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					 CLUB DESCENT
A CSI: Miami AU Novel
      by Aeon Cole
WARNING: This story contains explicit material. There are references to violence,
abuse, bondage, torture, rape, and explicit male/male sexual content. This story is
intended for mature readers.


Club Descent is a CSI: Miami AU novel. Dr. Timothy Speedle is a professor of
biochemistry at Miami University. He was a science prodigy who received his PhD at a
very young age. He tends to be sullen and moody keeping his private life close to himself
for very good reasons. He hangs out at Club Descent, a club that caters to Miami’s gay
fetish community. One evening after a long day a redheaded stranger walks into the club
and sparks fly between he and Dr. Speedle. But not everything is straightforward.


DISCLAIMER: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of
their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.
The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media
franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.




                                   Table of Contents

                                 Introduction………...3

                                Club Descent………..4

                                Taken………………95

                                Accused…………..146




                                           2
Introduction

So, what can I say about the one thing I've written that has spawned the most, longest,
and most heated comments and emails I've ever received, even two and a half years later.
I really do have a sort of love hate relationship with this story.

Club Descent took me to places I never thought I'd go. I'm not a fan of BDSM, Dom/Sub,
or any of that. I usually stop reading if it turns up and won't start if I know it's there. So
the question I get asked most when this comes up is, why did I write a novel that in some
ways revolves around it? In a lot of ways I'm still trying to answer that question.

I had a vague notion, when I began, of what I wanted to do with the storyline. Within the
first 5000 words or so, Tim's background had solidified in my mind. Once I'd made that
decision I had to convince myself to go through with it. I wouldn't then and never will
write BDSM in the context of what purports to be a loving relationship as many do. In
my mind it's abusive and will always remain that way. So the contrast in the story is
Tim's life with Simon compared to his life with Horatio. It's the psychology that makes
the story flow.

I did a lot of research into BDSM practices that I'm sure put me on a couple of watch lists
and definitely raised my husband's eyebrows until I explained what I was doing.
Everything that comes up in Club Descent was fully researched. Everything is real in one
context or another. It all exists out there somewhere. And trust me, the internet can
become a very scary place with a simple google search.

The psychology of captives has always interested me. I think this is another reason that I
ultimately went through with writing this. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful thing and
extremely hard to overcome. A lot of people have expressed surprise over the end of part
one and the decision Tim makes but it's all part of the psychology that becomes much
clearer as the rest of the story unfolds. And of course, everything ultimately works out in
the end.

-Aeon Cole




                                              3
Thursday, October 9, 2003

Dr. Timothy Speedle paced around his lab at Miami University with the letter in his hand.
Every time he looked at it his temper flared again until he could no longer take it. He let
out a loud growl and furiously swiped his arm over one of the lab tables, scattering
beakers and test tubes to the floor. The sound of breaking glass alerted his lab assistant,
Jessica, to yet another temper tantrum from her boss. He had become more
temperamental and moody of late and she was becoming worried. She had even gone so
far as to tell him that he needed to find some guy to screw him senseless for a weekend
and that maybe that would mellow him out a bit.

She’d been working for the Chemistry Department for almost a year and she remembered
how excited she had been to be assigned to work with the renowned biochemist. He was
tops in his field, young and good-looking. Of course later on she’d found out he was also
gay. And even though his research was controversial, she was still eager to work with
him. Unfortunately, because what he did involved stem cells, he was restricted to animal
testing only. But his work on spinal cord regeneration looked promising, if only his hands
weren’t tied by a shortsighted administration.

She slowly pushed the door to the lab open and saw her boss down on the floor beginning
to clean up the mess he’d made. She sighed and shook her head then knelt down next to
him.

“Let me help you with that,” she said. She glanced at him sideways but he didn’t meet
her eyes. “What was it this time?” she asked.

Without looking at her, he stood then strode over to the trashcan and tossed out the
broken glass he’d collected. Turning back to her, he grabbed the letter he’d tossed onto
the lab table and thrust it in her direction. She took the letter from him and read it.

“I don’t need this right now, you know,” Tim said in frustration.

She looked up from the letter and said, “But you get one of these every couple of months.
I don’t see what the big deal is this time.”

“I don’t know why they have to persecute my work like this,” he said as he began pacing
again. He ran his fingers through his already ruffled hair. “They’re threatening to take my
grant away again, Jess.”

She walked over and placed a hand on his arm. “This is routine, Tim. Every time a
bigwig from Washington comes down here, the admins freak out and worry about their
federal funding. This will blow over.”

“I’m making progress, Jess. I really am. I know it’s slow, but any step forward is
progress.” He shook his head. “You, of all people, know how important this is to me.”



                                            4
Jess nodded. She knew very well just how important the idea of being able to regenerate
a damaged spinal cord was to Tim. Several months after she had started working for him
and after another one of those letters, he had taken off without saying a word to anyone.
Everyone in the department had told her to just let him be, that he did this all the time,
but she wasn’t the sort of person to simply ignore a situation like that. She’d found him at
his apartment with a bottle of scotch. That night he’d told her about Andrew, the
accident, and the ensuing year prior to his death. And he’d told her about their life
together before the accident. She'd had a much better idea of what drove her boss after
that night and they had quickly become friends.

Jess looked up at him. She wished she could look at him eye to eye but she was a head
shorter than he was so she had to rely on his willingness to look her in the eye. He stared
over her head for a moment before meeting her gaze. She recognized that look. He was
thinking of running off again.

Confirming her suspicion, he finally said, “I need to get out of here for a while.” He took
off his lab coat and tossed it onto one of the tables then he grabbed his leather jacket and
headed for the door.

Jess called after him, “Wait a minute. What about your class this afternoon?” It was
almost a rhetorical question. She knew what he was going to say.

As he donned his jacket he said, “You teach it.”

She rolled her eyes and replied, “I’m not your slave, you know.”

Tim turned to face her with a smirk. “That’s okay, you’re not my type anyway,” he
retorted.

It was then that she realized where he was going. “You’re going to that club again, aren’t
you?”

Tim walked back over to her. “What difference does it make to you where I’m going?”
he asked.

Jess shook her head and said, “I care what happens to you. And you’re just going to go
off and lose yourself in some freako fetish club, find some anonymous guy to screw and
think it’s going to make everything else go away?”

“I’m sorry but aren’t you the one who told me to do exactly that a few weeks back?”

“That’s not what I meant,” she said. “You need a relationship, stability, not a quick fuck.”

“I think I know what I need, Jess,” Tim replied. “And I promise you, it won’t be quick.”
He saw a slight blush rise on her neck and he softened his voice. “Just do my class for me
today. I promise I’ll make it up to you.”


                                             5
Jess stared into his puppy dog eyes. He always seemed to have this way of getting what
he wanted from her. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it,” she said.

He shot her a smile and headed back to the door. “Thanks, and I’ll see you Monday,” he
called over his shoulder.

She turned back to the lab table to continue with some work when what he’d just said hit
her brain. “Monday,” she muttered. Then she called to him, “But it’s only Thursday.”

“Callin’ in sick,” she heard him say as the lab door closed.

With a sigh she muttered, “Why does that not surprise me.”

                                            ooo

Outside Club Descent, Horatio Caine sat in his car contemplating his next move. It had
been a long and difficult week. There were too many cases to work and not enough
people to work them. It had been especially difficult in the months since Megan had left.
He needed a break, a distraction. He’d never been to this particular club before, but it was
far enough outside of Miami proper so that he was fairly certain that no one would
recognize him. After all it wouldn’t look good to have the head of the Miami-Dade Crime
Lab caught in a gay fetish club hooking up with some random guy for some D and S
play. Once he was convinced that nobody had followed him, he exited his car and walked
to the front entrance of the club. He had changed out of his trademark suit and into a pair
of jeans and a button-down shirt. Never having been here before he hoped that he would
not stand out too much.

Tim sat at the bar surrounded by young men. He was a regular at Club Descent and
everyone there knew him. He had changed from his fairly straight-laced professor clothes
into something more suitable to his current environment, skin-tight black leather pants
and a purple silk shirt, which he kept unbuttoned. He knew what he was looking for and
he knew exactly how to attract it. After all he was still young and with his scruffy good
looks he rarely ever had trouble picking up a partner for a weekend.

The front door to the club opened and the new patron strode up to the bar and took a seat.
Tim glanced over at him and was immediately taken. The man was tall and a bit older
than the club kids he usually saw there. He had bright red hair, which made him stand out
from the others and he had an air of authority about him. Tim couldn’t help staring and
this didn’t go unnoticed by his young entourage. One of the boys tried placing his arm
around Tim’s waist, a move designed to stake his claim, but Tim quickly brushed him off
and made his way over to the new stranger.

He took a seat next to him and ordered another scotch. Horatio looked up at the bartender
and said, “Make that two, please.”



                                             6
Tim looked over at him and said “I’ve never seen you here before. First time?”

“In this club, yes,” Horatio answered.

Then he looked over at the young man who’d addressed him. They locked eyes and for a
moment Horatio was lost. He thought that the young man in front of him was absolutely
beautiful. He was tall and thin, but not too thin. His muscular chest was visible through
his open shirt and covered in a pelt of black hair. He carried a five o’clock shadow that
seemed to suit him perfectly and head of curly black hair that looked like it had never
seen a comb. And his eyes were a deep chocolate brown and carried a sadness that just
made Horatio want to pull him into his arms. The total affect was stunning and he felt an
instant connection with the young man that scared the crap out of him. This wasn’t what
he’d come here looking for.

After a few moments Horatio became aware that he was staring and that he hadn’t said
anything. The problem was that he was suddenly very nervous and when he got nervous
he tended to lose track of his thoughts. But Tim was also lost and hadn’t even noticed the
glaring silence that was passing between them. He was staring into the most beautiful
crystal blue eyes he’d ever seen. The moment was only broken when the bartender set
their drinks down in front of them. Horatio suddenly looked away, embarrassed that he’d
been staring. He picked up his drink and took a swig, trying to steady his nerves.

Tim did the same before he asked, “So, what’s your name?”

Not sure whether or not to lie, Horatio was silent for a moment before he said, “Horatio.
What’s yours?”

“Tim,” Tim answered.

“You a regular here?” Horatio asked a bit hesitantly.

Tim shrugged. “You could say that.” They lapsed into silence again before Tim asked,
“So, what are you into?”

Horatio’s heart started pounding and he was starting to feel claustrophobic. He was
beginning to think that it was a mistake to come here. He didn’t know why this young
man was getting under his skin and he wasn’t looking for a relationship. But something
about Tim just screamed at him that if he got involved, it wouldn’t be just a one-night
stand. He downed the rest of his drink before turning back to his companion.

“Look, I um, I think… this is um, I mean…” He hated when he got tongue tied like that.
He couldn’t form any coherent thoughts while he was looking into those eyes.

Tim didn’t know where the impulse came from, but he reached out and placed one hand
at the back of Horatio’s neck and before either man knew what was happening, their lips
met. Unconsciously, Horatio opened his mouth and the kiss very quickly grew heated


                                            7
causing both men to moan. Then just a suddenly as it had begun, Horatio pulled away. He
stood up from the bar stool and took a step back.

“I’ve um… I’m sorry. I’ve gotta go,” he said quickly and disappeared through the front
door leaving Tim standing there wondering what had just happened.

                                            ooo

Friday, October 10, 2003

Friday evening, after he’d completed the last of the paperwork on his latest case, Horatio
decided to take a ride back to the club he’d visited the night before. As hard as he’d tried,
he couldn’t get the young man with the sad brown eyes off his mind. He figured if he was
a regular at the club then maybe he would be there tonight. He still had no idea what he
would do or say to him after running away the night before but the urge to see him again
was too great to ignore.

He pulled his car into the lot and shut off the engine. His keen police mind was already
surveying the parking lot, comparing it to his memory of the night before. The lot was
full of nondescript vehicles with one exception. Thursday night there had been a yellow
Ducati motorcycle parked in front of the club that was not present at the moment. He did
not know for certain that that particular vehicle belonged to the young man he’d met but
he could imagine that it was his. It seemed to fit him perfectly.

Horatio took a deep breath, steadying his nerves before he got out of his car. He could
feel his heart pounding and his palms sweating as he approached the front entrance of
Club Descent for the second time in two nights. He pulled the door open and peered
inside, not seeing the one he was looking for. He felt a strange combination of
disappointment and relief as he walked inside. He did notice that the same man was
tending bar as had been there the night before and decided he might be able to garner
some information from him.

He walked up to the bar and took a seat at the same spot he had occupied when he’d met
Tim the previous night. The bartender wandered up to him, showing no sign that he
recognized him. He ordered a scotch, just as he’d done before and waited. The bartender
returned with his drink and placed it on the counter in front of him.

Just as the man turned to leave, Horatio said, “Excuse me.”

The bartender turned back and asked, “There a problem with the drink, buddy?”

Horatio smiled. “No,” he said. “It’s fine. I was just wondering, do you remember me
from last night?”

The bartender gave him a blank stare, a move obviously well practiced and probably very
necessary in his profession, especially in a place like this where people wished to remain


                                             8
anonymous. “Lots of guys go through here every night,” he answered. “Can’t recall every
one.”

Horatio smirked and nodded his head. Years of experience in interrogating suspects told
him that the man was lying. “How many of those guys are sporting this?” he asked,
gesturing to his most distinguishing feature, the bright red hair.

The bartender looked him up and down before asking, “You a cop?”

Horatio couldn’t help smiling at the man’s perceptiveness. He’d left his badge and gun
locked safely away in his car before entering the club. But, his professionalism demanded
that he answer truthfully.

“I’m not here as a cop,” he said.

The bartender nodded. “I remember ya,” he said.

“There, um, there was a young man I was talking to last night.” Again the bartender
nodded. Horatio could tell he wasn’t going to volunteer anything too easily. “Do you
know him?” he asked.

“Nope,” the man answered quickly. “Never seen’m before.”

Again Horatio could tell he was lying. He gave the bartender a tight smile, the one he
frequently used in the interrogation room. “Funny,” he said as he glanced down at the
drink in his hand. “Because he said he was a regular here.”

The man remained silent so Horatio dug into his pocket, pulling out a small wad of bills.
He pulled twenty dollars from the pile and placed it on the table. The bartender glanced
down. He thought for a moment. He knew Tim was interested in this guy but he didn’t
know what the guy’s intentions were. He didn’t see any harm in playing along for a bit.

“Name’s Tim,” he said.

But before he could take the cash, Horatio quickly placed his hand over it. “You can do
better than that. Tell me something I don’t know,” he said smoothly.

“Speedle, Tim Speedle. Some hot-shot researcher at the university,” the man said.

That bit of information surprised Horatio. Tim hadn’t looked like a college professor. He
moved his hand away and the bartender snapped up the cash.

“Any idea if he’ll be in tonight?” Horatio asked.

“Not likely. He took off with one of the club kids last night. Won’t see him again ‘til next
weekend.”


                                             9
Horatio hid the hurt he felt at knowing that his actions had caused Tim to take off for the
weekend with someone else. He was still trying to figure out what had made him run
away like he did. He downed his drink and got up to leave when a thought struck him.

He turned back to the bartender and asked, “You know what he drives?”

The bartender raised an eyebrow so Horatio pulled another twenty out of his pocket,
holding it up just out of the man’s reach.

“Yellow motorcycle,” he answered. “One of them flashy racin’ bikes.”

Horatio handed over the bill and said thanks before leaving the club. He would head
home and do some research of his own at the university’s web site.

                                           ooo

Saturday, October 11, 2003

Tim wandered around his empty apartment. He picked up a book and sat down to read
but he couldn’t concentrate. Tossing the book onto the coffee table he picked up the TV
remote. He flipped through a few channels but couldn’t find anything worth watching so
he tossed the remote on the sofa and began pacing the room again. Ever since Thursday
night he’d had trouble concentrating on anything and he didn’t like it. He had sent the kid
that he had picked up at the club home Friday morning. He couldn’t even remember his
name. He just couldn’t get into the hook up. Even now, every time he closed his eyes, he
saw Horatio. There was only one other person who had ever gotten under his skin after
such a brief meeting like Horatio had, and he had died a long time ago.

Tim had even had a dream about the stranger Friday night that had caused him to wake
up with an almost painful hard on. Now he wondered if he would ever see the redhead
again. The whole thing was so mysterious. Why had he chosen that particular night to
walk into that particular club? He recalled looking into Horatio’s blue eyes and seeing
something hidden away, something secret. He sighed, finally fed up with his restlessness.

“This is ridiculous,” he muttered as he grabbed his helmet and headed for the door.
Maybe a ride would help clear his mind.

Not surprisingly, after driving around for almost an hour, he ended up at Club Descent.
He parked his bike, took off his helmet, and pushed his way through the front door. A
quick glance around the club revealed the usual crowd of club kids in a sea of leather, but
no denim clad redhead. Tim sighed and walked over to the bar. He didn’t really expect to
find him here tonight, not after the way he’d fled so suddenly after Tim had kissed him.
He was still kicking himself over that. It was obvious to him, in hindsight, that Horatio
was not like the others who hung out at Club Descent. He should have known that his
usual approach wouldn’t have worked.


                                            10
The bartender wandered over and said, “Hey Tim. Didn’t expect to see y'here again this
weekend.”

Tim shrugged. “Hey Max. Give me a JD, neat.”

Max reached down under the bar and pulled out a bottle and a glass. He set the glass
down in front of Tim and poured the golden liquid. Tim picked up the glass and was
about to take a sip when Max said, “That guy was here lookin' for ya yesterday.”

Tim raised an eyebrow but was only half paying attention. “What guy?” he asked.

“That redheaded dude y'scared away on Thursday,” Max answered him with a smirk.

Max had debated with himself for most of Friday night as to whether or not to tell Tim
what had happened that night. He wasn’t proud of the fact that he’d allowed himself to be
bribed into giving out personal information, though he hadn’t told the guy anything that
he couldn’t have figured out on his own eventually. Finally he decided that he owed it to
Tim to tell him what the man had said.

Tim looked up from his drink. “Really? What did he say?” He was trying not to sound
too eager but he felt a sudden adrenalin rush at Max’s words.

Max didn’t say anything at first as Tim looked at him expectantly. “He, um, was askin’ a
bunch of questions about ya.”

“What did you tell him?” Tim asked.

“Not much,” Max answered but Tim could tell he was hedging.

“What is it? What’s wrong? What did he want to know?” Tim shot the questions at him
one right after the other.

Finally Max sighed. “He’s a cop.”

Tim’s eyes widened and he placed his drink back on the bar. “Excuse me?”

“He’s a cop, Tim,” Max said again.

Tim’s mind flashed back to that night and his initial impression of the newcomer. Several
things suddenly made sense to him including his hesitancy and why he’d fled after the
kiss. Then Tim’s paranoia kicked in and even though he couldn’t deny that something
had passed between them the other night, he began wondering why a cop would be
interested in him.

                                          ooo


                                           11
Monday, October 13, 2003

Tim dragged himself to the university early Monday morning. His mood was obvious to
everyone whom he’d passed on campus and they’d all given him a wide berth. He was
silently cursing himself for having hope that maybe, for the first time in a long time, there
might be something more than a one-night stand or a quick weekend fling in his future.
Maybe even someone he could actually look forward to coming home to at the end of the
day. But he hadn’t spent more than fifteen minutes with the guy. He didn’t really
understand where that hope had come from. He hadn’t felt that drawn to anyone since
Andrew.

He’d spent the remainder of the weekend alone, his time split between moping around his
apartment and riding around the highways of Miami, losing himself in the physical thrill
of acceleration. He was on campus early, not able to stand being alone in his small
apartment any longer. He entered the lab building through the back entrance, hoping to
avoid the other faculty for the time being. He didn’t want to be alone but at the same time
he didn’t really want to talk to anyone either. At the moment he preferred the company of
his mice.

An hour later Jessica walked into the lab and found Tim standing at one of the lab tables.
She wondered how his weekend had gone and if it had improved his mood any but when
she got close enough to get a good look at him she began to worry a bit. Several things
struck her all at once. The first was that he looked like he hadn’t shaved in days. This
wasn’t all that unusual since Tim drifted back and forth between wearing a beard and not.
Jess had always liked him with a beard. She thought it made him look older, more
mature, but every time she’d told him that he’d shaved again the very next day.

He was also wearing his headphones. Again, this was not so unusual in and of itself.
They were his personal ‘do not disturb’ sign. But the shades in the lab were drawn on a
beautiful sunny day. This was very unusual and, along with the other things, indicative of
his current mood. Tim loved the sun and hated artificial light. He always had the shades
up and usually had the windows open. She approached him carefully so as not to startle
him and laid her hand gently on his arm. He glanced over at her and she could see it in
his eyes. She knew that he was subject to frequent mood swings but this was different.
Things had obviously not gone well this weekend. She gestured to his headphones. He
pulled one side of his headphones away from his ear and Jess was hit with a blast of
heavy metal music that made her wince.

“You’re gonna go deaf,” she muttered. Tim pursed his lips but he reached over and
turned off his CD player. “Morning,” she said. He answered her with a slight hum. She
let him brood for a few moments longer before she spoke again. “You wanna talk about
it?” Tim shrugged. “It’ll make you feel better if you do.”

He turned to her. “Why do you care?” he practically spat the question at her.



                                             12
She could tell he was more hurt than angry but she got defensive anyway. “What the hell
is that supposed to mean?”

“It’s a simple question, Jess. Why do you care what happened or how I feel about it?” He
didn’t know why he was lashing out at her, other than she was conveniently close and
trying to engage him in conversation.

“I thought we were friends, Tim,” she shot back. “Isn’t that what friends do, care about
each other?”

“But it’s not like there’s ever gonna be anything more between us. So why bother?”
Where the hell did that come from, he thought.

“Is that what you think? That the only reason I want to be friends with you is to get you
into bed? Well guess what, not everything is about sex, or you for that matter.” As she
turned to leave she muttered, “Forget I even asked.”

Tim let out a heavy sigh. His momentary outburst had drained the anger that had been
building up all morning. He called out to her, “Wait.” He walked over and stood in front
of her. He could see in her eyes that what he’d said had hurt her. He really hadn’t meant
to. She looked like she wanted to cry and he was kicking himself again. “I’m sorry,” he
said, looking down at her. He reached out and took her hand. “I shouldn’t take my bad
mood out on you.” He looked into her eyes. “Forgive me?”

Before she knew it she was in his arms with her head resting on his chest. His hand was
gently resting on the side of her head. “You’re just trying to help and I’m a foolish,
stubborn, idiotic,” he paused for a moment and looked down at her, “stop me any time
you like,” he said.

She giggled foolishly into his shirt. “I don’t know why I put up with you,” she joked.

“Because we’re friends, remember?” he bantered back and a chuckle escaped her lips.

“You’re something else, you know that?” she said. She pulled back and met his gaze.
“What happened this weekend?”

Tim released her and made his way back over to the lab table. Jess followed him. “Tim?”

He wasn’t going to deny her now. “I met someone,” he said.

Confused, she asked, “Well, wasn’t that the whole idea?”

“No Jess.” He turned to face her. “I met someone.”

The emphasis he put on the word met made his point and she smiled. “Really? Isn’t that a
good thing?”


                                            13
“I don’t know anymore,” Tim said cryptically. “He’s a cop.”

“So?” She still felt like she was missing something.

“He didn’t tell me he was a cop.”

She wrinkled her brow. “You spent the weekend with this guy and he didn’t tell you what
he did for a living?”

Tim shook his head. “I didn’t actually spend the weekend with him.”

“Well, what did you do?” she asked.

“I kissed him.”

“You kissed him,” she repeated. He nodded. “I think I’m still missing something here.
Why don’t you start from the beginning?”

Tim sat down heavily onto one of the lab stools and ran his fingers through his hair. “Do
you believe in love at first sight, Jess?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “You lost me,” she said. She was beginning to believe he
was purposely being obtuse.

“It’s a simple question,” he stated.

“I don’t know. I’ve never experienced it,” she answered honestly.

“The first time I saw Andrew, our eyes met and I just knew that I’d found the person that
I would spend the rest of my life with.” He had a sad smile on his face, which quickly
disappeared as he continued. “Then the accident happened and he was paralyzed. A year
later he died and I was alone again.” His eyes became distant for a moment or two. “I’ve
never had that feeling again, not in ten years. Until Thursday night, that is.”

“That’s when you met this cop?” Jess asked.

Tim nodded. “Didn’t know he was a cop then. He walked into the bar. He wasn’t like the
others, older, dressed different. Didn’t look like he belonged there.” Tim was becoming
lost in the memory of those first few moments. His voice became wistful. “He has the
bluest eyes,” he said, then he noticed Jess smiling at him and he blushed slightly.

“You are in love,” she teased. When he didn’t say anything she asked, “So what
happened next?”




                                            14
“We chatted, had a drink. He started to look nervous, a bit uncomfortable. He looked like
he wanted to run away.”

“What did you do?” she asked.

Tim took a breath. “I kissed him.”

Jess raised an eyebrow. “What did he do?”

Tim’s head fell. “He ran away.”

“That’s it?”

Tim nodded. “I found out that he returned to the club the next night. He bribed Max, the
bartender, for information about me. Max told me he was a cop. Why would a cop be
looking for me?”

“Well, maybe he wasn’t there that night as a cop. Maybe he was just a guy, looking for a
good time. Just like you,” she said. “Besides, it’s not like you’ve done anything illegal.”

“Recently,” he added.

She rolled her eyes. “Tim, smoking pot when you were in college doesn’t count anymore.
You should give this guy a chance.” He shrugged his shoulders. “Do you mind if I open
the shades?” she asked. She wasn’t used to it being so dark in the lab.

“I guess I can’t sit here in the dark all day,” he said.

Jess pulled the shades and opened the windows. When she did, Tim became aware of the
commotion outside in the quad. “What’s going on out there, a riot?” he asked as he made
his way over to the window.

“Have you been living in a hole all weekend?” After the look she got from him she said,
“Never mind. The workmen breaking ground for the new labs across the quad found a
buried body. The police have been here since yesterday.”

Tim looked out the window and saw the crime scene tape. Behind the tape he could see
people working. Then he caught sight of something that caused him to gasp. Jess looked
at him, worried. “What is it?”

Tim pointed at a redheaded man in a suit and sunglasses, standing with his hands on his
hips. He was clearly in charge of the scene. “Jess, that’s him.”

She followed his gaze. “Him?” she asked. “The guy in the suit?” Tim nodded. “The guy
in the suit? Do you know who that is?”



                                               15
Tim looked at her, confused. “Should I?”

She rolled her eyes. “I forgot, you don’t watch the news. That’s Horatio Caine, head of
the Miami-Dade Crime Lab.” Tim stared at her for a moment then redirected his attention
to the man below.

Down in the quad, Horatio was surveying the area, first at ground level then he drew his
gaze to the building in front of him. As he scanned his eyes up the building he was
suddenly drawn to an open window on the third floor. He stared in disbelief for a split
second before he removed his sunglasses and locked eyes with Tim. Eric walked up to
him but couldn’t get his attention. Horatio simply strode away toward the building
leaving Eric staring after him.

Tim backed away from the window quickly. “He’s coming up here. What do I do?”

Jess could see the desire to flee in his eyes again. “You stay here and talk to him, Tim.”
He started pacing. “Calm down,” she said but her plea fell on deaf ears.

Tim continued to pace the lab until he came face to face with Horatio. They stared at each
other for a long moment. Horatio broke the silence first. “We need to talk,” he said. The
hesitancy of the other night was gone. His voice was strong, authoritative.

“You speaking as a cop?” Tim asked.

Horatio looked down, addressing his answer to the sunglasses in his hand. “No, I’m
speaking as me.” His voice softened a bit. “I’m sorry I ran off the other night.” Tim
nodded. Horatio pulled a card out of his jacket pocket and handed it over to him. “My
cell is on the back. Can we meet somewhere tonight?”

Tim took the card and turned it over, seeing a phone number, handwritten. He looked up
at Horatio and said, “Club Descent, seven-thirty tonight.”

Horatio walked out of the science lab with his heart pounding and a silly grin on his face.
He couldn’t quite believe that that had gone as well as it had. He’d been worried that Tim
would be mad at him for running away the other night or that he might not want to see
him again. He hit the button for the elevator and waited. Seeing Tim again only
reinforced the feelings he’d had originally, that there was something there between them.
If anyone had asked him a week ago if he believed in love at first sight, he would have
said no. But now he wasn’t so sure and that idea scared him a bit. He didn’t want to rush
into anything and in reality he didn’t know Tim at all. But somehow that didn’t seem to
matter to him.

When the elevator arrived he stepped in and leaned up against the back wall. He caught
sight of his reflection as the doors closed. He still had a goofy grin on his face and
realized that he only had three floors to compose himself before he had to face his team
again. He took a couple of deep breaths and, as the elevator arrived on the ground floor,


                                            16
he did his best to put his Lieutenant Caine mask back on. He walked up to the front
entrance of the building, donned his sunglasses, and strode out into the quad as if
everything were perfectly normal.

Eric immediately walked up to him. “H, everything all right?” he asked, concerned about
his bosses quick departure a few minutes ago.

Horatio cocked his head and said, “Yes Eric, everything’s fine. What can I do for you?”

Eric paused for a moment and looked at Horatio. His instinct told him that something was
up but obviously Horatio wasn’t going to talk about it. He glanced back at the taped off
area and said, “The uh, the forensic anthropologist has some information. He said, given
the condition of the bones, the soil, and the general climate, that the body was buried at
least ten years ago, if not longer. He’ll know better when he gets the bones back to his lab
and can do some chemical tests.”

“So,” Horatio commented. “We have a cold case.” Eric gave a quick nod to confirm.
“Okay, Eric, finish collecting whatever you can then head back to the lab. We’ll turn
everything over to the cold case squad.” He turned back to the building and smiled as he
glanced up at the open window. “I’m going to head back now, Eric,” he said then strode
off toward his Hummer. Eric followed Horatio’s gaze up the side of the building to the
open window on the third floor. In the shadows of the room he could just make out two
people talking.

Tim watched from the window as Horatio walked off toward the car. He turned to Jess
and asked, “Did I just make a date with him?”

Jess chuckled at the slightly befuddled expression on her friends face. “Sounded like it to
me,” she said with a smile. “Too bad really,” she added.

Tim gave her a puzzled look. “How so?”

“All the cute ones are either taken or gay,” she said.

                                            ooo

Tim arrived at the club early. He wasn’t dressed in his usual club clothes and Max almost
didn’t recognize him. He walked up to the bar and Max stared at him for a moment.
Finally Tim said, “What?”

“Nothin’,” Max replied innocently. Max didn’t do innocent very well and Tim chuckled.
“So, ah, what’s with the…” Max gestured to his face.

“Didn’t feel like shaving,” he said with a shrug.




                                             17
“Makes y'look older. That and the clothes,” Max said. “Y'tryin’ to make this place
respectable?”

Tim was wearing jeans, a white button-down shirt, and a jacket instead of his usual
leather and silk. He looked much more like a college professor than a clubber.

“I’m meeting someone here in half an hour. I need one of the back tables,” he said,
ignoring Max’s sarcasm.

Max signaled to one of the waiters and asked him to clear a private spot in the back. Then
he turned his attention back to Tim. “So, anyone I should look out for?”

“You’ll know him when he gets here,” Tim replied. “And, by the way,” he said leaning in
close to the bar. “Keep the kids away from me tonight.”

“Whatever y'want.”

Half an hour later Horatio drove into the parking lot and pulled his car into a space next
to a yellow motorcycle. He took a moment to gather his courage before getting out of the
car. He wasn’t used to being so unsure of himself and it unnerved him a bit. He knew that
he could always resort to hiding his nervousness behind the mask of Lieutenant Caine but
he really didn’t want to do that. He wanted Tim to see who he really was.

Horatio walked into the bar and caught sight of Max. Max saw him and shook his head.
‘Only Tim,’ he thought. He gestured toward the back. “Back on the left,” he said, “He’s
waitin’ for ya.”

Horatio nodded and walked to the back of the club. He found an area with booths and
tables set up like in a restaurant. Tim waved a hand from the far corner and Horatio made
his way toward him. The room was dimly lit and he didn’t get a good look at Tim until he
was close. He was dressed differently than he had been when he’d been here before and
he still hadn’t shaved. Horatio had been surprised to see him with a beard earlier that
morning at the lab but he liked it.

“Hey,” Tim said.

Horatio ducked his head and smiled. “Hi,” he said.

Tim gestured to the booth and they took their seats opposite each other. A moment of
silence passed between them before Tim asked, “You want a drink?”

“Beer’s fine,” Horatio answered. He wanted to keep his wits about him tonight so didn’t
want to drink anything stronger. Tim signaled the waiter and he brought over two beers.

“So,” Tim said. “What did you want to talk about?”



                                           18
Horatio took a swig from his beer and a moment to gather his thoughts. “I don’t know
how you feel about this,” he said, gesturing between the two of them. “But, I feel some
sort of connection with you. I can’t explain it.”

Tim nodded. “Me too,” he said.

Horatio felt a wave of relief wash over him at Tim’s admission. He wasn’t imagining
things. “I’m not really sure what to do now,” he admitted.

“It’s been a while since I’ve had any sort of relationship, that lasted more than a couple of
days, anyway,” Tim said. “And to be honest, I hadn’t been looking for one.” Noticing the
slightly disappointed look on Horatio’s face he quickly added, “That’s not to say I’m not
willing to try.”

Horatio smiled. “So what do we do now?”

“Well, I say we take it slow, get to know each other,” Tim answered.

“Where do we start?” Horatio asked.

“Tell me about yourself. How did you become a police lieutenant?”

Horatio started talking, telling Tim about joining the police force back in New York, how
he came to Miami, joining the bomb squad, and what lead him to become a CSI. He
didn’t reveal all of the details, not yet. But he told him enough to satisfy his curiosity for
the moment. Then he turned the question back on Tim and he listened as Tim told him
about Andrew and the accident and how he ended up doing the research he was doing.
And there were things Tim didn’t tell him as well.

They talked for hours and the night seemed to fly by. Before they knew it was three in the
morning and they both realized that they would have to be at work in a few hours.
Reluctantly they decided it was time to go. They walked out of the club side-by-side,
hands touching, and up to Horatio’s car. Tim’s bike was parked in the next spot over.
Horatio glanced at the yellow motorcycle.

“That’s yours?” he asked. Tim nodded. Horatio smirked and asked, “Take me for a ride
sometime?”

Tim chuckled at the double entendre and shook his head. “Any time you like,” he
answered. “What are you doing Saturday?”

“Barring any emergencies,” he said then glanced at the bike again. “Going for a ride?”

Tim’s smile broadened and he stepped closer to Horatio almost backing him up against
his car. They stared into each other’s eyes for a moment before Tim said quietly, “I
should get going.” But he made no move to leave.


                                             19
Without breaking the eye contact, Horatio said, “Me too.” But he also made no move to
leave.

Tim leaned forward and Horatio met him half way. Their lips met, softly at first, then
Horatio opened his mouth. Tim brought his hand up to the back of Horatio’s neck as he
deepened the kiss. Horatio wrapped one arm around Tim’s waist and pulled him flush
against his body. Tim ran his tongue over every surface of Horatio’s mouth. He wanted to
learn every crevice, every tooth, and every taste. Horatio moaned into the kiss and rested
his weight back against his car.

They broke the kiss only when the need for air became too great. Both breathing heavily,
they could each feel the other’s body responding to the close contact, but, wanting to
keep their ‘take it slow’ pact, Tim took a small step back.

He gave Horatio a shy smile, glad for the cover of the night and the fact that he hadn’t
shaved, as a slight blush rose on his neck.

“I have to be at work in a few hours,” he said reluctantly.

Horatio nodded. It took him a moment to find his voice. Finally he said, “Me too.”

He watched as Tim deftly swung one leg over his bike and settled into the seat. He
rocked the bike upright and started the engine. Horatio leaned in for one last kiss then
said, “Call me Saturday morning.”

Tim agreed and, plans made, Horatio watched him speed off into the night.

                                            ooo

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Tim walked into his lab early Wednesday afternoon trying to keep his expression as
neutral as possible. He didn’t want to give anything away to Jessica. As soon as he
opened the door she looked up from her work and practically leapt at him.

“Well, how did it go?” she asked. Tim shrugged but in the end he couldn’t keep a straight
face. She looked at him expectantly and smiled. “So, do we get to keep our jobs?”

“For another year, at least,” he finally said and he hugged her tight.

She was grinning like a Cheshire cat into his shirt. “We should celebrate,” she suggested.
“Go out for lunch maybe.”

Tim smiled at her. “Good idea. But there’s something I have to do first.”



                                             20
He excused himself and headed over to his office to make a phone call. He already had
Horatio’s number on speed dial. He’d called him Tuesday morning after he’d gotten
notice of the grant hearing set for the next day. He’d called him again that afternoon to
get his opinion on his speech to the committee. Then again that evening when he’d been
too worked up and nervous to get to sleep. They’d talked for a while until Tim felt
relaxed enough to sleep and parted with the promise that he would call Wednesday with
the news as soon as he found anything out.

                                            ooo

Horatio was just walking into his office when he felt his cell phone vibrate. He pulled it
out of his jacket pocket and looked at the caller id. He opened it quickly and said,
“How’d it go?”

“Renewed for another year,” Tim replied.

Horatio could hear the relief in his voice. “That’s great news,” he said enthusiastically.

“Look, I, um, I’m gonna go to the club tonight. Y’know, to celebrate,” Tim said. “I don’t
suppose you’re doing anything later?”

“I guess, I’m meeting you at the club tonight,” Horatio answered. “What time will you be
there?”

“I’m off after my last class. I guess around five.”

“Mmm, must be nice,” Horatio griped. “I probably won’t be free ‘till after seven. I have a
meeting later and I don’t know how long it will take.”

Tim laughed. “I’ll wait for you,” he said. “And dress casual.”

                                            ooo

Horatio pulled into the parking lot a bit later than he’d planned, but a last minute meeting
with the chief regarding one of their cases had run a much longer than he’d expected. It
was a warm night so as he stepped out of his car he removed his jacket and tossed it onto
the front seat. Tim had said to dress casual after all. He walked into the club and caught
Max’s eye. The bartender smiled at him and gestured toward the dance floor.

Horatio followed Max’s gaze and, after a moment, he caught sight of Tim and smiled. He
was out on the floor completely absorbed in the music, not dancing with anyone in
particular. He was wearing his club clothes again and had shaved. He spun around and
glimpsed Horatio at the bar. He smiled at him but didn’t stop moving to the music. If
anything his movements became more provocative now that he knew he was being
watched. Horatio couldn’t tear his eyes away.



                                             21
He watched as a leather-clad young man danced up to Tim and he felt a twinge of
something he didn’t expect, jealousy. Tim brushed the young man off and he danced
away to try his luck elsewhere. Horatio didn’t think that he’d visibly reacted until Max
came up behind him and placed a beer on the bar.

“Relax,” he said. “He’s been turning'm away all night.” Horatio turned to face him.
“They’re attracted to'm like moths to a flame.” Max smirked. “Y'got yer work cut out
for’ya buddy,” he said finally and pushed the beer toward Horatio.

Horatio grabbed the bottle and took a swig. He shifted his gaze back to the dance floor
just in time to see another young man vie for Tim’s attention. He felt the hairs on the
back of his neck bristle. He watched Tim try to dissuade the guy but he wasn’t having
any of it. He continued to press forward and Horatio could see what looked like fear in
Tim’s eyes. He decided enough was enough. He hopped off the bar stool and strode out
onto the dance floor.

He stepped up behind the guy, took hold of his wrist and spun him around. Tim watched
as Horatio stared the guy down and his sudden display of dominance was getting Tim
excited. After a moment the guy rested his arm from Horatio’s grasp and stalked off
toward the bar. Tim looked up into the redhead’s eyes and saw a look he could only
describe as feral. Without breaking eye contact Horatio snaked one arm out and around
Tim’s waist, pulling the younger man close. They moved as one to the music as Horatio
slowly maneuvered them toward the back of the club and off the dance floor. They ended
up in a darkened corner out of sight of the other patrons.

He backed Tim up against a wall and in full dominant possessive mode, claimed his
mouth for a heated kiss. Tim opened up to the assault and Horatio swept his tongue
through dragging a sigh from his companion. Tim wrapped his arms around Horatio’s
neck and one leg around his in an attempt to bring him even closer. He pushed his hips
forward and Horatio moaned into the kiss. They had both reached the point of no return.

Horatio reached down and popped the first button on Tim’s pants and, sensing no
resistance, continued down until Tim’s erection sprung free. As Horatio began to stroke
him, Tim broke the kiss and let his head fall back against the wall, breathing heavily and
giving Horatio access to his neck. Horatio kissed his way down his jaw as Tim blindly
reached for the button on Horatio’s pants. He slipped his hand inside his boxers and
Horatio groaned but he quickly batted Tim’s hand away and took both of their cocks in
with one hand. He wasn’t gentle but, at the moment, neither was looking for gentle. Tim
braced his hands against the wall behind him and moaned again as Horatio latched onto a
spot on his neck and suckled as he stroked them both.

Tim leaned his full weight back against the wall and began moving his hips in time with
Horatio’s hand. He was moaning with abandon and both men were glad for the pounding
beat of the music to cover the sounds. Tim’s movements were becoming more erratic.

“Oh God,” he breathed. “I’m gonna…”


                                           22
Horatio quickly covered Tim’s mouth with is own and swallowed his scream as he came.
A few more quick pulls and Horatio followed him. He collapsed forward, leaning his
weight on Tim who was being supported by the wall. It took both men a few moments to
recover enough to get their footing again. When they did, Tim took Horatio’s hand and
pulled him into the bathroom to clean up. It took Horatio a few minutes to regain his
senses and when he did he realized he was probably a little rougher than he’d meant to
be.

“You okay?” he asked looking over at Tim who still looked a bit dazed.

Tim quickly finished drying his hands and stepped up in front of Horatio. He rested his
arms on Horatio’s shoulders while Horatio circled his around Tim’s waist.

“I’m just fine,” Tim said and leaned in to capture Horatio’s mouth.

The kiss was slower, gentler, than before. After a few moments they pulled apart and
stared into each other’s eyes. Horatio smiled.

“So, you want a drink?” he asked.

Tim chuckled. “Yeah. I think I need one.”

As they walked out Tim took Horatio’s hand and pulled him onto the dance floor. The
music had changed and was providing a slower more sensual beat. Horatio turned Tim
around and pulled him back flush against his body, laying one hand on his stomach and
the other on his hip. As they moved to the music, Horatio marveled at how well their
bodies fit together. Tim was almost as tall as he was but not quite, giving Horatio the
height advantage. He was just tall enough to let his head rest back on Horatio’s shoulder
as they danced. They never did make it back to the bar for that drink.

It had been a long day for both of them and they began to tire fairly early. Reluctantly,
they decided it was time to leave and they walked out of the club holding hands. They
stopped in front of Horatio’s car.

Tim looked into Horatio’s eyes. “I don’t suppose that you want to come back to my place
tonight?” he asked.

Horatio ducked his head and smiled. “I, um, I don’t…”

“It’s okay,” Tim interrupted. “Slow, right?”

Horatio chuckled. “I think slow took a little vacation tonight. You don’t mind, do you?”

Tim leaned in a kissed him. “It’s fine. How ‘bout we go back to the original plan?” he
suggested.


                                            23
“Saturday,” Horatio said.

“Saturday,” Tim concurred.

“Looking forward to it,” Horatio said with a smile.

                                            ooo

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Horatio pulled his cell phone out of his jacket pocket and dialed Tim’s number. He felt
bad about doing this but he’d just picked up a case that would keep him busy well into
the night. He’d been very happy when Tim had called and asked him to come have a
drink with him after work tonight. And after their little rendezvous the night before, he
was looking forward to the chance to just sit and talk with him for a while.

Tim sat at the bar sipping his drink, a little bummed out that Horatio had had to cancel.
He’d been looking forward to spending another evening with him, but at least they still
had plans for the weekend and he was really looking forward to taking him for a ride on
his bike. He had debated with himself as to whether or not to even come to the club
tonight after Horatio’s call, but it beat sitting at home alone and at least he could hang out
with Max. He’d been sitting there for a couple of hours drinking, listening to the music,
and watching the kids dance. Every so often one would approach him but each time he
said he wasn’t interested. After their date the night before, he really had no desire to
dance with anyone but Horatio.

He was trying to be inconspicuous. He was wearing the same clothes he’d worn to work
so he didn’t look like a clubber. He’d even driven his car to the club instead of his
motorcycle. Given his history at Club Descent, he was hoping to fly under the radar for a
while. Unfortunately for Tim, someone else had other ideas. He didn’t hear the man step
up behind him until he leaned in close and spoke into his ear.

“Hey, Timmy. How’s it goin’?” the man said somewhat menacingly.

The voice made the hairs at the back of Tim’s neck stand up and he immediately
stiffened. The man sat down on the stool next to him and laid his hands on the bar. Tim
glanced to the side and saw the bruise circling his right wrist, left there by Horatio the
night before.

“Simon,” Tim said, trying to keep his voice steady.

He’d been surprised to see Simon at the club the night before. But he should have known
better since Simon always seemed to show up at the worst possible time. It had been
almost two months since he’d seen him and he was starting to feel like maybe this time
he was free. But he was determined, this time around, not to let Simon get the upper


                                             24
hand. He had no intentions of letting him jeopardize his burgeoning relationship with
Horatio.

“So where’s your new friend tonight, Timmy,” Simon asked. Tim didn’t answer. “You
know, I really don’t understand you sometimes. That guy’s gotta be what, like, fifteen
years older than you. I go away for a couple months and you develop an interest in
fossils.”

Tim was getting pretty pissed off by this time. He knew he should just ignore Simon but
somehow he couldn’t. He could deal with him picking on him but not Horatio.

“Fuck you, Simon,” he muttered into his drink.

A smile worked its way across Simon’s face. “Now, see, that’s just what I was hoping for
tonight.” He leaned over close to Tim and said, “I knew you missed me, lover.”

Tim tried to keep the shocked expression from his face. The last thing he wanted right
now was Simon touching him anywhere. He was beginning to wonder just what it was
he’d seen in Simon in the first place. He stared straight ahead, unable to look the other
man in the face.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I meant to say, ‘fuck off, Simon.’”

Simon’s expression quickly darkened. He grabbed Tim’s arm and spun him around on the
stool, spilling his drink. “Since when do you talk to me like that,” he practically yelled.

Tim was suddenly regretting his bravado. He knew how Simon could get when he was
angry and he tried to hide his fear. Then, out of nowhere, a large, meaty hand landed on
Simon’s shoulder and pulled him back away from Tim.

“I think it’s time for ya t'leave now,” Max said, his voice booming.

Simon was no lightweight but Max stood six foot four inches and weighed in at two
hundred ninety pounds, most of it muscle. There was really no arguing with him. He
dragged Simon to the front entrance and, with a warning to him not to return, he pushed
him through the door.

He walked back to Tim, who still looked stunned, and said, “I don’t know what y’ever
saw in that guy.” He went around behind the bar and poured Tim another drink. It didn’t
get past him though that Tim’s hand was shaking when he picked up the glass.

Two hours and several shots later, Tim decided that it was probably safe to go out to his
car. He tossed some cash onto the bar to cover his tab but when he stood up he swayed
slightly.

Max looked at him and asked, “Where d'ya think yer goin’?”


                                            25
“Home,” Tim answered.

“Ya’d never make it home on that death machine of a motorcycle y'drive. Y'can barely
stand.”

“Got my car tonight, Max,” he said, just a hint of a slur in his voice.

“Good,” Max said. “Then I’m drivin’ y'home.”

“I’m perfectly fine,” Tim tried to argued.

“No yer not,” Max said. “Now gimme yer keys.”

Tim rolled his eyes but tossed his keys onto the bar. Max was a good friend and Tim
knew he was just looking out for him.

“Gimme ten minutes,” Max said.

“I’ll meet you outside. I need some air,” Tim replied as he headed for the door,
staggering slightly.

He stepped out of the club and into the cool night air. He stood by the entrance and
stretched his tired muscles. His head was still spinning and he staggered back just a bit.
Maybe the idea of driving himself home hadn’t been such a good one, he thought. He
took a few steps away from the entrance and was suddenly grabbed from behind. His left
arm was pulled up behind his back and a hand clamped down over his mouth.

“You’ve been a bad boy, Timmy,” Simon said into his ear as he pulled him around to the
side of the building.

Tim tried to struggle out of Simon’s grip but the other man was too strong for him and he
was too drunk. Then next thing he knew he was pushed up against the side of the building
and his head hit the wall. He winced in pain. Simon grabbed his other arm and pulled it
up behind him, clamping both of Tim’s wrists in one hand. He pressed himself up against
Tim’s body and Tim’s eyes widened in shock as he felt Simon’s erection through his
jeans and realized what he was about to do. Again he struggled but that just seemed to get
Simon more excited.

Max walked out of the front entrance with Tim’s keys in his hand and looked around. He
saw Tim’s car but was a bit distressed not to see Tim anywhere. He knew that he’d come
outside and he hadn’t seen him go back in. Thinking that he heard voices around the side
of the club, he went to investigate.

“I’m gonna teach you a lesson about who you belong to, Timmy,” Simon said as he
reached around for the button on Tim’s pants.


                                             26
But before he could do anything else, he was pulled away and thrown to the ground. Max
reached down with one hand and pulled him to his feet while his fist connected with his
jaw sending him staggering back.

“Get off the property before I call the cops,” Max boomed.

Simon rubbed his jaw and glared at Max, then he turned and staggered off. Max ran over
to Tim who was still leaning up against the wall. When he placed a hand on his shoulder
and Tim flinched.

“It’s okay, Tim. It’s me,” Max said softly.

“Max?”

“Yeah, come on,” he said as he pulled Tim away from the wall.

When Max turned him around he saw that he had a small cut on the side of his forehead
and his eyes were a bit glazed over. He recognized that his friend was in shock and he
knew that the bump on his head was not enough to cause that, but knowing what he’d just
saved him from, he wasn’t surprised.

“Let’s get y'home,” he said and led Tim over to his car.

Both men were quiet on the ride home. Tim sat staring out the side window. All he kept
thinking was how glad he was that Horatio wasn’t with him tonight. He didn’t need him
to know about his past relationship with Simon. He certainly didn’t need him to know
about the abuse. Only Max knew about that and even he didn’t know everything.

When they arrived at Tim’s apartment, Max followed him inside. Tim turned to him and
said sourly, “I’m fine. I don’t need a babysitter.”

Max ignored him and went into the bathroom returning with a first aid kit. “Should clean
up that cut on yer head,” he said. “Sit over on the couch.”

Tim sighed but did as he was told. The alcohol stung worse than the hitting the wall had
and he cursed. Max just smiled and finished cleaning his wound.

“Not too bad,” he said. “Gonna have a good bump there though.”

Tim pulled his head away and wouldn’t meet Max's eyes. Max placed a hand on his
shoulder. He had known Tim for almost five years and unfortunately they’d been in this
same position before, and more than once.

Max watched his friend for a few moments before he said, “Maybe y'should get some
sleep. I’ll stay out here on the sofa.”


                                              27
Tim didn’t say anything and didn’t argue. He knew he would feel safer with Max there.
He dragged himself into his bedroom and as he flopped down onto the bed his cell phone
rang. He pulled it out of his pocket and answered it absently.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Hey, did I wake you up?” Horatio said.

Tim was silent for a moment. “Uh, no… what’s up?”

“You sure, because you sound like I woke you up.”

Tim closed his eyes and tried hard to compose himself. “Maybe a little,” he said finally.

“Sorry. I just called to apologize again for having to cancel tonight. And to say good
night.”

Tim smiled despite himself. “I’m glad you did,” he said.

“I don’t suppose I could make it up to you tomorrow?” Horatio asked.

“I, ah, I’m actually not feeling too well,” Tim lied. “I think I’m just gonna stay home and
rest tomorrow.”

“Nothing serious, I hope,” Horatio said in a concerned tone.

“No,” Tim answered quickly. “Just a bit under the weather. It’s been a long week. But
we’re still on for Saturday, right?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Horatio said. “Well, have a good sleep and rest up tomorrow.”

“Will do,” Tim said.

“Okay, well, feel better and I’ll talk to you tomorrow night.”

“Thanks,” Tim said before he hung up.

He stared at the phone in his hand for a few moments before placing it on the night table.
He quickly stripped out of his clothes then downed a couple of aspirin to try to ward off
the headache he could feel coming on. He climbed into bed and hugged his pillow,
wishing it was Horatio in his arms instead. He could still feel Simon’s hands on him and
he started shaking as he thought just how close he’d come to having something very
unpleasant happen to him, again. He hugged his pillow tighter as the tears started to fall
and he thought about how fucked up his life had become. He closed his eyes and tried to



                                            28
picture Horatio’s face, feel Horatio’s body pressed up against his, as he drifted off into a
restless sleep.

                                           ooo

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Horatio drove down the tight-knit streets of suburban Miami looking for the apartment
complex that Tim had described. He knew the area and had driven past the garden
apartments to the west of the university before. Tim’s was a ground floor unit with a
driveway so he figured it would be easy to spot, and he was right. He saw the yellow
motorcycle from half a block away. Horatio pulled his car into the driveway behind
Tim’s and as he got out, the front door opened and Tim stepped onto the porch waving.
As Horatio approached his eyes went straight to the wound on Tim’s forehead and he was
suddenly filled with concern.

He walked right up to him and said, “What happened to you?”

“Hi, how are you? Nice to see you again,” Tim replied with a hint of sarcasm.

Horatio ducked his head and smiled. “Hi,” he said and leaned in for a quick kiss. “Sorry.
Now what happened?” he added, gesturing toward Tim’s head.

Tim looked away for a moment then back at Horatio but didn’t meet his eyes. “Just an
accident,” he said. Horatio raised an eyebrow. “At the, uh, lab. I was, um, standing too
close to the door when Jess open it.”

Horatio winced. “You should be more careful,” he said.

Tim rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I’ll have to try that some day.” Horatio chuckled and Tim
was satisfied that he believed his story. “Let me just grab my stuff,” he said and reached
just inside the door. He came out with a small cooler and his leather jacket. Horatio eyed
the cooler. “I made some sandwiches.”

Tim strapped the cooler to the bike then swung his leg over and settled onto the seat. He
looked back at Horatio who took his cue and settled in behind Tim. He placed his feet up
on the bars but as he snaked his arms around Tim’s waist to hold on he felt him stiffen
slightly.

“This okay?” he asked.

Tim relaxed immediately. “Very okay,” he answered, silently reminding himself that this
was Horatio and not Simon.




                                            29
He kept close to the speed limit while driving through the city but as soon as they hit the
countryside he opened the throttle and gunned the engine. He wanted to get as far away
from Miami and Simon as he could, even if it was just for the day.

They had been riding for a couple of hours when Tim drove the bike into a small park in
the far west of Dade County. He pulled up under a large willow tree and parked.

“This is a good place for a picnic,” Tim said. “I come here a lot.”

Horatio glanced around and smiled. “It’s beautiful,” he said.

“Yeah,” Tim concurred. “Sometimes I just have to get out of the city. I love this spot. It’s
quiet and private.”

Horatio noticed that there were no other people around. “How did you find it?” he asked.
The place was so out of the way, he couldn’t imagine someone just running across it.

“Just riding around and exploring when I first moved here from New York,” Tim
answered.

He reached into one of his saddlebags and pulled out a sheet. He spread it out on a flat
piece of ground under the tree. Then he unhooked the cooler from the bike and set it on
the sheet.

“Hungry,” he asked and Horatio’s stomach grumbled in response. He nodded. “Hope you
don’t mind tuna fish.”

They sat eating their lunch and enjoying the scenery. After they finished eating Horatio
sat back against the tree trunk and reached a hand out for Tim who settle in between his
legs with his back resting on Horatio’s chest. Horatio wrapped his arms around Tim’s
waist.

“Thanks for lunch,” he said softly.

Tim smiled. “It was just tuna fish. No big deal.”

“Maybe,” Horatio said. “But you did go to the trouble. Saying thanks is the least I could
do.”

Tim blushed slightly. He wasn’t used to his lovers being so considerate. Horatio leaned
his head forward and began nibbling lightly on Tim’s ear. Tim sighed and moved his
head to the side to give Horatio better access. At the same time he felt Horatio’s hand slip
up and under his t-shirt and glide lightly over his stomach. He shivered at his gentle
touch.

“Cold?” Horatio asked.


                                            30
“No,” Tim breathed and one side of Horatio’s mouth quirked up knowingly.

He let one of his hands move down and slip into the waistband of Tim’s jeans. His
fingers just ghosted over the tip of his rapidly growing erection and Tim drew in a quick
breath. He let his head fall back onto Horatio’s shoulder as Horatio worked his hand
further down into his jeans. With his free hand he popped the button and opened the
zipper, giving him greater access. His touch was so gentle that Tim didn’t know what to
do with himself. His position didn’t allow him to do anything but lie there and let Horatio
have his way with him. He decided to simply give in and trust him.

Horatio freed him from his boxers and Tim shivered again as the air hit his warm flesh.
Ever so gently Horatio wrapped his long fingers around his shaft and ran his thumb
across the tip sending shudders through Tim’s body. As Horatio stroked his cock, he
slipped his other hand under his shirt and began caressing his stomach and chest. Tim
was being overwhelmed by Horatio’s loving caresses. He had long ago begun to associate
pleasure with pain when it came to sex. But this was different. Horatio was different. He
wasn’t Simon, or one of the club kids. This reminded him of his time with Andrew,
something that seemed like a lifetime ago.

Horatio continued his gentle stroking and as the ripples of pleasure built, Tim could no
longer control his emotions. Tears began to stream down his cheeks. Horatio noticed and
slowed his movements, almost stopping.

“Hey,” he said softly into Tim’s ear. “I’m not hurting you, am I?”

Tim quickly shook his head. “Don’t stop,” he practically sobbed and pushed his hips up.

Horatio resumed his caresses trying to be more gentle than before and, still not sure why
he was crying, began whispering soothing words in his ear. Somehow this only seemed to
fuel Tim’s emotional turmoil instead of calm him. Horatio couldn’t figure why he was
reacting like this, though at the same time he seemed to be enjoying the experience. He
knew Tim was close. His breathing was ragged, interspersed with sobs. He felt Tim grip
his legs and thrust up. His release finally came with a loud sob and Horatio kept stroking
him until he was completely spent.

Tim collapsed back onto Horatio and tried hard to compose himself. It had been so long
since he’d experienced kindness during sex that every time he thought of it his emotions
surged again. He felt Horatio clean him up and tuck him back in. Instinctively he turned,
nuzzling into the crook of Horatio’s neck and pulling his legs up protectively. Horatio
wrapped his arms around him and started stroking his hair.

“You okay?” he asked. “I’m sorry if I did anything…”

Tim shook his head. “No,” he said through a sniffle. He brought his hand up and wiped
his face. “It’s just,” he started to say but he couldn’t bring himself to say what was on the


                                             31
tip of his tongue. That it was the first time in a long time that someone had been so
gentle, so kind and loving with him. That it was the first time that he wasn’t hurt or
beaten first. He couldn’t let Horatio know these things. He finally said, “It’s just, that I
think I’m falling in love with you. And I’m scared.”

Horatio tightened his arms around him. “Of what?” he whispered.

Again he couldn’t tell him the truth. Of Simon. Of what he would do if he found out. Or
of what he might do to Horatio. All he said was “Hold me.” Horatio did. And he knew, at
that moment, that he would never let go, could never let go.

They pulled into Tim’s driveway well after sunset and Horatio walked him to the front
door. This was Tim’s last chance this evening and he knew it. He wrapped his arms
around Horatio’s neck and took his mouth for a slow kiss. When he pulled back he asked
quietly, “Stay with me tonight?”

By way of answering Horatio leaned in and claimed Tim’s mouth for another kiss.
“You’ll have to open the door first,” he said when he pulled back.

Tim fumbled with the key for a moment before finally getting the door unlocked. He
pulled Horatio into the apartment then closed and locked the door. He pulled him in for
another kiss. When he broke the kiss he looked into Horatio’s eyes and again Horatio
could see the sadness that had been there when they’d first met.

He brushed his had gently over Tim’s cheek. Tim closed his eyes and said ever so softly,
“I want you to make love to me.”

Horatio nodded and Tim led him to his bedroom. Tim shivered as Horatio undressed him
slowly then took him gently amid soft kisses and whispered words. Again he wept and
again Horatio wondered why. After, they lay huddled together, neither spoke for the
longest time. As sleep began to overtake them, Tim thought he heard Horatio say, “I
think I falling in love with you too.”

                                            ooo

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The shrill buzzing of Horatio’s cell phone woke them up. Horatio glanced at the clock
and noticed that it was only four-thirty. He grabbed his phone and looking at the screen,
he muttered a curse.

“Dispatch,” he said still groggy. “I’m on call today.” He answered the call and took the
information, promising to be there as soon as he could. “I’ve gotta go,” he said
reluctantly.

“I understand,” Tim said a little disappointed. “Duty calls.”


                                            32
Horatio rolled out of bed and got dressed. Tim threw on his t-shirt and boxers so he could
walk Horatio to the door. Horatio opened the front door then turned back to Tim. He took
Tim’s face in his hands and softly kissed his lips. Tim wrapped his arms around Horatio’s
waist.

Horatio looked into his eyes and said, “I love you.”

Tim’s heart skipped a couple of beats at his words. “I love you too,” he breathed.

Horatio sighed. “I have to go. Thanks for the ride, and everything.” He leaned in for one
last kiss. “I’ll call you later.” Tim watched Horatio get into his car and drive off.

He decided to go back to sleep for a few more hours. He slipped back into bed and
hugged Horatio’s pillow close to him. He inhaled deeply and closed his eyes. The pillow
still smelled like him. He began to drift off to sleep with a small smile on his face.

“Well, isn’t this just too cute. Timmy’s in love.”

Tim’s eyes shot open and he caught sight of someone standing in the corner of his
bedroom. “Simon.”

                                            ooo

Horatio walked into his house and tossed his keys onto the side table then headed for his
bedroom. He needed to shower and change into his work clothes before heading out to
the crime scene. He showered quickly then got dressed. He clipped his badge and weapon
to his belt then reached over to the night table for his cell phone. It wasn’t there. He
looked all around the table thinking it may have fallen off. Suddenly he froze. In his
minds eye he saw himself toss the phone on Tim’s night table after the call from dispatch,
but he didn’t see himself pick it up again. He muttered a curse. He couldn’t go to a scene
without his phone.

He walked out into the hallway, picked up the house phone and dialed Eric Delko’s
number. When Eric picked up he said, “Eric, I need a favor. There’s a scene over in West
Miami that needs processing. Is there any way you can take it?”

“Sure H. Give me the info,” he replied. Horatio read off the address and the other
information that dispatch had given him. Then Eric asked, “Is everything all right?”

Horatio sighed. “I stayed at a friend’s last night and I left my cell phone there this
morning. I need to go back and get it,” he replied, a bit embarrassed.

“No problem, H. I got you covered,” Eric told him with a slight chuckle. “Hope she was
worth it,” he added just before he hung up. Horatio rolled his eyes.



                                             33
He picked up the phone again and dialed Tim’s number but it went straight to voice mail.
Again he muttered a curse. Tim had turned his phone off last night and probably hadn’t
turned it on again. He’d just have to go back there and hope that he was still awake.

As he parked his car in Tim’s driveway, he looked at his watch. An hour had passed and
he was afraid that Tim might have gone back to sleep. But as he made his way up the
path, he noticed that the front door was slightly ajar and all of his instincts as a police
officer kicked in. Something was wrong he could feel it.

He drew his weapon and approached the door, pushing it open slowly and checking the
front room before stepping inside. He could hear what sounded like a scuffle coming
from the back of the apartment, in the bedroom. As he made his way down the hall he
heard a male voice say, “You’ve been a bad boy, Timmy.” Then he heard a thud and Tim
cry out.

He kicked the bedroom door open and yelled, “Miami-Dade police. Freeze,” just as
Simon landed another kick to Tim’s back. “Step away from him. Now!”

Simon raised his hands in the air and took a step back. He looked down at Tim and said,
“Lover boy’s a cop?”

Horatio approached slowly with his weapon pointed directly at Simon’s head. But he
made a fatal mistake when he got close enough to see Tim lying on the floor. He took his
eyes off Simon for just a second but it was enough time for him to push Horatio back and
flee the room. Horatio had a split second decision to make, give chase or stay and help
Tim. He stayed.

Tim was lying on the floor curled into a fetal position. Horatio knelt down next to him
and placed a hand on his arm. Tim violently pulled away from him.

He started whimpering. “No. I’m sorry Simon. I’ll be good.” He pulled his legs in tighter
to his body.

Horatio tried to touch him again but he flinched. “Tim, it’s Horatio. Please let me help
you.” He reached out again and this time Tim didn’t pull away. He sat on the floor and
pulled Tim into his arms.

It was Horatio’s scent that finally convinced Tim that he wasn’t hallucinating. “Horatio?”
he muttered.

Horatio held him close. “Yes, it’s me,” he said trying to keep himself calm, for Tim’s
sake.

Tim grabbed a fist full of Horatio’s shirt in each hand and laid his head on Horatio’s
chest. “I thought I’d never see you again,” he mumbled. He started to shiver. “I’m cold,”
he said.


                                            34
Horatio was worried that he might be going into shock. “Can you stand up?” he asked.

Tim nodded and Horatio helped him up then sat him down on the bed. Tim wrapped his
arms around his chest. Horatio picked up the jeans that had been discarded the night
before. “Here, put these on. I need to make a phone call.”

Tim was still dazed but he managed to get his pants on while Horatio dialed his cell
phone. Holding the phone between his ear and shoulder, he wrapped a blanket around
Tim then sat on the bed and pulled him into his arms. Tim curled into Horatio’s embrace.

After a few rings, a sleepy voice answered. “Hello.”

“Calleigh, it’s Horatio. I need your help.”

Half an hour later Tim sat huddled on his sofa with his knees pulled up to his chest
leaning up against Horatio. Horatio had left the front door ajar but kept his gun at the
ready in case Simon returned. He heard a sound on the front porch and looked up to see
Calleigh standing in the doorway staring at him. He felt Tim stiffen.

“It’s okay,” he said. “She’s a friend. She’s going to process the house, and us, for
evidence.” He went to stand up but Tim tightened his hold on his shirt. “I’ll be right back.
I promise. I need to talk to her for a minute.”

Tim nodded and Horatio walked up to Calleigh. He glanced back at Tim for a moment
before addressing his CSI. “Someone broke in this morning.” He glanced back at Tim
again. “He was beaten pretty badly. I, ah, I came in and scared the guy away.”

Calleigh nodded her understanding. “Where do you want me to start?”

“Bedroom, back there,” he said gesturing down the hallway. “That’s where I found
them.”

Calleigh glanced over at the man on the sofa, taking in his dazed expression and
defensive posture. “Horatio,” she said. “I have to ask you this. Do you think he was
sexually assaulted?”

She saw a shudder run through him and he closed his eyes for a moment but he quickly
brought himself back under control. “I, ah, I don’t know. He’s not really talking much
yet.”

“I’ll process for biologicals as well as trace,” she said.

“Calleigh, there’s something else you should know.” He paused for a moment. “I was
here last night.” Glancing back at the sofa he said, “He and I are, well, I mean to say, he’s
my…”


                                              35
“What your trying to say is that some of those biologicals are yours?” she asked, trying to
hide her surprise. Horatio nodded “Did you use a condom?” Again he nodded. “So, then,
any loose biologicals could belong to our suspect,” she posited.

“I’ve also probably contaminated the scene,” he added.

“Okay. I’ll have to process both of you then,” she said.

He gave her a weak smile. “Thanks.”

Calleigh glanced back at the man on the sofa again, this time with the understanding that
he was Horatio’s lover. She placed a comforting hand on his arm. “What’s his name?”
she asked.

“Tim,” he answered. “Tim Speedle. He’s a professor at the university.”

She could see the pain in his eyes, though he did his best to hide it. “I’m sorry,” she said.

She couldn’t think of anything worse happening to Horatio than to have someone he
loved hurt like this. She watched for a moment while Horatio went back to the sofa and
gathered Tim up, wrapping his arms around him protectively.

A short while later Frank Tripp appeared at the door. He stood there watching Horatio for
a few moments before clearing his throat. Horatio sat up a bit but didn’t loosen his hold
on Tim.

“Horatio, what’s goin’ on?” Frank asked.

“Calleigh’s in the back room. She’s the lead on this,” he said. “I’m part of the scene.”

Tripp nodded. “Okay. Where do you want the uniforms?”

“This guy might come back, Frank. Position them around the building.”

“Gonna need a description,” Frank said. Horatio nodded. “I’ll, ah, go check with
Calleigh.”

Frank walked to the back of the apartment, still wanting to ask Horatio exactly what was
going on, just as several uniformed officers stepped through the front door.

“Lieutenant?” one of them questioned. They were all staring at him.

“Take a perimeter around the building. Don’t let anyone near who doesn’t have police
ID,” he said. The three officers exchanged glances. “Go,” Horatio ordered.



                                             36
He felt Tim begin to relax in his arms and as Tim unfolded his legs he winced in pain.
Horatio loosened his hold to allow him to shift his position and sit up a bit. He rested his
head on Horatio’s shoulder.

“Felling any better?” Horatio asked.

Tim shrugged. “Everything hurts,” Tim said quietly. The shock was wearing off and he
was beginning to feel his bruised body again.

“We should get you checked out. I can call for paramedics,” he offered.

Tim shook his head. “No need.” Horatio looked over at him obviously not convinced.
“It’s not the first time,” was all Tim said. They sat in silence for a few minutes before
Tim said, “Sorry.”

“For what?” Horatio ask confused.

Tim pulled back enough to look Horatio in the eyes. “I saw the way they were looking at
you. You weren’t out, were you?”

Horatio looked down and shook his head. “No. But I guess I am now.”

“Is it going to be a problem for you?”

Horatio sighed. “Well, there’s no law against being a gay cop,” he said. “But, I don’t
want you to worry about that, okay?”

Tim nodded. “If you say so,” he said and laid his head back down.

“I do,” Horatio said. “Tim?” Tim looked up at him. “I recognized that guy from the club
the other night. He’s the one I scared off, isn’t he?”

Tim nodded. Then after a moment he said, “Simon.”

                                            ooo

Frank found Calleigh in the bedroom. She was standing just inside the doorway staring
into the room doing what Frank tended to refer to as ‘that CSI voodoo thing.’ She was
scanning her eyes back and forth, up and down, and he had no idea what she was seeing.
He cleared his throat, breaking the spell she was under. She turned to face him.

“Hey Frank,” she said with a smile.

“Mornin’ Cal.” He was still a little grumpy about being dragged out of bed so early on a
Sunday morning. “How is it your so chipper so early in the morning?” he asked.



                                            37
“Morning person,” she answered with a shrug as she moved further into the room.

Frank shook his head. “So, you wanna tell me what the hell is goin’ on here,” he drawled.

“Break in and assault,” she replied, though she knew that the case was not what he was
referring to.

Frank sighed. “I know that. I mean what’s goin’ on with Horatio? He said something
about being part of the scene. And who is that guy with him?”

Calleigh paused for a moment. She knew it wouldn’t be long before Horatio was the topic
of gossip all over the precinct. She turned to the detective.

“Look Frank, a friend of Horatio’s was assaulted this morning. Horatio walked in and
surprised the guy. He ran off.”

Frank raised an eyebrow. “Horatio let the guy get away?”

“I suspect he was more worried about his friend’s well-being.”

“Okay,” Frank said. “But that still doesn’t explain why Horatio’s sittin’ out there on the
couch with his arms around this guy. I’ve never known him to be the touchy-feely type.”

Calleigh thought that for a police detective, Frank could be really dense sometimes. She
didn’t say anything in response to his statement. She simply let his mind wander over the
possibilities.

Finally, she saw a light bulb go on in his brain. “Wait a minute,” he said slowly. “Are you
sayin’ what I think you’re sayin’?” She didn’t contradict him. “No way,” he said. She
continued to watch him. “You mean to say Horatio and this guy are… That Horatio Caine
is…”

“Yes,” she said finally. “But in the end, Frank, does it really make a difference? He’s still
Horatio.”

Frank nodded. “I suppose,” he said. “But when this gets out…”

“We’ll deal with it,” she finished. She gave him a friendly smile. “I need some context
before I start processing. We should go talk to them.”

They walked back out into the living room. Tim was sitting up on the sofa with his head
leaning back and one hand resting on Horatio’s leg, his finger’s laced with Horatio’s.
Calleigh walked up to them.

“You two up for some questions?” she asked.



                                             38
Tim looked at her then over at Horatio who nodded. Tim turned back to Calleigh and
nodded his readiness.

“Good. I’m Calleigh Duquesne and this is Detective Tripp,” she said gesturing at Frank.

Tim glanced between the two. “Tim Speedle,” he said quietly. “Please sit.”

Calleigh took a seat at the opposite end of the sofa and turned to face the two men while
Tripp remained standing and pulled out his notepad. He couldn’t help staring at the
clasped hands on Horatio’s lap.

“Tell me what happened,” Calleigh said.

Tim looked over at Horatio. “We were sleeping,” Horatio started. “I got a call from
dispatch at around four-thirty this morning, a homicide not too far from here. I put my
phone back down on the nightstand and got dressed. I forgot to pick it up again before I
left. I went home to change and noticed that I didn’t have it with me. I called Eric to
cover the homicide and drove back here. When I arrived the front door was open. I drew
my weapon, made my way to the bedroom, saw what was happening and identified
myself.”

“But the guy got past you,” Frank interjected. He’d seen the bedroom. There was only
one way in or out.

Horatio looked up at Frank. “I let my guard down. He pushed me out of the way and took
off out the door.”

“You didn’t give chase?” Frank asked.

Horatio squeezed Tim’s hand and looked into his eyes for a moment before turning back
at Frank. “I wasn’t going to leave Tim alone,” he said matter-of-factly.

“Mr. Speedle, what do you remember?” Calleigh asked.

Tim closed his eyes trying to concentrate. “I walked Horatio to the door. We said
goodbye. I watched him drive off. I stepped back inside. I must’ve forgotten to lock the
door. I went back to bed. I was just starting to fall asleep when I heard Simon in the
room.”

Calleigh interrupted him. “You know the person who did this?” she asked.

Tim didn’t want to answer her. He still couldn’t bring himself to tell anyone the truth
about Simon. He looked over at Horatio with tears beginning to form in his eyes and laid
his head on Horatio’s shoulder, trying to keep himself in control.




                                           39
“It’s okay,” Horatio said. Tim had given him a little more information about Simon this
morning, just enough to give him an idea as to their past relationship but no details. “His
name’s Simon Cole,” he told Calleigh. “They have a history.” Horatio felt Tim start to
tremble again. He looked over at Calleigh. “I think, maybe, it would be better if we
continue this later.”

Calleigh nodded. “Horatio? Can I talk to you for a minute?”

“Yeah, sure. Give me a second,” he replied.

Calleigh and Tripp got up and walked to the far side of the room. Tripp turned to face
Calleigh. “Sounds like this guy’s a stalker,” he said. But Calleigh’s attention was focused
on Horatio. She watched as he turned and took Tim’s face with both hands and rested
their foreheads together for a moment. He said something to him, too softly for her to
hear and she saw Tim nod in response. When Horatio gave him a quick kiss she looked
away.

Horatio walked over. “He’s in no shape to answer any more questions right now,” he
said.

“Can you tell us anything else?” Calleigh asked.

But before he could answer they heard a commotion outside. All three reached for their
weapons. Horatio glanced back and saw Tim stand up.

“What are you doing?” he asked quickly.

“It’s Max,” Tim said.

Horatio went to the door and saw Max arguing with one of the uniformed officers.
Horatio signaled to the officer to let him pass. Max, looking very pissed and worried,
walked straight up to Horatio and said, “What the hell happened?”

When he saw Tim, he pushed past Horatio and approached his friend. “Are you okay?”

Tim didn’t meet his eyes and Max knew something was very wrong. He reached out and
pulled Tim’s shirt up seeing the red marks and the rapidly forming bruises. His temper
flared.

“Simon,” he growled. “I knew I shoulda killed that son of a bitch Thursday night when I
had the chance.”

“Wait a minute,” Horatio said. “What happened Thursday night?”

Max looked at Tim. “Y'didn’t tell him?” he asked, a bit more forcefully than he intended.



                                            40
Tim backed away and fell back on the sofa, pulling his knees up to chest protectively.
Max sighed and walked over to him. He placed a hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay,” he
said. “I’m not mad at ya. But I’m gonna tell’m what happened.”

Tim tightened the hold he had on his legs and buried his face in his knees. Max
recognized Tim’s withdrawal. He’d certainly seen it often enough. He walked over to
Horatio and the others.

“He doesn’t want me to tell ya,” he said.

“Max, if you know something,” Horatio said.

“I know,” he replied reluctantly. “I’ve known Tim almost since he moved to Miami,
‘bout five years now. He got involved with Simon nearly three years ago.” He glanced
back at Tim who was still hiding. “Simon’s a prick. He’s gotta very domineering
personality. Tim’s a gentle soul, easy mark for someone like him. Simon took complete
control of’m.”

“Why didn’t he just leave?” Tripp asked.

“I wish I knew. Especially when Simon would get violent. A year ago, he put Tim in the
hospital. I convinced him to move out, get his own place. But he refused to file charges,
wouldn’t even tell the ER docs what really happened.” He sighed heavily. “Simon
wouldn’t take no for an answer. He disappears for while but he always comes back. And
Tim always takes him back.” He glanced at Horatio. “This time was different, because of
you. He refused Simon’s advances.”

“And Simon wasn’t happy about that,” Horatio muttered. Max proceeded to tell them
what had happened Thursday night. He could see Horatio getting angry. Through gritted
teeth, Horatio said, “He won’t tell me the extent of what happened this morning.”

His implication was clear to Max and he looked back at Tim. Max was not a very subtle
individual and the idea of mixed company didn’t seem to faze him at all. “Y'think he’d be
sittin’ like that if he’d been raped?”

Frank winced and Calleigh blushed but Horatio actually relaxed a bit realizing that Max
was right, crude, but right. Calleigh cleared her throat, trying to compose herself.

“I, um,” she paused for a moment. “I’m going to need to get both of ya’lls clothes,” she
said without meeting their gaze.

Horatio nodded. “I have a change of clothes out in the car. Bag’s in the trunk,” he said
passing his keys to Frank.

“Tim keeps a change in the hall bathroom,” Max added. “I can help him.”



                                            41
“No, let me,” Horatio said. “We don’t need any more evidence contamination.” Frank
returned with his gym bag. “Give me a couple of large evidence bags, Calleigh.”

He got Tim up and into the bathroom. They came back out after a couple of minutes and
handed the bags over to Calleigh. Calleigh reached down into her kit and pulled out a
couple of swabs. She looked over at Tim who was standing next to Horatio.

“Can I see your hands for a moment?” she asked. She took samples from under his nails
and then a mouth swab. “Thanks,” she said with a slight smile. “Do you have somewhere
you can stay for a few days?” she asked him.

Before he could answer, Horatio said, “Yes.” Calleigh understood. “And Cal, I’m putting
myself on administrative leave for a few days. You’ll be in charge while I’m gone.” She
agreed and he handed over his weapon. “Is that all for now?” he asked.

“For now. I’ll need you both to come down to the precinct, say, tomorrow afternoon,” she
said.

“I need my stuff from the bedroom,” Tim whispered to Horatio. “My wallet and cell
phone, at least.”

Horatio walked over close to Calleigh. “Can you get his wallet and our cell phones off
the table next to the bed?”

Calleigh smiled at him and said, “Sure.” She looked at him for a moment. He was now
wearing jeans and a black t-shirt. He raised an eyebrow and she shrugged. “You look
good casual,” she said with a smirk.

She came back out with their things then Tim leaned over and whispered something to
Horatio. Horatio looked over at Frank.

“Frank, can I borrow your pad and a pen?” he asked. Frank handed the requested items
over and Horatio scribbled his address onto a blank sheet of paper. He tore the page out
of the notepad and gave it to Max. “Here’s where we’ll be,” he said. Then Horatio took
Tim’s hand. “Come on. Let’s go home.”

                                           ooo

Tim sat silently staring out the window during the entire trip. Horatio lived about twenty
minutes away at the other side of the city on the beach so he had some time to think. He
was trying to keep his mind focused but it was difficult. He kept flashing back to the
assault. He thought that Simon seemed different somehow. In the past he had always
possessed this strange combination that he could only describe as brutality mixed with
concern. He’d always said, “I’m doing this for your own good,” when he would hit him,
teaching him a lesson. Then he would force himself on him with little or no preparation.
Sex and pain, it was what he’d come to expect from a partner.


                                           42
He had spent that hour with Simon this morning waiting for the inevitable forced
intercourse. But it hadn’t come. Simon had spent the whole time ranting and raving about
how Tim had fucked everything up, about how he was going to make him pay. Each time
he punctuated his point with his fist or his foot until Tim had ended up curled up on the
floor. A shudder ran through his body, an involuntary reaction to the realization that
Simon probably would have killed him this time rather simply rape him.

Most of Horatio’s attention was focused on the road ahead of him but he kept his
peripheral vision on his companion and stole the occasional glance in his direction. He
managed to catch the shudder that shook Tim's body and he reached out a hand. Tim
grabbed it and held on tight for a few seconds while he tried to regain some mental
control.

“Hang in there,” Horatio said. “We’re almost home.”

Tim nodded and released Horatio’s hand. He was still trying to work out what Simon had
meant when he’d said that he’d fucked everything up. His first thought was Horatio but
oddly enough he didn’t really think that that was what he had been talking about. Tim
had been with other men, even when he was with Simon. In fact, Simon would frequently
hire other men to dominate Tim. He liked to watch. It got him excited. Afterward, Simon
would tie him to the bed and play with him, sometimes for hours, without letting him
come until he was begging and swearing his love for him. It wasn’t until he reached that
point that Simon would allow him any release and then it would only come with Simon
buried deep inside of him. This was usually how it went.

His thoughts were interrupted when Horatio knocked on the car window then opened
Tim’s door. He hadn’t even realized that the car had stopped. Tim stepped out and looked
around. Horatio lived in an upscale neighborhood on the beach. The house was a two-
story and larger than Tim had imagined. He followed Horatio through the front door and
surveyed his new surroundings. The house had an open floor plan and he could see right
to the back and through a sliding glass door. He could see the ocean through the glass. He
looked up and saw a second floor open loft area.

Horatio walked into the kitchen. “I’m going to make us something to eat and some
coffee,” he said. “Make yourself at home.”

Tim distracted himself by slowly wandering around the first floor, checking the place out.
There was a fireplace on one wall and a wide screen TV opposite with stereo on a shelf
next to it. He glanced through Horatio’s bookshelves and found some books on
psychology and profiling, some on forensics, and a whole shelf of chemistry textbooks
that looked old and worn. Tim pulled one of the books off the shelf and opened it to a
random page. He found handwritten notes scribbled in the margins of the page. He
flipped to the inside front cover and found a NYU bookstore sticker.

He looked over at Horatio. “You studied chemistry,” he said.


                                           43
“A very long time ago,” Horatio replied with a smile.

“When did you graduate?” Tim asked.

“Seventy-nine. I joined the force a month later.”

Tim did a quick calculation in his head and said, “So, that would make you, what, about
forty-five, or so?” He wandered into the kitchen as he spoke.

Horatio looked up from what he was doing and smiled. “And he’s good at math too.” Tim
gave him a shy smile. “How ‘bout you?” Horatio asked.

Tim raised an eyebrow. “Undergraduate, Graduate or Doctorate?” he asked.

“Pick one,” Horatio replied, turning back to his scrambled eggs.

“I started at Cornell when I was seventeen, graduated in three years, class of ninety-two.
Moved down to the city and did my Master’s and PhD at Columbia. Graduated a little
over five years ago and was immediately hired at Miami University. I jumped at the
chance for my own lab and a warm, sunny climate.”

Horatio smiled. “So, let’s see, that makes you… thirty?” Tim nodded. Horatio pulled a
couple of plates down from the cupboard and served up eggs and toast. He gestured to the
kitchen table and said, “Sit. How do you like your coffee?”

“Milk and sugar,” he answered.

Horatio grabbed the requested items then sat down at the table opposite Tim and
proceeded to watch him pour three heaping spoonfuls of sugar into his coffee. He
smirked just as Tim looked up.

Tim shrugged. “Sweet tooth,” he said. They ate in silence for a while before Tim asked,
“How long before I can get back into my apartment? I’m gonna need to get some clothes,
my briefcase and some books.”

“I’ll call Calleigh in a bit. We can probably get back in for those things later today, but
they’re going to need to keep the place roped off for a few days while they investigate.”

“So, this is what you do for a living?” Tim asked. “Deal with victims. Investigate crime
scenes.”

“Pretty much,” Horatio said.

Tim shook his head. “I think I’ll stick to my ivory tower.”



                                            44
Horatio chuckled. “I suppose it’s not for everyone.”

After a moment, Tim asked, “Why did they take your gun this morning? Are you going to
be in trouble for all this?”

Horatio smiled at him. “Standard procedure. I drew my weapon when I was off duty and I
claimed not to have fired it. They just need to verify my story.” Tim nodded.

They lapsed into a comfortable silence but Horatio noticed that Tim wasn’t eating very
much. He asked, “Is the food okay?”

Tim looked up. “Yeah. I guess I’m just not that hungry,” he said then yawned.

Horatio asked, “Do you want to lie down for a bit? We were up kinda early this
morning.” He was purposely avoiding any kind of reference to the incident with Simon.

Tim nodded. “Yeah, I think so,” he said. “If you don’t mind.”

“Not at all,” Horatio answered. “I could use a nap myself. You sure you don’t want any
more to eat first?”

Tim ate a little more of his food and finished his coffee but the food seemed to be making
him more sleepy. He wanted to help Horatio clean up before he took a nap. He stood up
with a slight wince but when he picked up his plate, his hand started to shake. Horatio
jumped up and took the plate from him before it fell to the floor.

“Let me take this,” he said. “The dishes can wait for now.” He quickly deposited the
plates in the sink then turned back to Tim who was leaning heavily against the table.
“You okay?” he asked.

It took Tim a moment to answer and Horatio thought he had a faraway look on his face.
Unbeknownst to him, Tim’s mind was flashing back to this morning again and he was
trying hard to regain control of himself. Finally he nodded but didn’t speak.

“Come on,” Horatio said. “Let’s get you upstairs and into bed.”

Tim was beginning to retreat into himself again, his main defense mechanism, and barely
noticed Horatio lead him upstairs. Horatio managed to get him out of his pants and shoes,
though Tim wouldn’t let him remove his shirt, then he stripped himself down to his
boxers and they crawled into bed. They lay spooned together in silence for a few
moments before Horatio felt Tim’s body begin to shake and his legs draw up into his
defensive posture. Horatio pulled him close and nuzzled his neck.

“It’s okay,” he whispered into his ear. Tim sobbed and Horatio said softly, “Let go. I’m
here to catch you.”



                                           45
                                           ooo

Calleigh walked into the Trace Lab with two large evidence bags, a box containing
Horatio’s weapon, and a pile of swabs. She dropped everything down on the table just as
Eric entered the room with his own pile of evidence. He grinned when he saw her.

“So,” he said. “You got roped into coming in today too, huh?”

She glanced over at him. “Yeah. A friend of Horatio’s was assaulted this morning. He
asked me to investigate.”

“Oh, man. Is H okay?” he asked as he started unpacking his evidence.

“Yeah, but his friend was pretty shook up.”

A thought struck him and Eric looked up from what he was doing. “Wait a minute. Was
that the friend he was going to see this morning when he called me?”

“He mentioned that, yes. He walked in and scared the guy off.”

“I hope she wasn’t too badly hurt,” he said.

“He,” Calleigh replied.

Eric looked confused. “I thought he was with his girlfriend.”

“Boyfriend,” she said. She didn’t see any point in lying to him since the lab gossip
machine would pick up the news as soon as the uniformed officers returned from the
scene. Eric wrinkled his brow, looking very confused, and was about to say something
when Calleigh continued. “Look, the whole lab’s going to know soon enough. Horatio’s
lover was assaulted this morning.” She looked him in the eye and said, “His male lover.”

Eric stared at Calleigh for a good minute trying to process what he’d just heard and
slowly, one side of his mouth quirked up. “I wonder if Alexx knows?” he asked.

Calleigh rolled her eyes at him. “Eric! I don’t believe you. You’re worse than the
secretarial pool.”

Eric shrugged. “So is he okay? This guy, I mean.”

“Tim,” Calleigh said. “His name is Tim. He was beaten pretty badly but he refused any
medical treatment.”

“H couldn’t have been too happy about that,” Eric said.




                                               46
“I don’t know. He looked pretty freaked out by the whole thing. He’s taking a few days
off,” she said.

“H, taking time off. Just how serious is he about this guy?”

“Pretty serious, from what I saw,” she answered. “He was really shaken up. I’ve never
seen him like that before.”

                                           ooo

Horatio stood next to the bed watching the sprawled out, sleeping form of his lover. He
had held him for more than an hour while he confessed his entire history with Simon to
him. He’d completely exhausted himself and had eventually fallen asleep. Horatio ran his
fingers through his hair and sighed. He had a much better understanding of things now
and hopefully he would be able to help Tim deal with all of it.

He padded barefoot down to the first floor and into the kitchen. He picked up his phone
and dialed Calleigh. He made arrangements with her to meet at Tim’s apartment later that
afternoon to pick up some things. After he hung up the phone, he walked over to his
bookshelf and pulled out one of his psychology books to read up on posttraumatic stress.
He knew enough about abuse victims, both from the job and from his own experiences as
a child with his abusive father, to have an idea of what to expect in the coming weeks.
But the extent of what Simon had done to him was beyond anything he’d experienced.

He shook his head to clear those particular thoughts for the moment as he sat on the sofa
and opened his book, but he was having trouble concentrating. His mind kept wandering
over all of the “what ifs,” the things that could have happened. He pondered over all of
the events that lead him to walk into Club Descent at that particular time on that
particular night. He wasn’t a strong believer in fate but at the same time he couldn’t
shake the feeling that somehow he’d been lead there that night.

His thoughts were interrupted by a knock at the front door. He looked out the window
next to the door and was surprised to see Max standing there. He opened the door.

“Max?”

“Hi,” he said somewhat nervously. “I hope y'don’t mind me just droppin’ in like this.”

“No. Come on in,” Horatio said quietly and stepped aside.

“Where’s Tim?” Max asked as Horatio closed the front door.

He glanced up to the loft and Max followed his gaze. “Sleeping,” he said and gestured for
Max to follow him into the kitchen. “I don’t want to wake him up.” He indicated for Max
to sit. “Would you like some coffee?”



                                            47
Max shook his head. “I just stopped by to see how he was doin’. Has he started talkin’
yet?”

Horatio nodded. “He, um… he just spend the better part of the last hour telling me
everything.”

Max looked surprised. “Everything?”

“Well, I hope he told me everything. Because if there’s more, then…” Horatio shook his
head. “Let’s just say, I’ve been a police officer for more than twenty years and I’ve never
encountered anything like this before,” he said. “I mean, some things have come close,
but…”

Max sighed. “I wondered if there was more goin’ on besides Simon beatin’ him,” Max
said, beginning to get angry again. “Y'gotta catch the son of a bitch, Horatio. Then let me
have five minutes with him.”

Horatio smiled despite himself. “You can have what’s left when I’m done with him,
Max.”

Max smirked. “Deal,” he said. He knew it was just talk but it made him feel much better
to hear Horatio say that.

Max felt a buzzing in his pocket and reached in and pulled out his cell phone. He looked
at the caller ID and smiled. He opened the phone and said, “Was wondrin’ when you’d
notice I was gone?” He listened for a moment then said, “Other sida town, with Tim.”
Again he listened. “Sleepin’ right now. I’ll stop and pick up breakfast. Be home ‘bout
half an hour or so.” Then after a pause, “Yeah me to.” He listened again then hung up.

He turned back to Horatio. “I should get goin’. I sorta snuck out on’m this mornin’.”

Horatio smiled and as he walked Max to the door he asked, “What’s his name?”

“Michael,” Max answered.

“How long have you been together?”

“Ten years next month,” he said. “And God help me, I’d better remember that this year,”
he added causing Horatio to chuckle.

They said their goodbyes and Horatio closed and locked the door behind him. He felt a
little better for having talked to Max and decided that, sleepy or not, he wanted to be
close to Tim, so he headed up the stairs to the loft. Tim was lying on his side facing the
wall. Horatio stripped and crawled under the covers, snaking one arm over Tim’s side.
He was surprised when he felt Tim take his hand.



                                            48
“You know, he forgets his anniversary every year,” Tim said.

Horatio chuckled. “I thought you were asleep,” he said.

Tim rolled over so that he was facing Horatio and gently ran a hand down his side then
back up again sending a shiver through the redhead. He closed his eyes and drew in a
breath.

“Thank you for listening to me before,” Tim said quietly. “And not running for the hills.”

Tim pulled him closer and Horatio could feel his growing erection pressing against his
own. “Miami’s flat,” he breathed as Tim covered his mouth with his own.

Tim ran his tongue over Horatio’s bottom lip seeking entrance. Horatio obliged and
moaned as Tim’s tongue swept over every surface and his hand continued its light caress.
When Tim broke the kiss Horatio rolled them over so that Tim was lying on top of him.
He slipped his hands under Tim’s t-shirt. Tim rose up enough for Horatio to pull the shirt
up and over his head.

Tim’s upper body was covered in bruises and Horatio was suddenly concerned. “You
sure you’re up for this?” he asked.

Tim nodded and took his mouth for another heated kiss. When he pulled back Horatio
breathed, “I want you.”

Tim replied, “How do you want me?”

“In me,” Horatio responded.

Tim froze for a moment. It had been a very long time since he’d been asked to top
someone. He looked into Horatio’s eyes.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said seriously.

Horatio had to admit that somewhere in the back of his mind he was just a bit concerned
that Tim would lose control and hurt him. Simon had done a lot of damage and he really
wasn’t sure how much of Simon’s tendencies had transferred to Tim. But he needed Tim
to know that he trusted him, that any relationship that they would have had to be based on
mutual trust and respect.

“You won’t hurt me,” Horatio said and he pulled Tim in for another kiss before he
allowed Tim to take control.

Tim kissed his way down to Horatio’s neck then lightly scraped his teeth over his pulse
point. Horatio shivered slightly. He moved to his chest, paying special attention to
Horatio’s nipples and enjoying the moans and whimpers his actions were causing. He


                                             49
kissed his way south and by the time he reached his now hard, throbbing cock, Horatio’s
breath was ragged. He ran his tongue up the shaft and around the tip causing Horatio to
gasp.

Horatio knew he was too close to last very long and just as Tim was about to close his
mouth around him he said, “Wait,” and blindly reached over to the night table pulling out
lube and a condom. “I need to feel you in me,” he breathed.

Tim took the items from Horatio and waited for him to roll over but instead he pulled his
legs up. Tim looked at him for a moment. “I want to watch you,” Horatio said quietly,
looking into Tim’s eyes hoping he would see the trust.

He did and his emotional control began to slip again but he quickly brought himself
under control. He shed his boxers and slicked up two fingers, slowly inserting them into
Horatio’s body, and began stretching him. With a moan, Horatio let his head fall back on
the pillow. Tim continued to scissor his fingers. He wanted to be absolutely certain that
he didn’t hurt Horatio. But Horatio was reaching his limit.

“Please… need you,” he breathed.

Tim was determined to remain in control of himself as he rolled the condom on and
added some lube. But as he slowly sunk himself into the body of his lover, he couldn’t
stop the single tear that spilled over and ran down his cheek. Horatio reached up and
wiped away the tear as Tim began moving, slowly at first but a little to slow for Horatio’s
liking. He locked his ankles behind Tim’s back and began meeting him on each thrust
urging him to move faster and letting him know that he wasn’t hurting him.

Tim knew he was too close to last very long so he took Horatio’s cock in his hand and
began stroking him in time with his thrusts. Horatio’s head fell back on the pillow and his
breath was coming in short gasps. Tim changed his angle slightly and heard Horatio cry
out as he brushed against his prostate. Horatio thrust up once more. He called out Tim’s
name as he came, drawing Tim’s release from him. Tim collapsed onto Horatio's chest
with tears streaming down his face.

Horatio held him while they each caught their breath and regained some control. After a
few moments Tim rolled to the side and Horatio removed and disposed of the condom.
He pulled Tim into his arms again, holding him while he composed himself. Tim curled
into Horatio’s arms and rested his head on his shoulder. They lay together in silence for a
while before Tim said, “Thanks.”

“What for?” Horatio asked.

“Trusting me,” Tim answered with a yawn.

Horatio smiled and pulled the blanket up over them. “Love you,” Horatio whispered to
him.


                                            50
“Love you too,” Tim said as he drifted off to sleep again.

                                            ooo

Horatio stretched and yawned. He glanced over at the clock and was surprised to see that
it was almost two in the afternoon. He reached over and nudged Tim.

“Hey, we’ve got to get up,” he said. Tim rolled over and murmured something he
couldn’t quite make out. Horatio smirked and nudged him again. “Come on, it’s two
o’clock. I told Calleigh we’d meet her at your place at three.” He swung his feet over the
side of the bed and sat up. After a moment he felt a hand brush over his back and side.

Tim ran his fingers over a long scar on Horatio’s back then over to a smaller one on his
side. He felt Horatio shiver. “How did you get this one?” he asked rubbing the smaller
scar.

Horatio sighed. “About ten years ago,” he said not turning around. “I was investigating a
call about an argument in a small apartment on the lower east side of Manhattan. This
guy was hiding behind the door when I went in to clear the room. I was stabbed.”

Tim didn’t say anything but he moved his hand to Horatio’s back and traced a longer scar
that looked older and faded. “And this one?” he asked.

Horatio was silent for a moment. “My, um, my father. When I was a child. He, um, he
used to…”

“He used to hit you,” Tim said. Horatio nodded. “Bad enough to leave scars.” Horatio
remained silent but nodded again.

Tim crawled up behind him and wrapped his arms around his waist, leaning his chin on
Horatio’s shoulder. “How old were you?”

Horatio shrugged. “Nine, maybe ten. I don’t remember exactly. It all sort of blurs
together.”

Tim nodded. “I think I can sorta relate,” he said.

Horatio turned his head and gave Tim a weak smile and a quick kiss. He patted his hands,
which were clasped together at his stomach.

“Come, we’ve got to meet Calleigh.”

                                            ooo




                                             51
Tim stepped into his apartment with Horatio by his side. “I need my briefcase and
research notes. I think they’re all on the kitchen table,” he said.

Horatio and Calleigh followed him into the kitchen. Strewn all over the table and several
of the chairs were papers and note pads. One chair contained a pile of books. Tim
scanned the table mumbling to himself and picking up what looked to Horatio like
random sheets of paper. He was completely absorbed, as if the others had faded away. He
was projecting the archetypical absent-minded professor.

He looked up when he heard Horatio chuckle. “What?”

“Nothing,” Horatio replied trying to suppress a smirk.

“Believe it or not, I know exactly where everything is,” Tim said as he pulled together a
pile of papers. Then, as if to prove his point, he asked, “Horatio, would you grab my bio-
chem text from that pile on the chair next to you, third book from the top.”

Calleigh watched Horatio pull a book from the pile and hand it over. She had been silent
this whole time watching the dynamic between Horatio and Tim. She thought that they
seemed to have an easy-going manner with each other.

Tim finished gathering up all of the papers and placed them and his book into his bag. He
walked out and placed the bag by the front door. He turned to Horatio. “I should put my
bike in the garage. I don’t want anything to happen to it while I’m not here,” he said.

“We can do that on the way out,” Horatio replied. “We need to get you some clothes
first.”

Calleigh walked toward the bedroom followed by Tim and Horatio. But when Tim
reached the bedroom door he stopped and reached back for Horatio’s hand. The flashback
hit him hard, like another blow Simon, as soon as he looked into the room. He turned
away, a bit dazed, and worked to get himself under control.

Horatio placed his hands on Tim’s shoulders. “It’s okay. I’ll get your stuff if you want.”

Tim shook his head. “No,” he said. “I’m not going to let him do this to me anymore. Just
give me a minute.”

Calleigh watched from the bedroom. She recognized Tim’s reaction. She had seen it
before in other abuse victims and she thought that it was a good sign that he was fighting
back. She watched as he took a deep breath then took hold of Horatio hand and stepped
into the room. He stopped again once he was inside, staring into one corner of the room.

Tim stared at the place where Horatio had found him that morning, the spot where Simon
had tried to kill him. He knew at that moment that he couldn’t return to living here again.



                                            52
He would always have that image in his head, even if they caught him and locked him
away forever. But at least, this time he had somewhere to go. He had Horatio.

“What are you seeing?” Calleigh asked gently. “What can you tell me about what
happened here?” She was hoping to take advantage of his newfound courage and the fact
that he seemed to be lost in a memory of the incident to get some more information from
him.

Tim closed his eyes and let himself return to earlier that morning, knowing he was safe.
“I was lying in bed,” he said. “I became aware of a movement in the shadow by the
window. Simon spoke and I froze.” He looked at Calleigh. “I thought I was dreaming at
first.”

“What did he say to you?” she asked.

“He made a remark about Horatio then he grabbed me and pulled me out of bed.” He
paused for a moment trying to remember the exact sequence of events. “He pushed me
into the corner, over there,” he said, indicating the far corner of the room. “I think… I
think I hit him.” He looked down at his right hand and, for the first time, noticed that his
knuckles were bruised.

“You hit him?” Horatio asked, surprised.

Tim slowly raised his eyes from his hand to Horatio’s face and smirked slightly. He was
surprised, himself, that he’d done that. “Yeah,” he said. “Right in the mouth.” He shook
his head. “I never did that before.”

Horatio placed a hand on Tim’s shoulder and smiled. “That’s good. You fought back,” he
said.

“Yeah, but it just pissed him off more,” Tim said. “He punched me in the stomach,
knocked the wind out of me. After that, it’s all a blur.”

“Did he say anything else?” Calleigh asked.

“All he kept saying was how I’d,” he paused for a moment and looked at Calleigh.
“Excuse me but, how I’d fucked everything up.”

Calleigh smiled at him. “It’s okay,” she said.

“I’m really not sure what he meant by that,” Tim said quietly and lowered his eyes.

Horatio pulled Tim into his arms and they held each other for a few moments. “You did a
good job,” he said. Tim nodded and pulled back. Horatio placed a hand on his shoulder
and said, “Why don’t you go pack up some clothes and anything else you think you’ll
need, okay?”


                                            53
Tim agreed and headed over to his closet. Calleigh wandered over and stood close to
Horatio. “I found some light blood spatter and some gravitational drops,” she said in a
low tone. “I assumed it was his,” she continued glancing back at Tim.

Horatio shook his head, answering her just as quietly. “He’s covered in bruises but no
open wounds.”

Calleigh nodded. “I also found tissue when I swabbed under his nails this morning.”

“You think he scratched his assailant?” Horatio asked.

Calleigh hesitated for a moment before asking, “Well, you said you were here last night.
He didn’t…”

Horatio gave her a shy smile and ducked his head. “Scratch me in the throws of passion?”
he finished. Calleigh nodded, ignoring the slight blush she saw rising on his neck. “No.”

“You’re sure? Because, possibly, you might have been too… caught up in the moment to
notice,” she asked not meeting his eyes.

Horatio chuckled. “He was facing away from me, Calleigh. I’m sure of it.”

She turned away from him, trying to hide her embarrassment at having had to ask him
such a personal question. “Mr. Speedle?”

Tim turned from his packing. “Tim, please,” he said.

Calleigh smiled at him. “Tim, do you remember scratching the man who assaulted you
this morning?”

Tim closed his eyes and thought for a moment before shaking his head. “I don’t recall.”

Tim gathered up the last of his things and they all headed outside. Horatio loaded the
bags into the trunk of his car while Tim moved his bike and car into the garage and
Calleigh had a quick word with the uniformed officer guarding the scene. She walked
back to Horatio and they made arrangements to meet the next afternoon at CSI so that
Tim could sit with the police sketch artist to get a likeness of Simon. They then said their
goodbyes and drove off.

About ten minutes later, a young man approached the apartment. As he made his way up
the driveway the officer stopped him.

“Sir, this area is a crime scene. Don’t come any closer,” he said with his hand on his
holstered weapon. The officer took a close look at the man. He was tall with a muscular



                                            54
build. He was dressed casually but neatly, wearing jeans and a white button down shirt
and a baseball cap. He had a neatly cropped beard and moustache.

The young man raised his hands. “What happened here? This is Dr. Speedle’s house,
isn’t it?” he asked.

The officer thought that he seemed genuinely concerned and said, “Yes, it is. There was
an assault here this morning. It’s still being investigated.”

The young man looked shocked. “Is Dr. Speedle okay?” The officer nodded. “Thank
God,” the young man breathed. He held a hand out to the officer. “My name’s Sam,” he
said. “I’m one of Dr. Speedle’s students. I just stopped by to pick up some research notes.
You wouldn’t know where I could find him, would you?”

The officer smirked slightly. “I think he’s staying at Lieutenant Caine’s,” he answered
with a bit of a chuckle. “You can check with the precinct.”

The young man smiled. “Thank you, I’ll do that. You’ve been a big help,” he said as he
turned to leave.

He reached the end of the driveway and turned right walking down the street a bit. When
he reached his car his expression hardened. He sat in the car and tossed the baseball cap
into the back seat then carefully peeled off the fake beard and moustache. He shook his
head.

“Oh Timmy, when will you learn,” Simon said staring into the rear view mirror.

                                           ooo

Monday, October 20, 2003

Calleigh walked into the DNA lab first thing Monday morning to pick up the results from
the swabs she’d dropped off the day before and found Maxine Valera perched on a lab
stool in front of her computer.

“Hey, Maxine,” she said as she entered the room. “Do you have my results ready?”

Maxine pulled out a file folder from a small pile and opened it. “Yep. Just as you thought,
the samples from the bed sheets matched the exemplar from the victim and the one from
the condom matched Lieutenant Caine.” She paused for a moment and smirked. “You
know, I still can’t believe it.”

“Believe what?” Calleigh asked.

Maxine lowered her voice to a conspiratorial tone. “That Lieutenant Caine is gay.”



                                            55
Calleigh rolled her eyes. That was practically all she’d heard whispered around the lab
since she’d gotten in. “Maxine, can we get back to the test results and leave Horatio’s
personal life alone, please.”

The other woman returned her attention to the file. “Sorry,” she said.

“It’s okay. I just don’t see what the big deal is,” Calleigh added. “What about the blood
and tissue samples?”

“They both match the same unknown male subject,” Maxine answered then handed the
file over to Calleigh.

“Great, thanks.” As she headed for the door she said, “Try to keep the gossip to a
minimum.”

                                           ooo

Horatio rolled over in bed and was surprised to encounter an empty space next to him. He
sat up and glanced around the room but didn’t see anyone else.

“Tim?” he called but no one answered.

Slightly worried, he hopped out of bed and pulled on his pants. When he got downstairs
he noticed that the sliding glass door was open and he could see a lone figure standing
out on the beach staring off toward the ocean. He let out a breath and padded barefoot out
the open door.

Tim heard him approach and turned his head in acknowledgement. Horatio came up
behind him and snaked his arms around his waist placing a soft kiss on his neck. Tim
rested his hands on Horatio’s arms and leaned back into his embrace.

“What are you doing out here?” Horatio asked.

Tim shrugged. “I grew up land-locked. It still amazes me that I can just walk out the back
door and be so close to the ocean,” he answered.

Horatio tilted his head. “Where did you grow up?” he asked. He had to keep reminding
himself that they had only just met less than two weeks ago and there were still so many
things they didn’t know about each other.

“Syracuse,” Tim answered.

“Mmm, upstate New York. I’ve been there. It’s cold and snowy.”

Tim chuckled. “How ‘bout you?”



                                            56
“Staten Island,” Horatio replied.

Tim smirked. “City boy,” he commented as he turned in Horatio’s arms then caught his
lips for a slow kiss. “Morning,” he said as he pulled back.

Horatio smiled. “Hungry?” he asked.

“A bit,” Tim said. “But I could use a shower first.”

Horatio raised an eyebrow. “Want some company?” he asked.

As Tim leaned in for another kiss, he said, “You read my mind.”

                                            ooo

Tim groaned as the hot water ran down his body easing some of his aching muscles.
Horatio stepped under the flow of water and took Tim’s face in his hands. He leaned in
and took his mouth in a heated kiss. Tim’s body was responding quickly and he pulled
Horatio close, letting their erections rub together. Both men moaned into the kiss and
Horatio tried to pull Tim even closer, rocking his hips as he did. Horatio broke the kiss,
and, while trying to catch his breath, rested his forehead on Tim’s shoulder.

Tim breathed into Horatio’s ear, “I need you.”

He pulled away and turned, leaning his forearms against the wall of the shower and
widening his stance. He turned his head back toward Horatio who moved in closer and
ran a hand over his ass. Tim’s eyes drifted closed and he rested his head on his arms. He
gasped slightly as, a moment later, he felt two slicked fingers slip inside of him and begin
stretching.

Tim did his best to control his breathing but as he felt Horatio’s free hand reach around
and begin to massage his balls, a long, low moan escaped him. Horatio leaned forward
and began laying kisses along Tim’s neck and shoulder and somewhere in the back of
Tim’s mind the thought occurred to him that Horatio was good at multi-tasking. He
whimpered slightly as Horatio released him and withdrew his fingers then reached one
hand out of the shower and over to the counter where he’d left a condom packet. He
rolled the condom on and slicked himself up then leaned in close to Tim’s ear.

“Ready?” he whispered and Tim nodded.

Slowly he pushed in until he was leaning flush against Tim’s body. He leaned his head
against Tim’s shoulder while he allowed them both a moment to adjust then he slowly
began to move. Tim was becoming used to Horatio’s gentle way and as he stood there he
let himself become lost in the sensation. Horatio shifted his angle and Tim gasped as he
brushed his prostate.



                                            57
His higher brain functions were fading into the background and instinct was taking over.
He began rocking back, meeting Horatio on each thrust with small moans and whimpers
escaping his lips. He began to feel Horatio’s movements increase and become more
erratic then he felt a hand wrap around his cock and begin stroking. This was his undoing.
He thrust forward into Horatio’s hand and with a loud moan, he came, clamping his inner
muscles down on Horatio’s cock and drawing his release from him.

Horatio let his full weight rest on Tim for a few moments before slowly pulling out. Tim
turned and pulled Horatio into his arms. “I could definitely get used to this,” he said.

                                            ooo

Horatio pulled his car into the parking lot at CSI. He looked over at Tim and asked, “Are
you ready for this?” Tim nodded. “Good, and don’t be too surprised if you see people
staring at us.”

As they approached the front desk Horatio noticed several of the officers whisper among
themselves. He caught the desk officer’s attention.

“Paula, I need to sign my friend in. He’s meeting with a sketch artist upstairs,” he said.

“No problem, Lieutenant,” she said and handed Tim a pen. After he’d filled out the
information in the logbook she handed him a guest badge. “Wear this clipped to your
shirt at all times while in the building.”

Tim took the tag and clipped it to his shirt. As they were leaving, Paula noticed the name
he’d written in the log. “Hang on a second,” she said.

“Is there a problem?” Horatio asked.

“No,” Paula answered. “But I just noticed the name in the log. Someone stopped by this
morning looking for information on Mr. Speedle.”

Horatio and Tim exchanged a look. “Someone was looking for me? Here?” Tim asked.

“Yes, sir. He said he was a student of yours and was concerned that he couldn’t reach you
at home,” she said.

Tim looked at Horatio. “None of my students know where I live,” he said.

“What did this person look like?” Horatio asked.

Paula thought for a moment. “Um, young guy, mid, late twenties, beard, moustache. He
was wearing a baseball cap.”




                                             58
Horatio glanced over at Tim who just shrugged. “What did he say exactly?” Horatio
asked.

“He knew that Mr. Speedle was staying with you. He asked for your address but I told
him that we couldn’t give out that sort of information.” She reached down under the
counter and pulled out an envelope. “He asked me to give you this.”

Tim took the envelope from her and looked at the front. He immediate recognized the
handwriting and his hand started to shake just a bit as he looked up at Horatio.

“It’s from Simon,” he said.

“What? Are you sure?” Horatio asked. Tim nodded. “Okay, put it down on the counter.”
He turned to Paula. “Did he bring this with him?”

Paula shook her head. “No. When I wouldn’t give him your home address, he asked for
paper and an envelope so he could leave a note.”

Horatio thought for a moment. “Call Calleigh down here now,” he said. “Tell her to bring
a kit.”

A few minutes later Calleigh walked up to the front desk. “What’s going on?” she asked.

“Simon may have been here this morning. Someone left this for Tim,” he said gesturing
to the letter.

“You’re sure it’s from him?” she asked.

Tim answered. “I recognize the handwriting.”

Calleigh pulled a pair of gloves out of her case and picked up the envelope. After
examining the outside she reached into her kit and took out a scalpel, then carefully sliced
open the envelope and pulled out a folded piece of paper. She opened the paper and a
puzzled look appeared on her face. She looked up at the two men.

“It’s blank. Nothing’s written on it,” she said.

Tim scowled. “He just wants me to know that he knows where I am,” he said. “And that
he’s not going to give up.”

Horatio placed a hand on Tim’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. He’s not going to get near you
again. I promise.”

Calleigh bagged the letter and the envelope. “I’m going to get these over to trace and
check for DNA. See if we can confirm this was the same guy.”



                                             59
Horatio nodded. “We’ll be upstairs with the sketch artist.”

                                            ooo

Horatio sat next to Tim in the interrogation room holding his hand under the table as the
sketch artist explained what she needed Tim to do. He could tell that Tim was upset by
the fact that Simon had made his presence known again and so soon after the assault.
He’d taken Horatio’s hand while they were in the lobby and despite the stares they were
getting, Horatio wouldn’t let him let go.

A knock at the window caught Horatio’s attention and he looked over to see Rick Stetler
peering into the room. He gestured for Horatio to come out. Horatio whispered in Tim’s
ear that he would be right back then left the room. He stepped out and closed the door but
stayed close to the window.

“Rick,” he said.

“Horatio,” Rick replied by way of a greeting. “You want to tell me what’s been going
on.”

“I suspect you already know what’s been going on, judging by the stares I’m getting and
all of the whispering,” Horatio said. “But there is something I’d like to know, which is
how exactly did Tim’s stalker find out that he’s staying with me?”

Rick’s expression turned suddenly from annoyed to concerned. “Excuse me?”

Horatio stood with his hands on his hips having once again gained the upper hand. “He
was here this morning, Rick. He left a little calling card after the front desk wouldn’t give
him my home address.” He tilted his head to one side. “As far as I know, no one had that
particular information except the officers at the scene yesterday morning.”

“You’re sure it was the same guy here this morning?” Rick asked.

“Calleigh is trying to verify that as we speak,” he answered.

Rick paused for a moment, taking a breath and considering the possibilities. “I’ll question
everyone who was there yesterday. You’re sure you didn’t tell anyone else.” Horatio
nodded. “How about him?” he asked glancing through the glass at Tim.

“He’s been with me the whole time,” Horatio answered.

Rick nodded and as he turned to leave he said, “Watch your back, Horatio.”

Horatio smiled. “Always do, Rick. Always do.”




                                             60
Eric caught him in the hallway, as he was about to go back into the room. “H, we got a
problem,” he said.

“What is it, Eric?” Horatio asked.

“That murder scene you asked me to investigate yesterday.” Horatio nodded. “There were
some stray blood drops that looked out of place, like someone had cut themselves.”
Again Horatio nodded. “Well, since the victim was stabbed, we didn’t think that was
unusual, until I got the DNA results back just now. They matched the swabs Calleigh
took from under your friends nails as well as the spatter at his apartment.”

“Are you saying what I think you’re saying, Eric?”

“I think the same man who assaulted your friend also committed this murder,” Eric said
as they both looked through the glass at Tim.

Horatio turned back to his CSI. “Eric, are you absolutely certain? No chance of cross
contamination?”

“Positive, H. These two cases are linked,” Eric said.

Horatio was silent for a moment while he contemplated the ramifications of that fact. He
glanced back into the room where Tim sat with the sketch artist and realized just how
close he probably came to losing his life the day before. He turned back again.

“What do we know about the victim, Eric?”

“Not much,” Eric answered as he opened the file in his hands. “Young male, early
twenties probably. He was found stripped and tied to a bed, beaten, likely sexually
assaulted then stabbed. No ID but we did find this next to the body.”

He handed over a plastic bag containing a business card. Horatio looked at the card and
muttered, “Club Descent.”

“You know this place, H?” Eric asked.

Horatio nodded. “More importantly,” he said looking through the glass at Tim. “So does
he.” After a moment he turned back to Eric. “Do you have any photos of the victim?
Preferably not too gruesome.”

Eric flipped through the photos in the file then shrugged. “Autopsy photo, neck up. Face
shot for ID purposes,” he said. “You think your friend may know the victim?”

“If he was one of the kids that hung out at that club, then I do,” Horatio said.




                                             61
He looked through the glass again and it looked like the sketch artist was putting the
finishing touches on her drawing. “Eric,” he said as he turned back. “I want you to show
him the photo, but remember...”

“He’s a victim, not a suspect,” Eric finished. “Don’t worry, H.”

Horatio gave him a weak smile. “Thanks.”

He opened the door just as the sketch artist slid her drawing across the table. Horatio
walked over and stood next to Tim who unconsciously held up a hand. Horatio took it
without hesitation. Tim stared at the sketch.

Horatio leaned down. “What do you think?”

Tim glanced up at him. “That’s him,” he said.

“Good,” Horatio said. “You did good.” Then addressing the sketch artist he said, “Can
you make a copy of this and add in a beard, moustache, and a baseball cap. Paula, down
at the front desk, can help with the exact details. Then distribute it.”

“Yes sir,” she said as she got up.

Horatio waited for her to leave then he sat down next to Tim and turned to face him. “We
need your help with one more thing before we go,” he said. He shifted his gaze to Eric,
and Tim followed. “This is Eric. He’s investigating the murder that happened Sunday
morning, the one I got the call about.”

Eric sat down at the table across from the two men and got his first good look at the man
that Calleigh had said was Horatio’s lover. He held out a hand. “Eric Delko,” he said.

Tim shook his hand. “Tim Speedle,” he replied.

Eric looked down at the file for a moment then back up at Tim. “Look, I know this whole
thing has been difficult for you but I need to ask you a few questions.” Tim nodded. Eric
pulled out the plastic bag containing the business card. “We found this next to our
victim.” He passed the bag over to Tim.

Tim looked at it then over at Horatio. “You think he was one of the kids from the club?”

“It’s beginning to look that way, yes,” Horatio said.

Tim turned back to Eric. “Do you know which one?” he asked.

“That’s where we were hoping you could help. I have a photo,” he said. He pulled out a
black and white photo from the file. “It’s an autopsy photo,” Eric added before he slid it
across the table.


                                            62
Tim took one look at the photo and recognized the kid immediately. “I’ve seen him at the
club,” Tim said.

“Do you know his name?” Eric asked.

Tim shook his head then looked at Horatio. “But Max will,” he said. “What happened to
him?” Tim asked gesturing to the photo.

Eric looked at Horatio before answering. Horatio nodded his approval. “We have
evidence that the same person who assaulted you also killed him. We found him tied to a
bed, beaten and stabbed.”

Suddenly Tim’s mind desperately wanted to be anywhere but there but he didn’t want to
retreat. He knew he was safe and he gripped Horatio’s hand a bit tighter just to convince
himself of that.

“Face up or face down?” Tim asked. Eric gave him a questioning look. “On the bed. Did
you find him face up or face down?”

After a quick glance at Horatio, Eric answered, “Face down, knees pulled up under him.”

Tim took a breath, trying to stay focused. “When, um…” He closed his eyes for a
moment. “When you turned him over, he had marks on his chest and waist, like strap
marks from being restrained.” It was a statement of fact, not a question but Eric nodded
anyway. “And these marks on his face,” Tim said pointing at the photo, “are from a ball
gag.” He looked up at Eric. “He was raped?”

“We still have to confirm that. The ME will check for fluids…”

“There won’t be any,” Tim said mater-of-factly. “He always uses a condom. Look for
bruising, tearing, he wouldn’t have been gentle,” he said quietly.

Tim was reaching his limit and Horatio could see him beginning to withdraw. He looked
over at Eric and asked, “Give us a minute, will you?”

Eric agreed and left the room but he watched the two through the glass. Tim was staring
at the far wall. Horatio turned toward him and took his face in his hands. He rested their
foreheads together.

“I need you to stay with me for a bit longer,” he said quietly and felt Tim nod.

Tim reached over and picked up the photo. “This is me, Horatio,” he said and Horatio felt
a chill run through his body.




                                            63
“Tim, Eric needs to know what happened to this boy.” Tim took a deep breath and
nodded. “You need another minute?” He shook his head. Horatio leaned in and gave him
a quick kiss. “Okay, here we go,” he said as he signaled for Eric to come back into the
room.

Eric walked in trying to shake from his brain the image of his boss kissing another man.
He knew that he didn’t have any particular problem with the general idea of it. But this
was Horatio, not someone he thought of that way. He sat down at the table again.

“Eric,” Horatio said. “Tim may have some information pertaining to your case that may
help.”

Tim sat with one hand firmly in Horatio’s grasp and the other resting on the black and
white photo of the murder victim. “I can tell you what likely transpired between this boy
and Simon.” He spoke in a low, flat tone. “They met at the club, Club Descent. Simon
would have been looking for someone who was into bondage.”

“So, for this kid, being tied up was part of the game,” Eric said. “That would explain why
we didn’t find any defensive wounds.”

“It’s also likely that there was a third person involved, not in the murder but in the
game,” Tim continued. “Simon is into slave play but doesn’t like to get personally
involved. He’ll find a third to dominate the slave and he’ll watch. He gets off on it.”

He paused for a moment before continuing. “He had the kid strip, then had the third guy
bind his wrists with leather bands and suspend him from something overhead. Then he
spread his legs and restrained them to the floor using another set of leather cuffs. After
that he would have blindfolded the kid.”

Tim stared at the photo on the table and ran his fingers over the edge. “Once he had the
kid blindfolded any number of things could have happened, weighted nipple clamps, ball
stretchers. At some point the kid must’ve protested or talked back.” He gestured to two
bruises on either side of the victim’s mouth. “These are from a ball gag, fastened tighter
than necessary. He would've had the dominant penetrate the kid, either himself or with an
object. All of this is designed to humiliate and dominate and I can guarantee you, by this
point, the kid is probably freaking out, unless he was really hardcore. But Simon
wouldn’t have taken him if he were really hardcore. He looks for people who think they
know DS play, lightweights. They’re easier to take control over in the end.”

Tim paused and took a breath. “He probably kept him for a couple days, likely picked
him up sometime late Thursday night, after Max and I left the club, kept him until late
Saturday. Probably wouldn’t take him too long to break the kid. Once he did, that’s when
his personal involvement would start. He only wants the completely submissive ones.”

As Horatio listened to Tim’s story he became concerned about his apparent detachment.
He was showing no emotion at all as he spoke. Horatio had seen him withdraw before but


                                           64
this was different. He knew enough about psychology to know that Tim had withdrawn
again but in a different way. He also realized, to his own horror, that even though Tim
was talking in the third person, he was describing things that had actually happened to
him.

Tim continued. “Simon had the dominant release the kid, now truly a slave, and tie him
to the bed, probably into the same position you found him in. He would have been
completely immobilized, unable to move even a little. The strap marks on his chest, waist
and groin area are from leather straps that held him firmly in place. He could have been
in that position for as much as a day while Simon repeatedly brought him to the edge of
climax then backed off, another form of humiliation and control. He also would have
repeatedly raped him, likely with no preparation. Extreme pleasure and extreme pain.”

Tim fell silent and stared at the photo. Eric sat across the table from him trying to wrap
his brain around what he was hearing. What Tim had described to them seemed to match
the victim’s physical condition almost exactly, bruise for bruise. And just as Horatio had,
Eric was struck by the knowledge that Tim was likely speaking from personal experience.
But one thing didn’t make sense in that context.

“Why kill him?” Eric asked.

Tim looked up for the first time and met Eric’s eyes. He shrugged and pointed to the
photo. “He wasn’t me,” he said then lowered his gaze once again. He sighed. “I used to
be normal,” he muttered. He looked up at Horatio who was, by this time, completely
speechless, and asked, in the same flat, emotionless tone, “Can we go home now?”

Horatio shook himself out of his slight daze and said, “Uh, yeah. That’s probably a good
idea.” He looked up at Eric who nodded his agreement.

Horatio stood and Tim followed him out. He said nothing on the way home, just sat
staring out the window of the car. Horatio was also silent on the ride home. His mind
kept drifting to elements of Tim’s story and he felt his stomach turning at the thought of
what those first days must have been like, the shear terror and helplessness.

When they arrived home Tim walked, zombie-like, into the house. He sat down on the
sofa and Horatio watched as he slowly drew his legs up protectively and rested his head
to one side on his knees. Horatio wasn’t quite sure what to do so he said the first thing
that came to mind.

“Would you like some dinner?” Tim shrugged but said nothing. “Do you want to talk?”
Again nothing. Horatio went to sit next to him but hesitated for just a moment. “Do you
want me to leave you alone for a bit?” He saw Tim’s lower lip start to quiver and he
shook his head.

Horatio slipped off his shoes and suit jacket. He snaked one leg behind Tim and settled
into the corner of the sofa, pulling Tim into his arms. For the first time since they’d met,


                                            65
Horatio was having trouble controlling his own emotions. His anger, his shear fury at
what Simon had done was very close to the surface, mingled with a profound sadness at
what Tim had endured. As he felt Tim bury his face in his shirt and felt his body begin to
shake, he lost his own battle and wept along with his lover.

                                           ooo

Tim had fallen asleep in Horatio’s arms but sleep did not come easily for Horatio himself.
His mind, already so haunted with images from his own past, now carried the burden of
Tim’s enslavement. He pondered over that word but couldn’t find a better one to describe
what had happened. At the same time he had to marvel at Tim’s resiliency given that he
was able to go on with at least the façade of a normal life and a successful career even
with the specter of Simon hanging over him for the past three years.

But he also realized what this meant. It meant that Tim had had to psychologically adapt
himself to the abusive situation, to make it normal, or he wouldn’t have been able to
cope. It meant a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. It meant Stockholm syndrome. It
also meant that, even though he’d spent the past year fighting to regain control of his own
life, Simon could still take hold of him again. Given the right circumstances, he would
return to the abusive relationship. In fact, given the state that Tim was in when he’d
found him Sunday morning, he was beginning to believe that Simon did not intend to kill
him but instead take him back under his control. That was still his goal and always would
be.

Horatio craned his neck around trying to see the clock on the far wall. It was four o’clock
and he’d been sitting there in the same position for almost an hour. He was getting stiff
and his foot was asleep. Carefully, he lifted Tim up enough to free his leg but not enough
to wake him. He gently shifted him and laid him down on the sofa as he stood. Tim
murmured in his sleep but settled back in quickly. Horatio stretched as he wandered over
to the front window and looked out. He saw the patrol car that had been assigned to guard
his residence. Simon was resourceful and the chief feared that he would find Horatio
eventually. He checked the keypad for his home security system before heading upstairs
to change.

                                           ooo

Eric stood in autopsy room staring at the young man they’d found the day before. He had
the file open in front of him with the transcribed notes from his interview with Tim. He
was comparing the boy’s injuries to Tim’s account of what he believed had happened.
They all matched. Alexx stepped up next to him.

“Eric?” she questioned. “What are you still doing here?”

Eric startled slightly. He hadn’t heard her enter the room. “Hey, Alexx,” he said in a
subdued tone.



                                            66
She looked at him closely. “You okay, baby?” she asked.

He sighed. “I don’t know, Alexx. I met Horatio’s… friend today.” He glanced over at her
to gage her reaction. She just nodded. “You knew already, didn’t you?”

“For as long as I’ve known Horatio,” she answered.

Eric shook his head. “Why doesn’t that surprise me,” he said.

She did surprise him when she asked, “So what’s he like?”

“You haven’t met him yet?” he asked. She shook her head. “You do know what
happened yesterday, right?”

“Calleigh told me, yes. Poor guy,” she said. “Been so busy, I haven’t had a chance to talk
to Horatio yet.”

“And you know about this case,” he said pointing to the body on the slider. Eric took a
breath. “The same man who did this also assaulted Horatio’s friend.” Alexx looked at
him with a shocked expression. “He described to me in detail what happened to this kid.”

He showed Alexx the pages of transcribed notes. She looked up at him after scanning the
notes. “You think this happened to him, don’t you?”

“I sat there and listened to him Alexx. He was describing something he’d experienced,
I’m sure of it.” After a pause he added, “Horatio looked like he was going to be sick.”

She handed him back the papers and headed for the door. “You catch this monster, Eric.
You hear me,” she said as she walked.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“To see Horatio,” she replied as the door swung shut.

                                           ooo

Horatio stared into the refrigerator. He knew he should be hungry; he had barely eaten
anything in two days. But food didn’t appeal to him at the moment. In fact, very little
appealed to him at the moment. He slammed the door with a bit more force than he
intended. He turned and startled when he saw Tim standing at the edge of the kitchen,
staring at him. He froze. He didn’t know why but he couldn’t make himself move as
Tim’s eyes bore into him.

“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” Tim said.




                                           67
Horatio stared at him, looking into haunted eyes. He shook his head as his voice had
momentarily failed him. Finally he managed to ask, “What?”

“We had it all planned out. Finish college, move down south somewhere, buy a house on
the beach. We even talked about kids.” It took Horatio a moment to realize that he was
talking about Andrew. Tim’s expression shifted and he turned his head away. “I should
go. You shouldn’t have to deal with this,” he said and turned to leave.

Horatio immediately overcame his paralysis and in three long strides was standing in
front of Tim. “Don’t leave,” he implored. “I don’t have to deal with this, I want to.”

He looked into Tim’s eyes hoping he would see the truth in what he was saying. Tim’s
expression softened a bit. Horatio tentatively reached out a hand. Tim took it and Horatio
pulled him close, wrapping his arms around him. They stood that way for several
minutes.

Finally Horatio pulled back and looked into Tim’s eyes. “I’m not going to force you to do
anything you don’t want to do. I want you to stay here because you want to.”

He was desperately hoping Tim would decide to stay. He couldn’t bear the though of him
going back to Simon. His relief was obvious when he saw Tim nod and he leaned in and
took his mouth in a soft kiss. Slowly, Horatio became aware of a noise behind him and he
broke the kiss. Someone was knocking at the front door. He took a moment to compose
himself before walking to the door and looking out the spy hole. He smiled and
disengaged the alarm system before opening the door to find Alexx standing on his front
stoop. He stepped aside and let her in.

She turned to him and asked, “Horatio, are you okay? Eric told me what happened this
afternoon.”

He gave her his best attempt at a smile. “I’m fine Alexx,” he said.

She looked at him critically. “Funny, you don’t look fine,” she said with her hands on her
hips.

Not wanting to get into an argument with her he decided to change the subject. “Alexx,”
he said, directing her attention toward the other side of the room where Tim was
standing. “This is Tim Speedle.”

Alexx smiled in her best non-threatening, motherly way and walked over to him with her
hand held out. Instinctively Tim took it. “Alexx Woods. It’s a pleasure to meet you.
Horatio’s told me about you.”

Tim shook her hand. He vaguely recalled Horatio mentioning that name and something
about a mother hen. “Likewise,” he said.



                                            68
Horatio walked over to stand next to Tim. Alexx looked back and forth between the two
men, taking note of the fact that they both looked pale and Horatio’s features looked
sunken. She asked, “Have either of you eaten lately?”

Tim shrugged and Horatio hedged. Alexx shook her head. She dropped her bag on the
sofa, removed her jacket, and rolled up her sleeves. “Horatio, I swear,” she muttered as
she made her way to the kitchen. She began rifling through his refrigerator and pulling
out various items. Horatio watched her for a moment and the only thought that ran
through his mind was that he was glad that he’d gone food shopping the other day
because he didn’t want to think of what she would have done if his cupboards had been
bare.

Tim leaned over close to Horatio’s ear and whispered, “Is she always like this?” Horatio
just nodded. Tim looked into the kitchen. “Can, um… can we help?” he asked tentatively.

Alexx held up a hand and said, “I work better alone. You boys relax.”

Tim glanced over at Horatio who just said, “Better to do as she says.”

Fifteen minutes later they were sitting on the sofa with Tim huddled protectively in
Horatio’s arms. The smell of the food cooking was beginning to make both men feel
hungry. Alexx walked out of the kitchen and stood in front of the sofa. Horatio could tell
that she was now in full mother mode.

“Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes,” she said. “And I expect both of you to eat.”

Horatio tried to hide his amusement as he said, “Yes, ma’am.”

Tim moved to sit up and winced slightly as he did so. Alexx immediately descended on
him. “Have you been checked out by a doctor yet?” she asked.

“I’m fine,” he replied. “Just bruised.”

Alexx rolled her eyes. “What is it with you men and doctors?” She gestured to Tim. “Sit
forward and take your shirt off. Let me check you out.”

Tim turned to Horatio, looking for some help. “I did mention that she’s a doctor, didn’t
I?” Horatio said.

“Horatio?” He really didn’t want to do this.

“Come on, what harm can it do? Besides, it’ll make me feel better to know there really is
nothing seriously wrong,” Horatio replied.

Tim knew he was outnumbered. “Fine,” he grumbled. He removed his shirt with only
minor difficulty and sat forward on the sofa.


                                               69
Alexx hid her initial shock at seeing all of the bruises on his body as she set to examining
him. She checked his range of motion and for any abdominal tenderness that might
signify internal bleeding. Then she placed a hand on either side of his ribcage and told
him to take a deep breath, which he was able to do without difficulty.

Finally convinced that he wasn’t bleeding internally and that he didn’t have any fractured
ribs, she said, “Okay, you do appear to just be bruised.”

“See, I told you,” Tim muttered as he put his shirt back on.

Somehow he couldn’t be mad at either of them as they were really just looking out for
him. But he could sulk for a bit. Horatio held out his arms and Tim curled into his
embrace for some comforting. He knew he was acting like a little kid but he really didn’t
care. It felt good to have Horatio hold him.

Alexx heard the kitchen timer sound and went to check on dinner. Satisfied that
everything was ready, she called back to the living room. “Come on boys, dinner’s
ready.” Apparently they were too slow in responding for her liking so she added,
“Despite what the songs say, you can’t live on lovin’. So get your butts in here.” She
heard Horatio chuckle as they walked into the kitchen.

They ate in relative silence. Tim hadn’t realized just how hungry he was until he started
eating. By the time they finished both men were feeling much better and Horatio noticed
that the slight headache he’d been sporting all day had ceased to be a problem.

“Thanks, Alexx,” he said. “That was wonderful, as usual.”

Tim glanced at him. “She does this for you often?” he asked.

Alexx answered, “Every time he gets so wrapped up in work that he forgets to eat. Which
is often.”

Tim smirked. “I guess that makes two of us now,” he said.

Alexx cast her eyes heavenward. “Lord help me,” she said.

“Don’t worry. I come with my own set of mother hens,” Tim said as his cell phone rang.

He answered it without looking at the caller ID and was greeted by, “Tim, what the fuck
is going on?! I’m standing outside your apartment and there’s cops everywhere.”

Tim rolled his eyes. “Fuck, Jess. I totally forgot to call you.”

                                             ooo



                                              70
Horatio got up from the sofa when he heard knocking at the door. He opened the door
and was greeted by the young woman he’d gotten a glimpse of at Tim’s lab the week
before.

“Jess?” he asked.

She smiled at him. “Yes, Lieutenant Caine.”

Horatio stepped aside as he said, “Horatio, please.”

She stepped inside and saw Tim just as he was standing up. She practically flung herself
into his arms, causing him to take a step back so he wouldn’t fall over. He wrapped his
arms around her.

“God, Tim. I was so scared, when you didn’t show up for work today and I got to your
apartment and all the cops, you didn’t answer your cell all afternoon,” spilled out of Jess’
mouth in one breath. “No one would tell me anything. I thought something horrible had
happened,” she added.

Tim held her a little tighter. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you this morning. Everything
happened so fast and it’s been…” he sighed.

He was hoping not to have to involve her in all of this but, as usual, his forgetfulness had
sort of forced the issue. He didn’t have to give her all of the details but he would have to
tell her something. He led her over to the sofa and they sat down.

Horatio decided to give them some privacy so he went into the kitchen to help Alexx
clean up from dinner. She had already made a start on the dishes so Horatio picked up a
towel and started drying. He glanced back into the living room where Tim and Jess were
deep in conversation. Alexx caught his attention and he turned back.

“So, how are you really doing, Horatio? And don’t lie to me this time.”

Horatio sighed. He knew he could never lie to Alexx and get away with it for long. “I’m
worried, Alexx. Simon is still out there and he wants Tim back.”

“And how about Tim?” she asked.

Horatio took a breath. “Hurt, scared,” he said. He glanced back to the living room
momentarily. “He tries to hide it but cries a lot. He’s not used to having someone be
gentle with him. I think… I think somewhere in the back of his mind, he’s expecting me
to hurt him.”

She could tell by the look in his eyes that it pained him greatly to have to admit that. She
quickly dried her hands and turned to face him. “Horatio, you know and I know, you



                                            71
would never do anything to hurt anyone.” She laid a comforting hand on his arm. “And
Tim will come to realize that too. Just give him some time.”

Out in the living room, Jess listened to what Tim had to say. He only told her what was
absolutely necessary, that he had an abusive ex-boyfriend who was currently stalking
him. He’d broken into his apartment Sunday morning and assaulted him then ran off
when Horatio came in.

“Are you okay?” she asked full of concern.

Tim shrugged. “Bruised but otherwise all right.”

“Did you get yourself checked out because I know you and…”

“Yes,” he cut her of, rolling his eyes. “Horatio’s friend in there,” he gestured toward the
kitchen, “is a doctor. She checked me out herself. I’m fine.” She didn’t look completely
convinced. He took her hand. “Look, Jess, I need you to do me a favor. I need you to hold
down the fort for a few more days. I emailed the Dean and told him I had a family
emergency to deal with and I would be out of town for a while.”

“Yeah, I can do that. Besides, I think your students have gotten used to me at this point.
Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” she asked as Horatio walked back into the room.

He stood behind Tim and placed his hands on his shoulders. Tim looked up at him.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” he said.

Jess looked up at Horatio and smiled. “Are you sure you know what you’re getting
yourself into? Because he should really come with a warning label, not to mention care
and feeding instructions,” she said with just a hint of sarcasm.

Horatio chuckled. “I’m a ‘learn as you go’ sorta guy,” he answered. “I never read the
directions.”

Jess giggled, deciding that she liked Horatio. Tim glanced between them. “Are you two
finished?” he asked.

Horatio looked at Jess who shrugged. “I suppose,” he said. Tim shook his head.

Jess looked at her watch. “I should get going,” she said. “Charlie doesn’t like it when I
get home too late.”

“Boyfriend?” Horatio asked.

“Cat,” she responded and he chuckled.

“I should be getting home to my kids, too,” Alexx said.


                                             72
They said their good-byes with a promise to keep in phone contact until the whole
situation was resolved. Horatio closed the door behind them then walked over to Tim and
draped his arms around his neck. “Now where were we before we were interrupted,” he
said as he leaned in close.

Tim added, “And fed,” as he moved in closer.

“And mothered,” Horatio contributed as he closed the remaining distance and captured
Tim’s lips for a slow kiss.

He knew they should be talking, that they needed to talk, but after everything that they’d
been through today, he felt less like talking and more like doing something else. He
opened his mouth, encouraging Tim to take the lead. Tim swept his tongue over Horatio’s
lips before plunging in. Somehow they ended up in the bedroom though neither man
recalled climbing the stairs.

Horatio slowly unbuttoned Tim’s shirt and pushed it off his shoulders. He gently ran his
hands down Tim’s neck, over his shoulders, and down his arms. He felt Tim shiver as he
took his hands and placed them at the top button of his own shirt, urging him to do the
same. Once Horatio’s shirt was shed he pulled Tim close, pressing their bodies together
and burying his face in his neck. Tim’s skin felt warm and flushed as he pressed himself
closer. He began to lay feather light kisses along Tim’s neck and down his shoulder as his
hands brushed lightly over his back. Horatio moved back just slightly and took Tim’s
face in his hands. He kissed his forehead, then his eyes, his nose, then finally took his
mouth, slowly exploring. His goal was nothing less than the complete worship of Tim
Speedle’s body.

While he had Tim distracted he managed to unfasten his pants and push them down so
that they pooled at his feet. Then he relieved himself of his own remaining clothing
before maneuvering Tim back toward the bed. He gently urged him to lie down in the
center. Tim’s breathing was already a bit ragged and his body tingled everywhere Horatio
touched him. His emotional control was slipping again but this time he didn’t care as
much. Horatio knew almost everything, at least enough to understand.

He began laying soft kisses across Tim’s chest, moving from side to side, eliciting small
gasps as he went. He worked his way down to Tim’s hard, leaking cock. Horatio smirked
as his tongue darted out and ran up the shaft and around the head.

Tim’s breath caught and he sobbed out, “Oh God!”

Horatio paused, momentarily concerned. He glanced up and noticed the tears running
down Tim’s face. “Is this okay?” he asked.

Tim nodded. “Please,” he croaked out.



                                           73
He took hold of the sheets beneath him in a death grip and tried to control himself as he
felt Horatio’s mouth close around him. Horatio took a moment to run his tongue over and
around the head before slowly drawing him in. Tim tried his best to remain still as
Horatio’s tongue massaged him and his teeth lightly scraped his shaft. His eyes fluttered
shut. His mind began to drift. For a moment he forgot where he was and whom he was
with. He could feel the pressure building and knew he was close, closer than he realized.
Horatio also became aware of how close he was and took him all of the way down his
throat, swallowing around him. Before he could stop himself, Tim came hard down
Horatio’s throat with a sob. Horatio swallowed until he was spent then let him slip from
his mouth. Tim lay limp beneath him with tears streaming down his face as Horatio
kissed his way back up his body.

He hovered over Tim for a moment before asking, “You okay?”

Tim trembled slightly and nodded as he tried to get his breathing back under control.
Horatio reached a hand out and wiped the tears from his face then leaned down and took
his mouth in a slow kiss that was full of the promise of more. When he pulled back he
looked into Tim’s eyes seeing something he didn’t quite understand.

“Are you sure nothing’s wrong?” he asked again.

Tim nodded. “He used to,” Tim started to say then looked away. “He used to punish me
when I’d…”

Horatio tilted his head. “He used to punish you when he went down on you like that and
you came?” Tim gave him a quick nod still not looking him in the eye. “I’m sorry. I
didn’t know. I wouldn’t have…”

“No. You’re not him. I know that,” he said, quickly turning his head back and looking
into Horatio’s eyes. “It’s gonna take me some time, that’s all.” He took Horatio’s face in
his hands and pulled him in for another kiss. When he pulled back he whispered, “I want
you.”

Horatio leaned over and grabbed the lube and a condom from the nightstand. But when
Tim tried to roll over he stopped him. “Don’t,” he said. “Let me watch you. I promise I
won’t hurt you.”

Tim lay back and pulled his legs up. Horatio took a moment to prepare him before rolling
the condom on and slowly burying himself balls deep. He stilled as his eyes drifted shut
and worked to maintain his composure for as long as possible. He didn’t want to lose
control and risk hurting Tim. After a moment he opened his eyes and looked down at the
face of his lover. His head was back. His mouth was slightly open and his eyes were dark
with passion. He leaned forward and claimed his lips as he slowly began to move, slowly
out, and then slowly back in, setting his sensual rhythm.




                                           74
With each thrust, as their tongues dueled, Horatio’s speed increased. Tim began arching
his hips up, urging the redhead to move faster, harder. He moaned into the kiss each time
Horatio’s cock would brush his prostate. Horatio was beginning to feel light headed and
he broke the kiss, resting his head on Tim’s shoulder as he continued to pound into his
body. Unable to hold out any longer he took Tim’s cock in his hand and with a few well
timed strokes both men came, calling each other’s names.

Horatio collapsed forward onto Tim’s chest breathing heavily. He honestly hadn’t come
that hard in a long time and it took him longer than usual to bring himself back. His mind
still clouded, he felt himself being rolled over and the condom being removed. After a
few moments he pulled Tim into his arms and twined their legs together. He kissed him
softly and pulled the blankets up over them. As he drifted off to sleep, Horatio was struck
by the thought that the more time he spent with Tim, the more he knew he never wanted
him to leave. That was something else that they would need to talk about, in the morning.

                                            ooo

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Darkness. His eyes were open, he was fairly certain of that. He could make out some
vague, blurry shapes in the distance but nothing concrete. His right arm ached. He wasn’t
able to move. He couldn’t feel the restraints but he knew they must be there because he
was immobilized. Why did only one arm ache, he thought? Or did he say it out loud?

He tried to remember how long he’d been trussed up this time but his brain seemed
cloudy and he had no clear memory of ending up in his current situation. It didn’t feel
right somehow. Not that it ever felt right but it felt less right this time for some reason.
He wished he could make his mind focus. There was a vague memory, somewhere in the
background. A man, but he couldn't focus. He knew Simon would be back, probably
soon. He wasn’t looking forward to it but, at least, maybe, Simon would let him down
and his arm would stop aching.

~*~*~

Horatio stretched and rolled over in bed. He smiled and gently ran a hand over Tim’s
back. He was lying on his right side with his right arm up under the pillow. Horatio
wondered how long he’d been in that position, thinking that he would probably be pretty
stiff when he woke up. He whispered into Tim’s ear as he slept that he loved him and he
brushed his fingers down his arm and over his back. He smiled as he heard Tim murmur
in his sleep.

~*~*~

There was a voice in the darkness. He couldn’t tell if it was Simon or the Dominant. He
couldn’t make out what the voice was saying. He just heard his name being spoken into
his ear. Whoever was speaking was close behind him. His breath was hot on his ear. He


                                            75
felt something on his back. It started out soft but quickly grew into a burning sensation.
He knew better than to cry out so he gritted his teeth and only squirmed slightly. Then it
stopped and he let out a breath. It started again on his arm, like a red, hot poker being
drawn along his skin.

~*~*~

Horatio lay back down and spooned up against Tim. He kissed the back of his neck and
rested his hand on Tim’s hip. As he was drifting off to sleep again he absently stroked
Tim’s leg. He didn’t notice the single tear that ran down Tim’s cheek.

                                            ooo

Eric walked into the lab and found Calleigh with Horatio's and Tim’s clothing. She was
going over each piece with a magnifier and tape lifts.

“Hey, Cal,” he said as he walked into the room. “Have you found anything yet?”

Calleigh looked up from what she was doing. “Nothing, so far,” she said, clearly
frustrated.

She pulled Tim’s t-shirt and shorts out of the second evidence bag and started working on
them. She spread the shirt out on the table and the first thing she noticed was a shoe print.
She flattened the shirt out so she could see the whole print then photographed it. Eric
winced when he saw it.

“That had to hurt,” he said.

Calleigh nodded. “I really want to catch this guy, Eric.”

“Maybe we should go back to his apartment. You know, a fresh set of eyes might turn up
something,” Eric suggested.

“Couldn’t hurt, I suppose,” she agreed.

“Great. Then we can both go back to my scene, see what we can put together,” he added.

                                            ooo

Horatio’s eyes fluttered open at a sound in the room that he couldn’t quite place. He
heard Tim sniffle and was suddenly fully awake. He pulled him closer and gently ran a
hand over his cheek. Feeling that it was damp he asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Sorry,” Tim muttered and quickly wiped his face. “Bad dream.”




                                             76
He rolled over and snuggled into Horatio’s arms, grateful for once to actually have
someone to comfort him. Horatio held him, completely understanding how he felt. He’d
certainly been haunted enough by nightmares himself.

“Feel like talking about it?” Horatio asked.

Tim shrugged. “Same old thing,” was all he said.

Horatio let it go figuring he would talk when he was ready. But he felt the need to say
one thing. “You know you’re safe here, right? I’m not going to hurt you or make you do
anything you’re not comfortable with.”

Tim nodded and nuzzled into Horatio’s neck. “I wish we could just stay here like this,”
he said. He did realize how ridiculous and lovesick he sounded, but he didn’t care.

Horatio chuckled. “Well, we are both off for the next few days,” he said.

Tim pulled back just enough to look at Horatio face to face. “So does that mean we can
spend the next few days in bed?” he asked waggling his eyebrows.

Horatio smirked and leaned in for a kiss. “I suppose we could try,” he whispered against
Tim’s lips.

Just as the kiss was becoming heated, they heard a knocking at the front door. Horatio
pulled back and rested his forehead against Tim’s. “It’s a conspiracy,” he muttered. Tim
chuckled as Horatio rolled out of bed and donned his robe. He looked back at Tim, noting
the slight leer. “Hold that thought,” he said as he headed down the stairs.

He checked the window by the front door and saw Max standing on the stoop. He opened
the door and stepped aside to let him in. Max paused when he saw Horatio in his robe.

“Am I interrupting something?” he asked with a raised eyebrow.

Horatio ducked his head to hide the slight blush. “No,” he said. Then he added, almost
under his breath, “Another five minutes and…” He let that thought trail off.

“Sorry. I shoulda called first,” Max said with a smirk. “I just thought I’d stop by and see
how Tim was doin’.

Hearing Max’s voice, Tim stuck his head over the banister and said, “I’ll be right down.”

“Bring me some clothes, please,” Horatio called up to him.

Tim threw on a pair of jeans and grabbed a pair of pants and a shirt for Horatio. He
headed down the stairs and tossed the clothes to the redhead before walking over to Max.



                                               77
Max looked him up and down with a critical eye, taking notice of every bruise. He placed
a hand on Tim’s shoulder.

“How y'doin’?” he asked.

“I’m okay,” Tim answered.

“Did y'get yerself checked out yet?” he asked.

Tim nodded. “Horatio’s got a friend who’s a doctor. She said I’m fine, just bruised.”

He walked over to the sofa and gestured for Max to have a seat. Max glanced into the
kitchen where he saw Horatio putting up a pot of coffee.

“So how’s it going with you two?” Max asked quietly. He saw Tim smile and his cheeks
color just slightly through the stubble. “That good, huh?”

Tim replied, just as quietly, “He’s not like anyone I’ve ever met before.”

Max raised an eyebrow. “Well, given the company you’ve been keepin’ lately, I’d have
to say that’s a good thing.” Tim pursed his lips. “You’ve got that totally lovesick, ‘all I
wanna do is lay in bed and fuck’ look right now.” Tim was about to reply when Max
glance over at the kitchen and added, “S’okay. So does he.”

“Max! Quit it, will you,” Tim said.

Max chuckled. “Okay, okay. I’ll stop teasin’ ya,” he said. “Sorry I dropped by without
callin’ first.” He smirked, unable to resist just a little more. “I hope I didn’t interrupt
anything.”

Tim glared at him for a moment before muttering, “A few more minutes and you’d still
be standing out on the porch.”

Max laughed out loud. “I am sorry, kid,” he said.

From the kitchen, Horatio asked, “Max, how do you take your coffee?”

Still chuckling, Max answered, “Black is fine, thanks.”

A moment later Horatio walked into the living room with three mugs of coffee. He placed
one down on the table in front of Max and said, “Black.” Then he handed one to Tim and
said, “Light and sweet,” as he leaned in and gave him a quick kiss.

Tim smiled up at him as he fitted himself in behind him and settled into the corner of the
sofa. Tim leaned back against his chest and sipped at his coffee. Max smiled thinking that
despite everything, Tim actually looked happy and content.


                                            78
“So,” he said, addressing Horatio. “I gotta call from yer friend. That little, blonde lady
from Sunday.”

“Calleigh,” Horatio said.

“Yeah, Calleigh. She said she wants to talk to me about a case related to what happened
to Tim,” he said.

Tim’s expression turned somber. He knew that eventually he would have to tell Max
what happened. He glanced back at Horatio for a moment, looking for support. Horatio
gave him a sad smile and nodded.

Tim took a breath. “Max, something happened to one of the kids from the club.”

Max paused with his coffee cup half way to his mouth. He looked over at Tim. “What
happen?” he asked. “Who?”

Tim knew that Max was much more than just the bartender and bouncer at Club Descent.
He was also the unofficial club dad. He knew each of the regulars and watched over them
protectively. All of the kids knew that they could come to Max with a problem and he
would help them solve it. He knew all their names, all their stories. They were like his
family.

Tim sighed. “One of the kids was killed Sunday morning.” He glanced back at Horatio
again for a moment. “They think it was Simon.”

Max placed his coffee mug down on the table. “Tim, who?” he asked again.

“I don’t know his name. The little blonde guy with the rose tattoo on his left arm.”

Max’s head fell. “Jimmy,” he muttered. Then he looked up with fire in his eyes. “What
happened?” he asked. Tim averted his eyes, not wanting to go into the whole story again
so soon. “Tim,” Max insisted. But he could see his friend retreat so he said, “Horatio, tell
me what’s goin’ on.”

Horatio wrapped his arms around Tim protectively. “He was found Sunday morning. It
was the scene I originally got called to. He was tied up, beaten, stabbed. We, um, we
think that he was probably picked up at the club Thursday night after you two left. There
is some evidence to suggest that he was raped, repeatedly and that there may have been a
second person involved.”

“One of the dominants,” Tim added quietly. “He had been restrained and played with.”

Max was stunned into silence for a moment. “How can you know all this?” he finally
managed to ask.


                                            79
Tim spoke without meeting Max’s eyes. “Because they showed me pictures of Jimmy’s
body. Everything that had been done to him,” he paused for a moment, “Simon had done
to me.”

Max was a big guy who cultivated a very tough appearance. He was tall, muscular, a
former Marine. He shaved his head to add to the image. But the moment he heard those
words come from Tim’s mouth, he sunk back into the sofa and looked very much the lost
little boy on the verge of tears. He suddenly felt like he was sitting in someone else’s
nightmare. Without leaving Horatio’s embrace, Tim reached out for Max and took his
hand while Max tried to gain control of himself.

“That mother-fucker’s a dead man,” he muttered.

                                           ooo

Eric walked into Tim’s apartment and glanced around. His reason for being there was
two-fold. He was there to investigate an assault but he was also there because he was
curious about the man that his boss was involved with. Though he rationalized the latter
by convincing himself that knowing Tim better would possibly help him know his
attacker better. One of the first things that drew his attention was the set of bookshelves
along the far wall.

You can tell a lot about a person by what he reads, Eric thought.

As he scanned the books, he began to identify Tim a fellow science geek. He had two
shelves packed with chemistry and biology books. As he glanced at the shelves he started
to notice a series of books with the name Speedle printed on the spines. He pulled one out
and discovered that Tim was the author. There were seven books all together at varying
academic levels, from freshman chemistry to graduate level biochemistry.

“Hey, Cal,” he called. Calleigh wandered up to him and he showed her the book.
“There’s a bunch of them here that he wrote. He didn’t look old enough to have done all
this.”

Calleigh shrugged. “According to the police report he filed, he listed his age as thirty. I
suppose he started young.” She looked up at him. “You want to check out the actual
crime scene now?” she asked.

Eric chuckled and said, “Yeah, I suppose I should.”

They walked to the back of the apartment and into the bedroom. Eric stopped at the door
and scanned the room. To his right he saw an unmade bed. Against the right wall was a
closet, next to that a bureau. The left wall was taken up by a large casement window with
a window seat and there were some boxes piled up under the window. Eric pulled out the
crime scene sketch that Calleigh had done and glanced at it. He focused on the corner of


                                            80
the room where the assault had taken place and tried to picture, in his head, what had
happened.

Calleigh walked up behind him and placed a hand on his arm. “What are you seeing?”
she asked.

Eric shook his head. “Just trying to picture it,” he answered. He looked back at Calleigh
then over at the bed. “So H gets the call from dispatch. He gets up, gets dressed,” he said
with a slight smirk.

Calleigh continued, “They walk to the front door. Take a moment to say goodbye. Tim
watches Horatio drive off.”

“He closes the door, forgetting to lock it,” Eric said. “Then he goes back to bed.” He
glanced at the police report again. “He says it was only a few minutes before he noticed
the guy in the room with him. That means he must have been staking the place out.”

“Or had incredibly good timing,” Calleigh added.

Eric looked her right in the eye and said, “This guy’s not going to give up, is he?”

                                            ooo

Max stood at the front door. “Y'sure y'gonna be okay?” he asked Tim.

Tim nodded. “I’ve survived this long,” he said.

Max looked over at Horatio. “Look out for him, will ya? He has this way of finding
trouble, even when he’s not lookin’ for it,” he said with a smile.

“Hey,” Tim protested. “I’m right here.”

Horatio slipped his arm around Tim’s waist. “Don’t worry, Max. I’ll keep him safe,” he
said. “Oh, and do me a favor. What you said before? If you see Simon, call the police.
Don’t do anything stupid.”

Max smirked. “Don’t worry.”

Horatio chuckled. “Just don’t kill him. That’s paperwork I don’t need.”

“All right,” Max sighed. “But I won’t promise I’ll turn’m over undamaged.”

Horatio shook his head. “I’m gonna pretend I didn’t hear that,” he said as he shook Max’s
hand.

Max turned his attention to Tim. “I’ll call'ya tomorrow,” he said.


                                            81
Tim smiled. “Thanks.”

Horatio shut the door behind Max. He and Tim were alone again. Horatio leaned up
against the door and smiled at Tim. He held out a hand. Tim took it and was pulled into
Horatio’s arms. But just as he was about to close the small remaining distance between
their lips, he heard Horatio’s cell phone ring from the loft. He closed his eyes and
chuckled.

“It’s definitely a conspiracy,” Tim muttered.

Horatio laughed as he quickly jogged up the stairs and grabbed his phone. “Yeah,” he
said into the receiver.

“Horatio, it’s Calleigh.”

“Yes, Calleigh. What can I do for you,” Horatio said.

“I was just calling to let you know that we’re going to release your friend’s apartment this
afternoon. He should be clear to move back in by three o’clock,” she said.

Horatio paused for a moment before he spoke. He tried not to let his disappointment at
the thought of Tim leaving come through in his voice as he said, “Um, thanks Cal. I’ll let
him know.”

He hung up and slipped his phone into his pocket then headed downstairs. Tim took one
look at him and knew something was up.

“Something wrong?” he asked as he approached.

Horatio shook his head. “That was Calleigh. They’re, um, they’re releasing your
apartment this afternoon. You’ll be able to go back… if you want to.”

“Oh,” Tim said as he ducked his head. He didn’t want Horatio to see his disappointment.

Horatio took a couple of steps closer. “Do you want to?” he asked.

“No,” Tim answered him softly. Then he looked into Horatio’s eyes. “Not ever.”

Horatio’s face broke into a wide smile and he pulled Tim into his arms. “You’re welcome
to stay here for as long as you like,” he said as he gave him a quick kiss. Then he added,
“I’ve even got a spare room in the back that I’ve been using for storage. We can fix it up
as a home office, so you don’t have to spread your paperwork all over the kitchen.”

Tim pursed his lips. “I should warn you, I probably not the easiest guy to live with.”



                                            82
Horatio chuckled. “Well, that makes two of us. I guess,” he started to say as he leaned in
close, “we’ll just have to learn to compromise.”

He closed the gap between them and captured Tim’s mouth in a slow kiss. Tim ran his
hands up under Horatio’s shirt and began caressing his back causing a shiver pass
through the redhead’s body. Horatio pulled back, resting his forehead against Tim’s
before saying, “Hang on a minute.”

He went to the front door and locked it then engaged the alarm system. Then he pulled
his cell phone out of his pocket, switched it off and tossed it onto the coffee table. He
walked back to Tim and took his hand.

“No more interruptions,” he practically growled as he pulled Tim up the stairs.

Tim’s heart was pounding with anticipation by the time they reached the bedroom. He
was beginning to understand, again, that sex wasn’t just something to do to satisfy a
physical need. It was something he could look forward to. Something that he wanted to
do to show Horatio how much he loved him. It wasn’t something to fear or dread. It had
been a long time since he’d allowed himself to feel anything close to what he felt for
Horatio.

He was becoming bolder, more confident with himself. He pulled Horatio into his arms
and into a heated kiss. He pushed his tongue past Horatio’s lips and swept every surface
as he slipped his hands into the back of the redhead’s jeans and cupped his ass, pulling
him flush against his body and turning Horatio’s legs to jello. Horatio ground his hips
against Tim’s causing delicious friction between their hard cocks. Tim broke the kiss but
kept their bodies pressed together.

“What do you want?” he whispered against Horatio’s lips.

“I want you,” Horatio answered just as softly. “I want to feel your mouth on me. I want to
feel you in me.” He looked Tim in the eyes and added, “I want you to make love to me. I
want to submit to you.”

And with that simple phrase, Horatio finally voiced why he’d walked into Club Descent
that night almost two weeks prior. He’d wanted to give up control for a while, to not have
to be the responsible one, to let someone else take over. Tim blinked back his tears
because, to him, again, it was a matter of trust. Horatio was showing him that he trusted
him enough to ask that. He also realized that this was his chance to show his new lover
just how much he meant to him.

He took a step back and nodded then began unbuttoning Horatio’s shirt. He let the shirt
hang open and gently ran his hand down the center of Horatio’s chest and over his
stomach, stopping at the waistband of his jeans. Horatio sighed and let his eyes drift shut.
Tim brushed the back of his hands over Horatio’s stomach just under the waistband then
popped the button and carefully opened the zipper, freeing his hard, straining cock.


                                            83
Horatio let out a long sigh as Tim placed a hand on either side of his waist and slowly
drew them down over his hips, taking his jeans with them. Tim lowered himself to his
knees and glanced up at his lover’s face. Seeing no signs of protest, he slowly ran his
tongue up Horatio’s cock from base to tip sending a shudder through his body. He took it
in his hand, stroking his palm over the velvety skin gently, almost reverently as he
watched Horatio’s face. His eyes were closed and his mouth was slightly open as he
fought to keep himself under control. Tim pulled the tip into his mouth and circled it with
his tongue. Horatio gasped as Tim took him all of the way in and he threaded his fingers
in Tim’s hair as Tim began to massage him with his tongue. He let him slip out to the tip
before drawing him in again. Horatio began rocking his hips, thrusting into Tim’s warm,
wet mouth erratically. Tim wrapped his hands around the back of Horatio’s thighs just
below his ass to steady him as he took him all the way to the back of his throat,
swallowing around him. Horatio came down his throat with a moan. Tim sucked him dry
then let him slip from his mouth.

Horatio was all too glad for Tim’s hands at the back of his legs. He was fairly certain
they were the only reason he was still standing. As he tried to catch his breath and bring
his body under control, he could feel Tim kissing his way back up to his chest, then his
neck and finally taking his mouth in a slow kiss.

When Tim broke the kiss, Horatio found his voice enough to say, “That was…”

“Not done yet,” Tim interrupted him. He pushed the shirt off his shoulders and said, “Go
lie down. On your stomach.”

Horatio made his way to the bed on slightly wobbly legs and lay down in the center. Tim
quickly shed his jeans then climbed onto the bed and spread Horatio’s legs, positioning
himself between them. He leaned forward and placed a kiss on the back of Horatio’s neck
then kissed his way down his spine to the curve of his ass. Slowly, he ran his tongue back
up to Horatio’s neck then nibbled lightly, causing a small gasp to escape Horatio’s lips.
He reached over to the night table and pulled out the lube and a condom then slowly
worked his way back down Horatio’s body. He brushed a hand lightly over Horatio’s ass
before gently tugging at his hips to encourage him into the right position.

He slicked up two fingers and carefully eased them into Horatio’s opening. Horatio
moaned in pleasure at the sensation and pushed back slightly trying to take them deeper.
Tim began scissoring his fingers and moving them in and out until he was satisfied he
was sufficiently stretched. As he removed his fingers, Horatio whimpered at the loss.

Tim quickly readied himself then leaned forward and asked, “Ready?”

Horatio nodded, as that was all his brain could manage. Tim positioned himself and
slowly pushed forward. He wanted to take it slow and draw out the pleasure for Horatio
but he knew he was too close. He stilled himself for a moment while he gained a bit of
control before he slowly pulled out then thrust back in. Horatio called out as Tim’s cock


                                            84
brushed his prostate. Tim readjusted himself to hit that spot with each thrust. He could
feel his own climax building, being urged on by Horatio’s moans and gasps. He reached
around and took Horatio’s cock in his hand. It took only a couple of strokes before
Horatio cried out and came, clamping down on Tim’s cock and drawing his release from
him.

Both men collapsed forward onto the bed and lay together for a few minutes before Tim
pulled out and rolled to the side. Horatio disposed of the condom then pulled Tim into his
arms. He gave him a soft kiss. Horatio gazed into Tim’s eyes.

“What?” Tim asked after a few moments.

Horatio smiled. “I’m glad you decided to stay.”

Tim smiled back. “Me too,” he said. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” Horatio said just as his stomach growled, loud enough for Tim to hear
in the quiet room. He chuckled.

“Breakfast?” Tim asked teasingly.

“Actually I think it’s more like lunch by now,” Horatio bantered back.

“Okay, lunch then,” Tim replied.

Horatio pulled him closer and rested his head on his shoulder. “Eventually.”

                                            ooo

Max’s Harley roared into the parking lot of the Miami-Dade Crime Lab. His entrance
drew a few looks from some of the people standing around outside the building as he
settled into one of the visitor’s spaces. He ignored the stares. He was used to being stared
at. He smiled politely at a small group standing by the entrance as he casually walked
into the building and up to the front desk.

“I have an appointment with Ms. Duquesne,” he said to the desk officer.

“Yes sir. I just…” Paula turned around and stared for a moment at the visitor. “I just need
you to sign in.” She handed him a pen then paged Calleigh.

A short while later the elevator opened and Calleigh stepped out. She smiled when she
saw Max chatting with Paula. He was decked out in full biker leathers, and with his
shaved head and military build he was certainly and imposing figure. She walked right up
to him and had to look up to address him as she only came up to his chest.

“Mr. Tanner, thanks for coming in today,” she said with a smile.


                                            85
He shook her hand. “No problem. And it’s Max. Tim and Horatio mentioned why
y'wanted t’see me.”

“Let’s go upstairs where we can talk in private,” Calleigh said as she led him to the
elevator.

They stepped into one of the interview rooms and she introduced him to Eric who was
waiting for them. Max and Eric shook hands and they all took a seat.

“So, you said Horatio mentioned to you why we wanted to talk to you today?” Calleigh
asked.

“He said that creep Simon may have killed somebody,” Max answered.

Eric nodded. “We found the body of a young man not to far from where Mr. Speedle
lives. He said you might be able to help us identify him.” Eric pulled out the autopsy
photo and passed it over to Max.

Max took the picture and stared at it for a moment. He nodded. “I only know’m…
knew’m as Jimmy, sometimes went by Rosie ‘cuz of the rose tattoo on his arm. He was a
regular at the club I work at.”

Eric pulled the plastic bag out with the card they had found near the body and passed it
across the table.

“This club?” Eric asked. Max looked at the card and nodded. “We’d like to talk to some
of the regulars. Horatio mentioned that you might be able to help. We’re hoping someone
may have seen the victim the night he was taken. Mr. Speedle also mentioned that he
thought there might be someone else involved, someone who may have left the scene
prior to the murder.”

“He mentioned that one of the dominants may have gone with them that night,” Max
said. “Yes, that’s possible.”

“We found evidence of three people at the house where we found the victim,” Calleigh
added.

Max watched the two investigators carefully. He had, over the years, developed a keen
eye for people and could tell when someone wasn’t being completely truthful with him.
He was also not one to play games.

“There’s somethin’ yer not tellin’ me. Somethin’ that I’m guessin’ ya haven’t told
Horatio yet either,” Max said matter-of-factly.




                                          86
Eric and Calleigh exchanged a glance. Calleigh responded, “After going over the scene
and examining what little evidence there was, the victimology, the injury patterns, we
don’t think this is his first murder.” This surprised Max. “We’re currently searching our
databases for any similar unsolved crimes around the area.”

“Y'might want to expand that search state wide,” Max said.

“What makes you say that?” Eric asked.

“I think Simon travels a lot,” he said. “When he and Tim were together, he would
disappear for weeks at a time. Tim never said where he went, probably didn’t really
know. I’m pretty sure for a while he was drivin’ a truck. I remember him mentioning
being on the road a lot, havin’ seen all of Florida and the surroundin’ area.”

“How well do you know this man, Mr. Tanner?” Eric asked.

“Not well. I don’t think anyone really knows him that well, even Tim. What I do know is
that he’s very controlling. He’s smart. He can be very charming. He has a thing for
changin’ his appearance. I swear he never looked the same two nights in a row when he
was coming to the club regularly.”

Eric glanced over at Calleigh. “Not good for us,” he said.

“Mr. Tanner, we’d like to come by the club tonight and interview some of your regulars,”
Eric said.

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Max said. Then he looked at Eric. “Ever been in a gay club
before?” he asked.

“Only in the line of duty,” Eric replied. “Why?”

“Yer not bad looking,” he said and noticed Eric blush slightly. “Don’t worry, it’ll
probably make it easier for ya.”

                                           ooo

Horatio wandered around the kitchen as he prepared lunch. “You want to eat out on the
back deck?” he asked.

“Yeah. That’d be great,” Tim answered, a bit distracted.

Horatio glanced at him. “Everything okay?”

“Are you sure you don’t mind me moving in here?” Tim asked.




                                            87
Horatio stopped what he was doing and turned to face him. “Of course not. Why do you
ask?”

Tim shrugged. “We haven’t really known each other that long. I don’t know.”

“Sometimes you don’t need a lot of time,” Horatio said in response. “Are you sure you
want to move in here?”

Tim didn’t hesitate. “Yes. I just want to make sure you’re really okay with it.”

“I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t,” Horatio replied. “Why don’t we eat lunch then we
can work on clearing out the spare room. How much stuff do you have?”

“Mostly books and clothes. I got that apartment fully furnished. I have to give it back that
way.”

“Are you going to have a problem with the lease?”

“No lease. It was month to month.” Horatio raised an eyebrow. “I’ve um, had to move a
few times over this past year, every time Simon found me,” he said staring into his coffee
cup.

“Well, you won’t have to worry about that anymore,” Horatio said, hoping to make him
feel better.

Tim sighed. “I hope you’re right,” he said.

Horatio turned back to the counter as he thought, me too.

After lunch Horatio took Tim to the back room. He looked around. “So just how many
books do you have?”

Tim looked at him with a half smile. “Can I have a whole wall for shelves?” he asked.

                                              ooo

Eric and Calleigh walked into Club Descent at seven o’clock that evening just as they had
arranged with Max. He had spoken to some of the kids and told them that some friends of
his were coming in to ask them some questions about what had happened to Rosie but
that none of them were in trouble. Eric brought the sketch of Simon with them to show
around. He waved to Max as they entered. They said their hellos and Max called a couple
of the kids over to the bar. The two had been in the club the night that Simon had taken
Rosie.

“This is Eric and Calleigh,” he said. “Cooperate with’m or yer banned fer a week.”



                                              88
Both of the young men nodded. Eric pulled out the sketch. “Have you seen this man
around here lately?” he asked as he passed them the sketch.

The kids exchanged a glance and both nodded. “Couple weeks ago. Wednesday?” one of
them said as he looked at the other.

The other kid said, “Wasn’t he trying to pick up Tim?”

“Yeah,” the first kid chimed in. “That redheaded dude scared him away.” Then he looked
over at Eric. “He came back Thursday. Max tossed him out but he came back later that
night after Max left. He was talking to Rosie and one of the doms. Freeze, I think.”

The other kid nodded. “Yeah, it was Freeze. They all left together.”

“Is this Freeze guy here now?” Eric asked.

Both kids and Max scanned the club. Max pointed to a tall, thin man dressed all in leather
with ghost white hair. “That’s him.”

“Give me a second,” Max said as he walked out onto the dance floor and approached the
man in question. After a few words he followed Max back to the bar and the two CSIs.

“Max says something happened to Rosie,” Freeze said.

“He was found dead in a house over in West Miami Sunday morning,” Eric said as he
watched a shocked expression appear on the man’s face. He handed Freeze the sketch.
“You recognize this man?”

Freeze took the sketch and stared at it. His expression shifted quickly from shock to anger
and he crumpled the paper in his hand. “Simon,” he growled. “I had a bad feeling about
him.”

“How so?” Calleigh asked.

“I got the feeling that Rosie wasn’t completely down with everything,” he said. “Usually
they struggle, fight the restraints. It’s part of the game. But something didn’t feel
completely right this time. When I told him that, he gave me another hundred. He said he
was training the kid.” He paused for a moment. “That son of a bitch killed him, didn’t
he?”

“We think so,” Eric answered.

“Everything we did, Rosie consented to, right from the beginning. I wouldn’t have gone
if he hadn’t. He never used the safe word.”

“We have evidence to show that he was gagged, a ball gag,” Eric said.


                                             89
Freeze’s head shot up and he looked Eric in the eye. “Not while I was there, he wasn’t.”

Eric and Calleigh exchanged a glance. “Would you be willing to give us a written
statement? Tell us exactly what happened?” Calleigh asked.

Freeze nodded. “Sure, if it will help you get the bastard.”

                                             ooo

Friday, October 24, 2003

They’d poured over what little evidence they’d found, been through dozens of databases
state wide, scoured unsolved murder and assault files. Nothing stood out, nothing at all.
The only thing that they’d been able to confirm for certain was that Martin Sorensen, aka
Freeze, had been at the crime scene. He had a minor rap sheet for drunk and disorderly
and one DWI, but nothing particularly violent. And the evidence could only place him at
the property, not on the victim. He’d given a statement to the fact that he’d been there but
he stated that he’d left after an hour, Rosie was alive and well at that time.

His statement didn’t quite jive with Tim’s account but since they had fairly definitive
proof that Tim wasn’t at the scene and Freeze was, they put more credence in Freeze’s
account. Tim had accurately described the injuries and how they occurred but he had the
process wrong. Simon had most likely inflicted those injuries himself.

The bottom line was, other than admitting to having been there, they had no direct
evidence to charge Freeze with a crime. They had no idea where Simon was. They had
very little physical evidence at all. None of this boded well for the future of the
investigation.

                                             ooo

Horatio stood at the doorway of what was now their study watching Tim place more
books in their new bookcases. As Tim reached up to place a book on one of the higher
shelves Horatio stepped up behind him and wrapped his arms around his waist. He
nibbled at Tim’s neck for a moment.

“You weren’t kidding about the books, were you?” he asked.

“I just can’t bring myself to get rid of any of them.” He shook his head. “I still have all of
my undergraduate textbooks,” he said, leaning back into Horatio’s embrace.

Horatio chuckled and started laying soft kisses along his neck. “You remember that little
bistro I told you about?” he asked as he kissed.

“Mmm.”


                                             90
“I got reservations for dinner tonight,” he said.

“Cool,” Tim said with a little sigh.

“I figured, since we’re going back to work in a couple of days, we deserve at least one
night out,” Horatio continued.

Tim turned in Horatio’s embrace and draped his arms around Horatio’s neck. “So, I guess
this means the honeymoon’s almost over, huh?” he asked.

Horatio leaned in and whispered against his lips, “Almost being the key word there.” Just
as he was about to close the last couple of millimeters between their mouths, his cell
phone rang. “Someone must have a camera in here. The timing’s just too good,” he said
as he pulled his phone out. “Hello,” he said into the phone as Tim chuckled.

“Hey, it’s Calleigh.”

Horatio smiled. “Calleigh, what have you got?”

“Unfortunately, not a whole lot. But I did clear your weapon. You can pick it up any
time,” she said.

“Okay, thanks. I’ll be back at work on Monday.”

“That’s good to hear. Has Tim gotten settle back into his apartment?”

“Well, actually, I asked him to stay here and he said yes,” he replied smiling at his lover.

“Really. So, that’s great,” she replied.

“Yeah,” Horatio said, then they were silent for a moment. “So, how’s the search for
Simon going,” he added, glancing at Tim.

“We have the flyers up all over the county and we’ve distributed copies statewide, so far
nothing. This guy is good. He knows what to do and what not to do. I’m not really sure
that there’s anything more we can do right now. Other cases are starting to take priority.”

“I understand Calleigh, but don’t give up,” Horatio said.

“Don’t worry, we won’t. This one’s become personal,” she said.

“Thanks,” he replied. “I’ll see you Monday.”

“Sure, and enjoy the rest of your time off, both of you,” she said before she hung up.



                                             91
Horatio closed his phone and looked over at Tim. “Their not going to get him, are they?”
Tim asked.

“Well, you know what? Sometimes, these things take time,” Horatio said.

Tim nodded. In a lot of ways he was relieved that Simon hadn’t been caught. He didn’t
want to have to testify to anything. And there was no need to anger Simon any more than
he already had, he thought. But this time he was certain that Simon had gotten the
message. He wouldn’t be back and now he could concentrate on making Horatio happy.

“I understand,” he said as he walked up to Horatio and wrapped his arms around his neck.
“Now, where were we?”

A few hours later Horatio glanced over at Tim napping next to him. He thought that Tim
had taken the news that they hadn’t caught Simon well. He seemed to be improving. His
mood was much better. He definitely seemed happier. It was good to see. Maybe Simon’s
control over Tim had finally been broken. Maybe things would be okay after all, he
thought.

                                            ooo

Eric sat at the lab table staring off into space. Too much time was passing, he thought. He
knew their best chance at finding a murderer lay in the first seventy-two hours. The
further they got from that the less likely it became that they would catch Simon. It didn’t
help that Simon was smart and had probably done this before somewhere else. If he’d
chosen his earlier victims carefully, so that they wouldn’t be missed, he could stay under
the radar. He sighed heavily.

“That doesn’t sound good,” Calleigh said as she walked into the room.

“We’re not going to get him, are we Cal?”

Calleigh ran a comforting hand over his back. “I don’t know, but we can’t give up hope.
If we do, he’s won.”

Eric smiled despite his mood. “That sounds like H talking,” he said.

Calleigh chuckled. “I’ll take that as a compliment. By the way, I cleared his gun and he’ll
be coming back to work on Monday.” She leaned in close, almost conspiratorially, “And
I just found out that Tim Speedle has moved in with him permanently.”

Eric looked over at her with a smirk. “Good,” he said. “It’s about time H settled down.
He’s been alone too long. Though I have to say, I always thought it would be Yelina.”
Calleigh batted him on the arm. “I hope they’re happy together,” he added.

                                            ooo


                                            92
Later that evening Tim sat at the computer going over his backlog of emails. Since he
would be going back to work on Monday, he wanted to make sure he was completely
caught up with everything. Mostly the emails consisted of routine college business,
departmental notices, and inquiries from his students. But one caught his eye. It was from
an address he didn’t recognize, but the college’s spam filters didn’t catch it. He clicked
on the link and read the text.

Hi Timmy,

Just a quick note to let you know that I haven’t forgotten about anything. Oh, and I hope
Max isn’t missing his buddy Rosie too much. Give my best to him.

S

He stared at the screen as his heart pounded and his hands shook. There was now no
question in his mind that Simon had been the one to kill Rosie, not that there was much
of a question before. He knew he should tell Horatio but part of him just wanted to
pretend that he’d never seen the email. Actually, most of him wanted to pretend that he’d
never seen the email. After all, Simon would surely be angrier with him if he told anyone
than if he didn’t.

His internal debate continued for a few minutes as his finger hovered over the delete key.
Simon would be mad. He should tell Horatio. It wasn’t good when Simon was mad. He
might be able to help the investigation. He’d already done enough to anger Simon. He
startled when he heard a noise at the door and looked back to find Horatio.

“Hey,” Horatio said. And seeing the look on Tim’s face, asked, “Is everything all right?”

Tim quickly forced a smile. “Fine,” he said as he hit the key, deleting the email.
“Everything’s fine.”

“Good,” Horatio replied. “Let’s get going. We have dinner reservations in twenty
minutes.”

Tim shut down the computer and followed Horatio out of the room.

                                           ooo

The silver Monte Carlo drove north on interstate 95 heading out of state. The driver
stayed within the speed limit, not wanting to attract any undue attention. On the
passenger seat next to him lay a police artist’s sketch with two panels, one showing a
man clean shaven, the other showing the same man with a full beard and wearing a
baseball cap.




                                           93
“I’m not running away,” Simon muttered. “I will be back. I just need to let things cool
down a bit. It’s just a strategic withdrawal.”

He resisted the urge to press his foot down harder onto the gas pedal. He would need to
keep his temper in check, find an outlet for his rage at what Tim had done to him, until he
could return. Then he would pay. Then he would take him back. There are other men, in
other cities, he thought. But none of them were Timothy Speedle.




                                            94
Chapter 2: Taken

Monday, April 5, 2004 (early morning)

Horatio parked his Hummer in front of a small house off of Coral Way in Sweetwater.
Eric Delko was already on the scene along with Frank Tripp, Alexx Woods, and a small
army of uniformed officers. The area in front of the house looked like the parking lot at
MDPD. He made his way through the sea of blue and red lights and under the crime
scene tape then stepped just inside the front entrance. He stopped to survey the area. The
house was a small, single story, cape style, typical for the usually quiet suburban
neighborhood. The only difference between it and its neighbors was the presence of a
dead body in the living room. Alexx was hunched over the remains of a young man,
doing a preliminary examination. She looked up when Horatio approached her.

“What have we got, Alexx?” he asked, fingering the sunglasses he held in his hands.

“Well, I’m no CSI, Horatio, but I’d say this is the same guy,” she answered.

Horatio had feared, when he’d gotten the call, that they had another victim of their serial
killer. This made the fourth body in as many days.

“Time of death, Alexx?” he asked glancing around the room, his mind already taking in
various details of his surroundings.

“Couple of weeks, based on decomp. Won’t know for sure ‘til I get him back for the post.
We might need the forensic entomologist for an exact timeline.”

“Couple of weeks,” Horatio concurred. “So this one died before the others.”

“So it would seem,” Alexx said.

“So it would seem,” he repeated somewhat distracted. He turned to his CSI who was
already processing the surrounding area. “Eric, what have you found?”

Eric shrugged. “Not much,” he said. “Looks like the area’s been wiped clean just like the
other sites. There were a few hairs and fibers on the body. I’m gonna get them back to
trace. I did find some prints this time.”

“How did we find out about this one?” Horatio asked, already thinking he knew the
answer.

“Another anonymous phone call to dispatch,” Eric replied.

Horatio gave him a quick nod. It was as he’d expected. “So he’s playing with us, leading
us around from body to body.” He paused and thought for a moment. “But why leave this
one until now if he was killed earlier?”


                                            95
“I wish I knew,” Eric replied.

Horatio gave him his most encouraging look. “We will, Eric. We will know. Do we have
IDs on any of the other victims yet?”

“Not yet H, Calleigh’s working on that back at the lab.”

“Okay.” Horatio gestured toward the body. “This guy just moved to the head of the class.
There’s a reason our killer saved this one for us. He’s too meticulous for this to have been
an oversight,” Horatio said. “We need to find out this man’s identity. He may be the key
to catching this guy.”

                                            ooo

Horatio was walking down the hallway of CSI toward the computer room when he felt a
buzzing in the pocket of his jacket. He reached in a pulled out his cell phone.

“Horatio,” he answered.

“Hey, missed you this morning,” Tim said, still a bit sleepy. “Where’d you disappear to?”

Horatio’s face broke into a gentle smile. “Got an early call from dispatch. I didn’t want to
wake you.”

“Same case?” Tim asked and he heard Horatio sigh.

“Unfortunately, yes. We have another one.”

“I’m sorry. I know how much you want to get this guy,” Tim said. “Do you think you’ll
be home for dinner?”

Horatio continued to walk as he talked and stopped just outside the door of the computer
room. “Barring any major breakthroughs, I expect so. What did you have in mind?”

“I’ll pick something up after class. Then I was thinking I could maybe come up with an
idea of something to distract you from your current troubles.”

He could almost hear Tim’s smirk in his reply and he chuckled. “I like the way your mind
works. I’ll see you later.”

“Okay. Love you.” Tim said.

“Love you too. Stay safe,” Horatio replied before he flipped his phone shut.




                                            96
He walked into the room and Calleigh smiled at him. “Tim?” she asked. Horatio nodded.
“How’s he doing?”

“Good,” Horatio answered. “He’s doing good.”

He had been worried, in the beginning, when it became obvious that they weren’t going
to catch Simon. But Tim had managed to keep things together. He returned to work,
continued with his research, and continued to teach. Their relationship had had its ups
and downs. Tim tended to be a bit moody and at times would close himself in the study
wanting to be left alone. But Horatio had given him his space and things had settled into a
happy little routine.

“What have you got, Calleigh?” Horatio asked.

“I’ve been scouring missing persons cases but so far I haven’t come across any of our
victims. I’ve expanded the search to surrounding states. You never know.”

“Good thinking, Cal. Keep trying,” he said staring at the computer screen. “What’s this?”

“Oh, not related. I just came across it while I was searching. Goes to show you just how
twisted some people can be. A family in Waleska, Georgia reported their sixteen-year-old
son missing a couple of months ago. He’s got an IQ of around 50. They think his nanny
took him.”

Horatio shook his head. “I just don’t understand some people.” He turned to leave the
room. “Let me know if you turn something up. I’ll be in autopsy.”

                                            ooo

Horatio opened the door to the autopsy theater and wrinkled his nose slightly at the odor
of decomp coming from the room.

“Horatio,” Alexx greeted.

“Alexx, what can you tell me?” he asked.

“This is definitely the same guy,” she said as she looked over at him. “Or a very good
copycat.” She rolled the body onto its side. “Check this out. It’s a bit hard to see with the
level of decomposition but…”

She gestured to a series of deep cuts along the victim’s back. The pattern would normally
be indicative of animal activity, given the length and spread, like claw marks. But the
cuts were made with surgical precision. There was no tearing around the wounds.

Horatio nodded. “Just like the others.” Alexx nodded. “COD?” he asked.



                                             97
“Hard to tell for certain but it looks like he was stabbed. There is a wound over his heart
but it’s too decayed to be certain. I did find some small pieces of paper in his pockets.
They are soaked through with body fluids but maybe QD can get something once they are
dried out.”

Horatio took the plastic bag with the papers from Alexx. “Thanks Alexx. Let me know
what else you turn up,” he said on his way out the door.

                                             ooo

Horatio handed the plastic bag over to the documents tech. She opened it before he could
warn her. “Uh!” she exclaimed as the smell hit her then she quickly closed the bag again.
“No offence Lieutenant, but you could’ve warned me.”

“Never open before asking,” he advised. “These were recovered from the dead body we
found this morning. I need to know what’s on them as soon as possible.”

The tech examined the papers through the plastic. “Well, they’re about the size of
business cards. I’ll have to dry them out first then separate them. It will take a little while
but I should have something for you by morning.”

Horatio smiled. “Thanks,” he said. Then he leaned in close to her and said, “Use a mask.”

As he walked out she muttered, “Yeah, I’ll do that.”

                                             ooo

Tim spent his morning doing some housework. His first class wasn’t until eleven-thirty
and Jess had the lab covered. He cleaned up from breakfast, vacuumed, and collected
Horatio’s dirty suits and piled them by the front door so he wouldn’t forget to take them
to the dry cleaner’s. As he placed the suits on the table he glanced at his left hand and the
gold band around his ring finger. Horatio had given it to him only two days ago after a
romantic night out as a symbol that their relationship had reached a new stage, one that
he’d hoped would last a lifetime. He flushed slightly as he remembered what took place
after they had arrived home that night. He was even more pleased to see Horatio wearing
the matching band the next morning when he awoke. He knew it was as close to marriage
as they would ever be able to get. He shook his head at how sappy he’d become. He still
had more to do this morning.

Before he left the house he went into the study and booted the computer up so he could
check his email. He worked his way through his student’s emails with last minute
questions before the exam he was giving them that afternoon. Down toward the bottom of
the list he saw an email from an address he’d come to recognize. He deleted it without
reading it this time. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with Simon today.




                                              98
He received regular emails from his psycho ex that he hadn’t told anyone about, not even
Horatio. Most of them were taunts hurled at him for making it so he had to leave Miami,
veiled threats to return and seek revenge. Every one of them ended with Simon promising
that Tim would be his again. The emails always put him in a bad mood when he read
them. Sometimes he couldn’t help himself and he would open them, read them, and get
scared that Simon would actually carry out his threats. But after six months he’d reached
a point where he was beginning to see them as empty threats. After all, the longest Simon
had ever left him for was seven weeks without reappearing in his life. His greatest hope
was that by killing Rosie, Simon had finally done himself in. He must know that to return
to Miami now would only bring about his arrest, or worse.

Tim shook himself out of his thoughts and went to get ready for work. Remembering at
the last minute as he was leaving the house he closed and lock the sliding glass door that
lead down to the beach. Horatio didn’t like it that he kept that door open when he was
home alone. He worried that if Simon returned he would be able to get into the house and
hurt Tim. But Tim felt safe there and he hated being cooped up in a stuffy house with no
open windows.

Once he was certain that the house was secure, he headed out to run some errands then to
the university. He took his car since he would need to stop at the grocery store on his way
home to pick up something for dinner. As he drove down the quiet suburban streets
heading for the city, he was unaware of the car that matched his every turn, following
him through his routine.

                                            ooo

Horatio stood in the layout room with the files of their four dead men trying to ascertain a
pattern. There were no physical similarities between the victims. None seemed to have
been reported missing, at least that they’d been able to determine. This could mean that
they were transients, which would make things even more difficult for them. None had
been killed where they’d been found except for the last one, the one that was found that
morning. All of the scenes had been wiped clean and none of the men had identification.
As much as he hated to admit it, it seemed like the perfect crime.

“There is no such thing,” he chided himself.

“No such thing as what?” Eric asked as he walked into the room.

Horatio looked up. “The perfect crime.”

Eric shook his head. “No, there’s not.”

Horatio could tell by the look on his face when he said that, that he’d found something.
His face brightened slightly. “Did you find something, Eric?”




                                            99
“Fibers found on the victim are white cotton threads, like from a towel. I sent them over
to DNA to see if we can pull a sample other than the vic’s. But here’s the clincher, the
trace I found all over the vic’s shoes and clothes, Acer Spicatum pollen.”

He handed the file over to Horatio. “Mountain Maple? That’s not indigenous to Florida.”

“Northwest Georgia, primarily,” Eric stated.

Horatio pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and hit the speed dial for Calleigh. “Cal,
concentrate on Georgia. Our last victim was there fairly recently before he died,” he said
and flipped his phone shut. He looked over at Eric. “She’s going through missing persons
from the surrounding area.” Eric nodded. “You said you found some fingerprints as
well?”

“Yeah, H. There running through AFIS right now,” Eric replied. “Have we been able to
print the vic?”

“Alexx is taking care of that. I don’t know how much of the fingers are salvageable.”

                                           ooo

The prints Eric found turned out to be from the victim but they still had no ID on the
man. His prints were not in the system, at least in Florida. The national search would take
some time, as would the DNA. The rest of the day had been a waiting game, which
Horatio finally tired of. He decided to go home and spend the evening trying to forget
about his day.

As he walked up the front path he could hear the music playing from inside the house. He
smiled and shook his head as he opened the door. He saw Tim in the kitchen swaying to
the music, something soft and spacey, as he was cooking dinner. He could also see that
the sliding glass door was open and the table on the deck was set. He wanted to say
something but he could see that Tim had gone to the trouble of cooking dinner rather than
just picking up take out so he decided not to chide him about the open door. It was an
ongoing argument between them and he didn’t need to bring it up right now. Horatio
stepped up behind him and wrapped his arms around his waist. He rested his chin on Tim
shoulder.

“Smells wonderful,” he said. Tim smiled and turned his head giving Horatio a quick kiss.
“I thought you were just going to pick something up?”

Tim shrugged. “I got out early and you sounded sort of frustrated on the phone this
afternoon. I thought a home cooked meal was a better idea.”

“Hey, I’m not complaining,” Horatio said as he pulled Tim from the stove and into his
arms.



                                           100
His mouth descended on Tim’s and Tim melted into Horatio’s embrace, wrapping his
arms around his neck and allowing Horatio to deepen the kiss. Horatio pulled back
leaving Tim breathless. It took him a moment to find his voice.

“Um,” he had to clear his throat causing Horatio to chuckle. “Why don’t you get changed
and I’ll finish up here. I thought we could eat outside tonight.”

“Sounds good,” Horatio said and after one more kiss he headed upstairs to change.

                                           ooo

Horatio sat back in his chair after finishing his meal. “That was wonderful. Thanks for
cooking,” he said.

Tim blushed just a bit. “You’re welcome. I’m glad you liked it.”

He got up and took the plates into the kitchen. Horatio followed with their wine glasses
and the remainder of what they’d brought outside. They cleaned up together and got
everything put away then Tim turned to Horatio and asked, “Want to see what I have
planned for dessert?”

Horatio raised an eyebrow at his tone. “Is it food or…”

“Or,” Tim answered as he leaned in and captured Horatio’s mouth in a heated kiss.

After a few moments Horatio broke the kiss and said, “I like ‘or’.”

Tim chuckled and took his hand and led him up the stairs. As soon as they were in the
bedroom, Tim pulled Horatio into another kiss as he unbuttoned his shirt and opened his
pants. By the time Horatio pulled back he was breathless and almost naked. He stepped
out of his remaining clothes then pulled Tim’s shirt up over his head. Tim quickly shed
his pants and boxers and Horatio pulled him into another kiss. Tim backed Horatio up to
the bed and gave him a playful push. He fell backwards onto the bed. Tim climbed up on
top of him, straddling his legs. He leaned forward and kissed his way down Horatio’s
chest to his stomach then over his cock. Horatio gasped as he felt Tim’s mouth close
around him and he thrust up. Tim pulled back and let him slip from his mouth eliciting a
small whimper from his lover.

He kissed his way back up to Horatio’s mouth then whispered against his lips, “You want
to play a game?”

Horatio was still catching his breath but he asked, “What kind of game?”

Tim reached over to the nightstand and grabbed the lube and a condom. Tim kept his
voice low and soft. “I can bring you right to the edge,” he said as he lubed two fingers,
leaned back and inserted them into his own opening. He closed his eyes as he began


                                           101
stretching himself. “And keep you there. I promise,” he breathed. “It will be mind-
blowing.”

Horatio moaned as he watched Tim fuck himself with his own fingers but he managed to
nod. Tim sat back on Horatio’s legs and slowly rolled the condom over his impossibly
hard and aching cock. Horatio’s head fell back onto the pillow and he moaned as he felt
the latex sheath him. Tim rose up and aligned his hole with the tip of Horatio’s member.
Slowly, agonizingly slowly, he impaled himself until he was sitting on Horatio. Horatio
lay panting and Tim sat completely still until he had calmed.

Horatio tried to arch his hips to urge Tim to move but Tim laid a hand on his chest and
shook his head. He had promised Horatio a mind blowing night and aimed to keep his
promise. There was no hurry. They had all night and there was no need for things to end
any time soon. Once Horatio had settled down again he slowly began to rock his hips and
Horatio’s breath caught in his throat.

Tim leaned forward and whispered against his lips, “Breath.”

Horatio hadn’t realized he was holding his breath and suddenly expelled a lungful of air.
Tim sat up again and continued to gently rock back and forth. They had never played this
game before. It was all about self-control and Horatio had to make it a conscious effort to
remember to breath as small ripples of pleasure ran up and down his spine. Tim leaned
forward again and took one of Horatio’s nipples onto his mouth. As he began suckling he
slowly rose up, exposing Horatio’s cock to the cool air, then slowly lowered himself back
down again. Horatio moaned deep in this chest and crossed his legs at the ankles to keep
from thrusting up.

Tim continued alternating between his slow rocking and gentle pumping as he began
kissing his way up Horatio’s neck. He took Horatio’s mouth for a slow kiss, mimicking
with his tongue what Horatio’s cock was doing inside his body. Horatio moaned into the
kiss and ran his hands down Tim’s back to his ass. Tim slowly rose up and held himself
with just the tip of Horatio cock inside moving just slightly back and forth. Horatio felt a
spark of pleasure run through his body and scraped his nails over Tim’s ass as he gasped.

Tim slowly sat back again and gave Horatio a moment to catch his breath. He was being
careful to angle himself so as not to hit that one spot inside of himself that would cause
him to lose control but his own hard leaking cock was aching for some attention. He took
Horatio’s hand and placed over his organ. Horatio first instinct was to start pumping him
but Tim kept his hand over Horatio’s.

“Gently,” he whispered and Horatio lightened his grasp. He opened his hand and ran his
palm over the soft silky skin. “That’s it,” Tim moaned as his head fell back on his
shoulders. Horatio ran his thumb over and around the head, spreading the pre-cum he
found there as Tim began to rock his hips again and his inner muscles began to pulse just
slightly around Horatio’s cock as he gently worked him.



                                            102
“Oh God,” Horatio swore.

He would never have thought himself capable of lasting so long but Tim had kept them
both right on the edge for what felt like an eternity. But he also knew that he had a trick
or two he could teach Tim. Reaching his limit with the slow sweet torture Tim was
subjecting him to, with a sudden burst of strength, he flipped them over and took the
dominant position. He pushed Tim’s legs up and sat back on his heels. He pulled all of
the way out then thrust back in one hard fast movement. Tim gasped and moaned all at
once as Horatio’s cock brushed his prostate. Horatio continued to pound into Tim’s body
until he knew he couldn’t hold himself back much longer. All it took was one stroke to
Tim’s cock and he cried out. But as Tim came Horatio pushed at his knees forcing his
legs down and out and drawing Tim’s orgasm out for an impossibly long time until he
was seeing stars. With Tim’s muscles pulsing violently around him he came hard himself
with a loud moan of Tim’s name on his lips.

Horatio awoke a short while later, his body still tingling from head to toe and his cock
still twitching as Tim ran his hand over it. He moaned and arched up into the touch. Tim
continued to massage his limp dick and though he didn’t get hard again he did experience
a small secondary orgasm that left him completely sated and spent. He managed to roll
himself over to lie on top of Tim. As he covered Tim’s mouth with his own he could feel
his partners arousal begin to press against his belly. He rose up and quickly took Tim’s
cock into his mouth. Tim arched up and in a matter of a few seconds shot his release
down Horatio’s throat. Horatio kissed his way up Tim’s heated and sweaty body to his
mouth. He pulled back and stared deep into his dark brown eyes.

“I have no words,” was all he could say.

Tim had three. “I love you.”

Horatio’s smile beamed back at him. “With all my heart,” he said as he rolled to his side
pulling Tim with him and into his arms as he settled in for the best night’s sleep he’d had
for a long time.

                                            ooo

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Horatio sat at the kitchen table sipping his coffee. He could still feel a slight tingle all
over from the night before. Tim wandered in still half asleep, poured himself a cup of
coffee and sat down at the table across from him. Horatio looked over at him and smirked
thinking how cute he looked first thing in the morning before he was really awake. He
reached a foot under the table and ran it up Tim’s leg. Tim looked up and smiled.

“So, what’s your schedule today?” Horatio asked.




                                            103
Tim took a swig of his coffee before he answered. “I have a stack of exams this high to
grade,” he said holding his hand about a foot off the table. “I hate teaching undergraduate
classes.” After another sip of coffee he added, “Then I have class this afternoon ‘til four-
thirty. You?”

“I’m just hoping we get through the day without finding another body,” Horatio sighed.

Tim looked up from his coffee. “This case is really getting to you, isn’t it?”

“Four bodies in four days and no solid leads, yeah it’s getting to me.”

Tim got up and walked around behind his lover. He could hear the frustration in his voice
and see the tension in his body. He began massaging Horatio’s neck and shoulders and
was rewarded with a groan that came from deep inside the redhead’s chest. Horatio let his
head fall forward and his arms go limp at his sides.

“God, you’re good at that,” he sighed.

After a few moments Tim stopped then leaned down and placed a kiss on the back of
Horatio’s neck. “You have to get to work,” he said quietly into his neck.

“Hmm,” Horatio muttered. He stood up and pulled Tim into his arms, kissing him deeply.
When he pulled back he said, “We’ll have to finish this later, I’m afraid.”

“Tease,” Tim said with a smirk. “I have an idea. How about we go out for dinner tonight?
Some place nice.” He waggled his eyebrows. “Then when we get home I can help you to
relax a bit, again.”

Horatio chuckled. “Sounds like a plan. Why don’t you pick a place and make
reservations.” And with one more kiss he said, “I’ve got to go. I’ll call you later.” On his
way out the door he called back, “Love you,” and the door shut before Tim could
respond.

Once Horatio was gone, Tim opened the sliding glass door that led to the beach, letting
some fresh air into the house, and then cleaned up the dishes Horatio had left from his
breakfast. When he was done he poured himself another cup of coffee and stepped out
onto the back deck. He inhaled deeply breathing in the fresh salt air before he stepped off
the deck and walked out onto the sand.

                                            ooo

From the shadows at the side of the house, a pair of eyes watched. Patience was the key
to doing this right, Simon thought. He’d crouched there in that same spot many times
over the past few weeks, never noticed by anyone. He’d waited for the perfect moment
and now it had arrived. He’d seen Horatio pull out of the driveway and then watched Tim
walk out onto the beach, alone and unprotected. He’d pulled his van into the driveway


                                            104
then slipped back into the bushes. He could see Tim sitting out by the water completely
oblivious to his presence so he crept around to the back and slipped through the open
sliding glass door and into the house.

A short while later Tim wandered back to the house. He knew he couldn’t put off grading
his exams any longer. He figured he would lock himself in the study for a few hours and
plow through them but there was just something about freshman chemistry exams that
made him cringe. He walked through the back door and placed his cup in the sink then
glanced at the clock and noticed that it was still early. His first class wasn’t until one
o’clock so he had plenty of time to get the job done. He sighed as he made his way
toward the back room.

Simon slipped back into the darkened area behind the stairs and waited for Tim to pass.
He fingered the chloroform soaked rag that he held in his hand. As soon as Tim had
gotten a few feet ahead, Simon crept up and grabbed him from behind, clamping his hand
over Tim’s mouth and pulling one of his arms up and behind his back. Tim struggled and
grasped at Simon’s arm with his free hand.

“Don’t struggle Timmy. You’ll just make things worse,” Simon said into his ear.

Tim tried to yell but the sound was muffled by Simon’s hand. It didn’t take long before
Tim stopped struggling and his body went limp. When he came to he was lying on the
floor with his arms tied behind his back and duct tape over his mouth. He craned his neck
around and saw Simon standing by the front window staring outside. Tim’s movement
caught his attention and he turned to face him.

Simon smiled and made a wide gesture around the room. “You have a nice house here
Timmy. I have to give you credit, you make a lovely wife.” Tim glared at him. “You send
your man off every morning with a kiss, clean his house, cook his meals. You do his
laundry, iron his shirts and take his clothes to the cleaners. Just like a good wife should.”
His voice was thick with sarcasm. He knelt down in front of Tim. “You even wear his
ring,” he snarled turning the gold band over between his thumb and forefinger.

He stood up and began pacing the room leaving Tim with his mind racing. He realized, to
his horror, that Simon had probably been watching them and for some time otherwise
how would he know all of those things. He tried to think back over the past few weeks
but couldn’t recall any time when anything seemed out of place. He watched Simon walk
into the kitchen and place the ring on the counter. He walked back into the living room.

“What am I going to do with you, Timmy?” he asked shaking his head. “You used to be
such a good boy.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a piece of black cloth. Then,
kneeling down, he tied it around Tim’s eyes. Tim tried to shake his head to dislodge the
blindfold but it was no use. It was tied securely in place. “Can’t have you see where
we’re taking you now, can we?”




                                            105
He heard Simon whistle and heard someone else enter the house. He was lifted to his feet,
dragged outside and thrown into the back of the van. He heard the engine start and felt
the van move. He tried to yell, he tried to struggle but there was nothing he could do. He
was trapped.

                                           ooo

Tim tried not to panic as he struggled against the restraints. His arms were aching and his
wrists were raw. He had no idea how long he had been hanging there but it was at least a
couple of hours, long enough for him to start kicking himself for being so stupid and
letting his guard down. He didn’t even know where he was, having been blindfolded
before he was tossed into the back of the van. He was able to spin himself around to get a
good look at the room he was in, no windows, only one door. Unfortunately he could also
see Simon’s toys lying around the room. He worried about how Horatio would react
when he realized that he was gone.

Will he think that I just up and left him, he thought. Tim shook his head. No, he’ll be
worried, worried sick.

But he also knew that Horatio would do everything in his power to save him. Horatio
wouldn’t rest until he was found. He was sure of it. He could endure until then. After all,
he had endured when there had been no hope at all.

He pulled at his wrists again but the leather bands were too tight and he only succeeded
in cutting into the flesh more. The waiting was the worst part of this. He already knew
what Simon was capable of. He had a fleeting thought that maybe Simon had strung him
up and just taken off, leaving him to die, slowly. But a sound at the door dashed those
hopes. He spun around in the direction of the door, catching sight of his worst nightmare
as he strode toward him. He tried to back away even though he knew he couldn’t actually
go anywhere. It was simply instinct and useless, but he struggled to get loose anyway.
Simon grinned at him but didn’t say anything. He just watched him struggle.

After a moment he reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out what looked like a
wide leather strap. It took Tim a moment to realize what it was, a collar. Simon had made
him wear one before, in the beginning, as a way to control him but also as a symbol of
Simon’s ownership of him. Tim scowled and turned his head away. Simon reached out
with one hand and grabbed Tim’s face forcing him to look up. Tim glared, showing his
defiance. But Simon just smirked.

Tim’s heart was pounding and it was taking all of his conscious effort to maintain his
defiant attitude. All of his instincts were telling him to submit, to not anger Simon
further. But he just kept telling himself that Horatio would find him and when he did, he
needed to be in control of himself. Simon forced his head to one side and wrapped the
collar around his neck, closing the pad lock in the back. The collar wasn’t tight enough to
cut off Tim’s breathing but it did cause him a considerable amount of discomfort when he
tried to move his head. Simon patted his cheek then turned and left the room.


                                           106
                                              ooo

“They’re business cards, Lieutenant, from several different clubs around Miami,” she told
him.

Horatio stood in front of the table in the questioned documents lab listening to the tech’s
report on the papers found on their murder victim the day before. She had separated each
card into its own clear plastic evidence bag and handed them to him one at a time. He
stopped her after she handed him the third card, immediately recognizing the logo of
Club Descent. He looked at his watch and realized it was too early to call Max so he took
the rest of the cards and headed over to the layout room.

He laid out all of the cards on the table and looked them over. He recognized most of
them as being from gay clubs around the area and was immediately struck by the idea
that these murders could easily be hate crimes. But at the same time he realized that they
might have just found the connection between all of their victims.

Eric walked into the room. “Prints are a bust. They belong to the victim but he’s not in
the system, anywhere,” he said sounding a little disappointed.

“Well, I might have something,” Horatio said as he gestured toward the table.

Eric looked over the contents of the bags. “What’s all this?”

“The papers we found on the body from yesterday,” he explained. He pointed to the first
card, the one belonging to Club Descent, and Eric raised an eyebrow. “I recognize most
of the others as similar type clubs.”

Eric looked at him in surprise. “Really?”

Horatio rolled his eyes. “We need to canvas these clubs and see if anyone recognizes any
of our victims.”

Eric looked at his watch. “I think it’s a little early for clubs, H,” he said.

Horatio nodded. “This afternoon. Most of these places open their bars around two-thirty.”

Eric stared at him for a moment. “Do I want to know how you know that?”

One side of Horatio’s mouth quirked up and he raised an eyebrow. “Probably not,” he
said.

                                              ooo




                                              107
Tim leaned his head against his left arm. That was the only rest he could give his aching
neck with the collar wrapped around it. He heard the door open behind him but this time
he didn’t turn to see who it was. He heard footsteps approach from behind him then he
felt a hand run down his side. He jerked away from the touch. Simon slowly walked
around him, taking in every inch of him with his eyes. Still he said nothing. Tim knew
that this was part of his game, a battle of wills. The first to speak or make a sound would
lose. Simon reached out a hand and ran one finger over Tim’s cheek then down his neck
as Tim scowled at him. He began unbuttoning Tim’s shirt as Tim struggled against the
bonds, but always keeping silent. Even a protest meant he’d lost the battle. So, instead, he
kicked out and connected with Simon’s shin causing him to grimace and take a step back.
Simon raised a hand in a gesture to call someone over and it was then that Tim realized
that they weren’t alone in the room. He struggled as he felt a pair of hands grab onto his
ankles and strap his legs into restraints on the floor.

Once he was fully restrained Simon cocked his head and Tim heard footsteps heading out
of the room. The two were alone. Simon took a step toward him and continued
unbuttoning his shirt. He ran his fingers down Tim’s chest and abdomen. His touch was
gentle, almost reverent. It had been eighteen long months since he’d been able to touch
his prized possession this way and he was going to take his time with him. Tim began to
struggle again when Simon reached the waistband of his jeans.

Simon looked up at him and raised a single finger to his lips in a silent gesture to quiet
him but Tim continued to struggle to the extent he was able. Simon’s expression
hardened just a bit. It was enough to scare Tim into ceasing his efforts. After all he was
bound tight and couldn’t get away. And the longer he could keep Simon calm, he knew,
the better off he would be. Simon’s expression softened when he stopped struggling. He
smiled and brushed a hand over Tim’s chest then walked out of the room.

                                            ooo

Horatio walked out of his office and into the print lab. Eric was leaning over a magnifier
comparing fingerprints. “Eric,” Horatio said and the younger man looked up. “Feel like
going for a ride?”

Horatio pulled his Hummer into the parking lot of Club Descent and glanced around. The
lot was about half full and he saw Max’s motorcycle parked at the side of the building.
He and Tim still frequented the club as regulars two or three times a month. They had
started to think of it as their place, the place where they’d met, where they’d shared their
first kiss, their first dance together.

They walked through the front door and were greeted by Max as he stood behind the bar.
“Horatio, Eric, good ta see ya.” He held out his hand and each man shook it.

“Max, we need your help,” Horatio said.

“Anythin’ y'need Horatio. Y'know that.”


                                            108
Horatio took a breath before he said anything as he decided just how much to tell Max.
“We’ve managed to keep this out of the papers so far but over the past few days we’ve
found the bodies of four men all killed within the past few weeks and all, it would seem,
killed by the same person,” Horatio explained. “On the most recent body we found a card
from Club Descent.”

“Really? Y'think it’s someone from here?”

Eric looked at him. “Are you missing any regulars lately?”

Max closed his eyes and let out a long breath as he thought, going over the list in his
head. “I can’t thinka anyone who’s been missin’ lately. Only one who hasn’t been around
is Theo, the other guy who tends bar, but he went north t'visit family. I talked t'him
about,” he thought for a moment, “maybe two, two and a half weeks ago. He said his
father was ill and he’d be stayin’ there for a while.”

“Where is home for him?” Eric asked.

“Canton Georgia, If I’m rememberin’ right,” Max answered.

Eric looked over at Horatio. “Well that would explain the trace I found, if it’s him.”

“You wouldn’t happen to have a picture of Theo, would you Max?” Horatio asked.

Max dug around under the bar and pulled out an envelope. He took a photograph out
from a pile and passed it over to Horatio. “From New Year’s Eve. We were both sorta
drunk, I recall.”

Horatio regarded the photo for a few moments then handed it over to Eric. “What do you
think?”

Eric stared at the picture. “Hard to tell, H. With the decomp, I don’t know, it could be
him. Better if we had DNA to compare or dental records.”

“Hang on a minute,” Max interrupted. “Before y’guys get too far, can I try somethin’?”
He pulled out his cell phone and dialed. “If he answers…”

Horatio nodded. Leave it to Max to be practical, he thought. He watched as Max’s face
grew concerned then he heard him say, “Bro, gimme a call when y'get this. It’s
important.” He flipped the phone shut. “Okay, now I’m worried,” he said.

“Did he keep anything here, toothbrush, hairbrush, something that might contain his
DNA?” Eric asked.




                                            109
Max walked around the bar. “Follow me,” he said as he walked toward a door at the back
of the club. The door opened onto a locker room. Max walked up to one of the lockers,
pulled a set of keys out of his pocket and unlocked it. “This one’s Theo’s,” he said as he
stepped aside.

Eric pulled on a pair of gloves from his kit before pushing the locker door fully open and
examining its contents. Inside, amongst the locker’s other contents, he found a hairbrush,
a towel, and a toothbrush. All had the potential to contain DNA. He bagged each item
separately.

“Thanks, Max,” he said. “These will help us.”

“Well, all I can say is I hope yer wrong.”

“I understand. I hope we are too, for your sake,” Eric replied.

Horatio’s cell phone rang and he stepped away from the other two men to answer the call.
After a moment he hung up and turned to Eric. “Dispatch got another call, Eric. We’ve
got to go.”

“Another body?” Eric asked. Horatio nodded.

As they walked out to the front of the club Max asked, “Horatio, I’ve been tryin’ to get a
holda Tim. He’s not answerin’ his cell phone.”

Horatio glanced at his watch and noticed it was not quite three in the afternoon. “He’s in
class, Max. He turns his phone off when he’s teaching. If we’re lucky he’ll remember to
turn it back on before I get home tonight. Do you want to me to give him a message?”

Max chuckled, knowing how forgetful Tim could be when it came to things like that.
“Just ask’m t'gimme a call when he gets a chance.”

                                             ooo

The door opened and Tim heard footsteps heading toward him. He felt something being
locked to the d-ring on his collar then his arms were released from the hook overhead. He
winced as he lowered them and rolled his shoulders. His feet were still shackled so he
couldn’t go anywhere but he was now able to turn just enough to see who was behind
him. It wasn’t Simon. He saw a man, barefoot and shirtless, dressed in leather pants and a
leather mask that covered his face except for his eyes and a hole for his nose. He wore a
collar similar to the one Tim was wearing.

The man pulled at Tim’s shirt trying to remove it. Tim pulled away but the man yanked at
his collar almost choking him. His shirt was pulled off of him quickly. The man pulled
Tim’s arms behind his back and held them firmly as he bent down and freed his legs. He
pulled at the chain that he’d attached to Tim’s collar forcing him to walk with him. He


                                             110
led him over to one corner of the room where there was an old mattress and a bucket. The
man locked the end of the chain to a d-ring on the wall with a padlock then walked away.

He returned a few moments later and tossed Tim a pair of leather pants. Tim stared at
them for a moment then flung them back at him. The man took a step toward Tim and
pushed him backward onto the mattress then held him down with a knee on his chest
while he forcibly stripped him of his remaining clothing. He tossed the jeans, boxers, and
shoes out of his reach then stood up and handed him the leather pants. Tim lay there
naked for a few moments glaring at the man before he struggled to his feet and pulled the
leather pants on.

“Why are you doing this? Why are you helping him?” Tim asked.

The man didn’t answer him. He simply turned and left the room. Tim stared after him for
a moment then he sat down on the mattress and pulled his knees up to his chest.

“Where are you Horatio?” he muttered.

                                            ooo

Horatio and Eric stood over the decomposed remains of a body lying face down on the
floor of the small abandoned cottage near the beach. Eric stood with his arm up blocking
his nose. No matter how many times he’d been faced with severe decomp, he never got
used to the smell. He wondered how Alexx could stand it day in and day out. He glanced
around the small room and he could see definite signs of a struggle. He placed his kit on
the floor next to Horatio’s and pulled on a pair of gloves then he moved away from the
body trying not to breath too deeply. As he surveyed the space he came to realize that this
scene, unlike the others, hadn’t been wiped clean. He looked over at Horatio.

“We’ve got a late night ahead of us, don’t we?” Eric sighed.

Horatio pursed his lips, realizing that Eric was right. This scene had much more to offer
them in the way of clues than any of the others and he knew they had to process it as
thoroughly as possible. It could be their best chance at catching this killer. He also
recognized that this body had been dead much longer than the others and given that this
scene hadn’t been wiped clean, they might be looking at his first kill. He mimicked Eric’s
sigh.

“We’d better get started,” Horatio said as he pulled his phone out of his pocket. He took a
couple of steps away from Eric and turned his back as he dialed. The call went right to
Tim’s voicemail as he’d expected. “Hey, it’s me,” he said quietly. “It looks like I’m not
going to make it home for dinner tonight. We just picked up a case. I’m sorry and I’ll see
you later tonight when I get home. If you feel like it, give me a call when you get this but
don’t wait up. Love you.” He was about to hang up when he remembered. “Oh yeah, call
Max. He’s been trying to get hold of you.”



                                            111
They worked for several long, tedious, and smelly hours in the cottage but in the end it
was worth it. They managed to collect a large number of fingerprints, more trace than
Eric thought he’d be able to process in a month’s time, and some biologicals including
semen on and around the body. There were shoe prints on almost every floor surface and
plant matter that they still needed to identify. It was after nine o’clock at night before
they got everything back to the lab and it was after midnight by the time Horatio pulled
into his driveway. He was surprised to find the entire house dark and the front lights off
but he figured Tim had fallen asleep early and forgotten to turn them on.

He opened the front door quietly and headed right upstairs expecting to find his lover
sprawled out on their bed. He felt bad about having cancelled their plans earlier tonight
and even worse about getting so caught up in the investigation that he didn’t think to call
again until it was so late that he knew Tim would be asleep and he wouldn’t want to wake
him. He stopped when he got to the top of the stairs and saw the empty, unmade bed. He
glanced around.

“Tim,” he called just as his cell phone rang.

He pulled it out as he walked back down the stairs. “Horatio,” he said absently. He
thought he heard a noise in the kitchen and flipped the light on. He froze when he saw the
open sliding glass door.

“H, it’s Eric,” he half heard from his phone. “We got a CODIS hit from the semen sample
we found on the body.”

Horatio wandered into the kitchen and saw Tim’s ring sitting on the counter on top of an
envelope. His heart started pounding in his chest. Eric continued to talk but Horatio was
no longer hearing him. He picked up the ring and turned it over in his hand. Eric
continued to say something that wasn’t connecting with his brain as he picked up the
envelope and pulled out a note card. In handwriting he’d seen only once before he saw
written, “He’s mine again. S.” Horatio felt his knees go weak and he had to grip the
counter to keep himself standing.

“Horatio, did you hear me.” Eric’s voice suddenly came into focus. “Simon’s DNA was
in that house, on that body,” Eric said again a little more urgently.

Then he heard Horatio shaky voice say, “He’s got Tim.”

                                            ooo

Within minutes of Horatio’s desperate words hitting Eric’s ear, his house was swarmed
by police officers. The red and white lights lit up the night around his residence. His
property had been roped off and he had been ushered out to await his team. In the interim
he’d called Max and, trying to keep himself calm, told him what was happening. Max
arrived at the house just after the officers and pulled Horatio away from all of the
activity. He now stood protectively next to him leaning up against one of the patrol cars.


                                            112
Horatio had left the note on the counter but kept Tim’s ring clutched in his hand, which
he kept pressed to his chest. It was now his only connection to his lover and he wasn’t
about to relinquish it. He hadn’t moved or said one word since Max had pulled him away
from the crowd of officers. Max had come to know Horatio well over the months since
they’d met and he was certain that inside he was panicking. He also knew that he was too
strong a leader to ever let his team see what he truly felt at this moment. He stirred just
slightly as a Hummer pulled up in front of his property and Eric and Calleigh stepped out.

They both grabbed their kits and quickly scanned the area, catching sight of Max first
then noticing Horatio next to him. Calleigh was instantly worried for him when she saw
the dazed expression on his face and the way he was leaning on Max for support. She
glanced up at Eric and could see her expression mirrored in his.

“I’ll go talk to him,” she said and walked away from Eric. She approached Horatio from
the front but he gave no indication that he was aware of her presence. She reached out
tentatively and ran a hand up his arm. “Horatio?” He made the barest of movements to
indicate that he’d heard her. “Can you tell me what happened?”

“He took Tim,” Horatio said simply. “Left a note in the kitchen.” He tilted his head
gesturing to the house.

“When was the last time you spoke to him?” Calleigh asked. She needed to determine
how long Tim had been gone.

Horatio closed his eyes bringing up the memory of that morning. “Um, this morning
before I left for work. We made plans to go out for dinner tonight but then we found
another body this afternoon and I knew we’d be a while processing. I called him to say I
wouldn’t be able to make it for dinner but I got his voice mail.”

“You didn’t find that odd?” she asked.

Horatio shook his head. “He turns his phone off when he goes to class. He almost never
remembers to turn it back on until much later.” He thought for a moment then added,
“The bed was unmade. He always makes up the bed after breakfast.”

Calleigh looked at her watch. It was possible that Tim had been missing since early
morning, which wasn’t good. It gave them a substantial lead. “Horatio. We need to
process your house,” she said. He nodded. “Is there anything else we should know?”

He drew in a shaky breath. The shock of what had happened was beginning to wear off
and the reality was sinking in. “The back door was open. I think that’s how he got in. I
was always telling him not to leave that door open,” he said shaking his head. “He would
never listen to me though.”

“We’ll find him. Don’t you worry,” she said confidently.


                                           113
She regarded him for another moment before she noticed that he had something clutched
in his left hand. She asked him about it. Slowly he opened his hand revealing a gold band.
As she looked at the ring she became aware that Horatio was wearing a matching one on
his ring finger.

“He left it on top of the note in the kitchen. Tim wouldn’t have taken it off willingly.” He
locked eyes with her and pleaded, “Please don’t take it from me.”

She nodded and folded his fingers around the small piece of jewelry then moved his arm
back up to his chest. “You can give it back to him when we find him.” He nodded, taking
comfort in her confidence. “Eric and I are going to go process your house now.”

As she walked away Max leaned down and whispered something in Horatio’s ear then
caught up with Calleigh. “Hang on a second,” he said. “Can I ask y'something?”

“Sure, Max. What is it?” she asked.

“Do y'really think y'can find'm alive?” he asked. He hadn’t wanted to ask that particular
question in front of Horatio for fear of what Calleigh’s answer might be.

“Believe it or not, yes,” she said. “It’s the finding him part I’m more concerned with.
Simon is obsessed with Tim. It’s unlikely he’ll kill him, not after going to so much
trouble to get him back. As long a he can survive until we get there.”

“Tim’s a survivor and I’m sure he knows Horatio won’t give up,” he said as he glanced
back quickly. “They just exchanged rings on Saturday and made a vow to be together
forever.”

Calleigh understood the significance of that sort of commitment to a man like Horatio.
“We’ll find him, Max. I promise,” she said then turned and walked off to join Eric.

Calleigh and Eric stood at the front entrance of Horatio’s house looking around.

“You ever been inside Horatio’s place before?” Eric asked.

Calleigh shook her head. “No, you?”

“Nope,” Eric answered as they stepped inside. As they looked around Eric asked, “How
is H doing with all this?”

“I think he’s still in shock. Max told me he and Tim exchanged rings on Saturday.”

Eric stared at her for a moment. “Rings? As in… rings?”




                                            114
“As in ‘til death do us part, yes,” Calleigh said as she swept her flashlight over a
darkened corner of the living room.

“Oh man,” Eric sighed. “We’ve gotta find him, Cal.”

“Horatio said that the back door was left open. He also made a comment that the bed was
unmade. He said Tim always made the bed after breakfast so he may have been gone
since early this morning.”

Eric glanced at her. “That means that they could be anywhere by now.” Calleigh pursed
her lips. “Where do you want to start?” he asked.

“Horatio said Simon left a note in the kitchen,” Calleigh said as she looked around the
area again. “You know, there doesn’t seem to be any signs of a struggle.”

“What are you thinking, Cal?” Eric asked.

Calleigh walked slowly around the living room over to the kitchen then to the hallway by
the stairs, all of her senses on alert. She slowed down near the stairs and sniffed the air.

“Do you smell that?” she asked.

Eric walked over to join her. “Sort of sickly sweet, barely noticeable,” Eric said.

They looked at each other and said in unison, “Chloroform.”

“He was subdued with chloroform. That’s why there’s no sign of struggle,” Eric said. He
glanced around the small hallway and eyed the space behind the stairs. “Calleigh, what
do you want to bet he hid back here, waited for Tim to pass then grabbed him from
behind.”

Calleigh shined a light into the space behind the stairs. “Eric, print the walls and let’s see
what kind of trace we can get from the floor. I’m going to bag the letter then I want to
talk to Horatio again. If they never go back there,” she said gesturing to the stairs, “then
any trace we find will probably be from Simon.”

As Calleigh walked into the kitchen she heard Eric say, “I still don’t understand how he
got into the house in the first place. H has a security system.”

“A security system only works when it’s turned on,” Calleigh replied as she glanced
around the kitchen. “You know, Horatio told me a while back that Tim was fascinated by
the idea of having the beach right outside his back door.” She was staring at the coffee
cup in the sink. “He would sometimes find him sitting out by the water early in the
morning.”




                                            115
“You’re thinking he walked down to the water this morning and left the door open,” Eric
said from behind the stairs. “You realize what that means, don’t you? Simon was staking
the place out, possibly for a while. He would’ve seen Horatio leave and knew Tim was
home alone.”

As Calleigh bagged the letter she said, “Eric, I’m going to go talk to Horatio again. We’re
going to need to process around the outside of the house once it’s light out.”

                                            ooo

The scene outside the house was a blur to Horatio. It kept fading in and out of his
consciousness. His mind kept filtering back to six months ago and the stories Tim had
told him about his time with Simon. He knew what Tim had endured before and the
thought of him having to go through that again was making him sick to his stomach. He
was thankful he hadn’t had time to eat dinner or he might have embarrassed himself.

Max kept a close eye on his friend and could see that he was barely keeping it together.
He understood that the only reason Horatio wasn’t losing it right now was because of all
of the police officers around them. He wanted to get him away from there as soon as
possible but he knew Horatio would fight that. He wasn’t the sort of man to sit back and
let others take charge of an investigation like this, especially when it involved someone
he loved.

He saw Calleigh walking up to them and pulled Horatio’s attention back to the present
with a hand on his arm. Horatio looked over at Max who directed his attention toward his
approaching CSI. Horatio quickly composed himself enough to speak.

“Do you have anything yet?” he asked hesitantly.

Calleigh sighed. “Maybe a timeline. What time did you leave the house this morning?”

Horatio had to think for a moment, he was having trouble keeping his mind in focus.
“Um, seven-thirty, about,” he answered.

“Okay, we think Tim probably walked out back and sat by the water after you left this
morning, leaving the door open. By the time he came back into the house, Simon was
already inside. There is a faint smell of chloroform by the stairs.” She watched as his face
twisted just slightly as he tried to stop the sudden surge of emotion. “Do either of you
ever go into that area behind the stairs?” He shook his head not trusting his voice. “Good,
then if Eric finds anything back there in the way of trace, it’s probably Simon’s.” She
gave him another moment to compose himself before asking, “What are those two rooms
to the left of the stairs?”

Horatio took a breath before answering. “Bathroom and study,” he said.

Calleigh nodded. “Could he have been going to take a shower?”


                                            116
Horatio shook his head. “Would have used the upstairs bathroom. He was probably going
to the study to grade exams before his class.”

“Horatio, we think Simon’s been watching you two for a while now, trying to determine
your routine. Have you noticed anything unusual lately around the property?” Horatio
shook his head, a look of complete surprise on his face. “Okay, we’re going to have to
search the property once it’s light out. My guess is that Simon’s been staking the place
out.” She looked over at Max. “Can you put him up for a little while?”

“No,” Horatio interrupted. “I’m going to the lab,” he said.

From off to the side he heard a voice say, “No you’re not, Horatio.” Rick Stetler walked
up to them. “You can not work this case and you know it.”

Horatio’s temper flared and he pulled himself up to his full height. “Don’t get in my way
Rick.”

Stetler back up but just slightly. He knew Horatio was upset and probably blaming
himself for what had happened. “You can remove yourself voluntarily or I can make it an
order.”

Max watched the newcomer carefully; ready to step in if things got ugly. He could tell
from Horatio’s body language and tone of voice that there was a history between the two
and it wasn’t good. Horatio stood his ground not backing down.

“Don’t make me do this, Horatio,” Rick said. But Horatio simply stood there silently,
staring the IAB agent in the eyes. Rick sighed. “Horatio, you’re officially on
administrative leave,” he said holding out his hand. Horatio knew what he wanted but he
didn’t make a move. “Horatio,” Rick said a bit more forcefully this time.

Keeping his eyes on Stetler he pulled his badge and gun off of his belt and handed them
over. “You know this is the right thing to do, Horatio, for the integrity of the
investigation. When a police officer or a member of his family is involved in something
like this, IAB gets involved.” He turned to Calleigh. “You take the lead on this. Do what
ever you need to do to bring him back. You will report to me, understand?”

As much as it irked Calleigh to have to take orders from IAB she knew he was right. She
nodded her agreement. She looked over and could see that Horatio was seething. She
glanced at Max who nodded. He laid a hand on Horatio’s arm.

“Maybe we should go, let yer team do their jobs,” he said.

Horatio glared at him for a moment but in the end he relented and let Max lead him away.
Calleigh looked up at Stetler. “He’s not going to let this go,” she said.



                                           117
Rick gave a quick nod. “I hope his friend there can keep him from doing anything
stupid,” he said. “Tell me what you have so far.”

Calleigh proceeded to explain the history between Simon and Tim as best as she knew it
and then told him their theory about what had happened this time. She didn’t mention the
fact that Horatio and Tim had exchanged rings but she did ask him how he knew to refer
to Tim as family.

“Horatio came in last week and changed all of his beneficiary information, leaving his
pension and life insurance to Timothy Speedle. He also had him listed as his next of kin.
He could only do that if they’d committed and registered as partners. That makes Tim his
family.”

Calleigh nodded. She didn’t like Rick Stetler but she knew that he had the best interests
of the investigation in mind. She sighed knowing this was going to be harder without
Horatio’s help but she wasn’t going to give up hope. They would find Tim and bring him
back to Horatio.

                                           ooo

Wednesday, April 7, 2004

Calleigh walked around to the side of the house and stared out toward the beach. She
could see why Tim was so fascinated by this scene as she watched dawn break over the
ocean. The sky turned from a colorless gray to a deep blue and as the sun slowly made its
way over the horizon she saw its rays flicker across the surface of the water.

“Calleigh, tell me what you’re seeing.”

She was jarred from her thoughts by Horatio’s voice in her ear. “Oh, sorry,” she said into
her cell phone. “I’m at the south side of the house. There’s a lot of shrub coverage over
here. Plenty of room for someone to hide.” Rick Stetler may have taken Horatio off this
case but there was no way Calleigh and Eric were going to keep him in the dark. What
Stetler didn’t know wouldn’t hurt anyone.

Horatio paced around Max’s back yard as he spoke. “Yeah. When I first moved in the
landscapers said it would help to keep the house cool.”

“Well, I definitely see evidence of someone back here; candy wrappers, boot prints, and
some branches broken and pushed back. Someone was definitely spending some time
here.” Calleigh heard Horatio sighed and she seemed to read his mind. “This isn’t your
fault Horatio.”

“I promised him, Calleigh. I promised him I’d keep him safe,” Horatio said quietly. “I
can’t lose him now.”



                                           118
“We haven’t lost yet. Don’t give up. From everything you’ve told me about Simon, I
don’t believe he’ll kill Tim. Not after going to so much trouble to get him. We only need
a little time.”

“I’m just afraid,” he started to say then paused to take a breath. “I’m afraid he’ll try to
fight back. I mean, I want him to fight back, don’t get me wrong. But the more he fights
Simon, the worse it’ll be for him. He’s not used to being controlled anymore. He’s not
going to give in easily.”

Calleigh understood Horatio’s concern. “And if he fights him for too long, Simon could
lash out.”

“Exactly,” Horatio sighed. He took a moment to focus his thoughts back on the
investigation before he asked, “Do you have anything on the trace yet?”

“Not yet,” Calleigh answered. “Eric’s back at the lab now. He’ll call as soon as he has
anything.”

“Okay, bag and tag everything you found behind the bushes and get castings of the boot
prints. Try to match them to the ones you found in the house. Let me know what you
find.”

“No problem, Horatio. Hang in there,” she said.

Just before he hung up Horatio said, “And, Calleigh? Thanks.”

                                           ooo

Tim was jolted awake by a tug to his collar and pulled to his feet by the man with the
mask. He was dragged over to the center of the room and his arms were pulled up over
his head.

“You don’t have to do this,” Tim said. “We could both leave now.”

The man did not respond to his pleas and once he was fastened tight, the man left and he
was alone. Tim pulled at his restraints but to no avail. He had promised himself that he
wouldn’t panic. He needed to keep it together until Horatio found him. But when he
heard the door open his heart started pounding and his palms began sweating.

Simon walked up and stopped in front of him. He got right in his face and said, “Kick me
again, Timmy, and you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.”

His voice held an eerie calm that Tim found menacing and he immediately lowered his
eyes and stopped his struggling. He just kept repeating over and over again in his head,
Horatio’s going to find me. Simon reached out and ran a hand over his cheek. Tim



                                           119
squeezed his eyes shut. He tried to suppress a shudder and the churning in his stomach as
Simon’s hands explored the exposed skin of his chest.

“It’s been so long, Timmy,” Simon whispered against his lips. “But I knew you’d come
back to me.” Tim tried to turn his head away but the collar prevented him from moving
his neck without causing him pain. Simon’s face twisted into a perverse smile. “You’re
mine, Timmy. Always have been and always will be.”

Simon’s hands moved lower on Tim’s body and when he reached the waistband of the
leather pants, Tim began struggling again. This time Simon was expecting his kick and
stepped out of the way just in time.

He snarled at his captive, “I warned you.” Then he put his fingers to his mouth and
whistled. Tim heard the door open. “Here boy,” Simon said, patting his leg like he was
calling a dog. The masked man jogged over and fell to his knees next to his master.
Simon reached over and scratched the man’s head. “He’s such an obedient pet. I was
lucky to find him.” Then he looked Tim in the eyes and growled, “Hold him still.”

Tim felt the man grab his ankles and hold him in place. He tried to struggle out of his grip
but the man’s hands were like vices on his legs. Simon reached down gave Tim’s crotch a
squeeze.

Tim tried to back away and sobbed, “No!”

Despite his best efforts to keep himself calm, he began to panic and started violently
struggling against his bonds and sobbing. Simon pulled a syringe from his pocket and
held it up in front of Tim, whose eyes went wide in terror. He felt the needle jab into his
neck and he cried out just before his body went limp and everything went dark.

                                           ooo

Horatio slipped his phone back into his pocket and turned to see Max standing at the door
watching him. He ducked his head for a moment before making his way over.

“I thought y’were taken off the case,” Max said with a raised eyebrow.

“Stetler was just doing his job. Besides, he knows me well enough to know that I’m not
just going to sit back and wait this out,” Horatio said.

“So,” Max looked at him expectantly. “Have they found anything yet?”

“They found some traces of plant material behind the stairs. Eric has it at the lab now.
They’re hoping that it’s unusual enough to narrow down a location. Calleigh found
evidence that someone’s been hiding in the bushes outside the house, probably for a
while,” he said.



                                           120
Max nodded. “Why don’t y'try t'get some rest? Y'won’t be any good t'them if yer
exhausted.”

Horatio shook his head. “I can’t sleep right now.”

“Y'know that eventually yer body’s gonna give up the fight,” Max said.

“Well that time hasn’t come yet.”

”Then at least come in and have some coffee and food. Mikey’s cookin’ pancakes and he
put up a pot of coffee.” He could see Horatio was about to protest so he added, “Y'look
like hell, Horatio. If yer not gonna sleep, then y'gotta eat.”

“I don’t know,” Horatio sighed.

“They’re gonna find’m. Y'gotta believe that. Yer gonna be no good t'him when they do if
yer exhausted and starved.”

Horatio sighed. “I just have a really bad feeling right now, Max.”

                                            ooo

When Tim came to he was naked, strapped to a bed with his knees pulled up under him.
His arms and feet were tied to the bedposts and he was held firmly in position by two
straps, one over his legs just behind his knees and the other around his stomach. His jaw
ached from the ball gag he had been fitted with. As his mind cleared from the drug he’d
been given he began to realize just how serious his predicament had become. He had a
painfully hard erection and he could feel the cock ring at the base of his shaft. He tried to
struggle but he was effectively immobilized. He couldn’t even shift a little. He heard a
grunt off to his left.

“Is he awake?” Simon asked. The man with the mask grunted again. Simon walked over.
“Good boy,” he said and patted the man’s head. Then he said, “Leave us alone,” and Tim
heard the man scurry off and out of the room.

He walked around, stood in front of Tim and cocked his head. “I see I have my work cut
out for me,” he said calmly.

He circled the bed as he spoke. “I’ve waited a long time, Timmy. You’re fighting me
now but you’ll learn respect again.” He stopped behind Tim and ran a hand over his ass.
“Such a beautiful body.”

Tim tried to protest but the gag muffled any coherent words. He felt Simon reach around
and stroke him while Tim tried to will his body not to respond. “I’m going to make you
come for me, Timmy. You will be mine again,” he said as he unzipped his pants and
lubed up.


                                            121
Tim sobbed through the gag as he realized he wouldn’t be able to control himself. His
body was reacting of its own accord. He cried out as Simon entered him in one hard
thrust. His sobs continued as Simon pounded into his body brushing his prostate with
each stroke. At the last minute he reached around and snapped off the cock ring. Tim
came and Simon cried out as Tim’s inner muscles clamped down on him.

Simon took a moment to catch his breath before he pulled out and closed his pants.
“You’re mine, Timmy. Now and forever.” He took a deep breath and walked out of the
room leaving Tim sobbing, still tied to the bed.

                                           ooo

Wednesday Evening

Calleigh stood in front of the computer. She couldn’t quite believe what she was seeing.
She went to pull out her cell phone to call Eric when it rang. She opened it up and heard
Eric say, “I found something.”

“So did I,” she said urgently. “You’d better get over here.”

A minute later Eric came skidding into the computer room. “What is it, Cal?”

“I worked this case with Horatio a couple of years ago, a former Green Beret who went
on a killing spree in Broward County. They called us in to help. Anyway, we couldn’t
figure out how this guy got so good so fast with no prior history of violent crimes. Turns
out, the military keeps its criminal databases separate from the civilian ones.”

She turned the computer monitor around and staring back at Eric was a picture of Simon.
It looked just like the police artist’s sketch that had been done six months earlier. The
man on the screen was a bit younger and in uniform but there was no question it was the
same man.

“How did you manage to find this?” he asked.

“DNA and fingerprints. It occurred to me that it wasn’t just anyone who could stake out
Horatio and not be noticed. This guy is just too good, scary good. He had to have had
some type of training. You aren’t just born with skills like that. So I started searching
professional databases.”

Eric walked around the table and stood next to Calleigh. He hit a couple of buttons on the
computer and read the bio that popped up. “It says here his real name is Samuel Conner.
He joined the Marines at eighteen and was discharged at twenty-two for excessive
violence. He was never charged with any crimes but he was flagged in the database as a
potential danger.” He looked over at Calleigh. “Should we tell H?”



                                           122
Calleigh hesitated for a moment before saying, “Let’s wait for a bit. What did you find?”

Eric opened the folder he had in his hand. “It took a while but I ID’d the plant material
we found in H’s house. It’s from a rare plant indigenousness to Burma, amorphophallus
bulbifer, a Voodoo lily.”

“Funny, Simon doesn’t strike me as the flower type,” Calleigh said thoughtfully.

“I’m thinking he may have been around a nursery that raises them recently. There was
soil in the tire marks left in Horatio’s driveway.”

“So, how many nurseries in Dade County specialize in Voodoo lilies?” Calleigh asked.

“About a half dozen. But I may have a way to narrow that down. Tripp’s been
interviewing Horatio’s neighbors. A couple of them mentioned seeing a white van in his
driveway yesterday morning. One of them mentioned some writing on the side that
looked like it had been covered up. He’s trying to get more info now.”

“You think the van might be stolen from one of these nurseries?” Eric nodded. “I hope
you’re right.”

                                           ooo

Maxine Valera grabbed the printout before it landed on the printer tray. She glanced at it
and nodded to herself, a definite match. She picked up the phone and dialed. A short
while later Eric and Calleigh showed up at the DNA lab.

“What have you got, Valera?” Eric asked.

“Two matches. The DNA I extracted from the hairbrush that Lieutenant Caine brought in
matches the fourth victim, you’re missing bartender. And I got a CODIS hit from the fifth
victim.” She handed a file over to Calleigh.

“Wait a minute,” Calleigh said momentarily confused. “Are you sure this is right?”

“Yeah, why?” the other woman asked.

“I read about this case yesterday when I was searching the missing persons’ databases.”
She glanced up at Eric. “A couple in Georgia reported their sixteen year old son missing.
The kid has Down’s syndrome and went missing with his nanny a couple of months ago.”
She passed the file over to Eric. “Our fifth victim is the kid’s nanny.”

                                           ooo

Tim lay curled up on the mattress. He was beginning to give up hope. He didn’t know if
it was day or night and had no idea how long he’d been there. He heard a noise at the


                                           123
other side of the room and lifted his head slightly. He was beginning to recognize when it
was Simon entering the room and when it was the other man. This was definitely not
Simon. The man with the mask approached him with tray of food in his hands. He placed
it on the corner of the mattress next to Tim. When Tim made no move toward the food
the man grunted and pointed to the tray.

Tim closed his eyes and tried to ignore him, hoping he would just go away. He could feel
the man’s eyes on him but he wasn’t in the mood to eat. He was too sore, too tired, and
too upset. He wanted to give up the fight. He was beginning to think that Simon had
taken him so far away that Horatio would never be able to find him. If this was the case
he had two options, starve to death or submit. He was feeling like he had no other choice.
If he was to survive, he would have to submit. And that thought made him sick.

His main concern was that he wouldn’t be able to stop the panic. Simon had kept him tied
up and returned several times over the course of many hours. Each time he was able to
play Tim’s body like an expert. As hard as Tim had tried, he couldn’t prevent his body
from responding and each time Simon made him come he lost a little more of himself.

He opened his eyes and the man was still standing there. He regarded Tim in a way that
Tim couldn’t quite figure out. His head was cocked slightly to one side and his hands
fiddled with the short leather leash that hung from his own collar. Tim looked up at him
for a long moment and he could almost imagine the man smiling at him under the mask.
And there was something about his eyes. He wished that he could see the rest of his face.

“What do you want?” Tim asked not moving from his position. The man grunted and
pointed at the tray again. “I’m not hungry.”

The man cocked his head to the other side like he didn’t understand what Tim had said.
He knelt down next to the mattress then sat beside Tim. He pulled his knees up to his
chest and wrapped his arms around his legs. He just sat there rocking slightly.

Tim stared at him for a few moments. He couldn’t figure this guy out. He knew other
submissives from the club but this guy was beyond hardcore. He played his role to
perfection. Tim let his eyes focus on the man’s body and he began taking in little details
that he hadn’t noticed before. He had what looked like a surgical scar on his lower back
and some bruises on his upper back. He had very little body hair, which Tim found odd.
And as Tim examined him more closely he began to notice that his body proportions
were off just slightly.

From off in the distance Tim heard a whistle. The man hopped up off of the mattress and
turned to face Tim. He grunted again and pointed at the tray but this time Tim could
almost make out the word “eat” before he scampered off.

                                           ooo

“You’re sure about this, Calleigh,” Horatio said into his phone.


                                           124
“Yeah. His real name is Samuel Conner. He’s thirty-five, an ex-marine. He dropped off
the radar about ten years ago but the military’s had him flagged since ’92. Apparently he
beat a fellow marine so badly he put him in the hospital but the guy never pressed
charges. Simon, or Samuel, was given a psych eval and it was determined that he was no
longer fit to serve. He was given a medical discharge.”

“All right, military training would explain a lot. He knows how to cover his tracks,”
Horatio said.

“Not that well,” Calleigh said. “I think he’s starting to make mistakes.”

“How so?” he asked.

“Well, for starters, your neighbor across the street remembers seeing a white van parked
in your driveway around eight o’clock this morning. She said it was there about an hour.
There was some writing on the side that had been covered up. We found tread marks on
the driveway that belong to a type of tire commonly found on older model Ford vans.
There was soil around the treads that doesn’t match the soil from your yard. We are
assuming it was left there by the van. We also identified the plant material from behind
the stairs. It’s from a rare tropical plant, a type of voodoo lily. There are only a few
nurseries that carry it. We’re looking into that now.”

Horatio stood up and began pacing around the living room. “How about the DNA,
anything yet?”

Calleigh sighed. “Tell Max I’m sorry. One of the victims is his missing bartender, Theo.”
Horatio glanced over to the kitchen where Max was talking with Michael. “The last
victim you found, the one from yesterday, we got a CODIS hit, turns out to be a missing
man from Georgia. You remember me telling you about that boy who went missing with
his nanny?”

“I do,” Horatio said.

“Well the last victim is the nanny. He’s probably been dead a couple of months. There is
no sign of the boy.”

“You think Simon’s got him?”

Calleigh was silent for a moment. “All I can say is, I hope not.”

                                            ooo

Simon stood in front of the counter in the makeshift kitchen. It wasn’t much more than a
couple of hotplates, a toaster and a sink but it had served them well this past month. He



                                            125
glanced behind him to where he’d set up an old card table and noticed that the boy who
had been his companion for the past two months was sitting there staring at his food.

“What’s the matter Garrett? You’re not eating,” he asked.

“Not hungry,” he said without looking up.

Simon turned around and stared at the boy for a moment. “What do you mean you’re not
hungry? You’ve been hungry since the day we met. All you do is eat.”

Garrett’s face broke into a wide smile and he dug into his food. Simon shook his head
and turned back to the pot that sat on the hotplate. Sometimes he didn’t understand the
boy, then a thought struck him and he turned again.

“Did Timmy say that to you when you brought him his dinner?”

Garrett smiled at him and nodded. “I’m. Not. Hungry,” he said punctuating each word
with a nod.

Simon rolled his eyes. He’d learned very quickly that Garrett tended to mimic behaviors
and repeat things he’d heard. He’d met Garrett and his caretaker, Aaron, while he was
traveling through Georgia a few months back. His first impression of the boy was that he
would make the perfect companion. He was obedient, friendly, and seemed to take to
Simon almost immediately. Garrett’s parents had been away for a several days on a
cruise and he had managed to convince Aaron to come down to Florida with him,
promising they’d be back before Garrett’s parents returned from vacation. Of course,
once they were there he’d killed the young man and taken Garrett. At first he’d been
surprised that the boy had gone with him so easily, no coercion necessary. He seemed to
look at their current lifestyle as a big game. After a bit of research, he’d discovered that
this was not untypical of people with Down’s syndrome.

Simon poured the remaining stew into a bowl and sat down across from the boy. As he
ate he said, “Garrett, I have to go out for a while tonight. I want you to clean up from
dinner then go to bed. Understand?”

Garrett nodded and looked at Simon with his head cocked to one side. “Timmy?” he
asked.

Simon’s expression hardened just a bit. “You leave Timmy alone. He’s dangerous. Do
you understand?” Garrett just stared at him. “He’s a very bad man and I don’t want him
to hurt you. You just stay away from him when I’m not around.”

The boy nodded even though he didn’t really understand what Simon meant by a bad
man. Tim didn’t seem like a bad man. Garrett thought he looked sad and he hadn’t tried
to hurt him earlier when he’d brought the food in. Simon finished eating and stood up.



                                            126
“You clean up then get to bed. I may not be back ‘till late tonight and I expect to find you
asleep in bed when I get home,” he said.

Garrett smiled at him and nodded. “Okay,” he replied.

Simon snapped the padlock on the front entrance to the building shut and headed to his
car. He needed to check on Horatio and the progress of the search for Tim that he knew
was taking place. He didn’t want to have to hole up in Miami for too long but he knew
there would be roadblocks and police everywhere. Traveling right now would be
foolhardy. He had to go scout out the situation.

Inside Garrett finished eating and cleaned up the dishes. He worked very methodically
washing and drying each item, just like his mother had taught him. His thoughts drifted to
his mother and father as he worked and he smiled. He thought that they would be proud
of him for learning to live on his own and he hoped he’d be able to see them again soon.
Simon kept promising him that if he was good and did as he was told he would bring him
to visit his parents one day soon.

                                            ooo

Simon smiled at the librarian as she gave him an access card for the computer. He’d
disguised himself before going inside, just in case. He made his way to one of the
machines in the back of the library and booted up. It only took him a few minutes to hack
into the server and get the information he needed. There was an all points bulletin out for
him and Tim. He was surprised to see his old military photo along with his real name on
the screen. He couldn’t find Horatio’s name on any of the reports and came to the
conclusion that he must have been taken off the case. He decided to take a ride past
Horatio’s house and see what was going on.

                                            ooo

Simon sat in his car in the library parking lot for a few minutes gathering his thoughts. It
wasn’t good that the police had found his military record. They knew who he really was
now and that would make it easier for them to track him. Though he hadn’t used the
name Sam Conner in almost ten years so maybe it wouldn’t make too much of a
difference. He just didn’t like the fact that he wasn’t in complete control of the situation.
Things weren’t going exactly as he’d planned and that meant having to improvise. They
may have to stay in Miami longer than he’d originally planned, he thought as he drove
off.

As he approached Horatio’s street he could already see the telltale signs of police
activity. He pulled his car up to the curb on a side street and got out. He’d disguised
himself well enough that he was certain that no one would recognize him if he casually
walked by on the opposite side of the street. As he passed the house he saw the yellow
police tape surrounding the property and noticed that the house itself was dark. Horatio
wasn’t there. He continued past the house and down to the next side street. The officers at


                                            127
the scene paid no attention to him. He rounded the block and got back into his car. He
had a feeling he knew where he could find Horatio.

                                           ooo

Garrett lay in bed but he couldn’t sleep, something was bothering him. He knew he
should listen to Simon, after all Simon was his caretaker now though he didn’t
understand why Aaron had left him. Simon had, for the most part, been good to him even
though he was much stricter than the other caretakers his parents had hired. The life they
lived was different than what he was used to and the games they played were very
different. He didn’t really like wearing the mask and he sort of felt like the game they
were playing with Tim wasn’t very nice. He was beginning to wonder about things.

He got up out of bed and went to the back of the warehouse. The door to the back room
was not kept locked since Tim was shackled to the wall. He opened the door just a crack
and looked inside. Tim sat in the corner of the mattress with his knees pulled up to his
chest. He hadn’t noticed the door open. Garrett watched him for several minutes before
he saw him raise his head and swipe a hand over his eyes before resting it back on his
knees.

Garrett stood up ready to go into the room when he remembered Simon’s first rule; never
go into the room with Timmy without the mask on. Garrett jogged back to his bedroom
and put the mask on. He knew that he wanted to talk to Tim but he couldn’t do that
through the mask. He would figure something out when he got inside. He opened the
door, stepped into the room then shut it quietly behind him. Tim heard him and looked
up.

“You again,” he muttered. “What do you want this time?” Garrett stood there for a few
moments trying to decide what to do. “Well, you just gonna stand there?” Tim asked.

A thought struck the boy at that moment. He’d done as Simon had said. He’s worn the
mask into the room. The rule didn’t say that he had to keep it on. He glanced back at the
door before he slowly reached behind his head and unzipped the mask. He pulled it off
allowing Tim to see his face for the first time.

“Talk,” he said. “Want to talk.”

                                           ooo

Simon sat in the parked car outside Max’s house. The lights were on and he could see
through the big picture window into the house. He ducked down as he caught sight of
Horatio walking up to the window. At first he was afraid he might have been spotted but
Horatio simply stood there staring off beyond his car. He saw a young blonde woman
step up next to him and lay a hand on his arm. He turned to face her then they both
stepped away from the window.



                                           128
Inside, Horatio and Calleigh walked back into the kitchen and joined Eric and Max.
“What is it H?” Eric asked.

Horatio shook his head then shrugged. “Just a feeling. I can’t explain it.” He sat down at
the table. “Okay, so, what do we know so far?”

“So far there are no reports of a white van being stolen in the past few months,” Calleigh
said. “From the information we’ve gathered we can track Simon’s movements over that
time. We know Theo was in Georgia up until two weeks ago. He was killed where we
found him, probably lured there by Simon. Why, we still don’t know. The other man,
Aaron, went missing two months ago. I spoke to the parents of the boy who was with
him. His DNA was registered in the missing children’s database and doesn’t match any
of our current victims. They told me that Garrett is very friendly and trusting and they
wouldn’t be at all surprised if he went willingly with Simon.”

Horatio sat quietly, listening to Calleigh’s report. “You updated Stetler on all of this?”

Calleigh nodded. “Before we left for the day, yes.”

“Any leads on the nurseries?” he asked.

Eric answered, “We still have two more to visit. They were closed by the time we got
there this evening. We’ve got it on the list for first thing in the morning.”

Horatio ran his fingers through his hair and nodded. He wasn’t looking forward to
another night of waiting and his weariness was showing on his face. Calleigh rested her
hand on his arm.

“You need to get some rest Horatio,” she said.

He nodded again knowing there was no point in arguing with her. He looked at the
paperwork that was strewn all over the table. “Can you leave this with me or is it the
original?”

Eric smirked. “Copies. We figured you’d want to look it all over yourself.”

“Thanks Eric. Have you ID’d the other three victims yet?”

Eric shook his head. “So far nothing.”

Horatio sighed. “Okay, well, you guys better get some rest. Call me tomorrow,” he said
as he stood up.

The others followed suit and Max said, “I’ll show y'out.”

As Eric passed Horatio he said, “Don’t worry, H, we’ll find him.”


                                            129
                                            ooo

Tim stared at the boy for a moment. He recognized his condition almost immediately; the
flattened facial features, the upturned eyes, and the slight speech impediment. He’d
worked on a study with Down’s syndrome children while he was working on his PhD.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Garrett.”

“What do you want to talk about?”

Garrett stood a short distance from the mattress. Tim’s left leg was shackled to the wall
by a long chain. Tim stretched his legs out and began to stand up but stopped when
Garrett took a couple of steps back. He sat back down.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he said.

Garrett eyed him warily. He spoke slowly and deliberately. “He said you are a bad man.
He said you are dangerous.”

Tim was silent for a moment. He hoped he could make the boy understand the truth. “I’m
not the dangerous one, Garrett. Simon is.”

He grimaced in pain as he stood up slowly and it took him a moment to get his breath
back. Garrett watched him carefully. “He hurt you?” Garrett asked. Tim nodded as he
waited for the wave of dizziness to pass. “I don’t like this game anymore.”

Tim looked over at him. “This isn’t a game, Garrett,” he said as he braced himself against
the wall, his legs still a bit wobbly. “Simon kidnapped me. He’s going to kill me if I don’t
do what he wants.”

Garrett thought about that for a few minutes. Simon had told him that they were playing a
game, that no one was really getting hurt. It was all an act. But Tim looked like he was
really hurt.

“Not a game,” Garrett mumbled.

“No,” Tim said as he tried to take a step forward but his legs wouldn’t cooperate.

He stumbled and Garrett rushed forward and grabbed him before he fell. He helped Tim
sit back down on the mattress. Tim felt like he was going to pass out. He pulled his knees
up and rested his head for a few moments. Garrett sat down on the mattress next to him.
Tim looked over at the boy.



                                            130
“Can you get me some water?” Garrett hesitated for a moment. He’d been told not to give
Tim anything except what Simon wanted him to have. “Please,” Tim said.

Garrett nodded and left the room for moment. He returned with a large cup of water. Tim
drank it down and began to feel a bit better. “Thank you.” Garrett smiled at him and he
couldn’t help smiling back. Then it occurred to him to ask, “Where is Simon?”

“He went out. He said ‘I have to go out for a while tonight. I want you to clean up from
dinner then go to bed.’”

Tim felt a sudden surge of hope. “Can you let me go? We can both get out of here now.”

Garrett shook his head. “Don’t have a key,” he said pointing at the lock that kept Tim
shackled to the wall.

“Can you get out and go get help?”

Again the boy shook his head. “Door’s locked.”

“When did he go out?”

“Three hours ago,” Garrett said slowly. “Eight o’clock.”

“It’s night,” Tim muttered. “What day is it?”

Garrett smiled. He was good at dates. “Wednesday. April seventh.”

“Two days,” Tim said. “I’ve been here two days.” He looked over at Garrett who was
sitting next to him. “How long have you been with Simon?”

“Two months, five days. February second. He takes care of me now.”

Tim had to smile. He’d known that people with mental disabilities sometimes have
extraordinary abilities in a specific area. “You’re good with dates.” Garrett smiled and
nodded. “How old are you?”

“Sixteen. Seventeen, May tenth. I want to go home for my birthday. He says I can if I’m
good,” Garrett said. Then his expression changed and his voice lowered. “He lies to me,
doesn’t he?”

Tim sighed. “I’m afraid so.”

“I don’t want to stay here anymore. I want to go home.”

“Garrett, can you try to find a way out of here? A friend of mine is looking for me. His
name is Horatio. If you can find a way out you can go to him and tell him where I am.


                                           131
Then we can both go home.” Garrett nodded and stood up. “Be careful. If you hear
Simon coming get to bed and pretend to be asleep.”

Garrett walked out of the room but he left the door open. Tim struggled to his feet. He
was a little more stable this time and was able to walk to the limit of his chain and see
outside the room. He couldn’t see much except another room.

“Hey, Garrett?” he called.

“Yeah,” he called back.

“Where are we? Are we still in Miami?” he asked.

“Yeah. We are outside the city, I think,” Garrett said.

Tim let out a breath. That was good news. If they were still in or near Miami then the
odds were much better that they would be found. At least Simon hadn’t taken them out of
state. Garrett walked back into the room with some more water and more food.

“Here,” he said. “Eat before he gets back.”

Tim smiled at him. “Thanks,” he said. “Did you find a way out?”

Garrett shook his head. “The windows are up high and have bars. The doors are locked
outside.”

They sat back down and Tim asked, “You said the windows are up high. Is this a
warehouse?” Garrett shrugged. “Do you know what a warehouse is?” He shook his head.
“A big building, not the sort that you would usually live in. A place where things are
stored.”

Garrett nodded. “I think so.”

“What’s around here? Are there any other buildings?” Tim asked.

“Yes. Like this one,” he answered.

The warehouse district, he thought. They were in the warehouse district. That was good.
They probably weren’t far from Club Descent, if he was right. Unfortunately there wasn’t
much he could do about it. He finished eating and rested his head back against the wall.
Garrett watched him for a moment then mimicked his position. Tim looked over at him.

“You should go back to bed. I don’t want Simon to find you in here,” Tim said.

Garrett shook his head. “I don’t want to go back.”



                                              132
Tim sighed. He wasn’t sure what exactly Simon would do when he got back and found
Garrett with him but he was sure it wouldn’t be good.

“Garrett, I’m afraid he’s going to hurt you if you stay here,” Tim said. “I’m not sure I can
do much to stop him.”

His whole body still hurt and he was chained to the wall. All Simon had to do was pull
Garrett out of his reach and he’d be helpless to do anything but watch. Garrett looked
over at him.

“I am stronger than I look. And I am smarter than he thinks I am,” Garrett said.

Tim smirked. “You think you can take him, don’t you?” Garrett nodded. Tim wasn’t
crazy about this idea but he couldn’t do much himself and Garrett would probably do
something anyway at this point. “Okay,” he said. “When we hear him come in you go
hide behind the door. Is there anything you can use as a weapon around here?”

Garrett thought about it for a moment. “Frying pan,” he said and ran out of the room.

Tim chuckled thinking that that was very fitting. Garrett walked back into the room
wielding a large frying pan. “Good, go leave it behind the door. I’ll distract him and you
sneak up behind him.” Garrett carefully placed the frying pan behind the door then went
back and sat next to Tim. “Now we wait,” Tim said.

                                            ooo

Thursday, April 8, 2004 (early morning)

Max rolled over in bed and stretched. His stomach grumbled. He looked at the clock and
saw that it was only two in the morning. He looked over and Michael was sound asleep
so he quietly got out of bed and padded into the kitchen to get a snack. When he got to
the doorway he saw Horatio sitting at the table, his head resting on his arms. Max walked
around to the side of the table and chuckled to himself when he saw that Horatio was
sleeping. His body had finally given up the fight. He decided to forgo his snack so as not
to disturb him.

He left the kitchen and headed back to bed. But sleep didn’t come easily for him. His
thoughts kept drifting to Tim. He’d offered to help with the search but the others had
convinced him that it would be better if he kept an eye on Horatio, kept him from doing
anything stupid. He’d agreed but against his better judgment and now he was beginning
to feel like it was time for both of them to get out there and do something.

Michael rolled over in his sleep and snuggled up against his arm. He looked down at him.
He couldn’t even begin to imagine what Horatio must be going through or how he was
keeping it together. He just kept thinking that if it were Michael who’d been kidnapped
by some deranged maniac, he’d go ballistic.


                                            133
                                            ooo

Tim was dozing when he heard a loud noise out in the warehouse. He quickly shook
Garrett, who had fallen asleep. “He’s back. Quick, go hide.”

Garrett shook himself awake and scampered off to hide behind the door. Tim heard
Simon walking around outside the room then he heard him yell Garrett’s name. When no
one answered he heard him curse then he heard footsteps coming toward the room.
Simon stopped in the doorway and glared at Tim.

“Where is he?” he hollered. Tim stood his ground and remained silent. “Answer me,”
Simon growled as he stepped into the room.

“I don’t know who you mean,” Tim answered him remaining surprisingly calm.

Simon moved further into the room. “Don’t lie to me. Where’s Garrett?”

Tim didn’t back down. He didn’t know where his sudden burst of courage was coming
from but he just looked Simon in the eyes and said, “Who?”

He could see Garrett silently sneaking up behind Simon so he kept his eyes locked with
Simon’s trying to keep the other man focused on him. Garrett got within striking distance
and swung. Without turning around Simon reached back and grabbed his arm before the
frying pan could connect with his head. He twisted the boy’s arm causing Garrett to cry
out in pain and the frying pan to clatter to the floor then pulled him into a headlock.

He glared at Tim. “Is this the best you could come up with?”

Tim darted forward. “Let him go,” he yelled. But Simon was standing just outside his
reach.

“I’m disappointed Garrett. I had high hopes for you. I thought you were smarter than
this,” Simon said.

He dragged the boy over to the center of the room and pulled his arms up over his head.
He fastened him securely to the cuffs hanging from the ceiling then turned his attention
back to Tim who stood there defiantly. Garrett struggled to free himself but in the end all
he could do was watch helplessly as Simon proceeded to beat Tim unconscious then
storm out of the room and slam the door shut.

Garrett struggled to get free and over to Tim. He pulled at the cuffs until his wrists bled.
As his frustration and his anger rose, he wrapped the chains around his hands and, in a
sudden burst of adrenaline fueled strength, he pulled at the chains and heard a cracking
sound. The bolt that was screwed into the wooden ceiling beam loosened. One more pull
and it was out, the chain landing with a loud clank on the floor. He ran over to Tim and


                                            134
fell to his knees. He placed his hand gently on his chest and realized he was still
breathing.

“Timmy,” he called as he shook him slightly. “Wake up.” Tim moaned but didn’t open
his eyes. “I don’t know what to do,” Garrett said quietly but Tim didn’t regain
consciousness.

                                            ooo

Simon stormed out of the warehouse. He was fuming with anger and so distracted that he
forgot to bolt the outside door. He was no longer in control of the situation and he
realized that he might have just killed Tim in his fit of fury. He knew he needed to calm
himself down before he went back inside so he just walked. He would need to do
something about Garrett. He couldn’t keep him any longer. He’d become a liability.

He kept walking until he noticed that he left the warehouse district and was wandering
through a commercial area that he recognized. He stopped when he saw the familiar
outline of Club Descent a short distance away. He quickly turned and headed back the
way he’d come. From half a block away a man moved in the shadows. He’d recognized
Simon almost immediately and began to follow him.

                                            ooo

Max walked through the front door just as the sun was coming up. Michael had heard his
motorcycle pull into the driveway and met him at the door.

“Where the hell have you been?” he demanded as Max walked in.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I went down to the club for a while.”

“Well you went out without your cell phone. I was worried,” Michael said, a bit calmer.

Max looked down at his partner. The differences between the two men were striking.
Where Max was tall and muscular, Michael was small and thin; he barely came up to
Max’s chin. And for all of his imposing presence, Max tended to be very gentle and soft-
spoken. Whereas Michael had a quick temper.

“I’m sorry,” Max said gently. “I didn’t think. I just needed to get out of the house for a
while.” He leaned in and gave him a quick kiss.

“Did Horatio go with you?” Michael asked.

Max raised an eyebrow. “No, he was asleep when I left.”

They heard the front door open and they both turned to see Horatio walk in. He stopped
and stared at them for a moment. “What?”


                                            135
Both men shook there heads and said, “Nothing,” in unison.

“Where were you?” Max asked.

Horatio shrugged. “Went for a walk. Have you heard anything yet?” But before either of
them could answer Horatio’s cell phone rang. He answered it without looking at the
caller ID. “Yeah,” he said into the receiver.

“Horatio?”

He recognized Jess’ voice and winced as he realized he’d forgotten to call her to tell her
what had happened. “Jess, I meant to call you yesterday.”

“What’s going on? I can’t get a hold of Tim and he hasn’t been to work in a couple of
days.”

“He, um…” he started to say but a sudden surge of emotion took his voice. He handed
the phone over to Max and walked off into the kitchen.

Max watched Horatio sit down at the table in front of all of the papers he’d left there last
night and rest his head in his hands. He returned his attention to the phone.

“Jess, it’s Max.”

“Max, what is going on?” she asked, now slightly panicked.

Max took a seat on the sofa and explained everything to her. Before he hung up he
promised that one of them would call her later hopefully with more information.

                                            ooo

Garrett hadn’t moved from Tim’s side all night. He was scared, more scared than he’d
ever been. Every time he heard a noise he was certain it was Simon coming back. He’d
tried several times to wake Tim up but other than a groan or a moan he didn’t regain
consciousness. Finally as he sat there with one arm resting on Tim’s chest Tim began to
stir. Garrett watched his eyes flutter open and he smiled down at him.

“Timmy,” Garrett said cautiously.

“What happened?” Tim muttered.

He tried to move but pain shot through his body and his face contorted and he collapsed
back onto the mattress. He had only a vauge memory of the beating. The last thing he
remembered clearly was hearing a noise in the warehouse and telling Garrett to go hide.



                                            136
“Where’s Simon?” Tim asked once the pain subsided enough for him to speak.

“I don’t know,” Garrett answered. “He didn’t come back.”

Tim thought that was odd, unless his plan was just to let them die. He looked up at
Garrett, though his vision was still clouded. “Did he hurt you?” he asked.

Garrett looked down at his wrists, still in the cuffs with the chain attached. He held them
up so Tim could see. It took Tim a minute to realize what he was looking at. “You pulled
that out of the ceiling?” Garrett nodded. “Are the doors locked?”

“Yes, I can’t break them.”

Tim took a painful breath. All they could do now was wait.

                                           ooo

The guilt was too much; he couldn’t take it anymore. Horatio sat at the kitchen table with
his head in his hands listening to Max explain to Jess that Tim had been kidnapped, that
they didn’t know where he was, that they had no idea how long it would be before they
found him or if he’d even be alive when they did find him. He could tell from what Max
was saying that Jess must have been crying on the other end of the line. He was having
trouble holding back his own tears. He wasn’t used to sitting back and doing nothing
while his team was out searching. He should be there with them, by their side. He should
be there when they find Tim. His should be the first face he sees, not Calleigh’s or Eric’s
or worse, Stetler’s. He felt a large hand land gently on his back.

“I can’t just sit here anymore, Max,” Horatio said as he stood up and walked toward the
door.

Max followed. He wasn’t going to try to stop him this time. “Here,” he said handing over
Horatio’s cell phone. “Take this.” He glanced back at Michael then over to Horatio again.
“I’m going with you.”

Max didn’t leave any room for argument in his statement and Horatio just nodded. He
went back to the kitchen and grabbed the pictures of Samuel Conner and the boy he was
supposed to have taken. Then he took a photo of Tim that he kept in his wallet. Max
glanced over at him.

“Where do we start?” he asked.

“The last two nurseries are over in the commercial district, by the warehouses and the
club. We start there,” Horatio said as they headed for the door.

                                           ooo



                                           137
As Tim’s mind slowly cleared he tried to assess his physical condition. He had a
screaming headache and was having some trouble breathing, probably cracked ribs. He
couldn’t move his right arm, his shoulder was likely out of joint, and he was fairly certain
that his left ankle was broken. This last bit worried him more than anything. He was lying
flat on his back and he knew if he didn’t get his leg elevated he could develop gangrene
or a blood clot and possibly lose his foot or worse. He also knew that what needed to be
done was going to hurt like hell.

“Garrett?”

The boy came jogging over to him. He’d been trying to find a way out of the room.
“Yes.”

“I um…need you to do me a favor,” Tim said a bit hesitantly.

“What favor?” Garrett asked.

Tim took a breath. “My left leg is broken. It needs to be elevated. Is there anything
around here we can get it up on?”

Garrett gathered up all the pillows and blankets from the mattress and folded them
together. He looked down at Tim. “Is this good?” he asked.

“Yes. Put the pillows down next to my left leg. You’ll have to wrap the blanket around
after my foot is up to stabilize it so it doesn’t move,” he said. Garrett did as he was told.
“Now listen to me carefully, okay?” The boy nodded. “This is going to hurt like hell and
I’m probably going to pass out again.”

Garrett interrupted, “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know, but if you don’t do this I could lose my foot.” Garrett nodded. “There is
something else too. My right shoulder is dislocated. Do you know what that means?”

Garrett’s eyes went wide and he nodded. “My little brother did that once. Papa had to put
it back.”

“Did you see what he did?” Garrett nodded again.

It was an image that had seared itself into his memory. His little brother was only six and
he had fallen from the swing set. He remembered watching as his father popped the joint
back and his little brother screamed and begged for him to stop.

“Do you think you can do that for me? If it’s any help, I think I’ll be unconscious by then
so it won’t hurt me.” Garrett nodded as a tear ran down his cheek. “It’s okay, I won’t be
mad at you. I promise.”



                                            138
Garrett moved down to the end of the mattress but he hesitated. “Please Garrett. I don’t
want to lose my foot. Just do it.”

The boy nodded and reached down taking a hold of the broken leg. Tim cried out in pain
as he felt bone rub against bone then promptly passed out. Garrett propped his leg up on
the pillows and tucked the blankets around to stabilize it. Then he moved to the other side
and took a hold of Tim’s arm. He repeated the same movements he remembered seeing
his father do to his little brother. It was harder than he’d imagined and he had to use all of
his strength, but he finally heard the sickening pop that meant that the joint was back in
place. He gently laid Tim’s arm across his chest and sat back against the wall. He started
rocking and saying, “I’m sorry,” over and over.

                                            ooo

Horatio pulled his car out of the parking lot of the first of the two nurseries. The owners
were not missing any white vans and neither of them recognized any of the pictures. So
he followed the directions to the second nursery and pulled into the lot.

“What do we do if this is a dead end, Horatio?” Max asked.

Horatio sighed. “We start canvassing the area. Get these pictures to as many business
owners as possible. Someone has to have seen something.”

They walked into the small building on the nursery grounds and approached the man
standing behind the counter. “Can I help you?” he asked.

Horatio pulled out the photos. “I hope so. I’m Lieutenant Caine with the Miami-Dade
crime lab. We’re searching for a missing person and I’m hoping you may have some
information.” He showed the man the pictures. “Do you recognize any of these people?”

The man looked at the pictures one by one. He placed the photo of Tim aside, saying that
he didn’t recognize him and did the same with the photo of Garrett. When he got to the
photo of Samuel Conner he stopped and examined it for a bit.

“He looks familiar,” the man said.

Max and Horatio exchanged a glance. “Can you remember from where?”

The man pursed his lips. He thought for a few moments then said, “Yes. He bought one
of our old vans a couple of months ago. I told him it was piece of crap but he said he was
looking for something cheap that he could fix up himself.”

“Did he leave you any sort of information, address, phone number, anything?” Horatio
asked.




                                            139
The man shook his head. “Paid cash and drove it away. Though I do see it driving around
the area sometimes. I think the guy works around here somewhere, one of the warehouses
maybe.”

“When did you see the van last?” Horatio asked.

“A couple days ago. Tuesday, I think.”

The sudden surge of hope Horatio had felt quickly faded. Tuesday was the day Tim was
taken. If the man hadn’t seen the van since then, there was no guarantee that they were
still in the area. But there was a chance and he wasn’t going to give up.

“Thanks,” he said then he turned to Max. “Come on. We need to canvas the warehouse
district.”

As they walked out Max said, “That’s a huge area. We should call Eric and Calleigh for
help.” Horatio hesitated knowing he was ordered to stay away but in the end he knew
Max was right so he pulled out his cell phone and called Eric. Less than half an hour later
there was a team of officers searching the maze of streets that made up the commercial
district looking for the white van.

Horatio and Max searched with Calleigh and one uniformed officer. Eric was with one of
the other teams and Frank with another. Horatio’s cell phone kept ringing but each time
he looked at the caller ID it read “Stetler” so he ignored it. He would deal with the
consequences later. As they rounded yet another corner Horatio spotted something and
called for the driver to stop. Off in the distance, parked in front of a large warehouse
building, was a white van.

The officer radioed to the others that they’d found something. The call came back for
them to wait for back up but Horatio and Max were already out of the car and heading
toward the warehouse. Calleigh caught up to them.

“We should wait for back up,” she said as the other officer joined them.

“No,” Horatio insisted. “There may not be time.”

He took charge of the situation as Lieutenant Caine came to the forefront. He didn’t have
his service weapon but he did have his personal revolver. He pulled it out of its holster
and the other’s followed suit. Slowly, carefully, they approached the building.

                                           ooo

Garrett sat by Tim’s side. It had been several hours since he’d fixed Tim’s arm and leg
but he still hadn’t woken up again. Each hour that passed he was sure that Simon was
going to return. He was sure that when Simon did return something very bad was going
to happen. So when he heard a noise out in the warehouse a few minutes later he started


                                           140
to panic. He ran over to where he’d been forced to drop the frying pan and picked it up.
He went over to the door and stood there with his weapon raised.

He heard footsteps outside then he heard someone yell, "Clear." It wasn’t Simon’s voice.
He heard people talking and decided to take a chance. He yelled.

“Help. We’re in here.”

There was a commotion at the door and he heard someone prying the lock off. He ran
back to Tim to protect him, in case he was wrong. The door sprung open and four people
came running in, three of them with guns drawn.

Horatio scanned the room and his eyes fell on Tim. He ran over and sunk to his knees.
The first thing he did was to place a hand on Tim’s chest. He was relieved to find a strong
heartbeat.

“He’s hurt,” Garrett said quietly.

For the first time Horatio became aware of the boy’s presence. He looked over at him and
recognized him from the missing persons’ photo. “Garrett?” Horatio asked. The boy
nodded. “What happened?”

“He hit Timmy. He hurt him bad. Broke his leg,” Garrett tried to explain.

“Simon?” Horatio asked. Garrett nodded. “Where is Simon?”

Garrett shook his head. “Don’t know. He left, didn’t come back yet.”

Tim began to stir as he heard the voices around him. His eyes fluttered open and his gaze
landed on Horatio.

“Horatio?” he muttered, not sure if he was dreaming or not.

“I’m here. You’re safe now,” Horatio said gently.

“I knew you’d find me,” Tim said groggily. He tried to move but pain shot through his
body and he collapsed back.

“Stay still,” Horatio said. “The paramedics are on their way.”

                                           ooo

Horatio sat in the hospital waiting room with Garrett by his side. Max sat across from
them keeping watch. The boy had been checked out by a doctor, his wrists had been
bandaged where the cuffs had cut him and he’d been given a clean bill of health. He’d
been very reluctant to leave Tim’s side, as had Horatio, but in the end he’d agreed to stay


                                           141
with Horatio and wait. Tim’s leg needed surgery, he had hairline fractures in two of his
ribs and a concussion, but the doctor said that Garrett had done a good job reseating
Tim’s shoulder.

Garrett sat leaning up against Horatio. He felt safe in the older man’s presence. The
doctors had given him a set of scrubs to wear when the CSIs had taken his clothes to be
processed for evidence. Horatio had given him his jacket to wear. He looked up at
Horatio.

“Timmy said you would find us,” he said quietly. “He said you were looking for him.”

Horatio smiled. He had hoped all along that Tim wouldn’t give up and do what ever he
could to stay alive until he found him. He just wished it could have been a bit sooner.

“He saved me,” Garrett said.

“And you saved him,” Horatio answered him. “You kept him safe and alive until I could
get there. Thank you.”

Garrett smiled at him but his expression quickly changed to one of concern. “Is he going
to be okay?”

“The doctors say yes, but it will take some time,” Horatio answered.

“Horatio.” The voice from the doorway got his attention immediately. He was almost
surprised that Stetler hadn’t arrived sooner.

“Rick,” Horatio said in a steady voice. He was waiting for the other man to launch into
him about not following orders.

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” He glanced at Garrett then to Max and added, “Alone.”

Garrett took hold of Horatio’s arm not wanting him to leave. “It’s okay. I’ll be right over
there. I promise I won’t leave your sight.” Garrett reluctantly let him go and he walked
over to Stetler. “Do we have to do this now, Rick?”

“We’ll deal with the whole you not following orders thing later. That’s not why I’m
here.” Horatio cocked his head. “There’s an agent from Child Protective Services here for
Garrett. His parents are flying in from Georgia this afternoon.”

“No,” Horatio said plainly.

“What do you mean, no?” Rick questioned.

“I mean no, your not taking him now.” Rick was about to protest when Horatio
continued. “Look, he’s been through enough already. He barely understands what’s going


                                           142
on. He and Tim bonded back in that warehouse and you are not taking him until he has a
chance to see that Tim’s okay. Do you understand?”

Rick looked over at the boy who was sitting in his chair gently rocking back and forth.
He looked back at Horatio. “What do I tell CPS?” Rick asked realizing it was pointless to
argue.

“If the agent wants to wait here with us she’s welcome to do so. But he’s perfectly safe
with me. She can bring his parents here when they arrive. If she doesn’t like it she can
deal with me,” Horatio said leaving no room for argument.

Rick smirked. He would love to see that confrontation. He nodded and stepped out into
the hallway. Horatio went back and took his seat next to Garrett. The boy took a hold of
his arm again and rested his head on his shoulder.

“I don’t like him,” he whispered to Horatio.

Horatio smirked. “You’re not alone,” he said.

                                           ooo

The doctors moved Tim to a private room after the surgery. He was lucky that the
fracture was clean and they were able to pin the bone from the inside. Horatio, Garrett
and Max sat by his bedside. Horatio never took his eyes off of him. Tim’s leg was in a
cast from his knee down and elevated. His chest was taped to protect his fractured ribs,
his right arm was immobilized and he had a bandage on his forehead. He had bruises over
most of his body and his right eye was still swollen shut. But he was alive and he would
recover and for that Horatio was thankful.

Garrett stuck close to Horatio. He was a little afraid of Max who towered over him like a
giant. The CPS agent, after a quick welfare check, had agreed to leave the boy in
Horatio’s custody until his parents arrived. As they waited Horatio noticed Garrett staring
over at Max. He and Max exchanged a glance.

He looked down at Garrett. “You know, he won’t bite.” Garrett looked up at Horatio
obviously not completely convinced. “He’s one of Tim’s closest friends,” Horatio said.
“And he drives a really cool motorcycle.” This got Garrett’s attention.

“Really,” he whispered. Horatio nodded. Garrett turned his attention to Max. “What kind
of motorcycle?”

Max smirked. The bike always won over the kids. “A Harley. Maybe I can take y'for a
ride one day,” Max offered.

Garrett immediately perked up upon hearing that. “Yes. Please,” he said.



                                           143
From the bed they heard, “No fucking way he’s getting on a bike with you. You drive
like a maniac.”

They all turned their attention to the bed’s occupant. Horatio was immediately at his side
and took Tim’s hand in his as he sat on the side of the bed. “How are you feeling?” he
asked, not taking his eyes off of him.

“Like I’ve been run over by a truck, more than once,” Tim answered keeping his eyes
locked on Horatio.

They stared at each other for a few moments before Horatio said quietly, “I was afraid I
would never see you again.”

Tim lifted his left hand and brushed Horatio’s cheek. “I never doubted you’d find me,” he
said.

Horatio took his hand. He reached into his pocket and pulled out Tim’s ring. He carefully
slipped it onto his ring finger. “I kept this safe for you,” he said.

He leaned in close but just as he was about to touch his lips to Tim’s he heard giggling
behind him. He stopped. “You’re going to kiss Timmy,” Garrett said with a giggle.

Horatio glanced back and said, “You know what Garrett? You’re right.” Then he closed
the remaining distance and placed a kiss on Tim’s lips. Tim reached up and placed his
hand at the back of Horatio’s head, holding him in place.

Garrett giggled again and hid his eyes. Max leaned over to him and said, “Why don’t you
and I go for a walk and leave these two alone for a while?”

                                           ooo

Epilog

After the euphoria of being rescued and seeing Horatio again had worn off, Tim became
sullen and withdrawn. His mood lasted for several days until finally Horatio was able to
get him to talk. He was still in the hospital and would be for a while, as his leg needed
monitoring and time to heal and because of the fact that he wouldn’t be able to walk on
crutches because of his shoulder. Horatio had gotten used to Tim’s mood swings and
knew that all he really had to do was wait him out and he’d eventually open up. But the
doctors got worried when he stopped eating so Horatio decided it was time to prod him
for information.

He started out by telling him about the investigation and everything that happened while
he was gone. It ended late one night with Horatio lying in the hospital bed with Tim in
his arms as he confessed, through his tears, everything that had happened to him while he
was Simon’s captive. He even told Horatio about the emails he’d been receiving in the


                                           144
months before the kidnapping. He was sure that Horatio wouldn’t want anything to do
with him when he found out that he’d lied to him about the emails, but Horatio just held
him and told him that everything would be all right.

Garrett’s parents and brother arrived in Miami and were reunited with their oldest son.
They had agreed to stay for a while until Garrett felt comfortable leaving Tim. Horatio
took care of paying for a hotel suite and they visited the hospital regularly. Seeing Garrett
with his family again helped to pull Tim out of his sullen mood though they were all still
worried over the fact that Simon had, once again, managed to slip away. He hadn’t been
seen or heard from. There weren’t any emails and he’d left all of his things back at the
warehouse. He simply seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth.

Horatio knew that this situation would make it that much harder for Tim to return to a
normal life after he physically recovered from his injuries. When he finally was able to
go home, Horatio insisted on only one thing; Tim needed to go for counseling. He gave
him the number of a therapist whom he’d worked with before. Tim didn’t argue. He’d
reached the point where he knew he needed to talk to someone besides Horatio. Over the
course of several months, life settled back into a routine for the couple. But one question
still hung over them. Where was Simon?




                                            145
Chapter 3: Accused

Monday, July 12, 2004
Darkness. That was his world now. He hadn’t seen the light of day in… well he didn’t
have any idea anymore how long it had been. His tormentor had kept him in complete
and total darkness. In the beginning he’d wondered how he’d managed it, not even one
pinprick of light in the room. At least he had assumed it was a room. He could feel a
floor beneath him, definitely not stone or dirt. In the beginning he’d tried to figure out
his surroundings but he was quickly and painfully prevented from exploring any further
and soon the darkness had consumed him.

Light was painful to him now. He had so adapted himself to the darkness that he was
certain his eyes no longer worked. The only light he was granted was when his captor
entered or left the room. But that light blinded him, a bright white flash that caused a
searing pain at the back of his skull, even when he’d learned to keep his eyes closed.
Afterward he would see spots until the darkness returned. The brief flashes of light never
once revealed the face of his captor only a vague outline.

He had realized in the beginning that his captor must have been wearing some type of
night vision goggles, as he seemed to be able to navigate the darkened room and carry out
his torturous acts without faltering. He had no idea who this man was but to be able to
overpower him was no small feet so he had believed the man to be military trained,
probably Marines. But after so long in captivity, his strength was completely sapped and
whatever modicum of sanity he possessed when he’d stormed out of the warehouse that
morning so long ago was gone.

His body had been ravaged. He’d been given only enough food and water to keep him
alive. He’d been beaten, whipped, raped, and kept naked in total darkness. The man he
used to be, he was no longer. Simon Cole was dead. All that remained was a shell whose
heart still beat, whose body still functioned to an extent, but whose mind was completely
gone.

He heard a noise and immediately plastered his hands over his face but it did little good.
The bright light streamed into the room and Simon screamed as the sharp pain bit into his
eyes. He heard a chuckle as his captor walked toward him. The pain didn’t fade and he
couldn’t figure why. The darkness always returned quickly, but this time his captor had
left the door open and Simon curled into himself trying desperately to get away from the
light. He felt a boot land on his side and push him over onto his back then press down
crushing his ribcage.

“It’s time to end this,” his captor said.

This was the first time the man had spoken to him and somewhere in the back of what
was left of Simon’s shattered mind he thought he recognized the voice. But his
recognition came too late. As the weight on his ribcage grew heavier and heavier he



                                            146
heard and felt bones snap. He screamed in pain just before losing consciousness for the
last time.

                                            ooo

Sunday, October 10, 2004 (Three months later)
Tim awoke with a start as a loud clap of thunder sounded outside. He could hear the rain
beating down on the roof of the house and he could feel the ache in his leg. The bone had
healed but he was told that it would never be a hundred percent again. The break had
been too bad and he would probably always have a barometer in his leg. And true to the
doctor’s predictions, every time it rained he could feel his leg throb.

He glanced over at the clock and saw that it was still early. He slipped out of bed and
limped into the bathroom to down some aspirin then returned to bed and snuggled in next
to Horatio. The redhead’s eyes fluttered open.

“You ok?” he asked groggily.

“Yeah,” Tim replied. “Leg hurts. I just took some aspirin.” He snuggled in closer. “Go
back to sleep. It’s still early.”

Horatio pulled him in closer and kissed his temple. Tim rested his head on his lover’s
shoulder and tried to go back to sleep. After a short while he heard Horatio snoring
lightly again. He lay there for a few minutes longer before giving up on getting back to
sleep. He carefully removed Horatio’s arm from around his waist and slipped out of bed.

He hesitated for a moment at the top of the stairs glancing around the living room before
heading down. There were still a lot of things he was working out with his therapist since
he’d been rescued six months earlier. One of those things was a sometimes-
overwhelming fear of being alone in the house. He always kept the security system
turned on and he’d made Horatio put up a set of vertical blinds over the sliding glass
doors in the kitchen. He still loved being outside but he preferred to have Horatio or Max
with him.

He made his way down the stairs and into the kitchen. He could see through the blinds
that the sun wasn’t up yet but it would be soon and the rain had stopped. He started a pot
of coffee then sat down at the kitchen table to wait for it to brew. He stared at the blinds
covering the glass doors. He wanted to go outside and watch the sunrise. He
remembered how much he used to love to do that. But each time he thought about going
out onto the beach alone, fear flooded over him.

Horatio inhaled deeply as he rolled over in bed. The smell of coffee filled his senses. He
instinctively reached for Tim but was met by an empty space on the bed. He sat up and
looked around. Once his sleep filled mind had cleared he realized that Tim must have
gone downstairs to make coffee. It was still early but he decided to get up and join him.



                                            147
Tim heard footsteps descending the stairs. He turned and smiled as Horatio walked into
the kitchen. The redhead leaned down and gave him a kiss.

“You’re up early,” he said.

“I couldn’t get back to sleep,” Tim replied with a shrug.

Horatio stood at the counter. “You want some coffee? It’s done.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Tim said.

Horatio poured two cups and placed one on the table. “You mind if I open the blinds?”
he asked. Tim shook his head. “It looks like the rain stopped. Feel like sitting out on the
deck?”

There was a time when Horatio wouldn’t have had to ask him that. He would have
simply found him out there when he came downstairs. It still pained him that the one
thing Tim used to enjoy more than almost anything else now caused him so much
anxiety. But he also knew that it would take time for Tim to get past his fears, especially
with Simon still out there. At least he knew his lover could still enjoy the outside as long
as he wasn’t alone. He opened the door and held out his hand.

“Come on. The sun’s coming up.”

Tim took his hand and allowed Horatio to lead him outside and over to one of the lounge
chairs. He pulled the cover off the chair and sat down pulling Tim with him to sit
between his legs. Tim rested his back against Horatio’s chest and together they watched
the sunrise.

                                            ooo

Eric Delko and Ryan Wolfe stood in front of the car that had just been dredged up by the
divers. The body in the trunk was in pretty bad shape. Eric glanced over at the newer
CSI and noticed he looked a bit green. He smirked.

“Your first floater?” he asked.

Wolfe nodded and wrinkled his nose. “Yeah,” he choked out.

Eric snickered. “Well, if you’re gonna puke, go over there,” he said pointing away from
the body. “Don’t want to contaminate the scene.”

Ryan glared at him for a moment. “I’m fine,” he said. He was getting a little tired of
always being teased about being the new guy. He might be a new CSI but he’d been a
patrol officer for years. He wasn’t green. “Come on, let’s get to work,” he said trying to
sound confident.


                                            148
“Don’t touch the body,” Eric warned him.

Ryan pursed his lips. “Yeah, Delko, I know not to touch the body ‘til the coroner gets
here. I wish you guys would stop treating me like I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Eric sighed. “That’s not what I meant. He’s been under water for what looks like a long
time. The body is full of bacteria and bloated. One wrong move and…”

“Pop,” Alexx chimed in from behind the two men.

“Ugh. You mean he could just…”

“Blow like an over filled balloon. Yeah,” Eric said.

“Great, so, what do we do?” Ryan asked.

“You stand back,” Alexx said as she approached the body with a large needle. “While I
try to let the air out slowly.”

Both men stood back while Alexx drained the fluid and air from the body. Ryan glanced
around the area then asked, “Where’s Horatio?”

“He’s got a few days off,” Eric answered.

“Must be nice,” Ryan said.

“Perks of being the boss,” Eric replied.

He didn’t say anything about his boss spending a couple of days with Tim because it was
their one year anniversary and Tim had taken off and didn’t like to be home alone, or for
that matter, why he didn’t like to be home alone. Ryan was too new to the team and
other than the light gossip that still floated around the precinct at times, Eric didn’t know
just how much Ryan actually knew about Horatio and Tim.

                                            ooo

Horatio placed his empty coffee cup down on the deck and wrapped his arms around his
lover. The sun had come up and the clouds had cleared out. He leaned in and nibbled at
Tim’s ear.

“So what do you feel like doing today?” he asked between nibbles.

Tim leaned back and tilted his head giving Horatio better access. “This is good,” he
muttered. “Just sit here all day.”



                                            149
Horatio chuckled into his neck and nipped at his ear one last time. “I have an idea.
Seeing as how it’s almost our first anniversary, how about you take me for a ride on your
bike. We could go back to the spot we went a year ago, have a picnic. It looks like it’s
going to be a nice day.”

Tim turned and curled into Horatio’s embrace. “You want to recreate a moment?” he
asked as he nuzzled Horatio’s neck.

“Something like that,” Horatio breathed.

Tim smirked and ran his tongue up Horatio’s neck. “I can think of a couple of moments
I’d like to recreate.”

He leaned up and captured Horatio’s mouth for a slow kiss. It was times like these when
Tim could forget about everything and just let himself enjoy the moment. He ran his
tongue over every surface of the redhead’s mouth pulling soft moans from him. When
they finally pulled apart they were both breathless. They rested their foreheads together
for a moment while they got their breath back.

Horatio cleared his throat then said, “How about it? Wanna take me for a ride?”

Tim chuckled. “We don’t need the bike for that,” he said with a slight leer.

Horatio grinned. “Come on. It’ll be fun. It’s not often that we actually get to take time
off, without something being wrong.”

“You know I can’t say no to you,” Tim said as he stood up and held out his hand. He
pulled Horatio to his feet and into his arms. “I haven’t been back there since that
afternoon a year ago.”

“I know. That’s why I thought it might be fun to do again.”

                                           ooo

Ryan stood in front of the open trunk looking in on the body and said, “He’s naked.”
Eric glanced at him. “Ok, I suppose I’m just wondering why he’s naked,” he added at
Delko’s look.

“Well I guess that’s just part of the mystery we have to solve,” Eric said. “I’m going to
go check out the front of the car, now that we know that this guy’s not going to blow.”

Ryan grimaced at Eric’s remark as Eric opened the front driver’s side door. There wasn’t
much to see on the surface of things so he walked around to the other side of the car and
opened the glove box. After the water drained he pulled out a stack of papers and placed
them on the roof of the car. He flipped through them carefully finding the car’s
registration and insurance information and a couple of fast food menus. At the bottom of


                                           150
the pile of papers he found something he didn’t expect. He held it up and examined it
carefully.

Ryan walked over to him. “What did you find?” he asked. Eric held up a small card.
Ryan looked at it carefully. “Club Descent? Is that supposed to mean something?” He
stared at the card in Eric’s hand. He thought he knew all of the clubs in the city but the
name was not familiar to him. “I’ve never heard of that club. Do you think it has
something to do with this case?”

Eric glanced at him. “I hope not but we’ll have to check it out.” He paused for a moment
then added, “Once we have more information.” There was no need to involve Max if this
was just a coincidence, he thought.

Ryan wondered what he meant by ‘I hope not’ but he didn’t ask. “What about the rest of
the paperwork?” Ryan asked.

“Too much water damage. I can’t make out the name or address. We can run the plates
and the VIN when we get back. The car’s probably stolen, otherwise my guess is the
plates, at least, would be gone.”

“Or we have a very stupid perp,” Ryan added.

“That’s always a possibility. And it would make our jobs so much easier,” Eric said with
a chuckle.

They stepped back to the trunk where Alexx was about to remove the body. “Be
careful,” she said to the haulers. “There isn’t much holdin’ this boy together.”

The haulers carefully lifted the body out of the trunk and laid it out on the body bag that
sat on the gurney. Eric gave their victim a quick once over and noticed a marking on his
upper right arm. He pointed it out to Alexx.

“Hey, Alexx. You think this could be a tattoo?” he asked.

Alexx leaned in close and examined the area. “Maybe. I’ll have to see just what shape
this boy’s in when I get him back for the post. I'll see if I can raise it.”

While Alexx wheeled the body off to the coroner’s van, Eric and Ryan started examining
the trunk. The body had been wrapped in some type of black cloth. After photographing
the trunk’s contents, Eric reached in and pulled out the cloth. It was much heavier than
he’d expected. He laid it out on a tarp on the ground.

“That’s weird,” Eric muttered.

“What?”



                                           151
“It seems to be some sort of thick, black wool.”

Ryan crouched down and examined the fabric. “You know, I think I’ve seen this stuff
before.” He looked up at Eric. “My grandparents had some fabric like this. It’s left over
from World War II. They made blackout curtains from it.”

Eric wrinkled his brow. “I wonder where you’d get it now-a-days?”

“You wouldn’t. They don’t make it anymore. There are more effective materials that are
made now that are cheaper and easier to deal with,” Ryan answered. “The only way to
get this now is from someone who collects war memorabilia, like I do, or you can still
buy it at some thrift shops or places that specialize in old war stuff.”

“You have some of this stuff?” Eric asked.

Ryan nodded. “When my grandfather died he left me all his World War II stuff. I have
crates of it in my apartment. I know I have a few of these black out curtains in amongst it
all.”

“Any chance I can see it? This stuff is soaked through and stretched out. I’d like to see
some of the original for comparison.”

“Sure, no problem,” Ryan said.

                                              ooo

“So, how’s the new guy working out?” Tim asked as they made lunch and packed the
cooler.

“Mr. Wolfe? Ok, I guess. He hasn’t been around long enough for me to really tell yet,”
Horatio replied. “But thanks for suggesting him. He’s having a little trouble fitting in
but I’m sure he’ll settle eventually.”

“He was a good student, a little awkward socially, but he’s smart. Just give him some
time,” Tim said.

Horatio smiled. “No more talk about work. You ready?”

“Yeah, just give me a minute,” he said.

Horatio waited patiently. Tim had developed a routine to make sure the house was
locked up before he went anywhere. He checked the back doors then all of the windows.
He walked back into the living room and saw Horatio waiting for him. He paused for a
moment looking sheepish.

“It’s silly isn’t it?” he asked, a bit embarrassed.


                                              152
Horatio shook his head. “No it’s not. Anything that makes you feel safer is not silly.”

Tim moved in and gave him a kiss. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Now, let’s get going.”

As they walked out the front door a noise at the side of the house caught their attention.
There was a rustling in the bushes and it caused Tim to freeze up. Horatio put a hand on
his shoulder and moved him back toward the door. As he leaned over the railing to see
what was making the noise, a cat darted out of the bush and into the neighbor’s yard.
Horatio closed his eyes and let out a breath. He turned back to Tim.

“Just the neighbor’s cat,” he said. But Tim was still frozen in place. Horatio stood in
front of him and placed his hands on Tim’s shoulders. “It’s ok. You can relax. Just take
a deep breath.” He reached over and took the cooler as Tim began to relax. When he
saw Tim’s eyes focus again he asked, “Ok?”

“Let’s get the fuck outa here,” Tim mumbled.

Horatio sighed and followed him to the garage.

                                            ooo

Ryan walked into the lab’s garage and found Eric leaning over the trunk of the car they
had found in the lake. “I thought you were going to the post?” he asked.

“Alexx will page me when she’s ready. She has two other’s before us.” Seeing the look
on the other man’s face he added, “You have to be patient, Wolfe. The guy’s probably
been in this trunk for a couple of months at least based on decomp. A few more hours
isn’t going to make a big difference.”

“Well, shouldn’t we at least check out this club? Maybe we can find some witnesses or
something.”

“In time. We don’t want to go off half-cocked. Like it or not, digging around in a
smelly, wet, nasty car trunk is as much a part of this job as going out and interviewing
witnesses. Now suit up and gimme a hand.”

                                            ooo

Tim pulled the bike into the park and up to the old tree where they’d had their first picnic
a year ago. Horatio hopped off the bike and looked around. Even after a year the place
looked the same, a small clearing surrounded by woods with a path leading to the road.
He turned to Tim.



                                            153
“It’s still as beautiful as ever,” he said.

Tim smiled and nodded but didn’t say anything. He pulled a blanket out from one of the
saddlebags and spread it under the tree. They had come with a more elaborate lunch this
time including a small bottle of wine. Horatio pulled two glasses from the cooler and
poured the wine.

Tim hesitated before taking the glass. “Just one. I still have to get us home in one
piece,” he said.

Horatio held his glass up. “To one year together, and many more to follow,” he said.

“Many more uneventful, completely boring years to follow,” Tim added.

Horatio chuckled. “Amen to that,” he said as they clinked their glasses.

Tim took a sip of his wine then placed the glass aside on the ground. He stretched out on
his back resting his head on Horatio’s leg and closed his eyes as a slight breeze blew by.
Horatio could tell he was comfortable here. This wasn’t a place where he perceived any
threats. He set his glass on the ground and watched his lover as he lazily ran his fingers
over his chest. Tim sighed.

They remained like that for a while enjoying the peace and quiet, the birds chirping, and
just being with each other. Tim opened his eyes and stared up at Horatio. The redhead
seemed to have a far a way look in his eyes. Tim reached up and brushed Horatio’s
cheek.

“Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked.

Horatio shrugged. “Just thinking,” he said.

“About what?” Tim asked.

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve just been thinking lately that, maybe, it’s time to
move.”

Tim sat up facing Horatio. “Move? But you’ve had that house for ten years.”

“That’s exactly my point. It’s my house. I want to live in our house. I want a place that
is as much yours as mine,” Horatio said.

Tim cast his eyes downward for a moment. “And a place that won’t be a constant
reminder of what happened to me,” he said quietly. “I don’t want you to give up your
house because of me, Horatio.”




                                              154
Horatio reached over and cupped his cheek. “I won’t deny that that’s part of it. I don’t
like seeing you so upset and anxious all of the time. But it’s just a house. I have no
particular attachment to it. Besides, it’s kind of small. I never expected that I would find
someone to share it with.” He could see that Tim wasn’t so convinced. “Just think about
it. We could have some fun house hunting.”

Despite himself, Tim smiled. “A bigger kitchen might be nice,” he said.

“And we can stay near the beach if you like,” Horatio added.

Tim smiled and leaned in close to Horatio. He whispered, “I love you,” against the
redhead’s lips.

“Love you, too,” Horatio said and closed the distance.

Before he realized what was happening Horatio was on his back on the blanket with Tim
lying on top of him. “Just how secluded is this place?” Horatio asked.

Tim grinned. “I’ve never seen another soul here in five years,” he replied.

Horatio matched his smirk and in one swift move flipped them over so he was lying on
top. He descended on Tim’s mouth then worked his way down his neck and over to his
ear. Tim moaned as Horatio nibbled at his earlobe.

“Did you bring supplies?” Tim breathed.

“Always prepared,” Horatio murmured back then he reached over to the bag he’d
dropped on the ground near the blanket and fished around. When he pulled his hand out
he had a bottle of lube and a condom packet.

Tim smiled up at him. “Boy Scout.”

Horatio just laughed. He sat back on Tim’s legs and began unbuttoning his shirt. He
pulled it off then reached for the hem of Tim’s t-shirt. The rest of their clothes followed
in quick order. He leaned down and ran his tongue over one of Tim’s nipples then began
working his way down his chest and abdomen kissing and nipping at his heated skin.

He stopped momentarily when he reached his lover’s hard, leaking cock then he leaned in
and ran his tongue around the tip. Tim moaned loudly and arched his hips. He knew he
was right on the edge so he reached down and pulled at Horatio’s shoulders.

“Want you… with me,” he choked out.

Horatio quickly readied himself then raised Tim’s legs. “Ready?” he asked.

“Please,” Tim begged.


                                            155
It had taken several months after Tim was rescued for Horatio to become comfortable
topping him again. He was always afraid he was going to hurt him. Slowly he sunk
himself into Tim’s body until he was completely buried. Tim threw his head back and
reveled in the sensation before pushing his hips up urging Horatio to move.

He slowly pulled out then slipped back in as the warm breeze blew over their naked
bodies. It didn’t take long before they were both seeing stars. Tim fell first calling out
Horatio’s name. Horatio followed after a couple more thrusts. They lay together for a
few minutes as they caught their breath and got their bodies back under control.

“This is how things should be,” Tim said.

Horatio smiled. “Let’s hope for peace and quiet for a while. I think we could both use
it.”

“And naked picnics in the park,” Tim joked.

Horatio laughed out loud. “Definitely,” he agreed.

                                             ooo

Eric walked into the autopsy room after receiving a page from Alexx. “What have you
got for me, Alexx?” he asked.

“I just got started, Eric. But I thought you should see this.”

She held up an x-ray for him to look at. He stared at it for a moment then took it from
her and clipped it into the light box. He looked back at Alexx.

“Is this post mortem?” he asked.

Alexx shook her head. “There’s evidence of clotting around the breaks but no healing. It
must have occurred just before he died.”

Eric looked at her. “Every one of his ribs is broken. It looks like his chest was crushed.”

“There’s more,” Alexx said. She pulled out two more x-rays. “His left foot was broken
and never healed properly and there’s a fracture of his right ulna that was in the process
of healing.” Eric took a close look at the x-rays. “Also, it’s not conclusive yet until I run
some tests, but there doesn’t seem to be any body fat. It could just be a product of the
decomposition but this boy appears to have been skin and bones when he died.”

“There isn’t much left of him, Alexx. How can you tell?”




                                             156
“Bone density, chemical analysis. It will take a few hours. But my best guess, this boy
was starved and tortured.”

“Is there anything we can use to ID him?” Eric asked. “There isn’t enough of his face
for a visual ID and his hands are too decomposed for fingerprints. Can we get a tooth?”

“Already done,” Alex said and handed over a small jar containing one molar. “His teeth
were in pretty bad shape too. Another sign of malnutrition.”

“Thanks, Alexx. I’ll get this over to DNA. Let me know if you find anything else,” he
said on his way out the door.

                                          ooo

Tim was lying on the blanket resting his head in Horatio’s lap. The remains of their
lunch sat nearby. Horatio smiled down at him. He looked relaxed and happy. He
regretted the fact that they would have to go home soon. He ran his fingers down Tim’s
arm.

“Hey,” he said. Tim opened his eyes. “It’s getting late. We should think about getting
back.”

Tim rolled to his side and snuggled back into Horatio’s lap. “Don’t want to,” he whined.

Horatio chuckled and rested his arm on Tim’s side. “Hmm. Well, we can’t sleep here
tonight.”

Tim sighed and sat up. He leaned up against Horatio and laid his head on his shoulder.
“I know. It’s just so peaceful here.”

Horatio could sympathize with him. He knew his partner’s anxiety would return as soon
as they got home. He wrapped his arms around the younger man and gave him a hug.

“How ‘bout we stop and grab a copy of the real estate listings on the way home. We can
start looking for a new house?” Horatio suggested.

Tim pulled back and looked him in the eyes. “You really want to do this?” Horatio
nodded. Tim smiled. “Ok, let’s get going then.”

                                          ooo

“Tomorrow’s the best I can do right now, Delko,” Valera said. “I have three priority
cases ahead of you. You’re next in line after them. I promise.”

“Thanks,” he said and walked out. He ran into Ryan on his way back to the trace lab.
“Won’t have DNA ‘til tomorrow,” he sighed.


                                          157
“Well, I’ve got the report from auto theft,” Ryan said handing a file over to Eric.

As Eric read the file his heart sank. The car had been stolen from the parking lot of Club
Descent approximately three months ago. Max had been the one to make the report.
This meant that once again he would need to involve Horatio’s friend in an investigation.
He debated with himself whether he should call Horatio but decided against it. Since he
knew why Horatio was taking time off, he decided to go to Calleigh first.

“We should go to this club,” Ryan insisted.

“We will but I’d rather wait until tomorrow when we have the DNA. It would help if we
knew who our victim is before we jump in and start questioning people. Let’s go talk to
Calleigh. She’s in charge while Horatio’s on vacation.”

They found Calleigh in the ballistics lab. “Hey guys,” she said with a smile. But at the
look on Delko’s face she added, “What’s wrong?”

He brought her up to speed on the case then handed her the auto theft report. “Have you
called Max yet?” she asked.

“Not yet. I was hoping to wait until tomorrow when we have the DNA and hopefully an
ID on the victim. I don’t need to go in there again and ask him if anyone is missing.
Twice in one year is enough,” he said.

“I agree,” she said. “It may just be a coincidence.” After a moment she asked, “You
didn’t bother Horatio with this, did you?”

Ryan answered, “No. Delko wanted to bring it to you first.”

“Good,” she said. “No need to interrupt his anniversary. Not so soon after…”

Eric shot her a look and she stopped. Ryan didn’t know about Horatio and Tim or their
past yet and Horatio had asked them to keep it that way for the time being, at least until
he’d had a chance to feel the new CSI out a bit.

Ryan looked back and forth between the two. He knew there were things they weren’t
telling him. Obviously they knew about the club and had had dealings with it before. He
also had no idea that Horatio was off because of an anniversary. Or for that matter that
he had a wife to have an anniversary with. He kept wondering how long it would take
before people around the lab started trusting him.

                                            ooo

Tim pulled up to a stoplight at the edge of town. He turned back to Horatio and asked,
“You feel like grabbing dinner at the club?”


                                            158
Horatio smiled. He wasn’t really hungry but he could tell that Tim didn’t really want to
go home just yet so he agreed. “Sure,” he said.

A short while later they pulled into the parking lot of Club Descent. The sun had just
gone down and there was a cool breeze blowing. Tim took Horatio’s hand as they
walked across the parking lot. The pounding beat of the music hit them as they walked
through the door. Max caught sight of them as they walked over to the bar.

“Hey, guys,” he said. “What are y'doin’ here tonight?” he asked. It wasn’t their usual
night.

“Just out for the day. Thought we’d stop by for dinner,” Tim said. He returned a couple
of waves from the dance floor as he spoke.

“I’ll clear'ya a table,” Max said and signaled to one of the waiters.

Tim was staring out at the crowd of men dancing. “Go ahead,” Horatio said. “I’ll come
get you when the table’s ready.”

Tim leaned in and gave him a kiss. “Thanks,” he said as he headed over to his friends on
the dance floor.

Max pushed a beer across the counter to Horatio who grabbed it and took a pull.
“Everything ok, Horatio?” Max asked.

The redhead sighed. “I think he doesn’t want to go home. We spent the day up north, a
secluded little spot we went to a year ago.”

“Had a good time I take it,” Max said with a smirk. One side of Horatio’s mouth quirked
up and Max saw a slight blush form on his neck. He chuckled. “Never figured'ya fer
the… outdoors type.”

Horatio cleared his throat. “It was a very secluded spot,” he said and took another pull on
his beer.

Max laughed and they watched Tim out on the dance floor for a few moments. Once
again in his element he looked relaxed and happy. “How’s he been doing?” Max asked.

Horatio shrugged. “About the same. I need to get him out of that house though. We’re
going to start looking for a new place.”

Max was surprised. “Yer gonna move?” he asked.

Horatio nodded. “He’s never going to be himself again in that house. There are just too
many reminders of what happened there. He froze up on me this morning when we were


                                            159
walking out the door. We heard a noise in the bushes. It was just the neighbor’s cat,
but…” Horatio shook his head.

“Well I gotta couple a friends who are real estate agents. If y'want me to hook y'up let
me know.”

“Thanks. I might just take you up on that, Max.”

                                            ooo

Eric walked into the trace lab and found Ryan bent over a microscope. He stood in the
doorway for a moment watching him. Their newest colleague was a bit obsessive about
his work, not to mention a little impatient. Those weren’t necessarily bad qualities for a
CSI but at the moment they needed to proceed carefully, even if he couldn’t tell the other
man why just yet. He walked up to the table.

“Hey, Wolfe.” Ryan looked up from what he was doing. “Go home,” he said. “This will
still be here in the morning. Go get some rest.”

“I don’t like leaving things unfinished,” he said.

Eric remembered him mentioning his OCD on several occasions but he didn’t quite
realize what it meant. “We’re not going to solve this one in a day. Go home and sleep.
We can come back and start fresh in the morning.” He saw that Ryan was about to
protest so he added, “I can get Calleigh to make that an order if I have to.”

Ryan sighed and finally gave in. He was tired and he knew he probably wasn’t working
at his best at the moment. He just really wanted to do whatever he needed to do to prove
to the others he had what it took to be a good CSI.

                                            ooo

Horatio looked at his watch. It was getting late and he was getting tired. He walked over
to Tim who was talking with Max near the bar. He stepped up behind his lover and
slipped his arms around his waist. Tim leaned back into Horatio’s embrace.

“It’s getting late, babe. We should get home,” he said.

Tim rested his head back on Horatio’s shoulder and sighed. “I guess you’re right,” he
said reluctantly.

“I’ll walk out with'ya,” Max said.

He’d gotten into the habit of walking them out to their car when they were at the club.
He really didn’t expect to see Simon back there again but it made him feel better to see



                                            160
them off himself. They said their goodbyes and Max watched them ride off down the
road.

They arrived home and Tim pulled his bike into the garage. They walked side by side up
the path until Horatio notice Tim’s pace slow. He reached over and took his hand. They
hadn’t thought to leave the lights on so the yard and the house were dark. Horatio could
feel Tim’s anxiety as they approached the house. He gave his hand a squeeze as they
stepped up onto the porch.

Horatio unlocked and opened the front door. He reached in and flipped the light switch
then disarmed the security system and closed the door. He did all of this with one hand
as Tim had a vice grip on his other hand. Horatio could feel him trembling as they
walked in. Horatio had become accustom to the routine for re-entering the house after
dark. He checked behind the stairs then looked in the study and downstairs bathroom.
He went into the kitchen and tuned on the light. All of this was necessary before Tim
could let himself relax. Finally, after all the checks were done, Tim released Horatio’s
hand and turned away. Horatio reached out and spun him back around but Tim wouldn’t
meet his eyes. Horatio pulled him into a hug. Tim wrapped his arms around him and
held on.

“I can’t live like this anymore,” he said softly.

                                             ooo

Monday, October 11, 2004
Eric pulled his phone out of his pocket and read the screen. “It’s a 911 page from DNA,”
he said to Ryan who was working next to him.

“911?” Ryan asked. “What could…”

But Eric was already out the door. Ryan jogged after him. They walked into the DNA
lab and caught Valera’s attention.

“What’s the emergency?” Eric asked.

Valera didn’t say anything. She simply handed him a sheet of paper and turned her
computer screen to face him. Eric looked at the paper then at the screen then back at
Valera.

“This is a mistake. It has to be.”

“Triple checked it. At first I thought there was some kind of contamination seeing as
how I had just sorted the evidence from the old case for storage. Then I thought it was a
computer glitch,” she explained. “But it’s not a mistake.”




                                             161
“Have you told anyone else about this yet?” he asked. She shook her head. “Good.
Don’t. At least for the time being,” he added then turned and left the room.

Ryan stared at the computer screen. “Who is Simon Cole?” he asked.

“Better ask Delko,” Valera answered.

Ryan darted out of the DNA lab and caught up with Delko. “What’s going on? Who is
this guy?”

Eric thought for a moment before answering. If Ryan didn’t recognize the name than he
knew much less than Eric had suspected. “Where did you work patrol before you came
here?” Eric asked him.

“Brevard County up north. I transferred to Miami when I started at the University about
four months ago.”

Eric nodded. He still found it hard to believe that he hadn’t heard anything about what
had happened. “How much do you know about Horatio?”

“Personally or professionally?” Ryan asked.

“Personally.”

“Nothing.”

“How did you end up here at CSI?” Eric asked.

“One of my professors heard about an opening and suggested I go for it. What does this
have to do with anything?” Ryan asked.

“Who was the professor?”

“Dr. Speedle in the Chemistry department. Why?” Ryan asked.

Eric rolled his eyes. “Figures,” he muttered.

They walked into the ballistics lab just as Calleigh looked up.      “Cal, we’ve got a
problem,” Eric said as he handed over the DNA report.

“This is from your floater?” she asked. Eric nodded. Calleigh sat down hard in her chair.
“We have to call Horatio.”

“And we need to bring Wolfe up to speed,” Eric added glancing at the man standing next
to him.



                                           162
“I agree, but Horatio first. It has to be his decision,” Calleigh said.

                                             ooo

“Find anything yet?” Horatio asked as he sat down at the kitchen table.

Tim had the newspaper open in front of him and was scribbling notes from it onto a pad.
“A couple actually, one north of the city and one not too far from here. Both on the
beach,” he said with a smile.

Horatio took a sip of his coffee. “Good. We can make some phone calls this morning.”
He reached over and gave Tim’s hand a squeeze. “I’m going to open the doors and let
some fresh air in,” he said. Tim nodded.

But Horatio’s cell phone rang before he even had a chance to get up. He answered it,
“Horatio.”

“H, it’s Eric. We have a situation,” Eric said.

“What is it, Eric?” Horatio asked.

Eric explained to Horatio about finding the body, the autopsy results, and finally the
DNA. Tim was watching Horatio while he was on the phone and noticed a sudden
change in his facial expression. Though the redhead quickly schooled his features, it
didn’t get by Tim that something was wrong, possibly very wrong.

“Ok, bring Mr. Wolfe up to speed and see what you can find out at the club. Don’t reveal
too much. We don’t know who did this but they are obviously capable of some pretty
nasty stuff,” he said.

“Stetler’s gonna get wind of this eventually, H.”

“Better head that off. Bring him up to speed as well. Better to have him involved from
the beginning then have him find out later,” Horatio said.

He and Stetler had come to an understanding where it came to Simon Cole. Horatio had
agreed that he and his team had become too personally involved and the best course of
action was to allow Rick to call the shots if Simon ever surfaced again.

“He’s going to want you to come in for an interview. Tim also.”

“We’ll deal with that when it happens, Eric. Be careful,” he said before he hung up.

Tim was becoming anxious and as soon as Horatio hung up the phone he asked, “What’s
wrong?”



                                             163
Horatio moved to the seat next to him and took Tim’s hand. “They’ve um… they’ve
found Simon.” He felt Tim immediately stiffen. “It’s ok,” he said. “You’re safe.
Simon’s dead. They found his body.”

It took a moment for Horatio’s words to sink in. “Dead?” Tim muttered like he was
trying to understand what the word meant. “He’s dead?”

Horatio nodded. “Yeah.”

Tim wasn’t sure how to react to the news. “How?”

Horatio sighed. “Eric and Wolfe found his body yesterday morning,” Horatio started to
say, but Tim interrupted.

“And they waited until now to say anything?”

“They didn’t know it was him. It appears he died about three months ago.” Horatio said.

Tim got up and started pacing the kitchen. “Three months ago? So for the past three
months I’ve been living… like this for nothing. He’s been dead the whole time?”

He was getting himself worked up. Horatio stood up wanting to calm him down. He
hadn’t been sure just how Tim would react to the news before he told him but he hadn’t
expected anger.

“Tim,” Horatio said reaching for him. But Tim pulled away and stalked into the living
room.

“Three months,” he said again. His mind was running over everything that had happened
in the past three months; the fear, the anxiety, the nightmares, all for nothing. “Even
dead he’s still fucking with me,” he practically yelled.

Tim stopped pacing and took a deep breath. He flopped down on the sofa and Horatio
walked up to him. “You done?” he asked looking down at his lover. “Because I thought
you’d be relieved.”

“I need to see him,” Tim said simply, not looking up.

Horatio hesitated. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” he said. Eric had told him about
the state the body was in and he didn’t know how Tim would react given his current
mood.

Tim looked up at him. “I need to see him,” he said again leaving no room for argument.

Horatio nodded. “You should know, from what Eric told me, the level of decomposition
is high. They needed DNA to identify him.”


                                          164
“I’ll know him. Don’t worry,” Tim muttered.

“It’s not going to be pretty. He was found in the water,” Horatio warned him.

Tim gave him a curt nod. “I don’t care. I need to see him.”

Sighing, Horatio pulled out his cell phone. “I’ll call Alexx.”

                                            ooo

“I don’t think this is a good idea, Horatio,” Alexx said as she looked at the badly
decomposed remains on her table.

“I agree, Alexx. But I can’t talk him out of it,” Horatio said with a sigh.

“All right,” Alexx relented. “I’ll clean him up as much as I can. But to be honest, I’d
rather just dump him in the incinerator.”

“Well, like it or not, he’s the victim now and we need his body as evidence,” Horatio
replied.

“Mmm. Come in this afternoon. I’ll have him ready for you.”

“Thanks, Alexx,” Horatio said then snapped his phone shut. He looked over at Tim who
was staring out the back door at the ocean. “This afternoon,” he said.

                                            ooo

Eric walked into the trace lab and found Ryan at the table with a large file open in front
of him. He looked up when he heard Eric at the door. He sighed and shook his head.

“I don’t see why someone wouldn’t want to kill this guy,” Ryan said. “He was a sadistic
serial killer.”

“Yeah, I know,” Eric agreed. “But it’s still our job to find out who killed him. Have you
gotten through the entire file yet?”

Ryan nodded. “I’m on my second read through. All of this about Horatio and Dr.
Speedle, I still can’t believe it.”

Eric was a bit worried about how Wolfe would react to the whole situation. Things had
been a bit tense between Horatio and the uniformed officers for a while after everything
broke.

“Do you have a problem with their situation?” he asked.


                                            165
Ryan answered quickly. “No. Not at all. Just surprised.”

“Good,” Eric said. “So, you got any plans tonight?” Ryan glanced at him and raised an
eyebrow. “We need to go to Club Descent and talk to a few people.”

                                           ooo

As Horatio drove to the lab he stole an occasional glance at his lover in the seat next to
him. He had become accustom to Tim’s mood swings but it still worried him when he
became completely non-communicative. He hadn’t said a word all afternoon and Horatio
was wondering what exactly was going on inside his head at the moment. He pulled his
car into a parking space at CSI and turned to look at Tim. He was still staring out the
window and appeared not to notice that they had arrived at their destination.

He reached over and took his hand giving it a squeeze. “We’re here,” he said. Tim
looked up and seemed to focus again. “You ready for this?”

Tim nodded and opened his door. He got out and looked back at Horatio who was still
sitting in the car. “You coming?” he asked. That was the first thing he’d said all
afternoon and Horatio startled at hearing his voice. He got out of the car with an
embarrassed chuckle.

Tim seemed to hesitate momentarily as they approached the elevator. Horatio paused.
“You sure about this?” he asked again.

Tim nodded and hit the button for the elevator. They rode down in silence. When they
exited the elevator in the hallway just outside the morgue Tim reached over and took
Horatio’s hand.

“You ever been in a morgue before?” Horatio asked.

“Yeah, once,” Tim said quietly but didn’t elaborate.

Horatio led them inside and Alexx greeted them. She took one look at Tim and said,
“You don’t have to do this.”

Tim looked her right in the eye and replied, “Yes, I do.”

She nodded and pulled the drawer open. “I cleaned him up as best as I could.” She stood
on the opposite side of the sheet-covered body from the two men. “Let me know when
you’re ready.”

Tim took a breath and said, “Ok.”




                                           166
Alex pulled the sheet back to reveal the upper half of the body beneath. Tim knew the
chemistry of decomposition and he thought he knew what to expect. But when he saw
Simon’s body he took a small almost imperceptible step backwards. Horatio had been
right, there wasn’t much left. The decomposition around his head and face was severe.
He could understand why no one recognized him at first, though to Tim’s eyes there was
no doubt as to the man’s identity. He scanned down the body and noticed several things
that made him pause.

“Why does he look so thin? And why does his chest look sunken in like that?” he asked
softly, barely above a whisper.

Horatio hadn’t given him any of the details that Eric had passed on to him. The story was
too gruesome and he didn’t want to upset his lover any more than he already was. Alexx
and Horatio exchanged a glance.

“He, um,” Horatio hesitated slightly before continuing. “He didn’t die naturally,” he
finally said.

Tim looked down at the body of the man who had been his tormentor, his stalker, his
kidnapper, the body of the man who had, long ago, been his lover. “What happened to
him?”

Again Alexx glanced at Horatio looking for guidance. “It’s not pretty,” Horatio said.

“I don’t care, Horatio. I need to know,” he pleaded.

Horatio nodded to Alexx giving her permission to tell Tim the details. She explained
what they had found out so far. Their best guess was that he had been taken at least a
couple of months before he died. He been starved and tortured then killed and dumped in
the lake.

Tim listened trying to imagine who could have done this. He certainly knew enough
people who had made threats against Simon but no one he could imagine going to these
lengths, even Simon himself. Alexx finished her explanation and Tim glanced down at
the body on the slide one last time, as a single tear broke free.

                                          ooo

Tim leaned up against the wall next to the elevator as they waited for the car. His mind
was running over the list of people he knew who had made threats against Simon and he
wondered briefly if any of them were capable of doing what Alexx had described. He
shook his head. No one he was friends with could have done this, he was certain of that.
There had to be others that Simon had known during the time he wasn’t with Tim,
especially during that last year.




                                          167
Horatio was watching him closely with concern written all over his face. Tim had lapsed
into silence again and he was worried that he might start to withdraw. But he seemed
alert, just lost in thought. Horatio cocked his head to one side.

“Hey,” he said. “You ok?”

Tim looked over at him shaking his head slightly. “Who could have done this, Horatio?”

Horatio ducked his head momentarily and sighed. “I wish I could tell you,” he said just
as the elevator alert sounded and the doors slid open.

They stepped in and rode the car up to the main floor. When the doors slid open again
they were standing face to face with Rick Stetler. “Horatio,” Rick said.

Tim looked at the man in front of them. He looked familiar and it took him a moment to
place him. He’d been the one who had asked Tim questions at the hospital after his
rescue.

“I’d like to talk with both of you,” he said.

Horatio took up a protective position just in front of Tim. “Now’s not the best time.”

“It’s ok,” he heard from behind him. “I don’t mind,” Tim said stepping out from
Horatio’s shadow.

Horatio turned to face his lover completely ignoring Stetler for the moment. “Are you
sure you want to do this now?” he asked.

Tim nodded. “Yes, I want to find the person who did this,” he said firmly. “No one
deserves to have his life ended like that, not even Simon. Anything I can do to help I’ll
do.”

His voice was once again strong and confident and Horatio could see the conviction in
his eyes. He gave in and agreed. Rick tried to hide a smirk. He could count on one hand
the number of people he’d seen stand up to Horatio and prevail like that so quickly. He
stepped into the elevator.

“Why don’t we head upstairs?” he asked.

As they rode up in the elevator, Tim wracked his brain trying to remember the name of
the man with them. Finally he gave up and asked.

“I’m sorry but I can’t remember your name,” he said a bit embarrassed both for his lapse
in memory and for the fact that Horatio had neglected to introduce them.




                                                168
“Rick Stetler,” Rick said with a small smile, holding out his hand. Tim shook the offered
hand. “I interviewed you when you were in the hospital.”

“I remember that. I’m just bad with names,” Tim said with a slight chuckle.

They walked to one of the empty interview rooms and Rick turned to Horatio. “I’d like
to talk to each of you separately,” he said.

Horatio didn’t say anything but he glanced at Tim who nodded and followed Rick into
the room. Rick shut the door and Horatio wandered over to take a seat on the bench
against the opposite wall so he could keep an eye on the two in the room.

Inside Rick offered Tim a seat. “I’d like to ask you a few questions, Mr. Speedle.”

“It’s Tim and I’m not sure what I can tell you,” he said.

“Well, we could start with do you have any idea who could have done this?” Rick asked.

Tim shook his head. “I can’t imagine anyone I know doing something like what I saw
down there. I can’t even imagine Simon treating someone like that to be honest.”

Rick eyed him carefully. “Well, given the state you were in when you were found, I find
that hard to believe.”

Tim shook his head. “That was rage. He lashed out at me. It was fast and furious. And
I remember Horatio telling me that all of the men he killed were killed quickly. Whoever
did this did it slowly, over months, and purposefully. That takes a whole different type of
animal.”

Rick nodded. He couldn’t argue with Tim’s logic.

                                            ooo

Ryan stood a short distance down the hall from Horatio. He watched him for a few
minutes before approaching. Horatio’s full attention was on the window that looked into
the interrogation room. He seemed oblivious to everything else going on around him. As
Ryan got closer he could see Tim in the room talking with Rick Stetler. He glanced back
at Horatio who was leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees and staring
straight ahead.

“Horatio?”

The redhead looked up without shifting his position and indicated for Ryan to take a seat.
“Mr. Wolfe. What can I do for you?”




                                            169
“Sergeant Stetler asked me to take the lead on this investigation,” he said quietly. He
really wasn’t happy about that, but he’d been told that Horatio and his team were too
close to everyone involved and he, being the new guy with no connections, was the
logical choice. He also thought that this could be his chance to prove himself, and Eric
and Calleigh didn’t seem to have a problem with it. But he needed to know that Horatio
was okay with it also.

“What have you found out so far?” Horatio asked.

Ryan sighed. “Not much yet. Eric and I are going to this club tonight to talk to some
people.”

Horatio nodded. “Max will help you out.”

They were silent for a moment before Ryan finally asked, “Do you have any idea who
could have done this?”

Horatio sat up and looked Ryan in the eyes. “I don’t know of anyone who knew Simon
and actually liked him. I know a lot of people who hated him. Myself included. But to
go to those lengths, I don’t know.” He leaned back and rested the back of his head
against the wall. “I suppose we’re both suspects right now,” Horatio said.

“Not Dr. Speedle. If we’re figuring the time frame of the victim’s captivity correctly, the
doc was still in the hospital when all this started.”

Horatio turned his head and asked, “And me?”

Ryan shrugged. “I think we can probably rule you out too seeing as how, according to
the others, you pretty much never left his hospital room. Even Stetler’s willing to admit
that he doesn’t believe you could have done this.”

“Good to know,” Horatio said.

They lapsed into silence again, both watching Tim and Stetler in the other room. They
seemed to be getting along just fine and at one point he even saw Stetler smile at
something Tim had said. He looked back over at Horatio.

“He told us he was in a motorcycle accident,” Ryan said. Horatio glanced over at him.
“Dr. Speedle, I mean. When he came into class the first day, he was still on crutches, still
pretty banged up. That’s what he told us.”

Horatio nodded. “Does Stetler know your connection to him? That he’s the one that
suggested I hire you?”

“I told him when he talked to me about investigating this case. But I didn’t know his
connection to you until this morning.”


                                            170
One side of Horatio’s mouth quirked up. “You don’t listen to precinct gossip much, do
you Mr. Wolfe?”

Ryan shook his head. “I guess I never had much time for that stuff.”

                                            ooo

“So he traveled a lot?” Rick asked.

Tim nodded. “Yeah. He’d be gone for a couple of weeks at a time. Not at first, but later
on, and during that last year, after I’d left, I wouldn’t see him for a couple of months at a
time. No idea where he went or what he did when he was gone. I was just glad he was
gone.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why didn’t you just leave?” Rick asked.

Tim was silent for a moment. This was something he was still working through. “I don’t
know if I could answer that right now. All I can say is that I was a different person when
I was with him. He had this control over me. I can’t really explain it.”

Rick understood. He’d spent enough time with the violent crimes unit before coming to
Miami and had seen many people in Tim’s position before. “It’s ok. I think that’s all I
need for now.”

Horatio looked up when he heard the door open. “Thanks for your help, Tim. I’ll be in
touch if I need anything else.”

The two men shook hands and Tim walked toward Horatio. Horatio stood and met him
in the middle of the hallway. They exchanged a few quiet words then Horatio followed
Stetler into the room and Tim took a seat on the bench next to Ryan.

As Ryan had decided not to return to the university when he took the CSI position, he
hadn’t seen Tim in several months. He was happy to see that he had healed from his
injuries.

“You look a lot better than the last time I saw you,” he said. “How do you feel?”

“Leg’s a pretty good barometer, otherwise fine,” Tim answered. “How’s the new job
going?”

“Ok, I guess,” Ryan answered.

“You don’t sound so convinced,” Tim replied.

Ryan shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess it’ll just take some time before I fit in.”


                                            171
Tim nodded. “They’ll come around. It took a while before they warmed up to me.”

“Yeah, but I’m not…” Ryan stopped himself before he finished his thought.

Tim couldn’t hide his smirk, knowing what the young man was about to say. “Yeah, but
your not sleeping with the boss,” Tim finished for him.

“I didn’t mean…”

“I know. It’s ok. We don’t hide our relationship,” Tim said reassuringly.

                                            ooo

“So, Horatio, any thoughts on who could’ve done this,” Rick asked.

Horatio had been wracking his brain ever since the phone call from Eric that morning.
He could think of several people from the club who were physically capable, that is, had
the strength to carry out that sort of torture. But he couldn’t imagine any of them actually
doing it.

“Honestly Rick, I can’t picture anyone we know actually being capable of carrying this
out.”

“What about Max Tanner? He certainly is physically capable,” Rick suggested.

Horatio sighed. As much as he hated to admit it, Max had been at the top of his list as
well. But everything he knew of the man suggested he was all talk. So he thought
carefully before he answered.

“Max was my first thought also. However, I don’t think he’s capable. He may be
physically imposing but he’s got a gentle nature in general, at least from what I’ve seen.”

“He’s the bouncer at Club Descent, Horatio. I don’t know too many gentle bouncers,”
Rick pointed out.

Horatio couldn’t argue with that. “He uses his size to intimidate. He rarely has to do
more than loom.”

Rick hadn’t actually met the man personally but he had caught a glimpse of him a year
ago when Calleigh had called him in for an interview. “Well, like it or not, he’s still at
the top of my list. He made public threats toward the victim in front of police officers.”

“I think you’re wrong, Rick,” Horatio argued.

“Well, that’s exactly why you’re not in charge of this investigation, Horatio.”


                                            172
“Really, I thought it was because you consider me a suspect,” Horatio countered.

Rick smirked. “I don’t consider you a suspect, Horatio. In fact, I can account for your
whereabouts during the months after Tim’s rescue with pretty descent accuracy.” He sat
back and waited for what he’d said to register. It only took a second before Horatio
responded.

“You’ve been having me followed?” he asked.

“Only to the extent that the chief was worried for your safety in the months after Tim’s
abduction. He put a car on you the night Tim was taken.” Horatio was about to protest
when Rick continued. “Be glad we did, Horatio. You were obviously too distracted by
what was going on to be aware of it, so if Simon had come after you or Tim again, I
doubt you’d have realized it. And, besides, if it wasn’t for the tail, you would be our
prime suspect.”

Horatio glared at the other man for a moment before he stood up and walked to the door.
“We’re done for now,” he said and walked out.

                                          ooo

Tim sat in the car watching Horatio as he drove. He wasn’t driving aggressively, but he
was driving a little faster than he usually did and he was passing cars where he would
normally just follow behind. Tim had tried to ask him what was wrong as they left the
station but Horatio ignored his question. He was almost afraid that if he hadn’t kept up
Horatio would have gotten into the car and driven off without him.

The redhead didn’t say a word all of the way home. Tim could tell he was upset about
something, which was obvious. But he’d never seen Horatio angry like this before and it
made him a little nervous. This was uncharted territory for him. Horatio had always
been very even-tempered and calm. When they arrived home, Horatio got out of the car
without saying a word and started up the path. He stopped halfway up and just stood
there when he heard the car door slam shut behind him. Tim stopped several paces
behind not knowing what to expect. He didn’t know if Horatio wanted to be left alone or
if he should try to get him to talk. He opted for talking.

“Horatio?” He didn’t approach any closer and Horatio didn’t move or acknowledge him.
“Talk to me please,” he begged. “You’re scaring me.”

The words hit him like a slap. He hadn’t been thinking about how Tim would react to his
mood. He took a deep breath and let it out then turned to face his lover. He ducked his
head, embarrassed, and held out his hand. Tim hesitated.




                                          173
“I’m not mad at you. I promise,” Horatio said. He took a tentative step closer but
stopped when he saw Tim take a small step back. He looked Tim in the eyes. “I’d never
do anything to hurt you,” he said sincerely.

Tim nodded. “I know,” he replied realizing that his step back was pure instinct. He
closed the distance between them. “I’ve just never seen you like this before.”

Horatio wrapped his arms around him and they held each other for a few moments. “I
shouldn’t let Stetler get under my skin like that,” he said. “I’m sorry I scared you.”

“What happened back there, Horatio?” Tim asked.

Horatio took his hand. “Let’s go inside and I’ll tell you,” he said and led him up the path.

Once inside Horatio flopped down on the sofa. Tim took a seat next to him. “Horatio,
does Rick think you’re a suspect in this?” Horatio shook his head. “Then what is it
that’s got you so upset?”

Horatio sighed. “I’m not a suspect because apparently Stetler had me tailed for several
months after you were rescued.” Tim raised an eyebrow. “He thought I was too
distracted to watch my own back and yours if Simon returned.” He looked over at Tim.
“And you know what? He was right. I had no idea I was being tailed. If it had been
Simon, I wouldn’t have known. I wouldn’t have been able to protect you.”

Tim stared at him for a moment before something snapped inside his brain. He flashed
back to the elevator and the way Horatio reacted when Rick had said he wanted to talk to
them. “You have to stop trying to protect me all of the time, Horatio. What happened
wasn’t your fault. Stop trying to be a superman.”

Horatio rolled his eyes. That wasn’t the first time he’d been accused of that. “I’m not
trying to be a superman,” he said a bit more forcefully than he’d meant to.

“Like hell you’re not,” Tim countered. “Why did you step between me and Rick in the
elevator before?”

“I… I didn’t think it was the right time for questions,” Horatio said trying to defend his
actions.

Tim stood up and paced across the room. “Exactly. You didn’t think it was the right
time. Did it occur to you to ask me if I wanted to answer his questions?”

Horatio looked down at his hands. “I um… I guess I’m just used to…”

“…being in charge, making all the decisions?” Tim finished for him. “Well, I don’t need
someone to be in charge of me. I may need help some of the time but I don’t need a



                                            174
keeper. And I don’t want Lieutenant Caine right now. ” He took a few steps closer to the
sofa and softened his voice. “I want Horatio back,” he said quietly.

Horatio stood and took a couple of tentative steps toward him still not meeting his eyes.
“It’s not that easy for me to turn that part of myself off,” he said. But before Tim could
say anything he continued. “But I promise, I will do my best to leave Lieutenant Caine at
the lab from now on.”

Tim nodded. “Just include me in the decisions, ok?”

Horatio nodded and pulled Tim into his arms. Tim relaxed into the hug. “Hmm,”
Horatio hummed.

“What?” Tim asked not leaving Horatio’s arms.

“Did we just have our first fight?” Horatio asked.

Tim pulled back just far enough to look into the redhead’s eyes. “I guess this means the
honeymoon’s over, huh?”

Horatio chuckled. “Or maybe it means we get to make up,” he suggested with a raised
eyebrow. “That is, if you’re in agreement.”

Tim smirked. “That’s not one of those decisions you need to check with me about,” he
joked as he grabbed Horatio’s hand and pulled him toward the stairs.

                                             ooo

Max was just unlocking the club when his cell phone rang. He walked inside and closed
the door behind him then pulled his phone out.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Max, it’s Eric Delko.”

“Eric? It’s been a while,” Max replied.

“Yeah, I know. But I need to talk to you.”

There was something in Eric’s tone that had Max worried. The last couple of times one
of Horatio’s team had contacted him it was because someone had died. He couldn’t help
making the association.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Not over the phone. I have some news and I need to ask you a few questions,” Eric said.


                                             175
“Is Tim ok?” Max asked.

He heard Eric chuckle. “Yeah, Tim’s fine. So is Horatio. Can I come by this evening?”

“Of course. Yer welcome here anytime y'like.”

“Thanks, Max,” Eric said. “I’m going to be bringing someone with me.”

“Ok,” Max answered still wondering what was going on.

As soon as Max ended the call with Delko he dialed Tim’s number. The call went
straight to voice mail. “Call me when y'get this. It’s important,” he said then hung up.

When Max looked up he saw Gus, one of the bartenders, standing next to him and he
startled slightly. “Damn, yer quiet,” he joked.

Gus laughed. “Sorry,” he said. “Everything all right, Max?”

“Yeah, fine,” Max answered quickly. “Why don’t y'start gettin’ things prepped fer
tonight?”

He watched as Gus readied the bar. Gus had been a real lifesaver these past few months
with Theo gone. Max watched him for a few moments while he tried to think of what
Eric could possibly want. The past couple of times he’d seen him it was because
something was wrong, first Rosie then Theo. He mentally ran through a list of his
regulars trying to remember the last time he’d seen each of them. As far as he could tell
everyone was accounted for. He shook his head and decided to put it out of his mind for
the time being.

                                           ooo

Tim slipped out of bed once he was certain that Horatio was asleep. He pulled on his
pants then looked down at the bed and smiled. Horatio was sprawled out with the sheet
down around his waist. Tim figured he’d sleep for a while after wearing himself out
making up for their argument. He would love to just lie there with him for the rest of the
evening, but he had a few phone calls to make and he knew he wouldn’t rest until that
was done. He went downstairs, grabbed his phone and headed for the study not wanting
to wake Horatio. He turned on the phone and dialed Max.

“Hey, Max,” he said when the other man answered.

“That was quick. Usually it takes y'half a day t’get back t’me,” Max said.

Tim was confused. “What are you talking about?”



                                           176
“The message I left a couple hours ago,” Max answered.

Tim laughed. “Oh, I didn’t check my voice mail.”

“So yer psychic now?” Max said with just a hint of sarcasm.

“Um, no. I have some news,” Tim said, all traces of humor gone from his voice.
“Simon’s dead.”

Max was silent for a moment. “Are y'sure?” he asked.

“Yeah. Horatio’s team verified his identity with DNA,” Tim said. “And I saw the body.
It’s him.”

Max was careful how he responded; there was something in Tim’s voice. “Are'ya ok?”
he asked.

Tim sighed. “Truthfully? I don’t know how to feel. He was murdered.”

“Murdered?”

“Not just murdered, Max. He was tortured, for a long time,” Tim added.

“By who?” Max asked.

“They don’t know.”

Then it occurred to him. “That must be what Eric wants t'talk t’me about then,” he said.

“Yeah, I guess so. They’re talking to everyone who knows… I mean knew him.”

Max could still hear something in his friend’s voice. “Tim, this isn’t a bad thing.” He
heard Tim sigh. “This isn’t a bad thing. It means yer free of’m. Ya don’t have t’be
afraid anymore.”

Tim sighed again. “It’s still sinking in. But I’m still afraid. The guy that did this,
Max… I don’t know. Simon was pretty messed up but this guy, what he did to him and
for months, I just can’t imagine it.”

Max wanted to ask what exactly had happened but he didn’t want Tim to get any more
upset so he held off his curiosity for the time being. “Well, try t'concentrate on the fact
that he’s gone, and that he can never hurt y'again.”

Tim nodded. “Yeah, I guess so.”




                                           177
“I know so, Tim,” Max said. “Look, I gotta get back t’work. Go relax and enjoy yer
freedom.”

“Thanks, Max. I’ll talk to you later.”

                                          ooo

Max snapped his phone shut and slipped it back into his pocket. Gus, who was standing
next to him behind the bar, turned to him and asked, “What was that about?”

“Y'remember me tellin’ ya about that creep that kidnapped Tim, back ‘round the time
y'first started here?” Max asked him.

“Yeah. His ex. What was his name?”

“Simon. The cops found him yesterday, dead,” Max said as he wiped down the bar.

Gus’ eyes widened. “Really? Where’d they find him?”

“Don’t know. Tim didn’t say. He did say that he was murdered,” Max said absently.

“Murdered? By who?” Gus asked.

Max shrugged. “Tim said they didn’t know. Couple a guys from the crime lab are
comin’ here t’night. We can find out from them.”

“Why are they coming here?”

“Tim said they’re talkin’ t'everyone who knew’m. Tryin’ t'figure out what happened I
guess. The guy who’s comin’ is Eric Delko. Eric’s a good guy. I met’m last year. If
anyone can figure out what happened, it’s him.”

                                          ooo

Tim snapped his phone shut after his second call. He had told Jess about the police
finding Simon’s body. She was excited and happy for him. She even suggested they
should go out and celebrate. Tim was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong
with him. He wasn’t excited or happy to find out Simon was dead, maybe because he
knew the method, but he felt bad. He felt sorry for him and he felt scared that there was
someone out there who could have done this to another human being.

He sighed. There was still one more call he had to make. He waited while the line kept
ringing thinking it was going to go to the voice mail then a woman finally answered.

“Laura, it’s Tim Speedle,” Tim said.



                                          178
“Tim, it’s good to hear from you. Garrett’s not here right now,” she replied. Tim had
stayed in touch with Garrett and his family talking to the boy every couple of weeks.

“Actually, it’s you I wanted to talk to, Laura.” He explained the situation to her with a
bit more detail than he’d told the others. “So you don’t need to worry about him coming
back for Garrett.”

Tim heard her sigh heavily. “That is such a relief, Tim. I can’t tell you. Especially with
everything else going on right now.”

“How have you been managing with Jim gone?” he asked.

“We’re doing ok. Jim finally started coming by on the weekends to see the kids. The
first couple of months were really hard on them. They didn’t understand why he stayed
in Miami instead of coming home with us.”

“Divorce is always hardest on the kids,” Tim said.

“It doesn’t help that he still blames me for what happened. If I hadn’t suggested that
cruise…”

“It wasn’t your fault, Laura,” Tim interrupted.

“I know. I keep telling myself that. He’d have gotten Garrett if he’d wanted to no matter
what.”

“That’s exactly right,” Tim said. He turned at a sound by the door and saw Horatio
standing there. “I should get going. Will you tell Garrett for me? And tell him he can
call me later,” he said before he hung up.

“How are they doing?” Horatio asked as he walked over to Tim.

“Ok,” Tim said reaching out a hand. He pulled Horatio close. “It’s hard for her by
herself with two kids.” Horatio raised an eyebrow. “I know it wasn’t easy for my mom
after my dad left.” He smiled just slightly. “I wasn’t the easiest kid in the world to deal
with.”

Horatio laughed. “I wonder why,” he said and leaned in for a kiss. When they pulled
apart he heard Tim’s stomach growl. “Hungry?” he asked.

“Yeah,” Tim answered. “And you know what I’m in the mood for?” Horatio shrugged.
“Pizza. We haven’t had pizza in a while.”

“Sounds good to me. Then maybe we can go through the rest of the real estate listings,
since we got interrupted this morning.”



                                           179
“That place north of the city looks really good on paper. I’d like to take a look at it,” Tim
said. “It’s close to the university and the lab, closer than we are here and it’s on the
beach.”

Horatio looked at his watch. “Well, it’s a little late to call tonight but first thing in the
morning. And in the mean time we can find some others for comparison.” He gave Tim
a quick kiss. “I’ll go call for the pizza.”

                                            ooo

Eric pulled the Hummer into the parking lot of Club Descent after dark. Ryan hopped
out of the passenger side and looked around. The building was surrounded by
warehouses and businesses.

“No wonder I’d never heard of this place before. It’s pretty far out of the mainstream.”

“In more ways than one,” Eric added as they walked up to the main entrance.

Ryan stepped inside and glanced around, quickly trying to take in as much as he could.
The place was dimly lit except for the colored lights behind the bar and the flashing lights
over the dance floor. There was a pounding bass beat that he could feel through the floor
accompanying the music. Out on the floor there was a sea of young men dancing and
talking.

He shifted his gaze over the crowd and then over to the bar. There were several men
serving drinks and chatting with each other. One of the men looked over in their
direction and caught Eric’s eye. Eric waved and Ryan followed him over to the bar.

“Eric,” Max greeted him. “Good t’see'ya.” He and Eric shook hands. “I spoke to Tim. I
know about Simon.”

Eric nodded then glanced at Ryan. “Max, this is Ryan Wolfe. He’s the lead investigator
on this.” Ryan held out a hand.

“Nice to meet'ya,” Max said. “So, what can I do t’help?”

Ryan opened the file he was carrying and pulled out a sheet of paper. He handed it over
to Max. “Do you recognize this?”

Max took the paper. It was a stolen vehicle report along with a photograph of the car
they had pulled out of the lake. Max looked it over. “Yeah. Where’d y'get the picture
from?”

“We pulled that car out of a quarry lake the other day,” Ryan said.




                                            180
Max exchanged a glance with Eric. He had been certain that they were coming to talk
about Simon. Then he turned to the man a few feet away and said, “Hey, Gus. They
found yer car.”

Ryan and Eric looked at each other then back at Max as Gus joined them. “My car?”

“Yeah, take a look,” Max said handing over the photo.

Gus looked at the photo and said, “Yeah, that’s my car all right. Where did you find it?”

“Submerged in a quarry lake to the west of here,” Ryan said. Then after a moment he
added, “With a dead body in the trunk.”

Gus’ head shot up. “Excuse me?” He stared at Ryan. “A dead body?” Ryan nodded.
Gus looked back and forth between Max and the other two men. “A dead body,” he said
again. “Who put it there?”

“That’s what we have to determine,” Ryan said.

“Hang on a minute,” Max interrupted. “Tim said y'found Simon dead.”

“Yeah,” Ryan answered. He pointed toward Gus. “In the trunk of his car.”

“So whoever stole the car killed this guy,” Gus suggested.

“That’s one interpretation,” Ryan said.

It took a moment before Gus caught on. “Wait a minute. That car was stolen from this
parking lot three months ago. You can’t possibly think that I had something to do with
this.”

“It is your car,” Ryan pressed. “Where were you the night it was stolen?”

“Here, working,” Gus answered.

“Why don’t you tell us what happened?” Eric suggested.

Gus took a breath then said, “I’d driven to work like always, parked out in the lot. When
we closed up at four the car was gone.”

“Max, why did you file the initial report?” Eric asked.

“I still had Detective Tripp’s card. I thought I could speed things up. As it turned out, all
he was able t’do was direct me t’the auto theft folks.”

“And you were both here all night that night?” Ryan asked.


                                            181
“Yeah,” Gus answered. “Otherwise, I’d probably have noticed the car was gone.”

“What about you Max?”

“It was a long time ago and I don’t really have a routine. I was probably here all night
but I can’t say fer sure,” Max answered.

“Ok,” Ryan said. “Do you have security cameras outside in the parking lot?”

“The officer who took the report asked the same question. No, only over the registers.”
Max answered.

Ryan nodded and exchanged a glance with Eric. “Thanks for your cooperation. We’ll
probably need to talk to you both again.”

Both men agreed not to leave town then Eric and Ryan walked out. Ryan glanced around
the parking lot as well as across the street at the one of the buildings.

“How much do you think the reporting officer investigated this theft?” he asked.

“A car stolen from the parking lot of a gay bar? Probably didn’t do much more than put
out a BOLO,” Eric answered. “Why?”

Ryan pointed to the building across the street. Eric followed his gaze and noticed a
surveillance camera pointed toward the street. He smirked and glanced at Ryan.

“Can you work on getting a warrant tomorrow? I want to try to print the inside of the
car,” Eric said.

“Yeah, but wouldn’t the water have washed away any prints?” Ryan asked.

Eric smiled. “Not necessarily. I needed to let the inside of the car dry out completely
first. I’m going to try fuming it tomorrow, see what I get.”

                                           ooo

Tim curled into Horatio’s arms while they sat on the sofa, the remains of their dinner left
sitting on the coffee table. Horatio had the feeling that Tim’s attention was not on the
movie they were watching. He could certainly understand why. Once again their lives
had been turned upside down because of Simon’s presence. At least this time he knew
Tim was safe and would stay that way. He ran his hand over Tim’s back.

“Getting sleepy?” he asked.

Tim shrugged. “Not really. Just thinking.”


                                           182
“About what?” Horatio asked softly.

Tim sat up enough to look at Horatio. “Is there something wrong with me?” he asked
cryptically. Horatio cocked his head to one side. “I mean, why am I not happy about all
of this? Max, Jess, Laura, they were all relieved, all happy to hear Simon wouldn’t be
coming back.”

Horatio pulled him back into his arms and sighed. “Did you tell them the details of how
he died?” Tim shook his head. “Well, then there’s your answer. All they know is that
he’s dead. He can’t come back and hurt you again. That’s what they’re happy about.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Tim said. “But there’s still a psycho out there ten times worse than
Simon ever was.”

                                           ooo

Tuesday, October 12, 2004
Eric set up the portable fuming chamber around the car. He set one tray of superglue
inside the car and one outside the car near the trunk before stepping outside the tarp. He
stood back and waited for the glue to do its job. Ryan wandered into the garage and saw
what Eric was doing.

“You’re fuming the entire car?” he asked a bit surprised.

“Why not?” Eric replied.

“There’s gonna be a million prints on the outside of that thing,” Ryan pointed out.

Eric nodded. “I only need one on the trunk, hopefully one that matches one inside.”

“Ok,” Ryan said still a bit dubious. “Stetler’s working on getting the warrant for the
security tapes from the building across from the club.” He looked at the tent over the car
then back at Eric. “We’re gonna need to get elimination prints.”

“Max and Gus will be in the state liquor authority’s database,” Eric said.

Ryan nodded. “So, I guess, now we wait?”

“Yup,” Eric replied.

                                           ooo

The real estate agent walked Horatio and Tim through the house. Horatio had called a
woman whose name Max had given him. The young woman was very pleasant and had
showed them several houses before bringing them to the one they had picked out from


                                           183
the paper. Tim fell in love with kitchen almost immediately, recently updated with all
stainless steel appliances, and the view from the deck overlooking the beach had them
both sold. Horatio asked the real estate agent for a moment alone.

“So what do you think?” he asked Tim after she’d stepped out of the room.

“Can we afford it?” Tim asked cautiously. The house was much bigger than Horatio’s
place with more land and in a better neighborhood.

“Easily,” Horatio reassured him.

“Then I love it,” Tim said with a huge grin.

After following the real estate agent back to her office to sign some papers, Horatio and
Tim decided to go out and celebrate. They were assured that the sale would go through
fairly quickly since the house was already unoccupied. And the current owners were
willing to accept a rental agreement until the final sale went through so they could move
in right a way. That was one of Horatio’s conditions. His main goal was still to get Tim
out of the house they were currently living in as soon as possible.

“So I guess we should start packing,” Tim said as they waited for their lunch. Horatio
smiled at him and Tim asked, “What?”

Horatio shrugged. “It’s good to see you happy and excited about this,” he said as he
reached across the table for Tim’s hand.

Tim smiled back at him. “It feels like I’m getting to start all over again. It feels good.”

Horatio gave Tim’s hand a squeeze. “We should tell Max and Michael.”

“I’ll give Max a call after we have lunch. Maybe we can swing by their place before he
goes to work,” Tim suggested.

“Sounds like a plan,” Horatio said.

                                            ooo

Eric carefully lifted and cataloged each print he found on the car. Ryan was right, the
outside of the vehicle yielded a lot of prints and he got a decent number from the inside
as well. It had helped a great deal that the car had been submerged in a quarry lake, a
body of still, fresh water instead of the Glades, moving, salt water, or a river. The prints
were well preserved. It took him a while to sort through all of the prints and get them
scanned into the computer. Once that was done it was up to the software to do the rest.
He sat back and waited for the results.




                                            184
After an hour the computer had whittled the large pile of prints down to an manageable
five individuals and only two of those prints were also on the inside driver’s side of the
car. Eric ran both sets of prints to identify them. One set belonged to the car’s owner,
which was no surprise, but the other belonged to Max. He wasn’t too happy with that. It
either meant that Gus was hiding something from them or Max was and he didn’t like
those odds.

                                           ooo

“Those were the only prints inside of the car?” Stetler asked. Eric nodded. “No sign
anything was wiped down?”

“No. There is a remote possibility that someone could have been in the car wearing
gloves but then some of the prints I found on the steering wheel should have been
smudged over and they weren’t,” Eric explained.

“So we’re looking at one of these two,” Stetler said. Eric reluctantly agreed. “Then we
bring them in. Let’s go for Gus first. How much do we know about him?”

“Not much. I’ll do some background. By the way, where’s Wolfe?”

“Helping Detective Tripp rewrite the warrant for the surveillance video. The original
warrant was specific to videotapes but the company backs up all their old surveillance
video onto a computer hard drive then reuses the original tapes. They wouldn’t turn over
the hard drive so we have to rewrite the warrant,” Stetler said with mild frustration.

“Any idea how long it will take?” Eric asked.

Stetler shook his head. “Hopefully we’ll have them by morning. The company wasn’t
opposed to turning over the video but they sited security reasons for not wanting to
volunteer the computer’s hard drive.”

Eric sighed. “I’ll see what I can find on this guy. When do you want to bring him in?”

“I’ll call him now. We should play this carefully, with both of them. Whichever one of
them did this; we don’t want to let on that we suspect either one. As far as they are
concerned we are just looking for some more information.”

                                           ooo

Rick Stetler sat in the interrogation room across from Gus. Eric sat to his right and Ryan
stood back in the corner observing. They were all playing roles in a game they’d worked
out in advance.

“So, Mr. Metzger, what can you tell me about the night your car was stolen?” Rick asked.
He was starting out slowly trying to catch any inconsistencies in Gus’ story.


                                           185
Gus took a breath, obviously trying to organize his thoughts. “It was a while ago but my
routine is pretty consistent on days that I work. That wasn’t a night when I was opening
so I got to the club around eight. I parked my car, went inside, grabbed my things out of
my locker in the back, then started serving drinks.”

“You didn’t leave the club for any reason that evening, a break, dinner, anything like
that?” Stetler asked.

“I don’t recall leaving the club. If I had, I probably would have noticed my car was gone.
There is nothing around that area except warehouses. If I was going to go anywhere I
would have needed my car.”

Rick nodded and decided to switch gears. “How long have you been in Miami?” he
asked.

“About a year.”

“Where did you live before?” Rick asked.

“Virginia. Ever since I was discharged from the Marines,” Gus answered.

“What made you decide to head south?” Eric asked.

“I wanted a change. There were too many things there to remind me of what happened
during the war.”

“You served during the Gulf War, didn’t you?” Rick asked.

“Yes,” Gus answered. Then his demeanor changed slightly and he said, “Until I was
wounded.” He pulled back the hair at the side of his head to reveal a large scar. “I was
in a coma for almost a month. It ended my military career.”

The quick background check that Eric had done only showed a discharge not that he’d
been wounded. That information took all of them by surprise. Rick decided to change
the subject again until they could gather some more information.

“How did you end up working at Club Descent?” Rick asked.

“Ad in the paper. One of the bartenders took a leave and they needed a temporary
replacement. Turned out he was the fella who was killed.”

“So the job became permanent,” Eric said.

Gus nodded. “I liked working there. Max and the others are great. When he asked me if
I wanted to stay on, I said yes.”


                                            186
“How well do you know Max?” Eric asked.

“Well enough, I guess.”

“What kind of person do you think he is?”

“Nice guy,” Gus answered. “Bit of a temper sometimes, but a nice guy for the most part.
He was a fellow Marine, a gunnery sergeant.”

“He’s a big guy,” Stetler said. “He can be a bit intimidating, I imagine.”

“Just don’t get on his bad side,” Gus said with a slight smirk. “I’ve seen him pick up full
grown men and toss them out the door of the club for being disruptive.”

Rick and Eric exchanged a glance and again Rick changed the subject. “Did you ever let
anyone else drive your car?”

Gus was caught off guard for a moment at the sudden shift in the conversation. “Um, no,
I didn’t. Had a problem a while back with my insurance. No one but me drove that car.
Why?”

Rick shrugged. “No reason really. Just curious.”

“Did you know the man who called himself Simon Cole?” Eric asked.

Gus looked down for a moment then said, “No. I only know what I was told by Max and
Tim and some of the others.” Then Gus looked at his watch. “Do you need anything else
from me? I’m supposed to open up this afternoon.”

“No, I think that will be all for now,” Rick said.

“One second,” Ryan interrupted, speaking up for the first time. The others had almost
forgotten he was there. “Just one more question, if you don’t mind.” Gus nodded. “Do
you have any hobbies?”

“Hobbies?” Gus asked looking a bit puzzled. “Um, I like to take pictures. I guess that’s
a hobby.”

“What about collecting? Do you collect anything?” Ryan asked.

Gus shook his head. “No. Wouldn’t have anywhere to put stuff. My place is small and
already cramped.” He looked back at Rick. “Can I go now?” Rick nodded and Gus
stood up to leave. Then he stopped for a moment and turned back to the others. “If
you’re looking for a collector, talk to Max. His house looks like the Antiques Road
Show,” he added with a chuckle.


                                            187
Once the door shut Rick looked over at the other two men. “I think it’s time we talked to
Max.”

                                             ooo

“Ok, no problem,” Tim said then snapped his phone shut. “Max has to go down to the
police station for an interview. They want to talk to him about Simon. He said we
should give him a call later. He’s not working tonight.”

“Hmm,” Horatio hummed.

Tim saw something in Horatio’s expression that worried him. “You think something’s
wrong?” he asked.

Horatio shook his head. “No, I doubt it. I just thought Eric and Wolfe were going to go
to the club last night to talk with him.” Horatio took a sip of his coffee and leaned back
in his chair. “I feel like I’m out of the loop on this. Maybe I should stop by the lab…”

“Nope,” Tim interrupted him. “No way. You’re mine for the rest of the week. That was
the deal. Besides, we have a house to pack up.”

Horatio ducked his head and smiled. “Sorry,” he said. “I did promise not to do that,
didn’t I?”

“Several times, actually,” Tim replied with a smirk. Horatio looked sheepish. “If you’re
not careful something like that could lead to another fight,” he joked.

“Ah, but that could lead to more making up,” Horatio countered.

They both laughed and Tim stood up. He held out his hand. “We should get going,” he
said.

                                             ooo

“I don’t like where this is leading,” Eric said.

“Yeah, well, just remember, it’s leading where ever the evidence takes us,” Rick
reminded him.

“I just can’t believe Max could have done this. It just doesn’t feel right,” Eric insisted.

“You sound like Horatio,” Rick retorted with a sideways glance at Eric.

“He certainly had motive,” Ryan interrupted before Eric could respond.



                                             188
Eric sighed. “A lot of people had motive. Horatio had motive.”

“Yeah, but we didn’t find Horatio’s fingerprints inside that car,” Rick countered.

Eric was having a lot of trouble believing what the evidence was telling him. He couldn’t
come to terms with the idea that someone who Horatio had become close friends with
would be capable of this level of violence and Horatio would be totally unaware. He
blew out a breath.

“I need a break,” he said and walked out of the room.

He walked aimlessly for a few minutes until he found himself standing outside of the
ballistics lab. He pushed the door open and flopped down on one of the stools. Calleigh
took one look at him and walked over.

“What’s wrong, Eric?” she asked laying a hand on his shoulder.

“I don’t know if I can do this, Cal. Working with Stetler. He’s convinced that Max is the
killer. I think Wolfe is too.”

Calleigh wrinkled her brow. “How strong is the evidence?”

Eric sighed. “Pretty strong. But it doesn’t feel right. There’s something about this Gus
guy that I don’t like.”

“You sound like Horatio,” she said.

Eric smirked. “That’s what Stetler said. I think it bugged him a little.”

“Well, that’s never a bad thing,” Calleigh said with a chuckle. Then, more seriously, she
asked, “Has Max given his statement yet?”

“Not yet. He should be here in a little while,” Eric replied.

“Then go back there and make sure Stetler doesn’t railroad him,” she said. Then she
looked around quickly and gave him a kiss on the cheek. “I have faith in you, Eric. If
you think Max is innocent, you’ll prove it.”

Eric could feel the slight blush creeping up his neck. “Thanks, Cal.”

                                            ooo

Rick Stetler wasn’t a small man but standing next to the hulking form of Max Tanner he
felt short and just slightly out manned. He led Max into the interrogation room where
Eric and Ryan were waiting. Max remembered Stetler from the night Tim was kidnapped



                                            189
and he remembered Horatio’s reaction to him. That memory made him cautious of the
man. He was glad to see Eric in the room when he got there.

Eric and Ryan had swapped places in the interrogation this time with Ryan taking the
lead. They had planned out a basic strategy given the information Gus had given them.

“Max, there are a few things we’d like to clarify with you,” Ryan said.

Max nodded. “Whatever y'need. Just ask,” he said.

Ryan smiled. “Thanks. First off, I’d like to talk about Samuel Conner. You knew him
as Simon Cole. When did you first meet him?”

“It was about four years ago. Tim brought him into the club one night.”

“What was your impression of him then?” Rick asked.

“He seemed nice enough and Tim was completely taken by’m.”

“But?” Rick prompted.

“There was somethin’ about’m that I don’t think I could put my finger on at the time.
Made the hair at the back of my neck stand up.” Then he smirked and added,
“Figuratively of course,” running a hand over his bald head. “Somethin’ in his eyes.”

“Then things changed?” Ryan asked.

Max thought for a moment remembering how his friend’s whole personality seemed to
shift. “Over a period of time, yes. Tim didn’t come around the club as much as he used
to. He always said that Simon didn’t like to go out much. I sometimes wouldn’t see him
for a couple of weeks then when I did he seemed different. Quiet and more withdrawn
mostly. After about a year was when I started noticing the bruises. He always had an
excuse for them.”

“Did you suspect what was happening?”

“Yeah, but when I tried to ask’m about it he blew it off then stopped coming around the
club all together.”

“That’s not unusual for abuse victims,” Rick interrupted. “They tend to cut ties with
friends and family rather than have to deal with the questions.”

“I really had no idea the extent of things until Horatio came along. I suspect there’s still
a lot I don’t know.”

“But you were able to remain friends with Dr. Speedle despite everything,” Ryan asked.


                                            190
“Simon was a prick and I was determined that Tim would see that someday,” Max said.

“So you’re not sorry to see him dead,” Ryan asked.

“I don’t know anyone who’s sorry to see him gone.”

“Do you have any idea who might have actually killed him?” Rick asked.

Max smirked. “No, but I’d like t’shake the guy’s hand,” he said.

Ryan decided it was time to shift the conversation to the real reason they’d called Max in.
“How about Gus? How well do you know him?”

Max cocked his head to one side. “Well enough. He showed up at just the right time six
months ago lookin’ fer a job. Theo had just left t’go visit his family and we needed a
temporary replacement. He agreed t’stay on after we found out what happened t'Theo.”

“Can you tell me what happened the night his car was taken from the club’s parking lot?”
Ryan asked.

“Like I told'ya last night, it was a long time ago. Just seemed like any other night, ‘til we
left anyway.”

“Was it unusual for Gus not to leave the club on his break?” Eric asked from the back of
the room.

Max shrugged. “A little. When he first started he went out every day but later on he
didn’t do it as often.”

“Do you know if Gus ever let anyone else drive his car?” Ryan asked.

“Don’t know about anyone else but I drove it once,” Max said. “The day before it was
stolen actually.”

Ryan and Stetler exchanged a glance. “He let you drive it? What for?”

“We were running low on this one particular brand of scotch. The supplier was out
which isn’t all that unusual. The owner sent me to one of the local liquor stores that
caries it to buy a case. I’d driven my bike that night so Gus volunteered his car.”

“Really?” Ryan said.

“Yeah. The only thing he said was that the case had to go in the trunk. Somethin’ about
not wanting to mark up the seats.”



                                            191
Rick sat back in his chair for a moment then glanced at Ryan before turning back to Max.
“Ok. Thanks for coming down, Max.”

“No problem. If y'need anything else, just call,” Max said before he got up.

“I’ll walk you out,” Ryan said.

Rick turned to Eric once the others were gone and said, “One of them is lying.”

“I vote for Gus,” Eric said.

Rick rolled his eyes. “We all know how you feel about this, Eric.”

Eric shook his head. “Gus’ story was very straight forward and he seemed to remember
everything about that day clearly. It sounded… I don’t know, too easy,” Eric said. “Max
is much more believable. His story is too convoluted to be faked. I mean, think about
it.”

Rick said, “Well, we can’t take a gut feeling to the DA. And all of the physical evidence
puts Max in the car. He had motive and opportunity. Gus is new in town and doesn’t
even know the victim. He doesn’t have motive…”

“That we know of,” Eric interrupted.

Rick ignored his interruption and continued. “We have enough to hold Max on this.”
Then he held up a hand at Eric’s obvious attempt to protest. “But we’re not going to do
that right now. I tend to agree with you. Something still doesn’t feel right.”

“You didn’t ask him about the fabric,” Eric mentioned.

“Wolfe is doing that right now. We thought it would be better if he brought it up casually
outside of the interview,” Rick said with a shrug. “You know, just two guys talking
about a common hobby.” He turned to Ryan as he walked back into the room. “What
did he say about the collecting?” he asked.

“He collects war memorabilia. And he has some of that fabric,” Ryan answered.

Rick shook his head. It wasn’t looking good for Horatio’s friend. “What’s the status of
the warrant for the video surveillance?” he asked.

Ryan looked at his watch. “We should have the computer hard drive by morning at this
point.”

“Ok. Let’s reserve any judgment until after we look at those videos,” Rick said. “But
I’m going to put a car on each of them until we get this figured out.” Then he turned to



                                           192
Eric. “See what else you can find out about Gus. If you really think Max didn’t do this,
prove it to me.”

Eric looked at his watch. It was late and he’d been at the lab since early that morning.
He knew his mind wasn’t at its sharpest. He figured it would be better to go home and
get some rest then come back and tackle this problem early tomorrow morning. He
headed back down to the ballistics lab before he headed out.

                                           ooo

The first thing Horatio had notice upon arriving at Max and Michael’s house was the car
parked across the street. He knew a stakeout when he saw one. It bothered him that
Stetler had put a car on Max. He knew he wouldn’t have wasted those resources if he
didn’t think it was necessary, if there wasn’t some kind of evidence to suggest that there
was a need for a car on him. He’d debated with himself all evening whether to say
something or not but he had to consider the possibility that he might jeopardize the
investigation. It had him pretty distracted all through dinner wondering just what it was
that Stetler had on his friend.

Tim had told Max about the new house and Max had offered to help with the move. He
offered his pickup truck anytime they needed it. Everything seemed normal to Horatio.
Max seemed like Max. He wasn’t nervous or upset about anything. He desperately
wanted to ask him about the interview, but he had promised Tim that he wouldn’t talk
shop and he intended to keep his promise. He had hoped that Max would say something
or that Tim would ask Max about what had happened that afternoon at PD but he didn’t.
They were completely focused on the new house and the move.

In the end he chose to not ask any questions. He would try to figure out what he could
later. He could log into the lab’s computer from home and take a look at the files. By the
time they pulled into their driveway, he’d decided to put it out of his mind for the time
being. Tim was too excited about the upcoming move and he wasn’t going to dampen his
mood with talk of work.

It was dark by the time they arrived back home and Horatio hadn’t left the lights on. He
was surprised to find that Tim simply walked into the house, turned on the lights and
went into the kitchen without his usual routine. Horatio just stood there for a moment.
Tim went to the refrigerator and pulled out a carton of juice then poured himself a glass.
When he turned he saw Horatio still standing by the door.

“What?” he asked, seeing the look he was getting.

Horatio smiled at him and joined him in the kitchen. He pulled him into his arms and
said, “It’s nothing.” Then he gave him a kiss.




                                           193
It was then that Tim seemed to realize what it was that had taken Horatio by surprise.
“Oh,” he said. “You know, it didn’t even occur to me to check the house.” He was a bit
surprised himself.

“That’s good,” Horatio said with a smile. “You felt safe enough to just walk in here.”
Horatio pulled him closer, flush against his own body.

Staring into Horatio’s eyes it still surprised Tim that after a whole year together his body
would respond so quickly to the close contact. His reaction didn’t go unnoticed by the
redhead either. Horatio leaned in and took Tim’s mouth for a kiss that started off slow
and gentle but quickly grew until both men were dizzy from lack of air.

Horatio pulled away first resting his forehead on Tim’s shoulder while he got his breath
back. After a moment he said in a low, gravelly voice, “Unless you want me to take you
right here on the kitchen counter, we should move this somewhere more comfortable.”

Tim smirked. “Kitchen sex does have its appeal,” he joked.

Horatio chuckled and took his hand, leading him up to the bedroom. Once there he
pulled Tim’s shirt up over his head then pushed him back onto the bed. He pulled his
own shirt off then climbed onto the mattress and settled in between Tim’s legs. He stared
down at him for a moment before Tim held out his arms to him. With a gentle smile
Horatio leaned forward, resting the bulk of his weight on his elbows, and began laying a
trail of kisses along Tim’s jaw. He worked his way back to the spot just behind Tim’s
left ear where he lingered for a few moments suckling gently.

Tim moaned softly and arched his hips up under Horatio’s weight. Horatio moved
slightly giving Tim the friction he was seeking. He moaned again. Horatio raised
himself up on his hands and knees and began working his was down Tim’s neck, kissing
and nibbling as he went. When he reached his chest he pulled one flat nipple into his
mouth, sucking gently, raising it to a hard nub. He moved to the other side and did the
same.

Tim whimpered with every move Horatio made on his body. “God, Horatio… feels so
good,” he breathed.

He felt Horatio smile into his skin as he worked his way lower. Horatio stopped when he
reached the waistband of his jeans. He sat back on his heels and looked down at the
flushed body beneath him. Tim was staring back wantonly, eyes hooded, mouth slightly
open. Horatio thought he could come just from that look. He took a deep breath bringing
himself back under control. He wasn’t finished yet.

Horatio slowly ran his hands up the insides of Tim’s thighs and over the pronounced
bulge in his jeans. Tim let out a soft moan and arched into Horatio’s touch. Horatio
leaned forward and placed a kiss on his stomach just above his jeans then he slowly,
teasingly opened them. He slipped his fingers into the waistband of Tim’s boxers and


                                            194
pulled them and his jeans down and off tossing them to the side. Then he settled back in
between his legs.

Tim’s breath caught in his throat when Horatio ran a hand gently over his now bare and
aching cock. Horatio’s touch was so light that he had Tim writhing on the bed. Tim
didn’t think he could take much more then Horatio closed his mouth around him and
slowly drew him in. Tim groaned deep in his throat and fisted the sheets as Horatio
worked him with his tongue and teeth. He was breathing heavily and completely lost in
sensation as Horatio hummed around him. Tim cried out coming hard and bucking his
hips. He fell back onto the bed completely spent and gasping for air. Horatio sat back
and let him catch his breath before leaning in and taking his mouth in a slow kiss. When
he pulled back Tim smiled at him.

“Wow,” was all he could say.

Horatio kissed him again and said, “Not done yet.”

He reached over to the nightstand and pulled out the lube then he hopped off the bed and
stripped out of his remaining clothes. Positioning himself back on the bed between Tim’s
legs, he slicked up his fingers and carefully inserted one then two into Tim’s body and
began stretching. It wasn’t long before Tim found himself getting hard again from
Horatio’s teasing.

Horatio was taking his time stretching and preparing him. But Tim was getting
impatient. “Horatio… please,” he breathed. Horatio answered him by curling his fingers
and brushing over his prostate. Tim gasped and arched up. “Enough teasing… please…
need you.”

Horatio removed his fingers and slicked up his cock. He lifted Tim’s legs and slowly
pushed in. He groaned at the feel of Tim’s tight hole surrounding him. “So good,” he
breathed.

Once he was completely buried Horatio stilled needing to bring himself into control, not
wanting things to end too soon. He leaned down and captured Tim’s mouth with his own
as he slowly began to move. It wasn’t long before he had to break the kiss, his need to
breathe taking over, as his movements sped up. He raised himself up and took one of
Tim’s hands placing it on his cock. Tim wrapped his fingers around his own shaft and
started pumping along with Horatio’s thrusts.

Seeing Tim touch himself was Horatio’s undoing. He buried himself one last time
coming with a soft groan. Tim followed when he felt Horatio’s seed fill him. Horatio
collapsed forward resting his full weight on Tim. After a few moments he rolled to the
side and pulled out then pulled Tim into his arms.

Tim was already beginning to drift off to sleep. “Love you,” he murmured.



                                          195
Horatio kissed his forehead. “Love you too,” he said.

About half an hour later Tim was sound asleep but Horatio still lay awake. His mind had
drifted back to Max and the case. He finally gave up on getting to sleep and rolled out of
bed careful not to wake Tim. He pulled on his pants and went downstairs to the study.
He booted up the computer and attempted to access the files on Simon’s murder only to
find his access was blocked. He realized that he should have figured that Stetler would
have done that.

He looked at the clock on the wall. It was late, after midnight. He debated whether or
not to make the phone call that he wanted to make. He pulled out his phone. It wouldn’t
be the first time he’d woken Eric up for the sake of a case. He dialed Eric’s number and
waited.

Eric rolled over in bed snuggling closer to the warm body next to him when he heard his
phone buzzing on the nightstand. He groaned and rolled back grabbing his phone and
looking at the caller ID. Seeing that it was Horatio he answered.

“Yeah, H,” he said sleepily.

“Sorry to wake you Eric. I was, ah, I was wondering if I could talk to you about the
case,” Horatio said.

“Sure,” Eric said quietly. “Just give me a moment.”

Horatio heard a female voice in the background then he heard Eric say, “I’ll be right
back.” He heard some movement then a door close before Eric got back on the line.

“Ok, H, what’s up?” Eric asked.

“Sorry, Eric. I didn’t realize you had company,” Horatio said.

“It’s ok. You didn’t interrupt anything. We were sleeping,” Eric replied with a slight
chuckle. “What did you want to talk about?”

Horatio explained his concerns and what he’d seen at Max’s house that evening. Eric ran
down the evidence they had and his feelings on the case.

“You’re suspicious of Gus?” Horatio asked.

“I can’t really explain it, H. It’s more of a feeling I got talking with him this afternoon.
I’m going to do a more extensive background check on him in the morning when I get in.
Right now there is no connection between him and Simon.”




                                            196
Horatio thought for a moment. “You said he was in the military. I’m going to email you
my access codes for the military criminal database. You can access his full SRB that
way. Hopefully it will help.”

“Thanks, H. I really hope we find something there because otherwise everything points
to Max.”

“Hmm. Would you let me know what you find, Eric?”

“Yeah, no problem, H.”

“Ok then,” Horatio said. “You’d better get some sleep.” He paused for a moment then
smirked. “And tell Calleigh I’m sorry I woke her.”

Eric’s mouth fell open and he stared at the phone for a moment. How did Horatio know,
he wondered. They’d been discrete. It had been almost six months and there was no
indication that anyone had any idea. Calleigh’s father didn’t know yet. His family didn’t
know yet.

“How…” he started to ask. Then he decided better of it. “You know what, never mind.”

“Just don’t let Stetler find out,” Horatio warned.

“Don’t worry about that, H,” Eric said as he walked back into the bedroom. “Night. I’ll
talk to you tomorrow.” He tossed the phone back onto the nightstand and crawled back
into bed.

“Everything all right?” Calleigh mumbled.

Eric shook his head and chuckled. “Horatio knows,” he said. Calleigh lifted her head
and looked up at him. “About us, he knows.”

Calleigh smirked. “Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s known all along,” she said as she rolled
onto her back. She pulled Eric down to her. “This is Horatio we’re talking about after
all.” Eric chuckled and kissed her softly. Calleigh smiled. “Back to sleep, you. We
have an early morning tomorrow.”

                                            ooo

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
“This is weird,” Eric said. “Gus’ file doesn’t say anything about being wounded in
action. In fact, he never even made it overseas. I don’t get it.”

“Let me take a look,” Calleigh said. She paged through Gus’ military file until she got to
his discharge. “He does have a medical discharge but I don’t see a medical record with
this.”


                                            197
Rick walked into the room just then. “That’s because there isn’t a military medical
record.” They both looked over at him. Rick held up a folder. “He was treated at a
civilian hospital after a fight in a bar.” He handed Eric the folder. “He was hit in the
head with a baseball bat. Three guesses by who.”

Eric looked at the page Rick had marked then handed the file over to Calleigh. “You’ve
got to be kidding,” she said. She went to the computer and pulled up the military record
for Samuel Conner. “The dates match. Conner was discharged for putting a fellow
Marine in the hospital after a fight. His record doesn’t name that Marine because he
didn’t file charges.”

“No,” Rick said. “But the civilian police file does name Metzger’s assailant.”

“How did you manage to piece this all together?” Eric asked.

Rick raised an eyebrow. “I didn’t go home last night,” he said.

Eric glanced at Calleigh suddenly feeling a little guilty. “You stayed here all night?” he
asked.

“The whole thing was still bothering me. I went back over the old files and ran across the
military record that Calleigh found six months ago. It started me thinking. In particular,
why wasn’t the other party identified?”

“I wondered that too,” Calleigh said. “But it wasn’t relevant to the last investigation.”

Rick explained what he’d found. “The fight took place in a civilian bar while both men
were on leave. Conner had just returned from Iraq and Metzger had just finished basic
training and was newly assigned to the unit. Conner was already a loose cannon. He’d
been disciplined several times while overseas for violence toward other soldiers. He was
on the verge of being dishonorably discharged. His final psych eval listed latent
homosexuality as the cause of his violent behavior. Apparently Metzger propositioned
him and that’s what set him off.”

“So we bring him in,” Eric said hopefully.

“Yeah, well, that may be a problem,” Rick said.

“Why? We know he had motive now,” Eric insisted.

“Maybe, maybe not,” Rick said cryptically. “According to the medical record he had no
memory of the attack when he came out of the coma. Even after he was told what had
happened he refused to believe it. He saw Conner as a war hero. That’s why he never
pressed charges.”



                                             198
“So none of this counts for anything?” Eric asked clearly frustrated by what Rick had just
told them.

“We’d have to prove that he regained his memory of the attack and that he put two and
two together to connect Conner with Simon Cole.” Rick sighed. “And we have another
problem. There’s a report in the original file from last October written by one of the
uniformed officers from the day Tim Speedle’s apartment was broken into that says that
Max threatened to kill Simon Cole on more than one occasion.”

Eric’s head fell. “Max didn’t do this,” he said quietly. Calleigh laid a hand on his arm.
“But all the evidence says he did. This guy is good. He had to be planning this for a
while to work out all of these details.”

Just then Ryan came skidding into the room. “You guys have to see this,” he said then
darted out again. The other three exchanged a glance then followed Ryan back to the AV
lab. He directed their attention to the monitor. “This is the video from the security
camera outside the building across the street from the club the night Gus’ car was
allegedly stolen.”

They all looked in his direction when he used the word allegedly. Ryan pointed at the
monitor again. The camera had a good shot of the lot and the street in front of the club.
Just at the edge of the camera’s field of view was a bus stop. They watched as a city bus
pulled up and a man got off then the bus pulled away. Ryan froze the picture and played
with the controls until he had zoomed in on the man’s face and brought the shot back into
focus. There was no mistaking who it was.

Rick stared at the monitor for a moment before asking, “This is definitely the night he
reported his car stolen?”

“According to the date stamp it is,” Ryan answered. “His car wasn’t taken from the club
that night because it was never there.”

“This whole thing has been an elaborate plan to kill the man who ended his military
career,” Eric said.

“But how did he find Conner,” Rick asked. “It’s been thirteen years. He changed his
name and dropped off the radar ten years ago.”

Eric had a sudden brainstorm. “A year ago, we put out a BOLO. We plastered his
likeness all over the news. Sent out posters all over the area, all with Simon’s picture.”

Rick’s face lit up suddenly. “You’re right. Didn’t Gus say that he came to Miami about
a year ago?” The others nodded. “Maybe he saw one of the flyers. It could have
triggered his memory.”

“We gotta bring him in,” Eric said.


                                           199
“We need a plan first,” Rick said.

                                          ooo

Tim was busy in the study packing his books into boxes. Horatio was supposed to be
helping him but somehow he seemed to be doing most of the work himself. He turned to
the redhead and saw him standing in one place staring at the wall.

“You ok, Horatio?” he asked.

“Huh,” Horatio said as he turned toward Tim.

Tim put down the small pile of books he was holding and took a step toward Horatio.
“Are you ok? You seem distracted.”

Horatio was silent for a moment. He hadn’t realized quite how distracted he’d become
by his conversation with Eric the night before.

“Sorry,” he said. “I, um…” He paused trying to decide how to tell Tim he’d gone back
on his promise, not to mention what he’d found out about Max.

Tim reached out and took Horatio’s hand. “What is it, Horatio?” he asked, his voice full
of concern.

Horatio ducked his head. He spoke without meeting Tim’s eyes. “I, um, I talked to Eric
last night, after you were asleep.” Tim raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry. I know I said I
wasn’t going think about work this week but when we were at Max’s last night I saw
something. I had to check it out.”

“What did you see?”

“There was a car in front of Max’s house. When I talked to Eric he confirmed that Stetler
ordered a stakeout. They have some evidence to, um… to suggest Max may have been
the one to kill Simon.”

Tim stared in disbelief. “No,” he whispered. “Max wouldn’t do that.”

“Eric doesn’t think so either. He thinks he’s being framed by someone else,” Horatio
said. “I’m waiting for him to call me back with more information.”

Tim started pacing the room. He turned to face Horatio. “Why didn’t you say something
to Max last night?”




                                          200
Horatio shook his head. “I didn’t know why the car was there. It could have been
protection. I could have been wrong altogether. I didn’t know what was going on at the
time.”

Tim took a deep breath and nodded. “Ok,” he said. “I have to call Max.”

“No,” Horatio interrupted. “You can’t do that yet. Wait until Eric calls. We could
jeopardize the investigation.”

“I’m not a cop, Horatio, and Max is my friend,” Tim said. “I need to talk to him.”

Horatio was regretting having said anything. “Look, you could be putting him in danger
if you say anything. Eric promised to call me this morning with more information. We
need to wait.”

“I can’t just sit here and do nothing, Horatio,” Tim insisted, the frustration was clear in
his voice.

Horatio’s cell phone rang causing them both to jump. Horatio quickly fished it out of his
pocket. “Yeah,” he said into the mouthpiece.

“We’re bringing Max into protective custody,” Eric said. “I don’t have time to give you
all the details but he should be here shortly.”

“You found evidence?” Horatio asked.

“Yes, but I have to get going. He’ll be here if you want to come down to the station.”

“Thanks, Eric. We’ll be there.” He snapped his phone shut. “I don’t know all of the
details but they took Max into protective custody. They must think the guy who’s trying
to frame him may try to harm him. We can go see him.”

Tim headed for the door then turned back to Horatio. “What are you waiting for?” he
asked. As they walked out to the car he asked, “Do they know who it is?”

Horatio nodded. “Gus,” he said. “I don’t know anything else yet.”

                                           ooo

They arrived at the station and found Max and Michael waiting in one of the
interrogation rooms. Horatio noticed that Max was sitting patiently while Michael was
pacing the room looking more than a little put out. They walked in and Michael was the
first to say anything.

“Horatio! Thank God. They won’t tell us anything. What the hell is going on,” he said
all in one breath.


                                           201
Horatio placed a hand on the other man’s shoulder. “Relax, Michael,” he said and saw
Max smirk. “I’m going to try to find out what’s going on right now.”

Tim went straight to Max’s side. “Are you ok?” he asked. Max just nodded. Tim sat in
the chair next to him. He leaned in close and spoke quietly. “Horatio says Gus is the one
who did this.” Again Max nodded.

Tim rested his hand on his friend’s arm. He knew Max would be upset by all of this.
He’d begun to consider Gus a friend. He placed a lot of weight on his gut feeling about
people and to find out he was so wrong about the man, about a fellow Marine, would
affect him in ways Tim couldn’t imagine.

There was knock at the door and a uniformed officer poked his head in. “Lieutenant
Caine?” Horatio walked over to the door. “I was told to give this to you, sir,” he said as
he handed over a file.

“Thank you,” Horatio responded and took the file.

He sat down at the table and started reading. Michael sat next to Max and put and arm
around him. They sat in silence as Horatio familiarized himself with the information in
the file.

                                            ooo

Eric pulled the Hummer up behind the unmarked car in front of Gus’ apartment building.
He, Ryan and Stetler stepped out. The officers assigned to the stakeout walked up to
them.

“He still in there?” Rick asked.

“Yes, sir,” one of the officers answered.

Rick nodded. “Ok,” he said then turned to the others. “Let’s play this carefully. As far
as we know he has no idea we know anything. We coax him out with the story we agreed
on. Once he’s out, we grab him.”

“Right,” Ryan said. “We tell him we have the killer in custody and we need him to come
down to sign some papers for the release of his car.”

They entered the building and took the stairs to the third floor. The plan was for Ryan to
make the contact while the others stayed to the side out of sight until Gus stepped out of
the apartment. However, as they approached his door they heard a loud pop, the
unmistakable sound of a gunshot. All three men hit the deck and reached for their
weapons. They remained frozen for several moments before Rick signaled for them to
move in closer to the door.


                                            202
He and Eric exchanged a glance. Then standing to the side of the door, Rick reached
over with his gun and tapped at the door. “Miami Dade police,” he yelled. “Open up.”

No one answered. He repeated himself. When no one answered the second time he tried
the doorknob only to find it unlocked. Cautiously they entered. In the main room they
found the body of Gus Metzger, single gunshot wound to the head with the gun still in his
hand. After clearing the rest of the apartment they started searching.

                                           ooo

Horatio’s cell phone rang. He answered it and listened for a moment then he said,
“Thanks,” before snapping it shut. He looked at the others. “Gus is dead. Suicide.”

An hour later Eric walked into the interrogation room and pulled Horatio out. “Ryan and
Calleigh are still going through Gus’ apartment but we found years worth of newspaper
clippings, letters to the military requesting information, and FOIA paperwork, all of it
basically the same. He’s been trying to find Conner for the better part of the past ten
years. There were hundreds of newspaper clippings about bias crimes, assaults and
crimes against gays all over the south. He had public records from a lot of them. He also
had copies of the flyers we sent out last year with the sketch of Simon Cole. His showing
up in Miami when he did was no accident. He even had a copy of the police report that
was filed after Tim’s assault last year. He’d been planning this for years, H.”

Horatio took a deep breath trying to take in everything Eric was telling him. After a
moment he glanced back into the room and said, “The important thing here, Eric, is that
this is finally over.”

                                           ooo

Epilogue
Two weeks later.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Horatio stretched and rolled over in bed as his mind slowly cleared from the best night’s
sleep he’d had in a long time. He reached out but encountered an empty space and cold
sheets. He opened his eyes, momentarily disoriented. It took him a minute to realize
where he was. He was still becoming used to the look and feel of the new house. He sat
up in bed and looked around. He wasn’t too concerned about Tim’s absence.

He recognized the scent of coffee wafting up to the second floor and was fairly certain he
knew where to find his missing spouse. He rolled out of bed and glanced at the clock.
He’d slept much later than he’d planned. After grabbing a pair of sweat pants he headed
out into the hallway and down the stairs. He had to sidestep a couple of boxes that they
had yet to unpack to make his way to the kitchen. He poured himself a mug of coffee and
walked out onto the back deck that overlooked the beach.



                                           203
He walked to the edge of the deck and leaned up against the railing watching the lone
figure sitting out on the sand by the water’s edge. Horatio absently wondered how long
he’d been sitting out there, but he soon realized that the fact that he was sitting out there
was the important thing.

The End




                                            204

				
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