Title: It Started in the Parkade
Disclaimer: Obviously the characters belong to CBS. If they belonged to me, they'd behave like this.
Rating: T for language and adult situations.
Summary: Horatio's down in the police parkade and Calleigh gets it all wrong. Can she forgive herself for the string of mistakes that puts Horatio's life in jeopardy?
Author's Note: Absolutely nothing about the third or fourth season of CSI:M has inspired so much as a sentence. I'm done with characters that I dislike, a Horatio who's stiff as a board and a Calleigh who never ever smiles. Something is missing and since CBS shows no sign of ever finding it perhaps my own Horatio can. It's time to go back to my roots in season one and see if I can salvage something of the relationship I used to cherish so much. I also used to enjoy the duo's interaction with Alexx and I intend to play with that a little, too. All reviews by fellow writers/readers are joyously considered. Thanks to Blue for the beta work and Corine, I would LUV your feedback. Enjoy!
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The scream tore Calleigh's throat. He was the entire length of the police parking garage away from her, sprawled awkwardly on the concrete next to the CSI Hummer. The red hair and today's gray silk suit left no doubt in Calleigh's mind as to his identity.
She was out of the elevator before the doors were fully open, running without a single thought except for reaching him. Later it would dawn on her that the perp might still have been there, that she could have been in real danger herself. In the actual moment none of that mattered. Calleigh didn't bother to clear the area or draw her weapon, she just pelted towards him watching helplessly as he tried to get to his feet and sank back down again and again.
Finally she was close enough to reach out and put a hand on his shoulder. "Horatio, stay down," she pleaded. "I'll call for help."
Thank God now that she was there he quit trying to stand, but he did manage to halfway sit up and slide over far enough to prop himself against a concrete pillar. Calleigh tried to keep him still with one hand while juggling her cell phone in the other. When she flipped the phone open, though, Horatio reached across and closed his hand around hers, smoothly snapping it shut.
"I'm okay, Cal," he reassured her. "I dont need an ambulance."
Calleigh frowned doubtfully. He was speaking clearly but she could tell he was having trouble focusing.
"Honestly, I'm just a little dizzy," he protested, his hand still closed around hers, preventing her from dialing. "Give me a minute, I'll be fine."
Calleigh looked him over closely. Blood was tricking from a shallow wound on his temple but otherwise he appeared to be intact.
"You're sure? You're not hurt anywhere else?"
"I'm sure," he smiled at her. "Just my head."
"Okay. For now," she relented. "But Alexx is upstairs and that's one call I am making. She gets final say -- no arguments."
"No arguments." He leaned back with a sigh and closed his eyes as Calleigh hit her speed dial. It took a few rings -- expected since the M.E. had to extricate herself from an autopsy in order to pick up -- but Alexx didnt even get the chance to say hello. Calleigh was already talking.
"Alexx, Horatio's been hurt," she blurted out. "In the parkade, his spot."
Calleigh could tell from the background sounds that Alexx was all ready moving. "How badly?" the M.E. asked breathlessly.
"A head wound," Calleigh reported, "but it's shallow and he's conscious. I just got here, I'm hanging up. Hurry, Alexx."
As if Alexx wouldn't hurry. The blonde CSI rolled her eyes and placed her cell phone carefully on the concrete floor within easy reach. While they waited she found the first aid kit neatly stowed in Horatios Hummer. Pushing the red hair gently away from his face she checked for any other sources of bleeding and then pressed a telfa pad on the furrow scored across his temple just below the hairline. "What happened?" she asked softly. "Who did this?"
Horatio started to shake his head, winced and held still. "Don't talk if it hurts you," Calleigh cautioned him.
"No, it's fine." Horatio took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Whoever it was ... didn't come close enough for me to get a good look. He shot from over by the exit." Horatio gestured weakly with his hand.
"Shot?" Calleigh sucked in a sharp, surprised breath. "I thought you got hit on the head. Someone shot you?"
"Mmm hmm. Lucky for me he must have skipped target practice this morning." Horatio sighed. "I did pass out for awhile though." His voice drifted just a bit and Calleigh began to seriously worry. He seemed paler and he wasn't focusing on her face anymore. Maybe she should have called for Rescue after all.
"Shhh. Just rest, Horatio. Lean your head back." Calleigh held the telfa pad in place with her thumb and slipped her fingers behind his head so it wouldnt be resting against cold, hard concrete. She noticed perspiration beading on his upper lip as she undid the second button of his teal green shirt. Deciding to call 911 after all, Calleigh was just reaching for her cell when the glint of overhead fluorescents on moving metal let her know that the elevator doors were opening. Alexx came running across the concrete towards them, black hair flying and silver case in hand. She knelt down next to the Hummer at Horatio's other side.
He opened his eyes and squinted. "Hi, Alexx."
"Horatio. Now what have you gone and done to yourself?" she scolded, a fond smile spreading across her face.
"Bullet graze on the temple," Calleigh supplied. "Otherwise he says he's fine."
"Oh he does, does he? Well, how about I figure that out for myself?" Alexx took a peek underneath the telfa pad and immediately dismissed the shallow cut. Instead she cupped Horatios face gently between her hands and concentrated on his eyes. "Look at me, honey. Both eyes. Wide open."
As Horatio did his best to focus even Calleigh could tell that one of his pupils was dilated more than the other. Now why hadn't she noticed that earlier? Alexx moved her fingers slowly through the red hair towards the back of his head where Calleigh hadn't thought to check. The M.E. probed tenderly until Horatio suddenly flinched.
"How'd you get this lump?" Alexx asked, gently exploring the area. "There's a lot of swelling."
"Uhh ... I cracked my head when I went down," Horatio admitted sheepishly. "Best guess on the concrete barrier."
Calleigh heard a disgusted growl deep down in Alexx's throat. "He has a concussion," the M.E. reported to Calleigh, ignoring Horatio altogether, "and quite possibly a skull fracture. Call an ambulance, Calleigh". Anticipating Horatios reaction Alexx all ready had the palm of her hand pressed flat against his chest. "Horatio, you are not moving. Do I make myself clear?""
"Oh dear Lord," Calleighs voice wavered as she waited for the emergency operator to come on the line. "I should have called right away."
"Whoa." Alexx lay a hand on Calleighs arm. "Its okay, sugar," she reassured, "it's just a precaution. I don't want him standing up until he's been checked at the hospital but he's perfectly stable at the moment."
The 911 operator answered finally and Calleigh switched her attention to providing the details. A uniformed officer appeared and, under Alexxs direction, used the M.E.'s cell phone to call Eric's number. Calleigh hung up her 911 call just as Delko answered. Listening as the uniform gave Eric the details she knew that he would contact Tripp and they would begin investigating the shooting immediately. Alexx was looking after Horatio. He was pale and shaky but awake and talking. Things were under control. Calleigh tried to get herself the same way.
"I'm going to start an IV," Alexx told her, reaching for her kit and then turning back as she took in Calleighs expression. "Calleigh," she said softly, "everything's fine, sugar. The paramedics will want to get fluids going, I'll just jump start the process and save some time. Talk to him, okay? Make sure he stays awake?"
"Not a problem. In fact, I'd like to get up," Horatio volunteered, a little unsteadily.
Alexx raised her eyebrows. "I'll just bet you would, honey, but it ain't gonna happen. Not in the short term, anyway."
Horatio's lips curved upward in a faint shadow of a smile and, much to everyone's relief, he relaxed back down. As Alexx prepared the IV Calleigh made small talk, cradled the back of Horatio's head and watched his responses closely. She was pleased to see a small flinch of protest when Alexx slipped the needle in and taped it in securely in place on the back of his hand.
The sound of sirens and slamming doors flooded the underground space as Rescue arrived in record time with an ambulance impatiently crowding its' bumper. Calleigh was vaguely aware of a steadily increasing sea of uniforms surrounding them and yellow police tape was all ready going up as paramedics checked Horatio's vitals, fitted a neck brace and strapped him cautiously to a backboard.
The ride to the hospital lasted forever. Horatio took an unexpected turn for the worse, drifting in and out of consciousness. His breathing suddenly became erratic. After shakily taking in a small amount of air he would gasp emptily for more and not get it, then quit all together for a long moment before exhaling. After that the cycle would start all over again. Even to Calleigh's unpracticed ear it didn't sound good and Alexx looked visibly shaken as she worked with the EMT to stabilize Horatio's breathing. Shock set in after a few minutes and he began shivering violently in the lucid moments when he was conscious.
"Shhh," Calleigh soothed him, managing to wriggle her hand cautiously through a tangle of tubes and over the plastic neck brace to touch his cheek. "It's okay, Handsome. You're fine, we're almost there."
His ocean blue eyes latched on her face and his breathing immediately improved. Alexx nodded approvingly and shifted sideways to give Calleigh more room. The paramedic covered Horatio with a blanket but Calleigh extricated an icy hand and held it in both of hers. "Almost there," she soothed him as Alexx tucked the blanket snugly back around his other shoulder.
"Cal … I … m's …" Horatio mumbled something and tried to push the oxygen mask sideways with his free hand. Alexx reached over and gently settled it back in place.
Calleigh raised a finger to her lips. "Tell me later."
TO BE CONTINUED...