BETA READ by Lady Anemone & LA Calleigh.
Disclaimer: All the characters of CSI: Miami are the property of CBS Broadcasting Inc and Alliance-Atlantis Communications. No copyright infringement is intended.
CHALLENGE, in the same universe as my series POSITIVE/NEGATIVE.
Lieutenant Horatio Caine heard the click as the white door connected with the lock behind him. The apartment was entirely dark and the red haired man assumed the woman who shared his home had already gone to bed. She probably hadn't waited for him and had crawled under the sheets. By the light of the moon, which invaded through the large sliding window, he could just see where he was walking, while he maneuvered to the kitchen. His footsteps sounded hollow on the parquet floor.
The lieutenant laid his house keys on the kitchen counter, and when the nickel made contact with the marble a little clink echoed through the dark and empty room. His weary bright blue eyes caught the fierce green digits of the microwave, which always indicated the right time, just at the moment they changed to 01.59. He sighed. It seemed to be getting later every night.
Calleigh was certainly lying in bed already. He let the black fabric of his suit jacket glide over his shoulders, nonchalantly flung the waistcoat over the nearest chair and undid the upper button of his shirt with his right hand. His exhausted eyes slid over the dark shapes of his furniture and Horatio decided to go to bed as well. It had been a long and heavy day for the man.
A frown creased his deeply lined forehead as he yawned. His feet dragged him to the pitch-dark hall. When he noticed he had actually ended up by his daughter's room instead of his own, Horatio decided to check on their daughter first before going to bed himself. He silently opened the bright pink painted door, opposite the master bedroom. He tiptoed silently to the little wooden crib where Emily slept, trying not to disturb the little one's sleep. The scene he saw when he bent over the baby made a smile grow on his face.
She slept as beautifully as her mother, gently sucking on her thumb. It had probably been too warm, because she had kicked the little covers off her tiny body. Horatio carefully tucked his beautiful girl in again and walked out of the room. He left the little one's door ajar, so her parents would hear her scream if she woke up and blindly, and followed the hall to their bedroom. Their door wasn't entirely shut, either.
He creakingly pushed the door open further and then walked on his toes to the edge of the double bed. His beloved sleeping beauty was lying there looking so pretty. As she dozed, a smile appeared onto her face as Horatio cautiously bent over her. She had to be at least a little bit awake...
For more than twelve years, they had worked together and had tried to stay just colleagues. Although there had always been a dormant desire for much more than a friendship and there was no denying Calleigh and Horatio had had a tight bond from the start, their relationship had nearly always been strictly professional. If you could even call it a 'relationship'. She looked up to the guy, and she had been walking a hell of a lonely road with him from day one. Until Horatio had suddenly noticed the road wasn't lonely anymore, realizing she was walking it with him, right at his side, like she had been doing from the beginning.
And for all those years, they had done their utmost to conceal their deep feelings for each other and to keep them under control. About two years ago, Horatio had accidentally shot off his mouth to Frank, in an exceptionally drunken state, after a case that had lasted forty-eight hours. Not that Horatio was drunk that often, but when he and Frank were in a bar together, there was no other way it could end...
The following day, Sergeant Tripp had taken the lieutenant aside for a moment. This time he was sober, though. Unfortunately, he hadn't forgotten. Frank had still remembered what the lieutenant had said to him as well.
"Horatio... About what you said to me yesterday... Did you mean that?"
"Frank," the lieutenant had sighed, "Have I ever said something I didn't mean?"
The MDPD-Sergeant's jaw had dropped in shock immediately and it had seemed like the man was speechless, before tripping over his words, "So, you really meant what you said, yesterday, a-about... Calleigh?"
He almost whispered the last word, her name: 'Calleigh', and not only her name was beautiful or meant 'beautiful', but the whole girl behind the name was just beautiful as well, and not only on the outside. She could be incredibly hard on the people across the table from her in the interrogation room, but her heart was of gold, just like her straight long hair. Horatio had never met such a beautiful woman before, and had probably been in love with her since the first time he saw her.
He had uttered an ironic little chuckle. "Yes."
The sergeant hadn't been able to keep his mouth shut, naturally. Frank was just like that. When CSI Duquesne had turned up at Miami Dade Police Department the very same day, to collect a file of an old case to compare with the current one, Frank had 'accidentally'...
"I'm going back to the ballistics lab, Horatio's waiting for the results."
"I'm pretty sure about that... "
Calleigh's forehead had immediately creased in a frown, not really understanding what the sergeant was actually talking about. To be honest, she hadn't even had the faintest idea. "What do you mean by that?"
"Horatio is carrying a torch for you, Calleigh." He gave her a significant look she couldn't interpret... yet.
Calleigh had looked at him mystified, had just shaken her head and turned around to leave. She normally would have kept asking until she knew exactly what was going on, but Horatio had been waiting for the results. She had a job to do. When she had walked out of the door, she was still wondering what Frank meant. The sergeant had called something after her, but she couldn't hear him anymore.
Back at the lab, she had walked right into Horatio's arms, in a manner of speaking. When she had walked out of the elevator, she had noticed Horatio at Paula's bureau. He had just asked her to page his Ballistics expert. The lieutenant had been checking his messages when he was turned around by the sound of the high heels of her boots on the shiny floor. "Paula? Ms. Duquesne's already here."
"Have you collected the file of the Montenegro case?"
She had nodded, unconsciously making the smile on her boss' face grow wider at her reply. The smile that had immediately surfaced when Calleigh had walked out of the elevator. A very rare smile that wasn't often seen.
"Good... I’m pretty sure there's a connection between that case and our shooting of this morning. Have you already run the bullet striations through the computer?"
"Not just yet... I'm actually on my way to my territory."
She had reflected her unequalled smile into Horatio's direction. He believed the voltage of her smiles could provide a whole industry worth of electricity. Not to mention the electricity he always felt between the two of them. That thought had drawn a smile and a chuckle from the lieutenant, too.
"Fine... I'll walk with you." Calleigh had unconsciously smiled. "What?"
She had only shaken her head and had pushed open the glassy door of her Ballistics lab, which was neatly organized. She still didn't understand how she had been able to find everything back there after Markham left. When she had started in Ballistics again, it had been a real mess. She had laid the file on her steel table and Horatio had followed her on foot.
She had taken her white lab coat off the peg and put it on, over her light blue top. The CSI had untucked her straight blond hair from the lab coat and had taken the evidence bag that laid onto the table. She had taken a scalpel and slid that over the edge of the bag, over the red evidence tape with her initials 'CD' on. Then, she had held it tilted to one side and had shaken thirteen casings of a nine millimeter and seven matching bullets in her outstretched right hand.
"One and all nine millimeters," she had immediately concluded at the sight of the cases and their bullets. With her other hand, she had selected the most intact bullet and had put it under the comparison microscope. This bullet was pretty much mushroomed, but most of the striations were still very visible. While she patiently waited for her match, running the striations through the computer, she felt Horatio moving slightly behind her. Calleigh had only smiled her kilowatt smile.
She had gradually understood what Frank had meant. Twelve years and she hadn't even once considered it; it had just never occurred to her. She had smiled more widely at the thought of her own blindness. Now the ball had started rolling...
They had both heard the sound and had therefore known the computer had popped up with their match. They had immediately turned to the screen at the same time and bumped into each other. Calleigh had lost her balance and nearly fallen, but her lieutenant had just been able to catch her, with the result that she found herself in his strong arms...
They had looked deeply into each other's eyes and had just been holding onto the moment. When they had suddenly realized what they were actually doing, they had both slightly blushed and moved a couple of inches apart.
She had looked away for a few seconds, then had gotten her voice back and had looked at her superior, fully realizing that it could never work between them. No matter how much she loved him back.
"According to the computer here, the gun that was used by the shooting this morning, isn't the same as the one from the Montenegro case," she had said, instead of the words she had been planning to say.
"There might be other similarities."
Nothing else had happened until about two days later, when Calleigh had had a huge breakdown and had tried to kill herself. Luckily, Horatio had been there right on time when she had tremulously called him.