Chapter 3

Calleigh crossed the room and quickly examined the injured front door that was still hanging wide open. The door jamb was in splinters, no way that it was going to hold anything shut. But then she noticed that the deadbolt was still in place, tucked flush inside the door. She was silently thankful that Horatio hadn't engaged the heavy deadbolt, or she would never have gotten through the door and probably would've had a broken leg or shattered ankle to show for her efforts.

She swung the door shut and flipped the deadbolt carriage over, and it slid snugly into the recessed hole on the other side, which had been unaffected by the battered doorjamb giving way. Pleased that the door was secure for the night, she turned her attention back to Horatio.

He had made his way to the sofa, and was just sitting there, elbows on his knees, shoulders slumped, his forehead resting heavily on his hands. It appeared that he had managed to halt his tears, but was struggling mightily to keep it that way. It broke her heart to see him like that. He looked so fragile. She knew she was going to have to be very careful with him, very gentle. But if she was going to be able to help him, she still had to get him to talk to her, get him to open up and tell her what was torturing him so mercilessly. And that was going to take some doing.

She walked over and sat down next to him on the couch, and put a gentle hand on his shoulder.

"Hey," she said softly. "You know whatever it is that is tearing you up, whatever the problem is… I will do anything I can to help you. Whatever it is, we can fix it together, OK?"

He didn't respond.

"But I gotta know what's going on, I gotta know what's wrong," she continued. "And you're the only one who can tell me that."

He was quiet for a long moment. Then he took a deep shaky breath, and spoke. His voice had the defeated tone of utter hopelessness.

"It… can't be fixed…" he said haltingly.

"Horatio, I don't believe that. There has to be something we can do." She said firmly. "Just talk to me. Please, talk to me."

He dropped his hands, and turned his head away from her.

"I…I have to… go to bed…" he said, looking around the room like he was searching for something. "I have to… get up for work… early tomorrow…"

"No, Horatio. No you don't," she interrupted. "Because you know what? You and me, we're taking the day off tomorrow."

He snapped his head up, and he finally looked at her for the first time since her arrival, a look of anxious worry clouding his bloodshot eyes.

He shook his head quickly. "No, Calleigh, no… I can't do that. I have to go to work. It's all I've got. I have to keep going…"

"No you don't," Calleigh interjected. She paused and took a deep breath, studying his pleasing eyes, before going on. "Listen to me. You push yourself way too hard. Now don't get me wrong, I know how important your job is to you. It's not just something that you do, it's who you are. And it's like it's your personal mission or something. I appreciate that, and I respect it. You do an amazing job, and you have helped and saved so many people. But, Horatio, you deserve to take a break once in a while. I mean, my God, you do not have to singlehandedly save every single person in this entire city."

He hung his head and closed his eyes, and was quiet for another long moment.

"Yes I do," he whispered. "Maybe that would be enough…"

"Enough for what?" She asked gently.

"Absolution," he said, opening his eyes and staring down at the floor. "To finally be forgiven."

Calleigh paused, and looked at him with a puzzled expression.

"You don't understand Calleigh," he continued. "I am so alone. I have no one. It's all part of my penance for killing the man who murdered my mother. Even God has turned his back on me. So I have to keep going… until I've done enough."

It took Calleigh a few moments to fully process what he had just told her. She was stunned by the realization. The sheer magnitude of the guilt and loneliness that this man was carrying around… and being driven by such an unrelenting force… no wonder it was crushing the life out of him. She desperately wanted to help him. But she had no idea how. She wished that she could just wrap her arms around him and comfort him and make it all go away.

"Horatio, that was years ago," she said soothingly, lightly rubbing his shoulders. "I believe with all my heart that you have done more than enough."

Suddenly, Calleigh remembered the gift in her pocket. That could be the key.

"Hey, I have something for you," she said warmly. "Give me your hand."

She reached out and took his hand, and turned it over as she pulled the small silver treasure from her pocket. She draped the delicate cross across his palm, the small silver chain glittered with the soft light in the room.

"This belonged to Erica Tomlinson," she explained. "Her Mom is extremely grateful to you for catching her little girl's killer, and she wanted you to have it. She said Erica would have wanted that. She had me promise that I would make sure you got it."

Horatio stared at the small cross, deeply moved by such a meaningful gift.

"That's why I'm here, Horatio," Calleigh continued. "If I hadn't worked a little late tonight, and Erica's Mom hadn't stopped into the station when she did, and hadn't just happened to see me, then I would have had no reason at all to come over here and end up kicking your front door in. This cross is what brought me here."

The words hit Horatio like a lightning bolt. He couldn't believe it what he was hearing. Could it really be? Could he dare to actually grasp at a strand of hope? Maybe God hadn't completely abandoned him after all… Maybe the good Lord had been trying to send him a message and he had just been too busy beating himself up to hear it. So he sent Calleigh to get his attention. He sent Calleigh…

"I… I don't… know what to say…" he stammered haltingly. He closed his hand around the tiny cross and held it for a moment, before slipping it into his shirt pocket, close to his heart. He slowly began to feel as though a huge burden was being lifted from his shoulders.

"There's something else," Calleigh said softly.

Horatio turned and looked at her. The loving emotion he saw in her soft green eyes warmed his wounded heart and stirred deep feelings within himself he had thought were long dead and gone.

She reached out and put her hand over his. "You know you don't have to be alone if you don't want to be."

A look of deep sadness crossed his face once again, and he dropped his eyes back down to the floor.

"Everyone always goes away," he said, his voice sounding dejected and sorrowful. "Everyone I touch."

Calleigh moved off the sofa, and slowly knelt in front of him. She pulled his hand up to her face and gently placed it against her soft cheek. He looked up and gazed into her lovely eyes once again.

"Touch me, Horatio," she said lovingly. "I won't go away."

She leaned into his touch, and moved closer, sliding her hands up the front of his chest. He wrapped his arm around her, and pulled her to him. Their lips met in a soft, sweet and gentle kiss. They kissed each other languidly, hands and tongues tenderly exploring.

When the kiss finally broke, Horatio wrapped his arms around her and hugged her fiercely. He closed his eyes and let himself get lost in the captivating warmth of her body pressed against his. He felt like he could stay there forever.

However, despite all the warm positive feelings, he began to realize how incredibly tired he was.

"Come here," he said quietly. He leaned back into the couch, bringing Calleigh's slender body with him, still wrapped in his arms. She snuggled against his side and softly moaned her approval. He pulled down the light blanket draped over the back of the sofa and managed to throw it over them both.

There would be no tortured dreams tonight, he was sure of it. The wonderful woman lying in his arms had chased all the darkness away.

He pulled out the small silver cross from his pocket and looked at it again. He would treasure this precious little gift for the rest of his life. It had brought him absolution, and it had also brought him love. He would carry it with him always. And he would never be alone again.

A/N: I just couldn't torture our beloved H any longer! I had to end this with him whole-heartedly happy! Feel free to send along a review, I love feedback!