Author's Note: I started writing this back in the fall, so it doesn't take much of season eight into consideration. Eric/Calleigh.
Warning: character death, both of original characters and eventually CSIs as well. It's the apocalypse.
The lines outside of the hospitals stretched on for hours, sick people nearly melting into the pavement as the scorching sun beat down on them. Sweaty children curled up against their parents' chests, crying for comfort, for someone to ease their pain.
"No, sir, all of our beds are full," the exasperated emergency room nurse said to a father carrying his young daughter. "There's nothing we can do, I'm sorry."
"There has to be something you can do! You're doctors for crying out loud!" the father exclaimed, slamming his fist on the desk, which startled his daughter into a fresh round of tears. "Maddie, don't cry, daddy's going to make it all better."
The nurse looked over at Maddie. "Sir, every hospital in Miami is completely full."
"Ma'am, my daughter is sick, and I want you and your crack team of doctors to heal her."
She shook her head and let out a very audible sigh. "You and every other citizen of Miami, from the looks of things."
Calleigh laid cool cloths across Eric's face as she watched him wake up from a few fitful hours of sleep. "Hey," she said, leaning over him. "How're you feeling?"
He blinked his eyes open and looked up at her. "Calleigh, you really don't need to play nurse, you know. You're one of the lucky ones." He had taken ill a few days before, and had been confined to Calleigh's couch since. She hadn't let him out of her sight since.
"Lucky?" she snorted. "I'm not lucky."
"You're one of the only people in Miami who aren't sick right now." They had caught a news report a few nights before regarding the quickly spreading disease. The experts at the CDC were calling it the worst pandemic since the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919, while the fire-and-brimstone preachers waving their fists in their pulpits were calling it God's wrath upon humanity.
"I'm not lucky if you're sick," she said, pressing another cool cloth to his face. "You'll just have to put up with Nurse Calleigh."
Eric smiled and reached up for her hair. "If I wasn't so sick, you'd be against these couch cushions right now," he said, grabbing one lock between his fingers. "It would be the best medicine."
She smiled, stood up and brushed carpet fibers off of her pants leg. "You should get some rest. Then we can talk about other uses for the cushions." Walking into the other room, she pulled out her cell phone and dialed a number. "Horatio?" she asked, as she heard someone on the other end pick up.
"No, honey, it's Alexx," the voice said, hesitating slightly before continuing. "Horatio is sick."
"As always, we have been dedicated to bringing the most up-to-date news into your households," the young female CNN anchor said, staring straight into the camera, reading off the teleprompter. "As of midnight Eastern tonight, however, due to the pandemic, we will be going off air indefinitely."
She fumbled around below her as they shifted to a correspondent in Afghanistan's perspective on how the pandemic was affecting the remote mountainous regions. Finding what she was searching for, she caressed the cool metal of the gun's cylinder. It wasn't the ideal situation, but she knew all of the symptoms from the reporting she had done over the past few days, and she had them all: raging fever, profuse sweating, limp muscles, labored breathing, vomiting, and a decreased heart rate. Her sister, a registered nurse, had been the one to confirm her greatest fear.
No disease would take her. She had always been a fighter, both in her personal life and in her career, but she wanted to have her fate in her own hands. Not in the hands of some insane disease that didn't even have a name as of yet.
Easing the trigger backward, she took in a deep, painful breath and thought of her young son one last time.
"I'm sorry, Caleb," she whispered, and then she let go.
Natalia turned on her television as she settled in from work, throwing her feet up on the ottoman. Horatio was very ill, and Calleigh had taken a leave of indefinite absence to tend to Eric's every need. Which, this all ultimately meant that her, Jesse, Ryan and Walter had to form a motley band of crime scene investigators. She shuddered as she remembered the carnage they had seen earlier that day when they were called into a hospital. Crazed patient pulled a gun in a crowded emergency room, killing six and injuring seventeen others before turning the gun on himself. Sometimes she really hated her job. Right now was one of those times.
She flexed her toes and flipped through the channel listing. The world was so depressing these days; she didn't have any desire to watch the news, for fear of seeing more and more news reports about things she was tired of hearing about. "Independence Day, 28 Days Later, Jericho," she muttered, glaring at her television. Even the movies and television shows currently showing were more like someone's idea of a sick joke than anything else. She settled on an old rerun of Gilligan's Island and settled back in her recliner. Now this was better. A tropical island, no death, and a half hour of mindless entertainment. If only she could be stranded on an island right now. That would be nice.
The news reporter at WFOR flipped through her pages of notes and grimaced. A massacre had taken place at South Miami Hospital, an up-and-coming CNN anchor had shot herself in the studio (thank God the cameras were off her, the reporter thought), there were violent riots across the globe, stock markets were tanking, and no one had any idea what was causing the pandemic. It was not a good day to be in the business of reporting news. But, if she chose not to report the bad news, there'd be no good news to report, and everyone would be out of luck. Plus, it wouldn't be fair; especially considering her co-anchor was one of the lucky ones who managed to get a hospital bed.
"Live from Miami, this is WFOR News at Eleven. I'm Karen Trenton, Rob is off tonight," she said as the cameras switched onto her. "Our lead story tonight…"
Alexx peeked into Horatio's hospital room. "Are you feeling any better?" she asked, looking at his vitals. No change since the last time she had come in.
He let out a groan and threw his head back against the pillows. "No," he said, jerking a tube as he moved. "Not at all. Is the rest of the team doing well?"
"They're all doing fine," she said, thinking of Eric. Normally, she didn't like lying, especially to Horatio. But, this was a different situation than they were all used to. The normal rules didn't apply when the entire world population could be dead in a month, if the infection rate kept up. She figured she'd let him believe that everyone was healthy. No need for any additional stress when his body would need to be fighting the battle of a lifetime.
"Good," he said, licking his dry lips. Dehydration was beginning to set in, he thought miserably. This was definitely the most sick he had ever been. "Alexx?"
"Make sure that they stay that way." He let out a deep breath and closed his eyes, sinking into a dreamless slumber.
She didn't respond, only turned to leave the room. Lying to make a sick man feel better was one thing. Making promises that she, nor anyone else, had any way of keeping was another thing all together.
-to be continued-