Missing scene for 8x20 - Backfire

Author's Note: Still on vacation, but I couldn't resist the inspiration after last night's episode, so I woke up early to take an hour or two to write a little missing scene fic. Also, I found it strange that at the end she was dressed and seemingly better, yet Eric was urging her back to the hospital...so in this they're going home.

She wanted her words back. She really, really did. Because then she could tell him she couldn't believe he'd rushed all the way from Tampa.

Or maybe she was more surprised that she could believe it…because that meant much, much more.

Maybe she could tell him she knew what that look in his eyes meant when he came home to her – yes, home to her, because he'd sold his condo when it became apparent he'd rarely be there with the new job. In the meantime his stuff was at her house, without him when he traveled, and he was stuck in a sort of limbo neither of them wanted him to escape from.

Maybe, if she could speak, she could tell him to stay.

Instead she was smiling at him from her position on her side, their eyes locked as his fingers skimmed over her arm. He hadn't stopped touching her; she found it quite adorable. As though needing the reassurance that she was safe and here, he let his hand dip down to her side, settling at her waist through the hospital gown. She watched as he smiled at her warmth.

"You scared me today," Eric admitted, eyes traveling over her with awe.

Her eyes softened and her bottom lip curved under just slightly – an apology. He grinned at her nonverbal reply, fingers curving around her side to hold her. Still, with the prospect of losing her guiding his thoughts, he couldn't resist a reprimand.

"You shouldn't have gone in there." He shook his head, reveling in the ability to touch her as his hand rubbed her side. "That house was a death trap."

Somewhat playfully, she tilted her head to the side, leveling with him as her lips mouthed one distinct word: hypocrite. He smiled with her, knowing it was true. For that reason, he couldn't blame her, but being the one potentially left behind was so much harder than being the hero.

"I could've lost you today," he uttered disbelievingly, the depth of emotion behind those words matching his gravelly voice. He was still in awe as her hand settled over his at her waist.

With a pensive furrow of her brows, Calleigh breathed in and opened her mouth to speak. Nothing save for a hitch of rattling air and an immediate dry cough escaped. Frustrated, she breathed through it as his calming hands careened up her arms to eventually cradle her face.

"Easy," he urged, his thumb caressing her jaw as her coughing fit settled. "Don't try to speak yet."

Moving her trusty pen and paper closer, he waited as she collected herself enough to write. She couldn't say everything she wanted to on paper, but she could at least justify the risk she'd taken.

He was just a kid. I wanted to save him.

In the brief moment before he spoke, his eyes met hers with a certain intensity and understanding that almost made her eyes water after the strain of the day.

"You did." With fierce certainty in his eyes, he held her gaze. "No one could save his life, Cal. He was too close to the fire…but you cleared his name. You saved him."

Leave it to Eric to make her see it that way. She nodded just a little, both with understanding and with an irrational guilt that would haunt her for weeks.

"You did," he assured, watching a sad smile grace her lips.

Her hand curved further over his, pulling him close, and he settled in again at her side. Leaning down, he kissed the edge of her smile and hesitated when she tipped her chin up to meet his lips. She needed air right now more than anything – literally – and he wasn't sure she should be kissing when she couldn't even speak.

But her lips pressed against his gently, knowing her limitations, and he kissed her back with the same softness. The temptation to completely sink into it was too great, though, and a moment later she was parting her lips to taste him – warm, deep, familiar. When his nose bumped against her oxygen tube he immediately pulled back, the mood effectively killed.

Chuckling a little, he rested his forehead against hers and smiled at her near-silent protest at the loss of contact.

"Later," he promised with a kiss to the bridge of her nose.

Swallowing to moisten her painfully dry throat, Calleigh took a minute to steady her breathing and prepare to speak.

"I want to go home," she managed in a strained whisper. Her voice was soft, less throaty and full than normal. It made her sound younger, though no less strong and assured.

"You know the drill." There was a hint of playfulness to his tone as his fingertips ran back and forth over her shoulder and his eyes settled on one of the machines beside them. "You get your oxygen intake level up and we'll go home."

We'll go home. We.

It was such a little slip, possibly meaningless, but she knew it wasn't and it made her smile. She reached up, fingers raking through the short hair at the back of his neck as her eyes met his again.

She swallowed, harder this time, and closed her eyes at the pain. As it eased she cleared her throat softly, smiling as his hand soothingly slid over the base of her throat, across her neck, and into her hair.

Her body was not cooperating, and she was wishing she'd never taken the ability to simply tell him what she wanted for granted. She had to wait a few minutes for her throat to clear, for the pain to ease, before she could even try to find the words.

"I want you to stay with me," she finally said, barely with any volume. Her heart was pounding, but she wasn't sure whether it was due to lack of oxygen or the way his eyes held hers knowingly.

Eric smiled, though, with that boyish smirk of his and she could almost forget where they were, could almost forget that she felt like she'd lost a life today.

"Where else would I go?" he asked, and she knew it was so much more than a matter of where his things were.

Smiling, she focused on his brown eyes and felt the weight of the day creeping onto her shoulders again. "Can we make a stop first?"

Seemingly following her thought process, he took her hand in his as he settled back into his chair. He nodded, eyes never leaving her.

"Of course," he whispered, and he didn't ask any questions because he already knew the answers.

Calleigh sighed contentedly, finally able to completely relax into his touch. She should have known words wouldn't be necessary with him.