Anyway, here I am with Dragon Lady, chapter 3, which I hope you enjoy.
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 the fact that Drake has recently started seeing a new woman, and feels that his hapless partner 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 Three
“So Drake, are you going to Lucky Peking again today?” JJ said this while entering the final line of information on his latest witness statement form.
“Sure am!” Drake seemed more cheerful than usual, but then he caught himself and shot JJ a guilty look. “Hey partner, sorry about last night. I hope you enjoyed the art show without me.”
“Oh, well, you know, I ended up not going,” JJ said airily as he tried to keep a lid on the feelings of resentment that started bubbling up inside him again at the reminder of Drake’s perfidious last-minute abandonment. They had both been careful not to bring it up so far this morning.
“Why not?” Drake’s shoulders hunched defensively. “I thought you loved that artist’s work.”
“I do, but I didn’t feel like going by myself and I couldn’t find anyone else on such short notice….” JJ paused to breathe deeply through his nose and remind himself to keep smiling. “So I ended up hanging out with Dee and Ryo instead.”
Drake brightened, obviously relieved. “Oh! That’s good then. I felt really bad about canceling on you, but Monday night was the only time Lily could come out with me. The restaurant had a power outage and had to close kind of suddenly.”
“Yes, yes, you said.” JJ cut him off, not wanting to hear all of Drake’s lame excuses all over again. “Let’s forget about it, Drake.”
“So, you gonna come for lunch with me today? They have spicy ginger beef on special on Tuesdays.” Drake said this as though it was something he actually thought JJ would get excited about. “Lily said she’d ask her brother to make it extra spicy for me. If you like, I can put in a good word for you, too.”
“Sure, Drake, I’d love to come for lunch with you,” said JJ in his brightest tone before poking Drake in the chest and adding, “But you’re buying, for standing me up last night.”
Drake looked like he was going to protest, but then he thought better of it, and said, “Oh, all right. I suppose I could do that.” Fetching out his wallet, he checked its contents with an expression of vague misgiving upon his face.
JJ ignored this little display and tapped away on the computer, preparing a cover page for his fax request to the DA’s office. It was only fifteen minutes until lunchtime. He might as well use that time to gather more information on The Psychopath, now that he and Drake were back to conversing normally again. “Did you have a nice time on your date with Lily last night?”
“Huh? Oh yeah, sure. It was only coffee and a walk, though.”
JJ was torn between wanting to lecture Drake about being cheap on a second date (coffee and a walk indeed!) and wanting to keep his mouth shut so that Lily would maybe break up with Drake over his cheapness before she got mad enough to kill him for his other annoying qualities. But considering her volatility, if Drake didn’t take her somewhere decent on the third date, he might not survive long enough for there to be a fourth.
“Do you guys have anything in common?” JJ was genuinely curious, since if they did, he just couldn’t see it.
Drake shrugged. “I guess so. Most chicks like to talk. My game plan is to get them to talk about themselves.” He grinned conspiratorially. “Then all I have to do is listen, nod and smile, and they think they’re having a good time.”
JJ did his best to keep his expression neutral. Really, his partner was so clueless. “Did Lily talk about herself?”
“Yeah, some.” Drake put a file back in the cabinet on the wall behind his desk. “She’s pretty new to the city and she doesn’t get along with her brother that well.”
“Ya think?” JJ recalled the screeching and yelling that emitted from the restaurant kitchen every time she went back there to put in an order or bring one out for a customer. “Does she want to go back home, then?” A spark of hope lit his breast. Hopefully ‘home’ was very far away, like across an ocean or two, rather than just a county or state line.
Drake shrugged. “I dunno. She had a job back in Hong Kong that she hated even worse than being a waitress, though, so I doubt she’ll go back.”
“Oh.” The spark winked out. “What kind of work did she do?”
“She worked in a meat-packing factory. She said she spent her days covered in blood from head to foot. Can you imagine?”
JJ tried his best to imagine, but he was too busy choking on his coffee. Eventually, he managed to fling up a hand. “Stop right there with the blood and mayhem! If I’m gonna be eating lunch in twenty minutes, I could do without a mental picture of my waitress covered in gore.”
“Oh, right. Sorry about that, little buddy.” Looking chagrined, Drake closed his notebook and began to stack up his files neatly on one end of his desk.
JJ took the opportunity to send a quick text to Dee. Dee, it’s worse than I thought! Lily is a butcher!!!
As they punched out in the lobby ten minutes later, Eliza and James emerged from the stairwell. From the looks of things, James’ woman-troubles had not resolved themselves overnight. Eliza seemed to be making reassuring noises, and James was looking like he had hardly slept a wink.
“JJ!” Eliza called. “Tell him!”
“Tell him what?”
“That he’s handsome and sweet and will have no problem getting another girlfriend if Bridget dumps him!”
JJ turned to James. “You’re handsome and sweet and will have no problem getting another girlfriend if Bridget dumps you.” There, duty done. But then, because he couldn’t resist, he added with a sly grin, “Or boyfriend, if you decide after this that women are just too much trouble.”
Despite the pretty solid pall of misery that enveloped James from the tips of his spiky black hair to his sensibly-shod toes, he still managed a weak laugh. “Thanks, JJ, you’re a pal. But right now I’m leaning toward a life of celibacy.”
They all started walking out together, and JJ wasn’t surprised to hear Drake advising James to buy Bridget some flowers. Drake’s go-to solution for mollifying an irate woman was to apologize and buy her flowers. As many times as it took.
On the whole, JJ thought it was all for the best that James was straight. His co-worker had a wholesome, boyish face that made him look younger than his twenty-eight years. He was the beloved only son of Chinese immigrants, and he had gorgeous cheekbones. He wasn’t tall, but he had a lean muscular body that JJ had surreptitiously admired in the locker room. Not his type at all, but he considered that if James ever went to a gay bar, at least ten or twenty guys would be vying for the pleasure of paying for his drinks. That kind of competition JJ could do without.
Suddenly he had a brain wave. “Say, are you guys going out on a call?”
Eliza shook her head. “Nah, just lunch. I can’t stand watching him eat those damn instant noodles one more time.” She patted James’ shoulder maternally. “Gotta get some nourishment into this boy.”
“Why don’t you join us for lunch?” offered JJ, and was pleased when Drake seconded his suggestion. He could feel in his bones that Lily would do something totally off the wall today, and the more witnesses, the better. He had yet to tell Drake that Dee and Ryo and company were all meeting them at the restaurant. With the addition of Eliza and James to the party, they would have a group of eight. That was bound to throw Lily off her stride and make her lose her temper. JJ was glad he had eaten a big breakfast because who knew what would happen at lunch today? There might not be much actual eating going on if Lily started slinging chop suey at people.
Eliza agreed to the plan, and even though James continued to act all mopey, she basically gave him no choice about coming along. “It’s times like these, hon, that you need your friends. Besides, I’m buying, so what do you care?”
“You’re buying?” asked Drake hopefully.
“James’s lunch only,” she said firmly. She knew Drake as well as the rest of them did.
When they entered the restaurant, Dee and Ryo waved to them from a large circular table by the window. The two men were accompanied by Bikky and Carol, both of whom were sitting up very straight and looking as though they expected to be doused in flaming sweet and sour sauce at any moment.
The two groups exchanged greetings and made the requisite noises of delight and surprise. JJ and Eliza pulled up a couple of extra chairs and everyone sat down and started discussing menu options.
Bikky was tugging on Ryo, wanting to know if he could have dumplings and egg rolls, Carol was expressing the hope that the tofu with black bean sauce would be tasty, and Eliza was trying to figure out what the hell half the items on the lunch menu were.
“Does anyone know what Tù ròu is?” she asked. “Could it be a kind of fish?”
Ryo appeared to give this the full sixty watts his brain was capable of. “Sounds a bit like ‘trout,’ maybe? But it wouldn’t hurt to ask.”
“I will,” Eliza said. “What are you having, JJ?”
JJ shrugged. “I can’t understand the menu either, so I’m having what Drake’s having. He eats here every day.” He was feeling a little concerned because Lily was nowhere in sight and the kitchen was suspiciously quiet.
A moment later however his fears were allayed as the kitchen door opened and a familiar high-pitched voice screeched something over her shoulder in Cantonese that brought James’s head jerking up from his menu. Then he blushed to the roots of his hair, which made JJ wonder precisely what Lily had just called her long-suffering brother.
She came stomping over to their table, her face wearing its habitual scowl. The scowl lifted briefly at the sight of Drake, whom she addressed as ‘Dick’, but returned as she considered the sheer number of people at the table. She banged down a pot of Jasmine tea and four cups and exclaimed, “So many! Now I should make more tea.”
“Um, can you tell me what number 31, ‘Tù ròu with string bean --” Eliza tried to say, but Lily ignored her in favor of sweeping back to the kitchen, while muttering under her breath.
“See what I mean about the apron?” JJ whispered to Dee, beside whom he had managed to snag a seat.
“Is she mad at us?” asked Carol in a hushed voice.
“I hope so!” exclaimed Bikky. He looked like a kid with a ringside seat at the circus.
An expression of momentary confusion passed over Drake’s face as he reacted to what Bikky had just said, but then he turned a reassuring smile on Carol. “No, no, she’s not mad at all,” he said. “Lily is really the sweetest girl. I think she’s just a bit stressed from working the lunch hour rush all by herself.”
As the ‘lunch hour rush’ appeared to consist of themselves, plus exactly three other customers, JJ didn’t see what the big deal was. But then, this was Lily, and he absolutely trusted Lily to get stressed out and screechy about practically anything.
“Oh my God!” exclaimed James, whose menu hung forgotten in his hands while he stared out of the window with an avid, yearning look on his face that JJ had only ever seen on heroin addicts. "Is that… Is that… Bridget?”
Everyone turned to look. It was Bridget indeed, and she was quite obliviously putting money into a parking meter practically right in front of Lucy Peking. After assuring his co-workers that he would be right back, James bolted out of his seat and ran out of the restaurant.
“What’s that all about?” Carol was watching with interest as James approached Bridget on the street outside.
“That’s his girlfriend,” said Eliza. “They’ve been fighting.”
“Ohhhh,” breathed Carol. “Is that why he looked so depressed?”
“Yeah, but look at him now.”
They all watched as Bridget embraced James on the street. “Awwww!” said Eliza and Carol together.
“Um, excuse me, Drake, but I think we’re going to need another chair,” said Ryo. “Could you get one from that table behind you?”
James reentered the restaurant leading Bridget by the hand. As usual, she was simpering and pretending to hang back. JJ found her prissy and tiresome, and that was before she opened her mouth and discoursed at length about nothing in an irritating nasal voice, which was a regrettable tendency of hers. On the plus side, however, she was attractive enough and had beautiful grooming. Just by sitting there, looking all gentle and feminine, and like she would never, ever kill anyone, she would be an example to Lily in a way that Eliza never could. JJ happily shifted his chair over with the rest of his friends as they made room for Bridget to join them. The more the merrier. Wait until Lily saw that she now had a table of nine. If that didn’t send her into a homicidal tailspin he didn’t know what would.
End of chapter three
Next chapter in a week! Thank you for reading.