Title: The Letter

Author: Paige

Fandom: CSI: Miami

Pairing: Eric/Ryan, Horatio/Speed(unrequited), Horatio/Marisol(just a smidge, sorry)

Rating: FRT

Spoilers: Lost Son, 10-7, Nailed, Rampage, One of Our Own.

Category: Angst.

Summary: When Ryan is injured on the job, Horatio finds a letter addressed to him in Ryan's locker and the letter is from Speed.

Disclaimer: I don't own the show or the characters so don't sue me. I don't have anything except for my CSI DVD collection and the only way anyone will get that is over my dead body.

Feedback: No Flames please.

Email: stepped into the locker room and sighed, he hated having to come into the locker room for any reason other than going home, but he'd promised Eric that he'd grab Ryan's spare clothes from his locker so that Ryan would have something clean to wear when he was released from the hospital after his ankle was x-rayed and set. Horatio had been glad for the distraction since he'd been pacing like a caged tiger since word had come that Ryan had been injured during a shootout in front of a warehouse.

It wasn't the injury Ryan had sustained that had Horatio on edge, it was the fact his youngest CSI had been injured again and in a situation that eerily mirrored the fatal shooting that had taken Speed's life. Though this time, Ryan had been very lucky, he hadn't been shot, but he'd hurt his ankle taking down a suspect that had tried to slip out the back door. Ryan's training in patrol had kicked in and he'd chased the suspect down, only to hurt his ankle taking the bastard down in a tackle that would put Lawrence Taylor to shame. Now he was in the hospital, after an unsuccessful bid to convince Eric and Alexx that he was perfectly able to walk, which had stopped the second he tried to stand on his own two feet and had collapsed in a heap. That argument down the drain, Eric and Tripp had simply hoisted him to his feet and carried Ryan, protesting, to the ambulance, where Eric had ridden with him to the hospital and the rest had followed in Horatio's Hummer. Once at the hospital, they'd learned that Ryan's ankle was badly sprained and would need more x-rays to make sure that it wasn't broken and Eric had asked Horatio if he would get Ryan's change of clothes from his locker, so here he was.

Opening the locker, Horatio found himself wondering once again if Ryan went clothes shopping with his eyes closed. Despite the fact that the young man had OCD and Horatio knew from driving Ryan home a few times that every room of his house was color-coordinated, his wardrobe left a lot to be desired. Granted, since he'd started dating Eric and hanging out with Calleigh and Alexx dragging him to the mall, his clothing sense had improved, but he was a long way from fashion plate. Picking through the Miami Vice going-out-of-business sale leftovers that Ryan called his work wardrobe, Horatio managed to find clothes that wouldn't bring the fashion police crashing down on the crimelab and was about to close the locker when an envelope fell off of the shelf and landed at his feet. Grumbling to himself, Horatio leaned down and picked up the envelope, only to stop cold in his tracks when he read the name on the front; it was his name, but he'd recognize Tim Speedle's handwriting anywhere.

He frowned, what was a letter addressed to him from Speed doing in Ryan's locker? It didn't make sense, as far as he'd known, Speed and Ryan hadn't even known each other outside of work, let alone known each other well enough for Speed to entrust him with something that was obviously very private if he'd gone to the trouble to write it out instead of just coming to Horatio like he normally did. Strange. Deciding to deal with this mystery once he had delivered Ryan's clothes to him, Horatio stuck the envelope in his jacket and headed for his Hummer.

As he drove, Horatio tried not to think about the mysterious letter in his jacket, but his CSI mind just refused to leave it alone. It didn't make sense that Ryan would have something of Speed's in his locker, it wasn't Tim's old locker and Horatio had cleaned out Speed's old locker himself. Unless, Ryan did know Speed, that was a possibility, but Ryan had never mentioned knowing Speed other than about his death. Though Horatio didn't blame him for not mentioning it, considering how hard the young man had fought to be considered as a CSI not just some beat cop trying to take Speed's place. It just bothered him that he hadn't known about it.

Pulling into the parking lot of the hospital, Horatio's curiosity finally got the best of him and he reached into his jacket and pulled out the letter, it was dated three days before the jewelry store shooting and began to read.

Dear Horatio,

Well if you're reading this, then I didn't get the chance to talk to you. I left this letter with a friend of mine since lately, I've had this feeling that something bad is coming my way. H, there's no easy way to say this: I'm gay and I'm in love with you.

Now, I don't have to see you to know you're probably shocked as hell, but this is something I think you should know. I don't expect anything from you. Hell, if you're reading this, there's nothing that can be done anyway, but I thought you should know how I really feel.

I'm not going to take up more of your time H. I've entrusted Ryan to give you this letter if something were to happen to me, he's a good kid and a good cop and if he ever gets over his shyness, he'll make a great CSI. I've told him so and Yelina has promised to put in a good word for him if I can't.

Give Calleigh a kiss and tell her that I'm sorry for every time I've taken her stuff without asking. Tell Delko that he's been the brother I never had and he's one of the best criminalists I've ever met. Tell Alexx that I love her and she's been more of a mother to me than my own ever has. Take care of Yelina and Ray Jr. and try not let Stetler get under your skin too much.

Well, I gotta go H. Thank you for being my boss and my friend and for putting up with me when most people would've booted my butt to the curb a long time ago. Take care of yourself and don't be too hard on whoever takes my place on the team.

Sincerely,

Speed

There were wet spots on the bottom of the page and it took Horatio several minutes before he realized that they were coming from his eyes. He wiped at his cheeks but they wouldn't stop. Looking at the letter, he couldn't believe everything that had happened since Speed had written the letter: something bad had definitely been headed Speed's way, Yelina had made good on her promise to put in a good word for Ryan, and the young man was definitely a good CSI, Yelina and Stetler had broken up and she and Ray Jr. were living in Brazil with Raymond. Alexx, after some reservation, had adopted Ryan just like she had Speed and he was slowly overcoming his shyness. He knew somewhere in his heart that if Speed were still around, he'd be very proud of Ryan and how well he was doing.

Wiping his eyes again, Horatio looked his watch and realized that it had been almost an hour since Eric had asked him to get Ryan's clothes, they were probably wondering where he was. Quickly putting the letter in the center console of the Hummer, gathered Ryan's clothes and headed for the hospital entrance.

"There you are!" Alexx exclaimed from her perch next to Ryan's hospital bed, in much the way she'd sat when Ryan had been shot in the eye with a nailgun. She walked over to him and tugged the bag out of his hands, "We were starting to think you'd gotten lost."

"Something came up," Horatio said sheepishly, turning his attention to the young man sitting on the bed who had accidentally turned Horatio's world on its ear. "How are you feeling, Ryan?" He bit back a smile at the surprised look on the young man's face. He'd been making a concerted effort to start calling Ryan by his first name instead of Mr. Wolfe. Ryan had been a CSI for almost two years and with him getting shot with the nailgun and nearly losing his sight and the whole mole thing, Horatio had gained a very deep respect for his youngest CSI and felt that it was time to quit treating him like a newbie. Horatio had a tendency to address his subordinates by their last name until he got to know them better, and while he and Ryan weren't best friends, they were definitely closer than they used to be, hence him calling Ryan by his first name.

Ryan smiled sheepishly, "I'm fine Horatio. I'm ready to go home though."

"Did the doctors say what was wrong with your foot?"

"Broken. I'll have to be off my feet for about six weeks, but I'll be walking around in about three weeks." Ryan said. "If the doctor says I can." he added quickly, after Alexx, Calleigh and Eric all sent him warning looks.

"Ryan Gabriel Wolfe, you will follow your doctor's orders to the letter if I have to tie you to a chair and have a camera on you all day." Alexx warned, wagging a warning finger at her adopted son.

"And I have to stand over you with one of my shotguns." Calleigh agreed from the other chair next to where Eric was seated on the bed.

Horatio had to laugh, Ryan was notorious for not following doctor's orders, one of the little quirks about the young man that he'd enjoyed learning about in the two years he'd been a part of the team. Ryan hated doctors, with the exception of Alexx. When he'd started having eye problems, the team had taken turns going with him to the doctor to make sure he went, even Tripp had gone with him once. In fact, Ryan's stubbornness reminded Horatio of Speed, another member of his team known for avoiding doctors like the plague.

Speed. In all the laughter and half threats that had accompanied his return to the hospital, Horatio had almost forgotten about the letter sitting in his Hummer console. All of a sudden, he was overcome by an intense feeling of sadness. He could almost picture Speed there, joining Alexx and Calleigh in threatening Ryan if he didn't follow doctor's orders. Out of the corner of his eye, Horatio swore he could see a dark haired, scruffy young man in a dark blue shirt and dark jeans standing in the corner of Ryan's room, watching the scene and smiling. He couldn't help but wonder how Speed and Ryan had met and how close they'd been. Close enough for Speed to entrust him with something so private as his sexuality and the fact that he was in love with his supervisor. It was a different way to see Ryan, but something that, Horatio had to admit, was partly his own fault. He'd assumed that Ryan didn't know the man whose position he was filling, but that was not the case. Ryan had kept this secret for two years, and knowing him it was so that they would accept him in his own right, and not as Speed's friend.

Suddenly, Horatio felt an urgent need to talk to Speed and get some things off of his chest. Turning to Ryan, he smiled, "You'd better do what they say Ryan, or what Alexx and Calleigh are threatening isn't half as bad as what I'll do to you if you don't obey what your doctor's orders." With that, he winked at Ryan and walked quickly out of the room, leaving a room of very confused people.

"What in the world was that about?" Alexx wondered.

"He seemed kinda distracted." Calleigh agreed.

Ryan's brow furrowed as he tried to determine the cause of his boss's odd behavior, then a look of shock came over him as he remembered what had been in his locker. "Oh God."

The cemetery was quiet when Horatio pulled in and exited his Hummer, three bouquets of roses in his hand. He went to his mother and Marisol's graves and paid his respects to the two women who had made the biggest impact on his life. Finally, he made his way over to Speed's grave and laid down the largest of his bouquets on the ground and knelt in front of the headstone.

"It's been awhile since I've been out here to see you Speed. I'm sorry. Things have been so crazy lately that I've forgotten. Your friend Ryan is our newest team member, Alexx has adopted him in all but name. I got married to Eric's sister who was suffering from cancer and then she was murdered by a Mala Noche member on our wedding day. We found out that Raymond wasn't dead like we thought and Yelina and Ray Jr. moved to Brazil to be with him." He sighed and finally sat on the grass next to the stone.

"Eric and Ryan are together, but somehow I get the feeling that you played a part in that. Calleigh's dad is in AA now and beginning to get a handle on his drinking and she's getting a handle on some of her personal problems. We've all missed you, including Ryan, which I didn't know about until today." He paused, thinking about how the world seemed to have changed with just one piece of paper.

"In case you haven't figured it out yet, I found your letter in Ryan's locker, by accident. He broke his ankle and when I was getting him a change of clothes, the envelope fell on my head. I gotta say Speed, I'm surprised and…flattered that you thought about me that way. I don't know if it would've worked out between us, but I wish that you'd come to me and told me because I know I felt that way about you and I would've love to have given us a shot." There, it was out. He wiped at his eyes as he felt the hot tears streaking down his face. "God, I miss you, Speed. I miss hearing Calleigh yell at you for borrowing her stuff. I miss the way you and Eric would argue over everything. I miss Alexx force feeding you during long shifts. And I just miss everything about you and I didn't know until today just how much I still miss you." He wiped his eyes and began to rise. Brushing off his trousers, he stared at the inscription:

Timothy Lucas 'Speed' Speedle

1973-2004

Beloved Son, Devoted Friend, Hero.

He will be forever missed by the city and people he served.

Horatio smiled sadly, "I love you Speed. I'll see around sometime, buddy." As he turned to walk away, he felt eyes on the back of his neck and turned to see Speed, dressed in the clothes he was wearing the day he was shot standing nearby. He smiled sadly and waved to Horatio which Horatio returned before turning around and walking back toward his vehicle.

As he walked away, Horatio felt lighter, knowing deep in his heart that he would see Speed again and the next time, they would have their chance, no matter what.

The end.