The Rescue

Delko held the shovel over his head, preparing to deliver the killing blow.

"Eric, are you finished processing the yard?" Calleigh asked, coming around the corner of the house. She saw the shovel raised above his head. "What are you doing?"

"Getting rid of a pest," he replied, starting to bring the shovel down.

Calleigh took one look at what he was going to squish and interposed herself between the descending shovel and the object of Eric's loathing. She grabbed his forearms. "Eric, don't smash it!"

"Cal, I know you have a tender heart, but that thing is disgusting," Eric said, slowly lowering his shovel as she crouched over the small thing. "They're slimy, sneaky and poisonous."

"This one isn't, are you little one?" she cooed, scooping up the small animal in her hand. She stood up and turned to face him. "This is a sub-adult Australian Bearded Dragon; I'd say an inland variety."

"Since when did you become an expert on those things?" he asked, a look of disgust still on his face. He backed up a step.

"Since my neighbor's daughter got one and spent a Saturday afternoon showing her to me.." Calleigh stroked the creature's back as it turned it bright amber eyes up to her trustingly. She flicked her gaze at Delko. "Don't tell me you're scared of it."

"I don't like them. Put it down, please."

Calleigh laughed. "You are scared of it! It's not going to hurt you. It's just a baby." She regarded the small dragon. "Triangular head, broad base to the tail; if I had to guess, I'd say it's male. Now how did you get out here, little guy? You don't belong out here. Did you escape from your owner?"

Horatio came around the corner, looking for his two missing CSI's. "What's going on back here, you two?"

"Rescue operation," Calleigh said, holding up the beardie for Horatio to see. "Eric was going to smash him with a shovel."

"A bearded dragon," Horatio commented. "Nice. What are you going to do with it?"

Calleigh shrugged. "Put him in an evidence box for now. I can't let him go. He'd never survive out here, especially with Delko and his shovel. Besides, he needs to be processed. There's no telling on how long he'd been basking out here. There may be some trace evidence on him." She scratched the beardie's head. "Come on, little guy, let's go process you."

The two men watched her leave, still talking to the small lizard.

"H, why are you smiling like that?" Eric asked, still slightly grossed out by the lizard.

"Because, Eric, I think Calleigh has a new pet."