A/N: As promised, something I wrote a couple of years ago, after the end of Season Three, when Ray turned out not to be dead and Yelina just got on a plane without any questions or hesitations and I wondered how on earth she could be so compliant.... This is the result.
Disclaimer: I do not own CSI Miami, the characters or the plots. All of those belong to Bruckheimer and CBS.
Yelina continued to stroke Ray Jr’s head gently, though the boy had fallen asleep hours ago. On his other side, Raymond was also asleep. She chanced a look over at him, her husband
, trying to make some sense of it all. Her husband was alive. It was such an alien concept. How could this be possible? Why was this happening? And how could he possibly have fallen asleep when she still had so many questions?
When she had first seen him, she had thought she was hallucinating. But Raymond had not disappeared when she blinked and he was real. Really here and really alive. Ray Jr had been so excited – and remarkably accepting – so she had let her son talk, asking all sorts of questions that Raymond had, for the most part, avoided. Eventually, the excitement and emotion had been too much for Ray and he had fallen asleep, his head pillowed on his mother’s lap. Yelina had looked across hopefully, glad that she now had an opportunity to ask her own questions, only to find Raymond yawning.
“We’ll have plenty of time to talk later,” he had assured her, before yawning again and closing his eyes.
She stared at him – her husband, that still sounded strange – trying to recognise him from her memories. He looked older. Yelina felt a flash of anger at herself. Of course he would look older! He had been gone six years. Six years….so much had happened. To her as well as to him. They weren’t the same people anymore. Certainly, she didn’t feel like she knew him. She had always thought that Raymond loved her and Ray Jr more than anything. Clearly, she had been wrong. If he had truly loved them, he would never have put them through the charade of his death. Then again, both Horatio and Raymond claimed he had had no choice. Perhaps they were right. Perhaps.
Even if Raymond had done this out of love, the question remained: did she still love him? She had adored him when they were married. Theirs had been a passionate affair that had not dulled through years of marriage. Oh, there had been arguments. She had a quick, hot temper and so did he, but they never fought for long.
But when he died, she had grieved. There had been days when she could barely get out of bed. But she had no choice but to cope. She had a young son who had just lost his father and pride would not let her accept too much help. So she had grieved, but she had coped. And, in time, the pain became bearable. And it had faded. She would never have truly got over his loss, but she had realised that her life had not ended with his. Love was not necessarily gone forever; she might get a second chance.
Love. Yelina bit her lip to keep tears from spilling down her face. She had thought she had found love again. Horatio. For a while, she had assumed it was just a matter of time until they got together. She could see the way he looked at her, she had felt the heat of his gaze as it lingered on her when he thought she wasn’t looking. It was odd, how one brother could be so totally different from the other. Those differences, and there were times when Horatio and Raymond were polar opposites, had not prevented her from loving both of them. In different ways, yes, but she had loved them both. And both had let her down.
Madison was a beautiful child and Yelina had not been able to deny the familial likeness, though in truth the child did resemble Horatio more closely than her father. A sick child was every mother’s nightmare and Yelina, despite her anger and sense of betrayal, could not walk away from an innocent child who needed help. After all, it was hardly Madison’s fault that her father was an adulterous idiot who apparently never listened to anyone’s advice. She swallowed a surge of anger. She had begged him to leave Narcotics, to stop working undercover, but Raymond had assured her, with that infamous Caine arrogance, that everything would be all right.
Yelina looked away, out of the window, unwilling to look at him while she sifted through the myriad of emotions tumbling through her. She had felt betrayed by Horatio when she thought Madison was his daughter and, if she was being honest with herself, that was what had driven her into Stetler’s arms. She had dated him to spite Horatio, so that she could see that momentary surprise and pain that had flared in his eyes. If it had been Raymond, he would have fought for her, refused to let her go. But Horatio had stepped aside, sacrificing himself for her happiness.
Or what he thought was her happiness. Stetler was nice enough, as far as it went, but he wasn’t Raymond. Or Horatio for that matter. She sighed. Rick tried hard, very hard, but he seemed to know he was fighting against shadows. The shadow of the dead husband, because death always makes a loved one perfect, and the shadow of Horatio, perfect because he was unobtainable. That had led to more arguments than she cared to think of. Unconsciously, she touched her eye, touched where the bruise had been. It wasn’t really Rick’s fault, any more than the bruises he carried were hers. He had apologised and tried to make it up to her, but both had realised that day that it would never work. That perhaps, Rick was using her to irritate Horatio just as much as she was using him for the same purpose.
That had left her alone again and once again despairing over ever finding love. But Raymond wasn’t dead, he was sitting only one seat away from her, their son forming a bridge between them. Was he the answer? Did she love him? And here she was, back where she started.
The plane started its descent into Rio de Janeiro and Yelina still had no idea what she thought or felt about the entire mess. The only emotion she could identify was anger at Horatio for not telling her his suspicions from the start. Then at least she might have been more prepared for this day. It was odd, and perhaps telling, that her emotions were more focused on Horatio than Raymond. But Horatio, whatever his faults, would never have acted like this. If it had been a choice of going to prison or putting his family through the horrific knowledge of his death, Horatio would have gone to prison. Raymond had chosen the easier option. Easier for him, at any rate.
He yawned as he woke up, stretched and grinned at her. “Nearly there now.”
“Nearly where?” It wasn’t the first question that sprung to mind. That honour still fell to how the hell could you do this to me?
But she had to know where they were going and what was meant to happen when they got there.
He shrugged. “Horatio said he’d sorted everything out. He’s still the same perfect Horatio isn’t he?” Yelina bristled at the insult in his tone. Raymond had always resented how he was second best to his brother and couldn’t see that he was only second best because he complained so much. If he’d just get on with life, he’d realise that Horatio saw no competition between them, and that Raymond had no need to compete. She shook her head and looked away. Raymond was still Raymond. She wasn’t sure he’d changed much at all.
Then Ray Jr woke up and Yelina had to swallow every question and angry word until they were alone in their new apartment. Rio felt similar to Miami, both cities pulsing to the beat of salsa music, yet it was different. The smells, the taste of the air – everything was different. The slight similarities only served to heighten how much she already missed Miami. Once again, however, she had to cope, because someone had to be the parent that Ray Jr needed. So she smiled and laughed and pretended that everything was all right and that she was as excited as her son to have Dad back from the dead.
When she had sent Ray to bed, she steeled herself for the confrontation that had to come. She walked back into their small living room unsure what she was going to say but grateful for the chance to finally say it, only to find Raymond yawning again. Disbelief warred with anger as he kissed the corner of her mouth. “What do you say we go to bed early?” he whispered, and Yelina had to fight the instinctive reaction to his voice so close to her skin. Her legs wanted to give way, her arms wanted to hold him and her lips longed to kiss him, but she forced herself to step back.
“We need to talk.”
“We’ll have time for that later.” Raymond stepped closer again and Yelina held her arm out, trying to maintain distance.
“No. I need to know now. Why did you do this?”
“I thought Horatio had explained everything.” Raymond’s eyes were sparkling with anger and she wondered what he had to be angry about. She was the one whose life had been turned upside down. She was the one who had been lied to.
“I don’t want Horatio’s explanations, I want yours!”
Raymond looked at her for a long moment and she knew what has caused the anger. “That’s not how I heard it,” he said softly.
“I ….” She trailed off. How to explain that she had only turned to Horatio after Raymond had died? That Horatio had never done anything to encourage her affections, however much he might return them? She sighed and ran her hand through her hair. “Raymond, I always wanted just you. But you let me think you had died
“And my dear older brother was there to pick up the pieces.”
“Oh for God’s sake stop feeling sorry for yourself!” She took a step towards him and this time it was Raymond who retreated. “Stop blaming Horatio for everything. You chose this Raymond, you caused all this. Just tell me why!”
“Because I let myself be less than perfect to you,” he said simply. “Better that I was dead than you knew the truth. I couldn’t bear the fact that you would be disappointed in me, ashamed of me.”
“Oh.” She had been waiting for the selfish answer that he couldn’t go to prison. This wasn’t much better, but it was unexpected, and that was enough to silence her anger. For now at least. She sighed again, shaking her head. “I would never have stopped loving you. Whatever you had done, I would always have loved you.”
“What about now?”
“Do you still love me now?” He paused, bit his lip, and looked so uncertain that it took all her willpower not to kiss him. “Or is there …. someone else?”
She heard the unasked question. Did she love Horatio? That one, at least, she had an answer to. “There’s no one else,” she said with complete honesty and he smiled. “But I don’t know if I still love you the way I did.” His smile faltered and he stepped towards her.
“Yelina, I always loved you. Right from the moment I saw you, I loved you.” Slowly, he reached for her, and took her in his arms. “I know what I did was wrong, but we can work it out. I promise you, everything will be all right.” That was one character trait the brothers shared. When either of them said it would be all right, it took a stronger personality than hers to disbelieve it. “It will be all right Lina,” he repeated and she smiled at the old nickname.
She still wasn’t sure that it would be all right, she thought, staring up at the face of the man she had loved for so long. She still wasn’t sure, but as he kissed her, tremulous at first, then hungrily, passionately, she decided that it might just work. And they owed each other that much. They owed each other a second chance.