A/N : Sorry for the long wait. I have been trying my best to keep up with this one. I am actually loving this story for some reason although I'm not much of H/Nat shipper. But I would give my best for this. Hope you enjoyed it. And from the reviews, I sure think you're enjoying it. Cheers! ;)
Thank you so much for your great reviews. Glad you enjoyed it ;)
"Anyway Horatio, I think these belong to you." She said, smiling as she handed both his gun and his badge. Horatio gave her an appreciative smile as he took them in his hands. He stared at it intently, as if he would never see it ever again. Calleigh shook her head and took her leave, following the rest of the team.
Horatio clipped on his badge and his gun back to his belt. He felt complete all over again. Then the thought of him not having a family haunts him again. He decided to push the thoughts aside. Meanwhile, in the other room, Natalia was with Calleigh, just trying to analyse evidence from the previous case. Calleigh looked over her shoulder and saw Natalia staring into blank space. Had she not known what Natalia gave to Horatio, she would've shrugged off her behavior but Calleigh wasn't oblivious. Giving her boss his favorite cologne was something more than casual. Calleigh suspected something. A subordinate wouldn't just give a gift so intimate to her boss. It needed to be something and Calleigh was determined to get an answer.
"Hey Nat, you okay?" Calleigh asked as she stepped forward to where Natalia was standing. Calleigh stood just by her side, not too near and not too far. Natalia had her arms across her chest, hugging herself and Calleigh had a feeling that she was feeling troubled. Natalia looked at Calleigh questioningly when she popped the question. She just shrugged the question off and told Calleigh that she's fine and that she didn't need to worry about anything.
"Nat, if there was nothing bugging you, you wouldn't be so quiet. I've worked with you for a few years now. And besides, you didn't pick that printed results." Calleigh pointed out to the piece of paper that has finished printing. Calleigh gave her the 'don't-lie-to-me' look. Natalia sighed and took the paper in her hands then walked away from Calleigh. She had a feeling that Calleigh suspected something and if Calleigh had suspected, the others might have suspected something too. She cursed herself for being so bold to give Horatio such a gift. She wanted to get away from Calleigh because she knew that Calleigh will sooner or later pop that particular question but she knew she couldn't escape.
"You care for him don't you?" Calleigh asked as soon as Natalia walked away from her. Immediately, Natalia turned to her, looking offended. Calleigh waited for her to respond but there was none. Instead, Natalia slammed the piece of paper onto the table and stormed out of the lab, rushing towards the elevator and passing by Eric and Ryan. Both men said their 'Hi' but were ignored. They both took a double take on her then turned their focus to Calleigh. "Don't ask me." Calleigh said non-chalantly and continued doing her work.
Natalia made her way down to the garage and sat in her car. She knew of the risks when she decided to give the gift to Horatio. She knew that people would have their suspicions but she didn't expect it to be so soon. Yes, she might have feelings for Horatio but she wasn't ready to admit it yet. Horatio was after all her boss and he had just lost his wife. She was cursing at herself. She shouldn't have given that cologne to him. She started wiping off the tears that rolled down her cheeks. She didn't even realize that she had been crying. A knock on the window caught her attention and she quickly wiped her face dry.
It was Calleigh and Eric. Both of them had talked in the lab. Calleigh had told him of her suspicions and about what happened earlier before Natalia stormed out of the lab. They both decided that they should talk to her first. When Natalia turned towards them, they took a step back to allow her to open the door and the both noticed that she had been crying. Calleigh stepped forward and gave her a hug, apologizing to her for being so insensitive. Eric suggested that they meet up after work to talk about what happened. Initially, Natalia declined but after being persuaded, she eventually caved in and agreed. The three of them made their way back up to wrap up their cases then signed out after handing Horatio the case files.
"So Nat, you care about him don't you?" Natalia didn't respond and kept stirring her coffee. The three of them decided to go downtown to Starbucks to talk it through. "Nat…" Calleigh called out as she reached over to her friend. Natalia was debating with herself. She didn't know what to tell them. She couldn't possibly admit to Eric, Horatio's former brother-in-law that she does care for him. His sister, Horatio's wife had just died. Besides, she wasn't even sure of her own feelings. She felt Calleigh reaching out to her and her immediate response was to pull away. It was tough on her that her friends are asking her about her personal life. She wanted to run away; to just escape from being questioned, but Calleigh was patient. Both Calleigh and Eric sat there in silence, waiting for Natalia to speak up. Eventually, after minutes of silence, Natalia responded to their question.
"I think I do care about him." Natalia answered as she stopped stirring and staring into her cup of coffee. Calleigh and Eric had different reactions. Calleigh was smiling while Eric, on the other hand, had his eyes wide opened. Eric almost spat the coffee in his mouth but quickly took a napkin to cover it. Calleigh pinched him under the table when she saw how Eric reacted and he apologized. She gave him a death glare while Natalia looked back down at her coffee.
"Hey Nat, that's okay…Sometimes we can't help who we fall for…ya know…you get what I mean right Nat…" Calleigh tried to console her friend but Natalia kept looking down, not daring to look up for fear that they would see the tears in her eyes. Calleigh gave Eric a look, which prompted him to speak up.
"Calleigh's right Natalia. Feelings aren't something we can control. It just happens when we least expect it." He spoke softly and reached out to her hand that was still stirring the coffee. Natalia tensed up. "Nat, look at us." She caved in and looked up, exposing her teary eyes. "Horatio is a good man and it's not your fault that you care for him." Eric paused. "Look, if you really care for him, go for him. Break his wall that he has been building all these while. " Natalia was taken aback by his speech but continued listening. "I've known him for long Nat. It's hard to break his wall but I know it's possible. It takes time."
"But…" Natalia wanted to bring up the issue of Marisol but was hesitant. In the end, Eric beat her to it.
"Nat, I'm not going to lie to you and build your hopes high but it's gonna take longer than Marisol. He's still hurting over her death but I know he will eventually let down his wall. You've got to be patient with him. He needs to move on. He deserves happiness." Calleigh turned to Eric immediately when she heard that he brought up the issue of Marisol. It took him a lot of courage for him to talk about his sister. She reached out for his free hand and squeezed it gently, giving him the support he needed. Eric smiled at her appreciatively.
"Give him some time Nat. But I just want to give you a heads up. I treat him like my own brother and I don't want you to hurt his feelings. He's been through enough. If you really care for him, just go for it. If you're not sure of your feelings, then don't. I don't want him to hurt anymore. He's a good man and he doesn't deserve to be hurt so many times. I know you're a good person so I trust you with him." Natalia looked at him with tears rolling down her cheeks, which she quickly wiped off. For the first time during that night, Natalia had actually smiled.
"Thank you Eric." He nodded.
"So you've been noticing what cologne he wore huh?" Eric teased her and she blushed then Eric broke into a fit of laughter. "I didn't know that you like him. I guess I was too oblivious huh. But Nat, that was quite an impressive move to give him that cologne." Natalia smiled shyly.
"I saw him flash before my eyes when I had a close call yesterday. And I thought I almost lost him when I heard from the officers about his stunt to dispose the armed car. I just thought I needed to make a move." Natalia finally admitted to them. Calleigh smiled widely. "What?"
"You really do care for him. Go for him Nat." Eric nodded, agreeing with Calleigh.
"Come on Nat. He rarely pursues a woman. He's just shy that way and you know that. You should have seen the way he was with Mari." He paused, trying to think over what he just said. It hurts a lot to talk about Marisol but he felt like he needed to say it to Natalia. "She pursued him and gave him some form of hope. That's when I realized that Horatio had also given her hope. But sadly that didn't last." He saw her face drop and thought he might have said too much. "Nat, I'm not comparing you to my sister but I just want you to know that he's not the typical kind of man. Even around female suspects, he is so shy. Sooo….."
"It's okay Eric. I get what you mean. You just want me to be prepared." Natalia smiled at him. Eric nodded and sighed gratefully. Natalia was thankful that Eric and Calleigh understood her and didn't bash her for caring for Horatio. She was exceptionally grateful towards Eric because he was very supportive despite his sister being married to Horatio before this. She knew that she needed to make sure of her own feelings because she wouldn't want to hurt Horatio. That man doesn't deserve to be hurt in any way possible. Natalia kept Eric's words in mind. The three of them decided to call it a day and went straight home.
Once home, Natalia was glad that she had at least confided in both her friends despite unwillingly. She walked into the kitchen and there, she got reminded of Horatio. He was there, seated in that very place the night before and hadn't she brought up the issue on Marisol, he would probably have stayed much longer. She took a glass of water then went straight to her room. She needed the rest. As she was lying in her bed, her mind drifted off to Horatio. He is such a good man and an easy man to fall in love with.
She wants to pursue him but she is afraid to do so. Eric was right. Horatio wasn't the kind of man who would go around trying to get women but she wasn't sure if he would be receptive if she were to pursue him. She was afraid to make a move on Horatio but when she thought it through, if she doesn't make a move, she might never get a chance with Horatio. Eric had warned her that it would take time for Horatio to break his wall and she was determined to break that wall. Horatio deserves happiness and she hoped that she would give him just that. It doesn't matter if along the way, Horatio doesn't feel the same way. What matters to her is that she tried. That night, she made her mind. She would try to pursue Horatio; to try to break down his wall.
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