"Do you want me to jump off a bridge the day you die, Speed?"
"Huh?!?" The question caught me off guard. If there was one thing Horatio Caine was not prone to, it was melodramatic statements of suicide.
Not that anything else about his behavior was particularly melodramatic anyway. "I said, do you -"
"I know what you said, H." I opened my front door a little wider and stepped aside. "Coming in?" He ducked his head in that way of his and slid past me into my disheveled apartment. I shut the door and hustled over to the sofa, grabbing some clothes I'd tossed there at some point or another, as if that would somehow render the place spotless. He looked at around, glanced at my hand, and snorted. He actually snorted. I dropped the clothes where I stood and waited.
"Your performance is suffering," he said without preamble.
He flopped down on the couch, a very ungraceful move. Not at all like Horatio. "I can't keep covering for you, Speed," he said tiredly. "You need… you need to take some time off."
"Just a few days. I need you to take some time off and do whatever it is you need to do to recover from this thing. We can carry the workload, but we can't carry you, too."
"Excuse me??" Broken record, anyone?
"What the fuck do you want me to do, Speed?!?" He was on his feet in a flash, all fire and brimstone. Horatio damn near never lost his cool, but it was long gone from my living room. "I told you, these things happen, Speed. They happen. Put it in a box, and get on with the workday."
Oh. So that was it. The whole universe is flipped upside down and inside out around my head, and I'm just supposed to forget about it. "Look, Lieutenant, I don't recall seeing you get hooked up to that damned polygraph. Sorry if I don't have the superhuman strength you do, to just forget -"
"No one's asking you to-"
"Let me fin-"
"You are f-"
"Hey, you came to my place-"
"I wasn't going to embarrass you in front-"
"Fuck off, H!" I stalked to the door and yanked it open. "Get the fuck out! Out! "
He looked shocked. I don't know why, since it wasn't like he'd been exactly nice to me. Not to mention the fact that he did come to my house and proceed to tell me that my work sucks and I shouldn't show my face in the lab again until he says otherwise. I guess he thought his authority should bleed over into my personal space. Okay, outside, on the other side of that threshold, I'll still take his orders, but in here, my apartment, I make the rules. Not H.
He started toward the door, plodding one foot down in front of the other, like a condemned man. He looked tired, run down. Old. It surprised me. But not as much as his words surprised me when he got to the doorway.
"I'll do it, you know. Jump when you die. Just…" He turned to me, eyes shining. "Just… don't kill us now. Okay?"