Apologies to those who were waiting for this chapter. I had hoped to post it this afternoon after my clients left and while I was still technically 'at work', but it was not to be, as my husband called me at work and informed me that he had invited some friends over for tea and was going to press them to stay to dinner and therefore really needed to know-- did we have any food to offer them? And could I possibly come home and cook it?
So I rushed home and found that he had set up the table with fruit and cookies and had the kettle on for tea (all in all, a very good start) and the rest would be up to me. I was torn between real pleasure at the impending visit of the friends, whom I have been missing since my socal life started taking a back seat to the pleasures of work, versus dismay about exactly WHEN I was going to be able to post my chapter. Eleven pm? Midnight?
Anyway, the situation resolved itself. Our friends, who are boyfriend and girlfriend and facing an absence from each other of several weeks while one travels for business and family reasons, really just wanted to spend their last night together, so they drank tea and ate fruit, and took their leave while remaining strong in the face of vigorous protests from my husband. I did not support my husband and instead let the guests go because, to me, socially as in all other things, "No Means No" and I will always respect someone's 'no.' All of our friends know this. I personally hate to be exhorted to do something else once I have said 'no thank-you' to something. I know my limits and I know my own mind, and I extend this same courtesy to other people. I'm well aware that it is different in other cultures, which is why I explain my outlook to people who come to my house for the first time so that we all know where we stand. My husband has the exact opposite POV, believing that he must push past people's natural reserve and politeness to ensure that they get what they want (but feel they cannot say 'yes' to), so between the two of us, our guests' needs are covered!
So here I am posting my chapter at 8 pm, which is still Sunday night over most of this huge North American continent. I hope you guys enjoy the chapter. I sincerely hope I don't have to add paragraph breaks to every single line this time like I did with the last three posts. Oh, LJ....
FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June), chapter 33
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: Pastor Luke and Bo Benson are my characters. So are Detectives Lonnie Fielding and Hugh Clayton for the Seventh Precinct. Karen, owner of the K-Ray Horse ranch in Pennsylvania is my character too, as are her two teenaged neighbors, Chloe and Gemma, and her employee, Pedrick.
Thank you to ladyfeather and tripple_p for beta-reading this chapter for me.
Previously in Justice:
Bikky has an acquaintance from his street-rat days called Bo Benson (Bikky and his friends call him ‘Crazy’ Bo). A couple of weeks ago, Bo was induced by an attractive woman calling herself ‘Maria’ to ask Bikky to deliver a bag of Doritos to Wes Samberg, a small-time but nonetheless dangerous drug dealer. The Doritos bag turned out to be full of heroin hits, and while Wes escaped, Bikky and his two friends Jill and Penny were roughed up by the police. Detectives Lonnie Fielding and Hugh Clayton were the two cops (sent by Lieutenant Abernathy) who tried to take them into custody. They didn’t succeed because Dee got there first, followed by Ryo and the Commissioner.
Bikky was consequently sent to a horse ranch owned by a friend of Ryo’s aunt Elena, for his safety. Bikky is currently plotting to temporarily escape from the ranch so he can return to New York City in time to accompany Thomas to a meeting with the wheelchair guy, Tahawney. Tahawney is in possession of the laptop that Bikky lost in a subway scuffle with Abernathy’s men not long ago.
The CI team at the Twenty-Seventh Precinct tried to catch Abernathy in a sting involving an allegedly stolen car with drugs in its trunk a couple of weeks ago. Dee and Ryo had pressured an ex-con named John Hambler, an old acquaintance of Abernathy’s, into helping them set up the sting. The sting failed because Abernathy called a couple of uniformed officers to go and arrest John Hambler. Ted, who was undercover, was riding shotgun on the sting. The two uniformed officers were Gordon Cooper and Cameron Bell of the Seventh Precinct. Hambler ended up shot dead, while Ted was lucky to only be knocked unconscious.
Internal Affairs was called in to ‘investigate’ Bell and Cooper and just when they were getting ready to pin most of the blame on Officer Cooper, Cooper decided to talk. He called a meeting with Dee and Ted, but was too drunk to give them much information. Later that night, Cooper was found dead of alcohol poisoning. Dee and Ted were the last two people to see him alive, and they felt that Cooper’s death was not an accident. Cameron Bell is a good friend of detective Lonnie Fielding.
Since then, Ted discovered that under the guise of their investigation into John Hambler’s death, the IA agents have been compiling video footage of key players in the investigation against Lieutenant Abernathy of Internal Affairs. They have created doctored versions of these videos in which people allegedly say things to incriminate themselves. The Commissioner is very upset about this because a bug was discovered in his office and his old enemy, Liam Hennessy, who is the Commander of Internal Affairs now has a significant amount of incriminating audio recordings which feature the Commissioner’s voice, if not his face.
Meanwhile, Agent Diana Spacey of the FBI is hot on the trail of Abernathy’s mysterious spy at the Twenty Seventh Precinct.
Justice, chapter 33
The FBI Agent and Pastor Luke both waited expectantly for Bo’s answer.
“What, the station? What for?” cried Bo, caught off guard. “I already talked to the police.”
“The NYPD and the FBI are different police forces, Bo,” Pastor Luke explained gently.
“We’d like you to come in and look at some photographs in the hopes that you might recognize the woman who gave you the Doritos bag full of heroin.” Agent Harber’s mouth wore a pleasant smile, but his eyes seemed to bore right through Bo.
Bo gnawed on his lower lip. Why did this FBI guy have to show up now? He still didn’t know what to do about his newfound knowledge concerning Maria’s identity as a cop. He sure never would have pegged her for one, what with her being so gentle and feminine. She didn’t really look like the sort of girl who could handle herself in a dangerous situation like cops were expected to do, both male and female. He wished he could have time to think. Wes’s words had shaken him and he was scared for Maria. First there was that mysterious man who was forcing her to do bad things, and now Wes was looking for her, too. Wes could be violent; in fact he had gone to prison for beating a man with a tire iron. Bo honestly didn’t know if Wes would likewise harm a woman. But he felt it was a distinct possibility, so he sure didn’t want Maria to cross paths with Wes. Even if Wes didn’t harm her physically, he would be verbally abusive toward her. He wouldn’t hesitate to terrorize her, and make her cry. Bo didn’t know how he could keep her safe. If he could just have time to pray quietly and lay his dilemma before Jesus…
“Well, Bo?” That was Pastor Luke, who clearly expected him to answer the FBI agent.
“Um, sure.” No matter how much he wanted or needed it, there would be no time for solitary prayer until after he had satisfied the FBI, so Bo resigned himself to the inevitable. Now that he knew Maria was a cop, he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to see her face in any of those mug shot books, so it wouldn’t do any harm for him to cooperate with the FBI. “When?”
Agent Harber stood up. “No time like the present.”
Suddenly anxious on his own behalf, Bo looked shyly at Pastor Luke. “You’re coming with me, right?”
“Of course I am, Bo.” Pastor Luke rose from his seat and nodded at Agent Harber. “He’s a minor and I’m his guardian. This won’t take long will it? Bo usually helps me with the Bible ESL class at three o’clock.”
Agent Harber shook his head reassuringly. “Couple hours, tops. Shall we go?”
“I just wanna put my contacts in,” said Bo. “Be right back.” He always felt more confident when he was wearing his blue contact lenses. He knew it was silly, but he had seen so many paintings of Jesus in which the Saviour had blue eyes, that he just felt better wearing them.
Karen hung up the phone in the kitchen, and turned around looking worried. “That was Pedrick’s mother. She said she’s been trying to get in touch with him for days, but he’s not answering his phone. Pedrick is very close to his mother. They normally talk at least once a day…. I wonder what’s going on?”
“Has anyone checked on him at his place?” Gemma asked.
“No, I didn’t think to. But it’s been more than forty-eight hours. Maybe I should go talk to his building manager.”
Bikky swallowed the last bite of his BLT sandwich. More than forty-eight hours? But he had seen the bastard on Saturday night and it was only Monday at lunchtime now. “I saw him on Saturday,” he volunteered.
“You did?” Karen looked surprised. “Here?”
“Yeah. In the barn. Me and Carol went to look at the horses after lunch. Then I saw him again later.”
“What time was that?”
“After dinner.” Bikky shrugged. “I don’t know exactly what time. When was the last time you saw him?”
“Friday afternoon, or maybe it was late morning,” said Karen. “But I didn’t actually see him on Saturday… although until I talked to his mother, I believed he was here on that day. Whenever I’m really busy in the house, I sometimes don’t see Pedrick for a couple of days.”
Bikky nodded and gulped his juice. Karen had sent him and Carol out to talk to Pedrick the day Ryo and Dee brought him here, but she hadn't come out herself. “Well I saw the b—er, the guy twice on Saturday.”
“Pedrick’s mother must be mistaken.” Karen picked up the phone again. I’ll let her know he was here on Saturday night. But that still doesn’t tell us why he didn’t come to work yesterday or today. And I’m not sure he gave the horses enough food on Saturday night. They sure were hungry on Sunday morning. Perhaps he wasn’t feeling well.”
“If he doesn’t show up and you need us later, we’ll be happy to come back and give the horses their dinner,” Chloe volunteered.
“Thank you, Chloe.” The lines on Karen’s face seemed to soften. She turned a warm smile on Chloe and her sister. “Honestly, you girls are a Godsend. And you, too, Bikky.” She gave each of them a hug.
Bikky wasn’t that crazy about being hugged, but Karen had been really decent toward him, and he figured it was best to stay on her good side, so he submitted with good grace.
Gemma and Chloe had to go home after lunch to help their mom with something, so Bikky’s riding lessons skidded to a halt for the time being. In the continuing absence of Pedrick, the three of them had mucked out the stalls and fed the horses that morning after breakfast, so the main chores were done for the day. The hours of the afternoon stretched out ahead of him, and Bikky felt bored. He supposed he could start on his homework, but he just couldn’t bring himself to give a shit about it one way or the other. His school and his teachers were very far away and by the time he was able to return from his Philadelphia exile, school would be out for the summer. Besides, he never seemed to get his homework done unless Carol was sitting with him and doing hers too, or Ryo was hovering nearby and either bribing him with cookies or threatening to cancel basketball privileges.
Maybe the chickens needed checking again. Karen usually collected their eggs early in the morning before she started cooking breakfast, but there was a small possibility she had missed some. Bikky went to ask her if there was anything else she wanted him to do for any of the other animals, but he found her deep in a serious conversation with the guy from Akron, so he wandered out to the henhouse by himself.
As he passed the barn, a flash of movement caught his eye. Who was that? There had been something kind of sneaky about the movement, like the person was trying to duck out of sight. His curiosity aroused, Bikky went to investigate.
As he entered the barn, he heard a rustling sound from the hay loft above and then the sound of someone walking overhead. “Hey, who’s there?” he called.
Receiving no answer, he quickly climbed up the ladder to the loft and squinted into the darkness. Abruptly a face appeared in front of him, which caused him to yell and nearly lose his grip on the ladder. It was that bastard Pedrick. Wouldn’t you know it.
“Careful now,” the man sneered. “Wouldn’t want ya to fall.”
Bikky went for bluster. “Where the hell you been? We’ve all been doing your job for you!”
“None of your business, brat. If the old woman asks, tell her I had personal business to attend to.”
Bikky made a sound of disgust and climbed back down the ladder. In his opinion, Karen deserved better employees than Pedrick, but hey, she was the one who had hired the guy. Oh well, if ol’ pen-dick was back on the job, maybe Bikky wouldn’t have to shovel any more horseshit. He wondered how long the guy planned to stick around this time.
Bikky stopped to pet Bella before he left the barn. She pushed her nose into his hand, probably hoping for a snack. A comprehensive search of his pockets turned up a battered pack of gum with two sticks left in it and a jolly rancher candy that was partially unwrapped and therefore kind of linty. He kept the gum for himself and gave the hard candy to Bella who hoovered it right in, lint and all. Her big horse lips felt funny on his hand.
“Sorry Bella,” he muttered. “I’ll try to bring you an apple next time.”
Bella’s ear flickered and from the way she looked at him, he could have sworn she understood the word ‘apple.’ Then Wilson whickered from his stall as if to say, ‘Me, too!’
“All right, Wilson,” Bikky called softly to him, grinning to himself at the way his fear of these creatures had gone way down in just a couple of days. “I’ll bring one for you, too.” He figured he’d have to come back with snacks for all the horses. He needed to keep them all sweet, since he didn’t yet know which one he was going to take on his trip home to New York City. Maybe he should go back to the house now and see if he could find something for them to eat. There was a bowl of fruit in the kitchen. Karen probably wouldn’t miss a couple of apples. He wondered if horses like bananas. Oh, yeah, and he should let Karen know that Pedrick’s mom could stop worrying. It was hard to imagine a dick like that having a mom who cared about him.
“You still here?” Pedrick yelled down from the loft, sounding impatient and unfriendly. Bikky could hear the guy muttering something that sounded like ‘Fuckin’ oreo brat.” What an asshole.
“You bet, jerk-off!” Bikky yelled back. “Surprised you still are, though. What’s it been? Like, ten whole minutes?” Hoping Pedrick fucked off again real soon, Bikky debated whether to tell Karen that Pedrick called him an oreo, but dropped that thought just as quickly as it had popped into his head. The guy would only deny it and then find a way to make his life hell. Why would Karen believe the word of a kid from the streets of New York City, instead of her own employee? Bikky didn’t feel like chancing it. He was stuck here for the foreseeable future with Karen and Pedrick, and he didn’t want to make waves unless he absolutely had to.
Agent Harber invited Bo and Pastor Luke to precede him through the front door of the 27th Precinct. Bo looked around at all the activity and the uniforms in the lobby, blinking rapidly. Suddenly his thick contact lenses felt uncomfortable. So many cops. It reminded him of the dark time when he was a glue-sniffing street kid who was too scared to go home. He’d had a lot of experience with being hauled into police stations in those days. But that was before he found Jesus, and his life did a one-eighty for the better. He tried not to let the old anxiety creep over him. Nothing bad was going to happen to him here as long as he had the Lord in his heart and Pastor Luke by his side.
A gorgeous blonde lady in a very short orange skirt was walking toward them. She was beautiful, but not in that soft, sweet way that Maria was. This one had hard, bright eyes and she somehow managed to walk with a kind of swagger despite her high heels. Bo instinctively shrank back from her.
“Pastor Luke and Bo Benson, am I right?” The woman glanced at Agent Harber, her hands on her hips. “Thanks, Phil. I’ll take it from here.”
“Pleased to meet you, ma’am.” Pastor Luke gave her a respectful nod.
“Agent Diana Spacey.” She shook Pastor Luke’s hand first and then Bo’s. Her grip was very strong, like a man’s. “Thanks for coming in.”
Bo didn’t like the assessing way that she looked at him, nor the fake smile on her too-shiny lips. Up close she was older than he had first thought, and she seemed to be Agent Harber’s boss.
Pastor Luke rested a protective hand on Bo’s shoulder. “Bo is happy to be of help, right Bo?”
Bo’s throat felt dry and he swallowed a couple of times, while nodding and blinking. He managed to get out a “Yes, ma’am,” in a voice that sounded squeakier than usual.
Agent Spacey’s sharp blue eyes went from Bo to Agent Harber, who had not retreated far. “Say, Phil, I think Bo here could use a drink of something. Would you ask one of the front desk girls to bring us some water in Room two?”
“Sure thing,” said Phil and slid away to the front desk, where he spoke to an alert-looking auburn-haired girl who looked vaguely familiar to Bo. Or maybe not. He didn’t think he had been to this particular police station before, but he couldn’t be sure. Usually the only times the police had been able to catch him back in his pre-Jesus days was when he had been high, so he hadn’t always been alert on his previous visits to police precincts. Impatiently, he shook off the memory. Bo preferred to live his life looking forward, not dwelling on the past.
Bo and Pastor Luke followed Agent Spacey down the hall, and Bo did his best not to let his eyes linger on her legs and the way her ass moved under her tight skirt. If she was an FBI agent and the boss of Agent Harber, why did she choose to dress like a hooker? Her sexy style contrasted unfavorably in Bo’s mind with the more modest and ladylike outfits that Maria had been wearing both times he had seen her. He felt certain that Agent Spacey would benefit from reading a couple of passages from the Bible which addressed appropriate clothing for women, but he had to admit to himself that he didn’t quite dare bring up the topic with her. Some women reacted very unfavorably to suggestions like that, and he had a feeling she might be one of them.
She let them into a smallish room with a heavy wooden table and several folding chairs. There was a stack of mug-shot books waiting for them, as well as the picture the sketch artist had produced from Bo’s previous description of Maria. He felt a little more confident when he saw it. He had made sure the picture didn’t resemble the real Maria at all. She would be safe, provided he kept his cool. Resignedly he sat down and reached for the nearest book. The sooner he got this over with, the sooner he and Pastor Luke could leave. This afternoon’s ESL class lesson was about Daniel in the Lion’s Den, which was kind of how he felt right now.
“What about that one?” Pastor Luke pointed helpfully to a mug shot photo of a light-haired girl on the opposite page to the one Bo was pretending to look at. “She somewhat resembles the girl in the police sketch.”
Bo shook his head. “No, sir. It wasn’t her. She looks… no.” He wanted to say that she looked like a drug addict, and Maria was the kind of person who, he was sure, would never do drugs. But he didn’t think it would be nice to say that about the unknown girl in the picture, so he kept his thoughts to himself.
Agent Spacey patted the pile of books. “We’ve got a lot more pictures here, so don’t worry if you don’t see her in the first book.” She kept glancing toward the door as though she expected someone to be coming through it any minute. Bo remembered that she had asked for water, and wondered if the NYPD might be willing to spring for a soda or something instead. He didn’t ask, though. That woman made him too uncomfortable.
He flipped a few more pages, shaking his head all the while. “Nope,” he murmured. “Uh-uh.” The faces of the women in the book made him feel sad. Some looked angry, some scared, some vacant, some obviously stoned, or starting to feel the effects of their soon-to-come hangovers. Sinners, all. He wished he could help them find the love of Jesus.
Pastor Luke stopped him from turning a page at one point while he looked back and forth from a mug shot to the police artist’s incorrect rendition of Maria. He raised his brows at Bo questioningly, but didn’t say anything.
“No,” Bo said, in answer to the pastor’s unspoken question. “All the girls on this page are too dark. Maria has pure white skin, like the Virgin Mary.”
A quickly suppressed snort from Agent Spacey made both men look up. “Actually…” she drawled, one red talon raised, “who the hell knows what color her skin was? That was two thousand years ago. Somehow I don’t think they had color photography back then.”
Bo’s head came up sharply at the use of the word ‘hell’ in the same sentence as a mention of the Blessed Virgin. “Ma’am! The Holy Mother of God is depictured, er depicted, in ancient paintings and stained glass as—”
“As what? The European ideal of five hundred years ago?” Agent Spacey got up from her chair without bothering to adjust her skirt, and while Pastor Luke quickly averted his eyes, Bo was too incensed by the challenge of her words to even care about the way it had hiked itself up.
“Did she look like me, Bo?” Detective Spacey struck a very unbiblical pose. “Pale skin, blonde hair, blue eyes, which, by the way, in my case are real and not fake contacts like those ones you’re wearing.”
Bo gaped at her, speechless, his eyes belatedly registering the fact that she really needed to tug her skirt back to mid-thigh as soon as possible because, while he couldn’t exactly see her underwear, one more centimeter would put it on display. To his profound relief, he felt Pastor Luke’s reassuring hand on his shoulder once more.
“A-agent Spacey…ma’am!” the pastor exclaimed. “There’s no call for you to speak to Bo like that, not when he’s doing his honest best to help you folks.”
There was a sharp knock on the door, and in walked Agent Phil Harber, who held the door open, with a gentlemanly flourish, for a lovely woman carrying a tray with a jug of water and several glasses. The woman, who was blushing becomingly, thanked Agent Harber for his chivalry before turning to set her tray on the table.
“Ma-Maria?” faltered Bo, still off-balance. Her presence seemed to shine like a soft light in this oppressive place.
She looked up, her smile vanishing, and he saw the fear in her eyes before Agent Harber shut the door firmly and blocked it with his large body.
When three o’clock came, Ryo, for once, showed no inclination to work overtime, a fact for which Dee was grateful. They were both short on sleep, and he was of the opinion that a nap was in order. Hopefully, the nap could be followed by some horizontal fun, and then they could talk about dinner. Dee wondered if Ryo would feel like cooking. They had been on the afternoon-evening shift for two weeks and they had been doing a lot of eating out at dinner-time. A home-cooked meal would make a nice change. Dee was even prepared to act as assistant cook if need be.
On the subway train home, Dee noticed that Ryo was going through all of his pockets one after the other. Then he started rifling through his briefcase, a frown on his face.
“What’s up?” Dee asked.
“Can’t find my phone,” Ryo muttered.
“That sucks.” Dee regarded his partner with sympathy. “Maybe you left it at the office?”
“When was the last time you saw it?”
“Well, I know I had it at the Palace because I checked it in the elevator. But after that, I have no idea.”
“I’m sure you’ll see it on your desk tomorrow.”
“What if Bikky’s trying to call?”
“So, he’ll call the land line.”
Ryo looked unhappy and Dee knew he was thinking about going back to the Palace to get his phone. He could understand why Ryo wanted to do that, but on the other hand, it was going to delay or totally kill their nap if they went back there again, plus any post-nap ‘stress-relief.’ It was always a bad idea to go back to work after you had clocked out. Someone always wanted to drag you into a meeting, or dump some more work on you, and before you knew it, you had just worked an extra two hours of unpaid overtime.
“What if Bikky sends me a text?”
“Then you’ll see it tomorrow. Come on, if you want, you can use my phone to send him a text first and tell him you don’t have your phone.”
Ryo held out his hand. “Can I do that now?”
“Sure.” Dee handed over his phone and waited patiently while Ryo tapped out his message to Bikky. “Did you ever figure out what went wrong with your phone on Friday when that whole search warrant thing went down and Bikky and I couldn’t reach you?”
Ryo’s expression was vaguely perplexed. "I’ve been having a little trouble with my phone the past couple of weeks. Texts are coming in fine, but it doesn't always ring."
"Oh. Well, that doesn't sound good. Did you call tech support?"
"Yeah, but they haven't been very helpful,” Ryo said quickly. “I’m sure I can figure it out.”
"Well, I suggest you ask Bikky for help. The kid's a whiz at that sort of thing. So is Carol."
When they got into Ryo’s apartment, Dee headed straight for the shower, after first receiving the go-ahead from Ryo. Ryo poured himself a glass of cold grapefruit juice and took a couple of deep swallows before carrying it into the living room so he could plug in the fan in there. His apartment always felt stiflingly hot when he came home from work after first shift in the summer months. There were air conditioners installed in each of the bedroom windows, but in the living room, he had always made do with a fan in the summer months.
His next step was to switch the air conditioning on low in his bedroom, which he did while yanking his tie loose and unbuttoning his shirt. Hopefully in about twenty minutes, the temperature in his apartment would be a little more bearable. Swallowing the last of his juice, Ryo set the glass down on his bedroom dresser and inspected his tie critically. He was going to have to hand-wash it, as it was damp with sweat, and probably grimy from the city air. What a hot day it had been. Now that the apartment was on its way to being cooler, he couldn’t wait for his turn in the shower.
As he undressed, Ryo thought about what he had said to Dee about his ‘malfunctioning’ phone, and felt a little wave of guilt, as it was only partially true. Occasionally he wanted a little peace and quiet so he set his phone to direct all calls to voice mail. The trouble was, he often screwed up when he tried to change it back, hence all the problems with Dee and Bikky not being able to reach him on Friday. But he had no intention of admitting what he had done. He could just imagine the way they would both look at him—the expressions on their faces. No.
Ryo was unbuckling his belt when Dee’s dress pants, which were draped over the bed, suddenly started emitting Sugar Ray’s ‘Answer the Phone’, which was Dee’s latest ringtone. As he gazed in the direction of the noise, Ryo found himself fighting a sudden impulse to check who was calling. After all, it might be Bikky, responding to the text…. Ryo cocked his head toward the door—yes, Dee was still in the shower, but he wouldn’t be there for much longer.
Ryo’s hand started to reach out toward Dee’s pants, but at the last moment he squeezed his fingers tightly into a fist and pulled his hand back, shaking his head. He was making an assumption—a convenient one-- that it was Bikky calling, but he knew he wasn’t being honest with himself. The main reason he wanted to check Dee’s phone was to find out whether the caller was Roddy, Dee’s handsome admirer from the bomb squad, calling to invite him out for that beer.
Ryo stepped back from the bed and occupied his hands with emptying the pockets of his dress pants. If he lowered himself to snooping even one time, it would be hard not to do it again, and maybe again. He didn’t want to start down that road. While he was still thinking about it, his home phone rang. Ah, Bikky! He hurried back to the living room, glad of the distraction.
But it wasn’t Bikky. It was Diana.
“Hiya, sweetie, how’s your day goin’?”
“Um… fine so far,” Ryo said warily.
“Good. Glad to hear it. Sorry, but I’ve got to screw it up for ya. There’s good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”
“Uh... the good news?”
“Okay. We caught the spy.”
“You did? Really?” Ryo felt a weight lift off his chest. “Who is it?”
“Marianne Hayes from the front desk. She’s been sobbing over Phil and me all afternoon.”
“What, really? Marianne?” All Ryo’s relief dissipated. “But she’s our friend. We’ve known her for years. We’ve all had drinks together.” He realized he had been hoping it would turn out to be someone he didn’t like that much.
“Yeah, yeah, I know. Betrayal’s a bitch. If it’s any consolation, she didn’t do it for money. Your pal Abernathy had some shit on her and every time she tried to say no to his demands, he threatened to blow the whistle.”
Ryo gritted his teeth. “So do you have enough on him now to pick him up for questioning?”
“Sure do, hon. Got a warrant in the works too. But he might be a little difficult to find.”
“Okay what’s the bad news?” Ryo took the precaution of sitting down. The good news had been bad enough. Marianne! He still couldn’t believe it. But now they would get that bastard Abernathy for sure. Perhaps Bikky could come home in a few days.
“Lovisa Clayton was gone by the time we got there. Door off the hinges, place ransacked. Manager said she’d been arrested. Cops in uniform.”
“Which cops? Which precinct?” Ryo figured he already knew the answer. The fingers of his free hand drummed impatiently on the sofa cushion beside him.
Diana surprised him again. “Well, that’s the kicker. She’s not in the system. Hasn’t been processed anywhere—at least not as of five minutes ago. Got any ideas?”
“Yes,” said Ryo grimly. “Fielding and Bell. Seventh Precinct. Fielding knew we were onto his partner’s wife. Bell is a patrol cop, although he’s technically on suspension right now. But he’s Fielding’s good friend, and they’ve probably covered their tracks.”
“So you think they just put on their uniforms and went to get her?”
“Yeah.” A thought struck him. “Did Clayton’s building have security cameras?”
“Nada. Not that kind of place. We’ve requisitioned footage from street cams for eight blocks in all directions, though, and that should be coming in soon.”
“They’re cops, Diana. They know about those cameras.”
“Well, yeah, but hey. They might not be top-notch cops like you and your hot-headed partner.”
Ryo wasn’t sure how to react to the compliment, so he ignored it. “Does the Commissioner know?”
“Hoo boy. Yes he does, and he’s being a total dick. Lovisa’s apparently some kind of star hacker, which means the bad guys still have all those fake videos, and maybe more even than what McNeill could dig out for us.”
“Do you think there’s a chance they’ll act on them?”
“Who knows, sweetie? I just hope those videos don’t end up on the six o’clock news like Ber—our illustrious Commissioner-- fears. But I expect we’d be given a chance to negotiate first.”
“Well, thanks a lot, Diana. Keep us posted.”
“Will do. By the way, we want to talk to Clayton. He seems to have gone AWOL. If you hear from him, let us know.”
Ryo agreed and hung up. When he turned around, he saw Dee standing there with a towel loosely draped around his hips, holding his cellphone in his hand.
“What’s up, babe?” From the resigned look on his face, Dee had obviously heard just enough of Ryo’s side of the conversation to know that naps, relaxation, and whatever else he had had in mind had just been booted off the evening menu.
Ryo filled him in, and when Dee heard that it had been Marianne who was spying on them all this time, he looked a little sick.
“I can’t believe it.” He sat down next to Ryo, shaking his head. “She was always so cheerful and sweet. Real fun and flirty. I never would have guessed that she was carrying around that kind of dark secret.”
“Me neither.” Ryo tried not to glance over at Dee’s mostly nude body. “I mean, I had a few suspicions, but she was definitely not on my list.”
“So they’re getting a warrant for Abernathy’s place?”
“Yeah. Let’s see him weasel out of this one.” Ryo didn’t even try to keep the venom out of his voice. “I want to be there when they go in.”
“Yeah, me too.” Dee shifted position, and his towel loosened slightly. “But it looks like it’s the FBI’s show now. Damn them. Always muscling in at the end and grabbing the credit.”
“Your phone rang when you were in the shower.” Ryo dragged his eyes away from Dee’s towel. He couldn’t let Dee catch him looking. It was far too hot for that nonsense.
“Yeah, I know. It was Clayton. He’s pissed about what happened at his place: missing ex-wife busted door, and all the other shit. He seems to think the FBI took her in a real nasty arrest, and that we didn’t make good on our promise to have her arrested with her dignity intact.”
“We’d better call him, then. We don’t know where she’s being held, but if she’s as good as they say, she might find a way to contact him.”
Detective Clayton glowered at Dee and Ryo from across the table at Ludlow Bar. It was only 5:00 and Hell Square was still many hours from its peak-time as an evening destination for youthful revelers, but Clayton was already good and drunk. Unfortunately, he was not alone; his partner, Lonnie Fielding, sat next to him, a gloating expression on his face. A one-quarter-full jug of beer sat on the table in front of them. Lonnie’s glass was full but Clayton’s was nearly empty.
Detective Fielding took charge of the meeting, sneering at Dee and Ryo. “So, you cocksuckers proud of yourselves? First you lie your asses off to make the man trust you and then you make his wife disappear.”
“Cocksuckers,” echoed Clayton, slurring the consonants. Ryo thought the man seemed a lot drunker than he ought to be for one pitcher of beer. Maybe Fielding had started him off with something a lot stronger. Ryo caught Dee’s eye, and saw that his partner was thinking the same thing.
“How much have you had to drink, Detective Clayton?” Ryo asked politely.
“Nunna yer damn business.”
Dee leaned back in his seat and crossed his arms. “Hey, Lonnie. Got the same plans for this guy as you did for Cooper?”
Lonnie froze for a moment, his eyes averted, before he recovered and the sneer was firmly back in place. “Fuck you, Laytner. If you think a man can’t have a few drinks the day his woman gets dragged away by the feds, then I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you.” He turned to Hugh. “I told you we shouldn’t have agreed to this meeting, man.”
“They got a friend in th’ FBI. Prob’ly know where Lovisha is.” Clayton downed what was left in his glass, and before he had finished swallowing, Lonnie had signaled to a waiter and reordered. The server was allowed to remove the pitcher only after Lonnie finished assiduously pouring his partner another drink.
Ryo looked pointedly at Clayton’s glass. “Detective, please stop drinking. If we’re going to find and rescue your wife, you’re not going to be any use to us in this condition.”
“Huh?” Clayton seemed surprised as his eyes darted from his beer glass to Ryo. “Only had a couple… Right, Lonnie?” It was almost as if he was noticing his own drunkenness for the first time.
Dee nodded in the direction of Clayton’s glass. “Yeah, when we find her, we’ll be sure to tell her you really wanted to lead the rescue op, but you let your stooge of a partner pour enough booze into you to drown a horse instead so you’re home sleeping it off while some other guys do the hero-job for you.” Dee’s eyes flickered contemptuously over both men, letting them know what he thought of them.
Fielding folded his arms too and gave Dee a frankly disbelieving look. “”What’s this shit about ‘rescuing’ her? She’s in the hands of the Goddamn feds!”
“You know damn well she isn’t, you lying piece of shit.” The look that Dee gave the smaller man should have scared the hell out of him. Ryo had seen it work on tougher guys than Lonnie.
But Lonnie managed to keep his cool, not to mention his sneer, firmly in place. “Dream on, asshole. So we’re all gonna go ‘rescue’ her from the FBI?” Lonnie thumped Hugh’s shoulder as though this was the funniest thing he’d ever heard.
Ryo shook his head. “The FBI didn’t have anything to do with it. By the time they got there, she’d already been snatched.”
Clayton looked from one man to the other, his forehead scrunched in a frown of confusion. “Not th’ FBI?”
Ryo shook his head at Detective Clayton. “No. But we know who took her.”
Lonnie’s eyes widened a fraction, and he surreptitiously ran his hand over his thinning hair. “So, what the fuck…. You sayin’ you know where to find her?”
Ryo watched him through narrowed eyes. It was clear to him that Lonnie was the only one at the table who really knew where Lovisa was, but how could they make him tell? He hoped Dee might have a couple of ideas.
“Not yet,” Ryo said carefully. “But we know the men who know where she is.” He glanced at Dee and then looked hard at Lonnie. “Video footage. A couple of new cameras the city approved last week gave us a lot of information.”
Clayton gaped at him, the full beer glass still in his hand. Confused, he turned to his partner, who shook his head and rolled his eyes disparagingly. While the two men held a sotto voce conversation, Dee grabbed the opportunity to flag down a passing waiter, a different one from the man that Lonnie had ordered more beer from. Flashing his badge, Dee barked an order for strong black coffee, implying that the bar could get in trouble for over-serving if that coffee didn’t materialize on the double. The waiter looked startled and made a beeline for the bar’s little kitchen.
“You assholes are seriously full of shit,” snapped Lonnie. He rose to his feet, seizing his partner by the arm. “C’mon, Hugh, let’s get outta here. They’re just jerking us around with this fucking fairy tale. Of course the FBI has her. Laytner and MacLean are a couple of incompetent idiots, exactly like I told ya.”
There was a blur of motion beside Ryo, and before he could react, he saw that Dee had vaulted over the table and put Lonnie in some sort of choking headlock that was definitely not a police-approved hold.
“You wanna repeat that, asshole? Got anything else to add?” Dee’s teeth were clenched.
Lonnie was making squeaking sounds and waving his arms, but as the seconds passed, the waving got feebler and then Lonnie merely hung limply. Ryo fervently hoped the 7th Precinct detective was still alive.
“Lonnie! Oh, crap… Fuckin’ shit!” exclaimed Clayton, finally heaving himself to his feet. He lost his balance and upset his chair, but Ryo steadied him.
Dee glanced up from Lonnie and winked at Ryo. “Bouncers at three o’clock, partner.”
---end of Justice chapter 33--
Thank you for reading! The next chapter of Justice will probably be in January. In the meantime, please read Dragon Lady. I'll be posting chapters to that story throughout December, 2013.