FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
Rating: Chapter eight is rated "T". There's no sex in this chapter. Not even any kissing or groping (*sigh). But you know, sometimes I have to put the romance on hold in order to advance the plot. I believe this chapter has some swearing in it.
Spoilers: To Volume 7 Timing: Set in May directly after Book 7 ended Summary: Ryo is coming to terms with the changes in his relationship with Dee, as well as his new sexual identity. Meanwhile, Dee and Ryo are searching for a young runaway. This story explores homophobic attitudes but is primarily a love story between two men.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters. They are the property of Sanami Matoh. I am not making any money from this.
Author's notes: I believe in a strong and equal Ryo and Dee.
Tribute: I'm lucky enough to have this totally fabulous beta called Blue Simplicity. She doesn't hesitate to call me on it whenever I'm inconsistent or going off track. Thank you, Blue. You're wonderful!
FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May) Chapter 8
Detectives Laytner and McLean stood in the tiled foyer of Mr. and Mrs. Abernathy's elegant apartment, waiting for Mrs. Abernathy to return with a list of her son's friends and their phone numbers. She was a small, intelligent, British woman, very chic and very reserved. She didn't seem even the slightest bit distraught. She certainly didn't strike them as a mother whose thirteen-year-old son was missing.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," she said as she returned with a slip of paper, which Dee took from her hand. "That's all of them, I think. There may be others I don't know about."
" All of them?" queried Dee. "There are only two names on this list."
"Well, my son is a bit of a loner, you see. Not a joiner. Likes to spend time on his computer, you know, like so many young people nowadays. I believe he has heaps of internet friends, however."
"Could we see his room, ma'am?" asked Ryo.
After the merest hesitation, she said, "Of course! But I should warn you that it's rather a mess in there. I'm afraid he had a bit of a temper tantrum before he left and destroyed some of his belongings."
The boy's room was indeed a shambles. The floor was covered in broken CDs that looked as though they'd been trampled. There were torn posters and books scattered about the room, and a smashed computer monitor lay on its side.
"Holy hot damn, that was some temper tantrum," whistled Dee, as his eyes swept over the damage.
"Yes, it certainly was," Mrs. Abernathy agreed. "He tends to be somewhat emotional, our Thomas. Frankly, I'm at a loss how to deal with him, sometimes." She spread her hands and gave them a 'what can I do?' kind of look.
"What was the tantrum about?" Ryo's voice was soft, belying the hard interest that showed on his face.
"Well, he and his father are always at loggerheads over something. I think it was about his friends... My husband would like him to be, ah, a little more circumspect in that regard, and Thomas protested."
"We have information that his father was perhaps violent toward him," said Ryo in the same soft voice.
Mrs. Abernathy betrayed the first real emotion she had shown so far. "Goodness, no!" she said. "Certainly NOT. You don't understand. Mike loves that boy, just adores him."
"We spoke to one of his friends yesterday who told us something about how your son perceived his life here," Ryo elaborated.
Seeing that all this was going to do was elicit another denial, Dee cut in bluntly with "Whether it's true or not, if the kid is even SAYING he's being abused, we're gonna have to refer it to the child welfare authorities for further investigation."
"Well, I certainly hope you find him soon so we can clear up this misconception," she said, returning to her former unruffled state. "And now, gentlemen, if you don't need anything else from me, I'm afraid I have an appointment to get to."
She led them out of Thomas' room. Back in the foyer, Dee asked her for a drink of water and followed her into the kitchen. Between sips, he looked around appreciatively.
"Nice place you got here," he said.
She shrugged. "It's adequate for our needs." She stood there, patiently as he finished his drink and only looked at her watch once.
"Thank you," he said, handing her the glass, and walking back to where Ryo was waiting.
"Thank you for coming, gentlemen," said Mrs. Abernathy. "Do call if you find him, any time of the day or night. Just leave a message if we happen to be out."
"Yes ma'am," said Ryo. "Good bye."
Dee gave her a brief nod. The door clicked firmly shut behind them. They waited until they were in the elevator before turning to each other with their impressions.
"'Leave a message'?" Ryo repeated, shaking his head. There was a little glint of anger in his eyes. "What do you wanna bet that she has a cell phone, but just didn't want us to be able to contact her on it?"
"Yeah, definitely something weird going on here. Her son's been missing for four days and it seems to be more of an inconvenience than anything else."
"Did you buy the part about the temper tantrum?" Ryo asked.
"Nah. A kid who reportedly lived on his computer wouldn't have smashed his monitor like that."
"Yeah, and I thought the broken CDs were a bit iffy too. Half of them looked like music he'd burned himself and the other half looked like games. I can't see him smashing his games and his tunes when he could have taken out his anger on something less personal, like his clock radio or the water mug by his bed."
Dee remarked that there had been no pictures of the boy or the family anywhere, no evidence that a kid actually lived in that place, except his room.
"In your place you've got Bikky's basketball trophy up on top of the TV, you've got framed pictures of him on the living room wall, photos of him and his friends on the fridge… his second favorite sports bag lives on the hooks by the door…Here, it's like the kid's just a boarder."
Ryo listened, surprised, because although he had also noticed the absence of 'kid'-oriented paraphernalia, he hadn't put quite the same spin on it that Dee did. He had attributed it more to the Abernathys' desire to keep a neat and stylish apartment, which was something he could entirely relate to, than to a lack of regard for their son. He felt a little embarrassed that he had been paying more attention to the art on the walls and the quality renovation job that the Abernathys had obviously had done on their suite than he had to the fact that nothing of Thomas' seemed to be in the main living area. He was once again struck by Dee's perceptiveness and his facility for noticing details. It was one of the qualities that made him so well suited to police work. Dee cultivated an attitude of carelessness, which most people didn't look beyond, but Ryo knew that when something was important to him he wasn't careless at all. However, "Hmm, it DOES live on the hooks by the door, doesn't it?" was all he said.
"Let's go see what Daddy has to say." Dee strode toward the car.
Mike Abernathy was a smallish man with a big, bluff, hearty Irish voice that seemed at odds with his cold, suspicious eyes.
"What was your name? Laytner? Think I've heard of you! You caught that fellow was murdering young ladies and chopping off their hands, am I right? 'Bout six, seven months back?"
"Eight. And yep, that was me AND my partner here Detective McLean."
Dee indicated Ryo. Lieutenant Abernathy pumped Ryo's hand absently without really looking at him.
"Yes, yes," he said. "Good job, the pair of you. Parents citywide were relieved when that monster was finally nabbed. But you, Detective Laytner, YOU were the one who sent him to hospital, correct? Ha-ha! As I recall, the outset of the trial had to be delayed because he wasn't completely recovered from his injuries!"
"Geez, does EVERYONE know about that?" muttered Dee, scratching his head. "Well, you know," he added, uncomfortably aware that he was standing in the offices of Internal Affairs, "if he hadn't resisted arrest the way he did…"
"Say no more, boy, say no more. Even in IA, we do have some understanding of the workings of the real world, believe it or not! Please sit down, the pair of you. I take it that you two are the ones that Warren has assigned to find my son?"
"That's right, sir," Ryo spoke up. "We're confident that we're going to find him soon. In fact, we almost had him yesterday, but he was a little too fast for us."
"Oh-ho! I know what you mean – my Tommy can be quick on his feet. For a while there, he was a member of his school's track team -- now there was some fancy footwork. But, he didn't stick with it, as usual, did he now? Kids today, I just don't know."
"Did he quit the track team, then?" Ryo asked.
"Yes, perhaps one step ahead of being kicked off of it by his irate coach. Tommy was cutting practices, and showing up late or not at all for meet after meet. I don't know what was going on there. I think it was just a bad crowd that he had the misfortune to fall in with." Lt. Abernathy sounded resigned and perhaps the tiniest bit bitter.
"Was your son involved with drugs, sir?" Dee asked bluntly.
"My own Tommy? Goodness no. At least, I hope not." Lt. Abernathy hesitated, rather theatrically, to Dee's mind, before adding, "Well, I can't be sure, anymore."
But Ryo appeared to be in sympathy with him.
"It's so hard to protect them sir, isn't it? Especially in a city like this."
Lt. Abernathy's eyes narrowed slightly as he took note of Ryo, seemingly for the first time.
"De-tec-tive McLean," he murmured thoughtfully. "Yes, you're the parent of a rather difficult teenage boy, yourself, aren't you? You understand the tribulations we fathers go through, I think."
Ryo reddened slightly, but his face didn't otherwise change. Dee knew he was surprised. But this did appear to bear out his theory that the chief had asked them to take care of this case because of Ryo's experience with Bikky.
"Yes, I think I do," Ryo agreed in his quiet voice. "We have to let go and trust them, but we also have to be able to read their minds at will. It can be quite a challenge."
"Mmmm, absolutely. And the law gives us practically no power to do what's necessary to protect them."
"How do you mean, Lieutenant?"
"Well for example, when they insist on running around with friends who are bad for them, who can undermine their entire future. You try to forbid it, but they lie and sneak around behind your back, or they out and out defy you to your face!"
"Uh, yeah, I've gone through that, too," said Ryo, looking down at the floor. Dee knew he was remembering Bikky's recent escapade.
"But the law does not allow us to properly protect them or teach them the error of their ways, now does it? The rights of the child are paramount in this day and age."
"Well, exactly which ways of protecting them or teaching them are you referring to?" asked Dee, interested.
Lt. Abernathy leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling with the air of a man who was about to embark on a story. "When I was a boy in Ireland," he began, "I had me a strict, God-fearin' father. I had me some strict, God-fearin' teachers, aunties and uncles, too. It was difficult for a boy bent on trouble to get up to any, what with all the eyes on my activities and the consequences of getting caught. However, boys will be boys to a certain degree, and I'll admit there were times when my old man warmed my backside for me, and sent me to bed without any supper. There was even a time when I spent most of a summer week locked in my auntie's attic, with naught but an old fashioned chamber pot and the Good Book to keep me company. I have to say that these methods, while strict, went a long way toward keeping me on the straight and narrow." He sighed dramatically. "But strap a child's behind today? Lock him in his room? Well that's assault and unlawful confinement, isn't it? Under our current laws, it is the God-given right of a minor to come and go as he pleases, to choose the company he keeps, no matter how dangerous, and to thumb his nose at his parents, who only want the best for him!" He looked directly at Ryo. "Isn't that so, Detective McLean?"
"Ah… well, I can't say I had the same kind of upbringing you did, sir, and yet I was, for the most part, a well-behaved child."
Mike Abernathy seemed to be waiting, so Ryo went on. "I think each child is different, and our methods must vary accordingly. Punishment is also a matter of degree. One man may scold or slap his son, whereas another might beat him black and blue. As LEOs, we have a special responsibility to stay within the confines of the law."
He fixed Mr. Abernathy with a deliberately assessing look, which was not misunderstood by the other. Mike Abernathy looked Ryo up and down, and said,
"Me boy, there are many ways of judging whether a man be a fit father or not. For every ten men who slap or confine their sons, there'll always be one or two who do worse, if you catch me drift. Occasionally, there have been men of a certain…proclivity who even seek to adopt young boys for their own improper purposes with nary a woman in sight."
What the hell? thought Dee. The man was clearly implying that there was something twisted about Ryo's motives for adopting Bikky. Every instinct Dee possessed warned him of danger. Goddamned Internal Affairs bastard. Suddenly he couldn't wait to get out of there. But one glance at Ryo's impassive but determined face told him that his partner was not about to scurry away just because this bullying little man had thrown down a somewhat daunting gauntlet. Without taking his eyes from his opponent's, Ryo pulled out his notebook.
"Lietenant Abernathy," he said in his firm, professional police detective voice. "I'm afraid I have to ask you a few questions." Dee leaned back in his chair and flicked his gaze from the first to the second window in Mike Abernathy's nicely furnished corner office. There was a beautiful blue spring sky out there, but things were about to get unpleasant in here. There was no escape. Dee almost grinned, but controlled himself. He decided he might as well get as comfortable as possible. An evil part of him hoped Ryo would lose his temper. He always enjoyed seeing Ryo lose control and flip out, provided it wasn't directed at him. But in the next moment he felt guilty for such a thought. Brash though he was, he had every cop's horror of falling afoul of IA, and he didn't want Ryo to be in any trouble. He dragged his attention back to the proceedings. His partner was asking Lt. Abernathy about the broken computer.
"It happened during an altercation I was having with Tommy. He was shouting and throwing things, and in my somewhat 'athletic' efforts to avoid the missiles, I fell against the computer and it ended up broken."
"Can you tell me the nature of the altercation, sir?"
"It was concerning his no-good friends. Buncha drug-usin' sexual deviants that he met over his damn computer. Oh, they were losing no time at all in leading him down a wrong and ugly path."
"Was it following this particular altercation that your son left home?"
"Yes. And we miss him something terrible." Those words sounded strange indeed, considering the hostile tone of voice in which they were spoken.
"Would you be able to supply me with your wife's cell phone number, sir? I neglected to get it from her when we met with her earlier."
After a moment's hesitation, Lt. Abernathy said, "I'll have to admit to not knowing my wife's cell number off the top of my head. She doesn't like people calling her on it unless it's an emergency."
Ryo just looked at him and waited with raised eyebrows. This succeeded in making the IA agent's face go a little darker.
"I'll have her call you with it later," he finally answered.
"Fine," said Ryo. "And may I have yours too?" Abernathy rattled it off and Ryo took it down.
Dee spoke. "We'd also like to know, sir, why you and your wife waited almost 48 hours until after your son's disappearance to contact the police."
"Ah, well you see, the boy has run off and come back on his own before now. He just stays with friends and then comes home feeling repentant. When that didn't happen this time, we naturally got the police involved."
"Can you speculate as to why your son may be feeling less…'repentant' this time?" Ryo asked.
Abernathy seemed to be grinding his teeth together as he gathered himself to answer. "No, boy, that's your job. I don't think endless speculation from a distraught parent would be helpful at this point."
"Is your son angry with you?"
Abernathy emitted a short, harsh bark of laughter. "He's a teenager and I'm his hardass cop father. He's often angry with me. Isn't your son the same, McLean, or are you a lot more, ah, permissive with yours?"
Dee could see that Ryo was starting to get angry, and damn it, he was getting angry too. Who did this arrogant little man think he was? God?
"Detective McLean's boy isn't missing, sir; yours is. Let's just stick to the subject of Thomas. The sooner we have all the information we need, the sooner we can leave you to your work," he snapped.
Abernathy's unfriendly gaze swung toward him and eyed him speculatively. Then he snorted dismissively and one corner of his mouth lifted in a derisive smile. However, he didn't say anything.
Ryo was remembering Eddie's brief description of the bruises he had seen on Thomas' legs. He shook himself from those thoughts and said, "I just want to make you aware, sir, that an associate of your son's, whom we currently have in custody, has told us that your son has suffered physical violence from you and in fact fears to return home."
Abernathy finally lost it. "Who the hell do you think you are?" He roared. "Poncing in here and threatening me! Implying that I –I! have been abusing the son I love more than my life! I am not on trial here! Your instructions were merely to find the boy and return him to the bosom of his family, not to dig up all kinds of potentially damaging hearsay! You're nothing but a dime-a-dozen detective, a jumped-up public bloodhound."
At that point, Ryo interjected impatiently. "Whatever you want to call us, we're the ones who are going to find your son, who is currently sleeping in the streets and going without meals thanks to his unhappy home situation."
"And if the boy confirms abuse at your or your wife's hands, we're obligated to report it to the child welfare authorities," added Dee, echoing his earlier words to Thomas's mother.
"We'll see what the boy says IF you succeed in finding him," growled Abernathy. "In the meantime, I'm going to speak to Warren. I'm not at all sure that a pair of oddball dandies like you two are the best people to be looking for a vulnerable and cd confused lad like Tommy. Now get the hell out of here, gentlemen. This interview is over. I've got phone calls to make."
Dee and Ryo stood to leave. Ryo's face was red and Dee knew that inside he must be seething, but by some miracle of self-control that Dee rather admired, his partner's voice and facial expression remained detached and professional.
"One last question, sir.” Ryo gave the lieutenant a hard look. "Do you then unequivocally deny that you have ever abused your son?"
Abernathy leapt to his feet and spat something after them, but it was quite profane and they didn't catch it in its entirety. It wasn't exactly an answer anyway.
"Guess not," Ryo muttered to Dee as they strode down the hallway to the alarmed stares of the staff.
"Jumped up public bloodhounds? Dime-a-dozen detectives? ODDBALL DANDIES?" demanded Dee, shaking his head in disbelief. “Dude, we have been well and truly insulted."
Getting no response, he shot a sideways look at Ryo, once they reached the elevator. Ryo was wearing what Dee called his 'pigheaded expression', looking stubborn and rebellious at the same time. What the hell had his partner been thinking, taking on IA on their home ground? Sweet Jesus, did he ever need a cigarette.
~~end of chapter eight~~