I've been wanting to write a Horatio/Calleigh fic for a while now, inspiration just never hitting fully. So, on this day of pure boredom, I asked my good friend Eri for 3 elements for a challenge. Typically she actually picked elements: earth, air and water to be exact. So, here you go! Enjoy xxx
Set somewhere in s3, kinda.
She'd been away too long, she was starting to see a difference. She'd only been away from the sun for two months, but there was definitely a difference. Her year-long careful tan was disappearing; her hair was duller, no matter the amount of 'Sheer Blonde' shampoo she used; and she wasn't sure when the last time she actually smiled was. Yes, she smiled to her new colleagues, and to her fiancé, but she hadn't smiled since leaving Miami.
Of course, she didn't tell him that. She could just imagine the new realm of hurt his eyes would bore into her, not to mention the latest self-esteem issues it would develop.
Sometimes she really wonders where her head was at when she said "Yes" John Hagen; when she said "I'll go with you" to his job offer in Chicago; and especially when she said her goodbyes to the Miami day shift. She remembers crying behind her sunglasses as Hagen drove them to the airport. Of course, he didn't realise.
Calleigh smoothed in another layer of the tinted moisturiser and sat back onto their bed. The alarm clock told her she had another hour until she was needed at work, John having left before she woke. For the first time, since working in that fast food restaurant back in Darnell, she was dreading it. The Chicago CSI's were nice enough people and good at their jobs, but they just weren't Eric, Ryan, Alexx or Horatio. They especially weren't Horatio.
She had no trouble getting a job here though, not after the letter of recommendation Horatio had written for her. She wasn't meant to have read it, but it was there on the table during her interview and she had perfected upside-down speed reading early on.
So, here she was. A Chicago CSI and resident, with an engagement ring and a secret ache in her heart.
She pulled on her work clothes and put the coffee on, before grabbing the morning paper. As she bent to pick up the rolled up newspaper, she heard a car horn behind her. A FedEx van only just pulled to a stop before the driver jumped out and ran up to her, package under his arm.
"Miss C. Duquesne?" he asked.
"Yeah, that's me," she said, throwing the paper through the open door and grabbing the clipboard from his outreached hands. She signed, took the box and thanked him as he ran back to this van and drove off.
She didn't need the Miami, Florida stamp to tell her where it was from, the chicken scrawl of her address was enough.
A smile, a proper smile, crept to her ears as she stepped back into the house.
She put the package on the counter before attacking the beeping percolator. With coffee and breakfast in hand, she climbed up onto a stool and pulled the box closer to her.
She almost didn't want to open it.
Her nails made light work of the sticky tape and paper around the outside, and even the sticky tape inside making sure of its security. Typically Horatio.
The lid came off and was put to one side as she looked over its crowded contents.
'Calleigh,' the letter read, 'I hope this finds you in good health and happiness. We're all missing you and the extra ray of light you brought to our days, but understand why the Prairie State stole you away from us.
We thought these little gifts may remind you that Miami isn't all that far away and that you are always welcome back for vacations or whatever.
Don't be a stranger,
She read it close to four times, each with a brighter smile, before carefully folding it back up and placing it in the lid to the side. The first 'gift' that came to sight was the typically larger-than-life Florida orange, this one with added smiley face courtesy of only Eric. It was wedged into one corner with a keychain of its double – an orange also with an Eric masterpiece. She made a mental note to put that on her keys later.
Calleigh pulled out the small yellow bag next, 'Café Bustelo' in large black letters on the front. Her beloved Cuban coffee. Ryan's contribution.
From the gap she'd made she spied Alexx's input. She rolled the orange and it's doppelganger into the lid with the coffee and grabbed the framed photograph, instantly recognising the image: The last capture of the entire Miami Dayshift CSI's. All smiling and at the leavers party Alexx threw her on the beach near the M.E's house.
With the sea in the not-so-distance and the sun high in the sky, Alexx pulled them all together for one last time. Ryan stood to the left of Eric, who's arm was around the host (naturally, with her Chanel glasses covering her eyes). Horatio, whose own trademark glasses were dangling from his fingers, smiled into the camera with his free arm tightly wrapped around Calleigh's shoulders. Oh, Alexx was evil. But damned good.
Calleigh flipped the stand out at the back of the frame and stood it on the counter, excited for what was next, knowing only Horatio was left.
She chuckled when she laid her eyes on the Miami Dolphin's baseball cap, his beloved football team. You wouldn't think of him as a fan, only she knew him as one, but his morning ritual always included the sports page and the latest news from the Dolphin Stadium. She chuckled again when she put it straight on her head – hat-hair be damned.
What was beneath the hat stopped her for a second. Three vials, each with a white label and Horatio's chicken scrawl.
The latter was just an empty vial, but there was no way she was going to open it. She grinned, albeit tearfully, as she shook the sand and water. Where did he come up with things like that? To send her Miami in a box?
She had to do a double-take at the kitchen clock, she was going to be late for work. Very late.
The time didn't make a difference as she gently placed each object back into the box, keeping the oranges out for her keys and lunch. She even put the coffee back in to save it for one of those days where she was really homesick, along with the paper it was all wrapped in.
She went to her dresser in the bedroom, scooping clothes out to fit the box into the bottom drawer. She pushed it to the back and placed the clothing back in around it and closed it up again. It crossed her mind for a second as to why she was hiding it. Stowing it away like a secret. But John was a jealous man. He had always questioned her relationship with Horatio, and she didn't want to sully the gifts with memories of an argument because of them. It was just easier this way.
She swallowed her coffee with a grimace to its cold and bitter taste. She couldn't wait to break open the Bustelo bag, anticipating the missed aroma and flavour. She managed a few spoonfuls of the cereal before scooping it into the trash and placing the bowl in the sink.
The oranges made there way into her bag as she raced out the door. It was like Horatio had written, Miami really isn't all that far away.