Disclaimer: All characters and such belong to CBS. I own the characters that I made up and the new plot.
Author's Note: Ok, so it almost took two weeks to get this chapter out, but hey—that's pretty good considering that I've had baccalaureate, graduation, a wedding, a family reunion, job hunting, babysitting, and chores! In addition, this chapter was probably the hardest one to write. This is probably the first time I've really written anything romantic. I seriously hope I didn't make this chapter too hard to believe or too sappy/mushy. Please let me know if it is in a private message so that I can fix it ASAP.
I did my best to imagine Calleigh and Horatio saying the dialogue that I've written for them and I think it works. At the very least, I found it sweet and imaginable and it makes me happy, so let's see what all my awesome readers think!
Cyber hugs for everyone!! Thanks for all the (46!) reviews and for sticking with me, guys!!
I don't live for reviews, but close to it! XD Just kidding, but they are always great. :)
This story takes place at the end of season one.
Pawns and Knights
In the evidence locker back at the CSI building, Horatio Caine sorted through the boxes of evidence from the Dawson case, ensuring that every piece of critical evidence was correctly catalogued and trial-ready. When he was satisfied, he replaced the lids of the boxes and secured them with red evidence tape. With great contentment, he stamped 'solved' on the description panel of each box and moved the three of them to the shelf reserved for cases set to go to trial. He took one last look around before he flicked off the lights and locked the door behind him.
"Hey Calleigh!" Eric called from just outside the small room where the employees had their lockers. "Me and Speed and Tripp are going to grab a bite to eat. Wanna come?"
Calleigh slung her small white purse over her shoulder and shut her locker door. "Can I take a rain check?"
"Not really." She flashed her colleague a smile. "I'm just kinda busy. Sorry."
"Hey, I understand." Eric smiled back. "Catcha later!"
Horatio sat in his office, the overhead lights off and only his small desk lamp providing some illumination. His thoughts kept wandering back to the Dawson case. When he'd stopped by the house the day before, he had intended to ask Abbie if she wanted to testify at the trial. It was the district attorney's suggestion—the evidence was completely solid, but juries often responded even better to witnesses than photographs. When Abbie had admitted to him that she was still a little shaken, he had decided to not even bring it up.
But he knew what her answer would be once he did ask her.
Watching her stand over Michael protectively while he dug a new moat for their sand castle, Horatio had to admit that he'd felt somewhat…well, jealous. Here was this fourteen-year-old girl who had been ready to sacrifice herself for a little boy she wasn't even related to. In comparison, he kept his CSIs safe and covered for them whenever necessary. He was protective of each one of them and would kill for them if need be. He liked being the team's leader. He liked his role as the tough one. But every once in a while, a small voice in the back of his head would ask:
Who watches out for me?
He knew that any member of his team would respond without hesitation if he was in trouble, but it just somehow wasn't quite the same…He was still deep in thought when a small knock on the doorframe of his office nearly made him jump out of his skin. He looked up to see Calleigh standing there, looking apologetic.
"Sorry," she said. "Is this a bad time?"
"Ah, no…no, it's fine." He smiled up at her.
She entered the room and took a seat in front of his desk. For a minute, the two of them simply sat there.
"Do you wanna talk about it?" Calleigh finally asked.
"What makes you think something's wrong?"
"Horatio, you're a million miles away and you don't exactly look happy. Something's up."
He gave a small sigh. "It's…nothing important."
"It's the Dawson case, isn't it?"
He smiled mirthlessly to himself.
A few more seconds of silence followed before Calleigh broke it.
"Horatio, why do you do this?" Her voice was soft and concerned, not accusatory.
He fiddled with his sunglasses behind the desk, not making eye contact. "Do what?"
"This. This…retreating inside yourself and pretending nothing's bothering you." She paused for emphasis before she added, "I'm not blind, Horatio."
I'm a grown man for crying out loud…I don't want to look weak…
He sighed and looked her in eye. "The truth?"
Can I do this? Can I finally admit I'm not as tough as I look?
Something in her eyes told him he could.
"I'm uh,…I'm jealous of a seven-year-old boy."
Her unspoken 'why' hung in the air for a short while before he came up with the answer.
"Who protects the protector?"
He was expecting her to make light of it, or to try to talk him out of that line of thinking, or to bring up the team as a whole, or maybe bring up Tripp, but how she actually responded was a complete surprise.
Calleigh's hand glided over the surface of his desk and came to rest on top of his own hand.
Horatio looked up, somewhat startled. Her eyes were filled with a caring loyalty and something else…something more than just friendship.
"I will," she said in little more than a whisper.
He could barely find the voice to reply, "Thank you." It felt rather inadequate given what had just transpired between the two of them.
Calleigh merely smiled and gently rubbed her thumb over the back of his hand. Horatio smiled back and let her fingers intertwine with his as they sat in his dimly lit office, not saying anything more but enjoying one another's company and mutual support.
In that one moment, things changed.
Soooooo…-bounces nervously- What did you think? It's one of my favorite pieces and the first piece of DuCaine that I've actually typed up, so I'm eager to see what all you wonderful people think. Let me know! :)