Author's Note: This was originally written for the LJ community, summerbits. Each author had to write seven fics, ranging from 500-1000 words, about the various characters in the CSI verse. This is set sometime after season five, but there are no spoilers. Feel free to read and review. Thanks to Prin for all of her help.
Fishing for Truth
By Duckie Nicks
"I'm only here cause Mom made me."
There was the truth, Horatio thought. His nephew had uttered it with as much sensitivity as a blunt ax.
The redhead looked out over the lake, watched the sun's reflection in the rippling water. A breeze passed through the grass. Horatio had wondered, in the hour they'd been there, why Ray Junior was upset.
"Okay," he said, trying to be as gracious as he could be, despite the hurt feelings. "We can go if you want."
"Shut up, you know we can't," Ray said miserably.
"You said you don't want to be here, so we can –"
"No. We can't." There was a pregnant pause, the only sound coming from ducks quacking nearby. Horatio looked at his nephew, noticed the way the teenager seemed to hesitate. But Ray said, "We can't go back cause Mom wants to spend time with her boyfriend."
Whatever Horatio had been expecting to hear… it wasn't that, and he wasn't sure what to say immediately.
He settled for nodding his head up, smirking, and then looking out over the lake again.
"When did this happen?" he eventually asked. It didn't sound too desperate, Horatio thought.
"I don't know. A while ago." Ray cast his line out again half-heartedly.
Horatio did the same thing before saying, "She never mentioned it."
Pushing a curl out of his face, Ray Junior laughed. But it didn't sound like any laugh Horatio had heard from Ray before. The boy sounded mirthless. Behind each chuckle was something dark, and Horatio plucked his sunglasses out of his pocket. He easily slid them on, and then looked at Ray once more. His veiled eyes met his nephew's dark ones.
"Why would she have mentioned it to you, dude?" Ray asked.
Horatio was at a loss. He had wanted to give her boundaries, didn't really expect to be informed, but still, "We're family," he told Ray.
The laugh filled the air once more, joining in on the chorus of quacks and flies buzzing. "Is that what we are?" the boy asked. Before Horatio could say anything, he added, "You know… I know I don't know much about what a normal family is like. But I'm gonna go ahead and guess that real families don't have parents who die and then come back to life."
"I'm sorry." Horatio knew the words weren't enough to soothe the torment in Ray, but he offered them nonetheless. "I'm sorry," his voice lamentable. "If I could give you your father back…" He bit the inside of his cheek to stop himself from saying more.
"It's not just Dad."
"Well, I know you and your mother –"
Ray shook his head angrily. "No, you don't know. In order to know, you'd have to be around." He started to reel the line back in furiously.
And Horatio felt the guilt rise up in him, like an unused muscle, felt it tighten in his throat. "I wanted to – after everything that happened, Ray, I wanted to give your mother some space."
The boy shook his head again and stood up. Haphazardly, he began to collect his things. "You shouldn't lie," Ray said. "I used to believe that, but now I know that's not true."
"You and I both know Mom doesn't want space. She doesn't do space – definitely not when it comes to you anyway." Horatio began to reel his own line in, resigned to the fact that this trip was over, a disaster. "My mother being in love with my uncle is fucked up, yeah. Even without Dad, we'd be messed up, but you just make everything worse!"
Horatio sighed. "Ray… I don't – I don't know what to say to that."
"Look, I can deal with you likin' her. Why you would… but whatever. If you like her, grow a pair and do something about it. Stop pushing her away. Stop giving her fucking space. And stop only coming around when she wants to get laid –" Horatio blushed at this – "or when one of us screws up."
The redhead stood up, brushing his hands on his pants. He quickly packed his things away. "I didn't realize," Horatio said, the words lame but true. "I came over cause I thought you wanted to go fishing."
Ray started to walk, Horatio following him. "I did – until I realized it was just a way for her to get me out of the house. I got forced onto you, so… thanks, but I won't hold you up. Let's go home."
That ended the conversation. Even if Horatio wanted to stay, it was a lost cause. The boy climbed in the SUV, tossing his fishing gear behind him. The rod scraped against the ceiling.
As Horatio started to drive away, he looked over at his nephew who, with arms folded across his chest, looked out the window sullenly.
"She didn't force you onto me."
"Then prove it by coming around more and not just when she needs you to."
"And maybe you'll stop asking about her? I don't like being a go between."
"All right," Horatio said.
"Really?" His voice almost sounded childlike.
They fell into silence, only broken when Ray started snoring a half hour later. Horatio wasn't sure what started this fight. He could only conclude that Ray had been holding this back for a while. But they were okay now.
And the guilt Horatio usually felt in the pit of his stomach eased. The uncle had always believed Ray would hate it if Yelina started dating him. But Ray seemed opposed to this more.
Which was what mattered. So while the rest of the world (and Yelina's boyfriend) might not approve, Horatio had gotten an endorsement from the one person who mattered. As he drove, the redhead was comforted by this fact – he could act on his feelings without reproach. For the first time in a long time, Horatio felt himself smiling.