I'll have to post this in two parts because it's another long chapter. Here's part one of FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May), chapter 18
FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
Rating: Still work safe. You can read this in the same room as your boss if you want, but only if it's your break.
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 the main characters. characters. Eddie, Thomas, James, Eliza, and the members of the Karate class are mine, however. Sanami Matoh is the creator of Fake, not me. I am not making any money from this.
Author's notes: It's customary for Karateka (people who practice Karate) to greet each other by saying "Osu." It looks like a two syllable word, but the 'u' at the end isn't pronounced. There is a technique to pronouncing it, which you would learn in a Japanese language class, but non-Japanese Karate students invariably end up saying "Os" as in "Carlos" or "adios". If you ever go to a Karate class, you’ll be amazed at how often the class members repeat that word. There are more author's notes at the end of the story.
Please read and review.
Thank you to BlueSimplicity, my wonderful, dedicated beta.
A New Day chapter 18
As Detectives McLean and Laytner exited the dingy little bar, a light rain began to fall. It delivered some much needed freshness to the metallic heaviness of the air on the busy street that ran past the Bronx station. Ryo breathed it in gratefully.
"What was the other nasty black mark?" Dee asked when they had achieved a little distance from the bustling front door of the 51st Precinct. He was pissed off that Ryo had kept this information to himself, but was prepared to tread carefully for the time being. It would have been helpful if they had both been on the same page when they went in to see Shaver. However, this was not the first time Ryo had been inexplicably secretive with information on cases they were both supposed to be working on together, so Dee was somewhat used to it. And although no harm had been done this time, it still made him feel uneasy. Dee had complained to Ryo about this tendency in the past, but every so often his partner did it again. Dee had every intention of calling him on it this time too, but first he wanted the information.
"Shaver and his partner --his last partner-- were doing a routine drug bust at a small warehouse around Christmas time. Somehow it all went sideways on them," said Ryo. "For reasons that were unclear, they went in before back-up arrived and his partner, a guy by the name of Roy Bannerman, got a bullet in the leg. Shaver got himself out, but Bannerman couldn't walk. By the time back-up arrived, the gang and the drugs were gone and Bannerman was dead. He'd been shot up pretty badly."
"Fuck, I remember that now," Dee said. "The Chief used them as an example of why we shouldn't be cowboys and should always wait for back-up instead of rushing in to do it all by ourselves." He furrowed his brow. "But Shaver wasn't Bronx then. Didn't that happen in Brooklyn?"
Ryo gave him a sideways look. "You have a good memory when you want to," he remarked.
"Well, not really. I just tend to remember stories about cops getting shot, that's all. And this guy got one in the leg, which always brings back memories, you know?"
"So then I take it you remember the rest?"
"Well, I don't really know much more than that. Apparently there was some kind of investigation."
"That's right," said Ryo. "By... Internal Affairs."
"Lemme guess: Abernathy?"
"You got it. He was the Lieutenant in charge."
"This is getting good. Go on."
"What Shaver said happened didn't tally with the radio and cell phone evidence. Bannerman had continued to report from inside until they crushed his radio for him. And even then, he'd managed to leave his cell phone on in case the gang said anything about business while they were kicking the crap out of him."
"Yeah," Ryo agreed. "Shaver claimed he hadn't been able to help his partner, but Bannerman seemed to think he'd been set up and that Shaver was somehow in on it. He shot the guard who had shot him, but the call records show that Bannerman was alone in the warehouse office for at least five minutes before the rest of the gang found him. It's not like they were under fire or anything."
"Well at least now we've got some idea of what Abernathy's got on Shaver. I take it Shaver was cleared, and if he's still in Narcotics, then he didn't get demoted or anything."
"One month's suspension without pay, during which he put in for a transfer."
"I wonder if Abernathy really is trying to get rid of him?" Dee spotted the car up ahead and automatically reached into his pocket for the keys before he remembered that Ryo was supposed to be doing all the driving until the end of the month.
"Mmm, probably just Eddie. Or maybe he wants to eliminate both of them, for whatever reason. I'm pretty sure we'll hear more about that missing cell phone video before we're done with this case, too."
"So, when the hell did you find time to do all this digging?"
"Oh, here and there over the last couple of days. I got some help with part of it."
Dee took the bull by the horns. "And you couldn't have told me this before we went to see Shaver?"
Ryo looked uncomfortable. "Well, I didn't get the key information until I talked to a friend of mine from the CCRB this morning," he muttered.
"Dude, we drove here together. You didn't say one word to me on the way over."
"Come on Dee, it wasn't life or death," said Ryo with a touch of asperity. "Don't tell me you would've done anything different in there if you had known."
"That's not the point. The point is that a cop shouldn't withhold important case evidence from his partner. I went in there suspecting that Abernathy and Shaver were in bed together; YOU went in there knowing."
Ryo looked at his feet as they walked. Dee was right and he knew it. He hated it when Dee was right. Or more to the point, he hated being in the wrong. What could he say? I didn't feel like talking to you this morning, so I didn't tell you about Shaver's past? That sounded petty and unprofessional. Ryo didn't like to feel as though those two words could be applied to him. But he was still too unsettled from the scene at the breakfast table to be able to apologize.
"Look," he said defensively, "I know it was wrong, and I know I should just say I'm sorry and get it over with, only I can't do that right now because I'm in a really crappy mood and it wouldn't be sincere. All right?"
Dee met his stormy eyes calmly. "I don't care if you never apologize," he said. "Just don't do it again, that's all. It's a matter of trust. You either trust me, or you don't."
Famous for losing his temper frequently, Dee often felt astounded at the way he was able to keep his cool around Ryo. In some measure, it proved Mother right. She had told him for years that he had to get a handle on his temper and that it WAS possible. He had always insisted that it was just his nature to blow off steam and that a leopard couldn't change its spots. But he had realized in the first year of getting to know his partner that while Ryo could handle a yelling match when he happened to be in the mood for it too, there were other times when it was fatal to start hollering at him and he had therefore learned to put a lid on his anger whenever Ryo managed to piss him off. Not that it happened often. Ryo had a way of freezing a person out that Dee shuddered to recall, and it was partly fear of this that enabled him to master his ire when Ryo had done something that made him want to rant. Ryo didn’t seem to mind too much when Dee ranted at or about someone else, but he became very cold and distant indeed if Dee directed any invective at him.
Dee considered that in all honesty, his partner usually had far more to put up with from him than the other way around. But he pushed back that little burr of dejection that always seemed to get under his skin whenever Ryo demonstrated a lack of trust in him.
By that time they had arrived at the car and Ryo's only response was silence as he got into the driver's seat and fastened the seat belt. During the drive back to the 27th, the silence remained unbroken except for the crackle of the police radio, which featured the dispatcher's voice and cops calling in various routine codes. Dee's eyes became heavy as he felt his lack of sleep over the past few days catching up with him. Deciding that he needed some fast music to wake himself up, he changed the radio station half a dozen times until he found an old Nickelback song, which he turned up really loud. Ryo immediately reached over and turned the music down.
"Driver chooses the music," he said firmly.
"No way! That wasn't part of the original deal. Driver only drives."
"If the driver crashes the car because his partner forced him to listen to loud stressful music when he was already in a bad mood, then his partner will lie in hospital later, wishing--"
"All right, all right! Geez. I'll find something that we both like." Dee resumed changing the stations, muttering resentfully to himself. Suddenly a familiar jazz tune started winding its way through the car, and he smirked and leaned back in his seat, one eye on his partner. "Here's a good one," he said innocently.
Ryo suddenly stiffened as he realized what was playing and his hand shot out and hit the off button.
"Hey! Ryo, come on," Dee protested. "I was enjoying that song."
Ryo shot him a glare. "You were enjoying it last night too. Don't think I don't know what you're trying to do here."
"I am NOT trying to seduce you in a moving car in city traffic, if that's what you're implying," protested Dee indignantly. "I'm just trying to get a smile out of you, that's all."
"Maybe I don't feel like smiling." Ryo pulled into the parking spot outside the 27th that was reserved for Car Two and started to unbuckle his seatbelt. It was true. He hadn't smiled all morning so far.
"Hang on there a minute, dude." Dee laid a hand on Ryo's arm.
"Dee," said Ryo warningly, narrowing his eyes at his partner. "I'm not in the mood for this."
"Look, I know you're pissed about Bikky hearing us and all," said Dee, "and I know you think it's all my fault, but I just wanna let you know that last night was the hottest sex of my entire life and I don't regret it, not for a second. I refuse to apologize or feel bad about something that was so completely beautiful and amazing."
"Re--really?" Dee had succeeded in surprising Ryo out of his grumpiness.
"Yes, REALLY. It makes my balls twitch just thinking of it."
"But... but you must've... I behaved like such a..." Ryo winced at the memory. "I'm not very experienced and I still don't know what the hell I'm doing."
"Well in that case we might as well take out a life insurance policy on me now, because when you do finally figure out what you're doing, I'll be a dead man for sure."
Cheeks burning, Ryo suddenly felt that he didn't want to meet Dee's eyes. "The noise we made..." His voice was softer than usual. "I've never been so embarrassed, Dee. I know it was...mostly me. I just couldn't think how to handle that situation with Bikky this morning."
"You know, just about every kid eventually hears his parents having sex. It's not like he's the only one that has ever happened to. If that kind of thing scarred kids for life, the species would've died out a long time ago."
"I guess so." Ryo was trying to remember if he had ever heard his parents having sex. Actually, he had. Maybe Dee was right. But it didn't make it any easier. "But why..." he began hesitantly.
"Why do I make so much noise with you? I mean, I was never like this before when I was with women."
Dee grinned at him. "You just never had a ride on the Dee-machine before, baby," he said with a wink.
"Now don't start getting a swelled head because it's not going to happen again," Ryo said as he got out of his seat, and for a moment Dee felt alarmed. He jumped out of the car and looked hard at Ryo across its dusty roof.
"What, no more sex?" he demanded.
"Well, not for a while. From now on all sex is going to happen at your place unless Bikky's away on a sleep-over or something."
"Whew." Dee assented, relieved. For a second there, he thought that had been it, the dreaded moment when they returned to being 'just friends'. At least he was still in the game. But, dammit, no more sex while Bikky was at home? That was going to significantly reduce potential sexual encounters until that perpetually-grounded brat went off to friggin' college. He wondered if Ryo would be able to stick to this new rule, considering the length of time he had been celibate and how much pent-up sexual energy they both had kept trapped inside them for so long. Also, it was clear after last night that even if Ryo wasn't consciously aware of it, his body had certainly noticed that sex was a great stress-buster after a hard day at work. Dee was also counting on his own seductive capabilities, which Ryo was finally responding too, thank God. The fact that Ryo really seemed to like having sex with him was one of the main things he had going for him in this relationship. However, it would be best not to try to seduce Ryo while Bikky was around for at least a week. His mind went to his own apartment. It was still reasonably tidy from the cleaning job he had done on it last weekend. A quick dusting and vacuuming of the pizza crumbs from in front of the sofa would probably set it to rights...The weekend was almost here...How soon could he get Ryo over to his place without the monkey brat?
His scheming plans were interrupted by a shout from James who was exiting the building ahead of them with Eliza. "Hey Laytner! Don't think too hard, buddy! You're gonna pull a muscle in your brain."
"Hey at least I have a brain!" Dee tossed back good-naturedly.
"Yeah, and he's walking right beside you," Eliza put in sweetly, gesturing to Ryo.
"What is this, 'Gang up on Dee' Day?"
"Every day is 'Gang up on Dee' Day," said James, who smirked at Dee as they passed each other. "Hey, Chief's looking for you guys. He was saying something about overtime."
Dee's cheerful grin vanished. "That damn walrus! Overtime! What the fuck!"
"Bye guys! Good luck," Eliza called and she and James continued on towards Car Three.
"Relax. It might not even be true," said Ryo as he signed the clipboard for Car Two and noted their return time. "Besides, I'd to see the Chief anyway and find out if he's talked to the DA yet. I hope he thinks it's worth letting us proceed on Abernathy, because I'd really like to nail that guy."
"Yeah, and that bastard Shaver. What a creep. I can't imagine leaving my partner down in a hostile situation. I wouldn't do that even if it was JJ! Not even --" Dee paused "--Rose!"
"That's big of you."
"Well it was a nice fantasy. The gratitude...The indebtedness...The extra paid vacation time…"
"Yeah, I'm sure JJ would find a way to show his gratitude, all right."
"Quiet over there! You're killing my fantasy. Now I need a goddamn cigarette."
Ryo, early as usual, stood outside the Karate dojo, waiting for Thomas. He had been tempted to go inside and chat with Ben, the young instructor for the teen class, but then he had considered that Thomas would probably prefer that they go into the building together. He made sure he stood on the street in plain view so that Thomas couldn't miss him and while he waited, he ran his mind over the details of the various cases the CI Division of the 27th was working on. Tomorrow was going to be a long day. Exasperated with the lack of leads in the Lydgate murder, the Chief had finally consented to let JJ and Drake drive up to Canada to check out the hotel that Mr. Lydgate had allegedly been staying in at the time when his wife had been murdered in New York. This meant that he and Dee would have to work overtime to partially cover their shifts. Ryo would be working from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm and Dee would work from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm, but they would be able to work together on the overlap. Ryo knew that since he wouldn't be home until after dinner, he would have to remember to defrost something tonight for Bikky to heat up tomorrow. He was just mentally reviewing the contents of his freezer, when he heard Thomas call out his name.
He turned around and exclaimed in shock at the boy's appearance. He had a large bruise on one cheek and he was limping slightly.
"Thomas! Oh my God, what happened? Did your dad---"
"Nah, it wasn't him, " Thomas said matter-of-factly. "IF he hit me, he'd be careful not to mark up my face or anywhere that shows. It's too soon for that anyway," he added pragmatically. "No, this time it was a bunch of fag-hating guys from that stupid school my dad likes so much. I wasn't quick enough off the mark, and they managed to corner me behind the gym."
"Are you okay? Maybe it's not such a good idea to exercise tonight."
"This is my life. I'm here; let's do it." Thomas spread his hands in a gesture curiously like his mother's and tried to sound tough. But Ryo could see the pain and fear still hiding in plain view on his face, and he sensed a deeper soul-hurt and confusion. He wished he could enfold Thomas in his arms and protect him from all the danger in his life, but he knew that the best thing he could do for this boy was to help him to become stronger.
"You're right," he said, slinging a friendly arm around Thomas' shoulders. "Might as well at least check it out, huh?"
When they arrived at the top of the stairs, the sounds of chattering and sports practice drew them toward an open door beyond a small waiting room with change rooms leading off it. Ryo showed Thomas a pair of old bookcases that were being used as shoe racks and explained that they had to remove their shoes before entering the dojo. After they had done so, Ryo stepped through the door ahead of Thomas, and paused at the threshold to bow. Thomas wasn't sure if he should do the same thing or not, so he just inclined his head a little as he went in.
"Ryo-Sensei!" A young man with a black belt came hurrying over with a delighted expression on his face. "Osu!"
"Osu, Ben!" said Ryo and Thomas watched as they both bowed to each other and performed a strange movement that involved crossing their fists in front of their bodies.
"How have you been, Sensei? Are you planning to practice with us tonight?"
"No, not tonight," Ryo informed him apologetically. "I haven't come to a class for over two months and I'm a little out of practice. I do plan to return to the adult class next week, though. How's it going with the teens? It looks like you may have a few new members."
"Oh, we lost a couple since the last time we saw you. Jess got a job and Reza went backpacking around Southeast Asia. But we've got four new ones, so we're keeping our numbers up. So what brings you here this evening?"
"Well, I've been telling Thomas here about what a great workout Karate is, and so he came here tonight to have a look and maybe practice for part of the class with you guys." Ryo turned to Thomas and nudged him forward.
Ben frowned at the bruise on Thomas's face, and said, "Whoa there, buddy. You look like you could maybe use a little Karate."
Thomas gave him a weak grin and tried for a joke. "Yeah, well you should see the other four guys."
"Ben-Sensei teaches the youth class," Ryo explained. "He's only twenty-one, but he's a fourth-dan black belt."
"Nice to meet you... Ben-Sensei," said Thomas shyly, holding out his hand and thinking that this sensei didn't look very dangerous at all. He wore glasses and stood only about five-eight or five-nine.
"Thomas, do you do any other kinds of exercise or sports?"
"I'm a runner," offered Thomas. "It sometimes helps when I get into those four-guy situations."
"Well, that's a great start. Good lungs are essential in the fighting sports. Listen, in a few minutes we're going to start the class. First we'll do the opening ritual, and then some stretching followed by a warm-up routine and finally we'll get into practicing our techniques and katas. It looks pretty complicated to first-timers, but it's not actually that difficult. Are you up for joining us tonight, or would you rather just watch?"
"I'd like to join in, if you don't mind."
"Not at all! Good spirit there, Thomas. Hmmm...I think I'll put you with Becky and Hiro for now." Ben turned away and scanned the group of high-spirited students and gestured to a nearby girl in a yellow belt who was practicing a kata routine with a companion.
"Osu Sensei!" she said, and hurried over, a thick red-gold braid flapping behind her.
Next, Ben called to an Asian boy in his mid-teens at the back of the dojo. "Hiro!"
When Hiro had arrived and he and Becky stood looking expectantly from their sensei to the new boy, Ben gave them their instructions.
"Becky, Hiro, this is Thomas. He wants to try out the class, but he's had kind of a rough day, so go real easy on him, okay? No sparring this time. Just help him through the warm-up and then I want you to teach him some blocks."
"Osu!" said Becky. "Hey Thomas, nice to meet you. Would you like to--"
"Wait!" Thomas said suddenly, holding up a hand to interrupt her. "Before we start, I got something I gotta say."
Everyone looked at him in surprise, including Ryo.
"Go ahead then," said Ben.
Thomas took a deep breath and in a voice that shook only a little, he said simply, "I just want you to know that...I'm gay. And if anyone here's gonna have a problem with that, then tell me now, okay?"
After a short silence, Hiro spoke, his hands holding the ends of the blue belt that was knotted around his slender waist. "So am I," he said. "Well, maybe bi. I'm not sure yet. But that's not important in here. Now do you wanna go meet some of the other students before class starts or what?"
"Sure." Thomas’ face wore a shy but relieved smile, and the three of them ran across the mats together.
Ryo stared after Thomas for a moment, still feeling amazed by the words that had come out of the boy's mouth. While he didn't think the announcement of one's sexual preference right off the bat was necessarily an appropriate thing to say at a first meeting, he could not help but acknowledge Thomas' courage in doing so.
"Don't worry about him. He'll be fine," Ben said with a smile. "Now can I tell Brian and Tania that you'll be back for sure on Monday night? We've all missed you."
Ryo reiterated his intention of returning to practice and urged Ben not to let him delay the start of the class. "I'll just hang out and watch tonight, if you don't mind. I'd like to have a chat with Thomas after, anyway."
"Great to see you, Ryo-Sensei. Stay as long as you like." Ben bowed and then strode back across the mats calling to the students to form their ranks.
--end of part one of chapter 18--