FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
Rating: Chapter 16 is NOT worksafe! Get yourself a pitcher of water and a packet of sugar because there’s a big ol’ lemon coming. Do not read this at work or in the same room as your mother. Unless she wants to read it too, of course. Not, not NOT worksafe!
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 trying to find enough evidence to expose a crooked cop. 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. I don't watch any police or crime shows. In fact I barely watch any TV at all. I don't even read books about crime because I'm not particularly interested in the genre. However, I have done a certain amount of research in the interest of realism for this story. I know that fingerprint matches and drug tests in the police lab take longer in real life, and I'm sure the CSI people wouldn't have whipped through their job so quickly, either. I am taking certain liberties with these things in the interests of writing a (hopefully!) entertaining story that I need to keep moving at a reasonable clip. So please forgive any inaccuracies you might find with regards to police procedure, or feel free to point them out to me and I will respond.
Thank you to Blue Simplicity for all the praise, encouragement, searching questions and your unparalleled eye for detail.
A New Day chapter 16
"Grrr! Is that the best this stupid machine can do?" snarled Dee, giving the AFIS computer monitor a good shake.
"Dee! Stop that!" Ryo hissed, looking around nervously. "If Jeff sees you abusing his computer like that, he'll ban us both from the lab. It took me a long time to get him to trust me enough to let me use his workstation."
"Simmer down. It's not the fault of the program if a print is smudged. It would have been nice to get some hard dirt on Abernathy this early in the game, but I never expected it to be easy." Ryo was regretting that Dee had decided to skip his cigarette because his irritable partner clearly needed one.
Dee muttered under his breath. He was disappointed that the fingerprint check had only produced one print that was a potential match for Abernathy's. It had been found on the small bag marked 'Yours', but it wasn't clear and it was only a partial print anyway.
Ryo tried to cheer him up. "Hey, at least we've got Shaver. He didn't touch the drugs, but his prints are all over the paper bag, along with Eddie's."
"Yeah, that's something, ain't it?" said Dee, cheering up a little. "It's worth paying that bastard another visit. You wanna go now? Let's give Andrea a call and find out if he's at his desk."
Ryo raised his eyebrows. "Is this really Dee Laytner suggesting we go out on a call when it's already ten minutes past quitting time?"
"Oh, I'd work a weekend without pay just to see the arrogant look wiped off that asshole's face," said Dee with a diabolical grin.
"No, I think he can keep 'til tomorrow. Remember the Chief asked us to work on the Lydgate case before we go home today."
"Yeah, and isn't it just like that damn walrus to give us another fucking deadline twenty minutes before the end of our shift?" Dee's bad mood was returning, and Ryo didn't like the way he was eyeing the AFIS computer.
"Come on, let's just put in an hour." Ryo hastily logged out and stood up.
"Okay, but I need a cigarette first. I'm going up to the roof, but I'll walk upstairs with you." Dee got out his cigarettes and put an unlit one in his mouth.
They exited the fingerprint room, and as they walked past the forensics lab, Dee asked, "Hey, what time did you get the drugs into the lab? Liz was waiting for 'em."
"Just before lunch," Ryo replied. "It took Jeff and me almost two hours to lift all the prints, so I couldn't get them to her earlier."
"I'd better go visit her later and make sure she doesn't forget about them."
A momentary look of irritation flashed across Ryo's face. "She's going to think you've got a crush on her with the amount of time you spend in there turning on the charm," he grumbled.
Dee was pleased. Was that a jealous note he heard in Ryo's voice? "No way, dude. She's a savvy city girl. She knows I'm a one-man man."
Ryo looked at him in alarm.
"No, I didn't tell her," Dee said quickly. "Get a grip, doofus. The whole damn building knows I've been chasing you for years. I can't stop now. That would produce suspicions for sure."
That reminded Ryo of what Drake had told him at lunch and all the pent-up resentment he had been holding inside him since then suddenly boiled up and over. Scowling at his partner, he snapped, "Well, apparently every precinct for miles around already believes I'm gay, and in fact did so long before I ever DID anything certifiably gay, and I have YOU to thank for that!"
This was hardly the time or place for this particular fight, however. He immediately repented his outburst because he certainly didn't want to talk about this issue here, and now Dee was going to demand an explanation. He subsequently lengthened his stride to put distance between himself and Dee, whose cigarette had just dropped out of his open mouth.
"Huh? What the hell are you talking about?" called Dee, abandoning the attempt to keep up with him.
"Ask Drake," Ryo shot back over his shoulder before disappearing around a corner.
Looking perplexed, Dee retraced his steps and picked up the fallen smoke. He dusted it off and blew on it a couple of times before tucking it back into his mouth and heading for the roof. He was going to smoke that sucker before the day got any crazier and then he was going to find Drake and torture him for information. And after he got it, he may or may not torture him some more.
From the thoughtful way that his foster-dad had been looking at him throughout dinner, not to mention the oh-so-casual topics of conversation he was choosing, Bikky had a pretty good idea of what was coming. Thomas had given him the heads-up last night before bed, when Ryo had been reading in his room. Bikky had let Dee believe his most recent fight had had something to do with Carol, but it seemed that Thomas had blabbed that it had really been about Ryo. Good thing he had asked Carol to come over tonight. He hoped she would get here soon. He did NOT want to hear the inevitable lecture from Ryo; he knew what he was going to say, and as much as he loved him and wanted to please him, he had a feeling that he wasn't going to be able to agree to what Ryo would predictably demand.
Finally, Ryo put his fork down and pushed his plate away. "B," he said. "We need to--"
Just then the doorbell rang and Bikky sprang to his feet with alacrity. Thank God. "That's Carol. I'd better let her in."
"You didn't tell me Carol was coming over," Ryo said with a frown. "You're grounded. You're not supposed to be having visitors."
"Yeah, but this is a special case," Bikky called as he unlocked the door. "Hey Carol! Come on in. Did you bring your mealworm notes?"
"Huh?" She was momentarily confused, but saw the warning look on his face and caught on. "Yep, got 'em right here," she said cheerfully, patting her backpack. "Hi Ryo! I'm not interrupting dinner, am I?"
"No, no, we're all done."
"Oh that's good," she said. "I'm here to help Bikky study."
"Yeah, I got a big biology test on Friday," Bikky added, looking hopefully at Ryo. "I wanna get a good score." He was pretty sure Ryo wouldn't send Carol home now that she was here. And if she stayed, he would be safe from the inevitable interrogation for another couple of hours. If he was lucky, Ryo might even go to bed early.
But he had reckoned without Ryo's determination.
"Carol, would you excuse us for a little while? There's something I need to talk to Bikky about. We'll just go into his room, so you go ahead and help yourself to whatever you want in the fridge. There's milk and juice, or you can make yourself some tea if you prefer."
"Uh...okay." She looked uncertain. "Or, you know, I could go and come back later..." Her voice trailed away when she saw Bikky standing behind Ryo, waving his arms and shaking his head violently. "How about I just have some milk!" she said brightly, and headed for the fridge.
"Sure. We'll be back soon," said Ryo, who caught Bikky's eye and jerked his head toward the boy's room.
Once the door had closed behind them, Ryo moved a pile of books off Bikky's storage chest and sat down on it, resting his elbows on his knees. "Sit," he said, indicating the bed.
Bikky sat, and Ryo took a deep breath. "I had an interesting conversation with Thomas last night," he said.
"I know, and you're pissed about the fight all over again. But I'm already grounded for that, remember? You can't ground me twice for the same offense."
"I don't intend to. This time I want to talk about your reason for fighting."
Bikky waited. He wanted to find out where Ryo was going with this before he said anything.
"I understand you've been having some trouble at school and it's because of me."
Bikky shifted uncomfortably. Okay, it was what he had thought. "Ryo, I always had trouble at school. For lots of reasons."
"But now it's because your dad is...in a relationship with another man, right?"
"Yeah, but that's nothing new. That's been goin' on for years. And the shit I get for being a naturally blond 'jungle monkey'."
Ryo looked shocked. "They call you that?"
"Yeah, all the time. And other things too. I'm used to it."
"And do you fight them when they say those things?"
Bikky looked past Ryo at the door. "Sometimes," he said. "But I been trying to tone it down because you asked me to."
"Well why couldn't you tone it down the other night? Why couldn't you just ignore the guy who was using me to get a rise out of you?"
"Ryo...You know, if it's just me they're dissing, it's not so bad. I can handle it most of the time."
"I'm really sorry, Bikky. I'm sorry that you have to go through this because of me." Ryo bit his lip. "When you first came to live with me, you thought you were getting a straight foster-father, and now I've gone and pulled the rug out from under your feet. I don't know how to advise you, except of course to say that you don't have to fight for me. I'm an adult and I can fight for myself."
"Not in MY school, you can't. Get real, Ryo!" Nowadays Bikky often found himself dumbfounded at the things that came out of his foster-dad's mouth. Were they living on the same planet or what? Ryo must have had a sweet and innocent childhood like out of some old-time movie that had left him unable to imagine what life was like for kids today.
“Bikky, why can't you just let it go when the teasing starts and walk away? Is that really so hard?"
"Because sometimes...walking away is the wrong thing to do." Bikky hesitated, just in case Ryo got mad and started scolding, but when his foster father only looked at him questioningly, he gathered his nerve and went on. "Look, I know I'm just a kid, but in a few years I'll be a man. I can't just stand by and let some scumbag talk disrespectfully about someone I care about. I gotta call 'em on it, or I can't look at myself in the mirror, and if that leads to a fight, so be it, even if I lose."
"Could I what?"
"Could you stand by while someone dissed a person you care about?"
"Well, that would depend. It'd depend on whether the 'dissing' was warranted or not. It would depend on whether the 'disser' was holding a gun... It's not that simple."
"What if it wasn't warranted, and there was no way you could die?"
"Well," Ryo paused uncertainly, not sure how Bikky had managed to turn the tables on him like this. "Well, in that case, I guess I would have to say something, but I think I could manage it without getting into a fight."
"I heard you talking to Dee. About Thomas' dad. You kind of got into a fight with him, didn't you?"
"Yeah, kind of. But he wasn't dissing anyone in particular. He was just being a jerk."
"Well, Dee seemed to be worried that your career might need emergency surgery. The jerk guy you took on has more power than you, doesn't he?"
"He thought you were going to take sh-- I mean crap from him, but you didn't, did you?"
"Bikky, really, 'crap' is just as bad as 'shit'."
"No it's not, they're totally different. 'Shit' is worse."
"Never mind, we've gone off subject here. The point I was trying to make is that I'm not some kind of weakling you have to fight for. I don't want you to fight for me. I can fight my own battles."
"You weren't there to fight your own battles. And what would you have done if you had been? Punched out Adam Brody? I don't think so. Anyway, it was not only all over school, but it was getting out of hand. I took care of it." Bikky looked at the door again. Carol was right behind it; he was sure of that now.
"Bikky, you should have talked to one of your teachers. Or told me. Or just ignored them." Ryo was wearing that stubborn expression that Bikky and Dee both knew so well.
"If I had, I couldn't live with myself."
At that point, the door opened and Carol stood there looking flushed but determined. "Ryo, I'm so sorry, but I've got to say something." The words tumbled out of her in a rush, as though she expected to be momentarily interrupted and sent away. "Firstly, most people are like sheep. They just follow whoever they think is a leader without really thinking about it. They all would have just joined in with Adam and his gang if Bikky had ignored them. And anyway, there were a couple of unexpected benefits as a result of that fight. Now, the gay students we have in our school, not that there's that many of them, are all breathing a little easier. By standing up for your right to be gay, Bikky advanced their cause a little. Second, you don't have to apologize for being gay. We love you for who you are, straight or gay. And please forgive me for interfering. I mean no disrespect." She bowed her head, aware that she had just taken a huge liberty with a man who had always been kind and generous to her.
Ryo blinked at her, not sure what to say. First of all, it made Bikky sound so noble for brawling, and secondly, Carol had just said he was gay. Am I gay? he asked himself. Is that my new label? And am I apologizing for it? With difficulty he forced his mind to return doggedly to his point, which was no more fighting, or at least, dramatically less fighting for Bikky.
"Carol, Bikky, this conversation is over. No more fighting, and I mean it this time." His voice had the ring of authority, but in his heart he knew he had lost that round. He needed to go away and think about what Bikky had said. He also needed to think through what he had learned from Drake earlier, so he could decide how to proceed. He stood up to gain the further advantage of his height over them, and added. "You may as well get busy studying for that...mealworm test, or whatever it is."
"Yeah, Bikky's mealworms died," said Carol innocently, "so he's not going to know how to answer the second half of the test questions. You want to know how they died? It's really funny." She ignored the way Bikky was glaring at her.
"No thanks," said Ryo. "I'm sure I'd be happier not knowing." He left the room and went to the kitchen, where he poured himself a glass of wine. Congratulations, super-dad, he told himself dejectedly. You certainly handled THAT well. He had to think. There just hadn't been any time for reflection in the last few days. Everything was changing so fast around him and he needed to know how to function in this totally new life he had suddenly been plunked down in the middle of. If I'm really gay, I wish there was some kind of manual because I don't know how to be gay. And apparently I don't know how to be an effective parent either. He sat on the sofa, sipping his wine, and his thoughts went to his IA nemesis, Mike Abernathy. But I do know how to be a good cop, he thought grimly. And I don't care how long it takes me, but I'm going to nail your ass to the wall, Lieutenant.
The phone rang loudly, disturbing his dark thoughts.
"McLean?" It was the Chief’s gravelly voice. "Better get your butt down to the Westington. We got a dead hooker here who seems to have OD'd snorting heroin through a rolled up business card -- yours."
"What the--? Black girl, young, yellow dress?"
"That's the one. CSI's going over the scene right now, but I think they'll be done soon. I'm putting you in charge because you seem to know something about it. Is that no-good partner of yours there with you?"
"No, sir," Ryo said, slightly defensively. "Why would he be? He doesn't live here, you know. "
"Well, give him a call and get him to meet you at the scene. You guys are going to be putting in some overtime tonight."
Detectives McLean and Laytner stood over the corpse of the girl whom they had talked to just that morning. She was covered in dried vomit and her once-beautiful brown skin was mottled with dark purplish-red patches from the effects of livor mortis.
"So it's an OD?" Dee asked the nearest CSI tech.
"Yeah," she replied, giving his lithe but powerful form an appreciative look. "See this?" She pointed to a little plastic bag partially under Tammy's body. It appeared to contain a coarse white granulated powder.
Ryo frowned as he took in the fact that the bag had a label on it. And he couldn't read the whole thing, but he could have sworn it said 'Yo--' something. Yours. It probably said 'Yours', like the bag he had dusted for prints earlier.
"Hey, can we take that? Are you guys done with the photography and all?"
"Yeah, pretty much. We've swept for fibers, dead skin cells and hair, and I think Gill has taken all the pictures he's going to. What was that, Gill?"
"I said the coroner's people are downstairs. They're coming up to take her away."
"Oh thanks," she replied, and turned back to Dee and Ryo. "Hear that? You can have the dope."
Ryo bent down and tugged it gently out from under Tamara with one gloved hand. He dropped it into a plastic zip-lock bag that Dee held open for him, and tucked it carefully into his pocket.
"Did she have any ID?" he asked the woman.
She shook her head. "Not even a library card. That'll make it hard to contact her family."
Dee was looking around. "He came back after we left," he said to Ryo. "Some of his stuff is gone. There was a tool kit here earlier."
"Yeah, and a couple of laptops, too." said Ryo.
They walked about carefully, their street shoes covered with protective booties.
"Was the door locked?" Dee asked the woman.
"Not according to the manager," she replied.
That meant Eddie had probably gone out the window a second time that day. But before or after this girl died? They'd need to find out if there were any witnesses around who would sell what they knew for the price of a pack of smokes. And they had to find Eddie, for a whole lot of reasons.
"What's your guess on the time of death?" Dee asked his partner.
"Ten to twelve hours, but let's ask the coroner's people when they get here."
"I think so too. I bet this happened right after we left." He turned to a cop in uniform who looked familiar. "Hey, buddy, this your beat?"
"Yeah. Officer Perlman. Call me Mac. I know you -- Detective Laytner, right?"
"Yeah, that's me. And this is my partner, Detective--"
"Randy McLean. I heard of you too."
As Ryo shook hands with him, he couldn't help but wonder how the man knew of them. He hoped it wasn't the effects of the 'gay' rumor surfacing again. Dammit, he was starting to get paranoid about this.
"Yeah, you guys got yourselves a rep for being quite the star detectives, huh?"
"We do?" Ryo hoped his extreme relief didn't show on his face.
"Hell, yeah. When you guys solved the Mueller case last year-- the one where that disabled kid had been missing for years -- it just blew me away. That was a dead file. The trail was cold enough to chill a beer on."
Dee and Ryo responded at precisely the same time, Dee saying, "It was all him, man," and Ryo saying, "Well, it was Dee who figured--" and Mac broke into a smile. It was clear why this partnership worked.
"You're going to want to know about witnesses, I take it," he said.
"Yeah. Have you got any?" asked Ryo.
"You bet. There are a couple guys downstairs who said they saw a junkie coming down the fire escape around noon. I told 'em not to go anywhere."
"How about the desk clerk?" asked Dee.
"Oh he didn't see nothin'. He's got it in for the police, that one."
"Yeah, I know the type. He'll change his tune, just you watch."
"Come on, guys, I'll take you down and point them out to you," Mac offered.
"Sure, Mac. Just give us a second, okay?" Ryo had spotted three staffers from the coroner's office outside the door, accompanied by a wheeled stretcher. The two detectives conferred with them briefly and established that the autopsy would probably take place Friday morning.
"You can call for the results a couple of days after that," one of the men said, handing Ryo a card. Dee made a mental note to start phoning and bugging them around noon on Friday.
"Let's get this into the lab right after we're done with the witnesses," Ryo said, referring to the small bag of heroin. Dee nodded in assent and they left the depressing little room for the second time that day. It had gone from being a shabby and unappealing bedroom to a chamber of death in the space of a few hours. He offered up a silent prayer for Tammy as they went down the stairs. Lord, please take care of her. Forgive her and love her because she sure didn't have an easy time of it down here. And then he added a prayer for himself, his eyes on the light brown hair and broad shoulders of the man walking before him. Lord, please help me find a way to keep him. Don't let him push me out of his life.
When they got to the lab, they were surprised to find Liz still working.
"Hey, sweetheart, what's with the overtime?" chided Dee. "Can't a beautiful woman like you get a date on a Wednesday night?"
"I'm doing overtime for extra vacation days next month," she told him, obviously enjoying having been called beautiful. Liz was not exactly beautiful, but she did have an impressive pair of legs that she was not averse to showing off. "I'm going to the Bahamas with a couple of girlfriends. We'd offer to take you along if you promised to wait on us hand and foot."
"Aw come on, Liz, don't tempt me like that. You know I can't leave my sweet, innocent partner alone with all the wolves in this building."
"Why don't you come too, Randy?" She smiled coyly up at him. "It'd be a blast."
"Nah, he'd have to bring his kid and that little twerp would spoil everything. Trust me," said Dee. He noticed that Ryo was wearing the blank expression that he always put on whenever he was irritated with a woman, so he quickly steered the conversation in a more professional direction. "I don't suppose you had time to check through that pack o' smack we brought you this morning?"
"As a matter of fact I did," she informed him. "It was actually rather interesting." She leafed through a pile of files on her desk until she found the one she was looking for and flipped it open. "You had seventeen bundles of B-grade heroin cut with the usual household products, but it was this little one that really caught my attention." She reached into the plastic tray that contained their work order and held up the small bag that had the 'Yours' label with a pair of slender tongs.
Both detectives looked at her avidly and it gave her great pleasure to be able to tell them something that they really wanted to hear. These were the moments she lived for in this frequently unrewarding job.
"There was enough fentanyl in this one to kill a horse," she said. "Good thing you got it off the streets."
Dee and Ryo stared at each other and then Ryo mutely pulled out the matching bag from his pocket.
"This one killed someone today. Could you possibly check it out for us?"
"But be real careful with the bag," said Dee. "We need to tape it for prints later."
"I'll do it right now, and you can take the bag," she said. "Now that I know what I'm testing for, this shouldn't take long at all."
end of chapter 16 part one.