I'm baaaack :D I really hope you guys like this one :) And thanks once again for the great response to my first two fics - much much appreciated :D

Anyway, this fic is dedicated to Ashleigh Aishwarya, otherwise known as Ashleigh148. She dedicated an AMAZING H/K youtube video to me as well as a fanfiction! The link for the vid is in my profile - definitely check it out!

Thank you so much, Ashleigh! You said I inspire you but you inspire me straight back! :D I really hope you like this fic :)

As always, those of you who spare the time to review, thank you so much - your words are magic ^.^

"H!" Eric called, jogging over to his boss who had just parked his hummer in the crime lab car park. "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

Behind his sunglasses, Horatio's eyes narrowed slightly in suspicion. It was clear that Eric had been waiting for him. "Sure," he said, taking off his shades. "What's going on?"

Eric glanced around briefly before his face softened. "Do you want me and Calleigh to take over the lab next week?"

"No," Horatio said, his gaze shifting to the ground.

"No?" Eric repeated incredulously. He'd deemed his question practically unnecessary – Horatio had always said yes, ever since Calleigh and Eric had offered to help him. "Why not?" he asked, frowning worriedly. "What's happened?"

"Nothing, Eric," Horatio replied, avoiding eye contact by fiddling with his shades.

"Then why aren't you taking the week off? What's different this year?"

This prompted Horatio to lift his head and met Eric's confused gaze with his defiant one.

Though Eric recognised this as a sign that Horatio intended to get his own way, he stood his ground, fuelled by his increasing concern for Horatio. Every year he would take this week off – even if it took a little persuasion from some of the team – it was for the best. He wasn't fit to work.

"Kyle?" Eric guessed, rounding on Horatio.

The usually composed lieutenant looked away briefly, but caught himself and quickly faced Eric again. But that small slip was enough confirmation for Eric.

"He doesn't know, does he?" Eric said softly. "H?" he prompted when he didn't get an answer.

"No," Horatio said curtly. "He doesn't."

Eric bowed his head in sympathy before reaching out to Horatio, placing a hand on the man's arm. He frowned slightly at the lieutenant's slumped shoulders. "H, he needs to know. And better he finds out from you than from someone else."

Horatio sighed tersely. "I know."

"Why don't you just take the week off?" Eric asked gently.

Horatio hesitated, but Eric waited patiently. His boss was an emotionally withdrawn man and very rarely exposed his innermost feelings. Eric valued Horatio's trust in him greatly, and he had also been pleased to see Horatio open up more since Kyle had moved in with him. Eric treasured the moments where he saw father and son laughing together.

"I don't want him to worry about anything," Horatio finally admitted.

"He's your son, H," Eric reasoned. "He's going to know if something's up."

"I don't want him to know," Horatio said, effectively ending the conversation.

Eric didn't comment on the uneasiness clear in Horatio's eyes. "Okay then. Let's go."

"Horatio!" Calleigh called out, spying her boss down the corridor. "Do you have a second?"

"Of course," he replied, quickly hiding his growing suspicion. Calleigh, too? he thought. One interrogation was more than enough for him.

"How are you doing?" she asked earnestly, her worried eyes seeking his.

Yes, Calleigh, too. "I'm okay," he answered, feigning surprise at her question.

She smiled sadly. "Eric told me about your conversation earlier," she explained, getting straight to the point. "He said that you weren't taking the week off because of Kyle?"

Calleigh wanted answers. Horatio always had a week of leave the same time every year: he needed the time. Very few people knew why but the team always ensured no questions were asked and covered for their lieutenant. So far, no one had cottoned onto the fact that the circumstances were practically identical every year.

"That is correct," Horatio confirmed, his tone soft with the edge of sorrow. Knowing she wanted an explanation, he sighed as he tried to knit together the words to explain why. "I just can't let him find out – not yet…"

Her face softened at Horatio's inner conflict. She reached out to him, touching his arm gently, unaware she was mimicking Eric's exact actions. "He'll find out sooner or later, Horatio. He's a smart kid. Look, you need this week off, you know that," she tried to persuade him, her tone hardening slightly.

She remembered back to when she had promised to help him stick it out through one of those weeks – she had never left his side. Calleigh swallowed bitterly at the memories. Her friend had to carry too much weight on his shoulders, and at this time of year it got the best of him.

Horatio ducked his head, avoiding her kind but pressing gaze. "Calleigh, if I take this week off, Kyle will as questions. I… I can't deal with that."

"Hor– "

"I'm sorry," he cut in. "I can't do it. If he finds out he might not look at me in the same way again. I just can't risk that." H looked deep into her eyes, begging for her to understand.

"It's okay," she soothed, taking him into her arms. She simply held him for a moment, before she gave him a light squeeze and added, "If you need anything, you call me." Calleigh pulled back to give him a stern look.

"Yes, ma'am."

She lingered for a minute, giving his arm one last comforting squeeze before walking away.

Horatio sighed and dropped his head as soon as she was out of sight. He felt deep gratitude for his friends' concern, but he was simultaneously relieved to have them off his back. With Eric and Calleigh reassured, Horatio could now get his head down and immerse himself completely into his work, and hopefully pretend that nothing had ever happened all those years ago.


"Hey, Dad," Kyle greeted as Horatio entered the living room, finally home from work.

The man smiled at seeing Kyle sprawled across the couch. "Hey, Son. How was school?"

"Good," he replied distractedly, eyes fixed on the television. "No homework for a change!"

Horatio chuckled as he turned towards the kitchen, planning to get something to eat.

"Hey, Dad?" Kyle called after him. "Just to let you know, I'll be gone by eight on Saturday."

Horatio turned. "Gone where?"

Kyle frowned in confusion. "To the beach, remember?"

Horatio shook his head slowly. "No, I don't remember."

"Oh," Kyle said, puzzled. "Well, I asked you and you said it was fine – "

"You can't go, Kyle."

"What? Why not?" Kyle cried out in surprise, jumping up from the couch. His father had approved a week ago!

In truth, Kyle considered himself extremely lucky to have Horatio as a father. Considering it was a miracle they had even met, it was a pure wonder that despite only having experience as a surrogate parent Horatio was very kind and understanding – he trusted Kyle to look after himself and be responsible, and Kyle respected and honoured that trust in him. It was a rare gift in his eyes. Plus the fact that Kyle had proved he could make good decisions and take care of himself meant that he could go to parties and such – like this one.

Horatio paused, trying to fabricate a valid reason why Kyle couldn't go. Honestly, he just didn't want to let his son out of his sight right now. And if that meant that he had to forbid this party at the beach and with it forfeit his current relationship with Kyle, so be it.

Not that he would tell his son that.

"I… well…"

"You don't normally second-guess yourself," Kyle said suspiciously.

"Kyle, you can't go," Horatio repeated firmly. He felt a surge of anger within him but forced it back, keeping his calm exterior intact – for the moment. Kyle had no idea, but his father was practically on the brink – too many people had interrogated him today.

"Come on, Dad! This is so unfair!"

"I said no." Please, Kyle, just drop it…

But Kyle sighed loudly in frustration, rolling his eyes. Their dispute clearly wasn't over. "Did you have a bad day at work or something? I don't see why you won't let me go! I thought you trusted me with these things!"

Horatio closed his eyes briefly, reigning in his emotions. He knew he had to remain calm, despite Kyle's cutting jabs. Their relationship was often a delicate balance: Kyle was controlled solely by his emotions and had a fiery and volatile personality, whereas Horatio was reserved and tended to hide his true feelings, always appearing calm and composed. That distinct difference between them created an unwavering stability that they both craved. Horatio knew that if he were to let his anger seep through the cracks in his mask that crucial equilibrium would be broken.

"What's the problem now, Dad?" Kyle sneered, knowing he was getting at Horatio. He couldn't really explain the sudden explosion of rage within him. But for some reason it stung that his father had changed his mind – he guessed it was because it felt like his dad had decided to withdraw his trust in him. Didn't Horatio think he could look after himself? Kyle was unsure how to react to his newfound resentment, and so continued to lash out at Horatio, wanting him to hurt as he did.

"Go to your room."

"What?" Kyle spluttered.

"I said, go to your room." Horatio stared Kyle down, his words seeping with threat. He couldn't cope anymore. He could feel his chest heaving with laboured, enraged breaths, his ire escalating.

Walk away, Horatio.

"So now you're going all parental on me?" Kyle snorted. "Not that you'd know anything."

A dark expression swept across Horatio's face. "Excuse me?"

"I said not that you would actually know anything. You've not exactly been there all my life," Kyle spat bitterly.

"Kyle," Horatio said, shocked. "I never knew you even existed."

"And whose fault is that?" Kyle shouted, releasing his pent up thoughts. "You abandoned Mom!"

"I never abandoned her!" Horatio replied angrily, eyes glinting dangerously. "You don't know what happened, Kyle!"

"Yes you did!" Kyle cried, ignoring his father. "And now she's in a mental home! Because you left her!" Kyle paused to take a breath as the pain of old wounds blazed through him. "Don't you feel guilt for what you did?"

"She left me!" Horatio yelled, the last fragments of his calm exterior bursting apart. "I loved her! And she left me!"

Kyle scoffed loudly. "You don't have to lie, Dad. Mom told me everything! You left her and now she'll never be able to look after herself! And you did that," he accused harshly. "I guess you just can't save everyone."

Raw pain flashed brightly in Horatio's eyes and he reeled back slightly, feeling guilt claw at him. He struggled to keep his expression from crumbling.

Kyle saw it all. He knew he'd hurt Horatio with his words – really hurt him – but despite the stab of shame he felt, his rage overpowered him and wouldn't let him finish there.

"Where are you when it counts?"

Something inside Horatio snapped. He whirled around and smashed his clenched fist into the brick wall, an anguished cry escaping him. Silence buzzed in his ears as he stood there for a moment, trembling, before he swiftly turned and left the room, brushing Kyle aside as he made for the door.

Kyle stood, frozen in shock, as he listened to the front door slam and the hummer's engine growl to life.

His stared at the deep crimson smudge on the wall, sinking down into the couch behind him. He dropped his head into his hands in despair, grief and remorse hitting him hard.

"What have I done?"