A Sanctuary in Appassionato
Pairing: Eric/Ryan, Eric/Natalia, Ryan/other
Summary: How do you listen when there arenít any words?
Feedback: Oh how I would love it!!
There are never any words after sex, but then what would he say? Eric doesnít know because, outside of work, Ryan has stopped talking to him. Ericís every attempt to make conversation is cut off with a shrug before Ryan turns and walks away.
He knows the exact day when Ryan stopped talking to him. It was a Tuesday, and it was a case, just one of the many they work in a week, a loverís quarrel between two men that has gone terribly wrong. Eric overhears the surviving partner tearfully talking to Horatio. Their names are David and Michael, two men, not unlike Ryan and himself, both young, handsome, up-and-coming professionals in their chosen fields. A quarrel, like the kind most couples have; only this one ends up with one partner dead on the floor and the other sobbing on the couch. To Eric itís just another case, but Ryan seems to divine some meaning that Eric does not and winter now falls between them.
But their trysts have not stopped, and from time to time Eric will come back to his desk to find one word written upon a neatly folded sheet of paper: "TONIGHT". Later, a knock will come upon his door and he will open it to find Ryan standing there with a heat in his eyes and hungry with a desire Eric understands, because he feels it too.
Ryan has changed and he is no longer content to allow Eric to take the lead every time they are together. Eric does not understand where this change in Ryan has come from but he has learned not to question it. Questions require answers and answers require words. Ryan speaks more honestly with his actions than any words he might offer Eric.
When the door closes behind them he claims Ericís lips with his own. Kissing, licking, biting, teasing, not stopping until Eric is incoherent with need Ė and this with both of them fully dressed. That they make it to the bedroom (and sometimes they donít) is always a surprise to Eric. Ryanís inhibitions are shed like his clothes. The hands that caress Ericís body are replaced by lips that map his every peak. Lips give way to a tongue that probes his valley, skillfully preparing him and Eric cannot help himself the friction of the sheets against his erection and he erupts. But this is only the beginning and after a few minutes Ryan begins to caress him again.
Eric lost many memories when he took that bullet to the head but he never forgot how Ryanís touch felt. Sometimes, when he arches into Ryanís hand, when he surrenders to his heat, it is the only way he can show what he feels, lost in the moment, words escaping him.
Ryan never seeks his own pleasure until Eric has been satisfied more than once. Then, and only then, does he cover Ericís body with his own. Now it is Ryan who slips inside Eric, white skin against brown, and the white sheets beneath them that Eric balls up in his hand as he becomes lost in the sensation of the body above him. Even as he thinks nothing more can be physically wrung from him, Ryanís pace will quicken and at that last explosive moment he will exhale loudly, an audible affirmation that what is happening here is real, and Eric will tip over again.
Now, something inside Ryan relents and he rests his head in the sling of Ericís neck and shoulder for a moment. Eric can feel the warm breath on his collarbone as he awkwardly strokes Ryanís hair with a tenderness that surprises him. He can feel the frantic beating of Ryanís heart begin to slow and the magic of the moment dictates there should be no words. In this moment they are one and Eric understands the things Ryan cannot say.
Horatio knows, of this Eric is certain. He has felt the appraising stare his boss has passed between Ryan and himself on more than one occasion. El diablo pelirrojo, Marisol once called Horatio. It fits, and Eric has no desire to lock horns with his boss on this topic, for what would he say in his defense? But Horatio, like Ryan, says nothing. Yet not for a moment does Eric think that he and Ryan are flying beneath Horatioís radar.
The notes keep coming and Eric finds himself tempted to write back with one word on a slip of paper of his own - "NO!" An act of defiance meant to claim back what Ryan, with no words, has stolen from him. But he canít, and when he tries to frame an argument in his head for why they should stop, nothing comes to mind. Just as Ryan has no words for him, so he has none for himself when it comes to this relationship between Ryan and himself.
The seasons pass, and winter becomes spring. During this time Eric begins to see Natalia. She is sweet, kind, and unlike Ryan, she talks to him of many things that have nothing to do with the blood and gore that is the daily staple of the job they do. She laughs at his jokes and he likes the way her eyes crinkle when she smiles. Sometimes they hang out at his apartment, sometimes hers. Lovemaking, when it happens, is spontaneous and filled with the joy of two people discovering one another's bodies. In the shower, on the sofa (once on the kitchen table) but never, when they are at his place, in his bed. For some reason he feels his bed is sacrosanct, a place belonging only to Ryan and himself.
Ryan knows about Natalia, of this Eric is certain, but he still says nothing and the notes no longer appear on Eric's desk. Eric knows what words he would use this time should the chance present itself. Hot, angry ones filled with accusations. All in all he is glad that Ryan is not speaking to him and that the weekly visits have stopped. Though twice now he has thought he heard someone knocking on his door and has hurried to answer it, heart hammering in his ears. Itís only the wind whipping through the branches of a bush by his front door. The second time this happens he takes pruning shears and cuts the bush down to its roots. His landlord has plenty to say about that the next morning and Eric has plenty to say in return. But Ryan still wonít speak to him and Eric is relieved because he knows some words, once spoken, can never be taken back.
Spring arrives and Ryan is fired. Rumors abound: gambling, a debt of $10,000. Eric isnít sure what to believe. Horatio says nothing and Eric takes this as a cue that he should mind his own business. The task of making sure Ryan has cleaned everything out of his desk falls to Eric. Nothing but a few oddly bent paperclips, a couple of inkless pens, and old post-it notes remain. Heís going over the desk one last time, using his flashlight to hit the back corners, when he sees something he missed the first time around. He pulls it out and is surprised to see itís a photo of Ryan and himself working a crime scene. In it Eric is kneeling, latex gloves on his hands, sifting through something on the ground. Ryan stands beside him, clipboard in one hand and pen in the other looking on with interest. Eric flips it over but there is no date on the back and nothing to reference what it meant to Ryan and why he left it here.
Eric crumples the photo up and pitches it into the wastebasket. Grimly thinking to himself that Bob Dylan said it best Ė Ďthe times they are a changiní.í Later that night as he lies in the bed he still will not take Natalia into, he thinks about Ryan and sleep, when it finally comes, is thin and troubled.
Summer is upon them as Miami grows hot. Heat devils dance on the sidewalks and blood runs freely in the streets. The killing season is upon them. It is a Tuesday and still another case, just one more of the many they are working these days, an attack against a homosexual couple, Tom and Sean. The pictures that surround the living room show two happy men, and are a stark contrast to the carnage that lies beyond this room. The bedroom is a blood soaked nightmare and it gives mute testimony to the horrific violence that ensued there.
Horatio takes Eric with him to the hospital when he interviews the survivor. Tomís body is mottled with bruises, his arms snaked with IV's. In a hollow voice he tells them the story. They were celebrating Seanís birthday when someone knocked on the door, a deliveryman with flowers. Tom let him in. The man pulled a knife, took them hostage. The killer was angry, telling them that one of them would die before the night was out. Sean offered himself up as the sacrificial lamb, offered himself up willingly and without hesitation. Life without Tom was no life at all, he had told the man. Before Tom could think to protest, the man had killed Sean, slit his throat from one side to the other. Here Tom falls silent and tears glisten in his eyes. Horatio tells Eric to leave, that he will finish conducting the interview in private.
Eric leaves the hospital and comes face to face with the last person he expected to see Ė Ryan. His former co-worker is now a crime reporter for one of the local television stations. He shoves the microphone into Ericís face and begins asking questions.
Cuban blood runs hot and Eric has to stifle the urge to jerk the microphone away from Ryan and shove it someplace he is just as familiar with as Ryanís face. Instead, he takes a steadying breath, eyes looking somewhere over Ryan's left shoulder and replies with the standard response all those under Horatio's command are trained to give in these situations - an ongoing investigation, no comment at this time, any further inquiries should be directed to Leuitent Horatio Caine.
Ryan tries to ask another question but Eric waves him off with one hand, ďYou sell out the department and you think I'm going to stand here and talk to you?Ē A tiny part of Eric is glad at the hurt that crosses Ryan's face but his blood is up and all the words he has held inside come tumbling out. ďYou betrayed your unit and you betrayed your friends. The badge you earned, the work you did, was part of something bigger than yourself. But you threw it all away.Ē A vein begins to throb near Ryan's right eye but Eric does not care, Ryan's betrayal has touched him deeper than he realizes and there is a resignation in his voice an acceptance that things have changed, ďMaybe I never really knew you at all.Ē
The cameraman working with Ryan stops shooting and walks away. He is from the old school of reporting, whatever is happening here has nothing to do with the story. He goes back to the news truck and begins packing his camera away.
Shaking his head, saddened, Eric too moves away, leaving Ryan standing stunned and very much alone on the hospital steps.
The next morning Ryan fails to turn up for work. Calls to his cell phone and home phone go unanswered. Ryan's new boss calls his old one and Horatio goes to Ryanís apartment looking for his former team member. He sees nothing, but Ryan is an adult by more than a few years and 24 hours must pass before a missing persons report can be filed. Yet Horatio knows people, and Horatio knows secrets. Privately, he puts out some feelers of his own. Two hours later his cell phone rings and Horatio has his answers
Later that day, Eric returns to his desk to find an envelope lying on top of his paperwork. He opens it up to find the photo of Ryan and himself that he had thrown away, the picture has been flattened out and there is a note clipped to it, itís a classic of Horatio Caine brevity, three words and an address Ė "Go get him, 1324 Ocean View Drive". There are five open homicides on his desk and Eric leaves them sitting there without a second thought.
There is no ocean and there is no view, itís an industrial park. Eric knocks on the door and a wizened old Asian man bows him in. The silence here reeks of secrets, and the air is heavy with the metallic twang of body fluids. This is a sex club and Eric (who has seen the seamier side of human nature more than he cares to admit) knows he never wants to know how Ryan came to be acquainted with a place such as this.
The old man leads him to a nearby alcove and points inside before bowing again and taking his leave. Eric enters to find Ryan sitting on a bench. There is a defeated air about him and he never raises his gaze from the carpet. Though he does not speak he also does not seem surprised that Eric is there to get him.
Ryan stands, wincing as he does so. This time he does look at Eric and a flash of understanding flows between them. Eric knows this is where Ryan has been coming during the time he had been seeing Natalia. Many words run through Ericís mind, but he knows this is neither the time nor the place for any of them. Instead, he settles for keeping himself in the moment. Picking up the jacket and tie Ryan has left lying on the bench, Eric says, ďLetís get out of here.Ē
They exit the building together.
ďWhereís your car, Wolfe?Ē
ďI took a cab, Delko.Ē
A mundane conversation, and the first time Ryan has responded to anything Eric has asked him outside of work in nearly a year, but new beginnings have been based on less and for now itís enough.
The drive is quiet; beside him Ryan stares out the passenger side window. Eric fiddles with the radio but itís an odd time of day and all he can find is either talk or rock, neither of which seems appropriate for the mood. He turns it off with one jab of a finger as rain begins to spatter against the windshield. To break the silence as much as anything else Eric speaks, ďyou hungry?Ē
Ryan continues looking out the window, ďnot really.Ē
Itís raining harder now, palm trees, sand and the occasional glimpse of the ocean these outside images become distorted by the rivulets of water that are pouring down the windows. Eric downshifts as they go through a sizeable puddle, ďIím taking you back to my place.Ē
Ericís heart is hammering in his ears as Ryan turns to look at him. A full measure of heartbeats pass but whatever Ryan sees it must be enough and he resumes his stare out of the car window, ďokĒ.
Eric is scared and elated at the same time. He senses, without understanding how he knows, that he and Ryan are building a bridge between them, one that only the two of them will ever be able to cross.
They arrive at Ericís place without further conversation and Ryan heads to the shower. Eric settles down to watch TV while Ryan cleans up. There is a peaceful air about his place that he never felt when Natalia was here. Two television shows later Ryan is still not out of the shower, though Eric knows the hot water should have long run out by now. He goes into the bathroom to find Ryan shivering beneath the cold water. Eric turns off the water and helps Ryan out of the shower. He grabs the nearest towel (glad to find out with a quick sniff that itís clean) and begins to dry Ryan off. Itís another one of those awkward moments because of the unexpected tenderness, but Eric does not stop. In this moment they are again one and it is Ryanís turn to understand the things Eric cannot say.
Now dry, Ryanís skin is still cool to the touch and Eric takes him into the bedroom, there is a sense of home as Eric watches Ryan crawl under the sheets. Eric grabs the blanket thatís been hanging halfway off the bed for over a week now and adjusts it so that Ryan is covered, then he sheds his own clothes and climbs beneath the covers as well. He scoots over but stops just short of tucking himself into Ryan, inches that could be miles, the last step over a bridge that only goes one way. But Eric knows what he wants, has known it for a long time now. A year of no words has taught him to listen with his heart. He reaches out and pulls Ryan to him.
Eric breathes in as Ryan breathes out. Brown skin to white skin to white sheets, the circle of the year is complete as fall now gives way to winter.