A Leaf on the Wind by Hallow [ - ]
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Category: CSI: Miami - Slashed > Eric/Speed
Characters: Alexx Woods, Calleigh Duquesne, Eric Delko, Horatio Caine, Other, Ryan Wolfe, Tim Speedle
Rating: G
Genres: Angst, Drama
Warnings: Death of canon character

Summary: He didn't want to tell them. He couldn't find the words. And they didn't know until it was too late.

The day dawned bright and beautiful. The sun was shining, birds were singing. A cooling and gentle breeze kept the heat from being too bad. Speed stood outside the crime lab enjoying the day as it was. Before too long he'd be out at some crime scene looking over the dead body of someone the world no longer wanted. He still found it hard to believe that after all the years that had gone by that this was the job he chose, the job he stuck with. Sometimes at night he'd have nightmares and there were a few nights when he couldn't sleep at all. The things he saw were disturbing. He was one of the few people who understood just how cruel one human being could be to another. Crossing his arms over his chest and closing his eyes he soaked in the rays of the warming sun. He allowed a smile to creep across his lips.

The last few months had been terrible. But finally he felt like he was standing on solid ground. He no longer dreamed about being shot and nearly dying. The pain in his chest was gone, the wound completely healed. He was even beginning to like Ryan, though he wouldn't yet admit it to anyone. The younger man still had a few things to learn. Upon opening his eyes he saw Calleigh and Delko walking toward the lab. They were laughing about a joke that only the two of them knew. He loved to hear Calleigh life. He loved listening to her talk, too. She was often like a breath of fresh air. And where would he be without Delko, his best friend? There was a time when he told himself that he wouldn't get close to anyone else. Not after the devastating death so many years ago. But there was a quality to Delko that just made him immediately likeable. Speed had lost count of all the times they'd spent together, all the events they had attended together.

Alexx wasn't far behind them. She was talking with Ryan, showing him pictures of her kids. She was proud of her children. Speed found that he really admired her. Here was a woman who worked with the dead all day and still had the energy to return home each night to her family. Ryan looked please, smiling and most likely politely asking questions about the children. The young CSI had made impressive improvement since his accident involving a nail gun. Speed counted himself lucky that he hadn't been part of that scene. It would have brought back nightmares of his own injuries. He was over the jealousy he had after finding out that the lab had hired Ryan to work in his place until he got better. Even after he returned to work they decided to keep Ryan as they needed the extra set of hands.

He felt someone step up beside him and turned to see his boss, Horatio. The older man had his hands on his hips and a soft smile on his face. He'd lost count of the years he'd worked with the other man, who had quickly become more than a boss. Horatio had chosen him first and he was currently the only other level three CSI in the lab.

"Beautiful day," Horatio said to him. "I hate having to ruin everybody's good mood."

"It never lasts long, does it?" Speed asked him not really intending to get an answer. "What kind of crime do we have this time?"

"I'm not sure, Speed," his boss replied. "That's what we're going to find out. Tripp has informed me that the deceased has a little boy who was reported missing by his father shortly after his mother was murdered."

"I hate cases involving children," Speed told him.

"We all do."

"Hey, I know that look, we have a case already, don't we?" Calleigh asked them as she reached out to hug Speed. Delko shoved his hands into his pockets, all sense of amusement leaving him. "Just once I'd like to have a day where no one dies a violent death. Just once."

"A vacation would be nice," Delko piped up, following it with a shrug of his shoulders. "But could any of us actually relax without feeling like we're wasting precious time?"

The others didn't say anything in reply. Silence settled over them as they waited for Alexx and Ryan to join the small group. Horatio dished out orders as soon as they were within hearing range. He was always a man of work, striving to give the victim justice as quickly as possible. Speed probably saw more clearly than the others the toll that the job was taking on Horatio. "Speed, you come with me. Delko and Ryan, I want you guys to catch up with the father at work and interview him. Calleigh you'll accompany Tripp if anyone responds to the Ambler Alert."

"I'll get the morgue ready," Alexx said. Before she left their company she kissed Horatio on the cheek. She did it every morning and every evening. Calleigh was the next to leave, going in search of Tripp. Delko got the address for the husband's office before ushering Ryan toward one of the company vehicles. That left Speed with Horatio once again.

"It doesn't amaze me anymore how fast a beautiful day can turn bitter and dreary," Speed told him. He looked down at the ground, rubbing the back of his neck.

"Violence never takes a holiday, Speed." Horatio looked at him, his eyes masked by the sunglasses he never went anywhere without. "Are you feeling okay? You look tired."

Speed flashed him a smile that he hoped was reassuring. "Didn't sleep well last night. That last case hit too close to home."

Horatio nodded in understanding. "I know what you mean. There are days when I feel guilty about hiring you guys. There are so many other things you could be doing instead of hanging around the dead and tortured. Delko could be a sports star. Calleigh could be making a lucrative career as a model."

"Calleigh, a model?" Speed chuckled. "Maybe in a gun magazine." He gave Horatio a pat on the back. "Don't worry; this is where we want to be. We all have our reasons."

Horatio smiled. "Let's get to work."