Hey all, England finally got the s3 finale! Woot! It was just too awesome not to fic about, so thee be :)

Dsclmr: In my profile
Spoilers: 1.24, 3.01, 3.24
Dedicated: To my fangirls ;) xxx

A/N: I considered splitting this into two chapters, but decided against it. Is it okay, or too long as a single peice?


The elevator dinged onto the basement floor of Miami CSIHQ. Calleigh Duquesne followed the familiar hallways to the locker room.

She didn't talk to anyone; acknowledge anyone, or do anything - just walked. Eyes on the prize.

She clicked open her locker for the final time, taking out her jacket and bag from the hook.

Slipping her arms into the cotton sleeves, Calleigh unhooked her hair from the collar, staring at the pictures tacked to the inside of the door.

Her arms drooped to the side as she looked them over.

She had the obligatory male celebrities to counteract Eric's semi-naked Angelina; a shot of her and Janet Medrano on the beach from what must have been 4 years back now; and the picture that never failed to have her smiling.

Alexx, flanked in her trademark Chanel sunglasses, had her arm wrapped around Speed's shoulders, his beer warmly tipped in the air. Eric stood next, proudly showing off the crisp C-note he'd won from Tim in a friendly round of Football bets. Horatio watched, chuckling, as Eric chastised Tim for all his worth. His own trademark sunglasses dangling from his nimble fingers, his blue dress shirt overhanging his stonewash jeans.

Calleigh was leant across them all on the photo. When they were told to "Squeeze in, I cant get you all in" by Alexx's husband, Calleigh went for a stance she hadn't used since high school and slanted herself to the middle ("Calleigh, you're the smallest, get in front" "Oh, that's gonna cost you a drink, Jonathon!") The impromptu pose had caused her to spill some of her wine across her new top, she didn't care though, they were having too much fun.

It was July 4th 2002 at Alexx's annual party. All promises, problems and promiscuities were ordered, by the host, to be left at the door.

Calleigh fingered the photograph, finally pulling it from the tack and sliding it into her pocket. She picked up her bag from the bench and slammed the door closed. The metal clang reverberating finality around the cold, dark room.

She repeated her pattern back to the elevators and cast one last look to the lobby, the doors sliding closed on CSI2 Calleigh Duquesne.

XxX

The drive home was no different. She slid behind the wheel, put her foot to the pedal and just drove. Destination be damned.

How did she not notice?

She was a CSI for God's sake! How did she not see/smell/realise that John's -she blinked- John's brain was on the ceiling?

The scene replayed itself again. The five-bar click of the revolver pin catching her attention first, recognition and realisation hitting her a second later. That bittersweet smile, a goodbye, before the gun was positioned under his chin.

Bang

John dropped to the floor.

Another victim of the Duquesne Curse.

The Duquesne Curse.

Calleigh hadn't thought of that for near on a year.

As scenes and memories of John and Tim meshed into one painful, emotional ache in her heart, a car horn brought her crashing back to reality with shrill immediacy.

Her reverie had brought her foot from the gas, slowing the car, making it a nuisance to the car behind.

She managed to signal an apology and pulled a right into a strip mall car park.

She came to a stop in a space, killed the engine and braced her head on her hands on the wheel.

The Duquesne Curse. Of course, it was obvious. First, Grandpa Harlan had cut her mom out of his will, after she married Kenwall, sending Louise headfirst into the depths of alcoholism.

Then, the horrific road traffic accident that claimed Uncle Toby, Kenwall's brother, sending her dad for the bottle as well.

Calleigh's younger brother, Kenwall Jr, died next. He drowned in the lake while under his namesakes drunken supervision. That heartbreaking event (he was only 5) cemented Duke's hand to the Whiskey bottle, never to be fully separated again.

Janet died in 2002. Calleigh's best friend and poker buddy since college. Killed in revenge, aimed at Calleigh herself. Victim #5.

Tim's death was hard to accept. That took a number of tearful nights to 'get over'. He had just gotten too close to Calleigh. He'd replaced Janet for Monday night poker, she should never have let it happen.

Now, John Hagen, 37 years old, Duquesne Curse victim number 7.

And people wondered why Calleigh rarely let anyone in.

Somewhere deep inside, past the scars of a hard childhood, past the tears in her heart from the deaths of those closest to her, past the impenetrable lock wrapped around it now, Calleigh knew she didn't really believe what she was thinking. It was just poor luck, on her, and the 'victims' behalf.

But that voice was too low to be heard by her pounding head and burning eyes. No voice of reason would be heard for a long time yet.

She looked up - Where the hell was she?

Little shop fronts bragged of their latest unmatchable sales, while teenagers (who should be in school) jumped from railings on their skateboards. A humourless smile spread across her mouth when she saw the Starbucks. There really was one on every corner.

She grabbed her bag, pulling the keys from the ignition as she did so. A brief check in the visor mirror, and she slipped from the car, locking it.

She walked the short distance to the famed 'America's finest', pulling open the heavy glass doors. It was odd how a sudden, albeit slight, sense of relief washed over her in the familiar surroundings.

Automatically scanning the room, she noted the business men on their laptops (probably playing solitaire); the kids hyped up on caffeine and the young mothers meeting in the corner, treating themselves to 'Chocolate Mint Bliss's' after a hard week's childcare.

"Can I help you, ma'am?" The young man asked, his bottle-green shirt bringing out the blue in his eyes. His beach-blonde hair spiked atop his visor, a pen at the ready to scribble her order on a cup.

"Erm, two Grande vanilla latte's, please" she told him. A jolt in her stomach stopped her "no…no, just one" her sad eyes cast to the floor

"One Grande vanilla latte. That everything?"

"Yeah" she sighed, digging in her purse for money.

She moved to the other counter to pick up her order, eventually wrapping her slender fingers around the hot paper-beaker. She mumbled a 'thanks' and looked across the store. The window counter seats were free, she decided she could sit there and watch the world go by.

Pulling herself onto the high seats, she wriggled into a comfortable spot, and enclosed her hand around the drink, welcoming the warmth. Anything to beat the chill cursing through her veins.

Her eyes fell to the lid as she peeled back the sides, stirring in a sugar packet.

She wouldn't have been alone, if the day had gone differently.

'If the day had gone differently', what kind of reasoning was that? She might not have been alive herself if the day had gone differently. Maybe the world turned for its final time, if the day had gone differently.

If John hadn't done what he did, she wouldn't be alone. That reasoning was true. But was he fully to blame? Didn't she have some hand to play in fates twisted game?

He looked so defeated and deflated when she told him she wanted to be friends. He said that it was the worst thing a man could hear. Internally, she'd rolled her eyes. Men had always tried to guilt trip her into a date after the 'friend' speech. She said it for a reason. Calleigh Duquesne didn't play with hearts. Calleigh Duquesne's heart was played with.

Men had come and gone over the years. Some stayed for a little longer than others, but, ultimately, she was back alone before the year was out.

John? Well, John was one of the better ones. He was sweet, funny and cute. He cared about her, she always thought to the point of being smothered, but he still cared. She cared about him too, just not enough for a meaningful and truthful relationship.

If you dated Calleigh Duquesne, you got a package deal. Not only did you get the gorgeous, intelligent and friendly ballistics expert, but you got her drunken father, her overbearing (currently sober) mother and her older brother, who turned up only when he needed money.

Sure, the deal wasn't quite 'One of the Century', as the store over the road claimed, but eventually you'd come to see that it was one you didn't mind partaking in.

As long as you did eventually accept it, or at least keep your opinions to yourself. Lord knows they weren't going to make a difference. Calleigh Duquesne was fiercely loyal to her family, even though it probably would have been better she not be.

That was what John couldn't handle. He didn't like seeing Calleigh so put upon. Not to mention that he didn't like seeing her hurt. That one was understandable, of course, but not acceptable when he went to Horatio over a little occupationally caused bruise.

Those factors were why Hagen was given the 'friends' speech.

But those eyes. Those desperate, searching eyes. He knew he'd messed up beyond return. Had he really thought Calleigh could save him?

There was no way of knowing now.

He was gone. He was dead. Detective Jonathon Hagen was dead.

The sooner she thought of that, and not of the lost, defeated and somewhat fearful goodbye smile he gave her, the better.

The plumes of steam from her coffee had reduced considerably. She brought her mouth to the rim.

"Goodbye and God rest, John"

She sipped.

XXx

The coffee was at a drinkable temperature, so it hadn't taken her long to finish the cup. When she had, Calleigh climbed back in her car and drove home. The feeling in her stomach no longer burning with guilt, grief and goodbyes.

Even so, she still had no intention of going back to work. Not at Miami Dade PD at least.

That era of her life was gone, never to return. She'd shot her last gun, signed out for the last time, and said the last goodbye to a good friend, killed because of the job.

When she pulled onto her street, she was shocked to see the H2 Hummer parked in front of her home. If Horatio had come to bring her back to work, he'd wasted the trip and the petrol.

As she came to a stop, she saw Horatio leaning against the side of the car, twisting his head to greet her.

Calleigh grabbed her bag from the passenger seat and heaved a sigh as she climbed from the drivers seat.

She welcomed him with a tight smile, asking "What are you doing here, Horatio?"

"I thought we might talk"

Was that a statement or a question?

"If you've to get me come back, it's not going to work"

Come back? Horatio didn't understand what she was saying. He'd come to Calleigh's street straight after the air hanger. He hoped to be able to confide in his bullet girl, lift some of the weight from his shoulders for the first time in seven years. Had she left, though? She talked like she'd gone for good. That was not possible. He decided to play along

"I have to try, Calleigh"

Calleigh expelled air sternly from her nose, fumbling for the house key on her chain. "Yeah, well, I cant stop you from trying. As long as you know its in vain"

"I'll take those odds"

He followed her up the short path to the door, looking around at the neighbourhood as she slid the key in a opened the wooden door.

"Do you want a coffee or something?" she asked, shrugging off her jacket and placing it on the hook.

"Have you got anything a little stronger?" he enquired, needing a stiff shot of something that would most probably peel a layer from his throat on its way down.

"I don't keep anything like that in" she told him, the obvious reasons of her parents implied in her eyes. Horatio nodded, embarrassed that he hadn't figured as much. "I have iced tea in the fridge"

"That will do nicely" It was probably good that nothing stronger had materialised, he reasoned.

Calleigh slipped away to the kitchen, returning a minute later with a large container of Peach flavoured iced tea and two glasses. "So…" he started, thanking her for the drink

"So"

"Why don't we just talk?" he knew from her patented Death Glare that what was on her mind was going to stay there until she was good and ready to divulge, and not a second sooner.

Calleigh nodded stiffly, lowering herself to the couch, gesturing for Horatio to do the same. "Did I hear correctly that something went on with Ray Jr?"

"You might say that" he nodded, sipping at his drink. "A lot has happened today. I don't think anything will be the same again, Calleigh"

This piqued her interest, "What happened?"

He hesitated for a moment, suddenly rethinking telling her everything. "I…I'm not sure if it's in your best interests to know. Some things may come of today, down the line, in which it would be better for you to truthfully deny all knowledge"

"Let me be the decider of that, Horatio. What happened?"

He took a breath. A long breath. He even stood up and braced himself against the fireplace, mentally logging pros and cons of telling her.

"Horatio?"

"Raymond…He, well, he's not dead. He's…alive"

"Junior? That's great news"

"No, not Junior…Senior. Raymond is alive" he looked to his watch, "And currently flying over the Mexico somewhere"

"Raymond's alive? Horatio, what are you talking about? He died…didn't he?"

"Apparently not" he leant his back against the mantelpiece of the fireplace, his elbows bent on top of it. "He was undercover. Deeply undercover, for the FBI. I wont go into the specifics, but he came to me. He no longer trusted his 'fellow' agents, and was close to being found out. When he heard that The Boy had been taken, we devised a plan to not only rescue Jr, but let word get out that Raymond was killed in the heist. I shot him. Twice"

"You shot him?"

"He was wearing Kevlar, but they didn't know that. They think he's dead. No-one will be looking for him anymore. Him, Jr nor Yelina"

"Yelina knows? She's seen him?"

"She's with him. I put her and The Boy on a plane a couple of hours ago, headed for Brazil. It's up to them now"

Calleigh put her glass on the table, attempting to process all that she'd been told.

It hadn't escaped her that one of the toughest, if not the toughest, days in their working lives had once again occurred while they were separated. It always seemed the way.

A case where they were joint forces, not just Horatio and Calleigh, but the whole team, would somehow end in tragic and turbulent ways, a million miles from each other.

Janet's face flashed before Calleigh. Well, not so much 'face', as prone body lay across the sands in a mocking calling card from an escaped enemy.

Janet Medrano was Calleigh's heartache; a rampage through the underbelly of Miami, resulting in a face-off with a paedophile holding young girls hostage, was Horatio's. He was hurt that day. Not so much that he'd admit was any more than a 'superficial injury, a scratch even'. Calleigh knew that the major injury was deep down; it was emotional more than physical.

The first meeting with Stewart Otis was hard enough, but the second was even worse. They all hoped their wouldn't be a third.

And now, the conjoined case of a nightclub bomb had disjointed into Hagen's death and Raymond's resurrection.

It wasn't that she thought if they'd been together, all of this wouldn't have happened, but they would have been able to help each other through it. They understood each other, Horatio and Calleigh. Even without words, they could convey so much. Just knowing the other was near had quelled insecurities and inefficiencies in the past.

Since Speedle's death though, they had been apart more and more. They had barely ran a case together. Each knew the others reasoning, but was too involved in their own healing to properly aid the other.

Calleigh tucked a stray lock behind her ear, sighing "It's been one hell of a day then. For the both of us"

Horatio returned to the couch, sitting next to her. "What happened with you?"

"You-you don't know?"

"Don't know what? I've been kind of…incommunicado for the most part of today"

Calleigh nodded, understanding why. "Well, erm, John, he-he killed himself"

"Say that again"

"Don't make me, please"

"John Hagen died?"

Calleigh nodded, feeling the burn behind her eyes again. "He came to the gun range. We talked about old times, what the future held... He went depressive, so I suggested we go get a coffee. I turned to put my gun away, and he…he shot himself."

"Oh Calleigh…"

"No, Horatio, don't. I've already sorted it in my head. I've been through it all, I've mourned. I cant go through it all again" she ran a hand through her silken hair, "I cant"

"Is this why you left?" Horatio asked, his honey-dipped voice low and soothing.

"Yes. I cant go back into that range. I cant see him do that again. It's bad enough seeing it every time I close my eyes, I cant be in the same room. I tried it, I failed. I-"

"It's okay, It's okay" he whispered, hearing her distressed rambles and emotional cracks in her voice. He ran a hand over her back, gently rubbing circles across the tightened muscles in the moments of contemplative silence.

"I think 'a hell of a day' is an understatement though"

Calleigh chuckled. The burden of the day slowly ebbing away. She'd practically refused Eric's help point blank when he'd offered a ear, she needed to process it all herself first. Had Horatio not turned up, she might have gone back to Eric, who knew?

"Calleigh, are you leaving the labs completely?" Horatio asked, fear suddenly striking him.

"I think I have to"

"On John's behalf? I knew he and I weren't exactly on the best terms, but I did understand him. To a degree, that is. We both lost Raymond, the first time around. I admit I lay some of the blame on to John, but I know now he had no stake in Ray's 'death'. I wish I could apologise to him.

But with you, Calleigh? He was an open book. Granted, he was an ass with some aspects of your relationship, but he knew, and admired, your dedication to your field. As do I. Whatever his actions, I know he wouldn't want it to impeach onto your ability to do your job. I'm sure that was a regrettable consequence to his actions.

"What I'm trying to say, Calleigh, is that John wouldn't want you to leave your 'haven' on his behalf. I fully understand and appreciate that you would no longer want to work in the ballistics labs, that's fine. But you know yourself that you are talented in all aspects of forensics. Yes, your expertise is with guns, but there are a million other jobs in that building.

"We don't want to lose you, Calleigh"

"I don't know…" she started, her word filtering off as words escaped her.

"I ran. When Speed died, I ran. I barely set foot in the labs, I could see him everywhere. I shouldn't have done that. I regret it now. I regret that nearly a year on and I still haven't spent a full day in the building. I neglected my team, I neglected you"

"We tried to be there for you, Horatio. You shut us all out"

"Exactly. Don't follow in my mistaken footsteps and shut us all out. Don't run, Calleigh"

The sincerity in Horatio's voice had her stumped. Her mind ran once again, every scenario pulsating through her being. Nothing seemed straight forward anymore. Nothing was simple.

"I will come back, on one condition, Horatio. You come back with me. We walk into those labs together, knowing the other is there no matter what; knowing the other is battling the same things we are"

Horatio looked at her. Her eyes still shone with the unshed tears for John Hagen, and no doubt the tears for Tim Speedle, Janet Medrano and everybody else in her life. Underneath the shimmering green globes, he recognised something else: himself. He saw the determination, the drive but also the fear, and saw it straight away as a mirror into his own psyche, his own emotional baggage.

If they did this together, they might just survive.

fin