Title: Stolen Moments
Author: Lucy (somethingsdont)
Summary: A collection of episode-related vignettes centered on Eric and Calleigh's relationship.
Episode 1.01, Golden Parachute
"Come on, breathe, breathe, breathe," Eric pleaded, pressing his palms against the unconscious man's chest. There was no response, so he brought his lips to the stranger's and blew. Once, twice. He tasted dirty water and foreign flesh. He tasted death. "Come on, breathe!" he cried, feeling the man's life slip through his fingertips.
Beside him, Horatio stood, looking down at Eric's frantic attempts. "Eric. Eric," he said, as gently as he could in a situation like this. When Eric refused to cease his efforts, Horatio repeated his name, more forcefully. "Eric." The younger CSI stopped, keeping his hands over the deceased man's heart. "He's gone," Horatio stated with a certain finality.
Eric lowered his head shamefully. "I lost him."
Calleigh stood in the hallway of the Miami-Dade crime lab, glancing through the large glass windows at the near-empty labs. The building was most quiet at this time: before night-shifters arrived and after most day-shifters had gone home. Her gaze stopped briefly when she caught a glimpse of Eric, hunched over a hoard of evidence. She took a moment to study him, and she noticed that he appeared tense and unfocused.
She headed in his direction, suddenly conscious of how the clicks of her heels echoed through the quiet building. She pushed past the door and approached him slowly. Eric looked up and greeted her with a tired smile, before returning his attention to the fingerprints in front of him. She watched him work for a few minutes, as he pored over his magnifying glass, trying to make an impossible match between loops, whirls and arches.
He looked up again, and their eyes connected for a brief moment. He stood, and that was when his height became most noticeable. He sighed and hesitated before speaking.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but do you need something?" he asked, trying to keep the agitation out of his voice.
"Yeah, actually," she replied, nodding. She looked down at the fingerprints, then back up at Eric. "Speedle said you were in a bad mood earlier," she said softly, studying his reaction. "Anything you want to share?"
"No," he replied with a hint of irritation. He frowned and sighed in frustration. "And I don't appreciate Speedle spreading that around either," he added, resting his weight against the table.
She shook her head. "He didn't—"
"I know I'm the rookie, okay?" he interrupted, his voice rising. "But it doesn't give you guys the right to speculate about my moods behind my back."
Calleigh crossed her arms over her chest, but despite physical appearances, she wasn't angry or upset, only curious and slightly worried. Very little surprised her, but his sudden admission had caught her off guard. After all, Eric had worked in the lab for nearly a year, and even though he was the newest member of the team, his experience had never been questioned before.
"You know what? We've never considered you a rookie," she said resolutely, her gaze unwavering.
He looked away. "Right," he replied flatly, leaning down to study the fingerprints again.
"But the fact that you think we think you are one makes me question your confidence in your own competency," she added, searching his movements for miniscule glimpses into his thoughts.
He scoffed. "Is that your way of telling me I need a shrink?" he asked in disbelief.
Calleigh frowned. "It's my way of telling you that you're part of the team," she said gently, suddenly confused. "What's going on, Eric?"
"Nothing," he replied dismissively.
But Calleigh wasn't satisfied with that answer, so she stood firm and waited for a better explanation.
Finally, Eric sighed and abandoned his magnifying glass. He straightened up. "It was just this guy in the 'glades," he started, sighing again, his exhaustion obvious. "From the crash. I couldn't resuscitate him." He looked at her, almost as if requesting confirmation that he wasn't crazy for letting this get to him. "I lost him, Calleigh," he rehashed, looking away.
"There was probably nothing you could do," she offered.
"Probably being the operative word," he replied pointedly.
"There was nothing you could've done," she said firmly.
"You weren't there," he replied. He paused and shook his head. "He had a pulse."
"Eric, that man died because he was a passenger in a plane that fell four thousand feet out of the air," she said sternly. Rational, logical and true, but not enough.
"Yeah, an innocent passenger. I ended up saving the killer," he said, allowing the irony to settle in the air for a moment.
"Sommer's not going to hurt anyone anymore," she said with a small, reassuring smile.
"And I'm supposed to believe that justice is served," he said dryly.
Calleigh frowned. "If you can't be satisfied with that, I'm afraid you've chosen the wrong career path," she suggested with the straight-forward truthfulness that had always been characteristic of her.
Eric nodded, as if considering this for the first time. Calleigh seemed satisfied by his response, so she smiled and headed for the door. He watched her leave and had the sudden urge to stop her, to keep talking to her, but he couldn't think of anything intelligible to say.
Halfway to the door, Calleigh stopped and turned to him. "It gets easier."
Eric smiled then, and even though he shouldn't need this encouragement, because he'd worked in the lab long enough to know that it happened, he was grateful for her honest words and her no-nonsense attitude.
She left the lab then and walked out of sight, and Eric returned to the fingerprints in front of him with a renewed determination.
Even when fogged by fatigue, Eric could tell that this was the beginning of something great.