brit_columbia (brit_columbia) wrote,
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brit_columbia

FAKE First Year Together: Justice, Chapter 25

Hello Readers,

With the new, shorter-style chapters, I ran out of space for inserting the kind of make-up scene you're all hoping for. That will happen next chapter, I promise. *Ducks*


FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June), chapter 25

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. They are slowly closing in on him, but he still has the advantage. 
Rating: Sorry guys! This chapter is not really worksafe, but there is no sex in it. However, you will find M/M kissing and affection and a fairly explicit reference to sexual activity, so don’t read it at work.
Disclaimer: FAKE, featuring Dee, Ryo, Bikky, The Chief, Ted, JJ, FBI Agent Diana Spacey,  Commissioner Berkeley Rose 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:  Detective Tina Greenspan, Sergeant Ross Pekoe, and Detectives Linda Ehrman and Bill Mitchell are my characters, as is Leona, the Chief's secretary. Marianne from the front desk is Sanami Matoh's character, although we never saw her in the manga books. She was just mentioned in a scene when Diana was being possessive with Berkeley.  Detective Bill Mitchell was first introduced in A New Day, chapter 35. He later tried to woo JJ by sending him an anchovy-garlic pizza (which Drake ate). Recently Bill and JJ went out on a date in Justice, Chapter 2. JJ was late for his date because he helped Ryo at the station.

Thank you to 
ladyfeather and tripple_p for beta-reading this chapter for me.

Previously in Justice: Recently, during a raid in which the police tried unsuccessfully to capture Rick Romero (AKA Ja Romeo) for questioning, a mother dog was shot and Diana maneuvered Detective Greenspan into taking home an orphaned puppy. The puppy has been making Tina's life hell ever since. Sergeant Ross Pekoe, the Supervisor of Staff at One Police Plaza (where Dee and Ryo are temporarily quartered) has had a couple of run-ins with Dee and Ryo. He is one of the Commissioner's on-again off-again sex partners and he is jealous of the Commissioner's interest in Ryo.



Justice, Chapter 25: Longing

by Brit Columbia


"Well, 'maybe' I missed you, too." Dee kissed Ryo again and then glanced down at the album. It was open to a page that showed Ryo and Bikky eating ice cream together in one photo, and then another of Ryo holding up a card with a big grin on his face, while Bikky stood off to the side looking both pleased and embarrassed. Dee recognized the occasion as Father's Day last year. Ryo always insisted that he and Bikky spend time alone together on Father's day. Carol tactfully stayed away, and Dee did the same, although less tactfully. He felt bad for his partner, though, today. He knew Ryo derived a huge piece of his identity from being a father, and, when the clock struck midnight in about twenty minutes or so, it would be Father's Day. Foster-father and son were not only physically separated by many miles, but the son was still pissed at the father for sending him away. This particular Father's Day was going to be a tough one for Ryo.

Ryo saw which pictures Dee was looking at, and immediately stiffened. "Dee, don't make any negative comments, okay?"

Dee looked at him in surprise. "Huh?"

"Oh come on, don't play dumb with me. You're always trying to get rid of him; don't bother denying it. And now he's in another state."

Dee's cheerful mood dissipated. "Ryo, what the fuck? Of course I know he's in another state. I drove everyone there, remember? Two hundred thirty-five miles round trip, including the time we spent being confused when we took the wrong exit near the Pennsylvania turnpike. All of that before an eight-hour shift at work. Where the hell are you goin' with this?"

"Only..." Ryo glared challengingly at him, but Dee thought he saw a hint of uncertainty in Ryo's still-sleepy eyes. "Only that I can't handle hearing you say stuff like 'Good riddance, Brat,' or 'Bye-bye Bikky' in a happy voice, okay? Yes, he's gone. Yes, we're alone here. But I'm not happy about it, all right?"

Dee snapped the heavy book shut and thrust it at Ryo. "Was it my idea to send him away? No. I even argued against it, as a favor to him. But I didn't push it too hard, because I could see it was a sure road to getting me in trouble with you. I only tried to do what I thought you wanted. I did the goddamn driving, I paid for the goddamn gas, and I've just spent the last eight hours trying to advance our position against the fuckwad who originally made the threats against Bikky." He moved away from Ryo and stood up. "But okay, fine. When you start to care about that shit, give Ted a call. Or Allison. Or the Chief. Or check your fucking email, since I forwarded you a copy of tonight's report."

Ryo stared at him open-mouthed. For a moment it seemed as though he didn't know what to say, then he gathered himself. "Dee, knock it off. You're overreacting!" Tossing the blankets aside, Ryo got out of bed. He looked surprised when Dee took a step back from him.

"The fuck I am, Ryo." Dee made a sound of frustration. "Look, I'm tired. It's been a long day. A hell of a long day. And now, what the fuck, you need me to be your whipping boy, 'cause you're mad at the world?" He turned away. "Well, nothing doin', sweetheart. And don't you start fucking patronizing me with that 'You're overreacting' shit. You sound like that asshole Ross."

Dee strode out through the bedroom door, leaving Ryo staring after him.

"Dee! Where are you going?"

Dee ignored him and kept on walking. He stopped, however, when he reached the kitchen. Ryo being snarky was nothing new. If his lover wanted a stupid, pointless scrap at this time of night, that was exactly what he was going to get.

Dee heard Ryo's footsteps practically skid into the kitchen after him just as he was opening the cabinet above the fridge. This was where he kept a bottle of Jack Daniels that he was pretty sure Ryo didn't know about, since it was wedged behind a row of cookbooks that his partner rarely opened. Dee swore when he realized it wasn't there.

Ryo spoke from behind him. "Did you think the Seventh missed that cabinet? Come on Dee, you were here."

"Yeah, yeah. Funny, there was no smell of booze, and I sure never saw the bottle in the wreckage. Maybe the bastards took it with them." Dee closed the cabinet and turned around.

"Maybe they did." Ryo stood there wearing nothing but a pair of navy blue boxers, his beige slippers and an exaggeratedly casual expression. Dee realized that his partner was trying his best to act normal. This was a good sign.

"You knew about the bottle, huh?"

"I know about everything in my kitchen, Dee."

"Don't suppose there's anything to drink in this whole apartment?"

"Not tonight. Unless you mean chamomile tea or grapefruit juice."

Dee made a face and then glanced at the door, thinking he might make a little trip to the corner market nearby. To his surprise, Ryo took a quick step forward and put a hand on his arm. "Don't go, Dee. You don't really want to drink tonight, do you?"

Dee glanced down at Ryo's hand before looking at his face. He didn't smile. "Not if we're gonna be nice to each other."

A faint blush stole over Ryo's features and he stood for a moment, his eyes fixed on the center of Dee's chest. "I don't believe I thanked you for driving us to Devon today." He paused. "I... I was glad of your support."

"C'mere." Dee opened his arms and Ryo stepped tentatively into them. Dee closed his eyes for a moment and appreciated the way their bodies fit so perfectly together. He tenderly stroked the bare skin of Ryo's back, and breathed in the scent of his hair.

Ryo laid his head on Dee's shoulder and sighed. "You know, I want to be nice to you, Dee. Really, I do. But sometimes, I open my mouth and...." He trailed off.

"I know, baby. I know. I kind of have the same problem, except worse. Let's start again, shall we?"

"Okay."

"Did you miss me?" Dee kissed Ryo's hair near his temple, and experienced a surge of joy when he felt Ryo's arms tighten around him.

"Yeah, I really did." Ryo turned his face up for a kiss, and Dee obliged him. It was a sweet, lingering kiss, no tongue, no demands.

"I love you, Ryo." Dee smoothed Ryo's bangs out of his eyes with one gentle hand. "I love that brat, too, even though I know you have your doubts. The two of you are a package deal, and I understood that from the start. While it's true the kid can be a pain in the neck, I am NOT happy about the circumstances around him being gone. It would be different if he was at some kind of basketball camp and was enjoying himself, but I don't like him being run off by Abernathy like this."

"I... I love you too, Dee. All the time. Even when I'm...when I'm being... Well, I hope you believe me."

"Shut up and kiss me, dolt." Dee took Ryo's jaw in one hand and this time his kiss was more demanding. It contained both a message and a question. However, although Ryo seemed to acquiesce meekly enough, he didn't respond with the kind of enthusiasm Dee was hoping for. Dee lifted his mouth from Ryo's and looked down at his partner.

Ryo met his eyes, and then glanced away, his expression solemn. "Happy Father's Day, huh?"

"We'll talk to him tomorrow," Dee said, "at ten a.m."

'"IF he comes to the phone," said Ryo morosely.

"Oh he will. Karen's got Skype and she's on board."

"What?" Ryo looked quickly at Dee. "Have you made some kind of arrangement with her?"

"Yep. She's gonna let him sleep until nine, and then, when he least expects it, i.e. when he's stuffing his face at the breakfast buffet, it'll be Skype time."

"Why didn't you tell me?"

Dee shrugged. "I only talked to her a couple of hours ago. It was going to be a surprise."

A beautiful smile transformed Ryo's pensive face. "Dee! Thank you!"

"How about we make that a real thank you?" Dee nuzzled along the side of Ryo's faintly stubbly jaw.

"What did you have in mind?"

"Can't you guess?"

"Well, knowing you, it's either food or sex."

Dee gave Ryo's ear lobe a soft bite before blowing on his neck. "How about food and sex?"

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

Diana held the envelope in her hand, a corner of her mouth twisting in a sardonic smile as she glanced at the familiar rounded handwriting, the little hand-drawn hearts and smiley-faced stars on the corners, the tacky pink lipstick kiss on the back. The contents of the envelope were even worse. Marianne's love notes did not make for very entertaining reading. Frankly, Diana had always wondered precisely what Berk saw in that silly little tart. Maybe Berk had a sometime thing for itty-bitty, pointy little tits. More likely Marianne flattered Berk's big ol' ego with her naked adulation. Diana tossed the pink envelope back into an open file. This was Marianne's second note this week. The girl must be getting horny. Or desperate.

Diana consulted her notebook. Not including the cleaning staff, there had been four people who had tried to get inside Berk's office in the past four days. They had all found the door locked. Lieutenant Smith's secretary Leona had been quite a surprise. What the hell did she want access to the Commissioner's office for? If she, like Marianne, had the hots for Berkeley, she had certainly hidden it very well until now. Marianne's attempts to gain access were understandable, as was Ross's single visit, although it was highly unusual for him to leave his ivory tower at the palace and stoop to chasing Berk down in person at one of his satellite offices. Ross was bitter and bitchy over the way Berkie treated him most of the time, but at least he did his best to hide it. One Police Plaza's Supervisor of Staff had a certain brittle hauteur that he pulled off very well. Diana kind of admired him for it. 

Detective Linda Ehrman from Narcotics had been an even bigger surprise than Leona. Not only was the woman about the furthest you could get from Berkeley's type, she was a confirmed lesbian to boot. Of the four, she had been the only one to knock, which may or may not mean anything. Diana had of course checked with Berkeley as to whether Linda was working on any special projects for him, but he hadn't even known who she was.

Of the four suspects, two were Berk's lovers and two were not, unless Leona had special talents that no one knew about. The thought made Diana snort softly to herself. Leona was married, at least ten pounds overweight, and always wore boring knee-length polyester skirts. If Berk had ever so much as thought about banging that one, serious drugs would have had to be involved. And as far as Diana knew, Berkie was not into any kind of drugs other than aged scotch and fine French wines.

Well, there was no point wasting time on further speculation. The next few days ought to bring results. Diana picked up the phone. It was time for stage two of Operation Spy.

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

Ross spotted Detective Adams, Dee Laytner's co-worker, across the dance floor. The little queen seemed to be having a fight with his companion, a big, freckled, athletic type with a boyish face. Ross observed that Freckles had no fashion sense whatsoever. He was dressed for a boardroom, not a nightclub. His suit could have used some tailoring, too.

Ross struggled to remember the little fellow's name. Jo-Jo, or Jamie, something like that. He was a dead bore, but useful to talk to sometimes whenever Ross felt he needed to gain a little perspective in the unrequited love department. Jo-Jo's doomed passion for Dee Laytner was so painfully ludicrous, that listening to him for ten or fifteen minutes usually enabled Ross to take a breath, and then take a big step back from the whole tragic notion of love.

Ross had also once suffered through a crush on Dee, not that he had ever felt it necessary to confess this fact to Jamie-Jay. All Ross had been willing to own up to was sleeping with Dee on a single occasion. God, that was humiliating enough. That one night in bed had been exciting, amazing, and thrilling. The sweetest high, pure magic. He had been walking on air for two days after. Then had come the trouble of trying to track the man down. Laytner was apparently not big on returning phone calls. Ross could still recall the sharp and lasting burn of mortification when he finally caught up with Laytner two weeks later and realized that the arrogant green-eyed son of a bitch couldn't actually remember anything about their night together. Or so he claimed. Okay, so alcohol had been involved, but not that much. Dee Laytner was just an asshole. Ross took another sip of his drink and watched Detective Adams have his little spat.

When Freckles had stormed out into the night, Ross made his way over to JJ. Yeah, that was his name: JJ. He greeted the shorter man with a friendly smile and offered to buy him a drink. JJ accepted, and they left the noisy section of the nightclub in favor of the adjoining Romance Room where the beat of the music was not quite so loud. The Romance Room was all sofas and electric candles in soft golden and pink paper shades. It was easier to have a conversation in there. They passed a lip-locked couple, and then a set of three young men who were all entwined around each other in such a way that suggested that one or more of them were likely to have a fully-clothed orgasm in the not too distant future. Still others sat close together talking softly.

Ross and JJ found a vacant red leather loveseat on the back wall and sat down together. A very beautiful girl whom they both knew was really a boy took their order and sashayed off with her tray.

"Fight with your boyfriend?" asked Ross.

"That jerk is NOT my boyfriend!" exclaimed JJ. "He's just a little project I've been generously donating my time and energy to."

"What kind of project?"

"Oh you know, the kind who thought he was straight in spite of urges that suggested otherwise, and even got married to some poor woman before realizing he wasn't straight at all. Now he wants to make up for lost time."

Ross nodded. "Yeah, I've met a few of those over the years. A surprising number go back to their wives."

"Well, I just found out that this guy has been lying to me!" Despite his anger, JJ, seemed almost on the brink of tears. "He told me he and his wife were separated because she wasn't okay with him being gay, but now I find out that not only is he not separated from her, but that he's been lying to both of us! She has no idea about him! Can you believe it?"

"Bastard," agreed Ross.

"Bill has just been using me," JJ concluded.

The beautiful waitress reappeared and set their drinks on the table. When Ross paid her, she thanked him in a bass voice.

"Well, I hope the sex was good while it lasted," Ross said. "Cheers." He clinked his glass against JJ's.

JJ downed half the drink in two big gulps and wiped his mouth. "That's just it-- it wasn't!"

"Too bad."

"You saw him, didn't you? All big and manly? Well, turns out he's a bottom." JJ turned to Ross, his expression indignant. "I'm a bottom! I was quite clear about that. Yet he insisted on going to bed with me."

Ross shrugged. "Well, you know, two bottoms can always find ways to make each other feel good."

"Oh sure, if they're flexible and not selfish. But Bill wants only one thing, and that's to be fucked. He will accept a blowjob, but will not give one." JJ swallowed the rest of his drink, and waved the glass at the waitress. "Now, I, unlike some people, am flexible and not selfish. If the situation calls for it, I am capable of calling up my inner 'top' and fucking somebody. But it kind of takes an effort. It's not in my top five preferences, you know?"

"Not mine, either, but I like it once in a while. Depends on the man."

"Well, I'm done with that idiot." JJ twisted the empty glass round and round in his hands. "I wonder if he's planning on ever telling his wife?"

"Most men are lying dogs, aren't they?" Ross asked, and then changed the subject without waiting for a reply. "How's Detective Laytner?"

"Sexy as ever," replied JJ. He gave Ross a quick smile and then sighed loudly.

"Still playing hard to get?"

JJ sighed. "Yes! I just can't understand it. WHY won't that man go to bed with me?"

"I really can't imagine," Ross said, pouring on the flattery. "I mean, you're seriously hot. Coming and going."

"Really?" JJ preened a little. "Why, thank you, Ross. I think it's because we work together, Dee and me. I mean, the man is a total player, but he hasn't slept with anyone at our precinct for years! I've been asking around," he added. "I don't know where he's been getting it, but he's got to be getting it somewhere. Maybe he's screwing mostly women nowadays."

"Are you sure?" asked Ross. "What about his partner, Detective MacLean?"

JJ did a little double-take. "Him? Oh, well, I'm sure Dee would like to, but unfortunately for him, Ryo is one of those asexual people who would rather work, or do laundry, or paint his living room than ever get naked with another human being."

"If you say so," Ross said, injecting just enough of a note of doubt into his voice.

JJ took the bait. "What do you mean? Do you know something about Ryo that I don't?"

"Well, only that he seems to be pretty close to the Commissioner," Ross remarked. "The energy between them is kind of... sexual."

"WHAT? Ryo and Rose?" JJ looked horrified. "How could that be? Ryo's not even gay! I have reason to believe that there might be a woman somewhere in his life." He looked away, eyes fierce under knotted brows. "But on the other hand, it would be just like him to try to sleep his way to the top. Or maybe make someone think he was willing to sleep with them, but then come up with endless excuses not to actually go through with it."

"Do you think so?" Ross hoped JJ was wrong about that, because that was just the sort of chase that would keep Berkeley interested for years. He was certain JJ was wrong about MacLean not being gay. It was his personal opinion that the man was not only gay, but very probably sleeping with JJ's beloved Dee Laytner. However, he didn't say so because he didn't want the conversation to get sidetracked. What  Ross really cared about was whether MacLean had something going on with Berkeley. "Is 'Ryo' the type that would go to bed with someone who could promote him?"

"Well, he'd have to grit his teeth and endure the 'icky' sex part," JJ said in his bitchiest tone, "but he's so competitive that it's possible he just might consider advancing his career that way." A thought struck him. "Oh dear. I hope Ryo doesn't end up being my boss someday!"

"Let's hope not." Ross frowned. He was a realistic person, for the most part. He knew that Berk would never love him the way he wanted to be loved, but at least he was in a position to know that he was the Commissioner's only regular male lover. Berk screwed other men on holidays, but he was generally quite careful in the state of New York, where he was frequently on TV due to his high profile job. For Ross, having to compete with Berk's various women was bad enough, but a necessary evil he had accepted a long time ago. However, he had been aware for some time that Berkeley had a strong interest in Detective MacLean.

It was MacLean he wasn't sure about. He had seen the man blushing under Berk's admiring regard. Every ounce of intuition Ross possessed told him that MacLean was in no way indifferent to the virile magnetism of the NYPD Commissioner. Berk was slowly but surely hunting that man, and would probably have succeeded long before now if not for the presence of Dee Laytner.

Always well groomed and tastefully attired in beautifully cut clothing that flattered his slender, runner's build, Ross knew he was good-looking. But at thirty four, going on thirty five, he was uncomfortably aware that his youth was mostly behind him. He had subtle new lines on his face that he was trying his best to minimize with a rigorous skin care routine. His hair was starting to thin somewhat at the temples, although he didn't think it was too noticeable yet. Excellent products had helped him disguise that fact so far, but sooner or later the day would come when he couldn't hide it anymore. Was Berk perhaps planning to take on MacLean as a second male lover, or was he thinking about replacing Ross altogether with the detective from the Twenty-Seventh? Despite his longstanding association with the handsome Commissioner, Ross couldn't help feeling that it was a strong possibility that he would end up being ousted. He wasn't about to let that happen. He must work on a way to get MacLean out of Berkeley's path, one way or another.

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


Detective Tina Greenspan ignored the wails and yips coming from behind the bathroom door as she bustled around her kitchen, chopping lettuce and giving her pot of sauce an occasional stir. There were chicken breasts stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary ham in the oven, as well as a store-bought strawberry cheesecake in a box in the fridge. This lunch was going to be special if it killed her. It wasn't the first time Berkeley had ever come to her apartment, but it was the first time she had cooked for him and she wanted everything to be perfect.

He was coming to meet the puppy. Tina hoped he would take the little nightmare away with him when he left. In a perfect world, the puppy should  already be gone, and she would therefore be able to enjoy Berkeley's company without the presence of that ugly, noisy, smelly little beast. Unfortunately, however, the world was far from perfect, and they would just have to put up with the yapping and the scratching noises. Hopefully, her Romantic Classics song mix would cover the worst of those.

Tina had considered stirring a shot of gin in with the little brute's canned brunch, but had ultimately decided to hold off on account of the fact that she couldn't be sure what kind of effect it might have on his bowels. The thought made her wrinkle up her nose in disgust. Plus, if he was too listless, or Heaven forbid, in some kind of alcohol-induced coma when Berk wanted to look at him, it could end up being very hard to explain. In any case, it was her devout hope that there would be other dog-free dates with Berkeley in the future.

The doorbell rang and she hurried to answer it, untying her apron as she went. Berkeley stood there in an absolutely fabulous summer suit, holding a bouquet of flowers that had to have cost at least fifty or sixty dollars. She exclaimed with delight at the sight of him and stood on her toes to kiss his lips.

"My dear Tina, you have somehow grown even lovelier since the last time I saw you." Berkeley's eyes swept over her, and she felt her cheeks grow pink under his appreciative gaze. Oh, how she wished they could just skip lunch and go straight to bed.

"Flattery will... certainly get you a good lunch," she informed him archly, and swept the flowers out of his hand. "Please come in and sit down while I get this gorgeous arrangement into a vase."

The puppy apparently felt that his release from prison was imminent, so he redoubled his efforts to be heard. His yips turned to howls, and he appeared to be hurling his little body against the bathroom door with a force that made Tina worry that he might crack it right out of its frame.

The Commissioner's brow furrowed slightly. "What on earth is that noise?"

"The puppy, Berkeley. You know, the one your friend is going to take?" She hoped the puppy would tire himself out soon and give them a break from his theatrics. It would be hard to enjoy lunch with a racket like that going on. She slid smoothly sideways and turned up the music ever so slightly.

Berkeley looked a tad nonplussed. "Puppy?"

"Wait, didn't Diana tell you?"

"Er, ah, yes, I seem to remember something... but I thought that you and Diana were going to take care of it between you?"

"Well, that's not what she told me." Tina tried not to let her disappointment show. Diana had been very difficult to get hold of for the past couple of days. "I thought she was going to come by and take him to you. And then when I was fortunate enough to catch you between meetings and you agreed to let me cook you lunch, I thought..."

"You thought I was coming to look at him?"

"Well, yes. Although I hoped you were coming to look at me too." Tina turned her body slightly so that the curves above and below her tiny waist were on better display. She was wearing a short, tight, floral-print dress that she had been saving for an occasion just such as this.

It worked. Berkeley's eyes took on a raptorial gleam, and he reached out to caress her. "My dear girl, I don't know how a man could possibly keep his eyes off you." To Tina's great relief, the puppy chose that moment to fall silent. Her ever-present resentment of him softened slightly.

Berk removed his glasses and cupped the side of her face with one of his large, powerful hands. She felt her body responding to his magnificent masculinity almost immediately. Her nipples stiffened, scratching against the violet lace of the delicate brassiere Berkeley had sent her the week before. In the matching panties, she could feel her vulva swelling. If he kissed her, she would get really wet. She knew it. It was already starting. Her lips received his with an involuntary little cry. His scent was in her nostrils, his tongue was gently seeking admittance, oh God she had missed him...

Yip! Yip Yip! Yip! Yap! Yap! Ho-o-o-o-o-ow-w-w-w-l-l-l! Thud, thud, crash, crash, thud, scratch, scrape, howl!

Berkeley abruptly stepped back from her and replaced his glasses on the bridge of his nose. "Perhaps we ought to see to the puppy, first," he suggested. His voice was completely neutral and Tina found she couldn't read his expression. "It appears he's not going to give us any peace until we give him what he wants. Could he be hungry?"

"No, I fed him an hour ago," said Tina, trying not to let her disappointment and annoyance show. "I think he just doesn't like being locked in the bathroom. But I didn't want him under my feet while I was cooking."

"Perhaps if we let him out for a while, he'll see that there's nothing madly exciting--well, for a puppy-- going on, and then he'll settle down."

"I don't know about that," said Tina, who knew from bitter personal experience that this puppy didn't know the meaning of the expression settle down. "It might just make him even more excited."

"Well, let's give it a try, shall we?" Berkeley started walking in the direction of the bathroom. Over his shoulder, he added, "If it doesn't work, we can always move to plan B."

"What's plan B?"

"I take you out for a lovely lunch at the Benjamin, and you can impress me with your culinary skills on another occasion when you are no longer puppy-sitting."

"Oh..." Tina thought that lunch at the Benjamin sounded wonderful. Hopefully, Berkeley would spring for a room after. Maybe they could bring the cheesecake along... Consumed with these thoughts, she forgot to tell him to open the door carefully. When he turned the handle, several bad things happened at once.

First the horrible smell of puppy-poo came at them in a wave. Secondly, the puppy himself, who appeared to have gotten his feet and part of his body covered in a brownish substance that could be nothing other than puppy-poo, shot out of the door and assaulted Berkeley's legs with frantic scrabblings. In seconds, the beast's little nails had somehow caught a loose thread and rent a great tear in one of Berkeley's pant legs. At the same time he smeared the other pant leg, from the knee down, with feces.

Berkeley swore and tried to step back. In his haste, he trod upon the open-toed part of Tina's sandaled foot, causing her to cry out in pain and almost lose her balance. In a flash the puppy sprang around them both and took off on a great tearing run around the apartment, barking excitedly at his new-found freedom. Tina knew he was probably tracking traces of excrement everywhere. Oh God, was this really happening?

Trying not to think about the huge cleaning job she was going to have to do of her entire apartment, she turned her attention to the Commissioner. Berkeley was still swearing through clenched teeth. His face was quite red and the muscles of his jaw were bunching. He was looking down in despair at the pant legs of his ruined suit. Their eyes met, hers apologetic, his furious.

"Oh Berkeley," she whispered, and then stumbled as the yapping puppy bumped hard against her legs in his latest high-speed lap of her apartment. The creature pushed past Berkeley too, and a moment later her ears detected the sound of the bedsprings as he jumped onto her bed and then off again before apparently rebounding against her dresser. There was a glass-shattering kind of crash. She prayed it wasn't one of her perfume bottles. Naturally, it would be too much to hope that he had managed to hurl himself through one of the glass windows and plunge to his death four storeys below.

"Tina, I'm afraid it has become necessary to cancel our plans for today," Berkeley informed her coldly. "I am no longer dressed for lunch, and I believe I have lost my appetite."

Tina just nodded miserably. She couldn't believe how quickly her happily-anticipated afternoon with Berkeley had been reduced to shambles. He was going to leave, and she had no idea when or even if she would see him again. What she really wanted to do was wail, "Take me with you! Don't leave me alone with that little monster!" but of course she didn't. He was too angry, and he obviously blamed her for what had happened.

He walked out of her door with no kiss, not even a smile. Just a hard look from pale blue eyes gone newly icy, and a curt "Goodbye."

When the door had been closed behind him, Tina leaned back against it and burst into tears. The puppy, who had been capering happily in front of her, going down low on his forelegs and wiggling his bottom in the air, finally appeared to realize that something was wrong. He looked at her quizzically and then came forward to rub his stinky little body against her bare legs with a sympathetic whimper. It took every ounce of self-control she had not to punt him halfway into the living room.



~end of chapter 25~

Thank you for reading! For those who are interested, I have now watched eight episodes of QAF. I really like the chiropractor.

Tags: fake, justice
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