This was just a little fun that I came up with that I thought you guys might enjoy! It's not meant to be too deep, just something light for a change, so I hope you all have fun with it.
With varying degrees of difficulty, Calleigh managed to stumbled her way up the front steps of the crime-lab. She caught the toe of her cherry-red flip-flops on the top step and with a hiss - as her toe impacted the concrete - she looked around to make sure that no one had seen her misstep. Confident that no one was looking in her direction, she reached for the chubby hand of the little girl who had drifted away in the time it had taken her to readjust the heavy bag on her shoulder. Making her way through the doors, she smiled gratefully at an officer who held it open for her and growled as the little boy on her hip tugged on one of her loose braids. He looked up at her innocently and Calleigh's frustration with him disappeared quickly because he loved her hair and she knew that he didn't mean to pull any strands right out of her head.
His hair was a similar colour, though the roots were dark and his hair was thick with curls. He had a cheeky grin that shined lopsidedly and it made her happy every time she saw it. Seeing so much of his father in him. "Momma, I tired." The little girl beside her whined, pulling on her hand as they stepped onto the elevator.
"We're almost there, sweetpea. Just a few more minutes, are you okay with that?" She tried to soothe her, but the little girl wanted to be carried and there was no way Calleigh was going to be able to manage it, carrying both of them. Meike was nearly three years old, with beautiful blonde hair, pulled away from her face in loose piggy-tail braids, just like Calleigh's though her eyes and lips were her father's. Mateo was only eighteen months and while both were still in diapers and Momma's little angels, she couldn't go anywhere without Meike wanting to be carried and Mateo wanting to break free. Neither of which she could allow to happen.
"Okay." She muttered, wandering behind her as Calleigh pulled her along. They made their way off the elevator and towards Calleigh's Ballistics lab. Sitting Mateo down on her workbench, she dumped her bag down beside him and smirked when he immediately tried to start going through it, pulling out bottles and Diapers and pacifiers. Calleigh grabbed a pile of diapers that were about to fall to the ground before shoving them back into the bag and giving him that look that always managed to stop him in his tracks. Locking his little hands between his knees, he smiled up at her as his little feet - clad in red baby Converse - kicked about below him.
"Can you two stay here for a moment please, Meike, watch your brother." The little girl nodded as Calleigh rounded the bench, grabbing bits and pieces to throw in her kit before taking it out of her cabinet and putting them inside.
"What's that, Momma?" Meike asked and Calleigh spun around, just noticing that she'd followed.
"Momma has to go to work for a little while, Meike, but you're going to stay here with some of Momma's friends." She smiled, guiding her back around to where Mateo was sitting, munching on the sleeve of his shirt.
"Hey, Calleigh," Natalia's voice made her look up and she smiled quickly, gathering her things up again before she lifted Mateo off the bench. "what's up?"
"Oh, hey Nat, sorry I'm in a bit of a rush and these two have been running circles around me all morning."
Natalia chuckled and bent down so that she was eye to eye with Meike, tickling her belly until the little girl giggled. "Oh, I understand. Horatio called me out too, I was just getting ready to go. You can ride with me if you want."
Calleigh breathed out deeply. "Oh, that'd be wonderful and hey, you wouldn't happen to have any shoes I could borrow, would you?" Natalia eyed Calleigh's flip-flops and nodded with a grin.
"Yeah, I'll just grab my spare pair from my locker."
Ryan scratched his brow absently as he flicked through another hour's worth of surveillance footage. He figured that this job he'd been assigned from Horatio, had to be the most agonizing, boring task he'd ever been given and he'd even found himself nodding off on occasion. He was so distracted in fact, that the sound of the door opening made him jump clean out of his skin. He spun around, rolling backwards in his chair with a look of confusion on his face as he watched the trio waddle into the AV lab.
At the front of the line was Meike in her striped stockings and her denim skirt with a little red hoodie and behind her, Calleigh had a hand on Mateo's shoulder, ushering the small boy across the room even though he was trying to grab at everything in his path. Calleigh herself, was weighed down with a huge daiper bag and her kit and he continued to stare at her as she lifted each child, up onto the bench before turning to him with a wide, hopeful smile.
"No." He said immediately and Calleigh narrowed her eyes.
"Please, Ryan, Horatio called me in at the last minute and I haven't had time to find them a sitter, please, I shouldn't be out at the scene too long."
"But Calleigh," He whined and noticed both of the children staring at him because he'd reacted to their mother's request in much the same way they often did. "I don't have time, I have to sift through all of this evidence and-"
She cut him off. "Ryan, please."
"Why can't Eric look after them? They're his kids."
Calleigh smirked, crossing her arms over her chest as she glanced over her shoulder at Natalia, making her way into the room and handing Calleigh her spare pair of heels. Thankfully, Calleigh thought, they were tall and black and just her kind of shoe. They weren't what she'd expected, considering Natalia's regular choice for strappy heels and she was grateful.
"Eric's at work. Okay so, Ryan, they have snacks in the bag and everything they're going to need. Mateo's next feed is going to be in about an hour and you might need to keep an eye on Meike, she's developed a habit of wandering off."
"What's with the shoes?" He pointed and Calleigh shrugged.
"Well, I can't exactly wear flip-flops to a crime scene, Ryan," She smirked. "it's unprofessional."
Ryan furrowed his brow. "You're wearing jeans and a Blondie t-shirt."
Calleigh glared playfully. "I don't expect you to understand, just, don't misplace my children, please."
Ryan looked at the kids out of the corner of his eye, wincing as they grinned up at him with that facade of innocence they'd managed to master. "I make no promises."
"I have a Lady Smith strapped to the back of my jeans, Ryan." She raised a single brow.
He gulped. "They won't leave my sight." He practically saluted and Meike giggled, causing Calleigh and Natalia to smirk.
"Alright babies, Momma's going to be back as soon as she can so you be good for Ryan, alright."
They both nodded, hugging Calleigh tightly with their little arms around her neck. Mateo held on a little longer, not truely wanting his mother to leave him with Ryan because even though he'd seen Ryan at their house a few times, at all of their parties and sometimes when their Papi had friends over to watch football games on TV, he still wasn't quite sure about the man. Momma seemed to trust him enough to leave them with him and that seemed to be enough for Meike, but as Calleigh and Natalia waved their final goodbyes, Mateo's eyes started to well with tears.
"Oh no," Ryan spluttered. "Don't, please don't." He begged but Mateo was already gone. He was watching his mother through the glass walls as she disappeared down the hall and when she was finally out of sight, he let out an almighty wail. Ryan picked him up and rested him on his hip, trying his best to soothe the boy but he had no idea how. "Mommy's gonna be back soon." He tried, but Mateo was having none of his empty promises and even Ryan was hardpressed to believe that she'd really be back 'soon'. If the case was high-profile enough to warrant pulling Calleigh away from her day off, then it was going to take a while. He just hoped she was only doing the field work, so then at least once the crime-scene was cleared, he'd be able to give the kids back.
"Want down!" Meike screamed, pounding her fists on the counter and swinging her sandled feet.
"Can you hang on a sec, Meike? Please?" He was still trying to shush the crying boy in his arms.
"Want down now!" She screamed again and Ryan rolled his eyes, mentally listing all the possible things he could come up with to make Calleigh pay.
"Alright, alright, i'll get you down." He placated her, awkwardly wrapping his arm around her waist and lowering her to the ground as he continued to bounce Mateo on his hip. "So much for analysing surveillance footage." He grumbled as Mateo took a deep breath and started crying again. Meanwhile, Meike had found her way over the the gates of the evidence locker and was aggressively rattling Ryan's pen - which he hadn't noticed her grab from his desk - across the cage.
"Meike!" He yelled, only causing Mateo's crying to increase and Meike's rattling to continue. "Stop it!"
"Want Momma!" She shouted back and Ryan growled through his teeth. He plonked the wailing baby down in a chair and ran over to the locker, grabbing Meike's hand and dragging her back over to where he'd been working on the footage.
"Sit here." He instructed and Meike, to her credit, did as she was told if only because the sound of his angry-voice seemed to stun her for a moment. Ryan picked up Mateo again, rocking him from side to side as he rifled through the daiper bag for the bottle Calleigh had said, was already made up. Letting out a victorious sigh when he found it, Ryan immediately shoved it into Mateo's mouth and sat down next to Meike, glancing over at her as he rolled his head back over the chair in relief.
The room was silent for a moment as Mateo made himself comfortable in Ryan's lap and Meike continued to stare at her toes, fiddling with the edge of her little denim skirt. They just sat there, breathing and Ryan was grateful for the sudden reprieve and immediately wondered how Calleigh did it with the two of them, day in and day out or how Eric could even manage it on days he was home and Calleigh wasn't; that was an idea far harder for him to contemplate.
After a few moments, Ryan felt safe in the knowledge that Mateo was sucking away at his bottle and he flicked the screens back on to try and study the footage again. "Want to watch Cat Hat." Meike announced and Ryan rolled his eyes.
"This isn't tv, Meike, I have to watch this, it's my job."
"Cat Hat!" She was right up in his face by then. She'd managed to crawl up onto her knees in the chair and lean over the space between them to practically press her nose to his.
"Meike, sit down."
"Meike!" He warned and she sat down, but she continued to glare at him. "Maybe we can watch Cat in the Hat later, but right now, I have to watch this, okay."
It lasted about half an hour. Meike seemed fascinated when he started to tell stories about the random people that passed by the security camera and Mateo had fallen asleep in his lap. But eventually Meike's interest waned and Mateo started to fidgit, wanting out of Ryan's hold. He let the boy down, knowing that with his diaper restricting his movement, he wasn't likely to get far and as his suspect finally came into view on the computer screen he was completely side-tracked, not even noticing that Meike had slipped from her chair too and was currently dragging her little brother out of the room.
Meike made her way down the center of the hall with Mateo's hand held securely in hers. She found it a little hard to get around with him, but she was used to it and managed to soldier on, intent to find either their mother or something interesting to play with. She wanted to explore the place, with it's pretty colourful walls and all of the shiny toys she could see beyond, but she'd learnt early on that her brother was slow and she knew that she couldn't lose him or Momma would get really mad, even though sometimes she really felt like it would be nice if he wasn't around. He cried a lot and he chewed on the old toys she didn't play with anymore, but they were her toys and it made her mad when she saw them take that fateful journey towards his mouth.
She needed to find something really cool, something that would make Momma happy because she knew they were going to get in trouble for running away from Ryan. She was used to getting in trouble. She'd do something naughty and Momma would get mad, she'd make her sit on the couch without the tv on and sometimes she'd hear Papi getting in trouble too, because he was her partner in crime afterall, and that made her laugh. Because she wasn't sure she had any friends at Daycare who's Papi's got in trouble as much as her's did. But sometimes she'd see Papi kiss Momma and he'd hug her and they whispered - they had a lot of secrets that made Momma smile - and then suddenly, she wouldn't be in trouble anymore.
She loved it when Papi did that, it's was like a magic trick.
She hated it when Papi was just as angry at her as Momma was, like the time she'd pushed Mateo into the baby pool in all of his clothes. Or when she'd drawn butterflies on the wall of Abuela's kitchen with a Sharpie.
Meike quickly pulled Mateo around a corner when she saw a tall man in a white coat walking past. She was scared that it was Ryan, but when he kept on walking and didn't see them, she knew that it wasn't.
"Hey Ryan, you got anything on that footage yet?" Jesse questioned as he sauntered into the lab. He rested his hands on the back of the empty chair beside him as Ryan spun around with a grin on his face, waving the controls triumphantly.
"Yep, I got something," He spun back around as quickly as he'd come. "it seems like our suspect, Mr Drake, arrived at the back door of the club approximately ten minutes before he claimed the dog barking outside his apartment, woke him up." He turned back around again, meeting Jesse's approving smirk with one of his own. "and he lives out in the Gables so it's not a mistake, he lied to us."
"Alright, so we should bring him in." Jesse stated and Ryan moved to get up but he stopped suddenly, glancing about the room. Jesse watched him closely, wondering what had suddenly caught his eye and why, spontaneously, Ryan's face paled.
Ryan was staring at the over-stuffed bag sitting on the edge of the workbench and Jesse looked down at it, reaching in and touching the edge of a Winnie-the-Pooh diaper. He knitted his brows together in confusion as Ryan started hitting the side of his head with the heel of his palm and muttering obscenities.
"Seriously, man," Jesse continued to frown. "what's up? And what's with this?" He was holding the diaper up.
"Calleigh's kids!" Ryan exclaimed, gesturing to the bag. "they were right here, right here. I'm supposed to be watching them. Oh crap, what am I going to do?" He started pacing, still hitting his head, continually repeating: "She's gonna kill me, she's gonna kill me."
Jesse had to try not to snicker. He knew that two missing children was no laughing matter, even moreso because they were Calleigh's very small, teeny-tiny children who could squeeze into itty-bitty crevises and avoid detection if they so chose. And because Calleigh was likely to kill Ryan and anyone that happened to be associated with him at the time that she found out. So as much as Ryan was going to be desperate to find Meike and Mateo, it was in his best interests right now, to help him look.
"Okay man, calm down," He did his best to keep his cool, because apparently, Ryan couldn't. "they're small, they've got short legs," He looked up at Ryan with a questioning look. "Can the little one even walk?" When Ryan glared at him, he shrugged. "Well hey, their english isn't that great, how far could they have gotten?"
"I just hope they haven't gotten out of the lab."
"I doubt either one of them can work the elevator." Jesse smirked and Ryan rolled his eyes.
"This isn't funny, man, they're little kids lost in a lab full of chemicals and evidence they could seriously compromise if they got their little grimey hands on it."
Jesse rested his hands on his hips with a look of incredulity. "I seriously doubt Calleigh's kids have ever been grimey in their lives. She practically chases them around with a packet of sanitary wipes."
"True." Ryan agreed quietly. "Look, will you help me search? If we don't find them before she gets back, she's going to kill me."
"Yeah, alright." Jesse agreed, following Ryan as he dashed out of AV.
"Look 'Teo," Meike pointed to the large desk ahead of them. "that looks like Momma, wanna see?" He just looked up at her with wide brown eyes, hugging his empty bottle to his chest as she pulled him across the room. She'd found it difficult to get the door open, but once she'd seen through the glass walls, how many interesting things could be discovered in this room, she'd felt that the effort was well worth it. As she left Mateo sitting in the middle of the floor, rolling his bottle back and forth between his knees, she managed to crawl up into the big plush chair and up onto the desk. "Is Momma!" She called back down to him and the boy's ears pricked up and his face broke out in a bright, wide, smile.
"Momma!" He called and Meike nodded, the curls at the ends of her thick, blond braids, hitting her shoulders.
"And Papi is here too."
"Papi!" Mateo chanted, clapping his little chubby hands as he watched his sister manouvre her way back down to the ground with the photo frame held tightly against her chest.
"Come here 'Teo." She pulled on his hand, gesturing for him to follow her to the big black couch near the wall and with some difficulty, he managed to pull himself to his feet and make his way over to her, dragging his bottle by the teet behind him. She climbed up onto the couch, her daiper clad bottom sticking up in the air as she did her best not to let go of the photo frame before setting it down in front of her and helping her little brother pull himself up. "Look," She pointed to their mother, looking out from the photo with a big smile on her face. She was younger there and behind her with his hands on her shoulders, was a taller man with dark scruffy hair. He was the only one in the photo that wasn't smiling, but for some reason, that didn't make Meike upset at all. He looked like he was nice to Momma, because Momma wouldn't let anyone touch her like that if they weren't nice to her. So she decided that there was something about him that she liked. Next to them was Aunty Alexx, she had a big smile just like Momma's and her arm around Momma's waist. Papi was on her other side and for some reason, he was laughing so hard that his eyes were closed and he was bending forward just a little, behind him stood Uncle Haychio, TiaMarisol's husband and even though Meike had never met Tia Marisol, Papi always told her stories about her, so she felt like she was real.
She liked the photo and even though Mateo was running his fingers across it, she didn't mind.
Ryan searched the Trace lab and Questioned Documents whilst Jesse covered the break-room, Calleigh's Ballistic's lab and DNA. "Hey Valera," Jesse grinned, sticking his head in the door.
"Hey Hot stuff, what can I do for you? If it's about the Rivkin case, you're going to have to wait your turn." She spoke absently as she snipped the tip ofF a swab.
Jesse shook his head, moving further into the room. "Nah, but you wouldn't happen to have seen two little kids would you? They're small, blond," She shook her head, curious. "kind of look like Calleigh and Delko if you smushed them together and made them super young." He explained sheepishly.
Valera's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "You've lost Calleigh's kids?!" She exclaimed and immediately, he did his best to shush her.
"Hey, it wasn't me," He assured. "it's just, they've wandered off on Ryan and we really need to find them before Calleigh gets back."
She took a deep breath, still so obviously fuming as she marked her samples and moved them to a secure container on the bench. "Well they haven't been through here. But I'll help you look, the poor little things are probably beside themselves."
"I don't know if they'd be as distraught as Ryan is right now," Jesse chuckled. "I think he's wishing he'd written up his Will right about now."
Valera slapped his arm. "That's not funny, Jesse. And I'm not helping for your sake or Ryan's, just so you know."
"Sorry and duely noted." He had the decency to looke chastised and she looked pleased with herself as they both headed out into the hall, taking seperate paths, her to the Breakroom and him back down the hall the Firearms.
Horatio's brow creased as he stepped off the elevator to see the lab in various states of disarray. There was no one manning the reception desk and the woman that had been there that morning, was crouched down beneath the layout bench in the evidence locker, searching for something. A few techs dashed across between the labs at a faster pace than would be required for the regular efficient running of the lab and as he caught sight of Ryan, staring at him from down the hall, he noticed that the man's face was practically beet-red and he quickly ducked into another lab when he caught his boss's eye.
Horatio shook his head, making his way down past Firearms with his sunglasses dangling from his fingertips. Looking in on the shooting range he could see Landau frantically looking through the cabinets and gun lockers and he was finding it harder and harder to consider his staff were still sane. Making his way into his office, he took a deep breath, intent on grabbing the files that he'd come for before heading back out into the chaos to assess the situation.
He reached across his desk, staring at it for a moment and wondering how it looked somewhat different before he grabbed the stack of files and turned to head back out. But, he stopped all of a sudden when he noticed something very odd. And he smiled warmly, glancing between the sight before him and the frantic movements of his colleagues outside. He had to smile, because he'd worked out the very cause for all of the panic.
Right there, on his couch by the wall, Meike and Mateo were curled up asleep. Mateo was wrapped in a ball, chewing on the teet on his bottle in his sleep and on her back behind him, with her little feet hanging off the edge of the couch, Meike had a photo-frame hugged tightly to her chest, face down.
Horatio set his files back down, grabbing a blanket that he kept in his closet for double shifts and moved towards them, smiling all the way. Meike squirmed a little and made a small sound as he repositioned her on the couch and he didn't even try to pull the bottle from Mateo's mouth as he pulled him up beside his sister and draped the blanket over them. They were peaceful and fast asleep and with a smirk, he found it remarkably easy to slip the photo-frame out of her hold.
It was then that he noticed it was what was missing from his desk, the photo of the team's 2003 christmas party and he found himself wondering what the two small children before him were thinking when they'd seen their parents in this setting. Either way, he could see that Meike had drawn comfort from seeing their faces and he didn't fault her for seeking that out. He was just curious as to how they'd gotten there in the first place.
Looking down at them once again, he made sure that they were going nowhere before he made his way out of his office and headed towards the room lab he'd seen Ryan dash into when he'd arrived. For some reason, this had Wolfe written all over it and and whilst Horatio wasn't a man to play games with his employees - he was far to serious for that - he found an innate satisfaction in the idea of seeing the man squirm.
"Mr Wolfe." He stated and Ryan's head popped up from the other side of the Trace bench.
"May I speak with you a moment?"
"Um," Ryan worried his bottom lip. "actually, H, I'm handling a bit of a crisis at the moment."
"It wouldn't happen to be two, very short and rather unpredictable crisis', would it?" Horatio cocked an eyebrow and Ryan stood to his full height, dipping his head in shame.
"You heard." It wasn't a question, just an observation of fact Ryan could deduce from the truth that Horatio did know, no matter how.
"Mr Wolfe, am I to understand that you've lost track of the Delko children?"
Ryan squirmed and chewed on his fingernail. "Look, H, I'm sure they're fine. I was just watching the surveillance footage from the club and they wandered off. I mean, it's like Jesse said, how far could they really get? And I had no idea they could move so fast."
"How do you intend to explain this to their mother?"
Ryan choked on air, just a little. "Well, ah," He averted his eyes nervously and was about to open his mouth to answer when the last voice in the universe, that he wanted to hear, joined them in the room.
"Horatio," She called and Ryan couldn't imagine ever hating that sweet, very Calleigh way that she managed to say Horatio's name. The way no one else seemed to be able to mimic. "Natalia and I finished processing the scene and she's taken all the samples to DNA and Tox and there was no Ballistics evidence that we need to analyse, so I'm done." She beamed with a smile as she saw Ryan on the other side of the bench, not even noticing that he was sweating buckets. "Ryan!" She glowed. "Just the man I wanted to see. How are my babies? They weren't too much hassle, I hope." She smirked up at Horatio. "they're such troublemakers when they set their minds to it."
Ryan let out a nervous laugh and both Calleigh and Horatio stared at him. "No," He gulped. "they're great." He lied.
"Wonderful, so," She smiled sweetly."Where are they?"
Ryan frantically looked to Horatio. He could see Jesse and Valera, and Walter just behind them, over his shoulder and immediately wished that he was them as they noticed Calleigh and had the opportunity, with their eyes wide and terrified, to back out of the room silently before she caught them. Horatio allowed Ryan to suffer for a few more seconds before turning his eyes down to Calleigh. "They're taking a nap in my office, I'm sure Mr Wolfe thought that to be the best place, because it's quiet."
"Great," Calleigh practically bounced. "thanks so much for watching them, Ryan."
He stared after her as she strode out of the room, her long blonde hair flitting around her shoulders as she walked. And it was in that moment when he felt a massive weight just rise up off his shoulders. "Thanks, H," He breathed, looking to Horatio as he looked down towards the ground. "I owe you one."
"Yes, Mr Wolfe," Horatio smirked, twirling his sunglasses between his fingers as though he was itching to put them on. "you do." He added as he too, left the room.
In that moment, as Ryan watched Calleigh walk back past the lab with Mateo still sleeping against her shoulder and Meike's hand gripped tightly in her own, smiling happily as if nothing important happened that day, he wanted nothing more than to go home and have a really, really, strong drink.