Since I haven't made you listen to any of my boring life details recently, I think I'm going to do that first. I have spent the last SIX AND A HALF hours painting a bathroom and a half. And I did have help for some of that time from a dear friend whose husband came to rescue her after about four hours. The reason it went on for so long was that my darling husband got involved ( in a supervisory capacity, of course) and had me putting coat after coat after coat after coat on the small bathroom walls until I rebelled and handed him the paint roller. So here I am with a green salad and a glass of red wine (white wasn't chilled), preparing to upload the latest chapter of A New Day. Thank you all for reading, and I hope that some of you will be moved to comment, too. It's work safe, by the way, so click away.
FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
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: Commissioner Rose returns from his business trip in this chapter. If you have read my story Negotiations, then please remember that it took place in July, whereas, this story is set in May of Dee and Ryo’s first year together. Negotiations actually happened about six weeks after this one.
Please read and review.
Thank you to BlueSimplicity.
A New Day
The Chief tightened one big ham fist on his desk as he listened, but otherwise gave no outward sign of agitation.
"So you see, sir," Ryo explained, "We need just a little more time in order to be able to build a good case against him."
The Chief spoke, and his voice sounded more bleak than angry. "Michael Abernathy, huh? That pious, sanctimonious, two-faced son of a bitch."
Because the Chief appeared to be lost in thought, Dee opened his mouth to add something, but Ryo forestalled him by nudging his thigh with his knee.
After about thirty seconds of hard thinking, the Chief bestirred himself and said, "This makes it a little more difficult for me, since he's widely thought to be a friend of mine."
"So, he's not?" Dee asked.
"You've heard the old adage, 'Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?'" The Chief grinned mirthlessly. "Well that's what's going on here, on both sides. But perhaps it doesn't look quite that complex in the eyes of the world."
"Sir?" Ryo was a little confused.
"He'll be expecting me to rein you two in," the Chief explained. "If not, there will be certain, er, 'consequences', for all of us. You can bet your ass on that."
"Not if we take him down first," Ryo insisted hotly.
"That ain't gonna happen, Randy," the Chief said flatly. "This is a big deal. If we go ahead with it, and I do mean if, it’s gonna involve a sting. We'll need wiretaps and surveillance over time, probably months, not to mention wishy-washy statements from informants who've likely got a whole lot to lose if their inside guy goes down. We don't even know how big this ring is at this point. It could be just the three guys you know about, or there could be ten or twenty more. Mike might not even be the ringleader, either."
"Sir, I want this case," Ryo insisted. Dammit, it seemed like whenever a case was important to him, it got taken off him and reassigned to another department or team. Dee was so blasé about this kind of thing, and Ryo just couldn’t understand that. He could feel the case starting to slip away from him, just like the time he had been taken off the Ikebukuro convenience store killing last December, and before that, the murder case that bore such an eerie similarity to the one in which his parents had been murdered.
"Randy, do I have to remind you we're homicide? This is corruption."
"And narcotics, AND homicide," said Dee. "Lieutenant Abernathy seems to have all the bases covered. It seems like there's gotta be a piece in there for us."
"It's all just hearsay and conjecture at this point, boys. If we're gonna run surveillance, we gotta get approval, and that's the point at which the hard questions will be asked."
"Chief, like Ryo said before, I got a meeting with Detective Shaver tonight. That's probably going to yield something," Dee put in.
"And if we can get a face-to-face with Eddie Calvetti, I have reason to believe we'll be in reach of a laptop that contains actual sound files of Lt. Abernathy's involvement in this case," added Ryo, sitting up very straight and trying not to let the tension he felt seep into his voice. "These guys are OUR contacts."
"And they're both on the skittish side," said Dee, after a guarded glance over at Ryo. "We only just got them talking to us. You think they're gonna keep singing if you hand 'em over to someone else midstream?" He hoped Ryo could keep himself under control, or the Chief would kick them off the case sooner rather than later.
The Chief listened gravely, his sharp eyes flickering back and forth between them as they spoke. Mclean, he could relate to. The man reminded him of how he was in his own early years as a detective. He was so passionate, as offended by corruption and injustice as Lt. Smith still was himself. Laytner, he could also understand. More experienced than his partner with the roadblocks thrown up by bureaucracy and protocol, and therefore more jaded, he was not inclined to really sink his teeth into a case until he had been given the green light. Of course that was also partially due to general laziness, but even the Commissioner had observed that Dee was ready to work seven days a week if he could do it alongside McLean.
"All right, I'll see what I can do. Try to get a statement out of Shaver, Dee. If he's willing to cooperate, I'll let you guys have the case for now. I don't hold out much hope for that junkie, though. If he's still alive and walking around by the middle of next week, I'll be very surprised. But remember, we're technically out of our jurisdiction here. If there's a rotten apple at IA, we gotta show them the respect of allowing them to deal with their own. If we show them up, we'll get nothing but trouble here at the 27th for the next two years. This is political, boys. I'm taking this to Rose. He came back today, and he’s got the final say."
Dee emitted a disgusted grunt and rolled his eyes at the ceiling. "Aw, Chief, way to ruin a perfectly good Friday."
"Is he here at the 27th?" asked Ryo.
"No, but he'll be in later this afternoon."
"I don't understand why he has to keep hanging around here when he has a perfectly good office over at One Police Plaza," grumbled Dee.
"That's enough, Laytner. Don't you realize what an honor it is for the 27th that the NYPD Commissioner wants to maintain an office here?"
"Oh yes sir. I'm so honored, I think I just might throw up."
"OUT! Both of you!"
"Detective McLean," said Ryo absently into the phone, as he sifted through the contents of a file with his free hand. Suddenly, his voice and manner underwent a noticeable change. "I'm doing well, sir. Thank you for asking. Welcome back, by the way."
Dee stiffened and watched Ryo. As usual, that rat bastard hadn't wasted any time.
"Yes, we'd love to discuss this matter with you, sir. When?" There was a pause before he continued. "Well, Detective Laytner has to go out to meet with one of the principals of this case, but I'm available at that time."
Dee's teeth started to grind together.
"Yes," Ryo was saying. "No doubt he will, but I can fill him in later. It's a very important interview and what he finds out tonight will probably help us determine the best approach to this case. Are you sure you wouldn't like to meet both of us together AFTER the---" Another pause, then, "Yes sir, I understand how busy you must be. I'll see you in your office in half an hour."
The moment he hung up, Dee exploded. "You are not going anywhere near that horny, poisonous scum-weasel without me!"
"Dee, don't get yourself all worked up over nothing. Rose is taking a personal interest in this case, and as far as I'm concerned, that's a good thing for us."
"That bastard just wants to get you all by yourself in his office so he can try something! Jesus, he hasn't even been back at work for two minutes--"
"He hasn't laid a hand on me for almost two years, and I doubt he's going to try anything like that today," Ryo said soothingly, a little bit of impatience hovering in his voice. "I think I loosened a couple of his teeth last time he did, and he hasn't forgotten."
"He's just biding his time, that asshole! Always trying to get you alone behind a closed door. Dammit, I'm going to phone Shaver and see if I can postpone---"
"Hey! You're getting upset about nothing. You just get your ass out that door and over to the Bronx. Your meeting with Shaver is our top priority here, and I will be VERY pissed off with you if you screw it up over something stupid like this!"
Ryo knocked on the Commissioner's office door and then hesitated as he heard a loud bang from within. He knocked again.
"Come in Ryo," Commissioner Rose called, and Ryo entered cautiously, only to find himself in the midst of a strange scene indeed. The Commissioner's office was full of red and white helium balloons and a massive gold-fringed banner was taped to the front of his desk. It said "Welcome back Berkie!"
Despite his customary nervousness in the other man's presence, Ryo couldn't help smiling. "Diana?"
The Commissioner smiled back and popped another balloon with an extended paper clip. "Classic Diana," he confirmed. The carcasses of dead balloons littered the floor of his office. Ryo wondered how many Diana had ordered and when exactly she had managed to sneak them all in here. There were about a dozen left and it looked like Rose had already dispatched at least that many. The Commissioner selected his next victim, but paused when Ryo called out, "Wait, sir!"
"Sir, if you don't want them, there's no need to pop them all. There are people all over this building with children at home who would love to have a helium balloon."
"Of course! How thoughtless of me. As you know, I don't have children of my own, so it's sometimes difficult for me to think like a parent. But you're absolutely right, and I thank you for reminding me that these balloons should not go to waste. Would you like to take a couple for your own son, Detective? That is unless he's getting beyond the age to be excited by balloons. How old is he now, twelve?"
"Thirteen, actually," said Ryo with a smile. This was a safe topic. "He just had a birthday at the end of April, but I don't think he's too grown up yet to enjoy having a helium balloon. I think I will take you up on your kind offer. Thank you."
He selected two ordinary red and white ones with clusters of ringleted ribbons hanging from them and turned to tie them to the doorknob so that he would remember to take them on his way out.
"Why don't you take a third?" the Commissioner offered and this time there was something slightly sebaceous in his voice that caused the back of Ryo's neck to somehow feel itchy. When he turned around, Rose, wearing an enigmatic smile, bestowed upon him another balloon in the shape of a pair of lips. The balloon said "Kiss" and "Me" on the upper and lower lips. Ryo hesitated, and willed himself not to feel ill at ease, or at least, not to let it show. No doubt the Commissioner intended him to remember the one and only time when the two of them had actually had a brief meeting of the lips.
"Oh no, sir, I couldn't. I've already taken two and I'm sure some other child would--"
"Now, now, I insist." The Commissioner smiled again and fastened him with a knowing look. "I'm sure your son runs around with a pack of friends like most teens do, and didn't I see him with an attractive blond girl at the annual picnic last year?"
"Yes sir, they're pretty much constant companions."
"Well give him this one to give to her, then. I'm sure she'll be delighted. Don't you think so?"
"Thank you, sir," murmured Ryo, seeing no way to gracefully refuse. He didn't relish being seen leaving the Commissioner's office holding a balloon that said 'Kiss Me', though. He'd get ribbed about that on Monday, for sure.
"Excuse me for a minute please, Ryo." Rose turned away and picked up his phone, dialing a four-digit local. "Marianne, my dear, it's Berkley," he said. A squeal of happiness so loud that even Ryo could hear it emitted from the phone, causing the Commissioner to hold it away from his ear and smile ruefully at Ryo. "Today," he said into the phone. "Just an hour ago, as a matter of fact." More excited squealing ensued, and then Rose said, "I'm afraid that won't be possible this evening, my dear, nor Saturday. How does Sunday sound, say eight-ish?"
Ryo gathered that the answer had been an enthusiastic affirmative, as the Commissioner subsequently made arrangements to pick her up at that time. Then he asked her to come up to his office on her next break to collect and distribute the remaining balloons.
"Sir," Ryo couldn't help saying, even though he knew it was none of his business, "Isn't Diana still in town?"
"Yes, and that's why I won't be at Marianne's disposal until Sunday," said Rose with a roguish grin. For a moment he looked so like Dee that Ryo almost grinned back at him, but managed to master the urge in time. His heart couldn't help going out to Diana. How difficult it must be to be in love with a man such as this.
"Ah Ryo," the Commissioner sighed. "I do wish you could bring yourself to relax in my company."
"I AM relaxed, sir," said Ryo with a tight smile. "Now about the case involving the allegedly corrupt IA Lieutenant...I believe you said you wanted to discuss it?"
"Businesslike as ever, Detective. Do sit down." The Commissioner indicated one of the comfortable leather wing chairs facing his desk. "I have heard this story from Lieutenant Smith, of course, but I would like to hear it again from you. Tell me everything, please, from the beginning."
Ryo told him about how the search for Thomas had led them to Eddie, who had in turn led them to Detective Shaver. When they realized that Lt. Abernathy was the common denominator between Eddie Calvetti and Detective Shaver, they began to be suspicious. So far they didn't have anything that would stand up in court, but the case was evolving and becoming more concrete with each passing day.
Rose listened carefully, occasionally asking a pertinent question, or requesting that Ryo run over a certain set of details again. Whatever the Commissioner's shortcomings, Ryo had to allow that the man had excellent police instincts.
The Commissioner then asked him for his personal impressions of Abernathy, Shaver, and Eddie. He wanted to know where Ryo thought this case was going and what the next steps ought to be. Finally he leaned back in his big leather chair, and gave Ryo a satisfied look.
"Thank you Detective. I now have a much clearer picture of the facts. And although your esteemed Lieutenant would probably disagree with me, I believe we will not in fact turn this case over to Internal Affairs just yet."
"Really, sir? That's good news. I think it's too early for them to have it. I'd hate for this whole thing to just get hushed up."
"So would I, although I admit that highly publicized, not to mention televised, accounts of police corruption are somewhat wearing to the spirit. And the morale of all those who serve."
"Of course the danger that this case will just 'disappear' is a very good inducement, Ryo, for us to hang on to it for a while longer, but I have another reason as well."
"I'm familiar with this fellow, Lieutenant Abernathy. For years he has been hand in glove with the top man here at the Manhattan offices of Internal Affairs, a gentleman by the name of Liam Hennessy. Mr. Hennessy is...a former friend of mine. I have no idea if he's mixed up in this unfortunate business or not, but even if he isn't, it would really have been his responsibility to prevent it. As he shall presently learn."
"I don't want any of them to get away with this," said Ryo, who was just a little bit surprised to find himself entering so wholeheartedly into the Commissioner's spirit of revenge, although in his case, it was directed more at Mike Abernathy. "These men are guilty of abusing their power and breaking a sacred trust. Their actions tarnish MY badge as well as their own!"
Rose looked at Ryo and his upper lip twitched slightly. "It seems to me that your passions have been, er...aroused by this case, Ryo, in quite an unmistakable way," he remarked in a mild tone of voice, but something about the way he held himself reminded Ryo of a cat facing prey that it considered to be cornered. And, as usual, he didn’t like the Commissioner’s choice of words.
"Er, um, yes, well, I do feel rather strongly about it," Ryo agreed, straightening in his chair, instantly back on his guard.
"You know, I could put you in charge of this case -- for now. Would you like that?"
"Yes, of course I would," Ryo answered honestly, taking the cup of ambition that was being offered to him. His voice was grim, as would be Lt. Abernathy's future, if he were to have anything to say about it.
"Yes, I can quite see that you're the man for the job," murmured Rose, looking at him approvingly. "And of course, once one starts having…strong and heated feelings about a case, it's a shame not to put them to work, wouldn't you agree?"
"Er, yes sir, I suppose so."
"Speaking of work and passion, how is my nemesis, Detective Laytner?"
"He's just fine, sir," answered Ryo with surprise. It wasn't often that the Commissioner voluntarily brought up Dee's name when they were alone together.
"Your relationship with him has recently undergone a change, has it not?"
"S--sir?" Ryo couldn't control the blush that instantly flooded the skin of his face. Holy shit.
"I see that I'm correct, then. Approximately two weeks ago, perhaps a bit longer, if I'm not mistaken? How's that going, by the way?" The Commissioner's tone was disconcertingly friendly and casual. Ryo was stunned. How on earth did he know? He thought they had been so careful. What he had once believed to be a secret was rapidly being unraveled as no secret at all.
"Commissioner, with all due respect, I fail to see how my relationship with Detective Laytner has any relevance towards this case," said Ryo primly, determined not to admit to anything.
"Ah, but I've seen many an inter-office romance ruin a perfectly good working relationship," said Rose. "That's why the NYPD frowns on such behavior."
Ryo was silent.
"Relax, Ryo. I have no wish to make trouble for you. After all, you know all about my little understanding with the lovely Marianne from the front desk, don't you? It amounts to much the same thing. I wouldn't like there to be secrets between us, or for you to feel that you couldn't trust me. All I wish to say about whatever it is that you have going on with Detective Laytner is: be careful. And of course, if it all goes sour and you need me to transfer him to one of the more remote NYPD precincts, all you have to do is let me know." Rose smiled at him reassuringly, and Ryo felt a little sick.
"Er...Thank you sir, but Dee and I work very well together." He got hastily to his feet. "If that will be all?"
Rose remained seated and deliberately swept his eyes over Ryo's body in an intimate, and to Ryo's mind, insolent way.
"Such a shame," he murmured. "Your first time with a man, and it had to be with that Neanderthal." He shook his head and gave a small, eloquent shudder to convey his distress at the waste of it all. "Tell me, Ryo," he added. "Was it everything you expected?"
Ryo was speechless with indignation. He was willing to forgive a lot from Commissioner Rose on account of his position, but this was going too far.
"Sir! How dare you speak to me in such a disrespectful way!" He had unconsciously clenched his hands into fists, causing the Commissioner to run an interested but wary eye over them. "This doesn't reflect well on you. You're my commanding officer!"
At that moment, Rose's face hardened and he rose slowly from his seat to tower masterfully over Ryo.
"Yes, I am," he said in a voice of steel clothed in velvet. "I'm glad to see that you occasionally take that into consideration. Now, do you want to be the Lead Detective on this case or not? If I allow you to see it through to the end, that is."
"Yes sir, I do," Ryo ground out resentfully.
"Good. You DO understand what a high profile, multi-level case like this can do for your career, don't you?"
"Then answer the question, Ryo." Rose's lips seemed to be smiling slightly, and his voice was soft again, but the steel had not gone away. It was still there, in his intent eyes, in the set of his shoulders, in the purposeful way that he moved as he came around the front of his desk to stand before Ryo.
But, contrary to Rose's expectations, Ryo did not take a step back, nor did he drop his eyes. He met the Commissioner's challenging gaze head on. This was something that the taller man had always found fascinating. Ryo could be embarrassed, but not bullied.
"Well? How was your first taste?"
Ryo unclenched his fists and, despite the four-inch height difference between them, somehow managed to look down his nose at the Commissioner for one drawn out and derisive moment, before turning on his heel and walking to the door. He could feel Rose's eyes boring into his back as he paused to untie the balloons.
"Detective McLean, I have not dismissed you," Rose warned in a low, dangerous voice.
"Oh, don't put yourself to the trouble, sir. I'll dismiss myself," said Ryo serenely. He opened the door and made as if to go, but then seemed to change his mind. He stopped and looked back at the Commissioner, who raised an expectant eyebrow.
"Dee has consistently exceeded my expectations," Ryo said, "in every way that matters. You, on the other hand, regularly fall short of them. Do what you want with that case. You're the commanding officer. You should take that into consideration too, and act like one."
He shut the door with a click and was gone, leaving Rose all alone with the remaining balloons clustered like silent retainers around him.
The Commissioner stared incredulously at the door for a moment before giving a shout of laughter. Such balls! Such sweet dignity! God, he wanted Ryo McLean. Ten times more than he had five minutes ago. He well knew that Ryo was interested in advancing his career, and this evening his delightful and unexpected adherence to principle over professional ambition, coupled with those adorable blushes of his, had left the Commissioner with a curious feeling of tightness in his chest and groin.
Ryo was one in a thousand, no, one in ten thousand. There was a certain strength in him, a special kind of purity. Those two qualities Rose saw as obstacles to the inner Ryo, the one that wanted to compete, win, glory in revenge and break the rules when it suited him. THAT was the Ryo he was determined to awaken.
In the interim, he was looking forward to the regular progress reports he would require from Detective McLean. They might occasionally need to do one or two of them over dinner. Perhaps champagne would not be entirely amiss, especially if the case yielded breakthroughs, which he rather suspected it would.
It was too bad Laytner had turned out to be good in bed. Rose had always had a feeling that that might be the case. But he was far from daunted. Laytner was nothing if not consistent. The man was a screw-up. After all, he'd coasted along for years as a detective on luck alone. How long would his luck last with Ryo? According to the Commissioner’s reckoning, it was about time for it to run out.
Commissioner Rose would lay odds that there would be trouble in Paradise before too long, if in fact, there wasn't already. He would do what he could to help that along, of course. Grinning, he picked up the phone.
"Lieutenant Smith," he said cheerfully. "We're going to allow McLean and Laytner to have the IA corruption case for a bit longer, and I want to make sure that McLean is put in charge. I authorize any extra staff and surveillance equipment he might need. Let him know, will you? Thank you. You're a good man."
Now, how to get Ryo off his mind? Ah, the delectable Diana. With the way he was feeling, they might have to skip dinner at Amici's and go straight to her hotel room. It would be Diana’s privilege to help him find relief for the tumultuous feelings that Detective McLean had once more aroused in him.
Just then, someone scratched on the door. The Commissioner recognized that sound, and his mouth twitched in an anticipatory smirk. "Come in, Marianne," he called, quickly schooling the muscles of his face into a gently seductive expression before she entered, beaming, and ran straight into his arms.
end of chapter 20.
Author's notes: I know not everybody likes a bad Berkely, but I sure do! I love writing about his selfish, smarmy ways and the slimy double entendres he comes up with. He's actually one of my favorite characters. Thanks again for reading! And just so you know, the next chapter is close to being finished, but I've got a lot more tweaking to do before I can send it off to be beta'd.