Title: Tipping Point

Rating: PG

Pairing: Calleigh/Natalia CSI: Miami

Disclaimer: I do not own CSI: Miami or its characters. This should be obvious.

Spoilers: Episode 7xNo idea "Tipping Point" Though, very mild spoilers.

Summary: Another "beyond the scenes" fic. Natalia deals with the events in the episode. Angsty, but not depressing. Assumes established relationship

A/N: Unbeta'd as usual, so please forgive any mistakes.

So many funerals.

Though this was her first, she knew she was not alone in the practice. Horatio was famous for it; his silent vigils at the side of families he'd touched perhaps giving him some measure of closure, though no one dared ask him.

Nor was he the only one.

How many times had Calleigh stood here, just like this, in black, watching a stranger being lowered into the ground? How many victims had been buried beneath the rich green grass of Miami's cemeteries under that watchful jade gaze? How many names still echoed in the silence of the Detective's mind?

Natalia didn't know, but she had one of her own now. One stark image of a casket being lowered into the ground. One long, painful sob of a mother bereft to fill the silence. One memory of an innocent dead to stay with her from this point on. One day she would never forget.

And yet, this was not her pain. She would carry a piece of it forever, but this was not her place, and so with a last silent prayer, Natalia turned to go.

Turned, and found someone waiting for her.

Across the quiet cemetery, standing in the shade of a great Oak, Calleigh stood watching her.

She should have been surprised, but somehow, Natalia wasn't. Her feet carried her forward, heels sinking in the lush grass and hair twisting in the soft breeze. Without any conscious direction her eyes met those of the woman she loved and even separated by the slight distance she could see the compassion in their pale depths. The smaller woman made no move, no outward gesture, but she didn't have to. Natalia held her eyes, and knew then that the memory, and the pain, was not hers to bear alone.

Closing the distance, Natalia slowed, at a loss of what to say. Calleigh too was wearing black, but it was her outfit from earlier, not a dress. Still it made Natalia wonder about the Detective's penchant for wearing the colors of mourning. Before she could find something to say, however, Calleigh simply held out her hand, understanding on her features.

"Come with me," the blonde said quietly, squeezing Natalia's hand gently.

Together they turned, and where Natalia would have given the funeral one last glance, Calleigh shook her head.

"No, Natalia, don't look back."

Another squeeze of her fingers, and then she was being handed into the passenger side of Calleigh's Crossfire to find a plain white shirt and her old jeans there.

"Calleigh?" she questioned, confused. A part of her still felt like it stood at that grave, disconnected and hurting and unable to make sense of things.

"Trust me," was her lover's only answer.

When they pulled up in front of the Reverend's house, its blackened railings and scorched paint already disappearing under the ministrations of an entire neighborhood, Natalia finally understood.

"It's about this too," Calleigh said softly, watching the bustle of activity outside her car. Her own memories crowded her voice and thickened her accent and Natalia could almost see the shadows lurking in her eyes. The brunette just looked at the woman beside her, and for the first time that day, her silent prayers turned to those of thanks.

Leaning over, she pressed her lips to Calleigh's, trying to convey the extent of her gratitude and love in the simple gesture. When she pulled back and saw the shine in green eyes, Natalia knew she'd succeeded.

"Go, I'll see you at home," was all the Detective said.

Natalia nodded, her own eyes stinging slightly.

Taking a deep breath, she got out of the car and walked toward the house. The sounds of construction filled the air: the pounding of hammer on wood, the whining of saws, the rattling of tarps, and above it all, the proud, hopeful and fearless voices of a community reclaiming what was theirs. The sound washed through Natalia like a clean wave, gradually leaving peace in its wake.

Looking around, she also realized she was not alone.

Like a sentinel in black, Horatio stood at the edge of the organized chaos; watching, but never truly a part of it. Moving to stand next to him, the two just looked on silently for a moment.

'This, this is why we do this," Natalia found herself saying, realizing even as the words left her that she truly meant it, and feeling a slow hope swell within her.

"Yes it is," Horatio answered simply, but his blue eyes held hers, and the depths she found there echoed her own feelings.

It brought gentle smiles to both their faces, and with a soft touch at his shoulder, Natalia turned to the house. Horatio might have his own memories, but this needed to be part of hers.


Hours later, dusty, paint speckled and exhausted, Natalia came home to find Calleigh waiting and that too, became part of her memory.