The Hand of Grace

Author: Susan217

Rating: T

Pairing: H/C (eventually)

Category: Alternate Reality, Romance, Other

Warning: Character death is involved in the switching of realities. If you can't handle that, this is not the story for you.

A/N: This may not be everyone's cup of tea and goodness knows when I'll get it done. This is a sci-fi-ish sort of story. It's a hard core AU (as in everything is topsy turvey).

Summary: Calleigh switches places with an alternate reality Calleigh.

Sweat was stinging her eyes, and for the eightieth time that night she cursed Miami and its damned heat. She swiped at the sweat irritably—which left a sticky trail of blood across her forehead—leaned back against the brick wall behind her, and reloaded her 9 millimeter.

"You OK?" Horatio asked.

His own hair was plastered to his forehead. He wasn't looking at her, but stealing glances around the corner. His jacket was long gone as one of the sleeves was being used as a tourniquet.

"Better than you," she answered irritably.

She was running out of bullets, and Horatio had just loaded his last clip. He melded to the wall beside her and glanced down at his bleeding leg. His face was pale and she set down her gun to tighten the tourniquet. He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes.

"I think I can make it to the Hummer," she said, peaking around the corner. There was a first aid kit inside and more bullets. She couldn't hear sirens and knew that most of their back up was at least 10 minutes away. She pressed her palm to his forehead and the clamminess made her swallow.

His arm shot out, pulling her back to the wall. "No way. We wait for back up."

The click of a hammer being pulled back whirled her around. Their suspect, Jon Williams, stood with a gun pointed at Horatio's head. Her mind went blank with confusion. Where had he come from? Why didn't they hear him? Instinct drove her into action. Adrenaline roared through her veins; hear heart slamming against her chest, blood roaring in her ears. With a grunt, she tackled him and they rolled to the ground. A crack rang out and pain sliced through her abdomen. She didn't hear the second shot, only saw Horatio's face after he'd dropped the suspect to the ground. Horatio fell to his knees, pulling and tugging her now unresponsive body closer onto his lap, and closer to the house.

"Oh, God. Calleigh…."

She wanted to reach out a hand, touch his face, but her arms were useless at her side.

"It'll be OK, Horatio. Just give me a minute," she said, coughing blood out of her throat and mouth. She tried to smile at him, but the numbness was pulling her farther away from him.

He choked back a sob and cradled her head in his hands. "It's going to be fine," he said, and smiled down at her, tears welling out of his eyes. He had such a beautiful smile.

There were sirens in the distance—

Numb. Tired.

Her throat burned and she clawed at her chest, tugging her shirt away from it. Her chest was tight, as if a fist were reaching inside and holding her lungs shut. Why was it so hard to breathe? Oh, Jesus, where did the numbness go?

She tried to sit up, but hands were holding her down. She pushed ineffectually back at them, but they held fast.

"Try to relax, honey. I've got you."

Something plastic was placed against her face. Air. It was air. She breathed deeply and tried to open her eyes. They were gritty, sore, and tired. She rubbed at them with her hand until her vision cleared.

Alex smiled down at her with tears in her eyes. "Welcome back," she said, stroking Calleigh's hair.

EMTs rushed into the room. One pushed Alex aside. "How much did she inhale?"

"I don't know. She was unconscious when I got here. The explosion was so sudden."

The EMT nodded and looked at Cal. He had soft brown eyes and smiled kindly. "How's your throat?"

She pushed aside her mask. "Hurts," she said, her voice croaking out the word.

"You're lucky it was just smoke," he answered, replacing her mask.

Her mind was clearing. As the EMT and Alex fussed over her, she looked around the room. Same slick black walls, same modern interior. Her workbench was charred beyond recognition. She didn't remember an explosion, but there was the evidence.

The shooting-it must have been a dream.

A hand touched her back gently. She turned to find Speed looking down at her worriedly.

Her heart pounded in her chest. This was a dream. This was a dream.

"Cal?" he asked.

Tears dripped from her face and she pushed her mask aside. "Speed," she said, touching his face. She traced his chin with her palm, mindful of his ever-present five o'clock shadow. He was in his customary T-shirt and jeans, a pair of headphones hanging around his neck.

"What's wrong with her?" he asked, looking in panic at Alex.

Calleigh pulled him to her, wrapping her arms around his neck. He fell into her and patted her back awkwardly. Someone detangled her from him and pulled her to a standing position. Her eyes never left Speed's face.

Alex's soothing hands wiped at her tears. "Did you think he'd been hurt?"

Calleigh blinked in confusion her eyes flicking from Speed to Alex. "Yes."

Speed's eyes were beginning to resemble the wayward stare of a deer in headlights. "Well, it's good to know my boss cares."

Cal's heart began to speed up again and she spat out an explanation. "He died. Earlier this year. When he and Horatio went to the jewelry store."

Concern colored Alex's expression and she looked back at the EMT worriedly. He moved forward, reaching up to gently feel along Cal's hairline. She tried to bat him away, but Alex stilled her with a soft squeeze on her arm.

"She may have hit her head when she fell. You must have dreamed some crazy dreams when you were out, sweetie." She pushed Calleigh into the nearest chair.

"I'm not finding anything…" the EMT said, flashing a pin light in her eyes.

Panic threatened to send her to the floor. Her heart beat wildly in her chest, but a false calm took over her voice and she was speaking. "You're right. It must have been a dream…"

Where the hell was she? God, she was going to throw up. Her eyes flew around the room trying to find something out of order. Equipment, bench, Alex.

"Alex, could you get me a glass of water?" she asked. Water. Clean. Normal. Would it be red instead of clear?

Alex nodded and the EMT followed her into the hall with a worried look over his shoulder. Speed still watched her uneasily.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you," he said, scuffling his feet against the floor.

She was dying to run screaming from the room, but her body held her captive. She wrapped her arms around her chest, praying that she would wake up and laugh at the silliness of this dream.

He chuckled and it sounded as strained as she felt. "Must have been some dream."

She forced a quick smile and looked out the window. She was glad to find that the sky was still blue.

Speed cleared his throat and frowned. "Me and Horatio?" He looked confused for a moment before recognition hit him. His grin reappeared. "Oh, wait! You mean that red haired guy. Thanks, Cal, but the night shift people give me the creeps. And that guy? King of the weird."

Cal's eyes slowly moved back to him. She knew she shouldn't ask, but she couldn't quiet her tongue. "Who's our Lieutenant?"

He stopped shuffling his feet and the smile slipped from his face. "You."