DISCLAIMER: CSI: Miami and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic is dedicated in loving memory to my cousin Marine Sergeant Noel John Thames, February 16th, 1981 to October 11th, 2007, killed in active Line of duty in Baghdad, Iraq. I love you Noel.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By raven_christina


The blonde young man was very handsome in his uniform. He exuded a confidence that seemed very familiar to Natalia, and for some reason she couldn't place it...

When the receptionist asked if he needed help, he asked for Calleigh. Hackles slightly raised; a million ideas ran through the brunette's head: ex-boyfriend, friend, ex-boyfriend, old coworker, ex-boyfriend...

She was about to emerge from the hallway to further examine the possibility when a rather excited yelp echoed through the lobby.

"Jamie!" Calleigh was uncharacteristically excited as she almost ran into the lobby. Natalia watched as her girlfriend was picked up by the young man and given a big hug. "Hey!"

"When did you get in?" Calleigh asked after he put her down.

"Yesterday. I'm starting my next tour in a few day, but I had some spare time and thought I'd come see you and dad."

Natalia's nose wrinkled. 'Wait... "Dad?" oh crud.'

It was then that Calleigh noticed her girlfriend lurking quietly in the hallway. "Nat, come here; I want you to meet someone."

Natalia nervously came forward, still beating herself up for assuming the worst.

"Natalia, this is my big brother, James Benjamin Duquesne," the blonde said proudly, beaming.

"Jamie to my friends," he said in a voice that had more of an accent Calleigh's, extending his hand.

Natalia noticed that both of them had the same jade-green eyes. His hair was a darker blonde, but with the facial structure and the same sunny smile, they could have been twins.

"Nice to meet you," she said, taking his hand and shaking it.

Suddenly his eyes lit up, and he turned to look at his sister, "Is she the one you've been telling me about?"

When her lover blushed slightly, Jamie chuckled. "I knew it."

"You've told him about me?" Natalia said, blushing a little herself.

"Of course. Squirt here has told me all about you." Jamie ducked as his sister swatted playfully at his head.

"I am not a squirt." she glared.

They all chuckled. Natalia had to admit; Jamie's charisma was certainly an inherited family-trait.

"Well, I know y'all have to get back to work, but what say we go out to dinner tonight? My treat?" Jamie offered.

"Sounds good to me. What do you think Nat?" Calleigh asked.

Natalia felt a little wary of spending an entire evening with Calleigh's brother; quite sure he was going to be picking apart her character bit by bit. But the pleading in her girlfriend's eyes... god, she could never deny those eyes anything. "How does eight 0'clock sound to you Jamie?"

"Great. I'll see you at your place then. I'm off to see dad." he leaned down and kissed his sister's cheek. "See ya later squirt. Natalia, pleasure meeting ya." He put on his cap and grinned. "Have a good day ladies." he turned and walked out of the lobby to the elevator.

"I didn't know you had a brother." Natalia said.

In the locker room, getting ready to leave, Calleigh looked up. "Yeah, I've got three. Jamie is the oldest, and Mark and Adam are after me. I'm in the middle."

Natalia nodded. She happened to be the oldest in her family, but she knew what it was like to have siblings. "So, he's a marine?"

Calleigh grinned, pride in her smile. "Yep, graduated top of his class. He just promoted to Sergeant."

"Where's he on duty?" Nat asked as she shouldered her bag, waiting for Calleigh to finish lacing her shoes. It was obvious that the blonde was very proud of her brother's accomplishments.

"Well, his next tour will be in Iraq." there was suddenly a quiet undertone to her girlfriend's voice, and Nat winced.

"We better get going or we'll be late," she said, quickly trying to change the mood. No wonder Calleigh refused to discuss the war when the lab talked politics.

It suddenly hit Natalia that though they had been together for almost six months, and she knew very little about Calleigh's family.

"So, what about Mark and Adam?" she asked as they made their way into the lobby and to the elevator.

Immediately Calleigh brightened. "Mark is a prosecution lawyer in Chicago, and Adam is finishing his doctorate in biochemistry at Colorado State."

"Wow. Your family has a lot of accomplishments." Nat observed as they got to her car and got in. "I mean, you're a police officer, Jamie's a marine, a lawyer and a biochemist?"

Calleigh shrugged. "What can I say? We're all a little bit of over-achievers."

Natalia had to chuckle. "Yeah, I suppose so."

"So there we were, and the man said, 'well, y'all got to get off my property'. Calleigh calmly replied that it was public property, and that we had the right, according to county law, to ask HIM to leave. After a second of staring at her, he muttered something about 'dang whipper-snappers' and stalked off. It was the funniest thing I had ever seen." Jamie chuckled.

Natalia smiled, "it seems even before she was a police officer she was enforcing the law."

Dinner had gone very well, and now they were back at Calleigh's apartment, chatting away over a glass of wine.

The blonde in question however, had received a phone call from Las Vegas and had to take it in her bedroom...which left Jamie and Natalia in the kitchen by themselves.

A now some-what awkward silence descended over them, and Natalia looked down into her wineglass, trying not to appear too uncomfortable.

"So how long have you and my sister been seeing each other?" Jamie asked, swirling the last bit of brandy in the tumbler.

"Six months next Tuesday." Natalia replied, internally sighing. Here we go.

"You met at work?"

She nodded again, and Jamie chuckled. "At least you're not another police officer. She told you 'bout Jake?"

Natalia nodded, her nose wrinkling at even the mention of the name. She decided to avoid the name by asking a somewhat odd question. "So… it doesn't bother you that I'm another woman?"

The question hung in the air as Jamie sipped his brandy, allowing the mellowed flavor to sink in. He looked over at the young woman, allowing a few moments to finally get a real good look at her.

He had been anxious to see if this woman was everything his sister said she was, and he had been pleased so far. She seemed to truly care about his sister, and she looked like she had no intentions of breaking her heart, unlike that Jake bastard who he didn't like at all.

"No, it doesn't. I was the first person Calleigh came out to that she was bisexual. She and I have always been very close." He sipped once more, and then said seriously, "I only hope, Natalia, that this isn't some kind of experiment." Jamie waited for her reaction calmly, trying not to let the emotion show on his face.

Natalia's eyes widened as she tried process what it was he said, and then she calmed down as she realized he was just testing her. Raising her eyes, she looked into ones that mirrored her girlfriend's and said, "no."

Jamie smiled widely. "Good. Calleigh, as I'm sure you know, doesn't need any more hurt in her life. She needs someone to take care of her, whether she wants to admit it or not."

"I would never do anything to hurt her, Jamie. And I swear I'll always take care of her."

"Are you in love with her?" he waited once more, hoping he was going to hear the answer he wanted.

Natalia's face instantly reddened, and she looked down at her wine glass before looking back up again, smiling through her blush. "Yes. Yes I am."

Jamie chuckled once more, "all I wanted to hear Natalia." He swallowed the last of brandy and grinned. "I'm her big brother. It's my job to make sure your intentions are honorable. You'll get the same thing from Mark and Adam if you ever meet them."

Natalia giggled, "I'm sure Calleigh will get it from my sisters."

"Exactly. What's family for if not to look out for each other?"

They both laughed at that one, and a voice from the doorway of the kitchen said, "Glad to see the two of you are getting along really well."

Calleigh walked into the room and sat in a chair beside Nat's, taking her hand and squeezing it. "He wasn't mean to you was he?"

"He was a perfect gentleman." Natalia assured, grinning at Jamie.

(Three Months later)

Natalia stared at the piece of paper she held in her hands. Her mind was reeling as she read the words of the letter once again:

Dear Miss Duquesne,

Please accept my condolences, as I am the bearer of bad news. My name is PFC Hartford, and I served under your brother, Sergeant Duquesne.

Your brother is dead.

The letter went on, but Nat didn't bother reading it once more. She set it down onto the counter and took a deep breath, trying to fight back her tears.

Lord, what am I going to tell—

"Baby? Did you get the mail?" Calleigh stood in the living room, concerned now. "Natalia? Honey, what is it? What's wrong?"

The brunette swallowed hard, then gently walked over to the couch and pulled Calleigh down beside her. "Calleigh… You just got a letter from the Marine Corps. Jamie is dead."

A look of shock spread over her lover's face, and she shook her head. "No. Natalia, please tell me that you're lying."

Natalia's heart broke in two as she cradled Calleigh's face in her hands. "I wish I was angel. He was killed outside of Baghdad last week."

Calleigh, her strong and beautiful Calleigh, who could look murderers in the face and not flinch, who had seen countless things no one ever should, began to cry.

Natalia kissed her forehead and pulled her into her arms, still surprised that she was seeing Calleigh cry, which she had never seen before.

"Shh… I know angel, I know… just let it out. I know baby, I know. It'll be ok; I promise."

Jamie had wanted to be buried next to their mother, and so they had traveled to New Orleans for the funeral.

Calleigh's father had come with them, and now he, his daughter and two other sons stood by the graveside as the coffin made its way towards the gathered people. Mark and Adam both looked like Calleigh as well, and it was very obvious to see the family resemblance between them all with their father there too. Natalia stood beside Mark's wife and Adam's girlfriend near the family.

After placing the coffin to be lowered into the grave, PFC Hartford folded the flag and presented it to Mr. Duquesne. He stared blankly at it, and Calleigh leaned forward and took it from him instead, thanking him.

"Ready! And fire!"

The twenty-one-gun salute began, and Natalia saw Calleigh's eyes fill with tears, felt her own heart breaking as the shots continued. Mark and Adam both put their arms around their sister, and their father continued to stare blankly ahead.

Finally, the salute was over. The people dispersed, leaving the family alone. Mark came up to his wife, and she folded him in her arms, holding him. Adam's girlfriend went over to where he sat still staring at the coffin, putting her hand on his shoulder.

Calleigh sat by her father, both unmoving, eyes glazed with tears. In her hands, the blonde still clutched the folded flag, her knuckles white. Natalia knelt beside the chair and put her hands on Calleigh's easing them to give the flag to her father who then stood and went to where his sons were waiting.

They said nothing. Nothing needed to be said. Natalia knew Calleigh took comfort in her merely being there. She looked at the coffin.

Don't worry Jamie. I'll take care of her for you.

The End

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