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Summary: Secrecy. Annoying. Stuck-up. If you were to ask Eric Delko to describe his co-worker, Ryan Wolfe, these would be the words you would here. Speed, a link between them unknown to Eric, lets loose a secret. Ryan has a daughter whom he's raised himself since her infancy. Only knowing of Ryan's Uncle Ron, Eric finds himself thrust into a chaotic world of Ryan's family, learning that he's already unintentionally been ranting to two of the members about him. Learning the secrets to the OCD, the secrecy, and the carefully hidden pain brings new understanding and feelings to the fore as the CSI: MIami crew is allowed to know what makes Ryan Wolfe tick.

Updated: 04 Dec 2009; Published: 08 Oct 2009

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Chapter 1- Reality Check

Ryan cursed himself as his tired mind strayed towards thoughts usually reserved for times he was drinking. He was glad that the department was keeping him on, even though Speedle was back from his recovery and physical therapy, but the abuse he suffered from Calleigh and Eric's indifference and the constant belittling of his skills was wearing him down bit by bit.

He had made his own home amongst the Miami DADE Criminalistics Dept-Alexx cared for him like he was her son, he had a good relationship with small chunk of the lab techs, a few friends from patrol, and he at least had some respect from Horatio. He knew not many in the department cared whether he left or not, but at least he had Alexx and Speedle. Of course no one knew about his and Speed's friendship: he hadn't wanted to use it as some sort of leverage in order to get sympathy from the people in the lab. He stood up, streching and yawning, and made his way towards Trace. He shook the depressing thoughts from his head, clearing it to begin working on the few murders that had occurred already this morning.

Ryan sighed once more as he slouched out of the locker room. He was tired, but when you have a sick child that was the norm. He hated flu season with a passion. Even if they did live in the tropics you could still catch the damn virus, especially when it's the middle of flu season and the child in public school. He wouldn't change it for the world though-he loved his dear Anastasia to pieces, ever since he laid his eyes on the little pink bundle in that alley six years ago. From then on it had been him and his little Anya. She was what kept him going in the darker times of his life. Besides that his whole little family adored her-hell, Anya and Remy must have had the best childhoods ever with so many people trying so hard to raise them like they would have liked to have been raised. They were the little lights of the family; even Speed did his best by the little girl he saw as a niece.

Remington, "Remy" Ace Wolfe, was Angelica's, Ryan's elder sister, son. She had adopted him when a girlfriend of hers' died during child birth. They had both been in college and Maria, the mother, had broken up with her army boyfriend when he had been deployed. He was killed in the line of duty. Neither of their parents would recognize the boy as their grandchild, leaving Angelica as the only person who Maria considered family to take the child in. The little boy was instantly loved and cared for in the Wolfe family.

Ryan's other sister, Adina, was Timothy Speedle's long time girlfriend. Despite the seven year age difference, they both loved each other unconditionally. Her child like mind caused him to laugh more than anything could due to his job. She was a certified genius though, with an IQ of 215, she ran circles around everyday people. She usually worked with computers, consulted with various agencies and wrote programs to keep things secret and block people out, dealing mostly with confidential things. This didn't deter her from her innocence though, the smallest of things could amuse her, her mind flying through equations or how they worked. They balanced each other out, breaking themselves out of their fixations to just relax together.

Ryan was in Trace now, trying to identify the type of lubricant found at the scene of the Miranda Jacobs murder. Speedle and Delko walked in, quietly discussing a case.

Delko merely nodded to him, but Speed spoke up, "Hey Ry, how's it going, Anya feeling any better?"

Ryan could tell Eric was confused. He didn't know of the relationship between the two and he had no idea who Anya was. Ryan smiled tiredly.

"She's alright now, she's at Adina's. I'm almost dead on my feet, she was sick for a large part of the night."

Speed winced. "I feel for ya man, you must be exhausted judging by the dark bags beneath your eyes. I still don't get how you or Angelica could raise kids by yourselves; it looks like you'd rather keel over than live some days."

Eric's mouth dropped open in shock. He didn't know Wolfe had a kid, or that he was raising them by himself! Ryan narrowed his eyes at Speed-the man knew that he had purposely not told anyone he had a daughter; he hadn't wanted anyone to judge him for what they wouldn't understand. Eric stared at Ryan as if he had grown another head. Wolfe, the stuck up rich brat Eric had thought him to be, was a single parent? He stared as Ryan closed his tired eyes and sighed, shaking his head as he answered Speed.

"Yeah well, I knew I just couldn't let her be in the system, Speed. I grew up in it, I know what it's like and I don't want an innocent girl like her having to go through something like that too."

Ryan knew that once Eric knew about Anya he'd find out she was adopted and then why he had adopted her. Besides, what was the point? It was all going to come out some time, and like Mama Ro always said, "There ain't no better time than the present."

Eric felt the little file he had of Ryan in the back of his head spontaneously combust. Everything he had hypothesized about Wolfe's childhood went up in flames, despite how well he thought he'd read Ryan. Being in the system meant he had been alone for at least some length of time-no parents, no family, nothing. He had been all alone. Eric stared at the youngest member of the CSI team, trying to make Ryan opaque, as if that would make him easier to read. Eric suddenly wanted to learn all the dark secrets Ryan hid from the small dysfunctional CSI family they had become. In fact, a thought suddenly struck him: did any of them know the real Ryan? Did the one person closest to Ryan in the entire lab, Alexx?

Speed smiled at the comical expression on Eric's face.

Deciding to add more fuel to the fire he said, "Yeah, but you have a soft spot for Anya; I mean you've raised her since you found her in the alley near Mama Ro's coming home from your classes that night. Hell, you fought tooth and nail to adopt her when you got out of the Police Academy. You forget Damien and I were right there watching as you took care of her more than Mama Ro did, and she was the one who was supposed to be legally caring for her."

He tried to hide his amusement, but it really was too funny. Eric Delko was learning what Ryan Verrill Wolfe was really like, behind the shield he wore to outside world. This was just the first step; Speedle hid the conspiring look that tried to cross his face and allowed the amusement to show instead, gaining a glare from Ryan. He'd have to tell the others who were helping. Hell hath neither fury nor strength as the women in these two men's lives. The women had finally decided to take action, it was frightening.

Eric became even more puzzled as people he didn't know were mentioned; he was already realizing that Speed had other friends he didn't know about, which seemed to include the mysterious Ryan Wolfe. But he felt as if he was getting an information overload-things, apparently, were not as they seemed. He needed a few minutes to re-organize everything he thought he knew and what he actually did know. Noticing this, Ryan chuckled tiredly as he rose off the stool to leave, giving Eric a reprieve.

"If you will both excuse me, I have evidence to give Horatio for the Jacobs case." With that Ryan walked out, leaving a stupefied Eric and a bemused Speed behind.

Eric slumped down on the stool Ryan had just vacated. His little profile of Ryan, something he had been so sure of, had been dismantled and rebuilt in the span of a few minutes. It mystified him how Ryan had been able to hide such important things from them so easily. So, being the investigator that he was, he turned his head toward someone he knew would give him at least some answers-Timothy Speedle. Eric's eyes, still filled with confusion stared at his friend, who was staring after his pseudo brother-in-law. When Speedle turned back towards him, brown eyes still amused, Eric knew somehow that he'd just tipped the world on its axis on purpose.

Eric Delko rallied all of his confusion and anger and pointed it at his long time friend. "What the hell is going on Speed? What's this all about?"

Speed cracked a grin at his friend. Hopefully this would bring about a larger understanding between the two men.

"I figured you needed to finally get to know the man behind the mask, so to speak. Ryan is very protective of himself and his family. I know you already figured out he was in foster care, and that's part of the reason he is the way he is. However, he still needs to learn to loosen up and you need to back off on the hostility front. I know you were pissed I got shot and was pulled off the active duty roster for a while, but you shouldn't have taken your anger out on him. It's kinda detrimental to the progress we, as in our family, were making with him. Hell, we're lucky as it is he's still as open as he is, butwe have Anastasia to thank for that."

Speed sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. "Why don't you, Ryan and I go have a few beers tonight? We can tell you some stories and hopefully I can convince him to loosen up around you and let you into the inner fold," he said.

At Eric's nod, Timothy Speedle's grin became almost luminous and he left the lab to find his youngest brother-in-law. Speed smirked as he made his way towards Horatio's office-their plan was working. He shuddered slightly as he thought about the five women who had cornered him and told him he was going to help them lock those two in the proverbial closet. Alexx, Marisol, Adina, Zurie, Angelica, Evita Delko (Eric's Mother), and Rona Wolfe were all very scary, even if they weren't in the immediate vicinity. Even without Angelica and Rona it was enough to scare him into to helping. Hell, he knew even H would have given into their demands. Speaking of which. A slow smile spread across his face as he got into the elevator to go down; maybe that wasn't a bad idea. Bringing Horatio into this mess would take some of the burden off of him and he would only get part of the blame when all of this collapsed on itself. Because only the heavens above could help them when it did collapse; after all, that is what happened to most evil machinations created by women, wasn't it?

He quickly smothered the smirk on his face as he rounded a corner to see Ryan, Horatio, and Natalia all discussing the evidence for the Jacobs case. When Natalia left, Speed made his approach. Wrapping an arm around Ryan's shoulders and leveling his gaze at Horatio he innocently smiled, causing Ryan to stare at him warily.

"H, you mind if I borrow Ryan for a minute? I need to ask him about something. Alexx needs to see you too," he said.

Horatio eyed him for a moment before turning to Ryan, "Good job, Ryan. When you're done with Speed call Tripp and go pick Daniels up."

With that, Horatio turned and left, never knowing of the trap Speed had laid for him while he was in the elevator. Speedle was NOT going to suffer alone. Ryan stared at Speed with apprehension; he had a feeling there was more going on but he had nothing to back up that theory. For one, he was still slightly pissed at Speed for telling Eric about Anya-only Horatio and Alexx knew of her which was one of the reasons she had stayed safe so far here in Miami. The rest of the unease he felt was coming from the fact that since now Eric knew about Anya, everything else was going to come out, making the shields he'd placed around him that much harder to keep up. Calleigh would not be happy with him. He had opened up a bit to her recently and keeping something as big as a daughter from her would hurt her greatly, but at least she couldn't be too hurt since she wasn't the only one he hadn't told.
"Ry, would you mind too terribly coming to get a beer and some dinner with me and Eric after work? He wants an explanation and you know you could use a few more friends around here besides me and Alexx."

The dark brown eyes were worse than a kicked puppy's, Ryan surmised. You couldn't say no to them, nor could you lash out at the person behind them.

"I suppose. Just no embarrassing stories, alright? I'm tired enough as it is," he sighed, shaking his head wearily.

The grin he got was almost worth the headache he felt starting to pound at his temple. This was going to be a long day. . .