DISCLAIMER: CSI Miami and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By sinjenkai


Part 3

The rumble of thunder woke Natalia out of her peaceful slumber where she was still in Calleigh's protective embrace. Slowly she raised her head to meet sleepy jade eyes, looking at her with concern.

"Mornin' darlin', how ya feelin'?"

Natalia took a deep breath, mentally feeling around in the corners of her psyche, and was surprised to feel no anxiety, remnants of fear, nor self-recrimination. Turning her gaze back to her wife, Natalia smiled. "I'm good." She rose above her, caramel colored hair curtaining out the rest of the world. "Actually, I'm great because I woke up in your arms. I don't ever want to be anywhere else." She pressed her hips into Calleigh's, causing her to gasp.

Moaning, Calleigh grasped Natalia's hips, pulling her tighter up against her. "Ahh… Wish we could stay in bed for the whole day."

Leaning down and giving Calleigh a long hard kiss, Natalia only broke it off to catch her breath. "I would love a whole day of tempting and teasing you, but you, my love, have a doctor's appointment while I get to take the certification."

"Hey! Afterwards, we can go to the bank to take care of the accounts and paperwork for the cabin. What time are you supposed to be there?"

Nibbling on the peaches and cream neck, Natalia muttered. "Have to be there at a quarter to eleven."

Arching her neck to allow Natalia more access, Calleigh purred and ran her hands up the muscular back. "Aw babe, I want you so bad. My mouth is watering for the taste of you."

"Soon my love, soon." Leaning down, Natalia gave her wife one more lingering kiss. "So let's get this show on the road so we can come back home, and continue this."

They both reluctantly got out of bed, got dressed and were soon on their way to work, stopping briefly to grab some breakfast on the run.

Finally driving into the parking lot, they walked inside, and parted at the entrance with a squeeze of their hands, Natalia heading towards her lab, while Calleigh headed towards ballistics, but before she could get there, she remembered that she had forgotten to bring in her extra change of clothes. Sighing, she turned around and headed back out to the car.

She was just closing the trunk when Eric drove up, honking at her to get her attention. Suddenly Natalia's words from the previous evening rushed back, 'Eric can't touch you, not ever.'

Calleigh felt her whole body snap tight with pressure, her heart froze, and her anger poured a steel resolve into her soul. Her nails dug into her hands as she realized the nightmare may have been about Jethro, but it included Eric, and not without good reason.

Pushing down the urge to rip into him, Calleigh stood there and waited for the young man to join her. "Hey, I see that you're running late too. Over sleep?"

Eric smiled in a boyish way, leaning against her car after dropping his duffle bag on the ground. "I guess me staying up all night missing you isn't easy on my punctuality..."

Smiling thinly, Calleigh took a deep breath, plunging her hands in her pockets. "Hey... um... What happened yesterday afternoon between you and Natalia?"

Eric's normally jovial smile vanished like a popsicle in the hot Miami sun. His body language changing instantly at the implication that something had happened. "Why do you ask?" his voice quiet.

"Shrugging her shoulders, Calleigh tried to project plain old curiosity. "Nothing really. Just curious. I was afraid that maybe Talia might have said something to you."

Eric rolled his eyes scoffing. "I'm not afraid of anything SHE says...," he sneered condescendingly at Calleigh. His smile returned, however, tenfold as something flitted across his face; he took a step in her direction. He put a hand next to Calleigh's head, leaning over her. "I'm more worried about you."

"You should be worried about me, about what I will do to you." Calleigh's tone turned hard and her eyes sparked jade fire. "If you get anywhere near Natalia again, I swear to God that I'll make you regret it."

Eric's posture didn't even change, he leaned in closer effectively pinning her against the car with his other hand lying on her shoulder, he smiled even wider. "Who cares about Natalia? I want you." Eric ducked his head in an attempt to brush his lips against Calleigh's.

Pushing him back, Calleigh growled. "I care about Natalia, Eric, I love her. She's my wife. In addition, I do not now, and have never wanted you. You were my friend and I valued that very much. All I want to do now is get you out of our lives. Please, Eric, understand that you and I will never be in a relationship."

Eric's smile turned into a mask of rage, his hand slipped from her shoulder, sliding down to crush her bicep in a steel grip. "Calleigh, this is ludicrous. Stop playing house with that whore, and realize where you belong." He finished his sentence with a sharp shake of her arm.

Yanking her arm out of his grip, Calleigh snarled back. "I am exactly where I belong. You need to step back. This is your only warning. Eric. Step back."

Eric ignored the arm being torn from his grasp; instead, he grabbed her by the front of her shirt slamming her hard into the side of her Crossfire. The driver side window cracked in protest, his face inches from Calleigh's. "YOU ARE MINE! I WON'T LET YOU LEAVE ME!" He roared, spit from his mouth landing on her cheeks. His face by now was red with rage, his teeth a startling white in contrast to his normally handsome features.

In that instant, Calleigh realized that the Eric she knew was no longer there, and this new person had taken his place. She felt incredibly calm on what she was about to do, considering she had once called Eric a friend.

"You want to play it this way, its fine with me." Calleigh placed her thumb on the outside of Eric's hand and twisted it towards his body. It was the same movement that Natalia had used against Ryan outside of Horatio's office months ago. She kept twisting until he was kneeling on the ground.

Whispering in his ear, Calleigh gave him another warning. "You stay away from me and my wife. I'm telling you, that if you harm her, I will hunt you down and you will know the meaning of pain."

Eric screamed loudly in pain, his arm was twisted at a horrible angle, his other hand however, reached out and wrapped around her ankle. He yanked upwards attempting to dislodge her.

Calleigh lost her balance in the face of his grip, falling on her side, knocking the wind out of her instantly. Her ribs jarred in slight pain, but she growled up at him in defiance.

"The only person who is ever going to call you 'Wife' is me, Calleigh." He pinned her body beneath his, laying on top of her, cutting off any source of escape after clutching her wrists in his hands.

"I'm going to make sure that you're someone's wife in prison, Eric. I'm gonna find the biggest, baddest fucker there and introduce you to him." She kneed him in the groin, and pushed him away as he doubled over in pain.

Eric dragged himself to his feet, and in his rage, grabbed her by the hair, still at his weakest, stronger than Calleigh. He punched her in the ribs with his free hand, making sure she couldn't call for help. Letting her go, he all but ripped off the door by its hinges, getting into the vehicle, peeling out seconds later, fleeing in a blind panic. Eric roared in rage again, slamming his fist into the radio of his car, shattering it instantly, he drove as fast as he could out of town, somewhere safe for the time being.

Calleigh collapsed to the ground, gasping for air, trying in vain to stand. Finally, she reached into her pocket for her phone and called Ryan. "Ryan… Back lot… You alone."

Calleigh was still on the ground when Ryan came running out, trying to catch her breath. Kneeling beside her, he carefully brushed her hair out of her face and waited until she could talk.

"Eric did this, didn't he?"

Nodding her head, she took his outstretched hand and slowly stood up. "Yeah, he did. He has totally lost his mind." She caught a glimpse of her driver's side window and swore softly. "Damn it, now what do I do?"

"You need to report this Calleigh. He's assaulted an officer, property damage, and harassment."

Calleigh grimaced as she pushed up her sleeve to see the bruise that was beginning to form on her forearm. "Ryan, if I report him, he will lose his job. There has to be something wrong with him, this just isn't like him."

Ryan shook his head, "He's been steadily been getting worse for the past couple of months, and it's just not been about you. He's been going on how he's feels like he's being followed, or that someone has been going through his locker."

"Does Horatio know anything at all about this?"

Sighing, Ryan admitted. "No, I've been trying to keep a close watch on him, and hoping that I could actually prove that he was being watched. Just like you, I didn't want him to lose his job."

Calleigh took a couple of steps away from her car, running her hands through her hair. Thinking for a few moments, she turned back to her friend with her mind made up. "I need to ask you a favor, and you may not like what it is. I'm not going to report this, and I don't want you to either, but I do want you to try and track him down. We need to get him to a doctor or someone who can get him some help. I also want you to take my car and get the window fixed. I'll call Manny and he'll be waiting for you."

Taking a deep breath, Calleigh continued, "Now for the big favor. I don't want you to tell Natalia anything. I'll tell her this evening, but right now she needs to concentrate on her certification exam, and doesn't need any more stress."

"Ok, I can do all of that for you, but you need to be extra careful. I don't think that Eric's gonna give up so easy, and if he can't get to you, he's gonna go after either Natalia or your families."

Calleigh hugged the young man before handing him her keys, and picking up her spare clothes that she had originally come outside for. Finally making it into ballistics, she collapsed behind her desk with her head resting in her hands.

After a few minutes, she shook her head mentally before reaching for the phone to call a mechanic that the department used and asked if he could fix her window as soon as possible. He agreed and she started to get to work.

About an hour later, Calleigh looked up as Ryan walked into ballistics, carrying Eric's duffle bag, placing it on her desk.

"I found this next to where your car and Eric's were parked together." Ryan rubbed the back of his neck, anxious to open the bag, but not to pry into his friend's personal affairs.

Calleigh looked up at the grim expression on his face, while slowly standing up. "Do I want to know what's in here?"

"Honestly, I don't know if I want to know either, but we have nothing to go on... all we know is that Eric hasn't been his normal self for the past few months." Ryan shrugged, pushing his hands into the pockets of his tan slacks.

Reaching out, Calleigh grabbed the zipper tab, and slowly pulled it down the length of the bag. Pulling open the now gaping material, she reached in and pulled out a number of files, extra gun clips and stacks of photos.

Ryan took the files and other items from her hands, his face a mask of surprise and disbelief. He recognized the departmental files from MDPD as well as several medical files from a therapist and at least two from neurosurgeons.

"Oh my god... Calleigh, these are both of yours and Natalia's files... not to mention her therapist files." He quickly handed those back to Calleigh, some things were never meant to be shared.

She almost tore them from his hands. "My God! He has everything about us. There is nothing that he doesn't know. He's read Natalia's sessions with her doctor. He had to have known what it would do to her if he confronted her one on one. He knows everything that she went through with Nick and Jethro, but he went ahead and did it."

"I think that was the point, Cal..." Ryan muttered. He had noticed the neurological files and grabbed them out of the stack of debris, laying them out on the table, x-rays and all. Countless moments ticked by until he realized what he was staring at. In the middle of the skull x-rays was a mangled piece of steel, a 9 mm bullet. Ryan dumped out the remaining papers, sorting through them until he found the doctors additional notes. "My god... Calleigh, this explains what's wrong with Eric." He held up the x-rays for her to see.

Placing her hand over her mouth, Calleigh was stunned. She stared of the films for a few moments before reaching for the neurological file and thumbing through it quickly. "It's moving. The bullet is moving in his brain and he needs to have it removed and.... Ryan, these files are in someone else's name. He didn't want this reported to the department so he went to a doctor under an assumed name."

Ryan just as horrified as Calleigh, slammed his fists on the tabletop. "We have to find him! He's a danger to himself and the public right now, not to mention Natalia and yourself!" Ryan stressed the point. "We have to report him!"

Calleigh turned her back on the young man, and walked around the room, her mind quickly going through all of the possibilities and probabilities while looking at the guns that lined the wall. Whirling around, she offered. "How about getting someone to track him for us?"

Ryan hesitated before shrugging uselessly. "Who do you know that isn't afraid of cops? Someone who isn't afraid to follow one around, and keep tabs on him? Calleigh, I'm skeptical simply because I don't want Eric to hurt anyone else. Who could find him?" Ryan sounded so hopeless and defeated. The troubling news about Eric had hit him too close to home.

Reaching for her phone, Calleigh looked through her phone book and made a call. "Hey Jen, this is Calleigh...How are you? I have a favor.... I know that you've been looking for something to do for a while and I have something that I'd like to offer you, but I want to tell you up front that it could be dangerous.... Do you remember Eric? Yeah, him... Well, he's kinda gone loopy and we need to track him down.... Oh, ok...Really? Would she be able to meet with a friend of mine? Did you meet Ryan at the wedding? Yeah, well he knows what's going on and could fill her in, and then I could meet with you guys tomorrow.... OK, hold on a sec."

She covered the mouthpiece, turning to Ryan. "Is it ok if I give her your phone number? I trust her to help us?"

If Calleigh trusted this person to help them, then he had to trust her judgment, it hadn't failed him yet. "Yeah, go ahead."

Telling Jen the number, Calleigh asked her to have her friend call Ryan as soon as possible, as this was an emergency, and then thanked her before she hung up.

"Whoever this woman is your friend has referred us to, better be one hell of a tough character." Ryan murmured before placing his hand on Calleigh's arm. "It's going to be okay Calleigh."

Running her fingers through her hair, Calleigh closed her eyes for a moment, trying to still the racing thoughts. "It has to be Ryan. Natalia can't have any more stress right now, and we need to help Eric. He seems to know what's going on, but just can't stop himself."

Ryan's cell phone chirped; an unknown number sent him a text message. "Docks, east end, 5:30, Don't be late, come alone." Was all the cryptic text message said. Flipping his phone closed he sighed before looking down at Calleigh. "I promised you that if you or Natalia ever needed anything, that I would be right there. I'm not going back on my word, DuVista." He smiled warmly.

Walking over to hug the young man who was turning out to be her closest confidant, other than Natalia, Calleigh replied. "I know that we haven't always see eye-to-eye, and that I have doubted you on a number of occasions, but I know that you will do your damnest to protect Natalia."

Ryan wrapped his arms around her tightly, fighting the urge to give her a brotherly kiss on the crown of her head. "You're included in that too, Calleigh. You two are married remember? I just received a text from this mystery woman. I am due to meet with her at 5:30, alone." His voice trailed off indicating what he felt about this meeting. Ryan had his reserves about using civilians for this kind of work; Eric was unstable, unpredictable, and armed.

Calleigh smirked as she looked up at him. "Why do I have the feeling that you want to give me a brotherly kiss? Seriously, though, I want you to be careful. Take all of this with you. Ask if we can all meet tomorrow, or whatever she wants to do. I do, however, want your input on what you think about this person. If you don't get a good vibe, walk away and we'll figure something else out."

Ryan hugged her a little tighter to his chest, feeling protective all of a sudden. He realized without a doubt, that Calleigh and Natalia were family to him. He let her go, smiling slightly. "I'm actually curious to meet this person, if your friend Jen recommends her, she must be something else." He admitted softly. "Especially since Eric has gone AWOL, he's no slouch, look at what he did to you." Ryan motioned towards her ribs and body.

"Yeah, Jen is a character herself so this mystery woman will probably be also." Calleigh looked down at her watch and swore softly. "I've got to go. Natalia has to be there in thirty minutes and I've got an eye doctor appointment. Call me after the meeting and let me know what happened."

"What time did Manny say that my car would be done?"

Ryan handed her the keys. "He's already finished. Told me to tell you that you owe him big time. I'm not going to give this mysterious woman yours or Natalia's files. Is there someplace here that you can put them?"

Picking them up, Calleigh walked over to a filing cabinet, unlocked it, and placed them in the bottom drawer at the very back. "No one else has the key. Call me tonight."

They agreed, and Calleigh walked towards the DNA lab, going over everything in her mind. She didn't want Natalia to know anything about what Eric was going through until she absolutely had to. Last night's nightmare scared the both of them, and Calleigh wanted to spare her wife from everything that she could. She realized that she had told Ryan that she was going to tell her tonight what had happened, but she honestly didn't think that she was going to.

Leaning against the doorway of Natalia's lab, Calleigh was glad to see her wife joking with Valera. 'God, she has the most beautiful smile.'

"Hey, you about ready to go?"

Turning her head, Natalia saw the blonde leaning casually against the door jam. "Hey! Yeah, I'm ready. I'm gonna ace this thing."

Taking a step forward, Calleigh allowed her fingers to reach out and gently brush against her shoulder, needing to have contact with her, if only for a brief moment. "I know that you will, so let's get this show on the road."

Waiting until Natalia had grabbed her things, they then walked out to the parking lot. Natalia got a puzzled looked on her face for an instant. "Hey, I thought that we parked over there?" She pointed to the earlier spot.

Clearing her throat, Calleigh thought quickly. "Ryan needed to make a quick errand and his car was too far away so I let him use mine."

"Mmkay." Was Natalia response.

The ride was quiet over to the city's executive offices where the exam was given. As Calleigh pulled up to the front entrance, she brought up Natalia's hand which she had been holding during the ride and brushed her lips against bronzed knuckles.

"I'll see you in two hours unless you finish early. If you do, just give me a call and I'll come pick you up. My appointment shouldn't take more than an hour."

Chuckling, Natalia replied. "I'll probably take the full two hours babe."

Leaning over so that she could look her wife directly in her sparkling eyes. "Darlin', I do wish that you would give yourself more credit. Both I and Horatio have faith in you and your skills. You're Natalia Freakin' DuVista, and you can do anything that you put your mind to."

A caramel colored eyebrow arched gracefully. "Natalia Freakin' DuVista, where did that come from?"

"I must have read it somewhere, but it's still true. You can do anything that you want."

Nodding her head firmly, Natalia affirmed it mentally. "Damn straight. Ok, I'll call you when I get out early then and we can head over to the bank."

Leaning over to give her wife a quick kiss, Natalia murmured against her lips. "I do love you so. See you in a bit."

"I love you too. Give 'em hell baby."

With that, Natalia got out of the car, and walked inside. Calleigh stayed there, watching until she walked through the doors. Then she carefully looked around the area to see if Eric was lurking around. She didn't think that he would be that bold to make a scene here, but she really couldn't be sure. When she was finally comfortable, she drove to her appointment.

An hour and forty-five minutes later, Natalia was sitting outside on a stone bench under a palm tree, enjoying watching people walk by as she waited on Calleigh. The exam was much easier than she had imagined, and she figured that she had either qualified with flying colors or had failed it spectacularly. She was just glad that it was over so that she could just relax.

Leaning back against the tree, Natalia folded her hands together over her stomach and closed her eyes in contentment.

It was in that position that Calleigh found her, so she decided just to stand leaning against a nearby lamppost, and enjoy the sight. 'How in the hell did I get so lucky?'

Natalia felt the baby fine hairs on the back of her neck prick up, so she knew that she was being watched by a certain someone. Those feelings spread out like a warm blanket all over her body, making her feel such love that she could barely stand it. Turning her head slightly, she opened her eyes to stare into a jade green gaze that heated up her blood even more. Without hesitation, she stood, walked over to her wife, and gave her a kiss. A kiss of promises of things to come.

"I love you Calleigh. More than I can ever say."

Resting her hands lightly on Natalia's hips, Calleigh whispered back. "I love you too darlin'. More with each passing day. And just in case you have forgotten, we just kissed in front of the city's executive offices in full view of everyone with our badges on."

Laughing, Natalia couldn't resist saying. "Well then, they should be glad that I didn't decide to use the cuffs then."

Calleigh playfully swatted at her arm. "You are so bad." Grabbing her hand, she intertwined their fingers, and led them over to her car. Getting in, Calleigh waited until her wife had closed the door before reaching over to pull her over for another kiss. This one was hard and hungry, the need spreading out to both women until they were both moaning.

Natalia pulled away, leaning her forehead against Calleigh's, while glancing at the back seat. "You gotta get a bigger car. There's not enough room back there for the both of us."

Calleigh growled. "Only one of us has to be laying down darlin', the other can be kneeling."

With her eyes going wide, Natalia squirmed in her seat. "Oh lord! The visual of that one. We gotta try that later."

"I'll see what I can do. Come on, we have a date with a bank."

The ride over was quiet, but very sexually charged and it seemed that it was way too short.

As Natalia got out of the car, she looked over to her wife. "How fast can we do this? I really want to get home and try that position."

Walking around her car to walk next to Natalia as they went into the bank. "What fun is that? We need to do it in a parking lot, in a field, or…. We could go to the Tropicaire Drive In. That would be the perfect place to try it out.

Stopping right outside the entranceway, Natalia turned to look at the blonde with a look of shock. "Are you serious? You wanna go to a drive in, and make out?"

Stepping as close as she could without getting too familiar in public, Calleigh whispered. "Darlin', what we would be doing would be more than making out. We would be doing the whole nine yards, the whole kit and caboodle, the…."

"I got it babe. Yeah, we can do that. Maybe this weekend. Now I've just got to get that out of my mind." Natalia took several deep breaths before she headed into the bank.

It took them a few minutes, but they were soon seated at the desk of Aaron Santiago, the bank assistant manager, telling him that they both wanted to sign whatever paperwork that would be needed for each of them to have access to the other's accounts, and to finalize the paperwork for purchasing Horatio's cabin.

Natalia smiled lovingly at Calleigh as she watched her out of corner of her eye. Watching her lover always amused her, the movement of her hands, the way she spoke. Calleigh was a knock out, and she couldn't stop thinking about how lucky they both were.

Mr. Santiago laid out duplicate copies of the necessary paperwork in front of each woman, carefully explaining what they covered, and how each was protected by the bank.

Natalia leaned forward picking up the pen the manager had offered, silently reading over the details, locking eyes with Calleigh as she signed it with a large smile on her bronzed features.

Calleigh had just finished her stack of papers, when they heard shouting coming from the lobby. Both women were quick to stand, each reaching for their guns.

Three men dressed from head to toe in black had muscled their way in past security with two shotguns and a handgun waving around wildly. All three men had their faces covered with ski masks, and two of the men were quickly grabbing hostages. "EVERYONE GET ON THE FUCKING FLOOR!" was the leader's loud scream.

Calleigh quickly instructed the older man to gather everyone in the back offices, and to get them as far away from the lobby as possible.

The leader didn't even notice Calleigh as he shoved his gun into the nearest tellers face. Shoving a black duffel bag across the counter he started giving harsh instructions. "I don't want any bills smaller than 20's. You got that bitch?" He pushed the gun hard into her forehead.

"Cal." Natalia whispered. "One is headed this way."

One of the backup gunmen dropped his hostage, more curious about where the vault was than the teller situation. He cocked his gun, making sure he was armed as he strolled back towards the offices.

Calleigh got behind the door, just as the man walked around the corner and spotted Natalia, who was holding her gun behind her back. "Put your hands up lady, and tell me where the vault is."

Natalia smiled coyly at the man, biting her lip she shrugged uselessly. "I couldn't tell you where it is handsome..." She looked up at him through her lashes, trying to buy Calleigh enough time and space to do what she needed.

Silently, Calleigh walked up behind the distracted man, and effectively knocked him out with a blow from her gun to the back of his head, catching him on the way down, making sure that his body didn't make any noise. She started to remove her handcuffs when she saw something sticking out of his back pants pocket. Reaching in, she pulled out a bunch of zip ties, and couldn't resist grinning up at her wife.

"Don't you just love it when the bad guys bring their own cuffs to the scene? It makes our job so much easier, doesn't it?"

Natalia chuckled as they flipped the large man over onto his stomach, yanking off his belt to tie up his ankles while Calleigh was left to tie his wrists.

"Stuff the face mask in his mouth. We can't have him yelling at the wrong moment as it could spoil the mood." Calleigh got up to check the door to see where the other two men were. "They're gonna be looking for Spud here real soon, so let's drag him out of sight."

Natalia stuffed the mask into the man's open mouth before wrapping his head with scotch tape, and standing up behind her wife looking down the hallway.

Quickly taking a moment to look at her wife, Calleigh grew serious. "We're gonna have to be very careful darlin'. I don't want either one of us getting hurt, but I want you to back me up. I'm gonna run across the hall, and get into that office so I can see the opposite side."

Natalia took a moment to look at Calleigh, to really look at her. She knew she was right, it was dangerous, very dangerous. Calleigh needed back up though, and the only person she truly trusted to be her back up was herself. Natalia moved forward, her lips crushing into Calleigh's savoring the moment, hoping it wouldn't be their last kiss.

Calleigh's eyes were warm for an instant, and then they were ice cold as she turned to peek out of the doorway. Silently, she ran across the hallway into an open office, and peer in the opposite direction.

Natalia crouched down on the floor next to the doorway; she made sure Calleigh was in place before turning to look down the hallway again.

A voice from the lobby echoed down the hall. "Hey Vince! Have you got into the vault yet?"

The man in charge, hissed at the yelling man. "Shut up, idiot. I told you not to use names."

Natalia eased down the hallway opposite from Calleigh so they both had a clear view of the robbers from excellent angles.

Natalia leaned her head back against the glass, deep breathes sliding into her lungs trying to quell her frantic nerves. Opening her eyes wide, she turned around and motioned to Calleigh that neither one of the gunmen had a hostage; it was now or never.

Calleigh shook her head, as she wanted to get one more man out of commission before heading into the lobby. There was too much of a chance for collateral damage, and she felt that it wasn't worth the risk. Suddenly she remembered that Natalia knew some sign language, so she signed over what she wanted.

Natalia held out her hands in confusion, how would they get another one of them to come back? She realized one of them had to come looking for him eventually. She signed back to Calleigh making her intentions clear.

Nodding her understanding, Calleigh watched as Natalia disappeared back into Santiago's office, and a few moments later a man's voice called out. "Hey Bubba, come here. These bags are too heavy."

The only gunman left that wasn't the leader, shrugged curiously at his boss, and then came ambling down the hallway just like the moron they had made him out to be. "Jesus Vince, we thought a secretary got you..." he muttered, walking into the office.

He stopped cold as he came face to face with Natalia, who was aiming her gun at the dead center of his chest. "He didn't find a secretary, he found me and I hate early withdraws. Place the gun carefully on the floor, push it over here, then kneel down and cross your ankles. I would advise you to be very quiet also. You know that we women have shaky trigger fingers, and I would hate to mess up your shirt."

After scooting the gun even farther away than he pushed it, Natalia walked behind the man, pushed him to the floor, and immobilized him the same way as his partner, before going back over to the door to give Calleigh a thumbs up.

Calleigh stared at her wife in a mix of admiration and love, she didn't know if it was the adrenaline of the moment, or just Natalia in general, but Calleigh knew deep down, Eric would never be anything close to what Natalia was to her. No one would.

After looking at her wife, Calleigh slowly took a deep breath, getting her head back into the game. Biting the inside of her lip, she suddenly became hyper aware of everything around her; the sweat on her palms, the roughness of the grip of her gun, even the hum of the air conditioning in the background. Crawling around the edge of the door, she leaned into a deep crouch, sliding along the side of the wall. Calleigh silently flicked the safety off the Smith and Wesson, wrapping both of her hands tight on the grip. Steeling herself, she watched as the lone gunman slowly came into view.

"You might not want to jump out at me Officer. I've got a real itchy trigger finger, and I've got a bead on you though the glass. Are all cops this dumb, or did you not see the mirror up on the corner? Come on out, nice and slow with your hands up, and holding your gun with just two fingers."

Calleigh's blood ran cold hearing the voice of her would be executioner. Her eyes flicked up the mirror instantly, locking with a panic stricken Natalia. 'Fuck,' was all Calleigh could think.

Slowly Calleigh walked out doing what he asked, hoping that he hadn't noticed Natalia.

"What are you doing here Officer?" The masked man sneered.

"I was finishing up the paperwork on buying my first home."

Grabbing the gun out of the blonde's hand, the man laid down his shotgun as he wrapped a forearm around Calleigh's neck. "And I suppose that you took out my two friends?"

"Yeah, they're tied up in the assistant manager's office."

He started walking towards the entrance, slowly walking past one of the high top marble tables that customers used to fill out deposits and other paperwork. "And I also suppose that someone pressed the silent alarm, and now the place is surrounded. Well, I've got you now, and you're worth more to me as a hostage than anyone else..."

Natalia's mind was screaming, Calleigh was trapped, but there had to be something that she could do. The only advantage that they had is that the lone man didn't know about her. She was the ace in the hole.

Slowly she crept out, aiming her gun at the man's back, surprised at how steady her grip was. "Freeze! Miami Dade Police Department! Drop your weapon, and turn around slowly."

The man froze, but did not drop the weapon, nor did he turn around, instead he spoke up loudly. "I'm going to turn around. Do not shoot."

Slowly he turned so that Natalia could see that he had Calleigh's own gun against her head, with his arm around her neck in a chokehold.

"Who in the hell are you?" He asked.

Inclining her head, Natalia answered. "Her partner."

"Well, Partner, I want you to drop your weapon or I'll shoot her. It's a simple choice."

Natalia shook her head. "Not going to happen because if you shoot her, I'll shoot you, and walk out of here. You'll be dead, and I'll get a new partner."

His eyes went wide for a moment before he said, "You'd let me shoot her just so you could shoot me?"

"I'm not going to let you do anything. If you make that choice, you have to deal with the consequences. The ball's in your court, so what do you say?"

Natalia really couldn't judge what was going through his mind because his face was covered by the mask, and the eyeholes were pulled down low.

After a few moments that seemed to last forever, he answered. "I'd say, that if you're not gonna drop your gun, I'll have to try something else." Then he abruptly charged the table that was between them and Natalia, crushing Calleigh hard up against it, causing the woman to gasp in pain. "Maybe you could just watch while I beat her to a pulp?'

Calleigh was looking at her with a tinge of fear in her eyes. She trusted Natalia implicitly, but after last night's nightmare, she was worried if she could handle the situation.

Tightening her jaw, Natalia tried to weigh her options, and decided that she really didn't have any. Sighing, she looked Calleigh straight in the eye, and whispered. "I'm sorry." Then slowly started to lower her gun.

The instant that she started the movement, the man snorted. "Dumb bitch," and started to bring his gun to bear on her.

Faster than he could comprehend, Natalia brought her gun back up, and fired a single shot, hitting him directly in his forehead, causing him to fall straight back, pulling Calleigh down with him.

Rushing over to the fallen bodies, Natalia dropped to her knees beside her wife, pulling off the arm that was still clamped around her neck. "Calleigh… Calleigh… Talk to me, please Baby, talk to me."

Opening her eyes, Calleigh reached out to grasp Natalia's hands in hers. "I'm ok, Natalia. I'm alright."

Natalia sighed deeply, her chocolate gaze locking into Calleigh's magnificent jade depths. She slid her hands into the golden locks, pushing their foreheads together she whispered softly. "I love you."

"I love you too darlin', and that was one hell of a shot. They should start calling you 'Bullet Girl.'" Breathing in the scent of her wife, Calleigh reluctantly stood up, and moved a distance away. She knew that they were about to get a whole army of SWAT. rushing in, and didn't want to be in a compromising position.

Natalia bit back her own feelings, wanting to hold her wife, to reassure herself that they were both alright, but knowing Calleigh's reasoning's, she simply smiled, and waited on her knees as the EMS, SWAT, and MDPD swarmed into the building led by Horatio with his service issue weapon drawn.

"Hell of a shot, Ms. DuVista. We saw the shooting when we tapped into the bank's security system. Seems that Calleigh is rubbing off on you." Horatio drawled as he put away his weapon.

Calleigh snorted at that, and then cleared her throat. "The other two robbers are in the assistant manager's office, all trussed up."

Natalia stood up silently, smiling quietly at Horatio, and turned to leave the building, walking out towards an ambulance. She was in shock, she realized at the back of her brain. Sitting down on the back of the vehicle with her head in her hands, she tried her hardest to keep it together.

Watching her go, Calleigh forced herself not to follow. She had a duty to stay there, to tell her superior all that she had seen, and had done, but that didn't stop her from clenching her hands into tight fists.

Placing a hand on his colleagues shoulder, Horatio gave his permission. "Go to her Calleigh, make sure that she's alright, but I need you two to take separate cars back to the department. I'm sure that I.A. will be waiting to talk to her about the shooting, and you both will have to type up your reports. "

Barely taking the time to thank her friend, Calleigh headed outside to find her wife. It took her an instant to see her lying on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance with an oxygen mask over her face. Rushing up to her, she asked the EMT what had happened.

"She started hyper-ventilating so we just gave her some oxygen. We wanted to start an IV, but she wouldn't let us. We checked her vitals, and she's fine now."

Calleigh was about to climb into the vehicle when Ryan rushed up. "Calleigh! Are you guys ok? Where's Natalia?"

Stepping back, Calleigh turned to her friend. "She's inside." Nodding her head in the direction. "Do me a favor. I'm gonna go inside with her. Make sure that no one disturbs us for about fifteen minutes, please?"

"Not a problem."

Getting inside the vehicle, Calleigh pulled the door closed, before sitting down on the small bench next to the stretcher. Reaching out, she took Natalia's hand in hers, and gently stroked the soft skin. She couldn't bring herself to look up into Natalia's eyes, as she was scared to see the pitiful look. 'Calleigh DuVista had failed.' She hadn't seen the mirror, and that one mistake had placed her wife in danger. She wouldn't blame Natalia at all if she never forgave her.

Sitting there, rubbing her thumb over bronzed knuckles, Calleigh took no notice of the tears that were flowing freely down her face, until Natalia reached up with her other hand to try to gently raise her face to gaze into her eyes.

"Why are you crying, Cal?" Natalia's voice was muffled by the oxygen mask, and it made Calleigh's heart break a little to feel her touch so weak on her skin.

The blonde didn't answer for a long moment; she went back to staring down at Natalia's soft, capable hands. She bit the inside of her lip trying to squash down the feelings of inadequacy, as the guilt was tearing her apart. How could she have put Natalia in that kind of danger? Again?

Calleigh sighed, wondering if she was ever going to be able to protect her wife the way she should be able to.

"Don't go there, Calleigh. Don't start doubting yourself." Natalia struggled to sit up so that she could face her wife. "You did everything that you were supposed to."

Calleigh tried to stop Natalia from sitting up. "Darlin', I need you to relax okay? You're under a lot of stress right now..." the blonde trailed off, hating herself for the insecurities she could feel beneath the surface.

Natalia firmly, but gently pushed the worried hands away. "Cal, I'm fine." Reaching up, she pulled off the oxygen mask and swung her legs off the stretcher. "You need to stop going down that road you are going. I missed the mirror too."

Calleigh blanched at Natalia pushing her hands away, and become even more worried when she ripped off the oxygen mask. "Baby, please! This has to go back on..." Calleigh fretted with the oxygen mask, trying to ignore the fiery chocolate gaze she felt locked on her face.

"Don't you get it, Calleigh? We both missed something, and I am not going to put that back on. I don't need it to breathe, I just need you. I know that it was childish, I'm admitting it, but when you stood and moved away from me in the bank, I thought that you... I don't know what I thought. I just got so mad that I doubted us for an instant."

Reaching out to take Calleigh's tearful face between her hands, Natalia whispered. "I know that when we're at work, we should be all professional, but in that instant, I didn't care. All I wanted to do was to pull you close and kiss you like there was no tomorrow, and when you pulled away, I lost it."

Calleigh tried to think of anything, something to say to Natalia's confession, but all she could do was break down. Clutching onto her wife for all the she was worth, she buried her face in caramel locks. Her body shook with every sob, every tear, every gasp, until she could give no more, her energy spent. "I feel guilty... like I can't protect you." she whispered.

Gently brushing away the tears, Natalia softly answered. "What did you tell me last night? That these fears are normal, and that we just have to have faith that we can get through anything life throws at us... And we did, Calleigh, we did. We got through it together."

Leaning forward, to gently brush her lips against her wife's, Natalia took her time until she felt Calleigh start to respond. She groaned as Calleigh's hands pulled her even closer, while her tongue was drawn even deeper into Calleigh's warm mouth, but when she wrapped her arms around Calleigh's body, a painful gasp erupted from Calleigh's mouth.

Natalia broke the kiss quickly, her hands stilling around Calleigh. Her arms encircling her, but not really touching her, warm chocolate eyes gazed questioningly at Calleigh's jade depths.

"Sorry darlin', I'm a bit sore from where his pushed me against the table. I think if you just take it easy, that we'll be just fine though."

"And as much as I'd love to be gentle with you, and take my time baby, we can't... there are too many people outside, too many ways this could go wrong if someone opened those doors. IA will be here soon..." Natalia trailed off, her thumb running instinctively over Calleigh's bottom lip trying not to groan internally at the images those lips evoked.

Chuckling, and then grasping her side in pain, Calleigh responded. "Whatever just came to mind, keep it there for later. We will explore those avenues later tonight. So are you alright now?"

"When I'm with you, near you... just thinking about you makes me alright Calleigh... I love you." Natalia tilted her forehead against the shorter woman's, rubbing their noses together. Sighing sadly, she kissed her wife's nose afterwards before gently taking Calleigh's hands.

Sighing sadly, she watched as her hands gently ran over the fabric of Calleigh's midsection. She watched as the blonde's midriff instinctively flinched away from her touch. Before Calleigh could say no, she started to unbutton her shirt. "Baby, we have to check these ribs... you're obviously in a large amount of pain."

This time it was Calleigh's turn to try and bat away Natalia's hands as she didn't want her to see the bruises that were already fully formed after the morning altercation with Eric.

Natalia gave Calleigh one of those well-reserved Natalia DuVista stare downs. "Cal, you could have internal injuries... stop trying to be so tough." the brunette was becoming annoyed with Calleigh's tough cop routine.

Calleigh was about to answer her, when there was a knock against the door, and she was almost glad to be able to pull away from her concerned wife.

Natalia clamped down on her annoyance, tightened her fist, and after making sure they were both somewhat presentable, she pushed open the doors, plastering a strong look on her bronzed features.

"Ms. DuVista, is everything alright in here? Do we need to transport you to the hospital?" Horatio was standing a few feet away from the door, with his sunglasses in one hand.

Natalia smirked at the thought, and turned her eyes towards Calleigh expectantly.

"Uh, no... uh Natalia doesn't need to go, but I do. I may have a couple of cracked ribs."

Natalia smiled, and restrained herself from placing her hand over Calleigh's. She had thought the blonde would play it off, but was deeply relieved to know Calleigh had caught the laser vision she had sent her way.

Horatio caught in interaction between the two women, and had to refrain from smiling, so instead he cleared his throat. "Ryan, I'm going to have to ask you to process this by yourself as Calleigh will be going to the ER, while Natalia heads back to the department. Eric called in right before we got this call and begged for some personal time off. He said that he's come down with a rather nasty case of the flu… he has no idea if it's simply the regular flu or the new swine flu that's been astounding everyone lately."

Calleigh couldn't help looking at Ryan when her friend said that. Maybe they should tell him what was going on?

Ryan caught Calleigh's gaze, and looked down quickly at the pavement trying to avoid Horatio's icy stare.

"Is there something that you need to tell me, Mr. Wolfe?"

Ryan's head snapped up with a deer in the headlights look. He was busted, he knew it. His eyes drifted from Horatio's curious gaze to Calleigh's guilt ridden visage.

"Yeah, it must be the swine flu, as I saw Eric this morning in the parking lot and he really wasn't looking like himself. I told him that he should get away until he felt normal again. I know that I should've told you Horatio, but I didn't want to cause a panic." Calleigh interjected.

Ryan stared in shock at Calleigh's downright blatant lie to not only her superior, but to the only father figure and mentor she had. He looked away, not knowing whether to be in awe of her love for Natalia, or worried about how far this lie could go.

Natalia's gaze shifted from Ryan back to Calleigh. She'd be noticing how close those two had become lately, and while it wasn't in an annoying way, it made her think they were both up to something, something dangerous. The tone in the blonde's voice usually meant she was under stress or pressure, maybe it was from the robbery, she reasoned.

Horatio shifted so that he was facing his tiny team. "This is what you are going to do: Calleigh, I want you to go with the EMT's to the hospital, and get yourself checked out. You can fill out your report later. Natalia, head back to the department. I'm sure that IA will be waiting on you. And Mr. Wolfe, would you mind going over to Eric's place, and checking on him? If it is this swine flu, we all need to be very careful."

After giving his instructions, he turned and headed back inside, leaving Ryan and Calleigh trying not to look too guilty.

To avoid looking at her wife, Calleigh climbed back into the ambulance, and sat on the stretcher.

Natalia climbed in and took her hand. "You go get this taken care of, and I'll be there as soon as I can." Leaning forward, she gently brushed her lips against Calleigh's. "I love you, Calleigh DuVista. And don't you ever, ever forget it."

Calleigh murmured against her wife's lips. "I love you too Natalia. I'll see you when you get there."

Getting out of the ambulance, Natalia closed the door after the EMT got in, and watched it drive away before she made her way over to Calleigh's car to drive to the Department.

By the time five thirty rolled around, Miami was bathed a bronzed afterglow, traffic at a standstill, the hot wet blanket of humidity settling over the city like a blanket.

The Miami Port Authority office had closed for the night, but somehow, the chain had been clipped from the gates leaving them semi open, enough for a car to slip through. It was a silent invitation. The lights in the manager's office were off, as were all the cameras that normally rotated in 360' intervals.

Ryan drove to the designated location and stopped his car. Looking around for a moment, he didn't see anyone so he started to get out of the car, when there was a voice that came from behind him as he opened the door.

"So you're Officer Wolfe." Came a whiskey dipped drawl from behind a container. A young woman in her mid twenties walked cautiously out from behind a giant tower of metal. Her hair was coal black, short and choppy, dressed casually, she held up both hands, open by her sides. Her face was half covered in black Oakley reflective sunglasses which only mirrored back Ryan's reflection.

Ryan's hand unconsciously inched towards his gun. "Yeah, and you are?"

The unknown stranger's face morphed into a semi condescending smile, but she stopped a good distance away, her hands slowly spread out in front of her. Ryan noticed the stranger's clothes, a black V-neck tee shirt with short sleeves that matched her black motorcycle boots, her legs were encased in artfully distressed denim jeans, and his mind marking everything in detail to report to Calleigh. He also noticed how the woman's shirt had ridden up exposing abs a fitness model would be jealous of. He was only male after all. "I'm the person you came here to meet... Easy officer. I'm Cerano."

"Cerano.... Do you have a last name?"

"That is my last name. Where I come from, that's all you need to know." Came the clipped reply. The tone of the reply brooked no room for disrespect or argument; it was a voice of complete control. She scratched her nose, yawning slightly.

Over the strangers shoulder, Ryan noticed a black SUV. To simply call it an SUV would be a gross understatement. The glossy black range rover sat slightly lower than practicality would allow, with large black racing rims, and black windows, no chrome was showing, everything was black. How fitting Ryan thought sarcastically. He knew nothing about the girl, and she showed up in what was referred to as a "murdered out" vehicle. The fully loaded vehicle looked just as mean and dangerous as the driver in the late afternoon sun. His eyes flashed to the license plate trying to memorize the numbers, his hand still inching towards his gun. His eyes flicked back to the woman, her freckles that dusted across her button nose, her confident stance.

Ryan took a deep breath and he put his hands upon his hips on the inside of his jacket. "Well, Cerano, this isn't old home week, and I don't know where you're from, but I've had one hell of a day, so I need you to indulge me. What is your full name?"

The girl set her mouth in a firm line, but her body language never shifted from its cautious stance between him and the street-racing machine behind her. "I'm not known for my faith in the law. Forgive me if I'm hesitant in spilling anything personal. You have to give a little to get a little, suga'." She crossed her arms across her chest. Ryan watched the muscles in her flex and shift, then he noticed the fine lines of scars that crisscrossed her knuckles, forearms and biceps, they were razor thin, but visible to a seasoned eye.

Ryan mimicked her actions, staring at her a long while before he came to a decision. "Ok, let's try this. My friend, Calleigh DuVista called a mutual friend, Jen and asked her if she could help her out with a friend of ours who has gone underground, and she recommended you. Calleigh trusts Jen, whom I am guessing that you do also or you wouldn't be here. So since there is mutual respect for at least one person in this group, let's cut to the chase and get started."

"Ready when you are Wolfe-man." Cerano replied as she walked towards him, pulling her cell phone out of her pocket, checking for any text messages from Jen. Wolfe didn't necessarily make her nervous, not many people could intimidate her, but he was a cop, and that was the deal breaker. She pushed the phone back into her pocket and looked at him sideways, waiting.

"We need you to find a cop who is having some medical issues and has gone underground. He is a trained CSI, and knows how to cover his tracks."

Cerano nodded slightly, her arms uncrossed and she unconsciously rubbed the back of her left forearm, thinking to herself for a moment. "I need a current photo of him, what does he drive, license plate numbers, basic info. What kind of medical issues are we talking about here?" Cerano's voice was all business in a flick of the wrist. "As for the 'Trained CSI and knows how to cover his tracks'... everyone slips up." She finished flashing a tight vicious smile.

Reaching inside his car, Ryan pulled out Eric's duffle bag and placed it on the ground between them. "This has everything that you might need. His name is Eric Delko, and he has a bullet floating around in his brain causing personality changes."

Cerano leaned over slightly and nudged the bag open with a toe, bending down, she picked up the medical files flipping them open pulling out an x ray. "Wow, I've only read about stuff like this... from what I know, which isn't much, he is headed down hill, fast." She closed the file dropping it back into the bag but not before pulling out a photo and examining it from behind her mirrored sunglasses.

"That's what we are afraid of. He has changed drastically in the last month and now is threatening people that he cares about."

"It won't be a problem finding someone who's in this kind of condition. Do you want him wrapped up like a gift basket or tied up like a hog?" She asked grimly after putting the photo back in the bag and zipping it up.

Ryan took an unconscious step towards the dark woman in frustration. "We just need to have him found so that we can get him the help that he needs. We're afraid that... we just don't know what he'll do next. He's already assaulted Calleigh and Natalia, and he may do it again. We just don't know."

Cerano didn't even budge an inch at Ryan's invasion; her smile disappeared however. "I'm sorry. I had no idea. Are they okay?" Her voice was quiet as she looked down before looking back up at Ryan. She wasn't going to apologize, but she was being contrite, knowing she had over stepped her bounds. "And if you're worried about me, don't be. I can handle myself."

"I'm sure that you can. I just want you to understand how important this is. Eric isn't a bad guy, he's just in a lot of, probably mental pain, but it's not just affecting him. Calleigh is worried that he's going to go after Natalia, and I'm worried that he going to attack Calleigh again. There are just too many variables to contend with here." Ryan brushed his hand through his hair while turning away.

Cerano hesitated; it wasn't in her nature to be caring, warm, or affectionate at all. Quite the contrary, she was a Cerano, for God's sake. Her family did their job, neatly, efficiently, deadly at times, but they were uninvolved with their work. This was dangerous territory and her gut was screaming at her, so she squashed her feelings. "Wolfe... I promise." She fought the urge to put a hand on his back; he was obviously troubled. "I will find him. As for him attacking Calleigh and Natalia, I may have a little fix for that." She smiled evilly.

The young man looked at this strange woman in a manner reminisce of his Lieutenant, from the side. "Cerano, we don't want him hurt. We want to get him help, but on the other hand, we do want you to take every precaution in protecting yourself." Leveling a hard gaze at the mirrored glasses, Ryan's voice lowered. "I don't care what you have to do, but I want you protect Calleigh and Natalia at all cost. If it comes between them and Eric, I want you to choose them. If you need anything, text me. I'll get you whatever I can."

"When I'm not tracking Eric, I will be watching Calleigh and Natalia personally. As for when I'm not around, I have other sets of eyes." Cerano placed her hands together, looking at Ryan from behind reflective black surfaces, she sighed. "I can't guarantee he won't be harmed when I finally bring him to you, but I will bring him to you." She smiled tightly, turning around on her heel, grabbing the black duffel bag, striding towards her car with a smooth confident gait.

"Before you go, I don't know if you watch or listen to the news, but both Calleigh and Natalia were involved in a bank robbery this afternoon, and Calleigh was injured."

Cerano halted her stride, her head turning sharply to the side; she hesitated slightly before turning slightly to face him. She hated cops, loathed them to her very core. Her hand unconsciously ran up and over the brutal scar that extended from under her right ear three inches to the middle of her jaw. "A bank robbery? Really?" Her voice was not mocking, just astonished.

Running his hand through his hair, Ryan grimaced. "Yeah, bad luck seems to follow those two around. Also, our Lieutenant told us that Eric called in and asked for some personal time off. Calleigh kind of lied to him, saying that Eric had not looked himself when she saw him last and maybe he had the swine flu."

The smirk that burst its way onto Cerano's face was obvious. Even though she probably had a million things to respond with, she kept her own counsel and chose to say anything, except then a quiet chuckle.

"Anyway, Horatio asked me to go by his place to check up on him, so I was wondering if you would like to back me up. There may be more there that could help you out."

"I'll follow your lead Wolfe Man, but only because there is a very slim chance he's there. His paranoia won't let him rest for too long." Cerano offered casually, agreeing to go along. She'd tracked cops before, even the occasional federal agent; CSI's however were a whole different breed of demon in her professional opinion.

Nodding his head, Ryan suggested. "Ok, so why don't you follow me over to his townhouse."

"That's fine, when we get there, I'll pull around back, you have an official reason for being there, I don't." Cerano mentioned sarcastically almost, she climbed into the SUV shutting the door and set the duffel bag on the floorboard.

The two unlikely associates were soon headed towards Eric's townhouse, and true to her word, Cerano pulled into the back alley while Ryan went and knocked on the front door. Not getting an answer, he used the spare key that he had and went inside. He quickly made his way through the dark house to open the back door.

After cutting the engine, Cerano had opened the glove box, pulled out custom-made leather driving gloves, slipped them on, then reached under her seat pulling out a 9mm handgun. She silently slipped out of the vehicle, quietly stole through the back alley and through the back door, tucking the pistol into the back of her jeans.

As soon as she entered the town home, Cerano could tell how mentally disturbed Eric had truly become. What was once a tastefully decorated home was now piled high with debris, papers, trash, furniture had been knocked over and holes had been punched in walls.

"Man, this place looks like a hurricane went through it. Trust me, Eric is a neat freak. Everything in its place." Ryan looked around with a worried face.

Cerano pulled the gun out from the back of her jeans, she moved through the house quietly, if Delko was home, she didn't want to be pounced on and caught unawares by a mentally disturbed CSI. She checked each room efficiently and quietly until she stumbled upon a locked door. "Wolfe, I found something..." she trailed off.

Quickly Ryan joined her at the locked door. "This dead bolt is new. This door shouldn't have a lock on it at all. I guess that I'll have to bust it in."

"No wait, if Delko returns and finds a busted door, he's going to know we know about him. Surprise is the key in hunting..." Cerano trailed off as she knelt on one knee, pulling out a small black pouch out of her pocket. She unfolded the kit on her knee pulling out small silver tools, inserting them in the lock quietly. Within seconds, she had the door unlocked and it creaked ominously swinging open. Cerano stood up packing up her miniature tool kit and slipping it back into her pocket.

Ryan shook his head in admiration at the speed at which the young woman performed the action all the while muttering, "I did not see that, I did not see that."

Cerano suppressed the laugh she knew was coming, choosing instead to cough into her hand. She clicked on the flashlight she'd brought, and walked into the room. An entire room had been dedicated to different pictures of Calleigh and Natalia together. Sometimes they were apart, sometimes they were at work or home, sometimes they had clothes on... sometimes they didn't. Cerano's temper snapped at intrusive photos of the women's private moments, she turned away looking at other pictures.

Ryan pulled out his own flashlight, clicked it on, and was caught off guard by the walls plastered in photos. He walked closer, trying to pick one to look at; his eye was drawn to a large picture of Calleigh and Natalia together. They were outside work, in their own backyard kissing on the porch. Natalia's face in the photo had been burnt out, her body shredded with a knife. Calleigh however remained un-maimed in the photo.

The flashlight, slipped from his hand as he struggled to comprehend what he was looking at. Bending down, he was reaching for the light, when he caught a glimpse of another photo. This was a picture of the two women, riding their horses on a beach. The horses were walking close enough that Calleigh was leaning over to give Natalia a kiss.

"This is borderline, Wolfe..." Cerano muttered, looking at the pictures pinned to every surface of the wall. Delko was ruthless in his pursuit to take their photographs. He was tracking them, hunting them, toying with them like a lion with a mouse.

Ryan's eyes flew over the pictures, stopping at some while averting his eyes at others. "They are going to be…. I don't have words to describe how mad Calleigh and Natalia are going to be... I'm speechless. I didn't think that he was this bad."

Cerano was thinking quietly, scrutinizing each picture, she noticed a particular detail. "I'll tell them, you don't have to let yourself get skinned for it...Wolfe, look at these photos." Cerano pointed out. "This set was taken from about two to three hundred feet away." She grabbed another set off the wall. "These are at about one hundred and fifty feet." She grabbed the close ups. "These are so close he could smell their perfume. He's getting braver."

"Yeah, I actually figured that out yesterday, and confirmed it today. He trapped Natalia in a back hallway last night and tried to kiss her, and then this morning, attacked Calleigh in the back parking lot." Ryan turned to face the door. "No, I'll tell them. They deserve to hear this from me."

Cerano shrugged, but filed the information about Delko's most recent attacks. If she could provoke him into attacking her when she caught up with him, it would be simple to disarm him, she wasn't as helpless as most women were, even if they were cops.

"Is there a way that you can have someone watch this place in case he comes back? I don't think that he will, but I guess that I really don't know him as well as I thought?"

Cerano nodded slipping out her blackberry, she texted the address and a photo of Delko to some of her friends on the street. Within seconds, a conformation email had been returned saying the house would be under surveillance within the next hour. "Some people I know will be here within the hour to sit on the house." She slipped the phone back into her pocket examining the room. "I think he's still coherent enough to play games, though I don't think he understands his actions fully."

"I agree… I gotta get out of this room." Ryan walked out, leaving the young woman in there.

Cerano watched him leave. Walking up close to the window looking out over the neighborhood Cerano sighed, she turned back to the photos of Calleigh and her wife. There was no way in this life or the next she was going to let anything happen to either one of them. She swore it.

Walking outside with Ryan, Cerano turned to look at him. "Tomorrow at Officer DuVista's house, text me the time and we can meet. Discuss strategies." She closed the door behind her, relocking it with her pick from her kit.

"That's good for me. I'll call them in the morning and find out the time." Hesitating, Ryan came to a decision. Turning to the young woman, he held out his hand. "I don't know who you are, or your full name, but I want to thank you for helping my friends. You have your reasons for not trusting the police, but I thank you for trusting me the amount that you have. If you need anything, just call."

Cerano hesitated not out of hatred or even rudeness, but out of fear and caution. She slowly grasped Ryan's hand in a firm handshake, her black eyes boring into his. "Officers take an oath to uphold and protect. It's not safe for Delko to be out there in his mental condition. My trust comes with my loyalty; you haven't earned either... yet." She smiled at him warmly for the first time.

Nodding his head, Ryan simply stated. "Fair enough, now let's get out of here and I'll contact you tomorrow."

He followed the young woman to the back door, locking it after she exited, before going out the front door, making sure and everything was secure. With one final look at the townhome, Ryan got into his car and drove away.

The next few hours were a flurry of activity for the two women. As soon as Calleigh arrived at the ER, she was examined, x-rayed and it was diagnosed that she had two fractured ribs. They gave her something for the pain, before they started taping up the ribs. The medication lessened the pain, but she was still very uncomfortable while they were working on her, but soon she was taped up and just waiting for Natalia to come pick her up.

During all this time, Natalia was being grilled by Internal Affairs on the robbery, and on the shooting. They repeatedly asked the same questions again and again, and she gave them the same answered until she was fed up.

"Listen, I've said the same thing over and over, and you've seen the tape, so unless there is something new you want to ask, I'm out of here." Natalia stood up, turned to her union rep and thanked him for showing up. Nodding to the two dark suits that had stolen three hours away from her life, Natalia left the room, and gathered both her and Calleigh's personal items from their lockers before heading to the hospital.

After asking for her wife and getting her condition, Natalia quickly made her way over to the curtained off area, drawing the material aside, and slipped in. The first thing that she saw was that Calleigh was sound asleep, with a sheet covering her chest. The second thing that she couldn't help, but notice was the large bruise she had on her bicep. Frowning, she remembered back to the robbery, but didn't remember Calleigh being grabbed there.

All of a sudden, the guilty looks that Calleigh and Ryan had shared at the ambulance made sense.

Calleigh whimpered slightly in her sleep, her body shifting slightly before realizing its own pain, and quieting down. It was Natalia's name that she was whimpering.

Natalia bit down on her own anger at Calleigh's cover up, Ryan's omission of the lie, and Eric's brazen insanity. He would burn in the darkest depths of hell for what he was doing to her wife. Natalia walked up quietly, laying her hand on Calleigh's forehead, tracing away the worry lines that were present, even mid-dream.

At her wife's touch, Calleigh's eyes fluttered open, and she looked around dazedly before focusing on the beauty standing next to her. "Hey darlin', are you here to get me out of here?"

"Yes I am baby..." Natalia's voice trailed off, her fingertips tracing down Calleigh's brow, over her collarbone, bypassing her favorite pieces of the blonde, her touch drifted over the bruise on her bicep and halted. "...but first we need to talk."

Looking down, Calleigh swallowed as she knew that she was going to have one very unhappy spouse in a few minutes. She struggled to sit up, gasping lightly in pain, but took a deep breath to gather her courage. "Um.... I was going to tell you about it tonight, honest. I didn't want to do it at work."

Natalia sighed sadly. Her gaze broke away from Calleigh's staring out a nearby window. She stayed silent for a long few minutes before speaking quietly. "..What happened, Calleigh?"

Silence filled the room briefly as Calleigh tried to decide how much to tell her. "I had forgotten my spare clothes, so I went back out to the car to get them. Eric drove up while I was there, and things got out of hand. He grabbed me by the arm, and then he punched me, before driving off. I called Ryan to help me out, so he did. There's more, but this isn't the place for us to discuss it."

It mentally took everything in Natalia not to snap, and start screaming. Calleigh was right; it wasn't the time or the place. She clenched her fists, and lifted up the gym bag from the floor containing a button up shirt for Calleigh, a pair of sweat pants with some flip-flops to put her feet in.

"What about you? Are you going to tell me what happened yesterday with Eric?"

Natalia's rage vanished into thin air, she walked closer to the bed, laying her hand on top of Calleigh's, squeezing it tightly. Her voice was tiny and full of shame. "Eric... caught me in the hallway... words were exchanged, he almost kissed me if Ryan hadn't interrupted him."

"He had me pinned against the wall... I couldn't get away." Natalia hid herself behind a caramel curtain, the incident with Eric weighed heavily upon her mind reminding her too much of Nick and his brutal ways.

Calleigh was in the process of swinging her legs over the side of the stretcher when she froze, clinching her jaw and green eyes growing hard in anger. Breathing through her nose, she struggled to reign in her anger. Forget it, Eric was a walking dead man.

Natalia noticed Calleigh's change of body language, and put her hands on her chest pushing her back down. "Stop, you're going to hurt yourself, and now isn't the time or place baby..." Pleading with her wife, Natalia tried to get her to calm down so she could change, and they could leave the hospital, growing tired of all their time spent in them.

Breathing slowly, Calleigh ground out. "You're right. Help me change, and we'll go home to talk."

Placing her hand on the blonde's cheek, she leveled Calleigh with a searing, chocolate gaze. She just wanted to let Calleigh know that she SAW her. She was with her every step of the way, no matter what, they were in this together.

Leaning forward carefully, Calleigh gently brushed her lips against her wife's. "We'll get through this, darlin'. Let's just get home."

Natalia nodded without a word, and began pulling the sheet off her wife. She knew at first glance, that not all of these bruises came from the robbery, a majority of them came from Eric. The thought made her ears roar in anger, and her jaw tightened, but still she knew it wasn't the place for such an outburst. Dressing Calleigh quickly, and painlessly as possible, she helped her off the table.

After checking out, Natalia carefully helping the blonde into her car, and they were soon on their way home. The drive was short, but by the time they pulled into the garage, Calleigh was asleep.

Natalia quickly opened the kitchen door, setting down their things, and ran into the bedroom getting the bed ready so Calleigh could sleep. She knew after the day they'd both been through, sleep was key to revival. She knew the gist of things with Eric. The finer details could wait until morning. Walking back to the car, she silently opened the passenger side door kneeling next to her wife. "Baby… we're home, wake up." her voice was soft and gentle.

"Hmm, oh ok... sorry, darlin', I didn't mean to fall asleep." Calleigh brushed her face with her hand, trying to wake herself up.

Natalia captured her hand in her own kissing the knuckles before easing her gently out of the vehicle, and into her arms. "Shhh baby, it's okay, I've got you, let's go to bed." Natalia kissed the top of her wife's blonde hair, smiling at the scent she knew by memory already.

Slowly the two women, made their way into their home, and into their bedroom. Calleigh slowly sat down on the edge of the bed, slipping off the flip-flops, and groaning.

Natalia eased her back into the bed, she quickly slid off the sweat pants and shirt, kissing her wife's cheek, and slid into bed next to her.

Muttering, Calleigh turned her head to bury her nose in caramel hair. "I love you, Talia. I'm sorry about not telling you. I just wanted to protect you, that's all."

"I know, but you can protect me and share things with me at the same time Cal..." Natalia ran her fingers over Calleigh's beautiful face. "You're only one woman."

Chuckling sleepily, Calleigh couldn't resist saying. "Thank you pot for calling the kettle black. Right back at you."

"Hush... we are more than two peas on a pod, Angel, we are two souls sharing one life." Natalia kissed Calleigh's nose softly. "Go to sleep my love, we can talk in the morning."

Slowly moving closer to her wife, Calleigh was asleep before she could make a reply.

Natalia ran her hands up and down Calleigh's back, her aching body begging for rest, she slowly joined her wife in slumber.

Part 4

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