By Brit Columbia
Timeline: Set after Justice in July of the FAKE First Year Together series. Also set after Volume 7 of FAKE
Summary: JJ is unhappy about a woman Drake has recently started seeing, and feels that Drake needs to be rescued.
Rating: This whole story is worksafe.
Disclaimer: FAKE, featuring Dee, Ryo, Bikky, Carol, Ted, Drake, and JJ, 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: Detectives James Chang and Eliza Austen are my characters. So are Lily and her brother, and Bridget, James’s girlfriend.
Bridget first appeared in FAKE First Year Together: A New Day, in Chapter 6. She was interested in Ryo, but later when she showed up at the station looking for Ryo, Dee managed to deflect her onto James instead.
Lily has appeared twice before in my FAKE stories. She was first introduced in Chapter 15 of A New Day when Ryo had lunch with Drake at a Chinese restaurant. Later she appeared about halfway through Slave to a Gladiator.
Dragon Lady, Chapter Two
Ryo served JJ a rather horrifying slab of lasagna that not only looked like it had originated from the frozen foods aisle of a substandard supermarket, but was also distinctly overcooked and lacked any sauces or garnishes that might have mitigated matters.
“Um, do you have any crème fraiche?” JJ inquired without thinking.
“We got ketchup,” stated Ryo’s brat, Bikky, who picked up a bottle of that unspeakably banal condiment and thumped it down on the table between them.
The kid’s hostile eyes promised about nine kinds of suffering if JJ had the temerity to go into further detail regarding his crème fraiche requirement. JJ didn’t give a flying shit.
“Thank you, but ketchup is something I will consume only under circumstances which can be termed life or death.” JJ returned the offending bottle to the brat’s own side of the table with a resounding smack, and then resumed looking expectantly at Ryo. He already knew there would be no crème fraiche; in fact he doubted anyone in this apartment had ever so much as heard of its existence, but a small, mischievous part of him was looking forward to Ryo’s reaction to his request.
Unfortunately, he never got to see Ryo off-balance. Dee hopped out of his chair announcing loudly that crème fraiche was just a fancy way of saying ‘ranch dressing’, and although it clearly didn’t fool Ryo, it did manage to mollify the brat and his little girlfriend. Although maybe not so little anymore. She had grown up and filled out from the last time he had seen her. JJ remembered her from that awful time just over a year ago when she had been grabbed by that crazy guy who chopped off the arms of the underage girls he kidnapped and ravished. She’d kept her cool throughout and then shown up to testify in court… JJ owed her some respect for that. And she was another one who might be sympathetic to his quest to rescue Drake, particularly when she heard the word ‘psychopath.’ Yes, between Carol and Ryo, he ought to be able to garner lots of support this evening. Even if he did have to choke down this God-awful dinner first.
So when Dee handed JJ the bottle of Ranch dressing, he passed it right over to Carol and said, “Ladies first.”
“Thank you, JJ,” she said and eyed it curiously. “Do people really have Ranch dressing on their lasagna?”
“Yeah, but not normal people,” said the brat, who had just finished dumping what looked like half of Ryo’s jumbo-sized bottle of off-brand ketchup on his own portion of pasta. JJ eyed the sight with distaste. ‘Normal’ indeed.
“Try it,” said JJ to Carol. “You might like it.” He was damn sure the ranch dressing was going to be disgusting, but if she was used to eating meals like this on a regular basis, it probably wouldn’t kill her.
She uncapped the bottle and carefully tipped some onto the side of her plate before handing it over to him. JJ thanked her as he poured an insignificant jot upon his own dinner. At Ryo’s invitation, he helped himself to salad, noting that it consisted of exactly two ingredients: iceberg lettuce and chopped tomatoes. He repressed a sigh, thinking that this was exactly the kind of uninspired salad that a bland and austere sort of person like Ryo would make. Would it have killed him to add some walnuts and chopped celery? Perhaps a sprig of parsley or two? Clearly that would have been far too taxing to Ryo’s evidently limited culinary skills.
When Ryo finally stopped rushing back and forth from the kitchen with pitchers of juice and extra napkins and so on, and took his place at the head of the table, everyone began eating. Well everyone except JJ, who planned to spend the first half of the meal just pushing his food around on his plate. He couldn’t help being fascinated by the way the others ate their horrible dinner with every sign of enjoyment.
Just when JJ thought he had waited quite long enough to present Drake’s dreadful plight and seek their support, he found that circumstances necessitated that he would in fact have to wait longer still, since Ryo chose that exact moment to engage his son in a protracted battle to get the stubborn little punk to eat some salad. Bikky protested loudly that vegetables were a danger to human health because they were covered in ‘pesticides and shit.’ Ryo scolded Bikky for saying the ‘S’ word and informed him that the lettuce had been thoroughly washed. Bikky then expounded upon his fears of GMO’s in the tomatoes, which no amount of washing could remove. Carol attempted to support Ryo by making mild statements about how yummy she personally found all vegetables, whereas Dee just shoveled his dinner steadily into himself without participating in the debate at all. All discussion was brought to a close when Ryo played his trump card by informing Bikky that if he was that worried about chemicals, pesticides and GMO’s in his food, then he certainly shouldn’t have any of the strawberry cheesecake ice cream that JJ had brought them, since the milk in the ice cream came from cows that had undoubtedly been fed genetically modified hay that had been sprayed with pesticides, and the strawberries had likely suffered the same fate.
There was a moment of silence broken only by the sound of Dee snickering quietly into his pasta, and then Bikky heaved an aggrieved sigh and said, “Okay, fine. I’ll eat the salad.”
This gracious capitulation was followed by further negotiations regarding the precise quantity of salad that the brat was willing to eat, and then at long last, their tedious little power struggle was over and JJ felt he could attempt to pitch his plan.
“So, Ryo,” JJ began. “Thanks for inviting me for dinner at such short notice.”
“You’re welcome, JJ.” Ryo smiled courteously at him. “Thank you for bringing ice cream. The kids will enjoy that for dessert.”
“Are you here for a reason?” Bikky demanded, his mouth full of lasagna.
“Yes, sort of,” JJ replied. Annoying though this kid was, he had just provided him with the perfect opening. “I wanted to talk to your dad about a life-and-death situation being faced by one of our co-workers.”
“Life and death?” Ryo dropped his fork with a clatter. JJ wholeheartedly approved. At long last, a fitting reaction from somebody, even if it did have to be Ryo.
“Which co-worker?” asked Dee.
“Drake, of course!”
“Told ya.” Dee nudged Ryo and winked at him. JJ felt wistful for a moment. He wished Dee would sometimes nudge and wink at him.
“What’s it about?” Ryo added a couple of dollops of ranch dressing to his lasagna at Carol’s urging.
“I’m concerned for Drake’s personal safety.” JJ was able to summon up the appropriate facial expression after glancing down at his slab of rapidly congealing lasagna, which made him concerned for his own personal safety.
“Why? Is he in trouble?” Dee asked.
“Has he been targeted by someone he once arrested?” asked Ryo.
“Does the Mob have a hit out on him?” asked Bikky in far too gleeful a tone.
JJ spared Bikky a brief glare before responding to Dee and Ryo. “Yes, he’s in trouble. No, the person hasn’t been arrested, although in my personal opinion, she should be.”
“She?” Now Ryo was looking confused. Honestly, that man was hopeless. He was lucky he was Dee’s partner on the job because he seemed to have a lot of trouble figuring things out on his own. Why Ryo had become a police detective instead of, say, a florist, was eminently baffling to JJ.
“Sounds like Drake’s dating another flake.” Dee helped himself to more salad.
JJ commended Dee with a nod and a smile. Dee had always been quicker on the uptake than Ryo. “Yes, only I wouldn’t characterize this one as a mere ‘flake.’ That one with the headbands and all the feathers was a flake. But Lily is a total psychopath.”
“Lily…” Ryo frowned as though he were trying to remember something. “Is she by any chance an Asian waitress? Cantonese accent?”
Now it was JJ’s turn to stare at Ryo. Once in a while Ryo did manage to surprise him. But it usually turned out to be a lucky guess on Ryo’s part, or a fluke. “Why yes, Ryo. Have you met her?”
“I think so.” Ryo spooned more salad on Bikky’s plate, and ignored his son’s theatrical groans and gagging sounds. “I had lunch with Drake about a month ago at a little Chinese restaurant near the station.”
“Yes, that’s the one!” JJ gave Ryo his full attention. “Did she assault anyone while you were there?”
“N-no…,” Ryo said thoughtfully. “But she seemed awfully bad-tempered. And the food wasn’t very good, as I recall.”
“Yes, I wasn’t impressed with the food, either,” said JJ briskly. “That restaurant gets a lot of bad reviews. But Drake’s been going there every day for weeks because they have this dead cheap lunch special, and you know how much he loves to save money. And now the inevitable has happened and he has started dating that monster of a waitress!”
“Monster? Now come on, JJ. She was a little lacking in her customer service skills, but I wouldn’t call her a monster.” Ryo’s tone was faintly reproving. JJ considered whether Ryo’s daily life with Bikky had somehow dulled his sensibilities to the point that he was no longer able to recognize when he was in the presence of a monster.
“Ryo…” JJ tried to sound gentle and patient, little though his dense co-worker deserved it. “I think you must have met Lily on a good day. That woman is violent, I tell you.” He suppressed a shudder. “Her brother is the cook and whenever she goes into the kitchen, she screams at him and you hear dreadful crashing sounds like she’s beating him to death with a wok or something. And if any of the customers make her mad, which isn’t hard at all, she throws hot food all over them! It’s true!”
Dee and Bikky wore matching delighted grins, which nonplussed JJ somewhat. They looked so similar when they did that.
“What kind of food?” Bikky asked. “Like noodles? Fried rice?”
“Drake and his screwball women.” Dee was shaking his head. “He’s nothing if not consistent.”
“If she throws hot food all over the customers, then why do people keep going back?” Carol asked. “I would think the restaurant would be out of business by now.”
JJ shrugged. “Beats me. Maybe the incredibly low prices keep attracting a constant supply of new and unsuspecting customers.”
“Either that, or she’s got a nice rack and she’s beautiful when she’s angry,” said Dee. “Is this girl by any chance a looker?”
JJ considered this. “Well, I suppose it’s faintly possible, if she could somehow stop scowling all the time and maybe get some hair and make-up pointers from someone qualified. She wears an incredibly unflattering, baggy apron, too! I swear it looks like it was meant for someone four times her size. God alone knows what she might look like if she paid some attention to her appearance and wore some decent clothes.”
“Has she threatened or hurt Drake?” asked Ryo.
“Not yet, but it’s only a matter of time,” said JJ. “She’s easy to piss off, and Drake—“
“—has a special talent for pissing off women,” finished Dee.
“Oh, and you don’t?” asked Ryo.
“Of course I do,” said Dee with a grin, and nudged Carol with his shoulder. “Right, Princess?” Carol nodded vigorously, and Dee continued. “See, when I piss ‘em off, I’m doing it on purpose—and I’m damn good at it, too! Whereas when chicks blow up at Drake, he never sees it coming and has no idea why they’re mad.”
“That’s right, and that’s why I’m here,” said JJ earnestly. “She’s going to flambé him with chili oil or stab him with a filleting knife, I just know it. We have to do something.”
“Why?” Dee demanded. “Drake’s a big boy. If he asked this girl out, then he’s obviously interested in getting into her pa—ow!” He leaned down and rubbed his shin.
“More wine, Dee?” Smiling blandly, Ryo refilled Dee’s glass without waiting to hear his answer.
“Getting into her ‘pow?’” Carol paused with her last forkful of lasagna halfway to her mouth and blinked innocently at Dee.
Dee coughed. “Sorry, Princess, got a frog in my throat. I was trying to say that Drake seems interested in getting to, er, know this Lily chick.”
“That’s only because he’s blind and innocent where women are concerned and he has no idea what a savage rage-aholic she truly is.” JJ’s voice throbbed with emotion as he made a last impassioned plea. “Dee, we have to at least try to save him!”
Dee’s mouth twitched. “But it would be so much funnier if we didn’t.”
“Would she really flambé him in chili oil?” Carol, at least, was looking concerned.
Bikky leaned over and whispered something in her ear. She listened carefully and then leaned back toward him. “It means set him on fire,” she said softly.
Bikky’s face promptly lit up with unholy joy. “Man, that would be awesome!”
JJ was appalled. “Not for Drake, it wouldn’t!” He directed a reproachful look toward Ryo. Did the man not care that he appeared to be harboring a pint-sized psychopath under his own roof? Why didn’t he make more of an effort to rein the little demon spawn in?
But Ryo was shaking his head in apparent fond parental indulgence at his son’s completely inappropriate interest in the very real threat of violence toward Drake. JJ couldn’t believe he had come here tonight with high hopes for support from Ryo. He should have known better.
“JJ,” Ryo said in his soft voice, “I don’t suppose you do any gaming?”
“Gaming? Like computer games?” JJ wondered what on earth that had to do with anything. “No, of course not. I have a long list of hobbies and an even longer list of friends, so I certainly don’t have time to waste on nonsense like computer games.”
“You have friends?” Bikky’s voice held a note of incredulity that JJ would have found vaguely hurtful coming from anyone else.
“Of course I do,” JJ informed him peevishly. “Now could we please get back to Drake? I know you guys think we shouldn’t get involved in his love life, but if he ends up in Emergency with a cleaver buried in his back, we’re all going to feel just terrible that we actually had a conversation about the danger he was in, and didn’t do anything to help!”
Bikky whispered in Carol’s ear again.
“It’s a big, heavy, square knife for chopping bones,” she murmured back, which made Bikky grin even wider.
“Ryo, we gotta go to this restaurant!” he exclaimed.
“Yeah, Ryo, could we, pleeeease?” Carol begged. “I wanna meet Lily!”
Ryo stood up and started to collect the dishes. “I just want to remind everyone at this table that Lily has not actually done any of these things with chili oil or meat cleavers. JJ is just worried—for some reason—that she might.”
Ryo hadn’t come right out and said so, but his tone of voice made it clear that he thought JJ was exaggerating, and JJ wasn’t going to take that lying down. “What do you mean, ‘for some reason?’ I assure you, she is perfectly capable of it. She didn’t happen to do anything crazy on the one and only day that you were in her restaurant, but I haven’t been quite so lucky!”
“Ooooh, JJ, what did she do?” Carol asked excitedly.
JJ told them about the unfortunate man at the next table who had been unwise enough to complain that his food had taken too long, and had consequently ended up with the contents of a plate of sweet and sour pork in his lap.
“In his lap?” Carol gasped and covered her mouth with her hands.
“Um, exactly how hot was this sweet and sour pork?” asked Bikky.
“And most importantly,” added Dee, “will he ever be able to father children?”
Then they all burst out laughing, even Ryo, although he naturally laughed in a soft and repressed sort of way, as befitted his status as the official stick-in-the-mud of any social gathering. For his part, JJ found it disconcerting that everyone in whom he confided about the sweet and sour pork incident seemed to get such a kick out of it. Why could no one understand that for one human being to physically assault another human being with a dish of hot food was not only dangerous, but also immoral and strongly indicative of a disordered mind?
As it turned out, even though JJ had not been able to make Dee and Ryo understand the true gravity of Drake’s state of imperilment, his evening had not been totally wasted. He had at least succeeded in piquing their interest in the Drake/Lily situation, and it was thus arranged that Dee, Ryo, Bikky and Carol would all join JJ and Drake for lunch at the restaurant the next day. Dee and Ryo were on second shift working three to eleven, so it wouldn’t interfere with their work schedules. Bikky and Carol, JJ could have done without, but as it was summer vacation and school was not in session, there was no getting rid of them. Actually, he had to admit that they had been instrumental in getting Dee and Ryo to at least agree to come to the restaurant, where they would be guaranteed a ringside seat for Lily’s outrageous behavior.
End of chapter two-- next chapter in a week!