My hips still hurt, but less now. My father and I are going off presently to look at a lawnmower. My hubby is asleep, having worked three back to back shifts at two jobs, poor thing. I don't know where the cat is. Probably hanging out downstairs with my dad. Anyhow, enough of the me-details. It's story-time.
Fake First Year together: A New Day (May)
by Brit Columbia
Pairing: Dee/ Ryo
Rating: Worksafe. There's always swearing, however.
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 Shaver, Mitchell and Palmer are mine, however, along with Officer Vic Bhalla, the tech guy. All the bad guys are mine too.
Author's notes: TARU stands for Technical Assistance Response Unit. OPP is an acronym for Ontario Provincial Police. Detective Danes is Marty, who was only ever seen once in Sanami Matoh's Fake. I gave him a last name because I though he kind of needed one. And – here comes JJ! Please read and review.
Thank you to mtemplar and Moontatoo for beta-ing this chapter, and thanks to loki_the_fraud for finding the Brooklyn Navy Yard for me!
A New Day (May)
Ryo didn't relish being the one to have to tell the Chief that there was a mole at the 27th, but as he had never been one for procrastination, he went to see him as soon as he returned from taking Bikky and Carol to meet their lawyer. It was every bit as bad as he expected. The Chief raged and blustered, and even kicked one of the two guest chairs over. He told Ryo that he would talk to the Precinct commander about getting the names of anyone at the 27th who might have been investigated by IA in the last three years. However, they both knew that if there were any staff members who had been investigated at another precinct, even Captain Forsythe likely wouldn't be able to get that information.
"But the Commissioner could," Ryo had said. "He could request a list of names and cross reference it against the names of all 27th personnel who were on shift yesterday."
"Yeah, we could certainly set that in motion, Randy. But don't go kidding yourself that his secretary will get to that little make-work project in less than three weeks."
"Dammit, Chief, you know I'd be willing to do it, if I could."
"I know that Randy, but you and I don't have clearance. We just have to let it go and hope it doesn't take six weeks. It really burns me to think of that joker having an inside guy here in MY home precinct, though. We're all gonna have to be more careful from now on."
Ryo had left the Chief's office even more determined to catch Abernathy. He hated the fact that Abernathy, criminal that he was, could break the law whenever it suited him, whereas the police who wanted to catch him had to observe every nuance of protocol. Well, at least Detective Shaver seemed to be coming around. Ryo felt an urgent need to keep the man alive if he could.
On the stairs, he passed the diligent and dutiful Helen trudging down with her purse over her shoulder and her arms full of files, no doubt heading home to spend the evening working hard for the Commissioner. Seeing her caused the formation of an interesting but outrageous idea, which he considered for a moment, and then dismissed. But he found he couldn't let go of it so easily.
He sat in his office, brooding about it for the next half hour. His mind kept going back to his conversation with the Commissioner the day before, wherein he had been told that his integrity was too hard and unyielding. After going over the pros and cons a few more times, he finally decided to take a most uncharacteristic course of action. He couldn't help grinning a little as he headed back down the stairs. Whether his plan was a success or a failure, at least he would have the satisfaction of surprising the hell out of Dee.
The voice on the other end of the phone was deep and masculine, yet the extra-clear enunciation that was partially due to a privileged upbringing and partially, in Ryo's opinion, a bit of an affectation, tended to give it a vaguely cultured sound.
"Rose here. This had better be good."
"Sir, I'm sorry to disturb you," Ryo said, holding his cell phone lightly to his ear, "but this is really important."
"That's all well and good," the Commissioner said. "But to whom am I speaking?"
Ryo's mouth tightened in annoyance. He was sure the Commissioner knew very well who was calling him.
"It's me, sir... Ryo MacLean."
"Ah," said the Commissioner. "I can't tell you how delighted I am to be talking to 'Ryo' for a change, instead of that stuffy 'Detective' MacLean or even 'Randy' MacLean. What can I do for you, Ryo? I take it you perhaps need something from me?"
"Sir, we've had an important breakthrough. There's a big deal going down in Brooklyn tonight involving Corporate America and The Stone Bloods. Detective Shaver is an invited guest and he's willing to wear a wire."
"He is, is he? I'm delighted to hear that. I assume you thought better of your rather delightfully stubborn stance yesterday and said what you had to in order to get Shaver to cooperate?"
"No, sir," Ryo said firmly, hating the smugness in the Commissioner's voice. "He's willing to wear the wire anyway. He says this one is on him because he appreciates the fact that we were honest with him." He hoped that would give the Commissioner food for thought, but his hopes were immediately knocked flat.
"I'm disappointed, Ryo. If this is just a one-off, where will we be tomorrow? We have a lot of other work for Detective Shaver, don't forget. While I'm very happy to hear that Detective Danes, whom I'm guessing is lending you a hand in this pursuit, will be able to make a little progress on the work he's been doing with the 62nd Precinct in their investigation of Corporate America, I fail to understand how Detective Shaver's presence at this meeting tonight will be of assistance in the matter of your investigation of Lieutenant Abernathy."
"Shaver thinks the Dyre Street Devils are going to crash the party. According to our information, Lieutenant Abernathy is now working with the Devils."
"According to Shaver, you mean, who may or may not be telling the truth. However, let us proceed under the assumption that he is. Do you think Abernathy will be there tonight?"
"No, I don't. If the Devils attend the meeting, there'll be a shoot-out and there's no way Abernathy would let himself get mixed up in something like that. But he'll be nearby, though."
"Skulking?" The Commissioner's tone was sardonic, and Ryo rolled his eyes, trying to be patient.
"No sir. He'll be low-key, but he'll be there in his official capacity, probably with at least one of his detectives."
"Oh?" The Commissioner's voice had sharpened with interest at last.
"If anyone asks, he's following Detective Shaver," Ryo said, "A man whom he personally investigated and acquitted at the beginning of this year. Now he's 'wondering if he made a mistake', so he's doing an undercover investigation of him again. I bet you anything he has already cleared this with Chief Hennessy."
"How do you know this, Ryo?" The Commissioner asked in wondering tones.
"That's not important, sir," Ryo said, because he knew he could never explain to the Commissioner that he didn't know it for a fact, it was more that he knew it in his bones. "What's important is that Detective Shaver survives this meeting, come what may. You put me in charge of this case, and I've called up a surveillance van, some equipment and a team to assist. Marty's Brooklyn contacts are also bringing a van."
"Good work, Ryo. That's exactly what I would have expected you to do," said the Commissioner. "However, I'm still waiting to hear what it is that you want from me. I'm sure you didn't call me at home at almost eight p.m. just to give me a progress report."
"Sir, I really did want to give you a progress report, but you're right. There IS something I'm hoping you'll let me have."
"Well, tell me what it is, Ryo," said the Commissioner, and his voice dropped a note or two and took on that husky, slightly oily sound that made all Ryo's danger instincts come alive. He was glad he was across town from the Commissioner, because there was no way he could have said what he was about to say if he had been in the same room as the man.
The Commissioner continued. "You know how much I would enjoy meeting your needs, given the opportunity."
Ryo took the plunge. "Well, I'm glad to hear that sir, because I'm standing in your office and I'm looking at that vest you ordered from Pinnacle. I want it for Detective Shaver."
"You...You're in my office?"
Ryo was satisfied to note that he had never heard the Commissioner sounding quite so taken aback before.
"Yes, sir. And I'm in front of your open closet. That's a nice set of golf clubs you've got there, sir."
There was a brief silence from the other end of the line, during which Ryo wondered if he had gone too far, dared too much. If he had but known it, his bold move had aroused a grudging sense of admiration in the Commissioner's heart.
Every time Rose thought he had Ryo pegged, he went and did something charmingly unexpected like this. However, he hoped Ryo would refrain from searching through his personal belongings. There were one or two things in there that he would prefer no one knew about, especially Ryo.
"Ryo," he said in a deceptively mild voice. "I'm quite certain that I locked that closet."
"What can I say sir? It's not a very good lock. It yielded to persuasion." Ryo knew he was taking a huge chance by admitting that he had picked the lock to the Commissioner's personal closet, but his instincts told him that it was somehow going to be all right.
He was correct. He couldn't see it, of course, but the Commissioner's face was wearing an incredulous grin. He couldn't believe that Ryo was being honest with him about his transgression. Could it be that the beautiful detective was finally beginning to trust him just a little? If so, it wouldn't do to quash him, much as he hated the idea of that vest leaving his office. It was the best quality bullet-proof vest that money could buy and it had cost the 27th a pretty penny. If anything happened to it in tonight's operation, he wouldn't be able to easily get another one, at least not in this calendar year.
"Sir? Are you there?"
Commissioner Rose struggled with an urge to draw out the silence and thus cause Detective MacLean's confidence to start ebbing away. However, that wasn't really what he wanted, tempting though the thought might be.
"Yes, Ryo, I haven't gone anywhere." He sighed in a long-suffering way. "I'm just attempting to digest the information that one of my detectives, in fact the LAST detective I would have expected such behavior from, has illicitly entered my office and obtained totally unauthorized access to my personal closet. You surprise me, Ryo."
Ryo could hear the smile in the Commissioner's voice and he almost sighed with relief. That was a good sign. For once, he was also relieved that the Commissioner was still calling him Ryo, even though it normally bothered him that Rose addressed every other detective in the building as 'Detective' this or "Detective' that, but it was only Ryo that he singled out by his first name. And it particularly bothered him to be called 'Ryo', a name that he preferred to reserve for use by family and close friends. If the Commissioner absolutely had to address him by his first name, he would have preferred 'Randy', which was his non-Japanese name. But right now, it was significant that he was still 'Ryo'. What usually happened on those rare occasions where the Commissioner was displeased with him or otherwise in a bad mood, was that he would address him as 'Detective MacLean'. That hadn't happened on this occasion, so he guessed his job was safe for the time being.
"I didn't think anything could surprise you, sir."
"I'm only human, Ryo, a point I feel you sometimes forget."
"That's not true, sir. I've noticed you being quite fallibly human on a number of occasions." Ryo couldn't help grinning.
That elicited a laugh from the Commissioner. "Touche, touche. I don't know what's gotten into you tonight, Ryo, but it's most...intriguing."
"Sir, I'm just taking your advice and trying out the flexibility of my integrity, that's all. Oh, and I'm also all fired up about the case, as well. Now may I please borrow the vest?"
"May I ask what's wrong with the extremely expensive and high quality kevlar vests we recently paid twelve million dollars for? Shaver should have his own."
"He can't go home, sir. The Devils were following him right up until the point that Dee helped him go into hiding. They're probably waiting for him at his apartment in the Bronx. Dee and I thought about lending him one of ours, but even though Dee's and my vests are concealable under clothing, they aren't going to do the job. They'll stop .44 and .357 rounds from a distance of 15 feet, but if the Devils arrive, they'll be packing heavier ammo. Shaver is going in as NYPD undercover, so he's obligated to testify on the events of this evening. I want him back in one piece, and your Dragon is his best chance."
"Ryo..." The Commissioner sighed again. "If it were anyone else..."
"Does this mean you're letting me take the vest sir?" Ryo couldn't keep the excitement from his voice.
"Yes, you might as well take it. But I want it spotless when you return it. Make sure you wipe it down properly after Detective Shaver no doubt perspires in it during the arduous evening that awaits him."
"Thank you, sir. I'll take care of that."
"Bring it back to me personally, with breakfast and without Detective Laytner, at 0800 hours tomorrow. I'll expect a full report at that time."
Wondering how on earth he was going to explain that to Dee, Ryo paused briefly before he answered. "Yes, sir. Thank you for being so understanding about this."
"I'm a very understanding man, Ryo. I understand all sorts of things that would come as a surprise to those who think they know me. But you're most welcome and I look forward to our breakfast meeting tomorrow. I hope you'll be able to bring me good news."
"I hope so too, sir. Good night."
"Why does it have to be MY apartment?" JJ complained, rubbing at a ring left on his coffee table by someone's coffee cup. "You guys are making a mess! Ryo is the only one who bothered to wipe his feet, and I just got my carpets cleaned on Monday. You really ought to be doing this at the precinct."
"Sorry, JJ, but that's not - Did you say Ryo was here?" Dee swiveled his head around looking for his partner.
"Yeah, he's talking to those Brooklyn guys in the kitchen." JJ gestured with his cleaning cloth. "But back to me and my apartment, if you don't mind. Whose stupid idea was it to drag the whole dog and pony show here?"
"It was MY idea, and it's a fucking brilliant one, if I do say so myself. I mean, think about it. The precinct is really not an an option. This is a top-secret operation and if we take Shaver to the 27th, he might be seen by whoever that spy is. Ryo's place is out on account of the kid, and my place is out on account of the fact that the main guy we're after has done some checking on me and we can't take the chance that he might be having my place watched."
"Well, why not Drake's place or Ted's place?" JJ started working on a sticky patch on the arm of his leather armchair where someone had spilled some cream and sugar.
"You've seen Ted's place. It's only slightly bigger than our gear lockers. And Drake has a date tonight, so we can't go to his place. Besides your apartment is bigger than everyone else's and we have to fit quite a few guys in here tonight, plus equipment."
JJ turned shocked eyes toward Dee and his hand paused mid-wipe. "Drake has a date tonight?"
"Yeah, didn't he tell you?"
"Obviously not!" JJ had gone from mildly peeved to seriously pissy in the space of about fifteen seconds. "How on earth did Drake get a date? I --I mean, aren't we all supposed to be gay?"
"I believe there was some begging involved," said Marty, who had just walked up to them. "Dee, we're ready to--"
"Wait a minute! Do you mean to tell me that Marty knows about this date of Drake's too? Does everyone know except me?"
"Uhh, JJ, let's talk about this later, okay?"
"No, it is not friggin' okay! I want to know who it is! Is it anyone I know? And this date had just better be with a woman..."
"A woman?" Dee asked, and he and Marty looked at each other open-mouthed. He could tell that even Marty thought that was an odd thing for JJ to have said. "Do you know something about Drake that we don't?"
"Come on," said Marty. "Drake's as straight as all get-out. Of course it's a woman. It's that girl, Annette, from Records."
"Annette?" JJ practically screeched. "Oh my God! That hussy will eat him alive! And she's so fat, too! What on earth does he see in her?"
Dee and Marty looked at each other again, but in amusement this time.
"JJ, I wouldn't call her exactly fat," Dee said.
"Just nicely rounded," added Marty with a grin that flashed white against the darkness of his skin.
"VERY nicely rounded," put in Dee and both men laughed.
"Oh, I don't know why I bother to talk to you two. You guys are a couple of pigs." JJ stomped off to the kitchen.
"Where's your guy?" Marty asked Dee.
"Bedroom. He thinks he's going to catch a few Zees. As if."
"Well, we're almost ready to get him suited up, if you wanna go get him."
"Suited up? I thought we were only doing a wire."
"Ryo mentioned there was some risk of shooting tonight, and somehow he got the Commissioner to okay a Dragon System vest. It's always nice if the guy with the wire stays alive to testify."
"The NYPD has Dragon system vests?" Dee was incredulous.
"Not exactly. The 27th has exactly one. It's mostly reserved for his Royal Highness in case he ever wants to get his hands dirty and muck about in the field."
"I can't believe the bastard's parting with it. But then if Ryo asked him..." The wheels in Dee's mind started to turn and a grim expression came over his face.
"Look, let's just get on with it," Marty said. "Go get your Detective Shaver. I wanna have enough time to test the wire and make sure all systems are go. It would seriously suck if we had a bad connection at the crucial moment."
Just then, JJ marched up to them, his eyes stormy. "What's that Shaver guy doing in my bedroom? He's actually stretched out on my bed, on my NEW comforter with his shoes on! And he doesn't smell that great, I'll be perfectly honest with you there. I want someone to get him out of there before he..."
"Before he what?" Marty asked.
"Before he finds any of my personal, as in battery-operated, belongings, one of which is underneath the pillow his grimy head happens to be resting on," said JJ pointedly to Dee.
"I'll get him," Marty said hastily, turning away. But before he could even take a step, they heard a horrified roar from the bedroom, and Ned Shaver wrenched the door open looking traumatized and disoriented.
Ryo, who had rushed out of the kitchen at the sound of the bellow, was the first to arrive at his side. "What happened?"
Incoherent and wide-eyed, Shaver just pointed at the bed. One of the pillows was wiggling slightly and emitting a buzzing sound.
"Out of my way!" JJ pushed past them and went into his bedroom, slamming the door violently behind him.
"What the hell was that?" Shaver asked in a subdued voice.
"It's a SEX TOY, you moron!" JJ shouted from behind the door. "You clearly don't have a very exciting sex life if you've never seen one of those before!"
"But...but he's a GUY," Shaver protested, trying to catch Ryo's eye. Ryo just looked uncomfortable and retreated back to the kitchen.
"You evidently haven't heard about our precinct, dude." Grinning, Ted slung an arm around Detective Shaver's shoulder and led him back to the living room. "Come on, let's get that wire on you."
"Not yet," Marty said. "Hey JJ! Can you come out of there for a sec?"
JJ yanked the bedroom door open and glowered at him. "Marty," he said, "the next person who enters my bedroom, except Dee, of course, gets a bullet through his left testicle. Am I making myself clear?"
"Uh...Perfectly. Don't worry, I'll tell the guys to stay out of there, okay? Now listen. The tape for the wire sticks better on skin that's clean. We're gonna need to have Shaver use your shower."
Both Dee and Marty took an involuntary step backward at the sight of JJ's face. They couldn't help but notice that his hand was creeping toward the semi-automatic pistol in his holster. Dee belatedly realized that things would go better if he turned on the charm. He flashed JJ a brilliant smile.
"Come on, JJ, don't be mad," he cajoled. "You're doing us a huge favor tonight and we're all grateful. Right Marty?"
"HOW grateful?" Ignoring Marty, JJ looked challengingly at Dee.
"Not grateful enough to wanna see your whole collection," Dee warned, jerking his head toward JJ's bedroom, "so don't go getting any ideas. But pretty damn grateful, nonetheless."
JJ folded his arms. "I want lunch tomorrow. Just you, no Ryo."
"Sorry, JJ, no can do. I've got a funeral to go to in Brooklyn at eleven."
"Breakfast, then. AND I want a hug," JJ said.
Dee glanced uneasily over his shoulder.
"Don't worry, he can't hear you. He's in the kitchen making sandwiches for all these bastards whose parents obviously never taught them not to laugh at other people's decor choices or put their feet up on other people's coffee tables," JJ said bitterly.
"Okay, breakfast," Dee said. "And a very brief hug. There will be NO kissing or leg humping! Capiche?"
JJ's eyes suddenly began to sparkle. "Oh, you and your vanilla hugs," he said flirtatiously. His whole manner had undergone a change. "I leave it up to you to surprise me with the details, Mr. Sexy. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna order a couple of pizzas." He walked into the living room with the spring back in his step, thinking, And we certainly won't mention it to Ryo until after the deed is done, because I wouldn't put it past that dog in the manger to spoil everything!
Dee went and found Ryo in the kitchen, where he really was making sandwiches, exactly as JJ had said. The better-looking of the two Brooklyn detectives who were to accompany them tonight was standing next to him, pretending to help by holding a loaf of bread. Dee didn't like the way the guy was checking out Ryo's body.
"Detective Mitchell, there you are!" he said. "Your partner was just looking for you in the living room." Dee jerked his thumb in that direction.
"Are you sure? He told me to get out of his hair and help with the food," the man replied, a confused little frown on his handsome, freckled face.
"Well, he wants your input on pizza toppings. JJ's trying to order double anchovy garlic, but your partner thinks we should get something that won't make the closed atmosphere of a surveillance vehicle a stink bomb on wheels. He needs you to go back him up."
"Oh, I see! Yes, there's no way we want double anchovy garlic pizza. Randy, can you spare me for a few minutes?"
"Sure, Bill. I'm fine here, really."
The minute Detective Mitchell was gone, Dee swooped in and kissed Ryo's neck, muttering, "Fuck off already, 'Bill'." Ryo swatted him away with a sound of annoyance, and a swift glance around to make sure no one had seen. Dee gave him a rueful grin and backed off a couple of paces to lean against the stove.
"How'd it go with Lindsay Masters?"
"Pretty good. He's a really high-powered, tough talking guy, even to his paying clients. Bikky was impressed, and kind of intimidated. He decided to forgive me because he didn't want to be alone with his own lawyer."
"I'm sorry I couldn't go with you. You know I really wanted to be there."
"I understand, but you did the right thing. Business first. This is a great opportunity we've got with Shaver. We couldn't let it slip by. I'm hoping it'll lead to more cooperation from him. Maybe this freebie he's giving us is sort of like an icebreaker."
"Maybe. If he doesn't stop a bullet, that is. Hey, I hear you got the Commissioner to okay his Dragon. How the hell did you get him to agree to that?"
"Oh, I got Julian the cleaning guy to let me into his office and then I picked the lock on his closet door to make sure the vest was there before I asked him for it."
Dee's mouth dropped open for a moment, and then he burst out laughing. "You...You picked the lock? You? I don't fucking believe this!"
"I'm a man of many talents," said Ryo modestly, blushing with pleasure because he had managed to surprise Dee. "But don't tell Bikky, okay?"
"You certainly are," said Dee, shaking his head in admiration. "And I wouldn't want Bikky to know the half of them."
At that moment, Detective Mitchell returned. "I'm back to help you, Randy," he said with an enthusiastic smile for Ryo, and a challenging look for Dee.
"Excellent," said Dee, grabbing a plate and tossing some of the assembled salami and lettuce sandwiches onto it. "Why don't you take these sandwiches to that hungry bunch of animals in the living room? Pizza's likely to take 45 minutes at this time of night." He thrust the plate at Detective Mitchell, and turned back to Ryo, saying, "What did the lawyer recommend?"
Detective Mitchell pressed his lips together in a hard line and left the kitchen. Dee smirked at Ryo, who in turn scolded him for being rude.
"Rude, schmude. I'm just staking my claim. That guy was looking at you like he wanted to introduce you to a different kind of salami."
"He was?" Ryo looked at Dee in shock. "I'm sure you're mistaken, Dee. He was just being friendly. Besides, he was wearing a wedding ring."
"Yeah, I saw. Guy's really got a problem, huh? He wants a salami, but he's married to a cannelloni."
"Dee! You are such..." Ryo's voice trailed away and his lips twitched with the effort of looking serious and disapproving.
Ted cocked an ear at the burst of laughter that came from the kitchen, and then smiled to himself.
"What the hell are they laughing about in there?" said one of the surveillance guys in a petulant tone. "Don't they know we've got work to do tonight?"
"Oh, Dee always gets Ryo laughing," remarked Ted and took another bite of his second sandwich.
"Who the hell is Ryo?" asked Detective Mitchell.
Ted shook his head dismissively. "Nefugh mind," he said with his mouth full.
Ned Shaver stepped out of a taxi a block from the restaurant he had left his car in front of. He looked back a little uncertainly at Detective Laytner, the man who knew all his dirty secrets. He knew that Laytner looked down on him, although he was politic enough not to show it, and Ned didn't blame him one bit. When it came right down to it, Detective Shaver looked down on himself. He still couldn't quite believe that he had been brought to such a pass, when he had always prided himself on being able to fight his way out of whatever crap life sent his way. It had sent him a lot of it over the years; he had certainly inherited the legendary shitty luck of the Shavers.
Hands thrust firmly in his pockets, Shaver forced himself to meet the other man's eyes. Detective Laytner regarded him steadily for a moment with the knowing gaze of a man who fully understood the acute level of danger that the night's work would bring. Shaver wondered if the man also understood how the feeling of working with the police again, instead of against them, had made him feel that he could stand a fraction straighter today than yesterday. Inwardly, however, he felt deeply and permanently soiled. Even if he somehow managed to get away with all the things he had done, he knew that he could never hold his head up among honest cops again.
"Hey," Detective Laytner began. "Remember that night we were drinking in the bar? You said you did some checking on me."
"Yeah," said Shaver, curious in spite of the load that was on his mind.
"Well, did you happen to find out about my dad?"
"No." The Bronx detective was a little surprised. "I just looked into your career record a little, that's all. I also heard you grew up in an orphanage."
"I don't know why I'm telling you this, but yeah, I had a dad. More of a father-figure than a real dad, but he was important to me."
A vision of Kevin's cheerful, slightly chubby face suddenly rose up in Detective Shaver's mind and made him feel sad. He tried to push it away. Dammit, why was Laytner suddenly talking about fathers and sons?
Laytner paused to speak a couple of words to the driver of the idling taxi, then got out of the rear passenger door and joined Shaver on the sidewalk. "Anyway," he continued, "my old man was a cop who went wrong. He did some work for the mob, in exchange for a piece of the action. I figured he probably went into it thinking he could make some quick cash and get out whenever he'd had enough. He couldn't have really known what he was getting himself into, because I don't believe he ever would have taken that first step, if he had. Finally, he realized that he was in a kind of twilight zone with them - not really one of them, but no way out - and he had no choice but to try to live with it."
Detective Shaver stared at him. Holy shit. He never would have guessed this about Laytner. "What happened to him?"
"The assholes he had to deal with, they were like wild animals. They still are. It's just the breed. But when a man gets too close to monsters, eventually they follow him home. One of 'em got too interested in me, so my dad put a bullet in him. They came after him, naturally. He didn't last long after that."
"You understand what I'm saying here? The other day, that was me in your bathroom, not your kid. But next time it could be him. And if he ever hears something he shouldn't, you know what's gonna happen."
"What the hell would you have me do? You know my whole sorry story! I'm fucked, no matter which way I turn."
"Find a way to get your family outta the city, man. You've become a danger to them. Borrow money if you have to, but make it happen."
Shaken, Shaver retreated into stubbornness. He hunched his shoulders and looked away. "I dunno."
"Yes you do, Detective. Better than anybody. And take it from someone who's been there: you're the only father your son has. Don't try to be a hero tonight. I'm sure your boy would rather have a disgraced but live dad than a dead hero one."
"You're forgetting 'disgraced and equally dead jailbird dad'." Shaver's face was grim. "But...I know I got some thinking to do." The fact was that he had already made up his mind what had to be done, but Laytner didn't need to know that just yet. "Listen, since we're on the subject of my kid...He told me recently that he wants to be a cop when he's older. If, uh, I'm somehow not around in the future, would you mind looking him up? Tell him not to turn out like his old man. I don't ever want Kevin to go through what I'm going through."
"Sure," said Dee. "IF you're not around, I'll make sure to look him up. But I hope for his sake that won't be necessary." After a moment's hesitation, he stuck out his hand. "Good luck tonight, man."
"Uh, thanks," Shaver mumbled, shaking the proffered hand. "Thanks for saving my neck today in Little Italy."
"Don't mention it." Dee knew that wasn't what Shaver was really thanking him for. "It's enough that you're wearing a wire for us."
Detective Shaver nodded brusquely and turned away, but Detective Laytner called his name. He stopped and looked back.
"God be with you, Detective."
The guy seemed so serious that Detective Shaver hid his surprise and nodded his thanks before he started walking toward his car. He hadn't had Laytner pegged for a God-fearing man, but what the hell. No point in telling him that God doesn't give a rat's ass about guys like me, he thought to himself.
His car was where he had left it this afternoon. It had a stack of parking tickets on it, but the 27th had pulled strings to prevent it from being towed. He peered in through the windows. It was still locked and it didn't look like anyone had tampered with it. The back seat was full of stuff he had taken out of the trunk earlier, and it looked like a junkmobile, even according to his own not terribly high standards of cleanliness. He wished he had had time to clean out the car a little bit. It sure wouldn't show to advantage sitting next to the high-end vehicles that were likely to be at the meeting tonight.
Well, fuck 'em, he thought, feeling defiant. It wasn't how a car looked, his old man had said to him on several occasions, it was how it performed. His car's performance had always been sufficient for his needs. He hoped it would be tonight, too. But in the next moment he called himself back to reality. No drug dealer's Mercedes or Porsche would have a dead junkie's crappy old tool box and a kid's bike in it.
The first thing he did was to open the hood and reconnect the battery. If Laytner was watching him from down the block, he was probably wondering what the hell he was doing. He smiled grimly to himself. Let him wonder. This particular evening would give him plenty more to wonder about before it was over.
"Here he comes," said JJ who was watching one of the monitors inside the van. Ryo quickly moved to lean over his shoulder and squint at the grainy image. It was all darkness and bright headlights and he couldn't make out any details.
"How do you know it's him?" asked Vic Bhalla, one of the two TARU tech officers that were working with them that evening.
"By his crappy car," JJ replied. "We've had an Audi, a couple of Mercedes, a Range Rover, three BMWs and a Lexus so far. Who else would be coming down here to this specific part of the Navy Yard at almost midnight in a big old family-sized Buick? I bet it's at least ten years old and all dinged up."
"Can you see that?" asked Ryo, frowning.
JJ rolled his eyes. "Yeah, and I can see the pizza crumbs on his dashboard, too. Of course not, Ryo! I'm just guessing about the car's age and dings, based on my personal assessment of Detective Shaver. Hmm, I wonder why he's stopping way back there? The other cars just drove straight into the building through the delivery doors."
Everyone crowded around the screen that relayed images from the camera discreetly mounted at the rear of the vehicle. Shaver could be seen getting out of the car and pitching what looked like a kid's bicycle behind some shrubby plants in front of the building behind them.
"What the hell is he doing?" asked Vic, sounding surprised.
"I guess he's belatedly cleaning out his car before the meeting," said JJ sarcastically. "Just like it didn't occur to him to wear a tie." JJ was still pissed off that, on top of all the other indignities he had had to suffer that evening, the team had demanded that he lend the tie-less Detective Shaver one of his ties for them to clip the microphone to. It was a very clever microphone that had been designed to look like a tie pin. The wire went down inside Shaver's shirt and around to the transmitter attached to the back of his belt.
JJ had protested that his ties were by big name designers. "I love ALL of my ties!" he had wailed. "I don't want any of them to get worn to a drug dealer meeting in a scuzzy old warehouse!" He had only relented because Dee had agreed to go into his bedroom with him and help him select a tie that was appropriate for Detective Shaver. Dee, who was obviously trying to sweet-talk him, had given him several compliments, telling him that certain ties suited his coloring, personality or style, and JJ had milked the attention for all it was worth. When Dee had finally culled a chartreuse and primrose-yellow Hermes number from the herd of JJ's ties and denounced it for its ability to make JJ look sallow, the young sharpshooter was more than ready to sacrifice it for the greater good. But later when he remembered that it had cost $155 on sale, he got pissed off all over again. If he hadn't been so dazzled by Dee's cologne and his way his jeans were hugging the curves of his lean, but powerful thighs and narrow, masculine hips, he would have been able to summon enough presence of mind to demand that Detective Mitchell relinquish his tie, which was clearly a Chinese knock-off.
He sighed as he remembered how Dee had begged to be allowed to come along tonight, and how that rotten Ryo had refused him.
"I'm lead detective on this case," Ryo had said firmly. "We not only have enough staff, but you're still on a sick day, and I want you to rest. Besides, if I'm kept up really late tonight, one of us should be well-rested enough to drive to the funeral tomorrow. Most importantly," he had added, pulling Dee to one side, "We're leaving before you guys to get established at the Navy Yard. Shaver's your contact. Make sure he goes through with it."
Dee had been very disappointed at what JJ considered to be Ryo's heartlessness, but he had acquiesced. Just remembering it made JJ want to glare at Ryo now, but of course he kept his eyes on the monitor he was assigned to. He would have enjoyed this assignment a lot more if Dee had been with them in the close working quarters this van necessitated. They had to brush past each other to move from one station to another, and Ryo's knee had already bumped against his a couple of times. Too bad it wasn't Dee. And he didn't even want to think about what Drake might be doing on his date tonight with that walking bosom, Annette. How could he, the bastard? After how close they had gotten on their trip to Canada, too. It was too bad men had to be such idiots.
They watched Shaver toss a couple of other items after the bike and then get back in his vehicle.
"We got sound?" Marty asked Vic.
"Not yet. Either we've got a malfunction or he hasn't turned on the transmitter yet."
Tensely, they watched as Detective Shaver's Buick drove in through the big bay doors of the appointed meeting place.
"Come on, sound," prayed Ryo.
"Amen," added Vic. "Oh good, there we go! Talk about last minute." He looked relieved.
"I have a feeling that 'last-minute' would pretty well sum up everything about that guy," JJ muttered.
"Shhh!" Ryo grabbed for his headphones.
The four men sat in silence in the darkened interior of a van that had "Dan's Roofing" painted on its sides and listened to the voices in the warehouse. They heard Shaver shut his car engine off and then the sound of him opening and closing the driver's door of his vehicle. Voices grunted a greeting, but one voice was louder than the rest.
"Detective Shaver! So glad you could join us." The voice held a hint of sarcasm, but was jovial enough.
"Sorry, Ibo," said Shaver. "Am I late?"
"Technically, no. But a few more minutes and we'd have had to assume that the Devils got you."
"Not this time."
"Have you met Frank Rizzo? Frank, this is Detective Shaver, one of our tame cops. His badge says NYPD, but he really works for us."
There was a low burst of ugly laughter from several throats. Ryo found himself shaking his head and gritting his teeth. He was glad Dee hadn't been there to hear that.
A new voice came over the line, higher and more nervous than Ryo had expected such a renowned crime boss to have. It didn't contrast well against Essien Ibo's deep, musical tones.
"Shaver, huh? Narcotics, I presume? Which precinct?"
"Bronx," Shaver answered shortly. They noticed that he declined to give the specific precinct.
"Ibo," said Rizzo's breathless voice. "Let's get down to business. I'm a busy man. Are yer people clear on the plan?"
"We need the delivery date. It's gotta be pretty specific. A set of brothers hanging out near the Mohawk reserve for too long is bound to attract attention."
"We've got a date. It's coming in by float plane about 2 a.m. a week from tonight. Ya gotta move fast. Get in, get out."
"Are the Mohawks likely to be any trouble?"
"Naw, they're in on it."
"All of 'em?"
"No, just a couple of key players. Pay 'em what they ask for, on top of the cigarettes. They're amateurs - they could ask for more, but they don't know it. Last year we tried to negotiate and they got pissy."
"Does the reserve have its own police?"
"On the Canadian side, yeah. They collaborate with the OPP. But ya gotta watch out for State Troopers too. This ain't yer first job upstate, right?"
Ibo laughed shortly. "Hell, no. We used to bring in shipments from Cayuga County. Oneida, too. But recently there's been more money in Jersey."
"Well, there's big money in this deal, and more for the future IF you and yer guys don't screw up. Tony! Open the case."
Rizzo continued. "That's a quarter million right there. With your hundred grand, you'll have the fee. You do the math for the street value. Yer gonna need low key transport, by the way."
"No problem. We've brought stuff across the border before. Will you be wanting your cut the night we get back?"
"No, we'll be in touch. I wanna make sure you don't come back with the police on your asses."
There was a moment of silence, followed by some rustling and murmuring that no one could catch.
"No, not me." It was Ibo's voice, but he didn’t seem to be speaking to Rizzo. "Give the money to the cop."
There were some more indistinct noises and then Ibo spoke again. "Let's settle the details of your cut and mine. I'm not happy with the percentage."
They continued the negotiations while the men in the van outside listened avidly. They were parked in a small lot a short block and a half from the warehouse that the meeting was being held in. They had cameras pointing in three directions, and they could see the two sentries at the front of the building. Detectives Mitchell and Palmer, along with Ted and the other TARU tech were in another van on the opposite side of the building, watching the official front entrance and any lookout guys posted over there as well.
"Here comes trouble," JJ warned in a low voice.
"What is it?" asked Marty softly.
"Headlights at the top of the street. More than one car. Coming fast."
"Shit, where'd that guy come from?" Marty exclaimed. "He just took out both the sentries!" Heads turned toward his monitor, where a lone figure could be seen standing over one of the fallen guards. He was holding a gun whose long barrel indicated a silencer.
Two sleek black sedans abruptly roared up, accompanied by half a dozen motorcycles, and together they effectively blocked the bay entrance to the warehouse. As the trunks of the cars popped open, the motorbike riders swarmed over to snatch up automatic weapons from inside them before hurrying to the open door.
Ryo, Marty and Vic kept their headphones on and listened to the reactions inside.
"What the fuck is this?" Frank Rizzo was screaming. "How the fuck did they find us? Yer people were careless, that's what fucking happened!"
He continued yelling but his voice moved away, and Ibo's voice could be heard shouting instructions to his men.
"Jimmy, take cover! Luke, get those guys away from the door! Shaver, you pussy. Stash that cash somewhere and let me see your piece in your hand. We need every man on deck, including you! Fucking -"
His next words were lost in a burst of gunfire.
JJ's phone vibrated in his pocket. "Detective Adam--" he started to say, but Detective Palmer's voice interrupted him. "What the hell's going on over there? We hear gunfire!"
"The Devils arrived, and they're shooting it out."
"Holy Fuck. Did you call it in?"
"Ten four," said JJ, having glanced at Ryo, who had snatched up the radio and was in the process of doing that.
"What about the guy inside? Is this a 10-13?"
"Are you suggesting we break cover?" JJ said to Detective Palmer. He looked at Ryo again, who shook his head vehemently.
"Detective Shaver's all alone in there." Detective Palmer sounded agitated.
"Negative, unit one. Stay put and wait for back-up." JJ hung up and looked anxiously at Marty and Ryo, suddenly feeling bad about all his negative comments regarding Detective Shaver's car and organizational skills. "Do you think he has a chance?"
"There's always a chance," said Marty reassuringly, but it sounded as though he were forcing himself.
"He'll be okay," insisted Ryo fiercely. "He's wearing a dragon vest, after all. And there's gonna be at least sixteen patrol units here in a minute. He just has to keep his head down and hold on until they get here."
JJ nodded and opened his mouth to say something, but whatever it was was drowned out by a colossal explosion that rocked the ground under them. A huge fireball erupted out through the bay doors, catching a running figure and turning him into a human torch. The motorcycles in front burst into flames, and two lesser explosions could be heard from inside, as presumably, some of the vehicles' gas tanks exploded.
They stared from the video screen to each other with open mouths, all thinking the same thing. An inferno was raging inside the building, growing larger with each passing second. If the explosion hadn't killed everyone inside, the fire certainly would.
It would take a miracle for Detective Shaver to come walking out of that warehouse, now.
~end of chapter 35~
Additional author's notes: 10-13 is an NYPD code meaning 'assist police officer'. Apologies to anyone who drives a Buick! I'm sorry, but I think my next post is likely to be at least three weeks away because I have a lot of deadlines looming at work. I might even have to go as long as four weeks, but if it's at all possible to do it sooner, I will. However, I think I'll be able to get out a couple of chapters of Slave to a Gladiator during the long wait. That one is much easier to write because there's no research and the chapters are way shorter.