Michelle Perry
Chapter 1 - Nightmare

Speed! Horatio watched his partner drop to the floor. He rushed to Speed's side. Oh, no. Hit in the chest. Speed was already convulsing by the time Horatio reached his side. "Speed! Speed, hang on, okay?"

"I... I can't-"

Speed's body tensed, then suddenly relaxed completely. Blood flowed from the wound more swiftly than Horatio would have thought possible. Horatio's hands shook, and he stared at the fast growing pool of blood in horror, unable to move or even think. Blood! So much blood. Oh, God, it’s too much! Speed's eyes clouded over and his skin turned white. "No," Horatio whispered. "No, no, no!!" Horatio's eyes filled with tears. "Speed, no. No!"

Speed awoke to the sound of Horatio moaning. He nudged Horatio gently. "H." Horatio shook his head and muttered more urgently. "Horatio! Come on, wake up. Wake up!" Speed shook Horatio firmly until he opened his eyes.

"Speed! Oh thank God!" Horatio yanked Speed into a crushing embrace.

"It's okay," Speed said. "I’m okay, H." Horatio didn’t let go for several minutes. Speed held him tight and kept reassuring him that everything was okay. Eventually, Horatio seemed to calm down. His trembling stopped, and he sat back and looked down at the covers, embarrassed. "Was it the same dream?" Speed asked.

Horatio nodded. “Almost. The places and the gunmen change now and then, but the end is always the same. Always.”

Speed brushed a tear away from Horatio’s face. “It’s not going to happen again,” Speed said. “I clean my weapons twice a week, and I wear my vest on every call-out, no matter how innocent it sounds. Dispo day will not happen again.”

“I know,” Horatio said. “I just… I was fine for a so long, but these past three weeks… I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you, H,” Speed said. “You’re just worried about me. Come on. I’ll make you some breakfast.”

Horatio looked at the clock. “At two-thirty?”

“Why not? You know you’re not going to be able to sleep.”

Horatio shrugged and got out of bed. Speed grabbed a robe and headed for the kitchen. He fixed some of Horatio’s favorite breakfast foods, and they watched cheesy late night television together. When the time came, Horatio got ready for work. “Enjoy your day off,” Horatio said with a grin.

“Very funny,” Speed said. “You’ll be all right today?”

“I’ll be fine. Want to go out to dinner tonight?” Speed smiled and nodded. “I’ll pick you up at eight.”

“Perfect,” Speed said. He watched Horatio get into his car and drive off. When H was out of sight, Speed went back into the house, grabbed a decidedly unhealthy bag of chips and sat down in front of the television to kill time before he’d have to subject himself to that which he detested most of all: the dreaded Yearly Physical.

Horatio stepped into the station, and was accosted by Calleigh almost immediately after checking in. "Horatio! Good morning."

"Good morning, Calleigh. You're here early."

Calleigh smiled brightly. "I wanted to get a head start on that liquor store shooting. I have the report ready now, if you're interested."

"Of course I'm interested," Horatio said. He walked with Calleigh to the ballistics lab. Calleigh showed him the striations on bullets from the scene and told him exactly which type of gun they came from.

"I've already got a list of purchases and reported thefts," she said. "It can't be long before we pin the gun down."

"Excellent. Nice work." Calleigh smiled that million watt smile she always gave him when he acknowledged a job well done. "Keep me posted, okay?"

"I will. Thank you," she said, still grinning brightly.

Horatio nodded and headed to the fingerprint room to see if Eric had started working on anything yet. When Horatio found him, the young specialist was busy fogging a knife for fingerprints. "Morning," he said.

"Oh, hey, H," Eric said.

"Any luck with that?"

"Whoever this guy was, he was an amateur. There are prints all over the handle."

"Well, you know, Eric, their stupidity is..."

"Our gain," Delko finished with a smile. "These are pretty clean. I shouldn't have trouble lifting something. Speed was supposed to be working on the mud the perp tracked into the house, but I haven't seen him today."

"He's on the wheel today, so I let him off his other duties."

"Oh, yeah. How could I have forgotten? He's been belly-aching about it for two weeks straight." Eric laughed. "Man, I'm glad I got that over with. Hm…” he said, carefully placing the fingerprint sheet over the knife. “We may be able to get something without the mud trace." He held up his lift of a perfectly formed thumb print.

"Let's run that," Horatio said. "If it's a clean match, it'll be enough for an arrest without trace." Eric nodded his agreement, and went back to work. Horatio left Eric’s domain, checked up on some samples with the DNA specialist, then headed for the autopsy room to check in with his M.E. He was only half way there when his phone rang. "Claudia," he said.

"Sorry to bother you, Lieutenant," the sergeant said. "I just need to confirm something with you."

"All right."

"You did schedule Detective Speedle for his physical today, didn't you?"

"Yes, that is correct," Horatio replied. "His appointment was scheduled to start about thirty minutes ago."

"That's just it, sir. The hospital called and said that he hasn't shown up yet. They thought maybe he'd forgotten and come in to work as usual, but I've been here all morning, and he hasn't checked in. I called his mobile number and there was no answer."

Horatio frowned. "That's unusual. I'll tell you what. Let me call him at his home number, and I'll let you know if I get in touch with him."

"Thank you, Lieutenant."

"Of course." Horatio disconnected and tapped the number two slot on his speed dial. The phone rang four times, then Speed's answering machine picked up.

"This is Timothy Speedle. Leave your name, phone number and a message, and I'll get back to you soon. If this is an emergency, you can call me on my cell. Thanks."

"Speed," Horatio said when the tone ended. "Claudia tells me the hospital is looking for you. Pick up if you're home." He waited a few moments, said Speed's name so the machine wouldn't disconnect, then waited a little longer. When Speed didn't answer, Horatio hung up and dialed the number one slot on his phone. After six rings, the voicemail answered.

"This is Detective Speedle. Please leave a message and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. If this is a life threatening emergency, please hang up and dial 9-1-1."

Horatio left a short message and hung up. He frowned, worried. Speed never failed to answer is mobile phone unless it was turned off. It had rung too many times before the voicemail picked up for it to be off or out of range. He stood in the hall for a moment, somewhat at a loss.

"Something wrong, Horatio?"

Horatio looked up at Alexx and nodded. "I can't get in touch with Speed. He's not at the hospital, and he's not answering either phone."

Alexx frowned. "That's strange."

"Very. I think I should send a car over."

Alexx nodded, looking nearly as worried as Horatio felt. "I'll fill you in on the Hansen post later."

"Thank you," he said, already dialing the front desk. He asked Claudia to send a squad car to Speed's house, then tried to go about his duties. He was too distracted by his inability to contact Speed to concentrate on anything. Maybe he just fell asleep, he thought, remembering their interrupted slumber. The thought didn't reassure him, however. Speed almost never went back to sleep after Horatio had a nightmare, and he certainly wouldn't go to sleep knowing he had to leave the house in ninety minutes. Even if, for some strange reason, he'd been unable to stay awake, he certainly wouldn't have slept through three different phone calls.

Horatio sighed and tried to pull himself together. Worrying wasn't going to help. After spending several minutes attempting (unsuccessfully) to make a dent in a small mountain of paperwork, he decided to head to the ballistics lab to find out if Calleigh had made any progress with her search. He entered the examination room but before he could ask her anything, his phone rang. "Yes, Claudia," he said, holding up a finger when Calleigh gave him a questioning look.

"Lieutenant, the officers we sent to Detective Speedle's house reported in, and they... they're asking for CSI to come down."

Horatio gripped the phone tightly in an effort not to drop it. He took one deep breath, then spoke with a forced calm that he certainly didn't feel. "Was the scene compromised in any way?"

"No, sir. The officer reported that they secured the scene, but they didn't disturb anything."

"All right. Okay, thank you, Claudia. Just... tell them we're on our way."

"Yes, sir."

Horatio put the phone away and looked at Calleigh. "Get your kit."

"What happened?" she asked, already getting up.

"We've had a call to... to Speed's house."

Calleigh gasped. "Oh my God. Is he...?"

"I don't have any details yet. Meet me at the Hummer," he said. Calleigh nodded, and Horatio rushed back to the fingerprint lab to find Eric.

"Hey, H! I found -"

"Hold that thought," Horatio said. "I need you to get your gear and come with me. We've been called out to Speed's house. I don't have all the details yet," he said, before Eric could ask anything. "We need to get out there as soon as possible."

"Right." Eric quickly grabbed his field kit and they headed for the car. Calleigh was already inside. She'd left the back door open so that Eric could put his gear inside. Horatio got in while Eric quickly stowed his gear away and took a seat in the back.

Horatio peeled out of the parking lot and into the street, slapping on the siren as he went. He drove at hectic speeds, noticing out of the corner of his eye that Calleigh had the arm rest in a white-knuckled grip. He made the thirty-minute drive to Speed's house in seven. Three squad cars were parked in front of the house, and the officers in charge of them were busy pulling crime scene tape across the yard and keeping on-lookers out of the way.

Horatio parked and stepped out of the car, bringing his kit with him. He'd made all possible haste to get to the house, but now he realized that he didn't want to go inside. He stood outside the car, ostensibly waiting for Eric and Calleigh to get out and get their gear. He was really waiting for his courage to somehow gather itself enough to allow his feet to move. After a moment, Eric and Calleigh came to stand on either side of him. They looked as eager to move forward as he did. Horatio took a deep breath and nodded. "Let's go."

They moved as a unit toward the uniformed officers. Horatio headed for the officer that seemed to be directing things. She looked up at their approach and nodded. "Lieutenant Caine?"

Horatio nodded. "Detectives Delko and Duquense."

"I'm Officer Davis. My partner and I were the first to come upon the scene. I..." She glanced at the house and turned back to them, looking both grim and sympathetic. "I understand he was one of your team." Horatio's stomach flipped at Davis' use of the word "was". "It's... You might want to steel yourself. It's a little messy in there." Calleigh made a slight, barely-audible gasp beside him.

Horatio just nodded. "Thank you," he said. He headed for the house. At the doorstep, he slipped on his gloves and waited for his partners to do the same. Horatio swallowed down the last shred of hesitation and opened the door.

The living room was a shambles. The couch was out of place, potato chips were scattered across the floor, and several smaller pieces of furniture were overturned. Horatio shoved down the fear he felt when he saw the a faint trail of blood curving around the couch and forced himself to process the scene.

The blood actually started on the couch. There was blood spatter on the pillow, and a small pool of blood on the floor in front of where the couch should have been. The trail led from that puddle around the couch, across the living room floor and into the hall. Eric snapped photos while Horatio and Calleigh inspected the overturned furniture and the couch. "All the furniture is lined up with the blood trail," Calleigh observed.

"And there's a bloody palm print on the leg of the couch," Horatio added, gesturing for Eric to photograph it. "Which means," he continued with a sigh, "he was dragged."

Speed looked up at the sudden sound. The gun smashed against his head before he could react to the masked stranger's presence. The potato chips flew and he tumbled off the couch. He lay there for a second, momentarily dazed and cursing himself for having been caught off guard. He touched his head and his hand came away wet with blood. Shit! Suddenly, strong hands grabbed him by the ankles and started to pull. Speed writhed and kicked to no avail. He grabbed at the couch, trying to get some leverage, or at least stall his attacker. He only succeeded in dragging the couch a few feet before his hand slipped. He flailed his arms and grabbed at other things, managing to knock down or pull along half of his living room furniture, but not managing to slow the perp. down enough to allow him to fight back. Finally, he was dragged into his bedroom, and the gun was pointed at his head.

"Whoever it was had to be pretty strong," Eric said, continuing to snap pictures of the blood trail. "The trail didn't pool anywhere along the line. He pulled him straight through without stopping, even though Speed was obviously putting up a fight."

Horatio nodded, agreeing with Eric's assessment. They followed the trail to Speed's bedroom door. The door was closed, but it was clear that the trail continued inside. Horatio looked at Eric and Calleigh in turn. Officer Davis had said the scene was "pretty messy". So far, nothing they'd seen had been exceptionally disturbing, beyond the fact that it had happened in their friend's home. Clearly, what she'd been referring to lay behind this door. Horatio tried to exude confidence and reassurance in his expression, hoping it would encourage his team, and himself. "Okay," he said softly, then opened the door.

Blood. The room was covered in blood. There were large amounts of it on the floor, the bed, and even on parts of the ceiling. The walls had suffered the worst. Three of the four walls were almost completely covered with blood spatter. Only one wall remained remarkably clean except for one word, printed above Speed's bed in blood. "Hurt."

"Oh God," Horatio heard Calleigh whisper. "Oh my God." In a moment he could hear her running feet, headed for the living room.

Horatio tried to stand his ground, but it was too much to handle. He followed Calleigh, at least managing not to break into a run. He walked quickly through the house, careful not to disturb the living room and hoping Calleigh had been as careful. Once outside, he started to breathe. He hadn't realized he'd stopped. He rested his hands on his knees and tried to hold onto breakfast. Calleigh wasn't having so much success. The lawn was getting treated to whatever she'd eaten that morning, while Officer Davis patted her back.

After a moment, Horatio stood up. Eric was standing beside him, glaring and looking a little sick at the same time. "Will you be able to take pictures?" Horatio asked. Eric nodded once, his jaw set tightly. "All right."

They waited for Calleigh to finish emptying her stomach and try to calm down. In only a few moments, she was standing in front of Horatio, furiously wiping away tears. "I'm sorry," she said. "I just -."

Horatio shook his head. "We all did," he said.

Davis, who had accompanied Calleigh, spoke up. "Do you think I should call in another -" Horatio, Calleigh and Eric all glared and Davis stopped immediately. "Okay," she said. "We're here if you need anything."

"Where is he?"


"The victim," Horatio clarified, refusing to say the word "body" in reference to Speed.

"We don't know, sir," Davis replied. "We never found the... we didn't find him in the house."

Horatio sighed. "All right. Why don't you have your officers start canvassing the neighborhood?"

"Right away," Davis said.

Horatio looked at the remaining members of his team. "Let's get started."

They split up and explored the other rooms in the house. Calleigh found the criminal's point of entry. The back door locks had been picked. There was no sign that the criminal had visited any other room in the house besides the living room and Speed's bedroom.

Once their inspection of the rest of the house was complete, they headed back to the bedroom. After a brief moment spent shoving his emotions forcibly to the back burner, Horatio started directing operations. He and Calleigh began systematically taking blood samples from the various surfaces, while Eric photographed every inch of the room in wide angles and close-ups. He took at least fifteen different pictures of the writing on the wall, including (at Horatio's request) pictures of each individual letter.

After painstakingly gathering samples from as many different places as possible, Horatio began a thorough search of the bedroom. He combed every nook and cranny of the familiar room, but he found no sign of a weapon or any other clues as to the killer's identity. At a loss, he looked once more at the bloody word on the wall - "Hurt".

It was obviously a message. But for whom? Had Speed angered someone lately? Angered them enough to kill? If Speed had been threatened, or thought he was in danger, Horatio would know about it. Speed hadn't told him any such thing. Of course, that didn't mean there wasn't some criminal Speed had helped capture running around with a chip on his shoulder.

Horatio shook his head. There were several things that bothered him about that scenario. The word was written in unusually neat handwriting for this to have been a crime of passion. Where were the angry slants and slashes that he should be seeing? Also, judging from the feathering at the beginnings of each letter, the word had been written with a paintbrush, not a finger. Would the criminal viciously murder a man, then take a paintbrush and carefully write a message in his victim’s blood? What bothered him more than the careful handwriting, however, was the missing body. If the perp had intended to send such a clear message to Speed, or to the people who found him, why kill him and then take him away from the scene? Why not leave him in plain sight, like - Horatio's stomach flipped for the hundredth time in the last hour - like a gruesome reinforcement of the written word? It didn't make sense.

Horatio stood with his hands on his hips, head lowered and inspected the floor. "Calleigh," he said after a moment.

"Yes?" she said tightly, her eyes shining with tears.

"I don't see a second blood trail."

Calleigh looked round. "You're right." She frowned. "The blankets are still on the bed." She looked at Horatio with a puzzled expression on her face. "How'd he get him out?"

Horatio pondered the question for a moment. Speed preferred hard floors to rugs, and Horatio knew there was nothing in the house large enough to transport a body besides bedclothes. Would a killer really go to the linen closet and pull out fresh blankets to wrap a body when there were several blankets in the same room with him? Horatio doubted that. He checked the windows. The blood surrounding them was spattered, not streaked, and there was no sign of blood on the outside windowsills. Nothing had been dragged across them.

Suddenly, a thought occurred to him. He went into Speed's bathroom, opened one of the cabinets and pulled out the first aid kit. He frowned. "The gauze has been used."

"Do you think the criminal cut himself?"

Horatio lifted the gauze roll for Calleigh to see. It was almost half gone. "With the exception of four gauze pads and about... seven band aids, nothing else in this kit has been used."

Calleigh looked more confused than ever. "I know people who use knives usually end up hurting themselves, but... could he have hurt himself that badly?"

Horatio shook his head. "I don't think so. I think the question is, if you'd just stabbed a man to death, why would you bandage his wounds?"

Calleigh seemed to contemplate what he said for a few moments. Then, suddenly, her eyes widened, and Horatio could see some of the hope he was struggling to quell shining on her face. "You mean... maybe he's still alive?" she breathed.

"Maybe," Horatio said. "We need to get these samples to the lab right away." Horatio unfolded a large evidence bag and dropped the entire first aid kit inside, then packed up his gear. "I'm going to find Eric. Why don't you see what the canvass turned up?"

"All right," Calleigh said. She left the room, looking none too reluctant to be leaving the gruesome area. With only slightly less eagerness, Horatio stepped out to look for Eric. He found him in at the back of the house, glaring at the back door.

"Any luck?" Horatio asked.

Eric shook his head, looking disgusted. "I dusted every single place I could think of that the killer might have touched, but I've only been able to get smudges and partial prints. I keep coming back to this door, since we know he was here, but there's nothing workable."

Horatio held up the bag containing the first aid kit. "I'm sure he touched this. He may have worn gloves, but you can try it when we get back to the lab just in case."

"We're going back already?" Eric asked.

"I have reason to believe that this may not be a homicide."

"You think it was suicide?" Eric asked incredulously.

"Abduction. Come on. I'll fill you in on the way."

Speed froze at the sight of the gun. "What do you-" wham! The gun slammed into his head again. His head swam, and he struggled to back away from the intruder without much success. The man chuckled and left the room. Speed tried desperately to get to his feet. He'd made it to his knees by the time the intruder came back. The perp kicked him in the stomach, sending him sprawling to his back again. Speed watched while he placed a large glass container on the floor, then pulled a long, shiny knife from a holster on his belt. He grabbed Speed by the hair and yanked him into a sitting position, shoving him against the bed. With shocking swiftness, he took Speed's arm and slit his wrist deeply.

Speed cried out and tried to jerk away. The intruder held him tightly, and pulled his arm over the glass jar. Speed started to pull away again, but his attacker dropped the knife and pulled his gun in a quick, fluid motion. "It's not gonna look like suicide," Speed said. "You won't be able to fool-." The intruder shoved the barrel of the gun against Speed's neck, choking him, and clicked the safety off. Effectively silenced, Speed watched helplessly, and with a growing sense of dread, as his blood slowly filled the jar. With alarming speed, he could feel himself growing weak and light-headed.

Soon, the blood began to flow more slowly from Speed's wrist. The intruder moved the jar to Speed's other side, and, to Speed's horror, slit his other wrist as deeply as he had the first. He held the gun to Speed's neck with one hand while gazing at his watch on the other. In only a few more seconds, Speed felt more ill than he ever remembered feeling. He was nauseous, weak, and his vision was starting to get cloudy. His physical state terrified him and he longed to bolt, but he was too weak to move even a little. Struggling to stay awake, he watched while the intruder opened his first aide kit. Confusion almost overcame Speed's terror when the perp started cleaning his wrists. He wiped each one with a gauze pad, then pressed a fresh pad to the cut and wrapped it. Once both wrists were clean and wrapped, Speed's attacker pulled a vial of clear liquid from his pocket, added it to the jar of blood, capped the jar and started swilling it around to mix in the foreign liquid. Speed was unable to watch more. The loss of blood finally became too much for him, and he lost consciousness.

"Well, it's definitely blood," Valera said. "But that's not all. There's also a large amount of H2O, as well as EDTA and sodium fluoride."

Horatio raised an eyebrow. "Really?" he asked with interest.

"Yes, sir."

The little flutter of hope that he'd been trying hard to quell was back again with a vengeance. "That means someone tampered with his blood before it was splattered all over the room."

"Yup," Valera said. "It looks like they wanted to stretch it out - make it look like he must have lost a fatal amount of blood."

"But anyone with access to those chemicals must know that we would find it right away."

"Well, not right away, sir," Valera said. "You thought it was pure at first sight, didn't you?"

"You're right," Horatio said. "So, someone wanted to shake us up badly. And judging from the use of preservatives in the blood, he may try again. Valera, I'd like you to do individual tests on all the samples. If the killer left his own blood there, I want to know."

Valera sighed, staring at the mound of samples. Horatio knew he was asking her for a lot. He'd collected over forty samples alone, and Calleigh must have collected at least that amount. "It'll take time, sir, but if something's here I'll find it," she said.

"Thank you." Horatio took Valera's report and headed for Eric's domain. "Anything from the first aid kit?" he asked when he arrived.

"Nothing," Eric said despondently. "Nothing of any use to us anyway. I got a few partials, which are pretty old. The freshest prints were Speed's prints and yours," he said, sounding a little confused. "I know you were wearing gloves, so..."

"I bought it for him a few months ago, after he mentioned he didn't have one," Horatio said.

Eric nodded, satisfied. "Anyway, the perp left nothing on this. I don't get it, H. How could he leave nothing at the scene?"

"He's either very smart, or very lucky," Horatio said. "Unfortunately, I think it may be the former. Take a look at this." Horatio handed Eric the report.

Eric frowned and looked up at Horatio. "Where'd he get the chemicals?"

"That's a good question. Let's check local hospitals and see if anyone's reported a robbery lately."

"I'm on it."

Horatio started work on the crime scene photos. He gathered all of Eric's pictures of the scene and created a pictoral map on one of the lab's large evidence tables. He studied each photo, checking for any patterns, or other visible evidence that might help them find Speed. Eventually, he turned to the message written on Speed's bedroom wall. He took the photos Eric had taken to Questionable Documents and showed them to Cynthia. "I'll need your help with these."

"Certainly, Lieutenant." Cynthia took the photos and spread them out on her work table. She grimaced. "This is blood, isn't it?"

Horatio nodded. "Thinned and treated with a preservative, but it is blood."

"If it was thinned, that means he might still be - "

"That's right. And we need to get to him as soon as possible. What can you tell me about the person who wrote that word?"

Cynthia studied the photos, then projected the picture of the full word onto the screen. "Unfortunately, this isn't a large enough sample of writing to get a full profile of your suspect. He's definitely right handed. It looks like he wrote the words with an artist's brush. The fraying here is very fine, and it's clear he had a lot of control over whatever instrument he used. It's in all caps, with the 'H' slightly larger than the other letters, but that's fairly natural. It just means he wanted the message to be understood loud and clear."

Cynthia sighed. "Beyond that, all I can really tell you is that you're dealing with a very calm, but ruthless person. Anyone who could draw this much blood, then write with it so neatly is just..." Cynthia shuddered.

"I understand," Horatio said. "Keep working with it please," he said. "Let me know if anything else catches your eye."

"I will, sir."

Horatio left Q.D. and put in a call to Calleigh. "Did the canvass turn anything up?" he asked.

"Nothing helpful," Calleigh said, sounding exasperated. No one saw any unusual cars or people or anything else that looked suspicious. One witness said she heard a commotion in the house, but it didn't last long, so she didn't think anything of it."

Horatio frowned. "Okay," he said. "Why don't you come on back, and we can start tracking down some suspects."

"Sure thing. Start with all his cases?"

"Exactly." Horatio closed his phone, went into his office and shut the door. Once alone, he leaned against his door and closed his eyes. He needed a few moments to get control of himself before he had to face the team again. The team. Horatio sighed heavily and shoved down another wave of fear and nausea at the memory of the crime scene. Oh, Speed. Where are you? Horatio took a deep breath, struggled to close his mind to fear and focus on the task of getting Speed back again, and headed out of the office. Alexx was waiting for him just outside the door, her face etched with worry.

"Horatio," she cried. "I heard about Timmy! Where... who... have you found anything? Who did this? Is he... Horatio if my Timmy dies, I-"

"Alexx," Horatio said. "I won't let that happen."

Alexx was near tears. She nodded slightly, and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm herself. She sighed and looked at Horatio with concern. "How are you holding up, Horatio?"

"I'm fine," he said.

Alexx looked at him skeptically. He hadn't expected her to believe him. She was the only one in the entire department who knew exactly how close he was to Speed. She touched his arm reassuringly, the closest she would get to hugging him outright while they were on duty. "You know where to find me if you need to talk."

"I do. Thank you, Alexx. But right now, I need to concentrate on finding him and bringing him back safe." Alexx nodded. Horatio touched her shoulder briefly before heading back to delve into all of Speed's cases.

Chapter 2

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