Pairing: Horatio Caine/Tim Speedle
Summary: Emotional turmoil for Horatio, Speed tries to help.
Hi there. I posted the first two parts of this fic a while ago and am now getting around to updating (oops). Apologies for the delay. So, here are parts one and two again plus the new third part. Enjoy!
Lieutenant Horatio Caine had been sitting at the bar for… well he wasn’t really sure how long he’d been sitting there or quite how much he’d had to drink. Signalling to the barman another scotch appeared in front of him. Horatio paused for only a moment and then downed the contents in one go.
“I think it’s time to call it a night, H.”
The soft, deep voice startled Horatio momentarily while his sluggish brain attempted to identify it.
“Speed,” Horatio raised his now empty glass in greeting.
“C’mon H, let’s settle up and get you out of here.” Horatio made no effort to move in response to Speed’s request. Speed sighed and glanced around the dark bar before reaching towards Horatio. “Fine then,” Speed grabbed Horatio’s wallet out of his jacket pocket. He was glad to see that H had removed his gun and concealed his badge within the inside pocket. Speed pulled several bills out of the wallet and passed them to the barman, “Don’t worry about the change, he’s feeling generous tonight.”
Slipping the wallet back inside Horatio’s jacket Speed then used the lapels to pull him to his feet. Horatio didn’t put up a fight and rose obediently.
“I can walk out of here on my own.” Horatio’s quiet statement was directed to his feet but Speed got the message and took a step back. As they walked towards the exit Speed was surprised at how steady Horatio was considering the sizeable bar bill Speed had just settled up for him.
They walked in silence to Speed’s car, allowing Tim the opportunity to study his Lieutenant. Horatio’s head was down and his shoulder’s slumped. Tim had watched over the last few weeks as Horatio had sunk deeper into his introverted personality. Horatio was spending more and more time holed up in the lab, he was there when they arrived and still there when they left. Tim strongly suspected that Horatio now only returned home for the bare minimum of sleep and a change of clothes. The most troubling element in this was that Speed had no idea what had caused Horatio’s decline. There was no sudden switch or easily identifiable cause, but there was definitely something weighing heavily on the Lieutenant's mind.
As they drove towards Horatio’s house Speed continued to think over Horatio’s recent behaviour while the subject of his scrutiny stared blankly out the window. Neither spoke, and in all honesty Speed had no idea what to say.
Speed pulled up outside the building and they both climbed out of the car. Horatio made no protest as Speed followed him. Horatio pulled out his keys and fumbled with the lock while having difficulty getting his eyes to focus.
“Here,” Speed reached out and took the keys from Horatio and opened the door.
Horatio studied his shoelaces before walking through the open door, “Thanks.”
“I’ll put some coffee on,” Speed offered as Horatio pulled off his suit jacket, laying it over the back of a chair.
Horatio slumped down into his couch and buried his head in his hands while Tim disappeared into the kitchen. Speed returned a few minutes later and placed a mug of coffee on the table in front of Horatio before sitting in the chair opposite.
“I have absolutely no idea what to say to you right now, Horatio.” The frank confession startled Horatio enough to lift his head and regard Speed with curiosity.
“I didn’t really expect you to say anything,” Horatio mumbled, mostly to himself.
“What? You honestly thought that I was gonna get called out to some crappy bar at one o’clock in the morning to come get you, then when I do find you, you're drunk off your ass and have nothing to say about it?” At that Horatio once again raised his head, this time to protest but Speed carried on before he could. “Don’t try to deny it, H. You hide it well, but you are so close to passing out right now. I have no idea how you thought you were gonna get home tonight, but you sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to make it here on your own. You can’t focus your eyes, and you can barely manage to walk in a straight line. Drink the coffee; you’ve got five hours to sober up before we have to be back at the lab.”
For a moment Speed thought Horatio was actually going to object to drinking the coffee but then he picked up the cup and began sipping it absently.
“I didn’t intend to drink this much.”
Speed regarded Horatio gently hoping he would open up to him. Unfortunately this hope was in vain, Horatio continued to drink his coffee in silence.
Speed took a deep breath. “H, what’s been going on with you lately?”
“Not a lot.”
“What do you want me to say?!” Horatio exclaimed loudly flinging his arms out wide, narrowly avoiding throwing coffee across the room. It was a rare occasion that Speed had heard Horatio raise his voice, but this was something different. There was a sense of desperation in those words and Speed wasn’t sure what to say to him. Thankfully he was spared the dilemma when Horatio carried on talking. “Look, you’re right I’m drunk and I have no idea what’s going on in my own head right now. Can we please, not have this conversation tonight?”
“You need to have this conversation.”
“That, is becoming apparent.”
“You gonna be alright for the rest of the night?”
Horatio nodded. Speed lifted himself out of the chair and gathered up the coffee cups and took them back out to the kitchen. Before walking out of the apartment Speed turned back to Horatio, “We are going to have this conversation.”
The door closed quietly after Speed leaving Horatio to stare after him for a long moment, “I know.” Horatio could still feel his head spinning and knew that he would be feeling the effect this night come the morning. Kicking off his shoes Horatio sprawled out across the length of the couch and passed out where he was.
Bottom of the Glass 2/7
Speed watched Horatio carefully the next morning at the lab and had to admit that Horatio didn’t look like a man who had been as drunk as he had been the previous night. The signs were there, of course, if you knew to look for them. His eyes weren’t as bright as they usually were, there was a darkness now surrounding them much like it surrounded the man himself. However, Horatio being Horatio, there was of course an easy way to hide this: his ever present sunglasses spent less time being fiddled with and more time being worn. The lieutenant looked like he had forgotten to shave; there was a faint line of stubble now visible. His walk was off too. There seemed to be less certainty and purpose to his movements as if everything he did required a much greater amount of thought before it could be carried out. The final sign that Speed noted which indicated his boss was in fact feeling the effects of the night before was the coffee he carried around with him throughout the day. They were all caffeine junkies, it was the nature of the job, but today Horatio was taking this need to an extreme.
Horatio for his part tried to keep himself as focused on work as he could but, despite his best efforts, he knew his mind was wandering and the case was not getting his full attention. This only added to his growing sense of guilt. Horatio knew that Speed had been keeping a close eye on him all day, the young CSI had given his boss a once over when he had arrived that morning and the Lieutenant was sure that Speed would have been able to immediately tell he wasn’t at his best. The combination of alcohol and an exceptionally poor night’s sleep had taken its toll on Horatio. He had awoken later than usual, stiff and sore from a night spent on the couch, and had rushed to get ready for the day ahead.
Sitting with his back to his office door Horatio was staring into space when he felt someone hovering behind him.
“You can come in.”
There was some shuffling behind him and then the sound of the door closing. Horatio continued to sit with his back to his desk but turned eventually when he could no longer bear the feeling of Speed’s gaze on his back.
“What can I do for you?”
“You can go home,” Speed told him.
Horatio sat up straighter in his chair, “Excuse me?”
“Go home. It’s late, you’ve been working all day with what I can only assume is one hell of a hangover and I doubt you got any meaningful sleep last night. Go home and don’t do anything stupid.”
“Anything stupid? What the hell is that supposed to mean?!” Horatio could feel his anger building up and desperately tried to maintain a sense of calm. He knew Speed was worried about him and only trying to help, but that knowledge wasn’t helping.
Speed took a deep breath and let it out as a long sigh, “It means don’t go for a repeat of last night, coz it’s really not gonna help solve any problems.” Speed took another deep breath, “Look, I’m not trying to be all over you about this but you and I still need to talk about whatever the hell it is that last night was all about.” Speed raised a hand to stop Horatio from jumping in “I know now is not the best time for this. Neither of us is really in any state to have this conversation right now, I didn’t exactly get a lot of sleep last night either,” Horatio dropped his head and looked guilty. “Please just go home.”
Horatio knew Speed was right and decided there was no point in even pretending to fight him on this. So instead he simply said, “OK,” and rose from his chair.
“Thank you,” Speed said as he turned and headed back towards the door but was stopped but a quiet question from Horatio.
“When would you like to have this conversation?”
Speed turned back to Horatio. “This isn’t about me H. We’ll have this conversation whenever you want to.”
Horatio studied his shoes intently for a several long moments while he summoned his nerve. “Come over Saturday night,” this first part had been addressed to his shoelaces but now Horatio lifted his head and made the rest of the invitation directly to Speed, “I’ll cook dinner and we can talk.” Hints of a shy smile were beginning at the edges of Horatio’s mouth.
Speed was slightly shocked by the openness of Horatio’s invitation but was glad to see an actual willingness on the other mans part to open up about what was troubling him. “That sounds good. Thank you, Horatio,” Speed paused and decided there really was nothing else left to be said tonight. “Good night, H,” with that Speed turned and left the office.
Bottom of the Glass 3/7
Note: Slight spoilers from this point onwards for ‘Dispo Day’ and ‘Lost Son’, although I’ve tinkered with events slightly.
Dinner had been a relatively quiet affair. They talked about a variety of topics, only skimming over anything work related, and entirely avoiding anything to do with the real reason why they were dining together. That was a conversation which would require their full attention.
Speed had been content to let Horatio set the pace for their evening, but was now growing slightly concerned that he was being far too efficient at avoiding the issue.
“Do you want a beer?” Horatio asked, glancing at Speed as he began clearing away the dishes. They had both been drinking wine with their meal, but now beer was to be the more appropriate beverage of choice.
“Sure,” Speed replied, eyeing Horatio suspiciously. “H-”
“I know,” Horatio interrupted, well aware that he had spent the majority of the evening stalling for time. “Let me finish clearing away. Then we can sit outside and talk,” Horatio said, gesturing to the expensive decking at the back of his house.
Speed nodded, waiting while Horatio rinsed off the dishes and loaded up the dishwasher. When he was done Horatio grabbed two beers out of the fridge, opened them, and passed one to Speed before leading the younger man outside. Both men stepped out into the cooler night air, a soft breeze breaking the heat and humidity of daytime in Miami.
Horatio chose to stand and pace while Speed, feeling his role in this would be to listen while Horatio talked, took a seat in the closest available chair.
It was several long moments before Horatio finally found his voice again. “I’ve been… distant, lately,” he began. Speed nodded, urging him to continue. “I’ve been, withdrawing, from the team. I think it was an effort on my part, to protect myself.” Horatio was hesitant, not used to opening up in this way. “I thought that setting some distance from all of you would be for the best in the long run.”
“Why?” Speed asked suddenly. He had intended to let Horatio talk himself out but had felt compelled to interrupt.
Horatio turned to look at Speed, leaning back against the railing and taking a long, slow gulp of beer.
“I watched you get shot,” Horatio said finally, his voice faltering slightly at the memory. “I watched you get shot, and I was scared… scared of losing you. For the second time, I thought I was going to watch you die.” Horatio’s voice was quiet now, but still Speed could hear the raw emotion and found he was no longer able to hold eye contact with him.
“I don’t remember much of what happened in the jewellery store,” Speed admitted slowly.
Horatio nodded, “I know.” But he remembered. Horatio remembered every moment, clear in his memory. The horrifying sound of Speed’s gun clicking helplessly as it misfired. The sickening sound as the bullet tore through Speed’s flesh. The feel of blood surging out of Speed’s body. Holding his hand over the wound desperately trying to stop the flow while calling, begging, for help. All of this was seared into Horatio’s memory.
Neither man spoke for several long minutes, both lost in that day.
Speed was first to find his voice. “We have dangerous jobs, Horatio. You know that, possibly better than anyone else. Shutting yourself off from everyone won’t make things any easier should the unthinkable happen,” Speed said reasonably.
“Tim, you know there is more to it than that.”
Speed looked down at his beer bottle again, willing Horatio not to follow the line of conversation he now thought was imminent.
“I’ve been withdrawing from you Tim, more than anyone else. This, all started, with dispo day.”
Speed rose from his chair, now pacing on the opposite side of the deck from Horatio.
“H, we agreed. We agreed, that some things were better left unsaid.” There was an audible note of desperation in Speed’s voice.
“And they were left unsaid. So, I withdrew from you, didn’t check that you were actually cleaning your weapon and you got shot!” The spark of anger was gone, almost as quickly as it had appeared. Horatio took a deep breath, calming himself, and looked expectantly at Speed.
“I admit that I can be careless with maintaining my weapon. It was my carelessness and bad luck that got me shot, not you, Horatio. I should know better. I do know better.” Speed quit his pacing, slumping back down into the chair he had been occupying, head in his hands. “I could have gotten you killed. That thought alone scares me more than you will ever know,” Speed admitted quietly.
“Maybe, it is something I should know.”
Once again Speed resumed pacing, while Horatio continued to lean against the railing. Horatio pushed away from the rail, moving to collect both his and Speed’s empty bottles, allowing the other man to collect his thoughts. Disappearing, briefly, into the house Horatio returned with two more beers. Passing one to Speed, Horatio returned to his previous position.
“This has always been about you and me, Speed.”
“H, we agreed. After dispo day, we agreed not to have this conversation. No matter what we may feel for each other, we can’t do this,” Speed was nearly pleading with Horatio now.
“I think, it is more than time we had this conversation,” Horatio continued on. “Ignoring our feelings has not made them disappear. Speed, I’m not going to deny my attraction to you. Nor will I deny that my feelings for you go far beyond friendship.” Horatio took a deep breath before concluding his thoughts, “I can’t keep denying this. I can’t keep pulling away.”
Horatio took a couple of quick strides towards Speed, stepping in close to the younger man, forcing him to make eye contact.
Not breaking that eye contact, Horatio slowly slipped his right hand against Speed’s cheek. Horatio leaned towards Speed, tentatively brushing their lips together. Speed didn’t pull away, Horatio pushed forward increasing the contact. Their mouths pressed together, lips parting instinctively. Slowly their tongues darted forward, sweeping together. Horatio slid his hand from Speed’s cheek to his neck, drawing him closer.
The demand for oxygen grew too great and the pair pulled apart. They maintained close proximity for a few short moments, before Speed abruptly took a step backwards breaking all contact with Horatio.
“H, I can’t. I’m sorry.” Speed turned and, without letting Horatio say a word, headed back into the house.
Horatio did not go after him; he heard the front door close quietly. Once again, Horatio gathered the two beer bottles before entering his now empty home.
As he passed the liquor cabinet, Horatio removed a bottle of whisky and picked up a glass. Sitting down on the couch, Horatio place both items on the coffee table in front of him.
He stared at the bottle for a long thoughtful moment before finally rising to his feet and retiring to bed.