Under Fire
Rosalinda StMatthew


He walked up to the front door of Calleigh's apartment and hesitated for the billionth time. He knew how much she hated to be coddled, how she hated looking weak, especially in front of authority. But he also knew how lonely and frightening her position could be. He gathered his resolve and rang the doorbell.

He could hear a yelp, then the crashing of pots and pans through the door. There was some swearing, more rustling, some stomping, even more swearing, then silence. "Calleigh?" He knocked on the door, concerned for her safety.

The deadbolt clicked and the door yanked open while he was still knocking. There stood the diminutive blond, still in her black pantsuit, her usually neat hair a frizzy mess. "Hey! Um, I'm not really good for company right now..."

Horatio reached out and picked a shred of what looked like paper towel out of Calleigh's hair. "Mm. I'm not here for a recreational visit. May I?" He pointed towards the living room.

Calleigh frowned a bit, but she stepped aside to let him in. "I'm fine, Horatio, I just need time to let this wear off. Why in the hell do people kill each other to feel like this? This is supposed to be fun? I can't even hold my hands still! And I don't care what anyone says, that's something you have to be able to do when you want to - oh shit!"

Horatio had smelled the burn long before Calleigh's sudden outburst. He was already turning off the gas and grabbing a dishtowel for a makeshift potholder when the smoke alarm started to shriek. He could hear Calleigh's surprised squeak, followed by the rustling of paper. He turned to see her waving a magazine furiously over her head, trying to dissipate the cloud of greasy smoke by the smoke detector.

A sudden burst of heat near his hand jerked his attention back to the iron skillet in his hands. The contents had burst into flame and had begun to singe the fringe of the dishtowel he'd wrapped around the handle. He ignored Calleigh's panicked cries behind him and reached for the cabinet furthest from the stove. "Bingo." He grabbed the metal canister with the word 'flour' embossed on the side and tucked it under his arm, trying to pry it open with one hand, while keeping the flaming skillet away from the various decorative knicknacks in the kitchen. The lid came open with a pop, spraying a fine layer of white all over his gray suit. He ignored the mess and dumped the flour into the pan, smothering the eratic flames. Exahausted, he plopped the skillet on the cool burner and looked Calleigh dead in the eye. "I hate dispo days."

Fin


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