Disclaimer: Not mine, no profit made.
A/N at the end.
Horatio sighed and rubbed his eyes. He was getting bogged down in all the routines at work, and he was tired of it. He seemed to be facing the same criminals every day, dealing with the worst dregs of humanity on a regular basis, and not making any difference. Even the knowledge that he was bringing closure to victims and their families didn't seem to be enough anymore. He wasn't sure how much longer he could continue to do his job.
If he was honest with himself, a large part of his current discomfort was due to his age. After all, there were very few fifty one year old cops around, and every year he put off retirement made it more likely that he would make a mistake and be killed in the line of duty. But he couldn't imagine himself retiring. There were only so many fishing trips he could go on before he'd get bored. And other than looking after his family, he didn't really have a lot of hobbies. Maybe it was time to take something up.
He sighed again and turned back to his report, trying to concentrate. The thought occurred to him that he really needed a holiday. Maybe he'd wait until the school term was over, and take the twins on a road trip or something.
"Is something wrong with H?" Nevyn asked Ryan. She was currently sitting on the table in the layout room, much to her friend's annoyance. He kept trying to lay the evidence out around her, and she took great delight in messing things up for him. She called it helping, he called it hindering.
"I don't really know," he shrugged. "I think he's mostly just suffering burnout. He and Calleigh can't usually get holidays at the same time, so he usually doesn't bother."
"Aw," Nevyn pouted. "I was hoping that it was something I could help with."
"Nope," Ryan laughed. "Besides, we're not allowed to 'help' Horatio with his political problems anymore."
"No, you're not allowed to help him out. He never said anything about me."
"Nevyn, you're not allowed to help me with my political problems," Horatio clarified as he walked into the room, a slight smile on his face.
He hadn't really been mad at the pair of them for disposing of Judge Ratner. After all, that was how they'd been trained to handle problems, and he'd done the same thing in the past. It was more the keeping it secret that he objected to. He couldn't watch their backs if he wasn't kept in the loop.
"If you say so, H," Nevyn grinned at him. She'd unofficially become part of the team, giving advice and tracking down criminals if the others were caught up in red tape. She also had a Horatio-like way of looking at problems to find unorthodox ways of dealing with them.
Horatio realised that, in a way, Nevyn had adopted him as a father-figure, and he always did his best to live up to her need for a stable, trustworthy male role-model. It wasn't always easy, but he'd kept trying, and had found that out of all the people Nevyn game into contact with, she would only follow orders that came from him or Farnell. Ryan never even attempted to order her about, though she would often follow his suggestions, especially if she could see the reasoning behind them. Anyone else, though, would be given the single fingered salute and told, in no uncertain terms, to forget it. She'd become a permanent member of their odd little family, and none of them would have it any other way.
That night, Horatio sat outside watching the stars and thinking. He realised that he should talk to Calleigh about how he was feeling; he just wasn't sure what she could do about it. He wasn't even sure what the main problem was.
Inside, Calleigh finished putting her children to bed and returned to the kitchen to make some tea. She was more than a little worried about her husband. He seemed to be restless lately, and wasn't deriving his usual pleasure from showing up the criminals. He didn't seem to have the same passion for his job as he used to, and part of her worried that he was no longer happy with their life here, and wanted to move on.
Calleigh knew Horatio well enough to be certain that he wasn't going to leave her and the twins behind, but she wasn't sure if she was prepared to move somewhere else. Sure, if Horatio was really unhappy here she would follow him, but would it really be best for the whole family?
As she poured the boiling water into two mugs, Calleigh heard Yelina's voice in her ear and smiled. It was the same advice she'd given Calleigh five years ago – go talk to Horatio about it. You can sort anything out if you just talk to each other.
Well, it worked last time. So Calleigh finished making the tea and went outside. Handing one mug to Horatio, she sat down next to him and followed his gaze up to the heavens.
"So, you wanna talk about it?" She asked softly, and Horatio smiled. Trust Calleigh to know when something was wrong with him, and come talk about it. She was usually the one who initiated these conversations, just like she'd initiated the whole relationship.
"Hmm…" he hummed uncertainly. "I think I need a break. I'm getting far too old to be chasing criminals through Miami's seedy underworld." There was a hint of humour in his words, and Calleigh turned to laugh at him, then paused and really looked at her husband.
Most of the time, she still saw the Horatio of ten years ago when she looked at him. But he had aged, just as she had, and she was a little surprised to see just how old he looked. His face was much more careworn and lined now, though his boyish grin still broke through now and then, taking years off his appearance. His hair, while still bright red, was shot with grey. Unlike her, he couldn't be bothered dying it to cover the silver streaks.
Calleigh lowered her eyes to her tea and swirled it thoughtfully. It wasn't just his appearance, either. He was still much fitter than most men his age, but the fact was there – he was beginning to slow down, and had trouble with his joints quite often. He was still an excellent marksman, but it took several hours a week at the gun range to keep in such good shape. Maybe it was time for him to take a break from their physically demanding profession.
"What else would you do?" She asked, unable to look up. It was impossible to imagine Horatio in any other job.
"I don't know," he sighed. "Maybe I just need to take a holiday to rejuvenate. I could take the kids somewhere for a week or two."
"That could work," Calleigh nodded, "but I don't think it will address the real issue."
"No," Horatio agreed. "I just don't know. It's like… everything's going so well at the moment. I guess I'm just tensing up, waiting for the next big crisis. And I don't know if we can deal with whatever's coming."
"Oh, Horatio," Calleigh smiled fondly at him. "Just enjoy the peace while it lasts. And go talk to the director. Maybe he'll have an idea for when you can take a holiday."
"Okay, I'll do that." Horatio nodded and trained the last of his tea, then draped an arm around Calleigh's shoulder.
"I love you."
"I love you too, Handsome."
A/N: Well, there we have it. A 50,000+ word fic in a month. Wow.
Thanks for sticking around, and for the reviews. I was amazed at the response, and glad that you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Now for some responses…
Daisyangel: Glad you like Nevyn. I think I will be writing the backstory with her and Ryan, just not yet. Keep an eye out for it.
Speedfanatic: Thank you so much for all your reviews – it's great to get some constructive comments that let me know exactly what worked. Hope you like where DLG is headed.
Dolly: The next fic will sort of be a sequel, and the twins will definitely be in it. And I'm considering your idea for a future project. We'll see what happens.
JonasBroGirl: I never mentioned it before, but thanks for your constant badgering to update. Hope I kept them coming fast enough for you.
The next fic will be Exchange Program, a CSI: Miami/NCIS crossover. I hope to see you all there. For now though… I'm suffering serious gaming withdrawal. Must cause havoc! RAWR!