Speed turned. Hey! Calleigh! "Yes?" Horatio asked.
"I found... hey, are you all right?" she asked, suddenly concerned.
Horatio nodded, rubbing his right temple slightly. "I'm fine, fine. What did you find?"
"Um... we made some headway on the serial number that had been scratched off Tim's gun."
"Yeah, we got QD involved, and Eric had some good ideas, too. We have several of the numbers already, but not enough to run a useful search yet. I'm hoping we can have the whole number by the end of the day."
Horatio suddenly looked very alert and attentive - almost intense. "That's great," he said. "Let me know the moment you have something final, Calleigh. Immediately, okay?"
"Of course," she said.
Horatio roamed around the building, checking up on miscellaneous things, then went to his office. Speed hung out with him, trying not to touch anything or cause Horatio anymore stress. He'd been pretty confused when he awoke that morning. H fiddled with paperwork for a while, then suddenly, Rick Stetler burst into the room. Horatio looked up suddenly, suppressing a frown. "Rick."
"Horatio. Why wasn't I apprised that you were still investigating Speedle's case?"
Horatio stood up slowly, a scowl on his face. "Well, Rick, I wasn't aware that you were the head of CSI, and so needed to be apprised of such things."
"I was the IAB agent assigned to the case. You know protocol is to..."
"It's not protocol, Rick," Horatio said sharply. "It's courtesy to give you a heads up. You'll forgive me if I don't see fit to extend you certain courtesies, I'm sure. We're working for a friend who died, Rick. We don't need IAB's help."
"Oh. Well, I'd just like-"
"I don't CARE, what you'd like," Horatio growled. "I'm in the middle of an investigation, Rick. Don't you have a good cop you need to be scrutinizing or something?"
Rick put his hands up and nodded. "Okay. I get it."
"Good." Horatio went back to what he'd been doing, and Rick left the room.
Speed relaxed slightly, although he didn't know why he'd felt tense. Maybe because he just couldn't stand that little weasel. Always poking his nose in and making everything more difficult than it had to be. It was clear Horatio couldn't stand him either. Several minutes passed before Horatio relaxed, and stopped furiously shuffling papers around without really looking at them. After an hour or so of writing reports and filing papers away, Horatio started to get antsy. He put away a few more things, then cleaned up his desk and headed out of the office.
Horatio made it about four feet down the hall when his phone beeped. Horatio opened it, read the message, then walked quickly toward the parking lot. Along the way, he made a call to Calleigh in the QD lab. "You get that? I want you and Eric to keep working, all right? Keep at it and call me the moment you have anything. Good."
A call-out. Still too nervous to be separated from Horatio, Speed decided to tag along. Horatio got into the CSI Hummer with a young, gangly looking man who appeared to be straight out of college. "No Calleigh or Delko, Lieutenant?" he asked.
"They're working on a special project, Mr. Wolfe. We can handle this."
Speed looked the kid up and down. This is my replacement? Kid looks like he just got out of training pants! "Mr. Wolfe" looked pensively out the window, glanced at Horatio several times, shifted every three seconds or so, and generally acted as if he had ants in his pants. Horatio looked sidelong at him a couple of times, but didn't mention it. Speed, however, wished his hand was real, because he wanted to smack the back of his head and scream at him to sit still.
The call-out was a simple one, if any crime could be called simple. A drug store shooting, with plenty of eye witnesses. Wolfe took pictures of things, but Speed noticed that Horatio bagged and tagged almost all the evidence himself. Wolfe seemed very eager to please, practically jumping every time Horatio pointed at something he wanted photographed, and nodding seriously at each of Horatio's observations, as if hanging off of his every word. Kiss ass. Speed scowled, liking Wolfe less and less. He was pleased to see that Horatio seemed to be unimpressed by all of Wolfe's eager-beaver activity.
Speed followed them for the rest of the case, questioning witnesses with Detective Tripp (Who would have thought I'd be ecstatic to see Frank again? ), itching to get his hands on the small trace evidence that was recovered, and standing in a corner of the room while suspects were questioned. Wolfe's manner annoyed him he didn't like the brash, cocky way the kid handled the interviews, but they managed to get the information they needed anyway. They wrapped up the case near the end of the day, capturing a fairly stupid and careless shooter who claimed that the whole thing "got out of hand". He smiled at the typically Horatio comment his lover made. "Crimes tend to do that, don't they?"
Horatio sent Wolfe home, telling him that he'd take care of the paperwork on his own. "You sure, H?" Speed ground his non-corporeal teeth together at the newbie's use of the nickname.
"Sure, Wolfe. Enjoy your vacation."
The kid smiled. "Thank you, sir." He headed toward the locker rooms, and Horatio set about the massive job of organizing and filing all the paperwork and evidence associated with the case in a way that would be acceptable to the courts.
About an hour into the process, his phone rang. "Eric. What did you find?" There was a pause, while Horatio listened to Eric. He rubbed his temples and frowned, looking disappointed. "All right. Okay, it's all right. We start again tomorrow, all right?... Uh-huh. Remember, Eric, we need to use caution on this, okay? Keep everything secure, and cover yourself at every angle, okay? â€¦ Thanks, Eric. Yeah. You, too." Horatio closed the phone and pounded his fist on the desk. He squeezed his temples with his other hand and sighed deeply. "Damn," he whispered. He wrapped up the paperwork for his case over the next two hours, then headed to his own car. They didn't go home, however. Horatio made a stop at a local bar and ordered a double shot of straight whiskey. Speed's eyes widened. Horatio never had heavy drinks before dinner. Well, not that he could remember. And he certainly didn't toss them back in a single gulp. Not in public, at any rate.
On the third drink, his shoulders started to relax, and he started looking around the bar. He caught sight of Frank at the other side of the bar, and moved over to chat. They started talking about their problems, and Horatio came dangerously close to spilling all the details of their relationship to Tripp. Fortunately, the detective was too sloshed himself, and too busy focusing in what "the wife" had done to him this time, to comprehend most of Horatio's semi-vague hints. They gave each other sympathetic nods and murmurs, and continued to hang out together for the next couple hours. Horatio only slowed down a little on the drinks over the course of the next few hours, and when it came to leave, he wisely called a cab.
The rest of the week passed in much the same manner. Little headway was made in Speed's case during the week, because they couldn't treat it as a priority without attracting more attention than was desired. The official word was that Speed's gun had malfunctioned. The case was supposed to be closed, and all other cases were supposed to get priority, even though Horatio clearly hated it. Every night, Horatio went to the bar and had a drinking session with Frank. Sometimes they shared their troubles, and other times, they just sat in companionable silence.
Speed watched while Horatio sank deeper and deeper into the bottle. After Horatio staggered into the house and stumbled into bed for the fourth night in a row, Speed decided he couldn't take it anymore. He'd tried to be good not to touch anything when Horatio was around, not to make himself too obvious but he hated to see Horatio this way. He hated the helplessness he felt, watching his partner suffer, alone, depressed and miserable. He hated his own loneliness, too. It was time to try his plan.