Fake First Year together: A New Day (May)
Pairing: Dee/ Ryo
Rating: Um... 'Mature', I guess. Read on to find out how mature.
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 and Scott Saunders are mine, however)
Author's notes: For those who perhaps don't remember, at the end of chapter 23, I mentioned that Dee had received an earlier concussion in the prequel to this story. Even one concussion is serious, but two, especially within a relatively short period of time can be quite dangerous. Also, I have chosen 'O'Neill' for Ted's last name because that's his name in the RPG Fake Second Chances, which you may remember me gushing about in these pages before. I just adore that character. He always makes me laugh! (Kudos to Ted's player) I have received permission to use that name, but I just want to make it clear that it's not canon. Sanami Matoh has not, thus far, given Ted a last name.
Thank you to Mtemplar for her most welcome beta-help.
Ryo was able to get Dee back to their shared office, but their peace was short-lived. He had no sooner gotten Dee settled into his chair than Ted appeared, sounding slightly out of breath.
"All hell's breaking loose down there, guys," he informed them. "The Chief is busy raking your guests from Queens over the coals in his office and next he's gonna talk to that woman from Child Services. He told me to tell you not to go anywhere."
"But Dee needs medical attention!" Ryo protested.
"So does that surly-looking bastard from the 99th. He's actually got blood all over his shirt, but the chief won't let him go until he's done with him, either."
"Dee's condition is more serious. He's on his second concussion in six weeks!"
"Let me put it another way. Chief said you guys were not to leave the building on pain of being busted down to traffic for two weeks."
Dee spoke. "He's bluffing. We're too busy right now. The department can't spare us."
"I don't think he's bluffing," Ryo said. "He'll just wait until things settle down and then we'll find ourselves back in uniform in the dog days of summer when there are holes in the traffic beat roster due to vacations. He's done it before. Remember?"
"Aw shit, you're right. Ryo, can I borrow your water bottle? I gotta take something." Dee scowled as he struggled with the childproof lid of his pain medication.
Ryo handed over his half-full bottle of Dasani, and held out his hand for the pill container, which he opened for him.
"Ted, can you do me a favor?" he asked. "Can you go find Bikky and his friend Carol? They were both pretty upset about the questioning session, and I lost sight of them after all those people crowded in."
"Yeah, sure. Should I bring them up here?"
"Yes, please. But take them past the vending machine first and pick up some soda and chips." Ryo handed Ted a ten-dollar bill. "Let them choose what they want."
"Okay, I'll be as quick as I can. And if the Chief calls you guys onto the carpet before I get back, I'll keep 'em busy."
"Thanks, man. I owe you one." Ryo smiled at him, relieved. Ted was good with kids, probably because he was like a big kid himself. If anyone could get Bikky and Carol laughing again, it was Ted.
Dee sat at his desk with his head pillowed in his arms and ignored the ringing phone. Ryo ignored it too, because he was on his own phone trying to call Bikky's cell for the third time. There was no answer. Either Bikky couldn't hear it ringing, or he didn't want to talk to him. Ryo suspected it was the latter. He knew Bikky was angry with him for withholding the information that he and Carol had unknowingly been communicating with the murderer, but there had been several good reasons for not telling him. First of all, it was the policy of every police force in the country that its members did not go home and discuss confidential cases with their family or friends. Secondly, he knew that Lieutenant Abernathy had already planted the suspicion in Detective Greenspan's mind that Bikky was somehow involved with the murder. Ryo had wanted her to see the genuine surprise on the kids faces when they learned that there was no Cindy. He also hadn't wanted them to go into their questioning session already believing that they were murder suspects. It was preposterous that anyone could believe that those two kids had participated in the set-up and murder of their friend. But it seemed that Detective Saunders, at least, seemed to think so, and how had he gotten that idea, if not from Detective Greenspan? He began to think he had made a mistake in not retaining a lawyer for Bikky from the beginning. Carol probably needed a lawyer too. He wondered if her Aunt Elina could afford it.
He turned around and looked at Dee with concern. "Dee? Are you feeling any better?"
Dee just grunted in response.
"If the Chief hasn't called us in five minutes, I'm asking Drake to take you to a clinic, no matter what. This isn't right."
"Ryo, don't worry." Dee's voice was muffled by the crook of his arm. "I'm a tough guy, don't forget. This is only pain. I can handle a little pain."
Just then, Janet arrived at their door. "Don't you guys answer your phone? The Chief wants to see you right now."
They followed her down to the first floor, only half listening as she filled the short trip downstairs with light chatter about what had been going on in their brief absence. Halfway down the stairs, they met Detective Linda Ehrman, a tough talking veteran from Narcotics, whose eyes lit up at the sight of Dee. "Good on ya, Dee! You showed that bastard," she said approvingly, and gave him a high five.
Dee managed to summon up a cocky grin. "Gonna pay for it now, though."
"Good luck, buddy." She thumped him on the shoulder and continued on her way.
Janet knocked on the Chief's door, and then opened it for them at his response. As they entered, Detectives Greenspan and Saunders glanced up, looking apologetic and sullen, respectively.
The Chief took one look at the pallor of Dee's complexion and ordered Detective Greenspan out of her chair. Dee protested that he was fine, but the Chief told him to shut up and sit down.
"I'm trying to get to the bottom of the little circus you people have created in the 27th this afternoon," he growled. "Laytner, am I to understand that you're responsible for Detective Saunders' condition?"
"I'm responsible for his bloody nose, sir, which he totally deserved, but I'm not responsible for whatever pre-existing brain damage that he arrived here with."
"Can it! You ain't here to waste my time with insults; you're here so we can put this matter to bed as quietly as possible. Now Detective Saunders here, under some prodding from Sergeant Fedorov at the 99th, has admitted that he may be partially at fault in this matter and indicates that he's willing to apologize. You are gonna do the same, do you understand me? Neither precinct wants a departmental inquiry. We're gonna call it a misunderstanding."
"What the hell? I have to apologize when the precinct could potentially be sued by Carol's aunt because of the unprofessionalism of this---"
"I said quiet! Damn right you're gonna apologize, and you'd better do it quickly because you look almost as bad as he does, and I think you'd both better go see a doctor ASAP."
"You mean if I apologize, I can get the hell out of here?"
The Chief raised his eyes to the ceiling and then brought them back to Dee with promises of death, destruction and demotion in them.
"Okay, okay," Dee said hastily. "I'll apologize." He turned to Detective Saunders and offered him his hand. "I'm sorry that your scuzzball behavior made it necessary for me to--"
"DEE!" roared the Chief. Dee winced and clutched his head.
"Come on, hurry up and do it," Ryo muttered. "I need to go talk to Bikky."
Dee heaved a sigh of defeat and turned once again to Detective Saunders. This time he didn't offer his hand. "I apologize for hitting you," he said simply.
"Accepted," mumbled Detective Saunders, flushing. "I apologize too, for screwing up the questioning." Detective Greenspan nodded approvingly.
"Shake, boys," said the Chief in warning tones, and they obeyed with a lackluster handshake accompanied by a lack of eye contact.
"Okay, now I wanna talk to those kids," said the Chief. "Where are they?"
Ryo was just opening his mouth to reply, when someone knocked loudly on the door.
"Come in," called the Chief, and Ted entered looking worried. JJ stood just behind him in the open doorway.
"It's Ryo's kid, sir. He's not in the building, and neither is the girl. Marianne said she saw a couple of kids matching their descriptions hurrying past the front desk about half an hour ago."
"Shit!" exclaimed Ryo and the Chief in unison. The Chief recovered first. "Randy, go find him. Take O'Neill with you." He rounded on the two Queens Detectives, and added, "You two had better hope that we find those kids safe and sound. Right now they're running around thinking that they're gonna get charged with murder, thanks to one of the clumsiest and most inefficiently-conducted questioning sessions I've ever heard of."
Detective Greenspan spoke up quickly. "Lieutenant Smith, I would be happy to assist Detective MacLean in locating his son---"
"Forget it," snapped the Chief. "You're one of the bad guys, remember? If he sees you, he'll just hide. The best thing you can do is take your partner here to see a doctor."
"He's not my partner," Detective Greenspan replied quickly, with a venomous glance at her colleague, who sank slightly lower in his chair, the frown on his face more pronounced than it had been before. "My partner will be back on Thursday, thank God."
"Yes, well, both of you get out of here and back to your own business. I'll notify Sergeant Fedorov that apologies have been exchanged. I expect a follow-up tomorrow in writing. You too, Dee. A written apology, and don't make MacLean write it for you!"
"Yes, sir." Dee got to his feet and swayed a little as he did so. This was not lost on the Chief.
"Adams!" he barked. "Take Laytner to the nearest clinic, then take him home."
"Wha--?" Dee looked in horror from the Chief to JJ and back again. He could have sworn that there was the faintest hint of retributory amusement on the Chief's face. He turned to Ryo, seeking support. "Ryo, I'm fine. Tell them!"
"No, you are not fine. Go with JJ and get your injury looked at. I'll call you later." Ryo turned away, looking distracted, and left the room with Ted.
"Come on, Mr. Perfect," said JJ happily. "I'll take care of you. We'll go to the clinic and then I'll cook you a nice dinner later, and clean your apartment for you, too!"
"Oh, Jesus..." Dee groaned. "I need a goddamned cigarette or five."
While Ted drove, Ryo was forced to call Carol's aunt and tell her what had happened. As he had expected, she was very upset and angry. He apologized several times and assured her that he and Ted would do their utmost to find Carol and bring her home safely. He also advised her to retain a lawyer for Carol as quickly as possible, and supplied her with a few names. Then he and Ted drove around to all Bikky's known favorite haunts in an ultimately fruitless effort to find the missing pair. Ryo called all of his foster son's friends' houses and spoke to a couple of parents who agreed to call him back if they saw Bikky, but mostly he just got answering machines. Most of Bikky's friends had working parents.
As seven o'clock began to approach, Ryo became more and more worried. Ted gave him a sympathetic look.
"Why don't you go home for a bit?" he suggested. "The kid might well be there, but just not answering the phone. I'll keep looking for him."
"Home!" Ryo exclaimed. "Why didn't I think of that? Maybe he's there, waiting for me. Maybe he's...doing his homework." He shook his head, frowning at his own briefly-raised hopes. "Oh, who am I kidding? He's pissed off at me. Home is the last place he'd go."
"Come on, let's give it a try. A wounded fox always returns to its den, or so they say. If he's not there, we can go right back out again, okay?"
Ryo agreed and let Ted drive him home. He unlocked the door of his apartment and preceded Ted inside, calling, "Bikky! Are you home?"
His only reply was silence, but the light was on in the bathroom and there was a mess in the kitchen, which hadn't been there when he left this morning, and that was a promising sign. This was perhaps the first time he could recall ever being happy to find a mess waiting for him in the kitchen.
"He's been here," he said to Ted. Further investigation revealed a note taped to the kettle that read, 'Ryo, I'm mad at you and I'm not coming home tonight. I'm staying over at Carols. Don't call me because I don't want to talk to you right now. CU 2morrow.'
Ryo turned to Ted, relieved, and showed him the note.
"See, what did I tell ya?" Ted grinned happily and punched Ryo's arm, but stopped grinning when he saw Ryo wince. "Hey...sorry. Did I hurt you?"
"No, no, it's okay," Ryo said, embarrassed. "I went back to Karate last night for the first time in months, and I just happen to have a bruise there, that's all."
"You went back to Karate, huh? Good for you! I didn't actually know you'd stopped. Hard to get back into a sport when you've taken a break from it, huh?"
"Yeah," Ryo agreed, his mind on other things, such as lawyers, funerals, and whether or not Bikky would still be upset with him tomorrow. He started gathering up Bikky's dirty plates and peanut butter and jam-covered knives and then put the pile in the sink. He glanced at Ted, feeling he should offer him something, but also wanting to be alone so he could think.
Ted seemed to understand. "Well, Ryo, if you don't need me anymore, I guess the Badger would probably like me to come back to the Precinct."
"Ted, thanks for helping me look for Bikky. " Ryo smiled at him. "I appreciate it, and normally I'd ask you to stay, but I think I'd better start phoning back all those people I worried."
Ted turned to go. "No problem, man. I'm on the clock anyhoo. I'm glad it ended well. Are you gonna call Dee? Last time I saw him, JJ was about to drag him off to a clinic. The Chief sure spanked him with that one, huh? JJ's probably giving him a sponge bath round about now! See you tomorrow afternoon." He snickered at his own wit and exited Ryo's apartment, but not before he had seen a most interesting expression flit across Ryo's handsome face. What had it been? Jealousy? Yeah. But not just jealousy...It had been mixed with something else. Ted grinned to himself as he jogged lightly down the stairs. Could it be that Dee's unrelenting attempts to make his partner fall for him were finally paying off? He'd have to remember to watch the two of them together a little more carefully the next time he had an opportunity.
It took a lot of effort and persistence, but Dee finally got JJ out of his apartment. It was a good thing too, because hardly two minutes had elapsed before Ryo phoned him.
"Yeah, it's me. Are you free to talk?"
"Why wouldn't I be free to talk?"
"Well...I thought JJ might be giving you a sponge bath or something." Ryo was trying to sound light-hearted, but Dee wasn't fooled.
"Oh, he certainly TRIED," he said, laughing. "But I locked the bathroom door in his face, so he settled for cleaning up my apartment instead."
"You shouldn't be using JJ like that," Ryo said disapprovingly.
"You know that guy has a mind of his own. Besides, he likes doing stuff for me. I find the best way to manage him is to give him an outlet for his energy. The way I see it, as long as he's cleaning up my kitchen, his hands are too busy to be trying to grab me."
There was a brief silence at the other end of the phone line, which made Dee wonder if he had perhaps gone too far. He wanted Ryo to be jealous, but not mad at him. "Ryo?"
"Yeah, I'm here. Is JJ gone then?"
"All gone, thank God. I'm alone with my TV. Hey, any news on the monkey brat?"
"NOW you ask."
"Hey, I knew he was all right the minute you mentioned the sponge bath! You wouldn't have been joking if he was still missing."
"True," Ryo conceded. "He's staying over at Carol's place. Her aunt confirmed it for me. He refuses to speak to me because he says he's mad at me." He sighed dejectedly, thinking Super-Dad strikes again.
"He'll forgive you eventually."
"I hope so. But right now he feels like I betrayed him. I hope someday he'll be able to understand that I couldn't give him case information. Plus, I wanted Detectives Greenspan and Saunders to see real surprise in the kids' faces when they told them the bad news. Unless some more evidence turns up, Bikky and Carol seem to be the main suspects right now."
"No cop in his right mind would think those two had anything to do with the murder."
"You'd be surprised. A significant percentage of the murders that are committed in New York annually are by minors."
"Yeah, but those are kids that are usually involved in gangs. All anyone has to do is look at Bikky and Carol to realize that they're good kids."
"Well, that's what I thought too, but the way Detective Saunders handled the questioning today made me think again. So I called Lindsay Masters. I should've done it earlier. I guess I had too much faith."
"Lindsay Masters? The attack dog? Can you afford him?"
"Probably not, but I really think it's time Bikky had a lawyer. I talked to Elina about it and we decided that Lindsay is going to represent Carol too, and Elina will pay what she can to help me out."
"Aw, baby. That fucking Abernathy. HE'S the cause of all this trouble. If he hadn't gone and dropped false hints to that little airhead, Bikky and Carol would be out of it by now. God, I wish I could just snap Abernathy's neck for him!"
"Yeah, but then you'd pop the last of your stitches and have to go back to hospital for a week!"
"OH, that reminds me," said Dee. "Good news. I didn't pop a stitch, after all. It just felt like it at the time. But my injury is itching like a sonofabitch. I really wish I had something -- or someone-- to help me take my mind off it..." He ended on a provocative note, but Ryo didn't take the bait, at least not the way he had hoped.
"Oh yeah? Maybe I should fax you these phone records I'm working on. That'll give you something to do."
"That's not exactly what I had in mind."
"I know. You never have paperwork in mind."
Dee tried a new tack. "Hey, how are your muscles? Aren't you feeling a little sore from Karate?"
"Yeah," Ryo sounded surprised. "How did you know that? I don't remember telling you."
"I have a confession to make. Ted phoned me earlier and told me that the brats were okay. He also mentioned that your muscles were sore."
"Hmm...I wonder why he wanted to tell you that?" Ryo sounded slightly suspicious.
"Who cares? The point is that you should be here, letting me massage all the stiffness out of those sexy muscles of yours. Well, most of 'em anyway. We'll leave the stiffness in one of them...just in case."
"Dee! How can you think about sex at a time like this?"
"Who said sex? Not me! I was talking about a massage."
"Hmph," said Ryo. He wasn't about to admit how appealing a massage sounded. But he knew how it would end, and he really did want to get his paperwork done.
As if he had read his partner's mind, Dee said, "Hey, if you come over here with those phone records you were talking about, I promise to put in an hour on them if you let me give you a massage after. How about that?"
"Really?" Ryo sounded tempted for a moment, but then he sighed. "No, Dee. I really should stay here. What if Bikky calls?"
"The brat's not gonna call. He's in a snit, remember?"
"Yeah, but he might need something."
"Okay, I'll come over there. Same deal. An hour of paperwork, followed by a massage. Whaddaya say?"
"What kind of massage? A 'starter massage'?"
"Huh?" said Dee. I don't know what you're talking about, but I'll give you whatever kind of massage you want."
"I can't believe you forgot," said Ryo, slightly exasperated. "A couple of weeks ago after we caught Bikky almost buying drugs from Eddie, you offered to give me a 'starter massage'. But it never happened because first my aunt called, and then I started cooking dinner, and then you left."
"Oh yeah," said Dee. "I remember now. Is that what you want? A starter massage?"
"Well, I don't know." Ryo was starting to sound a little shy. "You never did tell me what a starter massage was."
"Really? How about I show you," Dee said.
"I don't know...what do I have to do?" Ryo was wary.
"Don't worry dude. You can keep your pants on. You just take your shirt off and lie down on the bed."
"Does this massage involve oil? Because my sheets are new."
"Nope. No oil in the starter massage."
Ryo still hesitated.
"What's wrong, babe? This is a real innocent massage. No reason to be all nervous and mistrustful, you know."
"I just know from experience that whenever you say the word 'innocent', it means I should be extra vigilant!"
"Look, you're the one who said that all your muscles were sore from your first Karate class after a two-month break. Now, because I don't like to think of my baby having sore muscles, I'm willing to massage all the pain and tightness out of them. And you know why? Although some people think I'm a letch, I just happen to be an all-round nice guy and totally devoted boyfriend." Dee did his best to sound indignant, although the big grin on his face was probably detectable in his voice and therefore working against him.
"Well, what I'd like to know is what EXACTLY is going to happen during this, er, 'starter' massage?" Ryo could feel each moment that passed taking him closer and closer toward an inevitable sexual encounter with Dee. But he couldn't stop the slow slide. Nor did he want to, he realized, as his hand brushed unconsciously against his semi-erect penis. He wanted Dee. He was hungry for him all the time nowadays. Besides, his apartment was feeling rather empty and lonely tonight with both Dee and Bikky absent from it.
"Okay," said Dee, "Here's the blow by blow. You take off your shirt and lie down on the bed. I straddle your sexy ass and work all the knots of tension out of your back and shoulders. You keep your pants on the whole time. That's it. Innocent enough for you?"
"Um...Are there any other...less innocent massages on the menu?"
There was a stunned silence on the other end of the line for a moment. Then Dee's voice came back on, speaking urgently.
"Baby, stay right where you are. I'll be over in twenty minutes --no, fifteen-- to tell you all about the rest of the menu in person!" There was a click, and Dee was gone. Ryo looked at the phone in surprise.
"Now you've done it," he muttered to himself. His penis gave an answering twitch. "Behave yourself," he said sternly to it.
He was sure that if it had a voice, it would be laughing at him.
Detective Shaver knocked on the door of the cozy apartment he had once shared with Sheila and Kevin. He heard Sheila's voice saying, "Your dad's here. Go let him in, wouldya?" This was followed by the sound of running feet, and then Kevin was wrenching open the door and looking up at him excitedly.
"Dad! Come on in! Are you hungry? We have leftover chicken. You want some?" He flung his arms around his father and didn't notice when Ned sucked in a sharp breath. His body was still in a lot of pain, and Kevin's enthusiastic hug had just woken up several sleeping bruises. But even so, he would never have preferred to do without the hug.
"Dad, if you eat some chicken, you gotta promise me you'll eat all the broccoli, okay?" Kevin whispered these words conspiratorially into his ear and Detective Shaver chuckled.
"It depends on your mom," he said, and tapped Kevin's nose with his finger.
"Well don't stand in the doorway bothering the neighbors," Sheila called out from where she was in the kitchen. "Come inside and close the door, already."
Ned sighed. "Okay, Sheila." His ex-wife sounded perpetually put-upon, as if everything about life irritated her. It's probably just everything about me, he thought to himself, as he sat down at the dinette table and rested his arms on the familiar white and blue tablecloth that her mother had given them for a wedding present.
"Kevin, did you lock the door?"
"Yeah, Mom. Dad says he's hungry. Can we give him some dinner?"
Sheila appeared, a slightly overweight blonde with dark roots and lines of worry in her tired face. She gave Ned a piercing look. "Is that so?"
"Well, uh..." He was about to say he wasn't hungry just to keep his pride intact, but he could see Kevin looking at him pleadingly from the corner of his eye. "Maybe just a little..."
Sheila looked him over with her hand on her hip. "When was the last time you ate a decent meal?"
He hesitated because he honestly couldn't remember.
"I thought so," she said and turned back to the kitchen. "I'll heat up some leftovers for you. Honestly, Ned, I don't know how you survive. You gotta take better care of yourself. I hope you can handle broccoli," she added.
Again, Detective Shaver hesitated. He actually did like broccoli, but not the way Sheila cooked it. Kevin nudged his arm urgently and raised his eyebrows at him, so he called out, "Broccoli's fine."
While Sheila banged about in the kitchen, Kevin proudly showed him his social studies test with the big red 'A' on it, and chattered away about what he was learning in school. Detective Shaver listened to him fondly, fighting back the sadness in his heart. He sure hoped things would go well on Wednesday night. His job was a risky one, but he had never in his life felt so close to death, not even the time he had hit his head during a Navy SEAL diving mission. He suddenly couldn't stand the thought of never seeing Kevin again.
He ate the food Sheila set in front of him and said yes to her offer of peach-apricot tea and sugar cookies for afterward. Kevin made notes in his science book, and Sheila watched her ex-husband speculatively. "You look terrible," she remarked. "You get run over by a truck or something?"
He shook his head dismissively, but didn't answer. His eyes flickered to Kevin and back to her. "This broccoli is really good," he said. "Could I have a little more?" He didn't have to turn his head to know that Kevin was grinning into his homework.
"Sure," said Sheila, taking his plate to the kitchen. She returned with an extra helping of the overcooked green mush that had once been a proud member of the cruciferous vegetable family. "You might as well finish it off."
"Thank you," said Ned, trying to look pleased as he brought a forkful up to his mouth.
"Kevin, honey," Sheila said. "Could you please go into my bedroom and get me my pink shawl? I'm feeling kind of cold. I think it's on my bed."
"Sure, Mom." He scampered off to the bedroom, happy to oblige. He loved having both his parents with him, especially when they weren't fighting. His dad had been here for at least half an hour and they hadn't started screaming yet. He allowed himself to fall into his favorite fantasy, the one where his parents realized that they didn't want to fight anymore and that they missed each other, so they got back together again.
As soon as he was out of the room, Sheila looked at Ned. "What's going on? Are you in some kind of trouble?"
"Yeah," he said, looking down at where his big fingers rested on the handle of his cup.
"Should I worry?"
He took a slow swallow of his tea while he thought what to say. Finally, he shook his head. "No," he said. "I'll find a way out of this. And even if worse comes to worst, you'll get my pension. There's insurance money, too. Good thing we never officially divorced, huh?"
"Ned!" she hissed, distressed. "How can you think I'd be happy if- if-"
She was interrupted by Kevin's voice calling out, "Mom! It's not on the bed."
"Try the laundry hamper, honey," she replied, and then turned her attention back to Ned. "Is it that bad? Can't you ask for help?"
"My job has gotten more complicated recently," he told her. "I'm working with some very dangerous people. But hey, if it's not my time to go, then I have nothing to worry about, right?"
She reached out and squeezed his hand. "Take care of yourself, Ned. I know I'm...not always very patient with you, but I don't want anything bad to happen to you."
Neither saw Kevin peeping ecstatically out of the bedroom at them. The boy was thrilled to see his mom and dad actually holding hands!
"Thank you," Ned said, squeezing back and feeling oddly touched. They sat for a moment like that with so many unsaid things hanging in the silence between them while the radio played softly in the corner and Kevin rustled around in the bedroom. But finally, Ned broke the spell.
"Look, I gotta get going," he said, standing up. "I still got a couple of things to do tonight. I just wanted to make sure you got the fertilizer and soil for your gardening project. I'm real sorry I couldn't bring the planter. I'm just not up to lifting anything heavy right now."
"That's all right," Sheila said waving a hand. "If you're feeling up to it on the weekend, you can bring it then when you take Kevin to his softball practice."
"Okay," he said and gave her a little grimace that skated cautiously close to smile territory. "Kevin! Come say good night. I'm leaving now."
"What, already?" Kevin came running out of the bedroom holding a pink shawl. "But you just got here!"
"Sorry, buddy, I told you I could only stay a short time."
"Oh, Ned," said Sheila, "Could you please do me a favor?"
"What is it?" he asked, hoping it didn't involve money.
She indicated Kevin's bicycle, propped up against the wall by the door. "One of his tires is flat. We tried filling it with air, but it didn't stay pumped up. It's got a leak somewhere. Could you get it fixed, please? At that cheap place in the Bronx? Anderson's Cycles wanted an arm and a leg, but I called Emil's Wheels over by where you live, and they quoted a way better price."
Shaver looked doubtful. "I dunno, Sheila. I'm gonna be so busy the next few days...I might not be able to get to it for a while."
"But it's Kevin's transportation to school," she insisted, some of the friendliness going out of her voice. "For the last couple of days he's had to walk, and I have to walk with him. It's making mornings more difficult around here."
"Okay, okay, I'll see what I can do," Ned said quickly, not wanting to end the evening with a fight. It was easy to get along with Sheila provided one did everything she said. He opened the apartment door and put the bike out in the hallway, which made Kevin think he was leaving right then.
"Dad!" he said anxiously. "Aren't you going to give me a hug?"
"Of course I am, Kev," said Shaver reassuringly, turning back and holding out his arms. Kevin hurried forward and hugged him with all of his strength. "Did you eat it all?" he whispered.
"Every bite," Shaver whispered back, even though he felt like his ribs were going to crack. His boy was a lot stronger than he looked. "Love you, kid."
"Love you too, Dad. Thanks for eating the broccoli! That was reeeeally nice of you." He hugged his father again, and this time the pain rose to such an acute level that Sheila noticed it on Ned's face and took pity on him.
"Come on Kevin, let your father go. See you on the weekend, Ned."
He nodded and squeezed her hand again, before walking slowly down the hallway with Kevin's bike. Every footstep caused pain from his recent beating to reverberate in his muscles and bones. He could still feel the bittersweet ache of his son's embrace, although it was already fading. By the time he reached the end of the hall, the feeling of Kevin's arms about him had been overcome by the cramps in his gut and torment of having to put his weight on his injured right knee. He pressed the elevator button and it opened right away. He turned back then, although he had promised himself he wouldn't, and waved to the woman and child watching him from their open apartment door. Kevin waved back; Sheila didn't, and Shaver was glad when the elevator door slid closed and allowed him to slump against the wall, his face crumpling in sorrow.
There was a knock at the door, Dee's knock: one soft rap followed by a loud one. Ryo felt a flutter of butterflies in his stomach at that familiar sound. He looked at his watch. It had been only sixteen minutes since his partner had abruptly hung up on him. Dee must have gotten lucky with parking.
He opened the door with a smile on his face, but he knew it must be an idiotic smile because he was just so happy to see his lover that he couldn't be calm or aloof. He felt simultaneously self-conscious and excited. He couldn't wait for Dee to touch him. "You're late!" he said.
"Am not. Come here." Dee closed the door and pulled Ryo into his arms. When he felt Ryo melt against him, it caused tingles of electricity to run down his legs. Ryo was hot for his body, ripe for seduction, willing to get physical with him; he had known it when he hung up the phone. Now all he had to do was make him forget about the paperwork.
"Dee, that's enough, time to let go." Ryo was struggling a bit, but not very hard. "We have to---"
"Give me a kiss first."
"Okay." Ryo quickly kissed his lips and then pulled back out of his arms.
"Oh no you don't." Shaking his head, Dee advanced on Ryo, who didn't manage to back away very far before Dee caught him. "Don't kiss me like that," Dee breathed, sliding a hand around Ryo's neck and bringing it up under his jaw. "Kiss me like this...."
When Ryo felt Dee's spearmint-scented mouth come down on his, his lips parted of their own volition and he moaned in hopeless surrender. Not only did Dee seem to prefer seduction to paperwork, but his own body, which appeared to be on Dee's side about the seduction issue, was betraying him. His lover's tongue was in his mouth, warm, wet and mobile, flicking against his, demanding a response that Ryo had no power to withhold. He kissed Dee back with everything he had, conscious of being swept out to sea by his mounting desire for the lean, muscular man in his arms.
Dee lifted his mouth off Ryo's long enough to nip at his lips and gasp, "You're so fucking hot, baby, so sexy-sweet. Jesus, I want you." He returned to his lover's sensual mouth and held him close while he kissed him again, slowly rubbing his hard masculine body against Ryo's. He felt his breath catch when their erections bumped against each other. "Let me make you feel good."
Ryo arched his throat in invitation, and Dee took the opportunity to bite, kiss and suck it gently, being careful not to leave marks. The sensations were making Ryo moan and squirm against him. Ryo's neck was a major erogenous zone for him, a fact that Dee had discovered quite early in their relationship, and had then exploited whenever he got the chance.
Ryo opened his eyes to discover that they were on the threshold of the bedroom - Dee had been slowly nudging him in that direction ever since he had entered the apartment. One of his hands shot out and gripped the doorjamb in a last-ditch effort to regain control of the evening. "Dee," he managed to groan in a voice that did not sound like his own at all. "Phone records! You promised!"
One of Dee's hands immediately fought its way between their bodies and caressed his penis. Ryo's body jolted with pleasurable sensation and his hand lost its grip on the doorjamb. The next thing he knew, he was on his back on the bed and Dee was kneeling astride his knees, unzipping his fly and pushing his tee-shirt up out of the way. He could hear Dee's voice, slightly muffled, as he spoke in between pressing hot kisses to Ryo's flat belly and well-defined chest.
"Got - Got a plan, baby." He bit gently at one of Ryo's nipples and sucked it briefly into his mouth. "First, sex. We can't do... paperwork in this condition." He began working on the other nipple, causing Ryo to cry out softly in response and caress Dee's hair. "After sex...kiss me...mmmm...after sex, paperwork. One hour, okay?"
"Okay," said Ryo, raising his arms above his head so that Dee could pull off his tee-shirt. Dee tossed the shirt on the floor and returned his attention to Ryo's neck and chest.
"After paperwork...massage! Okay?" Dee raised his head and looked into Ryo's eyes. Ryo nodded and started trying to undo Dee's shirt buttons. He got his hand inside Dee's shirt and began playing with his lover's nipples, the way Dee had done so many times to him. Dee closed his eyes and let Ryo do it, resting his hand lightly on his partner's wrist, lips parted as he panted in pleasure.
"Oh sweetheart, you're going to kill me. I am going to fucking explode..."
"And after the massage?" Ryo whispered.
Dee grinned at him, looking incredibly handsome in the half-light. "More sex, of course," he whispered back and bent his head for another luscious kiss.
End of chapter 33
Author's notes: I bet you guys are just dying to know whether they ever get around to that paperwork!
Is anyone confused about the timing and what day it is, etc? This chapter ended on Tuesday night. Monday night was when Dee went out fund-raising with Bikky, while Ryo went to Karate. The Friday night prior to that was when Dee got shot. Tomorrow is Wednesday, and the next day is Thursday, which is the day of the funeral. The next chapter will either open on Wednesday in the daytime, or will continue from where we left off.