It's funny how quickly something can become an obsession. Scary, too. I can see how someone could progress from being an admirer to a stalker. Hypothetically speaking, of course. I am not stalking Calleigh.
Ah, Calleigh. If I was Shakespeare and this was the sixteenth century, I'd be writing sonnets about her. But it's the twenty-first century and I'm not a poet, yet Calleigh is still the most exquisite creature I've ever seen.
I remember when we met. She was so full of energy that she was practically bouncing off the walls. I learned very quickly that too much sugar and too little sleep have that effect on her. (She's adorable when she's like that – but I digress.) I invited her to an interview up here and was more surprised than anyone when she actually knocked on my door.
She's blossomed in these three years. I know, I know. I sound like a lovestruck teenager, but it's the truth. I think getting away from her family helped. She doesn't like to talk about her past but from what little she has said, I know she was unhappy. It kills me to think of what things must have been like for her. It's not my place to feel any of that, but I can't help it. There's just this weird connection between us – I don't really expect anyone to understand.
Yes, I am aware that is something a stalker would say but I am really not stalking Calleigh.
No, I am not in denial.
This is all Speed's fault. If he hadn't told me about Calleigh's tattoo, I wouldn't be obsessing about it. About her.
Okay, so I may have obsessed about her just a little before I found out about the tattoo. It means absolutely nothing that I know her favorite flower is a tulip, or that she likes pink, or that she likes her coffee with sugar. We're friends. Friends know these things.
Besides, Speed knew about the tattoo and I didn't.
No, I am not accusing him of stalking her. They're just friends.
They'd better just be friends.
Back to the tattoo. You can't blame me for being curious about it. Do I think tattoos are sexy? Not on a big, leather-clad biker but on Calleigh . . .
I'm sorry. I really shouldn't use the words 'Calleigh' and 'leather-clad' in the same sentence. Focus, Caine!
I can't ask her about the tattoo without explaining how I know about it. I have to find another way. I'm fairly certain, as an investigator, I won't have a problem.
My chance comes a couple of weeks later. It's an unusually hot day and I assign Calleigh to work with me (one of the perks of being the boss!). Her hair is tied up – I love her hair – and she has this cute tank top on. The straps are pretty narrow and when I glance at her, I notice something peeking out from the strap on her left shoulder.
I can't resist. We're alone in the quarry; Alexx and the body haulers have long since headed back to the lab. I reach out, touching her shoulder blade with my forefinger.
"You've got something on your back."
She glances at me over her shoulder, dropping her eyes to where my hand is, then smiles. "Really."
"Mm-hmm." What is it about this woman that turns me into a stuttering idiot? I would have asked her out ages ago if I could just form a coherent sentence.
Or maybe not. I'm not sure I could handle hearing her say no.
"Well, what is it?" Her eyes hold mine, daring me to look.
So I do.
Do you know she has the softest skin? It's smooth and flawless and creamy white . . .
Right, the tattoo. It's a tiny butterfly. Beautiful and feminine, it's completely Calleigh. As I stand here committing it to memory, I realize Calleigh is like a butterfly. She's overcome an ugly past, filled with pain, and turned into a beautiful, strong woman. I don't deserve her.
I have to let her go. I press my lips to the butterfly, then put the strap back in place.
"We'd better finish up here." I turn away.
"Horatio?" She looks at me with confusion.
"Alexx is expecting us back."
Something hits me square in my back. I turn around. Calleigh's gloves are wadded into a ball, lying in the dust. When I look up and see the tears in her eyes, I feel like I've been kicked in the gut. I put those tears there.
"Is it always going to be like this?"
She throws her hands up in the air. "We flirt, we tease, but it never goes anywhere. I'm tired of being treated like I'm a Barbie doll! All my life, guys have seen me as someone to have fun with but heaven forbid I should want anything serious—"
I shake my head. "Cal, that's not true. I've never thought of you like that."
"So what is this then?"
I hug her, trying to calm her down. So much for trying to hide how I felt. "I love you. I'm in love with you."
"So why do you keep holding back?"
"Because I don't know how you feel."
She looks up at me, her eyes wide. "How could I not be in love with you?"
I'm not going to lie; that catches me by surprise. It takes all of three seconds for my brain to process her words before I kiss her.
Three hours later, Calleigh Duquesne is in my bed. I am officially the luckiest man in the world.
"We should get back to work," she says.
"Yeah." I outline the butterfly with my fingertips, then repeat the action with my lips. "We really should."
Calleigh laughs and slips out of my embrace. "Come on."
Alexx gives a knowing smile when we finally arrive back at CSI. She knew something was up when we dropped off the evidence for processing, then promptly disappeared again.
Speed and Eric are in the break room, arguing over which blend of coffee is better. "Hey, H," Eric says. "Where you been all afternoon?"
I think of Calleigh and smile. "Catching butterflies."
Summary: "I am not stalking Calleigh." Horatio-centric. HC, of course.