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 17

With the help of the pain relievers, Natalia was able to sleep through the night, but during the early morning, they began to wear off and images began to invade her dreams.

She was back in the room that he had held her in, but this time it was dark save for a dangling light bulb that was swinging to and fro. She was once again strapped down to the chair and could only listen as Jethro's voice taunted her while his face was alternately in the light and in the shadows.

"You gave me so much pleasure during our time together. I do so hope that Ms. Duquesne will bring me just as much. I promise to treat her with as much care as I did you and all the others. By the time that I'm finished with her, she will hate and loathe you just as much as she loves you now."

"Nooo! Stay away from her." Natalia sat up, screaming.

Calleigh ran from the bathroom where she was brushing her teeth and gathered the shaking woman in her arms.

"Talia, what's the matter?"

"He's not dead. He's going to come and hurt you. I heard him yesterday."

Gently taking Natalia face between in her hands, Calleigh softly explained again.

"That wasn't Jethro baby. That was his brother, Jacob. Jethro is in the morgue."

"I need to see his body. I want to see both him and his brother in the same room. Cal, I know in my head that he's dead, but I have to see for myself."

Seeing the fear in her wife's eyes, Calleigh pulled her closed and reassured her.

"I'll fix it somehow, I promise. He can't hurt us any more, baby."

They stayed that way with Calleigh holding her until she calmed down, tracing lazy patterns on Natalia's back.

Natalia slowly pulled away so that she could see Calleigh's face. She was afraid that she would see disappointment in her wife's face, but all she saw was love with a bit of worry mixed in. Leaning forward she gently ran her tongue over Calleigh's lower lip, drawing out a slight sigh.

Holding very still, Calleigh let Natalia explore her lips, knowing that she needed to take control of something, anything.

Natalia moaned softly as Calleigh parted her lips and allowed her access into the warmth of her mouth. Threading her fingers in golden hair, Natalia deepened the kiss and pulled Calleigh towards her as she leaned back.

Bracing her hands on either side of Natalia's shoulders, Calleigh made sure that none of her weight was on her wife's legs. Natalia moved the kiss from her lips to the side of her jaw and down her throat, and Calleigh groaned as she found an extremely sensitive soft and began to suck. Natalia knew how much Calleigh enjoyed being marked and she thoroughly loved the moans that were coming from her wife. Slowly, Natalia brought her hands down from Calleigh's hair, past her shoulders and made their way to the front of Calleigh's shirt, taking care not to interrupt the sucking. Ever so gently, she began to unbutton Calleigh's shirt until she had enough of it open to slip her hands inside and mold them to Calleigh's breasts, making them both moan and Calleigh arch into her caress. Sliding her thumbs over sensitive nipples, Natalia leaned back a bit so that she could see Calleigh's face and repeated the motion. Calleigh tilted her head back a bit, closing her eyes and licked her lips.

"Look at me Calleigh. Let me see your eyes."

Bringing her head down slowly, Calleigh opened her eyes and looked at her. Cool emerald eyes clashed with warm whiskey colored eyes, and then, if possible, the jade eyes got even darker as hands squeezed her breasts. Swallowing hard, Calleigh groaned as one of Natalia's hands began to slide lower and it was so hard for Calleigh to remain exactly where she was, not moving, letting Natalia do exactly what she wanted, what she needed.

A sound from outside of the room broke Natalia's concentration and she looked over Calleigh's shoulder in a slight state of shock in what she was doing. Her eyes widen when she actually realized that someone may have walked in on them and would have gotten an eyeful. Turning back to Calleigh, Natalia softly asked.

"Why were you letting me do that?"

Looking at her wife, Calleigh whispered.

"Because you needed to be in control of something and it was something that I could give you. I knew that you would stop before it went too far and my back is to the door, but…"

Calleigh smiled sweetly as she leaned forward to brush her lips against Natalia's, then gently murmured.

"I needed you to touch me too. I wanted to feel your hands on me."

Raising an eyebrow, Natalia smirked.

"If it had gone on just a bit longer, you would have felt more than my hands."

Swallowing audibly, Calleigh leaned back as she buttoned up her shirt. Never taking her eyes off Natalia's, she back leaned down to capture her lips in a hard, needy kiss that left them both breathless. Finally giving them room to breathe, Calleigh agreed.

"So would you."

"Mmm, something to look forward to."

Getting up off the bed, Calleigh straightened her shirt, and then drew her hands through her hair before asking.

"Do you want some breakfast? I can go down to the cafeteria and get you something if you can't wait for them to bring something up."

"I can wait, but I do need to go to the bathroom."

Coming to stand next to the bed, Calleigh offered her help, but Natalia waved her away.

"I need to start doing this on my own, but please don't leave."

"Not to worry about that happening any time soon, darlin'. You've got me for the long haul."

Swinging her legs so that they dangled off the side of the bed, Natalia took a few minutes to let her legs get used to the new position. The strain on the cuts was very uncomfortable so Natalia closed her eyes and breathed in slowly through her nose and out through her mouth to try to control the pain. She slowly lowered her legs until she was standing, and then took a step. The pain almost made her lose her concentration, but she maintained control and slowly made her way over to the bathroom where she brushed her teeth and took care of other needs.

When she finally made it back to the bed, she was sweating and in pain, but she was reluctant to take any medication because she really did not want to go back to sleep as she might dream.

Calleigh helped her lay back and gently pushed the damp hair away from her forehead before placing a gentle kiss on Natalia's lips.

"Will you be alright if I go talk with the doctor about getting you out today? I'll also contact Alexx so that you can go to the morgue."

"You don't think that I'm being silly asking to see the body, do you?"

Looking down at her wife, Calleigh smiled.

"Darlin', with everything that we've been through, positive proof is not asking too much. Let me go take care of everything and I'll be back as soon as possible."

While Calleigh was gone, Natalia ate the breakfast that was finally brought in and then turned on the television to watch the morning news.

The national news was nothing out of the ordinary with entertainment, stocks and governmental issues, but when the local news Natalia felt like the breath was sucked out of her lungs. A picture of Jethro flashed on the screen along with the story that he was a serial killer that may have killed close to a hundred women and had been responsible for the deaths of the CSI's that were in town for the symposium. The station showed pictures of the three women and then mentioned the investigation that was going on in regards of him working for the MDPD.

Turning off the television, Natalia lay there in silence, trying to slow down the thoughts racing through her mind.

'Why didn't he kill me? Why was I the one who got away?

Placing her hands over her face, Natalia tried to block out the images of the young women that had died because they looked like her and when her fingers touched the wound on her head, she flinched.

'Damn it! How many lives has Jethro destroyed?'

Closing her eyes, Natalia did the one thing that she knew would calm her thoughts: she pictured Calleigh. She pictured the first time that Calleigh had woken up in her bed with the sun glistening off her golden hair, highlighting her eyes like faceted emeralds. She pictured when Calleigh had regained her sight and looked down at her with so much love in her eyes and on her face, that Natalia thought that her heart might burst.

Slowly, Calleigh opened the door and looked in to see Natalia lying with her eyes closed. She quietly went in and stood beside the bed, watching the slow rise and fall of Natalia's breathing. The doctor had okayed her release, and they could leave as soon as Eric arrived to pick them up. She had talked with the doctor in the hallway, received the instructions for Natalia's care, and had arranged for her medication to be ready to pick up downstairs at the pharmacy when they left. She had also arranged for Horatio to pickup them up early evening to go to the morgue.

"Hey babe, you want kick this joint?" Calleigh softly asked.

Natalia's eyes flew open.

"You mean that I can leave?"

"Yes ma'am. As soon as Eric gets here, we're out the door and headed home. We'll meet with Alexx later this evening; Horatio is going to drive us."

Scooting over to the side of the bed and letting her legs dangle over again, Natalia inhaled sharply as the strain was put on the cuts again.

"Can I get a set of scrubs to wear home?"

"Already taken care of, Nurse Blanton is getting some for you now."

They only had to wait a few minutes until the scrubs were brought and they got Natalia dressed. Nurse Blanton was kind enough to call down to the pharmacy and had the medications brought up so they wouldn't have to go out of their way. She also informed them that the doctor had arranged for them to take home a wheel chair so that Natalia could get around.

Calleigh called Eric and found out that he was on the way so they checked out and went downstairs to meet him.

He pulled up to the curb in one of the Hummers, quickly jumping out and coming around to help Natalia in. Opening up the front passenger door, he turned and gently picked her up, then placed her on the seat.

"I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No, not at all, Eric."

He folded up the wheelchair and placed it in the back as Calleigh got into the back seat and they were soon on their way.

The ride was uneventful and they were soon pulling into the drive of Natalia's home. Calleigh quickly got out and unlocked the front door as Eric carried Natalia inside.

"Where do you want to be? In the living room or in the bedroom, babe"

Natalia thought for a moment before answering.

"I think that the bedroom, that way I can help you pick out stuff to pack. And if I want to get up, we do have the wheelchair."

So Eric carried her to the bedroom, and between him and Calleigh, got her comfortable. He went out, brought the rest of their stuff in, and started to leave, but before he walked out, he went back into the bedroom where Calleigh was fussing over her wife.

"Before I go, I just wanted to tell you both that I'm happy that you've got each other and I hope that you will be very happy."

Calleigh went over a placed a gentle kiss on his cheek and gave him a hug.

"Thank you Eric. We're glad that you're ok with us."

He smiled bashfully. "All I have ever wanted for both of you is to be happy and this is much better than you and Jake, Calleigh."

She slapped his arm and gave him another hug before he left.

When Calleigh walked back into the bedroom, Natalia was looking around.

"Where is my other pillow,"

"Oh, sorry. Be right back."

Jogging into the living room, Calleigh picked up the missing pillow off the sofa and went back to her wife.

"I was hugging it while you were gone and left it in there."

Placing the pillow behind Natalia's back, Calleigh then went to get a couple of suitcases so that she could start packing. Placing one of the cases on the bed, she started packing as Natalia suggested items. Natalia asked her to get shorts, tank tops and t-shirts. A couple of bathing suits, skirts and blouses along with some loose fitting slacks were neatly folded and packed in. Then Calleigh packed her own clothes and put the cases next to the front door.

On the way back to the bedroom, Calleigh detoured to the kitchen to get them both something to drink. She walked into the bedroom sipping from a glass of juice. Handing the other glass to Natalia, she went around to the other side of the bed and crawled over to sit cross-legged next to her wife.

"How are you feelin' darlin? Glad to be home?"

Taking a sip of the juice, Natalia took a moment before answering.

"Yes. If we don't see that hospital again in our lifetime, it will be too soon. What time is Horatio coming to pick us up?"

Glancing at her watch, Calleigh replied.

"He said that he would be here around seven, so if you want to take a nap, go right ahead. Do you need your medicine?"

"No, I'm good, but I would like to rest for a while. Will you stay in here with me?"

Reaching behind her to place the glass on the nightstand, Calleigh then carefully laid down next to Natalia, lacing their fingers together.

"There is nowhere else I'd rather be."

Natalia carefully scooted down so that she was lying down and tugged Calleigh even closer.

"Come here baby, I need to touch you."

Calleigh rearranged herself so that she was on her stomach with an arm draped across Natalia's waist.

"I just don't want to hurt you."

"Honey, if you do, I know that it will be an accident, but I need to feel you."

Raising her head to give Natalia a gentle kiss, Calleigh murmured.

"Well then, I'm available for all the feeling you need."

"Oh really!"

"Yeah, didn't you know? You can feel me up almost anytime. I'm easy."

Whiskey colored eyes sparkled at the teasing tone.

"You're easy huh? Well, it had only better be with just me because you are the one thing that I don't share."

"Only you darlin'. Only you."

Smiling, they both closed their eyes and drifted off to sleep.

The room was in shadows when Calleigh opened her eyes again. Carefully, she rolled away from her still sleeping wife and glanced at her watch to find that they had a little over an hour before Horatio showed up. Turning back to Natalia, she stared at her for a few moments, she was loath to wake her as she was sleeping so peacefully. Natalia looked breathtakingly beautiful with her face relaxed and worry free, no signs that she was injured or even in pain. All Calleigh wanted to do was to curl back up next to her and go back to sleep, instead she gently rubbed her arm to wake her.

"Talia...babe. Wake up. Horatio will be here soon and we need to get dressed."

Slowly opening her eyes, Natalia looked at Calleigh for a moment before reaching over and pulling her over for a kiss. The kiss was hard and hungry, making Calleigh moan against Natalia's lips.

Pulling away, Calleigh straddled her wife; taking great care that she didn't put pressure on her legs, then leaned over and placed her hands on either side of Natalia's head. Dark hooded green eyes stared down at Natalia, whose own eyes were dark with passion.

"Do you still need to feel me?"

Instead of answering, Natalia reached down, and pulled open Calleigh's shirt; scattering buttons across the room, then with a flick of her wrist, unhook the front clasp of her bra. Sliding her hands inside the opened clothing, Natalia cupped Calleigh's breasts. Looking up at her wife, Natalia used one hand to tug on her pants.

"Take 'em off." Calleigh moved over, took off the opened clothing, her pants and the piece of black silk underneath, and then returned to the same position.

"Move up higher baby.... Up this way... A bit more... Perfect."

She drew one breast between her lips, while simultaneously rolling the other nipple with one hand and sliding the other into warm slick wetness, making Calleigh arch against her. Both women moaned as Calleigh began to rock against Natalia's fingers, guiding them in deeper and deeper with each thrust.

Natalia continued to tease the breast with her fingers, but instead of using her lips, she watched Calleigh's face. The expressions that flitted across were wondrous to watch and with each thrust, Natalia could tell that she was getting closer and closer to the edge.

"I want to taste you now."

The words were barely out of Natalia's mouth before Calleigh repositioned herself above her lips and uttering a cry as her clit was being suckled. Keeping in time with her own heart rate, Natalia licked and thrust to the ever-increasing beat, getting her wife closer and closer to the edge. Then she added the fourth finger and began to hum. That was all it took as Calleigh's muscles began to spasm, and a moan that seemed to come from the bottom of her soul erupted. A moan that actually sent Natalia over the edge with the intensity that she felt. Twisting her tongue across the throbbing clit brought another wave of spasms and a higher pitch keen from her wife who was leaning against the headboard, trying to keep her balance.

A final wave crested and Calleigh collapsed over on her side next to Natalia. Without taking a moment to catch her breath, she slowly rose up to kiss Natalia, moaning, as she tasted herself on her wife's lips and tongue.

"Mmm, that was...I can't even put it into words...Just, thank you darlin'"

Nuzzling Calleigh's damp neck, Natalia murmured.

"Thank you babe, I needed you so badly that it hurt. I can't explain it."

Calleigh looked over and smiled at the love of her life.

"You don't have to explain it, I understand. It's as if you need to feel out of control to actually feel in control. It's like your body and emotions are conflicting with each other and you have to reset everything to feel right."

"Yes, that's it, but it's never happened before. It's only since we've gotten together."

Giving Natalia another long kiss, Calleigh had an explanation.

"Well, I think that it's because we have found our other half, the person that we're supposed to be with. And sometimes we need to feel each other in every way possible to each feel complete."

Natalia was quiet for a moment before she replied.

"I like the sound of that. And I do so love feeling you in every way possible."

"Right back at ya, babe."

Turning her head to look at the clock, Calleigh swore.

"Shit, darlin', Horatio is going to be here in fifteen minutes and we need to get dressed. Let's wash up real quick, and then I'll help you get dressed."

Calleigh helped Natalia to get up off the bed, but instead of having her go into the bathroom, brought out a warm cloth, then cleaned and dried her off. They decided on loose pants and a silk blouse for her, and then Natalia sat back down on the bed while Calleigh got ready.

They were making their way to the living room when the doorbell rang. Calleigh went over to the door, let Horatio in, and went back to Natalia to ask her a question.

"Do you want to take a pill before we go or wait until later?"

Natalia thought for a moment before she replied.

"How about if I take half of one now. I don't want to be too groggy when I meet Jethro's brother, but I don't want to be in a lot of pain either."

Calleigh got her medicine and they were soon on their way.

Dusk had fallen by the time that they arrived and Calleigh asked Horatio to pull up to the back entrance, as it would be easier for them with the wheelchair. They made their way into the morgue without running into anyone and were soon pushing open the swinging doors.

Alexx was walking out of her office when they came in and she smiled as she caught sight of them.

"Well, look who's here? Girl, you're looking good."

Natalia smiled nervously and quietly replied.

"Thanks, I'm feelin ok right now. Is Jethro's brother here yet?"

"No, not yet. Are you sure that you want to see the body?"

Nodding her head, Natalia stood up and slowly made her way over to the drawers with Calleigh standing behind her and Horatio at the entrance waiting for Jethro's brother.

Alexx looked at Natalia once more, then gave Calleigh an almost imperceptible nod before she opened the door and pulled out the drawer. Grasping the white linen she slowly drew it up to reveal Jethro's body and even though Natalia thought that she was prepared for the sight, she still gasped. Calleigh placed a comforting hand on her back and took a step closer.

Natalia looked down at the remains of the man who had caused so much pain to so many people and as much as she wanted to feel remorse, all she felt was anger. There were three bullet wounds in his chest along with Alexx's autopsy cuts and one smaller knife wound on his left side. She stared at him a long time before she whispered.

"He would have never stopped if they hadn't shot him. He would have killed me and gone after Calleigh."

Before Calleigh could stop her, Alexx corrected her.

"That's not true, baby girl. When you stabbed him, it was near his arterial artery and when he pulled out the scalpel, he nicked it. He would have bled to death in a couple of hours. So in a sense, he killed himself."

Natalia shook her head and closed her eyes, remembering the rage that she had felt as he was describing what he was going to do to her wife. Taking a shuddering breath, she squared her shoulders and looked back down at the body.

"No, I would have killed him before the night was out or died trying because there was no way that I was going to let him near Calleigh. And I know that I should feel bad about that, but I don't."

"And you shouldn't." Came from behind her.

She turned around and almost passed out by the sight of Jethro's twin standing in front of her. He, in turn, looked quite surprised when he saw her face.

Both Calleigh and Horatio realized at the same time that they had neglected to tell her that Jethro had a twin.

"Miss Boa Vista, I'm Jacob Thomas and I would like to offer my apologies for what my brother put you through. I realize in saying that it doesn't even come close to covering it, but at seeing you, I can almost understand why he did it."

"You can understand why your brother tortured and abused not only Natalia, but also other women. Would you care to explain that?" Demanded Calleigh.

Reaching in to his inner jacket pocket, Jacob withdrew a photograph and handed it to Natalia.

"This is a picture of Jethro, his wife Anna and their son, about four months before their accident."

Natalia looked at the picture and was shocked to see that the woman could be her twin as the only difference was that hair color.

"I believe that since they were arguing at the time of the accident and it was never resolved, Jethro felt that he had to punish someone for Anna's supposed infidelity and it ended being all the women and you. That's the only thing that I can think of."

Natalia silently handed him back the picture before she turned back to look at the body on the drawer. She stared at it for a long while before she turned back to Jacob.

"I am sorry for your loss, no one should lose a family member in that way, but I am honestly not sorry that he is dead. And I also hope that you understand if I hope that we never meet again."

Turning to Alexx, Natalia asked.

"Is it alright if I use your office for a bit?"

"Sure, go right ahead."

Natalia slowly began to make her way over to the office with Calleigh close behind, bypassing the use of the wheelchair. Opening the door, she made her way inside to lean against a desk and released the breath that she was holding.

Crossing over to her wife, Calleigh stood next to her, taking her hand within her grasp. They stood there in silence until Natalia finally asked.

"I wasn't rude, was I?"

"No darlin', you weren't. You were honest, and I think that he understood exactly where you were coming from. Now, how are you feeling? Are you in pain? Is there anything that I can get you?"

Shaking her head, Natalia declined. Instead, she leaned over and placed her head on Calleigh's shoulder with a heavy sigh. Calleigh placed her head against hers and they stayed that way for a bit.

Kissing the top of the caramel colored head, Calleigh asked.

"Will you be ok in here for a minute or two alone? I need to go talk with Horatio about tomorrow."

Natalia assured her that she would be fine, so Calleigh took off after a quick kiss, but when she walked out of the office, neither Horatio nor Alexx was in sight.

She was about to go look for them when she changed her mind and instead went to open the drawer that held Jethro's body, pulled it out and uncovered his face.

She stared at him a long time before she quietly said, "I'm glad that you're dead, you son of a bitch. I'm just sorry I wasn't the one who killed you. It would have been a thousand times worse than what you put my wife through and I would have enjoyed it twice just as much. No one hurts Natalia and gets away scot free, no one."

She stood there with her hands clenching and unclenching, as her thoughts were whirling through her mind. The longer that she stood there, the madder she got and started to shake.

"The physical pain that you put my wife through was bad enough, but what you did to her mind can never be forgiven. I just hope that there is a special place in hell for people like you and you get everything that you deserve and then some."

Closing her eyes, trying to get her breathing back to normal, Calleigh finally covered him back up, pushed in the drawer and closed the door, leaning against it a while before she turned back around. She found Horatio watching her from the doorway and he inclined his head in acknowledgement.

Walking over to him, she placed a hand on his arm and asked.

"What time does the plane leave in the morning?"

"The graveside service starts at eleven so the plane will leave at nine. The flight isn't that long and there will be a car waiting at the airport with a driver, so you won't have to try to find the location. As soon as the service is over, you'll be driven back to the airport and flown down to the Keys where another car will be waiting to drive you to the cabin."

Squeezing his arm, Calleigh looked up at her most trusted friend with gratitude.

"I don't know what we would have done without you. You have been here for us since the beginning and we are very grateful."

Ducking his head, Horatio gave his trademark smile and simply stated.

"It's what family does, they stand by each other. Now let's get your wife home."

Calleigh grabbed the wheelchair and headed towards Alexx's office to get Natalia, only to find her coming out of the door towards her.

"You ready to go home, darlin'?"

Quietly Natalia just walked over and slowly sat down in the chair. Calleigh came around and put down the footrests, but stay knelt down beside her.

"Would you like to go to get something to eat, or just go home and fix a sandwich or something?"

Reaching over, Natalia let her fingers run through Calleigh's hair, enjoying the softness and texture. She for some reason couldn't meet Calleigh's eyes, instead just concentrated on the golden hair.

Finally, she was able to whisper. "Would you mind terribly if we went home and just had something delivered? I really don't feel like being around people right now."

"Being alone with you is my favorite place to be."

Alexx walked up and placed her hand on Natalia's shoulder.

"I know that today was hard for you, but I just want to let you know that I understand why you did this and I hope that now; things will be easier for you. You call me if you need anything at all and I'll be right there."

"Thank you again Alexx. I don't know what we would do without you."

Leaning down to give Natalia a quick hug, Alexx whispered.

"You'll never have to find out."

Calleigh gave the dark woman a hug and they then made their way back out to the Hummer, and then headed back home.

Horatio got Natalia inside and comfortable on the sofa before he turned to leave. Seeing the suitcases next to the door, he told Calleigh that he would go ahead and take them right then so they wouldn't have to worry about them in the morning. Wishing the two young women good evening, he bid them good night.

Closing the door, Calleigh turned to look at her wife who was resting her head on the arm of the sofa while looking outside into the back yard. Natalia had been silent on the ride back, just looking out the window at the scenery as it zoomed by and that worried Calleigh. Quietly walking over, she placed a gentle kiss on the tip of Natalia's nose.

"I'm gonna order Chinese, if that's all right with you. Is there anything special that you would like?"

Natalia shook her head no and answered.

"Whatever you get is fine for me. I probably won't eat too much."

"Are you in pain darlin'? I'll go get your medicine."

Reaching up to grab Calleigh's hand, Natalia pulled her down so that she was kneeling next to her. Once again, she had a hard time meeting her eyes, but this time she stared at their joined hands.

"No, I'm not in any pain. I'm a little uncomfortable, but nothing bad. I'm just not very hungry, but I will eat a little something. How about getting those little dumplings that I like with the sweet and sour sauce?"

"Will do. Just give me a few minutes and I'll be right back. Did you want to change clothes? I'll bring them in here so you won't have to move around too much later."

Natalia agreed and while Calleigh was in the bedroom changing and ordering dinner, she returned to staring out into the dark. She couldn't believe the emotions that she had felt when she looked down at Jethro's body; fear and hate, but strangely enough, no pity. She didn't feel sorry in the least that that man was dead and that bothered her. She knew that she wasn't a hard-hearted woman, but other than the first two emotions, there was nothing else. Closing her eyes, she laid an arm over her face, but winced as it hit the gash on her forehead. Swearing quietly, she tried to sit up a bit to make herself more comfortable, but gave up when the movement tugged on her legs. Crossing her arms on her chest, she just stared outside until Calleigh returned.

Bringing a pair of shorts and a tank top, Calleigh helped Natalia to stand and then removed her pants and slid on the shorts for her, then made sure that she didn't lose her balance as she got out of her blouse and bra, then put on the tank. After helping her back down onto the sofa, Calleigh went into the kitchen to get them some iced tea, utensils and napkins so that they could start eating as soon as the food got there.

After putting on some easy jazz, Calleigh sat at the end of the sofa near Natalia's feet, picked up some lotion that she had brought out and started to massage her feet. At the first touch, Natalia groaned and leaned her head back in pure bliss.

"I'll give you two hours to stop that."

"Not a problem, babe. I'm all yours for the rest of your life."

Keeping her eyes closed, Natalia quipped.

"Sold to the only bidder, me."

Laughing quietly, Calleigh just kept massaging until she heard the doorbell, then she quickly got up and paid for the food. By the time that she got back, Natalia was softly snoring so Calleigh placed the food on the kitchen counter, fixed herself a small plate and ate. After cleaning up, she sat on the floor, leaning against the sofa and listen to the music for while before she too drifted off to sleep.

The room was dark save for the light that was coming in through the sliding doors when Natalia awoke. Raising her head, she looked around, but didn't see Calleigh anywhere. Slowly she sat up and started to swing her legs to the floor when she saw Calleigh asleep next to the sofa. Carefully maneuvering her body, Natalia scooted down until she could put her feet on the floor. Then very slowly, she stood up, stretched her back and then looked down at her sleeping wife.

She looked so peaceful and so very young as she slept. Natalia had watched her through the window in Alexx's office when she had gone over to Jethro's body and wonder what Calleigh had said. She knew that Calleigh still felt responsible for what had happened because she couldn't protect her. Natalia didn't blame her at all, in fact, she was glad that Calleigh hadn't been there that day because she believed that Jethro would have either tortured or killed her if she had been.

Quietly, she made her way to the bathroom and took care of her needs, and then she headed back out to the kitchen. On her way however, she stubbed her toe, falling to her knees with a cry.


Calleigh was by her side within seconds, peering closely. "What happened? Why didn't you wake me?"

Trying to get her pain under control, Natalia took a few minutes before she answered. "I needed to go to the bathroom and I didn't want to disturb you. Neither one of us has been sleeping well."

"Darlin', I can sleep anytime. If you need me... wake me, call me, whatever. Can you get up?"

With Calleigh's help, Natalia stood up and they made their way to their bed. After making sure that she was comfortable, Calleigh went to get Natalia's medicine and to warm up her dinner, bringing everything back into the bedroom on a tray.

When she walked in the room, Calleigh saw that Natalia was wiping away some tears. Quickly she put down the tray and sat beside her wife.

"Honey! What's wrong? Are you in pain?"

Shaking her head, Natalia sniffed before she answered. "I'm not handling this as well as you did and it frustrates the hell out of me."

"Handling what?"

Taking a deep breath, Natalia took Calleigh's hand and concentrated on the differences in the skin tones as she talked. "Your waiting on me. I feel helpless and useless and it's driving me up the wall. I know that I'm neither one, but for some reason, I just feel that way."

Gently reaching out with her free hand, Calleigh put it under Natalia's chin, raising it until she could look into her eyes. "Talia, with everything that we've been through the past couple of months, what you're feeling and what I felt, it's entirely normal."

Natalia looked puzzled.

"What do you mean, what you felt? You never let on that you felt that way."

Calleigh shook her head as she tried to explain.

"I can't or I should say, I couldn't. For so long, I've had to hide my emotions, my fears… keep everything locked away, hidden because I've wanted to be good at my job. I couldn't let anything get in the way of being 'Bullet Girl'. So I learn to compartmentalize everything. Then here you come and everything changes, just a little at first, but slowly I saw cracks forming in my walls. I couldn't help but notice how I felt when I was around you, how I looked forward to our paths crossing during the day. After that, I go and get myself shot, ending up here and in your bed, where I finally feel like I belong. However, I still have to hide my feelings, even though I want to shout it from the rooftops that I've fallen in love. And it's hard, even with you, to show you my emotions, because somewhere down deep, I'm scared that if I show them that they will scare you away."

Letting go of Calleigh's hand, Natalia carefully cupped her face and looked her in the eyes. She gazed into the green depths for so long without saying anything that Calleigh began to feel that she was looking into her soul.

Quietly Natalia murmured. "There is nothing that you can tell me that will scare me away. I know that we both have times in our pasts where we have done something that we may not be so proud of, but that's just it, in our pasts. The anger, fear, disgust, sadness, frustration, relief, happiness – all of that can be controlled, be put away, but that will just leave us as a shell of a person. And you're not a shell; you're a red blooded, Southern woman who loves life and who happens to be in love with me. So talk to me, tell me your fears when you have them. I'll try and do the same, but like you, I have my own fears."

Leaning forward, Calleigh placed a gentle kiss on Natalia's lips. "You are so wise and so very good for me. I know for a fact that I wasn't truly living until you came into my life and even with everything that has happened, I wouldn't change where I am right this minute. This is where I am supposed to be and I'm with the person that I'm supposed to be with. So there. Now would you like to eat your very late dinner and get back to sleep because tomorrow is going to be a very long day."

"Can I have the other half of the pill that I took earlier? I don't want to start depending on the medicine any more than I have to."

Natalia took the medicine, then ate her late dinner as Calleigh decided to lay out the clothes that they would be wearing to the funeral. By the time she finished, Natalia was ready to go back to sleep, so she quickly took the dishes back to the kitchen and cleaned up. When she got back to the bedroom, Natalia had already drifted off to sleep so Calleigh crawled in next to her and held onto her forearm. She stared at her sleeping wife until her own eyes closed in slumber.

Part 18

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