Evil muse. I couldn't help myself. This one-shot lives separate from my other RaiN stories. Set after "MMIH," it felt a little left open. So, this happened. Pretty sure other ideas will come about as well, lol.

Disclaimer: No owning CSI:Miami.

The sun glared through the windows of the locker room as Ryan sat quietly in front of his own locker. He sighed in relief, happy that the day was over so he could get to bed and finally relax.

Thinking back, Ryan mentally chuckled at his luck. As if going undercover wasn't troublesome enough (though the ladies helped ease his guilt) the water-torture still lingered in the back of his mind. If it weren't for Eric and Horatio, he would be dead. Though, despite his abiding worries, both Tandy King and Paul Nichols were stashed away in the judicial system, hopefully for good. That was all that mattered.

From the corner of his eye, a brunette paused at his sight, pinched her lips shut, and continued her way towards her personal items.

"Hey, Natalia," Ryan greeted, his eyes meeting her silent walk. Furrowing his brows, he wondered if maybe she didn't hear him. "Natalia?" he attempted but was only met with a deathly glare. "Something wrong?"

"I'm not speaking to you," she said coldly, darting her eyes back to her locker.

"Huh?" he asked confusedly, standing up to walk closer to her. "What did I do?"

Natalia only moved her lethal eyes in his direction, sending a chill down Ryan's spine.

"Is this-?" Ryan rolled his eyes, brushing his hands through his hair in irritation. "Natalia, if this is about the undercover thing from today-. Hey, don't start getting all holier-than-thou on me! You went undercover, too!"

"And look what happened!" she shouted, turning her body towards his.

"I thought you weren't speaking to me," he joked sarcastically, a cheeky smile forming. Exhaling annoyingly, Natalia grinded her teeth.

"I would have thought that after what happened to me with that psychic, you would have thought twice about pulling a stunt like that," Natalia protested.

Ryan began walking away from her, "What stunt? I'm fine, and we ended up catching the killer." Stopping, Ryan turned his focus back to her. "No harm, no foul," he shrugged.

"No fou-. Ryan, someone tried to kill you!" Natalia shouted, her arms flailing dramatically.

"Wouldn't have been the first time," he mumbled under his breath, focusing back to his locker.

"What do you mean by that?" she questioned disconcertingly as she shortened the space between them.

"Nothing," he shook his head, "forget it. Listen, it really wasn't my choice to make anyway. It was H's. I was just following orders."

"God, Horatio." Natalia began pacing, furious. "Don't get me started on that. He's always putting you in danger!"

"Natalia, it's not that bad, really!" Ryan assured her, trying his best to catch Natalia's eyes with his.

"It's like he has no regard for your safety, for any of our safety!" Throwing her hands in the air, Natalia continued her rant, barely hearing Ryan's pleads and assurance.

"'Talia, you don't know what you're talking about!"

"Even with that psychic, he could have stopped me from doing such an insane idea!"

"Natalia, he saved you!" Ryan shouted hysterically.

"I know he did, but still!" she shouted back, her eyes finding his.

"No, not like how you think," Ryan's voice became quieter, though his eyes still focused determinately on Natalia.

"What-," Natalia stopped dead in her tracks, her body stiff and her eyes squinting to understand. "What are you talking about?"

Ryan gulped nervously. He made a promise to Horatio she would never find out, and he wasn't about to break that now. Though, seeing her desperate, pleading eyes confused him even more. Shaking it off, Ryan regressed the idea, regaining his composure again.

"Forget it," Ryan stated quickly as he grabbed his things and slammed the metal door shut. "You're fine," he gestured to her forcefully, "and I'm fine. That's all that matters, okay?" Watching him hastily rush for the stairwell, Natalia was left alone, her mouth agape.

"Who do you work for?" demanded the garbled voice, but Ryan couldn't answer. God, did he want to answer something, anything, but the water in his lungs continued to press down like a 5-ton weight. Though, the drugs injected into his neck only moments ago didn't help him either.

"Who do you work for!" continued the angry voice, the garble becoming more prominent. An accent started sneaking its way through the thickness of the water.

Ryan's heart began pounded insanely. He knew that voice, a spoken language that hadn't haunted his dreams for some time. Slowly, the water faded away as the man holding his neck threw him brutally to a chair.

"This isn't a negotiation," the Russian reminded him, clutching his fists to heighten the seriousness in his voice. "Each time you refuse, we take something away."

A lump in his throat stopped Ryan from speaking, as if his will had disappeared. What the hell? He didn't remember this! Why couldn't he say anything?

"I warned you what would occur should you refuse me," the man stated, picking up the pliers determinately, the steps to his walk echoing through Ryan's battered mind.

No, no, no! his mind screamed as the pliers came closer and closer to him. Not again! Please, no!

"NO!" Ryan screamed deliriously as he shot up from his bed, icy sweat covering his bare skin. He breathed in deep, attempting to slow down his hyper gasping.

"It was just a dream," he chuckled nervously, rubbing his eyes for extra support. Looking over to his clock, the neon lights read 2:00am. Finally, his breathing returned to normal before he heard his cell phone ringing. Who would that be? he thought.

"Wolfe?" he asked into the speaker.

"Hi," a timid voice answered.

"Natalia? It's two in the morning," Ryan stated confusedly. "You okay?"

"Yeah," she began vaguely, her breath stuttering. "I just couldn't sleep is all."

"You need me to come over?" he suggested, already jumping out of bed to head for his closet.

"No!" she exclaimed before calming her voice again, "I just wanted someone to talk to, you know?"

"Uh, sure." He paused, unclear what to say. "What do you want to talk about?" He curled up comfortingly as he sat in bed, unbeknownst that Natalia was in the same position.

"What you said back at the lab," she began, hesitant, "what did you mean?"

"'Talia, it was nothing," he lied, rolling his eyes, "I was just ranting, trying to calm you down. Nothing else."

"I wish I could believe you," Natalia admitted, her voice quiet again.

"Just," he grumbled, "trust me when I say you don't want to know, okay?"


"Natalia? You trust me, don't you?" he asked worriedly.

"With my life," she said sharply, a light chuckle escaping her words. "Sorry I woke you up."

"Don't worry about it. I wasn't really asleep anyway," Ryan joked, biting his tongue for spilling the information.

"Why? Are you okay?" Natalia instantly changed her worry to him, knowing his self-mocking was always more serious than he let on. Why he would be having trouble sleeping? she thought. Did the investigation affect him more that he's saying?

"It's—nothing," Ryan assured her. "Nothing I can't handle."

"Are you sure?" she asked, her turn to jump out of bed. "Maybe I should come over so we talk."

"No," he laughed. "I really have it under control. Honest."

"I still don't believe you," Natalia replied suspiciously.

"But you do trust me," he reminded her.

"Of course," she giggled, relieved to not dread sleeping again. The nightmares had been coming in and out for the past couple of months. Though, one short, hollow talk with Ryan seemed to ease her conscience for tonight. "Sweet dreams, Ryan."

"Sweet dreams, Natalia," he winked subconsciously. Hanging up, Ryan laid back down to his pillow with a smile, blissfully drifting back to sleep.

Yay... R&R.