Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. All others belong to us, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask us first. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

Spoilers: through "Lady Heather's Box". AU

Result of an inadvertent challenge by Cincoflex.


The wordless shriek is high-pitched enough to make me wince, but I don't break into a run; the summons demands my attention but doesn't have that extra edge that means serious disaster.

Still, I round the corner into the living room fairly quickly, just to be on the safe side. "Daisy, sweetheart, just calling my name would be fine, you don't have to break glasses…"

My summoner rightfully ignores that and points imperatively at a spot on the rug about two feet away. "DADDY!"

"That's more like it. What's up, kidling?"

She stabs the air with that cute little finger, every line of her two-year-old body bespeaking the immediacy of the situation. "BUG!"

I take a closer look at her target, expecting the usual piece of household debris; ever since Daisy picked up that word, just about anything the right size falls into that category. But this time--

"Whoa! Good call." That's no bit of lint or piece of paper--it's something with a whole lotta legs, and while I try to remember the difference between a centipede and a millipede, the first thing that comes to mind is that one is poisonous. So I do the rest of my remembering with Daisy in my arms, well out of bugly reach.

The thing's curled up on the rug, looking fairly quiescent--it might even be dead, I don't know. But it has legs everywhere, so many that it looks hairy, and I take Daisy's hands in mine gently to check for stings. "The bug didn't bite you, did it? Anything hurt?"

It's instinct, really; if the thing had stung her she would certainly have let me know already. Daisy got my lung power and her mother's range, of that we can be sure.

She pulls her fingers away impatiently and points again, this time to the front door. "Bug, Daddy, bug! Out!"

I sigh a little, wondering if I should have let good ol' Uncle Gil and Aunt Sara babysit quite so much. It would be a simple matter to just squish the thing, but then I'd never hear the end of it--either from Daisy, or from Grissom once my little snitch got through telling him all about it.

"Okay, let's get the bug-catching gear." I take her with me into the kitchen to get a glass, snagging a piece of paper from the grocery list on the way back, then set her on the couch. "You stay there until Daddy's through, okay sweetie? I need bug-wrangling room."

Daisy nods solemnly, and I know I can trust her to stay put for at least the next few minutes. Holding the glass in one hand and the paper in the other, I stalk my prey, remembering somewhere along the way that when you find one of these in the house, it's most likely a centipede…especially if you live in a desert.

And that centipedes are the poisonous ones that can run like hell. Terrific.

Fortunately for me, he of the many feet is apparently napping. I slam the glass down, and the bug bolts up and actually onto the glass, pausing halfway up the side to peer out at me. This works for me; I slide the paper underneath without having to worry about letting it loose, and then I pick the whole thing up. Tah-dah.

Daisy's squealing at my success, and I turn around and give her permission to come off the couch. I love this kid; she doesn't so much run to me as sort of bounce across the floor before wrapping her arms around my leg. She'll hug any part of the anatomy she can get a hold of, which is enough to melt my heart as long as it's not a sneak-attack hug on my head…ouch.

We make quite the procession to the front door, me with both hands occupied with the captive's prison and Daisy riding on my foot; she loves to do that and I love to let her, even though it makes for a pretty weird walk.

The door opens as we reach it, and ah! there's a vision coming in--my love in her work clothes. Tonight must have been something special, because she's wearing a velvet skirt, high boots, and a bodice, though she threw a shawl on top for modesty's sake on the commute. Her hair's caught up in some sort of elaborate jeweled thing on top of her head, and man, I have to pause and admire.

Our eyes meet in one warm flashing moment, and then Heather's bending down to scoop up her delighted child, who is bouncing and shrieking again. Lavish kisses are exchanged, and I suppress my envy, knowing I'll get my share from both ladies eventually.

"What do you have there?" Heather asks after the first ecstasies have died down.

"Just a visitor." I hold up the glass to illustrate, and Heather's eyes widen.

"Bug, Mommy!" Daisy announces, and proceeds to explain--not entirely coherently yet, but Heather works it out. Daisy finishes the details and immediately whiplashes into another subject, as usual, reaching up to touch Heather's hair thing. "What?"

"Ti-ar-a," Heather says slowly, and Daisy's lips move as she processes the word.

"Playing princess?" I ask, and Heather's own mouth twitches. She only works by special appointment these days, but with the kidling's college fund to be stocked, it does come in handy from time to time.

Daisy's ears prick up at that one. "Pwincess!" she says happily, jiggling in Heather's arms. She loves Disney, our little corporate consumer, and knows the names of all the classic royal ladies thereof.

Heather laughs, and reaches up to pull the tiara free; her hair tumbles down in a way that makes my breathing deepen slightly. Gently she places it on Daisy's curly head, holding it in place. "I hereby crown you…Princess Cuddles."

Daisy giggles in delight, reaching up to pull the tiara down further. I grin at my girls and edge past them, intent on getting rid of my leggy prisoner before he eats through the paper or something.

I walk down to the far end of the yard, not wanting the centipede to beat me back into the house, and remove the paper, upending the glass. The creature slides out and falls onto the dirt, apparently hitting the ground running to judge by the speed with which he takes off down the sidewalk.

Heather and Daisy are watching me from the doorway, Daisy applauding loudly and the tiara slipping down over her eyebrows. I come back up onto the porch, and Heather leans over to give me a quick warm kiss as Daisy tries to push the headgear back up. "Our hero," Heather says teasingly, and I roll my eyes.

"Captain Centipede, that's me."