Michelle Perry

Trust. He wanted to scream. Trust? She couldn't trust him? She couldn't trust him, but she could trust an IAB agent? A man who's sole job it was to destroy the lives of police officers?! It was the ultimate slap in the face. Horatio bit down on all the words he wanted to scream at her, wishing he had his sunglasses on, so she couldn't see the pain in his eyes. "I understand," was all he could muster.

Horatio gathered his outrage and channeled it into the investigation, almost obsessively determined to clear the name of his friend and fellow officer. At the end of the day, he was rewarded with the satisfaction of success, despite the blatant obstruction perpetrated by that smug, simpering bastard of an IAB rat. He felt so good about having helped Dan and his family that he almost forgot about the incident with Yelina. Then, she showed up at the front desk.

A moment later, the rat showed up, and Horatio realized why Yelina was waiting near the desk. Horatio's lip curled as if he were in the presence of a real rodent. Indeed, a real rat would have been less distasteful. At least they weren't paid to be disgusting. Horatio wanted to hit him when he casually draped his arm around Yelina's shoulder and flashed that smug smile. They both knew Stetler was just playing a game. The only mystery was why Yelina couldn't see that. Horatio held a barely veiled argument with the man, detesting his nonchalant attitude and phony congratulations. Then, Stetler murmured something about closing his office, and went off - probably to put the finishing touches to some plot against Raymond, himself or even Yelina.

When he was out of earshot, Yelina took the opportunity to congratulate him on the case. She was trying to be nice - giving him a little pat on the back for helping the other cop's widow. It didn't matter. It was like salt on wounds that Horatio was trying to forget. She congratulated him for helping that widow, and perhaps she felt a little bad for hurting him earlier that day, but what about what he'd done for her? What he was doing for her now?! Yes, there were things she couldn't know about, but what about the things she knew he'd done? The visits with little Raymond? The quelling of any murmur of persecution from the press? The gifts to supplement Ray's pension? His nephew's trust fund that Raymond hadn't had a chance to start? Between the gifts he'd given Yelina and Little Ray, the apartment for Suzie and Madison, and Madison's trust fund, his pockets were wearing a little thin even at his salary. Guess doing all you can for your family just isn't enough to engender trust, he thought bitterly.

On the outside, he just tried to smile and thanked her for her kind words. Soon, Stetler was back with his loathsome presence. He touched Yelina's arm, said a cheery, utterly phony goodbye to Horatio, and they got into the elevator. Horatio waited a few seconds, until he knew the elevator had gone down some, the let go of frustrated growl and slammed his fist against the desk.

"What a prick."

Yelina frowned. "Excuse me?"

"Him," Rick replied. "I mean, come on. He's obviously got it out for me just because I'm IAB."

"Well, you were provoking him," Yelina said.

"I was not! How?"

Yelina rolled her eyes. "Rick, please. You think I didn't see that little testosterone battle for what it was? You're flaunting our relationship in front of him, and you can't tell me you aren't enjoying yourself. Besides that, it's only natural for him to be a little paranoid after what happened with Ray. He doesn't know that you're trustworthy."

Rick snorted. "Right. Whatever. Look, we are trust, okay! It's our business to root out the untrustworthy people from the force. It's jerks like Caine who make our job harder than it needs to be."

Yelina stepped away, disturbed by Rick's vehemence. "As I recall, you were the one who held back valuable information about Dan's undercover work during Horatio's investigation."

"That information was classified, and on a need to -"

Yelina shook her head. "Don't give me that," she said sharply. "Dan was dead, which means his undercover investigation was obviously over. The information could have been used to clear his name a little sooner. Even if his work wasn't clearly finished, that alone qualified the situation as 'need to know'."


"No buts," she said. "Withholding that information was you making Horatio's job harder than it needed to be. It's no wonder he's antagonistic towards you."

Rick sighed and looked at the floor. "You're right," he said. "Look, let's not fight about it, okay? I just want to have a good time tonight."

Yelina nodded, but she wasn't really satisfied. She could understand why Horatio had behaved the way he had. She didn't like Rick's attitude herself. She thought about how upset he'd looked when Rick verbally waved off his concerns about Dan's family getting their proper benefits, and she suddenly felt the need to talk to him again. Maybe he could explain to him... well, maybe not. He probably wouldn't want to hear any explanations about her relationship with Rick. She could at least apologize for his behavior and make sure he knew that she had been sincere, even if Rick had not.

When they reached the ground floor, Yelina hesitated. "I left something in my office."

Rick raised an eyebrow. Clearly, he didn't believe her, but she didn't really care at the moment. "Okay," he said. "I'll be here."

She smiled and hit the button for the main offices. Once upstairs, Yelina headed toward Horatio's office, where she knew he would be wrapping up the day's paperwork. Before she reached the office, she could hear his voice, loud and agitated. She slowed her pace and listened.

"...why she can't see though him!" he was saying. "How? How could she trust him? She's a detective! He's IAB!"

A sarcastic voice replied. "Maybe he put up three fingers and gave her Scout's Honor."

"It's not funny, Speed," Horatio growled. Yelina agreed. How could Speedle talk about her like she was some kind of naïve idiot?

"I know," Speed said, suddenly serious. "I'm sorry."

Yelina stopped when she reached the office. She knew she shouldn't eavesdrop, but she couldn't help herself. She stood to one side of the door, where she could watch them without being seen. Speed was leaning against the desk, while Horatio paced in front of him. "I just don't understand how she could be so... so..."

"Stupid?" Speed supplied.

Horatio stopped to glare at Speed, but (much to Yelina's dismay) didn't contradict him. "That bastard can only want one of two things: Raymond or me. Or maybe he wants us both. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to throw her in for good measure!"

"H, try to calm down, okay?" Speed said. "Why don't you sit down?"

"This is no good, Speed," Horatio said, reluctantly taking a seat in front of him. "This is no good. He wants to ruin us."

"Horatio," Speed said, clearly trying to sound calm. "If Stetler tries to dig up dirt on you, he won't find anything because there's nothing to find. You're a good cop, and a good man. No one can deny that. No one can prove otherwise."

"Thank you," Horatio said, and there was something akin to a smile in his voice. "But that doesn't help Raymond."

"They didn't find anything in the initial investigation. Why would they find anything now?"

"They didn't know about Madison before."

"Your niece?" Speed asked. "Why would they know about her now?"

"Yelina knows. Or thinks she does. And now..."

"Now she's dating IAB," Speed finished. "Gotcha."

Horatio went on to talk about officer involvement with informants and irrefutable evidence, but she could barely hear him over the tempest of her own thoughts. Niece. Speedle had said "niece", and Horatio had not corrected him. Horatio only had one brother. Yelina's heart began to pound. That little girl - the one she'd assumed Horatio had been hiding - she was Raymond's daughter.

Yelina didn't know who to be more mad at: Raymond for having an affair, herself for being so blind, or Horatio for assuming she was too delicate to handle the truth. She shook her head. She couldn't, in good conscious, blame Horatio for this, and she knew it. Complicated. He'd tried to tell her the situation was more complicated than she thought, and she hadn't let him tell her why. Instead, she'd made a point of telling him how uncomplicated her relationship with Rick was.

Yelina blinked back tears and focused on the conversation again. "...might be a lot easier if you would just tell her the truth," Speed said.

Horatio shook his head. "I can't do that, Speed," he said. "It's too late. If I tell her now, it'll look like I'm trying to get back at her. Besides that, it'll just confirm the fact that I'm a liar. I don't think I'll ever get her trust back again."

"But... if Stetler's really concentrating on Madison, it may come down to a blood test. Then she'll find out anyway, and she'll find out at the same time IAB does."

"I know, I know!" Horatio hid his face in his hands and sighed shakily. "God, I wish I knew what to do!"

Speed frowned and ran a hand gently through Horatio's hair, completely shocking Yelina for the second time in as many minutes. Apparently, Madison's parentage wasn't the only thing she had been mistaken about. "I hate seeing you like this," Speed said vehemently. "I just wish I knew how to make you feel better."

Speed glanced up and his eyes widened. Yelina froze. Without realizing it, she must have moved out of her hiding place, because Speed was looking right at her. He scowled, and his body visibly tensed. "Speed?" Horatio looked up. "Speed, what's the matter. What are you-" He started to turn his head, but Speed quickly forced his head back to face him, and pulled him into a deep kiss. Horatio seemed surprised at first, but almost immediately, he relaxed and wrapped his arms around the young detective. The kiss lingered for what seemed like an eternity to Yelina. When it was finally over, Horatio sighed contentedly and brushed his hand against Speed's cheek. "You do know how to make me feel better," he said. "You always know."

Speed smiled and gently pushed Horatio's head to rest against his chest. "Look, try not to worry about all this too much. If they find something on Ray, you'll get through it. And as for Yelina," he said, looking right at her. "She'll figure everything out sooner or later, whether you decide to tell her or not. And when she does... well, she's a big girl. She'll deal. So I don't want you to stress, okay?"

Horatio nodded, pressing closer to Speed's chest. "Okay." He looked up and gave Speed a quick peck on the lips, then rested his head back on Speed's chest. "Thank you."

Speed flashed his rare grin. "My pleasure." He placed a hand on Horatio's head, and fixed Yelina with an almost defiant stare.

Yelina got the message. She quietly walked to the elevator and rode back down to the ground floor. Rick was waiting just outside, looking impatient. "I thought maybe you'd gotten lost," he said. Yelina managed a small smile. "Did you get what you needed?"

"I think so," she said. "Listen, I'm going to head home, okay?"

"But what about our date?"

"Maybe another time. I... um. I have a lot to think about tonight."


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