Title: Always Watching

Pairing: Calleigh/Natalia CSI: Miami

Rating: G for angst

Disclaimers: Not mine.

Spoilers: General for season 6.

A/N, Summary: Natalia's POV. Nat is watching.

Companion (sort of) to "From a Distance"


I watch her through the glass. I can't help it. I accepted her hold over me a long time ago and despite the fact that my feelings are a constant, heavy pain in my heart, I won't give them up. I'm not the only one who watches her of course. I see the way they all look at her. It's a look I'm all too familiar with because I know, in my weaker moments, that's how I look at her.

She's so alone, it makes me ache.

I doubt the others see it. She's always been solitary and aloof: her personality focused and singularly dedicated. Sometimes I wonder how she can manage to be so self contained – what the cost of hiding her emotions so brutally must be. If there is a toll though, she never shows it, so I doubt anyone else is even aware of how she's retreated, pulling away from all of us and closing herself off.

I see it.

A part of me wants to reach out to her – to tell her that I'm here and that she's not alone. But then her gaze turns inward and she pulls away just a bit more and I hesitate.

The others look at her, but they only see what they want to. They see the bright smile and the poised countenance and beautiful figure. They don't see the shadows darkening her eyes or the tightness in her body and smile that scream to me of pain and loneliness.

I do.

I watch her as she looks at Jake, and behind the professionalism, the anger and regret and betrayal are written large for me.

I watch her as she looks at Eric, and the uncertainty and fragile hope is a knife in my chest.

I watch her as she looks at me…and I see nothing. I'm her co-worker, perhaps even her friend, but she doesn't see me. Her eyes when she talks to me are guarded and shuttered.

Each time, the wound that sight creates gets a little deeper; takes a little longer to recover from, and each time it does, I let an opportunity escape. Next time, I tell myself, knowing it's a lie and hating myself for it even as I repeat it over and over. Next time.

Until then, I'll watch, and hope foolishly for the moment I catch her looking at me.

She's in the layout room and Eric's with her so I hesitate. I know things have been raw since he's come back and I'm reluctant to intrude on whatever tension has developed between them. Ultimately though, there is evidence to go over and this can't wait. Steeling myself, I walk in and smile and my heart almost stops when she looks at me. At me. For one, agonizingly hopeful second, I see her guard fall and a flicker of something flash in her eyes. It's tiny and fragile, but it's enough to make me forget how to breathe. The possibilities dance teasingly on the air between us…and then Eric says something and the moment is gone, the emotion banished behind the mask I'm so terribly familiar with. It makes me want to scream, to cry, to shake her…but I do none of that.

She's not the only one who can hide her feelings from the sight of others, so I tell them my news and leave.

Today, for the first time I regret my feelings, but as I return to my lab and try to bury myself in my work, I can't help but glance up to search her out. A tiny, traitorous part of me whispers that maybe this time she'll be looking back, but its wrong and she's not. The hope is becoming cruel and the pain is getting deeper, but as I see her walk away, loneliness and isolation her only companions, I know I'll keep watching.

Fin