Disclaimer: Do you really think I own this? If you do, well, you're very wrong.
A/N: Okay, so Sunday's episode "Sleepless in Miami" really fascinated me. I guess here is where I mention there are major spoilers for 9x05 in here. I need to be working on my E/C fic, I know, but there has been such a lack of such scenes I'm not feeling inspired. I'm not a big Natalia/Ryan shipper…actually I'm not a big anyone shipper except Eric and Calleigh, but I thought I'd try my hand at this. Huge thanks to my awesome beta Jessica237! I hope you enjoy!
"I'm missing something huge!" Natalia groaned, banging her head on the headrest of the passenger seat of her car.
Ryan's forehead wrinkled as he took his eyes of the road for a split second so he could look at her. "What?"
"I keep going over and over this afternoon," Natalia explained. "There is this big black hole in my memory. My subconscious is telling me something huge happened during that hole, but I just can't figure out what it was!"
Ryan worked hard to keep his face impassive. He knew what she was missing and Horatio and he both agreed that what Natalia had done with her back up weapon this afternoon was to never be mentioned again. Ryan had even added that it was not to be mentioned especially to Natalia. After such a traumatic afternoon in general she did not need to know she took her back up gun and opened fire on Ryan and Horatio, no matter how justified she might have thought she was. Ryan, though, really couldn't blame her. After all, no one was hurt and she really thought he and Horatio were Nick and that would be scary enough in itself.
"Okay, so will you listen to what I have and try to fill in the blanks for me?" Natalia requested of Ryan.
Ryan was still trying to keep his face impassive, but wasn't sure he had accomplished it after that last question. "Um, if I can."
"Well, I remember walking into the lab…well, you said it was a warehouse, right? I thought it was the lab. I stepped on something that apparently was blood and then my footprints were outlined with blood. I saw Nick and he looked like he was cleaning up the blood. He saw me and started walking toward me. I heard someone behind me call my name and I turned around and Nick was standing behind me. He was also standing in front of me, so all of a sudden there were two Nicks. I'm assuming those two 'Nicks' must have been you and Horatio, because you said you found me in the warehouse. After that, my mind just cuts out and the next thing I remember is being in the hospital with all of you guys surrounding and feeling horribly guilty that I didn't believe Eric when he said Jason could be telling the truth," Natalia finished. "I know I'm missing something. What is it?"
Ryan didn't know what to say. He was getting ready to bullshit an answer and hope she didn't call him on it. "Horatio went in first and when I saw you were laying on the ground and looked to be asleep."
"You're lying," Natalia told him matter-of-factly.
Okay, so maybe she will call me on it, Ryan thought. "What makes you say that? You just said you don't remember what happened."
"You aren't looking at me," Natalia told him.
At that Ryan almost laughed. "I'm trying to make sure we don't end up in the hospital again, from a car crash. I mean if you would like to go back to the hospital, I'm sure it can be arranged."
"Oh shut up," Natalia told him while rolling her eyes. She also couldn't help the small smile that tugged at the corner of her lips, but she wasn't going to let Ryan see her smile. She knew that had been his intention and she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction. At least not yet.
Ryan sighed. He was lying with that answer, but maybe that was the only proof she had. Maybe she was going to let this go.
"Oh!" Natalia exclaimed. "Do you think we could stop by the courthouse?"
"Why?" Ryan had to ask. He saw no reason as to why they would have to make an extra stop and he was sure nothing good could come from stopping there.
"I have to renew my license and my registration," Natalia told him. "I've been running all week and haven't had time to do it. The courthouse is going to close in thirty minutes and this is probably the only free time I'll have for the rest of the week!"
Ryan saw her reaching toward the glove compartment. Crap, crap, crap. That was where her back up weapon had been and Horatio and he had left it in her locker. At this moment, Ryan couldn't remember why they left it there, but he knew he couldn't let her get into that compartment. "Wait. Why are you going to open the glove compartment?"
"Because that's where I keep the license and registration," Natalia told him, wondering why he even cared. "I figure that would be the easiest place to get to if I ever had a wreck."
Crap, crap, crap, was playing like a mantra in Ryan's head. "Well, how about this. I'll drive you home and then I'll come back in and renew it for you. I can even pick up food on the way back."
Natalia smiled at him. "That's completely sweet, but totally unnecessary. Food places deliver and we are going to go right by the courthouse on the way to my house. There is no need to waste extra gas by going…" She stopped because she had opened the glove compartment. "Where is my back up weapon?"
CRAP! The inner voice in Ryan's head screamed. "What?"
"My back up weapon," Natalia repeated. "It isn't in here. I always keep it in my glove compartment so that when I go out into the field…wait, I took it into the lab—I mean warehouse—with me. When Nick wouldn't stop walking toward me I threatened him with my gun and when there were two of them I panicked and shot at them…" Natalia gasped. "Oh my God! That means I shot at you and Horatio! Oh my God!"
"Natalia!" Ryan emphasized in his most authoritative voice. He had used this voice with witnesses and suspects before and it usually quieted them. He was hoping it was going to work this time. When it did, he let out a quiet sigh of relief. "I need to you to calm down and just wait until we get to your house, okay? Can you do that?"
Natalia nodded her head. She felt tears spring into her eyes. She knew she shouldn't have gotten that weapon permit. She had to go through so much to get it, and then on the day she finally got it, she had to shoot at a man because he was going to shoot at her. Horatio and IAB didn't question her too severely, but that was because the man had a gun. She had a feeling this was going to be horrible. She could only imagine what a field day IAB was going to have with this. She had shot at two unarmed me, two of her colleges, one being the leuitenant! She was sure her gun would get taken away for this and she probably wouldn't be allowed back on the field…if even in the lab…for three months or more. Natalia was also sure the whole lab must hate her for this. Why hadn't anyone told her? She shut her eyes and leaned her head back on the seat.
Ryan chanced a glance at her when they were stopped at a red light. He saw the tears on her cheeks and felt horrible for her. "Please don't cry, Natalia. Everything has been taken care of and everything will be fine." She didn't look at him or even acknowledge that he had said anything. Ryan had a feeling she had completely shut down. He knew how much trouble she had gone through to get that weapon permit and finally the gun. Then to use it on the first day she got it, naturally people thought she was a little trigger happy, but when the man admitted to having a gun, everyone was okay. Now though…he could only imagine what scenarios her mind was conjuring up, each being worse than the last. This was why she wasn't supposed to ever find out what had happened this afternoon. Damn, Horatio was going to kill him.
Ryan walked into Natalia's living room with two cups of steaming tea. He had figured tea would be the best drink for her right now; the best drink for both of them right now. He sighed when he saw her. She was leaning back against the couch with her eyes closed. He put the tea down on the coffee table. He wasn't sure why he made it. He actually hated tea and he knew she wouldn't be drinking any of it. He was in for a hard job tonight. "What are you thinking?"
Natalia sighed but kept her head back against the couch and left her eyes closed. "I…don't know. I guess I'm wondering how long they are going to forbid me from using my gun. If I'm going to have to get a new weapons permit, which I may not do, even though I know I have to. I'm wondering how long they're going to keep me out of the field. I'm wondering if I'll even be let back in the lab or if I'll be suspended for some amount of time." At this point she opened her eyes and glared at Ryan. "Mostly I'm wondering why no one told me about this! That was kind of important!"
Ryan shook his head. "It wasn't important. You didn't need to know because none of that is going to happen."
Natalia chuckled at Ryan mirthlessly. "Hello! IAB. Stetler may be gone, but he's not the only one working IAB, and you know they're all the same. Not everyone is as forgiving and trusting as you all are in the lab, and most people still have issues with me because I was a mole."
Ryan shook his head, dismissing her qualms about the mole. "That doesn't matter anymore. Besides, IAB had it out for everyone from the beginning since we all work with Horatio. Regardless though, they won't say anything to you. You have nothing to worry about," Ryan repeated.
"But how…" Natalia paused while looking at Ryan's face. She finally understood. He and Horatio were hiding it. That's why her back up wasn't in her glove compartment. They had taken it to hide the evidence of it being fired. They weren't going to tell anyone about what had happened and she wouldn't get questioned. She would be able to work in the lab and be out in the field like nothing happened. "Ryan, that's not fair! I need to be punished; IAB needs to know…"
Ryan cut her off. "No, they don't. For one, if you tell them now, Horatio and I will only get into trouble and then three CSI's will be unable to work for a while and we can't have that. Besides, none of this was your fault."
"You keep saying that," Natalia observed. "In reality though, it all is!"
"No," Ryan insisted. "It's not. You were hypnotized, you were given drugs that made you hallucinate, it was that psychic's fault, not yours."
"I didn't have to go in there. I didn't have to lean over the candle, I didn't have to go undercover," Natalia rattled off.
"But you did," Ryan contradicted. "If you didn't go or lean over the candle she would have known something was off and would have hurt you worse. You did have to go undercover because we had to find out what was going on and you were the only one she hadn't seen yet. If anything it's my fault."
"Your fault?" Natalia questioned almost incredulous. "You weren't even in there."
"No," Ryan agreed. "I was listening though. She had been repeating that ridiculous chant over and over for at least 10 minutes. I should have known something was wrong and asked you to cough or something before then. I shouldn't have waited until Horatio got there, I should've done something before."
"If this isn't my fault, than it can't be yours either," Natalia told him, looking down at her lap.
Ryan put his finger under her chin and lifted it up to force her eyes to connect with his. "This is not your fault, sweetheart. I promise."
"You do realize that you and Horatio are basically risking your badges for me, don't you?" Natalia asked, because they definitely were. Technically, they stole and destroyed evidence. She felt tears collect in her eyes…again. Something had to be done about all this crying she seemed to be engaging in today.
"Why?" Natalia just had to ask.
Ryan shrugged. "It's just what we do. You're important to the lab and important to us. We need you there, but more importantly, we want you there."
The tears that had collected in Natalia's eyes began to fall and when she tried to turn away from Ryan, he wouldn't have it. He pulled her closer to him and she buried her head in his chest and let the tears fall. She was sure her tears were soaking his shirt and would soon soak through it, but he didn't seem to care at the moment, so she decided she wouldn't either. She felt him press a soft kiss to her hair and whisper something in the general vicinity of her ear. She didn't know what it was, but she liked the idea of him taking care of her (even though she would never admit such a thing in the morning) so she might have kept her head against his chest just a bit longer than was strictly necessary.
When she pulled back she looked at him apologetically. "Sorry."
Ryan shook his head. "Totally acceptable."
"But your shirt…" Natalia trailed off.
Natalia mentally slapped herself. She hadn't been talking about his shirt when she apologized, but that was what was coming out of her mouth. Geez, she was an idiot. Ryan managed not to roll his eyes. He knew that wasn't what she had been talking about when she said sorry and he hadn't been talking about the shirt either. He kind of thought she knew that too, which was all that really mattered anyway. He didn't fault her for crying; how could he? She had a horrible day, being drugged, getting put in the hospital and learning you shot at your co workers wasn't exactly the definition of relaxing. Besides, he had always been attracted to her and getting to comfort her while she cried was kind of a plus.
Ryan's train of thought was cut off by a pair of soft, warm lips pressing against his. He suddenly realized it was Natalia. He began to participate in the kiss, nibbling on her lower lip. Natalia opened her mouth with a moan and as Ryan's tongue delved into the recesses of her mouth he was trying to figure out how he could get her to make that sound again.
For her part, Natalia hadn't really been thinking when she kissed Ryan. She had been acting totally on impulse and on the attraction she had felt for this man for a long time. After she processed what she was doing, she considered pulling back, but at just about that time, she felt Ryan begin to respond. Maybe deciding to kiss him hadn't been such a bad idea. She decided to get a tad more aggressive, he was kissing her back after all.
Ryan's mind finally caught up with his body and the events of the day came flooding back to him. Natalia had shot at him and Horatio today. When he felt Natalia begin to straddle him, he pulled back. He heard Natalia make a sound of displeasure and that almost made him kiss her again, but he restrained himself. After a few seconds, Natalia realized he wasn't doing anything and she opened her eyes to stare at him.
Ryan stared into her brown orbs and tried to figure out what to say. It seemed she had forgotten about the day and he didn't really want to bring her back to that, but he couldn't sit here and take advantage of her. Especially in light of the day she had, in light of the day they both had.
Ryan had absolutely no idea what to say, but luckily, he didn't have to think of anything. Natalia did it for him. "What are you doing?"
"Natalia…we can't do this," Ryan told her.
Natalia just stared at him for a second. "So, you don't want to do this with me?"
Ryan sighed. He brought his hand up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear. He rested his hand on her cheek. "That is not what I said."
"So you do want to do this with me?" Natalia asked him a bit confused. If he did want to do this, then why did he pull back from kissing her?
"I do…" Ryan began.
Natalia cut him off. "Then, what's the problem?"
"If you had let me finish, I was going to tell you," Ryan said with a small smile on his face. "I don't want to take advantage of you right now. You've had quite a day and I don't want this to be the result of something that happened. I don't want to be a quick fix and then have you not need me to fix anything tomorrow. I don't want to have to be forced to forget this happened because I'm not sure I could do that. I can't participate in something you might regret tomorrow."
Natalia stared at him for a minute. "I'm not asking you to marry me, Ryan. I'm just asking you to kiss me and maybe a little more."
Ryan nodded. "Exactly. I don't want to do the 'little more' right now because if you regretted this tomorrow and I took advantage of you…"
"Ryan," Natalia groaned, shifting her hips on his lap, trying to make him change his mind. She smirked when he squeezed his eyes shut for a minute. Maybe she was having more of an effect on him than either of them realized. "If I'm asking for it there is no way you could be taking advantage of me. On the same note, if I'm asking then it must mean I'm sure."
Ryan opened his eyes and took a deep breath. He wasn't going to let her change his mind, no matter how persuasive she may be, with her words or her body. His mind knew this, his body wasn't exactly on the same wavelength as his mind though. He was going to have to get it there though. "Natalia, you may be sure tonight but tomorrow you may feel completely different. Even if you don't feel different tomorrow, I don't want to do that with this day hanging over our heads."
Natalia smiled at Ryan's cheeks getting red. "What, you can't say have sex?"
Ryan took her hands in his. "If you want to do this in a few weeks I will have no objections. Right now, we just need to wait. Anybody's first time with a person needs to be special. And with you…it wouldn't be just sex. At least, not for me."
In a matter of seconds, Natalia's cheeks matched Ryan's. She had a smile on her face though, because this man really did love her. While she wasn't sure she loved him to that extent quite yet, she was definitely willing to find out. She was also sure she probably could love him to that extent and she knew somewhere that having sex tonight would most likely mess that up.
Natalia slowly nodded and moved from his lap. Settling back next to him on the couch she tried to stifle a yawn, but it didn't exactly work. Ryan couldn't help but laugh at her.
"Something funny?" Natalia asked.
Ryan smiled. "You need sleep." It wasn't a question, it was a statement.
Natalia glanced at the clock. It was surprisingly late. She ran her hand through her hair. "It's kind of late and you did drive me home. You could always stay so you don't have to just drive back here tomorrow to pick me up."
"Who said I was picking you up tomorrow?" Ryan asked her, teasingly.
"You know you would," Natalia sassed him.
Ryan studied her for a minute, but when she looked nothing but sincere he decided he would have to agree. After all, there really wouldn't be any harm in it as long as he didn't do anything and as long as Natalia agreed to be good as well and it looked like she was going to be. He had his overnight bag in his car and she was right, there was no way he wouldn't be picking her up for work tomorrow anyway. It would just make more sense for him to stay here tonight.
Natalia's voice broke into his thoughts. "Have you rationalized it to yourself yet?"
Ryan laughed. "Yes."
A genuine smile lit up Natalia's face. "Great! Bathroom's down the hall." She walked toward her bedroom to use the bathroom in there and change her clothes.
Ten minutes later, they were both sitting on the couch watching some late night re run of a show that left much to be desired. Twenty minutes into the show, Ryan felt Natalia's breathing even out. He sighed with relief. He had hoped she would be the first one to go to sleep.
He gently scooped her up into his arms and when she did nothing but shift slightly to snuggle closer into his warmth he started walking toward her bedroom. As he gently laid her down and pulled the covers over her she mumbled, "Please stay."
"I already told you I was going to," Ryan whispered.
"No, I mean in here, with me," Natalia clarified, in just as quiet a voice as Ryan had used. "Now that I know what happened today…"
Natalia didn't have to use words for Ryan to know what she was saying. She was scared. She wasn't exactly scared of staying by herself, she was just scared of the images that might visit her in her sleep in the form of dreams. Those were never fun and Ryan had his share of them himself and he understood how scary those could be.
Ryan thought about it for a total of half a second. He lifted the covers and slid in beside her. "Of course I'll stay."
Natalia smiled and snuggled closer into him, laying her head on his chest where she could hear his heart beating, loud and steady. Maybe hearing his heart beating before she went to sleep would calm her. She didn't kill him, that was proven by hearing his heart so no dreams of him dead should visit her tonight. "Thank you."
Ryan pressed another soft kiss into her hair. "Not a problem." They were quiet for a couple of seconds when Ryan whispered, "Hey, Natalia."
"Hmm," Natalia sleepily mumbled.
"Do you think, maybe, you could not let Horatio figure out you know about what happened today?" Ryan asked quietly. It was his job after all to make her forget about today, not let her open her glove compartment, see the back-up weapon gone and remember what had happened. Ryan was definitely not supposed to confirm one of her guesses and Ryan was pretty sure Horatio wouldn't be too thrilled if he could see them right now. Calleigh and Eric hiding their relationship from Horatio right now was enough (even though Ryan was pretty sure Horatio already knew) and Ryan hardly thought he or Horatio needed another thing to keep from IAB, at least not right now.
Natalia felt a smile spread across her face. "Why?"
"Because it was my job to help you forget about today, not make you ask more questions," Ryan told her. "Besides, I highly doubt Horatio would be too happy about the uncertainty between us right now while he's got Eric and Calleigh on the fence to deal with too."
Natalia rolled her eyes. "Those two just need to get over themselves and stay together. They both know they can't be apart. I'm not really sure why they're trying."
Ryan smiled. "Agreed. So, we're not going to tell Horatio?"
Natalia smiled and closed her eyes. "We're not going to tell Horatio."
With her assent, Ryan felt safe in closing his eyes also. Five minutes later, Natalia fell asleep secure in the knowledge that no dreams would be disturbing her tonight. With Ryan so close, she knew she would be safe. A few minutes later, Ryan pressed one last kiss to her head and whispered, "I won't let anything hurt you tonight. I promise." Before following Natalia in sleep, he gently curled around her and Natalia shuffled closer. He knew that he would be able to keep that promise tonight and also be able to continue to keep that promise for many more nights to come.
Well, that's my first, and probably only Ryan/Natalia story. I really had no idea I was even going to write this, but last episode inspired me. I hope you guys like this, and if you do, you should review! If you don't, well, tell me what you didn't like! Review please!