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 the summer after "10-7." Thanks to Prin for her words of wisdom.

Naturally, reviews would be greatly appreciated.

Near Victory
By Duckie Nicks

Beads of sweat formed on his face. Stetler was relieved to escape into his hotel room, the air conditioning blasting once more. As the door clicked shut behind him, the impatient man ripped off his shirt, wet with perspiration, and jeans. And lying down on the bed in his underwear, Rick thought that he had clearly underestimated New York City weather.

The bedspread felt cool against his flushed skin, and he closed his eyes. Victory was near, he thought, and that filled him with a definite happiness. While it was true he hadn't found Yelina, he had received the next best thing: the power to take Horatio down. And that was a pretty damn good consolation prize; Stetler could barely contain his joy over it.

Of course, nothing had been confirmed yet, but everywhere the cop went, Horatio's former colleagues had a lot to say. There were whispers of the redhead's past, of a murder (which sent a chill up Rick's spine), of a dirty cop. He had always assumed Caine had been hiding a past – there was no way anyone was that perfect. But this… was even better than expected.

This was everything Rick could have hoped for and more, and he decided over his morning coffee that he would figure this out. And Horatio would regret the day he had ever gone against him. The precious lieutenant, who could seemingly do no wrong, would be out of a job. No, Stetler mentally corrected, he'd lose everything. Especially if the rumors about a murder were true.

Stetler rolled out of bed at the thought, too excited to settle down, and stalked over to the mini-fridge. Reaching inside, he grabbed one of the beers. It was the middle of the day, sure, but this was cause for celebration. And so standing in his sweat-lined underpants, Rick chugged the cold brew down.

Horatio in an orange jumpsuit, he thought, seemed so appealing. And Rick paused mid-chug to laugh at the idea – Horatio in jail. The poor sonbitch wouldn't make it in there a day. There were just too many criminals eager to kill the CSI. It'd be a fitting end for the bastard.

And with the meddling brother-in-law gone, Yelina would come back. Stetler would get her back. The thought (or maybe it was the beer) made him feel light-headed, and he plopped back down on the bed.

It had been almost three months since they had broken up, he realized. Three months. Reconciliation, at the time, hadn't been completely out of question. This was simply what they did as a couple: they got along until they didn't, and then all hell would break loose.

She would say something scathing, and he'd return the insult, and it would go back and forth until someone got a black eye. Horatio had sniveled about "abuse," but that high-minded asshole had no idea. It was not abuse; this was just what they did. This was how they worked things out. What else could be expected of a relationship based on equal parts attraction and revulsion?

It wasn't like Rick didn't know; Yelina found most aspects of his personality irritating. She hated the way he looked at her. He "leered" too much, she thought, and hated how he insisted on spending so much time alone with her. She hated that he fought with Horatio. Just as he despised how close she was to the redhead.

They fought a lot about those things, but in the end, that had been why they were together. He thought that he probably wouldn't have wanted her as much if she weren't Horatio's sister-in-law. And Rick also knew that, despite her protestations, Yelina liked that he was so forward. She hadn't ever said, but the way he laid claim to her, the way he so openly wanted her, had been something she enjoyed.

Their relationship had gotten messy at times, sure, but it wasn't anything they couldn't work through. A week after they'd broken up, he'd called her, and she hadn't hung up or called the cops.

And then she disappeared.

That Horatio wasn't concerned at all told Rick everything. He was behind this. Dudley-Do-Right must have found out that Yelina had taken the call, was gonna take him back, and forced her into hiding. It was the only explanation.

Stetler had briefly wondered if the idea was ridiculous – because since when did she take instruction?

But then… he knew she always did what Horatio wanted. Even if she hated it, she followed his advice.

And Rick had vowed then to find her. She wasn't here, but this trip to New York had yielded other results, which was fine by him. Horatio would get his, that seemed to be inevitable, and Yelina would come out of hiding. Then she'd be his again.

Horatio would be behind bars with any luck, and the redhead would die there knowing that Rick had won. Would spend the rest of his days thinking about how it was Stetler fucking her. And for his part, Rick would make sure Horatio knew exactly what he wasn't getting. Yes, he'd drop by the redhead's cell and let him hear all the details…

There would be a lot of work to do to get to that point, but the sergeant could see the end in sight – could practically hear Yelina begging for his forgiveness already.

Not even the hot muggy weather could stop him from feeling the chill of near victory course through him. Yes, Horatio would pay. And she would beg Rick to take her back; he'd make her beg, and he grinned, in the hotel room, knowing he would show them no mercy.

End 1/1