I own no recognisable characters/places. Receptionist Paula is yoinked from the 'Madison Talks To Statues' series by Rosmarinus, because I love those fics. And I agree that Madison should have been around a lot more. Avari (pronounced ah-VAR-ie) and the circumstances of her conception are my creation, though the name is from the grand-daughter of one of my old co-workers. Other original characters are mine. They're mostly male, because I'm certain that back in the late 90s, it was a predominantly male occupation. Though there are a few key females, of course.

First a warning: I'm Australian, and have never been to Miami. I have not a clue about the layout of the city, barring what I've seen on the show. Also, the timelines for various events is very hard to work out if you've only watched the shows. I should also mention that I've only seen up to the start of season 5, so there is definitely stuff that I don't know about. But this is what I'm working with:

Early 1995: According to Wikipedia, Horatio moves to Miami from New York as a homicide detective. According to my timeline, Strikes up a friendship with Alexx, who is just coming back from maternity leave after the birth of her son several months ago. I think that, in season 1, her daughter looks about 10, son about 8. We'll go with those ages.

Mid 1995: Horatio transfers to the bomb squad. Works with the CSI team, becomes friends with Megan. Speed graduates from college, moves to Miami and joins the team under Megan. I can't remember why, but I'm certain that Speed was the first of the original trio to join the MD Crime Lab. I'm certain that he wasn't a cop or anything before becoming a CSI - he's pretty much pure scientist.

1996: H is promoted to Lt over Stettler and moves to CSI. Promotion is mentioned at the end of season 4 as why Stettler is so angry toward him, and I'm pretty sure that he was running a team when Calleigh was recruited. Raymond 'killed' in the line of duty. Calleigh quits patrol in New Orleans and moves to Miami as ballistics expert. At the end of season 4, Calleigh confirms in her IAB interview that she's been with the lab for 10 years. In season 1, Eric asks if she knew Raymond, and she states that she was a newbie trying to keep her head down at the time. Also in season 4 or 5, Calleigh mentions to Ryan that she was in patrol back in N.O.

1997-2001: Whole lot of nothing. When the bulk of the story takes place.

Late 2001: Eric joins the team. In season 1 (which started late 2002), Speed has to explain to Eric why Megan's been off the force for six months, but the team seems to have been working together for quite a while. My explanation is that Eric joined up pretty soon after Megan's husband died, but didn't actually know her.

There are occasional bad words ahead, but given Avari's age throughout the fic, rating is staying at T-level for now.

Also, this is unbetad. All mistakes are mine, but if there's something really bugging you, feel free to leave a review pointing it out, or send me a message. You never know, I may change the story to correct these things. Now that that's over, on with the story.

Chapter one: In which Speed arrives in Miami with his newborn daughter, and meets Megan and the original CSIs. POV gradually changes from Megan-centric to Speed-centric.

Megan Donner sighed as she flipped through the files in her hand once more. She'd interviewed the young man due to arrive over the phone, and he seemed promising. A degree in Biology from Columbia University, graduating with honours just over a month ago. She'd spoken with a few of his professors, and they had all spoken quite highly of the boy. Apparently he had something of a problem with authority at times, but had a true love of science. And that was what Megan was looking for.

She glanced at her watch. He was driving all the way from New York to Miami, apparently. It crossed her mind, again, that this was a very awkward way of meeting her potential new recruit. The other members of the team had all been recruited from Miami, and all had solid reputations within the police force before being transferred to CSI. This was part of the reason Megan was taking a gamble.

The Miami-Dade Crime Lab was competent, it was true. But everyone thought too much like police officers. They needed a fresh perspective, they needed someone who would shake things up a little. And a scientist from New York with a penchant for ignoring orders would certainly do that.

The low roar of a motorcycle shook Megan from her thoughts. A bright yellow Ducati had entered the crime lab's parking lot and was slowly approaching. The man riding it wore a thick leather jacket that seemed to be padded in the front, and a yellow helmet to match the bike. On the back was a bulging duffel bag, and Megan had the uneasy feeling that this may be her new trace man.

The rider pulled into a parking spot near the steps where Megan waited and shut off the bike. He kicked out the stand and dismounted, pulling off his helmet as he did so. Megan studied his face, feeling unsure. His short black hair was sticking out all over the place, as if he'd never heard of a comb. He had stubble from apparently not shaving for several days, and dark circles under his eyes. She wondered if he had even stopped to sleep on the ride down.

Grabbing the duffel bag, the man wandered over to Megan. As he approached, he gave a half-smile. Megan nodded in return, feeling her professionalism returning.

"Timothy Speedle?" She asked, already knowing the answer. The man snorted.

"Only to my mother. To everyone else, it's Speed." His voice was low and gravelly. Megan was about to respond when a bulge in the man's jacket started to move and a muffled crying started. "Shit, sorry about this," Speed muttered before lowering the zip. Megan was stunned when a sling was revealed, holding a very young infant, apparently waking from a sleep. "It's okay Baby Doll," Speed carefully removed the child and held her in one arm instead. "Daddy's here. You can stop crying." And the baby did stop, seeming to feel happier out of the confines of the jacket. Speed looked up at Megan again, taking her shock in stride. He held the baby so she could see the woman, and Megan saw a definite resemblance. The same shock of black hair, the same dark eyes. She was clad in a light pink sleeper, and was clutching a small stuffed anteater in her tiny hands. "This is Daddy's new boss, Megan Donner. Detective, meet my daughter, Avari."

Megan was temporarily at a loss for words. She hadn't known that Speedle had a child. Wasn't even aware that he was married. She realised that if he was right for this job, it would mean uprooting a whole family. Then what he'd introduced her as registered, and she couldn't help smiling. Cocky son of a bitch, he'd already made up both their minds.

"Speed, then... and Avari. And where is Mrs Speedle?" A shadow seemed to pass over Speed's face, and he stopped smiling.

"There isn't one. She..." he looked down at his daughter, then back at Megan. "She's back in Syracuse. I have full custody of Avari. That's not going to be a problem, is it?" For the first time, Megan thought she heard a tremor of uncertainty in his voice.

"Well, not really. But this is a job with uneven hours, and you'll be spending a lot of time here at the lab or out in the field. That's not really conducive to raising a young child, especially on your own. Are you sure you can handle that?" Megan knew the toll it could take on young parents, but found herself hoping that he would stay. After all, someone who would ride a motorcycle from New York to Miami with a newborn infant in the front of their jacket would definitely bring a fresh perspective to the lab. And the boy had charisma, she couldn't deny that.

"I'm sure. I need a job to take care of Avari, and I'm sure we can work something out." His jaw was set, and his eyes determined. Megan nodded.

"Well then, come inside and meet the rest of the team. We have a childcare facility, I'm guessing you'll want to check that out for Avari as well?" Speed nodded back.

"Yeah. She's only four months, I don't think she's quite ready to be stuck in school yet."

Megan quickly did the maths, and found it hard to believe. Four months old would mean that she'd been born around the time that Speed had been taking his final exams. She wondered how in the hell he'd managed to score so highly with a newborn daughter, and hoped that he'd tell her one day.

They approached the reception desk, where Paula looked at them quizzically. Megan was still settling into being the head of the lab, but already knew how valuable Paula was. She had been a patrol cop before a back injury (a legitimate one) had forced her into desk work. She had moved around the departments for a while before finding her niche as the barrier between the lab and the rest of the world. She took her position quite seriously, and while her sharp words were usually enough, she had been known to full body tackle people trying to sneak into the lab without clearance. Megan smiled at her and indicated her companion.

"Paula, this is Speed. He's applying for the Trace position. And that's his daughter, Avari. Can you make up visitors passes for them please?"

Speed nodded at the woman, still cradling Avari with one arm and juggling both duffle bag and helmet with the other. He didn't look like any police officer Paula had ever seen. Didn't look like much of a scientist either, come to that, but she kept her mouth shut. Nodding, she passed over the log book.

"Sign here please. And also for Avari." She watched as he did so, and handed over a couple of passes. "Just clip hers to her sleeper, that'll be fine." Instead, Speed fluffed up Avari's hair and used the pass as a hair clip. The baby laughed, waving her arms around and accidentally throwing the anteater at Megan. She caught it, stifling a laugh, and handed it back.

"Thanks," Speed muttered. "She's quite fond of that thing." As if to prove a point, Avari stuck the anteater's nose in her mouth and started chewing on it. Speed rolled his eyes and clipped his own pass to his shirt collar. Megan smiled and turned to go in search of her crew.

In the break room was Andrew Mackenzie, her ballistics expert, fiddling with the coffee-maker. The man was in his late forties, had been working in CSI since he was thirty, and was looking to retire soon. Megan just hoped he'd wait out another year or two - she didn't think she could handle training two rookies at once. His brown hair was dusted with grey, though his brown eyes still sparkled with life. He was starting to bulge a little around the middle as well, and Megan knew that he was looking forward to being a grandfather soon. He smiled at her as she walked in, shaking his head slightly.

"Damn thing's broken again. I swear it does it on purpose, when it knows I need cafeine." He had a slight Texan accent, though he had lived in Miami since he was a teen. Megan figured he just didn't want to lose his last tie to his home.

"Impressive trick," Speed commented. "I usually find that threatening them with a tyre-iron makes them work." He seemed deadly serious, though there was a slight glint to his eyes that Megan didn't miss.

"A tyre-iron, you say?" Andrew raised an eyebrow. "That's an idea. I usually threaten to throw it out the window. But I think it knows that they're hurricane glass, so it's not much of a threat." The two mean looked at each other for a moment, before cracking into identical grins. "I'm Andrew Mackenzie, but most people call me Andy. I'm Ballistics. You?"

"Tim Speedle. Speed. And hoping to be Trace." Avari babbled up at him happily. "And my daughter, Avari."

Andrew bent down to look at her better, and received a smack around the face with the anteater for his efforts.

"Quite a swing she's got there," he muttered good-naturedly, stepping back. Megan could have sworn that Speed's smile was a proud one.

"Yep. And don't let her grab your hair, she's got a killer grip too."

"Sounds like my first son," Andrew nodded. "When we first had him, Amelia had the longest hair. Within a month, she'd cut it all off because he kept pulling clumps of it out." The two men chuckled, and Megan knew that they'd get along fine.

"As fun as this is," she interrupted their fatherly bonding, "Speed has to meet the others as well. And Andrew, I know you've got work to get back to. Hop it."

Andrew pretended to salute, and ambled out the door, giving up on getting any coffee for now. Megan followed him out, leading Speed toward the evidence locker where she knew the other member of the team would be. Sure enough, Jo was logging the final pieces from the case he and Andrew had wrapped up that morning.

Jo, or Josef Diederich, was a 27-year-old Miami native, though his parents were German. He spoke English fluently, with hardly an accent, though German had been his first language. He did have a peculiar habit of never using contractions. His area of expertise was fingerprints and the like, though he was also very good with mechanics. He had worked patrol since he graduated high school, and had only been a CSI for two years. He and Andrew had a very good working relationship, seeming to feed off of each other. Megan enjoyed their banter and easy back-and-forth discussions. She hoped that Jo wouldn't have a problem with Speed joining them. After all, Jo had been quite close to the man Speed was replacing.

Speed watched as the other man continued to write quickly in the log book. He looked a few years older than Speed, and there was a wedding band on his finger. A short crop of sandy hair was perfectly combed, and when he glanced up pale blue eyes seemed to go straight through his head, leaving him quite unnerved. He refused to show it though, and settled for holding Avari just a little tighter.

"Jo, this is Speed. He may be joining us. Speed, this is Jo, our mechanic and fingerprints man."

The men looked at each other for a moment, before Jo nodded at the infant.

"I do not know how things are where you come from, but around here that is not considered regulation equipment. I suggest trading her in for a field kit."

Speed tilted his head to one side, a grin tugging the corner of his mouth.

"Good advice. That'd probably be more useful at a crime scene anyway."

Jo nodded back before turning back to his evidence.

"What is her name?"

"Avari Chloe Speedle. Why her mother chose Avari as the first name instead of middle is beyond me." Jo chuckled, then paused.

"Well, as long as she does not interfere with work, it is all good. I have to get this logged. Please excuse me." And he turned back to his task, leaving Speed feeling just a little off-balance. Megan just smiled at him and indicated the door.

They passed back into the main hallway, turning towards the elevator. Speed glanced at his leader.

"So, is he always that friendly, or am I just special?"

"You're special," Megan quipped before she could stop herself. The truth was, Jo was always a little stand-offish toward new people. She knew he'd warm up eventually. Probably after he'd hazed the newbie. "One more stop: Autopsy. Our M.E. will never forgive me if I don't introduce you to her."

Speed's ears seemed to prick up. A female medical examiner was extremely rare, and he wondered what she would be like. Avari seemed to have gone back to sleep, for which he was thankful. She'd been fretful the past few nights, leading to not much sleep for either of them. He'd been tempted more than once to just say 'Fuck it' and stay in a hotel for a week to get her settled again before driving, but the thought of a new life in Miami was enough to keep him going.

That, and he didn't have enough money to stay in a hotel for a week. Hell, if this job didn't pan out, he'd be on the streets pretty quickly. He didn't want that to happen, but with his situation... he shook his head. Thinking about that wasn't going to help matters. He needed to think positive. That had never been his strong point, but for Avari he'd give it a try.

The elevator dinged, and he and Megan stepped out. They walked down a short corridor and stopped at an office with the door open, where Speed could see two people deep in discussion.

The woman, whom Speed assumed was the M.E., took him by surprise. She was a lovely looking woman with dark skin and long black hair. Speed wondered for a moment how many female, African-American women there were in the high ranks of medicine. He concluded that there were probably very few - they had two hurdles to overcome, and Speed found himself already respecting the woman for succeeding. She was smiling at the man in the room, seeming to find him amusing.

The man was tall, easily 6' tall, with blazing red hair. He held a pair of sunglasses in his hand, and was absently twirling them by one of the arms. He turned when he saw the M.E. glance over his shoulder, and Speed felt his breath taken away by the bright blue eyes. He quickly blinked and turned back to the woman, determined not to make a fool of himself.

Megan smiled at her friends, and made with the introductions again. The M.E., Speed learned, was Dr Alexx Woods, while the man was Horatio Caine. He was with the bomb squad, which brought him into close proximity with the CSIs on several cases. Alexx immediately reached for the baby. Speed, usually extremely protective of his daughter, found himself handing her over with barely a second thought. Alexx took her gently, cradling her against her chest.

"Aw, hello Sugar. You're a beautiful girl, aren't you? And what's your name?" Her voice was soft and soothing, and Speed found himself liking her already.

"Avari. Her name's Avari... though I tend to use Princess instead," Speed admitted. And it was true, Avari was his little princess. He turned to Horatio at a thoughtful noise from the other man.

"Hmm... Avari... That's from Tolkien, isn't it?" The man looked thoughtful. Speed stared for a moment, before breaking into a smile. Megan realised it was the first proper smile she'd seen from him that wasn't directed at his daughter.

"Yeah, it's a breed of trouble-making little pixies. I think her mother just liked the sound of it."

Horatio nodded, not commenting any further. Alexx was still cooing at the little bundle, who was sleepily waving at her. The woman looked up, smiling happily.

"I just got back from maternity leave myself. Got a two-year-old daugter called Janie and a six-month-old son, Brian. They really make your life different, don't they?"

Speed just nodded, and none of the other adults missed the dark look that crossed his face. Then Avari started to whimper, and concern took the place of darkness as Speed took his daughter back.

"She's probably hungry, hasn't had a bottle since this morning," he muttered, cuddling her close. "Is there somewhere I can fix a bottle for her?"

Alexx nodded and led him to the medical staff room, where there was a small kitchenette.

"Help yourself Timmy, a baby's gotta eat," she smiled before giving father and daughter some room. Speed dropped the duffel bag on the counter and rummaged around inside, smirking to himself. Inside there was only one spare set of clothes for him - the rest of the room was taken up with Avari's things. Diapers, bottles, formula, clothes, toys... everything he could scrounge before leaving New York. A few minutes later and Avari was happily drinking from her bottle, and Speed dropped a kiss to her forehead.

Yes, her arrival had changed everything. Some would say that her arrival had ruined everything, but Speed would never say that about his daughter. He had known he loved her from the time Amanda had said she was pregnant. He hadn't been able to bear the thought of Amanda having an abortion, even though he was sure he'd never be a good father. From the moment she'd been placed in his arms, minutes after being born, Speed had been determined to fight for her, to protect her, to raise her. And that was what he was going to do.

Outside, Megan was talking to Horatio.

"What do you think, H? He's not a cop, I know, but I figure we could use a different perspective."

Horatio nodded.

"I think it's an excellent idea. And he seems to care about his daughter, which is always a good thing."

"Did you notice that look, though?" Megan was a little concerned. "He doesn't seem to resent Avari, but there's something wrong there. And he said that her mother was back in Syracuse. Do you think he can deal with raising a baby and being a CSI?"

Alexx chose that moment to join the conversation.

"It's up to you, of course, but I think he'll be fine." She smiled at Megan's indecision. "He came all this way on a chance, didn't he?"

"Yeah, he did," Megan smiled, remembering his entrance. "Drove all the way here on a motorbike, with his baby daughter stuffed inside his jacket." The others looked at each other sharing a smile.

"If that's not devotion to a job," Horatio smirked, "then I don't know what is."

"They'll be fine," Alexx reiterated. "Just give them a chance."

Megan nodded, and strode into the break room. Alexx and Horatio returned to her office, continuing their earlier conversation. Megan only caught the end of it, and shook her head, chuckling. Something about Horatio advocating napalming the everglades.

She walked up to Speed, who was one-handedly rinsing the bottle in the sink and burping Avari with the other. He seemed quite adept at multi-tasking, at least where the baby was concerned, which was very promising. Megan took a breath, then smiled.

"So, when can you start?"

Speed looked at her in surprise, which was quickly covered with a smirk.

"If I can get Avari into that childcare thing you mentioned... tomorrow."

"Excellent. I'll organise the paperwork." A thought struck her. "Alexx has a spare room at her place, I'll see if you can stay with her until you find a place of your own." Speed looked grateful.

For the first time in months, things were looking up.

Next chapter: Alexx and Speed get closer. We discover the reason Speed is close to being on the streets, and why he has custody of Avari.