TITLE: With Every Breath
SUMMARY: She could have died. And she would've died not knowing that he loved her with every breath in his body.
SPOILERS: "Going Under" 5x02
RATING: K+. I really don't think it's bad.
DISCLAIMER: They are not mine. Speak to CBS and Jerry Bruckheimer.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Follows the same canon established in my "Taste of Love" series, and is a follow-up to the fic "Control". Takes place during episode 5x02.

A CaRWash episode! I squeed with delight the whole time.

Reviews are always appreciated.

With Every Breath

She could have died.

It was all he could think about all day. She could have died.

If she hadn't been able to get out of the car… If they had done something other than simply run her off the road… He didn't even want to finish either of those thoughts. The idea of arriving at the scene and not seeing the living, breathing woman that he loved but her cold, lifeless body… It made him want to punch something. Shoot something. Kill something. Preferably the bastards who had almost taken her from him.

More than anything, he wanted to go to the scene and make sure that she was okay, but Horatio hadn't let him – told him that it wasn't necessary that he be there, that everything was under control. Ryan had bitten his tongue and nodded, then gone into the emergency stairwell and kicked the wall. They may not have needed him there, but he needed to be there. He needed to see with his own eyes that Calleigh was all right. He needed to touch her, hear her voice, and Horatio's brusque assurances that Calleigh was fine did nothing to calm his frantic heart.

What if she had died without knowing how Ryan felt about her? He couldn't bear to think it.

When he heard that she was in the lab, he tracked her down, completely oblivious to anything and everything except finding her. She was alive. She was shaken, but she was alive and amazingly unharmed. He wanted to go to her and take her in his arms, but she was surrounded by well-wishers. She accepted their concern with a gracious smile, but he could tell that she was anxious to get back to work. She was glancing around the room when she caught sight of him. Her smile widened slightly, and she mouthed, "I'm okay," over the head of one of the techs. He breathed an enormous sigh of relief and forced himself to leave so that he could set about attempting to salvage what he could of the evidence Calleigh had collected earlier.

She came to see him later, and he again fought the tremendous urge to touch her. It was a constant struggle, keeping a lid on his impulses and emotions while they were around the others in the lab. He was concerned that she had decided to come back to the lab, but he knew there would be no convincing her to take some time off. It was one of the things he loved about her – her tenacity, her strength, her dedication. During their conversation, on the off chance they might be overheard, he did his best to appear as if he were nothing more than a concerned friend, and as he was leaving, he said, "I'm glad you're okay," like it was an afterthought.

Her quiet, "Thanks, babe," in response made his heart soar and plastered a goofy grin on his face for the next hour or so, which prompted Eric to ask him what he had been smoking.

The grin faded with the appearance of ATF officer Jake Berkeley. Ryan could tell from Calleigh's reaction, from the softness in her eyes when she looked at him, from the tenderness in her tone when she spoke to him, that they had once been lovers. He tried not to be jealous, considering that Calleigh worked with one of Ryan's exes on a daily basis, but it was difficult. Especially after they discovered that the gun found in the CS used as the murder weapon was registered to Jake, and she wanted some time alone to process the information. He gave her the space she wanted, going to the restroom and dunking his head in a sink full of cold water instead.

He watched her watch him, later, and wondered what Jake been like before, because he honestly could not see how a woman like Calleigh would be interested in a guy like Jake. In fact, Ryan sometimes couldn't really see how a woman like Calleigh could be interested in a guy like him, and he thanked God every day that she was. He didn't deserve her, and he knew that. He hoped he didn't lose her by screwing up with this whole Jake thing. He didn't think he would be able to handle it if he lost her.

He almost had lost her. She could have died. And she would've died not knowing that he loved her with every breath in his body, with every fiber of his being. That being without her was like being without oxygen. He had to tell her. She had to know.

She spent the night at his place. They tried to alternate whose apartment they went to, but they ended up at his more often than not. Calleigh claimed it was because his mattress was more comfortable. Ryan didn't care to press the issue. He wasn't about to question any reason that brought Calleigh into his bed on a regular basis. She was asleep, and he was a wreck.

He had chickened out. He hadn't told her that she practically made the day begin. That she was the reason he got out of bed every morning. That he just might die if he ever lost her. He had looked her in the eye as they sat watching a movie and made some crack about how she might want to walk to work tomorrow. She had smiled and laughed, and they completely ignored the fact that she had almost died and that her ex-boyfriend had suddenly come back into her life. They joked and kissed and Ryan chickened out. It was only three words, but those three words could bring his whole world crashing down on him faster than he could blink.

What if he told her and she didn't feel the same? What if he told her and she laughed in his face? What if he told her and she freaked out and smashed his heart to bits? He wasn't strong enough to face the unknown – not when it came to Calleigh. So he let the moment pass.

Afterwards, when she was curled up on her side, clutching the pillow with enough force to pop it, he stared at her. She looked so peaceful when she was asleep, her blonde hair spread across the pillow making her appear almost angelic. He watched her shoulder rise and fall slightly with her even breathing. He almost choked on his own heart as the emotions welled up inside of him. He lightly ran his fingers along the curve of her upper arm and leaned over to whisper, "I love you," into her ear. Then he rolled over and fell asleep.

He woke up sometime later and blinked uncertainly, not sure of what exactly had roused him from sleep. He had ended up sprawled on his stomach, his face turned towards the window, and it took him a moment to realize that Calleigh was lightly running her fingers up and down his back. Thinking she was anxious for some comfort after the traumatizing day she'd had, he started to roll over. She gently placed her hands on his shoulders and pushed him back down. Then she resumed running her fingers along his back. That's when he realized that she wasn't just running her fingers. She was very lightly, very delicately tracing a pattern – writing letters on the sensitive skin of his back.

She ran her index finger the length of his back in one long line. I. The next line made a right angle at the small of his back. L. Next she traced a circle along the line of his shoulders and down the length of his sides. O. Then she angled her finger towards the center of his back and went up towards the other shoulder at the same angle. V. He held his breath as she slowly drew an E.

He could take it no longer. He abruptly flipped over, startling her away, and pinned her to the mattress beneath him. He stared down at her, his eyebrows raised in silent question, asking her without words if she meant it. She smiled and stretched up to press a light kiss to his temple, then she pulled his head down to her and whispered, "With all my heart," into his ear.

Tears sprang unbidden to his eyes. Calleigh Duquesne loved him. She loved him. He thought he just might die right then and there, but he kept his head long enough to realize that she was now trailing kisses down his jaw line. He captured her lips with his own, pouring his heart out through his lips. There was very little talk after that.

As he drifted off to sleep again, some time later, his last conscious thought was that if either of them died tomorrow, at least they would know.