When it started none of them were entirely sure... maybe it had been Dispo Day when Speed was shot, uninjured maybe, but if he hadn’t be wearing the Kevlar... or maybe when that CSI wannabe kid had somehow managed to endear himself to Speed and Speed had taken it so badly when the kid had killed himself, or maybe it had been when Speed nearly died from a gun shot wound, because that time, he hadn’t been wearing a vest... well technically he had died, but by whatever miracle the EMT’s had got him back... but whatever the case, when ever it had started, start it had... the only question was how long had they all been blind to it?
Horatio Caine was very good at being calm, good at it because back on the bomb squad not being calm meant the difference between being alive and being dead and scattered in a thousand tiny pieces, good at it because whenever he had to question a suspect, he needed to hide his hand of cards as best he could, and good at it, because he didn’t know any other way to be anymore... they all needed his calm, they all relied on it, and he was losing it.
It was little things, little cracks, little signals that were almost glaring on Horatio but would have been ignored altogether on anyone else... because Horatio didn’t show cracks, he didn’t give little signals, he didn’t lose his cool, his calm... except that he did, and he was.
Speed, Eric and Calliegh were in Calliegh’s house, Eric’s was too busy with the rest of his family and neighbours, Speeds... well neatness was not his forte, so it was Calliegh’s, because it was quiet, and neat, and besides, she always had a fridge stocked full of things that Speed and Eric were happy to munch on.
None of them had quite discussed Horatio yet, because even though there had been hints and concerned looks for weeks, none of them could willingly wrap their heads around the thought... one thing was clear though it was worse anytime Speed was on an active case, and even more so a case where H wasn't working with him.
"He's probably just being protective, you know how much he cares about all of us." Calliegh tried telling herself as well as her friends, but it wasn't working, Horatio could be protective yes, but he wasn't like this with Calliegh or Eric... of course she tried to reason that Speed had nearly died, when Horatio had been with him... that was bound to affect things, except it shouldn't, because it was H, and Horatio Caine was very good at being calm... even when he wasn't.
"Maybe one of us should talk to him." Speed suggested, entirely uncomfortable with the whole damn thing, because every time H showed a new crack in his calm exterior, Speed felt new cracks in his own, Horatio was a grounding station for them all, but especially Speed, especially since he'd been shot.
"Yelina tried... we... erm... talked... he just says he's fine, I don't think he's even aware of it, or maybe he just didn't want to talk to her." Calliegh shrugs a little and bites into the apple she's been juggling between her two hands for the last ten minutes since they started on this line of discussion.
Speed doesn't like how Calliegh and Eric both look at him, because he knows that means he's being given the job of trying to get Horatio Caine to talk and he thinks that will be about as easy as getting a rabid dog not to bite, because it's nature, and nature isn't easy to combat.
Protests, complaining, and three days of screwing up courage later, Speed does something he's never done, knocks on the front door of Horatio Caine's home.
"Speed?" confused blue eyes stare at him when H answers his door, still in his work suit, but now missing the tie he'd been wearing an hour before when he'd left the crime lab, actually on time, which was pretty strange, because Horatio was one of those people that were still in work three hours after his shift had finished, because he had one more piece of evidence he just had to find, explain, one more thing he had to do... and just because Horatio needed to be there, needed to help the victims... the living and the dead.
"He...hey... erm..." Speed had a whole little speech practiced, but the sad look that he realised had become near permanent in Horatio's eyes no matter what else he was feeling, made it vanish from his mind.
"Can I come in?" he asked, fiddling with the corner of his shirt.
Horatio cocked his head to the side but moved to let Speed enter.
"What can I do for you Speed?" Horatio asked.
Speed gave a quirky smile... "Funny that was supposed to be my question."
Horatio took a few moments to compose an answer, but before he could get it out Speed spoke again.
"Calliegh and Eric have noticed it too you know, and I have to wonder who else has, well Yelina too, and maybe others, so the way I figure things, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you see if people are noticing, then that's going to start affecting them too, and then mistakes might be made, and mistakes cause bad things to happen right? I don't know about you, but personally I'm not in the mood for getting shot again, or for screwing up a case, or in general for bad things... H talk to me... I know there is something going on, we all do, talk to me." Speed asked, trying to maintain some sort of calm front, trying to mimic that calm, that easy manner he'd seen H use on suspects a hundred times, to get them to talk.
"You know you do a pretty good impression of me when you're trying." H said with a sad half smile.
"Horatio." Was all Speed said, just his name, no attempt to mimic the red haired man in front of him, his own pleading shining through the word.
"I'm fine, really Speed, I'm just... feeling my age." Horatio said, shrugging.
"Your age... H come on, I know I'm not on your level with the cryptic knowledge off all man kind stuff, but even I know this has nothing to do with your age. It's been... ever since I..."
"Died." H finished for him.
"I'm not dead Horatio." Speed pointed out.
"You were... I had my head against your heart, you were dead... I moved away with your blood covering my face." Horatio's voice sounded so tired, and Speed felt his heart go out to him.
"H why didn't you tell me?" Speed asked, moving closer to him.
"Tell you what? That I watched you die? That I couldn't stop it? That I wanted to go back in time and take your place in front of that bullet?" Horatio asked, all rhetorical questions, Speeds sad look ripping open all the little cracks that got bigger every time the younger CSI got hurt, because no matter how hard Horatio tried to stop it, Speed did get hurt, and it broke Horatio's heart a little more every time, because he'd done the one thing he'd never planned on... fallen in love with Timothy Speedle.
Speed didn't know what to say, he honestly hadn't expected H to tell him anything, and now... he didn't know how to handle any of what H was saying... or what he wasn't saying.
"H... Horatio..." Speed watched the older man turn away, towards the window, his hands resting on the ledge, and he did the only thing he could think of, moving behind him he wrapped his arms around Horatio's waist and just held him.
Speed felt the tension melt away, felt the light tremors that ran though Horatio, felt the pain in his chest, and somehow knew that it was mirrored in Horatio... it had never occurred to him how much him being shot had affected H, or for that matter anyone else, it never occurred to him that he wasn't the only one shot... well technically he was but... metaphorically speaking...
Horatio didn't move, soaking in the heat of Speed against his back, feeling the steady beat of Speed's heart against him, the very same heart that had stopped right under his ear, and had left Horatio wishing his own would stop too.
Speed supposed he should have felt uncomfortable, he was standing in his bosses living room, with his arms around his bosses waist, and his nose buried in his bosses neck, where he could smell his bosses very male scent, and feel his bosses pulse beat under the skin, and where his crotch rested neatly against his bosses ass, and he felt like some of this should bother him, not because it was a man, not even because it was his boss, although talk about complications, but because it was Horatio Caine, and Speed had been so busy trying to be not attracted to the man with his calm and his easy that he'd completely missed the fact he'd been falling in love with him.
"Speed..." the word was soft, a plea, a benediction, both, neither, it said every other word neither of them could say, and it said nothing at all.
Speed just burrowed his face closer into Horatio's neck and held on tighter around his waist, and pushed in closer against his back until he was sure nothing could pass between them.
It should have required more explanations, more talking, discussing, it should have required SOMETHING more than the silence, and the rightness, and... but it didn't...
Calliegh and Eric wondered what Speed had said, had done, and some days Speed himself wondered, because somehow the cracks that had been appearing were closed over again, filled in and hidden, and Horatio Caine was again calm, again the grounding station they all needed, Speed included... and it never occurred to him at all, even late at night when Speed found himself back at Horatio's place... their place... arms wrapped tightly around Horatio's waist, nose buried against the crook of Horatio's neck, touching top to toe... it never occurred to him... that maybe he was Horatio's grounding station too...