A/N: This is a stand-alone one-shot ficlet and is in no way connected to "Nerds Like It Hotter." Damn the plot penguin! This was supposed to be short and sweet, but the more I typed, well... you get the picture.
Ryan Wolfe was an extremely private man...
He jealously guarded his emotions and, even more so, his personal life. He couldn't remember the last time he had allowed himself to cry, but he knew with definite certainty that he was currently 0 for 3 in that department.
Sure, there had been times when he had almost lost it. In fact, he could hold all three of them in the palm of his hand:
There was that first time when his friend, Timothy Speedle, was shot and killed in the line of duty, and he had heard the devastating news from one of his colleagues. He had gone home that evening, feeling shocked by the suddenness of his death and distraught and confused at the same time. Only, instead of crying or drinking his pain away, he had stayed up all night cleaning his guns: once... twice... three times... all in an effort to somehow atone for something that would never be his fault and to make sense of a senseless tragedy.
He had grieved and mourned his loss, but he didn't cry that night.
No... he kept that pain tucked away and bottled in and resolved, instead, to make his fallen friend proud by finally applying for that position as a CSI and working hard to prove himself worthy and capable.
The second time he had almost lost it was when he was in the morgue, looking down at the murdered body of one Jenny Price, who had worked undercover for the Alcoholic Beverage Control, a government institution. That had only been his second case as a rookie CSI, and it was the first time that he had been deeply impacted and affected by the reality and finality of death.
He had gotten choked up while talking to Calleigh, but still, he managed to keep his emotions in check and the tears dammed up.
The third time, however, had been extremely difficult as it was the most painful one of all. And had he not been on a plane filled with complete strangers, all heading back to Miami, he would have surely broken down and cried.
As it was, his almost two-week 'fling' with one Greg Sanders during an inter-state murder case had aroused in him feelings that he'd never felt before, feelings that he knew would only come to a heart-wrenchingly disastrous end as neither one at that time were willing to give up his life, his friends, his jobs, and his home to embark on a relationship fashioned out of late night through early morning coffee binges, endless hours of evidence analysis, and sleeping together in a tangled mess of lust and passion and comfort and feelings sprinkled with undeniable chemistry.
And although neither one had ever dared to stop thinking about the other, neither one also ever made a move to call, as both were too stubborn and too afraid to admit to themselves that home was neither friends, nor jobs, nor familiarity with a certain location.
Home was neither Las Vegas nor Miami...
Home was wherever their hearts were... and their hearts belonged to each other.
And so, he bottled up his ripping emotions even more, set up reinforcements to strengthen the dam restraining his tears. And in the claustrophobic loneliness of that plane ride, he never allowed himself the luxury of letting a single tear fall, even as his heart shattered into a thousand little pieces and his soul sobbed in silence and solitude.
And they haven't spoken ever since...
But none of these instances of vulnerability and weakness could be counted in his mind because no tears were actually spilled in the making of these 'tearjerker' moments.
He was now standing on a deserted beach, standing alone in the rain, drenched from head to toe, but he didn't care. He had been walking for hours on end ever since he had clocked out of the lab after his shift, and he had been thinking and analyzing and thinking and... well, he was getting nowhere. All he knew for certain was that his heart ached for a certain quirky blonde with chocolate brown eyes, slim, soft lips, and an amazing personality.
It was getting rather late, and the rain had picked up quite a bit, drenching him with its maddening downpour. He grabbed his cell phone to call for a cab but then cursed, noticing that it had long ago been drained of its charge. Sighing, he tucked the phone back in his jacket, hugged the garment tighter around himself, and then kept on walking, stopping only when he had finally spotted an empty phone booth just a few paces ahead of him down the beach.
He picked up his pace and quickly let himself into the enclosed space, pausing a moment to catch his breath once he got in. He ran his hands through his face and his hair, wiping off as much of the water as he could. Then, he rubbed his arms tiredly, feeling himself start to shiver from the cold, and he cursed at the fact that he'd probably end up coming down with a cold or a fever once he got home.
He felt along his pockets for some change, and an ironic, celebratory chuckle, filled with sarcasm and exhaustion escaped his lips when he had found the right amount. With trembling fingers, he deposited the coins into the slot, but stopped abruptly just as his fingers were about to dial a number – Greg's phone number.
Damn! It had been too long since the last time they even talked, too long since the last time they were forced by fate and circumstances to say good-bye. That was nearly four months ago, and still, he hadn't been able to move on and let the slightly older man go. And now, he longed to hear Greg's voice again, even if it was just to hear him say "hello".
The phone rang once, and Greg looked at his cell to check the Caller ID, flashing an 'Unknown Number.' But he didn't have to know where the call was coming from... somehow, he already knew.
Flipping it on, he held his breath and answered tentatively as his heart's percussive drumming increased in tempo, "Hello?"
Ryan dared not speak into the phone, fearing what it would do to his carefully dammed emotions, now slowly crumbling on its very shaky foundations. Instead, he closed his eyes and swallowed hard, covering the mouthpiece with his hand as he shifted the phone from one ear to the other, forcefully restraining the sobs that were pushing to spill out from his chest, the currents spurred on by the lonely emptiness he felt within, aching and screaming from among the thousand shattered pieces of his broken heart.
Yet somehow, Greg still heard him...
Across the cruel miles, he heard the unmistakable cry of Ryan's heart as it ached to be pieced back together. He heard the muted sobs that were too long repressed, racking the Floridian's body from the inside out. He heard the sound of his tears roaring against his eyelids, threatening to spill over their barricade.
And even through the silence of the phone, Greg could hear the whispered pleadings of Ryan's soul, yearning for those stolen moments they had, wordlessly beseeching for the chance to be together, longing to be made whole.
"Don't cry, Wolfe..." Greg spoke gently, reassuringly, biting down hard on his lower lip as he tried not to sob over the phone, even as his own tears had already begun to fall.
And Ryan had to smile sadly at how Greg had used his name despite the raging ache in his very soul. God, he missed this man! Only he could make his life complete, could make him smile despite the pain... and without even trying.
He clenched his eyes shut even more, swallowing even harder. He was determined now, more than ever, not to cry; he didn't want to break his record.
Only, he could also hear that Greg was hurting, too. He could hear the months of pain and longing and breathless anticipation in his voice, in the single word he had spoken. He could hear and sense all of these things in that single "hello," and that thought alone was becoming too much for his weak and worn body to try to subdue.
"Please, don't cry..." Greg pleaded a whisper over the phone, his own voice cracking from having had to hold back those same emotions for far too long. "I'm coming home, Ryan," he told him, barely managing to choke the words out as a faint smile of hope tugged on his lips, coloring his eyes, his cheeks, and his voice with promises of an overdue beginning.
And although his voice sounded so pained and vulnerable, barely above the whisper of the wind that was rushing past the small, enclosed booth Ryan was standing in, the traces of a staunch resolve and a steadfast promise were unmistakable in those three little, yet powerful words...
"I'm coming home."
And for the first time in his life, Ryan Wolfe irrevocably did something that he hadn't done in a long time...
He broke down and finally, finally cried.
Score: 1 for 3.
A/N: Those were tears of joy, by the way, ehehehe... I hope you guys liked this piece. Like its predecessor, I was hit with sudden inspiration from a rather persistent plot penguin, and I just had to flesh this out on paper (screen). I haven't been feeling well as I've come down with a summer cold all of sudden (don't really know how it happened), and I'm feeling rather drugged up, dizzy, and a bit disoriented from the medication I'm having to take. @_@ So if the quality wasn't as good as the other one, well... that's just the way this cookie crumbled.
Summary: Ryan Wolfe couldn’t remember the last time he had allowed himself to cry, but he knew with definite certainty that he was currently 0 for 3 in that department... that was until he met one Greg Sanders.