Title: The Morning After The Night Before.

Spoilers: None.

Standard pre-fanfic spiel: I don't own CSI Miami or any of the characters, perhaps that's a good thing, there'd be a lot more fluff and a lot less science going on in Miami if I were in charge!!

A/N – Just Look at what y'all have done to me – You've turned me into a DuCaine shipper!!! How in the heck did that happen??

This was inspired by one line in Tigerlily06's fic 'A Means to an End'

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Part One – The Night Before.

Several hours ago Frank Tripp had waltzed into Horatio's office and found the senior CSI with his head bowed over a case file, scribbling the occasional signature or annotation at the bottom of pages.

"Horatio, do you know what time it is?"

"Yes Frank," he glanced over at the clock on the wall of his office, "It's nearly nine o'clock. Why? Is that is some way relevant?"

"It's relevant in the way that what in the heck are you still doing here? The rest of your team went home hours ago."

"The curse of being a supervisor, Frank. The higher the pay scale, the more irksome the paperwork becomes." He replied with a smile.

"Sometimes you just gotta say to hell with the paperwork. C'mon, grab your jacket we're goin' to get a drink."

"Thanks for the offer Frank, but I'm gonna have to take a rain check."

"Right, listen Horatio. You've taken one too many rain checks just lately, now I'm calling one in. You need to take a couple of hours to relax or you're gonna go mad."

"But I've just…" Horatio started to motion towards the open file, but Frank cut him off.

"I don't care. Get your jacket, we're going for a drink if I have to handcuff you and drag you into the bar kicking and screaming. I've seen the work rota for tomorrow and you're not scheduled to be on duty. So you can spare a couple of hours from your schedule and catch up on some sleep tomorrow."

Horatio chuckled at Frank's persistence. He knew that the Texan had noticed the dark lines underneath his eyes lately, and his 'more sombre than usual' demeanour. It was coming up to the anniversary of his mother's death and even though it was so long ago the intervening years had not dulled the pain; the memory still burnt white hot in his mind, forcing him to waken in the middle of the night after only an hour or so of sleep and the little sleep he did manage to get was haunted by the ghosts of his past.

So he'd relented, grabbed his suit jacket from the back of his chair and headed out across town to the Texan detective's favourite haunt. Besides, Horatio thought, perhaps a small amount of alcohol might numb his memory just enough to allow him to drift into a dreamless sleep for once.

Now though, Horatio was drunk…very drunk in fact.

He ticked off the signs; his head was spinning, he was having trouble holding his head up straight, words tumbled out of his mouth without having passed through the language centre of his brain and as a result he seemed to be spouting complete and utter garbage. In addition to these telltale signs, when he'd tried to stand up a couple of minutes ago he'd been forced to grab onto the edge of the bar for support as the ground had seemed to be coming closer to his face at an alarming rate. Plus he seemed to have run out of fingers to count the signs of drunkenness on, he was sure he'd had more than four fingers earlier.

He just didn't understand how it had happened; he'd only had a couple of measures of scotch, he only ever had a couple of measures, knowing that alcohol was not the way to deal with the issues in your life. He wondered briefly if he'd been drugged, but as soon as the idea formed, his brain flickered onto another train of thought altogether and the idea was lost in a storm of other notions.

What Horatio didn't know was that every time he'd turned away from the bar Frank had summoned the bar-tender to tip another shot into Horatio's glass, usually making it a double. The detective had no qualms about drowning your sorrows every now and then in an impressive binge and was determined that he was going to help Horatio unwind.

About an hour ago Tripp had been impressed, it'd taken about half the bottle of scotch to get Horatio into a drunken state, he'd imagined that one sniff of the hard stuff would have been enough to send the crime lab boss light in the head, but Frank had forgotten to consider Horatio's Irish lineage, the kind of ancestry that was borne out of bar-room brawls and an endless supply of liquor, forefathers whose veins ran thick with Guinness and whiskey rather than blood. Now though, Frank was oblivious to pretty much everything as for the past sixty minutes he'd been working hard to catch Horatio up on alcohol intake and was finding that his own tolerance was far lower than the redhead sitting next to him.

Finally Horatio's brain stopped jumping from one thought to another long enough to decide it was time to go home.

"Well, Francis. I'm going to call it a night." He hoped that he'd expressed his intention accurately, not entirely certain if the unintentional slurring had fogged his speech. It didn't seem to matter to Frank whether his speech was coherent or not as he momentarily lifted his head off the bar, grunted something undecipherable and laid his head back down onto the cool and incredibly sticky surface of the bar, producing a squelching noise.

Horatio eventually managed to get out of the bar, it seemed to him as if while he'd been sitting inside someone had moved the exit to the most inaccessible place possible, he was certain it had been on the other side of the room when he'd come in. When he opened the door the fresh air hit him like a tonne of bricks (a tonne of bricks that had been built into a very large and very hard wall) and Horatio staggered a little, forced to hang onto the nearest barrier for support as his legs did a passable impression of jelly.

He swirled his hand around inside his jacket pocket and found his car keys, before immediately dropping them back again; nope there was no chance that he was driving home in this state and instead pulled out his cell phone.

He keyed in the number for a taxi company and pressed 'send' to initiate the call.

The phone rang out for a few minutes before a sleepy voice appeared on the other end.

"Horatio?"

What the…? How the heck did the taxi company know his name? Horatio pulled the phone away from his ear and glanced down at the display in confusion. What he saw made him want to die right then. Rather than the taxi company he had intended to call, Horatio had dialled straight through to Calleigh's home phone. His heart skipped a beat. Of course he knew her number off by heart, how many times had he sat and keyed it into his phone ready to press 'send', desperately wanting to hear her warm voice, but had chickened out at the last second and pressed 'cancel' instead. Now, it seemed that his brain was rebelling over the amount of alcohol that he'd put in his bloodstream and had made him do the most embarrassing thing he could possibly do.

He put the phone back to his ear, realising that Calleigh was still on the other end.

"Horatio? Is that you? Are you there?"

"Um, sorry Cal. I…um…I didn't mean to call you, I was…I was actually going to call a cab." He tried to make his voice as sober sounding as possible, trying to think a few words ahead of what he was saying, attempting to find if any words would come out slurred or incomprehensible.

"Horatio, are you drunk?" Her voice told him she was wide awake now.

Damn, she'd noticed.

"Um, possibly a little bit. Um…Frank…"

"Don't say anything else, I understand exactly what happened." He was sure he heard her mutter "I'm going to kill Tripp". "Where are you? I'm coming to get you."

"Cal, you don't need to do that. Just go back to sleep, I'll get a cab. Promise."

"Not a chance Horatio. I'll find you eventually even if it means driving around Miami until lunchtime. I will not let you wander around in that state, goodness knows what trouble you'll get yourself into."

Even in his inebriated state Horatio knew that she wasn't going to take no for an answer.

"Grant's. It's on the corner of…"

"I know where it is. I've run my share of rescue missions to pick my Dad up from there. It's one of his favourite watering holes."

Now Horatio felt even guiltier than he had before. She ran around day and night trying to pry her father out of one bar or other, and now she was giving up her chance for sleep to come save his sorry ass.

"Thanks Cal. Listen, I'm sorry."

He was a little relieved to hear her chuckle.

"There's no need to be sorry Horatio. I'm just glad you called me…"

She was glad he called her? What did that mean? Oh he really wished he were sober right now so he could work out what she meant by that. Suddenly he realised that she was still speaking.

"…Just go back into the bar and wait for me, I'll be about ten minutes, ok?"

"Sure, thanks Cal."

He heard the call disconnect on the other end as she put the phone down.

Oh crap. Horatio hit the palm of his hand against his forehead, and instantly wished he hadn't done it quite so hard as the world around him wobbled severely. He wanted the ground to open up right then and swallow him. Why had he phoned Calleigh? Of all the people, why had it had to be her?

Because you love her, you freak.

Oh great, now he'd managed to poke the little voice in his head into rebellion as well.

No I don't.

Yes you do.

Stop it. I am not going to have an internal debate about this. What the hell am I doing? I'm having an argument with myself. I'm going to kill Frank when we're both sober.

I'm just saying is all, you phoned her because you love her. Face it pal, you're completely and totally head over heels in love with her.

Nope I'm not having this argument with you…erm…I mean me. Horatio felt like sticking his fingers in his ears and starting to sing, although that course of action didn't really help when the voice you were trying to block out was actually in your head.

Let's look at the evidence shall we? You look forward to every day because you know you're going to see her. Her very presence lights up the room. You love the way that when you're working close together you can smell her shampoo. You're heart skips a beat every time she says your name…shall I go on?

Listen voice, just because I look forward to seeing her and I like the smell of…shampoo…and my heart…oh crap I do love her don't I?

Halleluiah, finally he's seen the light.

--------------------------------

Ten minutes later Calleigh strolled into Grant's bar to find Horatio perched on a bar stool at one end of the bar, looking a little embarrassed with himself while a barely conscious Frank Tripp swayed precariously on a stool next to him.

"Hey." She greeted Horatio with a warm smile as she walked up to him.

"Hey." He smiled weakly in return.

Calleigh turned an evil eye on Frank, who didn't notice as at that particular moment he was a little preoccupied with the process of falling off his barstool.

"I'll deal with you on Monday, Tripp." She growled down at the Detective, before hoisting him back onto the stool and calling over to one of the waitresses. "Hey Andrea, would you call a cab for Detective Tripp here? I think he's had more than enough." Speaking in a hushed tone, she added; "Make sure he gets in and tell the cab driver that he's not to drop him off at another bar, he's to take him straight home."

"Sure Calleigh. No problem."

"Thanks Andrea."

Again the guilt washed over Horatio as he sat and watched this conversation unfold. Calleigh knew the waitress and the waitress knew Calleigh. She really must have run a lot of rescue missions to come fetch her father from this place. But all the guilt in the world couldn't have dampened his spirits when she turned a smile in his direction.

"Right then handsome, let's get you home."

It took some effort to get him into her SUV. With his right arm hooked over her shoulder she tried to offer him a little support as he walked his meandering path. Finally she got him into the passenger seat and buckled the safety belt across his chest, closing the door to with a clunk.

Driving along, Calleigh took a sideways glance at Horatio. His head was leaning on the window, his eyes closed. She hadn't had the opportunity to take a good, close look at him for some time and now she did she could see the weariness etched into his skin. Perhaps it was a good thing that he had taken the chance to unwind a little. Granted she wished that he'd chosen a healthier outlet than drowning himself in what smelt like an entire bottle of scotch, but some relaxation was infinitely better than none at all. She had noticed that over the past few weeks he'd started to walk with his shoulders hunched a little, as if her were carrying some great weight. She had also noticed the way that sometimes he'd just zone out in the middle of a conversation, there were definite chinks in his armour gradually starting to appear and that wasn't a good thing. The problem was that when gaps started to appear, it meant that there were weak spots for the bullets to get through.

Calleigh brought her attention back to the road. She had a decision to make, either she got off at the next junction and took Horatio back to his own place or she could carry on and take him back to her apartment. She decided that either way, leaving him alone in this state was not a good idea. Suddenly her mind was made up, so instead of taking the turn-off to Horatio's place she carried on, taking her normal route home.

When she arrived, she virtually had to drag him out of the vehicle. Damn it, she thought, this would be a whole lot easier if she wasn't so damn small.

"Horatio, sweetheart, you're going to have to walk for a little bit, because I can't carry you."

"Mmm." He mumbled a response and after a couple of failed attempts, managed to push himself upright and once again Calleigh pulled his arm over her shoulder and tried to support him as best she could.

It seemed like an age until she managed to get him to her door, where she propped him up against the wall as she pushed her key into the lock. Calleigh kept one hand resting on his chest in an attempt to keep him upright. She managed to get the door open just in time, as she pushed it inwards she felt Horatio start to slide down the wall.

"Whoa there." She propped him back up and then bundled him through the door and into her modest apartment. At least it was a straight path to the bedroom and Calleigh was thankful that she'd tidied earlier that evening so that there were no obstacles in their way.

Finally she allowed him to collapse onto the bed, she knelt down and pulled his shoes off, placing them side by side at the foot of the bed.

Ok girl, so what now? Calleigh asked herself as she realised she was in a bit of a predicament.

It was difficult, she couldn't exactly just start undressing her boss, there would be awkward questions to answer in the morning if she did that, but at the same time she wanted to make him as comfortable as possible. She decided to take off his jacket and belt, but to leave him in his shirt and trousers.

She slipped off the dark jacket, which turned out to be more of a task than she'd initially thought. She hadn't thought that it was going to be this difficult to undress an unconscious man and suddenly and inexplicably her mind wandered to Alexx and the part of her job that required her to undress corpses, that must be way harder. She made a mental note to ask the coroner for any hints that might make this kind of task a little easier – not that she intended to be undressing unconscious men on a regular basis of course. The belt, along with his badge and gun were bundled away into the same drawer that she kept her own service firearm and badge in.

A quick trip into the kitchen bought a glass of water to the bedside table and a foray into the bathroom cupboard produced a bottle of aspirin. She was fairly certain that after the state Horatio had been in when she'd found him, he was going to wake up with a throat that felt like it had been set on fire and a headache to rival that of a patient who'd undergone a trephining procedure; without anaesthetic.

With Horatio dealt with and Calleigh changed into her nightwear of shorts and t-shirt she encountered another quandary; where was she going to sleep? The apartment was small and didn't have a spare room and apparently her sofa was the most uncomfortable piece of furniture known to man. Eric had stayed over once when they had been investigating a case that had the entire Cuban community up in arms, which had made it difficult for him to go home. He'd slept on the sofa and had complained that he'd been in pain for about a fortnight afterwards. According to him, he'd experienced cramps in muscles he didn't even know he had.

She looked over at Horatio, hell, it was a big bed and they were both adults (although she admitted to herself that the fact that they were both adults was part of the problem). If he didn't like it then he shouldn't get drunk and call her in the early hours of the morning.

Calleigh tried to lie on the bed without making the smallest noise or disturb Horatio in any way. It didn't work because Horatio, feeling the slight depression on the bed as she lay down reacted subconsciously, shifting his weight in his sleep and dropping an arm over her body, pulling her in towards him. An automatic response that made Calleigh freeze and her muscles tense upon feeling the contact, vividly aware of the intimacy of the situation. But the thought started to ricochet around her mind just how good it felt to be held by someone. No, not just someone, how good it felt to be held by Horatio.

She lay awake listening to the steady rhythm of his breathing for a long time, noting how the pitch changed ever so slightly as he entered different stages of sleep. Calleigh had known for some time that she was gradually falling in love with her boss. From the very first time she'd met him in fact, when he'd travelled out to New Orleans to ask her to move down to Miami to join his newly formed team of forensic experts she'd felt the attraction. What wasn't to be attracted to after all? He was kind and considerate and she admitted without a pause that she found him handsome as hell. But while she'd admitted that she had feelings for him she had also decided that she could never reveal those feelings to him. It would be too difficult, he was her boss, her superior officer, it would make things awkward for her and virtually impossible for him. No, there was no way that she could ever tell him how she truly felt. Now though, with his arm draped over her, holding her close, the fact that she could feel his soft breath on the back of her neck, it made her doubt that all her complex reasoning had been right. Oh so what? She would deal with the consequences in the morning. Finally she allowed herself to relax back and snuggle closer to him, her back coming into contact with his chest, her legs lying touching his.