Anyway, let's move on to the reason we're all here, which is A New Day, chapter 23! But first, I have to share with you this little intro written by the fabulous</a></span>bluesimplicity “When we last left our dashing heroes, Dee was racing against time and traffic to get Ryo home in order to get some nookie. They made a quick stop for some cigarettes and it was there that the brave-hearted Ryo tried to break up a hate crime. Words were said, blows exchanged, and then a GUNSHOT!!! Oh no!! And Dee was shot! The outlook didn’t look good! Join us now as we learn what fate has in store for these heroes and lovers as they try to make their way to A NEW DAY!”
Gotta love it! This post is worksafe by the way, so click without fear. ( Darn, eh?)
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: Please read and review. Any references to Kyle Baker, or the Baker brothers are from the story just prior to this one, which is only partially written. A New Day is actually the second story in my series, but this was the one that insisted on being written first.
I’d like to thank Bluesimplicity and Mtemplar for their help and feedback. Mtemplar, your info on injuries and hospital procedure is much appreciated!
A New Day
"Get your hands up! Step away from the victim!"
Ryo raised his hands and stood, glaring wild-eyed at the patrol officer who had spoken. "I'm a detective! Let me show you my badge!"
"Shit, it's McLean from the 27th," a voice said. "He's a cop boys, leave him alone."
The guns were lowered and Ryo once more dropped down beside Dee, his fingers reaching automatically for the pulse on his partner's neck. When he felt it, coursing weakly and erratically, but definitely there, he could have sobbed with relief. The wound appeared to be low down on Dee's left side. Ryo hoped the bullet hadn't blown out a kidney. He tried to be calm and think rationally. God, there was lot of blood. And what if there was internal bleeding?
"Who's the vic?" someone asked.
"My partner," Ryo replied in a voice that cracked slightly. "Detective Dee Laytner. Have we got an ambulance?" he yelled suddenly, raising his head and looking around him agitatedly. A short distance away, he caught a glimpse of Mel on the ground, handcuffed and yelling about fags and how they'd ruined his life. He didn't give a shit about Mel; in fact, he suddenly wanted to kill him with his bare hands, and he wanted it with a passion that contravened all his years of police and Karate training.
"Easy there, Detective," said the cop who had recognized him as being from the 27th. "Your partner's gonna be okay. The bleeding's not too bad and the wound's pretty low down. You can trust me on this one, kid." His hand was on Ryo's shoulder, and as Ryo looked up into sympathetic and concerned eyes set in a lined, middle-aged face, he felt his urge to murder Dee's shooter start to recede from him. His eyes met the older cop's with anguish in them while his mouth worked incoherently, unable to speak. The other man impulsively enfolded him in a brief, but gruff, one-armed hug. "Don't worry, son. Look, here comes the cavalry." He indicated a red and white fire truck that was even now squeezing itself into the small parking lot. "They're A-1 medics and they'll stop the bleeding and get him stabilized in a matter of minutes. And hear that?"
They both listened.
"That's the ambulance. So come on, buck up."
"Officer McLean?" A short, stocky nurse with a goatee and a clipboard stood looking around the waiting room.
"Here." Ryo jumped up with alacrity, his face betraying the worry he felt.
"Your partner is awake now. He's asking for you."
"Is he okay? Can I see him?"
"Yes and yes," the nurse said with a smile. "My name is Bryce, by the way, and I'll be coordinating his care tonight."
"Can you tell me about his injuries?"
"Officer Laytner is a very lucky man," said Bryce. "The bullet only grazed along his lower left side. It didn't penetrate any internal organs, nor did it damage his intestines. It got him between ribs and hip, so no bone fractures or splinters either." He shook his head. "Incredibly lucky. But I'm afraid he's going to be sore for a while."
"Will he be able to go home tonight?"
"I'm sorry, but no. We're more concerned about the concussion he received when he struck the pavement. We'd like to keep him overnight for observation."
Dee turned his head when Ryo entered the room. "Partner," he said weakly, and attempted a grin.
"Dee!" Ryo hurried to his bedside and sat down, looking at him anxiously. "How do you feel?"
"Like I did a few rounds in the ring with Brooklyn Briggs. But they tell me I'll live, so you're stuck with me for a while longer."
"Officer Laytner, will you cooperate now that I've brought him?" asked Bryce solemnly, indicating a waiting IV unit.
Ryo looked questioningly back and forth between them.
"I was afraid it'd knock me out or something before you got here," Dee informed Ryo with a rebellious look at Bryce. "Been out for a while, they tell me. I'm kind of enjoying the novelty of being conscious."
"Well, I'm here now, so you can just stop being stubborn," said Ryo sternly.
That made Dee smile because Ryo was using his 'dad' voice, the one he used to scold Bikky.
"Well, you know me," said Dee. "Always ready to obey orders." He attempted a wink, but winced. "Ow. Okay, Bryce, hook me up. Am I gonna get a good buzz off whatever's in the magic bag?"
"No, not a great one, but it's not too shabby, I'm told." Bryce smiled at him and moved to the little table where the IV needle and other paraphernalia was waiting. "And it certainly won’t knock you out. We never sedate patients with concussions."
"Why do I have to stay overnight?" Dee complained. "I'm a little stiff and I've got the overlord of all headaches, but I'm basically okay. I wanna go home."
"Your record shows you were in here with another concussion just over a month ago," Bryce said, his hands moving confidently as he inserted the needle for the IV drip into Dee's right arm and taped it down. "That's at least two more concussions than the average person receives in a lifetime. Concussions can have serious after-effects, more so than people realize, especially when they're cumulative. We'd just like to keep an eye on you tonight. I'm fairly sure the doctor will release you after she sees you again tomorrow, as long as there's someone at home to take care of you."
He glanced at Ryo as if he had already guessed how close the two men were. Ryo nodded back, surprised to realize that he didn't really care. He was getting used to it.
Dee looked disgruntled. "Home tomorrow, eh? Yeah, yeah. I've heard THAT before. I should warn you guys that I'm not exactly a model patient. You might be itching to get rid of me by tomorrow morning. Maybe even later tonight."
"I used to work in the psych ward, Officer, so I've seen it all," Bryce told him, smiling. "Go ahead and do your worst, if you feel you need to. I'm going to leave you two alone for now, but I'm not going far. I'll be coming back to check on you at intervals. Press the call button if you need something."
"Thank you, Bryce," Ryo murmured, and turned back to Dee with a concerned frown. Dee's energy must really be low if he wasn't correcting Bryce on the "Officer" thing. Dee was usually quick to remind people that his rank was Detective. On the other hand, Ryo had no problem believing Dee's threat to misbehave if they didn't let him go home in the morning. He had a history of being a notoriously uncooperative patient. "Dee, don't hassle the nursing staff, or you know they'll recommend keeping you for extra tests, like what happened at Metropolitan last year," Ryo said, giving Dee a fierce glare. "Now, just keep still and go to sleep if you can."
"Not yet, Ryo. Talk to me. You look like you wish you could bite my head off and the only reason you're not doing that is because I'm in a hospital bed."
Ryo realized that it was true. Now that he knew for sure that Dee was going to be okay, that realization seemed to have cleared the way for anger. He was conscious of feeling furious with Dee for taking such a risk. Not only had he been the one who had started the violence, but he had also taunted a man with a gun and had gotten himself shot.
"Yeah, Dee. It's true. I'm pissed. But you ARE in a hospital bed and I'm not going to quarrel with you."
"Just say what you gotta say. You heard the man. I'm not gonna start flat-lining anytime soon. I can take it. And I'd rather we get it out in the open now."
Ryo sat in tightlipped silence, the muscles of his jaw bunching. He didn't trust himself to look at his partner.
"Okay," Dee said, "I'll start you off. You're mad because I provoked that little weasel until he shot me. And you probably think the whole damn mess was my fault anyway, even though you were the one that went out to the parking lot without even thinking about telling your partner that you wanted to have a chat with a party of psychopaths. How'm I doing?"
Ryo nodded and gave up on trying to control himself. "Yeah, you're right. I AM mad about those things. What the hell were you doing, trying to get him to shoot you like that? It was like you were suicidal or something! You just wouldn't shut up!"
Dee shrugged. "I thought he would miss. I STILL think the guy got a lucky shot. Anyway, I was sure the little bastard was working up to shooting somebody, and if it had been you, you would have died for sure 'cause of the range."
"Don't you ever do that again! It was by no means certain that he was gonna pull the trigger. You gambled your life there, and you nearly lost it. I could've talked him down."
"It was 'by no means certain' you could've talked him down, either! Did you hear that shit he was spouting? The little fuckwad was having an unscheduled psychological moment. And if we don't hear back that he was on something, I'll eat one of Bikky's basketball shoes."
"My God, Dee! If you knew how I felt when I saw you on the ground..."
"Better me with a flesh wound than you with a hole in your head, Ryo! How do you think I felt when I saw that nut job shaking a loaded gun in your face? Yeah, I drew his fire, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. And what the hell did you think you were doing when you wandered out there to take on four guys without a word to me?" Dee was getting steamed and his head was really beginning to pound, but he was damned if he was going to let Ryo see it. He fought the urge to clutch at his temples.
"Yeah, I did go out into the parking lot alone, but I knew I could handle that situation, and I knew you'd be along in a minute," Ryo retorted hotly. "We could've avoided the fighting...the injuries...the MISERY we've both been through tonight if you hadn't gone and punched that guy in the head! Why the hell didn't you just show them your badge at the outset?"
"I don't know," Dee sighed. "They didn't seem to be showing much respect for yours."
"TWO guys with badges would've made them think twice. And I don't think they would've gone for me anyway. I was in the process of convincing them I was a cop. You basically escalated that whole thing right out of control. What on earth were you thinking?"
"I was thinking they were gonna hurt you." Dee's eyes flashed just at the memory of it. "And I was mad that you had to listen to the names they were calling you."
"I'm not your girlfriend! You don't have to go all gallant on me. It's insulting AND it's going to get you injured or even killed. This is the second time you've felt like you have to punch out someone with homophobic issues in defense of my 'honor'. I mean, what am I, some kind of weak and fragile creature who needs to be protected? I'm a man like you, Dee. I'm a fucking COP. The first time you did it was bad enough, but look at us now! We're in a goddamned hospital for God's sake. You're lucky to be alive, you bastard."
Dee was silent. Then he tried to explain. "Ryo, I don't think you're weak and fragile. Far from it. I count on you every day to back me up if we find ourselves in a tight corner. You've saved my ass more times than I can even recall. But when gay-hating assholes say those things, it hurts. I see it on your face. It hurts me too, a little, even after all these years. But enough time has gone by for me that I now have a protective shell. You don't, yet. You're shocked by it, and you get all quiet and nervous, especially since you're not out. I can't stand to see you hurt. I just want to kill anyone who upsets you! I know I have a little temper problem, and I know I shouldn't respond to the insults or the challenges, and hell, if I'd been alone tonight, that fight probably never woulda happened. Anti-gay insults just kinda roll off me now. Fuckin' punks. Who gives a shit what they say? But you, you're not like me. You're not gonna sling their crap right back at them. You're just going to take it and then feel bad afterward." He paused because he realized he was twisting the sheet violently in his right hand. He immediately let it go and smoothed it down. "You're so precious to me, the best and brightest light in my life. How can I let those assholes get away with making you feel like shit?"
"By perhaps considering how much worse I would feel if you got killed or seriously injured," said Ryo. "Remember what happened to Kyle Baker? He got beaten into a coma. Now he can't even tie his own shoes. And his brother? Where's he? In the ground, that's where. Okay, I'm not saying we're not in a dangerous line of work and that we don't face serious risks all the time. But let's not go seeking them out unnecessarily!"
Dee swallowed. "I'll try. I swear to you I will do my best to keep my temper next time we run into any gay-basher types. And there will be a next time, you know that don't you?"
Dee continued, "But I need you to answer a question for me, Ryo. Please don't sugarcoat it."
"Shoot," said Ryo, then winced at his choice of words, and added, "Sorry." Dee hadn't appeared to notice, however.
"Do you...Do you regret getting into a relationship with me and taking on this lifestyle when the stares and the insults start? Do you wish you could go back to being straight again?"
Ryo was silent for a while. He sat looking down at his hands, while he thought about how he was going to answer.
Dee waited tensely, trying to steel himself to accept it if the answer was the one that he feared. He had to look away from Ryo. He forced himself to concentrate on the sounds of the hospital that could be heard in the corridors outside the room; snatches of barely audible conversation, the rattling of equipment being rolled down the halls, the distant sounds of ambulance sirens urgently pushing their way through traffic toward whichever hospital could accommodate them. There were other people out there who were facing loss this night too, people who hadn't been as lucky as he had. He had to remember that. But if Ryo said yes, if he even answered ambivalently, Dee felt that a newborn part of him that was just starting to live would be snuffed out in an instant.
Finally, Ryo spoke. "Dee, I thought you knew me. In fact, if anyone had ever asked, I would have said that you knew me better than anyone on this earth, maybe even better than my parents used to." His face and voice were somber. "When I told you I loved you, I meant it. That's not something I go around saying to everybody, you know. It wasn't something that just popped into my head a few weeks ago that's likely to pop back out again at the first sign of difficulty. I told Bikky that we were in it for the long haul. At least that's what I thought."
"Ryo..." Dee was relieved and distressed. "I've been scared -- so scared you would change your mind. Especially after you found out the real reason for Bikky's fight. Don't tell me you haven't been letting me get close and then pushing me away for over two years now. I mean, you've changed your mind on me a lot!"
"Yes, but that was before I sorted out my feelings!" Ryo protested. "It really did take me that long. I never would have opened my mouth back there on the bridge if I hadn't been sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you!"
Dee took a deep and shaky breath and stared at Ryo. He couldn't trust himself to speak.
Ryo gazed back at Dee, seeing his fear for the first time. Dee's face was so vulnerable, like a child's, an orphan who had feared he would never be chosen, never be loved, and still couldn't quite believe that that was what he had been offered. Ryo's heart welled up with a great rush of affection, and he took his lover's hand in his.
"I know I've been flighty in the past," Ryo went on. "I still have many bad qualities. I'm easily embarrassed, I sometimes lack confidence, I care too much about what other people think, I tend to worry, and my feelings are too easily hurt. I know I don't have that same toughness that you and Bikky have. But I am loyal, I am resilient, and I always come through in the end. Don't I?"
"Yeah," mumbled Dee. "You've always come through for me."
"Well, let me just spell something out for you, since you seem to be having a little trouble understanding it. I'm head over heels in love with you, Dee Laytner. I would walk through fire for you. I'm committed to a future with you. I believe we belong together. I can certainly put up with a few homophobic catcalls, if that's what it takes for me to be with you."
Dee put one hand up to his eyes and took another shaky breath. And then, because he couldn't help it, the tears spilled over. To his shame, several hot ones ran down his cheeks and hand, one after another, before he got himself under control.
"Ryo..." he murmured thickly, turning his other hand over in Ryo's and squeezing it. "You mean it, baby?"
Ryo lifted that hand and kissed it. Then he leaned over and kissed Dee's temple, letting his lips linger there, breathing in the unique scent of his lover, a scent he would know anywhere.
"One hundred percent," he whispered. "Please don't take any more of these crazy risks. How can I live without you? Don't ask me to do that, please. I need you."
"I'm sorry, baby. So sorry. Oh God, hold me..."
Dee hated hospitals. He hated their cold, clinical atmosphere, the smells, the despair, not to mention the sight of sick and dying people. He was always half-expecting to pick up some kind of horrible virus or disease just from going into one. He hated feeling surrounded by death and pain, floor after floor of it. But in all the years of his life that came after the night that he got shot in the parking lot of Freddie's Market, he would always remember this particular hospital room at Bellevue with nostalgia and affection. For better or for worse, he had already given his heart to Ryo. But that was the first time he felt that his lover had truly taken possession of it and that it was in his safekeeping. Ryo was willing to endure difficulties and hardship for him. Ryo needed him, was committed to him. Not even the searing pain in his head could dim the relief and joy that he felt upon hearing those words.
When Ryo eventually drew back and looked at him, Dee was conscious that his whole body had relaxed. Maybe it was the pain-killing meds seeping into his system through the IV, or maybe it was happiness. He felt a little awkward at having let Ryo see his weakness, but it was worth it for the lightening of his spirit that had taken place.
"You're just lucky I'm flat on my back with a gunshot wound and a bitchin' headache, or you know what I'd be doing to you right now, hospital bed or no," he informed his partner, chuckling weakly.
"Yeah, right. Can I get you anything? Do you need another pillow, or maybe something to eat?" Ryo was back in nurturing mode.
Dee rubbed his hand roughly over his eyes and said, "I could use a beer, but I know that's totally out. I don't suppose they'd let me have a coke or something?"
"Probably not, but I'll ask. For now, drink this." Ryo passed him his cup of water. "How about a tissue, too?"
"What the hell for?" asked Dee challengingly.
"Oh just...it looks like you've got something in your eye, that's all." Ryo's smile was a mix of mischief and affection as he watched Dee swallow his water.
"You're mistaken, dude. It's just the crappy light in here. Now get back down here and kiss me." He tugged on Ryo's arm. "Will you stay at least until I fall asleep?"
"I'm not going anywhere," said Ryo firmly, and took Dee's face in cool, gentle hands.
end of chapter 23
More author's notes: Bryce refers to the fact that Dee was in with another concussion just over a month ago. That’s another thing that happened in the as yet unfinished and unpublished prequel to this one.
Well at least they finally talked, huh? At least one thing has been resolved.