Discs.: I don't own anything you recognize from Medical Investigation, I do, however, own Katarina Elena Durant and any other OCs appearing throughout the story!
Summary: After finally getting together with Stephen Nat couldn't be happier - until her genius baby sis joins the team and things get complicated. Just as they start getting closer Nat makes a discovery that destroys their fragile bond - causing her to be haunted by guilt when tragedy strikes.
Pairings: Natalie/Stephen, Stephen/OC
Genres: Drama, Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Family, Friendship, Angst, (Mystery)
Spoilers: There might be some minor spoilers
A/N: This is a story I had on my mind now for years, or well at least the original storyline is something I came up with years ago, before I even knew what fanfiction was, let alone wrote myself. Anyway, I hope you will enjoy reading this story!
Blame and Guilt
Looking through the charts of the handful of remaining patients of the original outbreak Natalie let out a low sigh, coming to the conclusion that all of them were getting better. Once she was done she gave one of the local nurses some instructions regarding two of the patients, whose condition hadn't improved as much as the other patients', before turning to leave and check on Connor. As she stepped outside she got lost in her thoughts, her mind going back to the unexpected turn of events almost a week ago...
Natalie was staring through the eyepiece of the microscope in front of her, studying the bacterial culture and trying to determine what exactly they were dealing with. Connor was pacing behind her, waiting to hear the result of her tests.
The team was in a small remote town in Southern Mexico to assist the locals with getting a serious outbreak under control. Even though they were already there for almost two weeks they still weren't entirely sure what they were up against. All they knew was that it was some form of haemorrhagic fever and that it was a quite aggressive type. It was also spreading rather quickly.
Eventually Natalie let out a heavy sigh and straightened up. Turning to look at Connor she opened her mouth to speak, however, catching sight of him the words she had been about to say faded from her mind as she got overwhelmed by concern. He had stopped pacing, his head was lowered, eyes closed, and was massaging his temples.
Getting up, a worried expression on her face, Natalie asked,
"You're okay, Stephen?"
At the sound of Natalie's voice he opened his eyes and looking at her he muttered,
"Yeah, I'm..." He winced, squeezing his eyes shut and pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Stephen?! What's wrong?" Natalie inquired, her expression changing from concern to alarm.
"Nothing... It's just a headache." Connor replied. Seeing the worried expression on Natalie's face he smiled weakly and assured her,
"Really, I'm fine, Nat, don't worry. I probably just caught a cold or need some sleep."
"You don't seem okay." Natalie pointed out, taking a closer look at him. He was paler than usually, his eyes were glassy and she could see beads of perspiration on his forehead.
Connor opened his mouth to argue, but then simply closed it without saying anything, squeezing his eyes shut again.
Observing him Natalie frowned, noticing that he was shivering slightly and seemed a little unsteady on his feet.
Only a moment later he started to visibly shake and sway slightly, going even a shade or two paler and Natalie quickly closed the space between them. Once she had reached him she put her right arm around Connor to steady him.
Connor was already about to pull away and protest, when he had to reach for Natalie's shoulder as his legs gave almost way beneath him.
Natalie hurriedly put her other arm around him as well and led him to the chair where she had been sitting just a few minutes earlier. After making him sit down she frowned in concern and looking at Connor she stated seriously, worry etched to her voice,
"Connor, your skin feels as if it's on fire."
Connor remained silent, his eyes closed he took some deep breaths, while starting to shake more violently.
Watching Connor Natalie remained silent for a moment, still the same worried expression upon her face, eventually she wanted to know,
"For how long have you already not been feeling well?"
"Two or three days... Mainly chills, nausea and headaches. Like I said, probably a cold or in the worst case the flu, nothing you need to worry about, Nat."
Natalie shook slightly her head, giving him a look, and stated,
"You should've told me, Stephen, because I am worried. This doesn't look like just a cold."
Forcing his eyes open Connor looked at her and started,
"Nat..." He trailed off, bending over and taking some deep breaths, his eyes squeezed shut again.
For a moment Natalie remained silent, studying Connor's appearance, then she asked, her worry evident in her voice,
Connor let out a heavy sigh and muttered in response,
"Another wave of nausea and throbbing headache..."
Natalie frowned in concern and pointed out,
"That's consistent with the symptoms the patients are showing."
"I don't have haemorrhagic fever." Connor said.
"We'll see... One thing's for sure - it's not just a cold, Stephen." Natalie replied, giving him a stern look, still a slight frown on her face.
A moment later she turned away from him and toward the table next to them. She quickly got a fresh pair of rubber-gloves and put them on, then she opened a drawer of the table and bending slightly down she got a sterile syringe and two clean vials for blood. After putting the items down on the table she picked up a strap and fastened it around the middle of Connor's right upper arm, then she got a bottle of disinfectant-spray and applied some of the clear liquid to the crease of his arm, before swiping with a sterile pad over the spot. She quickly discarded the pad and picked up the syringe, tearing the wrapper off and taking the cap of the needle. Then she got a hold of Connor's arm and started searching for a good vein to draw a blood sample from. Once she had found one she pushed the needle of the syringe carefully through the skin and into the vein, then she pushed the first vial into the syringe, starting to draw blood.
Opening his eyes Connor watched Natalie, but remained silent.
When the first vial was full she pulled it out of the syringe and after putting it down on the table she inserted the second, watching as it filled with blood. Once the second vial was full as well she took it out, placing it next to the other one on the table. Then she loosened the strap she had fastened around Connor's arm, before getting another sterile pad, placing it on the crease of his arm, as she pulled the needle of the syringe out, pressing the pad down on the puncture site.
Connor lifted his left hand to the crease of his right arm. As he rested his fingers on the pad Natalie drew her hand back, turning to throw the syringe and used pads away...
Natalie had only walked a few steps when the cry of some bird disrupted her reverie and brought her mind back to reality. For a moment she kept standing where she was and took a look around.
Since the closest hospital to the small town was more than a half hour away and in addition to that not equipped to handle an outbreak of a highly contagious disease the local authorities had decided to set up a field hospital just outside of town.
A few seconds later she let out a sigh and shaking slightly her head she continued on her way.
It had turned out that Connor had gotten infected with Malaria, which was why they were keeping him isolated from the other patients, to avoid that he caught their disease in addition to it.
As she neared her destination she wondered what the others were doing. Considering that they had by now determined the type of haemorrhagic fever the patients had and the source of the outbreak Eva, Miles and Frank had already headed back home a few days ago. However, at that time Connor's condition had been too critical as to allow him to travel, which was one of the reasons why they had stayed behind.
Natalie sighed softly, even though Connor was doing better now she was nonetheless still worried about him.
A moment later she had reached her destination and taking a deep breath she went inside and headed over to the bed where Connor was lying.
When she had reached the bed Natalie just looked at Connor for a moment, studying his face. His eyes were closed, his features slightly tense and there were beads of perspiration on his forehead. He was still extremely pale, though the tone of his skin was no longer looking as sick as in the past days.
Eventually she shook her head and focused on the task at hand. After checking his pulse and blood pressure she checked his temperature, not being surprised that he was still running a fever, though it wasn't as high as before. A moment later she checked the IV drip before turning to leave.
She had just turned around and was about to walk away when Connor got a hold of her hand and muttered,
"Stay, Nat..." His voice was slightly hoarse due to his dry throat and maybe also because he hadn't spoken in days.
At the sound of Connor's voice Natalie stopped and turned back around to look at him. As Natalie turned toward him Connor sat up.
Watching Connor sit up Natalie met his gaze. His eyes had a slight feverish shine but she also caught a glimpse of something else, something she couldn't quite decipher. He was still holding her hand and she could feel the heat of the fever, but she didn't pull away from the contact.
A moment later Connor tugged at her hand, drawing her closer and making her sit down on the bed. Natalie gave him a questioning glance. Remaining silent Connor lifted his free hand to her face.
As Connor brushed his fingertips over her cheek Natalie's eyes flew shut. Opening her eyes again she looked at Connor, a glimpse of surprise and confusion on her features.
Meeting her incredulous eyes, holding her gaze, Connor brushed a strand of hair out of her face, tucking it behind her ear, before leaning closer and kissing her softly.
For a moment Natalie remained perfectly motionless, too surprised as to react. When Natalie didn't pull away Connor drew her closer, deepening the kiss slightly and after another moment Natalie started kissing him back.
As the kiss became more and more passionate Connor let go of her hand, wrapping his arm around her waist, while winding the fingers of his other hand into her hair. When Natalie rested her hands at the back of his neck Connor smiled against her lips, drawing her even closer to him.
Breaking the kiss in need of oxygen they locked eyes for a moment before Natalie broke eye-contact and muttered,
"I should go..."
As Natalie pulled away and moved to get up Connor got once more a hold of her hand,
"No, don't go." He leaned closer and kissed her again.
"Stephen... This is a bad idea, a very bad idea..." Natalie tried to reason, looking back at his face.
"Maybe, but I don't care..." Connor said in response, his voice slightly husky.
Locking eyes with her he reached for her face, letting his fingertips brush over her cheek. Still holding her gaze Connor leaned in brushing a tender kiss against her lips. A moment later he kissed her again, more passionate this time, and after a second or two of hesitation Natalie responded to the kiss. As the kiss became more passionate Connor wound the fingers of his right hand into her hair, drawing Natalie closer, while resting his left hand on her waist. Deepening the kiss he pushed Natalie's t-shirt slightly up, letting his fingertips brush softly over the exposed skin.
A moment later he abandoned her lips and started trailing kisses over her jaw. Her eyes closed Natalie leaned her head back as Connor's lips continued down the side of her throat, a soft moan escaping her lips.
Hearing Natalie moan Connor smiled slightly against her skin. Still brushing kisses over Natalie's throat Connor moved his right hand away from the back of her head. Natalie opened momentarily her eyes, looking at Connor, before her eyes flew shut again as his lips brushed over a particularly sensitive spot, another moan escaping her lips.
For a moment Connor caressed her cheek before letting his hand sink, resting it on her waist just like the left, which was still resting on a patch of exposed skin between the rim of her jeans and t-shirt. A few seconds later he started lifting her shirt.
Stopping with kissing her he pulled slightly back to look at her. As Connor looked at her Natalie opened her eyes again and they locked eyes. Still holding her gaze he lifted her shirt a little further, studying her features, when she didn't protest he pulled the t-shirt up and over her head. Letting it drop beside the bed Connor shared a smile with Natalie, before their lips met in a hungry kiss.
At Natalie's place, about two weeks later:
Entering her apartment and closing the door behind her Natalie let out an exhausted sigh. She had to admit that the strain of the last time was starting to take more and more a toll on her. The past one and a half weeks had been rather stressful, considering that they'd had a lot to do.
They had just gotten back from dealing with an outbreak in Seattle and Natalie couldn't deny that she was totally exhausted. Besides all the work she had also increasingly trouble sleeping and trying to avoid Connor as much as possible was not making anything easier.
Releasing another sigh Natalie frowned slightly, wondering what to do now. She felt torn between just heading straight to bed, trying to catch up on sleep, or taking a hot bubble-bath first, considering that it might help her relax. In the back of her mind she knew she should also eat something, but she was too exhausted as to fix herself something for dinner and not in the mood for takeout - not that she would know what to order to begin with, nor was she really hungry.
Just as she had settled for taking first a bath and then going to bed the doorbell rang, causing her to frown, wondering who it could be.
For a moment she was tempted to just ignore the sound but then she went nonetheless to open and see who it was.
Opening the door a surprised expression crossed her face as she saw that it was Connor.
"Stephen, what..." Natalie started, but trailed off.
Looking at Natalie he asked,
"Can I come in? I think we should talk."
Natalie frowned slightly, hesitating for a moment, but eventually she stepped aside and let him in. After Connor had come in Natalie closed the door and went further inside. Connor, who had waited a few steps away from the door followed her as she led the way to the living-room.
A moment later Natalie stopped and turned toward Connor, giving him a questioning glance,
"So, what do you wanna talk about?" If she was honest she wasn't quite sure if she really wanted to know the answer.
Connor remained silent for a moment then he stated,
"You've been avoiding me ever since we came back from Mexico."
Natalie didn't protest or try to convince him otherwise, after all, he was right. For a few seconds Connor studied silently her face, then he inquired,
"Do you regret what happened between us?"
Natalie let out a low sigh and, avoiding to answer his actual question, she pointed out,
"What happened between us was a mistake, Connor. It was completely unprofessional. After all, you're my boss and at that time you were also my patient..." Trailing off she gave him a look.
Meeting her gaze Connor stated,
"That might be, but as I told you before - I don't really care." As he spoke he stepped closer to her, not stopping until he was standing right in front of her. Lifting his right hand to her face and caressing softly her cheek he continued,
"Because I want to be with you, Natalie, and I'm tired of pretending otherwise. I don't care whether being together would be professional, the only thing that matters to me is whether you feel the same."
His fingertips stopped brushing over her cheek as he cupped her face and gave her a gentle kiss. Natalie cursed internally as she found herself responding to his kiss - her eyes flying shut, her heartbeat quickening.
A moment later Connor kissed her once more, though more passionate this time, and wrapping his left arm around her waist he drew her closer, deepening the kiss. For a second or two Natalie tried to fight against the temptation, but then she simply gave in. Kissing him back with just as much passion she wrapped her arms around his neck.
As the kiss became more and more passionate Connor wound his right hand into Natalie's hair, drawing her even closer.
When they broke the kiss as the need for oxygen became too urgent as to be ignored any longer they locked eyes and shared a smile. Only a moment later their lips met in another hungry kiss.
Connor couldn't help but smile against her lips as he felt her tugging impatiently on his shirt. A few seconds later he kissed softly her neck, before letting go of her to take his shirt off. The moment he had taken it off he pulled her close again, their lips locking once more in such a passionate kiss.
Soon enough her t-shirt accompanied his shirt on the floor as they headed to the bedroom.
A/N: Thanks for reading! I hope you liked the first chapter. I will try to update soon, but it might take a while considering that I'm currently working on quite a lot of things. Anyway, in the meantime I'd be happy to hear what you think about the story!