The Hummer swiftly pulled up outside the residency of the latest crime; another murder. The sun caught the eyes of the red haired man as he stepped out of the vehicle, placing his sunglasses over his eyes. He stood with a confident posture, his hands on his hips, as he took in the scene outside the house.
Crime scene tape had been put around the lawn to keep onlookers back as uniformed officers questioned neighbours in a busy, but somehow organised fashion. Horatio Caine ducked under the tape and stepped up to the open front door, ready for what was inside.
"What have we got?" The familiar words he asked the ME as she bent over the body of a woman surrounded by a pool of blood.
"Gunshot to the back of the head, up-close and personal." Alexx sighed and stood up. "There are defensive wounds too; she put up a hell of a fight. I'll let you know if I find anything else."
Horatio smiled slightly and nodded a thanks as Alexx started to collect her gear and helped to get the body ready for taking to her morgue for autopsy.
"Calleigh and Eric are down the hall processing the living room and Speeds in the kitchen. I'll see you later." Had Horatio seen a flicker of concern on Alexx's face as she mentioned Speed?
'Probably my imagination,' thought Horatio as Alexx turned and headed outside.
"Thanks Alexx." Horatio headed down the hallway and could hear laughter and playful arguing from a room to his left. He walked in to find two of his CSIs carefully processing the room, but with grins on their faces. Then suddenly Calleigh leapt from her position on the floor to grab an evidence bag.
"What did you find?" Eric peered over to what Calleigh had found under a cabinet. She held it up to get a better look.
"It's an unspent bullet. Must have been dropped when the killer loaded the gun. I'll get it back to the lab and compare it to the one found in the victim." Calleigh was all business now as she bagged the new evidence.
Horatio had to admire his team. They didn't let the cases get to them too much and got on well with each other, so that they were almost a family rather than simply colleagues.
But they also took each case seriously and used their best efforts to catch the 'bad guy'. Horatio glanced over to Eric who had found a piece of blue material by the window.
"Hey, check this out. Looks like it's torn from something. I can get Speed to take a look at it, find out what this substance on it is." Eric looked up at Horatio.
"Ok. Good work both of you." As Horatio headed back out to the hallway Calleigh called back to him.
"Um, have you seen Speed yet?" Her face was suddenly showing worry. Eric appeared behind her, the same concern written on his features.
"I was just about to go and see if he'd found anything." Horatio looked between the two CSIs, worry starting to grow deep inside him, though he didn't show it.
Calleigh took a deep breath, "It's just he looked ill this morning, a bit pale and like he hadn't slept in a while." She couldn't help but allow her worry to show through her voice as she spoke.
"And just as I was heading to the break room I saw him nearly collapse into one of the chairs. He said he had stood up too quick and got a bit dizzy but..." Eric hated it when his friend wouldn't let anyone help him. They were almost like brothers but it pissed him off when Speed only concentrated on his job instead of important things, like his health. He knew Speed wasn't stupid enough to let things get too bad before taking time off, but he hadn't looked good earlier.
"I'll go take a look. If he looks like he needs time off I'll pull rank and send him home. Don't worry." Horatio gave a comforting smile and walked back into the hall to find the kitchen.
Continuing down the hall, he found the kitchen to his right, and Speed working busily dusting for prints on the counters. As he turned towards him to replace his gear into his kit, Horatio got a good look at Speed's face. He was indeed pale and his eyes looked haggard as if deprived of sleep.
"Found anything interesting yet?" Horatio approached Speed and decided to see if he would confess to not feeling a hundred percent himself. Speed on the other hand instantly recognised the tactic and answered without a hint of any problem.
"No fingerprints. A couple of shoeprints though, that don't match the victim's shoes." He pointed out a set of boot-prints leading through the kitchen to the back door. "They're muddy and fresh so we can make an educated guess that the attacker left through the back door."
"Ok, well, when you finish processing in here I want you to process the main bedroom, and then get the evidence back to the lab." Horatio knew Speed had figured his tactic. But he also knew that Speed looked ill, so persisted openly. "Look, are you feeling ok?"
"I'm fine. I'm probably just coming down with a cold or something. I'll get plenty of rest over the weekend and be better in no time." Speed tried to grin but couldn't quite pull it off.
"Good. In fact, I want you to take the rest of the day off, get an early weekend. I'm going to need my team, including my trace expert, in full health. And no arguments, don't forget I'm your boss." Horatio added as Speed was about to protest. He knew it was the best he was going to get from Speed, but a couple of days rest should get him back to better health.
"Yes sir," Speed replied, saluting Horatio with a grin on his face.
Horatio walked back towards the hallway, stopping at the door. "I'll let Eric and Calleigh know..."
That was as far as he got. As he turned to face Speed once more, who had begun to pack away his gear, he noticed he kept grimacing as he moved.
"Speed? Are you alright?"
Speed stood up straight and looked over at Horatio. His eyes going in and out of focus, the kitchen swam before his eyes. His head was suddenly pounding and he could no longer hide the discomfort he was feeling. No, not discomfort, searing pain! His chest was on fire and his whole body suddenly became too heavy to keep upright. He began to lose control of his balance and desperately tried to grab hold of something to stop himself from falling. But it was too late. It was getting darker as his mind got foggier. He could hear Horatio's voice trying to reach him but somehow it didn't quite get to him. There was nothing he could do as he slipped away...
Horatio watched in shock as Speed began to stumble for support, and rushed towards him as he buckled and collapsed to the floor.
Summary: Something goes wrong for one of the team at a crime scene...