(Terrorist Trap)

by MJ

Part 2 added 12 June 2008

Fandoms: CSI: Miami, Magnificent 7 ATF, NCIS
Characters: Ryan Wolfe, Tim Speedle, Ezra Standish, Anthony DiNozzo.
Backstory: In my ongoing storyline, Ezra is a cousin of sorts to Tony, and Ryan is Tony’s cousin.

Work in progress.

Back to: Safety

Speed looked at his younger lover as he slept. Something was bothering Ryan but so far Speed had been unable to get the younger man to open up and tell him what was the matter. He could tell something was bothering the younger man because his OCD was acting up. Ryan had even cleaned up Speed's things in the storage area, something the younger man had never done before.

Ryan was leaving for Atlanta in the morning to visit his cousin Ezra, so that could be the reason for his mood, he might be nervous about the trip.

It was odd though, Speed didn't remember Ryan mentioning this trip last week though his lover claimed that he did. Speed shook his head, must be all of the double shifts he worked lately. It could be the baby. Ezra and his wife were expecting soon, maybe she'd had the baby. That might just be it. Ryan hadn't invited Speed along. In the 6 months they had been together, Ryan had invited Speed to visit his family several times, at least in the beginning. Speed had always refused, even though he knew some of them, at least. He never gave Ryan a reason and eventually his young lover stopped asking.

Speed was somewhat ashamed of the reason for his reluctance to meet with the people who Ryan claimed as family. Ryan's older cousin, Tony had sent Ryan to Speed asking the CSI to watch out for the new college graduate as he set out on his own for the first time. Speed was sure that Tony didn't include seducing the younger man in a list of taking care of him. He knew that Tony was aware of their relationship, or rather the change in the relationship going from roommates to lovers. Ryan had been adamant that his family know, as adamant in that as he was that none of their colleagues know.

Although Speed trusted his colleagues implicitly he knew that Ryan had valid concerns about both of them being outed while working for the PD. Tony, the same cousin who brought them together, had nearly died from a gay based bias attack a few years ago. Speed remembered how badly injured his friend was from the attack and couldn't bring himself to ask Ryan to risk himself in a similar manner. Speed knew that his colleagues wouldn't have a problem with the relationship though he was sure he would be teased because his lover was so much younger. No, he feared for Ryan because patrol was very different than working in the labs. Ryan would be in much more danger than Speed ever would be if their relationship ever became public knowledge.

He hoped that one day he would be able to convince his lover to at least let him tell Alexx about them. He was sure that if she ever met Ryan she would treat Ryan as another son much the way she treated Speed.

His paranoia had grown to the point that he no longer answered his phone when he knew the call was coming from Tony or Ezra. So he actively tuned out when his lover spoke about his family. It wasn't surprising that he knew nothing about this trip.

He needed to get to sleep, Ryan's flight was an early one and he had to be in work immediately afterwards. Speed cuddled close to his lover and relaxed into sleep savoring the closeness, he would miss Ryan while he was gone.


The shrill of a cell phone broke through the stillness of the bedroom. The bed's only occupant stirred at the noise, stifling a groan. Too many long days and double shifts, then coming home to an empty, lonely bed meant Tim Speedle was short on sleep. Thankfully one of his problems would be solved soon, later today in fact. His lover was due back today.

Speed turned over and lay there for a minute, the phone had stopped ringing by this point. He picked it up and smiled as he noted the call was from Ryan. It would be nice to have the younger man back at home. It was strange, Ryan had only been living with him first as a roommate then as a lover for the past 8 months but even after such a short time Speed was acutely aware of the younger man's absence. They had spoken on the phone a few times while the younger man was away and Speed could tell something was still bothering Ryan. It was something that he would have to work on, getting his lover to open up to him today once Ryan got home.

Speed dialed the voice mail to retrieve the message. Ryan left the flight details in his short message and informed his lover that he would be turning off his phone and would be unavailable until the flight landed back in Miami. Speed called him back on the off chance he was able to catch his lover before he turned off the phone. Unable to reach Ryan, Speed left him a message, letting Ryan know he would be at the airport to pick the younger man up. Though the flight from Atlanta was not a long one, Speed still had an hour before he had to leave for the airport. He showered and started preparations for a light meal. He knew that Ryan was due back on patrol tonight so he was pretty sure that the first order of business would be a nap, maybe with some quality one on one time first. He wanted Ryan to have something light to eat if he was hungry before going to sleep for the day.

While he went about his tasks, Speed thought back to the message Ryan left him. He sounded oddly subdued and his voice seemed distorted. It was something more than the distraction that Speed had picked up on prior to Ryan's leaving for Atlanta.

Speed checked his watch, it was nearly time to leave for the airport. He really wanted to take the Ducati and ride double with his lover but he knew that Ryan would have too much baggage to make that feasible.


Ryan shuffled to his seat like an old man. He was hurting. He wore sunglasses but that didn't completely cover the large bruise that covered most of the left side of his face and caused his left eye to nearly be swollen shut. He almost, ALMOST regretted getting between his cousin Tony and the fist of one of Ezra's FBI coworkers. Almost, because the bruise to his face, actually the fracture to his cheek bone, was the only thing keeping his cousin out of jail. Ryan signaled the flight attendant and asked for a glass of water, taking his medications as soon as one was provided. The pain meds would allow him to deal with the change in pressure on his sinuses.

Honestly, he couldn't even blame Tony for losing what little grip the older man had on his temper. Ezra shot and half dead in the hospital, his wife dead, their daughter born prematurely by cesarean section just prior to her mother's death and in the NICU fighting for her life as well. All too much to handle.

Then apparently one of the FBI agents from the Atlanta office, someone who worked with Ezra in the past, made some remark about Ezra getting what he deserved for associating with "towel heads" and that even his girlfriend was one of them and wasn't it sad that she died so quickly, joking about it to another agent.

If Ryan had heard it himself, he wasn't sure he wouldn't have done exactly what Tony did. Deck the FBI guy and let the consequences be damned. Joe and Ryan pulled Tony off the Fed, when the Feebee came up swinging and hit Ryan instead of Tony. The other agents present intervened and the fight was quickly subdued.

The agent Tony hit was out for blood, threatening him with charges for assaulting a federal officer, Joe quietly took the man aside and explained how Ryan could also have him charged and since he was an innocent bystander it would not look good on the FeeBee's record, not to mention the repercussions if a civil suit was filed.

Ryan was grateful for all of that, but it didn't make his face hurt any less. Tony was just pissed as hell at him. Angry that Ryan has intervened and was injured. After being yelled at, Ryan currently wasn't speaking to Tony.

Then there was Speed to deal with. He loved his lover but after the past few days he came to the realization that the older man may not feel the same way about him, most likely did not in fact love Ryan. If he did love Ryan then Ryan would have been able to depend on Speed, would have been able to tell the older man about the shooting and ask him to go to Atlanta with him.

Ryan didn't even mention the shooting to Speed, the number of times that Speed had refused to accompany Ryan to both his uncle Ron's home, which was where they lived in Miami and to visit Tony' daughter in Orlando, leading him to believe that the other man would have no interest in accompanying Ryan to Atlanta, even though this was for a crisis.

It hurt that Speed might see Ryan as little more than a friend with benefits. Then Ryan reminded himself that Tony basically dumped him on Speed, not really giving Speed the chance to refuse.

Even if Speed did care about him, did love him, Ryan wanted a partner who would be willing to share his life, good times and bad, be part of his family. A partner who would be willing to stand with him in the waiting room of a hospital waiting to find out if his cousin would live or die. Speed, with his refusal to be part of that portion of Ryan's life, might not really be in this relationship for keeps, even if he did love Ryan.

He caught grief from several people over Speed's absence. He almost felt lucky that he was injured and then yelled at by Tony. Tony would definitely be the one person who would be willing to risk Ryan's temper to question why Speed was not present. Good thing he didn't have the chance before the fists started flying.

Ryan recognized that his thoughts were starting to run in circles and willed his mind to empty. He felt sleep pulling at him and settled in to nap for the short trip to Miami. Regardless of where his relationship was going, there would be strong arms, loving arms surrounding him in a few hours. It was definitely a thought to hold on to after the past few days of emotional ups and downs. Ryan slipped into a restless sleep as the plane coasted up the runway for takeoff. Visions of fists flying, hospital waiting rooms, funeral services and a lover at turns not caring and then leaving him to cope on his own causing his rest to be fitful.


Speed anxiously awaited Ryan's arrival in the terminal. He was waiting at the baggage claim area, several passengers from the flight Ryan was on had already arrived in the area and the conveyor had already started moving bags out from the flight. Ryan was nowhere in sight as yet. Speed thought over the limited contact that they had had the past few days. There was something there, even more so than the small sense that something was wrong before Ryan left.

He had listened to the last message Ryan left him a few times in the past hour. It was good to hear his voice even distorted as it was over a cell phone. The reception must have been worse than usual because Ryan's voice sounded even more distorted than normal.

Speed was beginning to become concerned. Most of the luggage for the flight had already been claimed, the passengers for the flight dispersing and still no sign of Ryan. He had collected Ryan's bags, so he was reasonably certain that the man had gotten on the flight.

Then he saw the younger man slowly picking his way through the crowd. Speed stood there and took in his lover's appearance, drinking it in, God he had missed Ryan and it had only been 3 days. Speed slowly came to realize that something was amiss. For some reason his lover was wearing sunglasses indoors. Ryan hardly ever wore glasses even at the beach and here it was inside and he had them on. Speed filed that away to investigate later, he grabbed the bags and started off to meet his lover halfway through the terminal. Once he was close enough he grabbed the younger man and pulled him close, wrapping his arms around his love and burying his face in the crook of Ryan's neck.

"I missed you," he murmured as he quickly let the younger man go. They had agreed back at the beginning of their relationship: no PDAs, no outing themselves at work. Ryan had insisted on it. Speed was well aware why, but it was getting harder for him to comply. He really wanted to let some of his fellow CSIs know.

Speed pulled back from Ryan and took off the younger man's glasses, wanting to look into the hazel eyes that he loved so much.

"What the hell happened to you?"


Ryan slowly made his way through the concourse. His pain medication, which was the one thing that made the flight from Atlanta bearable, was starting to wear off.

His flight had landed long ago and he was sure that most if not all of his fellow passengers had already claimed their baggage and were well on their way out of the airport.

Ryan had stopped to use the rest room after deplaning and ended up losing his battle with the nausea that had been plaguing him for the past two days. Emptying his stomach of its meager contents. He had not been eating well ever since he had gotten the phone call telling him of Ezra's shooting. His appetite only worsened after he was injured. The pain from his fractured cheekbone paired with the nausea and headache from the concussion guaranteeing to kill his appetite.

Right now he wasn't sure the nausea and hangover-type headache was due to his injuries or a legacy of the pain medication. He wasn't sure the cause even mattered. All he knew was the result made him feel like nine miles of bad road and after a glance in the restroom mirror he knew he looked no better. He had donned sunglasses both because the florescent light bothered his injured eye, and because it hid a good portion of the bruising from the injury. Ryan normally eschewed sunglasses even in the middle of the day in Miami. He knew Tim would notice them first. Knew his love would remove them as soon as he was close enough to the older man.

Ryan had hoped at least in a small way that he would find a message awaiting him from his lover, telling Ryan that the CSI had been called into work. As nice as it would be to have his lover meet him at the airport, as much as it would comfort him and make his exit from the airport easier, Ryan was not looking forward to his lover's questions. And he knew there would be plenty of those.

There had been a message, Speed sounded genuinely happy that Ryan would be home soon. It warmed Ryan's heart and eased some of his earlier fears about his relationship with the snarky older CSI. Fears that Speed did not care for him as much as Ryan cared for, no, loved Speed.

Ryan continued down the concourse. Reaching the baggage claim area he saw Speed standing in a mostly deserted area. The rest of the passengers long gone. Ryan's bags lying at his lover's feet, Speed standing there waiting for him.

Ryan felt a weight shift from his shoulders, just at the sight of his older lover. The sense of relief strong. He saw Speed pick up the bags and walk towards him. His lover dropped the bags and hugged Ryan. This was as close as they could come in a public setting to the type of reunion they really wanted.

"I missed you," Speed murmured to him before quickly ending their embrace.

Speed pulled back from Ryan and took off the younger man's glasses, wanting to look into the hazel eyes that he loved so much. Ryan tensed, he had anticipated this, and he knew it wasn't going to be pretty.

"What the hell happened?" Speed said angrily.

Ryan looked awful, left side of his face swollen to the point the eye was nearly shut. The area colorful with bruises. Speed felt anger building within him. Who dared injure his lover? Ryan was supposed to be safe with his family on this trip. Speed would get to the bottom of what had happened.

Ryan looked at his lover. he could tell the other man was upset.... Alright... okay he was royally pissed, but Ryan really didn't have the reserves to handle an angry Tim Speedle at the moment. He still felt nauseous, slightly dizzy, his head was pounding and his cheek was throbbing. He could use some TLC not shouts. He planned a judicious use of puppy dog eyes and moaning in pain to get his lover to drop the subject at least for now.

Ryan looked at Speed, just the smallest hint of the pain and discomfort he was actually feeling showing in his face. The bruising the only color in the pale face.

"Can we talk about this later- at home- please?" he asked quietly, taking his glasses from Speed, squinting until he placed them back on his face.

Speed was ready to argue until he got a good look at his lover. The younger man was obviously in pain. He also looked tired and pale. Speed worried about the injury to Ryan's eye and fought the urge to call Alexx for advice. He just might do that anyway. The team knew he had a room mate, he just never let them know the true nature of the relationship. They even knew that it was a close friend, he had explained how he was taking in the younger cousin of someone he had known for many years.

Speed sighed and conceded. "Alright Ry, it can wait till we get home." He grabbed the younger man's carry-on in addition to the checked bags and matched his gait to his injured lover. They walked slowly through the terminal. Speed had parked illegally in the leading zone using a Miami-Dade PD parking pass so the walk to the car was short. Ryan was dozing before they had left the airport.


Speed lay on his bed running his fingers through his sleeping lover's hair. When they got home they did NOT talk about what had happened to Ryan. As soon as they reached their front door Ryan had bolted for the bathroom and started retching, though he vomited very little. Speed found him on the floor of the bathroom leaning his head on the commode, too drained to move. Speed helped the younger man strip and get dressed for bed. He then helped him call in sick to work for the night, making arrangements for a department physician to see him in the morning, finally medicating him for pain so that Ryan might actually get some rest.

Once Ryan was settled in the bed, he refused to let Speed leave, trying to actually seduce the older man and getting very upset when his advances were spurned. Speed finally was able to calm his younger lover by holding him and petting him using nonsensical and soothing words and to lull Ryan into slumber.

Speed continued to pet and murmur to Ryan, occasionally kissing the man on his brow or temple, drawing comfort in the fact that he was - for the most part - in one piece.

Speed gently extricated himself from his lover's embrace. He really needed to know what had happened in the short visit that Ryan had with his cousin. Since he wasn't likely to get any answers from Ryan for a while yet, Speed decided to go to the next best source. He took Ryan's cell phone and used it to call his cousin Ezra to find out what the hell happened in Atlanta and why Ryan had been used as a punching bag.


Speed was almost ready to hit something in frustration or maybe throw something -- something loud and breakable. As satisfying as that would be, it would also wake up Ryan.

He had tried many times to contact Ezra, calling his cell phone, his home phone and finally the FBI offices in Atlanta. He even fudged a little and tried using his job, claiming he needed to talk to Agent Standish regarding a case, and still yielded no results. Ezra was totally and completely unavailable.

He then tried Tamilla. He had met the exotic Moroccan beauty only once at her wedding. He still wasn't sure why Tony invited him to Ezra's wedding, but Tony always did have an oddly skewed definition of family. He knew that Tony considered him family even before he became involved with Ryan.

That was a big part of the reason why he had avoided any of the family trips that Ryan took. Speed was loath to be confronted for taking advantage of the younger man. He almost didn't start a relationship with Ryan at all, because he feared that his friend Tony would be upset by their love affair. In the end, he couldn't ignore the fact that he had fallen in love with the younger man, and to cope Speed stayed away from any situation that would bring him into contact with Ryan's family. So far, it seemed to be working. No angry family members had come pounding on his door.

After unsuccessfully trying to contact Ezra through his wife who also was not answering her cell phone and upon calling her job being rudely hung up on, he called Tony. Speed had been avoiding his call for months, and now he was forced into it. Again, he was unable to contact his friend at Tony's home or at his job. Speed received another rude reply from whomever answered the phone in Tony's section of the Philly PD, advising him to tell Tony he had better brush up on his resume.

Even Tony's cell phone, the one that was always answered, went unanswered. Speed left messages both on Tony's home and cell phones. In the end, none of his messages were returned.

Ryan's cell phone, which Speed had been holding, started ringing. Speed did not recognize the number or area code, and Ryan had only marked the number with a single initial in his phonebook instead of a full name, but Speed decided to answer it, hoping whoever was calling could provide some answers for him. He was surprised by the voice of the other end. The caller, a female, started talking before Speed even had a chance to say hello.

"Ryan, how are you feeling? Is your eye okay? Mom is worried about you," the caller said before being cut off by Speed.

Initially, Speed wasn't sure who the female caller was. The voice was vaguely familiar, but he wasn't positive until the word mother was mentioned. It could only be Melissa. He had hoped that Tony would get back to him, but he could settle for talking to the street smart NYPD officer. Even if she couldn't tell him what happened, she could probably tell him where Ezra was and why he couldn't get hold of either Ezra or his wife. Besides, she had to know something that much was evident from the little she had said thus far... she knew Ryan had been hurt, she as much as said so already. One thing Speed knew for sure: Tony's "family" cared for Ryan and if he was injured they would all know about it and know how it happened.

"Hey Melissa... right? This is Speed, Ryan's uh -- roommate, Ryan's sleeping right now. When he got back to Miami, he was really wiped so he went straight to bed. I've been trying to get in touch with Ezra to find out what happened. Would you happen to know how Ry got injured?"

The tone of the voice on the other end of the line took on a distinct chill, the type that would freeze hell in an instant. Roommate??!! That's all Ryan was to this man, his Roommate?!? "Hello Mr. Speedle, yes I do know how Ryan was injured." It sounded like she was saying FUCK YOU to him, in the nicest possible way of course. This was the attitude he had been trying to avoid. He was already a pariah with his own family; he didn't need to fulfill that position in this one too. Melissa had been brought up in a wealthy family and knew how to act imperiously when the situation demanded it. She was playing the rich disdainful bitch to the hilt, for all that she was a civil servant the same as he was.

"I'll let E-ezra know you are trying to reach him. I will try and contact Ryan at another time. Good day Mr. Speedle." Mel's voice cracked slightly when speaking her brother's name. She hoped that she had caught enough of it so that bastard didn't get the satisfaction of knowing he hurt her. He sent poor Ryan alone to face this and then acted as if there was no problem.

That Bitch! She was about to hang up on him, and she knew what happened to Ryan. And she wasn't willing to tell him!!!

Speed could hear it in her voice, she was going to hang up on him! Since Tony wasn't returning his phone calls this was his only chance to find out what happened to his lover.

"No please, uh Mel, please, don't hang up!" Speed said emphatically then paused to collect his thoughts. He blew out a sigh. "Listen, I'm sorry, I know you probably don't want to talk to me, I'm probably the last person in the world you want to talk to, but I really need to know what happened to Ryan."

Speed could have sworn he heard the sound of crying on the other end of the phone line. He wasn't surprised by the cold reception from the people who were closest to Ryan. His younger lover was not that close to his own parents, but he had cobbled together, with help from Tony and Ezra, a family that truly loved him. Speed had expected them to be opposed to their relationship, most families are not thrilled to find out their child is gay. Then, to add insult to injury, the person who was supposed to be his protector in a new city seducing him into a homosexual relationship was definitely not an act that would endear him to them.

The crying -- the crying definitely threw him though. It was more than casual "girl" tears and more like her heart was shattering as each sob left her. There was no reason for her to be crying over the relationship that he had with Ryan. It wasn't the end of the world or anyone dying. He was about to say as much when the voice on the phone changed.


Tony had been trying to sleep. It seemed like years since he had last had a good night's sleep. More likely it had been months, well maybe 6 weeks, since he had been able to get a full night's sleep. His mind was too blurred by exhaustion to calculate it correctly and the fact he was thinking this was a clear indicator of just how tired he was.

The case he had been working in Philly was high profile and had consumed all of his time. Nights and weekends were spent at work rather than home resting. The case had been still open when he left Philly with his captain yelling at him not to come back as he walked out of the man's office. Oh well, he had been thinking of leaving anyway. Seemed like 2 years was his average life expectancy at a job and he had been in PA nearly that long already. There was no power on earth that would have kept him from Atlanta. He could always get another job; family and especially cousins however, were not so easily replaced.

If the past few months at work had not allowed him too much sleep, then the past week had not allowed more than 20 minutes of sleep at a time. Quick cat naps usually leaning on someone at the hospital. Generally Mel or Joe, sometimes Mary, Ryan too at least while the younger man had still been speaking to him, before Ryan went back to Miami.

Tony's not sleeping was a product not only of his worry for Ezra but the burning hot anger he harbored towards Ezra's coworkers. Let's not forget the guilt. No one else knew that he had been using Ezra's contacts to aid the investigation of the case he was working in Philly. He really worried that he had stirred something up - something that Ezra paid the price for. In addition, he got in a fight with one of those pricks that Ezra worked with, that didn't bother him. Ryan getting hurt as a result of that fight, that bothered him, A LOT.

Tony had just settled into a restless sleep leaning on Mel's shoulder. She had insisted he sit with her and then coaxed him into sleep. She was almost as worried about him as she was about Ezra. His behavior for the past few days was worrisome, not eating, not sleeping, decking federal agents, and the most troubling behavior of all, arguing with Ryan.

Tony wouldn't talk about it so the best Mel could do was make sure he rested, well get at least as much rest as was possible considering where they were, and to get him to eat.

Tony's "pillow" moved slightly, and he frowned in his slumber, restless though it was. Then it moved again, the next thing he knew he was hearing muffled sobs. He hated to hear sobs, especially female sobs, certain female sobs. He came awake with a start, fearing that something had happened while he was sleeping, that his cousin had taken a turn for the worse or - no, he didn't even want to think it. Tony looked around, quickly searching for the cause of Mel's distress. Then he saw the phone in her hand. He had no idea who could be calling and upsetting her this much, but he was going to make sure they knew not to bother her again.

Tony took the phone from his "sister". He heard the last word of the conversation, it was enough to let him know that whoever she was talking to knew Ryan but not enough to identify the caller.

As Tony confronted the person on the phone, Mel's brother Joe came to comfort her. While she was crying, she kept saying over and over again, "I am going to Miami, and I am going to kick his ass from South Beach to the Everglades and you can't stop me."

Joe had no intention from stopping his sister, none whatsoever.

"Who is this and what do you want?" Tony said gruffly into the cell phone. So gruffly that it was more a statement than a question. He had passed the point of niceties days ago.

"Tony? Man, I've been trying to reach you. It's Speed, Ryan came home from Atlanta today looking like he went 5 rounds with Tyson. What the hell happened there?"

Tony held on to his temper through sheer willpower. He knew his cousin loved the scruffy CSI, but right now even though Speed was a close friend, Tony wanted to knock his teeth in or break a rib or three. Nothing permanent, just... painful.

He decided to play it cool. "It happened just how you think it happened. You're a CSI, the mechanism of injury should be obvious to you, it's a classic injury, pretty much only one way to achieve it, fist met face and face lost."

Of course Speed knew the mechanics of the injury, but he wanted more. Most notably how the hell did Ryan get what was most likely a bar fight injury.

"Yeah, Tone thanks, I figured that part out all on my own. Now how the hell did it happen?" Speed said with all of his trademarked sarcasm.

Tony's willpower snapped. He felt guilty enough for his part in Ryan's injury but having Speed question him about it when Speed couldn't even be bothered to come and be with Ryan while Ezra was critically injured.... It was just too much for Tony to hear and still stay polite.

"What the fuck do you care, huh Speedle? I mean really, Ryan can't mean all that much to you. You couldn't even be bothered to be with him when he needed you most. You let him come and face this all by himself and now you're concerned for his well-being. Too little too late Speedle."

Tony was practically yelling by the end of his statement. Mel and Joe were next to him, attempting to calm him down. The last thing they needed was for Tony to be kicked out of the hospital for making a scene.

Tony acknowledged Mel and Joe with a wave of his hand. He took a deep breath to calm himself and awaited Speed's response.

Speed listened to his friend, well, right now, it seemed more like former friend, yell at him over the phone. Speed didn't think he had ever heard Tony as angry before in all the time he knew Tony. Something didn't ring true though. Tony was angry, actually mad as hell was probably a more accurate description for his mood. The reason he was upset was all wrong.

Speed expected to be called several derogatory, even homophobic names, denounced as a seducer of young innocents. What he got was a tongue lashing from not one but two people for letting Ryan "face" something on his own. WTF???!!! Face what??? It's not as if he sent him to face those idiots who call themselves his parents.

Speed sent him on a trip to visit his cousin in Atlanta - a cousin who Ryan was close to and one who was expecting a new baby. Speed assumed Ryan had gone for the birth of the baby. During the conversation, Speed had made his way to their kitchen and sat down at the table. He crossed his arms and lay his head on them. Speed let out a sigh and gathered his thoughts. He had to think like a CSI now. He had no evidence; he didn't even have enough information to make an educated guess. He needed to get more information.

"What the hell are you talking about, DiNozzo? Face what? Were his parents there? Maude? WHO HURT RYAN????!!! I put him on a plane for Atlanta in one piece to visit one of his closest relatives, and he comes back injured and all I am getting from you is the fucking runaround." He didn't raise his voice, but there was no doubt he meant business, serious and deadly, in defense of Ryan. His temper was fraying from nothing but the seeming runaround that he had gotten thus far.

Something penetrated Tony's fog of anger. The young Italian rarely let his temper get the better of him. He had learned at a young age the damage an uncontrolled temper could cause. His father was a good role model in that at least.

Speed was not only wondering what happened to Ryan; he was clearly upset by the injury. It wasn't just the dutiful lover doing what was expected, a rote action. Tony truly listened to Speed this time. Speed thought Ryan had gone to Atlanta for a visit to see the baby -- could it be that those stubborn DiNozzo genes reared their ugly head again, and Ryan didn't even tell Speed about the shooting? It would be exactly the kind of thing that that stubborn kid would do.

Tony shook his head and rubbed his hand through his lank hair. He really needed to go to the hotel room that Mary had arranged for the family; he needed a shower and a change of clothes badly.

"Speed, what did Ryan tell you about his trip to Atlanta?"

"He told me he was going to see his cousin and the baby," Speed replied quickly and impatiently without even thinking about his answer.

"Are you sure those were his words?" Tony was willing to bet that they weren't, apparently Ryan had learned more about the "art of prevarication" than either Tony or Ezra realized. "Think carefully about what he said," Tony continued, wanting to get to the bottom of this issue. He was beginning to think that Speed wasn't the ogre that the entire family, including Tony, had made him out to be.

Speed really thought about the discussion he had with Ryan the day before he left Miami. The younger man didn't really come out and say anything. He just told Speed he had to go to Atlanta and that he had arranged some days off from work. Ryan asked for a lift to the airport. Speed was the one who assumed that Ryan was going because the baby had been born.

Now Speed was back to wanting to throw something. He should know his lover better than this by now. The man had been in a strange mood before he left. Speed had known something was up but wasn't sure what it was. Judging by the reaction of Ryan's family whatever it was, it was important.

"Actually now that you mention it, he never really said much about it other than he was going and where. I guess I supplied the details myself. What happened Tony?" Speed was marginally calmer now. It seemed he was finally going to get some answers.

Damn -- he could really hate Ryan if the little shit wasn't already hurt. Tony had been meaning to have this conversation with Speed. He had wanted to find out why one of his best friends was treating his cousin like a glorified whore -- willing to sleep with him but unwilling to come out as a couple in a safe environment. He had a feeling there was more to the story, and he had been preoccupied with his job so he had let the conversation go, figuring he would get around to it eventually.

Now fate had forced his hand. He could no longer avoid this conversation. In addition, he had to tell Speed about Tammy's death and Ezra's critical injury. Tony moved out into the hallway and walked down the corridor. He wanted to get some fresh air for this discussion. Every time he relived what happened to Ezra, he felt claustrophobic as if he couldn't breathe.

"There's no easy way to say this. Ryan came to Atlanta because Ezra was the target of a drive by shooting." Speedle interjected with "Oh my-" and Tony continued, cutting him off, "Tamilla almost didn't make it to the hospital. They took the baby, and she died a short time later. The baby is in the NICU. The docs are... damn how did they term it... cautiously optimistic that she will live, but she could have problems." Tony took a deep breath to steady himself and once again ran his hand through his dirty hair. He really, really needed that shower.

"What about Ezra?" Speed asked quietly. He knew how close Ryan, Tony and Ezra were to one another, and he had been given was, if Ezra was dead, it would be a thousand times worse.

Tony blew out another breath and answered, "It's still touch and go. He's in the ICU; we can see him every hour for fifteen minutes, only two of us. It's bad, Speed, really bad. Ryan really could have used you here. He needed you man."

To Be Continued

Safety And Comfort Index On to: Full Circle

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