A New Day chapter 11
Rating: Chapter eleven is rated "Mature". No sex , but I think there's one kiss. However none of that should matter to you, because in this chapter the plot moves right along. I know some people out there are going, "Plot, shmlot! When are they going to get naked again?" Well, probably not for a little while. Hope y'all can live with that.
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. Oh, but I created Thomas and Mike Abernathy, and they are not based on anyone living or dead. If your name is Abernathy, sorry about that! Jim is Bikky's friend from Book 1 in the manga. He was one of the three boys who got pre-Camp bear-beating tips from Dee.
Author's notes: I believe in a strong and equal Ryo and Dee.
Thank you, Blue Simplicity, for beta-ing this chapter TWICE and kind of under duress at that. I'm grateful to you.
A New Day chapter 11
"Yeah?" Ryo glanced up over his glasses at the teenager's guarded face.
"Can I talk to you for a sec?"
"Of course, any time, B." Ryo closed his book and put it on his nightstand. The mattress rocked a little as Bikky sat down on the edge of the bed. The light from the bedside lamp sparked gold off the fine hairs on his arms. Bikky took a moment to compose his thoughts, and while he did, Ryo watched him. The rounded limbs of the boy's childhood were slowly disappearing, and were being replaced by a muscular angularity and the budding promise of manhood. For the first time, it hit Ryo that his happy life with Bikky wasn't going to continue indefinitely.
"Well, I got this friend."
"A good friend?"
"Nah...Not close. More like a friend of a friend."
"Well...he's having some problems with his dad."
"You wanna tell me about it?"
"This kid is a fa-- he's gay, or 'bi' or something, I think. And his dad... His dad has a problem with that."
"Um. What kind of problem?"
"A smacking-around kind of problem. A "Get-the-hell-out-of-my-house" kind of problem."
"Bikky, that sounds pretty serious," said Ryo, sitting up straighter and leaning forward a bit. His heart was already going out toward the unknown teen whose father was actually hitting him and ordering him out of the house just because of his sexual orientation.
"Well, yeah, it is. He's in trouble, and I...well, you got any suggestions?"
"Bikky, how old is this boy?"
"Same age as me. Maybe a bit older."
"Where is he now? Is he at home?"
"He's stayin' with a friend, sort of." Bikky looked down at his hands.
"What do you mean, 'sort of'?"
"His dad kinda kicked him out and he doesn't have a real place to stay right now. He's just stayin' with friends, but that can't go on for long, you know. His friends have their own troubles."
"Has he contacted any child welfare agencies? Social services?"
"Uh, no, I'm pretty sure he hasn't. He's scared to."
"Of his dad. He's apparently a pretty important guy."
"But I thought his dad kicked him out?"
Bikky sighed. "I don't really get it, either. It seems kinda complicated."
Ryo was looking at him steadily. "Would you like me to talk with him?"
"Yeah." Bikky nodded. "I been telling him about you. But you have to promise him that you won't immediately call his old man."
"Well, you know, his father may have to be contacted at some point, but I promise I won't do it immediately. Will that do?"
"Yeah, it'll have to, I guess."
"So when is this meeting likely to happen?"
"I dunno. I haven't seen him for a few days on account of being GROUNDED. If I could be temporarily, just temporarily, mind, 'ungrounded', I could go find him."
"Nice try, B. Doesn't your friend have access to a telephone?"
"If he does, I don't know the number." Bikky's eyes met Ryo's frankly. "He's moving around a fair bit. I don't know who he might be with now. It's gonna be hard tracking him down if I have to try an' do it by phone."
Ryo gave this some thought. Was the whole thing just an elaborate scheme for Bikky to get out and meet his friends? He wouldn't put it past him, especially considering how the boy had been acting lately. However, his gut told him that this time his foster son was telling the truth.
"How much time do you need?"
"Just gimme a few hours after school tomorrow. If he's not all the way over in Brooklyn or something, I can probably track him down and set up a face to face. When are you gonna be home in the next little while?"
"Dee and I are still on first shift for the next two weeks. Friday was an unusual thing because we covered for co-workers who wanted to watch basketball, remember? That means we're home around dinnertime. You wanna bring him home for dinner?"
Bikky grimaced and looked away. "I don't think he's gonna go for that right off the bat."
"Well, do you want us to meet you guys at a coffee shop, or some other neutral place before dinner?"
"'Us'?" Bikky's voice indicated a hint of disapproval. He was still pissed at Dee for that whole prison thing yesterday. He was also a little surprised by how quickly Ryo's face seemed to close this time. For so long, his foster-dad had been kind of apologetic about Dee. Now, it was...Shit. Things sure had changed.
"Yes, 'us'. Dee and I are a package, B."
Bikky didn't answer right away and Ryo waited him out. Finally, the boy shrugged and spoke. "Okay, I'll see what I can do."
"Yeah, but why do we have to meet them in McDonalds?" complained Dee. "Couldn't we have met them in a nicer place? With better coffee?"
"Well, it was Bikky's suggestion," said Ryo. "And just when did you start getting so picky about your coffee, anyway?"
"I dunno. It's gotta be your influence. Thank God we're not eating dinner here! We're not, right?"
"Well no, no matter how loudly those french fries call to us. We're going to have something healthy at home later."
"What's for dinner, anyway?"
"I'm hoping that Bikky's friend will want to come home with us. It may be that the boy hasn't been eating properly. I'll probably make something fast, like pasta. Or maybe rice and chicken. I'll ask them what they want."
"Well, whatever you cook, I'm sure it'll be delicious, as usual. I'll wash the dishes after, if you like." Dee couldn't believe that that last sentence had just come out of his mouth. You are so whipped, buddy, he silently told himself.
But it had made Ryo look at him with affection, so Dee grinned happily. He adored it when Ryo looked at him like that. It made him feel ten feet tall. It made him feel loved. Then it made him feel frustrated because he couldn't pull his darling into his arms and give him a good nuzzle right there in the middle of McDonalds. That reminded him again that he wasn't happy to be in this den of fast-food iniquity, and his face clouded over.
"Why did he have to pick one with a 'Play Place'?" he grumbled.
"Oh, I don't know," said Ryo. "Don't you like watching the kids play? I do." His eyes followed a laughing little girl as she came down the blue plastic slide.
"It's not the kids I mind, it's the way their moms are watching you, like a pack of lions surrounding an oblivious...wildebeest."
Ryo laughed. "I'm a wildebeest?" he asked. "Aren't they kind of funny-looking?"
"Well, I was gonna say an oblivious 'gazelle', but then I thought a wildebeest would be more butch."
"Am I butch?" Ryo looked at Dee with interest.
"You’re one tough sonofabitch, Ryo. But you're so quiet about it that people sometimes miss that about you."
Ryo gave him a shy smile. "They're checking you out, too, you know."
"Maybe I should kiss you and dash all their hopes."
Dee leaned a little closer to him and tried not to glare at a tittering pair of women near them who seemed to have Ryo in their sights. Man, there was more potential action here than at a singles' bar. He'd have to tell Ted about this place, and then get some free pizza out of him in exchange for the address.
"Uh-oh, here comes one of the lions."
"Dee!" Ryo shook Dee's sleeve. He was looking in the opposite direction.
"What is it, babe?" Dee's eyes flickered briefly to the pretty woman who had approached their table. He hoped she'd heard.
"Look out there. In the parking lot. That's Bikky, and -- and I think...Dee, is that Thomas Abernathy?"
"Jesus, yeah! What the fuck? He's gonna run, Ryo. This might be our only chance."
"Quick, get up and take the back door." Ryo abruptly turned toward the woman who was now standing hesitantly next to their table. "Miss," he said, "Is there something I can do for you?"
"Um...yes, if you wouldn't mind," she said, smiling in relief that he had finally noticed her.
"Would you like to sit down?" Ryo stood up and offered her his seat. He quickly took Dee's empty seat so that now his back was to the room and he could no longer watch Bikky's approach, nor be seen from afar by his foster son's companion.
"Ehrm, well, sure. Thank you," she said, and looked at him a little shyly. Once seated across from him, she stared at him for a moment, then blushed and looked down. "I'm sorry to bother you like this," she began hesitantly.
"You're not bothering me at all," said Ryo, hoping that his sudden tension wasn't apparent in his face or voice. "Go on."
"W-well, you see, that's my little girl, Julie, over there, the one who keeps going down the slide."
"Yes, I saw her. She's adorable." He forced himself to smile, but even though he was feeling edgy about Thomas, it wasn't that hard. The child WAS adorable.
"I -- Oh gosh, here I am yapping away, and I haven't even introduced myself! I'm Karen, by the way." She extended her hand.
"Randy," said Ryo, shaking her hand with a smile. "You were saying?"
"Well, I'm here alone, and I need to go to the restroom for a minute and I didn't want to drag Julie out of there when she's having so much fun and all and you seem like a very nice man, Randy, and I was wondering if you would watch her just for a moment?" she said, all in a rush.
Ryo knew very well that Julie's mother had just detached herself from one of several small groups of women over by the play area, so she was by no means alone. However, he couldn't discourage her just yet because he had decided that she was going to help him keep from turning around until the Abernathy boy was too close to get away.
"Are you sure you want to trust me? I mean, how can you be sure I'm not, you know, a dangerous person?"
"Hey Ryo!" That was Bikky's voice, from the sounds of it, about a dozen feet or so behind him, slightly to the left. He held up a hand, but didn't turn his head. "Just a minute, Bikky, the lady is talking."
Behind him, Bikky frowned. This was definitely weird. Jim and Tom didn't notice anything though, and they continued moving a few steps closer to Ryo, who was sitting with some blond chick. Where the hell was Dee? Bikky looked around, but didn't see him. The blond chick had finished saying something like, "You could never be a dangerous guy," and Bikky spoke up again.
"Where's the moron?"
Ryo twisted gracefully out of his chair in one fluid motion, and looked at the three boys.
"Hi, guys," he said softly, hoping Thomas wouldn't recognize him right away until he at least had him in a handshake. Unfortunately, Thomas' eyes widened in alarm as soon as he saw Ryo's face. Uttering an expletive, he lunged toward the door. He had reckoned without Jim, who had the misfortune to be in his way, and by the time he had maneuvered around him, Ryo had him by the back of his hoodie. Ryo pivoted so that he was now between the boys and the door. In a flash, Thomas had shrugged out of his hoodie and was running toward the back door, with Ryo right behind him. Get him Dee, he willed silently, and sure enough Dee did. Dee was good at latching onto running kids, thanks to his years in the orphanage. Bikky, Jim, and all of the lions stared with open mouths.
By the back door, Thomas was struggling in Dee's powerful grip and yelling for help.
"This is a kidnapping! Someone please help me! I don't wanna die!" he shouted.
The lions were glaring. Little Julie who had crept out of the play area, was crying, and clinging to her mom, who also looked scared.
Ryo stepped up and took Thomas by one of his arms to back up Dee before a concerned citizen could step forward and attempt to rescue the kid.
"NYPD!" he shouted, and flashed his badge with his free hand.
"Melodramatic little bugger, ain't he?" growled Dee. "Don't worry kid, you're not gonna die, unless you're planning to eat the food here or something." Carol had made Dee watch the DVD of 'Supersize Me' recently, and it had made a big impression on him.
Ryo looked at Bikky, whose face was thunderous. Uh-oh, he thought.
"What the hell is up with arresting my friends? This is the second time in less than a week! He didn't do nothin'!"
"Bikky!" Ryo warned. "We're not arresting him. We just want to talk to him."
"But we ARE gonna cuff you if you don't settle down," Dee informed Thomas, who ceased struggling and hung limply in Dee's grasp.
"Let's go," Ryo said. "You too, Bikky."
"How about me?" Jim asked hopefully. Whatever happened next, he sure didn't want to miss it, and he was pretty sure that there would be food involved one way or another.
"Let him come," said Bikky sarcastically to Ryo. "Just in case you get an urge to arrest him too. He'll be right there for your arresting convenience."
"That's enough, Bikky," Ryo said firmly. "Okay, everyone, out to the car."
"Where are we going, anyway?" That was Thomas' voice.
"Someplace that's a little less of a zoo than this one," said Ryo, who briefly caught Dee's eye, but kept his face straight.
"Jeez, talk about coincidence! You know we gotta call this in," Dee had muttered to his partner in the car. Ryo hoped that the boisterous dialogue in the back seat would cover those words.
"Let's just wait a bit, okay? Until after we've asked him a few questions," Ryo had replied in a quiet voice.
Now they were sitting around the kitchen table of Ryo's apartment. A big pot of spaghetti was boiling away on the stove, and Jim had been put on sauce-stirring duty.
Ryo poured coke for the boys out of a two-liter bottle. When Bikky had seen Ryo taking it out of the trunk of the car, his sugar-hungry eyes had lit up because Ryo didn't normally keep soda in the house.
"B," Ryo said. "Why don't you and Jim go to your room and get started on your homework, while Dee and I talk to Thomas?"
Thomas looked a little alarmed and quickly said, "I don't mind if they stay. They know all about me, anyway."
"Okay, if you don't mind, we're willing to stay," Bikky said, looking hard at Ryo, still feeling quite mistrustful. He had brought this boy to his foster father because he thought he would be able to help. He had never expected Ryo and Dee to be chasing his friend through McDonalds and manhandling him out of there, practically in handcuffs. "After all," he added. "We're the closest thing you got to a lawyer right now."
There was an ever so slight tightening to the set of Ryo's mouth, which no one would have noticed except Dee, Bikky, or Aunt Elena, if she had been there. Thomas didn't see it at all. After all, he had his own problems.
"So," Ryo said to Thomas. "Why did you leave home?"
Thomas shifted uncomfortably. "I've got a problem with my dad. I think Bikky musta told you something about it."
"Did he hit you?"
"Yeah, a few times. He's got a--a problem with my sexual orientation."
Dee was amused by how matter of factly Thomas said 'sexual orientation'. Bikky scowled into his coke. Dammit, if constantly being surrounded by guys who turned out to be gay wasn't just turning into the story of his life. Thank God for Carol, or his reputation would be ruined.
"How about your mom?" Ryo asked.
A little frown appeared between Thomas' eyes. "She's out a lot," he said. "She doesn't hit me or anything, but she's not like a typical mom."
"Does she stand up for you when your father hits you?"
Thomas' lips tightened. "Nah," he said. "She doesn't get involved. She says, 'Oh no not this again,' or something like that, then she goes to her room. She says we have to work it out between us. Besides, he usually saves the worst beatings for when she's not home, anyway."
"How does she feel about your, ah 'sexual orientation'?" Dee asked.
Thomas took his time answering. Bikky glanced jadedly over at Dee, expecting to see more amusement, but to his surprise, saw only compassion instead.
"She thinks it's abnormal. Disgusting. She-- she's worried about germs and diseases." Thomas took a shaky breath and burst into tears.
"Take it easy there, buddy," said Dee, patting the boy's shoulder.
"Hey, man, you want some more coke or something?" asked Bikky, clearly uncomfortable.
"Just let him cry," said Ryo.
Behind them, Jim maintained an invisible presence, and industriously stirred the sauce.
Ryo handed the phone to Dee. "Chief wants to talk to you now. Thomas, the Chief talked to your parents and they're willing to let you stay with us for a couple of days."
Dee took the phone and went into the bedroom. When he came out, Thomas, Bikky and Jim were in front of the TV squabbling over video games. Ryo was sorting spare bedding.
"Hey, guys, pause the game for a sec," Dee said.
"Screw you, dork-head," said Bikky automatically, but he did as Dee asked.
"Tom, our Chief wants to set up a meeting with your parents on Wednesday, if possible. It's just a meeting, and no one is going to force you to go home with them if you're not ready to do that. Ryo and I will be right there with you, okay? And in the meantime, you got about 48 hours breathing room. That's the best we can do at this point. You on board with this?"
"Umm..." The happy smile had disappeared from Thomas' face, and he sat with slumped shoulders, looking years older than he should. "Suppose I don't wanna go home with my parents after the meeting -- what's gonna happen to me then? Juvie Hall?"
"No, because you haven't been charged with any crime," Dee said. "You'll be going into temporary foster care, but I don't know in which of the boroughs. It may not be Manhattan. That's really all I can tell you at this point."
"I'm... Thank you for helping me like this, Detectives. I really do appreciate this, but...you don't know my dad. This is not gonna turn out to be good, I just know it. He said he was gonna send me to Juvie Hall where I'd get the crap beaten out of me, among other things."
"Oh, we know your dad," said Dee with a sidelong look at his partner. "Don't we, Ryo?"
"Yeah, we've met him already," replied Ryo, with a little warning frown in Dee's direction.
"Well, then, you know what an asshole he is! And how he's always right and everyone else is always wrong."
Ryo looked at the desperate boy sympathetically. "Yeah," he said finally. "We couldn't help noticing that he has some very strong views about right and wrong. But even though your dad's a cop, he can't send you to Juvenile Hall just because you ran away from home."
Thomas was still looking doubtful, so Bikky slung his arm around the boy's shoulders and whispered urgently to him for a moment.
Ryo cut them off by saying, "No he CAN'T go back and hide out with Karl. I'm afraid that's no longer an option because he's in custody. And his name's Eddie, anyway."
Bikky blinked at him a moment in surprise. "Huh?" he said. "Don't you cops communicate with each other? Eddie was bailed out first thing this morning."
"What?" exclaimed Ryo and Dee in unison.
"It was probably my dad," sighed Thomas. "Jeez, I hope Karl is okay."
"Thomas," said Ryo. "I think you'd better tell us what's REALLY going on."
Not far from Wilson Lloyd High School, Eddie was busy removing the deadbolt from the door of his most recent home. He was sorry to leave it, as it had been one of the few places he'd been able to live in where he had felt really secure. It was windowless, which had pros and cons, and the plumbing didn't work, which was a definite con, but the door had been made from some kind of solid old wood reinforced with a steel plate. No one could have kicked that door down in the middle of the night and caught him by surprise. With a sigh, he put the tools back into his tool kit and tossed the dismantled lock apparatus into a box in his shopping cart. It was really too bad he had to move. He had taken a room over at the Westington, a dive hotel on Hammersley. It was just a temporary measure. He never felt safe whenever he had to stay there. But this place had been made by the cops. Bikky's new dad and his partner had forced him to unlock the door that time they followed the kid. Mike knew too, of course, but then Mike wasn't one of the cops he had to worry about. Mike had come through as usual, getting him out of that holding cell he'd spent the weekend in. Even a room at the Westington would be better than that.
Mike had been waiting for him here this morning, wanting the damn cell phone. Eddie had tried to stall, of course. He owed that much to Tommy, poor kid. There had been a strange look in Mike's eyes when Eddie had tried to tell him that the cell phone had gone with the boy. It was a look that caused Eddie's finely-honed sense of danger to tingle warningly.
"You'd better give me that phone, boy, or by God, I'll lay you out," Mike had muttered, his Irish lilt coming out stronger as a result of the anger that was always so close to the surface in him. Eddie had known it was no use. But still, as he handed it over, he spoke a word for Tom.
"Come on, Mike, go easy on your kid this time. You lose your temper too easy with him. He's a good kid, you know?"
"He USED to be a good kid," Mike had corrected. "If I let up on him now, he'll descend all the way down into the very bowels of degeneracy, and I won't be having that in MY family."
Eddie had tried one more time, but Mike had cut him off. "When you've been a father for any length of time, Karl, that's when you can come and preach to me about how it's done. Until that day, I'll thank you to keep your mouth shut. Got that boy? Mouth shut. "
Eddie shivered as he remembered the pointed way that Mike had looked at him as he said those last two words. He knew it was a warning. Mike's eyes had been much colder than he had ever seen them before. But, hey, who did Mike think would listen to a homeless, jobless guy like him?
The sound of a human voice emitting low but anguished sobs cut across his thoughts. The noise was coming from a small form huddled in the shadows at the mouth of the alley. Eddie pushed his loaded cart in that direction. The sobbing abruptly stopped and the figure tensed and seemed to try to make itself seem even smaller.
"Who's there?" Eddie called softly, but got no reply. He moved a little closer. "Tamara? Is that you?"
She raised her tear stained face from where it had been pressed against her knees. "E-Eddie?"
"Yeah, it's me. Are you okay, sweetie?"
"N-not really," she mumbled, and rising stiffly came toward him. He knew from the way she walked, from the sound of her voice that she was messed up pretty bad, even before he saw her.
"What happened? A trick go sideways?"
"Yeah. Didn't wanna pay. Look at me, Eddie." Her voice seemed all bruised, like her face.
The light in the alley wasn't very good, but he could make out the split and swollen lip, and the puffy eye, partially obscured by stringy dark hair.
"You should go home, Tamara. You know you can't work like this."
"Tried. But Rick threw me back out. Told me not to come home until I'd earned my quota."
"That Rick's a hard guy," Eddie sighed.
"That's a nice way of putting it." Her voice was coming out a little slurred from the damage to her mouth.
"When you gonna quit this life, Tamara?"
"When I don't need the junk no more, honey. You know how it is."
" Yeah...I do. Just wish it could be different for you."
For a moment he thought she was going to start crying again, but then she shrugged, and even made a poor attempt at a joke. "How about I just keep buying them lotto tickets instead?"
"I think for now, you'd probably best come home with me," Eddie said matter of factly. He glanced down to where her spindly legs ended in 4-inch platform heels. "Can you walk in those things?"
"Sure you wanna do that? Rick's gonna be pissed."
"Oh, Rick and I got history together. I got a couple of things on him, anyway. He always was a prick, but we mostly get along. You hungry?"
"Maybe." She tried to smile, but the attempt ended in a grimace of pain.
"Well, I got some soup here. We'll heat it up when we get to my new place, okay?" Eddie was rummaging purposefully in his shopping cart, from which he fished out a bottle of aspirin. "But I think you could use a couple of these right away, huh?'
"Thanks Eddie. You're a good guy." She clutched the aspirin to her bony chest and a fresh tear escaped and rolled down her cheek before she could stop it.
"My dad and Karl go way back. They have some kind of relationship. I think Karl helps Dad with his job. He told me he works for him."
"Why do you call him Karl while Bikky calls him Eddie?" Ryo asked.
Bikky answered. "Eddie goes by a few different names."
"Why do you think it was your dad who bailed him out of police custody?"
"He didn't bail him out." Thomas' mouth twisted fractionally. "Bail involves money, right? My dad is a super cheapskate. I'm sure he just pulled some strings."
"Has he done that for Eddie before?"
"I'm pretty sure. I mean, you guys can do that kind of thing, right?"
"Not exactly," said Ryo. "It's not that easy."
"Do you know what kind of work your dad's got Eddie doing?" Dee asked.
"Nah. Both my old man AND Karl said it was better for me not to know. But Karl is scared of my dad, I know that much."
"Has your father threatened him?" Ryo put down the pile of sheets and blankets that he had for some reason been holding throughout the conversation so far.
"I think so, but I'm not sure. Dad was really pissed about a cell phone video that Karl took."
When Dee asked if Thomas knew what was on the video, the kid was silent for so long that Dee began to think he should repeat the question.
But then Ryo spoke.
"It's you, isn't it? You're in the video."
Thomas raised anguished eyes to him and whispered, "Yeah."
"Don't give me that crap. I want to know WHO," insisted Dee.
The duty officer shrugged. "I'm telling ya, I don't know who it was. Call came from on high that Mr. Calvetti figured prominently in an ongoing undercover investigation that would fall apart if he wasn't back out on the street in 48 hours. So we cooperated. Why the hell should I stick my neck out?"
"You said 'on high'," Ryo put in. "Who, specifically? Which office?"
The man looked back and forth from Dee to Ryo, clearly uncomfortable. "Like I said, it was all by the book. Why the hell do you guys care?" he said. "Is that druggie loser part of a case you're working on?"
"He was our bust," Dee spoke forcefully. "And I don't believe that crap about how he's key to an undercover op. If there was something like that going on in our jurisdiction, I think I would have remembered the memo."
"Come on, Lyle," said Ryo. "We just wanna talk to whoever made that call and get this straightened out. It doesn't need to turn into something big."
"Well..." Lyle hesitated, weighing his options. "You should talk to Ned Shaver up in Narcotics. He's the guy that called me."
The two detectives looked at each other, identical frowns on their faces.
"Is he 27th?" Ryo asked.
"Um, no. He's Bronx. But you didn't hear any of this from me, okay? I don't want to get caught in the middle of a pissing contest between you guys."
"Voice mail again," Ryo informed Dee, and hung up. "But I didn't think leaving him a second message would do anything to promote our cool, calm and professional reputation."
"Huh? But we don't have a cool, calm and professional reputation," said Dee, reaching for his coffee.
"That's right, we don't. Largely thanks to you having a problem with the 'calm' part."
"Me?" Dee sputtered through a mouthful of coffee. He glared indignantly at Ryo, who had the grace to blush. "I can think of a few times--"
Ryo held up a hand. "I'm sorry," he said. "I'm not one to talk, especially since Friday. But did you have to leave Ned Shaver such an obnoxious message? If I were him, I wouldn't be in a hurry to call us back."
"Oh, I would," growled Dee. "I would fucking LOVE to respond to a message like that."
"Call me psychic, but I have a feeling that this guy's gonna drag out telephone tag with us for weeks."
"Hey, I know a sure-fire way to make the phone ring," said Dee, getting up from his desk and edging toward Ryo, whose eyes widened in alarm.
"Dee, I'm warning you-- You'd better not-- mmph!"
As Dee's mouth abruptly fastened on his, a thousand self-defence moves flashed through Ryo's mind, the result of years of Karate training, but as usual, he couldn't bring himself to employ any of them on Dee. Dee's mouth was all hard muscle and soft lips and tasted like coffee and chewing gum. Ryo couldn't imagine a woman kissing him with such power and intensity. There was really no comparison. But a moment later, he pulled back. It was dangerous to do this at work, and Dee ought to know that.
"Dee, not now. Not here. Stop."
"Aw come on. We haven't made the phone ring yet. Just give me ten more seconds."
"You always say that, and then it always turns out to be way longer than ten seconds."
Ryo tried to push Dee back, but Dee resisted and leaned down to kiss his cheek and his hair.
Suddenly they both heard a startled female voice behind them.
"Oh!" she said. "My goodness, I'm...I'm...oh my God."
"Can we--- Oh, it's you, Megan." Ryo was a bit flustered. Megan was Drake's latest girlfriend. She was a patrol officer from the 19th.
"If you're looking for that no-good guy of yours, he's starting off his day at the shooting range," said Dee easily, and then gave her a smirk. "What's the matter? Didn't your boyfriend tell you about me?"
"You too?" cried Megan. "What IS it with this precinct?" She swept out and banged the door behind her.
"Well, good morning to you too," said Dee sarcastically.
Ryo was glowering at him, and his face was bright red. "You agreed we weren't going to announce our relationship to the people at work," he snapped. "What do you wanna bet that she tells Drake, Drake talks to JJ, and the chief dissolves our partnership by lunchtime?"
"Dude, you're sweating a non-issue. What did she see? Me trying to kiss you and you trying to shove me away. That's been business as usual for the last two and a half years."
"I hope you're right," growled Ryo. "Now stay on your own side of the office for the rest of the day."
"What? Suppose I need to borrow a pencil? Or use the computer?"
"You have lots of pencils and you always complain about how much you hate this computer. Keep your hands off me AND the stuff on my desk."
"Fine, I won't touch, then.” Dee held up both hands. “But you can't stop me from looking. "
Ryo, however, wasn't paying attention. He had pulled out his notebook and was flipping back through the pages. A minute later, he was dialing the phone.
"You can start working anytime now, Dee," he said, giving his partner an irritable look.
Dee pretended to sulk and reached half-heartedly for the pile of files on his desk. He picked up his coffee cup and found to his delight that it was empty. Now he had a reason to go downstairs to the break room, and perhaps come back up via the roof. He unconsciously patted his shirt pocket for the reassuring feel of his cigarettes. A man couldn't work until he'd had a good hit of caffeine and nicotine, now could he?
Picking up the stained and battered plastic Knicks mug that he used for drinking coffee or sometimes throwing at the wall whenever he was mad enough to, he turned to Ryo to ask him if he wanted coffee. Ryo, who was speaking into the phone, just shook his head, and then Dee remembered that he still hadn't replaced Ryo's broken coffee cup. A pang of guilt shot through him, and he resolved then and there to take care of it in the next 24 hours. Well, okay, 48 at the most. And in the meantime, he'd bring up some coffee for his partner in a Styrofoam cup whether he wanted it or not. He quickly left the room before Ryo could get off the phone and stop him.
When he came back, his blood pleasantly buzzing from the five-sugar coffee he'd drunk and the two cigarettes he'd smoked in rapid succession, he was all charged up and ready to turn on the charm if Ryo got snarky about his somewhat extended absence. But it turned out not to be necessary.
"Dee!" Ryo called out as his partner entered the room. "I've got interesting news."
"Remember how Abernathy said he was going to get back to me with his wife's cell phone number?"
"Right. And he didn't exactly do that, did he?"
"Nope. But after a few phone calls to Cingular and Verizon and the like, I got it."
"And when I called the number, she answered, 'Alan, darling, thanks for getting back to me so quickly!'"
"No shit?" Dee started grinning.
"No shit. And when she realized it was me she was pretty shocked."
"Yeah, she must have been."
"And now she's quite interested in talking to us. Much more so than she was before." Ryo was grinning too.
"Let me guess. Before we next contact her husband."
"Well, she said she was actually going to reschedule a pedicure..."
"For little old no-account us?"
"Yeah. We've got a meeting at 2 pm today."
Dee hooted and they both burst out laughing.
end of chapter 11