This kind of story, isn't normally my MO. I've been practicing with working an array of characters into one setting and while i've always found it rather difficult, to give everyone the air they need, I do feel that this one has turned out better than some. I don't know if it's entirely in character, because it was a quick story written around a scene that came to my head one day whilst I wasn't quite sure what I was thinking. The scene with Calleigh and Kyle, is the one I'm referring too (I don't know where it came from.) So I hope that if you read this, you enjoy it and I hope, that you don't take it's faults to heart. It's a simple little piece, a brief moment in one possible life.
With the orange pavers warmed by the Miami heat and the almost opaque back pagola, glowing with the midday sun, the small backyard party started to hum. Tables were laid out with hand-made table-cloths, decorated with delicate little centerpieces the children had spent all the the previous day, learning the make with their Abuela. The kitchen was ablaze with a spicy blend of Cuban and Southern smells as the four women - two short, two tall- navigated the room with a balance and grace the rest of them feared to interrupt.
Eric's voice could be heard from the pool, his chiselled muscles glistening in the sunshine as Calleigh looked out the window, just in time to see him launch the smallest of the seven children currently in the pool, over his shoulders, into the air and -with a loud splash- back into the water at the high praise of the rest. She laughed gently, poking Carmen's arm with her elbow, causing the older woman to crane her neck to see her son spinning the eldest of her Nietos in the air. The pair of women were quickly joined by the other two, watching as Ryan took a running jump into the pool, bombing the poor children before he was yanked back and dunked under the water rather harshly, by the broad hands of Carmen's eldest son-in-law, Elena's husband Jonathan.
"He did ask for that." Calleigh spun around, meeting the mirthful eyes of Elena and she smirked. "What?" The woman questioned. "My babies were spluttering."
With a laugh, Calleigh turned back to the vegetables she'd been chopping and nodded her head, before blinking as she heard the doorbell chime. "I'll get it," Ana sing-songed, but Calleigh waved her hand.
"It's alright, It's probably Horatio." Patting her hands on a tea-towel, she manouvered her way out of the kitchen and headed down the hall, smiling as she recognised the silhouette beyond the frosted glass beside the door. "Kyle," She greeted with a blinding smile, reaching out to gather the young man in a hug as she caught Horatio's eyes, whilst he made his way up the front steps. Patting his shoulder, she gestured for him to head out the back, before stepping towards Horatio."I'm so glad you could make it."
"Calleigh," Horatio smiled, ducking his head down to kiss her cheek as Kyle brushed past her.
"Everyone's out the back." She said as she closed the door behind them, leading them through the house. She smiled when she caught him leaning over the counter to place a kiss on Carmen's cheek and she pressed her lips together tightly, when she noticed the older woman patting his hands kindly, holding on a little longer than she did with everyone else.
Horatio turned, holding out a small package to her with an almost nervous smile. "What's this?" She questioned, tentatively taking it from him, running her thumb along the blue ribbon.
"It's just a little something for Sebastian. Yelena couldn't make it, so she asked me to pass it along."
"Oh," Calleigh grinned. "that's lovely of her. I'll be sure to thank her."
And with a nod to the other women, Horatio headed outside to where the children were crawling out of the pool one by one, leaving a pile of exhausted men in their wake and Natalia was sitting at one of the tables, a wine glass in her hand and a wide smile on her face.
"You're not helping with the cooking, Miss Boa Vista?" He questioned, patting her on the shoulder as he took a seat beside her, smiling at the little girl who'd grinned when she saw him but was unable to dash over to him, because her father had her wrapped in a large towel.
"Considering the last time I tried, I'm fairly sure Calleigh wants me nowhere near her kitchen." She laughed, sipping her wine with a smirk. "But beverages I can do. Did you want a beer?" Horatio nodded, thanking her with his eyes as she stood up and headed over to the large shed, just by the pool gate. She had to dodge the children though, as they broke free of their fathers, uncles, Ryan and Natalia's fiance Nathan and ran rampant on the backyard. The three teens, Elena's sons, Micheal and Adam and Ana's daughter, Angela, ran straight for the basketball hoop with Kyle while the little ones broke off in pairs in different directions. Elena and Ana's little girls, Mara and Carie spun around and followed Natalia into the shed, most likely begging for soda and the littlest of the lot, Eric's Sebastian and Stella ran into the house, screaming excitedly for their mother.
Horatio watched them disappear, smiling as he could hear them recounting their time in the pool to her, even though he knew she would most definately have been watching from the window.
"Glad you could make it, H." He turned back around at the sound of Eric's voice as the younger man plonked himself down in the seat Natalia had vacated and thirstily chugged on the beer Horatio hadn't noticed, had been sitting there open and half-drunk.
"Wouldn't miss it. It's not every day a boy turns five."
Eric grinned from ear to ear and nodded his head. "That's true. And he's been talking about it all week." He laughed, taking another swig as Natalia returned, handing a beer to Horatio and glaring daggers at Eric, who ignored her because he'd stolen her chair.
"Mami, Papi threw Stella in the air!" Sebastian screamed happily, wrapping his arms around Calleigh's legs at the exact same time she'd moved to take a step towards the refridgerator, causing her to trip up a little. Grabbing the counter with one hand and the back of his head to brace him with the other, Calleigh chuckled nervously as Carmen pulled at his arms, detaching him from her leg.
"Sweetie," Calleigh smiled down at him, determined not to be angry at him for a little accident, and ran her fingers through his curly dark hair. "that sounds like fun, but you have to be careful in the kitchen, ok?" The boy pouted and quickly, his Abuela lifted him up and sat him on her hip, hugging him close. He was a small boy, much smaller for his age than the rest of her Nietos had been, as was Stella, and even as much as she loved all of her Nietos equally, she loved that they were so easy to hold. Silently, she did thank Calleigh's slight build for that.
"I'll take them back outside." Carmen smiled, snuggling Sebastian to her chest as Calleigh kissed his temple. "Come, mis nietos, lets go play with Tio Horatio." She said happily, sending Calleigh a wonderful smile as she held out her hand for Stella. But the little girl stood firm. She stared up at her Abuela with her arms crossed over her chest, her large green eyes jumping from her Mami to her Abuela and the force of each turn of her head, causing her thick, dark blonde curls to bounce against her shoulders, even when they were still wet.
"No, permanezco Mami." She stated, stomping her little sandeled foot on the white tile.
"Stella, Mami is very busy."
"It's alright, Carmen," Calleigh grinned, stepping out from the kitchen and lifting Stella up. "she can stay if she wants."
Carmen nodded, staying only long enough to watch Calleigh sit Stella down on the edge of the counter, before heading out the back with Sebastian.
"You're a stubborn little one." Ana joked, poking Stella's belly. The little girl just giggled, swatting her Tia's hands away.
"Yeah, just like her Papi." Calleigh laughed, causing the two sisters to share a glance and a smirk, before going back to what they'd been doing.
"There's the birthday boy!" Eric announced, standing up with his arms out wide as his mother carried the boy outside. Immediately, Sebastian's spirits were back up and he was reaching for his father with squeals of excitement. Taking him from her, Eric sat back down with the boy on his lap, making sure he could face Horatio.
"So, I hear you're five years old today?" Horatio questioned, as if he hadn't already known.
"No," Sebastian answered seriously and Eric smirked. Sebastian was a smart kid and never failed to correct the slightest omission he managed to catch. Whether it be his parents, his teachers or perfect strangers at the market, he'd catch them up. "I was five yesterday, my birthday party is today."
"Oh," Horatio sent Eric a smirk. "I do apologize."
"S'ok." He nodded, patting Horatio's arm before turning around to Eric. "Papi, can I go back in the pool?"
"Did Mami give you anything to eat while you were inside?" The boy shook his head. "Alright, but only if Ryan goes with you."
Sebastian immediately hopped off his father's lap and made his way around the table, weaving between Natalia and Nathan, who watched him intently, before sidling up beside Ryan and grabbing his hand.
"Come Ryan." He stated, pulling on the man's hand.
"Doesn't your Dad want to go swimming with you?" Ryan protested, with a beer half-way to his lips.
"No! Papi said you have to go!"
Natalia laughed and Ryan sent her a glare. But instead of stopping her gentle laughter she simply covered her mouth and continued. "I'll get you for this, Delko." Ryan warned as he placed his beer down and let himself be pulled towards the pool by the five-year-old.
"Just try, Ryan." Eric laughed, raising his bottle as if to toast him.
"Hey Dad," Horatio spun around in his chair, looking up to see Kyle at the other end of the patio. "We've got a minor accident over here." Looking past him, they could see Angela down on the ground, gripping her knee with hot but silent tears pouring from her eyes.
"Oh god, what happened?!" David, Angela's father, launched himself from the table and urged his nephews aside in order to inspect the injury. Horatio followed him over, with Kyle in tow before they realised she'd just slipped and grazed her knee.
"Kyle, would you go and ask Calleigh for some antiseptic cream and a bandage please."
The young man nodded at his father's instruction before making his way into the house.
"Hey, Kyle, what's going on out there?" Calleigh questioned with a smile whilst she was handing a stirring spoon to Stella.
"Um, Angela slipped and grazed her knee. Dad told me to ask you for a bandage and some antiseptic."
"Is she alright?" Ana asked worriedly and Kyle nodded.
"Yeah, she's fine. Just a little shaken."
"Well," Calleigh swallowed. "There are some bandages in that cupboard behind you." She pointed and Kyle immediately turned around reaching for the cupboard just into the hallway as Calleigh grabbed the antiseptic cream from the small cupboard above the stove.
"Wow," She heard him whisper and made her way over to him, asking Elena with her eyes, to watch Stella on the bench. Smirking when she noticed what he'd found, she took the bandage from his hand and with the cream, handed them to Ana. "Pretty neat, aren't they?" She asked, knowing Ana had disappeared to make her daughter feel better.
"They're awesome." He grinned, in awe and Calleigh proudly reached for the next cupboard along the hall. Opening it up to show him the locked display case just inside. "My god, how many do you have?" He questioned, his eyes bulging.
"Too many!" They heared Elena call from the kitchen and Calleigh just laughed.
"Seventeen. I'm a bit of a collector."
"Dad told me you were into guns, but this is awesome."
Calleigh laughed, knowing that the way Kyle had said it, most definately would not have been the way Horatio would have explained it. But she smiled, taking the compliment as it was. "Did he tell you what my job is?"
"You're the bullet girl, right? You test the guns?"
Calleigh shook her head, reaching for the key she had stored as high up in the cupboard as she could reach, before unlocking the cabinet in front of her and pulling out a silver 9mm. "I do a lot more than that. My science is ballistics, which means that yes, I do test fire the guns. But my job is to analyse shell casings, bullet fragments. And I work with tool marks as well, matching a weapon with an attacker is a difficult thing, most of the time it can be almost anything so i've had some fairly interesting things come to my lab. Last week was crossbow, another case a woman was killed with a medievil broadsword. I also have to know as much as I can about guns," She pulled out the clip of her 9mm and showed him how it worked, slipping it out and clipping it back in with speed.
"Still sounds cool."
Calleigh grinned. "It is pretty cool. But I'm southern girl, I like my guns. So, how is the ME's office treating you?"
"I like it. But I don't know if it's what I want to study. I know I want to work at the crime lab, just like Dad. But i've been trying to figure out exactly what I want to specialise in. Ballistics seems really interesting."
"Well," Calleigh smiled brightly, putting her gun back and locking up the cupboard before she turned to head back to the kitchen with Kyle close behind her. "if you ever want some experience, you just clear it with your Dad and I'll be happy to show you a few things."
Kyle's whole face brightened. "Really? That'd be great!"
"Not a problem," Suddenly, Calleigh's attention was snatched away as she caught sight of Stella reaching for the frosting on the birthday cake. She grabbed the little girl's wrist, halting her suddenly before lifting her off the bench and onto her hip. "Stella, that cake is for Sebby. Oh, look at you, you're covered in flour." She laughed, patting down Stella's little sundress though it did nothing to get rid of the flour. "Kyle, could you please do me a favour and take her out to Eric. We're almost done in here."
"Sure," He nodded, reaching over to take the protesting toddler, quickly whisking her outside before she kicked up too much of a stink about being taken from her mother.
"In here, Dad," Calleigh answered, ushering her sisters-in-law out of the kitchen with bowls of salad, chicken and Cuban delights as she carefully stuck the green and yellow candles in the cake in the shape of Michealangelo, the ninja turtle. "i'm in the kitchen."
Looking up, she grinned when he made his way into the loungeroom with a bundle of presents and a helium balloon that said "You're Five!" in big, bold, colourful letters.
"Hi dad," She smiled broadly, embracing him tightly as she stepped around the kitchen counter. "you're just in time for the cake."
"Here, let me take it. You grab the camera."
"Oh, thank you Daddy." She grinned so appreciatively it made him chuckle. Dashing across the loungeroom as fast as she could in her cork wedges, she grabbed the camera and lead him outside.
"Alright everyone, get ready!" Calleigh called, meeting Eric's eye with a wink as they rounded everyone up. "Angie, you're alright?" Calleigh asked, wrapping her arms around the girl's shoulders as she smiled up at her Aunt and nodded. "Where's Seb?" She asked Eric who had to turn around to see the boy balancing on Ryan's shoulders, still in the pool.
"Seb, out of the pool or you don't get your birthday cake." Eric called, grinning when Calleigh gave him a dirty look. Sebastian was out of the pool like a flash of lightning, bolting out the gate before Ryan had even made it to the steps.
"It's alright, Seb, I'll meet you there." Ryan muttered, crawling out and stretching his aching muscles.
"Come on, old man." Natalia laughed, throwing a towel at him over the fence.
Eric passed Stella over to Natalia who perched her across both her knees and Nathan's, letting her hang on to the table so that she could see her brother blow out the candles. Eric wrapped a huge towel around Sebastian, getting as much water out of his hair as he could before he caught sight of Duke in the doorway with a large green cake in his hands and everyone hushed as they started to sing Happy birthday. Calleigh snapped a photo of Seb in Eric's arms, bundled up in a towel and watching in awe as his grandfather placed the cake down in front of him. She took photos of the whole family, lost in a part Spanish, part English rendition of the song and laughed when Ana snatched the camera from her and shoved her towards Eric.
She didn't even protest. Leaning into him as his arm snaked around her shoulders, she leant up to kiss his lips and she knew the flash of light in the corner of her eye, was her sister-in-law.
She laughed into Eric's mouth before turning back to Seb so the three of them could finish off the candles together.