Okay, okay, I know you don't really care about this stuff and you're just reading it to be polite. I'm done with the indirect boasting about my cooking prowess (*attempts to look modest but fails*)
Here's FAKE First Year Together: A New Day ( May) Chapter 21!
FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
Rating: Worksafe. There's some swearing, though.
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 hope you all enjoy this chapter. The acronym LEO stands for law enforcement officer. There are more author's notes at the end.
Thank you to BlueSimplicity and mtemplar
Please read and review.
"What the fuck? Why the hell not?" Dee asked, astonished.
"Well, it's like the second time this has happened," replied Detective Shaver, shifting uncomfortably on his bar stool. "The first time my piece went missing, I reported it. But now that it's happened again in such a short period...I just can't bring myself to tell the Lieutenant. It's starting to look, well, suspicious."
"Damn right it is. Do you think it has anything to do with that drop you made the other day?"
"Have you thought more about how you want this whole thing to go down? We have a stiff in the morgue and a line on that junkie whose charges you got your lieutenant to write off. You know we're probably gonna have him before the weekend is out." Without taking his eyes off the other man, Dee turned his lighter end over end in his palm and congratulated himself on having always been a damn good liar. It had just never worked with Mother Maria. That woman was like a walking lie detector. Luckily, Shaver didn't seem to possess a fraction of her skill. "Once Calvetti starts talking," he added, "the shit is gonna hit the fan."
"Dunno about that either." Shaver was looking straight ahead at the bottles behind the bar, a stubborn set to his mouth.
"Detective," Dee said. "My lieutenant is running out of patience. He's hot to get you brought up on murder charges. My partner and I have convinced him that you're of best use to us as a witness against the guy you're working for, rather than as the target of our investigation. We really need a name here, or something to show you've got cooperation on your mind."
Shaver's shoulders suddenly slumped in defeat. He downed half of the whiskey in his glass and grimaced as it burned its way down his throat. "Okay," he said. "Fuck it. I'll give you a name. Lieutenant Mike Abernathy. Internal Affairs. No surprise to you, right?"
"Nope. That's the guy. Anyone else you answer to?"
"No, there's no chain of command as far as I know. But he's got more like me and more like Calvetti."
"How many more?"
"No idea. I usually deliver to a guy named Al, but once in a while Mike has me deliver to one of the others."
"Keeping in mind that this is all off the record at this point and you're not gonna do it anymore on account of your cover being pretty much blown," said Dee, "why don't you give me the routine here? I mean, do you get the drugs for him or does he get them elsewhere and hand 'em over to you for delivery?"
"Both," Shaver replied, "I keep a portion of whatever I confiscate in busts and hand it over to him. When I'm supposed to make a delivery, usually I get a call, and then whatever I'm supposed to drop turns up in the trunk of my car."
"You and Mike get along?"
"Okay, so let's brainstorm about why he might suddenly want you out of the picture, if in fact that turns out to be the case."
"Look, I'm far from being on board with the idea that he set me up, but I'll play along here. IF he wants me gone, it could be because I told him I was thinking about quitting the force and going back to the Navy. I've been wanting out for a long time. But I really don't think he's after me. He had no idea that a couple of cops were going to follow me that day. It was just chance, when you think about it. And even so, there was no warrant and we all know you basically got no case without one, 'cause I ain't counting that bullshit you're trying to feed me about your lieutenant and the DA. But if Mike was wanting to kill his dealer, I'm pissed that he used me to do it. And I don't see where the sudden disappearance of my gun ties into this. I mean, what the hell would he want with my piece? If it gets used to pop someone, there'll be an investigation, in which HIS name is likely to come up. It just doesn't make sense to me that he had something to do with it."
"So you say. But you know what I think? If you didn't have some suspicion that Abernathy's behind it, you wouldn't have called US."
"I don't know what the fuck's going on, to tell you the truth. Mike's not the only guy with his foot on my neck, but he's definitely my biggest problem nowadays. You know, I never did trust that bastard. He made my skin crawl from day one. But I haven't given him a real reason to get rid of me."
"He's got one now," observed Dee. "Two actually. First of all, you're no more use to him on account of having been made. So that makes you a walking time bomb of a threat to him, if you ever decided to come clean about what you know. And second, here you are talkin' to me. About him. He'll be pissed if he finds out about that."
"Yeah," Shaver looked sideways at him, and although the man's face didn't change, Dee could feel his uneasiness. He took out his smokes and offered him one, which the Bronx detective accepted with a curt nod. It really was amazing what a change had come over the bastard. When they had first met, Shaver had confidently and contemptuously refused to even talk to the two detectives from the 27th. At the time, they had both suspected that it was a case of the best defense being a good offense, but as it hadn't worked, Detective Shaver no longer seemed inclined to waste any more energy on attack. Besides, from what he was hinting at, the guy appeared to be in even more trouble than Dee had hitherto suspected. He couldn't summon up much personal sympathy for him, though. Beginning with Officer Rick Herbay back in his uniform days, he never had been able to stomach the behavior and attitude of LEOs who had gone over to the dark side. It brought back memories of how betrayed he had felt by Jess Latener, his long-dead 'father', when the man's association with Bruno's cartel had come to light during Dee's fifteenth year. The ensuing deaths of both Arnon and Jess had left Dee with a powerful aversion to any kind of police corruption and a determination to never allow himself to fall into the same trap that Jess had. At this point he could only guess at what had happened to bring about Ned Shaver's fall, but regardless of how justified it may or may not have been, he felt begrimed by association even sitting next to this sonofabitch. If there was one thing Dee knew about dirty cops, it was that they never operated in a total vacuum of ignorance. The people around them usually suspected something. Dee hoped that no one he knew would see him drinking with Detective Shaver and assume the worst.
Shaver drained his first drink and immediately caught the bartender's eye, holding up his empty glass and signaling for another. "No," he remarked, "I'm no more use to him, am I? At least not for a while. But I got some other enemies too, and between them and Mike, I feel like I'm getting squeezed down the digestive tract of a boa constrictor. I got no illusions about still being in good shape by the time I finally get shit out the other end. I don't know why the hell I'm telling you this, except I guess I'm hoping you can maybe cut open the snake and get me the hell outta here."
"I know that feeling, man," Dee said carefully. "I've been in some tight places in my time as well."
"Yeah, I thought that about you. You got 'hard life' written all over you."
"I do?" Dee was genuinely surprised. He had thought it no longer showed.
"Yeah. Not your partner, though. He's a yuppie through and through. Seems like a good cop, though," he added quickly, thinking there was probably some loyalty there. His eyes darted for a moment in Dee's direction before making one of his habitual sweeps of the room.
"Uh, yeah, he's a damn good cop. But what's this about my hard life being written all over me?"
"Well, I can smell it on you, to be honest. Figuratively of course. Yeah, you may be a pretty boy with a nice suit and gel in your hair, but you still got the look of the street to you. I did my homework too, Laytner. You're a hot-shot detective now, but you came up in life the hard way."
Somewhere between the first and second whiskey, Shaver had loosened his polyester department-store tie significantly from around his bull neck and had undone the top couple of buttons of his rumpled dress shirt. The contrast in appearance between the two men was striking.
"Yeah, it's true," said Dee. "I was a little street rat, a real punk in my day. But I managed to turn it around. Plus, there was some shit I'm just plain lucky I never got caught for." Dee shot him a recalcitrant grin, hoping they were bonding somewhat.
Shaver's lips twisted in what might have been an answering smile, except that there was a little too much bitterness there. "Luck, huh? I could've used a little of that."
"So, uh, who are these other enemies you were talking about?" essayed Dee, not really expecting the man to bite.
He didn't. "That's a card I'm not ready to play," he growled dismissively.
"But you're wondering if it's maybe them and not Abernathy who might be behind the disappearance of your two firearms?"
"Can't say." He shrugged. "But I got a bad feeling that someone somewhere is thinking of setting me up."
"I'm gonna take a wild guess here," said Dee. "Your association with Abernathy goes back to last December, but you were already in trouble, long before he came along. You and your late partner had an incident in the Ames warehouse district in Brooklyn. My sources tell me that there are at least two gangs operating in that area, the Stone Blood Boys and the Dyre Devils. You are or were doing the occasional job for one of those groups, and now it's all gone sour. Am I almost on the money?"
Shaver sat rigid and silent, his face like granite, his knuckles white where his fingers gripped his glass. He didn't want to talk about that, no way. He didn't want to remember that night. That was the turning point, the moment when it had all gotten away on him.
Ryo was dusting the living room. Bikky sat at the computer, acutely conscious of exactly where Ryo was as he moved about with that absurd bright pink feather duster that, in Bikky's opinion, a man should be ashamed to own, even if it HAD been a present from a female.
"'Scuse me." Ryo passed directly behind Bikky and bent down to whisk dust off a planter. When he straightened up, he glanced at the computer screen, which revealed that Bikky seemed to be involved in a search for basketball clothing. His eyes instinctively flicked to the bottom of the screen to see if Bikky had any other windows open, and he was surprised by what he saw.
"What are you doing on eBay?"
"Uh, just lookin' for stuff."
"What kind of stuff?"
"I don't know, just stuff." Bikky sounded bored and casual. A little TOO casual, to Ryo's mind. He clicked on a basketball jersey, and said, "Cool! Look at this, Ryo. And it's on sale."
Ryo knew a distraction ruse when he heard one. "Yeah, it's very cool. Now, back to eBay. Do you have an account or something?"
"Jeez, Ryo, can't a guy have a little privacy here? Why do you always gotta act like I'm up to something?"
"Because I know you, that's why. Besides, you're not old enough to join eBay, so I can't help but wonder what you're doing on there."
"Well, if I found something I really wanted, I'd do what I could to make you join and get it for me, now wouldn't I?"
"So it's not a secret, then? You're not looking at anything you wouldn't want me to know about?"
Bikky wilted slightly under Ryo's piercing gaze. His mind worked frantically, trying to think of a suitable response that wouldn't be an out-and-out lie.
"Show me the eBay screen," commanded Ryo.
Sulkily, Bikky complied. Ryo, who had been expecting to see something like vintage copies of Playboy, was a little disconcerted to see pictures of high-end cookware. It was absolutely the last thing he would have expected Bikky to be interested in.
"Pots and pans!" Ryo leaned in and took a closer look. "And you DO have an account. Are you buying or selling?"
"What the--? And someone bid $250?" It suddenly dawned on Ryo what was going on and his hand descended heavily on Bikky's shoulder, causing the boy to jump guiltily.
"B, does this have anything to do with Eddie?"
"Aw, come on Ryo. The guy's on the run. He needs money."
"He needs police protection, too. But I'm not going to permit him to use my son to help him sell stolen merchandise. Where is this set of pots and pans?"
"At a friend's place." Bikky looked anxiously at the computer screen, upset with himself for having been caught by Ryo. Eddie could have used that money. And he had to get that box of cookware that was currently under his bed the hell out of this apartment ASAP, or he was dead meat.
"Well, you call that friend and tell him I want those pans brought over here tomorrow. I'm taking them in to Stolen Property. They're going back to whichever store they came from."
"Yes sir," said Bikky hoping to avert a lecture. But it was not to be.
"And you, Bikky! How could you agree to something like this? While I admit it's not as bad as selling drugs..." And he was off and running. Winding down five minutes later, he ended with, "I just can't believe Eddie, of all people, is selling on eBay!"
"Eddie's a lot more organized than people think," muttered Bikky, sidling toward the door.
Once back in the safety of his room, Bikky dialed Carol's number on his cell phone. When she answered, there were sounds of conversation and music in the background.
"Hey Cal. How's the party?"
"Oh, it's no fun without you. Everyone is talking about you and wishing you could be here."
"Yeah?" Despite having convinced himself that he didn't give a shit, Bikky felt absurdly pleased to hear that he was missed and that assuaged to some degree the grating disappointment of not being able to attend the basketball team's victory party.
Carol dropped her voice. "Cecile is SO bummed," she said. "I guess she didn't realize you were still grounded."
"Uh...Which one is Cecile again?" Bikky asked diplomatically, even though he knew exactly who she was.
"Oh just one of the cheerleaders," said Carol. "Nobody important. She's not even that pretty."
"Well never mind her," Bikky said. "Listen Carol, I need you to do me a favor."
Detective Shaver held onto his fourth glass until long after he had finished the whiskey in it. Dee noticed that his eyes jumped periodically to the bartender as though he really wanted to order a fifth, but knew he shouldn't. There was probably a real struggle going on under the surface. Not that Shaver appeared to be drunk. Far from it, although he'd tossed back his first three like a career boozer who had just busted out of rehab. But the man was a grim drinker. Dee wondered how much whiskey it would take before he relaxed and cracked a joke or two.
However, the evening had gone well, although they never did get on first name terms. That had been one of Dee's goals at the outset of the meeting, but as time wore on it became apparent that neither seemed to want it. Although Shaver hadn't become as loquacious under the effects of alcohol as Dee had hoped, he had given him particulars about the work he did for Abernathy that made the younger man want to spit in disgust. Abernathy had this poor schmuck risking his career and his freedom a couple of times a month for peanuts. Ned hadn't admitted it, but it was clear he wasn't exactly doing it for the money, although the fact that he had accepted payment at all would probably be held against him. Dee had tried without much more success to get some information out of Shaver about his alleged involvement with the gang that had shot his partner. It appeared to be a touchy subject that made the other man lapse into tense silence.
Finally, Detective Shaver set down his empty glass on the bar. "Something I've been wondering about," he began.
"How many people know the results of the lab test?"
Dee thought for a moment. "Well, the results aren't official yet, so only you, me, my partner, our lieutenant, and the girl in the lab. Possibly Mr. Calvetti, but I doubt it. Oh, and I expect the Commish knows by now because he was asking my partner about this case just before I left to meet you."
"Commissioner Rose?" Shaver seemed taken aback.
"Yeah, he keeps an office at the 27th. We're his pet precinct." Dee couldn't quite keep the sneer out of his voice.
"Fuck, I didn't realize you guys were so well-connected. Does he actually take an interest in your cases?"
"Whaddaya mean, 'unfortunately'? Sounds like career gold to me."
"Not for a guy like me. Anytime I get up to something I shouldn't, he's right there, taking an interest."
Shaver's mouth twitched a little. "Yeah, the brass got a talent for that, don't they?"
Dee noticed that Shaver was looking thoughtful and realized that the man had been impressed by his connection to the NYPD Commissioner.
"You know, I could pitch your case to him," he offered. "The way I see it, you've been abused by a senior officer who's been blackmailing you. But if it goes that far, we're gonna need a statement. And you might find yourself wearing a wire at some point not too far down the road. If you're looking for a deal, he's gonna want to know exactly what you're bringing to the table."
"I want some things too. I want immunity from prosecution. I want no red flags in my file that will prevent me from reenlisting with the U.S. Navy. If I gotta spend even a day in jail, you can all go fuck yourselves."
"Will you testify?"
"I ain't crazy about that. I don't want my son to find out that his old man got mixed up in something so...dishonorable."
"Well, it might come to that. But if you can get us some other names and if THEIR testimony is enough to put him away, who knows?"
"Yeah. Well, again, lemme go home and think about it." Shaver stood and reached for his wrinkled suit jacket, which had been occupying the stool next to him as a means of preventing anyone from sitting there. "I have to make a decision about which one of my shitty choices will do the least amount of damage to what's left of my life, and hopefully not land me in the morgue next to that hooker."
"Okay. I'll talk to the Lieutenant and the Commissioner and we'll start putting together a deal. I'll be in touch. But before you go, why were you asking me about the lab results?"
"Oh right. Well, see, Lt. Abernathy knows about the fentanyl mix. He brought it up when I met up with him last night. Don't know where he got the info from, but I thought I'd mention it."
"Thanks," Dee offered the man his hand, feeling a strong reluctance to do so, and hoping it didn't show. "I'll let my partner know."
When Dee got back to the station, it was pushing 8 pm. The half-empty CI room and his office seemed dingy and dreary without Ryo's presence to make it bearable. Well, at least JJ wasn't there to make things worse. Dee wondered how he and Drake were doing on their fact-finding mission to Canada. At least Rose had finally gone the fuck home. Dee picked up Ryo's water bottle and took a swig from it. Feeling kind of hungry, he started opening and closing Ryo's drawers, searching for food. Sometimes his partner had snacks like crackers or nuts stashed in his desk. In the second file drawer, hidden behind some neatly labeled files and a spare tie rolled up in a plastic bag, he struck pay dirt in the form of a bag of pretzels. When he pulled them out, however, he noticed that there was a note taped to them. It read, "Dee, stop ransacking my desk right now. If you eat these pretzels, you have to replace them. And when are you going to replace my mug?"
When Dee finally stopped laughing, he called Ryo.
"Dude", he said. "I just wanted to tell you that your snarky little note has totally made my day."
"Don't talk with your mouth full. I can barely understand you. I take it you're eating my pretzels?"
"Yeah and I'm sitting here feeling guilty about your mug and hoping I can remember to replace it soon, but mainly I'm thinking about how fucking adorable you are."
"Don't suck up to me. You're lucky I didn't stick a mousetrap in that drawer. Just replace the mug and the pretzels. And tell me how the meeting went."
"It went good. He named the 'bad lieutenant' and I got him to tell me all kinds of other things too. Man, is this guy in some pretty deep shit."
"Is he willing to make a statement?"
"Look, Ryo, I really don't think we oughta talk about this over the phone. Any chance we can get together tonight?"
"But you're working until eleven! You wouldn't even be able to get here until eleven-thirty at the earliest."
"Well, technically I'm working until eleven, but in exhange for performing a small service for James that involves helping him get a date with a particular woman, I'm actually gonna be out of here by nine-thirty. I was thinking we could go to my place," he added hopefully.
"I don't know about that..." Ryo sounded hesitant. "What about Bikky? I can't leave him home alone overnight."
"I'll go home, shower, and change and pick you up at ten-thirty. I promise to have you home by one –- one fifteen. The brat can manage by himself for a couple of hours can't he?"
"Dee, you know I'd love to see you, but I'm afraid it's going to turn into a pretty late evening, and I'm already tired."
"Come on, babe. When a man is tired, what he needs is a good massage."
"A starter massage?"
Dee could hear the smile in Ryo's voice. Time to press the advantage. "Nah," he replied, lowering his voice seductively. "You see, the starter massage doesn't include a blow job. I think you'd benefit more from the deluxe version."
Bikky sat in his room pondering how best to get the cookware set out of the apartment and either back to Eddie or into the care of one of his other friends. He was damned if he was just going to hand it over to Ryo merely because it was stolen property. Eddie was in big trouble and he needed enough money to get a roof over his head, and Bikky felt that was more important than returning a stolen item to a store that had probably already put in an insurance claim on it anyway. This problem would be so simple to deal with if he wasn't frigging grounded. He considered calling Dave and getting him to drop by with some story. Trouble was, Dave didn't know Eddie and would probably blow it if Ryo asked him any questions at all. Carol had said she would mail it to whoever wanted to buy it, but she refused to keep it hidden in her room.
"It's too big," she had told him. "I don't have the closet space for it, and I already have lots of stuff under my bed. I don't want to have to explain to my aunt what it's doing in my room."
Figuring he'd best go see what Ryo was up to, Bikky opened his door a crack and looked out just in time to see his foster dad heading into the master bedroom with the phone to his ear. From the goofy smile on his face it was clear he was talking to Dorkhead. Bikky brightened. Of course! It was Friday night and Dee would be doing his damnedest to get Ryo over to his place. If he succeeded, it would simplify matters considerably. Bikky shut the door again, and pulling out his History homework, started reading about the pioneers. Might as well do something productive while he waited for the result of Ryo's phone call. His money was on Dee. Now there was a guy who wouldn't take no for an answer. He was wasted as a cop. He should have been a used car salesman.
Dee was running late, and feeling stressed about it. Several things had gone wrong since he had last talked to Ryo. That bastard James had arrived fifteen minutes late to cover for him, which had resulted in his having to take the quickest shower in human history. He had then been forced to dress without his customary care and attention. There hadn't been any time to grab a quick bite of anything and he had eaten nothing since that bag of pretzels several hours ago. Traffic was Friday-night hairy, too. Everyone seemed to be driving like it was a full moon or something. And now, here was Ryo, standing on the street in front of his apartment, looking kind of pissed.
"C'mon, Ryo, get in! I'm double-parked here." He turned his head and thrust his arm out of the driver's side window as he flipped someone off. "Fuck you too, asshole!"
Ryo decided to forego his right to drive in favor of not impeding the flow of traffic in front of his building any more than Dee was already doing. He quickly jumped into the front passenger seat, saying, "Drive."
Dee shouted out the window again and then gunned the engine and the car lurched forward, causing Ryo to grab for his seat belt. For a short time they had an almost empty road ahead of them, since Dee's double-parking incident had prevented everyone in his lane from advancing. They sped along East Fifteenth Street at well above the legal limit, weaving from left to right, as Dee grumbled about "Fucking impatient shitheads who can't wait ten fucking seconds," and so on.
Dee was driving rather too fast and recklessly, in Ryo's opinion. He shot through two yellow lights, narrowly missed a pair of pedestrians who turned around and yelled at them and not only turned left onto a street that didn't permit left turns, but did it practically on two wheels.
"Dee, for God's sake, what's your hurry?"
"I just wanna get us to my place ASAP before we lose the mood."
"Being afraid for my life is already taking care of killing the mood, thank you very much," Ryo complained. "Can't you just -- Ack! Watch out for the--"
Leaning on the horn, Dee swerved wildly.
"Almost there, Dude. Relax."
Relax? Ryo shook his head in disbelief, as Dee started swearing again. Ryo sighed irritably. He was starting to get annoyed with all the drama. "What is it NOW?" he snapped.
"Sonofabitch! I'm out of smokes. I can't fucking believe this."
"Well, let's stop and pick some up, " Ryo suggested with exaggerated patience. "There's a bodega up there on the corner."
"For god's sake, now what?"
"There're two goddamned cabs in my way! And one of 'em's double-parked! What is WITH everyone tonight? Shithead!" Dee honked sharply as they swept past.
Ryo glared silently ahead through the windshield, heartily regretting he had ever decided to come out tonight.
"Sorry," said Dee, with a sideways look at him. "I'm a bit on edge. Say, how about Freddie's? It's got parking."
"It's also got bad memories," muttered Ryo.
"Come on, dude," said Dee as he pulled into the small parking lot outside Freddie's Market. "What are the chances of THAT happening again? That was just a one off. This is New York City, babe!" He threw the transmission into park, and opened the door. "Coming?" he asked.
Inside the convenience store, Ryo wandered over to the magazine rack and picked up a copy of Men's Health. He flipped through it with moderate interest while Dee stood in line to pay for his cigarettes. Ryo wasn't the only customer killing time by looking through magazines. There was another man standing next to him, who suddenly emitted a gasp, causing Ryo to look up from an informative article on the health benefits of omega 3 fatty acids. He saw a familiar face looking back at him. The man was about his height with straggly, receding brown hair, a pudgy nose and thick, decidedly fish-like lips. He looked angry and scared at the same time, and he was blushing. He quickly thrust a magazine back in the rack, stuffing it behind Fishing World, and hurried out of the store without a backward glance. Ryo suddenly recalled where he had seen that face before. He was one of the two homophobic jerks that Dee had beaten up in the parking lot of this same convenience store the night Bikky had come back from camp! Ryo's mouth dropped open in amazement. Curious, he reached behind Fishing World to see which magazine the man had been so embarrassed about. He was astonished to see that it was a copy of Passport. The cover sported a picture of a lean, handsome male model with ripped abs and a sultry look. Ryo quickly put it back, thinking two things at once: That queer-basher was secretly looking at a gay magazine? and That guy on the cover is NOTHING compared to Dee. He found himself grinning. How Dee would laugh when he told him.
Just then, his attention was caught by sounds of an altercation outside. He went to the door and looked out through the glass. Four young skinheads were pushing Mr. Homophobia around in the parking lot. It looked like it was about to get ugly. Ryo frowned and pushed open the door.
"You fucking fag!" The boy who had snarled this shoved his victim roughly against one of his companions, who propelled him back into the center.
"I'm not a fag," the man cried. "I'm as straight as you!"
"The fuck you are." Another shove. "I saw you reading that magazine. Get him, Dizz!"
Ryo stepped forward at that moment, shouting, "NYPD! Get off him!" He held his badge aloft. The skinheads froze and stared at him, but the next minute had seen Frank (for indeed it was Frank) bound away from the group and scuttle to seeming safety behind Ryo.
"Break it up boys," Ryo said in his authoritative cop's voice. "Four against one is not cool."
One of them took a step forward, grinning nastily, his eyes moving from Ryo to the quivering man behind him. "How about four against two then?"
Ryo heard Frank give a little scream, and he half turned his head to tell him to stay calm because it was going to be okay, but even as he did so, the man unexpectedly sprang at his back and slapped the badge from his hand. It skittered away on the pavement.
"He's nothing but a cocksucking faggot!" he yelled at the group. "I seen him sucking face with his boyfriend RIGHT HERE in this parking lot! You wanna beat up a fag? Well he's the real deal. Not me."
Frank started rapidly backing away as the boys closed in on Ryo.
"Izzat true? Are you a fuckin' queer? Boydie, go pick up that badge. I wanna see if it's real."
Dee exited the convenience store at that moment, tucking an unlit cigarette into his mouth and fumbling for his lighter. But the unexpected sight of his Ryo surrounded by posturing skinheads and being called every derisive name for 'fag' in the book, caused his mouth to drop open and the cigarette to fall unheeded to the ground. He felt convulsively for his gun and swore when he realized it wasn't there. It was still locked up at home. Shit! He strode forward, feeling black rage building up inside him. He was already in a bad mood and those assholes were going to get the full blast of it unless they backed down and fucked off.
end of chapter 21
Additional author's notes: If you are a resident of or just an expert on New York City, then I have to apologize for a couple of things. I know Manhattan doesn't have convenience stores with parking lots and BlueSimplicity, who is very knowledgeable about New York, has already pointed out to me that NYC doesn't really have a problem with homophobic attacks anymore, at least not so much from skinheads. I took a bit of 'literary license' here, as one of the themes of this story is homophobia. So just like Dee and Ryo seem to get into more pickles than their real life counterparts and meet more serial killers, I'm having them meet with a bit more homophobia than other members of the gay community might otherwise experience. Apologies to those who revere realism! Don't smack me…Ow.