FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
Rating: Worksafe, except for the swearing. No kissing or loveydovey jackrabbit behaviour this time.
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 FAKE or any of the characters created by Sanami Matoh (Tina Greenspan, Mike Abernathy, Ned Shaver and Essien Ibo are mine, however). No one gives me money or even chocolate to write this story.
Author's notes: Please read and review.
Thank you to mtemplar
A New Day
Ryo arrived at Bam's a couple of minutes early, but Detective Greenspan was there already. She was looking even prettier than she had yesterday. Her hair was twisted up in an attractive updo that allowed soft tendrils to hang on either side of her face. She was wearing a quantity of silver jewelry, a moss-green pantsuit and high-heeled open-toed shoes. Ryo hoped she wouldn't find herself in a situation where she had to run after a suspect. He began to wonder how long she had been in law enforcement.
"Detective MacLean! It's so very nice to see you again." She really did look delighted to see him, and Ryo was a bit taken aback when she impulsively clasped both of his hands and gave them a squeeze. "Where's Detective Laytner today?"
He mumbled something about how Dee hadn't been feeling well and had therefore gone home. Although Detective Greenspan seemed to be making sympathetic noises --"Oh that poor man. You must be so worried about him..." -- Ryo was somewhat nonplussed by how much more cheerful she looked after hearing the news.
"Listen, Detective..." she said, seeming suddenly shy. "I have been feeling absolutely horrible about how we ended things yesterday. I've been so very angry with myself for springing that news on you about your son the way I did...I hope you can forgive me?"
From the limpid way she was looking into his eyes, Ryo began to get a sneaking suspicion that Dee had been right. Could it be that this beautiful woman was actually attracted to him? Now that was a complication he really didn't need at the moment. If she had come along earlier... before he had known what he truly wanted… But then he reminded himself that Meredith had come along earlier and what a mess that had turned into. He pushed away the familiar pang of guilt that always caught at his insides whenever he thought of her. No, he definitely didn't need any more romantic complications of the feminine variety in his life ever again. Detective Greenspan was indisputably gorgeous, but no one was more important to him than Dee. And no one Ryo could think of had it over Dee in the looks department, either. He hoped that if he continued to keep everything on a professional level between the Queens Detective and himself, and didn't offer any response to her overtures, she would get the message without either one of them having to suffer any embarrassment.
"I was angry yesterday," he told her frankly, "But I understand that you have to do your job. I just hope we can work together with a little more trust in the future."
"I'd like that too," she murmured, peeping up at him demurely.
"However, I am still very concerned about the fact that one of my son's, ah, 'friends' has been murdered, as you may imagine. Are you a parent, Detective Greenspan?"
"Me? Goodness no, I'm not even remotely close to being married!" Her laugh was girlish and musical. "But I have a little niece that I just adore to pieces and I feel fiercely protective of her, so I truly do understand your reaction yesterday. And if possible, I'd like to make it up to you by taking you out for lunch today...that is, if you have---" She was interrupted by a loud voice that issued from behind her.
"Miss Detective Greenspell! It's past eleven o'clock! Are you going to come inside, or what?" A gap-toothed, white-haired man of about sixty stood in the doorway of the coffee shop next door to Bam's.
"Greenspan, Mr. Oliver," she said to him, gently but firmly, and quickly checked her watch. "We'll certainly be joining you inside."
"That's good because we got a young feller in here who don't believe that a purty young lady's gonna buy me a coffee. Here she is, Jack. But don't you be giving this one none of your impudence -- she don't look like it, but she's a cop! Got a gun on her somewheres--" Mr. Oliver studied Detective Greenspan's body as if to try to determine where, under her tight-fitting outfit, it would have been possible to conceal a gun. Ryo tried not to smile. He had been rather curious about that himself.
"-- and I don't doubt she knows how to use it! Isn't that right, missy?"
"Mr. Oliver, which one is your table?" Detective Greenspan rewarded his essay into humor with a bright, but brittle smile.
"Why, this one right here, best one in the house, right by the win--"
"Thank you, let's sit down and begin our meeting. We don't have much time. This is Detective MacLean from the 27th Precinct in Manhattan. He's working with me on this case."
"Nice to meet you, son." Mr. Oliver stuck out his hand and Ryo shook it. The man's grip felt sturdy and his skin was a little rough. This was a man who had worked all his life, and probably with his hands for most of that time. Ryo hoped he hadn't sunk his life savings into Bam's.
"I'm very sorry about what happened in your restaurant, sir. A dead body in your kitchen can hardly be good for business."
"Well, whoever killed that youngster in my kitchen just as surely killed my business as dead as roadkill on the interstate. It ain't covered by insurance, neither. Who ever heard of such a thing? You know, back in League City, Texas, which is where I'm from, we hear about the crime of the big cities, but somehow I just never imagined it would happen to me!"
"I understand," said Ryo, nodding sympathetically. It was true. He did. No one ever expected it to happen to them.
"You know, I was able to buy this business for a steal of a deal. Previous owner wanted to retire, go play golf and such. I owned a similar restaurant for ten years in League. Thought I knew a thing or two about the industry. If I'd a-had any idea how complicated it is to run a restaurant business in the Big Apple, I'd a-turned around and gone back home on the very first day." Mr. Oliver sighed and shook his head. "In fact--"
"It's never easy running a business, Mr. Oliver," Detective Greenspan interrupted him briskly. "Now, if you wouldn't mind telling us about the body in your kitchen one more time for the benefit of--"
"What, again?" Mr. Oliver looked exasperated. "Look here, you're a sweet little lady and all, but how many damn times do you people want to hear that same story? I coulda sworn y'all wrote it down the first time I told it to ya. Didn't you write a report about it?"
Ryo held up a hand. "That's all right, Mr. Oliver. You don't have to tell us again if you'd rather not. But I'd be very interested to hear what kind of problems you've encountered trying to run a business here in New York."
Mr. Oliver's face lit up as Detective Greenspan's face fell. But before any more could be said, Jack, their tattooed young waiter, was at their table with a coffee carafe. "Coffee for everyone?" he enquired, winking at Mr. Oliver.
Please," said Ryo, turning over the cup from where it rested on its saucer at his place setting. He felt Detective Greenspan's fingertips press briefly but meaningfully against his arm as Jack filled the coffee cups. He knew what she was trying to tell him, but he pretended not to understand. It wouldn't hurt to let the old man go on about his troubles for a bit, and one never knew when a lead might come out of such a conversation.
"I like you, boy. You can call me Del. You too, Miss Detective."
Ryo grinned at him. "You can call me, Randy, sir."
"May I call you Randy?" interjected Detective Greenspan determinedly.
"Er...um, sure," said Ryo with a faint smile.
"And please call me Tina. It's so much more comfortable to be friendly, don't you agree?"
Ryo made some vague noise of assent, before looking encouragingly at Mr. Oliver, who then launched into a lengthy description of his woes.
Number one on his list of complaints was the high cost of maintaining the walk-in freezer. "That thing sucks up electricity twenty-four seven!" he spluttered. "It's clapped out and inefficient. What the hell do I need a freezer so large for? I had one in Twist, my old restaurant back home, but it ran a lot better 'n this one."
Detective Greenspan interrupted him. "Speaking of the freezer, can you tell me again about the position of the body--"
"No ma'am. Your confederate here already told me I don't have to tell that same old story again, and I took him up on his offer. I'm very sorry to be so disobliging, however." He nodded respectfully at her, but there was more than a suggestion of mischief in his eyes as he turned back to Ryo. "If you're still interested, Randy, I got more to say."
At Ryo's nod, Mr. Oliver went on to express dissatisfaction about the difficulty of hiring and keeping reliable staff. "That Mr. Reynolds, guy who owned this place afore me, assured me that his best lunchtime line cook and also the kitchen helper wanted to stay, but I ain't seen either of them in weeks!" He went on to animadvert against his 'good for nothing' son and his only slightly less good for nothing cousin whom the family had shipped up from Florida to help him. "Boy only shows up for work when he feels like it -- every day it's a new excuse. And my nephew? Oh Lord. Works well enough when he's here, but eats up all the profits. Every time I look at him, he's chewing! Now that's a feller who shouldn't be working in the food industry."
From the amount of fidgeting that was going on beside him, Ryo could hardly fail to be aware that Detective Greenspan was growing impatient. She alternately drummed her nails on the table, stared out the window, heaved sad little sighs, and checked her wristwatch. She had indicated that she wanted to have a nice lunch with him, and while he felt slightly guilty about it, he most assuredly didn't want to have lunch with her. He wanted to get back to the station and get his paperwork and phone calls done so that he could get out of the office at something close to the end of his shift, and then rush home to be with Dee. Maybe some perverse part of his nature, or perhaps, just an instinct of self-preservation, had led him to invite Mr. Oliver to tell him all about his business. He wanted to make sure that this interview left no time for lunch. Mr. Oliver was saying something about City Hall. "Pardon me, sir?" Ryo asked. "Did you say they wouldn't give you a liquor license?"
"Damn straight they wouldn't! Buncha mumbo-jumbo regulations they quoted me. In the end I think that what it came down to was the fact that I hadn't greased the right palms." He looked back and forth between the photogenic faces of the youthful pair of detectives at his table, and wagged a finger at them. "You two fine young people may be surprised to hear that such a semi-legal form of corruption exists in your fair city, but what you're hearing today is the honest account of an outsider with nothing to gain by speaking the truth. And speaking of greasing palms, that brings me to my next problem..."
"Mr. Oliver!" Detective Greenspan was obviously nearing the end of her rope. "While I certainly do have sympathy for all the terrible things you've been through, criminals throughout the city are not suspending their activities merely because the three of us wish to enjoy a companionable chat over coffee. Detective MacLean and I have work to do and cases to solve, and this being so, we are going to have to leave in a very short time." She looked at her watch for the eleventh or twelfth time. "Detective MacLean, do you have any last questions for Mr. Oliver?" Her glossy lips parted, and she give him a long, unblinking look that promised untold pleasures if he cooperated and unspecified levels of displeasure if he thwarted her.
Ryo thought of Dee and how he would be handling this situation if he were here, and found himself barely able to conceal the smile that had sprung unbidden into his eyes.
"Well, um, yes, I do." he said softly. "Mr. Oliver, could you please tell me about any and all palms that expected you to grease them and what you did about it?"
Ryo entered the CI room to see James, Drake, Ted, Sheldon and Eliza engaged in various activities.
"Oh look," announced James. "One of the 'Predatory Popinjays' has returned." The rest of the team howled with laughter.
"And how do we know he's a Predatory Popinjay?" Ted asked gleefully, jumping up and putting his arm around Ryo's shoulders. Ryo blinked at them, looking slightly embarrassed.
"On Friday, I saw him carrying a balloon that said 'Kiss Me'," Eliza volunteered.
"It's in the eyes," James said with mock seriousness. "Those are the eyes of a predator. They're good at looking all innocent like that."
"Nah, you guys only got the 'predatory' half of it," Ted said dismissively. "We know he's a Predatory Popinjay because of the quality of his wardrobe, that's how!" He picked up the tail of his hapless co-worker's tie and turned it around to display the label to the room. "Armani! And I bet his shoes have leather soles, too. Furthermore, he smells--" Ted sniffed Ryo ostentatiously "--like expensive cologne, not 'Old Spice', like me."
"And therein lies the reason why you can't get a date," remarked Eliza. "Aw, Ryo honey, we're just teasing. You know we love you. What the hell's going on with the IA guy who hates you?"
"Well, the short story is that he's an old crony of the Chief's whose kid ran away from home, so Chief sent Dee and me to find him. In the process, we learned that the guy beats the crap out of his son, and now his son likes us because we were nice to him. So his father is feeling kind of resentful and thinks we undermined his authority or something."
"That's shitty luck that you guys got an enemy in IA," Sheldon said. "Good thing you got a squeaky-clean record, eh Ryo?"
"Well, don't forget that Dee doesn't," said Drake. He looked a bit more worried than the others.
"He seems to hate me slightly more than Dee," Ryo told them. "It could be because we're both dads. Or maybe he just hates my clothes. Ted, quit sniffing me!" he added.
"Sorry, man. Hey, I heard the Chief gave him what-for!" Ted looked exuberant. "I wish I could have heard it! I got it second-hand from Janet."
A voice came from the door. "That IA lieutenant seems to think you and Dee-Sempai are in a homosexual relationship."
It was JJ. His eyes were hard on Ryo and he wasn't smiling.
"Come on, dude, have you forgotten we're all gay?" James called out, and everyone burst out laughing again.
"Hey, not me!" Eliza protested.
"Yeah, you! I've been telling everyone that you're a man in drag," said Ted, and ducked, grinning, as she threw a pen at him.
"Hey listen, guys. This 'gay' thing is really working for me," said James excitedly. "I got a date on Saturday night on the strength of it."
"With a woman?" Drake looked skeptical.
"Screw you, Parker! Yes, with a woman. She's helping me combat the rumors that I'm a member of the pink patrol."
"Do tell," said Ted, looking interested. "D'you think that would work for me?"
"Probably, if you do a total personality makeover..."
"And lose the Old Spice," Eliza added.
To Ryo's relief, they continued in that vein for some time, and the question of whether he and Dee were involved in a relationship seemed to have been successfully skated over.
He went to his office and sat down at the computer to type out his notes from the meeting he had had earlier with Detective Tina Greenspan and Mr. Delbert Oliver, the somewhat garrulous owner of Bam's. The meeting had been an interesting one and had yielded a promising lead that Detective Greenspan had missed out on due to having stomped off to the powder room at that particular point in time. It seemed that Mr. Oliver's fledgling business had been shaken down a few weeks prior by three young men who had wanted a thousand dollars a month in protection money. They had claimed to be representing an organization that called itself the 'something-Devils,' Mr. Oliver having been regrettably unable to recall the exact name. Off the top of his head, Ryo could think of several gangs operating in the various boroughs of New York City with the word 'devils', or one of its derivatives, in their name. This was a piece of information he would need to run by the other members of the CI Division. Marty, who was especially knowledgeable about all the gangs in the five boroughs, was the main person he wanted to talk to. His youngest brother had once been a member of the Diamond Bruisers, a notorious syndicate, now thankfully defunct, in the Bronx. If there was a new gang in Queens, Marty would know about it. But, according to Eliza, Marty had gone out on a call with Officer Bristow and her partner. Ryo would just have to wait for him to come back.
Ryo closed the file on Bam's and put it away. Tonight he would have to talk to Bikky, Carol and Carol's aunt Elina about getting statements from the two teens regarding their part in what had happened to Eddie. Detective Greenspan wanted him to bring them to the 99th so that she could take their statements, but he had been non-committal. He had every intention of making her come to the 27th. Bikky and Carol both went to school in Manhattan, and it would be easier for everyone if he didn't have to pick them up from school and drive them over to Queens during rush hour. At the thought of...Tina, as she'd insisted he call her, he sighed and dropped his pencil. He wished that she would stop trying to capture his interest. He wasn't naturally flirtatious like Dee, and he didn't really know how to deal with the expectations of women and, surprisingly, men, who wanted him. Whenever someone started that kind of behavior with him, his instinct had always been to retreat into a shell of slightly formal conventionality-- and try not to blush too much, of course. It usually served to discourage women. So far, he was pretty sure that it was mostly discouraging the Commissioner, too. But there was one person it had never worked on, however. Dee had been the only one who had ever thought to climb into that shell after him and drag him out again, kicking and screaming. The mental imagery produced by this thought made him smile. Could there be anyone else like Dee on the whole planet? Ryo didn't think so. He found he suddenly wanted to hear the sound of Dee's voice. It was a little strange working in this office without him. He reached for the phone, a quick smile coming readily to his lips, only to hesitate a second later and let his hand fall. What if Dee was sleeping? That was probably exactly what he was doing. He would have taken his next round of pain-killing medication at shortly after twelve, and that would have made him sleepy. It would be best not to wake him up. He sighed and called down to the front desk for his messages instead.
End of Part One. Now go back and scroll up if you would like to read Part Two.