Title: Scars

Pairing: Calleigh/Natalia CSI Miami

Rating: R

Disclaimer: I don't own them.

Warning: Description of Rape and abuse!!

Summary: A brief interlude, Calleigh shares her past with Natalia. NOTE: This is actually part of a larger story that's a work in progress, but its stalled hopelessly. As I won't post work in progress fics until they are done, I'm just going to throw this up, as it sort of stands alone.

The blow drives the breath from her lungs, the fire of oxygen starvation consuming her awareness. Struggling to breathe, she is helpless against the second punch to the side of head that sends her crashing to the floor; disoriented and reeling.

Her vision blurs and her lungs burn. The world spins, blurring and running like watercolors on canvas and her body aches where his fists have landed. The worse however, is yet to come. His hands are like hot iron vices where they grip her arms and she is lifted bodily and flung; a moment of weightlessness followed by the soft impact with the bed.

She tries to move, to roll over and escape, but its too late. Her vision is filled with his face, even as her mind shuts down, unable to handle what is to come. He's tearing at her clothes and his hands roam on her body…

NO, no, not again, not this time, I won't…

Natalia woke, the scream of rage tearing its way from her throat before she could stop it.

Still in the grip of adrenaline and nightmares, she tore at the sheets tangled around her sweat soaked body, managing to free herself only by falling to the floor. Her mind was just starting to catch up to reality when her door flew open with a crash.


Still caught in the distortion somewhere between nightmare and waking reality, Natalia could only stare. Haloed by the dim glow of the hallway light, Calleigh stood like an avenging angel, hair wild and gun drawn.

An avenging angel in a silk nightgown…that shows a lot of thigh, was the incongruent thought that popped into Natalia's fractious, scattered mind.

Still reeling from her dream, seeing Calleigh standing in her doorway struck her with an almost physical impact. Her heart clenched painfully and her already thready pulse jumped.

Tearing her eyes away with an almost painful effort, Natalia railed at herself. Damnit! This is not happening. I cannot feel this way! She is my friend, my colleague and right now, my security detail! Enough of this, its just the nightmares talking, this isn't real, it's just a crush. You'll get over it, Dianna and Kathleen will leave, Calleigh will go and this will all be over. Now breathe damnit!

Eyes shut and fingers clenched in the bed-sheets, she fought to get herself together and didn't see Calleigh approach.

Calleigh scanned the room wildly, adrenaline an electric current in her blood and a bitter taste in her mouth. Seeing only Natalia's crumpled form on the floor and no sign of an intruder, however, she forced herself to take a deep breath, lower her gun, and move to her friend.

Placing the Smith and Wesson on the bed, nightgowns need to have holsters, she knelt down next to Natalia, gently reaching out to lay a hand on the brunette's shoulder. What she felt made her heart ache.

The normally vibrant woman shook like a beaten animal and her skin was clammy. Natalia's rasping breaths echoed harshly in the quiet room. Whatever nightmare had her friend in its clutches was not letting go easily.

Calleigh understood that kind of haunting, choking fear: she had experienced it herself. Without hesitation or thought, she sank down next to the shaken woman and took her into her arms, stroking her hair and holding her close.

Oddly, Calleigh's touch didn't surprise Natalia. Even locked in her internal struggle, she recognized the safety offered through that slight physical contact. That didn't mean it helped though. Her nerves were shot and her muscles locked wire tight. Bit by bit, Natalia tried to force herself to relax. Just as she began to get a handle on her pounding heart however, a slender body wrapped itself around her and she was drawn into a comforting embrace.

Natalia's senses were suddenly flooded with Calleigh: the willowy strength of her arms, the hint of jasmine and vanilla in her shampoo, the warm whisper of silk against Nat's cheek. Everything else – the nightmare, the tangle of cotton around her legs, the ache in her throat – all of it faded like mist before the Miami sun and there was nothing for Natalia but the woman holding her.

It felt good, and for a time, she simply breathed, accepting the gift of the moment for what it was.

Better than good, it feels perfect….shit. Seeing Calleigh in the doorway had shaken something loose in Natalia, bringing feelings she had tried to bury closer to the surface and she was too raw to control anything right now.

Despite being physically calmer now, Natalia's emotions were a tangled, thorny mess, and so the brunette reluctantly pulled herself away. She didn't want to let this go, but again, some instinctive reflex said "flee." I have to, before I go and do something stupid.

As if leaving the haven of the smaller woman's touch had shattered some invisible shield, Natalia became aware of the ache in her muscles, the dry rasping of her throat, and the fact that she was now cold from dried sweat and tangled in half her bedding. With reality firmly intruding, she took a deep breath and sat up, prepared to thank Cal and send her back to bed.

The blonde beat her to it.

"Natalia? What just happened?" she asked; her voice low and soft.

"Nothing, it was just a nightmare." Natalia looked up. Yeah, guess she's not buying that one. Calleigh's look said 'bullshit' loud and clear.

"This," the detective said firmly, motioning to their position on the floor in a tangle of blankets, "this is not 'just' anything. Natalia talk to me. Please?"

The brunette had turned away, trying to distance herself, when a whisper of a touch against her jaw stopped her and pulled her inexorably back to shadowed green eyes. Whatever Natalia had expected to see, it wasn't the look of warmth and compassion she found. As much as she wanted to stay right there though, her sense of self preservation took over; fear of the tangled, turbulent feelings crashing through her sending her into flight.

"I um, I really need to take a shower right now. Thanks for checking on me Calleigh, I'm alright, really, it was just a nightmare."

Nice job babbling Boa Vista, she cursed herself while very pointedly not looking at the silk clad detective as she yanked the covers away and stood up, walking toward the relative safety of the bathroom as quickly as she could.

Once in the shower, she let the hot spray wash away the sweat and aches, which left her feeling much more relaxed…and completely exhausted, a state that was becoming aggravatingly familiar. The brunette purposefully kept her mind blank, concentrating on the hot water and the way it felt on her body.

There is no point in trying to work this out tonight, I'll just lose it.

That didn't stop her mind from lingering on the image of Calleigh as she had appeared in the doorway though, nor her body from responding that it really liked that image.

When she finally felt clean, and had reached a state of bonelessness only possible with a combination of too little sleep and a lot of very hot water, Natalia stepped out and dried off. Wrapping herself in a thick terrycloth robe, she toweled her hair and then went back to the bedroom, realizing she would have to change her sheets again.

What she saw when she got there brought her up short.

Her bed had been remade, and on the edge of it sat Calleigh. The lamp had been turned on, giving one corner of the room a warm glow. The blonde had also taken the time to slip into a white silk robe that covered her nearly to her ankles.

Drat, supplied Natalia's mind before she could slap herself.

The Detective was now sitting quietly, her hands absently worrying the tie of her robe and a faraway look in her eyes.

At first Natalia thought that Calleigh hadn't heard her enter, until she spoke - her accent soft and her gaze still distant.

"Horatio didn't come to me just because I'm a woman he trusts and a good shot," the southerner spoke quietly, deliberately and with a brittle edge to her voice that Natalia had never heard before. The DNA tech might have grinned a bit at the comment however, but at that moment Calleigh turned to look at her, and the brunette's breath caught sharply at the ghosts she saw lurking behind darkened irises. Stunned at the expression on Calleigh's face, Natalia could only watch as her friend stood, walked until she was standing close, turned her back and slipped her robe off her shoulders to hang around her hips.

Before Natalia's brain could completely short circuit at the sight, she was struck by the realization that Calleigh was trembling? My God, she's shaking…what?

And then she saw them. In the gentle glow of the lamp light and her own shock, she hadn't been paying attention to what her eyes had been trying to tell her.

Like a lattice of the finest lace, a filigree of small, slivered scars criss-crossed the Detective's back. Here and there lay a larger mark where the skin had ridged ever so slightly.

Without conscious direction, Natalia's hand reached out and traced one of the smaller scars. Somehow, though a part of her expected it, she still felt a sharp ache in her heart at Calleigh's flinch. The smaller ones were so faint and old that only a few could even be felt against the unblemished skin of the rest of her back. Like touching flawed silk, came the errant thought, but Natalia was too shocked and horrified to follow it.

"Calleigh, what…?' was all she could manage, her voice fading away as her hand trailed over the smaller woman's spine and explored one of the larger scars.

"My father's belt," came the tight, too controlled reply "The larger ones…the larger ones are from the buckle."

Natalia felt sick; horror, anger, and a terrible understanding made her stomach roil and her throat close. She was unable to respond – to come up with anything remotely appropriate to say. She just stood, frozen, staring at the sudden evidence of long past cruelty.

As the silence stretched, the smaller woman looked back, and the DNA tech saw shame and fear steal over the blonde's features as she misinterpreted Natalia's shock. Just as the detective began to shut down and pull away, the taller woman acted, spurred by the sudden emptiness she saw in her friend's normally sparkling eyes.

Without giving herself time to think, she reached out and put her hands on Calleigh's arms.

"Calleigh," she said, her voice thick. "I'm sorry. I had no idea."

Trying very hard not to think about how good it felt to be touching the smaller woman, she ran her hands up Calleigh's arms, feeling the tightness and the tremors in them. Natalia pulled the silk of the robe back down to where it had hung before and then slowly and deliberately, let her hands run the length of the Detective's back. She brushed the fall of gold hair over one shoulder, and then, taking a huge risk, she leaned forward and gently pressed her lips against one of the more prominent scars on Calleigh's shoulder.

She felt the smaller woman tense for a moment, and then, in a way that made her want to cheer, Natalia felt Calleigh relax under her touch.

Not wanting to push, and knowing she was in dangerous territory, Natalia very deliberately moved back and pulled the robe up to slip it back around Calleigh's shoulders. She was rewarded beyond all hope when the blonde leaned back into her for an instant, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world for Natalia to wrap her arms around her in a gentle hug.

As her hands slid across warm silk and firm curves and pulled Calleigh close, something seemed to click deep inside the brunette. Like the last tumbler in a long frustrated lock, it fell into place. For Natalia, time seemed to stretch as her senses were overwhelmed by the woman in her arms and the rightness she felt as their bodies fit together. If the world had ceased to exist right then, Natalia wouldn't have cared, and she clung to the moment, trying to fix it in her heart.

And then she heard Calleigh sigh and the spell was broken as the DNA tech let her go and the blonde straightened and turned to face her.

"I owe you an explanation…" she began but Natalia cut her off with a firm head shake.

"You don't owe me anything Calleigh. I'd like to think we are friends, and if you want to talk to me, I'm here, and I'll listen - but this isn't something I want you to do if it's too painful."

The faintest of smiles touched the blonde's lips and she stood a little straighter. Moving to sit back on the bed, the southerner continued,

"My father has been an alcoholic all my life…" she began, and proceeded to tell Natalia about a childhood the DNA tech would never, in her worst nightmares, have attributed to the calm, poised, unfailingly polite, impossibly dedicated ballistics expert. What she heard made her sick with anger and desperate to reach out to the woman next to her, but unsure of how to do so.

In the end, her subconscious didn't let her over think it. Saying nothing, Natalia reached out and entwined her fingers with Calleigh's, giving her friend's hand a gentle squeeze.

A weary, gentle smile was given in return.

A sense of quiet comfort stretched between the two, the silence healing. Calleigh leaned her head against Natalia's shoulder and the brunette closer her eyes, resting her cheek on the crown of pale hair.

Just as exhaustion was slowly edging in to tip the balance they had created, Calleigh let out a huge yawn. Natalia grinned, the sight was utterly endearing, and unfortunately, contagious.

"Calleigh," she murmured quietly, "Cal, come on before you pass out."

Pulling the covers down, she slipped into bed, gently tugging the blonde with her. Natalia refused to consider the implications of what she might be doing. Right now, the only thing she wanted was to be near Calleigh, and as the smaller woman snuggled closer, the brunette had her proof she wasn't the only one who didn't want to be alone tonight.

With the gentle heat of the smaller woman's body warming, and her solid presence grounding her, Natalia drifted quickly off into blessedly dreamless sleep.