Author: Inspire-Smiles PM
Calleigh had a difficult day at work and lets loose her anger at the gym...But what followed wasn't part of her weekly routine...EC...If you like John Hagen don't read...FINAL CHAPTER IS UP! Warning...angsty and violent at times!Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Calleigh D. & Eric D. - Chapters: 25 - Words: 19,893 - Reviews: 166 - Favs: 34 - Follows: 51 - Updated: 06-09-12 - Published: 07-05-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3637234
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N Okay, so something like…5 years later, I finally decide to finish this story. I am really sorry about the delay. I sort of fell out of love with the series and then found it really hard to finish writing all my CSI stories. However, here it is! The final chapter! I hope you enjoy. I'm not even going to ask you to review because I made you wait so long. Love – Inspire-Smiles
Calleigh practically buzzed with nervous excitement. Finally, it was her first day back at work. Horatio had warned her she was to take it slow, no field work yet, but she didn't care. Four months later she was standing in front of that glass building that had become a second home. Two gunshot wounds, three surgeries, one infection, fifteen stitches, two painstaking amounts of intense physical therapy and a shrink later, she was back.
Her time in the hospital had been a scary one, and Eric had barely left her side,
She woke up screaming his name from the nightmares and Eric had held her in his arms quietly comforting a hysterical Calleigh. The first time it happened, the nurses called him in from the waiting room and it shook him to the core. But after the third night the nurses agreed to let him stay with her. By the fifth, they wheeled him in a bed beside hers, and by the seventh, he just lay in her bed, holding her, woken every two, three hours by the night terrors exacerbated by the infection in her wounds. He gently moved her hair, slightly damp with sweat, away from the burning skin of her forehead. Had held her close as she sobbed quietly. And had pushed away her doubts and embarrassment and guilt.
She loved him for it, but the guilt still ebbed in the back of her mind. She always did have trouble being taken care of. She had been discharged from the hospital, the nurses slightly relieved because in their line of work, "I'm fine" isn't a very helpful answer. But she was going stir crazy at home. Calleigh was fiercely independent and was filled with a growing anxiety to get back to normal, and especially back to work. But she was still having trouble with her arm in a sling and her leg in a cast. The scabs on her back from Hagen's belt hadn't quite healed yet. She tried to help but it never really ended up working, and she was frustrated. One night, after a particularly bad day of physio, she had snapped.
Eric reached up to help her grab a plate, watching her subconsciously rub her sore ribs as her good arm lifted. He passed it to her, reaching up to grab a glass as well, "Need anything else?"
"I don't need anything. I could have done it myself."
Eric raised his eyebrows, running his hands through his hair. He knew Calleigh's bad moods when he saw them.
"I didn't mean it like that, but okay. You get it next time. Did you take your pain meds?"
"What are you, my dad? I already have one, thanks though. God, Eric. You don't need to coddle me all the time. I got by just fine by myself. I don't need you to remind me to take my meds every 2 hours, I don't need you to stay and make food, and I don't need you to check in from work. I might've gotten shot, but my brain is still working just fine! Why don't you just go home? I'm fine here."
It came out in a rush, and as soon as it left her mouth she realised what a horrible mistake she'd made. She bit her lip, and lowered her eyes, praying that he'd do exactly the opposite of what she had asked, but she knew that wounded look in his eyes. That was going to take some serious fixing.
He walked up to her and kissed the top of her head lightly, before silently walking out of the door.
She had sat on the floor and cried. Cried tears of shame for the awful things she said, tears of frustration because she couldn't do any of those things by herself, tears of sadness because the Duquesne curse worked its magic again, and she had driven him away.
It was hard on Eric too. His eyes were bloodshot and his smiles seemed a little more weary these days. He had had to go back to work once she got the okay from the doctor to be home alone. But he still worried. He still had his own nightmares. And between the job, his family who hadn't seen him in ages, and Calleigh, he was slowly breaking apart. He knew he shouldn't get frustrated when she said she didn't need him. He knew she did. Hell, she said she was fine and didn't need him even before she got hurt; that part wasn't anything new. But he was tired, and while she was his everything, he needed something from her too. He needed a 'Thank you'. An 'I appreciate it'. An 'I couldn't have done it without you'. He couldn't decide if that made him selfish, or just human. The doorbell rang, startling him out of his thoughts and he glanced over to the clock, raising his eyebrows as he read 11:49 in the glowing green numbers.
She looked nervous, biting her lip and shaking out her damp hair, standing awkwardly with her crutches.
"What are you doing – No, wait. Did you walk here? Calleigh, the doctor said –"
Calleigh smiled slightly, "I walked up to your door, if that's what you're asking. I took a cab, Eric," her smile fell, "I needed to apologize… I just can't believe I said all those things to you."
Eric sighed quietly, stepping back so she could step forward, prompting a rushed mumble, "It's late, and I'm sure you don't even want to talk to me anymore. I'll just go, the cab probably is just around the corner."
"Calleigh. Just come in."
They sat on opposite ends of his couch, staring at each other until Calleigh broke the silence.
"I'm so sorry, Eric. I didn't mean any of those things that I said."
"It's fine, Calleigh."
She shook her head, running her fingers through her hair, and feeling her eyes get moist, "It's really not. Honestly, Eric. You've done so much for me since…everything, and even before. You're just trying to help, and I know that, and I appreciate it so much. It's just that with physio, and the shrink and my damn ribs not letting me do anything…I'm so frustrated and I took it out on you."
Eric repeated again, "It's okay, Calleigh."
She stopped. "Don't tell me it's okay, because I look into your eyes, and I can see that it's not. Don't forget that I can read you too." She moved closer to him on the sofa so they were facing each other, and laced the fingers of her right hand together with her left. "You're not okay, I'm not okay. Don't think I don't see the bags under your eyes, or hear you wake up in the middle of the night from your nightmares. I do, I just don't know what to do. It's my fault you're even in this position in the first place. If it weren't for me, you wouldn't have had to go through any of this. The hospitals, the nightmares, the pills, all the work you've put in."
She held up her hand to silence Eric's impending interruption.
"Thank you. I appreciate it. I couldn't have done it without you…I love you."
They had their ups and downs still, but she thanked her lucky stars every day that she had someone in her life as amazing as Eric was. He was her rock, he was her 'person'. And here she was. Back at the CSI building. She took a deep breath and stepped through the doors, when she felt a hand slip into hers.
Calleigh smiled brightly, turning to look at Eric, "Hey yourself, handsome."
"Ready for your first day?"
She didn't answer as they walked together to her ballistics lab, stiffening slightly when she passed the interrogation room, avoiding the stares that the clear, glass walls did so little to prevent or hide. She thought she was ready, but actually being here made it real. Horatio saw them in the hallway and cut in to see them as they walked.
He actually smiled, "Calleigh. It's good to have you back."
"It's good to be back, Horatio. Were you lost without me?" she teased.
"Actually…you don't know the half of it," he replied back, but his voice had lost its playful tone. He paused, and sighed quietly, "Calleigh, you were out for four months, and the brass made me put a new ballistics expert in your position."
"They what?" Calleigh's jaw dropped, and turned to Eric, "How could you not tell me?"
Eric raised his hands, rubbing his face lightly, "I didn't know, Cal. I've been working nights since I came back to work."
"You've been what?" Calleigh exclaimed again, "Okay, we are so going to talk about this at home. But for now, I don't have a job here anymore?"
"That's not exactly true," a voice came up from behind her. She turned to stare at the tall man who had joined their conversation. The man held out his hand for her to shake, which she reciprocated, allowing him to introduce himself.
"Jared Douglas, I'm from IAB. I'm not exactly sure what the title is yet, this has all happened rather fast," he smiled disarmingly, "I've heard your story, Ms. Duquesne, but I've also seen your results. You are undoubtedly an asset to this team, and I've talked to my colleagues and they've agreed to reinstate you, if you can prove that you are better than the current ballistics expert."
Calleigh just stared at him, ignoring the chill that 'IAB' sent down her spine. "Wait, so we're having a contest to see who gets the job?"
Jared began to squirm under the stare that the blonde officer had perfected from her father.
"I guess that would be a fair assessment."
Calleigh turned on her heel to walk in the other direction when Jared called out to her again.
"Ms. Duquesne? I know that you have no reason to trust IAB. None of your team ever has. But I promise you, this time we're on your side," he met her eyes firmly and then walked away.
Calleigh stood there for a few minutes, worrying her bottom lip, mulling over the idea of a competition. The corner of her lips turned up slightly and she looked at Horatio, "We're doing this now. I want my job back, and I'll go crazy if I wait any longer."
"Cal, are you sure that's a good idea?" Eric asked her, unsure.
"I didn't spend my days at home alone doing nothin'," she winked at him, leaving him bemused in the hallway. Looking at Horatio, he just shrugged and followed her down the hall.
Later that day -
Calleigh strode into her ballistics lab with purpose, politely shaking the hand of the tech of the…replacement.
"Let's just get this done, shall we?"
The lab tech, Luke, smiled confidently and cockily at her, undressing her with his eyes, despite her cool demeanour. "This blonde chick actually thinks she has a chance." he thought with disbelief. Horatio, Eric, and Jared joined the two competitors in the lab, and within the hour, the winner was proclaimed.
See, this man obviously hadn't heard of Ms. Calleigh Duquesne's reputation. The reputation that drew Horatio to Louisiana all those years ago. Calleigh could put a gun together faster than anyone Horatio had ever seen; she takes apart all the guns in her locker and puts them back together for fun. She has the most accurate and timely estimates of bullets and trajectories and she also is one of the best shots he's met. She just loves her job. Everyone on the team knew it, not just Horatio. She's a bullet enthusiast, if such a thing were to exist, and she practically defines 'don't judge a book by its cover'.
Luke didn't stand a chance. When the final part of the 'competition', the actual shooting part (which was her favourite by a long shot) finished and the posters came back, Calleigh had basically ripped a hole through the paper her shots were so precise. And through it all, his snarky jabs had only served to make him fall harder. "Do you want me to show you how to hold it?" was her favourite, although she was pretty sure she might have shot him at that point.
Horatio raised his eyebrows at the end of the hour with a small little smile he reserved for Calleigh only. "They don't call her Bullet Girl for nothing."
The men streamed out of her lab, Luke trailing behind Jared, who left with a quiet, "Welcome back to the team, CSI Duquesne.", and with the bang of the door she was alone in her lab. She smiled to herself, this is where she belonged and as a pair of strong arms wrapped around her waist and a chin rested on her head, her smile only grew.
Maybe they'd get married, maybe they'd break up and lose touch, maybe they'd start their own little family, or maybe they'd just go back to being friends. But it didn't matter. They were here now, no Hagen, no Stetler, no alcoholic fathers or sick sisters. Just them.
They had been thrown together by an insult from a deranged cop who hadn't quite unhinged yet. Separated by a vengeful IAB sergeant with a vendetta on his mind. And reunited by tireless effort by the team that they called a family. When the team got hit, they hit back harder, smarter, faster, stronger. She may have started her fight back in that gym all those months ago, but they finished it together.
They wrestled with crime, but their enemies landed flat on their backs on the mat; a mat of cinderblock and cement, the ropes on the ring steel bars with no escape.
Wind up…and takedown.
And there you have it. The last chapter. Thank you so much to everyone who read this story, and especially to those who reviewed. It's been a crazy journey, and I'm pretty sure I hate the way I wrote 5 years ago, but I think that it's kind of interesting to see how people progress and age and how their writing shifts too. I love you all, thanks for an amazing ride!