Author's Note: Totally forgot to mention this in my previous A/N... Kudos to dreamer285 for correctly guessing that Ryan had pneumonia!
The angel's face was blurred, all of his features distorted. Natalia didn't really mind it, though. His presence was soothing, surrounded by a golden glow. The faceless spirit reached toward her and took her hand. It felt pleasantly warm and much more solid than most dreams she had experienced before.
Natalia opened her eyes.
The sun was setting outside, casting her room in an orange glow. But that wasn't what was making her hand warm as it had felt in the dream. She looked to her right and smiled.
Her real-life angel was sitting next to her bed, his hand covering hers, sound asleep.
Her heart squeezed at the sight of Ryan. He was dressed in hospital-issued pajamas, sitting in a wheelchair that had his IV bag hanging above it. There was also an emergency oxygen tank mounted to the side of the chair. His sleep was peaceful, though his face was exhausted.
Natalia gently slid her hand out from under his and placed it on top, rubbing the back of his hand with her thumb.
Ryan stirred, his eyes flicking open. He gazed at her blearily as he sat up.
"Hi," she whispered.
He grinned. "Back at you."
Neither said anything for a long time, simply content to finally be together again.
"You didn't eat that soup I got you, did you?" she suddenly asked, half-heartedly joking.
Ryan chuckled. "Sorry, I got a little sidetracked."
She seemed to try to muster a brave smile, but it was pained at best. Then it flickered as her chin began to quiver. She dropped her gaze to her lap and covered her face with her free hand.
Ryan moved forward to be even closer to her, holding her hand tightly. She returned the grip as the tears began to fall.
Ryan sat there quietly, letting her let out her raging emotions.
"He's going away forever," he promised quietly. "He's never going to hurt you again."
She nodded, but the sobs still rattled in her chest.
Ryan's heart ached at the sight. Natalia was the strongest person he knew. To see her like this could only mean she'd been through hell and back. He'd seen the blood, the bruises.
He'd seen the bite mark on her chest.
Ice suddenly flashed into his veins. He hadn't realized what that mark was until just that moment. He'd been too concerned with getting her off the boat to really think about, but he had definitely seen that tell-tale bruise pattern on her chest when he'd moved her.
Nausea churned in his gut and a lump rose in his throat. Breathing was suddenly very painful.
"He was just... so creepy," she sobbed, trying to get a hold of herself. "He... He tried to..."
She couldn't finish, simply shaking her head. Ryan's heart pounded numbly in his throat.
Tried... Means he didn't... Or at least didn't fully succeed.
Somehow he didn't feel much better. And he suspected Natalia didn't either. He just wished he could somehow erase this whole ordeal.
Ryan carefully stood up from his wheelchair, his legs still pretty shaky. He gingerly climbed onto the bed, mindful of both his own and her IV lines, and lay down on his side next to her. He wrapped his arms around her protectively. He simply didn't know what else to do.
Natalia latched onto him like an anchor. She tucked her head under his chin and cried her heart out into his shirt.
For the first time since she'd been taken, she finally felt safe.
"I knew you'd find me," she whispered.
"The guy deserved the needle," Walter grumbled. He walked alongside Calleigh and Eric down the hallway of the hospital, on their way to visit their colleagues after another long day at work.
"I agree," Eric said mildly. "But with his lawyer pleading diminished capacity, we'll just have to be satisfied with life without a chance of parole."
"Good riddance," Calleigh said darkly. "I'm just glad Ryan and Natalia okay."
They came to the room number Alexx had told them. They quietly walked inside and stopped right at the threshold.
Natalia was sleeping on the bed. Ryan was sleeping right next to her, his arm around her.
It took the three of them a second to overcome the initial surprise of the scene before them.
"Seems like they're more than 'okay' to me," Eric said dryly, grinning.
"I guess," Calleigh giggled. She silently tiptoed toward the bed to place the flowers in her hands on the bedside table, then hurried back to where the men were standing.
Walter looked down at her, a quizzical look on his face. "You still sure there's nothin' goin' on there?" he asked mischievously.
Calleigh smirked, nudging past Eric and Walter to leave the room. "Come on, boys."
Author's Note: Sigh. Wow. Another story finished. As always, it's been a blast, my friends. I am so thankful that I have this place to come to for a creative outlet and share my stories with people just like me (you know, COMPLETELY obsessed with the most awesomest show EVER).
I have already begun work on my next story. I've been brainstorming quite a bit and have planned out about seven chapters already. As usual, I won't start writing until I get it all planned out, but I'm not anticipating a long wait :P. Between the show itself and all of your fantastic stories, my inspiration fire is being constantly fueled these days. I'm really excited for this next story, probably the most excited I've ever been about a story. It's going to be darker, grittier and more suspenseful than anything I've ever written before, and I'll be pushing my own boundaries in ways that may even surprise you.
It's a sequel to Demons. ;P Let that one taunt your imagination for a bit.
Anyways, as always thank you so much for all the great feedback and praise. You're the best!