brit_columbia (brit_columbia) wrote,
brit_columbia
brit_columbia

FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June), Chapter 23

This post is worksafe, I am sad to report. However, I know my patient smut-puppy readers are getting starved for a little Dee/Ryo fun-time. Therefore, I have a proposition for you.

For each of the first five people who request it via comments, I will agree to write one little ficlet lime between 100 and 200 words in length. These limes will live in the comments.

You can choose your pairing, but it must be canon. (Dee/Ryo, Drake/JJ, Bikky/Carol, Berkeley/Diana) Please make a clear request and supply me with one word that you would like me to build the lime around. Here's an example: "Calendar"


Calendar

Dee eyed Ryo nervously. "Oh right. That old fundraiser calendar. I forgot about that."

"How could you forget about this?" Ryo opened the calendar for the fourteenth time, and gazed once again at Mr. October in all his familiar, green-eyed, mischievous glory. "You're practically naked, for Pete's sake!"

"Aw, come on, dude. I've got my pants on."

"Can I see?" Carol took a step closer, but Ryo promptly snapped the calendar shut.

"I don't think so," he said primly.

Disappointed, she withdrew.

"Dee, I can't believe you posed in a calendar wearing only your pants and your shoulder holster." Ryo opened the calendar a crack and peeked at the photo again.

"We raised a big bucks for the K-9 unit with that thing, you know." Dee couldn't help the slightly defensive note that had slid into his voice. "Plus, it was a long time ago. Before I met you. What's the problem?"

Ryo closed the calendar again and then held it against his body. "The problem is that you never told me about it, that's what! I had to find out from Janet in the break room today!"

"So?"

"So, I had to pay her $25 for it!"

-end-




You get the idea, right? Give me a word, pick a pairing, and off we go. ****UPDATE**** This offer is now closed! Five people requested limes with the words (1) WIG (2) COFFEE (3) PIG  (4) SHOWER,  and (5) ICE CREAM. These limes are either in the comments right now, or coming soon to the comments. Thanks for participating!

****ANOTHER UPDATE**** PIG has been written, but it's almost a thousand words and LJ says it's too long for a comment. It's in the post after this. I think it's going to have to be a one shot.

And now, for the main event....


FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June), chapter 23

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. They are slowly closing in on him, but he still has the advantage.
Rating: This chapter is worksafe.
Disclaimer: FAKE, featuring Dee, Ryo, Bikky, Aunt Elena, The Chief, Ted, Drake, and JJ, 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: Alan Radley, his grandmother Mrs. Price, Rick Romero (AKA Ja Romeo), Sergeant Ross Pekoe, Wes Samberg the drug dealer, Detective Lonnie Fielding, Officer Gordon Cooper, and disgraced ex-cop Iona Smythe are my characters. If you're wondering what 'the Palace' is, it's the way that police refer to One Police Plaza, where Dee and Ryo have a temporary office in this story.
Thank you to 
ladyfeather and tripple_p for beta-reading this chapter for me.

Previously in Justice:

Justice, chapter 23: The evil Lieutenant Abernathy beat up Alan Radley twice and claimed to be detective Randy MacLean while doing so. Dee and Alan have a connection because they grew up in the same neighborhood together. Alan also has a connection to Rick Romero, AKA Ja Romeo, who is his music partner. Rick is involved with Lieutenant Abernathy, who is helping him to get into the Dyre Street Devils, a gang in Brooklyn. Back in FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May), the prequel to this story, Rick murdered Eddie Calvetti, Bikky's homeless friend, on Abernathy's orders. Recently, Bikky was talking with Shantaya, Rick's hooker girlfriend in the apartment she shares with Rick, and he discovered Eddie's backpack there. He told Dee and Ryo, and the police consequently raided Rick's apartment and got the backpack. Unfortunately, they didn't catch Rick. Neither he nor Shantaya were home at the time, and both of them are now on the run, but not together. Rick is temporarily staying with Alan in Brooklyn. Bikky is currently out of the city and safely (we hope) stashed at a horse ranch in Pennsylvania, because he had been targeted by Abernathy and almost arrested by a couple of cops from the Seventh precinct on drug charges. At that time, Dee and Ryo approached Wes Samberg, a drug dealer who almost got caught along with Bikky when Abernathy and the police from the Seventh precinct tried to set him up. Wes is worried about having come up on the radar of dirty cops like Abernathy and his associates.


There is a mysterious guy in a wheelchair who has been making brief appearances throughout this story so far. He helped Bikky a few chapters ago when Bikky was targeted in a subway station by more of Abernathy's men. At that time, Bikky was trying to bring home the late Eddie Calvetti's laptop, which may hold evidence that will incriminate Abernathy due to Eddie's habit of recording and filing all his calls. The guy in the wheelchair got it and it hasn't been seen since.

Recently Dee and Ryo tried to catch Abernathy in a sting, using a paroled felon, John Hambler, AKA Jackhammer, to lure him to a meeting. Instead of coming himself, Abernathy sent two uniforms from the Seventh Precinct to murder Hambler. Those two officers, Cameron Bell and Gordon Cooper, are now under investigation by Internal Affairs. Cameron Bell is a good friend of Lonnie Fielding, a detective who was too rough with Bikky back when he tried to arrest him. Bell was prepared to beat up Dee for breaking Lonnie's nose, but Lonnie's more reasonable partner Detective Hugh Clayton stopped them from fighting.


There is still a spy at large in the Twenty-Seventh Precinct who has not yet been caught.

 



Justice, Chapter 23: Voices on the Telephone
 

 
When Wes got out of his taxi at the corner of Canal and Eldridge, the guy was waiting for him. He was shorter than Wes had expected, but the face was the same as in the photo. Good teeth in a big, fake 'how do ye do' grin and hard little eyes with pouches under them.

"Mr. Samberg."

"I've been expecting you."

"Have you now, laddie?"

Wes didn't think it was necessary to reply. Instead, he nodded at the Japanese restaurant across the street where he liked to do a lot of his business. "Let's negotiate over tempura."

The little man glanced warily at the cafe and shook his head. "Why don't we go for a ride instead? My car is parked just over there."

Wes stared at him expressionlessly. "After what happened to my mule? I don't think so."

"I assure ye, boy, that's not my intention."

"I'd have to be an idiot to accept assurances from a man I don't know."

"Lieutenant Abernathy, NYPD."

Wes looked down at the outstretched hand for as long as he dared before giving it a perfunctory shake. "Wes Samberg."

"So!" Lieutenant Abernathy gave him another one of those big smiles. "Now we know each other!" He jerked his head in the direction of his car. "Shall we?"

Wes remained patient. Obviously this guy thought that all dealers were the same kind of stupid. "No, sir. I already knew your name, and a name's not enough to make me get in a cop car unless I'm under arrest. If you don't want Japanese, fine. We can walk and talk right out here in the open." He turned his head and looked around at all the denizens of Canal Street: shopkeepers, panhandlers, street performers, and the like. Wes knew them all by name; this was his territory after all. If Lieutenant Abernathy was any sort of cop, he would realize that the street was no place for him to be having a long conversation with a drug dealer.

"Mr. Samberg, you are a cautious man. No doubt you have to be."

This was such an obvious statement of fact that, once more, Wes kept silent. He waited calmly for Abernathy's next suggestion.

"All right then, me lad. Have it your way. But the tempura's on you!"

"Let's go then." Wes turned abruptly and strode out into traffic. He timed it perfectly and got across the street without incident. The lieutenant followed more cautiously, wearing a black look on his face which darkened with every honked horn. Wes stood by the restaurant door, watching Abernathy cross, and enjoying the cop's discomfiture on a covert level. As he waited, his sharp eye fell upon one panhandler he didn't recognize, a geezer in a clapped-out wheelchair, clutching a bottle in a brown paper bag.

He made a mental note to move that guy along when he was done with the dirty cop who, unless he was very much mistaken, had come to shake him down. Wes didn't like newcomers showing up out of the blue in his territory.

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

Ryo knew he shouldn't be standing in Bikky's room tormenting himself by thinking about how far away he was from his son. Okay, so what if it was only a couple of hours by car? It felt like a million miles. The emptiness of his apartment was getting to him. He knew he really ought to go and distract himself with productive tasks like organizing his bills or checking his email.

The ringing of the phone startled him and he instinctively patted his pants pocket. Nope, it wasn't his famously malfunctioning cell phone-- it was his landline. He padded back to the living room to answer it.

He pressed the talk button without bothering to look at the call display. It was always so hard to read call displays unless he was wearing his reading glasses. "MacLean Residence."

Aunt Elena's dulcet voice filled his ear. "Ryo darling, I've been trying to catch you all day. Did you get my messages?"

"Sorry, Elena, but I just got back from Devon. We took Bikky to the ranch today."

"I knew you'd talk him into it eventually! How'd it go?"

"Um, your friend Karen is very nice."

"Of course she is, but never mind that! How did Bikky take it?"

"Ah." Ryo let the silence drag on for a few moments, mainly because he wasn't sure what he could say. "Well, ah, he wasn't too happy about it..."

"Yes, but now he's at least safe, right? And you can devote your full attention to solving the crime without worrying about where he is and what might be happening to him."

"Yes, that's true. He's safe now, isn't he?" Ryo unconsciously straightened his shoulders. "And, dammit, nailing that dirty cop to the wall has now become my number one priority! Bikky can't come back home until home is a safe place again... It's up to me to make that happen."

"Well..." Aunt Elena paused. "You don't have to do it all by yourself you know. You've got a pretty good partner there. And I'm sure your team is behind you all the way."

Ryo muttered an agreement, although he felt that no one understood what it was like for him to be separated from Bikky. Not Elena, not his team. Certainly not his partner. Dee would probably just be glad of a 'monkey brat'-free environment so he could pursue his own agenda, which seemed to consist of sex, sex, and more sex. He pushed Dee out of his mind with a frown and turned his attention back to his aunt. "So... how are you? How was France?"

"Oh, the usual. Beautiful. Busy. Crappy coffee. Never mind that for now. I have news. Guess what?" Elena paused dramatically. "That cow Rosie has graciously allowed me to go and visit my own father!"

"Really?" Ryo realized he had almost forgotten about the man in the photo Bikky had brought home from the Abernathy apartment. "Did you find anything out about that guy who looks like me?"

"Oh, I haven't been to see the family yet, darling. I just arrived back from Marseilles about four hours ago, and your uncle would like me to spend a little time with him. I plan to go and see Rosie and Dad tomorrow."

"What made Rosie agree to let you see him?"

Ryo heard her laugh gleefully. "Before I left for the shoot, remember I told you I put a bug in her ear about how we seem to have a new Irish half-brother who's looking for a piece of Dad's estate?"

"Yes, I remember," said Ryo. "Did she ask him about it?"

"Apparently she did, and he got all dreamy and mumbled something about his 'Wild Irish Rose!' Ryo, we may be onto something here."

Ryo sat down abruptly on the sofa. "D-do you think so? That this guy could really be a relative of ours born out of wedlock?"

"Honey, it's the only explanation I can think of. That photo... He looks so much like you; he could be your clone! I don't think that happened by accident."

Ryo was silent for a moment, as he processed this information. It would mean he had another relative in the world, someone other than Elena whom he could call his kin. An uncle. Not that Uncle Rick hadn't been a good uncle to him, but still. He was short on family, and there were times when he felt the lack. He didn't think of Rosie or his grandfather, or anyone from his father's side of the family as truly being his relations. He had cut them out of his heart and his life long ago when they basically kicked him out of the family following the double murder of his parents.

"So maybe I have an uncle across the Atlantic. Do you think we'll ever get to meet him?" he asked somewhat wistfully.

"Of course we will. You're a star detective and I'm one hell of a pushy broad. If Dad confirms that he fathered a son in Ireland, we'll hunt the man down together. Hopefully he won't have inherited the jerk gene that runs in our family."

Ryo snorted. "Well if Abernathy hates him, he can't be all bad."

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

Dee took a taxi to One Police Plaza, as finding parking around there had been a complete hassle the last few times he had tried it. According to Penguin, he had been blessed with 'Parking Angels', but angelic powers notwithstanding, locating parking in this part of the city was a tall order. Even when he managed to find a spot for his car that didn't cost an arm and a leg, it meant hoofing it for a half mile or more, and he just wasn't up for doing that in a suit in this kind of hot weather.

He paused at the fourteenth floor reception desk to flirt with whomever was on duty, but decided to skip it when he saw that the old crew-cut battle axe who didn't like him was on duty. Dykes, with the sole exception of Linda from the Two-Seven's Narcotics department, usually hated him on sight and went out of their way to be unhelpful or jam him up. They were much nicer to Ryo, though, probably because he sucked up to them. His eyes softened at the thought of his partner. Although he often teased Ryo for being an ass-kisser, it wasn't strictly true. Ryo was just nice to people. Dee got results from flirting with some of the hotter members of the Lab and Records staff, and Ryo got people to cooperate with him by just plain being nice to them.

Dee sighed as his feet carried him down the broad hallway that led to his desk, his phone, and the pile of work that was waiting for his attention. He disliked working Saturdays, mostly because Ryo didn't work that day. As one of the few members of the CI team who was a parent, Ryo scored one weekend day per week as a day off. For the past year, Ryo had been working Sunday to Thursday and Dee had been working Saturday to Wednesday. As long as this continued, Dee was doomed to spend most Saturday evenings alone. But then he mentally kicked himself. So what? The fact that they had Fridays off together meant that he usually stayed over on Friday nights and then got to have Saturday breakfast AND lunch with Ryo, at least when he was on second shift, like he was today. Nowadays when he stayed over, he slept with Ryo in his arms, instead of all by himself on the sofa bed. A year ago, hell, even just three months ago, that would have been just a dream. He had a lot to be grateful for.

He walked into the temporary office that he and Ryo were sharing here at the Palace, and looked around to make sure Ross hadn't been sneaking around confiscating things again. Nope, apparently not. It all looked the same.

Dee sat down at his desk and started checking his messages. Yes! There was one from the admin assistant at Bedford Correctional okaying him for a phone conversation with Iona Smythe at six p.m. That meant he would have to put Gordo off until seven. Tough luck, Gordo. It wasn't like the guy had a busy schedule nowadays, since he was suspended with pay pending the outcome of the IA investigation into the death of Jerkhammer. Dee left him a message, and moved on. 

Dee had been hoping for a message from Alan Radley, but there wasn't one, even though he had called Alan three times since Friday night. He needed to talk to Alan because of something odd that Bikky had overheard Rick say to Shantaya after she went to the police station. "We gotta get rid of this guy," Rick had apparently said. "I owe it to my buddy, Alan." What could Alan possibly have to do with Rick's attempt to take Ryo down? Dee intended to find out.

When he called Alan's residence, he learned from Mrs. Price that Alan was working tonight at Timmy Tan's Karaoke Bar.

"Do you know what time he gets off work, ma'am?"

"Oh, I'm not sure, Dee," she said apologetically. "His schedule changes all the time, you see. He left around five o'clock is all I can tell you. Shall I ask him to call you tomorrow?"

"Yes, please," Dee replied, thinking he might just head out to Timmy's later if time permitted. "You have a good night, Mrs. Price."

"Thank you, I'll try to." Her voice dropped almost to a whisper. "Alan has a friend staying with us for a couple of days. I've never liked that young man much, I'm afraid. He's quite rude."

"Well, hopefully he'll go out for the evening. If he gives you any lip, you just call me, you hear?" Dee grinned, but was a little surprised when she appeared to take it seriously.

"I will, Dee. Thank-you," she whispered. "Hopefully, it won't be necessary."

"I'm sure it won't," Dee said cheerfully, "but my offer stands. You want my cell number?" He reeled it off to her wondering what kind of dipshits Alan was hanging around with who wouldn't know enough to mind their manners around a nice old lady.

No sooner had he hung up, when he got a call on his cell. Was it Ryo? Somehow he doubted it. Ryo tended not to call him unless he had a specific reason. It would never occur to his lover to call him just to say hi.

The call display revealed that it was Wes Samberg, the drug dealer who had almost been caught in Abernathy's attempted set-up of Bikky a couple of weeks back. Dee answered with a curt "Laytner."

Wes skipped the preamble. "I got some info on that dirtbag we discussed."

Dee understood that Wes meant Abernathy. "Oh yeah? Tell me what you got."

"It's pretty big. I want some assurances before I risk my ass on this one."

"Like what?" Here comes another meeting, Dee thought to himself. Why did everything have to start popping the one night he was working without his partner?

"Meet me at Cantina Circo on Avenue B at seven."

"No can do, dude. I got another appointment at seven. How about eight?"

"All right. Ask for table ten." Wes hung up without saying goodbye. Dee stared at the phone. Table ten? Wes must be moving up in the world if he had his own table at an upscale joint like Circo.

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

Wes put his phone away. Decision made. It hadn't taken him long to weigh the pros and cons of Lieutenant Abernathy's not very attractive offer against the more ambiguous one made by Laytner and MacLean. Abernathy wanted a piece of the dealing action, a hefty piece, in exchange for not arranging for Wes to be thrown back into the bucket for the next five-plus years. Wes didn't doubt the man would make good on his threats. He was crooked-cop trouble with a capital T, and Wes did not want to get mixed up with that. He knew the type. They talked ugly, took increasingly bigger bites of the business, and rarely held up their side of the deal. Abernathy was demanding monthly protection payments now, but Wes knew that come the fall, the schedule would end up being bumped to bi-weekly, and he'd be lucky to keep half of his merchandise on top of that.

On the other hand, the two detectives from the Twenty-Seventh Precinct had refrained from threatening him, and more importantly, demonstrated a fairly solid lack of interest in the details of Wes's daily and weekly routines. As Laytner had put it, back when they discussed this matter at One Police Plaza, "We already have a heavy enough case load, and we're not in Narcotics anyway. We can't afford to give too much of a shit about how you earn your livelihood because there are only so many hours in a day. But if you help us shut down this dirty cop, we might be able to put in a good word for you here and there."

That was good enough for Wes. They didn't want to shake him down, nor would they go out of their way to interfere with his business. They just wanted to take down Abernathy. The big question for Wes had been... could they do it?

Finally he had arrived at the conclusion that they probably could. In Wes's opinion, Abernathy had made a mistake by going after MacLean's kid. While Wes could certainly understand the logic behind threatening people's kids-- after all, look how well it had worked on Sherry-- it tended to arouse too many strong feelings, which in turn provoked extreme responses. As Wes saw it, there was no way MacLean could back off now. If Bikky had been targeted by Abernathy once, they could all bet it would happen again, whenever that Irish bastard wanted something. MacLean had to either get him locked up for life or put a bullet in him in some dark alley. There was no other solution. And MacLean was certainly capable of putting bullets in people. As a police sharpshooter, it was a sure bet that he had done it many times in the past, and would probably kill countless more people before his career was over. If Wes had been in Detective MacLean's position, he knew what he would have done.

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

Meanwhile, in another part of Manhattan, the object of Wes's dark, brooding thoughts wrung out his washcloth and hung it up on a hook on the tiles above the kitchen sink. Ryo appreciated the cleaning efforts of his co-workers the night before, but it had all gotten a little rushed once it became known that the pizza they had ordered was actually in the building. Corners had been cut and attention to detail had gone out the window. Consequently, Ryo had just spent the last half hour swabbing down and disinfecting his kitchen all over again, and this time the job had been done to his satisfaction. Now for the bathroom.

With maddening timing, the phone rang when he was on his knees running water into the tub to rinse out the Lysol. It took him too long to ascertain that the sound really was coming from the phone in his living room, not a neighbor's, and by the time he had shut off the water, run to the living room and hastily peeled off his bright green rubber gloves, it was too late. He fumbled for his reading glasses and checked the call display, hoping he hadn't just missed a call from Bikky. But the number turned out to be unknown. Ryo frowned. Who could that be? He waited a couple of minutes and then checked his messages. When he heard the voice of the man who had left him a voice mail, he recognized it right away. The last time he had heard that voice, it had been reciting mediocre rap songs at a low-budget concert held in Teddy's bar in the East Village.

"Hey man, I, uh, hear you're lookin' for me. You're prolly mad about what happened wit my bit-- uh, my woman, Shantaya." There was a pause and Ryo could discern some low muttering in the background, as though someone were offering suggestions.

"So, yeah," the voice continued. "Ja Romeo is my name. I'm just a musician, yo? I ain't the hardcore brotha you seem to think I am. But I got a problem, and maybe you can guess what. You saw yesterday how fast the po-po come running to your house-- you think I got that kinda pull? It ain't me runnin' this show, and I think you know it. It a cop, man, a bad one, and he got me by the balls. By the balls."

There was another pause, more low muttering and then Ja Romeo's voice came back. "So I need someone to get me outta this shit, man. I need to, uh, to come clean. Know what I mean? So, so, if you wanna have a face-to-face...wit me, tonight, 'bout this cop who got me and my woman under his boot, then you come visit me at Club Concrete. In Brooklyn. At midnight. And you gotta come alone, Detective MacLean! If you don't come alone, you won't never see me. Word." There was a click. Ryo stared at the phone incredulously for a moment and then saved the message. He almost wanted to laugh. Come alone, indeed. After what had happened yesterday? Not likely!

When he played the message for the Chief, the first thing the Chief said was "It's bogus, Randy. It's another set-up. If you go off to meet him all by your lonesome, I swear to you I will bust you down to directing traffic for the entire month of July."

Ryo was annoyed. "Chief, I have no intention of going there alone!"

"Good. Noted. Now we gotta follow this up, even though I'm betting it's gonna be a huge waste of time. I'm gonna send a team out there. But you're not going with 'em, capiche? You're not on duty until tomorrow."

"But Chief, I should go, too. I'm the one he called. I'm the one he wants."

"You're too much of a target. Don't want you getting shot on us. Stay home. That's an order."

Ryo hung up, fuming. How was he going to catch Abernathy and make it safe for Bikky to come home again if the Chief wouldn't let him go out to meet an important contact? He hadn't said he was planning to go alone, just that he wanted to go with the team. How frustrating.

When he called Dee to let him know what was happening, he got no sympathy.

"I agree with the Chief, babe. Rick's lying and you're a target. In fact, your presence could even endanger the undercover team that heads out to Concrete tonight."

"But, Dee--"

"Sorry, babe, gotta go. It's six o'clock and I've got authorization to call an inmate up at Bedford Correctional. Let me call you back, though. I got a couple of important appointments--"

"Sure, whatever, call me back." Irritated, Ryo hung up first. He should have known better than to expect Dee to understand.

After that he quickly checked his messages to see if Bikky had called him while he'd been tied up on the phone, but nada. Damn, he hated Saturday nights.

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

"Hello? Iona Smythe here." Her voice was a smooth contralto, a little hesitant.

"Sergeant Smythe, this is Detective Laytner with the Twenty-Seventh Precinct in Manhattan. I need to ask you a few questions as part of an investigation."

"It's hardly 'Sergeant' anymore, Detective, as I'm sure you know." Her voice had gone hard. "If I answer these questions of yours, am I going to get railroaded further? Because I'm already doing fifteen years, and I'm up for parole in fourteen months. I've learned the hard way not to trust the NYPD."

"Actually, I'm investigating Detective Alonso Fielding for possible corruption. I'm sure you remember him."

"That lying weasel! I'll never forget him! Or forgive him for what he did to me."

"I agree with your assessment of him, Ma'am. I didn't have time to read all the transcripts, but I skimmed the main points. He was working undercover on the Millbrook case, but you claimed he set you up to take a fall. Unfortunately the judge didn't believe you."

"How could she, when Fielding and the Millbrook gang members lied in court? I had no witnesses, but they cooked up a good story together and all covered each other's asses."

"Knowing Fielding as I do, I figured it might be something like that. What I don't know is why. Why you?"

"Can't you guess, Detective? Or maybe you don't know Fielding as well as you say."

"What do you mean?"

"Lonnie was a drug user in those days; likely still is. There's a lot of them on the force, actually. You've probably seen it."

"Yeah, I have. I guess they have their own ways of getting around the random testing."

"So anyway, he had a good friend or two in the Millbrook gang. They supplied him, he helped them out. He was in on the profits, too, although I don't know to what degree. But nobody knew any of that, of course. My partner and I got assigned to investigate his buddies, but three or four days into it, my partner took a tumble in a parkade stairwell and ended up in hospital with head injuries. Very suspicious. They gave me Lonnie as a replacement."

"Ah," said Dee. "So he went in allegedly undercover, but he was already in bed with them."

"Yeah. And I was in the way."

"Why didn't they just do the same thing to you as they did to your partner? Why go to all the trouble of setting you up?"

"Oh they tried it a couple of times."

"What did they do?"

"One fake mugging attempt, in which I got the drop on the guy, followed by a close call on a crosswalk, which would've damn near done for me, except I was on my guard by then."

"I see," said Dee. "So he had to come up with another way to knock you off the case and stop the investigation."

"Yeah. 'Cause I was a hotshot in those days. I would have nailed all his friends, and in the process he would have been exposed."

"How'd they shaft you?" Dee was genuinely curious. He was familiar with the case and had his own theories about it.

"One of the Millbrook guys, a vicious little snake by the name of Dino Varras, got in my face outside a nightclub, right under the cameras. I let him off with a warning. Then two nights later, he turns up in hospital crying about how I beat the crap out of him in revenge." She snorted. "I was on undercover duty when it happened. My 'partner' should have been my alibi. You can guess the rest."

"Yeah, I'm pretty familiar with Fielding's MO. They planted Varras's wallet in your personal vehicle, too, didn't they?"

"Yep. And a couple of gold chains and some prescription Demerol that I allegedly took off the guy."

"At that time, Fielding was up for promotion to detective, wasn't he?"

"Bastard sure was. Made it soon after my indictment, I hear."

"For his stellar work in nailing you over crimes you didn't commit."

There was a brief silence, and then she said, "Can I take it that you actually believe me, Detective Laytner?"

"I do, Ma'am. Fielding and his boys tried to do the same thing to my partner yesterday, but we caught a break and got a little advance notice."

"Lucky." her voice was bitter.

"We know that, believe me." Dee scribbled a couple of quick lines in his notebook. "Ms. Smythe, are you familiar with the name Mike Abernathy? A lieutenant in IA?"

"No, can't say that I am. Why?"

"He's pulling Lonnie's strings nowadays. My partner and I are after him, and that's how we stumbled across Lonnie."

"Tell me you're going after Lonnie, too!"

"We sure are," Dee said grimly, thinking about the triumphant expression on that little bastard's face the day before when he and Clayton showed up at Ryo's door with his lousy search warrant. "It's him or us."

"Detective, could I start hoping that just maybe I might get a chance to clear my name?"

"Yeah. You go ahead and start hoping. We're gonna need a statement from you at some point, okay? And in the meantime do not tell anyone we had this conversation. Not your family, not anyone. These guys are not above committing murder to protect themselves."

"Got it. Keep me posted."

"Will do." Dee rang off and looked at his watch. He had more than enough time to make it to Nick's Pizza on 2nd avenue, which was where he was meeting Ted. They could eat a couple of slices and then head up to Iggy's to see what Officer Gordon Cooper had to say for himself. Since it was Cooper who had knocked Ted senseless the night of the ill-fated sting, Ted was quite impatient to ask him why. Dee was looking forward to hearing the answer to that one, too. It had better be good, or as far as he was concerned, IA could hang Cooper out to dry.

~end of Justice chapter 23~



Tags: fake, justice
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