"Regrets" - H/C (DuCaine) fanfic

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by miamirocks, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. miamirocks

    miamirocks Lab Technician

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    Title: "Regrets”
    Author: ducainefan
    Rating: PG-13 (mostly for language)
    Subject: H/C relationship
    Summary: What if Horatio Caine was faced with an impossible choice …
    Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters on CSI:MIAMI, nor am I making any money off this - as a matter of fact I don't make much, so please don't sue!
    NOTE: This is a one-shot – it’s been running in my mind for a while now, and I just had to get it written out before I moved on with my “Mixed Feelings” series. I'm posting it in four parts. Hope you guys enjoy it. There’s a lot of great fanfic out here, and on the Yahoo! board– and thanks to all you guys for serving as an inspiration for DuCaine love. By the way, feedback is much appreciated!! Now, on with the story.


    “Regrets”

    Part I

    The waves crashed along the Miami shores, creating low, rumbling sounds as they hit. Lieutenant Horatio Caine sat on the sand, legs pulled up to his chest. His arms rested on his knees as he stared at the object in his hand. Horatio’s thumb gently stroked the gold metal, following the outline of letters etched on the badge.

    “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” he said in a low voice. He felt tears stinging his blue eyes and looked up to the sky. This was his fault. This was his choice. “Forgive me,” he whispered, swallowing the lump in his throat and looking back at the badge, remembering the person it belonged to.


    8 HOURS EARLIER

    “Horatio?” A familiar voice perked the lieutenant up from his paperwork, somewhat surprised. “Got a minute?” she asked.

    “Sure,” Horatio said hesitantly. “Something wrong, Yelina?”

    “No, no Ray Jr.’s fine, we’re fine,” she reassured him. “I just thought you might want to see this.”

    “This is about the case my team’s working on…” he said, standing up and moving toward her.

    “The pyro, yea,” she said, handing him the file. “Seems that one of my customers may have had a run-in with him a few months ago, asked me to shadow him for awhile. My guy claimed this man — Johnny Fernandez — set fire to his restaurant in Coral Gables back in January. He couldn’t prove it, but Fernandez was an employee there, and then, after the fire, suddenly didn’t show up for work again.”

    “Well, if the place burned down …”

    “The fire happened about five minutes before the workers normally arrived to open the place. None of the employees could’ve known about the blaze that quickly,” Yelina asserted.

    “So, Mr. Fernandez was the only suspect. Did you locate him?”

    “I had a hard time tracking him down, and eventually the owner decided he’d rather just collect the insurance and cut his losses,” she explained.

    “But,” Horatio said, looking up.

    “But, I happened to be pursuing another case — unrelated — when I spotted him this morning.”

    “I would say your case just became related,” Horatio replied. “Who was Mr. Fernandez meeting with?”

    “You’re not gonna like it Horatio,” she said. “It was that bookie Ryan was caught with a few months back.”

    Horatio shifted, opening the file and seeing a photograph of the bookie — Michael Lipton — with a Caucasian man with dark hair, about 5’9 and somewhere between 25 and 30 years of age. “What does he have to do with my suspect?”

    “I’m not sure, but what I’m more concerned about is what the bookie gave Fernandez.”

    “Which was?”

    “Pictures.”

    “Of what?” Horatio asked intently.

    “More along the lines of who, actually,” she said, somewhat uncomfortably. “I think you might have a stalker on your hands, on top of a pyromaniac.”

    Horatio turned to the side, placing his hands on his hips. “What kind of pictures?”

    “It was hard to tell, but I was able to zoom in on a few shots … mostly of you at the office, some jogging, some of your apartment.”

    “Let’s bring Mr. Lipton in and see what we can find out about this Johnny Fernandez.”

    “I would love to, but I don’t work for the MDPD anymore, remember Horatio?”

    He looked down, somewhat embarrassed. “I’m sorry, I … Seems like old times, that’s all.”

    “Yea,” she said, looking up at him and smiling. “Just be careful, Horatio,” she added, her tone more serious.

    “I always am,” he replied. “Please do likewise. We suspect this man has set fire to at least six buildings in the past two weeks — killing a six-year-old girl in the process.”

    Yelina nodded. “Always looking out for me,” she said with a small smile. “Go get this guy.”

    Horatio nodded and watched Yelina walk toward the elevator. As the doors opened, Calleigh Duquesne emerged from the elevator, stopping to exchange a few words with Yelina as they passed each other.

    “Calleigh,” Horatio called.

    “Now that sounds like we just a break in our case,” Calleigh replied, walking up to him.

    “Could be,” he said quietly. “Take a look at these,” he said, handing her the files.

    “Oh no, that’s Michael Lipton, right?,” Calleigh muttered, recognizing the bookie. “You think he’s our guy?”

    “No, but I think he might know who is. Take a look at the man to his right. His name’s Johnny Fernandez. Wanted for a possible arson in Coral Gables about eight months ago.”

    “What’s Lipton giving him?” Calleigh said, taking a closer look at the photograph. “It looks like … oh … Horatio…”

    “He’s getting personal,” Horatio said.

    “I’ll say – It seems like he’s got a real fixation on you … I wonder if he hired Lipton to take those pictures.”

    “It looks that way, doesn’t it?”

    “Have you seen anyone, been aware of anything —”

    “No,” Horatio said in a frustrated tone. “Which is what bothers me …”

    “Are you in danger?” she asked, staring at him, trying to balance the proper amount of professional concern with the personal terror she was feeling in her gut.

    “Let’s just get this guy,” he said quickly, handing her the files and walking away.

    -------------------------------------------

    “Mr. Fernandez, Miami-Dade PD, open up!” Horatio shouted. They had had a little chat with Michael Lipton, making sure Ryan was as far away from him as possible.

    Apparently Fernandez was paying Lipton some pretty hefty cash to follow the lieutenant around — “conspicuously,” of course — even providing him with a camera that allowed him to keep a 150-foot distance.

    When presented with the ultimatum of going to jail for stalking a police officer or coughing up the address of Fernandez, Lipton happily chose the latter.

    “Should we go in?” Calleigh asked, pointing to the door of the run-down structure.

    “Back-up’s on the way, let’s wait on that,” Horatio cautioned. “We’ll check around, see what we can find.”

    Calleigh nodded, drawing her gun, and Horatio did the same. They moved toward the side of the house, Horatio on the right, and Calleigh on the left.

    “Doesn’t seem very lived-in, does it?” Horatio commented, gesturing toward the boarded up windows and run-down state of the residence.

    “I’ll say … Hey Horatio, I think we better get in there now!” Calleigh shouted as Horatio jogged over.

    “What is it?”

    “Smoke,” she said, pointing to an upstairs window that was broken. The plank of wood that had covered it was resting on the grass.

    “Do you see anyone?”

    “Hard to tell, but we better let Tripp know to bring fire rescue along with him.” Horatio nodded as Calleigh called it in.

    “All right, let’s go,” Horatio said as he busted down the door. “Miami-Dade Police! Is anyone in here?”

    Calleigh scanned the room, noting the lack of furniture and construction materials inside the house. It looked as if it was abandoned and being rebuilt.

    They were searching the first floor, which was just beginning to fill with smoke, when they heard a scream. “Ma’am?!” Horatio called. “Ma’am, we’re coming!”

    Horatio dashed up the stairs, with Calleigh close behind. He stopped suddenly, the smoke and heat becoming more intense. “Ma’am!” he shouted.

    “She’s over here, lieutenant,” a muffled, male voice called from behind the smoke. “She’s waiting for you.”

    “Johnny Fernandez?!” Horatio called, trying to see through the smoke. He walked further the down the hall, while Calleigh stayed close to the stairs, watching his back.

    “Ah, and I see you have your top detective with you, very good,” he said, laughing.

    “Identify yourself!” Calleigh shouted.

    “I’m about to, Detective Duquesne,” the man replied. “Believe me, I’m about to.” The man, wearing a breathing apparatus, emerged from the smoke, a baseball bat in his hand. Calleigh was suddenly hit from behind, and sent flying down the stairs. The perpetrator darted back into the smoke before Horatio had a chance to react.

    “Calleigh!” Horatio called, and was about to go after her, when he heard a familiar voice coming from the second floor. There was no response from his CSI, but another familiar voice cried his name.

    “Horatio!”

    Coughing on the smoke, Horatio looked back. “Yelina?!” he shouted. Suddenly, two figures emerged, standing on top of the stairs. The man – who was indeed Johnny Fernandez – held a knife to his sister-in-law’s throat.

    “Let her go,” Horatio said angrily.

    “That’s up to you, lieutenant,” Fernandez said in a half-crazed voice. “You put my father away, you put him away because he was forced to make a choice — now you make one!” Fernandez swiftly disappeared, dragging Yelina into an adjoining room. Running into the smoke, Horatio began to go after him, but a groan reminded him of his CSI’s dilemma.

    “Calleigh,” he shouted. “Are you alright?”

    “Fine,” she called. “But my leg ... I can’t move it.”

    “OK, hang in there, I’m gonna get you,” he said as he felt the heat from the fire, which had intensified. He heard Yelina scream again, and looked back. He was torn.

    “Don’t worry about me, Horatio – the door’s not too far!” Calleigh shouted. “Go get that bastard!”

    He couldn’t see her through the smoke, which concerned him, but he nodded just the same, darting up the stairs. Flames were shooting out of one of the bedrooms. “Yelina!” he cried.

    “So, you made your choice,” Fernandez said, standing about 10 feet away. “You’d better get her quick, before the fire does.” Horatio raised his gun and aimed it, but Fernandez ducked, disappearing in the smoke.

    “Horatio!” Yelina coughed. He searched the hall until he found her, lying against a wall and bleeding from her abdomen.

    “C’mon,” Horatio said, covering her wound and helping her stand. “We’ve gotta get out of here.”

    The flames exploded behind them as they rushed down the hallway. Yelina tripped, and they both were sent flying down the stairs. “Horatio!” Yelina shouted, reaching over to him. His head was bleeding, but he was conscious.

    “I’m fine,” he coughed, touching a hand to his wound. “I’m fine. C’mon.”

    As they made their way to the door, a portion of the ceiling collapsed behind them. Horatio looked back, his heart stopping. “Calleigh,” he whispered.

    “Lieutenant,” a voice called, pulling on his shoulder. “Get out of there!”

    The medical workers had already taken Yelina, who was being placed on a stretcher. The large man, a firefighter, was tugging on Horatio’s arm, pulling him from the blaze.

    “My CSI,” he coughed, watching as firemen rushed into the building. “Is she … did she make it?”

    “We just got here sir, it’s just the two of you,” he said, leading Horatio to the ambulance.

    “I’ve got to go back in there,” he said, trying to pull from the firemen’s grasp.

    “Sir, those flames are too intense—”

    “My CSI’s in there!” he shouted, starting back toward the house.

    “Woa, Horatio,” Frank Tripp said, stepping in front of him and placing both hands on his shoulders.

    “Frank, Calleigh’s in there, I have to —”

    “You have to see the doc, Horatio. If she’s still in there, they’ll find her,” he said, nodding toward the firemen.

    “Frank —”

    “I know H, listen to me, why don’t you go with Yelina, OK? You know Calleigh, she always finds a way to surprise us, right? If she can survive gettin’ run off the road, I think she can find her way out of a house fire.”

    Frank wasn’t so sure he fully believed what he was saying, but he hoped it was enough to get Horatio into that ambulance. The two men looked up, watching as the firefighters battled the blaze. Frank could see the mix of pain and fear in Horatio’s eyes. He knew Horatio felt responsible for whatever happened to Calleigh.

    “Horatio, Yelina needs you,” Frank said softly, hoping that would be enough.

    “OK Frank, OK…” he whispered, his voice hoarse. “Just find this bastard,” Horatio said, reaching into his breast pocket and handing him a photograph. Frank nodded and gestured for the medics to escort Horatio to the ambulance.

    “Johnny Fernandez,” Horatio called as the medics led him to the vehicle. “His name’s Johnny Fernandez, Frank, and he can’t have gotten far.”

    “You got it H,” Frank shouted, looking at the picture again. “Damn,” he whispered. Frank had noticed the tears in Horatio’s eyes as he was being brought to the ambulance – he wasn’t sure if they were from the smoke or the fact that another one of his CSIs was down. ‘If I was a betting man,’ Frank thought, ‘I’d choose the latter.’

    ----------------------------------

    “Yelina,” Horatio rasped, grasping her hand in the ambulance. “Can you hear me?” The EMTs had covered her wound, and she had an oxygen mask on. He looked up at one of the medics. “What do you think, Harry?”

    “Looks like the wound on her abdomen is superficial – like she was sliced – but we won’t be able to tell the severity until we get to the hospital,” the EMT explained. “I think I’d be more worried about the smoke inhalation. Here,” he said, handing Horatio an oxygen mask. “You need to take care of yourself, too, lieutenant.”

    Horatio nodded, closing his eyes as the medic covered his head wound. “Any word over the radio about my CSI?” Horatio asked.

    “No … no word yet.” Horatio shook his head, slamming his hand against the side of the vehicle. “Lieutenant?”

    “I’m sorry, Harry,” he said, shaking his head. He looked back at Yelina as the ambulance pulled up to the hospital. They wheeled her into the ER, with Horatio close behind. Doctors surrounded them both immediately.

    “Harry,” Horatio called as the EMT turned to leave. “You’ll let me know if you hear anything, right?”

    “Absolutely, lieutenant,” he replied, heading back outside.

    Horatio nodded, all his thoughts turning to how he was going to put Johnny Fernandez behind bars for life.

    --------------------------------

    “H? You OK?” Eric Delko asked, getting up from his crouch and walking toward his boss. “I didn’t think you’d be back to the crime scene so soon. Tripp said you—”

    “Where’s Calleigh,” he asked, looking around.

    “H …” Eric started, and Horatio looked down, realizing his young CSI had been crying. “She’s uh …”

    Horatio shook his head, clenching his jaw. “No,” he said in a low, angry growl, walking past Eric toward the burnt structure. “No.”

    A firefighter saw Horatio making a beeline for the house and moved to stop him. “Lieutenant, the fire’s still smoldering, you can’t—”

    “Oh yes I can,” Horatio said, brushing past the fireman and heading into the house. He stepped over the debris, moving to the spot where he thought Calleigh had landed. Frank was close behind.

    “Horatio,” he started.

    “He comes out of nowhere, hits her from behind, and she tumbles down,” Horatio muttered, walking across the debris. “And she lands …”

    “Horatio, you could contaminate the evidence,” Frank started. “This isn’t gonna bring her back.” Horatio stiffened and stopped abruptly, turning toward him.

    “Did they find her in here?” he asked angrily, placing his hands on his hips. “Is that what you’re telling me?” Horatio searched Frank’s gaze, bracing himself for the answer.

    “Well, no,” Frank started.

    “Then we keep looking,” Horatio said, turning his gaze back to the ground. A number of blackened beams blocked his path, and he began to move between them, searching through the rubble.

    “Horatio, be careful, those things aren’t secure!”

    “I have to know Frank,” he said, trying to shift one of the beams. “I have to know if —” Horatio stopped in mid-sentence and Frank looked down.

    “What is it, H?” Frank asked, his voice wavering. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

    Horatio reached down between two beams and brought an object up from the debris. He took out his handkerchief and began to clean it.

    “Horatio?” Frank asked, walking toward him.

    “It’s her badge,” he rasped.

    “Could be evidence on that,” Frank said, trying to remind Horatio that, despite what happened, they still had a job to do.

    “I want everyone in here right now — I want to see what’s under these beams,” he said angrily.

    “H, we gotta wait until —”

    “I am not gonna wait,” Horatio retorted, heading back outside. He placed the badge in his breast pocket. “Eric!” he called.

    “H, did you find anything?”

    “Just her badge,” he said sadly. “Listen, I need you to get these guys in there, we gotta dig through that rubble …”

    “I’m on it,” Eric said, blinking back the tears in his eyes.

    “Horatio,” Frank called, exasperated. He felt like he was chasing a greased pig.

    “I assume Fernandez is still in the wind.”

    “Actually, we picked him up a few miles from here,” Frank said. Horatio looked up in surprise. “He was hidin’ out in an old warehouse off Pine Street — real secluded area.”

    “How original,” Horatio said flatly. “I think it’s time he and I had a little chat.”

    “I don’t think that’s such—” Frank started, but Horatio was already in his Hummer. “a good idea,” Frank finished, shaking his head.


    ---------------------------

    “So, Mr. Fernandez,” Horatio started, circling him. Rick Stetler was there with him, serving as more of a babysitter than a partner in the interrogation room. “I hear you’ve taken quite an interest in me.”

    Fernandez remained silent, shifting slightly and picking at the burn on his arm.

    “Maybe these will ring a bell,” Horatio said through clenched teeth, tossing the pictures Yelina had given him onto the table. “The photographer said you paid him a pretty penny to get those pictures.”

    “You’re an interesting man,” Fernandez began.

    “So you’re admitting that you paid Michael Lipton to obtain those photos of Lieutenant Caine?” Stetler piped in.

    “I’m not sayin’ anything until I get a lawyer in here,” Fernandez replied, crossing his arms.

    “You know what, Johnny,” Horatio started, “you won’t have to tell me anything. The evidence is going to speak for itself, and you know what it’s going to tell me? That you’re a pyromaniac, and possibly a cop killer.”

    Fernandez looked up at him, and started laughing. “You don’t get it do you, Caine?”

    Horatio slammed a hand on the table and leaned in close. “I saw you in that house.”

    “I heard that was a pretty intense fire, lots of smoke … hard to see anything at all, I bet.”

    “You were there, and I’m gonna prove it,” Horatio snarled as Stetler moved toward them.

    “Horatio, don’t cross that line,” Stetler said. Backing away, Horatio placed his hands on his hips, never breaking eye contact with Fernandez.

    “You mentioned your father to me, Johnny. Now who would that be?”

    “You don’t remember him, lieutenant?” Fernandez said with disgust. Horatio gave him a small smile, and Fernandez realized he had just given himself up. Huffing, he leaned forward, eyes blazing. “You don’t remember how you dragged my father away from my family because he was doing his job?”

    “And what job was that?”

    “He ran a small convenience store … in New York City.

    “New York City …”

    “Yea. Course you don’t remember, lieutenant. He was just small potatoes for you. Maybe the name Paglisi will ring a bell”

    “Wait … you’re Dominic Paglisi’s son?” Horatio asked, somewhat perplexed.

    “Yea, that’s right, my mother remarried, made us all take on our stepdad’s name …” he said, leaning forward, “after you took my real father away.”

    “I arrested your father for drug smuggling,” Horatio said matter-of-factly. “Along with a lot of other men.”

    “He had to make a choice lieutenant,” Fernandez said, slamming his fist on the table, his calm demeanor gone. “It was either take in a few boxes of coke a week or get run outta town by the mob, and have your family marked.”

    “We busted a lot of guys in that raid, Johnny…”

    “But my father never got out,” he snarled, standing up. “He never got outta Rikers because that gangster Petrillo had him killed there!”

    Stetler motioned for one of the guards to step in and restrain Fernandez, who struggled a bit before being pushed back down into his seat.

    Horatio just stared at the man, somewhat shocked. “Why now, Johnny?”

    “Well, lieutenant, I was up in Boston recently, and couldn’t help but read the headlines about an acclaimed Miami CSI who brought down a serial killer — and his sister to boot! Still breakin’ up families after all these years, huh, Caine?”

    Horatio just shook his head. “Get him out of my sight,” he said with disgust. The guard began to take him out, but he stopped, turning back toward Horatio, this time with tears in his eyes.

    “I just wanted you to feel what my family felt — helpless, with no good choices in front of us! You may have forgotten my father, but I hope you never forget this day, Caine.”

    “Get him out of here!” Horatio shouted, waving a hand. The guard jumped slightly, surprised to hear Horatio yell. “Just … get him the hell out of here.”

    Fernandez was led out, leaving Horatio alone in the interrogation room with Stetler — the last person he wanted to be with right now.

    “So, the Big Apple comes back to bite you again, heh?” Stetler remarked. It took all Horatio’s strength not to slug him.

    “It seems that way, Rick,” he said through clenched teeth. Horatio stared out the window while Stetler gathered the paperwork off the table. There was a long, awkward pause between the two.

    “How’s Yelina?” Stetler asked, breaking the silence.

    “She’s conscious, the doctor thinks she’ll be OK,” Horatio said in a low voice. “She doesn’t remember much. I think Fernandez knocked her out, maybe drugged her, then dragged her to the house.”

    “And Detective Duquesne?”

    “Still no word.”

    “I’m sorry—”

    “Thank you, Rick, but I’m not ready to give up on my CSI just yet.”

    “Horatio, she was in the house when the ceiling collapsed.”

    “I didn’t see her.”

    “Well neither did anybody else on the scene. If she wasn’t in the house, and she wasn’t outside, then where was she?”

    Horatio turned around, hands on hips, glaring at Stetler. “I don’t know … yet,” he said, walking out of the room.
     
  2. horatiosangel

    horatiosangel Lab Technician

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    This is great so far, miamirocks!!! Can't wait to read the next chapter... :D
     
  3. Megan930

    Megan930 Rookie

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    I'm hooked. I hope Calleigh isn't dead. Please update soon.
     
  4. MacsGirlMel

    MacsGirlMel Mac's Personal Assistant

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    I know this one, you're posting it on Yahoo...I'm gonna read it when it's all done I think. Unless you want me chasing you with pitchforks lol
     
  5. miamirocks

    miamirocks Lab Technician

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    Hey guys,

    Thanks for the kind words - I understand if you want to wait until the story's complete - I know I have a tendancy to take awhile between posts. :rolleyes:

    Here's Part II - Hope you like it - Feedback is always appreciated!

    "Regrets" - Part II
    Rating: PG-13 (for language mostly)

    Part II

    Sitting in his Hummer, Horatio pulled Calleigh’s badge from his jacket pocket, running his fingers over the engraving. She was one of the best CSIs he had ever worked with – smart, sharp as a tack, compassionate, committed — a lot like himself in many ways.

    He knew the badge meant everything to her, and looking at it now, he realized how much he’d taken Calleigh for granted over the past few years. She was always there when he was in a tough spot. Just the thought of losing her made his heart drop into his stomach.

    “Hey, Caine!” A male voice jolted him from his thoughts as he jerked up to see who was knocking on his window. It was Jake Berkeley. “Lieutenant Caine, a word please?” he insisted.

    Horatio sighed and got out of his car, thinking to himself, ‘This is exactly what I need right now.’ He knew that Calleigh had begun to see Jake again, but he couldn’t say he was happy about — in reality, Jake reminded him too much of his brother Ray, and he didn’t want what happened to Yelina to happen to Calleigh, too. Neither of those women deserved men like that, he thought.

    “What can I do for you, detective?” he asked flatly, hands on hips.

    “Is Calleigh … is she …” Jake trailed off, looking around nervously, trying to hold back his emotions.

    “I don’t know yet, Jake,” he said.

    “How can you not know? You were there!” Jake insisted.

    “There was a lot of confusion,” Horatio started.

    “Yea I heard all about that – how you went and saved your sister-in-law and left Calleigh in that house to—”

    “That’s not what happened,” Horatio retorted.

    “Oh really? Well then explain it to me, lieutenant,” Jake said through clenched teeth. “Explain to me why you’re standing here and Calleigh’s probably lyin’ dead under a pile of debris in that house?”

    “I understand what you’re feeling, Jake, but—”

    “Do you? Do you, Caine? We were just startin’ to get things right between us, did you know that? I thought we’d finally cleaned the slate. And now this.”

    “Please understand—”

    “Make me understand, Caine,” Jake interjected, raising his voice. “Make me understand how you could just let the best damn CSI on your team – hell, in the state of Florida — get killed in a simple house fire. Make me understand that!”

    “I … I ran out of options, Jake. That’s all I can tell you.”

    “You know what Caine?” Jake hissed, leaning close, “You’re one sorry son-of-a-bitch.”

    Horatio nodded, putting his head down as Jake began to walk away. “I cared for her too,” he said, his voice cracking. Jake looked back in disgust, but when he saw the look in Horatio’s eyes, he knew the man was telling the truth. “Jake,” Horatio continued, looking up, not caring that his composure was shaken, “I cared for her more than you’ll ever know.”

    Jake swallowed, then replied, “I believe you … but that still doesn’t bring Calleigh back.” Horatio nodded, looking down at Calleigh’s badge as Jake walked away.

    “Uncle Horatio!” Looking up, Horatio saw his young nephew approach him.

    “Ray?” he said, regaining his composure. “What are you doing here? I thought I left you at the hospital? Is everything alright with your mother?”

    “Yea, she’s fine. She sent me down here to see how you were doing.”

    Horatio shook his head. “Me? I’m OK, Ray. Go back to your mother, alright?”

    “She said she heard something about one of your CSI’s goin’ down, and she was worried.”

    “Well, I am too, son, I am too,” Horatio said, sighing and looking back towards the lab, where Jake had walked off to. “C’mon. Hop in the truck, I’ll give you a ride back to the hospital.”

    As they made their way down the road, Horatio’s cell phone rang. It was Frank. “Yea,” he answered. “Alright. I’m on my way.” He hung up the phone, tears stinging his eyes.

    “Uncle Horatio, what is it?”

    “Let’s just get you back to your mother, OK?” he rasped, his voice cracking. Ray nodded, giving his uncle a concerned look before turning back toward the passenger’s side window.
    ---------------------------------
    “I came to ID my little girl, lieutenant,” Kenwall “Duke” Duquesne choked out, trying to push back his emotions. “Now if you’d be so kind as to tell me where her … where she is.”

    “Mr. Duquesne—”

    “Duke, please.”

    “We haven’t found anything conclusive yet.”

    “But it’s been hours … I have to …”

    Horatio sighed. “I understand, believe me, but, as Detective Tripp already told you, the fire flared up again, and we can’t get in there until everything’s been cleared.”

    “I want to see my lambchop, lieutenant,” Duke rasped, and Horatio could smell the whiskey on his breath.

    “I know,” Horatio said, putting a hand on his shoulder. He reached into his pocket, pulling out the badge. “Here,” he said, handing it to Duke.

    “Is this … my little girl’s shield?” he asked, reaching a shaking hand out to take it.

    “Yes sir,” Horatio said, nodding. He watched as tears began to fall from Duke’s eyes and a small smile crept onto Calleigh’s father’s face.

    “She was so proud of bein’ an officer of the law,” he said, caressing the metal much like Horatio had done. “She loved lookin’ out for people. She was so good at it … I should know.”

    Duke looked up at Horatio, his smile fading. Horatio looked down, swallowing hard. He was having a hard time holding it together.

    “Here,” Duke said, handing it back to him. “You take it.”

    “No, I—”

    “She woulda wanted you to have it, believe me, lieutenant. The way she talked about you … I know she was right fond of you, sir, and she respected you. That means a lot comin’ from my little girl.”

    “I … I don’t know what to say,” Horatio rasped as Duke placed the badge in his hand.

    “Lieutenant, I know I was never a proper father for my daughter, but I’m right proud of the way she turned out,” he started, letting his tears fall freely now. “She loved her job … loved that ballistics lab … and she loved you, lieutenant.”

    Horatio looked up at that statement. It was a devastating blow. “I …” he looked to the right as a tear escaped. “We all feel the same way,” he finally rasped, unable to meet Duke’s gaze.

    “You were good to my little girl, and I know she woulda done anything for ya. She really cared about everyone at the lab, especially you. I just thought you should know that.”

    “Thank you,” Horatio choked out. “Do you … do you want a ride? It could be awhile before …”

    “I’m fine,” Duke said quickly, reminding Horatio of how Calleigh used to hide behind that statement.

    “H!” Ryan Wolfe called from the road, running up to him. “What’s goin’ on? Where’s Calleigh? Oh … Mr. Duquesne.”

    “Young man,” Duke nodded, wiping a few errant tears from his face.

    “I’m sorry, H, I … do you know what’s goin’ on?”

    “Mr. Wolfe, as soon as I know, you’ll know, OK?”

    Horatio turned to see Frank Tripp making his way over, with Eric and Alexx Woods close behind.

    “Anything yet, Frank?”

    “Sorry to say the second spark-up mighta killed any hope we had of findin’ anything and —” Frank stopped mid-sentence, seeing Duke’s face fall. “Oh, I’m, I’m sorry Mr. Duquesne. Listen, why don’t we grab a bite to eat. This could take some time to sort out.”

    “I’m not really hungry,” Duke replied.

    “C’mon, just down the road here, my treat, sir. I don’t think you’re gonna wanna be hangin’ around here for the next 24 hours or so, am I right?”

    “OK,” Duke sighed. “You remember what I said lieutenant.”

    “Always,” Horatio said, clutching the badge. He watched as Frank put his arm around Calleigh’s father, leading him to the patrol car. “Is it as bad as Frank says?” Horatio asked, turning to Alexx.

    “Honey, I don’t know … it’s pretty bad in there. You might find a bone or two, if you’re lucky, but that fire went up pretty fast.”

    “Can we just stop talkin’ like this,” Eric said, beginning to pace. “Maybe she got out.”

    “Then why hasn’t she contacted us?” Ryan asked. “It’s all over the news.”

    “You would know,” Eric shot back.

    “Gentlemen,” Horatio interjected. “Please.”

    Alexx moved closer to Horatio, tears welling in her eyes. “What happened in there, Horatio?” she asked.

    “Well,” he started. “I … I…”

    “H?” Ryan asked, not used to seeing his boss so vulnerable, stumbling over words.

    “I couldn’t save her,” he sighed, placing a hand on Ryan’s shoulder. “I couldn’t save her.” Alexx wrapped an arm around Horatio, and Eric ducked his head. “I’m sorry,” Horatio rasped, putting a hand on Eric’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.”

    Calleigh always had a way of uniting the team, even at their lowest point, and this was no exception. The four leaned into each other, standing in an odd embrace.

    “I can’t believe this,” Eric rasped.

    “I’m sorry,” Horatio replied, shaking his head. He squeezed Eric’s shoulder and nodded to Alexx and Ryan before breaking from the group.

    “Horatio? Where are you goin’?” Alexx asked, concerned.

    “I need to be alone for awhile,” he said honestly. “Call me if you hear anything, OK?”

    “Will do,” Alexx said as the trio watched their boss get into his Hummer and drive off.
    ----------------------------------
    Horatio Caine sat on the beach, watching the tide come in. “Forgive me, Calleigh” he whispered, caressing the badge in his hand. He’d gone over and over the situation in his head, and wondered, if he could do it all over again, if he would’ve done anything differently.

    ‘I should’ve checked on her,’ he thought. ‘I might’ve had time to drag her out of there before …’

    Horatio was used to taking on guilt, but this was different. If he had chosen to get Calleigh out of there, he very well could be sitting here explaining to his nephew why he was an orphan. There just was no right choice – either way someone he loved would have died.

    “I can’t accept this,” he whispered, refusing to give up on Calleigh. But deep down he knew he would have to find a way to live with the choice he made. “I wish I’d told you … I hope you knew … how much you meant to this lab … to me…”

    “Of course I know,” drawled a southern voice Horatio thought he’d never hear again. He looked up in disbelief to see Calleigh Duquesne, crutches in hand, smiling down at him. Aside from some minor cuts and burns, she looked alive and well.

    “Calleigh,” he said in disbelief.

    “Hello, handsome,” she smiled.

    To Be Continued ....
     
  6. OscarMayerLemur

    OscarMayerLemur Police Officer

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    OMG! Yay! She's Alive! Great story!
     
  7. Patricia

    Patricia Lab Technician

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    This is great!
    Can't wait for your next update! :D
     
  8. miamirocks

    miamirocks Lab Technician

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    Hey guys - thanks for the feedback - here's Part III. Hope you like it. Feedback is much appreciated!


    Part III

    Horatio sat on the beach, holding Calleigh’s badge, lamenting about the apparent loss of his best CSI — and his best friend.

    “I can’t accept this,” Horatio whispered, refusing to give up on Calleigh. But deep down he knew he would have to find a way to live with the choice he made. “I wish I’d told you … I hope you knew … how much you meant to this lab … to me…”

    “Of course I know,” drawled a southern voice Horatio thought he’d never hear again. He looked up in disbelief to see Calleigh Duquesne, crutches in hand, smiling down at him. Aside from some minor cuts and burns, she looked alive and well.

    “Calleigh,” he said in disbelief.

    “Hello, handsome,” she smiled. “You missed all the action.”

    “Excuse me?” he asked, arching an eyebrow. He literally pinched himself, subtly on his left forearm. ‘My God, this is real,’ he thought. ‘She’s alive.’ His eyes were wide as he held back tears – but this time they were tears of joy. “How …” he started, but his voice cracked.

    “Why don’t you get up here so I can tell you?” she said gently, holding back tears of her own.

    “Oh,” he replied, quickly rising from his spot on the sand, trying to get himself together. “I … I thought I lost you …”

    Calleigh looked down shyly. “I know, me too, actually,” she said, laughing nervously.

    “But I don’t understand —”

    “It’s … a long story. I’ll tell you on the way.”

    “The way to where?”

    “The hospital,” she said begrudgingly, gesturing to the Hummer parked about 10 feet away. Standing beside it was Alexx, who had her arms crossed and a slight grin on her face. “Frank tried to reach you, but you didn’t answer your cell phone…”

    Horatio looked down at his phone, realizing he had missed four calls. “I … I put it on silent …”

    “Yea,” Calleigh said quickly. “Well, I wouldn’t let them take me anywhere until I found you … Wanted to make sure my LT was aware of my condition, you know?”

    “I appreciate the gesture, detective,” Horatio smiled.

    “Whatcha got there?” she asked, gesturing toward his right hand.

    “This,” he rasped, “belongs to you.” He handed her the badge, their hands touching for a brief moment during the exchange. Horatio took the opportunity to hold her hand for a moment, looking into her eyes. “Calleigh …”

    “Thank you,” she said quickly, ducking her head and accepting the badge. She squeezed his hand, looking back up to give him a big smile. “Thank you.” Balancing on the crutches, Calleigh took the badge and clipped it back onto her belt.

    “You two about ready to get along?” Alexx shouted from the Hummer.

    “Coming!” Calleigh called. “Horatio,” she started, turning back to him, “I —”

    “C’mon,” Horatio interjected. “We’ll talk on the way.” She smiled as he helped her back to the Hummer.

    -------------------------------

    5 HOURS EALIER

    Calleigh Duquesne sat up, semi-conscious, smoke spilling all around her. A trickle of blood found its way down her temple, and she reached up, realizing she’d hit her head. She groaned, attempting to get up, but couldn’t move her left leg.

    “Calleigh! Are you alright?”

    She heard Horatio call to her, and could hear … was it a tinge of fear? … in his voice.

    “Fine,” she replied, trying to stay calm. “But my leg ... I can’t move it.”

    “OK, hang in there, I’m gonna get you.”

    But then Calleigh heard the scream — she had heard Horatio call for Yelina as she was regaining consciousness and knew that Fernandez must have her upstairs. Knowing how much Yelina meant to Horatio, she realized the position he was being placed in, even in her foggy state. She decided to try and make the choice for him.

    “Don’t worry about me, Horatio – the door’s not too far!” Calleigh shouted, hoping she could convince him that she was well enough to get up and out of there. “Go get that bastard!”

    She heard him hesitate, and held her breath. If Yelina died because Horatio chose to help her out of the house, she didn’t know how she would live with it – or how he would.

    Suddenly, she heard him darting up the stairs, and breathed a sigh of relief, choking on the smoke in the process. Sitting up, she reached down, and located the problem — her leg was caught under a pile of wooden planks that she must’ve knocked over on her way down.

    “I should’ve seen this,” she whispered to herself, frustrated. The house was hardly lived in – this had been a set-up from the start. ‘When I get my hands on that Michael Lipton,’ she thought, but as the smoke started stinging her eyes, she realized she may not get the chance to give it to Lipton if she didn’t start moving.

    Bracing herself, she sat up, and tried to lift the planks off her, one by one. Her legs ached from the bruising the bat had inflicted on her; her head was pounding, and the smoke was making it hard to breath.

    “Damn it,” she whispered, coughing and pushing one of the planks off of her leg.

    “Ma’am?” called a male voice that sounded like it was coming from the back door.

    “I’m with the Miami Dade PD!” Calleigh shouted. “There’s a dangerous suspect in here — stand clear!”

    “You’re trapped!” the voice said, coming closer. Calleigh kept her hand on her weapon as he approached her. “Here, let me help,” he said.

    The young man — looking to be only about 19 or 20 with light brown hair, fair skin and a two-inch scar that ran across his right cheek — began to push the planks off of Calleigh’s leg. She moved to stand, but was slowly becoming dizzy from the smoke.

    “I’ve got you,” the young man said, and she reluctantly let him help her up, placing her arm around his shoulder. As the young man assisted her toward the back door, Calleigh heard a gunshot, and reached for her own weapon, her concern for Horatio growing.

    “Horatio,” she called weakly, but she knew she was losing consciousness, from the smoke or the head wound she wasn’t sure. When they finally made it out of the house, she noticed that she was being brought to a vehicle parked on the side of the house.

    “Wait, stop here,” Calleigh said, somewhat in a daze, wanting to go back into the house.

    “No, it’s fine,” the man replied, opening the passenger side door. She suddenly got a sick feeling in her gut, and attempted to break free from his grasp, but her ankle gave out and she fell to the ground, going into a coughing spasm from all the smoke she inhaled. Looking to her right, she saw a man running toward them.

    “Johnny!” the younger man said to the figure that was fast approaching. Calleigh noticed that the man had a knife in one hand and an oxygen mask in the other. It was Johnny Fernandez.

    “Paulie! What the hell did you do!?” he shouted, looking down at Calleigh. She reached for her weapon, but he beat her to it, moving down and pulling it from its holster. He aimed it at her.

    “No Johnny!” Paulie called.

    “Shut up, little brother,” he hissed, cocking the weapon. Calleigh closed her eyes calmly, bracing herself for the inevitable. She heard sirens in the background.

    “Damn it!” Johnny cursed, and Calleigh opened her eyes just in time to see the butt of her gun making contact with her temple. Her last thought before she lost consciousness was of Horatio — trapped inside the inferno.

    ------------------------------------------

    Calleigh couldn’t remember having a worse headache in her life. She rarely drank — for obvious reasons — but this was as close to a hangover headache as she could remember. Slowly, she opened her eyes, resting her gaze on the young man … Paulie … the one who had saved her from the fire.

    “Oh, thank God,” he said, shaking his head. “I thought you were a goner.”

    “I need to get out of here,” she said, trying to sit up on the bed she was lying on, but he had handcuffed her to the bedpost. Looking around the room, she noticed the dirt floors and the lack of windows. “Let me go,” she said firmly, glaring at him.

    “Afraid I can’t do that — brother’s orders,” he responded, pressing a damp cloth to her head. He had bandaged her up — including her ankle, which was slightly sprained.

    Gritting her teeth, she tried to get a handle on the situation. “How long have I been here Paulie? It is Paulie, right?”

    “Yea, yea that’s me,” he said with a slight grin. “And you – you’ve been out for a good three hours.”

    “Three hours?” she whispered in disbelief, still groggy. “Where … where am I?”

    “You’re safe,” he said.

    “If I’m so safe, why am I handcuffed?”

    “That’s Johnny,” he replied, shaking his head. “He was gonna do ya in – I thought for sure. But he knows how much I like you…”

    “I don’t … even know you …” Calleigh said, confused and agitated, her head still pounding.

    “It’s OK, I know. You have no idea how hard it’s been … watchin’ you …”

    “What are you talking about?”

    “My brother’s so mad I saved you, but I couldn’t let you die … we’re supposed to be together …”

    “What —” Calleigh sat up, and stopped mid-sentence as she took in her surroundings a second time. On the walls were pictures — of her. Much like the ones Fernandez had paid Lipton to get of Horatio. “What is this?” she whispered.

    “It’s you,” he said simply. “Johnny asked me to take some shots of ya, get your routine … said you were one of old red’s favorites.”

    “You mean Horatio,” she said matter-of-factly. As she spoke his name she flashed back to the house, to the sound gunfire. “Horatio,” she rasped.

    “Don’t worry, he’s fine,” Paulie said, putting his hand on her shoulder. “He’s actually pretty broken up about the whole thing.”

    “Excuse me?”

    “You know — he thinks you died in that house. And you woulda too, if it wasn’t for me.” His grin widened as he moved in close. “I parked a few feet away, got you in my truck, and here we are.”

    “Where exactly is here?” she asked in an even tone. If he liked her, there was no use in making him angry at her. She’d used her charm on criminals before, and she was prepared to do it again. She just wasn’t sure how she was going to do it handcuffed and without her weapon. Glancing down, she also noticed that she was missing her badge.

    “It’s not important,” he said. “What’s important is that we can have a life together now.”

    “Paulie … I think the first thing we need to do, if we’re going to … have a life … is start trusting each other. You trust me, don’t you?”

    “Of course,” he said intensely. “But Johnny’d be really mad if he found out I told you where we was.” Paulie looked around nervously, and glanced at the clock, turning. It was then that Calleigh noticed Paulie had her gun in his pocket. “Where the heck are you,” he whispered, his eyes darting around the windowless room.

    “Paulie?”

    “Oh, sorry, it’s just … Johnny was supposed to meet us here. It’s not like him not to show. I’d better go look for him.”

    “No, Paulie wait! I’ll come with you, help you look,” Calleigh said quickly.

    “Can’t – he’d be mad … and you wouldn’t like him when he’s mad,” Paulie replied, his fingers absently running along his scar. “I’ll be back.”

    “No, Paulie, wait —” her sentence was cut off by what sounded like the slamming of two wooden doors. “Damn … Well,” she sighed, reaching into her hair, “time to improvise.”

    ------------------------------

    “C’mon, eat up, Duke,” Tripp encouraged. “You gotta eat sometime.”

    “Sorry, but I’ve had all I can stomach right now, detective,” replied Kenwall “Duke” Duquesne.

    “Alright,” Tripp sighed, looking up from his coffee. ‘It’s gonna be a long night,’ he thought to himself.

    “Sorry, but I already told you, I can’t help you,” a waitress said to a young, disheveled man who had just entered the diner. Tripp’s ears perked up, his cop instinct taking over.

    “Listen, my brother said that if he wasn’t at my place he was gonna be here,” the man started, growing angry. Tripp got up from his place.

    “Excuse me a sec, Duke,” Tripp said, walking toward the conversation.

    “I already told ya, I haven’t seen him today, Paulie,” the waitress said, a hint of fear in her tone.

    “Listen to me, Debbie, and listen good,” Paulie growled angrily, grabbing her arm. “Where’s Johnny?!”

    “Hey,” Tripp called, putting a hand on the man. “You got a problem?”

    “No, no,” Paulie said nervously, backing away. “It’s fine.”

    “Oh really? Well that cut on your forearm doesn’t look fine … as a matter of fact, it looks like a burn.” Tripp was beginning to get suspicious – alarms were going off in his head.

    “Yea, I … I burned myself with an iron …”

    “Funny, don’t look to me like you been ironin’ much lately, kid,” Tripp said, leaning into him. “And you don’t smell like you’ve bathed in awhile either.”

    “I — I gotta go,” he said quickly.

    “Hold on a second,” Tripp said, grabbing his arm, and revealing his badge in the process. “That burn … it looks pretty fresh. And you stink to high heaven of smoke.”

    “So, what are you gonna do? Arrest me for not bathing?”

    Tripp looked down at his young man’s pockets, and noticed something sticking out. “No,” Tripp said angrily, “I’m gonna arrest you for this, dumbass.” Carefully placing his fingers around the object, he pulled out a gun from Paulie’s pocket.

    “Hey, you can’t do that,” Paulie yelled as Tripp used his free hand to restrain him.

    “Plain sight, jackass,” Tripp replied, putting the gun on the counter and handcuffing Paulie. “So let’s see what you’re packing.” Examining the make and model, Tripp paused, and it took all his strength not to pounce on the guy right there. “What the hell is this, boy?” he said angrily.

    “It’s mine.”

    “Oh yea? Looks like police issue to me,” Tripp growled. He leaned in close, whispered, “If I find out that you had anything to do with our officer’s death today, I’ll make sure every one of her colleagues gets five minutes alone with you.”

    “Alright, alright!” Paulie said. “Johnny made me do it!”

    “Let’s get outside,” Tripp said through gritted teeth, pushing him out of the diner and back to his patrol car.

    Tripp called it in, and Ryan and Eric, along with Natalia Boa Vista, were on the scene in minutes.

    “Is this the creep,” Natalia said, disgusted, walking alongside Eric. Ryan stayed back, knowing he was still on probation, but wanting to ring the guy’s neck all the same. Veins were popping out of Eric’s neck as he and his fellow CSIs finally stopped at the patrol car.

    “Take a look at this,” Tripp said, holding a plastic bag containing the gun.

    “That’s Calleigh’s alright,” Ryan said, barely restraining himself.

    “What the hell did you do, huh?!” Eric hissed, pushing Paulie against the car.

    “Easy Delko,” Tripp said, pointing to onlookers. “We don’t need to mess this up right here, OK?”

    “Alright,” Eric said angrily, moving back. “Where’s H?”

    “Called him, but he’s not answering his cell.”

    Eric shook his head, then focused back on Paulie. “So, Paulie, right? Tripp said you were askin’ for a Johnny in the diner … You know Johnny Fernandez?”

    “I …”

    “Now’s not the time to lie, believe me,” Natalia warned.

    “He’s … he’s my brother, alright?” Paulie said quickly. “He planned the whole thing to get back at that red … But I never thought he would actually …”

    “Actually what? Actually kill somebody,” Ryan said, moving closer, his voice raised.

    “Hey, Wolfe,” Tripp said, touching his shoulder. “Why don’t you go over there and interview that waitress. She seems to know these jackasses.”

    “You got it, Tripp,” he said, glaring at Paulie as he began to walk away.

    “Hey,” Paulie called. “Hey, guys, listen, I didn’t kill her.”

    Ryan bolted back over and Eric and Natalia had to hold him back. “Oh yea?” Ryan said in a half-crazed voice. “Well guess what? You’re an accomplice and you’re just as guilty, so cut the crap!”

    “No, no you don’t understand,” Paulie said quickly. “She’s not dead!”

    “What?” Tripp said.

    “She’s over in a cellar – about 10 yards away from the warehouse on Pine Street. It’s got a hidden entrance, covered by some shrubs and stuff.”

    Tripp shook his head, cursing at himself for not searching the place more thoroughly. All the CSIs had been at the crime scene, and he’d had the officers search the warehouse after they picked up Johnny Fernandez, but he didn’t have them pan the area. While he had hoped it wasn’t true, he really thought that Calleigh was killed in the house fire – he was looking for the culprit, and no one else. He’d gotten the man responsible, and that’s all he cared about.

    “You’d better not be lyin’,” Tripp warned in a dark tone. “Let’s get over there, Eric. Hey Lopez,” he shouted to a uniformed officer. “Take our friend over here to lock-up.”

    “Yes sir,” the officer replied.

    “I’ll tag along,” Natalia said. “See if this guy has anything else he wants to confess.”

    “Good, and get on the horn to Alexx and Horatio, will ya!” Tripp added. “Tell ‘em to meet us at the warehouse.”

    “Detective!” Duke called, running over to Tripp. “Did I just hear that my little girl’s alive?”

    “Easy now,” Tripp said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “We don’t know anything yet. Just sit tight … Hey Ryan!”

    Running over, Ryan eagerly waited, hoping he could do more than just stand around and work crowd control.

    “Ryan, why don’t you take Mr. Duquesne down to the lab and keep him company until we know something?”

    “Sure thing, Frank,” he said.

    “Young man, I remember you now,” Duke began, turning toward Ryan. “A few years ago, wasn’t it? You helped me when I thought I’d run over that dead man, isn’t that right?”

    “Yes, sir,” he said.

    “Hey Wolfe!” Eric called, interrupting.

    “Yea?”

    “Take that waitress with you – she might be helpful in nailing these guys down.”

    “Sure thing,” Ryan said, before walking with Duke to his car.

    -------------------------------------

    Tripp entered the room first, cautiously, Eric covering his back. They both had their guns drawn as they went down the stairs to the cellar.

    “Calleigh?” Eric called.

    “Lights are on, but nobody’s home,” Tripp said, agitated.

    “Look at this,” Eric noted, pointing to the pictures of Calleigh on the wall. “Looks like H wasn’t the only one being stalked.”

    “That son-of-a-bitch lied to us,” Frank growled.

    “But it doesn’t make any sense, Frank. Why lead us to his main hideout?”

    “Cause he’s scared stupid,” Frank replied, holstering his gun. “Let’s get outta here.”

    As they walked out of the cellar they saw Alexx rushing to meet them. “We found her!” she yelled. “We found her!”

    “What? Where?” Tripp asked as Alexx ran up to the two men, out of breath.

    “I came a back way, and I found her walking down the road — well, hobbling would be more accurate.”

    “You mean she’s alive?” Eric rasped.

    “And kickin’,” Alexx said with a smile. “This part’s pretty rural. Lucky we came by, or she may’ve been walkin’ for quite some time.”

    “Where is she, can we see her?” Eric said, tears stinging his eyes.

    “She’s by the truck, I was just patching her up, although it looks like someone may’ve beaten me to the punch.”

    Eric bolted, running to the vehicle, but stopped short as he took in Calleigh’s form. “Hey,” he rasped as Calleigh looked up. “You, uh, you look good,” he said with a smile.

    “Oh yea?” she said, giving him a small smile. “Don’t you say the sweetest things …”

    “I, um, we thought …” Eric trailed off, his voice catching in his throat.

    “I know,” she whispered. “I thought I was a goner myself for awhile there.” Calleigh scanned the area. “Eric, where’s Horatio, is he alright?”

    “Yea, yea he’s fine,” Eric assured her. “We’ve been tryin’ to get in touch with him, but it’s been a pretty crazy day, you know?”

    “Somewhat,” she said, heaving a sigh of relief. “Alexx told me he got out of that house before the ceiling apparently caved in, but that he and Yelina had to go to the hospital.”

    “Yea, but they’re fine,” Eric reassured her. “You know H – he’s tough.”

    “As nails,” she smiled. “So what brings y’all to my rescue, if I might ask?”

    “Well, we caught the guy who abducted you.”

    Calleigh looked up, eyebrows raised. “You know, Eric, that man saved my life, as crazy at it sounds.”

    “What are you talkin’ about?”

    “When I was in that house, I was stuck under a pile of planks, and I just couldn’t budge it. From outta nowhere, this young guy comes in and gets me out.”

    “And then takes you to a cellar to do God knows what …” Eric stopped, realizing that he didn’t know what had actually happened in that cellar. “Oh, Cal, hey, I’m sorry … Did he, did he hurt you?”

    “No, Eric,” she said, shaking her head. “Just handcuffed me and told me how he wanted us to be together.”

    “The guy’s a psycho – did you see the pictures?”

    “I did,” she said matter-of-factly. “I think he’s a bit unstable, but I don’t think he’s a killer — not like his brother, Johnny. Alexx told me that you caught him.”

    “Yea, he was hidin’ out in the warehouse,” Eric said, pointing. “Now I’m curious. How’d you get outta that cellar?”

    “By using something you’d never need,” she smirked, pulling a bobby pin from her pocket.

    “Picked the lock on the handcuffs — nice.”

    “Thanks,” she smiled. “I thought you guys would appreciate that.”

    Alexx and Tripp both approached the truck, gesturing to Eric.

    “C’mon partner,” Tripp said. “You got a second crime scene to investigate.”

    “You got it, Tripp,” he said, turning to Calleigh. “Hey, Cal – I’m glad you’re alright. Really…”

    “I know, Eric,” she said softly. “I’ll see you later.”

    “You can count on it,” he said, and walked back to the cellar. “Hey, Tripp, I think I could use a hand, you know?”

    “Be there in a minute, Delko,” he said, turning back to Calleigh. “I’m gonna need to take a statement, Calleigh.”

    “That’s not a problem,” she replied, getting up on the crutches Alexx had given her.

    “Honey, we gotta get you to the hospital,” Alexx interjected, glaring at Tripp. He sighed, shaking his head.

    “Alexx, I’m fine,” she replied. “Lucky for me you had these crutches in your truck.”

    “Calleigh, you need to be looked at,” Alexx insisted.

    “I told you I’m —”

    “Hey, hey hold it,” Tripp said, cutting them both off. “I can take the statement any time. Go get yourself patched up and I’ll meet you at the hospital.” Tripp began to walk off. “Now if I could just track down that damned Horatio …” he said, shaking his head as he walked away.

    Alexx ran a hand over Calleigh’s head wound, examining it again. “You’re real lucky,” she whispered. “Now let’s get you checked out.”

    “Alexx,” Calleigh said, stopping her. “I … Do you think I could let my LT know I’m alive and well first?”

    “Oh, I wouldn’t worry about Horatio - he’ll be along. And he’d definitely want you to be looked at.”

    Calleigh looked down, tears uncharacteristically welling in her eyes.

    “Calleigh? You OK sweetie?” Alexx asked softly.

    “I’m fine,” she choked out, but the tears running down her face said otherwise.

    “It’s alright,” Alexx said, rubbing her back. “It’s alright. You’ve been through a lot …You know, why don’t we go find Horatio after all? I think I just might know where he is.”

    Calleigh looked up, nodding slightly. “OK,” she rasped. “And thanks, Alexx.”

    “Any time, honey.”

    ---------------------------------------

    There was a heavy silence as Alexx drove to the beach, using the flashing lights to get onto the sand. Calleigh was staring out the windshield when she finally spotted Horatio — sitting by the edge of the water, legs drawn up to his chest. He looked more vulnerable than she’d ever seen him before.

    “Stop the truck, Alexx,” she said. “He’s over there.” Grabbing the crutches, Calleigh began to get out of the car.

    “Hang on,” Alexx said. “I don’t think he even sees us.”

    Calleigh paused, looking at her boss’s form. He looked deep in thought, and was holding something in his hands. She couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he was definitely whispering something.

    “He really took it hard,” Alexx said quietly as Calleigh looked back at her.

    “Like when Tim died?” Calleigh rasped.

    “Well, yes and no,” Alexx said, swallowing at the memory. “I think it’s always harder for him when it’s a woman. Especially one he cares for so deeply.”

    Calleigh blushed slightly, looking down. She felt terrible that Horatio had to go through all of this, and she wanted him to know she was alive and well. But a part of her wondered why he’d been so affected by the news of her supposed demise.

    “He loves you, honey,” Alexx said, giving her the ‘I know what you’re thinking’ look.

    “Alexx,” she said in a hushed tone.

    “I just call ‘em like I see ‘em,” she replied with a slight smile, which faded as she looked back at Horatio. “The man’s heartbroken.”

    “What should I say?” Calleigh asked.

    “Whatever’s on your heart,” Alexx said with a smile. “Most people don’t get second chances — believe me, I know.”

    “I know, it’s just … You know how things have been around the lab since … well since Tim died. And Horatio’s gotten so distant lately, I guess I’d forgotten how close we used to be.”

    “I know, Calleigh, believe me, I’ve tried to get that man to open up to me about what’s goin’ on in that beautiful mind of his,” Alexx lamented. “There’s definitely some unhealed wounds that need mending, but he just keeps going further and further into his shell. I think you just may be his last hope — and maybe that’s what he’s realizing right now.”

    “Me? His last hope? I don’t know about that.”

    “Honey, I don’t think anyone else in the world can ground Horatio Caine like you do,” Alexx said. “I’ve seen you two — things may’ve cooled a bit lately, but I know he has an easiness and comfortable look when he’s with you.”

    Calleigh smiled, remembering some of the better times between the two of them:

    ‘I don’t look good in all black.’
    ‘I beg to differ.’

    ‘What do you get when a six foot man lies down with a three foot rifle?’
    ‘Hot flashes, but that’s just me.’

    ‘Everything OK?’
    ‘Sometimes it’s hard to have family.’
    ‘Sometimes it’s hard not to.’

    “Hey, earth to Calleigh,” Alexx prompted, bringing her out of her memories.

    “Sorry, I…”

    “You were somewhere else, I know,” Alexx smiled. “Listen, I really want to get you to the hospital, so how about we go see our fearless leader and let him in on the good news?”

    “If it’s all the same to you, Alexx, I’d like to go alone.”

    Alexx gave her a concerned look. “Are you sure you’re gonna make it on the sand with those crutches?”

    “ Sand’s pretty packed together by the water — I think I can manage, it’s not that far. It’s not like I have a broken leg or anything.”

    “Well, if you need me, I’ll be right here.”

    “Thanks, Alexx,” Calleigh replied before slowly making her way to Horatio. As she grew closer, she was surprised he didn’t look up, sensing someone moving toward him. He was usually so observant and sharp. Her breath caught in her throat when she made out his face — he looked like a wreck. She choked back tears as she noticed the streaks of wetness that were staining Horatio’s cheeks.

    “I can’t accept this,” she heard him whispered, now only a few feet away. “I wish I’d told you … I hope you knew … how much you meant to this lab … to me…”

    Calleigh looked down, feeling guilty, and swallowed hard, determined to find a way to reach him.

    “Of course I know,” she drawled, watching as Horatio looked up in disbelief.

    “Calleigh,” he rasped.

    “Hello, handsome,” she smiled. His mouth agape, she watched as relief flooded his features, and she knew everything was going to be just fine.

    ------------------------------
     
  9. Patricia

    Patricia Lab Technician

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    This is great!!! :D
    Great update!! loved it!!
     
  10. HC_4_my_birthday

    HC_4_my_birthday Lab Technician

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    great fic Miamirocks can't wait for the next update do love H/C :)
     
  11. cinegirl

    cinegirl Coroner

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    Awesome story and so well written! :)
    Sorry, but now I have to chase you for more :D ;)
     
  12. Florry86

    Florry86 CSI Level Three

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    ok....I'm not a Ducainer.
    But this story is so well written :D
    Please, go ahead :lol:
     
  13. miamirocks

    miamirocks Lab Technician

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    Well, this is it - Part IV - Hope you guys enjoyed this one-shot. Thanks for all the kind words and feedback. Please let me know what you think (whether you're a DuCaine fan or not!). Thanks :)

    Title: "Regrets”
    Author: ducainefan
    Rating: PG-13 (mostly for language)
    Subject: H/C relationship
    Summary: What if Horatio Caine was faced with an impossible choice …
    Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters on CSI:MIAMI, nor am I making any money off this - as a matter of fact I don't make much, so please don't sue!
    NOTE: This is a one-shot – it’s been running in my mind for a while now, and I just had to get it written out before I moved on with my “Mixed Feelings” series. This is the last part – hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks for all the feedback – you guys rock. Now, on with the story.


    Part IV

    “You know, Horatio, you didn’t have to go to all this trouble,” Calleigh said softly, slightly embarrassed that her boss was cooking her dinner at her place. But beneath the embarrassment was a sense of familiarity, a comfortable feeling that made her so thankful to be alive and well.

    “It’s the least I could do,” Horatio replied, setting the plates down on the kitchen table.

    “Well, I’m much obliged,” she said sweetly. “But it’s been a good 48 hours, and I think my ankle’s feeling much better. There’s no need to be fussin’ over me like this.”

    “On the contrary,” Horatio began, sitting down, “I consider this a celebration.”

    “Well, I’m always up for a good party, but what’s the occasion?”

    “Um … well …” Horatio seemed to be fumbling for words, acting nervous, which surprised Calleigh. There was an awkward silence, until finally Calleigh decided speak up.

    “Horatio,” she started cautiously, “if this is about the fire … I just want you to know that … that you made the right call.”

    “I should’ve checked on you first,” he said, shaking his head and turning way, leaning against the counter.

    “You made the right call,” she said again, a bit more firmly, standing up and walking toward him.

    Horatio smiled, despite himself. He loved her strength, and the way she could get her point across without rubbing him the wrong way. He loved the way she was able to combine her southern charm and compassion with a hard-nosed determination. At the end of the day, he just … loved her.

    “Horatio, are you listening to me?” Calleigh asked urgently.

    Snapped from his revelry, he looked up at her, a small smile across his face.

    “What?” she replied, grinning back. “What did I say?”

    Horatio shook his head and looked down, blushing slightly. He couldn’t believe how blind he’d been. It was all becoming so much clearer to him now as he thought back on things.

    “OK,” he sighed, looking back at her. “OK, here’s the thing. It’s just, um … I don’t think I’ve ever told you how important you are … I mean, how much you mean ...” Trailing off, Horatio gave Calleigh a vulnerable look, placing his hands on his hips.

    “That’s, um … that’s not necessary,” Calleigh whispered, looking down nervously at her hands.

    “I beg to differ,” he replied, giving her a familiar grin. She looked up, smiling in embarrassment.

    “Horatio,” she sighed. “Let’s sit down, OK?” He nodded and they both took a seat at the table. “I know … I know things have difficult the last few years, and I wish … I wish things could get back to the way they were before …”

    “I’m listening,” Horatio said, bracing himself.

    “I know you still care for Yelina, Horatio,” she said, meeting his gaze. “And I can’t help but wonder if the situation were reversed … maybe you’d be making her dinner right now.”

    She continued to make eye contact with him, waiting for a response. It soon became somewhat of a staring contest — but in an unexpected turn, it was Horatio who lost. He looked down at his folded hands, shifting.

    “It’s fine, Horatio, believe me I understand,” Calleigh said quickly, and it was obvious that she was nervous. “I’ve always known that you’ve cared for her.”

    “You’re right,” he replied, still refusing to meet her gaze, “and I always will.”

    There was an awkward pause as Calleigh nodded her head and swallowed the lump in her throat. She had to admit that a part of her was curious to see if a relationship between her and Horatio could work – he’d mentored her over the years, but she’d grown to love him in a way she never had any other man. It was deeper than her other relationships — including her current one with Jake Berkeley.

    “But,” Horatio continued, raising his eyebrows and still looking at his hands, “that doesn’t mean that I don’t care about you. And I do Calleigh,” he rasped, looking up. “I do.”

    “Yea,” she rasped, looking down. “Me too.”

    The silence hung thick in the air as the two searched for the right words to say next – the right move to make. ‘We’re like a couple of high school kids,’ Calleigh thought to herself, trying to think of what to do next. She decided to do what she normally did in uncomfortable situations — change the subject.

    “So … what’s the word on Paulie Fernandez?”

    “Well, he couldn’t make bail, so he’s in county lock-up – where he belongs.”

    “Don’t be too hard on him, Horatio,” she said softly.

    “You don’t think he was as responsible as his brother for what happened in that house – or the other arsons we’ve been investigating?”

    “I think he was … misled,” Calleigh began carefully. “He has some problems to work out, but I think a part of that might stem from coming from a broken home.”

    “You mean if he hadn’t lost his father, maybe he wouldn’t have turned out this way, and maybe none of this would’ve happened,” Horatio asked sadly.

    “Horatio, I didn’t mean that against you – you did what you had to do,” she said. “All I’m saying is I understand about broken homes.”

    “So do I,” Horatio said a bit more defensively than he wanted to. “What I mean is …”

    “I know what you’re saying, and I believe it, too – People choose their own path. But I think Paulie, in the right situation, could’ve been helped. Maybe he still can.”

    “Well, that’s up to the courts now,” Horatio sighed. “I’m sure they’ll take everything into consideration.”

    “Including the fact that he saved my life.” At her statement, Horatio looked away.

    “Yea,” he rasped. “He did save you …”

    “Horatio, I didn’t … Don’t do this to yourself,” she started, her voice filled with sadness and a tinge of regret.

    “It’s fine.”

    “No it’s not,” Calleigh replied. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

    “Are you sure?”

    “Horatio,” she sighed, “I can’t tell you how to feel. All I can tell you is that I still trust you with my life.” Horatio gave a half-laugh, looking away. “Hey,” she rasped, reaching out to grasp his hands, “don’t turn away from me, handsome.”

    Horatio looked down at their hands, entwining them. He could feel the tears burning his eyes. “I … I hate what I’ve become, Calleigh,” he said in a low voice.

    Arching an eyebrow, Calleigh leaned in closer, at a loss for words. Of all the things she thought he’d say, she didn’t count on that.

    “Horatio,” she began carefully, “you’re a good man. You’re a good cop. And you have nothing to be ashamed of or hate yourself for, OK?”

    “No?” he asked sadly. “Not even for Speed, or Ray, or Rachel Turner, or Marisol?”

    “I—”

    “And what about Eric? A lot of good I’ve done him.”

    “Horatio, stop —”

    “I can’t,” he rasped, pulling away.

    “Horatio, stop it,” Calleigh said in a firm tone. He looked up, seeing her concern, her understanding. “Listen to me,” she continued, taking his hands in hers again, reaching for him, “you have to stop this. You can’t keep carrying around all this guilt, Horatio … I won’t let you.”

    “What else can I do?” he choked out, a tear escaping.

    “You can let go,” she said softly. “You can let go with me. I’m here now and I … I love you.”

    Horatio’s heart skipped a beat as Calleigh looked away, embarrassed. “I’ve said too much,” she said in low voice.

    “No,” Horatio insisted. “I … I cherish you, Calleigh. I really do.” He leaned forward until he was inches from her. “Come here,” he whispered, opening his arms to her. She looked up, smiling through unshed tears, and leaned into his embrace, wrapping her arms around him. After several moments, they pulled back, and Calleigh moved her hand to wipe away the wetness running down Horatio’s cheek.

    “Calleigh,” he said in a shaky voice, reaching his own hand out to touch her face, his thumb caressing her. They looked at each other for what seemed like an eternity, overcome with emotion, but hesitant to take the next step.

    “Horatio,” she said in a soft voice. He leaned closer, but she turned away at the last minute, suddenly overcome with all the mixed emotions she had been feeling over the past few years. She couldn’t let things go forward without clearing the air with him.

    “I just, I don’t understand what’s happened,” Calleigh started, getting up and beginning to pace nervously. Horatio leaned forward, but stayed silent. “I mean, you’ve done everything in your power to avoid me the past few years, you … married … someone you hardly know and I … I just don’t understand all this, Horatio.”

    “I … I,” he started, swallowing. Calleigh pulled up a chair next to him again, leaning in close.

    “I need you to tell me the truth, Horatio,” she said firmly. “I’m sorry if what I’ve said hurt you, but I can’t go on like this, living like we’re strangers one day, and then acting like everything’s fine the next.”

    “I know,” he replied in low voice. “ I think I’ve just been afraid.”

    Calleigh was taken aback by the statement. “Afraid? Of what?”

    “Of losing control,” he rasped. “Of letting go, of dealing with all this … all this loss…”

    “But what do I have to do with any of that?”

    “You have everything to do with it, Calleigh,” he said, looking at her, unshed tears welling in his eyes. “Do you remember when Speed died? When I held you in my arms until we’d both cried ourselves out?”

    “I…” she swallowed, stealing back tears. “Of course.”

    “You’re the only person I’ve ever been able to let go with in that way, Calleigh … ever allowed myself to let go with. You gave me the strength to get up at that wake and give a eulogy for Speed without balling my eyes out.” He grasped her hand, swallowing. “You’ve always been the rock of this team, Calleigh. But I just couldn’t … didn’t want to put you through what happened in that locker room again.”

    “Maybe you just didn’t want to go there again yourself?” Calleigh posed, her voice cracking.

    “Could be,” he replied. “We’ve both lost so much, and I … I was afraid what would happen if we got too close … that maybe I’d break and seem less of a man to you … or that I’d lose you, too.”

    “Horatio, I’m here, you know that. I was there when they said Ray was killed undercover. I was there when Tim was gunned down, and Marisol, and your brother last year. And when everything happened with Eric … Well, you know I will always have your back, Horatio – no matter what.”

    “I do,” he whispered. “And I’m sorry I didn’t have yours.”

    “You need to stop beating yourself up over this,” she started.

    “And you need to start being honest with me, Calleigh,” he said, a bit harsher than he’d meant to. “I’m sorry. I’m just … worried that you think I would just leave you to … die. I want to know the truth, Calleigh. What do really think of the choice I made in that house?”

    Calleigh took a breath, letting it out slowly, trying to gather her thoughts. If he wanted honesty, she’d give it to him – he deserved no less.

    “I’ve always been jealous when it comes to you,” she said flatly. “Jealous of the way you look at Yelina, the way you care for her, the relationship you two have. I just … I could never get there with any of my … Well, it just seems that you two have something I never will.”

    “Calleigh,” he replied softly, “my … relationship … with Yelina is complicated at best. And there was a time when I thought we could have been more than just …” he trailed off, sighing. “But the thing is, none of that had anything to do with the decision I made two days ago.”

    “I’m listening,” Calleigh said.

    “I know you can take care of yourself, Calleigh. I know your strength, and determination, and if you said you could get out of the house, I truly believed that you would.”

    “I know,” she rasped. “That’s part of the reason I said it. I didn’t want you to save me, and then lose Yelina. I know how much she means to you.”

    “I’m not going to sit here and deny that I care about Yelina,” he said, “or say that I didn’t love Marisol … But I’m also not going to deny the way I feel about you. The way I’ve felt about you since I met you. You’ve been loyal and honest, and truly dedicated your life to this job — much like I have. And I’ve always seen you as the one person who I want by my side when the chips are down.”

    “A real pal, huh?” Calleigh smiled, shaking her head.

    “More than that,” he said. “A best friend. A confidant. Someone I can trust with my lab and with my life. You don’t find people like that every day, and I think I’ve taken that for granted – taken you for granted.”

    “I don’t know what to say,” she rasped, heaving a sigh. “So, where does this leave us?”

    “In a better place than we were before, I hope,” Horatio replied, grinning. “I admit I’ve had relationships with other women, professional and personal, but with you … you’re one of the most unique, independent and alive people I’ve come to know, and that can be a little scary, to be honest,” he chuckled. “But the thought of … losing you … I just … it was like I lost a part of myself, too, you know?”

    Unshed tears welled in his eyes as he glanced up at her, waiting for a response. She looked at him, her love and devotion for him completely taking over.

    “Damn it, Horatio,” she rasped, suddenly placing her hands on his face and pulling him into her for a kiss. He returned it, tentatively at first, but soon became caught up in the emotion of it all – in his love for her.

    “Wait,” he said finally, breaking the kiss. “Wait.”

    “I’m sorry,” she started. “I shouldn’t have—”

    “No,” he replied, placing a finger on her lips. “You have nothing to be sorry for. I think we’ve both been wanting to do that for a long time, am I right?”

    She laughed, looking down, embarrassed. “Yea,” she replied. “But I still think I don’t look good in all black.”

    “And I still beg to differ,” he replied, smiling back at her. “Now let me get to this pot roast before we get caught in another fire.” Calleigh chuckled, watching as he stood up and opened the oven, coughing slightly as a steady stream of smoke followed. She stood up and looked down at the burned meal, sharing a look with Horatio before they both broke out laughing.

    “Um,” he started, looking at the charred remains of dinner, “how do you like Chinese?”

    “How about Italian?” she smiled, pulling a box of pasta from the shelf.

    “Improvising are we?” Horatio replied.

    “It’s my specialty,” she said in a light voice, filling up a pot with water.

    “Not to mention economical. I like it,” he said with a smirk.

    “Horatio,” Calleigh said, placing the pot on the stove, her tone turning serious. “Seriously, about all this … You should know that I’m still seeing Jake.”

    “I know, and if that’s what you want —”

    “I didn’t say that,” Calleigh said softly, brushing her hand over his briefly. “I just think we both need time to get … comfortable again.”

    “Agreed.”

    “And if you decide you’d rather be with Yelina—”

    “I never said that,” Horatio replied, grasping her hand. “I care for her, it’s true, but she’s still my brother’s wife, Calleigh, even if he’s gone for good this time …”

    “It’s strange, isn’t it?” she asked

    “Sometimes, it can be,” he remarked. “Sometimes it’s a lonely road, Calleigh.”

    “Well,” she replied, squeezing his hand, “that’s why I’m walking it with you.”

    They both smiled and shared a final kiss, admitting between rasps their love for each other and hoping that one day they would be more than just partners in the Miami-Dade crime lab.


    The End
     

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