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 12

Natalia awoke the next morning much more rested than she did the day before even though her sleep was disrupted by nightmares, but each time she was jolted awake, Calleigh was there, whispering that everything would be alright.

Once again Natalia was able to slip out of bed without waking her wife and once again after getting dressed for work, Natalia found herself looking down at Calleigh. This time as she bent down to brush the hair from her have, Natalia found herself dragged back down to the bed by a swift streak of Southern woman.

"And where exactly do you think that you are going?"

"Well, I was thinking about fixing breakfast, but if you have something else in mind, I'm open to suggestions."

Calleigh kissed Natalia quickly before rolling out of bed as fast as she could manage.

"Nope, nothing else in mind. And that darlin', is called a swing and a miss."

Laughing, Natalia responded.

"Brat, getting me started like that. Is there anything special I can fix for you?"

"Just some cereal will be fine."

Making her way into the kitchen, Natalia fixed Calleigh's bowl and then poured her own. She felt like having coffee so she quickly set it up and while she was waiting for it to brew, watched her wife walk out of the bedroom.

If someone didn't know, there would be no way to know that Calleigh couldn't see. She walked with an air of self-confidence, never wavering from her goal. Natalia knew that this was her comfort zone and that there might be a slight difference if she was out in public, but she was willing to bet that it wouldn't be huge.

Watching Calleigh walk towards her, Natalia made up her mind.

"Babe, I want to have another commitment ceremony with all of our family and friends. I know that this is coming out left field, but I don't want to wait and I don't want to hide anymore."

Calleigh almost stumbled, but caught herself.

"I don't want to hide either, so I'm there, but I would like to wait until I get my sight back."

Walking up to and wrapping her arms about her wife, Natalia placed a kiss on Calleigh's forehead.

"Cal, I don't care if you can't see. I love you just the way that you are."

Leaning against Natalia's chest, Calleigh took a deep sigh before saying.

"I know that you do, but I want to be able to see you, I mean really see you. I want to be able to watch as you say your vows. How about this? The day that I get my sight back, we'll make a date."

"Calleigh, I'm serious. I want to stand in front of my family and show them who I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with. I don't care if you can see, if you are purple skinned or whatever. I fell in love with you and I want everyone to know."

Leaning her head back as if she was looking up into Natalia's eyes, Calleigh thought for a moment.

"Darlin', if you want another ceremony, then that's what you get. I'm tired of hiding too and I want to tell everyone that we're together. I also want us to change our last name to DuVista."

Bending her head until her lips could brush against Calleigh's, Natalia murmured.

"I love you so very much, Calleigh."

"Talia, I've told you before that I'd be lost without you and I meant it."

Deeping the kiss, Natalia once again felt the connection between herself and Calleigh and gloried in the feeling. She knew that if she did nothing else right for the rest of her life, that this relationship, this love was the best thing that she had ever experienced.

It was only the sound of two growling stomachs that caused Calleigh to take a step back from Natalia's embrace.

"I think that was our cue to eat something."

Chuckling, Natalia helped Calleigh take a seat, showing her where the bowl was, before going over to pour herself some coffee.

"Would you like some coffee?"

"No thanks."

They ate their breakfast while Calleigh told Natalia what she had planned for the day. She would call her friend to set up an appointment for Saturday for the security system.

"You know we've got to figure out how to tell Eric that we're together."

Shaking her head, Natalia became lost in thought for a moment before she replied.

"I don't know how we're going to do that without hurting his feelings. I do believe that he will accept it as soon as he realizes that we are both happy."

Calleigh got a strange look on her face as she thought of something and excused herself from the table, making her way back into the bedroom as fast as she could manage. A few minutes later, she came back out and made her way back over to stand next to Natalia.

"I've wanted to give this for you for a while and maybe I was holding off until now."

Kneeling down next to Natalia, Calleigh reached out to find her left hand and slid on an antique diamond ring on her ring finger next to her wedding band.

"This used to be my grandmothers and I want for you to have it. Wear it for me, for us."

"Calleigh, I can't take this. It belongs in your family."

Taking Natalia's hand and placing it over her own heart, Calleigh simply stated.

"Talia, you are my family. I've told you about my grandmother, the little Cajun woman who always seemed to know more than she let on. When she gave me this ring, we were in her bedroom and I was just about to leave for college. She sat me down on her bed, handed me this ring and told me to give it to someone who brought color into my life. And that's what you've done. Before I just thought that I knew what colors were, but I was actually seeing life in shades of gray. When you came into my heart, you brought a whole palate of color in with you. Now you know that I've had some bad experiences, as you have, but I believe that they were all for a reason. I believe that they were leading me to you and to what we have right now. So I'm asking you to wear this as a symbol of my love."

Scooting out of her chair so that she was kneeling also, Natalia briefly took off both rings on that finger and reversed their positions. Taking one of Calleigh's hands, she showed her what she had done. Then she took that same hand, she placed it over her own heart.

"Can you feel that? Can you feel how full my heart is with love for you? Do you know that every beat is your name? That every breath that I take is whispering I love you, that every second of every day I am yours more than I am my own."

Getting as close as she could to Calleigh, Natalia framed her face with her hands and whispered.

"As God as my witness, I wish to share the rest of my life with you. The fantasy of us was nothing to the reality and I will do whatever I have to do to protect you and our love from anyone that threatens it."

"Darlin', I may not be able to do much, but I promise with everything thing that I am that you will never doubt how much I love you or the lengths that I will go to protect you. I know that this isn't the most romantic setting, but I promise to make it up to you."

Kissing Calleigh again, Natalia disagreed.

"My love, this is perfect. I need nothing more than you. "

"I'm glad, thought I do have to admit that my legs are falling asleep."

Laughing, Natalia got to her feet before helping Calleigh up, and pulling her into a fierce hug.

"I wish that I didn't have to go to work, but I've got to get going. Please be careful today and call me if you need anything."

"You too darlin'. I'll be right here."

Giving Calleigh one more kiss, Natalia headed off to work, leaving her with an idea. Finding the phone, she slowly punched in some numbers and waited for an answer.

"Alexx…Hi, it's Calleigh….I'm good…Listen, I need to ask a favor…"

Natalia was still smiling as she drove into the parking lot at work. Waving good-by to her escort, she got out of her car and started walking up to the entrance.

"You look at lot better today than you were yesterday."

Turning, Natalia saw Ryan and waited for him to catch up with her.

"Well, a good night's sleep can cure almost anything."

"Yeah, especially if you get to wake up to Calleigh."

Slapping him on the arm, they continued up the walkway.

"Oh yeah! I have a solution to your problem. A friend of mine takes in retired service dogs and he has a Golden Retriever that needs a new home. I was thinking that a dog would be something that Calleigh could have for company and for protection. I can arrange to bring it by tomorrow if it's ok with you."

"Ryan, that would be great. Thank you. We're also having a friend of Calleigh's come by to install a security system. We decided it would be better to be safe than sorry."

She gave him a quick hug as they walked through the front door. Seeing Horatio coming from his office, Natalia headed in his direction.

"Morning Horatio. I was wondering if there were any new leads on Kris Jackson, because I got to thinking about the picture that was left with her. Ryan said that the ink was actually made with her blood, but we didn't find wounds on her."

"Good Morning Natalia and good thinking. That thought also occurred to me and Alexx and I, in going over the body again, found a small puncture underneath one of the letters of the brand."

Closing her eyes for a moment, Natalia swallowed before saying.

"What information was released to the press, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Just that a body was found and identification is pending until family can be notified. Orange County wants the teams' members that are already here to help out on the case, but we are respectfully denying them."

"I didn't tell Calleigh about the call, the picture or the brand. All of that would worry her too much." Natalia replied with a sigh.

"I agree. I'll let you know if anything else comes up."

Heading into her lab, Natalia grabbed her lab coat and immediately got to work. She was soon up to her elbows in DNA evidence for a double homicide and two drug busts. When she looked up next, it was past one o'clock and she had missed lunch. Reaching for her phone, she called Calleigh to see how her day was going and decided to check her email at the same time.

"Hi there gorgeous…Just wanted to hear your voice…No, I got so busy that I forgot….I'm gonna go in a minute…Hmmm…I'll probably leave here around 6…Ok, I will…I love you too babe…bye."

As she closed her phone, she reached for her purse with one hand while clicking on the final email with the other and as it opened, she froze. It was a copy of a picture that had run in the inner-office newsletter about the Boys and Girls Club street fair and it was of Calleigh. She had been inflating balloons and the original caption had read, 'Call her Balloon Girl, not Bullet Girl', but now it read, 'Will she scream for me?'

Ryan was passing by so Natalia darted to the door and swung it open.

"Ryan, I need for you to get Horatio right now."

"What's up Natalia?"

"Ryan, just get him here."

She closed the door, leaning against it as she stared at the back of the computer. Her mind was racing with thoughts of who could have sent it. It had to be someone who knew about her and Calleigh, but the only people that did were their team members and she couldn't see any of them doing something like this.

A soft tap on the door startled her before she turned around to find Horatio standing here with a worried look on his face and Ryan standing behind him. Stepping back so that they could enter, Natalia just pointed to the computer and they headed right over.

As soon as he saw it, Horatio gave clipped instructions to Ryan while calling the officers that were watching Natalia's house. Listening to the officers tell him that they could see Calleigh moving around, he visibly relaxed and thanked them.

"She's fine. They can see her from the street."

"Yeah, I literally had just got off the phone with her when I opened it. Horatio, that's an inner-office newsletter, it's not available to the public. That means that whoever is doing this, works here and knows about us."

Taking a step towards her, Horatio laid a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"I can't see anyone knowing about you. My thinking is that whoever this is, knows that you've been spending a lot of time together with everything that has been going on and maybe they know that Calleigh's been living with you, but that's about it."

Ryan, who had been busy trying to backtrack the email, looked up.

"Who ever this is has covered his trail well. It went through so many routers and sites, that I've lost track. If I can have a bit more time, I'm sure that I can figure it out."

"Take the time Mr. Wolfe, just make it fast."

Ryan sent the email to his workstation and left them alone.

"Horatio. You've got to promise that you'll do whatever you have to do to keep Calleigh safe, no matter what."

Looking at Natalia in what the team called, 'The H Look', his sideways glance, Horatio gave her a sad smile.

"Those are almost the same exact words that Calleigh said to me about you, so I'll give the same reply. I'll do the best that I can to keep her safe, to keep both of you safe."

Knowing that Horatio didn't like display of emotions, Natalia brushed her hands against his and walked towards her computer. Before she had taken had taken a couple of steps, her phone rang and after looking at the caller id, Natalia turned and handed it to Horatio.

"Answer it please."

Flipping it open, he stated.

"Horatio Caine, with whom am I speaking with?"

A woman's piercing scream split the air and then a raspy voice cackled.

"Not even the great Horatio Caine will be able to stop me from entertaining Natalia in my game room. You tell her that I'll see her soon."

Another scream followed and then there was silence.

With ice-cold eyes that barely contained the fury that he felt, Horatio handed the phone back to Natalia.

"I don't want you to go anywhere without an escort, either on or off the clock. I'll also arrange that if you have to go out into the field that at least two officers will be on site at all times."

"Horatio, protecting me isn't going to help these women. There was another one, wasn't there? I could hear the scream over here. Maybe you need to check to see of anyone else is missing from the symposium. Maybe he's targeting C.S.I.'s and not women who just happen to look like me."

Closing his eyes' briefly, Horatio opened them with another sad look.

"I was hoping that you wouldn't notice."

Giving him a sad look of her own, Natalia responded.

"You forget who I live with. She notices almost everything and I've tried to learn from her."

"Well, if you're gonna learn, it might as well be from the best."

Natalia agreed and headed towards the break room to find something to eat. Walking in, she almost ran into Alexx.

"Hey girl! How are things going today?"

"Not so good right now. I received an email that had a picture of Calleigh asking if she would scream for him and then got another phone call. I don't know what to do right now. This creep has involved Calleigh and she deserves to know, but she's gonna be upset that I didn't tell her sooner."

Laying a comforting arm about Natalia's shoulders, Alexx suggested.

"Take tonight off, don't discuss anything with her and maybe tomorrow things will be clearer and easier to decide."

Giving Alexx a brief hug, Natalia agreed.

"That sounds like a good idea. I just hope that we catch this guy soon."

Looking in the refrigerator, Natalia didn't see anything that didn't turn her stomach, so she headed back to the lab and immersed herself in her work. When she looked up again, it was just past six o'clock and she swore quietly as she had told Calleigh that she would be home by six.

Quickly she shut down her workstation and gathered up her personal items. While walking out to her car, she called Horatio to let him know that she was leaving and then her wife to let her know that she was on her way home.

"Do you want me to pick something up for dinner?... Really!.. Ok, see you in a few...Love you too babe."

'Hmm, I wonder what she has planned.'

In the fifteen minutes that it took her to drive home, Natalia couldn't even begin to think of what Calleigh had up her sleeve. Pulling into the garage, closing the door and getting out of the car, Natalia walked up to the kitchen door only to find that it was locked. Before she had a chance to knock, it opened a crack and Calleigh's voice drifted out.

"I need you to do something for me and I want you to give me your word that you won't peek."

"Ok, you have my word, I won't peek."

Stepping out and quickly shutting the door behind her, Calleigh rewarded her with a mega watt Duquesne smile.

"I would like for you to please walk straight into the bathroom with your head down, being careful only to see where you're going. When you get there, close the door, take a relaxing soak, and then dress in what you find there. Just let me know when you are ready and I'll come and get you. I am however giving you a time limit of forty-five minutes."

Opening the door, Calleigh motioned for Natalia to go through first and she did, following her instructions to the letter.

After closing the door, Natalia walked over to neatly folded strips of white cloth that was lying next to her white silk robe. Picking up the strips, she found that it was a pair of fine lace French cut panties and a white demi bra.

'Hmmm...This must be a mental image for her.'

Walking over to the tub, Natalia found her favorite bath oil ready to go in. Lifting the stopper on the delicate bottle, she smiled as the hint of jasmine settled in the air. Running warm bath water, she poured in the oil and then piled her hair high up on her head so that it wouldn't get wet. Getting undressed, she settled herself in the tub with a sigh and closed her eyes in contentment. It had been a long time since she had done this and she didn't realize how much she missed it until now.

Reaching for the soap, Natalia was surprised once again when she found a glass of chilled white wine waiting there. Picking it up to take a sip, she rolled the liquid over her tongue, discerning the light taste of lemon, with a hint of apple and oak.

As she bathed, she finished off the glass, so when she got out to dry off, Natalia was pleasantly relaxed. Getting dressed in the strips of lace, brought another type of relaxation to mind and she smiled to herself in anticipation. Brushing out her hair and dabbing on just a hint of perfume, she was just tying the sash to the robe when there was a soft tap on the door.

"Talia.... are you ready?"

"Yes, my love."

The door opened just enough for Calleigh to scoot in, then she closed it behind her.

As soon as Calleigh came into view, Natalia's eyes grew dark and hooded, as she was wearing a black silk robe that ended right above her knees. And Natalia's imagination was filling in what she couldn't see.

"Darlin', I would like for you to do the same thing as before and look down until we get into the dining room."

"Not a problem babe, especially if it works out as well as this did."

Giving her wife a sly smile, Calleigh responded.

"I'm hoping that it will work out better than that. Now come with me, said the spider to the fly. Let's see if you enjoy my web of pleasure."

Taking Natalia by the hand, Calleigh let her lead them into the dining room and when she heard the gasp of surprise, she knew that they were there.

While Natalia had been in the bathroom, Calleigh had arranged for Alexx to come in and set the table for two and had lit small candles throughout the room. She had also arranged for dinner to be delivered from their favorite restaurant. Shrimp cocktails were already waiting at their settings while grilled lobster tails, asparagus and baby carrots were warming on the sideboard.

"Calleigh! This is beautiful, how did you do all of this?"

"I have many skills."

Laughing softly, Natalia placed a gentle kiss atop golden hair.

"Yes you do, my little blonde Xena. Yes you do."

Helping Calleigh to her chair before going around to her own and pouring them some wine.

During dinner, Calleigh purposely kept the conversation light as she told Natalia about her childhood and her favorite companion, a hound dog named Mullet. They had traipsed through the Louisiana woods and marshes chasing rabbits, playing in creeks and climbing trees. Calleigh swore that Mullet could climb trees as long as they were at an angle.

Natalia laughed at imagery that Calleigh's storytelling evoked. She could see in her mind's eye a smaller version of the woman sitting across from her, with her hair in pigtails running through tall grass with a dog with floppy ears following close behind.

"I wish that I would have known you then. I bet we would have had a grand ole' time."

Calleigh chuckled. "I bet we would've too. I got myself in a lot of trouble back then as I didn't know when to keep my mouth shut."

Throwing her head back laughing, Natalia had to wait a moment to catch her breath, which earned her a playful scolding from her wife.

"Hey, I've gotten better at it. Now I just censor myself in public and just let it lose with you and friends."

"Yes babe, keep telling yourself that. I'm sure that one day that might be true."

Scooting her chair back, Calleigh made her way around the table to stand next to the still chuckling caramel hair woman.

"What would you say to a dance in our bedroom?"

Once again Natalia's eyes got dark and hooded, but this time in anticipation.

"I'd say, let me blow out the candles and I'll meet you there."

"Just give me five minutes to get things ready in there."

Natalia agreed and five minutes later, she walked into their bedroom to find soft music playing in the background, the bed with red satin sheets and there was a silver tray on one of the nightstands that had a bucket of ice with a bottle of Dom Perignon and another iced tray with strawberries and whipped cream.

Raising a hand to lips, Natalia gasped at the simple, elegant beauty of it and turned to her wife.

"Calleigh, this is beautiful. I don't know how you did all of this."

Stepping up so that she could take the taller woman in her arms, Calleigh whispered.

"Darlin', when it comes to you, I would pull in every favor owed me and I'd sell my very last gun to give you what your heart desires."

"Babe, I just want you to know that I would never ask you to sell your last gun, but I love the sentiment behind it. Almost as much as I love you. Now didn't you ask me in here for a dance?"

Taking a small step back, Calleigh placed her arms about Natalia's shoulders, who in turn wrapped her arms around Calleigh's waist and they began to move to the music. Laying her head on Natalia's chest, Calleigh closed her eyes in contentment and smiled as Natalia's strong fingers began to massage her lower back.

They swayed in time with the music for quite a number of songs before Calleigh took a step back and whispered. "I think that it's time for dessert, but first, it's time for a special show and tell."

Reaching out, Calleigh slowly untied the sash of Natalia's robe and slid her hands through the opening to caress silky skin. Moving her hands up, she pushed the robe off of Natalia's shoulders to land like a small mound of snow at her feet. Raising her hands a bit higher, she threaded her fingers through equally silky hair to pull Natalia's lips to hers.

Nibbling gently on her bottom lip, Calleigh's hands continued their journey down to silk covered breasts, running her fingers along the edges of the lace and finding the skin so much softer. Molding her hands to each breast, Calleigh leaned down to place a gentle kiss on each one.

Skimming her hands down and around Natalia's back until she came to very toned silk covered ass and barely bit back a moan.

Natalia's voice sounded a little strained and very close to her ear.

"I heard that."

"Just showing my appreciation darlin', to the beauty of your form."

The reply that Natalia was about to make stuck in her throat as Calleigh's hands glided to her front and stopped short of damp silk.

With her voice huskier than normal, Calleigh growled.

"The visual image that I see in my mind, I know for a fact, can't be anywhere close to what you actually look like, but damn.....it's good."

Dropping to her knees, Calleigh placed tender kisses on the apex of Natalia's thighs, making her arch towards her with her hands fisted at her sides.

"Calleigh, you've gotta let me touch you...right now."

Rising to her feet, Calleigh led her quivering wife one to the end of the bed and asked her to sit down.

Taking a few steps away, Calleigh turned her back to Natalia, untied her robe, and slowly lowered it. Golden hair hid most of her back, but Natalia could tell that whatever it was, it was black. As the robe got lower, a band of skin was revealed then black lace came into view.

Slowly Calleigh bent forward as the robe got lower to show high cut boy shorts and Natalia caught herself rising as the robe dropped. Swiftly Calleigh straightened up and turned towards her wife, showing her that she was wearing an almost shear half tank.

Audibly swallowing, Natalia gasped out.

"My God!... You are breathtaking."

Stepping into Natalia's embrace while pushing her down onto the bed, Calleigh whispered.

"You know that I love to leave you breathless darlin'. Let's see if we can both do it tonight."

And that's what they did for the rest of the night on into the early morning when they finally gave in to sleep in a tangle of arms, legs and gold and caramel hair.

Part 13

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