Eric stretched his arms and legs as he got off the couch, having fallen asleep there with Calleigh in his arms. When Calleigh had fallen asleep, Eric hadn't wanted to move her and wake her. She had cried herself to sleep after Horatio left, and all Eric could think to do at the time was to hold her and try to comfort her. He hadn't liked Hagen, but he knew that Calleigh had, and he hadn't wanted to say anything to upset her, so, in the end, he had kept quiet and just rubbed her back gently. He hadn't even realised Calleigh had fallen asleep until she had shifted in his arms and her head had lolled to the side of his chest. Then again, Eric hadn't realised that Calleigh had gotten up, either, and it was only the smell of fresh coffee that kept him from panicking.
"Calleigh?" Eric asked as he walked into the kitchen and found his friend sitting at the dining table. "You okay?"
"I guess I am," said Calleigh after a few minutes. "Thank you for staying last night."
"I'm always here for you, Cal. Have you eaten yet?"
Calleigh shook her head. "I'm really not that hungry."
"You have to eat something. I'll make you breakfast."
"Horatio's here," said Calleigh suddenly, changing the subject.
"Do you want me to go?"
"I'll let him in, but thanks." Calleigh stood, her coffee mug in her hands. "I wouldn't mind some breakfast, actually," she added as she walked out of the kitchen.
Eric nodded and smiled. He made quick work of getting some ingredients together, and by the time Calleigh had returned with Horatio, he was cooking the first batch of pancakes.
Calleigh opened the door and stepped aside, letting her boss into the house. She felt silly for the way she had acted the night before and couldn't bring herself to look at Horatio's face.
"Good morning," said Horatio. "Did you sleep?"
"Yes," mumbled Calleigh. She forced herself to look up from the floor. "I'm really sorry..."
"You have nothing to be sorry for, Calleigh. As long as you're okay, that's all that matters."
"I didn't even think about what I was doing," Calleigh admitted as she led Horatio into the kitchen.
"You're grieving, you were in shock. It's normal." Horatio gave Calleigh a smile. "It's done, and in the past. Let's move forward, okay?"
"Thank you, Horatio." Calleigh gave him a small smile and retook her seat at the table.
The kitchen stayed silent for a couple of minutes, then Eric placed a plate of pancakes down on the table. Not even a minute later, he had placed a plate in front of Calleigh, already loaded with a small stack of sweet smelling pancakes.
"Eric...?" Calleigh questioned.
"Yeah, Cal?" asked Eric.
"Did you forget that you were cooking for adults?"
"I think you did."
"I know who I cooked for. Why do you ask?" Eric asked, a slight grin on his face.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm sure smiley face pancakes are for young children." Calleigh looked up. "These are smiley face pancakes."
"I know that. I figured you could use some extra cheering up," laughed Eric as he sat down with his own breakfast.
Calleigh felt a smile tugging at her lips. "Thank you," she said, choosing not to look at her friend for fear of breaking into a laughing fit.
The three of them ate breakfast in silence, then Calleigh and Horatio headed into the living room while Eric cleaned up his mess. Calleigh took a seat on the couch again, in the same spot as the previous night, and indicated for Horatio to sit down, too.
"H..." Calleigh began. "I can't go back right now. You understand that, don't you?"
"I do. I didn't expect you to come back to work right away," answered Horatio.
"Even when I come back, I can't go back into that lab."
"You don't have to. I'll find you a place to work."
Calleigh nodded her acceptance. "I need a break. I don't know how long that will be for."
"Take as much time as you need, sweetheart. Don't be in a hurry to come back."
"You aren't upset?"
"Of course not. You went through a traumatic event, now you need to heal from it. Healing takes time, Calleigh." Horatio smiled. "I know you'll be back eventually. There's no point in forcing you to come back before you're ready. I don't want to lose you forever."
"Thank you, Horatio. I mean that, thank you."
"Just because you aren't working, it doesn't mean you can't come and visit sometime, alright? Stay in touch."
"I will... Eric won't let me not stay in touch with the team."
Horatio smiled again and changed the subject. "I see that Eric stayed over last night."
"Did the two of you sleep on the couch?"
"I fell asleep on Eric. I guess we both were too tired to move."
"I think it's sweet, Calleigh. Really sweet." Horatio stood up. "I should get going. Eric can stay here with you, if you like."
"What about work, H?" asked Eric as he entered the room.
"We're off rotation for a few days. Take some time and relax. I'm sure Calleigh would like the company."
"Eric can stay," said Calleigh softly, looking at Eric meaningfully. She glanced back at the front door, where Horatio was standing with his keys in his hand. "Bye, Horatio. Thank you for stopping by."
Three Months Later
Calleigh let out a breath of relief as she arrived at the crime scene. Her nerves were through the roof at this point, but she still was excited. She hadn't been at work in three months, and she was more than happy to finally be back. In fact, the only difference to the last time she had been at work was her lab- she had transferred into the Trace department with the provision that she wouldn't have to go into Firearms at any point in time. Nobody wanted to argue with her, so here she was, ready for her first shift back.
Calleigh smiled to herself as she walked under the crime scene tape and joined her team in front of Horatio. She listened as he gave them the option of backing out of the case, and when nobody spoke, she said,
"We're in if you are."
A knowing smile crossed Horatio's face. "Well, let's get started then." He turned around, then looked back. "By the way, welcome back."