Eric stepped into the break room as the workday began. He was welcomed by the unpleasant sound of a very chesty cough. Calleigh was standing by the counter, her face livid, nose red and a few strands of hair astray from her normally flawless bun.
"Are you okay?" Eric asked, concerned, as he began to pour some coffee into a mug.
She cleared her throat and nodded, pulling out a glass to fill with water and Alka-Seltzer Cold tablets. Eric took another look at how ill she appeared, despite her attempt to dismiss her symptoms and cover up her red nose with make-up; he couldn't help but wonder if being at CSI was the best option for her today.
"Are you sure you're going to be okay to work?" he questioned, his opinion coming through clearly in his tone.
"Yep," Calleigh nodded with sheer certainty as she dropped the Alka-Seltzer into the water and watched them dissolve. "I never miss unless I'm dead or dying."
"Apparently," Eric mumbled, stirring in cream and sugar into his coffee. "But living like that can't be too healthy."
"Well, too late to be worrying about my health going bad….Cheers," she added with a grin, holding up her fizzy drink; Eric couldn't resist smiling and clinking his mug against her glass.
Calleigh chugged down the medication in a few gulps, shuddering at the taste after a final swallow.
"Refreshing," she smiled, unconvincingly.
"Morning," Speedle greeted them as he entered the break room, his eyes falling on Calleigh's pallid features. "You don't look so good."
"Good morning to you, too, Tim," she sighed with a roll of her eyes.
"She's sick but didn't want to stay home," Eric explained before taking another drink of coffee.
"It's just a little cold. I'm fine," Calleigh shrugged, but her statement was followed by a series of heavy coughs that contradicted her words.
"Yeah, you're just fine," Speedle mumbled, ignoring the look shot at him by Calleigh, whose phone began to ring.
"Duquesne?" she said, hoarsely, her eyes watering slightly.
"Has she always been that stubborn?" Eric turned to quietly ask Speedle as Calleigh talked on the phone.
"Mm-hmm," he hummed with a nod.
"Got it," Calleigh said before hanging up and turning to her colleagues. "We've got a case in the Gables, we need to get out there."
"What you need is a large dosage of chicken soup," Speedle said under his breath, but Calleigh was already out the door and determined to get to the crime scene.
"Baby, you look like hell," Alexx shook her head when she saw the puffy eyed woman at the crime scene.
"Much like our friend here," Calleigh replied, gesturing to the bloodied corpse of fifty-two-year old Jerry Williamson lying in the driveway. He appeared to have taken a direct stab to the face, leaving an ugly gash just over his left eyebrow. His blood had dried black on his face and stained the sidewalk in which he lied, his hazel eyes still wide and held the state of surprise even in death. Calleigh shook her head at the cruelty that had been placed upon the victim as she knelt down on the ground beside Alexx.
"I'd place time of death around midnight to two AM," Alexx reported, but Calleigh began to cough halfway through her statement. Calleigh had turned her head away from the body and coughed into her sleeve as to not contaminate the evidence around her.
"Sorry, Alexx," she apologized, her voice cracking. "What was that?"
"TOD between twelve and two this morning," she repeated. "Sweetie, go home, rest is the fastest way to feeling better."
"I feel great," Calleigh lied, getting to her feet. "You'll let me know when the autopsy is done, right?"
"Honey, don't I always?" Alexx replied, looking at Calleigh over the rims of her sunglasses.
"Of course you do," she grinned as she headed towards the lieutenant. Horatio stood overseeing the crime scene, slowly committing every detail to memory and Calleigh knew his gaze was intense, despite the black shades that covered his piercing blue eyes.
"Any sight of a potential murder weapon?" Calleigh asked him.
"Not yet," Horatio replied, his hands placed firmly on his hips as he looked in the direction of the blood pool. Calleigh saw his eyebrows knit together and he reached up to remove his sunglasses as he stepped towards the red liquid.
"Calleigh, take a look at this, please," he said as he bent down beside it; Calleigh came down to his level and instantly saw a disturbance in the blood.
"Looks like our killer stepped in his victim's blood," she commented as she snapped a couple of pictures with her camera.
"And he left us a trail," Horatio observed, seeing a repeating footprint of blood move down the street before fading out; Calleigh photographed them as well.
"Based on this pattern, I'd say it's a guy's shoe, around size nine," Speedle said when he looked at the pictures of the print Calleigh had taken at the scene.
"It's a start," Calleigh sighed, sliding the picture back into the manila folder as they proceeded down the hallway. "Maybe Alexx found something. I should go check on the autopsy."
"No, I'll check the autopsy," Speedle insisted.
"Why?" Calleigh asked in disbelief.
"Because if you go down there and smell decaying flesh, in your state, you'd probably lose your breakfast."
"Doubt it," she mumbled. "I didn't eat any breakfast."
Whether Speedle simply didn't hear the comment or chose to ignore her was beyond Calleigh; either way, Speedle walked away from her and down to Autopsy.
Calleigh rolled her eyes and entered Fingerprints where Eric was dusting a print off of a wallet.
"What've you got?" she asked, pulling on her lab coat.
"Alexx sent up the clothes and belongings from the vic before she cut him open. Nada on the clothes, but there are several prints on the wallet…the empty wallet," he said as he delicately twirled the brush.
"No cash, no ID, no credit cards?"
"Nothing. We're keeping an eye out to see if his credit card is charged or his bank account is accessed," Eric said as he scanned the fingerprint and began to run it through AFIS. "But hopefully this will also give us something."
"Yeah," Calleigh nodded, pausing to clear her throat. "Hopefully."
Eric opened his mouth to ask her if she was feeling any better, but his phone rang loudly within his pocket and he didn't have the opportunity as he answered the phone.
"This is Delko," he spoke into the receiver. "Really? Where?...Okay, great, they bringing him in?...Awesome, I'll meet you down there."
"What've they got?" she asked when Eric hung up his phone.
"They caught someone trying to buy a plane ticket to San Diego trying to use Jerry Williamson's credit card. Patrol is picking him up right now," Eric reported.
"Okay, well you go downstairs and I'll wait on AFIS," Calleigh offered.
"Okay, thanks," he said, shrugging out of his lab coat and hanging it on the rack. "By the way, how're you feeling?"
This was apparently the wrong question to ask, for Calleigh's face turned into a scowl and she turned to face him, her eyes greatly aggravated.
"Eric, I forgot to tell you something about me," she glowered. "I hate it when people check in on me like I'm a five-year-old."
He held his hands up innocently. "Sorry, I was just worried."
Eric turned on his heel and began to push open the door; meanwhile guilt automatically began to swarm Calleigh. Her harsh reaction wasn't warranted; she shouldn't be upset simply because a friend was expressing concern about her wellbeing.
"Eric," she called to him before he completely exited the lab. "I'm sorry. I'm fine, thanks for asking."
He stepped back towards the workbench to stand beside Calleigh, giving her a friendly smile to show he wasn't offended.
"Do you want to know something?" he asked.
"Sure," Calleigh replied. "Why not?"
Eric leaned in a little to make the conversation private, despite the fact they were alone in the Fingerprint lab. "No one is going to hold it against you if you take a day off. We all need a day off every now and then," he said, his voice barely above a whisper.
"I know," Calleigh nodded, keeping her voice at regular level. "But we have a duty here. We took an oath to protect and serve, no matter what. And if a little cold is enough to stop me from fulfilling that duty, then how am I supposed to be able to withhold it when faced in a worse situation."
Eric didn't know what he had expected Calleigh's response to be, but it certainly wasn't something that heavy.
"What are you still doing here?" Calleigh demanded, her lip then curling up into a smile. "You've got a suspect."
Eric nodded. "Right, I'd better go take care of that."
He exited the lab, still in complete and utter awe of the words swimming in his mind; he had, without a doubt, gained a brand new respect for Calleigh Duquesne.
Calleigh stepped into the interrogation room with a manila folder in hand, walking in on Horatio and Eric were questioning a young man.
"Hold that thought," Horatio ordered to the man before stepping towards Calleigh in the corner. "Did you find something?"
"I did, I'm assuming this kid's name is Craig Moorly?" she asked.
"It is," Horatio nodded.
Calleigh grinned and pulled out the AFIS profile. "His print was the one on the wallet. I'm going to take a wild guess and say he's been telling you that he saw the dead body and took an early payday?"
"Do his shoes match the prints found at the scene?"
"Let's find out," Horatio said, stepping back to Moorly. "Craig, what size shoe do you where?" Horatio demanded.
"Seven-and-a-half," Moorly replied, confused by the question.
Eric, Calleigh and Horatio shared a slightly frustrated and defeated look; the suspect noticed.
"Can I go?" Moorly asked, eagerly; it wasn't going to be that easy.
"You just tried to use a dead man's credit card to buy a plane ticket, my friend. You aren't going anywhere," Horatio informed him before exiting the room.
"Please tell me Alexx found something," Calleigh sighed when she saw Speedle. "Because our only suspect claims to just be a robber and we have nothing to suggest he actually killed our vic."
"Just so happens, we do," Speedle said, holding up the bag Alexx had given him. "Skin under our friends' nails; he may have tried to ward off his attacker."
"Excellent, hopefully the DNA is in CODIS," she said as they stepped into the DNA lab where Valera stood, almost as though she had been waiting for them.
"Okay, Valera," Speedle sing-sung as he handed over the evidence bag containing the epithelials. "Work your magic."
"Don't I always?" Valera smiled, taking the bag before catching a glimpse of Calleigh's face. "Whoa, are you alright?"
"She's sick and thinks she must stay here," Speedle answered for Calleigh, rolling his eyes in exasperation.
"Do I look that bad?" Calleigh asked, ignoring his remark.
"No, your eyes just look a bit puffy," Valera assured her as she began her task. "I thought you were upset or something."
"Well, I'm fine, don't worry," she grinned.
"Gotcha," Valera smiled with a wink. "I'll call you guys when I get the results."
"Thanks," she said as they left the DNA lab.
"You're a liar, Calleigh," Speedle sighed.
"I didn't lie," she insisted as they headed down the hall.
"Please, 'I'm fine, don't worry'," he mimicked Calleigh's Southern accent.
"I do not sound like that," Calleigh protested.
"True, today you sound more nasally because you're congested."
Calleigh gaped at him. "Has anyone ever told you that you can be an ass?"
"Yeah, on a few occasions," he admitted. "Listen, you're sick, you are going to contaminate all the members of the lab with this sickness of yours, so do yourself and the city of Miami a favor and go home."
Calleigh pursed her lips and crossed her arms. "Tim, you've known me for a while now, so you should know better than to tell me to go home."
"I'm just telling you what everyone else is thinking," he shrugged in a justifying tone. "And it's probably for your own good."
Speedle turned on his heel and headed in the direction away from Calleigh. She rolled her eyes and stepped back into the DNA lab.
"You don't have to babysit me, Calleigh," Valera joked as she worked.
"I know," she grinned. "I just figured it'd wait here."
"Suit yourself," Valera shrugged as she pressed the button of the centrifuge. "Is there a reason you look slightly annoyed or am I imagining it?"
Calleigh shook her head. "It's nothing."
"In other words, people are driving you nuts because they keep telling you to go home?" she asked.
"How'd you guess?" Calleigh said as she wiped a hand across her clammy forehead.
"I just know these things," Valera replied with a smile.
Calleigh chuckled a little to herself; it was nice having another woman in the lab to talk to every now and then, one who was positive and had a different intake on situations.
"They only act that way because they care," Valera said as the DNA began to process through CODIS. "They think a lot of you, you know."
"And I appreciate that, but they don't have to be worried-."
"You know, Calleigh, it's not a bad thing to let people be concerned once and awhile," she pointed out.
"I know, but in this situation it is completely unnecessary," Calleigh said as the computer bleeped.
"CODIS found a match," Valera reported. "Ben Downey."
"I'll let Horatio know," Calleigh said, pausing to cough for a moment. "Thanks, Valera."
The team successfully apprehended Ben Downey at his home just outside of Coral Gables, where they found the murder weapon: a letter opener. Downey said his motive behind the murder was that Williamson owed him money from a poker game and had yet to pay up, thus he took matters into his own hands. Calleigh was relieved when the case was over and she could return home. That night and as she kicked off her shoes and made her way to the couch, she had never been so thankful to lie down on her couch and slip away into sleep. Her voice had by this point all but vanished, her eyes constantly watered and she had been receiving a series of chills and flushes the entire day.
She was wrapped a blanket and resting when a light knock at the door pulled Calleigh from her semi-conscious state, though she didn't open her eyes.
"It's open," she called out, her voice hoarse and sore.
The door clicked open as Calleigh pulled her blanket tighter around her. She heard the sound of footsteps approaching her couch and she finally lifted her heavy eyelids to see Eric standing over her with a plastic bag in his hand.
"What are you doing here?" she asked with a grin.
"Well, I know you said you hate missing work, but you really shouldn't be working when you're this sick," Eric said.
"So," he cut across her. "I'm here to cure you."
Calleigh raised an eyebrow. "Are you serious?"
"Okay, well at least try to," he shrugged.
"How…." Calleigh racked her brain for the right word as she slowly sat up, "chivalrous of you."
"I try," he smirked taking a seat beside her on the couch and he began to withdraw the contents from the bag. "I have orange juice, with tons of Vitamin C." He placed the plastic bottle of yellow-orange liquid on the table before pulling out a can of, the classic remedy, chicken soup. "Good old-fashioned Campbell's Chicken Noodle." He placed that beside the juice and reached back into the bag to retrieve a bottle medicine (its contents a dark purple), some Saltines, and then a bag of honey flavored cough drops.
"Aw, everything needed to cure any illness," Calleigh smiled. "Thank you."
"Not a problem," he assured her. "So, are you feeling any better?"
Calleigh chuckled and decided to answer honestly. "No, not really."
Eric was still amazed she could feel so completely lousy, yet somehow manage to keep a radiant smile present on her face and a joyful spark in her voice, even through the croakiness of her throat.
"Oh, one more thing," Eric suddenly remembered, pulling yet another item of out the bag.
She laughed. "You know, with you constantly pulling stuff out of that bag, I'm going have to start calling you the Wizard of Oz."
"Cute," Eric chortled as he handed her the object from the bag, it was a get well soon card; he had brought all of the other clichéd remedies, he figured one more couldn't hurt.
On the front of the card stood a police officer with a speech bubble above his head reading, Get well soon….When Calleigh opened the card and inside the description read, …or I'll shoot. Calleigh smiled a little at the card and scribbled at the bottom was the phrase "feel better" with Eric, Speedle, Alexx, Horatio and Valera's names written at the bottom.
Calleigh wasn't accustomed to this, having people concerned about her health and wellbeing. Any illness or injury she'd ever had, no matter how major or minor, always seemed to be the least of everyone's concerns in her past, even her own. This feeling was refreshing and delightful, to know she had friends who didn't see her as just the gunslinger or the blonde with the badge, but a woman who sometimes wasn't at her optimum state and took it into consideration. Suddenly, she felt guilty for being harsh to those who had expressed concern about her and she realized what Valera said was right; maybe it wasn't a bad thing to let people be concerned once and awhile.
"I appreciate all this, Eric," Calleigh grinned at him. "Thanks again."
"And again, no problem," he smiled in reply. "Hopefully, this'll be enough to make you feel better by tomorrow."
Calleigh reached over to open the bag of lozenges on the table, unwrapping one from its individual packet and popped it in her mouth.
"I'm feeling better already."