I've been working through the weekend, but that's nothing new. I sure will be glad when this week is over. There are too many deadlines hanging over me at the moment. At least I got my workout in today. But then I went directly from the gym to Starbucks where I negated all my workout efforts by having a grande peppermint mocha with extra whip and chocolate drizzle on the whip! I asked for non-fat milk, but I'm pretty sure they made it with 2 percent. I hope you are all enjoying the season. I love Christmas lights and anything that glitters. I just hate being so busy.
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 upset that Drake has recently started seeing a woman JJ considers violent. He 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 Four
Distracted by his annoyance at the way Bikky had taken up rhythmically kicking the table leg, JJ did not notice at first when Lily returned to their table. He was alerted by a shrill command in the vicinity of his right ear to “move stupid blue head before I spill tea!” JJ jerked to the left almost cracking heads with Carol as a tray containing two more pots of jasmine tea and four more small china cups descended abruptly onto the table over his right shoulder. Cups clattered and rolled and tea sloshed, but fortunately none got on JJ.
The brat was staring fixedly at a wet spot on the table where some tea had spilled. He whispered in Carol’s ear and then they both stretched out tentative fingers to touch it.
“What are you doing, Bikky?” Ryo gave his son a stern look as if to say “Don’t start acting up, young man.’As though that would do any good. JJ had noticed that Bikky didn’t listen to anybody and only pretended to listen to Ryo.
“Just checkin’ it’s not battery acid,” the kid stage-whispered back.
Dee poured himself a cup and took a swig. “Nope,” he declared. “Not battery acid, not blood. Try it, guys.”
Carol picked up the nearest pot of tea and poured cups for Bikky and herself. The two kids picked up their cups and eyed each other with barely suppressed excitement before clinking them together and taking tentative sips.
“Of course it could be slow-acting poison,” Dee remarked, gazing thoughtfully at his cup, and both kids exclaimed in horror.
This seemed to annoy Lily, who was writing down Drake’s order on a greasy-looking pad.
“Don’t be noisy kids!” she barked, and when JJ witnessed the way that Bikky shut his trap immediately and muttered ‘sorry’, he amended his earlier thought. Bikky didn’t usually listen to anyone, but apparently he was scared enough of Lily (and rightly so) to obey her without sass.
“You no like tea?” Lily’s eyes took on what JJ felt was a distinctly dangerous glitter.
“Oh no, we love it,” said Ryo quickly. “Don’t we, Carol?”
“Yes! It tastes like…like flowers!” she said breathlessly and took another ostentatious sip before adding an affirmative “Yum!”
Lily appeared somewhat mollified by this and generously volunteered some information. “It mix of jasmine and júhuā flower. Good for throat. Make you calm.”
JJ couldn’t believe his ears. A calming tea? What the hell was in it? Poppies? Heroin syrup? Or maybe not, since if it truly was a calming tea, it sure didn’t seem to be working out well for Lily.
“Do you drink it, Lily?” he asked.
Instead of answering, she fixed him with a flat gaze and raised her pad and pencil. “What you want for lunch?”
“Um, the special,” he replied. “Whatever Drake’s having.”
“You want extra spicy too?”
“Sure why not?” JJ could handle a little extra spice. It would make up for the blandness of being stuck sitting across from Ryo. Besides, he probably wouldn’t be eating it anyway. He just hoped he didn’t end up wearing it. He had taken the precaution of wearing a suit that was destined for Goodwill at the end of the summer anyway, its fashion value having peaked a month past.
“Um, excuse me, but we’re going to need one more cup,” ventured Eliza. “And I have a couple of questions about the menu.”
Lily whirled and glared at her. “Fine! I bring cup!” She thrust her order pad back into the folds of her voluminous apron and stamped back to the kitchen without finishing taking the rest of the lunch orders.
“Now you’ve done it, Eliza,” said Dee.
“What?” she sounded perplexed. “Asked for another cup for Bridget? Is that a crime?”
“It is around here,” murmured JJ, feeling secretly delighted. Eliza hadn’t been part of last night’s briefing, so she had no idea how easy it was to antagonize Lily. Good! Maybe things would come to a head sooner rather than later. And if Eliza ended up getting covered in flying food particles, hopefully she wouldn’t suffer any lasting damage from it.
For the first time, Eliza took a good look around the restaurant. “You know, I just realized it’s lunchtime in Manhattan and there’s hardly anyone in this place!”
Bridget agreed with her and said she wondered how the owners could possibly pay the rent.
Drake, loyal lug of a Lily-boyfriend that he was, exhorted them to wait until they tried the food. “It’s pretty good and the prices can’t be beat.”
At that moment a loud crash issued from the kitchen and a male voice started bellowing. It seemed that Lily’s brother was giving her shit for something. And by the sounds of things, she was giving as good as she was getting. JJ had to assume that the only reason she hadn’t yet killed her brother, whom she appeared to hate passionately, was that blood was thicker than water, or something like that. There was more crashing, then a high-pitched scream and the sound of a piece of crockery smashing to smithereens.
“Oh my God!” Bridget clutched James, her eyes widening in fear. “What kind of place is this?”
“Welcome to the funhouse,” intoned JJ, and bravely took a sip of his tea. It did taste like flowers. He hoped it didn’t make him start seeing colors, or wanting to fly, or anything.
“Don’t worry about it,” Drake said reassuringly. “You know what brothers and sisters are like sometimes… Siblings have their little differences of opinion.”
“I don’t have that kind of relationship with my brother at all,” Bridget remarked in that nasal voice of hers. “We agree about everything. My brother would never yell at me.”
“Well, everyone else’s brothers do,” said JJ. “Drake’s brothers yell at him all the time, right Drake?” Perversely, he felt he had to stick up for Drake, even though he didn’t really want to assist in presenting Lily’s interactions with her brother as being anything close to normal.
“God, yeah.” Drake rolled his eyes. “But not so much now that we all live so far away from each other. But when we were growing up— man. I’m glad I was the biggest.”
“You don’t have any sisters, do you, Drake?” This was Eliza.
“Nope. JJ’s the one with the sisters.” Drake didn’t really like talking about himself, so he always did his best to deflect personal questions.
The kitchen door banged open, and Lily came stomping across the floor with a cup in her hand. A grey-haired guy at another table attempted to flag her down, but she snarled at him to wait and continued on her grim mission to deliver the cup. Bridget must have jumped a foot out of her chair when it was banged down on the table in front of her.
“Cup!” Lily announced unnecessarily, then whipped out her waitress pad again as though she were whipping a gun from its holster. “Hurry up and choose order! I’m busy!”
Carol hurriedly ordered a tofu dish, Bikky asked for egg rolls and dumplings, Dee and Ryo followed JJ and Drake in ordering the special, and when it came to Eliza’s turn she made one more valiant effort to ask questions about the menu.
“What is Tù ròu? Is it a kind of fish?”
“No! It meat!”
“Oh, and how about Gēzi?”
“It meat, too!”
“But what kind of meat… which animal?”
“Both… chicken. Like chicken. Very old chicken.” Lily’s mouth hardened. “You decide?”
Eliza gave up. “Okay, I guess I’ll have the Tù ròu with string beans.” She tried giving Lily one of her winning smiles. “I’m sure I’ll like it.”
Her smile didn’t work on Lily, JJ noted. As if anything would. Lily’s pencil scratched on her pad and then she turned to James. Her dark eyes traveled from his face to where Bridget’s proprietary hand was resting on his arm. Her scowl seemed to relax just a shade before she barked out a query in Cantonese.
James replied in the same language and then turned to Bridget. “And what would you like, dear?”
Bridget made a face. “You know I’m not big on lunch,” she said, “especially in places like this. Besides, I don’t think they have any low-calorie options on this menu. A girl has to think about her weight!” She tittered and smiled brightly at the table. Since she probably weighed about 95 pounds soaking wet, JJ guessed that she probably spent every waking moment thinking about her weight.
“You no eat?” Lily demanded.
Bridget flinched, and then said to James, “Ask her if they have a diet plate.”
James looked uncomfortable. “Bridge, she’s standing right there. You can ask her yourself.”
JJ could quite understand why Bridget didn’t want to talk to Lily any more than she absolutely had to. Lily’s cheeks were still flushed from her altercation in the kitchen and she looked perfectly capable of using her waitress pencil to stab anyone who had the temerity to ask her for a diet plate.
“But she might listen to you,” Bridget insisted, her tone turning petulant. “And you know I don’t like it when you call me ‘Bridge’.”
“Uh-oh,” Dee said sotto voce to Carol.
“I’m sorry, dear.” The blood rushed to James’s face and the anxious expression he had been wearing for days seemed to have returned. “But I still think you should ask her yourself.”
“All right, since you insist.” Bridget turned to Lily. “Do… you… have… special … diet… plate?” she asked, speaking slowly and carefully as though Lily were some kind of imbecile.
JJ felt himself starting to get excited. Between the two of them, Eliza and Bridget should send Lily flying into a murderous rage in about another minute. Two, max.
“One special,” Lily said, writing something on her pad.
“No, no!” exclaimed Bridget. “I didn’t want the lunch special—I just wanted—”
“Extra spicy?” Lily asked and even though her face and her tone had not changed appreciably, there was something extra evil in the way she said it that made JJ’s blood thrill in his veins. The kids picked up on it too, he was pleased to note.
“No! I mean---”
“Spicy good for lose weight,” said Lily definitively, snapping her book shut. “I bring you good spicy.” The grey-haired guy once again tried to speak to her as she passed, but she squawked angrily at him and didn't stop to find out what he wanted. Considering that his table was empty of anything but tea, JJ figured that what the older gentleman probably wanted was his lunch. He hoped the guy had ordered sweet and sour pork. Things were definitely heating up.
“Jamessssss!” hissed Bridget. “Go after her.”
James nodded obediently and was half out of his seat before a loud holler followed by what sounded like a small explosion from the direction of the kitchen made him sit back down again.
“Good call, buddy,” said Dee.
“James, you heard her. She’s going to bring me a horribly spicy thing that’s probably about four thousand calories. Would you please go and cancel my order?” Bridget was definitely pissed. But JJ had no sympathy. It was her own fault for saying the word ‘special.’ With people like Lily, you had to be careful not to give them an opening.
“Don’t worry, Bridget,” Drake assured her. “If you don’t like it, I’m sure someone here will eat it.”
JJ repressed a snort. Drake meant himself, of course. His partner was probably hoping like mad that she wouldn’t like it so that he could gobble it up and then get his own order packed up to go. JJ looked at Drake with concern, a new thought striking him. Drake really should not be eating here every single day. All that monosodium glutamate couldn’t be doing him any good. Maybe Lily was trying to kill him slowly. Of course! It was so simple, it just might work. No jury would convict her. Drake had been slower and lower in energy recently. JJ frowned as he considered this diabolical new angle.
James attempted to offer Bridget some tea, but she refused curtly and tried to move her chair further away from him. The way they were packed around the table like sardines made that difficult, but she got her message across.
Dee broke the uncomfortable silence that had sprung up around the group. “So Drake, is the service pretty fast here? I think the rugrats are hungry.”
“Yeah, not bad,” said Drake. “You remember, huh, Ryo? It was pretty fast that day we had lunch here, wasn’t it?”
“Um, yes, but that was because…” Ryo trailed off, this sentence apparently being beyond his powers to finish.
“Because what, dude?” Dee picked up the teapot.
“Um, never mind. It was fast.”
“Aw come on Ryo, I know your octopus was a little undercooked, but mine was fine!” protested Drake.
“Octopus?” exclaimed Bikky, swivelling his shaggy blonde head to stare at his foster-dad. “Ryo, did you order octopus?”
“Not exactly,” said Ryo. “It just turned out to be a key ingredient in the house special chow mein.”
“Was it disgusting?” Carol asked in a hushed tone.
“It was… interesting. Dee could you pour me some more tea please?”
Bikky nodded knowingly at Carol. “That means it was disgusting.” For the first time he looked seriously worried. “I hope they don’t put octopus in my dumplings!”
“That’s gonna be the least of your worries if Lily gets any more wound up,” JJ muttered to Bikky as quietly as he could. A quick glance in Drake’s direction confirmed that his partner didn’t appear to have heard him. Whew.
“Octopus can be really delicious,” James began. “Especially the way my mom cooks…” After a nervous glance at Bridget, who folded her arms and adopted a long-suffering expression, he fell silent.
JJ examined his chopsticks. Oh yes, he would give that relationship approximately 24 more hours. But hopefully they could go break up somewhere else and not let their own petty personal difficulties get in the way of the all-important Lily train wreck that was on the verge of happening.
Eliza picked up the teapot that was nearest her. “Hey, our pot’s out. Is there any tea left in yours?”
Dee gallantly poured tea for her, and JJ innocently suggested that Eliza ask for more when Lily returned.
This made Eliza regard him with suspicion. “What are you up to, JJ?”
“Yes, you. You’re being uncharacteristically quiet and polite. It’s not like you.”
“What do you mean, ‘uncharacteristically’? I’m always quiet and polite!”
“JJ, the only times you’re quiet is when your mouth is full,” Dee informed him, then added for Eliza’s benefit, “but he’s polite at least fifty percent of the time, you gotta admit. Especially when he wants something.”
Disappointed, JJ shook his head at the pair of them. How could they work with him all these years and still not know him?
The kitchen door swung open, and everyone turned hopeful eyes toward it. Lily emerged carrying a plate of something dark brown and oily-looking in one hand, and a bowl of rice in the other. Obviously it wasn’t for them, unless Lily intended to bring out their food one order at a time.
She stalked over to the gray haired man’s table, and barked, “Move hands! Hot plates here!”
The older gentleman’s brows drew together in displeasure as he and Lily faced off. He did not appear to be in any hurry to obey Lily’s urgent command. JJ held his breath, Bikky clutched at Ryo’s sleeve, and a curious stillness descended over their table. Would she or wouldn’t she?
-end of chapter 4-
Thanks for reading! Next chapter in a week.