10/7, a Continuation

The sun was going down as Eric strode toward the front doors of the Miami Dade Crime Lab like he was on a mission, leaving everyone and everything in the dust. Such was his desire to find Calleigh as fast as he could that he'd grabbed his car keys from his locker and left it wide open, leaving a stunned Ryan in his wake. Such was his tunnel vision that he failed to see Alexx when she called out to him as tried to catch up to him…but Eric was moving too fast.

He pushed open the front door of the lab, almost slamming it back against the handrail on the other side, and took the steps down two at a time. He practically ran to his car as his mind ran through the possible places Calleigh would go, if she hadn't gone home. He'd tried running after her when he saw her leave earlier, but Horatio stopped him from leaving, wanting him to wrap up the evidence before he left for the day. He'd stood in the reception area clearly conflicted, looking between Calleigh's retreating back and Horatio's piercing eyes. How could he tell Horatio that he needed to be by Calleigh's side? How could he tell Horatio that the thought of Calleigh in any kind of pain filled him with a pervasive sadness, to the point where he could think of nothing else but easing that pain? So instead of going after her, he'd reluctantly turned back toward the various labs.

He drove like a bat out of hell toward Calleigh's home, breaking most speed laws and breaking his own code of conduct for courteous driving. He said a prayer as he drove down her street and parked his car in her driveway. He quickly moved to the garage keypad and entered the code she gave him years ago, smiling briefly at the memory of her words just a week ago…

"Eric, I trust you with every fiber of my being…and you know that."

Yeah, he knew that she trusted him, probably more than anyone else in her life. Not only did he have a key to her home, but also the garage keypad code, as well as her security alarm code and distress code. He thanked God for her trust in him, and breathed a sigh of relief when the garage door lifted and he found her car inside. She was at home.

He made his way through her garage and opened the door between the garage and her home, noticing that it was dark and quiet. He called out softly for her, "Calleigh?" Not hearing her answer, he closed the door and strode through the laundry room that was between the garage and the kitchen. As he entered the kitchen he noticed the blue glow from her television coming from the living room and headed in that direction. What he found there broke his heart.

Calleigh sat along the length of her sofa in a pair of light blue pajama pants and a white camisole top, her head resting on her drawn up knees, arms around her legs. Her face was devoid of any emotion. She stared with glazed unseeing eyes at the television, not seeing and not hearing what was on. To Eric it seemed like she was in a trance. Again he softly called out to her, "Calleigh?"

But she didn't hear him, or made no indication that she did. He moved to her side and after bending to tenderly kiss the top of her head, he sat down on the couch at her side, setting his hands on either side of her body. He said nothing, but watched as her gaze slowly shifted to him. He knew she saw him when her eyes began to water and her chin trembled. It broke his heart to see her like this. "Querida," he murmured as he lifted his fingers and gently wiped the tears that began to fall. "Come here."

Her face crumpled as she moved into his arms with an easy familiarity, wrapping her arms around him and fitting perfectly beneath his chin. With a sigh Eric enveloped her in a cocoon of warmth and security. He was one of just a few people she would let go with her emotions in front of. She couldn't let the days events get the better of her at work, there were too many people around, but in the privacy of her own home she could.

As Calleigh silently cried out the day's events, Eric stood up and gently picked her up in his arms, then turned and settled himself along the length of the couch, with her cuddled in his lap. He continued to comb his fingers through her soft blonde hair as he warmly rubbed her back, waiting for her to be ready to talk. Finally, when he heard her sigh, he knew she was ready.

"I've seen some of the worst crime scenes," she began, speaking softly, "…and I've seen people get shot, but…"

"But, what?" he questioned softly, encouraging her to continue.

He felt her shudder as she continued, "But it's completely different when it's someone you know, and the gun is in their own hand." She dipped her head and gripped him tighter, prompting Eric to do the same. "I know deep down it wasn't my fault, but I can't help but feel responsible."

Eric gently pulled her back off his shoulder. "Why?" he asked, wiping the drying tear tracks from her beautiful face. Even with eyes puffy from crying she took his breath away.

She sighed and sat up a little in his lap, blowing air through her lips as she shook her head. "I could tell he was desperate. Sometimes I could see it in his eyes, and I did when he came to see me this morning. But…I just couldn't do it."

"Do what?"

"I couldn't pretend I wanted him anymore. I didn't love him." She shrugged, trying to find the right words. "I cared about him once, but…I think that's all it ever was…caring." She nervously tucked her hair behind her ears as she continued. "I told him I wanted to be friends with him and he…he didn't want to accept that we were over long ago. He was making me nervous, so I asked him if he wanted to go get coffee, so we could talk." She looked at Eric, wanting to clarify the situation. "We were alone in the lab, and I wanted the talk to be around other people. He had something of a temper and I didn't want him going off on me." She paused, remembering, looking away. "And then he um…he…shot himself."

Eric's lips were pressed together in a thin line, his thoughts turning to how much he hated Hagen for what he did to Calleigh, for what he did in front of her. He thought about the various ways he could have strangled the man if he hadn't killed himself. But, what was done was done and his more immediate concern was Calleigh's emotional well being. Shaking his head slightly, he gently turned her head toward him and spoke softly but firmly, "Calleigh, Hagen was troubled, he had emotional issues…"

Calleigh interrupted him. "I know that now," she said, taking his hand and holding it in her lap. She paused, and he could see her brows wrinkle as she thought back. "When he left the force for a while it was because of a bad back…but Ryan told me that a bad back was code for not being able to pass the psych exam."

"Come here," Eric murmured, settling her back against his shoulder and shifting so that she lay along the length of his body, cuddled warmly in his arms. His fingers traced patterns on her arms as he remembered a long ago conversation. He spoke softly as he remembered. "Years ago a beat cop Hagen once worked with told me that Hagen had a string of bad relationships… seemed he had jealousy issues." He paused, letting his words sink in. "Nothing major, but it eventually turned his girlfriends off…as it did you," he whispered, looking down into her eyes. He kissed her tenderly on the forehead before continuing. "Apparently his father had many affairs, and wasn't very discreet about it. Eventually his mother left them...his father and Hagen."

After a few moments of silence, Calleigh spoke quietly. "That explains a lot…about him…and his jealousy."

Eric could sense there was more to the story, more she had to say, but wasn't. Then he hit the nail on the head. "Did he do something to you?" He felt her stiffen in his arms. He stopped his tender ministrations and shifted again so he could look her in the eyes. "He did, didn't he?"

She nodded, and when his eyes grew wide with anger and his mouth opened to speak, she shook her head and placed a finger over his lips to silence what he was going to say. "You remember when we were investigating the plane crash a few weeks ago and Peter came to the lab?" He nodded, unable to speak, much less form coherent thoughts, with her finger still on his lips. "John saw us together and became jealous. He stopped me in the hall and asked me if Peter and I were uh…sleeping together. When I told him the conversation was over he grabbed my arm and basically said the conversation wasn't over."

Eric pulled her finger from his lips and smiled, snickering. "You set him straight, didn't you?" Calleigh didn't answer; her smile told him all he needed to know. "That's my girl," he said, framing her face in his hands. He dropped a tender kiss to her forehead, then her nose, and finally to her lips, and could have sworn he heard her whimper when he did.

Calleigh smiled and settled herself once again along his lean frame. Sighing heavily she closed her eyes and whispered, "Thank you, Eric."

Eric didn't need a thank you. He would do anything for her. Into the long comfortable silence that followed Eric thought about their relationship, how much trust they had in each other. She'd said that she trusted him with every fiber of her being, and that was clearly evident in her actions…he didn't need the words to tell him. Long ago she'd given him a key to her home, along with her home's garage and security codes. He was welcome to visit any time he wanted, even when she wasn't at home. Such was her trust in him that she could let go of her emotions in front him, as she'd shown him again this very evening. Just as he knew her history and the horrors of her childhood, she knew his history and his entire family. He knew when to leave her alone, and when to butt in. and he knew that if he called her in the middle of the night thirty miles from home to say his car had broken down and he needed a ride, she would come get him…same as he would do for her. She trusted him enough to let him hold a gun next to her head so she could hear the clicks, and no doubt knew he hated doing it, even if it did help to find out who had held the gun to her head.

Some time later Calleigh's rhythmic breathing told Eric she was asleep. Gently he shifted them down so that they were lying on the couch, her warm body comfortably ensconced between his body and the back cushions. He picked up the light throw blanket off the back of the couch and settled it over their bodies. Once settled, he sighed, loving it when they could be this close. He dropped a kiss to the top of her head and whispered, "I love you, Calleigh".

If he'd looked down just then, he would have seen the smile that graced her face.