Children of Love.

Horatio finished getting sick and rinsed out his mouth.  He was not liking this bout of the flu.  It wasn't at a convenient time.  Not that there was a good time to get so sick when murderers were committing their crimes in his city, but it was definitely a bad time right now.  He got up to brush his teeth and rinse out his mouth, heading to his bedroom to change for work.  He thought about calling his doctor but he didn't want to do that yet.  It was just the flu.  Right?  He finished pulling on his suit of the day and headed down to the hummer.  Even the thought of coffee was turning his stomach again.  The fruit stand he drove past made him pull over to get ill again off the side of the road.  Hopefully no one saw him.  He was taking the back roads for that reason.  He got cleaned up and kicked some dirt over it then rinsed out his mouth with the bottle of water he kept in the hummer for emergencies.  He climbed back in and finished his drive to work, not a happy camper.  He almost pitied whoever got in his way this morning.  He ran into Frank Tripp first, nodding at him.  He didn't trust himself to open his mouth since Frank had went a bit overboard on his aftershave this morning.

"Morning, Horatio."

"Morning, Frank," he said, stabbing the button for the elevator.  "Anything come in yet?"

"Not that I've heard."  He looked at his friend.  "Are you all right?  You look a bit peaked."

"I'm fine, Frank.  A touch of the flu," he admitted, getting onto the elevator with a small smile.  "New aftershave?"  Frank smirked and got the next one.  He knew what Horatio was saying and he was sure he probably did stink some.  It was a new aftershave.  His wife had bought it for him.  Horatio came off the elevator and ran into Calleigh, who was bubbly and happy, like usual.  He walked around her and her cup of tea.  "Morning."

"Morning, Horatio."  She walked after him.  "I got the ballistics done on the drowning case.  I matched it to an old poacher.  I'm trying to find him now."

"Good, keep me informed when you find him," he ordered, escaping into the locker room.  He found Speed leaning against his locker.  "Speed?" he asked from a safe distance.  Speed didn't wear aftershave but he looked just as bad as Horatio did.  Speed rolled his head to look at him.  "Flu?"  Speed nodded, banging his head a bit.  "Me too.  You okay to work, buddy?"

"No," he croaked.  "I'm hiding from Eric and his onion smelling shirt.  You?"

"Calleigh has tea."  He came over to get into his locker, pulling on his gun.  "Want straight lab today?"

"Please.  I'm hoping I don't barf on anything."  He went back to waiting, wincing when the door slammed open.  "Go the fuck away before I kill you and give Eric something to do!" he called.

"What's wrong?" Eric asked, leaning around the row of lockers.

"Eric, you stink," Horatio said, backing away from him. "Speed and I both have the flu and you smell like onions.  Please change?"

"Sure.  My locker's over there though."  They both cleared out, heading for their respective lab and office.  He sniffed himself.  "I don't smell."  He walked out and found Calleigh looking at Speed through one of the windows.  "Do I stink?  They said I smell like onions."

"Very faintly.  Had a breaded one last night?"

"Yeah, during my date."

"You must've gotten some on you or something."  He nodded, going to clean up again.  She watched as Speed went running to get sick and sighed, going to help him but he kicked the door shut when she tried to walk in to help him. "Speed, can I help?" she called.


She took a calming breath because Speed was already a grump, being sick would make it worse.  "Want Alexx?"

"Hell no!"

"Okay.  I'll go do what you were so you can be sick for a while."  She went to do that for him.  She called Alexx anyway. "It's Calleigh.  Speed and Horatio are both white as sheets in the sun and Speed's getting sick but when I offered to call you he swore at me."  She smiled.  "I thought you'd want to know," she agreed.  "I'm guessing the flu since they said Eric smelled like onions. I could barely smell it.  I'm in Trace.  Thanks."  She hung up and got back to work for him. She was proficient to do the basic things in here.  Anything specialized would have to wait for Speed.  He trudged back in but stayed away from her.  "I'm running face recognition on the photo, that is what it was going for, right?"  He nodded, staring at her. "Think you can do this and not get sick again?"  He nodded slower this time.  "Okay.  Let me know if you need help."  She left it to him and went to watch for a few more minutes.  Eric slid in but Speed glared at him so he walked back out and came to help her do something else.  "He's sick."

"He's being a bastard," Eric agreed.  She patted him on the arm.  "It'll get better in a few days," he offered.

"I hope so.  He and Horatio both having it is almost a frightening image."

"Yeah, but it's not as bad as the nightmare I had where they both had PMS," he said with a grin.

She looked at him then tested his forehead with her wrist.  "Are you feeling all right, Eric?"

"I'm fine."  He ducked away and smiled.  "C'mon, both of them gorging on chocolate ice cream?  Both of them complaining about bloating and cramps?"

She shuddered.  "That's just a horrible image," she complained, going back to her ballistics lab.  She wouldn't get any bad ideas from her guns.

Eric chuckled and got to work.  He loved flustering her.


Horatio got up the next morning and had all of ten second's peace before the toilet called him back to its altar.  It was official, he wanted to kill whoever started the flu.  The day followed the day before's path: finishing, cleaning up, going to work to find Speed resting his head against his locker.  "It's pernicious."

Speed rolled his head to look at him.  "I really do not feel good, H."

"Me either.  Is everyone here today?"

"Eric's got court."  He turned his head back when the door opened and someone cheerful came in, growling when they came toward them.  The patrol officer hurried off once he got his clean shirt out of his locker.  He looked at Horatio again since he had sat down.  "I feel like shit and I haven't kept down breakfast in four days."

Horatio counted back, frowning.  "I've had six.  Lunch and breakfast."  They shared a look.  "We should get checked out.  It could be food poisoning."

"I had bacon for dinner last night.  Two pounds of bacon," Speed complained quietly.

Horatio thought back, turning slightly green at the thought of his own tunafish from the can.  "I had tuna."

"Tuna's nice," Speed admitted.  Then he shuddered.  "No more talk about food.  At least until after eleven."

"Eleven's good."  He clutched his stomach and bent over.  "I really don't feel good."

"That's it, I'm calling Alexx!" Eric yelled from the doorway.  "You're both admitting you're sick, I'm calling her right now.  You're staying in here."  He slammed the door and locked it while he dialed. "Alexx, I'm in the locker room with Horatio, who's clutching his stomach, and Speed, who's leaning on his locker.  We're locked in the locker room before it spreads.  Please."  He hung up and looked at them.  Speed moaned.  "Another surge?" he asked calmly.

"No, you smell like tacos."

"I had those last night.  No way can you smell them," he said dryly.  "I've had two showers and sex since then."  Someone pounded on the door.  "Sick officers," he called.  They walked off.  Someone else knocked.  "Alexx?"

"Let me in," Calleigh called.

"Alexx and only Alexx," Eric called.  "They're probably contagious."

"She's coming up the hall."  Eric came over to open the door, letting Alexx inside.  "If they are, you're in deep, Eric."

"I know, but better this than letting them go work."  He closed the door and went back to help her.  Horatio growled at him and he backed off.  "Okay. Let me get you some water."  He went to do that.

Alexx looked at them, testing their temperatures first.  "What's going on, boys?"

"Repeated days of being sick all morning," Horatio said quietly.  "Please don't mention food."

"Okay, I won't.  Could you eat dinner?"  They both nodded.  "Uh-huh.  Anything strange for dinner?"  They both stared at her. "The reason I'm asking...."  Eric came back with the bottles of water.  "Thank you, baby.  It's probably not contagious at this stage."  He nodded, going to spread the good news before he headed for the courthouse.  "Did we hear about the guy out of the downtown precinct?"  They both stared at her but Speed nodded. "Because he came up with morning sickness last week."  They both stared harder at her, and she could feel the scowling going on.  "It wasn't my call.   His doctor made it."

"His doctor's a quack," Speed said firmly.

"There's one way to find out," she offered.

"I'm not peeing in a cup," Horatio complained.

"You don't have to.  The one we use has a little stick you pee on instead."  She handed over the two small wrapped strips from her pocket.  "Go pee on them.  I'll be out here."  They growled but went to do that.  She walked in there three minutes later, watching them watch the sticks change colors.  She cleared her throat.  "Are they pink?"  They both glared at her.  She almost felt the heat, like she was going to burst into flames.  "I don't know how, boys.  I have no idea how this is happening.  I do know that they're doing a lot of tests, including an ultrasound to make sure it's not some sort of funny lump from radiation or something."  Speed sat down against the wall, staring at her.  "We're going to send you for the same tests."

"Everyone will know," Horatio said quietly.  "Let's see what he's got first."

"He's got a heartbeat on his," she said bluntly.  They both went pale and went to get sick.  She sighed and waited until they were done then led them down to the morgue.  She had a room that had no windows, one door, and no way for anyone to look in.  They used it for contaminated bodies. She pushed Speed down onto the table since he had the easier clothes.  She pushed up his shirt and pushed down his pants and underwear until she could get to his stomach.  Then she got the ultrasound gel and machine, coming in to run it over his stomach.  She heard the quietly muttered 'please let this be the flu from hell.  I'll die from it, please, God, please let this be the flu' and gave him a gentle smile.  "It'll be okay."  She turned on the machine and searched, then flipped a switch, letting them hear the heartbeat.  She turned at the thump behind her, finding Horatio on the ground.  She checked him.  "Just passed out."

"I so want a bottle of scotch."

"Only if I'm not getting a grandbaby!" she said firmly.  He glared at her again.  She glared back.  "If you're not going to go through with it you can drink.  If you're going to keep her then you can't, Timothy Speedle.  Am I clear?"

"Crystal."  He covered his face with his hands.  "Damn it!" he yelled.

Horatio moaned as he came around, blinking up at her.  "Alexx?"

"Let me check your stomach, Horatio," she said gently.

He nodded so she helped him up and nudged Speed until he moved.  Horatio laid down once he had his shirt untucked and moved.  Someone tapped on the door.  "Shoot them," he ordered.

Speed looked then snorted. "Please can I?"

"Go ahead."

Speed strolled over there, leaning out the door.  "Stetler.  What's wrong?"

"I was going to ask the same."

"Alexx is doing a control experiment against that one guy since we've had the flu."  Then he coughed in his face.  Rick went pale and backed up.  "It was thought we were on the same scene so she's making sure we weren't contaminated by the same thing he was.  You know, radiation sickness can mimic the flu in lower doses."  He turned tail and ran.  "You sure?  I mean, we can test you too, man!"  He walked back in and locked the door again.  "He went for a jog.  We might get the day off to go sulk."

"Thank you."  She found what she was looking for and the heartbeat came out.  He sighed, looking at her.  "I am?"  She nodded, giving him such an understanding look.  "Will one drink hurt?"  She nodded again.  He groaned and sat up, taking the paper towel to clean off his stomach. "Just one night?"

"No.  This is the time when it's very important you don't get any, boys.  It could cause birth defects."  They both stared at her so she pulled up Horatio's scan to look at it.  "I'd say just into the third month.  Late first trimester."  They both walked out, heading out to their hummer and bike.  She erased all the scans and got the room cleaned up so she could get back to work.  She trusted them to not do anything stupid.  When they called to get a good recommendation she'd give them the only guy she'd trust to do an abortion.  Because men could not have babies.  No matter how they came to be.


Speed knocked on Horatio's door later that night, getting the tired looking man.  "I need to talk."  Horatio hummed and let him inside, watching him walk to the couch and flop down.  "Did you break orders?"

"Not yet."  He sat down across from him.  "Family is very important to me," he said quietly.

Speed looked at him. "I haven't had one in so long I'm not sure what I want.  I'm almost scared to let a kid come into the world the way it is."  That got a nod.  "I mean, there's days that I think assassination is the only way to clean some of it up enough that real people can live happily."

"I've often thought that was a good option," Horatio admitted.  "There's less expensive ways but they create more mess."  Speed cracked a smile at that.  "I don't know what to tell you, Speed.  I went to talk to my priest and he nearly had a heart attack but he insisted it was God's plan for me to make up for lacking my family."  Speed gave a nod at that.  "I pointed out all the risks, including that I'm not exactly built for childbirth.  I talked myself into it while talking to him."

"I made it down to the Keys and watched the water for a few hours before I drove back," Speed admitted quietly, looking at his stomach.  "I'm not sure I could handle this.  Why can't this be Eric?  He'd have to hide from his mother for a few months but then she'd squeal and be happy about the new grandchild."  Horatio chuckled.  "She would.  Eric's mother is a fussy woman.  Even worse than Alexx.  He sniffled in front of her so she bundled him onto the couch under a quilt, and had soup in his hand within two minutes.  She called all his sisters and they all came to fuss over him too."

"I'm still stuck on the how," Horatio offered.

"I was thinking about that.  I know the other officer hit.  He's never worked with us that I know of."  They shared a look.  "Aliens?" he joked.

"As good as any explanation I've thought about," he agreed.  "Possibly someone in the department experimenting?"

"That's a scary thought.  They might've gotten Stetler."

Horatio burst out laughing at that, nearly falling over.  "I can see him waddling up the halls complaining about having to pee."

"Can't you see Eric?"  Horatio smiled and nodded. "I can't see us doing that.  We'll be terrors, H.  People already duck when we're in a bad mood.  What're mood swings going to be like?"

"Horrible.  I'm definitely not looking forward to them.  Or hemorrhoids.  Or childbirth."

Speed nodded.  "That'll be one confusing moment."  He sighed, looking at his stomach again.  "I don't know."

"Whatever you decide I'll be there for you, Speed.  If you decide to go through with it, we'll do it together.  If not, you can nag me in a few months."

Speed looked at him.  "You'd kill me if I nagged you."

"Better you nagging me than Alexx and Calleigh, Speed."

"True.  They're going to go gushy and coo."  Horatio smirked at that.  "You know Calliegh will.  She'll try to pat and things too.  I don't want to grow breasts!"  He saw his boss shudder and looked at his chest.  "At least you're not horribly built.  I'd look funny.  I'm not quite as muscular as you are."

"I'm sure they'd go back down since I have no intention of using them."

"Eww.  I just had the picture of Eric playing with his."  He pinched the bridge of his nose.  "Please make me quit thinking about that."  Horatio smacked him on the top of the head.  "Not good enough.  Ewww, now I'm seeing him really pregnant and waddling eating pickles."  Horatio smacked him harder.  "Ow!"

"Did it help?"

"A little bit."  He shifted, letting his knees spread some.  "I'm still stuck on the whole 'breast' issue.  Did you know people have been writing stories online about pregnant men?"

"For some reason that doesn't surprise me.  How did you find that?"

"Cooper found some and was telling me about it a few weeks back.  They even have manipulated pictures and things."  He shook his head quickly and got another swat.  "Thanks, H.  You know, if we do, we could make sure they've got college funds by going on a talk show."

"I'd rather not."

"You could wear the really great suits," he offered with a small smirk.

"I like my suits.  Thank you anyway."  He gave him a look.  "Do you want there to be a baby Speed some day?"

"Not really.  With all the screwed up stuff in my life?  They'd end up being some circus freak or the biggest geek in the world."

"So they'll be the next great CSI in Miami," he said dryly.

Speed smiled at that image.  "Our two kids teaming up to wipe out crime with Frank's eventual kid?"  He looked up suddenly.  "If they got us, who else did they get?"

"I don't know.  Frank in the same condition is a pretty funny mental image.  He'd try to kill me if he ever knew I thought that but the hormone swings would definitely start to make crime slow down."

"Yeah, Eric would try the same.  I guess we have our doting 'spouses' picked out."   Horatio shuddered at that.  "They would.  No cooing like Calleigh but they would definitely go into protective overdrive."

"Frank would keep me in the office all day," Horatio agreed.  "Calleigh will come up every hour to pat me on the stomach and make sure I'm drinking tea instead of coffee."

"Does this mean I can go back to my t-shirts?"

"That was the Chief, not me, Speed."

"I know but they'll be a lot more comfortable and able to hide me for a lot longer.  And hey, eventually I'll end up being on lab-only restrictions.  If not in bed."

"I hadn't thought of that," Horatio admitted.

"Two words, boss.  Snipers.  Bombs."  Horatio gave him an unamused look.  "With the way you get into trouble?  They had better make a bulletproof vest with extra tummy control."

"I'd take normal precautions."

"That'd be nice," Speed assured him.  "You wearing a vest would be a great improvement."  Horatio frowned.  "Really.  Calleigh was talking about superglueing yours onto you the next time you didn't wear it."

"They seem to come up when it's in the office."

"Yeah, because that'll fly," Speed said dryly.  Horatio gave him another look.  "Oh, damn it, I'm talking myself into it, aren't I?"  Horatio nodded, giving him a smug look.  "Bastard."

"I'm only letting you talk it out, Speed.  It's still your decision and I'll stick by it.  I know the other guy didn't go through with his."

"I think it was more forced on him," Speed pointed out.

"It was from the rumors I checked into today," he agreed.  "We definitely can't tell anyone who has a big mouth."

"So I can't tell Eric?"

"I think we should wait," he offered.  "Let them figure it out."

"We are great CSIs," Speed said with a smirk.  "We should be able to figure out the clues pretty soon."

"I'd hope so.  I'd be disappointed if they didn't."  He got up with a small groan.  "Want some tunafish?"

"No, I'm having a hamburger night."

"Hamburgers.  Let's go.  I'll drive."

"Don't remind me I'll have to figure out how to put a carseat on the back of the bike, H.  It's mean."  He followed him out, letting him drive them to the better burger place in town.  This time of night all the teenagers were gone and they were pretty much alone.  "We'll have to confide in someone," he said quietly.  "Calleigh?  Eric?  Frank?"

"I'm still considering how bad it'll be with each of them.  Do not pick on Eric."

"Hey, they could be his.  His mother would be over the moon," Speed reminded him.  "Then we'd both get fussed over."

"Don't you get enough of that from Alexx?"

"Well, yeah."  He ate a bite of burger with everything on it.  "If we do tell him, I get to tell Eric."

"Fine," Horatio agreed tolerantly. "If we decide to tell Eric, you can tell him and Frank."

"Yeah," he snorted.  "That'll go over well."  He suddenly gave him an evil look and Horatio's eyes went wide.  "What?" he asked with innocent glee.

"Please don't pick on Frank.   You know how sensitive he is."

"Shoot, take all my fun," he complained, taking another bite.  "You know, I just realized this meant that rumor would start again."

"It probably will," Horatio sighed, eating a bite of his own burger with everything and extra pickles.  "At least it's a plausible reason for us to talk so often."

"The Chief threatened to separate me to night shift, Horatio."

"He can't do that this time, Speed.  She's got a full team and she refuses to work with you.  Since nothing's going to be going on in the lab, it won't happen."

"Okay.  If you're sure."  He finished his burger and looked at the board.  "I'd get another one but by the time I want it I'll be sick again."

"That too will stop within a few weeks," Horatio assured him.  Speed looked at him.  "I watched Yelina."

"You poor man."

"Definitely.  Talk about mood swings."  He finished his burger and went up to get another and some fries to take home.  Speed got his own.  At the very least they could have them when they quit getting sick in the morning.  He drove Speed back to get his bike then watched him leave.  "Be careful tonight," he said quietly once he was out of sight.  "I can't have you wreck now, Speed."  He went inside to get things ready for the morning ritual.  He didn't want to be late again.


Horatio watched Frank work their present scene's witnesses a few weeks after their revelation.  He was lucky, he was holding things down relatively well so far this morning.  The body wasn't to terrible.  He and Calleigh found everything they should ever hope to need.  Ballistics, a lot of hairs on the body, and lipstick prints on his neck.  The body got removed and Calleigh followed a few minutes later but he gave Frank a look telling him to wait with him.  He found one last thing and tucked it into an envelope for later evaluation, then put everything he had found into the back of his hummer, looking at Frank since he was leaning beside him.  "I need to talk to you."

"About this?"

"No, something personal."

"Sure.  Where?"

"Help me walk up the walking trail?"  That got a nod and Frank followed him.  He had his flashlight and kit for show mostly.  They knew nothing happened up this way.  "There's been some things going on recently that you probably aren't going to like," he said quietly as he looked around.  One of the flower bushes was making his head swim in a bad way so he quickly moved them away from it.  That got an odd look.  "You've heard about that one patrol officer, Merker?"

"I heard he had some sort of cancer.  Guy got rushed into surgery the day they found it."

"It wasn't cancer and the surgery may not have been his idea," Horatio said quietly.

"Yeah it was.  I heard it was stomach cancer."

"With a heartbeat, Frank," he said quietly.

Frank stared at him.  "He's a guy, Horatio," he said finally.

"Yes, I've been faced with that information recently while I got sick for the last few days," he admitted, giving him a look then around at the most deserted area.  He found something interesting in the bushes and went to look at it, finding it being a bloody knife.  "Not part of our crime scene put possibly part of one," he offered, pulling out a bag for it.  He snapped a few pictures, laid down a ruler to do another few, then bagged it and wrote on the bag once it was sealed.  It went into the top of his case and he looked around where the knife had been found.

Frank stared at his back, then around, feeling really strange.  "Okay, so if what you're saying is true," he decided finally, "then someone's in trouble."

"Yes, I could very well be," he agreed quietly, moving some of the bushes out of the way.  "Hmm.  This seems to be a popular spot to dump things."   He took pictures of the gun and pulled it out to look at it.  "Very nice compact thirty-eight."   He bagged that as well.  He searched through the rest of the hedge, then closed his case with the two weapons inside and looked at Frank again.  Frank was just staring at him looking amused.  "Frank, say something?"

"I'm hoping this is a joke.  Speed's getting me back for something?"

"No, he's in the same predicament," he offered.  Frank swallowed, just staring at him.  He walked him to a bench and sat him down.  "Breathe, Frank.  In and out, slowly, come on, breathe for me."  Frank shuddered all over and leaned forward to hold his head.  Horatio sat down next to him, watching the area around them.

"You're sure it can't be anything else?"

"Alexx found a heartbeat," he said very quietly.  "She guesses late third month."

Frank looked at him.  "For both of you?"  Horatio nodded once.  "Anyone else?"

"Not that I'm aware of.  We're still trying to figure out *how*."

"Yeah, that'd be a problem I'd want to know," he said, facing him more.  "Are you okay with this?"

"I won't be able to give up my family, Frank."  He looked horrified, standing up to stare at him.  "Which is why you have to know."

"How....  Uhn-uh.  No way in hell!"  Horatio nodded.  "You can't even be considering...."

"Frank, that surgery was not his choice," he warned. "In this case, my choice is that I'm doing this.  Speed's made the same choice but he's wobbling."  Frank nearly sat down on the ground.  "It's wet, Frank, and I'm not contagious."

"Are you sure?"

"We can test you once we get back to the office," he said dryly.

"Not funny, Horatio."  He scowled at him.  "So why tell me?"

"What did we do last week, Frank?"

"Chased down another bad guy and oooh, that's right, you ended up in the middle of a hostage situation again."  He smirked.  "That'll have to change."

"Yes and I'm sure it will.  I'll still need someone there to watch out for me.  As Speed joked, a hovering spouse sort."

"I'll do a lot for you, Horatio Caine, but I'm not your bitch," he joked.

Horatio cracked a smile.  "Of course not, Frank.  You do hover and fuss very well and we think it might be best if someone did know.  We're letting the others find out on their own."

Frank snickered at that.  "Uh-huh.  Lock Delko in a lab so he can rant and scream when he finds out."

"Speed kept getting stuck on the image of him being this way and having to hide from his very fussy mother."

"That woman is better at it than Alexx is," he agreed, then he shook his head quickly.  "I didn't need that image, Horatio."  That got another small smirk.  "So you're really....."  He glanced around.  "No wonder we took a walk."  Horatio hummed and nodded.  "Damn it!"

"Think about how I felt when I found out, Frank.  I thought I had the flu.  I couldn't even get drunk to make it easier."

"Okay."  He sat back down again.  "So you two need protected from your own instincts now and then.  I can do that.   I am not going to watch you two go all hormonal on everyone unless it's fun at the time.  Like you going off on Stetler or someone."  That got a small nod and a really wicked smirk.  "We both know they're coming I see."

"I watched while Yelina was pregnant with Ray Junior."

"I'm so sorry."

"That was Speed's reaction too but most of the time it was all right."

Frank snorted. "Sure it was, Horatio.  I remember her last bout of PMS.  Even you hid last month."

"Yes I did.  I almost thought she might be pregnant."  He shrugged.  "I know this information makes you feel uncomfortable, Frank."

"Ya think?" he snorted.  "But I can deal so you can be a fussy little mother of your own."  He stood up again.  "We should get those back."

"We should."  He grabbed his case and stood up, walking back to the hummer and Frank's car with him.  "Thank you."

"Yeah, but at least it's not mine.  It's not, right?"

"As you said, you're not my bitch, Frank."

"Good!  Speed's okay?"

"Probably still worrying and trying to talk himself out of it," he offered. "We'll find him alone in the labs with everyone staying far away from him all day.  As we have for the last few weeks."

"Your boy is a bit of a grump."

"Now and then," he agreed.  He put his case into the passenger seat as he climbed in.  "I'll see you back at the office."

"Sure."  He watched him drive off then got into his car, going to drive through somewhere for lunch so he had time to think.  He went back to his desk.  Horatio would tell him when he got something.  Right now he was stuck in the thought of Horatio waddling down the halls looking for peanut butter.  He glanced at Yelina's desk, noticing she was in.  She smiled back at him and he grinned at her, hoping it was a good enough show.  She raised an eyebrow so he shook his head.  "Just tired.  Didn't sleep well last night."

"It happens to the best of us, Frank."  She got back to work on an open case.

He looked at the ones open on his desk and got to work on one of them while he thought.   He saw Speed walk past their row and looked at him, getting a glare back.  So their moody one was even more moody today.  It was going to be a wild ride with Horatio and Speed both having mood swings.  Even Calleigh might lose some of her sunny nature if they did it at the same time.  Speed walked up to his desk with a file.  "For my case?"

"Yup."  He handed it over.  "Blood evidence leads back to the brother.  Horatio said you two talked about this one earlier."

Frank glanced at the evidence then at him.  "We did.  He had to search some bushes in the park.  Came up with a gun and a bloody knife."  That got a smirk.  "Good thing we went for that walk."  That got a small nod.  He grinned at him.  "You okay?"

"The flu seems to be receding for now.  I'm hoping it won't come back."

"Shouldn't.  Doesn't usually go round that fast."  He stared at him and Speed rolled his eyes.  "Yeah, we talked about that too," he agreed quietly.  "You're okay with me, kid."

"Thanks, Frank.  I'll remember that."

"Just don't make me watch the aftermath."

"I'm kinda hoping for a lot of drugs."

"You probably should," he agreed, handing it back. "Any idea where the brother is?"

"You're the detective," he said dryly, smirking at him.  "Find him, bring him in, and I'll help you threaten him."

"Sure, I can do that."  He checked the name on the case and got into his file to find out if he had talked to him yet.  Speed went back to work.  He wondered if being in the lab was safe, but being in the field was more dangerous.  He might get shot or something if he was out of the lab.  If they were his wife, he'd be superglueing them to a stool in the lab.  He'd be nice and make sure it was padded because he'd heard about all the hemorrhoids and things, but they'd be grounded to the lab once he found out.  Well, Horatio had said he needed a fussy spouse sort to make him quit doing stupid shit....  Looks like he might get his wish after all.  Because he could fuss worse than Delko's mom if he had to.  He knew exactly what sort of stupid shit a CSI like Speed or Horatio could get into.


Speed nibbled his lunch, thankfully not feeling sick at the moment.  He saw Eric looking his way.  "What?"  He ate another bite.

"You feeling better today?"

"Somewhat.  I'm keeping down lunch today."

"That's always good."  He smiled when Horatio walked into the break room with them.  "Hey, H.  Are you feeling better?"

"A little bit.  I'm told I had a pernicious case and it'll be a few more days before I feel totally better."  Speed moaned at that.  "You all right?"

"Perfectly fine.  Frank said you two had a long talk on the rounds looking for stuff people tossed in the park.  Find anything for me?"

"The bloody knife led back to that dog and jogger attack last week."  That got an evil smirk.  "Yes, the one with the rude man with the yappy dog."

"They probably did it because he was rude and the dog was yappy and wouldn't quit barking," Speed complained.

"Quite possibly," Horatio agreed, stirring some sugar into his coffee.  "Peanut butter?"


"Eww," Eric complained.  "How can you eat that?"

"I'm not sure. It's disgusting but ..."  Eric's eyes went wide.  "Door."  Horatio closed and locked the door.  "Are we clear in here for cameras?"

"The closest is in the hallway that I'm aware of," Horatio admitted, sitting down beside Speed.  "Did you wring it out?"

"I did and it's still disgusting.  I'm not putting up with these."

"Then don't, Speed."  He patted him on the arm and then sipped his coffee, watching Eric's face change colors and him start to huff.

"He's going to scream in a second," Speed offered.

"Eric, calm down."

"Calm down!"

"Yes, you, you're loud.  We don't need someone screaming about this, Eric."  Eric huffed and glared at his best friend.  "Are you able to be reasonable?" Speed asked.  He got a terse nod.  "Good.  Then you can figure out how this happened to us and the poor patrol guy who got caught as well."  He threw out the rest of his sandwich.

"Patrol guy?"  Eric stared at them.  "The one the rumors said had cancer?"  Horatio nodded once.  "Hold on...."  He stared at them.  "I thought it was sympathy...."  They both shook their heads, shuddering a bit.  "You two are scary."

"And about to become worse if what Yelina went through is any indication," Horatio said blandly.

Speed looked at him.  "When are you going to tell her?"

"When she comes to me about my weight gain to see if I'm all right.  I'm definitely not telling her suddenly."

"Let me know so I can run and hide behind Eric, okay?"

"Of course."

Eric gave them an evil look.  "I'm not liking this joke, guys."

"Think how I felt.  I liked the waffles I made the other day."  Eric frowned at that.  "I did!  Fortunately Alexx remembered how to combat this sickness stuff."  He went to the machine and found something in there that looked better to him than tofu, getting it.  "Ah," he said, sitting down with the nut log.  "Better."  He started to pick at it and looked at Eric.  "You know you can't tell anyone, right?"

"Who would believe me!"

"Eric, the other officer afflicted with this problem had emergency surgery," Horatio said quietly.  "Not of his own choice from what I've heard."  Eric stiffened at that.  "You know and one other knows beyond us and Alexx."

He stared at them.  "I'm so going to help her fuss," he warned.  Then he smirked really wickedly at them.  "You two are in for it now."

"Well, we do need someone who knows and can watch our backs in the field," Speed offered.  "So you get to do hubby detail."

"Sure."  He looked at Speed, then his chosen lunch.  "Try shrimp, Speed.  Trust me."  Speed moaned at that.  He looked at Horatio.  "Are you about the same length?"

"Late third inning," Speed agreed.

"So that wasn't the flu."  They both shuddered.  "Crackers and ginger ale, boys.  It's the only way."  They both sighed and nodded.  "Horatio, eat more than coffee."

"I had a sandwich already, Eric.  I came down to help him tell you."

"Good!   Who else knows?"  He stared at them. "Frank?" Horatio nodded.  "Even better.  He's reasonable.  We can go have a drink and shudder in horror tonight.  What about Calleigh and the others?"

"If and when she finds out.  She'll throw a worse fit than you will be once you're alone," Speed told him.  He picked off another section of the nuts.   "I was going to give you a card."

Eric snorted.  "I would've thumped you good if you had, Speed."  He leaned on the counter.  "Now, what're we doing about doctors?"

"Alexx," Speed offered.

"We do need to do some quiet bloodwork, make sure we're the only one hit," Horatio offered.  He finished his coffee and Speed shoved over half his nut log minus all the nuts.  "I just had sugar."


Horatio picked at the nougat.  "Eric, are you all right with this?"

"No," he said honestly.  "I'm not.  I'm going to go have a temper tantrum in a few minutes.  I will be checking on what's safe to do in the lab.  I will also be nagging you if I find you breaking those and so help me God, H, if you go into another bomb scene or something where you need your vest and you don't have it on I'll spank you."

"That could be fun to watch," Speed offered with a smirk for the boss.  "You up for kinky sex with Eric, H?"

"Not really," he admitted dryly.  Eric snorted at that.  "Should you try I will take great pleasure in grounding you to the lab for months on end, Eric."

"You wanted me to fuss, you'll get me fussing."  He walked out, heading to throw his fit and talk with God about how right this wasn't.

"When he does spank you, can I watch?" Speed asked him.

"Not funny, Speed."  Speed smirked at him.  "Keep it up, do the next dumpster."

"That would probably make him fuss and spank."

Horatio got up, taking his nougat with him back to his office.  The labs were working on his things and he had paperwork to do.  That way he could ignore Eric ranting down in one of the empty labs.  Still within his sight but soundproofed.  It was a nice thing for him to do.  He saw Calleigh head that way but Eric held the door shut so she couldn't get in.  They had a silent conversation and then she shrugged and walked off while he went back to screaming at God about doing this to men.  So far the reactions had been fun to watch.  Frank had nearly passed out and Eric was going on a ten minute rant at God.  Much better than his own had been.


Eric and Frank sat down that night at the bar, looking at each other.  "How do we protect them from themselves?"

"We carry handcuffs, Delko," Frank offered.  "I'm sure they'll be helpful at least one time in the next six months."

"Four.  There's no way they'll be on scenes after that."

"Yeah," he snorted.  "This is Caine we're talking about."  Eric moaned.  Speed was just as stubborn as Horatio was.  "Any other ideas?"

"A lot from watching two sisters go through it," he admitted.  "I know exactly what not to say and how to duck and run at the same time."  He saluted him with his beer.  "Should we be talking to Alexx?"

Frank looked at him.  "Do you want that rant?"

"No," he admitted, smiling at him.  "I don't know about you but I want to forget today happened for another week."

"I've been thinking about taking a nap and waking up to a sane world most of the day," he admitted, sipping his beer.  "Then I realized my wife would scream at me if I woke up screaming about babies."

"Probably true," Eric sighed.  "At least I don't have that problem."


Eric looked at him.  "Do we see me settling down with one woman, Frank?"

"Wellllll....  Maybe a very creative and flexible woman."

"She'd have to be."  He finished his beer.  "Okay, first we've got to make sure they're eating a semi-decent diet.  One of them had a nutlog for lunch and some tofu.  The other had coffee and a sandwich of something."

Frank snorted.  "At least they ate lunch.  I've heard Yelina and Alexx both complaining that they keep skipping meals."

"H never goes home."

"Speed works all hours too.   How fussy do we get to be?"

"I don't know," Eric admitted.  "Speed will kick my ass if I get too pushy too fast."

"Hmm.  So let's start with gentle nagging about the diet stuff.  Dropping food in front of them."

"Right now one wants sweets the other protein."  They shared a look.  "I'll get stuff for one tomorrow, you pick up the other's lunch?"

"Sure.  Am I getting sweets?"  Eric nodded.  "Damn.  Oh, I know."  He grinned.  "I know what to get."

"Yeah, I'm thinking I do too.  Okay, so that's a start then we can quietly step it up as this...sickness goes on.  I've got to look up safe lab practices for when you're sick.  Damn it, Cal's going to kill us."

"Hmm.  I kept thinking about Yelina when she finds out they're... sick."

"It'll make my rant at God seem pleasant I'm sure."

"You ranted at God?"

"Yeah, this is clearly a punishment for doing too much good."  He got another beer and sipped it.  "We've got to do some rumor management."

"Yup.  Because if this gets out we've got two walking targets on our hands."  Eric nodded at that.  "Any other ideas since you've been here before?"

"Patience.  Lots and lots of patience.  I can guarantee you one will turn his nose up at something and then come back twenty minutes later wanting it.  At least twice.  The constant problems while they're sick.  We might want to talk about getting a new tech."  He took another sip.  "How is he going to add onto the bike for safety?"

Frank looked at him.  "You can't do that.  Can you?"

Eric glanced around then at him.  "Can you see Speed *ever* giving up his bike?"

"No," he sighed, shaking his head.  "But I thought earlier about one of those signs on the back of the hummers."

Eric cracked a smile at that.  "One of those Winnie the Pooh shades?"  Frank snickered at that.  Calleigh sat down across from them.  "Hey."

"Hey.  You two didn't tell me you were coming out tonight.  I should pout."

"We're talking about some rumors going around," Frank admitted.  "Playing with some what ifs, ya know?"

"Oh, I do."  She looked around then at them.  "What happened to that one guy with stomach cancer?" she asked quietly.  "The Chief asked me earlier if I was feeling all right and if I had a new boyfriend."

Eric shrugged.  "He's been really nosy recently," he admitted.  "He asked me if I was feeling all right.  Maybe he thought you were pregnant with the flu going around."

"No, seriously."  She shook her head. "I'm a very careful girl.  That's not my thing, really."  They both smiled at her.  "Anything I can know?"

"We're not totally sure of anything yet," Frank admitted.

"Cal, with Horatio and Speed both coming down off the flu maybe we should handle cases tomorrow?  They were both really tired after today and Speed stayed in the labs so he could growl at everyone."

"He was.  I'm concerned about both of them.  They both looked exhausted when they left."  She took Eric's beer to sip.  "I'm all but free so I can help with anything new that we get tomorrow."  Eric grinned.  "Can we complain about the Chief asking me if I was pregnant?"

"Quietly," Frank agreed.

"I'm betting he's thinking that the storms a few months back made a lot of people huddle together," Eric offered.  "He asked me about new girlfriends."

"Huh.  I still don't like it and he's lucky I didn't mood swing on him."  She took another drink.  "Thanks for the beer, Eric.  I'll see you boys tomorrow."  She walked off with it to talk to another friend.

Eric looked at Frank.  "Looks like I got cut off so I'll see you tomorrow as well."

"Sure, Delko.  Sleep well."

"Yeah, right," he snorted, heading out to his car so he could head home.   He did cruise by Horatio's house.  He was home and the lights were on.  He cruised past Speed's.  His bike was covered in his parking spot.   So they were safely in for the night at least.   He could go home and search online for safe lab procedures.  Because it was up to him to enforce it until he got Alexx into it for a more serious thing.


The Chief of Police walked into Horatio's office the next day, closing the door.  "I need you to quietly run some tests."


"Some officers at a scene got exposed to something.  We need to know who got exposed so we can get them treatment.  Since it's a federal slip-up if it's not done quietly they could torture the department or withhold funding."  He put a case of blood vials onto his desk.  "That's all you need and you need to run this test," he ordered, handing over a slip of paper.

Horatio looked at it, not showing that he knew what it was.  "That's fine.  Should I worry about radiation hazards or telling them?"

"No, I'll tell them.  That's why they're only numbered, Horatio.  I have the list of who gave what vial in my office so I can let them know.  I may have a few more for you to test later."  That got a nod.  "When will you know?"

Horatio looked at his clock.  "Eight hours."  He looked at him again.  "We've got a backlog of cases in that lab and we can't run them as a mass batch.  We'd have to do each sample independently."

"That's fine.  I can talk to them after shift tonight.  Thank you and remember to keep this absolutely silent."  Horatio nodded.  The Chief left.

Horatio called Speed.  "Come here please."  He hung up and waited, looking at the vials.  Speed walked in.  "We're running HGH samples on these.  Find the afflicted officers so we can talk to them," he ordered quietly.

"How?  DNA?"  Horatio nodded.  "Okay.  Any more coming?"

"Possibly.  I told him we were backed up.  He said this has to be kept absolutely quiet and it was some sort of federal slipup where they got exposed to something."

"Sure it was," he agreed, heading down with the vials.  He locked himself in the chem lab, pulling all the shades to prepare the blood for the test.  An hour later he walked them over to DNA, pulling Valera aside.  "I have a priority search and find," he whispered in her ear.  "I cannot tell you why.  I can tell you that the victims were officers and that they were exposed to something so we have to tell them."  She looked at him and nodded.  "You may not say a word to anyone about what you hear or see."

"Of course.  What sort of samples?"  Speed handed over the affected blood samples.   "All these?"

"The Chief wants briefed at five," he said quietly.  "We need to tell them before then."  She nodded, taking them to get to work.  "Don't do any other tests, Valera."

"Of course not.  Ours?"  He nodded. "Okay. That'll cut down search times."  She made shooing motions.  "I'll page you."  He nodded, heading back to clean up the other lab.  Horatio came in with two others while she watched. "I wonder what sort of biohazard was released," she muttered as she prepared the first one.   She had three stations and all three of them could do this.  Eric's sample could wait for a few minutes longer. She could run that while the last batch was being prepared.


Speed walked upstairs.  "She's searching one.  It's admin somewhere."  He laid down the rack of tubes, separated out.  "These are positive.  These are who they belong to," he said, handing over the printed fact sheets on each officer.  "Notice the concentration of where they came from?"

"The ....  That stupid cruise ship exercise."

"I'm taking Eric's and Frank's blood, H."

"Do it."  Speed nodded, going to get Alexx to do that for him.  Horatio got the first officer paged to him with a 'see Caine in CSI ASAP, do so quietly' message.  He came in and Horatio looked at him.  "Sit, please."

"What's going on?  I don't usually work with you and I haven't applied for a transfer, sir."

"Sit, Officer."  He sat.  Horatio got up to close the door then sat down again.  "This is going to sound very strange."

"I see the vials the Chief had someone pull.  What came up?"  Horatio handed over the test results with his number.  He looked at it then at him. "My wife had one of these......    Oh hell no!"  He hopped up.  "Your machine's got to be wrong."   Horatio opened his drawer and pulled out a test strip.  "But...  But I'm a guy."

"You're also not the only one hit, Officer.  The Chief wanted to tell you this tonight but I know we've all heard about the one officer who had stomach cancer?"  That got a pale, shaky nod.  "Exactly.  We feel it's best if you know now.  That way you have the chance to make some decisions and think.  You are not the only one affected," he said quietly.  "There's at least eight of you."  Speed tapped then walked in with another sheet.  "We found him?"

"We did and he was there."  He closed the door and looked at him.  "We think it happened at the cruise ship exercise," he said quietly.  "Delko is working on how.  You're now one of ten."  That got a horrified look.  "We wanted you to know first.  Before the Chief."

"I..."  Horatio nodded at the testing strip, getting a nod. "I'll be right back."

"That's fine.  I'm sure you know what those are for," Horatio agreed.  The officer left, going to the bathroom to do that.  Horatio looked at Speed. "Get the others here quietly."

"Already done.  They picked partners, H."  He walked out, going to get the last one personally.  He was off today according to his supervisor.  He took the copy of the sheet and headed for a hummer, going to his house.  By the time he got there, he had rehearsed what he was going to say.  Thankfully.  The guy was affectionately known as the Fertility Bunny around the precincts.  His wife was pregnant with baby number nine.  He parked and got out, heading up to the door to knock.  "Hi, you may not know me.  I'm Speedle with the Crime Lab.  We need to talk."

"Has something happened?"  He looked around the house. "All the kids and the wife are here."  Speed just gave him a look.  "Come into the kitchen."  He let him inside and back to the kitchen, closing the door.  "What's wrong?"

"The Chief had blood pulled, claiming you were exposed to something?" he said quietly.  He nodded slowly.  "He had us run the tests quietly.  The only people who know the outcome so far and Horatio and I.  The DNA tech knows that something happened but not what.  We decided you needed to know before the Chief told you."


Speed handed over the paper.  "We were to run that one single test."

"But that's....  That's a blood pregnancy test," he hissed.  Speed nodded.  "No."

"Yeah, man.  I'm sorry.  That's what it came up.  You're not the only one.  You're one of eleven that I know of.  Unfortunately we think the Chief's thinking in terms of not embarrassing the department.  That's why Horatio and I decided you guys who were affected needed to know first."

"I...  I'm a guy!" he said.  His wife came in.  "Not now, dear."

"Take the home version," Speed offered. "Prove it to yourself but he'll be calling everyone in for a talk after shift tonight."

He looked at his wife.  "Apparently I got exposed to something at work."  He handed over the paper.

"I had one of these with two of the girls."  She looked at him.  "In the bathroom cabinet, under the sink.  There's a spare test."  He headed that way.  She looked at him.  "How?"

"We have no idea.  The Chief asked Horatio to run the tests quietly.  He told us what test to run.  I ran them and Horatio's telling the guys who're on shift today."  He heard the bellow and sighed.  "We know he's at least one of eleven."


"I don't know.  All we know is we've correlated it to a federal disaster exercise a few months back.  The ones we know formally about are about three months along, late three months.  I do know our ME knows because she did a check on one guy when he had the flu for days on end."  She wobbled and he helped her into a chair.  "Calm down."

"This is wrong."

"That's between you and God, ma'am."  The officer came back in.  "This is why we wanted you to know before the Chief wanted to tell you.  So you had time to think and decide that."  That got a nod.

The officer looked at his wife, who was shaken, but took his hand and gave it a squeeze.  "I don't believe in ending things like life unless it's going to kill me."

"I have no idea on that," Speed offered.  "You can ask Alexx Woods.  We know she did an ultrasound on at least one guy."

"The guy with the stomach cancer," he said, realizing it.

"I'd need his blood to test but I'm pretty sure, yeah."

"Oh, God."

Speed helped him sit down. "Think, Officer.  For right now just think.  He'll be calling you in for a meeting after shift tonight.  We bought you guys that long."

"How did you know?"

"He selected which test and only wanted us to run one.  The HGH test only has one reason," he reminded him.  "Human growth hormones don't come up for any other reason except a rare sort of tumor.  We have kept this absolutely silent.  We don't want anyone to know if you don't.  That's why I came here instead of calling from the lab.  Horatio's got the others in his office."  That got a nod and a hard swallow by his wife.  "I'm not going to dictate to you.  I can't do that.  It's not my right.  I'm only here to keep you from panicking tonight and to give you the time to do some rational thinking without being railroaded."

"Thank you."

"Welcome.  Like I said, ME Woods knows that it's going on.  You can talk to her if you need to."  That got a nod.   "The one she did an ultrasound on was late third month."

"That's why you've had the flu then," she said quietly.  "God, why us?" she whispered.  He kissed her hand.  "I'll stand behind you, dear.  No matter what."

"I'll leave you two alone," Speed promised, heading back out to the hummer.  He made sure none of the kids came out with him and called Horatio.  "H, me.  I told the guy who was off-shift today.  Yeah, he's doing a bit of what Eric did yesterday."  He backed down the driveway and headed back to the office.  "Since I'm out, need anything for lunch?"  He smiled.  "Sure, if Eric brought me food I might eat it."  He hung up and pulled onto the main street, heading back to the station with a stop for a good iced tea.


Horatio hung up and looked at the officers in front of him.  They had wanted to go together since they were partners and close friends.  "The one who's not on shift today was also told."

"How did this happen?" one guy demanded.

"If I knew that I'd kill the person who created it," Horatio assured him.  That got some nods.  "I have noticed it seemed to work on mostly fathers so far.  It's related back about sixty percent to fatherhood."  They all nodded at that.  "I can tell you when it probably happened since one person has had an ultrasound.  It happened about three months ago, just over by her estimates."

"That disaster drill," one guy in the back said, frowning.  Horatio nodded. "We're sure?"

"No.  I won't be until I know how it happened.  I do have someone quietly working on this. That way we can see if it'll suddenly drop out or make you more susceptible to it later on. We are keeping this very quiet."

"Merker," that same guy asked.

"We think so."

"My mother would kill me if I brought home an illegitimate grandchild," one guy said.

"Again, that's why we're telling you now.  So you can make that decision on your own however you choose to," Horatio said gently.  "We're not going to tell you what to do but we did not want you to be ambushed with it tonight.  If he does tell you tonight how it happened I would like to know.  I know Alexx is hiding one of the afflicted ones who refuses to do anything but love his."

"If I find out, sir, I'll tell you," one of them promised.  They stood up.  "Can we go?"

"Go.  Be careful today.  We said we'd tell him at the end of the day.  We couldn't realistically stall later than that."

"Sure.  We get that.  Thank you for letting us know first."  They walked out not looking at each other or the one guy who had gotten there late.

Horatio nodded him inside.  "Close the door."

"What's going on?  Did that disaster drill go really wrong?"

Horatio looked at him.  "The door?"  The door was closed.  "Sometime during that, we think, a bunch of people were exposed to something.  The Chief asked us to check."

"Okay.  And?  I was?"  He nodded, handing over the sheet.  "Um, Lieutenant, I think your machine's broken.  My wife had that one when she was pregnant four years ago."

"Yours is higher than average.  We think it's twins," he said looking perfectly serious.  The guy burst out laughing.  Horatio handed over a test strip.  The guy quit laughing.  "You're not the only one.  The Chief had us run the bloodwork quietly.  We broke his rules to tell you before he could so you wouldn't be ambushed with it tonight.  We have to tell him tonight who was affected and then he's planning on calling a meeting."

"I...."  The test strip was held up again.  He snatched it and went to use it.  He came back ten minutes later looking like he had been crying.  "Okay.  Now what?" he asked, sitting down in front of him.

"As you saw, you're not the only one affected," he offered quietly.

"Is Jones?  The fertility bunny?"

"We're not sharing names but it's entirely possible.  We've noticed a high amount of fathers in those who we found positive."

He swallowed and Horatio kicked his trash can closer, letting him get sick.  He got up to hold him for a minute, giving basic human comfort until the guy shrugged so he got off.  "You're not alone in this.  I know Alexx is still shielding someone.  We know at least the ones you saw and you were affected."  That got a nod and the guy wiped his mouth off.  Horatio offered him a mint, getting a small smile.  "We're also not sure what the Chief was going to do tonight.  That's why we wanted to tell you in person before then."

"Okay.  Do we think he's going to quarantine us or something?"

"I do not know," Horatio told him.  "I have no idea."

"I... I can't, Lieutenant."

"That is your choice and not for me to decide.  That's the other reason we're telling you before he can.  So you have time to think and not act out of panic."  That got a nod and the guy got up, heading back to his car and going back to his patrol.  Horatio said a silent prayer and looked over when Eric came in.  "What's going on?"

"I ran the tests on Frank, me, Cooper, and the other guys in the lab.  We're all negative."

"Good to know.  Anyone who did come up?"

"No.  Not yet.  Are you sure, H?  I know this is going to be hard on you."  He nodded.  "You can still find a wife and all.  You know that.  Hell, plenty of women would love to have you."  That got a gentle smile.  "It's kinda creepy."

"I feel the same way," he agreed.  "Actually, I passed out when I heard Speed's."  That got a small smile.  "Does anyone else know?"

"Cal and I are conspiring to keep you two off cases for the next little while."

"I'm fine, Eric.  Just a bit tired."

"Frank and I brought you two lunch today."  That got another gentle smile.  "Let us handle some things.  C'mon.  Lunch time."

"Of course."   He followed him down to the break room, finding Frank ushering in Speed.   "Okay, we're here and you promised us food?"  Eric got into the bags and handed him some of his favorite pastries with fruit filling.  "Eric."

Frank smirked at Speed and handed him something he normally wouldn't eat but he was salivating.  "Eric said you were craving meat, salt, and protein."  He sat down with his own kielbasa sandwich.  Eric sat down with his salad.  "How did today go?"

"Both ours came out negative, so did all the others in the lab and I ran Calleigh's just in case it wasn't specific."

"Good idea," Speed agreed, stealing a bite of pastry with a moan.  Horatio traded him one for half his sandwich.  "Thanks, H and Eric.  You too, Frank."

"It helps," Eric offered with a small grin.  Alexx walked in.  "Hey.  What's up?"

"I've had two others come down to have me check," she admitted, sitting between Eric and Frank. "How many more should I expect?"

"We tested eleven positive ones," Speed said quietly.  "We've told them all."

"Good.  That's better than I could do."  She got her lunch out of the fridge and came back over to eat the yogurt.  "So, now what?"

"We told the Chief we'd tell him tonight around five," Horatio said quietly.  "He didn't give us names so we had to find them."

"Valera got my results to me finally," Eric offered.  "Not that I mind in this case.  Eat."  They dug in again, eating their good lunch.  "Okay, I do have one note," he said, getting up to close the break room door since Stetler was up the hall.  He pulled out a sheet and handed it over.  "Those are unsafe lab practices for people with this problem.  We will be following them or else I will spank and will then hand you to Alexx."  She smiled at that.  "Are we clear?"  They both nodded.  "Good.  Speed, have you cleaned your gun?"

"Last night while I was thinking."

"I think you should start leaving it in the locker, boys," Frank said quietly.

"We have other means at home," Horatio reminded him.  "It'll be fine.  If Speed or I get to that point, we know who we can call on."  Speed nodded at that.  "Good."  He finished up before the door opened.  "Yes, Rick?"

"Why were you paging officers up here?"

"Going over an evaluation of the last disaster drill."

"I hadn't heard we had one."

"You weren't supposed to.  I got it privately.  It was mostly praise.  Only a few cases of doubled duties."

"That's good."  He walked out again, seeming satisfied by that for now.

Horatio shook his head.  "Now what?"

"Now we go back to work like usual and we be very careful about the precautions on that list," Alexx reminded him.  "Also, if there's any cats you'll need to have them checked for worms."

"Gee, another great thing," Speed said bitterly.  "Anything else I should know?"

She looked at him.  Then she nodded.  "Within the next few months your sense of balance is going to shift, Speedy.  Completely shift.  It can change from day to day for a while too.  After that, you'll have hemorrhoids."

"I'm not giving up my bike," he said firmly.

"That's fine, but there's going to be some days you won't be able to ride it.  Cab or beg a ride that day."  She stared him down.

"We were wondering how he was going to put a carseat on the back," Frank offered with a grin.

"I searched online. They make them," Speed told him.  He finished up his lunch and got up.  "Thanks, guys."  Eric held up the sheet of precautions.  "Must I?"

"Yeah.  You wanted me to fuss.   It's me or Calleigh, Speed."  He shuddered and took the sheet back to his lab to read over while things ran.  "H?"

"I'll go over it while I'm doing paperwork."  He got up, taking it with him once his mess had been cleaned.

"He's nesting early," Eric said quietly, looking outside.

"I did it in my fourth month with the first kid," she assured him.  "When did your sisters?"

"Sixth.  Both of them, all the times."

"It can vary from person to person.  You know, a few days ago I would've said women.  I think I'm making progress."  She got up and went back to the morgue to wait on any others coming in to see her.

Frank looked at Eric.  "That went better than I thought."

"They'll fuss about it soon," he assured him. "About the same time they start to feel fat."  He got up and threw away the last few pieces of his salad, going back to work.

Frank finished his lunch then sighed and went back to his desk.   He had antacids in there.  He needed some after that sandwich with onions.


Horatio looked up when the Chief came in at five.  "The ones on the right have tested positive for being pregnant."

The Chief slammed the door.  "How did you know?"

"Do you know how many tests we run a year on murder victims?"

"Oh."  He slumped.  "So you know?"

"I do know.  I also know that we told them all."


"DNA, Chief."  He stared him down.  "We heard what happened to Merker," he said quietly.

"Do you know what this'll do to the department!"

"Do you know what this'll do to the people who're affected?" he countered.  "Some people are very religious.  Some of them won't let you do to the same thing to them."  He went pale.  "Now, you can find a way for them to quietly sit on a very boring desk for the next six months or not.  Personally I'd like to know how since I know at least one is hiding from you."


"I'm not telling you.  He's not in that batch and he doesn't want you to know.  He's made his choice, Chief.  Now, how did this happen?"

"I don't know.  I know it was something to do with that mock drill three months ago.  I know they did something and gave you all drugs.  Did you test the lab personnel?"

"When we correlated the people and Alexx came to me about that one hidden one it could have only come from that event.  Especially since one was an observer."  The Chief shuddered.  "Again, we'd like to know how.  In case it can bite us on the ass at a later time."

"I was told if you weren't already you wouldn't be.  If anyone told anyone like the press, we'd be losing all federal funds, accreditation, and all standing."

"Then you tell the ones who choose to go through with this to keep it quiet.  You find them someone quiet to go to, someone like Alexx.  You keep them off patrol and in a very quiet office with steady hours for a while."

"I can do that," he agreed.  "What about that one?"

"Even if you did that they're not going to go with your plans, Chief.  They will keep it quiet so they don't end up as part of a media circus.  Their phrase, not mine."

"Are they in the lab?"  Horatio stared at him.  "Is it you?"

"No comment."

"Fine. They can go to Doctor Woods about this.  No one else."

"Even if there's a problem?"

"She can handle it.  She's got the contamination room, she can use it for exams and things.  I'll tell her personally and bring her with me tonight."  He stood up.  "You told them all?"

"I did."

"Did Jones hit?"  He nodded.  "Crap.  Do they know I'm going to call them?"

"They do," Speed said from the doorway, coming in and closing the door.  "They also know we told them early so they had the time to think.  Especially since Merker had to have someone get his gun from him last night, Chief."  The man went pale.  "So, no, the one hiding is going to stay hidden.  The others, you've got a fight if you're going to do the same thing."

"If anyone finds out," he hissed.

"If they do, we'll sue the ass off them because they didn't have our permission.  This is the same as rape.  Even the ones it didn't work on.  Did you test the others?"

"Only the ones who've been sick."

"Some women don't have morning sickness."

"I'll have the rest tested.  You ran the test?"

"And told Jones."

"I see.  What's he...."

"He's a devout Fundamental Baptist.  His wife's pregnant with number nine.  What do you think?" he said dryly.

"Fine.  I'm sure it'll be fine."  He swallowed and looked at them.  "I will protect whoever it is."

"No comment," Speed said firmly, glaring at him.

"I see."  He stood up.  "You?"


"Oh."  He frowned. "You know who?"  Speed nodded. "You're both protecting them?"  They both nodded.  "They have help?"

"Some limited help and a few others who're watching over them," Speed agreed.  "We know who we can trust if we're not there, Chief.  Do you know if it works on women?"

"Only if they've had sex recently."

"Does that mean the others will be clones?" Speed asked.  "Because I'm having some bad mental images if that's true."

"Not that I'm aware of.  This cannot get out."

"Then it won't.  If it does, we'll sue them if they try shit.  I didn't ask someone to try something experimental as hell that can kill me!"  That got a nod and the Chief walked out.  He sat down.  "You think he will?"

"I think he'll encourage it," Horatio admitted. "From the looks on most of their faces most of them might be convinced to go with his idea."  He played with his pen while he leaned back some.  "I'm hungry.  You?"

"Definitely.  I want spinach for some reason."


"Oooh," Speed moaned.  "Come to my place, I make a mean one."

"I'll be there in a while.  I've got some dreaded paperwork to do."

"Sure.  It'll take about an hour to be done."  He went to clean up his lab for night shift then head home.  He found Eric outside.  "I'm making a quiche."

"What's a quiche?"

"Custard pie with stuff.  I was going to make spinach, feta, and swiss cheese."  Eric shook his head.  "Okay, I'll see you tomorrow."  He got onto his bike and grinned.  "Still feels perfect."

"Good.  Let's hope it stays that way," he agreed.  He smiled as Speed rushed off.  "Because he's going to pout if he has to give up his bike."  He turned and found Stetler staring at him.  "What?  I'm catching some air before I go home."

"Are you sleeping with Caine?"

"In case it's slipped your attention I sleep with at least four different women a month, Stetler," he said dryly.  "What makes you think I'd go for boys suddenly?"

"Blackmail?" he asked.  "Sexual harassment?"

"H is damn sexy in some of those suits of his, but I still like the fairer sex.  Now if Calleigh ever gets the head office...."  He smirked and walked off.   He'd leave it to his imagination.  Calleigh gave him a look from inside.  "He asked me if I was sleeping with the boss."

"I love you, Eric, but I don't think you'd put up with being tossed onto your back repeatedly and I take Horatio as the sort of guy who likes to be on top."  Eric nodded that he did too.  "So if you are, I don't care. I don't wanna see it, but I wouldn't care."

"It'd never happen, Calleigh."  He grinned at her. "He's being paranoid."

"He's internal affairs. It's part of their genetic code."  She walked out.  "Going home, see you tomorrow, Eric."

"Sure, Cal."  He went back up to get his stuff out of his locker then head home for the night as well.  He ran into Horatio.  "Go home."

"I'm having dinner with Speed tonight."

"I heard.  I had to ask what a quiche was."

"If done correctly very nice and just a bit silky," he offered with a small smile.  "Are you coming over?"

"Nope.  Not into spinach.  Maybe next time."  He grinned.

"More for us."

"Just don't gain too much weight or you'll complain."  He walked off still smiling.  He went to find where his sister had gotten the button expander for her pants.  Maybe Horatio could use one of those when his pants quit fitting.  That way he didn't have to buy a lot of new suits.


Horatio tapped on Speed's door, getting a smile and a nod inside while the other guy walked back into the kitchen.  "Am I too early?"

"I had to stop at the store for some fresh cheese. It's got about ten more minutes."  He looked at Horatio.  "You know it's our solemn duty to get around them now and then."

"Hmm.  Eric warned me not to eat too much tonight."

"I'm told being fat for a while is inevitable."  He checked the quiche, jigging it a bit.  "Still just a bit too soft."  He closed the oven and looked at him.  "They're trying to be sweet."

"They are but some day soon we'll have to put our foot down," Horatio agreed.  "Frank's wife might think he's cheating on her if he keeps bringing us lunches."

"Eric's mother might think we're together," Speed agreed, earning a small smile for that.  "How did the meeting go?"

"He did try to pressure them into it.  Four of them stood firm.  One of them on religious reasons.   He's evaluating how to separate them out of the general populace of the station they work in introduced them all to Alexx, who demanded to know how this was done.  He gave her the same story about druggings and then mind wiping drugs during that drill."

Speed pulled out the quiche and let it sit on top of the stove, turning off the oven.  "If we ever find out who, I'm siccing her on them."

"I'll make popcorn."  They shared a smile.  "We need to figure out how to calm Calleigh down when she figures it out.  She'll be hurt we didn't trust her."

"I'm going to look at her and tell her the truth.  Her fit would bring attention and she'd fuss worse than Eric and Frank!"

Horatio smiled.  "Then she'll pout and cry on you."

"By then I'll be having mood swings so I'll probably cry right back."  He shrugged and dished up a plate of food, handing it to Horatio with the milk.  "Mom."

"I got that same email from her earlier."  He sipped his milk then dug into the dinner. "Thank you."

"Welcome.  Least I could do since you came over and took my gun from me last night."  Horatio smiled at him. "Can we have at least one mood swing on Stetler?"

"As soon as we can," Horatio agreed, taking another bite.  "I like this.  You did a great job."

"Thanks.  My kid will never have to eat crappy boxed food unless he or she wants to."  He sat down beside Horatio. "Are you worried about paternity?"

"I'm worried they planned on ending the experiment early so they used one DNA sample on everyone.  He did say something interesting.  He said if a woman had gotten caught in it she would have only gotten pregnant if she had been having sex."  He finished milk and got up to pour them both some more.  "So I'm wondering if there was a paternal sample built in or not."

"If not it must've been put in separately.  Which makes me think they didn't vary the paternal sample," Speed agreed, considering it.  "Well, at least they won't have my screwed up parents."

"Or mine."  They clinked milk glasses and dug into the quiche.  It was very good and just the right sort of soft.


A month later Horatio looked down at his stomach with a frown.  "You're too big, son.  I have to be able to wear pants to work."  He got out his largest pair of pants and even they wouldn't fit.  He had one bigger set of jeans but that was so unprofessional.  He sighed and pulled them on.  He could claim a dry cleaner mistake.  He pulled on his favorite shirt, noticing it was a bit tight around the stomach too.  So he pulled on a bigger one, and it fit, barely.  He tucked it in and put on his shoes with a groan of pain, but they went on.  Then he grabbed everything and slid into one of his jackets before heading out.  Frank gave him an odd look so he glared at him.  "Do not even start, Frank."

"Okay.  Here, Eric found these last week."  He handed him a small package.  Horatio looked then at him.  "We're not sure how they'll go with the shirt tucked in.  Try it and see."

"Thank you."  He headed upstairs, finding Calleigh giving him an appraising look.  "Dry cleaner mistake."

"That's fine. You look nice in those.  They fit you well."  She smiled and patted him on the arm.  "You look good."

He smiled at that and headed up to his office.  He tried the button expander and his pants were more comfortable.  As long as he stayed zipped up and kept it at the first hole it wasn't too noticeable.  It'd be less noticeable if he untucked his shirt but he wasn't like that.  Speed walked in wearing his baggiest jeans and a long t-shirt.  "Did you get the..."  Speed held it up.  "It's not too bad at the first setting."

"Yay us."  He shrugged. "I'm not worried about that.  Can I come over tonight?"  Horatio nodded.  "Thanks. There's been some strange shit in the last few days."  He walked off, going to be grumpy with his current case. Even if these pants did usually make him look like a stupid wannabe thug with how they fell down around his hips.  This time they weren't so it was going to be okay.  Eric gave him a look.  "Don't even," he warned.

"I was going to remark those look better now than they usually do.  They hit the right spot on your hips to make you look good.  You should've warn a slightly smaller t-shirt though."  Speed growled and he held up a hand.  "You're not getting fat, Speed."

"Bet me!"

"You're not.  It's all him or her," he said quietly.  "Not you."  Speed still pouted.  "It'll be all right.  Remember how long this'll last and how soon it'll be over with after that."  That got a nod.  "Okay?"  He looked at him. "Good.  Because we've got a Fed in the lab.  Treasury."

"Oooh, yay me," he said sarcastically.  "He can hog Calleigh."

"Sure."  He walked off, going to check on Horatio, finding them talking and her fed buddy staring at Horatio looking a bit confused.  "Calleigh's on her way in.  I called her, H."

"Thank you, Eric.  I'm sure you remember Agent Elliot?"

"Sure.  Hey."  He nodded at him.  "Lunch together if people don't die on us around then?"

"Sounds good."  He smiled.  "Go hover somewhere else, Eric."  That got a nod and he went to fingerprints, where he could watch Speed without being seen.

"Are you okay?   You look a bit tired, Lieutenant."

"I'm fine.  We had a bout of the flu run through the lab a month ago and I caught it in the second round."  Calleigh walked in smiling.  "He said he's here to see you about a case."

"Yup, I called him," she said happily.  "Come see what we found for you."  He nodded at Horatio and followed her out.

Horatio relaxed and quit sucking in his stomach.  There was no way he wanted that man to know about his problem.  He saw Speed look up the stairs and his phone rang with a text message.  He smiled at the complaint about the chemicals smelling off and sent back an 'it'll fix itself soon, put on a mask, Speed'.   He saw him complain to himself as he found one and put it on.  But apparently it helped since he got back to work.  He saw Eric lean in and nearly get brained for checking on test results and smiled, texting a 'calm down, do the work, fuss at him at lunch'.  Then he got back to work.  At least until he had to pee then he hiked down to the bathroom and used it, frowning when his stomach started to cramp.  He leaned one hand on the wall, the other holding onto his stomach.  "Calm down," he told himself.  "It's all right."  Someone came in and he made himself straighten up.

"Boss, are you all right?" Cooper asked.

"Stomach cramp," he admitted, doing up his pants then washing his hands.  He got another one and had to lean on the sink, breathing slowly and deliberately until it passed.

"So we need an ambulance?  Or maybe Alexx?  She might be the better choice," he mumbled as he dialed.  "Doctor Woods, it's Cooper.  I'm in the men's room with the boss and his stomach's cramping."

"I'm fine," Horatio noted.

"No you're not.  He's not, Alexx.  He's pale, shaky, and trembling."  He hung up and came over to help him sit against the wall.  "It'll be all right, she'll know what you need to do, boss."  Alexx stormed in and he got out of the way.  "I made him sit down."

"Good boy.  Now shoo."  He blushed and left them alone, guarding the door until he could get in there to use it.  "Stomach pains?"

"Not too bad," he admitted, looking at her.  "He panicked, Alexx."

"For a good reason. You're never sick, Horatio."  She got down to feel his stomach.  "It's probably an early expansion pain but we'll check tonight after everyone's gone, just in case."  He nodded and let her help him up.  "Go back to your desk."

"We've got a fed in the lab."

"Hmm.  Stress?"  He shrugged.  "More than usual?"

"A bit of worry about some things."  She nodded and helped him back to his office couch, putting him down onto it.  "I can't work like this, Alexx."

"You can rest for an hour then get back to work," she instructed.  She walked out, shutting his door behind her.  Then she went to check on Speed. "Are you okay?"

"I look like a dorky surgeon."

"Well, yes," she admitted with a small smile.  "What's going on?  Any pains?"

"A few minor aches.  Probably expansion pains from what I saw online."

"The mask?"

"The chemicals smell really strong today."

"You can have sensitivity spikes," she agreed, coming in to check on him.  "Take a break in an hour to check on Horatio, sugar."  She stroked his cheek.  "Be careful and call if you need anything."  He nodded so she left him alone, going back to work.  She made notes in the private files she was keeping.  That way she didn't have to worry about forgetting something since she had six living patients at the moment.


Eric looked at Horatio as he dragged in.  "Stomach pains?"  Horatio gave him a look.  "I guessed.  It's about the right time for those."  He pushed out a chair and Horatio sat with a small moan of complaint, then looked around before undoing the button of his pants.  "It's all right, H.   They'll come and go for the next few months and then they'll turn into false labor pains."  Horatio glared at him.  "It was your choice."

"You're being a bastard, Eric."

"Sorry."   He looked at him.  "My mother sent in some curry she was trying out."  Horatio shook his head.  "You sure?  I'll share."

"No thanks.  I don't want anything too solid right now."

"Sure.  I get that.  There's some soup in the cabinet.  Want me to put it in the microwave?"  Horatio got up to do that.  "H, rest," he ordered.  "They can come back when you're stressed or stretching and stuff."  He sat him back down then got him the soup, putting it in front of him. "There.  You wanted us to fuss so let us."  He stared at him.

Horatio stared back.  "At first we thought you'd be the better candidate.  You'd only have to hide from your mother for a few months."

Eric gave him a look.  "My mother would crucify me.  She'd rant and scream about me being unnatural while she beat me and then she'd crucify me.  She's a strong believer in the devil taking over people sometimes."  He gave him a look.  "Besides, I'd glow and be pretty," he said with a smirk.  Horatio gave him an evil look.  "You will soon.  Give it a few more weeks."  Frank walked Speed in, he had been on a scene.  "My mom made curry if you want some."

"Spicy?" Speed asked, hesitating.  Eric nodded.  "Pass.  Any more soup?"  Eric handed over the second mug and he smiled.  "Thanks."  He sat down and put his feet up.  "We both thought it should be you doing this."

Eric looked at him.  "My mother believes in possession, Speed.  I'd have to hide the whole time and she'd never accept the grandchild."  Calleigh peeked in.  "What's up?  He gone?"

"No, he's looking at some bills we found.  Are we having a meeting?"  Horatio shook his head while he finished his soup.  "Are you sure?  You four keep meeting in here for lunch.  I'm starting to feel paranoid."

"We were talking about bugging the Chief for another tech," Eric offered.

"I could appreciate having standard days off again," she agreed.  "Please, and if you need help begging, let me know."  She went back to the lab.

"He'd never go for it," Horatio said, leaning back some.  "I feel bloated."

"Water retention happens to the best of us," Frank agreed. "Even me now and then."  He patted him on the shoulder. "It'll get better in a few months."

"H, being honest, are we going to be wadding onto scenes in four months?" Speed asked.  "We won't be able to get up off the ground.  We won't be able to run.  Our vests definitely won't fit.  We should get them out of their trainee phase as soon as we can so we don't overwork Calleigh and Eric."

"I made the suggestion already.  His answer was 'if the pregnant one Alexx is hiding is in the lab I can see it.  Otherwise you can make due'."  He got up to head to the machines, finding something he wanted.  "Salt is bad," he sighed.

"You'll be peeing it out soon enough," Frank assured him. "If you want crackers, have crackers, Horatio."  He handed him a few coins. "There.  I'll even treat.  You can get me back the next time we go out to dinner."  Horatio smiled and got some crackers.  He sat down again, wincing when his waistband pinched.  "Is there a solution to that problem?" he asked Eric.

"Elastic or wearing them so the waistband is below the stomach mound."  He looked at Horatio, who adjusted his pants. "That'll work until you need to go up a few sizes to cover it up."

"I already need new shirts," Horatio admitted.  He sat up again when he heard the door open, looking back.  "What's wrong, Cooper?"

"Just making sure the stomach cramps didn't come back, boss.  We can't have you sick.  Eric would go play video games or something."  He grinned and got his bottle of water.  "Plus I needed this."  He headed out again.

"I don't play video games at work," Eric complained, cracking Frank up.  "I don't!"

"No you taunt the other techs when I'm not here," Horatio said, smirking at him.  "Be a good boy, Eric.  Or else you'll get to tell the others."

"We're CSI, H.  We'll figure it out," he said dryly, patting him on the arm as he got up.  "I'm guessing by the end of next month."  He walked out, heading back to his lab.

"Can I hit him with the bike for being so smug?"

"Do you want to fix the axle and tire damage?" Horatio asked.

"No," he sighed.  "I'm saving up for the bike's carseat and other necessary stuff."  Frank smiled at that.  "It's expensive."

'There's a great tradition my wife coos about called the baby shower, Speed."  He patted him on the back and got up.  "I'm going back to my desk. You two need more fussed over?"  They shook their heads so he left.

Speed stole one of the crackers to nibble one.  "We should start making plans for when this happens.  Yelina's going to come after you with something hard and blunt."

"It's not like I decided to do this to myself," he reminded him.  He stood up and did back up his pants button, heading back to his office to think.  Because he did not sulk.  Brood maybe but not sulk.


Cooper continued to watch Horatio when he could.  There was something seriously wrong with the guy and if he got too sick the lab and the family that had grown in the lab would be destroyed.  That's why he was watching him walk past a few days later and he frowned at the small lump he had.   Horatio would never let himself get out of shape.  He also shouldn't have gained any weight.  If anything he should have lost some when he had been so sick last month.  He watched him stop to talk to Calleigh and turn slightly and his breath caught.  He knew that sort of lump!  When Horatio went back upstairs he snuck up after him, closing the door behind him.  "How did you get pregnant?" he asked, looking awed.

Horatio gave him a horrified look.  "How did you find out?"

"I have an eight-year-old sister.  As my mother put it, she thought the war had been long over when she got pregnant."  He came over.  "How?"

"We're not sure.  Something to do with that disaster drill four months ago," he said quietly, staring at him.  "If you tell anyone I will fire you with prejudice, Cooper."

"Not an issue, big man!  I promise not to say anything to anybody, but you've got to take better care of yourself. Your eating's still spotty.  You should be doing walking, not running or jogging, and you need insoles in your shoes to help cure the backache."  Horatio gave him a bitter look.  "My mom's a nurse, Horatio."  His boss sighed and slumped back into his chair.  "I've noticed Eric and Frank both fussing over you and Speed since you had that flu stuff.  Can I be a less fussy one?"

"If you must."

"Can I tell Calleigh so she's not upset?"

Horatio looked at him.  "We're letting her figure it out on her own."

"She'll hit you, bossman.  Then she'll stomp off crying.  I'm so stoked!  First babies in the lab!"  He beamed at him. "How far along and when's the shower?"

"Four months, late in the fourth month."

"So you're about to hit the hormonal fits and the horny height.  It's all good.  I'll turn off any security cameras you need me to, just let me know what I need to erase, boss.  Are you sure I can't tell Calleigh?"

"I'd rather you not."

"Boss, you can get away from Yelina but Calleigh can hunt.   She likes sniper weapons and she can hunt.  There's no safety if you don't tell her."

"Speed and I will.  You are not to talk to anyone, Cooper."

"Okay, I won't.  Who's your OB?  In case the others are on a scene and you're here," he said at the heated glare, staring him down.  "Things happen in a few minute's time, Horatio.  If they're gone and you're in trouble, someone's got to call them and I doubt you want this spread across the morning news because you had a Braxton-Hicks moment."

"Alexx," he said quietly.  "Not one word."

"My lips are sealed," he promised.  "Do we know boy or girl yet?"  He shook his head. "Let me know so I can get something great for the baby showers."  He left, closing the door behind him.

Horatio covered his face with his hand.  He and Speed a rapid text conversation about this going to hell quickly, then he called Calleigh up to his office.  "Close it," he said without having to look.

"Are we going to have a talk about why you and Speed are having hormone swings like a pregnant woman?" she asked.  He nodded, his face still covered.  "Are you a pregnant woman?"

"I'm not female but otherwise, yes."  He uncovered his face, looking at her.  "Was that tact on your part?  Or did you just recently figure it out?"

"Eric's been fussing very well and I caught enough of his rant at God to know someone was in trouble that way.  Then you two started to gain weight right after a horrible bout of the flu.  The human body doesn't work that way unless it's knocked up."  She moved closer.  "When were you going to tell me?"

"We were letting you figure it out and come to us."

"Thinking that way I'd get my temper out of the way?"  He nodded.  "The ice cream fairy and I had a long talk about you with the tequila fairy and we decided we were sorry for you two.  That's gotta be a pain."

"Literally," he said with a hint of a smile.  "Are you okay with this knowledge?"

"No, but when you find the guy who did this, I'll get to help you torture him.  I'm sure Eric and Frank will let me.  Did Cooper figure it out?"

"His mother had a menopausal baby."

"Ah.  So while he was a teenager so he'd remember."  She nodded.  She looked at him.  "How far?"

"Late fourth."

"Who's the OB?"


"I love the woman...."

"Someone did it to us during the disaster drill.  They vowed to cut all our federal funding, accreditation, and reputations if it got out."

"Hey, that gives me a lead so we can find out who did this to you and Speed.  Unless Eric got caught?"

"No, just us in the lab.  There's a few other officers but they're on silent desk duty and hidden somewhere."

"You poor man.  Well, if you need my help, you'll ask.  Eric and I will work on how to reduce your stress levels so you don't go too early, because I'm doubting you can carry to term.  Guys just don't have the hips for childbirth."  He shook his head at that.  "Also, buy new clothes, Horatio.  Just a few."  She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek.  "I'd better be a Godmother."

"Thanks, Champ."

"Love you too, boss."  She winked and opened the door.  "Want me to talk to Yelina?"

"No, I should," he sighed.  "But I will be hiding afterward."

"I don't blame you."  She walked out, going to make sure Cooper knew she'd help the boys hurt him if he blabbed.  Because the boy had the biggest mouth in Miami some days.

Horatio paged Yelina to the spot they usually talked in, heading there slowly to give her time to get there.  He found her pacing.  "It's not about Ray but there is some family news," he said quietly, pulling her into one of the window alcoves.

"Are you dating Speed?  Or Eric?  I've noticed him fussing over you both."  She smiled.  "I wouldn't care if you were.  It'd make you happy again."

"No, that's not what's going on but I am almost happy.  More content at the moment for some reason."  She stared at him, looking confused.  He sighed and checked for cameras then looked at her again.  "You know the disaster drill we had?"

"Four months back, a cruise ship on fire on the docks," she agreed.  "I was on-call so Frank could go with a few of the other guys."  She frowned.  "Did something happen?  I heard rumors that a few of the officers there had surgery afterward."

He sighed and looked down at his lump then at her.  "Yes, something happened and yes we were all exposed to something, but it wasn't exactly harmful.  At least not in the 'going to kill someone' way."  He picked up her hand to squeeze, then put it onto his stomach, holding it there while he stared at her.  "Someone in the Federal levels of government decided to use that to experiment on the department," he said quietly.  Her hand flexed and he shifted, moving her hand some.  Her eyes went wide.  "The first we knew of it, we had the flu," he said quietly.  She opened her mouth and he used his free one to cover it.  "Do not, Yelina.  They will destroy the department if it gets out," he warned. "Plus us."  She clamped her mouth shut and he moved his hand.  "I don't know what happened.  I have no idea how this happened.  The first thing I knew I was throwing up and then Alexx found a heartbeat," he said very quietly.  He let go of her captive hand and she backed off, rubbing it against her thigh.  "I would like you to support me."

"You're terminating it?"  He shook his head.  She stared in horror.  "Horatio...."

"That is my choice in this matter.  I am hoping I don't have the mood swings you did because you were scarier than I've ever been," he offered with a shy smile.  She glared at him.  He shrugged. "You were."

"I was not!"

"You were," he assured her, nodding a bit.  "Even your OB was scared of you, Yelina.  He asked Ray and I to take your gun from you in your fifth month."  She rolled her eyes and leaned against the window, staring at him.  "When someone else figured it out earlier I realized I couldn't leave this talk any longer.  You'd be hurt and throw a very loud fit about it."  She glared again.  "You would."

"I am mentally," she assured him coolly.  "What did you want from me?"

"Some support?  I'm not the only one but you are family.  I would hope you wouldn't hurt me, or the baby, for this since I didn't consent."

"That is the only thing saving you from me beating you senseless," she complained, glaring at him when she turned to face him. "How could you keep this...thing!"

"Why did you have Ray Junior, Yelina?" he asked quietly.  Her face fell.  "This is my one chance for this unless God drops a woman into my lap."  She looked down at that.  "I will understand if you're repulsed.  If you don't want to see me again.  I would ask that you not actively try to hurt us.  I would also ask that you keep the secret because they will destroy this department and those who know if not."

"Then why tell me?"

"You're my family," he repeated.  She turned and walked off, arms crossed, glaring bad enough some patrol officers got out of her way in the halls.  He sighed and went back to his desk, going to think and have some pudding.  Frank had left some in his desk overnight so he was going to have it now.  It was a good time for it even if he wasn't sure he needed the pudding with as fat as he was getting.

Eric walked in and gave him a gentle shoulder squeeze.  "Like she did with Madison, she'll get over it and then it'll get better."

"Not this time," he told him, looking up at him.  "Pudding?"

Eric smiled.  "There's better than that but you've got to give me an hour."

"That's fine.  I'm heading home soon."

"I'll bring some by later."  He gave him another squeeze.  "Calleigh went to talk to the chief and do some sucking up.  She thinks we'll be able to get a new tech."  He smiled at that.  "Now, shouldn't you be going home?"

"I probably should."  He finished his pudding cup and tossed it out.  "Thank you, Eric."

"Welcome, H.  Go put your feet up.   You look tired."  He nodded and headed out to drive home.  Eric made sure from the window, then closed his office door and headed to check on Speed.  "I'm getting H a really good treat tonight, want some?"

"I'll be here," he said absently.  Eric came over and pushed his chair away from the table. "I need to get this one done.  We're on a deadline because the family's going to step in and kill who they think did it if we can't arrest them or prove differently."

Eric looked at him.  "Then let us help.  No more overnights or you'll end up passing out."  He looked at the evidence.  "What did DNA say?"

"Not a thing.  None present."

"Hmm."  He grimaced.  "Okay.  I tell you what.  I'm going to go pick that treat up, deliver it, then I'll come back and help but only if you eat dinner and I'll save you some of the treat."

Speed looked at him.  "I'm not two."

"I know that.  If you were, you'd be cuter."  He grinned. "Like I am.  Younger is always cuter."

"Your throne is going to be taken from you soon, huh?"

"Yeah, but I'll give it up for the toddler crowd.  Eat.  Then I'll come help."  He left, going to pick up that treat for Horatio.  He had talked his mother into making him something special.  He walked in and kissed her on the cheek.  "Hi, Momma."

"Who is she?" she asked, beaming at him.

"I'm not seeing anyone."

"Nonsense!"  She stared at him.  "Is she a bad girl?"

"Momma, really."  He switched to Spanish to reassure her.  He wasn't seeing anyone.  The treat was for a coworker who was having a rough spot with his family.  He needed the cheering up.  She pursed her lips but handed over the two boxes of treat.  He kissed her on the cheek. "Thanks, Momma.  He'll love it."  He grinned and walked out, heading to his car.  His mother followed and handed him another bag.  "What's this?"

"Dinner for whoever is pregnant around you.  You always did pick up their glow and fuss better."  He stared at her. "I figure it's the same coworker since the only people who eat that much of that honey treat are pregnant."  She walked inside, leaving one happy son.


Eric tapped on Horatio's door, handing him a box.  "Open."

"Eric," he moaned.

"Open, it's tradition."  Horatio sighed but opened his mouth so he popped a bite into his mouth.  Horatio started to chew.  "Suck first. It's got a sweet coating and then more substance than you think.  Otherwise it's gooey."  Horatio sucked on it all the way into the kitchen, then he moaned and gulped some milk, chewing the rest.  "It's a bit sweet," he offered.

"I needed the milk anyway.  What are those?"

"I have no idea.  My father's mother taught my mother when she first got pregnant."  He handed over one of the boxes.  "Since Speed's staying late tonight did you want the dinner Momma made or him?"

"She made us dinner too?"

"No, she claims I mirror any pregnant person around me and I glow when they start to.  She figured that the only people who like that treat are pregnant and I'm starting to glow since you two are, so she made the pregnant person at work dinner."  He grinned.  "She did think I was dating though."

Horatio looked in the box.  "Thank her for me?"

"I will."  He patted him on the back.  "If you eat more than five you'll feel really sick.  Have another then dinner.  Do you want it?"

"Make Speed eat.  He'll be there all night if you don't."

"Sure."  He looked at him.  "Go put on sweats, H.  You're home.  No one else can see you if you wanted to run around in your boxers or sweats.  Get comfortable, go take a warm bath, bring up something to drink and a book.  It'll help.  Two of my sisters lived in the bathroom for their last half."  He got a shrug.  "Try it.  Even you deserve some spoiling."  He walked out, taking the other box back to the station with the dinner.  He found Speed still at work.  "Did you eat?"

"I've got soup warming," he said, engrossed again.  "I thought I figured something out but I think I'm wrong."

"Open," Eric ordered.  Speed frowned and looked at him. "Open your mouth."

"No food in the lab."

"It's candy so as long as you don't spit you'll be fine."  Speed sighed then opened his mouth.  He popped in a piece and Speed frowned.  "Suck the coating then chew, plus my mother made you dinner.  She claims I mirror any pregnant person I'm around and you're both starting to glow.  That is an old Russian recipe for pregnant daughters-in-laws.  My paternal grandmother taught it to her.  She thinks the only ones who eat it are pregnant."

"It's honey coated."

"With some nuts, yeah.  I used to dig into this stuff when my sisters were pregnant.  When you get to the substance, you can chew.  Otherwise it's gooey.  Also, five or less a day or else you feel sick."  He handed over the box with a smile.

Speed chewed, then looked at him.  "I'm not craving pudding."  That got a smug look.  "Dinner?"

"On the counter in there.  Go eat before someone steals it."  Speed nodded, going that way.  Eric washed his hands and put on gloves, getting to work to help him.  Families were a hazard of the job sometimes.  Especially when they wanted the wrong person.  Speed came back a half-hour later belching.  He handed over a roll or rolaids from his pocket.  "Did he die of smothering?"

"Yeah, but we can't figure out with what."

"The feathers?"

"Aren't from any type of pillow that we can find."

"Maybe an older feather pillow or a feather mattress?" he suggested.  Speed ate an antacid and came over to look again.  "I remember having one when I was really little, carried it everywhere with me.  It had tiny little feathers that I plucked when they poked through.  Momma had to restuff it multiple times before I finally broke one day in the car."  That got a smile.  "It had tiny feathers."

Speed looked at him.  "That's not a bad idea but how would you prove the source?"

"Get the thing that smothered him and compare to a sample.  They should probably be the same relative size."

"Okay."  He got back to work.  "You don't have to hover."

"I'm not, I'm catching up."  He picked up something but Speed shook his head. "Dead end?"

"Maybe with more evidence but right now it's a dangling lead."  That got a nod and Eric moved to the other side of the table to look at the evidence he still had bagged.  "Left pile," he ordered.  Eric got to work on them with him.  He ate another honey treat and he did feel better.  "How's H?"

"I told him to go take a warm bath and read in it.  Two of my sisters swore by it, especially when they're stressed."

"Let's hope the stress cures itself," Speed said around his candy.  Eric grinned. "It's my third, no nagging."

"Not a problem. That's why I had my mother make you some."  He got back to work on the sample in front of him.  "You're sure this didn't have saliva?"

"Valera said no," he admitted, looking at it.  He frowned.  "Was that from my case?"

"It was in the pile."  He looked at the envelope.  "It says it was.  It came from the morgue."  He took it to DNA.  "Hey, Valera, you heading out right now?"

"I can run one more but I'm backed up by four.  Why?"

He smiled and dug in to help her where he could.  "Family justice case of Speed's."

"I've heard about those."  She took the sample and began running it on the other system, then came back to do the ones she had backlogged.  "What's going on?" she asked quietly.

"I can't tell you," he admitted, looking at her.  "I really can't."

"I heard Calleigh telling Cooper they were going to shut the lab, Eric."

He shook his head. "Only if Cooper opens his mouth.  If certain information gets out there's some very vindictive feds who did some stuff wrong who'll come after all of us."  She nodded, accepting that.  "Those who know about it or figured it out are keeping it a secret."

"Good.  Then I don't have to worry."  She frowned at the results when they came out on his case.  "Saliva is beautiful."  She handed it over with a smile.  "Yours I believe."

"Speed's but thanks."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "Have a good night."

"You too."

He went back to the other lab with the sample, reclosing it and marking it.  "Saliva is beautiful according to Valera."

Speed snatched the results, then smiled at him.  "I needed that."

"You did.  Are we going tonight?"

"Tomorrow morning.  I need to finish correlating some things."  That got a nod and Eric moved to help.  "Does your mom have any other remedies?"

"A few," he admitted.  "Still nothing for hemorrhoids.  She's good at fixing cravings for some strange combinations though."  That got a nod and Speed got back to work.  "How was the beef?"

"Perfectly tender. She did a great job."

"I'll tell her you appreciated it," he offered with a smile.  "When you need more candy, let me know.  I told her it was for someone in the lab who was having family problems."

"He certainly is," he sighed, looking out there.  He saw Yelina watching them and nodded her inside.  She stomped off again.  "Crap.  That's going to get a lot worse soon."

"Her boy's smart and he'll go to H himself when he figures out something's wrong," Eric said patiently, looking at him.  "The boy nearly delights in getting around his mother."  That got a nod and they both dug back in while Speed had another piece.  He stopped after that one because his stomach was feeling a bit upset with all the sugar.  He would not give Eric the satisfaction of telling him he was right though, that would get him teased and picked on for the next week.


Horatio looked up a few days later as his office door was slammed shut.  "What's wrong, Speed?"

"Stupid..."  He took a breath then let it out.  "Family did it anyway.  Got the wrong person.  Now they've declared a vendetta against me because I arrested the family member who killed the wrong person and arrested the cousin who had done the murder."

"Sit," Horatio ordered.  Speed shook his head and paced. "You'll hurt yourself."

"I'm frustrated."

"Of course you are."  He put down his pen.  "These are some of the worst cases but the best thing for them is hearing that the cousin did it.  Will he take a plea?"

"He did in open court and the parents shouted at the judge that he was being forced to by the police."  He looked at him. "They threatened me."

"Then you're coming home with me tonight," he said quietly.  Speed relaxed at that.  "If we have to, Eric can even come sleep on the couch."

"Thanks, H."  He slumped and looked at him again, coming over to sit.  "Why couldn't they give me an hour more?"

"Because the fires of family are one of the strongest bonds, Speed.  Think about what you'd do if someone hurt her?"

"I'd kill and then laugh," he agreed, looking at his stomach, then at Horatio.  "When does the new guy start?"

"Two days," he admitted, smiling at him.  "Calleigh picked him out.  Said he's in your field so you might have to get used to sharing."

Speed snorted. "We'll see."

"Of course."  That got a knowing smirk.  "If you drive him off you'll be doing crime scenes the day you go into labor," Horatio said quietly.

"Please don't wish that on me," he begged.

"I'm not.  Just reminding you."

"I'll try to be nice to the new kid."

Horatio smiled.  "No making him do horrible things like you did to Eric."

"But it was fun."

"For everyone but Eric," he agreed with a small smile.  Speed grinned back.  "Is it lunch time yet?"

Speed looked at the clock, then at him.  "It's not even ten but it's snack time.  I could use something to chew on."  That got a nod and they both headed down to get new bottles of juice and something to nibble on.  They ran into Yelina down there.  "Hey."  He stared at the machine and frowned. "The selection sucks again, Horatio."

"I'll get onto them again, Speed.  Anything salty?  Without crackers attached?"

"Yeah."  He got him something then Horatio bought Speed what he wanted. "Thanks."  He headed outside to take a short break in the sun.

Horatio looked at Yelina.  "Hi," he said quietly.

"I'm not talking to you until this is over with."

"Then I take it you won't be a godmother?" he asked dryly, heading back to his office to nibble.  Speed had picked out something very salty.  The jerky was nice. Not quite what he wanted but it was nice.  Needed some garlic.   He found a dipping sauce from an ordered lunch in his desk and dipped it in there.  Much better.  He smiled and got back to the never-ending paperwork that he ended up with weekly.   He heard Yelina shriek and got up to look, nibbling on his jerky.  "Calleigh, leave her alone."

"Just giving her a quiet place to vent," she said, holding the door of the soundproofed lab shut on Yelina.  She smiled at him.  "Jerky?"

"With dipping sauce.  It's a bit too dry."  She smiled at that.  "Speed said the machines need upgraded again.  Get suggestions for me?"

"Sure will, Horatio."  She smiled when Yelina stopped, looking back at her.  "Let us have some girl talk.  Need help?"

"Not unless you want to fill out manpower studies?"

"No thanks.  Did that one week.  I can wait until that's my office to do it next time."  He smiled and went back to it.  She walked into the lab and locked the door.  "What is your problem?" she demanded.

"That... thing up there!"

"The person drugged him and implanted it, Yelina.  If he was a girl you'd be giving him sympathy up to his ears!"  Yelina flinched at that.  "Not like he wanted it to happen.  Not like he expected it to happen.  But now that it has he's accepted it and made his choice.  You, as his family, can either support it or leave him the heck alone!  He doesn't need this stress!  He needs support, he was raped.  Get over yourself!"   Yelina gave her a hurt look.  "Tough!  He may coddle you but I'm not.  Not this time.  I've got enough to worry about without worrying about you retaliating and hurting Horatio!  So get over it!"  She walked out, going to check on Eric's progress.  "How are you doing?"

"A bit bummed.  Speed's case did it anyway."

"It happens that way sometimes," she soothed. "New guy starts in two days."

"How did you get us a new tech?"

"I threatened to break my leg and then hit you with a hummer."  She smiled sweetly. "That way we could both have two days off in a row since it's been months since we had that happen.  He checked then gave me a pitiful look so I laid into him about how stressing me out means I shoot people in the office.  Because remember, I have my exemplar cabinet.  He agreed we could use a newbie to train after that."  Eric grinned.  "Southern logic really."  She patted him again and went to her own lab to get back to work.  She saw Horatio on his hunt for more snack food and sighed, shaking her head.  "He'll be better in a week or so."  She got back to work, concentrating on that, not on what Horatio was putting on his jerky this time.  She was sure she didn't really want to know anyway.


Speed sat down beside Horatio, looking at the very quietly playing tv.  "Can you hear that?"  Horatio shook his head, turning it up.  "Blotting out the bad news?"

"It's easier sometimes."  He looked at him then at his stomach. "You're smaller than I am."

"You were thinner than I was before," he reminded him.  "I'd been getting fat off Alexx's cooking."

He shrugged at that and burped. "Sorry."

"Not a problem.  Had some of that earlier."  He handed over the antacids.  Eric's silent hint had gotten through to him.  He liked rolaids now.  They were high up on his list of great inventions. Horatio chewed one then took another because he liked the flavor.  He looked at him.  "You're gaining an oral fixation?"

"I think so."  He frowned. "I nibbled all day."

"I saw."  He patted him on the knee.  "It'll be okay.  We'll get through this.  I'll put a baby seat on the back of the Ducatti and you'll find one for the hummer."  Horatio smiled. "Then we'll make Eric babysit a lot."  Horatio laughed at that.  "We can.  That way he knows what to expect when his mother wins the argument and makes him settle down."

"If, not when," Horatio noted.  He noticed Speed scratching his chest.  "Nipple itch?"

"Yeah.  I've been having freaky thoughts about me breast-feeding too.  Some really strange dreams."

"Sometimes that happens," Horatio agreed, scratching his own chest.  "I've noticed them getting more sensitive."

"Yeah, like shirts suddenly hurt!  Even my really soft t-shirt hurts them right now.  Thankfully I took out the ring."

Horatio looked at him.   "You pierced one?"

"A few years back."

"I did not know that."

"You have any?" Speed asked.  Horatio shook his head.  "They're fun.  Hurt a bit at first but the benefits outweigh the initial pain."

"I'll keep that in mind," he agreed with a small smile.  "Has Alexx said anything about birth yet?"

"Not yet.  I'm scared to ask."

"Me too."  He sighed and settled in to watch the news.  "We need something less depressing."

"Yup."  Speed got up to put in a movie.  "You bought _Junior_?"

"It's the only one I found."

"Maybe the stuff online would be a better read, Horatio."

"I went over that archive.  It was cute."  He shrugged and settled in to watch the action movie Speed put in. It was comfortable to sit there with him and gently stroke his stomach.  Speed reached over to pat his stomach too, earning a smile.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  Horatio returned the gesture.  "We're definitely going to go insane in the next few months."

"Indeed we are," he sighed, going back to his stroking. After a few minutes Speed shifted and moaned quietly.  "Sorry."

"No, the books said that'd happen too."  He looked at him.  "We're supposed to want to hide in closets for a while."

"I haven't been that desperate in years."  Speed stroked his stomach again and it did feel nice.  A lot more than nice.  Eventually he had to stop the hand before he pounced.  Speed gave him a look.  "Too much."  His own stomach got a pointed look then at Horatio again.  He stopped his hand from stroking his friend's stomach.  "Sorry."

"Not a problem.  Not like I minded."  He shifted how he was sitting and the hand slid some.  "Horatio?"  He withdrew his hand.  "We could solve that issue."

"I'm not dating."

"Neither am I and I'm not sure I want to touch a girl."  Horatio gave him a sheepish look.  "Uh-huh."   He leaned over to kiss him.  "It's about the same only it doesn't naturally lube itself and needs stretched."  Horatio kissed him this time.  Somehow he ended up straddling Horatio's lap, gently thrusting his cock down at Horatio's so they could get happier.  He finally got around to undoing their pants so they wouldn't get quite so messy but it was just as good.  He spread his legs out some more so he could get lower and that was even better.  So were the noises coming from Horatio's mouth.  "Let it go," he ordered.  "Let me help.  We'll help each other."  Horatio moaned and came, letting Speed come right after that.  He panted, resting his head on the firm shoulder.  "My nipples don't itch."

"Mine either."   He took another kiss. "Thank you."

"You're the only one who'd understand," Speed admitted, looking at him. Then he grinned.  "Dinner?"

"Sounds good."  He got them up and into the bathroom so they could clean up.  Horatio ended up changing his clothes into sweats and a t-shirt.  Gravity meant he got more on him than Speed had.  They went to raid the kitchen, and he decided it was an okay thing.  He kissed him again and it was better this time.  Speed did understand.  Then again, he really didn't want to be with a woman either.  She'd complain or make fun of him.  Warm hands slid around his hips and he relaxed from his thoughts.  "This isn't new to you, right?"

"Nope.  Been here before without the lump of doom."  Horatio smiled at that description.  "It is."

"It can be," he agreed.  He turned to kiss him again.  "Let's eat and finish the movie.  Then we'll figure out about later."

"Sure."  He grinned and they got back to work on dinner, then went to eat it on the couch with the movie they had to rewind.   "So, that archive was freaky."

"It was," Horatio agreed.   "I'm still wondering about labor.  Most of them had an anal flap of some sort or a c-section."

"I'm hoping for c-section and drugs."  Speed ate a bite then looked at him.  "I don't want to think about that yet."

"Agreed."  He dug in too, smiling at the totally improbable action sequence.  "Humans can't quite bend that way."

"Yeah, but that's what makes it fun."

"True."  He finished his dinner and stroked his stomach.  "Satisfied for now?" he asked the lump.

"Probably only for a few minutes," Speed said dryly.  He finished up and burped, eating one of his own antacids.  "I'm taking stock in rolaids. I swear I am."  Horatio grinned at him.  "I always seem to need them."

"I've begun appreciating the taste of them," he admitted.  He shifted slightly closer so he could put his feet up.  Speed got comfortable, resting against his shoulder.  "Comfortable?"

"I'm wearing pants.  I'm finding that's an automatic no anymore."

"Then strip down to boxers, Speed."

"Not wearing any, H."


"Haven't in days."

Horatio smiled.  "I should chastise you for coming to work so undressed."

"Not like anyone can tell."

"We'll have to see, won't we."  He got more comfortable, letting Speed continue to rest against him.  He was too comfortable to move.  He fell asleep right there, Speed giving him a gentle smile before doing the same.


Two days later Horatio walked in scowling.  It was not a good day.  No one was going to make it a good day.  He was going to castrate someone with his teeth if they got in his way.  He saw Yelina first and scowled.  "What?"

"I like that suit on you," she said quietly.

"Thank you."  He stabbed the button for the elevator.  He got on, arms already crossed over his chest.  He walked off the elevator and Calleigh's eyes widened.  "What?"

"Nothing, Horatio.  You look very nice in that suit."  She fussed with his collar.  "It was twisted up."  She smoothed down his lapels.  "There's a Fed in your office."

"Why?" he growled.

"I'm not sure, he wouldn't tell me, and he barged into your office without permission.  Eric saw too and took off running."  She smiled sweetly.  'Want some tea?"

"No."  He walked up to his office, glaring at the agent. "You're breaking and entering why?" he demanded, coming in and sitting down.

"Because we need to talk, Lieutenant Caine."


"About the person who's hiding."

Horatio gave him a look then stood back up again.  "That would be his choice, wouldn't it?  Since someone so very thoughtfully raped the people who were affected, he had to make that choice."  The man went pale.  "For that matter, since you're here and you know what went on, we'll make sure you have a nice cell all to yourself."

"You can't!"

"I can," he promised in a deadly calm, quiet voice.  "Eric!"  He came jogging in.  "This interesting person has information on what happened to those who were...afflicted."

"He knows!"

"Someone had to find the others before they died," Horatio sneered.  The man went very pale at that.  "Exactly.  Now then.  Eric, he was not only breaking and entering but we do know of at least twelve cases where someone was ...afflicted against their will.  Those who were believe it's equivalent to rape.  Do charge him that way."

"If you do, we'll destroy this lab," he sneered.

Horatio laughed.  "Not once I get through with you and your cronies you won't."  The man's eyes went wide.  "Now," he said, walking around to face him.  "I want full information on what went on.  How it was done.  How many got hit.  The full research notes, and I want the researcher here.  Tonight."

"He's dead."

"Pity," Horatio said coldly, staring him down.  "Not that I believe it."

"He...he killed himself."

"Again, pity," Horatio said, getting into his face.  "Do you know what I can and will do to you?" he hissed.  "How very happy it will make me?  Because the person you raped is a friend of mine.  I will make *sure* you are just as hurt as he'll be," he said then he smiled brightly.  "Unless you want to cooperate?  Then I'll give you a head start.  Ten whole minutes."

"Won't much matter with his ride," Eric pointed out.

"True, but do I care, Eric?" Horatio asked.

"No," he said, staying calm.  This was a mood swing.  He could only be glad it wasn't focused on him.  "Should I get Frank to help me arrest him?"

"No, I believe you can do it.  Also, add a count of assisted murder since one of the officers who took the *cure* killed himself," he said, his tone somewhere between bitter and a sneer.

"Sure thing, H."  He pulled out his cuffs.  "You don't know how happy this is going to make some people."

"I can hand it over!" he said quickly.

"Not good enough," Horatio assured him. "But we do still want it."

"You won't if this gets known about."

"I can pull favors," Horatio assured him. He grabbed his phone and dialed a number.  "Come to my office please."  Then he hung up.  A few minutes later the Chief came in.  "Sir, this ....interesting person just came up with information about what happened to some of our officers."

"I take it Delko's on the list of those who know?"

"Most of the lab has figured it out for that person.  Most of us swore and drank as well," Eric assured him.  He finished cuffing the agent.  "He broke into H's office.  He made terroristic threats in my hearing against the department, and he said he has the information on what happened.  H said I'm charging him with twelve counts of rape, one count of assisted homicide, and that, Chief.  Did you want to add anything else?"

"We need a researcher to finish his work."

"Give me the stuff, I'll make sure the others are protected and free from this," Eric assured him.  The agent glared.  "What?  Like I want hit next?  Did you try me?" he demanded.

"It didn't take."

Horatio stopped Eric from hitting him.  "No, Eric, there's others who get that right first."  Eric nodded at that.  "Give us the research and we'll forget the federal charges of threatening the department."  The agent sneered at him.  He sneered back.  "I do that look so much better."  The Chief snickered.  He moved closer again, smirking evilly now.  "Then again, we can always take the notes from you and then use them on you before you go to jail.  I'm sure the other men in prison will enjoy having a pregnant person among them.  They'll love that baby more than anyone else would."  He whimpered.  "The research file?"

"My car," he whimpered, staring into his eyes.  "Yours took?"

Horatio hit him.  "Shut up.  Eric?"

"I'll send Frank down to get it," he promised, calling him.  "Frank, find the Fed's car, get his research file out of it.  Bring it to H now please.  Because a fed just came in saying the original researcher had committed suicide.  He wanted someone to finish his work.  Thank you."  He hung up and looked at the Chief.  "Can you get a judge to try him quietly?"

"I can," he agreed.  "We can do what the feds are and have a totally secret trial even.  Let's get him formally arrested, Delko."  Eric walked him off reading him his rights.  He looked at Horatio.  "You only needed one person, Caine?"

"No.  Comment."

"I see."  He looked him over.  "I could be nice."

"I can also hit you," Horatio reminded him.  That just got a smirk and he balled up his fist.  "I would run, boss."

"I probably should."  The door behind him slammed and he jumped, finding Calleigh there.  "CSI Duquesne.  How are you feeling?"

"I'm feeling a bit of womanly outrage," she said simply.  "This does tick me off in ways that make even God cry for what I'm about to do to someone."  He went pale.  "Now.  Where's our rookie?"

"He'll be coming in tomorrow.  Unfortunately he had to call off today due to a personal problem."

"Is he affected?" Horatio asked blandly.

"No.  He's got OCD but no.  Today he had to drag his uncle to the doctor's so he'd go.  I didn't see his request for the day off when I handed him over."  He looked at them then at Horatio.  "Are you all right?"

"No comment," he repeated.

"Of course, I understand.  You're a very private man and if you were I'm sure you've kept up everything with Alexx.  Of course, we'll support you all we have to, Horatio.  Just stay calm, all right."  Horatio scowled and he ran for his life.  He knew what a temper that man had.  Him having mood swings on top of his temper....  Well, that usually needed SWAT to cure.

Horatio looked at her.  "Having womanly outrage?"

"Yes!  What right did that idiot fed have to do this to you!"

He smiled.  "Thank you, buddy."  He gave her a hug.  "Can you go get me a snack?"

"I left you some snack cakes in your desk, Horatio."  He smiled and went to dig into them, finding one with peanut butter.  "I'm going to go call our guy, see if he can come in for even an hour today so he can take the tour."  She went to do that, giving Speed a wary look.  She leaned in.  "Eric walked a fed out in cuffs just a minute ago."

"I heard.  Frank called."  He looked at her.  "Him?"

"Eric said something about the researcher committing suicide.  They wanted someone to finish his work."

"Uh-huh," he said blandly.  "Fat fucking chance."  She smiled.  "Did H hurt him?"

"He had a bruise on his cheek when he walked out but the Chief went for a run."  Frank walked in with a box.  "Is that the research notes?"

"There's six more down in the car, guys.  I have no idea what's related."  Speed and Calleigh nodded, going to get people to heft the other stuff while he brought that up to Horatio.  "There's six more boxes.  Not sure if it's related or not.  If not, you can probably use it anyway."  Horatio smiled at that.  "Are you okay?"

"I feel fine, Frank."

Frank gave him a manly shoulder squeeze.  "Please don't cry on me."  He left in a hurry.

"I don't cry like a girl," he told himself.  "It's unmanly."  He finished his peanut butter sticks and got up to look at the evidence.  It was indeed what he needed. The rest were brought in by patrol officers and Calleigh.  "Speed?"

"I left him having a talk with Yelina since she started the dialogue and I didn't want to interrupt," she said with a sweet smile.  The officers got the same smile and they disappeared.  "Are you okay now?"

"Much better. Thank you for the sweets."

"You're welcome, Horatio."  She fussed with his hair.  "A bit out of place."  She smiled then left.  She came back a minute later.  "When are we doing the paternity tests?"  He gave her a look.  "That way we know."

He shrugged.  "Ask Alexx."  She smiled and went to do that so she could hide in the morgue for a bit.  Speed hadn't looked happy coming off the elevator.  He went back to looking over the notes, letting Speed help him when he finally came in with a new soda.  "Sore?"

"Sore throat.  I reamed Yelina a new one.  Hope you don't mind."

"I probably should protest but I don't at the moment. Then again I think I just had a mood swing."  He frowned then cleared it up and smiled.  "I even hit him."

"Cool.  Maybe I can do the same."

"I promised to do this to him before we sent him to prison.  That the cons would love the baby."

Speed looked at him.  "Usually I'm the scary one, Horatio.  Remember your place in the bastard hierarchy."  He got to work with him.  "We have a formula and notes about paternity."  He read it over. "They used their partner's."  Horatio growled at that.  He looked at him.  "So either we've got the fussy one's or each others?"

"Calleigh asked when we were testing that."

"When Alexx feels like pulling out the big, huge needles."

"True."  He smiled. "Then we can find out sex as well."

"Good point."  He got back to work, laying it out in a more reasonable progression.  Someone had shoved things into boxes without organizing.

Eric walked in and put bags in front of them then walked out.

"Subtle, I like that," Speed said, looking in his.  "Ham."

Horatio looked at his.  "Turkey."  They switched.  "Hot peppers."  Speed stole half and he used the rest.  "We'll have to thank him later."  They ate while they looked over the notes.  When Alexx finally came up they could hand her the file and let her get a copy for her personal records.  They were even nice enough to send one to the chief as well.  That way he could tell the others.


Alexx walked into DNA with a few tubes.  "This is the same sort of silence you had when Speed asked you to run DNA through the PD databanks a few months back," she said quietly.

"Natalia, can you leave?" she requested.  "This is about a rape case and it's an IAB thing."  She nodded and left, going to take an early lunch.  "Still the PD database?"

"Yes, and this time it's paternity, sugar."  She handed over the tray.  "Do not say a word."

"Of course not!  Can I know what's going on?"

She looked at her.  "You're going to get two names, sweetie.  It should be pretty obvious at that point."  That got a nod and she got to work preparing samples.  "Let me know when you have them.  Even the ones you know personally let me handle it."

"Of course."  She smiled.  "Thank you for trusting me."

"I do trust *you*."  She walked out, leaving it in good hands.  She Speed running the usual health checks just in case.  That would tell her all she needed to know.  She went back to the morgue to wait and go back to reading up on c-sections.  She didn't think they were coming out any other way.  Fortunately the Chief had told her to order anything she needed and send him the requisition personally.


Valera walked into the morgue, looking around.  "Are we clear?"

"All but Mrs. Henry here.  Are we done?"

Valera gave her a look.  "That's the secret?"  She nodded, pursing her lips.  "Are they okay?"

"So far they're fine medically.  Mental breaks down now and then but I'd expect that."

She shuddered.  "I'm so sorry.  I also ran sex tests since I figured they might want to know.  That's what took me so long."  She gave her a pitiful look.  "Are the people who did this dead at least?  Or can we women go beat the crap out of them?"

"Eric said he arrested the fed who came up with the research notes.  You know you can't tell anyone, right?"

"Who'd believe me!  Oh, the new guy?"

"Not a clue," Alexx told her.

"Bet me.  He was looking at baby catalogs."  Alexx looked stunned.  "I don't know why but someone might want to ask and since Speed was crying at the selection of chocolate in the machines earlier...."  She left it there.  "By the way, you'll need some smelling salts."  She walked out, her missive of doom done for the day.  She ran into a lurking Horatio.  "Alexx said to give her the results and only her," she said quietly, glancing around.  Then she hugged him.  "I'm so sorry.  God, I'm so sorry.  It'll be okay and I'll do what I can, even hold your hand and all that stuff.  Let me know when the shower is?"  He nodded at that.  "I ran sex and paternity."

"Thank you, Valera."  He smiled at her.  "I've come to accept it."

"Did you at least hit him?"

"I did."

"Good!  Can I hit him?  Me and Calleigh and Alexx?"

He smiled.  "We'll see."  She walked off again.  "Take the rest of the day off if you're nearly clear."

"Thank you, Horatio.  I need it.  I need brain wash."

He walked into the morgue, staring at Alexx, who just looked back.  "Well?"

"Are you sure you want to know before I do?  I haven't gotten through more than the first few yet, Horatio."

"Look at mine.  Tell me."

She found his test results and looked them over.  "Healthy.  Very healthy.  Normal."

He moved closer to snatch them, then found his other one in the other stack.  He stared and wobbled, making her catch him and sit him down.  "This is a cosmic joke."

"It's not.  I was looking at Speedy's."  He looked at her.  "Him first," she snorted, paging him down to the morgue.  He walked in scowling.  She held up the results.  "Want me to read it for you?"

"I know she's healthy, all the tests you had me run were negative.  And?"

"Little boy."  He smiled at that.  "And Eric's a daddy twice."

"Excuse me?" he demanded, losing his smile.  Horatio handed over his.  "Hey, a little girl.  At least they won't date."  Horatio glared at him.  "It was a worry I had last night."

"So that's what that nightmare was," Horatio said blandly, standing up.  "We should talk to Delko."

"We should tease the hell out of him for this," he said with a smirk.  "What about the new guy?"

"Valera said he was reading baby catalogs," Alexx offered.  "You two still need to eat better and start cutting back on the hours."  They gave her a look.  "Do I care?" she demanded.  "Do it anyway!  Before I tell the other fussy ones!"

"Yes, mom," Speed said, walking out with the combined test results.  He came back.  "No others are his, right?  There won't be a Delko population explosion?"  She looked then shook her head.  "Good."  He walked out, finding Eric joking and laughing with Calleigh.  They both walked in and smiled at the new guy, who left with a smile back.  He slammed the door once Horatio got out of the way.

"Test results are back," Calleigh said, looking at him.  "Should I run?  Am I a daddy?"

"While that would fit the cosmic joke going on inside us, no," Speed told her.  "In either case."  She beamed and took the papers to look over.  "Both healthy."

"Oooh, a girl and a boy!" she squealed, hugging them.  She turned the page for paternity and passed out.

"At least we know she's not pregnant by you, Eric," Horatio said blandly.  Eric went pale and had to lean against the table, shaking his head slowly.  They both nodded.  Eric shook his head harder.  "Oh, yes.  Or as Speed put it, at least the kids can't date."

Eric sat down on the floor, looking at him.  "No, please no?"  Speed smirked at him, handing him the card he had picked out for the father.  Eric looked at it then whimpered and started to cry.  "No.  I've got to tell my mother."

Horatio helped Calleigh wake up, noticing someone watching.  "She's fine, just some news," he called.  "Go back to work!"   He looked down at her.  "Good morning."

"Oh my God," she breathed, looking at Eric, then at him.  "They'll be pretty."  Speed swatted at her with a scowl.  "They will be!  It's a good first thought! It does explain why you both want sweets, and hey, Frank won't have to explain it to his wife," she babbled.   "I won't have to think about how they could've come to be naturally or anything like that and they won't date.  Though they'll probably play together and be happy and all that."  Horatio helped her up and gave her a hug.  "It's not mine and I'm so happy but I'm so freaked out," she admitted, giving him a squeeze.  She pulled herself back together.  "I'll, um, give you three some time alone."  She rushed out, going to tell Frank.  She ran into him at his desk and hauled him up.  "There's news."  He followed her to a quiet place to talk.  "They're Eric's."

"Someone's having twins?" he muttered.  She punched him on the arm.  "Oh, no."  She nodded frantically.  "Oh, hell no.  Please hell no."  She nodded again.  "Is he alive?"

"So far!  I ran!  I'm not going to die protecting him!"

"It's not his fault and they both know that," he said, calming her down a bit.  "Any other news?"

"One boy, one girl.  She'll be a beautiful little girl with blue eyes."

He grinned at that.  "I'm sure she will.  They'll both be stubborn."

"Horatio said at least they couldn't date."  He snickered at that.  "I passed out, Frank."

"It's reasonable, Calleigh.  I almost did when he told me."  He gave her a hug.  "It'll be okay.  We can cover for them if something bad happens.  Go pick out lunch."  She nodded, going to do that while he went back to his desk and wondered if he should appear to mourn at Eric's funeral or not.  Doing so would probably be a better cover he decided.


Eric walked into his mother's house and looked around. "We alone?"

"You asked for us to be.  What's going on?"  She looked at him.  "You're going to admit you're dating someone?"

He sat down and put a few papers in front of her.  "This," he said in Spanish, "is what happened to some officers during a drill.  Someone drugged us all, someone inserted drugs in most of us.  They thankfully committed suicide before I got to them and the one who showed up wanting us to finish the original guy's research is in jail."  She gave him a worried look.  "Just read it, Momma.  Please.  That way you can rant and scream and then we'll talk."

She read it over, then stared at him in horror.  "The one who needed the candy?"

"Yes, both of the guys did."  Her mouth came open then a wail started.  He gave her a hug. "It's all right."

"It's against Nature and God's Will!" she ranted.  She stood up and got away from him.  "How dare they!"

"Momma, the ones who decided to keep it did it mostly on religious reasons.  A few are even Catholic."  She glared at him.  "I'm one of the ones it failed on and they used me as a sample.  A paternal sample."  She wobbled and he caught her, sitting her back down.  "But I did have you make the candy for them.  I didn't know at the time, I thought I was just spoiling them, but it went to the right people.  I've been fussing over them since they're still working."  She gave him a horrified look and he grinned.  "This isn't even the fit I expected."

"Your father will hear it later!"

"Momma, if news of this gets out, they're going to come after the department and kill us all.  Everyone who knows, all the parents, everyone."  She glared at him.  He nodded.  "So get the ranting out now.  Please."  She went off, swearing in Russian and Spanish as she stormed into the kitchen.  He winced at the breaking glasses.  "I'm hope that wasn't Grandma's glasses, Momma.  You'll pout later if you break those."

She came out.  "Yours?"

"Two.  One of each.  Two different ... well I guess you could call them mothers."

"Who?" she demanded.

"Speed and Horatio."  She whimpered and clutched the doorframe.  He nodded.  "A few of us know so we could watch their backs.  We knew a few weeks back that they were using a partner's sample.  I thought one might end up being mine when I heard that but we did the tests today."  She nodded at that, her mouth clenched together.  "Momma, they wanted the babies."

"I will be seeing them."

"In private."

"I'm telling your father."

"As long as you don't tell my sisters!  They can't keep a secret if all our lives depended on it.  And it does this time."  She nodded once at that.  "Are you okay?  Not going to find a torch or anything?"

"They did not ask this to be done to them."  She swatted him. "You should have told me."

"Momma, I've been trying to keep the secret and I know how you can go off on some people when they're going against God's laws," he soothed.  "In Horatio's case, his priest talked him into it."

She snorted.  "The poor boy is a victim.  I cannot hate him.  I will be seeing them.  We will be getting visitation and you will take responsibility."

"Of course I am.   However much they want."  She gave him a look.  "You know Speed and Horatio.  Think about the mood swings!"  She snorted but looked happier.  "Anyway, I wanted to let you know now, in private, so you could get this out.  Make sure Poppi knows he can't tell a single person.  No one.  Not even the priests."  She nodded once at that, calming herself down.  He kissed her on the cheek.  "They'll be pretty grandbabies."

"They will be but it's still wrong."

"I know.   Not like I had the fun to get them that way."  She swatted him and scowled but she was back to closer to normal.  "So, Speed's out of candy.  Can I get you to make him some more?"  She smiled and nodded, heading back to clean up the mess she had made.  "Thanks, Momma."

"How are they getting out?"

"Alexx."  She came back to stare at him.  "It's the only doc we had available and she butted in. She's got two of her own," he reminded her.  "Since the Feds are threatening to shut us down and kill us all, she's handling those who didn't have surgery, Momma."

"How many got hit?"

"Fifteen originally.  There's six still pregnant.  One miscarried."  She nodded, going back to the kitchen.  "Can I help?  I have no idea how to do this."

"You will."  He walked in.  "Are you seeing one of them?"

"No, but I think they're seeing each other."  She snorted. "It'd be like I donated to a lesbian couple or something.  Or at least that's how I'm considering it."  She gave him a look but went back to pulling out ingredients to teach him how to make this important treat.  "Horatio agreed we could have dinner at his place tonight.  Is eight okay?"

"It's fine, Eric.  We'll talk to them then, make sure they both know we want to visit."

"That'll also give you time to calm down Poppi."

She looked at him and snorted.  "No, it won't.  He'll still be steaming but he'll cave when he sees their stomachs.  Have them wear something that makes them show more than usual.  It worked when your sister came home saying she was getting married."  He grinned and texted that to Horatio, who sent back a groan.  "Are they still working?"

"Yeah but we got a rookie in the lab to cover for Speed in the field.  Horatio's not so much doing the work as doing the paperwork at the moment so we should be okay.  Just a bit more tired."  She nodded, teaching him what to melt together.  He took over, doing what she said.  It was pretty easy and it was a great treat.  His father came home, slamming the door.  "In here, Poppi."

"Your mother called and said there was news I should hear," he said, coming in. "That you requested a private meeting with us?"  He looked at his son.  "She's pregnant?"

She handed over the papers.  "Someone stupid in the government decided to go against God's laws and used our son."  He looked at her, then at Eric, who nodded at the papers.  He read them over slowly, frowning.  She looked at him.  "It is not the other parents' fault."

"They kept them?"

"Dad, it's the only chance either of them will have," he said quietly.  "I found out today that two of the eight are mine.  I've been fussing over them.  Right now I'm really happy neither one of them is either one carrying twins."

"Did no one stop these people!" he demanded, slapping down the papers.

"One committed suicide, the other's in jail," Eric said simply.  "Horatio got to hit him once and Speed told the others in his cellblock that he was doing human experiments that made a man emasculate."  That got a snort and an evil look.  "I didn't know, Poppi.  We only did the tests today.  But you can't tell anyone.  They will kill anyone who finds out if it's found out by anyone not involved."

"Like Castro," he sneered. "Only worse.  Not even he would've done this!"

"Agreed," Eric assured him.  "But for right now, I've got two beautiful children on the way."  His mother took the pan.  "Sorry, Momma."

'It's all right."  She looked at him.  "We're talking to them tonight at eight for dinner."

"The parents?"

"Speed and Horatio," he said quietly.  His father gaped in horror.  He grinned.  "They'll be very pretty babies."

"They will but that's still wrong!"

"Poppi, calm down," he ordered quietly.  "This is the only chance they have.  They decided to have the babies when the opportunity was given to not make that choice."  His father deflated and nodded.  "Now, they're with each other.  I know that'll bother you.  I don't care, but if you upset them I will scream at you once their mood swings are done.  They don't need it with the other stresses in their lives."

"I understand.  You will be with them?"

"That's up to them, Poppi.  I don't make that decision."  He nodded at that and went back to his study to fume in private. "Remember, no one can know."

"I won't tell anyone, not even our priests," he assured him, then slammed his office door.

Eric came back to help.  "What did I miss?"  She smiled and let him add the rest of the oats going in.  "Thank you for staying calm, Momma."

She kissed him on the cheek.  "I'm focusing on the end result and feeling sorry for those men of yours, son.  Otherwise I would be screaming and grab a rifle, going back to the revolutionary I used to be."  He grinned and nodded, giving her a hug while they cooked.  "You're off today?"

"Horatio ordered me to come tell you before you hunted him down and burned him at a stake."

"He has not a worry, son.  The person who did this...."  He grinned at that and she got back to teaching him how this was done.  It was a very delicate candy if it wasn't mixed correctly.


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