "The Taste of Love" series (aptly named "The Taste of Love") immediately following the events of "Neil Sedaka Was Wrong". I mean immediately following. Like, same day.
Thank you to those loyal readers who have stayed with me through the whole series. I hope this is a satisfying conclusion to the saga that is the Ryan/Calleigh relationship. Should the muse inspire me, I may continue past this point.
NOT a one-shot. This is multi-chapter.
Loosely based on "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash.

Let's see how many adverbs I can use. And go.

Reviews are always appreciated.

The Taste of Love

"The taste of love is sweet when hearts like ours meet…" – Johnny Cash

Ryan. Single. Ryan. Single. Ryan. Single.

That same mantra kept repeating itself in Calleigh's sleep-deprived brain. Mere hours after bringing Ryan home from the emergency room (he had, in typical guy fashion, fractured his hand after punching a wall), Calleigh lay on her back in bed, staring at the ceiling and thinking, Ryan is single, over and over until she was positively sure she was going to go completely crazy. There was no way she was ever going to fall asleep; she was too excited. The same kind of nervous excitement she used to get on Christmas Eve as a kid – lying awake at night hoping Santa would leave something good under the tree, wondering what he might bring.

Old Santa had really come through this time and left her not a shiny new toy, but a guy – who, technically, could be classified as a shiny new toy. Ryan was single. That was the best present Calleigh could ever ask for. The nightmare was finally over. He had come to his senses and ended his paltry excuse for a relationship with Natalia, the office whore. He was officially up for grabs.

But was he? Calleigh tried to do the math in her head. How long should she wait before asking him out? What was an acceptable amount of grieving time? The general rule was that one needed half the length of the relationship to get over said relationship. Ryan and Natalia had been seeing each other, what, a month and a half? That meant that Calleigh had to suffer through three weeks of torture before she could ask Ryan out.

Of course, Calleigh thought, it's not like Ryan and Natalia were exclusive. I mean, Ryan and I went out a couple of times while they were technically dating, so do I even need to adhere to that stupid rule?

An excellent point. Calleigh mulled that over for a while.

On the other hand, another part of Calleigh's brain said, how tacky is it to ask a guy out the day after he broke up with someone? Don't want to seem too eager, now do we?

Another good point.

Hell, the other part of Calleigh's braid said, I wanted to ask him to dinner on the way home from the hospital. I think I showed incredible restraint waiting as long as I have, anyway. If he weren't such a good guy, we'd probably already have slept together by now. Don't think that little night of dancing wasn't headed there. If he hadn't been seeing Natalia then we wouldn't be having this conversation, now would we?

It was official. She'd snapped. She was not only talking to herself – though, granted, not out loud – she was carrying on a conversation with herself. The rational part of her brain was trying to reason with the hormone-crazed side, and, unofficially, the hormone-crazed side was winning. It wasn't like Calleigh had been waiting her whole life for Ryan, but she had been waiting a long time to find a guy like Ryan. The fact that it was Ryan himself, well, that was just an added bonus. And she'd had to endure nearly six weeks of the nauseating-ness that was the Ryan/Natalia fiasco – as they liked to call it around the lab…usually when neither Ryan nor Natalia were anywhere nearby. Delko had coined the phrase, but Calleigh wouldn't cop to using it. At least, not in public.

In her head, she'd used far worse terms.

Calleigh stretched on her back and bumped her head against the headboard. As she rubbed the spot where there would surely be a bruise the next morning, she couldn't help but wonder if her head would ever bang against that headboard again. For other reasons. Like marathon sex sessions with a particular coworker, whose name would not stop running through Calleigh's mind, no matter how hard she tried to stop it. Because, let's face it, she wasn't going to get any sleep as long as she kept thinking about him.

But she couldn't help it. Ryan was single now. She knew that he felt something for her, and now there was nothing – and nobody – standing in her way.

Her previous attempts to lure him had been unsuccessful. She wasn't about to make that mistake again. Those few times she'd asked him out for drinks after shift had been too subtle. She would have to be more obvious this time, that was all. She could do obvious. How about she lie in wait for him to get off the elevator, pull him into the supply closet, and have her way with him? How was that for obvious?

Oh, yeah. She could do obvious. No question about it.

Calleigh smiled and rolled over onto her side, staring at the clock on her bedside table. She knew she should try and get some sleep – she didn't want to look like night of the living dead when she went in for her shift the next day – but her mind was going a thousand miles a minute with no signs of slowing down. There was just no way she was going to get to sleep anytime soon.

She stretched an arm behind her and rubbed the sheet almost tenderly, wondering what it would be like to feel Ryan's warmth beside her in bed. To have his arm slung over her, holding her to him. To be pressed against the length of his body. She could tangle her legs in his, twine their fingers, bury her face in the crook of his neck and breathe in that scent that she couldn't quite describe but was uniquely Ryan.

Groaning, Calleigh shifted onto her back. Thinking along those lines would only get her in trouble. Already she could feel the flash of heat that was settling in the pit of her belly.

She sighed. There would be no sleep for her tonight.