Title: Through Angel Eyes
Rating: M. There is one gruesome bit…so far.
Summary: When Horatio and Calleigh's five year old daughter accidentally witnesses a murder, the killer goes after the family to silence her, to silence them all.
Disclaimer: I don't own any CSI: Miami people. Don't sue me. I have no money anyway.
(Author's Notes: I'm posting this story mainly for my therapist to read, haha. HI CATHY!!!! I'm actually thinking about changing the first person point of view to a third so that it's easier to read. But I'll do that later. Yes. Until then, enjoy!)
I cracked the door open a little wider and listened. Silence. Nothing but silence. Excellent. I opened the door more, so that it was just wide enough to slip through and then I did exactly that. I squeezed through the opening and moved quietly out into the hall before I paused to listen again. Still silence.
A small grin made its way across my face as I headed to the living room. With no one else about, I was free to do as I pleased and currently my goal was to get outside and onto the beach without detection. So far so good.
Stealthily making my way over to the sliding glass door that led to the deck, I flipped the lock and then grabbed onto the handle. Using all my weight, I pulled on it in an attempt to open the door. Nothing. It wouldn't budge at all!
I panted slightly from the exertion, and then I frowned. Why wasn't the door opening? I looked all around for the answer, and then I saw it. Oh yeah. I remember now. A lock was installed at the top of the door out of reach. How evil. Of course, I wasn't deterred in the least. As if one little lock could stop me!
Quickly and quietly, I slid the footrest from the big leather chair over to the door and climbed up on it. Darn! Still too short. I huffed and climbed back down. I would get the door open if it was the last thing I ever did.
Ok, ok. What to do. What to do. I looked around for an answer which I quickly found in a stack of large dictionary sized books. I picked one up and looked at it. They'd work. I took a minute or two to stack them on top of the footrest before I, with the grace of a drunken flamingo, climbed up on top of them.
They wobbled and I knew that if I didn't act fast, they were going to fall over and take me with them. Doing my best to keep my balance, I reached my hand up and got a hold of the lock. I turned it quickly and then heard the sweet click of freedom as it unlocked. I grinned.
And then, with some urgency, I climbed back down just in time to catch the pile of books before they completely toppled over and caused a loud racket that would have undoubtedly roused the ones I was endeavoring not to wake. And that…that wouldn't have be good at all.
Book-falling disaster averted, I pushed the books and the footrest away from the door. I grabbed onto the handle and pulled once again. Nothing…and then…Yes! It opened! My grin grew wider and excitement started to bubble up in my stomach. Freedom was calling to me.
I immediately stepped out onto the deck and breathed in a deep breath of the fresh ocean air that was blowing. Goodness, I really love the beach! Without another moment's hesitation, I made my way across the deck to the stairs that lead down to the sandy beach. I had finally done it and I had done it on my own!
I stepped down onto the first stair, but then stopped when I suddenly heard something behind me.
"Emily…" His tone was stern.
Ok, maybe I hadn't quite made it…
I inwardly flinched. I hated that tone. I knew he wanted me to turn around and face him, but I didn't want to. I didn't like facing him when he used that tone because it was usually accompanied by an equally stern look, and that was worse than the tone itself!
Hmmm…maybe if I stay frozen like a statue and don't make eye contact, he'll forget I'm here and go away! Yes, that is what I'll do. I am…A STATUE!
I clenched my eyes shut and held my breath. I'm a statue. I'm not here. I'm not here. I'm not here.
I listened to his footsteps as he crossed over the deck in my direction and then stopped right behind me. Ok, yeah… I kinda got the feeling that the whole statue thing wasn't working too well. Oh great, and now my lungs were burning from holding my breath.
I will not breathe! I am a statue!
"Emily," he said right next to my ear.
I jumped at the sudden closeness of his voice and it caused me to forget my mind over matter battle with my lungs. I coughed loudly and then gasped for air, choking it down in big gulps. Note to self: the statue thing doesn't work, especially if you hold your breath.
Once my breathing returned to normal, I began staring down at my toes. Oh yes, I had very interesting toes. Let me count them. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Ten? I have ten toes? Hmm…I think I should count them again.
I heard him sigh behind me. Great! First he did the stern tone and now he was sighing. It wasn't fair! He shouldn't have been able to use those techniques on me. I always felt bad when he did and I didn't like that feeling.
I huffed. All right, all right. I guess I'll just face the music and get it over with. It wasn't like it was the first time this had happened and there was no doubt it wouldn't be the last. Slowly, I turned around and then after hesitating a moment, I looked up at him.
His hands were on his hips and his jaw was set. Definitely not a good sign. He stared down at me for a long moment, studying me with his head cocked slightly to the side. Oh, good grief. I wished he would just tell me off already.
I unwittingly began to chew on my bottom lip as I debated whether he'd fall for the innocent act or the sobbing act today. They both seemed to work quite well if I got him in the right mood, but the trouble was, I couldn't tell what mood he was in right now. God, I should have just pretended I was sleepwalking.
The Jeopardy theme started to play in my head as I waited for him to speak. Why was he taking so long? This was torture! It was no wonder why he was so good at his job.
Finally, he began to speak.
"What do you think you're doing?" he asked me. His voice was a bit softer now, but it was still firm.
Ok, we'll try innocent first. "Nothing, Daddy," I replied as I gave him my best 'I am an angel' look.
He didn't buy it. "Try again."
Darn. He never makes things easy. "Ummm… Sleepwalking?" Hey, he said try and that's what I was doing.
His eyes narrowed ever so slightly and I could tell he wasn't all that amused with my answers. Where is Mommy when I need her? I released a slow breath. Ok, ok…what should I try next? Sobbing?... Or should I just pull the defiant routine? No, that rarely worked well, especially with him. So, sobbing it was!
I forced tears to well up in my eyes and I sniffled a bit. I looked down again, as if I was ashamed, and then I pitifully choked out, "I'm sorry, Daddy." A few tears fell. "I just- I wanted to–" Instead of actually giving him an explanation, I just began crying. In my 5 years and 7 months of life, I had completely mastered the art of crying on cue.
He sighed again and then reached down, grasping me under my arms. He picked me up and then held me tight as I continued to cry into the crook of his neck. The only bad thing with having mastered crying on cue was that once I started, I couldn't seem to stop.
I actually began to feel sorry for whatever it was that I had done or I just got upset in general. And then my forced tears turned to genuine ones, and my fake, 'trying to get out of trouble' crying turned to real sobs. It wasn't really all that fun even if it usually did get me out of trouble.
He carried me back inside and after sliding the door shut, sat down in the big leather chair, cradling me in his arms. As I continued to cry, he rubbed my back in soothing circles and murmured calming words softly into my ear. He had this amazing ability to calm people with using just his voice. It always worked on me. I was glad he was my daddy.
I slowly relaxed, calmed down, and then stopped crying all together. Now I was just lying against his chest listening to his heart beat. It was a very soothing sound. I loved it.
It was at that moment that Mommy walked into the living room. She stopped and stared at us, a small smile on her lips. I turned my head slightly, slipping my middle and ring finger on my right hand into my mouth, and stared back at her.
Mommy gave Daddy a look. I'd seen it before. She was silently telling him that she wanted to talk to him alone. Basically that meant they were either going to talk about work or about me. I always knew which one when they came back into the room I was in. You see, if it was about work, they both tended to look kind of guilty because they had to leave me again, but at the same time focused on the job ahead of them. But if it was about me, they tended to look disappointed because of whatever it was that I had done wrong. I didn't know which of the two looks I hated more.
Daddy kissed me on top of the head and then placed me back in the chair as he stood. He gave me a small smile before he headed off into the kitchen with Mommy. I sighed and flopped over sideways in the chair, my fingers still in my mouth. I was usually so nosy that I sneaked around and tried to overhear what they were saying, but I just didn't feel like it now.
"The lab called," Calleigh told her husband with a sigh. It was supposed to be their day off, a day they promised to spend with Emily.
"And they want us to go in?" Horatio questioned. He already knew the answer, but he hoped that by asking she would prove him wrong.
She nodded. "Yeah, today seems to be the day for murder. There have already been reports of four separate murders and it's only eight-thirty in the mornin'." She leaned up against the counter and crossed her arms. It was obvious by the expression on her face that she was not pleased. She had really been looking forward to spending a day with her husband and daughter, but it now seemed they would have to put it on hold…again.
Horatio stepped up to his wife and gently rubbed his hands up and down her arms. "I guess we'll have to reschedule our day out," he said reluctantly.
"Again." Calleigh looked up at him, frowning. This would be the third time they would have to reschedule their day out with their daughter. "Emily is going to be so disappointed."
"Will she?" Calleigh countered, voice beginning to strain. "We keep treatin' her as if she's older than she actually is. She's five, Horatio. Five. Yes, she's of above average intelligence for a child her age, but she's still a child. We keep makin' her promises and then breakin' them. Sooner or later she's gonna end up thinkin' that we love our work more than her. She's gonna feel abandoned."
Horatio frowned a bit. He hated to consider that what his wife had just said might end up being true; that Emily might end up thinking that she wasn't loved. He sighed and pulled Calleigh forward against his chest, wrapping his arms around her and hugging her tight. "We'll make it up to her somehow," he told her softly, "We'll find a way."
So much for the zoo, I thought to myself as soon as Mommy and Daddy walked out of the kitchen. They had those guilty looks on their faces again meaning they were going to work and I would be stuck with Mrs. Santiago. It just wasn't fair.
I didn't move from where I was lying across the leather chair as they approached. Daddy knelt beside me while Mommy sat on the arm of the chair and began stroking my hair.
"Honey, um–" Mommy started to say, her tone soft.
"You're going to work again," I interrupted, taking my fingers out of my mouth. There wasn't a point in beating around the bush. It wasn't like the prolonged explanation was going to make it any better or change the outcome.
Both of them sighed simultaneously. It was quite obvious that they weren't anymore pleased about it than I was, but that was beside the point. They had made a promise to me and then had broken it again. I didn't know why they bothered promising anything at all. With them being constantly on call, it wasn't like they were really in a position to anyway. It was just a waste of their breath.
"Yeah," Daddy said, "but I promise–"
I interrupted him like I had done with Mommy. "Don't," I said, unable to hide the bitterness in my voice.
My parents looked at each other for a brief moment before Daddy turned his blue eyes back to me. "Don't?" he questioned.
I sat up, frowning. "Don't make promises," I replied just before I slid out of the chair. I looked up at Mommy and then down at Daddy again, and then said, "Tell Mrs. Santiago I'm in my room," before walking away.
I had used the crying technique on Daddy to get myself out of trouble and then laid the guilt trip on both him and Mommy, and I had done it all in one morning. To say I was manipulative would have been an understatement, but that was beside the point. I just wanted them to feel as sad as I did. I wanted them to spend the whole day trying to come up with ways to make it up to me…I just wanted them to think about me.
"Let me guess. One little blonde-haired, blue-eyed five year old laid the guilt trip on you," Eric joked lightly when he noted the rather forlorn expressions Horatio and Calleigh were wearing as soon as they arrived at the lab.
Horatio nodded solemnly. "I never knew a child so young could be so…"
"Manipulative?" Alexx offered with a smile as shepoured herself a cup of coffee. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Honey, but it only gets worse Believe me. I have been there, had it done to me, and threatened to kill my kids with the t-shirt."
A small smirk spread across Horatio's lips, but it still didn't quite reach his eyes. He was worried about his little girl, but he was also worried about his wife. She had been really upset with having to leave Emily to begin with, but when the child refused to say goodbye to them when they were leaving, it only got worse.
After handing Horatio a cup of coffee, Calleigh leaned back against the counter and sighed. "I don't think she was tryin' to be manipulative," she said softly. "She was really upset this time." Eric and Alexx were like family to them, so she and Horatio didn't mind sharing things like that with them.
"Oh, she'll come around, Honey," Alexx told Calleigh, reaching over and squeezing her friend's arm for reassurance.
Calleigh gave her a small smile and simply nodded.
Horatio glanced down at his watch for a second and then looked back up. "Alright, well let's get to work. The sooner we do, the sooner we go home," he said, casting his wife a quick glance.
Everyone nodded and headed out of the break room.
"Why don't you go play on the swings?" Mrs. Santiago, my babysitter, suggested to me as soon as we reached the park.
I shook my head. "Don't wanna." Usually the swings were my favorite, but I just didn't feel like it now.
Mrs. Santiago frowned a bit as she sat down on a bench and stared at me. "If you didn't want to come to the park, you should have told me. We could have done something else," she said.
I just let out an annoyed huff and turned around, heading over to the slide. I climbed to the top of it and just sat there, thinking about my parents. Just the thought of them leaving me again made my blood boil. I hated them for it. I was their child! Shouldn't I come first?!
I started thinking of ways that I could get back at them for leaving me. I sat there for a few minutes trying to come up with a good enough plan, but it wasn't until some annoying little boy started pestering me to go down the slide that I came up with an idea. Just like they left me, I would leave them.
After glaring at the boy, I slid down the slide and moved toward the sandbox which was near the tree line. I glanced back at Mrs. Santiago to see that she was talking to someone she obviously knew. It was a perfect time to run away.
Without a second thought, I dashed into the bushes and began my escape. I was careful to dodge all the palmetto bushes I could because if their leaves didn't slice you up, their spiny branches would. They were definitely one of my least favorite things about living in Florida.
I walked along for a few minutes before some strange sounds caught my attention. They almost sounded like choking noises. Being the curious child I was, I slowly and quietly moved toward the sounds.
I inched closer and closer until I noticed one of the jogging trails that went around the park. I stopped there for a moment, wondering if going onto the trail was a good idea if I wanted to remain unseen. I stayed there for a few more seconds thinking until I suddenly noticed movement in the bushes ahead of me.
Careful not to step on anything that would make noise, I stealthily moved forward until I found the source of the sounds I had been hearing. I would never forget what I saw before me. There was a woman on the ground and sitting on top of her was a man. He was holding her down by the neck with one of his gloved hands while using the other one to hold a knife dangerously close to her face. He waved it back and forth in front of her eyes, taunting her, while he kept the hand on her neck gripped tight enough so that she could barely breathe, and therefore couldn't scream. She looked so scared.
The man closed his eyes for a moment, smiling sadistically, before he opened them again and suddenly thrust the knife deep into the woman's stomach. I was frozen in place, unable to do anything, but watch. I couldn't even breathe.
The woman's agonized eyes went huge and she struggled to scream out in pain, but couldn't. All she could do was lie there, hoping to die, while the man slit her open. A moment later, her head lolled to the side and right before she closed her eyes, she stared straight into mine as if she had known I was there the whole time and gave me a look, silently asking me for help. And then her eyes shut and she was gone.
The man grinned in satisfaction as she died in front of him. He waited for a second before he slashed her stomach all the way open and completely ripped her insides out, piling them up next to her body. Once he was done, he leaned forward and used his knife to carve something into her right temple.
It was at that moment that my brain finally registered that I had stopped breathing and my burning lungs quickly snapped me out of my stupor. I gasped loudly, much to my mistake, and immediately caught the attention of the man. He gazed directly at me and I couldn't help but shudder at the look I saw in his eyes. It was a look of evil. Pure evil.
I forced myself to move and quickly climbed to my feet. He took a step toward me, but before he could take another one, two male joggers spotted the dead woman and began yelling at him. He stared directly into my eyes for a second longer before he took off.
I didn't wait to see if the joggers caught up with the man. I had to get out of there and I had to get out of there fast. I took off back in the direction I had come, not caring about getting sliced up by the palmetto bushes now, and kept running until I came flying out of the trees. I ran right across the playground and straight to Mrs. Santiago.
"Emily!" she exclaimed obviously relieved that I had shown back up, but at the same time mad that I had run off in the first place. Either way, I didn't care. I just wanted her to take me to Mommy and Daddy. "Where were you?!"
"I want Mommy and Daddy," I told her as I glanced back at the tree line half expecting the man to be there with his knife.
Mrs. Santiago picked me up and placed me on the bench. "They're busy right now. You know that," she said dismissively as she looked me over. "Where did you go?" she asked me as she took a tissue out of her purse and gently pushed it against one of the deeper cuts I had gotten from running through the palmetto bushes. I hadn't even realized I had gotten them until she did that.
I yelped softly and pushed her hand away. I didn't want her touching me. I didn't want her at all. I wanted my parents! "I want Mommy and Daddy!" I said again, this time with a little more force.
She must have thought that I was just trying to be a brat –something I had done a few occasions before– because she quickly became annoyed. Standing up straight, she put her hands on her hips and glared down at me as I sat there. "I told you they were busy, Emily. You know you're not allowed to see them while they're at work," she told me sternly. "Now, you're going to sit there and stay there until I say we can leave, do you understand?"
I didn't answer. I just sat there, having completely zoned out by then. I couldn't stop the images of the brutal atrocity I had witnessed from flashes in my mind. I was just frozen there, living it over and over again.
"Cause of death?" Horatio asked Alexx as he stood examining the scene before him. If he were new to the job, he probably would have jumped to the conclusion that the victim had been killed when she was disemboweled, but as he knew now that the most obvious of answers was usually the wrong one.
Alexx looked up at him. "It could be a number of things. There are signs of strangulation and then of course the most obvious, the poor girl was disemboweled. I'll hopefully know for sure when I get her back to the lab and examine her." She looked back down at the woman and brushed a strand of hair off of her victim's forehead. "What sick bastard did this to you, Sugar?" she asked quietly.
Horatio held back a sigh. This day was not shaping up to be good one. "I'm guessing it's going to be relatively hard to get a time of death," he said slowly.
"The liver tends to cool down more rapidly when it's outside of the body, but it's not impossible to get the temperature," Alexx answered. "I'll let you know."
He nodded, saying, "Thank you, Alexx."
"Horatio, come look at this," Calleigh suddenly called from where she was in the bushes collecting evidence and taking photos. She waited until her husband had joined her before she pointed to what she had found. "These prints are fresh," she told him.
"Meaning we could have a witness," Horatio surmised thoughtfully as he crouched next to the footprints to examine them a bit closer. He stared at them for a moment before looking back, following the trail of prints with his eyes. "Whoever was here took off in a hurry."
Calleigh frowned a bit. "And judging by the size, I'd say our potential witness is a child." She shook her head a bit, thinking of how horrible it must have been to witness something so gruesome.
Horatio stood and looked at his wife. "Would you please follow the prints and find out where they lead?" he requested.
"Of course, Handsome," she replied, trying to sound cheerful.
Horatio gave her a small reserved smile and walked back over to Alexx.
Camera in hand, Calleigh began following the prints, snapping pictures of them as she went along. Every few seconds she would snag herself on a palmetto bush which got her thinking. If this child was running through, he or she had to have sliced themselves up pretty badly. If so, it would, hopefully, be fairly easy to find the witness if they were still at the park.
She continued moving along until she spotted some blood on a palmetto leaf. She snapped two pictures of it and then pulled out a swab for a sample. Once she had what she needed, she continued on. She could hear the sounds of children playing, and since she had come to the park before, she knew there was a playground on the other side of the trees. Hopefully her witness would be there.
(A/N: More to come soon.)