Title: Choices 4A/?
Disclaimer: I don't own them, but I spend a lot of time with them. This is gonna get dark folks, so consider yourselves warned. Archiving: P & P, DuVista, women_in_kevlar, all others please ask. Next in my series. Many thanks to AbbyLewis for betaing and Soul_Caged aka Complete_Machine for being my new writing partner
Slowly awareness crept through Calleigh’s drug induced sleep, and automatically turned towards Natalia’s side of the bed, but realized that she was alone. Keeping one arm close to her chest, she carefully sat up, wincing as her ribs protested. Looking around confused, despite the mind numbing pain, she couldn't see or hear her wife anywhere. She bit back the pain, and stood slowly, leaning against anything she could, intent on finding Natalia.
Making her way into the bathroom, she splashed some water on her face, trying to wash the haziness from her mind as she washed the sleep from her eyes. Reaching for her bathrobe that hung from the back of the door, she carefully put one arm through its sleeve, before draping the other side over her shoulder, covering her bare skin, and ugly bruises.
Making sure to keep one hand on the wall in case she needed the support, Calleigh slowly made her way through the house. Annoyed with her own lack of progress, she was frustrated with a sharp pain in her side. Clutching onto the couch gasping, she looked up after getting the pain under control, and spied Natalia through the sliding doors, opened to the back yard.
It was then she heard the familiar twang, followed by a soft thump of her wife shooting her bow. It was one of the things that Natalia did when she needed to calm her mind; just like when Calleigh went to the shooting range.
Safely and at a glacial pace, she made her way out onto the patio. For a few stolen moments, she watched the simplistic beauty of Natalia shooting. The grace, self-discipline, and natural talent were a view to behold.
It was only when Natalia had to walk the length of the yard to retrieve the arrows from the target, and headed back, did she notice Calleigh leaning slightly against the back of a chair.
Caught by the sight of her intoxicating wife, she stopped and just drank in the spectacular sight. The blonde’s hair was a little mused, her face was freshly washed, and Natalia thought she couldn't look more beautiful. She hung the bow on its stand, and moved to take Calleigh carefully into her arms.
“Mornin' babe, How are you feeling?” Leaning down, she gently brushed her lips against her forehead.
Calleigh sighed; her body instinctively wanting to wrap itself around Natalia, her pain level wouldn't allow it however. She smiled through the discomfort, and ran her hand over Natalia's back, seeking the physical comfort she couldn't have. “Like death... warmed over.”
Chuckling, Natalia couldn't help the comeback. “Funny, you look nothing that what I imagined death to be. Now you do resemble the dreams that I've had about heaven though.”
Calleigh grinned widely; she ran her hand up Natalia's back, dragging her nails down her spine. The blonde leaned up, kissing her way across what little of Natalia's neck she could reach without sharp pain. “Why settle for dreams?” she murmured.
“Babe, as much as I want to, I don't think that you are in any shape to do anything right now, and besides, we need to have a little discussion about yesterday, remember?”
Sighing, Calleigh lowered her head until she could lay it on Natalia's breastbone. “I know, I was going to tell you, honest. I just wanted to wait until after you took the test. If you would you help me inside to the couch, I'll take my medicine, and we can talk.”
“Sure babe... let’s take this nice and easy...” She kept her arm around Calleigh's waist, letting her lean on her when she needed to. Finally getting the blonde settled on the couch, she busied herself with retrieving the medication and a glass of juice. Sitting down next to her wife, she handed her both of the items.
Calleigh then reminded her to take her vitamins, and that gave her a few minutes to get her thoughts in order.
After swallowing the bitter pills, Calleigh turned to the brunette. “I had to go back out to the car, and while I was out there, Eric drove up. As he was walking towards me, I remembered what you had said the night before, “Eric can’t touch you, not ever.’, and I figured out that he had done something to you the day before.”
Looking away, so that Natalia couldn't see her eyes, Calleigh whispered on. “I asked him about it, and he basically denied it, but he pinned me against the car and tried to kiss me. I pushed him away and that's when he totally lost it. He grabbed my arm, slammed me against the driver’s side window my car, and then punched me in the ribs before he drove off. I managed to call Ryan, and he helped me out.”
“I knew that Ryan was up to something, he has the worst poker face.” Natalia tried to loosen up the mood, but to no avail, she kept having thoughts of Eric putting his hands on Calleigh’s body. She shivered in rage.
Calleigh continued. “There's more. Ryan found a gym bag that Eric left behind, and um.... Eric had our personal files, and he had the files from your therapist. He knows everything about us darlin'.”
Natalia's mouth fell open in shock; Eric knew everything then. There were no secrets anymore; that explained his ability to corner her so easily.
“The bag also had medical records that showed that the bullet in Eric's head is moving. That's what is making him do all these strange things. His personality has been steadily deteriorating over the past couple of months according to Ryan, and I think that he's almost reached his limit.”
Natalia was shell-shocked. Unable to move or even think, she just sat there holding her wife's hands in her own. “Cal... what are we going to do?” She sounded scared, and very afraid.
Calleigh rubbed her thumb over bronze knuckles, talking calmly. “I called a friend of ours, and she knows someone who is going to help us track Eric down before someone else gets hurt. Ryan met with her last night, so I need to talk to him this morning to find out what happened.”
Natalia smiled a tiny bit. “Who did you call in a favor from babe?” She raised their joined hands to her lips, kissing each peach toned knuckle softly.
Hanging her head slightly, Calleigh stuttered a bit. “Um... your friend Jen Slater.”
The brunette just smiled, kissing Calleigh’s lips softly. “What did she say baby?” She continued to hold onto Calleigh’s hands, still physically needing to feel her.
“She said that she knew someone that could help us out, and got her in touch with Ryan. I don't know anything about the person. I figured since you trusted Jen, that I could trust her judgment.”
“I love that you open yourself up to people in my life, because they are in my life.” Natalia kissed the blonde a little bit longer this time, but still not a full-fledged passionate embrace they both craved. She just honestly wanted to FEEL Calleigh. “I want to meet this person with you. I want to know everything, no more keeping each other in the dark, okay babe?”
Pulling away just a bit, Calleigh looked into chocolate eyes. “Deal, but don't you have something that you need to tell me?”
Natalia nodded quietly. “Eric and I had an altercation in a back hallway at work...” she sighed. “The same thing happened between us that happened between you two, minus the violence.”
Calleigh listened quietly, waiting for her wife to add anything else. A few moments later Natalia finished her statement. “Ryan interrupted him, and I froze, I didn’t know what to do... I just felt so powerless.”
Waiting until Natalia looked into her eyes, Calleigh reassured her. “There wasn’t anything that you could have done. He knows everything about us now. He knows which buttons to push to get the best reaction, and we’re going to have to be very careful for a while. I don’t want either one of us to be alone if we don’t have to.”
Natalia held Calleigh’s gaze, nodding to herself more than anything. She was going to have to go back to looking over her shoulder again. This time it was someone she once called a friend, a former lover. She cringed at the memories of Eric touching her.
“Would you mind getting me the phone so I can call Ryan? I really want to know about the meeting, and I want to know what he found at Eric’s townhouse?”
Natalia leaned in, and brushed her lips against Calleigh’s cheek before going to fetch the phone out of the kitchen. Grabbing a banana off the table on the way, she slid back onto the couch moments later, handing both of them to the blonde. “You might need something in your stomach for your medication...” She smiled warmly, her hand resting on Calleigh’s knee.
“Thanks darlin’, but you do know that there is a brand new package of honey smoked bacon in the fridge just waiting to be fried up? I can hear it screaming my name from here.” Calleigh looked at her with a very hopeful look on her face.
Laughing she leaned in, and kissed the blonde, soundly to wipe any kind of doubt from her mind that she would do exactly as she asked, but deep down, she knew Calleigh wanted to talk to Ryan in private, in case things were really bad. She flinched inwardly at how bad things could possibly go. She crawled off the couch, and wandered into the kitchen to start preparing breakfast for her wife.
Getting comfortable on the sofa to where she could watch Natalia was she worked in the kitchen, Calleigh called up Ryan, and waited for him to pick up.
“Ryan.... Hey, it’s me.... How did the meet go?”
Wolfe leaned against the steel girder overseeing a crime scene for Horatio who was still at the lab, but on his way. Answering his phone on the second ring. “Hey Cal... It wasn’t quite that bad. She’s an interesting character to say the least.” he turned his head away from the noise to hear better.
“Really? What was your first impression of her?”
“Guarded. If anything, she can keep a secret. She’s no minor league player either.” He commented, scratching the back of his neck. Trying to describe Cerano was a little bit difficult; he didn’t quite know what to really make of her. “If you’re asking if I think that she’s the right person for the job, the answer is yes.”
Nodding her head, Calleigh felt a little bit more at ease. “That’s what I wanted to hear, so when can we meet with her, and before you ask, Natalia and I have talked, and told each other everything.”
Ryan let out an audible sigh of relief, feeling an enormous weight off his shoulders, as much as he loved them, keeping secrets from them was painful and wrong. “I’m glad to hear that. You guys are killing me.” His mind flashed back to Eric’s townhome, the pictures, the thought made him sick. He clamped down on it becoming serious. “Calleigh, we need to meet immediately, she followed me to Eric’s...” He fiddled nervously with the strap on his personal side arm.
Sitting up, then wincing when she moved too fast, Calleigh tried to keep her voice calm so not to alarm Natalia. “Why... what did you find?”
“I would rather discuss this in person, but I will tell you the whole townhome was trashed. You know how much of a neat freak he is, there were holes in the walls...” He sighed turning around to at least try to keep an eye on the team processing.
Closing her eyes, Calleigh missed Natalia looking at her with a worried expression, until she felt a gentle caress against her cheek. Opening up her eyes, she gazed into the face that held nothing more than absolute love, and compassion. She loved Natalia more at that moment, more than anything. They were together in this.
Holding that gaze, Calleigh answered her friend. “Ok, give this woman a call and have her meet us here. What time do you think that you can get away?”
“We’re almost done here, we’ll be there in about forty five minutes, an hour tops.” Ryan crossed his arms, watching the team finishing up, and storing things away in the Hummers and vans.
Sighing, reached out to grasp Natalia’s hand. “Ok, why don’t you call her and you guys can be here in an hour and a half. We’ll see you then.”
Ryan closed the phone, disconnecting the call. If his inner turmoil was anything compared to the turmoil of the crime scene, he didn’t show it. Telling Calleigh and Natalia was going to be a nightmare made real. Their situation was already a living hell. He slipped on his Ray Bans, and joined the team back in controlled fury of the scene.
During breakfast, Natalia told Calleigh that she had called Horatio earlier, and told him about her busted ribs. He told her that Calleigh was on medical leave for the rest of the week, and then he let her know that IA had cleared her in regards to the shooting.
“You should be warned Natalia that the media has somehow gotten hold of the footage, and it’s being shown on the news today.”
When Calleigh heard this, she closed her eyes in frustration. “We need to call our families, darlin’. When they see that clip, they’re gonna flip out.”
Pushing her plate back, Natalia leaned her elbows on the table, resting her chin on her hands. “I’ve already called Cristine, and told tell her to keep the girls away from the television. Anya is visiting your brother, so I thought that I’d let you take care of them together, if you don’t mind.”
Smiling broadly, Calleigh couldn’t help but chuckle. “I told you that they were getting together at the wedding. I’m glad that Chance has found someone like your sister. She’ll be good for him.”
Natalia got up from her chair to come around to stand next to her wife. “I’m just glad that she found someone like your brother.” Leaning down, she softly kissed the blonde. “I still got the pick of the litter though.”
“Oh you did, did you? Well, right back at ya, babe. I guess that we both got lucky.” Looking at her watch, she figured that Chance would be in class, so she decided to call him that evening.
Taking the dishes into the kitchen, Natalia just left them in the sink, before she helped Calleigh back into their bedroom to get ready for the day. Carefully they got her out of her clothes and into the shower.
Standing underneath the cascading water, Calleigh groaned as the water slid over her bruised body, it’s warmth slowly penetrating through to her aching muscles. Warm fingers started to work shampoo through dark gold hair, massaging her scalp, eliciting a low moan. Leaning her head back slightly, Calleigh closed her eyes, and enjoyed the feeling of being loved, and taken care of.
Standing slightly behind and to the side of her wife, Natalia almost lost herself in the feeling of wet silk running through her fingers, but caught herself. Murmuring quietly, she moved the blonde to rinse the lather from her hair before reaching for the body wash. Working up a lather, she came around to face her wife, and gently began to wash her face. Gazing down at the face that was upturned with eyes closed, trusting her to find all the dirt….trusting her with her heart, with her love. Natalia gave in to her longing, and leaned down to take Calleigh’s lips in a slow kiss.
Slowly pushing her back, Natalia trapped Calleigh between her body and the wall. Carefully she ran her fingers down the uninjured side, stopping briefly to cup a full breast, toying with the extended nipple.
Calleigh arch against her, pressing more of herself into the questing hand, while she deepened the kiss. Growling her displeasure as Natalia broke it off, but it quickly turned to whimpers of pleasure as Natalia dropped to her knees to run her tongue through wet curls. As the brunette brought one of Calleigh’s legs over her shoulder, the blonde placed her hand on top of her head to keep her balance. Oh, who was she kidding? She was keeping Natalia right where she wanted her.
Slowly Natalia brought her up to the edge, before backing off and starting again, always taking her time, making sure that Calleigh understood how much she was loved, how much she was needed. Finally sliding in three fingers, and drawing hard on Calleigh’s clit, Natalia allowed Calleigh to fall gently over the edge, and caught her as she slid slowly down the wall.
After catching her breath, Calleigh drew Natalia down for another kiss. “That was just what I wanted; you touching, and filling me so slowly. You always seem to know what I need for you to do.”
Nuzzling a tender spot underneath Calleigh’s ear, Natalia murmured. “I just know what I needed to feel, I just wanted you, slow and easy.”
Turning into the kiss, Calleigh slid her tongue along Natalia’s bottom lip. “So what can I do for you Mrs. DuVista? Is there a special spot that you need cleaned?”
“Not right now babe, but soon very, very soon. I need you too, so bad.”
Placing her forehead against Natalia’s, Calleigh release a long sigh. “I know the feeling, but this is gonna be so worth the wait.”
Smiling, Natalia ran her fingertips over Calleigh’s berry colored lips, resisting temptation to just throw caution to the wind; instead, she broke her gaze with Calleigh, kissing her forehead.
Standing, Natalia carefully helped her wife to her feet, and they got out to get dressed. After cautiously binding up Calleigh’s ribs, Natalia helped her put on her clothes, before braiding her hair. Then getting dressed herself, she pulled on a pair white jeans with a blue and white polo shirt and sandals. They made their way over to the sofa where Natalia helped her wife slide on a pair of tennis shoes.
Cerano sighed audibly in the Miami heat, it clung to the back of her neck, her temples, her lower back, and anything exposed was in danger of saturation. Her fault though for wearing jeans with only one hole in them and a long sleeve thermal white shirt in ninety degree weather. “Nice digs.” was all she commented to Ryan before going back to dead silence. Looking at her reflection in the glass of the door, she checked the checkered golf cap and the gold reflective aviator sunglasses, perfect she thought. She wondered about these female police officers; usually with the badge and femininity, came a chip on the shoulder, of course she had no room to talk.
Natalia heard the doorbell ring, and kissed Calleigh on the cheek, before hopping up to get the door. She swung open the front door, greeting the two visitors. “Ryan... thanks so much for coming...” she looked at the stranger, she gave her a quick once over. Young, dark haired with soft girl next door features; this was the ace in the hole? “Hi, I’m Natalia, welcome to our home.” The tall brunette stepped aside, leaving the entryway open for the new comers to come in.
Ryan walked through the door and head straight towards Calleigh. “Hey Cal, how ya feeling today? Heard any good jokes?”
Cerano stood in the hallway with her hands in her back pockets. Cops made the hair on the back of her neck stick up, she wasn’t the most respectable of people, half of her world was illegal. She looked at Natalia, nodding before muttering her name. “Cerano.” She smiled a thin-lipped smile, pulling off the sunglasses, hanging them on the back of her collar since her hair was in a messy samurai ponytail.
Shifting carefully on the sofa, Calleigh slapped at his hand. “Real funny Wolfe. Who’s the kid?”
Cerano arched a jet-black eyebrow at the blonde’s remark, as she refrained from rolling her eyes. Cops still had authority in their own house. She leaned against the wall, watching Ryan and Calleigh interact, she glanced back at Natalia, Cerano was heavily reminded of her mother, the eyes and smile was a perfect match. She looked back to Ryan, yawning.
Noticing the yawn, Calleigh couldn’t resist from asking the young woman, “Are we keeping you from a party or something?”
Scratching the scar at the edge of her jaw, Cerano smiled, and added some sugar into her voice. “Depends. Is your house at three am party central? If so, I couldn’t tell last night.” She dropped the smile, and crossed her arms. Arching a cocky eyebrow again, she never broke eye contact with the feisty blonde.
“What were you doing outside our house at three o’clock in the morning?” Turning to her friend, she arched a golden eyebrow. “Do you have something that you want to tell me?”
“What we saw last night was pretty disturbing. Cerano...” Ryan motioned to the young brunette. “..Hasn’t slept all night. She’s been sitting down the block, keeping watch over your house.” He sat on the edge of the sofa, watching Natalia and Calleigh. He hated to having to tell them these things, even worse that they had to go through them.
Natalia came around the sofa to sit next to her wife, reaching for her hand. “What exactly did you see at Eric’s? How bad was it?”
Ryan looked at Cerano; she caught the unspoken words ‘Can we have some privacy?’ She walked into the middle of the hallway, fishing her Blackberry out of her pocket. “I’ll be outside Wolfe-man. I have to take this...” She turned around, striding out the front door, shutting it quietly behind her. Ryan closed his hands together, turning back. “The apartment looks like a hermit has been living there for last three months.”
Natalia looked puzzled. “That’s just not like Eric. He is so proud of his place.”
“I know... it gets worse, besides the holes in the walls, stacks of newspapers, old food, trashed furniture, no windows or blinds open there was this room...which is dead bolted” Ryan hesitated a little before deciding to rip the band aide off, he wouldn’t want someone hiding this from him. “It was full of pictures of the both of you... it was one of the most fixated, obsessive photography displays I’ve ever seen.”
Looking at her friend closely, Calleigh muttered ‘Lousy poker face’, before asking. “What kind of pictures are we talking about?”
He slid his phone, open across the coffee table to Calleigh, he had taken a picture of one of the tamer photographs, where Natalia wasn’t so disfigured, but bad enough for her to get the gist of how bad the situation had truly become.
Natalia looked over Calleigh’s shoulder, and gasped as she caught sight of the picture. It was taken while they were on their honeymoon at The Shore’s. They were laying out at their private pool, Calleigh had her head on Natalia’s shoulder, with Natalia on her back, her arms around the blonde, both of them sound asleep.
“Damn it! How did he get that shot? There’s a eight foot privacy wall totally enclosing the pool.” Calleigh forced herself to her feet, ignoring the pain that shot through her chest.
Ryan looked at Natalia sadly. “I have no idea.” He turned back to Calleigh, watching her in case she stumbled.
Cerano walked through the front door, slipping the phone into her back pocket. “He probably found a tall building and a really expensive lens.” was all she said in way of any kind of greeting, she leaned against the couch behind Ryan.
Turning to look at the young girl, Calleigh frowned. “He had to have gotten a room, but most of the rooms don’t have a view of the beach house. The only other way would have been from the roof of the hotel itself.... What did you say your name was? I’m sorry, I didn’t catch it.”
“Old ladies I’ve saved from burning buildings ask less questions than you do. Cerano is my name, Calleigh DuVista.” She locked her glittering black eyes with the blonde. She was becoming annoyed, fast.
Ryan put his head in his hands, watching Calleigh. He had a feeling she and Cerano weren’t going to get along so well. He glanced at Natalia for any kind of sympathy.
Natalia quickly made her way over to her wife, laying a calming hand on her arm. “Come on ladies, this is a tense situation. Let’s not make it any worse.”
Never taking her eyes off Cerano, Calleigh replied. “All I’m doing is asking her name darlin’. Is that too much to ask for?”
“Ladies? Lady.” Cerano smiled pointing at Calleigh. “I’m not afforded that luxury in my profession. The name sticks as far as you’re concerned.” She switched her sharp gaze to Ryan, arching a condescending eyebrow as if to say, ‘Save your girl, Wolfe-man.'
Ryan notices Cerano’s look, then looks back at Calleigh. “Calleigh, let it go, cops aren’t high up on her list of trust worthy allies...” he trailed off, his eyes flicking back and forth from Natalia and Calleigh.
The gaze was steady. “Ryan, I’m giving her my trust to find Eric and to let us get him some help, but trust is a two way street, and I would like just a little back in return. If not her name, then something that we can build on.”
Cerano sighed, realizing she wasn’t getting out of this; she went for the ultimate tiebreaker. Pointing to the horrific scar under her jaw that was the only imperfection on the smooth, bronzed skin. She spoke calmly, and steadily, which was the opposite of the way she felt. “This is what happens when I trust cops...” Tilting her head back, she turned her neck slightly, letting the light from outside catch the ridges of the mottled skin, and made sure they understood why she hated cops so much.
Natalia stepped in front of Calleigh, blocking her view of the young woman. She spoke softly, just loud enough for her wife to hear. “Let it go Cal. Don’t ask me why, but I trust her. There’s something about her eyes that reminds me of someone, but I can’t put my finger on it. She’ll help us if she can.”
Turning to Cerano, Natalia sighed. “I appreciate that you’re helping us, but please understand that we’ve been through a lot in the past few months, and it gets to us every once in awhile. One the other hand, don’t judge us by whoever did that to you.”
“The person who did this to me hasn’t received his judgment, yet. Your thanks isn’t needed either. I understand what you’re going through though... the man that did this to me still leaves me gifts in remembrance.” She smiled savagely, she looked at Ryan.
Ryan walked behind Cerano, putting his hand on her shoulder in some semblance of comfort, which she of course, rolled her shoulder, slipping his hand off. She wasn’t mad; Cerano just didn’t like being touched, by people she didn’t know.
“I want to go to Eric’s place and see all of this for myself.” Calleigh decided. “I know what you saw, but I need to see it for myself.” Turning to her wife, she reached for her hand. “You don’t have to come if you don’t want.”
Natalia stepped close. “Where you go, I go. Don’t even think that you’re getting rid of me that easily.”
Cerano stepped away the trio of people, ‘Gluttons for punishment. Fine make it harder on yourself.’ she thought, sliding on her glasses while watching Ryan out of the corner eye.
Ryan looked at both women, and smiled grimly. “I’ll ride with Cerano; you two can follow us in your car.” Personally Ryan would rather share Cerano’s lavish Range Rover than his Chevy Malibu, he though sarcastically.