|No Hummingbirds, Horatio
Author: Jahnick PM
Part 1 of the Hummingbirds Trilogy. This is how the yacht scene in Dead Zone should have played itself out. HC of course. Please R&R.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Words: 4,710 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 1 - Published: 11-06-03 - id: 1589584
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: No Hummingbirds, Horatio
Disclaimer: Obviously the characters belong to CBS. If they belonged to me, they'd behave like this.
Rating: PG-13 for mild language and adult situations
Pairing: Reality. (Horatio/Calleigh, for those of you who need a translation)
Spoilers: Dead Zone. This is how the scene on the yacht should have played itself out:
"You okay?" she wondered.
"Mmm hmm," he dismissed her concern with a casual wave of his hand. "Just a little warm in the sun, I guess. Haven't had time for lunch yet."
Or breakfast either, I bet, Calleigh thought to herself, putting the spear gun down. "How about we grab a bite now, then? Before we talk to the people with the good information."
Expecting a quick come back and not getting one, Calleigh studied his slim profile. He was paler than usual, the skin pulled so tightly across his cheekbones it seemed almost transparent next to the vivid red hair. "Horatio? Are you sure you're okay?" she persisted.
This time he hesitated, wavering ever so slightly, and Calleigh was just putting a hand on his elbow to steady him when it occurred to her and she yanked her hand back.
"Damn it! Horatio Caine, sometimes you make me just ... just ... furious!"
"Whoa. Calleigh." Horatio was truly startled. He couldn't remember ever hearing her swear before. "What on earth is wrong?"
"With me? The fact that you worry about everybody else and never about yourself. With you? You said it yourself. Think about it. Nine hundred feet per second."
In Horatio's brain the five words fell instantly into place, neatly solving the puzzle of the ache just behind his ribs, an ache that had settled in with a vengeance as if it meant to stay. His eyebrows shot up in an expression Calleigh knew well. "I suppose it's possible."
Calleigh blew out a frustrated breath and guided Horatio towards a white vinyl bench in the shade of the yacht's canopy. "Sit!" she commanded, pushing down on his shoulder until he complied. Then she cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted towards the group gathered in the Bellancourt's back yard.
"Alexx? Could you come here for a minute please?"
Alexx gave them a thumbs up and headed over, quickening her steps when she saw an extremely pale Horatio sitting down with an arm wrapped around his abdomen. Calleigh was on the bench beside him, her hand on his shoulder and concern written all over her face.
"What's wrong?" Alexx asked breathlessly as she stepped on board. "Calleigh?"
"I think our hero of the day here might have been a little too close when that package blew."
Horatio's lips curved into an involuntary smile at Calleigh's choice of words. "Of course it never occurred to him to think about himself," she went on steamily. "He was too busy worrying about everybody else. As usual."
Alexx was kneeling in front of Horatio now, peeling off her gloves. She unbuttoned his white silk shirt and pulled it out of the way. With infinite care her fingers ran a delicate, practiced pattern along his rib cage until an involuntary flinch gave him away.
"Gotcha," Alex murmured under her breath.
"Mmmm. Yes, you did." Horatio winced and squinted up past the canopy at the brilliant blue Miami sky. "That hit the spot," he admitted reluctantly.
"Ribs?" Calleigh wondered.
"At least two," Alexx confirmed, still examining Horatio gently. "And, unless I miss my guess, a fair bit of internal bruising. We'll need x-rays to know if ... "
"Alexx? I'm gonna pass out."
Horatio said it suddenly, disbelieving it even as the words left his mouth. Alexx, on the other hand, took one look at the beads of perspiration clinging to his upper lip and had no trouble at all believing it might happen.
"Head down, Horatio. You know the drill." Gently Alexx cupped her hand behind his head and guided it toward his knees, careful not to disturb the damaged ribs. "That's it, you're fine," she crooned. "Just take a few deep breaths and relax. You're fine."
Alexx's dark eyes met Calleigh's startled blue ones over Horatio's shoulders. "Ambulance?" Calleigh wondered, reaching for her cell.
Alexx hesitated, just long enough for Horatio to grab the moment. "Maybe Calleigh would give me ride?" he suggested delicately, his voice muffled against his chest.
Both women were used to sifting through the layers of Horatio's voice to gauge his true emotion. This time, in behind a rumble of discomfort and a sharp edge of embarrassment, they both detected a hint of humor.
Calleigh sighed when she heard it. "If it's okay with Alexx, I suppose so," she relented. "But I don't want you passing out on me, Lieutenant. Understand?"
"Yup." Horatio lifted his head a bit and tilted it towards her, smiling. "I'm feeling better. I think I can handle that." He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out the keys to the Hummer. "Here, you drive."
Shaking her head, Calleigh took the keys and left to collect the vehicle from out in front of the house. Horatio started fumbling with the buttons on his shirt and after a minute Alexx relented and gave him a hand. "Has anyone ever told you how pig headed you are?" she demanded as she swatted his fingers out of the way.
"I could have a typed list on your desk by tomorrow morning," he replied, blotting his face dry on a shirt sleeve.
Alexx rolled her eyes at the sky. "Okay, Calleigh's not here and you're not impressing me with this macho crap." Her eyes softened as she reached out and touched his arm. "It hurts like hell, Horatio, doesn't it? Why didn't you say something before?"
"Actually, it wasn't that bad," he admitted, being honest. "A sharp pain now and then, I guess that must be the ribs. Otherwise it was just a dull ache, but it does seem to be settling in with a vengeance now." Horatio distanced himself, squinting out across the water. "So what am I looking at here, Alexx? Anything serious?"
"The ribs are cracked. For sure. They'll be painful for a couple of days, but what I'm concerned about is bruising of the internal organs. You could be bleeding internally as well, and that has the potential of being quite serious." Alexx's hand was still on Horatio's arm. "Do you want me to go in with you?"
Horatio shook his head. "Thank you, Alexx, but I'm sure Calleigh will take good care of me."
"Oh, I'm sure she will, too," Alexx muttered under her breath as Calleigh delicately slid the Hummer up on the grass as close to the boat dock as she could get it. Understanding Horatio's need to keep a low profile, the two women refrained from offering any obvious assistance, but they both stayed close as he navigated his way successfully off the yacht and over to the Hummer.
Horatio eased himself gingerly into the front passenger seat, trying to ignore Calleigh as she hovered at his elbow like a nervous hummingbird and reached across to help him with the seatbelt.
"Do me a favor, Alexx?" she asked over her shoulder. "Make sure Speed takes the spear gun back to the lab with him?"
"Uh huh, will do. Keep me posted, Calleigh, will you please?"
"I will." Calleigh shut the door and ran around to the driver's side. In the end nobody noticed them leaving except Speed. His head tilted to the side for a moment as he absently fingered the action switch that had set off the C4 sheet explosive in the package. Then, after a brief word with Alexx, he set the spear gun down next to the other stuff he'd already collected and went back to doing what Horatio would want him to do.
Bag it, tag it, take it back to trace and figure it out.
"Anywhere here is fine," he told her as the Hummer throbbed past a row of waiting taxis. "I'm okay on my own from here. You can get back to the lab, get started on that spear gun."
"Honestly, Horatio," Calleigh blurted out, exasperated, "you must think I was born yesterday." Smoothly she slid the Hummer halfway up the emergency room sidewalk, out of the way for approaching ambulances, and turned on the red and blue.
Horatio winced. "That's a little extreme, don't you think?"
"No. I don't think so at all. Now wait while I come around to your side."
Meekly, Horatio did as he was told, thankful that she hadn't suggested a wheelchair and was willing to let him walk in under his own steam, albeit with his elbow firmly in her grasp. Seeing badges, ID cards and holstered guns times two, a nurse ushered them straight into a small examination room. Calleigh took Horatio's weapon into safe keeping and then kept an eye out as he eased himself up to sit on the edge of the exam table.
A young doctor with red hair just slightly less vibrant than Horatio's came in shortly afterward. He jotted down the pertinent facts and asked Horatio to lay down. After a cursory examination, much the same as Alexx had done, he arranged for x-rays. Calleigh took advantage of the time and moved the Hummer into the parking lot. Her cell rang just as she pulled into a spot and by the time she finished the call and got back, Horatio and the young doctor were in the midst of a heated discussion.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Calleigh interrupted sweetly as she breezed into the room, "I should have warned you, he's the world's worst patient. I take it you have the x-ray results."
"Yes, actually, and the news is relatively good." The young doctor switched his attention to Calleigh, hoping for an ally. " Lieutenant Caine is bruised and sore, and thereis internal bleeding but it's minimal, a slow seep that should stop of its own accord as he heals. We would like to keep the Lieutenant overnight for observation ..."
"... but?" Calleigh interjected, hands on her hips, glaring at her boss.
"... but," Horatio finished firmly, arching his eyebrows, "the Lieutenant is going home." He slid off the exam table and landed with more or less his usual cat-footedness. "It's not like I'll be alone, Calleigh. It'll be fine."
"Hmm." Calleigh frowned, pretending to think it over, but she'd already made up her mind. A warm wave of relief had begun to flow through her when she heard the doctor's words. The wave washed away the frigid, empty sensation that had trembled inside of her ever since she'd seen him sway on his feet in the hot sun. Horatio was going to be okay.
Now all Calleigh needed was time to figure out why it mattered so very much.
"Thank you," he said sincerely, the layers in his voice conveying the emotion like no one else's could.
"For what?" she shot back, eyes on traffic.
"For bailing me out back there. You know, going along with the bit about someone being at home."
Calleigh pulled up at a red light. The humid Miami air was still and steamy hot but Calleigh had the windows open and the air off. Her jacket lay folded neatly on the seat between them and she'd pulled her hair up off her shoulders and fastened it at the neck before they pulled out of the hospital lot.
"I wasn't going along with anything." Calleigh turned her head and smiled broadly. "There will be someone there. Me."
The light went green and Calleigh shifted her attention back to the Hummer. Smoothly she let out the clutch and touched the gas. The massive vehicle floated forward with traffic. Horatio remained silent and eventually Calleigh glanced sideways at him. His head was laid back against the headrest and his eyes were closed.
"I don't remember your asking permission to take the rest of the day," he commented softly, sensing her gaze.
Calleigh's smile got broader and she let her attention stray back to the Hummer, abandoning herself to the way the wheel felt
whenever it found itself beneath her hands. Not quite like a trigger did, just before the shot, but almost as good. Almost.
Calleigh had been there once before, at last year's Christmas party when she'd volunteered to made drinks. Now, after settling Horatio down on the white leather sofa, she headed straight for the bar, finding it as well stocked as it had been in the holiday season.
Calleigh plunked a bottle of bourbon and a glass with ice on the coffee table and Horatio raised an eyebrow. "I'm not altogether sure that'd be good for me," he admitted.
"Isn't for you." Calleigh brought him a glass of cold water and poured an inch of bourbon for herself. She curled her legs up under her in one of the white leather chairs across from the couch, took a sip and closed her eyes with a sigh. "I'll fix something to eat in a minute," she told him, letting the warmth of the bourbon fill her throat and slide all the way down to her heart.
Horatio didn't say anything at all. He wasn't the least bit hungry and he was perfectly content just to lean back and watch the bourbon find its way.
After awhile Calleigh made sandwiches and Horatio surprised both of them with a sudden attack of appetite. There was a comfortable silence while they ate, still sitting across from each other in the livingroom, and afterwards Calleigh poured a scotch for Horatio and another bourbon for herself. They chatted for awhile, with Calleigh gradually taking over most of the talking and Horatio the listening.
Until Calleigh noticed his eyes. The sapphire blue pools had sunk so deep in his face that they were almost black. Horatio was absolutely exhausted.
Calleigh stood up and offered her hand. "Come on," she told him. "Bedtime."
Horatio didn't argue, he actually let her take a bit of his weight as he stood, and on the way to the bedroom she noticed that he was trailing a hand along the hallway wall just in case. When they got there Horatio sat down wearily on the edge of the bed. He was still wearing the wrinkled shirt and pants he'd had on all day, but getting undressed was just too complicated for the moment.
Calleigh watched him climb in. She poured a glass of water in the bathroom and left it on the bedside table in case he woke up and wanted it.
"Sleep!" she commanded, pausing at the door on her way out. "That's an order. I know where the guest room is. I can look after myself."
Horatio sighed. "Of that I have absolutely no doubt," he murmured, already half asleep.
A smile softened Calleigh's face and she stayed for a moment, leaning on the door frame, just to watch him as he gradually relaxed
into sleep. Then, padding softly down the hallway in bare feet, she poured herself another inch of bourbon and let herself quietly out
onto the terrace.
Now where the heck was Horatio?
Calleigh peeked into the bathroom on her way by and headed back down the hallway. She'd been checking on him off and on throughout the evening and each time she had found him fast asleep. Now suddenly, just past midnight, the bed was empty.
Crossing the living room Calleigh finally spotted him, outside on the flagstone terrace. She was just in time to see him make a sudden wild grab for a patio chair, miss entirely and end up on his knees, rocking back and forth with both arms wrapped around his rib cage.
Calleigh flew out the patio door. She knelt down, too, laid her arm lightly along his shoulders and bent down low to try and see his face. "Horatio? You all right?"
He swore softly. "No," he groaned, "I'm not. I give up. It hurts like hell and I can't go back to sleep."
Calleigh winced, realizing how much pain would be required to drag that admission out of Horatio. It took a few minutes but she finally managed to get him up on his feet and over to a nearby patio lounge. In careful, slow stages he eased himself down and Calleigh breathed a sigh of relief when he was finally settled. Horatio was slender but he was tall as well, and she very much doubted she would have been of much help if he'd gone down for real on the stone terrace.
"Sorry," he apologized, grimacing as he tried unsuccessfully to find a comfortable position on the lounge. "I'm not much fun tonight."
"It's worse isn't it?" she asked, dragging up a chair and perching on the edge of it. "Should I call someone? Or I could drive you back to the hospital."
Horatio shook his head. "Doctor warned me it would get worse before it got better," he mumbled. "I'll just tough it out tonight."
"Oh, Sweet Jesus!" Calleigh sprang to her feet, a look of total disgust on her face.
"What?" Horatio gave her an absolutely blank look. He honestly didn't have a clue what she was upset about.
"For crying out loud," she muttered, putting her hands on her hips. "You know, if you weren't so damn stubborn, you'd have stayed in the hospital. Which, in my opinion, is where you belong. Hell, you'd probably be tripping on morph right now. You know, I don't feel the least bit sorry for you. It serves you right."
Horatio just nodded, he didn't even attempt an argument. Really, there wasn't one. Calleigh was right, and he was too exhausted and too sore to get into a verbal debate he was bound to lose anyway.
Calleigh groaned and went inside to take her anger out on the medicine cabinet, banging around until she found what she wanted. A few minutes later she came back outside and set down a bottle of 292's and a scotch and soda on the low patio table by Horatio's elbow. She sat down on the chair and glared at him.
Horatio cleared his throat, carefully shook three capsules out of the bottle and washed them down with a sip of the scotch. "Thanks," he managed.
"You're welcome," she relented, her face softening a bit. "Do you want to go back inside?"
Horatio shook his head. "This is better, if you don't mind." He lay his head back and closed his eyes. A few minutes later the pain killers started to kick in, just enough to take off the edge. For the first time that night the sound of the surf on the beach far below wove its way into his consciousness, relaxing him as it always did. Cautiously he drew in a deep breath of the soft night air and slowly let it out.
"Better?" Calleigh asked.
"Mmm hmm," he nodded, a trace of a smile on his face.
"Can I take a look? Please."
Horatio really didn't have a choice. Earlier that day she'd bared her shoulder for him, albeit reluctantly, and now it was his turn. Fair was fair. He nodded without bothering to open his eyes and Calleigh's fingers found their way to his shirt buttons. The victim hadn't had a bruise on him, and she wondered if Horatio would, either. A minute later, staring at his chest, Calleigh had her answer. She swallowed hard and squeezed his shoulder in sympathy. Her own shoulder throbbed where the spear gun had slammed into it, but compared to the discoloration purpling much of Horatio's abdomen her own small bruise was insignificant.
"Hey, do I get some sympathy now?" he asked softly, opening his eyes and seeing tears in hers.
"Maybe. But not until you're in better shape." Calleigh kissed his cheek and left it at that.
"Would you mind if I took a swim?"
Horatio squinted at her over top of his sunglasses. "Do I look that stupid?"
Calleigh chuckled. "No. I just thought I'd check."
"What are you going to use for a suit?" he wondered, all sorts of delightful ideas playing themselves out in his head. He wasn't really making much of an effort to hide his thoughts, either, Calleigh noticed with a grin. It was unusual for him and it pleased her.
"Oh, I always keep a little something in my bag. You know," she teased, batting her eyelashes, "just in case something comes up."
Horatio grinned ruefully. He'd finally fallen asleep on that damn lounge and stayed that way all night long. And when he opened his eyes to the full blown Miami sun he'd half expected to find Calleigh still in the chair next to him. She hadn't been of course. Real life wasn't like that.
Groaning and stiff he dragged himself inside, discarding yesterday's wrinkled clothes in a heap on the bathroom floor. After a long, hot shower he pulled on a pair of cargo pants and a loose white net shirt and decided, what the hell, to check the guest bedroom. And there he had found her, fast asleep with that incredible white gold hair fanned out on a pile of pillows ...
Horatio was yanked abruptly and pleasantly back to the present when Calleigh emerged from the patio doors that led from the master bedroom. A bubble gum pink bikini left very little to the imagination as she draped one of his towels over a chair and dove into the lane pool that flanked the lower level of the terrace.
Thirty laps later (Horatio kept track) Calleigh emerged, hair plastered, bathing suit too. In slow motion she headed over, drying the ends of her hair as she walked. She leaned over to brush his forehead with her lips but, seeing the look on his face she sat down instead, wrapped the towel around herself and waited quietly.
"Calleigh," he began tentatively, "I'm a little confused about something."
"Me too," she agreed, just a little too brightly. "You first."
Horatio frowned. "I'm not sure how to say this," he admitted after a moment's thought.
"Horatio Caine at a loss for words," she countered playfully. "I never thought I'd see the day."
"Calleigh," he said softly, reminding her that he was serious.
She looked him straight in the eye. "English usually works for me. Plain and simple."
"Okay." Horatio did the eyebrow thing, kind of like a mini shrug of the face. "Why not? Tell me about you and John Hagen."
Calleigh smiled and pretended to wipe her forehead with the towel. "Whew. For a minute I thought you were going to ask a tough one. That's easy."
If anything, Horatio was more confused; Calleigh wasn't one to take her relationships lightly. "It is?"
"It is," she tossed back. "I figured it out last night."
"Oh. Sorry, I must have missed it." Horatio leaned forward, listening hard with his head tilted to the side and his sapphire eyes latched onto hers. "Mind filling me in?"
"It started on the yacht, in the sun," she answered without hesitation, "when I saw you swaying on your feet. All of a sudden I got this feeling inside." Calleigh paused for a minute, thinking hard but coming up empty. "Horatio, I'm stuck. I don't have the words to describe how I felt right then."
"Like a hummingbird maybe?" he supplied, a laugh hidden somewhere deep down in the velvet of his voice.
Pleased that he'd remembered, Calleigh rewarded him with a smile. And not just any old smile. This was the real thing, the rare, dazzling, well-worth-waiting-for one that lit up her entire face.
"How many cups of coffee this time?" he purred, his voice pitched so low that Calleigh barely deciphered the words.
"At least a dozen," she assured him, "and they stayed there, too, fluttering around like crazy. Then later, at the hospital when I was parking the Hummer, I suddenly thought what if it was John who was hurt instead of you? Of course I would have cared, I would have been concerned, but ... well ..." Calleigh shrugged a shoulder. "No hummingbirds, Horatio."
"No hummingbirds?" he repeated, needing to be absolutely certain of her meaning.
"No hummingbirds," she confirmed, putting it to rest at last between them. "But let me finish, okay? Later, while you were sleeping, I was thinking about the conversation you and John had in the elevator and I reversed the roles."
Calleigh reached across the space between them and took his dry hand in her wet one. The towel slipped a little bit, revealing the curve of her breast as it flowed flawlessly into the bubble gum bathing suit. "Horatio, you would have cut your tongue out before you'd have said a word to anyone about what happened in the lab."
Horatio zig zagged his eyebrows and shrugged. "Well, maybe so, but ..."
"Don't do that," she cut him off abruptly. "Not ever again when I can hear you. Don't sell yourself short. You know damn well you wouldn't have uttered a word. Anyway, John came up sadly wanting on this one. I've decided I'm not going to see him anymore. Socially, that is. I'll talk to him on Monday."
"And what does all of this mean for us, Calleigh?" he wondered, cautious but all of a sudden needing to hear the answer more than he needed anything else on the face of the earth.
"You know, I'm not entirely sure. But I think I'd like to take some time and find out," she answered him honestly. "If you're willing, that is," she finished, suddenly uncertain, her eyes searching his.
"Oh, I would be. Don't ever doubt that. Starting whenever you like." Horatio gave her hand a squeeze and reluctantly let go. He absolutely needed the physical separation in order to make the mental one. Leaning back he settled his battered ribs into a semi-comfortable position. "Okay, your turn," he told her, taking as deep a breath as he could manage. "You have my utter and undivided attention. What are you confused about?"
Yelena, he thought to himself, even as he asked the question. This isn't going to be easy to explain.
"I noticed something when I was looking for painkillers last night."
Calleigh dropped it like a bomb out of nowhere. Everything stopped ... breathing, thinking, the wind, the world ... everything. Horatio held himself absolutely motionless and waited for her to keep going.
"There's methamphetamine in your bathroom, Horatio," she obliged him.
"Yes. I know." Carefully he placed the safe, simple words one after the other. "There is."
"That's it? Yes?"
"Leave it, Calleigh." Horatio's voice was soft as silk and very dangerous. "Just leave it. Can you do that?"
"Forever?" she wondered, and he thought about it for a long time, working it out in his head.
"Then yes, I can leave it. As long as you promise to tell me when the time is right, I'll wait. But I'll hold you to that promise."
"Then I promise. When the time is right."
"Okay. So promise me something else. Find a better hiding place, okay?"
Horatio almost blushed; the spot where he'd hurriedly stashed the crank was far from professional. "I wasn't expecting anyone to look," he admitted, "at least not yet. I'll be more careful in the future."
"You do that." Calleigh's blue eyes clashed mid air with his. "You be damn careful."
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