TITLE: Return Gently at Twilight, Chapter 1
AUTHOR: WhatBecomesOfYou
PAIRINGS: Eric/Calleigh
PROMPT: Haunting
SUMMARY: One long night at the lab, a ghost is lurking around, and old memories are brought to the surface.
SPOILERS/WARNINGS: Anything through the end of season seven is fair game.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Title taken from a poem by TS Eliot. Set sometime after the end of season seven, but no real timeline given. Written for paranormal25 on LiveJournal.

Eric rubbed his eyes and glanced at his watch. It seemed as though time had moved so slowly, and yet, they were no closer to solving the cases. He glanced out the window, at the reds and oranges of the Miami sunset, painting the floor a vivid, bright picture. A tree branch swayed in the distance, casting eerie shadows across the room. Settling down with the evidence to process, he sighed. It was going to be a long night. At least they were all in it…together.

Ryan peered through his microscope, analyzing the tiny pieces of evidence that they had collected earlier in the day. "Ryan, I need those results," Natalia said somewhat impatiently, hovering over his shoulder and tapping one heel on the floor, shattering his concentration.

"They will be ready in a while, be patient, Natalia," he replied. Muttering furiously under his breath as she walked away, he turned back to the microscope. "I can only go so fast and have the results be accurate." Feeling a brush of cold air, he shivered involuntarily. He looked down, peering through the eyepiece. "What the –"

He reeled backward from the microscope, pulling out the slide quickly – almost too quickly - and stared at it in absolute horror. The slide, previously in pristine condition, had cracked and shattered, vaguely resembling a spider's web in its pattern.

Glancing around, the lab seemed as normal. He let out a pained sigh and found a new slide, preparing to put the evidence on it and get back to work. Thankfully, he thought with relief, the evidence hadn't been ruined. He could still salvage this.

Later that evening, the sound of gunshots rang out through the silent halls, emanating from the firing range. Calleigh sighed, rubbing her eyes and taking off the earmuffs. Smiling weakly, she brushed invisible dust particles from her shirt and walked out of the range, in search of caffeinated rejuvenation. The tiredness, she thought bleakly, would take over soon enough, and the last thing any of them needed was a tragic firing range accident due to fatigue. Firing guns could wait.

As she walked through the hallway, she felt a cool rush of air, a welcome change from the stifling humidity she had felt when coming into work that morning. She shivered, and the tiny hairs on her arms stood on end, almost petrified into place. "That's odd," she murmured, shoving it to the back of her mind. "It must be the air conditioning kicking in." Continuing on, her heels clicked rhythmically against the floor, her mind set on the beacon that was the break room coffee machine, and the strange antics of the air conditioner were soon forgotten.

Eric saw a flash of golden blonde hair round the corner, headed for the break room. "Calleigh," he said, loudly enough to attract her attention, but not loudly enough to attract anyone else's. "Everything going okay down in ballistics?"

She scrunched her nose and sighed, leaning into him. "Getting a bit tired, nothing to update though," she placed one hand on his upper arm and groaned slightly. "Need coffee."

"Let's get coffee for each of us then," he said softly, placing a chaste kiss on her cheek. "No need for us to fall asleep here."

"Ew, no," she replied with a sleepy grin. "Can you imagine the bed head I'd get from sleeping here?"

He looked at her for a moment, deep in thought. "You'd still be beautiful."

She smiled and let out a small yawn. "You're so sweet. 'Kay, I need coffee now."

A while later, after a fresh pot had been brewed, the two crime scene investigators stood around, sipping the scalding hot liquid. "I wonder when we can go home," Calleigh said, arching her back. "It'd be nice to get some real sleep."

"Last time I saw H, about an hour or so ago, he said we needed to stay for now. The night shift have their own cases to take care of, and there's just too many for us to justify skipping out now and picking up in the morning."

"Great," she replied, sarcastically. "That's the last thing I wanted to hear."

"Cal, you know if I heard anything that would release us for the night, I'd tell you."

"I know," she drained the remainder of the cup into her mouth and smiled. "I guess I was hoping you were withholding information."


She turned to leave, holding the cup in one hand, when Ryan came in, holding a tray of shattered microscope slides. "Did either of you have anything to do with this?" he asked, his eyes narrowed slightly.

Exchanging quick glances, both Calleigh and Eric shook their heads. "No, not us," Eric said. "What happened?"

"I leave the lab for five minutes, and when I come back, I find all of this next to my microscope. I thought it was some sort of prank."

Calleigh pinched the bridge of her nose. "Well, you two can discuss the merits of this being a prank; meanwhile, I'm going back to work. These cases won't solve themselves."

"'Bye Cal," Eric said, giving her a quick kiss, tasting the faint taste of lab coffee lingering on her lips.

"I'd say goodbye to you too, Calleigh, but I think Eric here would hit me for it," Ryan said, with a short laugh. As they all laughed, she slipped away, her mind cleared. It was time for her to go back to work.

Calleigh slumped against the wall of the ballistics lab a short time later, the tiredness washing over her in waves, the immediate buzz from her cup of coffee worn off. Burying her face in her knees, she closed her eyes. "Just a few minutes," she whispered to herself. "Just a few minutes, and then I can get back to work."

She faded off to sleep, her hair falling over her face. A person stepped out from the shadowy reaches of the lab and watched her sleep. Their face twitched into a very small, very faint smile, before resolutely turning stoic and emotionless. They flitted back into the shadows, back where they had come from, still always keeping one eye on the sweet southern blonde and her clandestine nap.

-to be continued-