brit_columbia (brit_columbia) wrote,
brit_columbia
brit_columbia

FAKE First Year Together:Justice (June), Chapter 19

Dear FAKE readers,

I have decided to make a change in both the length and the frequency of my chapters. I know that back when I did the poll, most people said they wanted me to keep the chapters long. On average, pretty much all of my chapters have been around ten thousand words. But that's a lot to come up with, and it means I can't post often enough to hold the interest of my readers. The last chapter (chapter 18) of this story I posted got the weakest response ever of any of my long chapters. I don't know for sure why that was, but I can take a few guesses. Of course, it wasn't a sexy or romantic chapter, but other chapters have been equally devoid of sex and affection, and yet people still commented. I don't think Chapter 18 was significantly lower in quality than my other chapters, so it couldn't have been that. It probably had more to do with the fact that there had been a long, long wait since Chapter 17, and I believe that everyone just put the story out of their minds and got busy with other things. When there are long waits between chapters, it's easy to forget all the plot threads, and then a person feels that have to go back and refresh, but there are so many chapters to refresh, that it becomes a huge, onerous project that few people have time for. I speak from experience because exactly the same thing happened to me with the Harry Potter series! (Please don't kill me, HP fans) I read up to the fifth book because they were already in print, but then had to wait a year for the sixth book to come out. During that time I forgot a lot of the plotty 'Balls in the air" that JK Rowling had going, and I knew I would have to reread the other books just to be able to comfortably take up all the threads again and properly enjoy it. I never got around to it, so I never finished the series. Someday, when I'm less swamped at work, I'll take some time and read all the HP books back to back. But I don't know when that will be. The sense of urgency that I had after I finished Book 5 has been gone for a long time now.

I think something like that has been happening with readers of Justice. Now, I don't in any way mean to compare myself to JK Rowling, so please don't misunderstand me. I'm relating my experience of what happened to me as a reader and what my feelings were.

Anyway, I have decided to try a new experiment for the next few months. Shorter chapters, approximately 5000 words or so, published more frequently. Maybe some of the readers I have lost will come back if they can read updates every two or three weeks instead of every two or three (or more) months.

If that doesn't work, I might consider going to 2000 words every one or two weeks, but I'll cross that bridge when and if I come to it.

Chapter 20 should be up in two weeks. Three at the most.


FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June), chapter 19

by Brit Columbia

Fandom: FAKE
Pairing: Dee and Ryo
Timeline: Set after my big story FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May). Both Justice and A New Day are set after Volume 7 of FAKE
Summary: Dee and Ryo are hunting the dangerous and corrupt Lieutenant Abernathy, but he'll take them down first, if he can. It's been Cat and Mouse so far, with no side emerging with a clear advantage.
Rating: This chapter is worksafe.
Disclaimer: FAKE, featuring Dee, Ryo, Bikky, Carol, The Chief, Drake, Ted, JJ, Diana, and Berkely was created by Sanami Matoh. I make no claim on FAKE or Ms. Matoh or any of her characters. I just write fanfiction about them because I love the FAKE world so much.
Author's Notes: Shantaya, Rick Romero, Officer Banks and Detectives Fielding, Clayton, Greenspan and Massey are my characters.
Thank you to 
the_ladyfeather and tripple_p for beta-reading this chapter for me. Also to  loki_the_fraud for locational help and travel logistics in NYC!

Recently In Justice: Dee and Ryo discovered where Ja Romeo was temporarily staying, and managed to get a warrant to raid the place. Unfortunately for them, Ja Romeo (AKA Rick Romero) escaped. Ryo was lucky enough to question a woman who knew the address of Ja Romeo's hooker-girlfriend, so he went there to try to question him. Shantaya wouldn't let him in, and after she left, Rick cooked up a plan to get Ryo in some serious trouble. Fortunately, Bikky discovered the plan, and is on his way to warn Ryo. He also wants to tell Ryo that at Rick and Shantaya's apartment, he saw an old backpack that had belonged to his friend Eddie Calvetti before Eddie was murdered. In other news, Detective Greenspan seems to have acquired a rather high-maintenance puppy-- thanks to the machinations of Diana!

Justice, chapter 19: A Toil and a Snare

Ryo's cell phone vibrated and sang in his pocket as he walked out of Morton Williams carrying two paper bags full of groceries. He looked around for a place where he could set one of the bags so that he could get his phone out of his pocket. By the time he found an empty cart, his phone had stopped ringing. He squinted at the screen of his phone in the bright sunlight, wishing he had his reading glasses. Who had called him? Oh, it was Bikky! He felt excited as he thumbed the call button. This was the first time in a week that Bikky had willingly called him. Maybe his son was finally ready to forgive him over the horse ranch issue.

Unfortunately, his call went straight to voice mail. Disappointed, Ryo left him a message. "Bikky? Were you trying to call me? I'll check my messages, then I'll try you again. By the way, I'm getting us steaks for tonight! We're gonna have a really good dinner. Talk to you soon, okay?" He ended the call, hoping he didn't sound too pathetically eager, but knowing he probably did. He counted to ten and then checked his messages. There was one from Bikky all right, but Ryo couldn't quite make it out. The reception sounded bad. He heard something about jewelry and prescription drugs, and then the phrase "went to the police", then a series of squawks, and then the words "Call Dee" and "Get home ASAP".

Home? Ryo frowned at his phone. Was Bikky at home? He should be at school. It wasn't even 1:00. And what was that about jewelry and prescriptions? He waited a little longer and then called Bikky again, but once more it went straight to voice mail. His son must be on the phone. Ryo decided to wait and see if Bikky called him a second time. In the meantime, he might as well start walking toward the subway station. He still needed to go to Harlem Shambles to buy the steaks he had promised for dinner.

:.:.:.:.:.:.:

Dee had just finished getting the Chief to sign off on the manual notation he had made on his time card, when his cell phone rang. Jesus, he hoped it wasn't those IA bastards again. An hour and forty-five minutes with them had left him feeling more wrung out than if he'd been interrogated by a group of mobsters wearing brass knuckles and steel-toed boots. They had phoned him twice with extra questions after they'd finally let him go. Disorganized bastards. He never would have agreed to a fucking IA interview on his day off if the Chief hadn't grudgingly promised he could get paid for the interview AND the raid he had participated in without proper authorization earlier.

He hoped it was Ryo. His partner seemed to have gone AWOL. Dee had been trying to get in touch with him for the past couple of hours, but every call he made just went straight to voice mail for some reason. At least he knew Ryo was okay because his partner had been in recent contact with the Chief.

His caller was neither Ryo nor Internal Affairs, it was Bikky. Dee answered right away. "Yo, brat. Whadda you want?"

Bikky skipped the standard insult-greetings and got right into it. "Dee! Big trouble, man. Shut up and listen. Some dickwad is about to set Ryo up and I can't get through to him. I need you to meet me at my place. This is fucking urgent."

"I'm on my way. Gimme the details." Dee turned around and walked right out the front door of the twenty-seventh precinct without putting his time card back in its slot.

"This fucking loser pimp I know. He owns a girl called Shantaya. She told me Ryo went to her place this morning to talk to her. The pimp's got a hate on for Ryo, for some reason. He made her go to the police and say Ryo hurt her and stole her jewelry and drugs."

"Don't sweat it, kid. It'll never fly. It's her word against his. She's a hooker, he's a cop." Dee nodded at a couple of uniforms he knew and kept moving at a brisk pace toward his car.

"Don't be so sure. You remember I lost my keys? Now I know this sounds crazy, but it seems like this fuckin' pimp and his crew have copies or something, and I think they're gonna put Shantaya's shit in our apartment."

"Bik, that's nuts," said Dee dismissively, sure that Bikky was just being paranoid about the loss of his keys a few days ago. However the news that a chick had gone to the police and told lies about Ryo was definitely worrisome.

"No it's not! She TOLD me they had keys! Don't you get it? It all adds up. Now we gotta get to my place before the police do."

"When did she go to the police?" Dee asked. He reached into his pocket for his car keys.

"This morning. Well, late morning."

"Even if they believe her, they'll never get a warrant that fast. Quit worrying, kiddo."

"Whatever! We still gotta get home before anyone else does."

"I'll be there in a few minutes," said Dee. "How far away are you?" He unlocked the car door and got inside.

"I think about twenty minutes by train, maybe a bit more. I'm gonna have to change at least once."

"Hey brat, I don't suppose you know which precinct she went to?"

"Yeah. That one down on Pitt Street by the Williamsburg Bridge."

"Shit!" said Dee. "That's the Seventh-- the home of those assholes who tried to arrest you in Chinatown."

"NOW do you believe me?" Bikky cried.

"They still can't get a warrant that fast..." Dee felt slightly less confident about that than he had before. "You should definitely try Ryo again." He started the engine and quickly lit up a much-needed smoke now that he had a hand free.

"Who the fuck can get through to Ryo?" Bikky said bitterly, and hung up.

:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:

Dee shot through his third yellow light, his alert eyes automatically taking in the details of the traffic and pedestrians around him. Something was niggling at the back of his mind. Bikky had said that Ryo went to talk to some hooker called Shantaya, this morning. But when Ryo had left Dee all by his lonesome with those IA sons of bitches in Harlem, it was because he and Eliza were about to go and talk to Rick Romero's girlfriend, and hopefully, Rick himself. Could it be that this pimp Bikky was talking about was Rick Romero, AKA Ja Romeo,  wannabe rap artist and gang-banger? Jesus. Dee smiled grimly. He and Ryo had been looking for the guy for weeks, while all along Bikky could have helped them out. Who knew? That kid sure had a wide range of connections. Ryo would probably freak if he knew the half of them.

So if Shantaya's pimp was Rick Romero, it meant Abernathy was there in the background. He would be the one who had come up with this plot to set Ryo up with stolen property and a lying hooker. Dee's extensive experience with the business of applying for search warrants had taught him that it was not exactly a zippy process. But if Abernathy was involved... It was entirely possible that the guy had a tame judge or two in his back pocket. Yeah, Bikky was right to worry, and the kid didn't even know about that part. Dee stepped on the gas.

When Dee's Chevy Cavalier screeched to a halt as close as he could get to Ryo's building, he saw a lot of people standing outside and a fire truck parked in front. "What's going on?" he asked Mr. Humphries, the building manager.

"Fire alarm went off," the man replied. "Arson, for God's sake! Someone started a fire somewhere in the building-- I don't know where, exactly. There was a lot of smoke."

Dee frowned. That was damn suspicious. A fire alarm going off would be a perfect diversion. And if anyone had been inside the targeted apartment, that would have gotten them out, allegedly leaving a clear field for the planting of stolen property. He strode toward the front door.

"Hey, buddy, you can't go in there." A burly firefighter moved to block his path. 

Dee flashed his badge. "Police," he said. "We got a tip about this. I believe there's a robbery happening on the third floor right now."

The firefighter hesitated, looking uncomfortable. "I ain't supposed to let anyone in until we get the all-clear."

"Come on, bro." Dee went for the man-to-man approach. "They pulled the fire alarm to get everyone out. That's their M.O. Lemme have a shot at catching the bastards. Haven't you ever been robbed?"

The guy evidently had, because he stepped aside and let Dee in. Dee ran straight up the stairs to Ryo's place. The door was locked, and he had no idea if anyone was in there or not. He drew his gun and held it ready while he unlocked the door with his key as quietly as possible. Then he kicked the door open and advanced with his firearm held in both hands. "Police!" 

But a quick search of each room soon disclosed the fact that the apartment was empty. If someone had been here ahead of him, they had already done their dirty work and gone. Or maybe they hadn't gotten inside yet. When Dee was satisifed that no one was there, he went back to put the chain on the door. If Abernathy's people had keys, as Bikky seemed to believe, he didn't want anyone coming up behind him.

Breathing a sigh of relief, he holstered his weapon and glanced around the kitchen, which looked pretty much the way it normally did. He tried calling his partner, but just like all the other times, couldn't get through. He wanted to think that Ryo was on a train going through a tunnel or something, and not avoiding his calls for some reason. Another possibility was that perhaps his partner's phone had died again, which seemed to happen a couple of times a month. Dee opted for sending him a brief text instead, hoping he would get it. Then he walked around the apartment looking for anything that might seem out of place. If the boys from the Seventh Precinct were indeed on their way here with a warrant, then he probably didn't have a whole lot of time to find the stuff, assuming it was here. Jewelry and prescription drugs were small and easy to hide. They could be anywhere. He figured that if the hooker's belongings were somewhere in these rooms, they wouldn't be out in plain view, but they wouldn't be too far from the surface, either. There wouldn't have been a whole lot of time to choose creative hiding places. It would have been a get-in-get-out job. He realized that it would sure help if he knew exactly what he was looking for, though, so he called Bikky.

"Dee? Where are you?" The brat sounded breathless, like he was running.

"I'm at the apartment. Can you describe the jewelry?"

"Two gold chains, diamond earrings, ruby bracelet. I don't remember the drugs, but they'll be in prescription bottles. I think one of them was Diazepam."

"Anything else?"

"That's all she told me."

"Okay, got it. By the way, someone set a fire somewhere in the building, and FDNY is here. All your neighbors are out in the street. They're probably not gonna let you in."

Bikky snorted derisively. "Give me some credit, Moron. I'll see ya in a few minutes." The line went dead.

Dee decided to skip the kitchen and go straight to Ryo's bedroom. The bedrooms were the most logical hiding place. That would make it look personal.

He was almost done searching the closet when someone banged on the door, and a familiar voice yelled, "Dee! Open up!" Dee hurried out to take the chain off for Bikky, who immediately threw down a heavy looking backpack, and wiped the sweat off his forehead with his forearm.

"Did you find it? There are cops outside! They're talking to the firefighters."

"They're probably nothing for us to worry about. Cops from the local precinct always turn up to check out a fire call. Anyway, I didn't find anything yet. Go look in your bedroom and the bathroom, okay?"

Dee felt sick when he turned up a pair of diamond earrings tucked between tee-shirts in Ryo's dresser. Shit! Those bastards really had been here. And he still had a bracelet and two necklaces to find.

Bikky yelled from his bedroom and then came running in with a plastic bag full of what looked like candy, except both Dee and Bikky knew it wasn't candy-- it was Ecstasy. The brat appeared seriously shaken.

"Shantaya didn't mention this! Holy fuck! It was in my room, too."

"Good job, Bik. Looks like a street value of at least three hundred bucks. Get that shit down the toilet ASAP."

Bikky disappeared without another word while Dee continued to yank open drawers. He heard the toilet flush several times, and felt a grudging admiration for his partner's mouthy son. This was one kid who kept his wits about him during an emergency. And this sure classified as an emergency.

He didn't find any more jewelry until he looked between Ryo's boxspring and mattress. Bonanza! There was a ruby bracelet there and one short but heavy gold chain. Just one item to go-- Bikky had told him there were two gold necklaces. But at that moment, someone pounded heavily on the door.

"NYPD! We have a warrant! Open up!"

What the fuck? Dee felt his gut clench. That was the fastest warrant he had ever heard of. That even blew the annoyingly unrealistic warrant speeds of shows like CSI and Law and Order out of the water. Abernathy must have something seriously nasty on some judge somewhere. 

Bikky dashed back into Ryo's bedroom. He frantically shook two pill bottles at Dee. "These are hers-- where should I put 'em?"

"In your pockets, kid," Dee muttered. "We're outta time." Then a moment later, he brightened. "Bitch!" he exclaimed, pulling a long gold necklace with dog tags on it out of Ryo's underwear drawer. "All the jewelry is now accounted for," he added.

But Bikky wasn't listening. "Pockets? These are my basketball shorts, man. I don't have any friggin' pockets! What about yours?"

 "Mine are already full of jewelry. Besides, my jeans are too tight for pill bottles. You're gonna have to put em in your underwear. No time for anything else." Dee ignored Bikky's horrified look because a loud bang from the door indicated that the police were about to kick it down. "I'M ON IT, ASSHOLES!" Dee yelled, and stamped into the kitchen.

"Sir, open this goddamn door right now! This is the NYPD and we brought a warrant!"

"I'm NYPD, too," said Dee, "and I'm cooperating. There's a child in here. If you guys even think about coming through that door with your guns out and start shooting the place up, you can kiss your pensions goodbye."

"And my lawyer is on his way!" yelled Bikky, who was right behind Dee. The kid was clearly scared shitless, as his eyes were huge and his pulse was jumping at the base of his throat, but he gave Dee a look of sheer bravado.

"Really?" said Dee, stepping toward the door.

"Yeah, I called him. He knows the score and he'll be here soon."

"Keep back from the door, Bik," said Dee and swung the door open. He stepped back too, and waited with his badge held out. He hoped this would make them think twice about taking him down and cuffing him, just in case they were so minded.

Detectives Hugh Clayton and Lonnie Fielding stood there, with two uniformed officers behind them, one male and one female. "Er, hello again, Detective Laytner," Clayton said to Dee. He seemed apologetic.

Fielding gave Dee a nasty grin. "We meet again, Laytner," he snarled. "Your partner's goin' down. Never figured him for the type that would beat up a hooker and rip her off."

Bikky's eyes widened and he pointed at Detective Fielding. "You! Get the fuck outta here! I got a restraining order on you!"

Fielding scowled at the sight of Bikky. "What the hell is that brat doing out of school?" he demanded, glaring at Dee.

Bikky folded his arms. "Home sick with a stomachache. You can't come in here. My lawyer said you're not allowed to come within a hundred feet of me."

Detective Fielding turned to the female uniform. "Hey Jody, please escort that kid outta here so I can get on with my job."

"This is his home and he has a right to be here," said Dee loudly. "He didn't do anything wrong, and after what happened in Chinatown, he ain't going nowhere with any cop from the Seventh!"

The officer Fielding had addressed as Jody frowned as she looked from Dee to Detective Fielding. "Lonnie, is it true about the restraining order?"

Lonnie mumbled something that no one could make out.

"It's true." Bikky answered, since the detective didn't seem to be in any hurry to admit it. "Do I gotta show it to you? That asshole already used unacceptable levels of force against me once. If he doesn't get away from me right now, he's breaking the law-- again!" Dee figured that Bikky had learned the phrase 'unacceptable levels of force' from Lindsay Masters. Or maybe Ryo.

"Lonnie," said Detective Clayton placatingly. "I really think it would be in everyone's best interests if you went down and waited in the car. I'll keep you posted if we find anything."

"You ain't gonna find dick unless you plan to plant it yourself," sneered Dee. He glanced at Bikky and saw that Bikky was sticking his tongue out at Lonnie. Lonnie was cursing under his breath and glaring at everyone.

"Detective, I sincerely hope we don't find the stolen belongings here," said Detective Clayton to Dee. "But the lady was most insistent, and you understand that we had to take action."

Lonnie was obviously disappointed and resentful when the two uniforms sided with his partner and they all ganged up on him. He had no choice but to slink away down the stairs opposite the apartment, looking back over his shoulder at his co-workers while insisting that they let him know right away when they found something.

"Show me the warrant." Dee held out his hand, and Detective Clayton reluctantly handed it over.

"It's in order," he said. His eyes met Dee's sympathetically.

"You ever seen a faster warrant than this?" Dee gave Clayton a hard look.

The man looked back at him thoughtfully. "No, never. Didn't know it was possible."

Dee took his time to scan the warrant, hoping to find some mistake in the date, the wording or the address that would enable him to order them all out of there, but everything was correct. The warrant was very specific, as warrants had to be. It stated that they were looking for two gold necklaces, a pair of diamond earrings, a ruby bracelet and two prescription bottles containing, or previously containing percocet and diazepam. Disconcertingly, there was also a lacy pair of red panties listed on the warrant. Jesus. Where the hell had they hidden that? There was naturally no mention of the Ecstasy Bikky had found. Dee hoped that nothing else of that nature had been left in the apartment, because if the officers from the Seventh found any illegal drugs whatsoever, it would give them instant grounds to search him, which meant they would find the jewelry. Searching Bikky would be slightly more problematic because he was a minor, but if they went through proper channels, they could do that, too. Then he, Ryo and Bikky would be totally sunk.

He handed the warrant back and said, "I gotta inform my lieutenant about what's going on here. Get on with your search and try not to trash the place."

"We'll do our best," said the female uniform, but Dee didn't like the ugly grin on the face of her partner. That shithead was gonna make sure he busted things. Dee gave him a look that promised that two could play the busting things game, but he wasn't sure if the asshole had gotten the message.

:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:

Detective Lonnie Fielding stood on the street outside, looking up anxiously at the windows of apartment 303. He could see Jody and Arch moving about up there whenever one of them passed close to a window. He couldn't see Hugh at all. Maybe his partner was in the kitchen. Or perhaps that bastard Laytner was keeping him talking. Lonnie kept thinking about the sneaky look that little Oreo brat had shot him before he left. The kid knew something he shouldn't. Both he and Laytner looked like they'd been waiting for the police. There hadn't been any surprise at all, and there should have been. And neither of them should have been at the apartment, either. He got out his cell phone and dialed his partner.

"Hugh!" he exclaimed. "You guys find anything yet?"

"No," said Hugh. "Nothing so far. But we're not done yet."

Lonnie felt disappointed. He had a lot riding on this. Laytner had freaked him out the other day at the hospital when he talked about Lieutenant Abernathy and how anyone who helped him was going to jail. He felt he owed that smug, tough-talking bastard from the Twenty-Seventh a little aggravation. And if they could get his partner brought up on charges, it wouldn't be too hard to target Laytner next. With those two assholes thoroughly discredited, the danger to Abernathy, and hence the danger to Lonnie, would be immediately eliminated.

"Hugh, make sure you search that brat. I saw his face. I'm sure he's got something hidden in his pockets."

Hugh said, "Lonnie, what the hell? You know I can't search him. The warrant is only for the premises. The complaint was against his father, not him. Besides, we've already got a potential lawsuit hanging over our heads with that kid. I'm not laying a finger on him."

"Fuck!" Lonnie hung up and smacked the side of the fire truck with his fist. It didn't make him feel any better. All it got him was a sore hand and a stern warning from one of the FDNY guys. He just had to have faith. He hadn't been able to get in and plant the packet of acid blotters he was carrying, but that had been just extra insurance, anyway. Once the team found the Ecstasy in the kid's room, they'd have the right to search that little punk's pockets, and Laytner's too. For the first time, he wondered if Laytner had any of that hooker's shit hidden in his own clothing. It was possible.

"Come on, Hugh, come on team," he muttered under his breath, both hands clasped prayer-like around his phone. He wished he could just tell Hugh about the drugs, but they weren't on the warrant and no one was supposed to know they were there. He wished he could get a K-9 unit in. The dog would sniff out the Molly in ten seconds flat. He wondered if McGreary would agree to pop down with the new dog he was training.... He started scanning the list of contacts on his phone. But at that moment, someone barked out his name. He looked up and that was when he saw that fire-breathing lawyer of MacLean's bearing down on him with the light of battle in his eyes. Oh shit.

:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:.:

Ryo arrived at his apartment a little short of breath, having run up the stairs two at a time with a bag of groceries on each arm. He had run all the way from the train station, as a matter of fact. The two texts Dee had sent him had given him a highly abbreviated summary of the facts and a gigantic knot in his stomach. The main point he had grasped was that Abernathy had tried another set-up, but with him as the target this time, not Bikky. According to Dee, Bikky had somehow stumbled on the plot, and together, he and Dee were trying to prevent it from being carried out. Ryo had seen a police cruiser leaving as he had approached his building, but he wasn't sure whether there might still be officers from the Seventh inside his apartment.

The apartment door was ajar, and he could hear the murmur of voices from within. When he rushed into the kitchen, he could see that whatever had happened was all over now. And it must be good news because Dee and Bikky, both looking drained, sat at the kitchen table amid the shambles of the kitchen. No one was in handcuffs, nor did anyone seem hurt. But his kitchen was another matter. It looked as though a bomb had exploded in it. Not only were the contents of his cabinets scattered all over the counters and floor, but it looked like some of his crockery had been broken, and one cupboard door seemed to be hanging off its hinges.

Lindsay Masters was there too, busily recording the mess and the damage on an expensive-looking handycam with a grimly gleeful expression on his face. "Detective MacLean!" he called out. "I'll be right with you. I just have one more room to do. They did a fair bit of damage in your son's room, and I want to make sure I get that."

Ryo gave him a nod, and turned an imploring gaze on Dee. Dee got up wearily and came toward him. "Relax," he said. "It was a damn close thing, but they didn't find what they were looking for."

"That's 'cause we found it first," mumbled Bikky, and pillowed his head on his arms.

"I hate to say it, Ryo, but that kid saved your ass today." Dee jerked a thumb at Bikky.

"Couldn'ta done it without you, man."

Ryo's eyes went back and forth from his partner to his son, feeling a faint twinge of unreasonable jealousy that the two seemed to have bonded so strongly over the hellish experience they had just been through together. "I still don't fully understand what happened. All I know is what you told me in your two texts. Did Abernathy's people really plant stolen property here? Can you guys please fill me in?"

"I left ya a message, Ryo." Bikky gave him a peeved glance.

"I'm sorry, B. I couldn't make it out. It was all broken up."

"You're never gonna believe this, dude. Bikky knows Rick Romero."

"Wish I didn't." Bikky's voice was muffled in the crook of his arm.

"What happened when you and Eliza allegedly went to talk to Rick's girlfriend this morning?" Dee gave Ryo a speculative look. "Cause after you left, Shantaya went to the Seventh and swore out a complaint that you forced your way in and robbed her, after smacking her around and demanding, er, sexual favors."

"Nothing like that happened!" Ryo's face showed how shocked he was.

"We all know that, Ryo. But what did happen? I already know Eliza wasn't with you 'cause I talked to her back at the precinct. The Chief told me your visit was a washout, but I didn't hear anything from you about it."

His mouth set, Ryo turned away and started riffling through his grocery bags for perishable items that needed refrigeration. He couldn't allow himself to really look at the appalling mess his kitchen was in. He knew his partner was pissed off at him for going to Shantaya's apartment alone and also for not calling him, but that didn't give Dee the right to treat him like a criminal. "Eliza had already left and I couldn't find anyone else who could go with me," Ryo finally said, as he double-checked the expiry date of a package of Kraft cheese slices. "I didn't want to lose the moment, so I went alone."

"Dude."

"I know, Dee! But we can't do everything in pairs-- it's not realistic. You and I have often split up to talk to witnesses."

"Yeah, but when a male cop goes alone to a the apartment of a female prostitute..."Dee folded his arms. "People sorta get ideas. And he leaves himself wide open for false accusations if the girl wants to make trouble."

"Shantaya's not that kind of girl," said Bikky quickly. "It was all Rick."

"She wouldn't let me in," Ryo explained. "We didn't so much as shake hands. I think Rick was there the whole time. She tried to pretend she didn't know me, but I recognized her from Eddie's funeral."

"Speaking of Eddie--" began Bikky, but Dee interrupted him.

"Not yet, Bik. Let's tell it in order."

"So she swore out a false complaint," Ryo said, and there was a touch of bitterness in his voice, "and for some reason, they believed her?"

"I don't know if they believed her," said Dee, taking pity on him. "I think, like the kid said, it was just an excuse for a set-up. They got a warrant put through in, like, ninety minutes."

Ryo stopped examining the mess the police had made of his tea canisters and spice rack, and stared at Dee, his eyebrows raised. "Who was the judge?"

"Jacques Eckrow."

Ryo shrugged. "Never heard of him."

"Me neither. But now we know that Abernathy owns him."

"I want to go after him later," Ryo said in a hard voice.

"We will, dude. Or someone will. But first, Abernathy."

Ryo nodded. "Okay. Now, quick, fill me in before Lindsay comes back and wants to talk about lawsuits
."

--end of Justice, chapter 19~

Additional Author’s notes: Is anyone wondering about the red undies? They’ll turn up in the next installment! (And it will be funny)  Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this, please let me know.


Tags: fake, justice
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