There were family-oriented delays this evening, so I haven't been able to post until now. My apologies to anyone who stayed up late waiting for this chapter. Here it finally is. It's WORKSAFE, by the way. Fake First Year Together: A New Day (May), chapter 32.
Fake First Year together: A New Day (May)
Pairing: Dee/ Ryo
Rating: Worksafe. No sex or violence. There's hardly any foul language, either. This chapter has been scrubbed with soap and an abrasive sponge. Darn, eh? (That little 'eh' was just to remind you all that I’m Canadian)
Spoilers: To Volume 7
Timing: Set in May, directly after book 7 ended
Summary: Ryo is coming to terms with his new sexual identity, as well as the changes in his relationship with Dee. 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. (Detectives Tina Greenspan, Scott Saunders, Eliza Austen and James Chang are mine, however)
Author's notes: Once again, LEO is an acronym that refers to Law Enforcement Officer, not a sign of the zodiac. Thank you to all the nice people who have come to visit me on my LJ page to comment, and give feedback and encouragement! There are more author's notes at the end of the chapter.
Thank you to mtemplar for the awesome beta-work. She went fishing for mistakes and caught several large and small ones, which I was then able to correct before presenting this chapter for public consumption.
Thanks to bale_ikura for help with legal stuff. If there are any mistakes in there, it's my fault, not hers because I did some of the research on my own. I'm grateful to both of you!
A New Day (May)
Ryo looked in through the Chief's open door and knocked lightly on it to get his attention. The Chief looked up and said, "Yeah, Randy?"
"Can I talk to you for a sec, Chief?"
"Sure. Come on in. Close the door."
Ryo did so and took a seat in front of the Chief's desk.
"What's on your mind? And whatever it is, make it quick, 'cause I have to chew out Chang and Austen in about ten minutes."
"No problem," said Ryo, wondering what James and Eliza had done to piss off the Chief and if they knew what they were in for. "I'll get right to it. You know how yesterday the doctor ordered Dee to stay home for a couple of days? Well, he didn't stay home. He went to see Detective Shaver in the Bronx. Shaver had called in sick two days running and he wasn't answering our calls."
"He's not dead like your other witness, is he?"
"No, not as of yesterday afternoon, but it could happen any day now. He's living his life on very thin ice." Ryo quickly told the Chief about what had happened while Dee was at Ned Shaver's apartment and about the big meeting that Essien Ibo had ordered Shaver to attend on Wednesday night.
"He's willing to wear a wire, and I'm hoping we can come up with enough incentive for him to do that as soon as tomorrow night. It's possible that Frank Rizzo is about to form an alliance with the Stone Bloods, and Shaver could get us right inside whatever's going down. He also claims Abernathy is working with the Dyre Street Devils now. If that's true, it might be that he's changing the way he operates so that instead of having lots of operatives and smaller gains, he can make more money on fewer, but larger deals. But all that aside, my top priority is still gaining access to Abernathy's other dirty NYPD operatives through his street contacts. And for that, Shaver is all we've got at present."
"I got that yesterday, Randy. So what's the problem? He won't cooperate?"
"He refuses point blank to do jail time. He wants the standard deal for informants. But the Commissioner is dead set on him going to prison. We have nothing we can threaten him with that would stand up in court. The Devils want him dead and the Stone Bloods consider him to be highly expendable. Abernathy has been holding him at arm's length since we started taking an interest in him, and in fact, I think Abernathy would probably breathe a little easier if Shaver were to stop breathing."
"I see your point," the Chief said thoughtfully. "But...you heard the Commissioner yesterday. He's determined that this guy ain't gonna get a free pass out of jail. He's not your run-of-the-mill informant, see. He happens to be a cop. The NYPD can't have it said that we go easy on our own, and that's where the Commissioner is coming from. I see his point too. What exactly do you want me to do?"
"Talk to him for us, Chief. I know the Commissioner expects us to lie to Shaver and tell him he's got a deal when really he hasn't, but Dee won't do that and neither will I. There's a very strong possibility that Shaver will get whacked during the course of our investigation, in which case, he may never be able to collect on the no-jail deal anyway. It would be great if he could stay alive long enough to testify for us, but even if he doesn't, he can lead us to some other contacts that are connected to Abernathy. Right now, Shaver is our only link to Abernathy."
"The Commissioner is going to say he expects you to get the info you need from surveillance."
"Chief, it's possible that the Commissioner doesn't realize how long that's going to take. We can't tap Abernathy's phone, we can't bug his apartment, and we can't even put a GPS device on his vehicle unless we get a warrant. And we simply don't have sufficient grounds at this early stage of the game to apply for one. You know that no judge is gonna give us one until we get something a little more concrete. Of course, we don't need a warrant to park in front of his apartment, but since he's on to us, he'll be watching for that. We've lost the element of surprise."
The Chief nodded, frowning. "What about phone records? Any of his contacts come up from that?"
Ryo shook his head. "US Cellular sent copies of his billing records yesterday. He's only ever made sporadic calls to his home number, his office number, a painting company and a flower shop from the number he gave us. I'm sure it's a secondary cell phone that he never uses for his business dealings."
"How about his home phone?"
"I'm expecting to get the fax from Verizon this morning, but they're being a little sticky, probably because of all the trouble they've been in recently. However, it's not like I'm asking for a pen register or a tap and trace. I guess I'll have to get a D-order if they continue to balk."
"The Commissioner said he'd sign an administrative subpoena for you, if you need one."
"That's good to know, but I hope it won't be necessary. I've always had a good relationship with Anna Darden and her staff over at Verizon. I told her I'd go through the warrant process later IF I get any worthwhile leads from the billing records. But I'll tell you right now that I don't think we're gonna get anywhere with those. If I were Abernathy, I wouldn't use a phone in my own name to make illicit calls."
"The Commissioner will be in after lunch. I'll talk to him then if you like, but I wouldn't get my hopes up, if I were you."
"Thanks, Chief. I know you'll do your best." Ryo got up to go.
"How's that idiot partner of yours feeling?"
"He's getting slowly better, sir. He'll be back to work in a few days, unless he finds another way to risk his life between now and then. The doctor said he should forgo active duty until Friday at the earliest, and even then, he should be careful."
The Chief snorted. "No reason he couldn't be in here doing paperwork, but I suppose a doctor's note is a doctor's note. By the way, Ted's on third shift today today, so Marty's available. Make sure you take him with you if you need to go out on any calls." The Chief looked at his watch. "If you run into Chang and Austen on your way back upstairs, would you tell that pair of lollygaggers that nine o'clock does NOT mean nine-oh-five or nine-ten?"
"Sure, Chief." Ryo went to the door and opened it, hoping for their sakes, that James and Eliza were there. They weren't.
"I'll get back to you this afternoon after I've talked to Commissioner Rose," the Chief said.
Ryo thanked him and left. On his way down the hall, he met a nervous-looking Eliza and James, who were both holding mugs of what looked and smelled like herbal tea. Ryo thought that was strange since he knew them both to be inveterate coffee-drinkers.
"Hey guys, Chief wants you to hurry up. What's that you're drinking?"
"This? Oh it's Eliza's special chamomile-lemongrass tea. It's supposed to be very calming and puts you in a spiritual space," said James glumly.
"And we need to be in a spiritual space because we're about to get screamed at by the Chief," added Eliza.
"What this tea really needs is a splash of vodka." James took a sip and grimaced. "I have some in my desk, you know."
"Come on, let's not add 'being late and drunk' to our list of crimes," said Eliza, tugging on James' arm.
"What did you guys do?" asked Ryo, but they were hurrying away from him.
"We arrested someone important by accident," James said over his shoulder.
"We'll tell you later," Eliza called.
Ryo headed back upstairs, feeling rather guiltily relieved that there was once more going to be shouting issuing from the Chief's office, but that this time, it had nothing to do with him and Dee. The busybodies of the building would soon be buzzing with the details of this newest transgression by members of Lieutenant Smith's CI Division. He saw that he needn't have worried so much about Abernathy's loud accusations yesterday morning. That news was already starting to fade, and everyone else either had new gossip on their minds, or their own problems to worry about.
When he walked into the CI room to check the fax machine, Drake hailed him.
"Hey Ryo, this yours?" He held up the multicolored bag from the day before. "One of the uniforms brought it up. He said you left it in Car One yesterday."
"Yeah, I guess I did. Thanks, Drake." Ryo accepted the bag and glanced inside it. The chocolate croissant from yesterday was still there. He lifted it out and regarded it dubiously. Someone had taken a bite out of it. Drake looked at him with ill-disguised hope.
"Don't want it?" he asked.
"Can I have it, then?"
"Drake, it's not only left over from yesterday, but someone-- not me-- already sampled the merchandise!"
"Nothing wrong with day-old," said Drake, tugging the pastry out of Ryo's hand. It was not lost on Ryo that Drake hadn't even mentioned the fact that there was a bite taken out of it. He had a pretty good idea of who was responsible for that. Asking the perpetually hungry Drake to look after edible property was like hiring a mouse to guard a cheese factory. A large, voracious mouse.
"Where's JJ today?" he asked, because the knowledge that the bag he was holding contained a mug that had been chosen by JJ had brought the young sharpshooter to his mind.
"He's coming in later," Drake said, and then grinned at Ryo. "With him and Dee gone, it should be nice and peaceful around here, huh?"
Ryo agreed, and leaving Drake happily eating his day-old chocolate croissant, he carried the gift bag and his fax into his office. He had been right. The Verizon fax had arrived a short time ago. It was quite a big one, consisting of copies of the Abernathy household's phone statements for the last 12 months. All he needed now was for AT&T to hurry up and send the records for Mrs. Abernathy's cell phone. Ryo was a big believer in being thorough. He decided that Dee could have the job of going over the phone records, so he tucked the fax into his briefcase to make sure that it went home with him. For a moment, he looked uncertainly at the bag containing the tissue-wrapped mug, but felt no desire to open it. It would probably be a very good quality china mug with a tasteful pattern. He thought that perhaps he should have some tea in it... later. For now, he had work to do.
At about ten-thirty, Dee called him.
"Yo, Ryo. It's me. How come you didn't call me?"
"Well, I was going to call you in a bit, but I thought I'd let you sleep, since you so annoyingly changed your position every two minutes for most of the night as well as getting up to pee ninety-seven times."
"Heh. Sorry about that. I guess I shouldn't have drunk that Pepsi with Bikky. So...do ya miss me?"
"Yes, actually. Even though I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be pulling your weight if you were here."
"Ouch! But the point is that you miss me, right?"
"The point is that I've got a lot of paperwork and phone calls to take care of. We're getting behind on our other cases because of this Abernathy thing."
"Ooh, paperwork! My favorite. Too bad I'm not there to help you, huh?" Dee sounded smug.
"Don't you worry. I'm bringing some home for you."
"What? No fair! I don't wanna waste a sick day doing paperwork! If I have to work, I might as well be AT work where at least I could be with you."
"Dee, I'm going to spend the evening doing paperwork, so you might as well help me."
Dee heaved an aggrieved sigh. "Well, if you put it like that, what choice do I have? By the way, Green-Wood called and they want you to call back to confirm details about the funeral. And some Pakistani-sounding guy called to say that Bikky's suit will be ready this afternoon."
"Thanks. I don't know when I'm going to have time to pick that up...I have to fetch Bikky and Carol from school at three fifteen and bring them here for questioning, and I don't know how long that's going to take."
"Why don't I pick them up for you?"
"You're supposed to be resting."
"Ryo...I'm coming in anyway. Carol called me and she wants me to be there."
"Well, apparently, her aunt can't make it, and she's afraid that if they question her and Bikky separately, she'll be all alone and she's feeling a little scared."
"Why should she be scared? I'll be there, and so will a couple of child advocates from Youth Services. Plus, she hasn't done anything to be ashamed of."
"Ryo, she's been through the system before, and she doesn't have a whole lot of trust. She said she knows they're gonna try and intimidate her by bringing up her past. When they question the kids separately, you'll be going with Bikky. She wants someone that she feels is in her corner."
"Okay, I understand." Ryo felt a pang of self-recrimination for not considering how Carol might be feeling about this whole thing. She and Bikky had grown up thinking of the police as bad guys, and just because they were now involved with a couple of 'safe' ones didn't mean that their deeply-ingrained wariness had suddenly dissipated. It would take time. "In that case, you might as well pick Bikky and Carol up. We're all meeting at three forty-five. Do you think you can be on time?"
"What, like I've never been on time before? Don't worry about a thing! We'll even get the suit on the way back if there's time. Hey, did you talk to the Chief about talking to Rose?"
"Yeah, but we won't get an answer until this afternoon. Hopefully I'll have something to tell you when I see you."
"Okay, I'll let you go then. Love you."
"Wait! Don't you love me?"
Ryo smiled. "Of course I do. Madly. But I'm not saying it at work."
"Madly is good enough for me. Ciao, baby."
With difficulty, Detective Shaver heaved the bag of garden fertilizer into his trunk. It was only 25 lbs, but he still felt as weak as a kitten. He hoped Sheila appreciated this. It really would have been better for him to wait until he had his strength back, but events were marching toward him at a faster pace than he would have liked. In about 36 hours he'd be standing in a warehouse with Ibo and the Stone Bloods and Frankie Rizzo's gang, which bore the somewhat ironic name of 'Corporate America'. He personally felt that Rizzo was rather too high for Ibo's touch, but the Stone Bloods' dramatic increase in market share over the last year had given Ibo ideas above his station. At first he had thought that Rizzo must be temporarily down on his luck to even contemplate doing a deal with an upstart gang like them. After giving it a little more consideration, however, he had come to the conclusion that what Rizzo and Ibo were planning was so damn chancy that Rizzo was only prepared to cut in the Stone Bloods on the condition that they assumed 90 percent of the risk and took the fall if it all went down the tubes. So far, Ibo had been downplaying the dangers and had only talked about the enormous gains to be had. The man had gambled and won before -- that was how he had gotten where he was in the relatively short time he had been leading his gang. If the police or the Devils showed up though, there would be shooting and mayhem. Shaver didn't think there would be any trouble from the police, but the Devils had to be cognizant of the fact that that Ibo and Rizzo had been talking. Any amalgamation between them would spell doom for the Devils, and well they knew it. Shaver was aware that they had been tailing him. Surely Ibo was conscious of that too. Hopefully he had some kind of plan to prevent any gate crashing on the 31st. In any case, Shaver thought, he might not survive Wednesday night intact, so it was now or never for Sheila's gardening supplies.
After stopping to pick up a few groceries, Shaver noticed, when he restarted his car, that he was getting low on gas. At a nearby service station, he filled his tank, inwardly cursing the price of fuel. Goddammit, what the hell had that whole war in Iraq been for, if a man STILL had to practically put a whole day's net pay into his fucking gas tank? Maybe those hybrid car companies were onto something. Diesel was making a comeback too. He checked the price of diesel and nodded to himself. That would be good to know for later. Just then his cell phone rang. It was Kevin.
"Dad! Mom says you're coming over tonight!"
"Yeah, that's right, Kev. I'll be there after dinner, just for a little while. You home for lunch?"
"Yeah, but I gotta hurry back to school in a minute. Dad, guess what? I got ninety percent on my Social Studies test today. I can't wait to show you."
Detective Shaver felt that familiar combination of love, pride, fear and sorrow that always filled him nowadays whenever he heard Kevin's enthusiastic voice or was otherwise faced with evidence of the boy's affectionate nature. His son needed him; he knew that. And he felt like the world's biggest asshole. Worse even than Essien Ibo, dedicated family man and all-round murderous, drug-dealing criminal. At least Ibo was up front with his kids about who and what he was, even if he didn't give them the details. He didn't have to live in fear of seeing the love and trust die out of his children's eyes when they found out what a fraud their father was. Shaver forced himself to smile, even though Kevin couldn't see him. "I'm proud of you, son. That's a big improvement. You've really brought your grades up recently."
Suddenly Sheila's shrill voice came on the line, saying, "And his grades would be even better if you would just spring for a tutor! Now that he's quit going to his art classes, you should have a bit of extra cash lying around."
The blood instantly rushed to his face, like it always did when Sheila started nagging him, and in fact the anger was a welcome replacement for the feelings of sick self-recrimination that he had just been awash in.
As Ned and his ex-wife continued their long established habit of berating each other over the phone, neither was aware when the innocent pleasure on Kevin's face was suddenly replaced by misery. He wondered for the hundredth time why his parents couldn't just be polite to each other, never mind friendly.
At a little before two o'clock, JJ burst into Ryo's office with such suddenness that Ryo nearly dropped the phone. JJ's excited look faded as his searching eyes gave him the information that the person he most wished to see was not in the room. Ryo knew very well what he wanted. He finished up his call and greeted JJ.
"Hello JJ. How are you doing?"
"Oh fine, fine. Is Dee in the building?"
"No, he has to stay home because of his stitches and concussion."
"Oh." JJ couldn't hide his disappointment. "Is he all right, though? Did he take a turn for the worse or something?"
"Well, he popped one of his stitches yesterday, so he has to take it easy for a couple of days and give himself a chance to heal."
"What? He popped a stitch? OH MY GOD! Was he bleeding?" Stricken, JJ wrung his hands.
"JJ, you saw him right after he did it. When you brought his jacket down to parking, remember?" Ryo tried to be patient.
"Really? That was when he popped his stitch?"
"Yeah, and he was basically fine, remember? But now he's got a doctor's note, so he's off today. Probably tomorrow too."
JJ nodded, looking somewhat mollified. "I'll give him a call later and see how he's feeling. Hey," he said as his eyes fell on the gift bag. "How come you're not using your mug?"
"You didn't even unwrap it," JJ said softly, pulling out the tissue-wrapped mug.
"I was going to...I've been so busy today without Dee here that I wanted to wait."
"I'll save you the trouble." JJ tore off the pink tissue and banged the mug down in front of Ryo. "There it is. But you probably hate it, don't you?"
He swept out, looking hurt. Ryo watched him go, feeling slightly guilty but not really seeing why he should. He picked up the mug and looked at it. It really was quite beautiful. Bone china with pink and blue flowers on it in a close pattern. A total chick mug. The perfect mug for a gay man. He too banged it back down on the desk, feeling irritated with Dee. Why the hell did Dee have to get JJ to pick out a mug for him? He should have done it himself. He was pretty sure Dee wouldn't have chosen such a 'pretty' cup. Or would he? Ryo knew that the more he thought about it, the more resentful he would get, so he threw himself back into work instead. He was able to cross a couple more items off his lengthy to-do list before the next interruption occurred in the form of a summons to attend the Commissioner.
He glanced up from a phone conversation with a contact from an assault case he was working on to see Drake walking in with a note in his hand. The note read, 'Commish wants to see you. Now.'
Five minutes later, he was knocking on the Commissioner's door, hoping for good news.
"Good afternoon, sir." Ryo walked in to find the Commissioner with his secretary Helen, rapidly applying his signature to papers that she thrust before him, one after the other.
"Good afternoon, Detective MacLean. As usual, I'm afraid I'm a little short on time, so I'll make this as brief as possible. Am I to understand that you and your partner have failed to secure the assistance of Detective Shaver from the 51st?"
Ryo tried to quell the irritation that had flared up in him at the Commissioner's use of the word 'fail'.
"Detective Shaver is insufficiently motivated by the prospect of two to five, sir."
"I believe the instructions I gave you were to make him believe that a deal could be worked out." He turned his head toward Helen, and said," That will be all for now, Helen. Would you please be so kind as to get me a cup of coffee? Thank you."
Ryo had always been surprised that the Commissioner had chosen Helen as his personal secretary at the 27th. For a man who liked to be surrounded by beautiful things and people, it must be difficult for him to look at Helen's plain, middle-aged face and thick-waisted form. Of course she was extremely good at her job, and performance did matter to Commissioner Rose.
"And is that true, sir? CAN a deal be worked out for him?" Despite the fact that this interview was not going terribly well so far, Ryo still felt a little bit of hope.
"I thought I had made myself clear on that yesterday, Detective. Real informants get deals. Not rogue cops."
"Sir, Shaver has far more to fear from the gangs he's dealing with than he does from us. He's being blackmailed by a senior officer and he's willing to help us if we help him. The DA said we can't proceed against him on the little we've got. The fact is that we have nothing real to hold over Shaver."
The Commissioner pushed his glasses further up onto the bridge of his nose and gave Ryo a piercing look.
"Then get something, Ryo," he said in a voice that, although soft, was drenched in authority. "Or I'll put this case in the hands of someone who knows how to get results. Is that clear?"
Ryo's face flushed with resentment. "Sir, as LEOs, we stand or fall on our integrity, and I'm not prepared to play by dirty rules, just because the bad guys are. If you've got a candidate in mind who's willing to lie, cheat and scheme for you, then you might as well hand over the case to him right now. Because I will not operate that way, and neither will Dee."
For a moment, he thought that the Commissioner was going to rake him over the coals for insubordination, but then in the next moment, Rose just sighed and beckoned him closer.
"Ryo, Ryo, what am I going to do with you? Sit down for a minute please."
Ryo obeyed uncomfortably.
"You're still a young man," Rose continued. "You've been an NYPD Detective for less than three years. You have yet to be tested in all the ways that this job can test a man. There are days when you feel like a hero and days when it just grinds down your humanity and you wonder why anyone bothers."
Ryo was silent. He regretted his earlier outburst and wasn't going to open his mouth again unless it was absolutely necessary.
"What I'm trying to say here, Ryo, is that I do agree with you that integrity is an essential characteristic to the members of any police force. If not, we get Lieutenant Abernathys and Detective Shavers using their state-sanctioned power to make the world a worse, rather than better, place."
Ryo looked cautiously at the Commissioner. A few minutes ago he had felt that, ideologically, they were poles apart. But now the Commissioner seemed to be closing that distance again.
"Integrity is not something that should be hard and unyielding. What is hard and brittle can be broken, either all at once, or a little at a time. I've seen that happen to men like you, Ryo. Your honor and your honesty are like armor that you wear every day, in all areas of your life. It would be helpful if you could bring yourself to perceive that just as the mind and body should be flexible, so should the integrity. If it can bend, it will not break. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?"
"I - I think so, sir."
"I'll leave it to you to find your own balance on this point. It's an individual thing after all. Ah! And here's my coffee. Thank you very much, Helen. I'm ready to resume signing that stack of papers now."
Ryo understood the meeting to be finished, and stood up to go, whereupon the Commissioner thanked him for his time.
"Ryo, I feel we understand each other a bit better now. I confidently leave the matter of the investigation of Lieutenant Abernathy in your hands. Please let me know of any updates as they occur."
"Thank you, sir. I'll certainly keep you informed."
It was quite clear to Bikky that the chick with the big tits had the hots for Ryo. What was her name? Detective Greenwood? No, that was the funeral place in Brooklyn. Well, her name was Green-something. He was feeling nervous about the upcoming questioning session, but so far, she was acting nice. He didn't like the guy she had brought with her, though. He looked and sounded like an asshole, and although he hadn't yet had the chance do anything assholian, Bikky figured it was just a matter of time.
He gathered that the plan was to question him and Carol separately first, then together, then separately again, if need be. There were a couple of Youth Services reps there, to act as advocates. One of them, Mrs. Abrams, he recognized from the old days when he had once gotten caught running a small racket on bike parts. The other one was a youngish, dweeby guy who seemed to be some kind of trainee.
"Well," the chick detective said brightly, "Let's get started, shall we? Bikky, why don't you and your dad go into room two, and Carol, you follow Detective Saunders into room one. We'll all meet up again in about twenty minutes or half an hour, okay?"
Carol looked at Bikky in an unhappy, hunted sort of way, moving him to give her hand a quick squeeze before she was taken off to the other room. Asshole guy and Mrs. Abrams went with her, but so did Dee, Bikky noted, so he didn't have to worry. Dee was a Dorkhead, but he was a good guy to have in your corner. He would take care of Carol.
Ryo and the chick with the rack led him into a little room with a table, four chairs and one barred window with really grimy glass. Dweeby guy followed silently.
Hot detective chick was the first to speak. "Bikky", she said, "You seem like a very smart boy and I believe you know why we need to question you today."
"Yeah," he said. "You wanna talk about Eddie. What was your name again?"
"I'm Detective Greenspan," she said.
"Greenspan, got it."
"Now, Bikky, please tell me whatever you know about the events leading up to Eddie's unfortunate death last Saturday morning."
Bikky went through it for her to the best of his abilities, even though it wasn't strictly in the best chronological order. Reassured by the solid presence of Ryo at the table with him, he told the lady detective about what a great guy Eddie had always been, and how Eddie got into some trouble when a working girl OD'd in his presence and he had to run because he thought the police were going to blame him. Later, Eddie had learned from Ryo that the police didn't think it was a straight OD and that it was possible that the drugs had been cut with something deadly that had been intended for Eddie, not Tamara.
"My dad offered him police protection, but he didn't take it," he told her.
Detective Greenspan looked doubtfully from Ryo to Bikky. "Does your dad always discuss his cases with you?" she asked in some surprise.
"No," said Bikky, belatedly realizing that he might be getting Ryo in trouble. "He never tells me anything, even when it would be better for me to know."
"Well then, how do you know these things?"
"I was with Eddie in Queens when he had the phone conversation with my dad. We talked about it after."
"Oh." Detective Greenspan seemed relieved. "Was that the last time you saw Eddie alive?"
"No." Bikky looked pensively at the table for a moment. "I saw him late on Friday night when he met me at Jamaica Station. I didn't know at that time I'd...I'd never see him again."
"What was the purpose of your being with Eddie on both of those nights?"
Bikky answered carefully, instinctively knowing that he shouldn't mention that Ryo had asked him to find Eddie. "I knew Eddie was on the run. The whole street was buzzing with it. He needed help, and I was pretty sure I could find him, so I went looking for him on Thursday."
"What kind of help were you planning to offer him?"
"Whatever he needed. I didn't know what he needed until I found him. I called my dad on my cell phone and put Eddie on. I was hoping my dad could help him, too."
"Was it that night that Eddie asked you to take the cookware set home with you?"
"Yeah, I already told you that. He gave me his passwords. I was supposed to check if he had any buyers, take care of the sale, and ship it wherever."
"How were you planning to get the money to Eddie?"
"I wasn't. He had a Paypal account, or something like that. I don't really understand eBay. He woulda known how to get the money. He was pretty smart that way. But when I got home, I found we had a sale already. It was cash for delivery, and it was even in Queens, so he didn't have to risk coming back downtown. That was pretty good news for Eddie because it meant he could drop the stuff off, get some cash and get the hell out of town."
"And when you saw him on Friday, it was to give him the cookware set back again, right?"
"Approximately what time was that?"
Suddenly Bikky wished that Ryo wasn't in the room with him. He gave his foster-dad a sidelong glance. Unfortunately Ryo had that sharp look on his face that meant he was going to get the truth out of him no matter what. He sighed, resigned. "Late. Like eleven thirty pm."
"Bikky!" Ryo was shocked. "You didn't tell me that before!"
"Uhh...You didn't ask?" Bikky leaned away from Ryo, looking apologetic and nervous.
"Does the concept of being grounded mean nothing to you? What do I have to do, put a GPS chip into your cell phone?"
"Ryo, I wouldn't have done it if it hadn't been really important! You know I missed my basketball team's victory party on that night. I didn't go all the way out to Queens and back with all those late night weirdoes on the train because it was FUN, you know!"
"We'll talk about this later," said Ryo darkly. "Please continue, Detective Greenspan."
"Bikky, you've told me how much you liked Eddie, and how good he was to you and the other kids. Did he have any enemies that you know about, anyone that might dislike him enough to want to kill him?"
"Eddie didn't have that many enemies. But he sold drugs on the street for a couple of different guys. If someone wanted to kill him, it was probably about drugs."
"Do you know who those guys are?"
"Yeah," said Bikky. "One of 'em is a cop." He glanced briefly at Ryo, who was looking a little surprised. "And no my dad didn't tell me that. Eddie did."
"Did he give you a name?"
"No, he said it was better if I didn't know too much. He was pretty scared at that point, though. But I heard him say the name 'Mike' when he was talking on the phone to my dad."
"Do you have any idea who the other guy he sold drugs for was?"
"No," said Bikky, although he did. Eddie had sold for a lot of guys over the years, most recently Tony Elliot, but Tony hadn't killed Eddie. Bikky was sure of that. Tony just wasn't a killer. That's why he wasn't very successful in his chosen business, kind of like Bikky's first dad. He sighed at that old memory. "I really didn't see Eddie that often once I started living with Ryo, so I don't know what's been going on his life recently."
Detective Greenspan seemed to accept that. "Let's talk about the eBay sale, Bikky. Specifically, the person who wanted to buy the cookware."
In the room next door, Detective Saunders was looking skeptically at Carol, a slight sneer on his face. "Yeah, right, tell me another one, Honey," he said, as he shook a menthol cigarette out of a soft pack and lit it. "This Calvetti guy was so well-known on the street and yet it comes as a big surprise to you that he was selling the stuff he stole on eBay?"
"Detective Saunders," said Mrs. Abrams sternly. "Would you mind not smoking? This is a small and airless room and cigarette smoke isn't good for anyone's lungs, including yours." Opposite them, Carol coughed softly, as if for emphasis.
Detective Saunders glared at both of them and opened his mouth as though he were about to say something. He hesitated a little too long, so Dee reached over and, plucking the cigarette out of his fingers, stubbed it out firmly in the middle of the other man's notepad.
"Hey buddy, let's not pollute the girl's youthful lungs, okay? She has to answer your questions, but it ain't mandatory that she get cancer in the process."
Detective Saunders shot Dee a look of hostility, but decided to let the matter of the cigarette go, as the child advocate woman was nodding in satisfaction and the little teenage bitch was smiling behind her hand. "Damn right she's gotta answer them," he growled.
"One more thing." Carol, emboldened by Dee's ready defense of her, held up one finger. "My name is Carol, not 'honey'."
"Whatever," Detective Saunders returned in a tone of bored dislike. "So you maintain that you didn't know anything about Mr. Calvetti's eBay activities until your friend-" he brushed the ashes off his notepad and looked at what was written there- "your friend 'Bikky', another little model citizen like yourself, told you about it."
"That's right. I've been away from that neighborhood for a few years, so I haven't exactly been keeping up on what all the people in it have been doing."
"Well I would think that as a former shoplifter yourself, you would have a professional interest in a new way of transforming stolen merchandise into cash."
"Detective Saunders, you'd better be going somewhere with this," warned Mrs. Abrams.
Carol flushed at hearing herself referred to as a shoplifter. Why was he being so mean? She had worked hard to leave those days behind her. This questioning session was turning out much worse than she had feared it would be. But she had to try to defend herself. "I don't know why you don't believe me," she protested. "And I don't understand why the eBay thing is even important."
"This woman, 'Cindy', whom you exchanged emails with, did you know her?"
"No, of course not, why would I?"
"You know what, 'Carol'?" Detective Saunders pronounced her name with exaggerated politeness. "This time I believe you."
"Well, finally," she said.
"And you know why? It's because there is no such person as Cindy."
"Hunh?" Carol was confused. She didn't understand the inference right away, but she knew it was significant because Detective Saunders was looking at her with a nasty kind of light in his eyes, and Dee was sympathetically squeezing her shoulder.
"Don't bother playing games with me, Carol. I think you know damn well that that was the murderer you were exchanging emails with."
"What?" gasped Carol, turning pale. "You mean-- You mean-- Th-that person wanted a meeting with Eddie so they could k-kill him? Dee!" She turned to Dee, her face anguished. He knew that she had suddenly understood her unwitting role in Eddie's death.
"Be strong, Princess," he murmured. "Remember, you haven't done anything wrong." He flashed a look at Detective Saunders that promised a shitkicking if the man didn't settle down.
Detective Saunders didn't catch that look because his attention was solely focused on Carol. "Don't think I'm buying this 'little Miss Innocent' act of yours, Honey. As far as the police are concerned, you're the one who set up Mr. Calvetti's murder. I believe you know exactly who killed him. And if you know that, then you're an accomplice! Now I think you'd better come clean with us before you get in even deeper trouble than what you're already in."
In the room next door, Detective Greenspan was waiting for Bikky to answer her latest question.
"What?" he asked. "What the hell are you saying? That's bullshit!"
"Bikky," Ryo warned mildly, but his heart wasn't really in any remonstrances with Bikky over the subject of bad language today. He was dreading the next few moments when Bikky would put two and two together.
"Bikky, I'm afraid it's the truth. The murderer knew exactly where to find Eddie, and at what time. How could he or she have known that, if not from your email?"
"But Detective Greenrack! I - I mean Greenspan. Didn't his enemies just follow him?"
"How would they have known where to follow him from? He was hiding. They had to lure him out."
"Oh shit," Bikky whispered, his skin going that peculiar shade of grey that Ryo recognized meant nausea and potentially imminent vomiting.
"Bikky," Ryo said gently. "Are you going to be all right?"
For a moment there was no sound in the room except for the rapid scribbling of the trainee child advocate's pencil on his notepad. Then Bikky raised blazing eyes to Ryo's face.
"You KNEW this! Didn't you? You knew this and you didn't tell me!"
"Bikky, I --"
Just then, they heard a female voice scream from the adjoining room, "No! No! Quit saying that! I didn't kill him! You bastard!" and then the sound of sobbing. This was followed by male and female shouting, and the scrape and crash of furniture being overturned.
"Carol!" Bikky jumped to his feet, adrenaline surging through his bloodstream, and ran out of the room, with Ryo and Detective Greenspan right behind him. He flung open the door of questioning room one to see Carol standing by the table, shaking all over and with tears running down her face. The other Queens detective lay on the floor with one leg propped up on a fallen chair. He had a bloody nose, and Dee was standing over him with his fists clenched. Mrs. Abrams was yelling at both of them.
"Bikky!" Carol cried and ran into his arms. He held her close, his own nausea and horror forgotten in his need to comfort her. How dare they upset her and make her cry? It looked like Dorkhead had done something about it, though. For a moment a great positive feeling of gratitude toward Dee welled up in him.
"Dee! What the hell happened?" Ryo surveyed the scene with shocked eyes.
"Oh my God, Scott, are you okay?" Detective Greenspan dropped down on one knee beside him and produced a couple of tissues, which she used to dab at the blood that was dripping down over his mouth. "What the hell did you do, you idiot?" she muttered under her breath angrily.
"I'LL tell you what he did," exclaimed Mrs. Abrams indignantly. "I've never seen such unprofessional behavior in my life! You'll all be lucky if that girl's aunt doesn't sue! He harassed and badgered her until she was all but ready to say she committed murder just to make him stop. And that one there - " she pointed accusingly at Dee - "gave THIS one a bloody nose, while making liberal use of the most appalling language I've ever heard! My goodness, I thought the table was going to come down on all of us. It was like being trapped in a cage with a couple of wild animals!"
A small crowd had gathered and necks were craning to see what had happened. Ryo felt a small, determined hand pressing against his arm; he looked down and saw that it belonged to Janet. With her usual unerring nose for gossip and scandal, she had managed to be the first on the scene. But in the next moment he was glad of her presence because there she was, soothing and comforting Mrs. Abrams, sympathizing with her frightening experience and making offers of tea and a quiet place to catch her breath. Drake was there too, loudly asking everyone to move back and give them all some space. Ryo's eyes met Dee's across the short distance that separated them. Dee had just caused a scene and had evidently punched out one of their guests from the 99th Precinct. But judging from Carol's tears as well as Mrs. Abrams' outraged account of events, it appeared there may have been some justification. He saw that Dee seemed to be swaying slightly on his feet and his hand was once more on his left side where there was still a bandage covering his injury. Ryo stepped forward quickly and put a hand under his arm.
"Are you gonna faint?" he asked quietly.
"No, no, don't worry," Dee replied. "I just got a little lightheaded when I got up to teach that sonofabitch a lesson, that's all, and now I've got a totally bitchin' headache. And Ryo?"
"I think I may have popped another stitch."
Ryo shook his head. "Dammit, Dee. Couldn't you go just ONE day without having to punch someone out?"
"Dude, I promise I won't punch anyone out tomorrow. Now get me the hell outta here. Please?"
In all the confusion, no one noticed right away that Bikky and Carol had disappeared.
End of chapter 32
Additional author's notes: Most people probably don't have any real degree of interest in whether or not Ryo needed a warrant to get Abernathy's phone records, but I did a fair bit of research on the topic. I learned that legally, there is a big difference between 'records' and 'content'. Content is considered private, but stored records are not. LEOs can ask phone companies to let them look at billing records without going through the warrant process, and that the phone companies can then say yes or no. The individual whose records were given out can then, if he wishes, sue the telephone provider, but a lot of people have lost such lawsuits because the stored records of such service providers are not deemed private under the Fourth Amendment.
I want to emphasize that I am by no means an expert! If anyone would like to see the address of the websites I obtained this info from, then I'll be happy to post them.
Thanks for reading!