Pairing: Calleigh/Natalia CSI: Miami
Rating: PG- 13. Mostly angst and fluff
Disclaimer: I don't own them. If I did...yeah that doesnt need to be elaborated on
Spoiler alert! Beware spoilers for the last episodes of Season 5
Summary: I DESPISE Calleigh/Jake. Therefore, this fic is an attempt to explain the mess that is TPTB's decision to throw Calleigh and Jake together. It didn't come out as well as I had intended and can be considered almost more a character study than anything else.
CSI Calleigh Duquesne stood in a place of unsurpassed beauty. The midnight sky above her was deep, velvet blue. Its endless expanse was broken only by the sparkling diamond points of the stars and the low hanging moon whose light danced across the unending waves, making them look frosted where they caressed the silvered sands of the Miami beach. The soft night air carried only the slightest hint of its normal sultry heat – a gentle touch instead of a choking hold – and it whispered through her pale hair and teased her lips. The soft, steady rush of the waves was soothing – a reminder of time's endless march. It was a feast of the senses most of the world would pay dearly to experience.
The southern Detective however, was aware of none of it. She saw, felt, and heard nothing: she was numb to the world around her.
A causal observer would see only a slight woman standing still; her arms crossed and her feet planted in the sand, and her hair – silver in the ghostly light – tossed playfully by the breeze. Even from a close distance she appeared calm, centered, simply enjoying a restful view despite the late hour.
They would have seen a lie.
Behind the controlled façade Calleigh presented to the world, her soul was screaming and her heart was shredding itself apart.
It was never supposed to happen this fast! He can't feel that strongly after this long. What if I misjudged him? What if I've already been made and he's toying with me? Dear God, what if he knows about the investigation and he's playing me? The uncontrolled thoughts ran rampant through a mind normally as precise and ordered as the shots she fired every day in the lab, leaving behind chaos and uncertainty.
Jake Berkely had kissed her, in full view of the lab…and she had let him. The Detective felt violated and used, but worse than that, she felt scared. And Calleigh Duquesne hated, more than anything else in the world, to feel scared.
She wasn't scared for her life, or even, at this point, for her career. She was terrified for her heart, because she knew, without a doubt, the one person she most wanted to protect from that sight had seen everything.
She had felt those dark chocolate eyes on her back the whole way to the elevator, and the blonde could only too easily imagine the pain and confusion shadowing the rich gaze where warmth and laughter would normally be.
It was enough to make her sick.
She clutched her arms tighter, clenching her jaw. The breeze picked up, seemingly slapping her in the face, but her eyes remained dry. She hadn't cried at Tim's funeral, she wasn't going to now. Not yet anyway, not until she knew…
Not until I know for sure Natalia won't forgive me.
It was the tiniest sliver of hope, but even as she thought it, the ballistics expert ruthlessly stomped on it. In order to make Natalia understand, she would have to tell her the whole truth, and doing that would put the DNA tech in danger, both professionally, and possibly physically.
There was no telling how dirty Jake really was. That was her job - to find out, and until she did, she had a choice to make: to save her own heart, or endanger the woman she loved. Calleigh could reveal her part in the IAB investigation of Det. Jake Berkley to Natalia; explain that the kiss and her actions were merely part of an undercover operation, thereby putting Natalia's job and possibly life in danger. Or she could stay silent, protecting the woman she had come to love, but probably destroying herself in the process.
Not really a choice at all
The part of the small woman that was a cop and a CSI could see it all so clearly; the steps she would need to take, the things she would have to say and do – like a path of jagged stone leading away from everything she held dear – painful, but firm.
The part of her that had dared to hope she might finally have found someone to share a life with saw clearly too: saw the look in Natalia's eyes - the disappointment, confusion, and eventually the anger - and felt the searing, shattering pain of her heart breaking.
A great, terrible wave of grief and helplessness swept over her, crushing the blonde beneath its weight. Like an ancient tree finally succumbing to a windstorm, Calleigh's body slowly gave way and she felt herself sink to her knees in the cool sand. Her hands fell to her sides and her fingers clutched at the rough grains, trying to hold onto something solid – and failing. She felt more helpless in this moment than perhaps at any other time in her entire life: more helpless even then when her father's drunken rages had turned into abuse. But still her eyes – sightless to the physical world – were dry.
Slowly, the anguish spread through her, a creeping tide of decay. The Detective felt hollow, empty, as if the numbness in her body had leached into her soul, and she welcomed it. This was her oldest and best defense, one formed as a child and honed as a police officer. Her childhood and her job had long ago hammered into Calleigh the dangers of emotion. Strong emotions were a weakness that her father's belt and the lessons it had taken to earn the badge at her hip had taught her to hide away. It wasn't so much that she didn't feel, it was that she didn't let herself acknowledge that she felt. Emotion, like evidence, was examined, studied, and then put aside as clinically and rationally as possible, all without affecting her outward countenance or interfering with the job at hand. And when it couldn't be analyzed, it was ruthlessly controlled and held in check by an iron will few of her colleagues ever guessed at.
Disgust, sadness, frustration, relief, happiness and especially fear – everything she felt – was either clinically examined for a cause, or dismissed and locked away. Only the fire of anger ever escaped her control: anger, and now this crushing, aching grief.
Only recently had Calleigh let herself dare to feel again, dare to open herself to the possibility of passion and depth of emotion she had shied away from for so long.
Only recently had Natalia given her that courage.
I knew it was too good to last.
And now whatever the two might have built was being stripped away by her duty; a duty that Calleigh knew she had chosen willingly and therein sealed her fate.
So her heart did what it could to protect itself: it retreated.
Or tried to.
The CSI tried to analyze what she felt, tried to quantify and understand, but she could not. Not because it was beyond her understanding, but because her soul refused to consider her emotion in such cold terms.
Sensing failure, she switched tactics, breathing steadily, trying to empty herself of everything – to make her heart as numb as her body.
And again she failed. It was as if, since she had allowed herself to feel again, she couldn't stop – the shackles of her old control not only thrown off, but broken and now useless. Even worse, it seemed that the harder she tried not to feel, the less successful she was, so that now on top of guilt and fear and grief came anger. Calleigh was angry at herself for her loss of control; at her superiors for putting her in this position; at Jake for his actions, and at life for just being damned unfair sometimes. And she had never been able to truly tame her anger.
The moon ghosted silently overhead and the waves continued their everlasting assault on the beach while Calleigh Duquesne knelt alone, fighting a silent battle…and loosing.
CSI Natalia Boa Vista stood looking out over a view worthy of painting by a master. It was a place the brunette had stood many times, both in sun and storms and, like now, in darkness. The sight of silver sand and ethereal waves under a gentle moon had never failed to stir her, nature's beauty easing something in her heart…until this moment.
To an outside observer, the DNA tech might have appeared to be nothing more than an accidental tourist; merely a passerby enjoying the scenery.
They would have been mistaken
Natalia saw none of the physical beauty around her. The entirety of her focus was a still, small, kneeling figure at the edge of the water. Leaning against a convenient palm tree, Natalia crossed her arms and suppressed a shiver – though of what the brunette couldn't have said. So many thoughts and emotions were stampeding through her mind Natalia couldn't seem to hold on to any of them long enough to truly feel anything. Instead her fractious thoughts kept coming back to that afternoon: to the sight of Calleigh kissing Jake Berkley.
She'd happened to look up just as the ballistics expert appeared in the hallway – somehow sensing the other woman's nearness. She'd smiled as she watched the blonde detective, determined and focused as always, and then returned to her work. They had dinner plans tomorrow.
Natalia still didn't know what made her look up again. When she did, for a moment, it was as if her brain refused to understand what her eyes were trying to tell it. That tiny eternity of confusion couldn't last however, and the brunette watched, stricken, as her lover kissed the man that had tried to put Natalia away for a crime she hadn't committed.
A sick, cold terror swept over her and she could only stand there, frozen as the two broke apart and Calleigh, after a momentary pause, strode toward the elevator. How long she stood there, Natalia had no idea. Only Eric's hand on her shoulder broke the spell that held her trapped. Though the touch was gentle, Natalia felt it like a brand and nearly flinched. Confusion, anger and grief choked at her, thick and hot, and her eyes wouldn't seem to focus no matter how many times she blinked. It had suddenly become difficult to breathe in the lab.
"Natalia? Hey you ok?"
"Yeah. Fine Eric," she had managed absently and walked off, leaving a bewildered Delko in her wake.
Natalia didn't even know where she was going, she just needed to walk, her body understanding that stillness at this moment would be devastating. She didn't get very far though.
"Ms. Boa Vista, may I speak to you for a moment please." Delivered in a whiskey smooth voice, it wasn't really a question.
Lieutenant Horatio Caine was standing in front of her, head tilted and hands loosely clasping his sunglasses, and there was no way she could avoid him. The DNA tech must have nodded because the older man turned and motioned for her to join him in his office. Once there, Horatio closed the blinds and motioned for her to have a seat on the leather sofa, where he joined her. Struggling to focus, Natalia looked up, uncertainty finally making itself heard over the cacophony of other emotions.
"Lieutenant," she started, confused.
"It's alright Natalia, you haven't done anything wrong. But Natalia...I'm going to ask you a question, and I need you to answer me honestly, would you do that please?" He was being gentle with her, and that, more than anything, was scaring the brunette.
Unable to reply, she simply nodded.
"Are you in love with Calleigh?"
Suddenly Natalia wasn't having any trouble focusing.
Like someone had just dumped a bucket of ice water over her, she stared at her Lieutenant.
How did he guess? How does he know? Oh shit, what if he's going to try and dismiss me? No that's not his style…
"Natalia, Natalia, listen to me," he said, gently grasping her hand in his and interrupting the whirl of terrified thoughts. "You know I would never betray a confidence, but I need to know. Are you in love with Calleigh?"
The brunette looked at him, searching his face and finding only compassion in his ocean blue eyes.
"Yes," she sighed simply, looking down.
"And are you two in a relationship?"
Now it was bitterness that welled to the surface of her heart; given voice with a dark, if weak chuckle. "I thought so." Suddenly remembering who she was talking to though, Natalia snapper her gaze up, "Horatio I promise it won't affect my work.."
He interrupted her gently.
"I'm not concerned about that Natalia. Right now, I'm concerned about you."
Something about the way he said it though, made it seem like there was more to his concern than just a supervisor watching out for his people.
The red head looked away for a moment, as if considering something. When he met Natalia's gaze again, there was a wariness to his eyes that caused something inside the brunette to tremble; with fear, or hope, she couldn't have said.
"Natalia, what I'm about to tell you, could put you in danger. Normally, I wouldn't consider this course of action, but,"
"Is this about Calleigh?"
"Yes," he started.
"Then I need to know," she said forcefully.
Caine ducked his head and she saw a sad smile touch his lips. "I thought you might say that." He took a breath and then continued, his deep voice tense with some emotion she couldn't identify.
"Calleigh's actions today are part of her cover. There is an ongoing IAB investigation of Detective Jake Berkley. Calleigh was tapped..." and here his voice grew hard, and Natalia understood that her Lieutenant was not happy with the situation. "Calleigh was assigned to use her past relationship with Detective Berkley to get close to him and assist in the investigation."
Natalia could only stare at him. "Its… you mean it's a cover?" Hope flared, but she crushed it ruthlessly before it could become painful.
"You understand of course, that she couldn't tell you. Not only was she ordered not to, but knowing may very well place you in danger. I wouldn't have told you, but…"
But he'd seen her watching Calleigh.
"Horatio I," Natalia trailed off, trying to understand the implications of what had just happened and still apparently unable to manage a complete sentence.
"I imagine…that she's feeling very lonely right now," Caine replied gently, shooting her a very significant look.
Natalia was standing before anything remotely resembling a coherent thought crossed her mind. She was at the door before something occurred to her.
"Lieutenant….Horatio. You asked if I loved her. You didn't ask if she loved me."
Caine looked at her and ducked his head, but not before Natalia saw the sparkle in his eyes. "That's because…I already knew she does."
Their eyes held each other for a moment and Natalia felt a rush of gratitude.
"Thank you," she whispered.
"Go find her," was his reply. She was already halfway out the door when he said it.
Natalia strode through the halls of the lab, only barely able to keep her self from running when,
"Hey Natalia! Natalia wait up. What is up with you?"
Eric. She loved him for his concern, but right now, the DNA tech could cheerfully strangle her colleague for his timing.
Worry etched in his deep brown eyes, Delko put his hands on her shoulders. "Natalia, what is going on, are you ok?" Before she could figure out what the hell she was going to tell him, another, very knowing, voice interrupted.
"Natalia's fine sweetheart, she just has somewhere she needs to be right now."
Dr. Alexx Woods, their striking coroner, reached up and laid a hand on Eric's arm, gently pulling him around to face her. "Now Eric honey, I could use some help in autopsy before you go home for the evening please," she said smoothly and firmly as, over Eric's shoulder, she nodded her head toward the elevator, holding Natalia's eyes.
The brunette wasn't going to look a gift horse in the mouth; she spun and made it into the elevator before anyone else waylaid her. Once out of the parking garage and driving away from the Lab however, something very key occurred to Natalia.
I have no idea where she'd go. Calleigh's cell phone was off, and it was getting dark.
A quick drive by proved that the blonde was neither at her condo nor at Natalia's house, so DNA tech simply stood for a moment, forcing herself to consider her lover's actions as the sky bled from purple to indigo to black. The range. If she's that upset, she'd be at the range…or the beach.
One was on route to the other, so Natalia got back in the car and drove, a heavy, dreading urgency spurring her on. The range was closed and dark, and so the brunette drove to the beach. Just as fear of not finding her lover started to sink its icy claws into her, she saw a familiar car.
Relief washed through her, but it wasn't until she was standing on the beach, actually seeing Calleigh's kneeling figure, that Natalia allowed herself to truly breathe.
She stood for a moment, gathering herself, and then walked out onto the sand.
Calleigh had lost track of how long she had knelt in the sand: long enough for her knees to begin to ache and a heavy, empty dread to settle in her chest. Somewhere during her lonely vigil, the Detective had reached a conclusion. I have to talk to Natalia. She deserves someone who doesn't have to lie to her, and I won't put her in danger.
With the decision came a kind of searing finality that cleared her mind, and her eyes. For the first time that night, the blonde saw the moon and the waves and the silver sand; saw it, and didn't care. She felt like she was looking through prison bars. Her eyes however, were dry, and she knew what she had to do.
With one last breath, she stood and brushed her slacks off.
"Beautiful isn't it?"
Hard shock of adrenaline charging through her, Calleigh spun to see Natalia strolling across to her, her white shirt gleaming and her normally bronze skin kissed by the moon. Caught off guard by the sight of the object of her turmoil walking toward her, Calleigh's fragile, newly forged armor was shredded, tearing at the wounds in her heart.
So, this is what bleeding to death feels like, a part of her catalogued coldly.
"Natalia…" she stopped, forcing herself to breathe. If she had to do this now, so be it. It didn't stop her from trembling inside. "Natalia," she stated again, steeling her voice.
She never got a chance to continue.
The brunette simply walked up and drew Calleigh into her arms, holding her tightly.
"I know, Calleigh. It's ok. Horatio told me everything."
The woman in her arms trembled, and it made Natalia's heart ache. She didn't stop to think about anything but helping Calleigh. "I know Calleigh. It's ok. Horatio told me everything. I know you're part of an investigation that's looking at Jake. I'm not going to pretend I like it. I don't like the idea of you putting yourself in danger that way. But I know you, and I know that you couldn't not do this if there was a chance he was a dirty cop."
Now Natalia pulled back and lifted Calleigh's chin with a touch, holding onto the shocked, fear darkened gaze, she continued.
"I love you Calleigh. Nothing is going to change that: least of all your sense of duty and your responsibility to this lab. Those are some of the best parts of you, and I would never, ever want that to change. I also know why you thought you couldn't tell me. I know you thought you were protecting me. "
Here the brunette paused to see if any of her words were sinking in.
"It doesn't actually make me any less pissed at you. But it means you can make it up to me," she said with a gentle, coaxing smile. Natalia watched the storm of emotions pass behind Calleigh's eyes as the smaller woman tried to process what she was saying. Come on Cal, its ok, come back to me, she prayed.
"Horatio told you about the investigation," the Detective said hesitantly.
"Why?" It was the main thing that Calleigh was stumbling over at the moment.
Now Natalia looked uncomfortable.
"He saw me watching you today."
"When Jake kissed me." It wasn't a question.
"Yeah. He called me into his office and asked if I was in love with you." Natalia made sure Calleigh was looking at her, when she continued.
"I said yes."
The blonde detective seemed to stay frozen for another second, and then, in an instant, the tension drained from her body and she melted into Natalia's arms, burying her face in the taller woman's shoulder and clinging to her. For a long moment, the two just stood there, the only sound the soft crash of the waves and the whisper of the wind. Natalia laid her cheek on the crown of Calleigh's head and just concentrated on holding her, stroking her back and breathing.
How close did I just come to loosing her?
It was a thought she really, really didn't want to examine too closely, so when the woman in her arms looked up at her with grief and a shine of tears in her eyes, Natalia didn't let her apologize, she just kissed her.
For the first time that night, Calleigh felt the sting of tears behind her eyes. This time though, they weren't tears of pain or grief: they were tears of relief, and joy. The blonde looked up, needing to apologize and to explain. She didn't get the chance. Natalia's lips were warm and soft and knowing and her tongue slipped into Calleigh's mouth with ease.
Suddenly all the doubt and grief transformed into need: desperate, hot, hungry need. Suddenly Calleigh couldn't touch Natalia enough. Her hands roamed over silk and cotton covered curves like they were starving, but she wanted more. As Natalia fisted her hands in Calleigh's hair, turning the kiss hard, the blonde yanked the brunette's shirt from her slacks and slipped her hands underneath.
She nearly groaned at the feeling of Natalia's satin skin under her fingertips. Everything - her fear, her anger, and the crushing grief she had felt earlier - everything was swept away on a tide of lust and joy as her hands caressed her lover's body.
With a twist, the blonde pulled Natalia down into the sand and straddled her, by some miracle, still kissing her. Natalia however, used the momentum and her longer frame to keep rolling, and pinned Calleigh beneath her. Breaking apart, panting for breath, the two women looked at each other, a long moment of electric silence stretching between them…and then Natalia snorted.
Calleigh sputtered, choked, and then finally couldn't help it. Natalia flopped down beside her, pulling the blonde to her while both of them laughed until they were gasping for breath. There might have been an edge of desperation to the laughter, but it was laughter nonetheless.
"Oh my God, I have sand everywhere!"
Calleigh stretched out across the brunette and chuckled, brushing away a sand encrusted lock of Natalia's hair.
"I have sand in places it most certainly shouldn't be."
"Serves you right for trying to be a martyr," Natalia said, her tone only half teasing.
Calleigh sobered. "I know, but I won't apologize for wanting to protect you Natalia. I can't. Its who I am."
The brunette sighed. "I know. I just…When I saw you with Jake." She didn't finish. She didn't have to, Calleigh understood.
"I've never been that scared," Calleigh admitted quietly. "Not for myself, or my standing in the lab, but for you, and for what you would think. I love you Natalia. If you were hurt, it would kill me."
The last was nearly whispered, and Natalia's heart clenched. She knew how brutal Calleigh's past was. Even though it had been a father and not a lover, the old pain was something they shared. And because of that, she knew how much it cost her lover to admit that fear. She needed to reassure Calleigh.
"I know you love me…Horatio said so." She teased gently and nearly breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a flash of humor on the blonde's face before Calleigh's expression turned considering.
"So Horatio knows?"
"Yeah. And now that I think about, I'm pretty sure Alexx does to, because she was awfully sneaky about making sure that Eric didn't hold me up when I was trying to find you."
"Horatio and Alexx? I thought we were keeping this a secret?"
"I thought we were too."
"Well, Alexx doesn't really count. I swear that woman is an empath or a psychic."
"Funny. Course, I would say the same about Horatio." A pause, "Hey, at least Eric hasn't figured it out yet. And you know if he hasn't, Ryan hasn't," she said brightly.
Calleigh groaned and buried her head into the crook of Natalia's neck.
"That doesn't necessarily make me feel any better."
"Are you really upset about Horatio and Alexx knowing?"
Calleigh's head snapped up at the uncertainty she heard tainting Natalia's voice.
"Natalia listen to me. I would tell everyone, gladly if I didn't know just how many problems it would cause. I am not, nor will I ever be ashamed of us, and I could never be upset about our friends knowing." She felt the brunette relax beneath her and settled her head back down.
"I still don't like the idea of you knowing about the investigation."
"Well I don't like the idea of you being in the investigation, so we're even. I know you're scared Calleigh, and I know why, but I love you and I'm not going away and we are in this together, so you're not getting rid of me umph…"
Her soliloquy was beautifully silenced by soft lips as Calleigh kissed her gently. "It'll be ok Natalia." Somehow, because it has to be.
"It has to be," whispered the blonde, unknowingly echoing Natalia's thoughts.
Tightening her hold on her lover, Natalia gave herself a mental shake and moved to stand up, pulling Calleigh with her. Dusting themselves off as best they could, the two women stood side by side for a moment, finally able to appreciate the soft beauty of the beach. The moon was just kissing the tops of the waves as they joined hands.
"Come on. Lets go home."
"That," Natalia said, "Is the best thing I've heard all day."
So with a last quiet kiss and a glance at the eternal waves, the two walked back to their cars and their lives.
"Hmmm?" came the sleepy reply.
"The next time we have a near crisis; can we do it somewhere less… sandy?"
A quiet chuckle and a gentle kiss was the only reply.