AN: I never intended to write another part to this, but my muses thought otherwise.

VVVV

It had been a long, troubling day for Speed. Things had piled up one after another starting nearly getting run off the road by someone who thought they owned the road and ended with one of his friends being hospitalized. His day had been bad, but in perspective Ryan Wolfe's had been much worse. Speed felt bad for the young patrol cop turned CSI. Things had not been going right for Wolfe for the past few years and Speed was sure he only knew half of the whole story. What he did know was that in a call out to a domestic dispute gone horribly wrong Wolfe's partner, Cameron Palmer, had been shot to death when the abusive husband got violent. Speed didn't know the full details, but he did know that in the struggle the husband had gotten a hold of Wolfe's gun and used it to kill Palmer and seriously wound Wolfe.

Speed was drawn out of his thoughts by a soft groan from the bed he was sitting by. Barely opened brown eyes stared back at him. Clearly, Ryan Wolfe had seen better days. He had taken quite a beating the worst of which was hidden by the white blankets. Ryan's ribs had taken a brutal beating, several were cracked, but luckily none were broken. Speed was willing to bet there were some nasty bruises developing. The two most visible injuries were the knife wounds, but luckily neither of them had been very deep. The slash to the face required stitches, but if cared for properly there wouldn't be a scar.

"Hey sleeping beauty." Speed gave his friend a crooked smile. "Y'know, there are a lot easier ways of getting attention." Ryan snorted and opened his mouth to reply, but Speed cut him off. "Don't talk. Doc said your throat would be hurting from macho man trying to choke you."

"Water." Ryan croaked out, voice cracking at the end.

Speed handed Ryan a cup of water the nurse had left behind and watched as the young CSI took several gulps before handing the cup back. Speed put it back on the bedside table then turned his attention to his friend again. He watched in amusement as Ryan's eyes slowly, but surely slipped shut and the young man was once more asleep. He wasn't too surprised by that. Ryan had expended a lot of energy fighting Henry Thomason. Who expected an ex-cop to go down easily? Obviously, Henry hadn't picked up on just how tenacious Ryan was when Ryan and Cam busted his brother.

That was something that Speed felt he had in common with Ryan. They were both tenacious when it came to figuring out the small details. Speed might have jokingly taken credit for that as he had been the one to do the majority of Ryan's training, but he knew it was more of a symptom of Ryan's OCD. Still, they had both spent hours putting together the pieces of shredded documents from a college professor's office. Once they got started, neither of them had been able to stop, even when Speed told Ryan to go home. And when Speed couldn't figure out a strange clicking sound he had gotten Ryan just as addicted to figuring it out.

Not that everything was perfect between them. They clashed a few times and the worst of which was when Ryan accidentally leaked crucial information that had blown their case. There were a few days of tense work after that, but when Ryan swallowed his pride and apologized and was subsequently forgiven things went back to normal. Speed knew that had been a bad week for Ryan and afterwards he felt bad for making Ryan once more feel like he didn't belong. Ryan hadn't done anything on purpose and when they talked over beers later he admitted that the whole situation was too much like what the patrol cops put him through for Cam's death.

And that was another thing that just pushed Speed's buttons. He couldn't understand how the other cops blamed Ryan for Cam's death. He couldn't understand how anyone could blame Ryan for it. Not only blame him, but make him suffer for it too. Speed didn't know how close Ryan and Cam were, but he knew from a news article that the two had gone through academy together and ended up getting partnered up. The few times Speed had seen them together he could tell they were close. It had to be bad enough having lost his friend without Ryan having to deal with the hate from those around him.

"Is he still asleep?"

Speed jolted and twisted in his seat to see Eric grinning at him. "Does it look like he's still sleeping?"

"Has he woken up?"

"What if he has?"

"C'mon Speed, now isn't the time to play the question game."

Speed smirked and twisted around to face the bed again. "You're just mad because I always win."

"You don't always win." Delko retorted, feeling mildly childish for saying it. He rolled his eyes at his friend and moved around to sit at the chair on the other side of Ryan's bed. "So, has he woken up?"

"Briefly. Took a drink of water and then went right back to sleep." Speed answered.

Delko took in the sight of his coworker and grimaced. He still couldn't believe that some creep had managed to get the drop on a cop and a CSI who used to be a cop. Oh he and everyone else had watched the interrogation and heard Henry Thomason's side of the story. The man seemed proud of it all and told all the details. He even, grudgingly, admitted that Ryan had given him more problems than he'd anticipated.

"He's a tough kid." Delko mused.

"I figured that out when he tackled that one suspect who tried to go at Calleigh." Speed said. "Hell, he hit that guy with enough force to knock them both unconscious."

"What I remember most is the look of shock on your face." Eric teased, earning him a glare from his companion. The humor faded from him as he looked over at Ryan once more. "Y'know, the cops that hated him before are just going to be worse now. They're going to wonder why he once more lived while another officer died."

"Yeah, well, those cops left the scene. There should have been more than just one uniform on the scene even if it was supposedly secured." Speed grumbled. "If you hadn't come up when you did he'd be dead."

"Didn't come up in time for Wilson."

"Yeah and I didn't pull Hollis out of the truck in time." Speed sighed and looked at his friend. "You tell me not to blame myself for that, so..."

"Alright, I get your point." Delko relented. "But you and I both know Ryan's going to blame himself for this."

Speed frowned and leaned back in his seat. "I'm not very good at pep talks Delko. I don't do comforting."

"Ah c'mon, you put up the front of a hardass, but inside you're a big softie." Eric teased, grinning at the half-annoyed look thrown his way. "Oh don't give me that look."

"Which look? My thoroughly not amused look? Or the shut up look? Or the don't-make me-hurt-you look?"

"How about all of the above."

"You two crack me up." Speed and Delko looked into the cracked eyes of their previously sleeping friend. "You'd make great comedians."

"We should make you pay for the pleasure of our comedic routine." Eric said, grinning at the recovering CSI. "How are you feeling."

"That's a dumb question Eric."

"It shows I care." Delko shot back, giving Speed a brief glare. He then looked back at Ryan who was smiling just slightly. "Don't mind Mr. Moodypants. He doesn't know how to show how much he cares."

Ryan smirked. "I feel like someone got the drop on me and beat the crap out of me."

"Well, close, but you're leaving out the part where you fought back." Speed pointed out, watching his friend's reaction closely.

Any amusement on Ryan's face faded instantly. He focused his attention on the ceiling and remained quiet. Speed could see Wolfe withdrawing into himself. It was understandable, but frustrating. Speed wasn't exactly sure how to deal with other people's emotions. If it had been someone else he probably would have left it alone, but after working with Ryan for almost a year he had grown kind of fond of the kid.

"Penny for your thoughts." Delko said before Speed could.

Ryan was quiet for a long time and Speed thought he wasn't going to answer. Speed was just about to say something to probe an answer out of the younger CSI when Ryan finally spoke. "I didn't fight back."

Exchanging surprised looks, Speed said, "That's not what Henry Thomason told us."

"I hit him twice. I used to be a patrol cop and some redneck druggie kicked my ass." Ryan sneered, mostly at himself.

"You kept him from killing you." Delko pointed out.

Ryan snorted. "You kept him from killing me. He was happily strangling me and I was helpless."

"He got the drop on you. He had the advantage from the beginning." Delko reasoned. "You are not to blame for anything that happened."

Speed and Delko both expected some form of denial at that. They expected Ryan to argue that the whole situation had been his fault. Ryan's answer proved he was just a step in the right direction of accepting what had happened.

"I know, I know. In my mind I know that there was nothing I could have done to change what happened. That redneck got that jump on two people who were trained to be on guard. I know I'm not to blame." Ryan paused and continued to stare at the ceiling as he went on. "However, my heart tells me I should have sensed something or at the very least heard something. I feel...I didn't know Wilson that well, but...it's another cop that's gotten killed in my presence when I could have done something."

"There's nothing you could have done to save Palmer or Wilson." Eric said as he tried to get Ryan to look at him, but the younger man kept his gaze on the ceiling. "Their deaths are not your fault."

"You may think so."

Speed and Delko shared another look. They knew exactly what Ryan meant by that. The rumblings about another cop dying while working with Ryan had already started up. Things were just going to get worse for Ryan. The hateful words scrawled across his locker weren't going to stop unless they found out who was doing it, but Delko was afraid things would get worse than that. Wilson had been popular among his coworkers and that was going to come back and bite Ryan in the ass.