A/N: I know many people don't like to read crossover stories, and I must apologize for the fact that this is, indeed, a crossover story. My last story called Shadows and Light presented a very dark version of Horatio Caine. Mostly, in my mind's eye, I see him as the anti-hero. I see him as a dark knight, the unrewarded protector of the city. I see him as someone that does what is needed regardless of if it will ever change the course of history, or if it will ever clean up the streets of his home. He's fighting a loosing battle and he knows it. And that can leave some very serious and dark holes in the psyche of a person.
This story, however, is something different. ;) This time I wanted to write Horatio as a light in the darkness, not a person consumed by it. It will be a refreshing change for me to write the hero as a hero for a change. I hope everyone will enjoy it.
This story was also inspired by the gaping hole left in the team when Alexx Woods left them. I did not like the other girl that replaced her last season, and I really don't like the new guy that replaced her this season. So, while watching Highlander on DVD, this idea pounced me out of nowhere: What would have happened if, during the Highlander Episode "Pharoah's Daughter," Nefertiri did not kill Constantine's wife. What would have happened if she had left Duncan and Constantine both and went her way in the world? The answer, of course, was to go into pathology and end up working in a crime lab. A place were a former handmaiden of an Egyptian queen could continue her promise to watch over the dead. If you get the chance, I recommend watching that episode of Highlander. It is one of my favorites.
Disclaimer: I do not own CSI Miami or Highlander. I do not even dream of owning them or making money from this. It is strictly for entertainment purposes.
The blood of youth always had that scent to it, that cloying sticky-sweet scent of orange lollipops left out in the sun and bubblegum sullied with decay. Though time and society had shifted the legal boundary of what constituted a child and an adult, Nefertiri could always tell the difference. That scent hovered in her memory, washed up from the shores of the deepest recesses of her mind. Young, innocent life spilled across the earth. It didn't matter if that earth was in her beloved Egypt or here in the hot topical paradise of Miami, Florida.
Young death always smelled like young death, no matter where it occurred.
"Dr. Elyssthra," Horatio said by way of greeting. He knelt down on one knee beside her on the sizzling blacktop. "What can you tell me?"
"That just because the world thinks itself so advanced as to be at its prime, it really hasn't changed much at all."
He tilted his head to the side, regarding her a moment. He had his sunglasses on, so she couldn't see the thoughts that lurked in his blue-blue eyes. She didn't need to. Nefertiri had worked with the Lieutenant and his team for only a month now, and yet he was becoming used to her odd way of speaking. Perhaps they accepted her strange ways due to the equally odd habits of her predecessor, Dr. Alexx Woods. Dr. Woods had had a habit of talking to the dead like they were people sleeping off a bad dream.
It had lent her a rather unique bedside manner, and had paved the way for Nefertiri to hide her secrets.
"Interesting way to say that," Horatio murmured, looking down at the blood and the body. "But not exactly the answer to my question."
"It's true," Nefertiri shrugged, trying to shake off the muted horror inside her. It was always worse when they body was a child. "I can tell you that she was between the ages of eleven and fifteen, and most likely anorexic. You can see here that the cause of death was probably strangulation. The petechial hemorrhaging in her eyes and the color of her lips admit to that much." She rolled up the child's skin-tight shirt, exposing her abdomen and ribs while still preserving her dignity. "However, this bruising pattern here across the ribs tells me that strangulation may not have been the whole of it. She was sat on, or crushed, or wrapped too tightly to breathe. I won't be certain until post."
"What about the blood?" He asked softly. "Do you believe she was raped?"
Nefertiri frowned down at the dark cherry-colored liquid congealing like melted candy near the girl's pelvis. It looked like it, she admitted, and yet she wasn't convinced. She shook her head, sending the gold beads woven into that one lock of her black hair clattering slightly. The scene looked too staged for her liking. She'd seen virgins bleed just after their first time with a man. Priestesses often had their first times with Pharaohs, a right that seemed prevalent in almost every culture she'd encountered. The King always took what he wanted first.
It still made her angry to think about.
"Best guess?" she shook her head again. "I would say that I'm not sure. The tight miniskirt and top suggest that she was looking for the company of men, but that's not necessarily true. The absence of her panties right now doesn't give us much to go on. She could have opted not to wear underclothing. But the blood? I don't think it's hers, Lieutenant Caine. Again, I'll have more at post."
Horatio rose to his feet, offering her a hand. "Our suspect could have taken the panties with him as a souvenir."
"Theories like that are your department, Lieutenant."
A ghost of a smile crossed his lips. "You are allowed to call me Horatio, Dr. Elyssthra."
She opened her mouth to reply, and the words died on her tongue. A sudden trembling had started in her limbs, a vibration through her head and heart that made the world pull into tight focus. Every leaf and blade of grass almost glowed with the life-force inside of them, and even the wind felt electric and alive against her skin. She knew that feeling well, had known it for over two thousand years.
Another Immortal had just walked into her range.
His scent reached her long before she saw him, a muskiness drifting on the air to mingle with the decay of dead dreams. It was a heady perfume, one she knew all too well. One steeped in deception and promises and everything in between. Being near him was like standing in the center of a garden, watching an overly intense sun wither away the flowers until only he and the ash remained. For wasn't that how things had started between them, back when Rome dared to boast how it ruled the world? Marcus Constantine had been at the center of that narrow little world, and she had stood on the outskirts of that center, a handmaiden to her beloved Cleopatra.
He'd burned her to ashes with the intensity of his love, something she learned quickly was a double-edged sword. His passion for her had made what Antony felt for Cleopatra nothing but puppy love. His desire to serve his precious Rome had burned her Egypt to ashes of slavery. While he celebrated Rome's victory over Egypt, she'd plunged the dagger into her own heart, dying with her queen.
Two centuries would pass before Duncan McLeod reunited them and helped to bury the grudge between them.
"Nefertiri," Marcus called, standing on the other side of the yellow police tape.
Horatio lifted an eyebrow at the man in the elegant and obviously tailored suit, and then looked back at his ME. Nefertiri was staring at the man as if she had seen a ghost, a ghost that had personal pain and longing written all over it. From what he could surmise, the man had that same look on his face as well.
"Dr. Elyssthra," Horatio said, letting go of her hand. "Go ahead. I believe we're done here."
Nefertiri looked between Horatio and Marcus a moment. "Are you certain?"
He only nodded, turning back to the gathered officers and other investigators processing the scene. It was his way of giving her as much privacy as could be found in a busy crime scene. She glanced around the street, saw the usual mix of people that always made processing a scene something of an obstacle course. There were always too many people there, and most of them had the right to be there. That was the annoying part. CSIs, uniforms, detectives, body-haulers… even herself as the medical examiner of record.
Always too many people to trample over evidence and the deceased's last vestibules of dignity, and never enough answers.
She was stalling, not sure if she should run to her van and to the safety of the sword tucked beside the driver's seat. Nefertiri had come to count on the crush of people at such events to keep her safe. No Immortal worth their Quickening would start swinging a sword openly in these modern times. It was different centuries ago when sword and dagger were as common as pepper spray and .9mm pistols. It was different just fifty years ago, before cameras and electronic spying devices made each trip into public an exercise in concealment.
And she was still stalling. He was still waiting.
Muttering an oath, she picked her way carefully over to Marcus Constantine. "I greet you," she said softly in Egyptian.
Those expressive lips pulled upwards in the beginning of a soft smile. "I remember a time when your greeting was a lot less sedate, Nefertiri." He replied in English.
"And I remember a time when you wanted to rule the world."
The smile grew all the more. "Who says I don't?"
"Ah, yes," she smirked, peeling off her latex gloves. "Why run the world with politics when you can simply purchase it out from under everyone's feet? Corporate America looks good on you, Marcus. How is your portfolio doing these days?"
His smile began to wilt a bit. "Nefertiri, I didn't come here to fight."
"Then why are you here?"
"Can't you simply believe that I miss you?"
Her gaze was steady, unconvinced, as she reached across the tape for his left hand. The hand that bore that plain yet thick and shiny band of gold on his ring finger. "The evidence says otherwise."
Marcus let his eyes follow hers, a slight wince in his gaze. "There are things that were unavoidable—"
"I told you once that you didn't have to explain anything to me. She's a lovely woman, and I truly do wish you both the best—"
"She's dead, Nefertiri," he managed out between suddenly stiff lips, lifting his eyes to her own. "That's why I'm here. My beloved is dead, murdered. It was Decius. He's alive and well, and I believe he's on his way here. I came here to warn you."
She paled, letting go of his hand and taking a step backward. One hand rose to caress the gold beads in her hair. "He's here?" She asked dumbly. The implications of his words had shaken her harder than she ever thought possible. Decius. In Miami. iAlive./i
"He's coming after us both," Marcus continued, casting a suspicious look around them. He lowered his voice, switching to Egyptian. It was a safe bet that not many people in the world would follow the language, and even less likely that one of those people would be here. "He killed my wife, tortured her, Nefertiri. He hasn't forgiven nor forgotten what we did to him."
"Those were different times, different places where the laws were less than humane." She said in kind.
"Not in his mind, I'm afraid," He put his face in his hands, trying to wipe away the memory of his wife, the memory of a time so long ago when he'd arrogantly stomped though the world like a god among men. "There is no reasoning with him, and after what he did to… I'm going to kill him, Nefertiri. I'm hunting him now, and I'm going to need your help with his body when I'm done."
It was her turn to cast a suspicious look around at the officers busily doing their jobs. She licked her lips nervously. "If you're caught on camera or with witnesses, I can't help you. I'll do what I can—for both our sakes—but I'm not going to give up my life here just yet. I've found the first place I feel like I belong since Egypt. Don't take it from me, Marcus, not yet."
"Do they know about you?"
"Then you really don't belong here," he said, trying to be gentle and yet… he needed her to understand the level of danger she was in again. And the level of danger she now represented to all those around her. "If they don't know—"
"That's my decision to make," she cut him off, taking a deep breath. "I can't talk about this now. Come by the house tonight. I assume you know where I live."
Some of that smile came back, though entirely bittersweet. "I always do."
"Fine," she stepped back once more. "We'll talk tonight, when I'm free to think about this."
Without another word, she turned away and signaled the body-haulers to come and retrieve her charge. She tossed the soiled gloves in the trash bag set aside for just that reason, and tried to shrug off the eyes that were staring at her. It wasn't Constantine, she knew. It was Horatio. Those blue-blue eyes had watched every bit of her conversation with Marcus, and while he may not have been able to understand every word, he'd read their body language well enough. He would have questions.
She knew then that her happy world in Miami was about to come crashing down.