It starts at the cash register.

It doesn't start start, because Speed's almost ten years out of college and Adam's a summer job - they started thinking about the kids like that, the summer jobs, because it always meant they had somewhere and one else to go back to or towards come September 1st. He and AJ used to dub them the summer jobs, what, more than ten years ago, now, and Speed swallows painfully, throat dry.

The kid - Adam? yeah - is bashful and strangely beautiful. He pulls at the cuffs of his shirt. "It's quiet today," he offers up to Speed. "Tim. Why do people call you Lucas." Adam says, doesn't ask. Adam just says it - he's wondering, he announces it shyly. Speed looks away, with difficulty, because he wants to stare at this twenty-one year old.

Speed says, "They think I'm someone else, I guess," to fill the void up. Adam's not looking at him. He has a habit of staring off at something else, somewhere else, that's so obviously not at all at Speed. His eyes are sad, and his fingertips pull uselessly at the cuff of his shirt, and Speed suddenly has this desire well up out of nowhere, overtake his body. He wants Adam.

That's how it starts. That's how it should end. Speed knows, even as Adam gives the girl coming to the cash a half-smile, rings in her CD with a nod, that he's an idiot and Adam is a thousand miles away. He likes that Adam calls him Tim.


Eddie takes one look and shakes his head. He nudges Mark, the same afternoon, as Speed sits on the fourth stair of the huge stair case. Mark looks confused, and Eddie jumps off the counter where he'd been sitting. "Lucas, man," he starts, "don't even--"

"Yeah," he says. Speed wants things, sometimes, he wants to be better, to do better, to work with H the way he managed to work so faultlessly with Meghan. He wants ease, and comfort - not in the monetary way, though that would be nice, but a restful night's sleep. He wants to believe, at least some of the time, people are good things and worth the space they take up on the world.

Even Horatio has trouble believing the last one of half the people he meets; how can Speed, so much more cynical so much younger, ever accept it?

Eddie pats him on the shoulder, and says, "you look good, this trip, man. You should come back more often."

Speed doesn't sleep any better here than Miami.


Speed wants to unburden himself of this, has to say it out loud, but there's no one to hear it. He's only been in the city for a day and a half and already he's having some kind of existential crisis in amid restocking vinyl. No one but Deb ever did know how to do that right. No one ever stuck around long enough anymore to sort the filing system out.

"Who's the new night manager?" He asks Adam, because perversely, he wants to - needs to - know, needs to dig that wound deeper. Jane's left, off to New York for a singing career.

Adam tells him - some name he doesn't recognise. It's just him and Adam and Eddie working tonight, Eddie sitting in the back room listening to acid jazz and blissfully ignorant of worry, and high. Speed thought about joining him, then he thought about how even six months from now, someone could cut a piece of his hair and tell he'd done marijuana.

He goes into the back room, and thinks about shaving his head.

"are you here for something, man?" Eddie says.

The question is strangely perceptive, even probing, and Speed says, "in the back room here?" deliberately misunderstanding.

Eddie cocks his head. "He has a girlfriend," he says, and then, "you know, you look at people sometimes, and these things, and you leave the ones you want and--"

"Stop it," Speed says, hopelessly. He sits on the couch, picking up a couch cushion, putting it down. The couch was completely different - someone had reupholstered it without his permission. how stupid, that they'd need his permission, that he had some claim or some opinion still echoing around this room.

There are quarters glued to the floor.


Speed sits on the stairs, and Joe stares up at him, soft eyes unblinking. "Eddie says I leave the things I want," he opens with, and shrugs, looks down at his expensive shoes.

Joe nods, slowly. "he's a summer job, Lucas," he says, "He's on a rest stop. He's going to leave."

Speed wants to say, 'I left,' but doesn't. He came here because H told him to take some time off, decompress, and said it no more kindly than he did when he was talking to the wife of a victim, the displaced masses he served daily. Speed misses Meghan, had said so when he'd walked into H's office to quit the day before yesterday. A vacation. Like that would stop the want, would put it to bed.

Joe puts a hand on his shoulder, which Speed doesn't shrug off, but it's with effort. He glances up at Adam, poor sad Adam, and still wants him. He wants him, and he looks at his shoes. Joe says, "you leave sometimes, Lucas." Speed doesn't have the heart to tell him otherwise.