A sudden sound. A man cowering for no apparent reason. Alert. Danger. He sees it, too. Sudden confusion. Shots fired. Click. Click. Panic! Whose gun is this??
Pain, followed immediately by intense fear. He can see the face. The hair. But soon, there is no more pain. That isn't good. "Speed!" He's afraid. Desperate. That isn't good, either. I can't feel... God... Please... God don't let me die this way...
He hated the jewelry store. He hated the people there. He didn't think they particularly liked him, either, but he HATED them. They were still liars. Still cheaters. Bastards! Sons of bitches! FUCKERS!!!Speed smiled. The jewelry the owner was preparing to swap just flew across the room. "How do you like that, you son of a bitch?" The owner didn't answer. Just stared at the jewelry, looking frightened. Speed frowned. They were ignoring him still. It was annoying. This investigation was taking far too long, and all because people refused to talk to him. Speed had finally started to lose his cool. "Hey! Hey, asshole, I'm talking to you!" The owner walked slowly towards the emeralds. "HEY!" He stopped and looked over his shoulder, perplexed. Speed lost it completely then. "STOP IGNORING ME!" He shoved the owner hard, and the man stumbled back against the wall.
Hmm. That probably wasn't a good idea. He was a cop. He wasn't supposed to lose his temper and assault people like that. The jewelry owner stayed cowered on the ground, looking about as terrified as Speed had seen anyone look. Speed sighed. "Hey, um... yeah, sorry about that."
The owner didn't look at him. Just scrambled to his feet and ran out of the room. Speed shook his head and went to the main area of the store. Yuck. Stupid green ugly dÃ©cor. UGLY. And the light made all the jewelry look bizarre. No wonder people bought this fake crap. Speed stopped near a young man looking at "diamond" rings. "I wouldn't bother." The man frowned and looked toward Speed, but not into his eyes. Then he went back to the jewelry.
Weird. Speed wandered away and milled around the building. Apparently, being investigated for fraud hadn't changed business much. There were plenty of people wandering around, checking out the merchandise. No one seemed to think anything of the detective roaming the place looking pissed. There was nothing unusual at all, in fact, except that the jewelry store owner was in a corner waving his arms around and talking to another employee. Freak. Speed moved toward them. Maybe he could fix it before they tried to call Hora...
COLD. Speed froze, and looked around himself, suddenly and inexplicably afraid. What the hell? There was nothing around him to explain the sudden terror. Customers still wandered around, but whenever they came close to him, they shuddered and looked at the ceiling. "Cold right here," someone muttered, sounding confused.
Speed looked at the floor, and his fear redoubled. This is it. This is where I... Speed gasped and jumped away from the spot. He felt sick. Couldn't breathe. Couldn't stop shaking. He struggled to move, and stumbled toward the door. Out. He had to get out of here. He flung the door open, and several people nearby yelped and skittered away. He took one step forward, and felt as if he'd just slammed into a wall. Speed frowned and tried again. Nothing there, but no going out. Shit! He looked around. People were staring at the door, looking nervous. The jewelry store owner was waving his arms around even more. SHIT. Speed closed the door, and there was more squealing.
No, Speed thought. I don't want to be... Dead. He couldn't even think the word, but that's what he was. Dead, but still here. Ghost.
Speed lounged around the store, making a game of scaring the employees whenever they thought it was safe. They'd noticed his tendency to mess with the fake jewelry, and less of it was showing up on the shelves. But he was bored and sad and confused. He spent many weeks/months/somethings trying to remember what had happened to him. And he did. Some things remained vague, but what he remembered most was that it wasn't his gun. It wasn't his gun, and he was dead, and everyone must have thought he was an idiot. The worst kind of idiot, too. The kind that got killed by his own stupidity. UGH! The idea infuriated him. The glass display case he was leaning against shattered. He gasped, even though these things tended to happen when he was angry. He chuckled. At least he didn't have to worry about cuts.The accountant, who'd been in the back, most likely screwing with the books, came scurrying in and stared at the glass. "Mother of..." He shook his head. "This fuckin' job is just not worth it." He hurried back to the staff room, then returned with his hat and coat. He went to the door, and Speed followed. He knew the piggy-back method didn't work. People left, while he was stopped by the invisible wall. Still, it was nice to get a look outside now and then. The accountant opened the door and stopped short. "Oh! Um..."
Speed gasped. HORATIO. His heart pounded, and he couldn't even be bothered to wonder why it did that when he didn't actually have one. The voice. He... Horatio! Speed rushed to the door, and warmth flooded over him. Red hair. Blue eyes. Horatio. Love.
"Uh... we're closed," the accountant announced.
"I'm aware of that," Horatio said. "I didn't plan on coming in, but since you're here, you can let me in for a few moments, right?"
"Uhhhh..." The accountant looked nervously behind him. "It's not safe. I mean... there's a hazard in there. Glass."
Horatio frowned. "I'm sure it will be fine," he said, holding up his badge.
"Aw, shit! Are you gonna audit, because I just finished with the books and..."
"Just let me in," Horatio growled.
"Yeah, sure. Sure thing, officer."
Horatio bent down and picked up a small vase containing Speed's favorite flowers. The accountant backed out of the way, and Horatio entered the room. The warmth that had spread over Speed became vibrant - like building energy. The room clouded, and he could only clearly see Horatio. Horatio looked behind him and waved. Speed guessed that he was waving the accountant away, but he couldn't tell for sure. Horatio went directly to the Terror Spot (as Speed had come to call it) and knelt down. Horatio sighed and placed the calla lilies in the center of the spot. He looked immeasurably sad, and Speed sat down beside him, instinctively wanting to make him feel better. He laid a hand on Horatio's shoulder.
Horatio gasped and turned his head sharply, looking just above Speed's eyes. "Wha..."
"That place is haunted, officer!" the accountant called.
Horatio frowned in the accountant's direction, then looked back toward Speed. He shook his head, and looked at the flowers. He sat quietly for a few moments, then stood up and headed toward the door. Speed jumped to his feet, in a panic. "DON'T!" Horatio hesitated and turned his head, expression confused again. "Don't leave me," Speed said, knowing he wouldn't be heard. Horatio frowned, shook his head again, then opened the door. Speed rushed closer to him, covering the distance in half a second.
Speed grabbed Horatio's hand, hoping to hold him back. Horatio hesitated again, but stepped through the door without looking back. Speed's eyes widened. He didn't feel the wall this time. He was out! Hand still on Horatio's arm, he was out of the hated jewelry store and in the open. Speed took a second to look around, but he suddenly found that he didn't care about the outside world. He wanted to see Horatio, and only Horatio. He stared at his lover's face, letting the rest of the world blur over again. "I love you," he said.
Horatio looked sharply over his shoulder, then got swiftly into his car. Speed scrambled over Horatio's lap and plopped into the passenger seat. He panicked for a moment, when he lost physical contact with Horatio, but apparently he wasn't going to be mysteriously transported back to the jewelry store as he'd feared.. He glanced behind him and saw a much larger bouquet of calla lilies. His eyes widened. They practically filled the back entire back seat. Whoa. Horatio drove for a while, then stopped in front of a house. He left before Speed could follow. Speed sat in the car for a few minutes, mimicking hyperventilation until Horatio returned. He sighed with relief when he saw Horatio coming toward the car. A smaller figure got into his seat. Speed backed away, not wanting to be sat on even if she wouldn't notice, and looked at the woman. "Alexx!"
Alexx looked back at the flowers. "They're beautiful, Horatio," she said, as his love got back into the car. "I took some last week."
Horatio nodded. "I went to the store today."
Alexx stiffened. "Haven't been brave enough yet," she said quietly. "I think you're the first."
"It looked so deserted. There was an accountant there, but there was broken glass all over the floor, and it just looked run down." Horatio chuckled. "The accountant said it was haunted."
"Heh," Alexx laughed. "Right."
Speed laughed, from his position in the back, hovering somewhere between the two seats. "If you only knew."
They drove for about half an hour, then Horatio pulled into the gates of a cemetery. Speed looked around, and his eyes widened. Several people were milling around the graveyard - more than he'd ever seen on any given day. They sat on the grass, walked about aimlessly, or stared at headstones. Was it Memorial Day or something? "Empty today," Alexx said softly.
Speed gaped. "Wow." A few of the ghosts allowed the car to drive through them. One or two looked directly at Speed, as no one had done since he... became aware. Horatio parked in one of several small areas throughout the cemetery and got out. He opened the door for Alexx, then pulled out the flowers. Speed rushed out and held onto the vase, refusing to be separated from Horatio again. The three of them walked toward a headstone. Speed was almost afraid to look, but he knew what would be there.
Horatio set the flowers down beside the large slab of stone, and removed several other wilted blooms. Alexx took them from him, then stood back away from the grave to give Horatio some privacy.
Speed looked at the inscription. "Timothy Speedle. June 24, 1973 - September 20, 2004. Beloved Son, Fallen Hero." Speed sighed. His parents must be devastated. He wondered sadly if they had been told that it was a faulty gun that brought him down.
"Um... Speed." Speed shuddered at the sound of his own name. The warmth he'd felt when he'd first seen Horatio grew stronger. He stood closer to Horatio, needing that warmth around him. "We... we miss you. Calleigh's still checking on the discrepancy in the serial numbers, but she can't trace anything yet. We still can't find your weapon, but..."
Horatio frowned and looked at Alexx. "Did you...?"
"What?" Alexx asked.
Horatio shrugged. "Just thought I felt something. Um... That was strange." He was silent for a few moments, then returned to his monologue with Speed. "We're still looking for the gun. I'm sure if we find it, we'll find out who did this, and then..." Horatio's warmth turned almost hot, and Speed saw his face darken to an evil scowl. "I will get this guy," he said in a low tone.
Speed couldn't help but smile. So they knew it wasn't his fault. He wondered vaguely who would want to sabotage him, but he was more concerned that his loved ones - more specifically, Horatio - didn't believe that he would go into the field with a dirty weapon after all that had happened the last time. Horatio suddenly looked sad. He brushed his hand lightly across Speed's name and lowered his head. When, after several moments, he lifted his face again, his cheeks were wet with tears, and his eyes were shining. "I love you," he whispered.
Speed sighed and brushed away his own tears. It tore him apart to see Horatio looking so sad. Especially when there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. He waited while Horatio dried his eyes on a handkerchief, then walked with him a few feet away from the grave. Alexx shook her head sadly and went to take her turn at the grave. In a few minutes, they were back in the car, red-eyed and silent. After several moments, Horatio cleared his throat. "Want coffee or something?"
"Sure," Alexx replied. "You all right?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. You?"
"I'll be better when I know why this happened, that's for sure."
"Mmmm. I think that goes for all of us."