By Brit Columbia
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, and they are starting to close in on him. Unfortunately, he has a gang of crooks and crooked cops who are helping him go after Dee, Ryo and Bikky.
Rating: This chapter is worksafe.
Disclaimer: FAKE, featuring Dee, Ryo, Bikky, Carol, The Chief, Ted, Drake, JJ, and FBI Agent Diana Spacey, was created by Sanami Matoh. I make no claim on FAKE or Ms. Matoh or any of her characters. I write fanfiction with no expectation of monetary reward.
Author's Notes: Apologies for posting a week later than was promised. I don't know what to say about the next chapter... I've worked every day for a month and I don't know when it's going to stop. I'll do what I can and keep you posted.
Thank you to ladyfeather and tripple_p for beta-reading this chapter for me.
Previously in Justice: Ted finally revealed to Dee that he’s aware of Dee and Ryo’s secret relationship. Dee has yet to tell Ryo. Ryo wants to remain in the closet and Dee is respecting his wishes.
Dee and Ryo have managed to drive the beginning of a wedge between Detectives Hugh Clayton and his partner Lonnie Fielding of the Seventh Precinct. As this chapter opens, Dee and Ryo have spent the morning working on finding one of Lonnie’s old associates—Dino Varras, now a drug addict, whom they are hoping will be able to give them something solid they can use on Lonnie. They know that Lieutenant Abernathy gives Lonnie his orders, and in fact it was Lonnie and Hugh who caught Bikky with a bag of Doritos packed with heroin hits, and later, Lonnie and Hugh who came to Ryo’s apartment with a search warrant. Lieutenant Abernathy is getting increasingly worried about Dee and Ryo, as they are closing in on him and all his best efforts to date have not yet brought them down. .
It's midday on a sunny Monday in June, six days before Gay Pride.
FAKE First Year Together: Justice Chapter 32
Harlem River Park was about as close as you could get to an island of tranquility in the midst of all the bustle and noise of New York City. It was nowhere near as crowded as Central Park would have been, but there wasn’t as much shady tree cover and the sun really blazed down at this time of day. At least there was a nice breeze coming off the river. Once out of the taxi, Dee lost no time divesting himself of his suit jacket and tie. By contrast, Ryo’s only response to the heat was to loosen his own tie a fraction and undo the top button of his shirt behind the knot. Dee just shook his head at his partner and forebore to comment. They bought hot dogs and Pepsi from a cart near the entrance and took them over to a nearby bench to eat.
Dee decided to let Ryo finish his lunch before he broached the subject of Ted’s offer. Past experience with his partner had taught him that if Ryo received bad or upsetting news at the start of a meal, he would lose his appetite, and that would not bode well for the rest of their shift together. A low-blood-sugar Ryo was a cranky Ryo. They ate their lunch in a companionable silence. It was good to be outdoors on a day like this. Dee spared a sympathetic thought for all those poor drudges stuck in their office cubicles all day without so much as a window onto the outside world.
Ryo produced his little tube of antibacterial gel for the second time that day and washed his hands with it after he had disposed of his hot dog wrapper and used napkin. Dee eyed this little ritual fondly for a moment, before realizing with a slightly sinking feeling that this was the perfect moment to open his mouth and clue Ryo in about Ted.
“Dude,” he said. “Gotta talk to you.”
Ryo immediately stiffened. “It’s not about that photo of the Irish guy who looks like me, is it? Because I know I said I’d tell the Chief about it, but I’ve hardly seen him for the past couple of days.”
“No, it’s not that,” said Dee, leaning forward and clasping his hands loosely between his open thighs. “It’s something else.”
Ryo eyed him suspiciously. “What?”
“Had a chat with our friend Teddy last night. About us.”
Ryo practically recoiled. “You told him?”
Dee gave him a steady look. “No, I did not. I heard you loud and clear when you said you wanted to keep things between us until further notice.”
“But he somehow figured it out?” Ryo was still looking skeptical. Dee knew Ryo well enough to understand that behind his mildly pissed off facial expression, his partner’s mind was probably racing.
“Yeah. At first I thought maybe Tinkerbell Tina had told him, but he said no.”
“Couldn’t you just have denied it?”
Dee shook his head. “Nah. He wasn’t just fishing, Ryo. He knew. He figured it out all by himself.”
Ryo crossed his arms and turned his face away from Dee, his expression closed. “If he figured it out, it’s because of you.”
Dee fought not to get angry. After all, he had anticipated this reaction. “How’s that, babe?” Might as well let Ryo get it out.
Ryo turned back toward him with accusation in his face and tone. “Well, there’s an example right there-- ‘Babe!’ Do you have to go around flirting with me at work, making suggestive comments, calling me names like ‘Babe’, and just generally treating me like an object? Not to mention all the touchy-feely stuff you do. No wonder everyone thinks we’re in a relationship!”
“Ah!” Dee raised his index finger. “That’s where you’re wrong. Ted didn’t notice anything until you asked me to stop all the flirting and the touchy-feely. It was the noticeable change in my— er, make that our, behaviour that alerted him and made him start watching us.”
Ryo abruptly rose and went to stand a short distance away, his back to Dee. Dee could see the tension in his partner’s shoulders from his place on the bench. He debated whether he should get up and follow Ryo, and finally decided just to let him be for a couple of minutes.
He watched a pair of seagulls flying in lazy loops as one chased the other over the river. The sky was a strong and happy blue, and the sunlight glittered on the water. Periodically his eyes darted over to Ryo to see if he might perhaps be done processing today’s piece of startling news, but Ryo remained as he was for quite some time.
For the next minute or so, Dee’s attention was caught by an elderly man who was teaching a small boy to throw a ball for their dog. When he eventually looked in his partner’s direction once more, he saw that Ryo was moving. Unfortunately, Ryo was not returning to the park bench to continue the discussion of the Ted situation; rather he was moving further away, over toward the pylons. Dee sprang up nimbly and strode after Ryo, barely even noticing the decorative heart-shaped mural on the pavement beneath his feet. A minute later he joined Ryo at the black metal railing overlooking the Harlem River.
Ryo still wouldn’t look at him. The breeze lifted Ryo’s light brown hair and glinted off the strands that were starting to become lightened by the sun. Dee glanced over at his lover’s perfect, yet utterly closed profile and wanted nothing more than to lean in and nuzzle his neck. The urge was overpowering. He knew just how it would feel; how Ryo’s skin would smell, how his wind-tossed hair would tickle. But Dee didn’t dare. Ryo would be sure to take it the wrong way.
“I wasn’t done, Ryo,” he said quietly. “You ready to listen to part two?”
“Oh, there’s more?” Ryo’s voice was tinged with bitterness. “I suppose it’s a good thing we’re at the Palace nowadays. At least I don’t have to go right back to the Two-Seven to deal with everyone’s curiosity.”
“The others don’t know,” Dee said quickly. “Only Ted. And the Chief and the Commish, of course. But you knew that.”
“And you expect me to believe that Ted hasn’t told anyone?” Ryo glanced at Dee for a split second only, but it was long enough for Dee to see the resentment smouldering in his partner’s eyes.
“Well, yeah. ‘Cause you see, Teddy has a plan.”
Ryo’s face turned right toward him, looking faintly shocked. “Blackmail?”
Dee shook his head, one corner of his mouth quirking upward in a half-smile. “Not exactly. He proposed we accept him as our ally. He gets why we want to keep our relationship a secret.”
Ryo’s dark eyes narrowed and he returned his gaze to the river. “And what does he want in return?”
Dee shrugged and then added “Dunno,” because he realized that Ryo wasn’t looking at him. “Ted wants favors rather than money. I believe he wants ‘em from me, not you, but we haven’t yet hammered out the details.”
“What kind of favors?”
“Probably wants me to keep him supplied with women,” said Dee. “Or he wants me to back him up if he pisses someone off.” He sighed and shook his head. “I really have no idea— I’m just guessing.”
“No double dates,” said Ryo suddenly, surprising Dee.
“If Ted wants you to go on any double dates where you bring the women and help him to ‘entertain’ them, I swear I’ll throttle both of you.”
The low, throbbing anger in Ryo’s voice delighted Dee. Jealousy from Ryo was always a good sign. He couldn’t help grinning and throwing his partner a questioning look. “That would bother you, huh?”
“Dee,” Ryo growled warningly.
“Kidding! I would never do that. The only person I wanna go on a date with is you, babe, no word of a lie.”
These words did not make Ryo smile or relax or anything, but at least he looked a little less unhappy. Dee took a chance and reached out a tentative hand to Ryo’s shoulder. To his relief, his partner didn’t shake it off.
“Ryo,” he said, “come sit down. I wanna tell you the things that tipped Ted off. We need to make a few changes to the way we’ve been acting…”
“You mean the way you’ve been acting.”
“No, I mean us. Ted specifically mentioned you.” Dee got Ryo moving away from the river and back over to the bench on which they had eaten their hot dogs. Just before he sat down, he turned to Ryo with a wicked grin. “Sweetheart, you are really going to have to stop gazing limpidly at my ass.”
When they returned to One Police Plaza, they found Lance at the security desk with one of his colleagues. Ryo couldn’t remember if he had seen the other one before or not. None of the others stood out for him the way Lance did.
Lance greeted them with his usual friendliness, and asked how things had gone with the Internal Affairs bastards who had been trying to hunt them down the day before.
“We’re still managing to duck them,” said Ryo noncommittally. He looked up at Lance’s rugged face as he spoke. Even though his natural shyness around the huge security guard made him want to avoid direct eye contact, he found that every time he specifically tried not to look at Lance, his eyes seemed to seek out the man’s huge hands and thick, sausage-like fingers instead. His thoughts would consequently wander in directions he did not want them to go. Then he would hate himself for having those thoughts.
“Oh hey, someone left you a letter, Randy.” Lance turned away and opened two drawers in the security desk before he found what he wanted. “Don’t think it’s from Internal Affairs, though.”
Ryo took the envelope from Lance’s outstretched hand with his eyes averted. “Who delivered it?”
“Bicycle courier.” Lance turned to his co-worker. “Right, Ace?”
Ace nodded, and Lance turned an apologetic face toward Dee and Ryo. “I was away from the desk when it came in.”
“Who’s it from?” Dee frowned and took the envelope from Ryo. “YFD Industries? The fuck? Not sure you should open this, dude.”
Ryo snatched it back from him. “Why not?”
“That letter isn’t from any company. Look at the crappy labels. Stuck on with scotch tape, too. Someone just printed them out on his computer.”
“It says ‘Witness Statement’ under my name,” Ryo pointed out.
“What if it’s booby-trapped?”
An automatic denial sprang to Ryo’s lips, but he didn’t voice it. At the last second he realized that Dee had a point. “With what?” He turned it over carefully in his hands. It felt smooth, like the only thing that might be inside it was paper, several sheets, judging by the weight.
Dee shrugged. “Who knows? Razor blades, ricin… Could be anything.”
Lance and Ace exchanged uncomfortable glances. “Maybe get it checked out,” Ace suggested.
“Let’s give it to the Bomb Squad,” said Dee. “This is their job.”
Ryo winced. He wasn’t popular with the Bomb Squad. They made no secret of the fact that they thought he was an idiot for that whole Richard Feldman fiasco a few years ago. He preferred to avoid them whenever possible. Since they were based out of One Police Plaza and he and Dee, under normal circumstances, had an office at the Twenty-Seventh Precinct, he didn’t see them very often. The last time had been when a team of bomb techs had shown up for the big warehouse fire in Brooklyn a few weeks ago, and he and Sergeant Tilea had exchanged less than friendly words. “Dee, it’s probably nothing,” he said. “I hate to bother them…”
“Better safe than sorry, right Ace?” Lance folded his arms and those big hands mercifully disappeared from view. He looked down at Ryo, his expression concerned. “Wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. Or you, Dee,” he added. “You want us to look at the tapes for the courier?”
“We’ll let you know,” said Ryo. “If it’s a real communication from a witness, we won’t need to interview the courier.”
Dee held out his hand for the letter. “Give it to me, partner. You go and get started on the paperwork, and I’ll run this upstairs.”
Ryo understood that Dee was trying to spare him an encounter with the Bomb Squad, and he felt simultaneously touched and irritated. “No, Dee. I ought to take it. The letter has my name on it, after all.”
“Okay, let’s go then. Thanks, guys.” He saluted Ace and Lance before turning away.
“You don’t have to babysit me, you know,” said Ryo as they walked toward the elevators. He hated the peevish tone of his own voice. He hadn’t intended to sound like that.
“Whaddaya mean, babysit?” Dee punched the button for the elevator. “I ain’t about to go start on paperwork all by myself. Besides, maybe Lieutenant Forchay will be there. I’ve been meaning to compliment her on her new hairstyle.”
Ryo glared at him as the elevator doors opened, but didn’t say anything.
Dee gave him a rueful smile and lifted one shoulder. “Necessary evil, ba— dude.”
“Whatever.” Ryo pressed his lips firmly together and exhaled though his nose. He didn’t see how Dee’s flirting with women was going to help anything. Everyone who had any experience of Dee knew that he was openly bisexual, and had a reputation for being a player. Ryo had to admit to himself that he was not only upset at the imminent possibility of having to deal with comments or innuendo regarding his sexual orientation, but he also didn’t want to be regarded as one of Dee’s many conquests. Fishing his phone out of his pocket, he pretended to check his messages so that he wouldn’t have to talk to Dee. He needed to focus on work, not his partner’s behaviour.
When they entered the suite where the NYPD Public Safety Bomb Technicians were quartered, there were only two techs in sight, and Ryo didn’t recognize either one of them. That cheered him up a little. Maybe this would be easy after all and he wouldn’t have to endure a run-in with any of the usual characters.
The better-looking of the two men, a suntanned brunette of about thirty-five, glanced up from a machine he was working on, and his face actually lit up at the sight of Dee.
“Dee Laytner! How’ve you been?”
Dee gazed back at him, looking like he was trying to remember the guy’s name. “Ronnie? Robbie?”
“Roddy,” the tech said, rising from his desk and coming forward to shake hands. “Close enough. Man, it’s been years, hasn’t it? You haven’t changed a bit.”
Ryo realized that Roddy’s gaze was a bit too intense and that he didn’t seem to want to let go of Dee’s hand. Great, another of Dee’s past conquests. And to make things worse, Dee was now gearing himself up to lay on the charm, judging by the way he was puffing his chest out.
“You either,” said Dee, his smile big and his voice low. “In fact you look even better. You must be living right. Say, Roddy, have you met my partner?”
Roddy turned to Ryo and gave him the sort of slow appraisal that a straight man would never do. “No, I don’t believe I’ve had the pleasure. But I’ve only recently transferred back from L.A. Those California winters were making me soft. How ya doin’, man?”
“Randy MacLean,” said Ryo shortly, offering Roddy his hand and inclining his head in a brief nod.
“Nice to meet you, Randy,” said Roddy. “I hope you’re keepin’ this guy in line.”
“I try,” said Ryo. He knew he ought to smile, but he couldn’t seem to make his lips obey him.
Roddy was about two inches taller than he was, and built like an athlete. He obviously spent a lot of time in the gym. Unbidden, a picture flashed into Ryo’s mind of Dee in bed with this guy, doing the same kinds of things to him that he usually did for Ryo. It made him grit his teeth. What the hell was wrong with him today?
Roddy’s smile faded a little and he stepped back. “So, what brings you guys to see us? I’m sure you didn’t come up here just to admire our view.”
Dee showed him the envelope while explaining their concerns, and Roddy gave him his full professional attention. They took it to an X-ray scanner on the side wall, and Roddy ran the letter through the machine while catching up with Dee in a low voice. Ryo hung back, not at all sure he wanted to hear any details. Meanwhile the other tech spoke quietly into his desk phone. From the furtive glances he cast their way, Ryo felt that he was calling in a supervisor. He hoped it wouldn’t be Lieutenant Forchay or Sergeant Tilea.
Unfortunately, both of those individuals walked into the room only a minute later.
“Well, well, well,” drawled Lieutenant Forchay, a flinty-eyed blonde woman of above-average height. “If it ain’t our favorite wannabe explosives expert. What is it this time, MacLean?”
“Lieutenant.” Ryo gave her a stiff nod. “We’re sorry to trouble you, but we received— ”
She cut him off. “Yeah, yeah, I know. An envelope from an ‘unknown’ person.” Turning to Roddy, she said, “It live?”
He shook his head, his eyes darting questioningly from Dee and Ryo to his commanding officer. The sudden tension in the room was palpable, and he was probably wondering what the hell was going on.
Lieutenant Forchay rolled her eyes. “I thought not. It’s probably a love letter from one of those temp girls who’re smitten with that pretty face of yours.”
Ryo hadn’t been aware of any temp girls who were smitten with him, but he didn’t care either way whether it was true or not. Lieutenant Forchay’s message was clear. She was letting him know for the umpteenth time that he was only a pretty face to her, a guy whose looks were all he had going for him.
“You boys just about done wasting our time, then?” asked Sergeant Tilea. He was short and dark with a receding hairline and small wire-rimmed glasses. “Maybe we should all get back to work, huh?”
Dee bristled. “Work? You, Tilly? Won’t that take time away from your main job, which is kissin’ brass ass?”
Sergeant Tilea squared right up to him. “You just stow the attitude, Laytner, or you’ll find yourself up on report.”
“Cool it, boys.” Lieutenant Forchay sounded almost amused. It could have been Ryo’s imagination, but he thought he saw her eyes kindle briefly at the sight of Dee in macho-mode. Oh no, he thought, not her, too. She had to be at least ten years older than Dee, but he wouldn’t have put it past his partner to have slept with her a few years ago.
Roddy, meanwhile, was trying to get Lieutenant Forchay’s attention. “Ma’am… Er, Lieutenant…”
“Yeah, Simmons, what is it?” She turned her hard eyes on him. “Make it fast. I’m due at a meeting in five minutes.”
He held up the envelope. “It’s not live, but it looks like there’s a powder in it.”
His words stunned everyone into silence. Dee gave Sergeant Tilea his most challenging and contemptuous look, and got it back pound for pound.
Lieutenant Forchay recovered first. “Well, what are you waiting for, man? Run it down to the lab already!” She tossed her hair back. “Sergeant Tilea, come away from Dee. I need you to check my Power Point presentation, and I need it done right now.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Sergeant Tilea obeyed promptly and hurried to her side.
Dee met Lieutenant Forchay’s eyes with raised brows. “So glad we didn’t waste your time, Mona. Blonde suits you, by the way.”
She toyed with a strand of her hair and gave him a faint smile. “Why, thank you, Dee. You can take me out for coffee sometime and tell me all about it. But right now I need you two to clear out. Officer Simmons will let you know what the lab finds in your envelope.” Without another word, she turned and left the room, her strides long and purposeful, like a panther. Sergeant Tilea trotted along in her wake.
“Fuck, what the hell was that about?” Roddy was still looking a little shell-shocked. “Did I miss some excitement in my years on the West Coast?”
“I’m sure your co-workers will tell you all about it,” Ryo said. He just wanted to get out of there. The fact that the envelope had contained an unknown substance had knocked him off balance. He wanted to discuss it with Dee, and preferably not in the presence of any more of Dee’s ex-lovers.
“Thanks a million, dude.” Dee reached out and shook Roddy’s hand again. “Let us know what that shit is. I’m guessing it ain’t baby powder.”
“Will do, Dee. Nice to meet you, Randy. I better run this down like the boss lady says. See you guys around, huh? Maybe we could go out for a beer sometime?” This last suggestion was addressed to Dee alone.
“Sure, let’s do that.” Dee turned to Ryo and nodded toward the door. They left without acknowledging the other tech, the one who had called Forchay and Tilea. With the envelope in a special carry-case, Roddy headed for the stairs, while Dee and Ryo went the other way in the direction of the elevators.
Diana looked up from her desk. “Ross, sweetie! What are you doing here? Is it a slow day over at the Palace?”
Ross shut the door behind him with a controlled bang and drew himself up. She could see that he was furious. “What the hell are you doing having me followed, you underhanded bitch?”
Inwardly Diana seethed. She would have Gabe’s head for this. The idiot had let himself be seen. She had sent Phil to watch Marianne, and assigned Gabe to Ross. She should have done it the other way around.
“Have a seat, Sarge.” Diana waved a perfectly manicured hand in the direction of the guest chair opposite her. She had commandeered an office belonging to a Lieutenant Flynn from the Vice squad who was on holiday in Monaco for a week, the lucky bastard. She preferred Berk’s office, but it had been the site of surveillance, so she couldn’t set up camp there this time around. “Let’s discuss this like the pros we are.”
Ross eyed the ancient, rickety chair with distaste and did not otherwise respond to her invitation. “How dare you doubt my loyalty?” he demanded, his voice low and hostile.
“Sweetie, it’s just business. What kind of LEO would I be if I didn’t cover all the angles?”
“You’d better tell me what this is about.” Ross folded his arms. “If it’s just some kind of personal vendetta on your part, you are going to regret it, I’m warning you.”
“Oh, you think you’re gonna rat on me to Berk? I’ve got his full approval for my project.”
Ross’s breath caught, and for a moment an expression of pain passed over his face before he got himself back under control. “The Commissioner told you to have me followed?”
Diana examined her nails. “Not exactly. For the record, I think you’re innocent.”
“But the Commissioner doesn’t?” His voice hushed, Ross lowered himself onto the chair he had previously disdained. It was almost as though his legs couldn’t hold him up anymore. Diana took pity on him.
“Ross, relax. You’re not my main suspect. In fact, you’re not really a suspect at all. I was just covering my ass, as I said.” She decided to let him in on Operation Spy. There was no way it could be Ross. If Ross ever turned against Berk, he’d be a hell of a lot more efficient about it.
Wes spotted Bo Benson on the opposite side of the street. The kid seemed to be working his way in Wes’s general direction, but his progress was slowed by his compulsive need to hand out religious pamphlets to anyone who was dumb enough to make eye contact with him.
Wes smoked a cigarette and waited. According to his calculations, the kid was a couple of days behind schedule. He had figured he would see Bo before now. He was going to find out what the kid knew about the mysterious ‘Maria’ who had given him the Doritos. Wes was betting she would turn out to be the female ‘cop’ who had interrogated Sherry with Detective Fielding.
Finally, Bo presented himself before Wes, looking all humble and penitent while standing at what he probably figured was a safe distance.
“Um, hello, Wes,” he mumbled.
“So you came out of the church.”
“Yeah… I-- I wanted to return to my work of spreading the word of the Lord.”
“Plus you heard I wasn’t gonna go postal on ya over the Doritos thing.”
“Um, yeah. That too.” Bo glanced up at Wes shyly before looking away. “Listen, I’m really sorry about that. I really thought it was just a normal bag of Doritos!”
Wes nodded. “So did Bikky. You realize that if Bikky hadn’t opened that bag before giving it to me, that I’d be back in the bucket right now?”
Bo’s face scrunched up and he seemed to squirm inside his own skin. “Yeah, Wes. I know that. Someone was trying to set you up, I guess. And maybe Bikky too.”
Wes dropped his cigarette butt and ground it out with the toe of his running shoe. “What do you know about it?”
“Nothing! Why would I know anything?”
Wes eyed him speculatively. “Tell me about the girl.”
Bo flinched. “Wh-which girl?”
“Don’t be a dumbass, Bo. ‘Maria.’ The chick who tried to set me up.”
Bo’s body language told Wes that he was thinking about running. “What can I tell you, Wes? I never met her before that day. Now she’s disappeared.”
“She been back to see you?”
Bo blinked rapidly behind his glasses, and his Adam’s apple went up and down a few times. “Um, well, um, not really…” He started backing away.
Wes shook his head in disgust. “They teach you to lie at that church of yours, Bo? I learned about Jesus in prison, you know. I must have missed the class about Jesus being a liar.”
Bo stopped retreating. “Jesus was not a liar!”
“Never said he was. Only you. And here I was thinking you were so pure in your knowledge of the Lord.”
Visibly distressed, Bo said, “You don’t understand, Wes. She didn’t have a choice. A man frightened her. He forced her to do it.”
Wes remained silent and kept his eyes on Bo. He did understand, of course. He had employed such methods himself, and what’s more, fully planned to do so again once he got his hands on this Maria. Unless the bitch really was a cop. He thought it would be worth pitching that at the kid.
“Are you aware Maria’s a cop, Bo?”
Bo stared at him, dumbstruck for several long moments, and then took a step back, his shocked expression giving way to something else. Before Wes could speak again, Bo turned and ran away through the crowds.
Wes wasn’t about to chase him down in public. He and Cully would pay a visit to Bo’s church later this evening and get the truth out of the little bastard with not quite so many people around. He knew that Pastor Luke would be gone after the evening service and Bo would be all by his lonesome in his little temporary home in the church basement.
As Bo ran, he thought furiously. When Wes had said those words, that Maria was a cop, he had suddenly remembered where he had seen her before. Bikky had invited him to a cop barbecue about two or three years ago. One of the precincts, he forgot which one. The one Bikky’s dad worked at. That was where he knew her from. She was handing out ice cream cups from a cooler, and smiling at all the kids. Bo had only seen her that once, and her hair had been different. Darker and shorter.
Now it made sense why she couldn’t just give the Doritos to Bikky directly. Bikky would have recognized her, and then he would have told.
Bo couldn’t wait to get back to the sanctuary of his church. There was something going on, and he needed to think it over. Had Maria lied to him? Was she using him? But she was so beautiful and good! They had prayed together. He was feeling more confused than ever. Wishing he had someone he could talk to about this, he hurried up the street, clutching his remaining pamphlets. When he entered the church kitchen in the basement, Pastor Luke was there, sitting with another man in a suit. They both turned to look at him solemnly.
“Bo,” said Pastor Luke in his quiet voice. “This is Agent Phil Harber from the FBI. He would like us to accompany him to the police station.”
Lieutenant Mike Abernathy hung up his suit jacket in his bedroom closet. He was on tenterhooks waiting for news on MacLean. If all went according to plan, the man would be carted out of the Palace on a stretcher sometime this afternoon. Detective Maclean seemed like the kind of person who wouldn’t put off opening his mail, unlike his partner who would be more likely to toss it in a drawer and forget about it.
Mike had made every effort to rid himself of that vile sodomite MacLean, but the fellow seemed to have been born under a lucky star. Well as far as any man with MacLean’s repulsive inclinations could be accounted ‘lucky.’
Mike had not really wanted to descend to murder in this case, and a part of him hoped that Detective MacLean would survive his encounter with the envelope. His lips stretched in a mirthless smile as he thought about his nemesis living a reduced existence, his health permanently compromised. That would be an acceptable alternative, preferable to killing a fellow member of the NYPD outright. Too many things had not gone Mike’s way of late, and he needed to give those two bastards from the 27th a solid reason to turn their lamentably single-minded attention away from him and his business interests. He would run if he had to, but he wasn’t yet prepared to take that final step. It was essential that he maintained his position as an LEO for as long as possible, at least until the big payoff he was expecting at the end of this week came through. He had no illusions that the greater part of his value to, and influence over, the Dire Street Devils was tied up in his identity and specific powers as a ranking member of the Internal Affairs department of the NYPD.
Mike did not suffer moral qualms about the necessary removal of drug dealers and the other assorted bottom feeders who seemed to exist only to do the Devil’s work, but he was vaguely uncomfortable about the idea of murdering another officer of the law, no matter how unnatural such a man might be. He had mixed feelings about the demise of Officer Cooper. He was certain that Cameron Bell had been behind that, and he planned to have words with that big bastard soon enough. A certain amount of initiative in a man was something he found useful, but Officer Bell had been pushing too far recently. Cooper could have been dealt with another way.
Mike’s cell phone chimed, indicating a text. He sighed and reached into his shirt pocket for his reading glasses. He hated the text feature of his phone. He couldn’t pick up his messages half the time, and he just couldn’t get the hang of tapping out those tiny letters on the rare occasion that he tried to send a text. Thomas had tried to teach him, but it was no good. Squinting at the screen, he saw it was the little bitch. What the hell did she want? If she had failed him with that envelope there would be hell to pay. She had better be texting to say that she had finally replaced the batteries in the device Liam had ordered planted in the Commissioner’s office.
The message was simple. Package delivered. Good. That was what he had ordered her to do. He rang her on her work phone, because the woman was very bad about answering her cell phone during working hours. He waited through her professional greeting, and then spoke. “Report on the batteries, lass.”
There was a shocked silence, and then she answered him, her voice hushed. “I haven’t been able to get close, sir. You know that.”
“Didn’t I tell you to do it on the late night shift? Didn’t I?”
“Yes, sir,” she whispered.
“And did you?”
“Why the hell not, ‘Maria,’ my girl? That was a direct order.” Because he knew it frightened her, he let his voice go soft, even as he felt his blood pressure rising. He hated it when his underlings disobeyed him. Not that it happened very often.
“I—I told you. It’s too risky. I’m scared!”
“Don’t you lose your nerve on me now. I’m giving you one last chance. You do it today, mind you, today! I’ve waited long enough. Do you want me to expose you for the thief and liar you are? Do you think you’ll keep your job? Your lover? He won’t protect you and you know it. You’ll lose everything.”
She didn’t answer right away because a man spoke to her and she had to answer the unknown person and reassure him that she would have the report ready by seventeen hundred hours. Despite himself, Mike was impressed at how she managed to sound almost normal. When she returned to the phone, she surprised him further.
“I’m not the only one who stands to lose everything, sir,” she hissed before disconnecting him, leaving him staring at his phone in disbelief. It was with great difficulty that he held himself back from hurling it at the wall. The bitch! That insolent cow! How dare she threaten him? She had always been so meek and biddable before. What had changed? Perhaps it was time to teach her a lesson. She had been very useful to him in the past, but now she was threatening him. If she told what she knew, it could be disastrous to his plans.
Perhaps he would have Bell and Fielding pay her a visit.
--end of chapter 32--