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. Detective Shaver is mine however, along with Detectives Mitchell, Palmer, Chang, Austen, Fowler and Greenspan. Captain Pete Dory is also mine, along with Lieutenant Guerrero. I have not based these characters on any living person.
Author's notes: I do apologize for the long wait. I was stuck for a while on my desire to make this story shorter, but it didn't want to be shorter. It wants to be long and it won't let me write it any other way. Now that I've surrendered to its bigness, it's flowing again.
Thank you to mtemplar, Moontatoo and LadyFeather. I'm very lucky to have assembled such a crack team of betas!
Fake First Year Together: A New Day (May)
"What the hell was in that warehouse?" Ted asked the Chief.
"Building supplies, mostly. Lumber, plus a few other things. We'll get to that in a minute, O'Neill." The Chief gave him a nod before sweeping his eyes over the rest of the group. "First I wanna address the fact that we lost a fellow officer last night. Detective Ned Shaver of the 51st appears to have met his end while on deep cover duty for the NYPD. It was a risky assignment, but he volunteered for it, and unfortunately, it ended up costing him his life. This is just another reminder of the danger that we all face out there, every day. You guys should thank your lucky stars that it wasn't you who bought it last night. It could be you next time - any of us, in fact. There's gonna be a big media-friendly NYPD funeral for him on Sunday. Attendance is mandatory for all you guys, dress blues, please."
Heads nodded all through the room. Of course they would attend the funeral of one of their own.
The Chief continued. "This is his partner, Detective Andrea Fowler, and she's gonna say a few words about him later. So before we go any further, let's have a moment of silence for Detective Shaver."
They bowed their heads soberly. Detective Palmer seemed especially upset, pinching angrily at the inside corners of his eyes. Dee glanced at the handsome, bearded man, wondering if he had perhaps been friends with Shaver. He couldn't quite see it, as Shaver had been quite the loner, and none too gifted in the social skills department, either.
"Okay, let's move on to business," said the Chief. First he acquainted everyone who had not been present at the Navy Yard last night with a brief outline of the night's operation, and commended Ryo, as lead detective, for doing such a good job with the management of it. Then he made introductions. A tall, impressively-built man seated on his left was Chief Fire Officer Pete Dory, who was there to give them the preliminary results of his arson investigator's findings, while Lieutenant Flor Guerrero of the bomb squad was there to talk about the explosions.
At the mention of the word 'bomb', the members of the CI team exchanged surprised glances. That a bomb had caused the explosions last night had always been a possibility, of course, but most of them had been leaning towards the theory that the warehouse had contained highly explosive materials.
The Chief started sketching the layout of the warehouse and the streets around it on the white board with a dry erase pen. "The two surveillance units commanded by Detective MacLean and Detective Palmer observed the arrival of eight luxury vehicles transporting prominent members of Corporate America and The Stone Blood Boys, two gangs that operate out of the Bronx and Brooklyn respectively. The vehicles all drove inside the warehouse through these bay doors here between 11:15 and 11:45 PM and parked in this area here." He drew a red circle in the top half of his warehouse drawing. "Shortly before midnight, Detective Shaver arrived, and also drove inside. The two leaders, Frank Rizzo and Essien Ibo commenced talking business, and a quantity of cash exchanged hands. We know this much because we got it on tape. With me so far?"
James raised his hand. "Do we know the positions of the men inside? Like, approximately where the detective was standing?"
The Chief shook his head. "Unfortunately, no. We had sound inside only, not cameras. Anyhow, to continue, at exactly 12:21 AM, the cameras on this van picked up a scout from the Dyre Street Devils taking out the two sentries on the Northeast side of the building. We still don't know how he got so close without being detected. He may have walked, but as I recall, there was also some mention of a bicycle." He glanced at Ryo, receiving an affirmative nod, before continuing. "But once the sentries were down, he signaled to his buddies and it was at this point that the rest of the gang arrived. Camera footage shows two vehicles and six motorcycles transporting a total of 22 armed men. They went in shooting, and according to the tapes, caught the Stone Bloods and CA by surprise."
"I don't know how Ibo let that happen," Marty remarked. "He's usually much more efficient than that."
"Well, if we're lucky, we might be able to ask him later today," said the Chief. "He was in surgery until six AM, but apparently he came through okay. The only thing that might get in the way of an interview is if they're keeping him sedated on account of his burns. The doctors will let us know when he's able to talk." He went on to describe the nature of Essien Ibo's injuries. According to the hospital, Ibo had been admitted with a bullet in his lung and bad burns to his lower legs.
JJ was shaking his head as he listened. "The only reason he's not dead is 'cause he was wearing a vest. I saw him when they loaded him into the ambulance. It looked like he was shot at close range. Must've been hell in there."
"What about the explosion, Chief?" asked Ryo.
"Yeah, the explosion. That's what made this different from your ordinary run-of-the-mill gang shootout, and what made the fire burn so hot and so fast. I'll let Lieutenant Guerrero explain what we've pieced together there."
Lieutenant Guerrero, a lean and tough looking woman of about fifty, stood up and addressed the group. "Hello people," she said, a slight Spanish accent apparent in her voice. "I gotta make this quick because there is another place I have to be in about one hour. Stop me if I get too technical, okay?"
She turned to the white board and indicated where the cars had been parked inside the warehouse. "The explosion originated from one of the cars. We do not at present know whose car because we haven't found evidence of the VIN number of that particular vehicle in the debris yet. You can probably imagine how torn apart it was! As far as we have been able to determine, most of the other vehicles either have one of their VIN numbers still readable, or the match-up is easy because, although burnt out and twisted, the car type is still identifiable."
"So it was a car bomb?" asked Ryo. "What kind?"
"The signature of the bomb indicates ANFO, although we're still not clear on precisely how detonation was achieved. However, we have a couple of theories...yes?" She pointed to James, who had his hand up.
"Uh...What's ANFO?" he asked, looking around in hopes that he was not the only person in the room who didn't know.
"Rookie," muttered Detective Palmer, but Lieutenant Guerrero looked at James sympathetically. She had a son about his age. They even looked a little alike, although this young detective was clearly Asian.
"Ammonium nitrate and fuel oil," she said kindly. "You know, like was used in the Oklahoma bombing?"
"Don't mind him," said Dee, kicking James' chair. "He snoozed all through the Academy and only woke up for exams. Right, dude?" Assorted snickers met this comment.
James scowled at him and surreptitiously gave him the finger.
"We believe it was ordinary garden fertilizer,' said Lieutenant Guerrero, "accompanied by an HPD for the accelerant, most likely diesel. As I was saying, detonation is not always easy to achieve with a bomb of that type. We're assuming some kind of blasting cap or perhaps even dynamite was used, although there would have had to be a fuse, which may or may not have been noticeable. When the car blew, its gas tank went with it, and the secondary explosions were caused by the gas tanks in the other vehicles going up as well. Evidence points to the detonation of only one ANFO bomb."
"So somebody wanted to blow them all up - Stone Bloods and CA alike," said James. "Could it have been the Devils?"
"I doubt it, since they got caught in the blast, too." It was Ryo who answered. "Um, Chief, do we have a casualty list?"
"We're working on it, Randy. DNA evidence is gonna be hard to get, since most of the bodies are just charred bones. We got guys on the street questioning the friends and families of known gang members so we can put together a list of who didn't come home last night. As you probably noticed, it was too dark for the surveillance cameras to pick up faces."
"Is it absolutely certain that Detective Shaver is dead? I mean, do we have proof?" asked Detective Palmer. "My kid goes to school with his kid. They're the same age."
Captain Dory, the fire chief, spoke up. "We found the plates of the dragon vest he was allegedly wearing resting between the ribs of a very blackened set of human remains. DNA identification may not be possible, but circumstantial evidence points to it being him."
"There was a partially-melted weapon next to the remains," added the Chief. "We're having it analyzed."
"I have a question," said Drake. "What's this gonna do to the gang scene? I mean, it seems as if the Stone Bloods have been wiped out, and I know CA was bigger so there's still a lot of them out there on the streets, but Frank Rizzo is now gone, so they don't have a leader. And if there were 22 casualties for the Devils, then it looks like they've lost half their members."
"A third," corrected the Chief. "And that's a very good question, Parker." He turned his attention to all his detectives. "Expect some overtime, boys. There's gonna be a war out there as the smaller gangs start trying to take over territory they think is up for grabs. What's left of CA and the Devils are gonna be fighting for their lives."
A groan went up at the dreaded word 'overtime'. After that, the meeting continued for another half hour. First, Andrea talked briefly about her work with Ned, and then the Chief mentioned that there had been a sighting of a potential survivor to the fire who had allegedly left the Navy Yard by bicycle, and everything possible was being done to find him. Captain Dory, when it was his turn to speak, explained the path of the fire, and during his talk, JJ sat up straighter and asked lots of questions, which seemed to piss off Detective Mitchell. Dee, who had been keeping an eye on 'Bill' just in case he started in on Ryo again, noticed the man's disappointment and couldn't help grinning. So the salami-hunter was working on JJ now. As long as it wasn't Ryo, he didn't care. A few more questions were asked and answered, and the meeting was adjourned.
"The revised shift schedule will go up tomorrow morning," the Chief told them. "Make sure you check it. Back to work, everyone."
"Hey Chief, me and Ryo are off tomorrow, and Ryo's been working almost two weeks straight. Do we have to come in?"
"Nope," answered the Chief. "Anyone who's off tomorrow stays off. But Saturday is a different story. Call in tomorrow sometime to pick up your shifts. Oh, and that reminds me, I want to see you two in my office in ten minutes."
"We'll be there, Chief," said Ryo, trying hard not to look at Dee, who seemed to be trying equally hard to catch his eye. He knew what his partner was thinking. Tomorrow was Friday. Dee's stitches would be coming out in the morning, and after that, they had a sex date.
"Hey, don't feel bad, buddy," Ted was saying to James. "It used to be me who asked all the stupid questions. I, for one, am glad that you're here to help carry the load."
"Ah, shut up, Ted."
"Come on now, don't be like that! At least you're dating a hot-looking woman. What's her name again?"
"Bridget," said James, cheering up slightly. "She works in a kitchen shop. We're going to a movie tonight."
"How's that working out?" Dee asked.
"Great, man, thanks for setting us up!"
"Hey, it was the least I could do, considering she came by here looking for Ryo." Dee dropped his voice on the last three words. "It's a damn good thing she was willing to settle for you, instead. So, is this the second date or the third?"
"Second," said James.
"Aw, no nooky for you tonight," teased Ted. "But maybe on the weekend...that is, if you're not working OT."
"Damn! Knowing my luck, I probably am."
Dee looked around for Ryo and saw JJ standing between Captain Dory and Detective Mitchell, looking like he couldn't believe his luck. The two men were glaring at each other above JJ's white-blond head. Dee was pretty sure that JJ's suddenly enhanced dating options would take his mind off pouncing on his old buddy, 'Dee-sempai' for a few days. Drake was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he had gone looking for Annette.
He found Ryo in their shared office, where his partner was, as usual, stuffing files into his briefcase. There was no one like Ryo in the whole department for bringing work home.
"What now, bro?"
"Meeting with the Chief, remember? He probably wants to talk about Abernathy. Did you notice how he didn't bring up the mole we have here at the station?"
"Yeah. Maybe he's got some info. I hope this doesn't take too long. We're off in -" Dee held up his right wrist and looked at his watch " - twenty minutes."
"Oh no, we're not," Ryo corrected. "We went to a funeral during working hours. We've got to make up those hours before we go home today."
"What? This was supposed to be your day off, dumbass. What the hell are you talking about? Not to mention that you worked almost twenty four hours straight yesterday. And I'm... I'm an injured man! I really think we fucking deserve to go home and rest."
"I'd really like a shot at questioning Essien Ibo."
"The docs probably won't allow it so soon after surgery,' Dee said dismissively, hoping that he was right. "You heard the Chief. The guy took a bullet in the lung, for God's sake! Plus, he's got some pretty bad burns, and I betcha he inhaled a helluva lot of smoke. He probably couldn't talk even if he wanted to, which I doubt."
"We'll see," said Ryo. "And no, you don't have time for a smoke. Let's go."
"What? How did you...?"
"It's not that I'm a mind reader, you know. It's more that you're so predictable." Ryo led the way down the hall.
"Me? Predictable? No way, dude. I'm the spontaneous one, remember?" Dee hurried after Ryo, protesting all the way.
When Dee and Ryo arrived at the Chief's office, they saw he was standing outside it, exchanging what looked like good-byes with Detective Fowler and Lieutenant Guerrerro.
Ryo hurried over to catch Detective Fowler before she left. "Andrea!" he said. "I wanted to say good-bye, but you'd already gone. I'm sorry about your partner. I know he wasn't the easiest guy in the world to work with...but this has got to be really distressing for you."
She turned doleful brown eyes on him. "Oh I'm not leaving yet, Randy. I wanted to talk to you, anyway. It's sweet of you to be concerned, but I'm not all broken up about losing Ned as a partner. I've got mixed feelings, actually."
He nodded. "I understand. You guys weren't very close."
"Well, no. You were aware of my situation. I knew he was doing some undercover gang work, but the guy was so determined to keep me shut out of everything that I had no idea what the details were. He came out on calls with me for some of my own cases once in a blue moon, and had the nerve to act like he was doing me a huge favor, too. But, really, working with him was an awful lot like working alone." She sighed and lifted one lanky arm in a gesture of futility. "I tried everything I could to get him to open up about his cases, but it was like talking to a wall. A wall that saw me as some kind of part-time secretary, at that! Now, the lieutenant is expecting ME to fill him in on what Ned was up to, can you believe it? You and your partner probably have a better idea about that than I do."
"Well, not really," Ryo hedged. "He got together with Dee a couple of times before his death, but they didn't know each other all that well." He wasn't sure about how much of the truth to tell Andrea. It wasn't good form to besmirch the reputation of an LEO who had just been killed in the line of duty, and as for unsavory allegations about the man's conduct...well, there wasn't exactly a lot of proof. Plus, Ned Shaver's life and troubles had been inextricably bound up with Lieutenant Michael Abernathy's, and the 'bad lieutenant' was still very much alive.
Andrea glanced over at where Dee could be seen shaking hands with Lieutenant Guerrero. "That's the thing that surprised me the most," she remarked. "Dee and Ned becoming friendly like that. I could've sworn they hated each other that first time they met."
"I think they subsequently found they had one or two things in common," said Ryo, "although I wouldn't say they actually became friendly."
"Well, it's the only explanation I can come up with to explain to my lieutenant why Ned would have done undercover work with teams from the 27th and the 62nd without breathing a word of it to his partner. He didn't even clear it properly with the lieutenant, either. Just left him a voice mail about what he was up to last night. Next thing we know he's dead. Captain McCormick wants answers from Lieutenant Simmonds, Lieutenant Simmonds wants them from me, I don't have 'em, so here I am."
'Well, it's my understanding that Detective Shaver had to let my partner in on what he was doing because of some unexpected interaction with the Stone Bloods that happened when they were together last Monday," Ryo said, feeling he ought to at least give her something.
"Monday? Ned called in sick on that day."
"I know. Do you recall that Dee phoned you to get his home address?"
"Yeah, I remember now," she said thoughtfully. "Your partner was halfway respectful for once. And he told me he'd been shot."
"That's true. He was shot last Friday night, but it was only a flesh wound. He was very lucky," Ryo said, glancing over at Dee, who looked up at that moment.
"Hey, are you guys talking about me?" he called out.
"Yeah, like we've got nothing else to talk about," retorted Andrea, but relented a moment later. "As a matter of fact, we were. How's your gunshot injury?"
"Stitches come out tomorrow," Dee answered, his eyes flickering mischievously toward Ryo for a moment. "But it itches like hell." He rubbed carefully at the spot on his left side where he had been nicked by a bullet.
"Detective Fowler," said the Chief. "I'm sorry, but I need to have a meeting with these two slackers right now, so I'm gonna have to take them away. But if you want to talk about your partner with them, you can either stick around for fifteen minutes or call 'em later."
"Thanks, Lieutenant. If it's all the same to you, I'll stick around. I'll be in the reception area, boys."
"I'm on my way out," said Lieutenant Guerrero, smiling up at Andrea. "I'll walk with you." She took one last look at Detective Laytner, heartthrob extraordinaire. She had a son like the boy upstairs, but she'd once had a lover like that man behind her in the hall. Ay Caramba, what a lover - what a man he had been! Unfortunately, she'd lost him to a young helicopter mechanic: another male. They were still together to this day, last she had heard. Men were such mysteries. Who could ever know what they really wanted?
Dee flashed a grin at both women, and Ryo gave Andrea a little wave before they followed the Chief into his office. The Chief, who went in last, had to stand aside to let two guys wearing coveralls that said 'Al's Extermination' on their backs come out with their equipment. One of them nodded to the Chief and said, "All clear."
Ryo shuddered. He hoped the building wasn't infested with insects or rodents. The 51st Precinct, where they had been guests for about a year after John Hale had blown up the original 27th, had been terrible for cockroaches. During their time there, Ryo had always been worried that a pregnant cockroach would jump into his briefcase and catch a ride back to his apartment with him.
"What is it, Chief? Please tell me it's not roaches," he said.
The Chief closed the door and walked over to his desk, saying, "No, Randy. Nothing like that. Have a seat, boys, and pull your chairs up close to my desk."
Ryo and Dee glanced at each other and did so.
The Chief leaned forward and spoke in a voice that was only half of its usual volume. "They're checking the building for bugs of the electronic kind, but keep that under your hats. The Commissioner was sufficiently concerned to learn about the spy we have amongst our ranks that he okayed the sweep, even though it's not in the budget."
"Do we have a reason to believe that Abernathy's getting his information from a bug and not a person?" asked Ryo.
"We don't know," replied the Chief. "Could be either, could be both. We're having it checked from both sides."
"Does that mean the staff records of anyone who's been investigated by IA are being looked at, too?" Ryo leaned forward, unable to keep the excitement out of his voice.
"Yeah, as a matter of fact they are," confirmed the Chief. "When I informed Captain Forsythe and the Commissioner about the situation, it was the Commissioner who insisted we get on it right away. He ordered a list of every member of the NYPD who has been investigated by IA within the last three years. When it arrives, Helen is going to cross-reference the list against our current roster of staff. She's been told it's a priority."
"I guess he must have one or two things to hide if he's this gung-ho to catch the mole," remarked Dee.
"Knock it off, Dee. Now about --"
"Chief, sorry to interrupt you," said Ryo, "but regarding that list, could you ask Helen to also cross-reference the names of any other NYPD members who were just visiting here on Tuesday? She can get them from the front desk sign-in sheet. I think we also have to consider the possibility that Abernathy does not in fact have a spy permanently posted at the 27th."
"Good point, Randy." The Chief made a note on a lined pad on his desk. "Now about your contact, that Greenspan woman from the 99th. The Commissioner wants you to work with her, since Abernathy seems to be interested in using her to get to you through your son."
"I'd already decided to do that, anyway," Ryo said. "She's not very experienced, though, and I want it made clear that if the Queens police decide to question my son any further, both myself and his lawyer must be present."
"Absolutely," the Chief said. "That's a given, considering what happened the other day. But I think you'll find that Detective Greenspan's fully on board."
"Whaddaya mean?" asked Dee slowly, his eyes narrowed with suspicion.
"The Commissioner made arrangements to meet with her," the Chief said, neutrality uppermost in his voice and manner. "He told me he wanted her to understand what's at stake."
"Do we have to be at that meeting?" Dee folded his arms and leaned back in his chair.
"Perhaps we should be," said Ryo, frowning slightly. Was the Commissioner planning on telling her everything? "I hope this meeting isn't going to take place until after she's been eliminated from Helen's list of possible suspects."
"Randy, she was the one who gave YOU the info about Abernathy."
"Yeah, but for all we know, she might be feeding us information on Abernathy's orders, instead of her own volition. She should be cleared before she gets brought into this."
"Hmph." The Chief looked at his watch. "It may be too late for that. She's with the Commissioner now."
Ryo said, "Maybe we should go upstairs and see if we can join them, then."
"Don't bother," said the Chief. "They're not in the building. He said he was taking her out because it's not secure here."
"O-o-okay, then," said Dee, looking at Ryo with raised eyebrows. Ryo looked back at him and shrugged. If the Commissioner was discussing the case with her, there was nothing they could do about that.
"Suck it up, boys. You've lost both your main witnesses, Calvetti and Shaver. Detective Greenspan is your last remaining connection to Lieutenant Abernathy, unless you manage to pull off some miracle of police work in the next little while and find yourselves another one. Work with her, even if you don't trust her. I don't see as how you got any choice, anyway."
"Well, yeah, not if the Commish is set on telling her everything." Dee's tone was sarcastic.
The Chief, apart from shooting him a glare from under heavy brows, ignored him, and addressed Ryo. "What are your plans for the investigation of Lieutenant Abernathy now that Shaver's gone?"
"Well, so much has happened since yesterday afternoon, that we haven't really had time to shift gears," Ryo said. "But Dee and I could probably go over some strategies together this evening."
"Good, do that." The Chief tapped the desk with one powerful hand. "I think we'll keep the details about Abernathy a secret from the other guys on the team for now. It's not that I don't trust them, it's more that until this whole 'mole' issue is resolved, I don't want multiple conversations about that case taking place all over the building where they could be overheard."
"That makes sense," said Ryo, nodding blandly, but Dee wasn't fooled. He knew Ryo really didn't want to share this particular case.
"Randy, I just wanna let you know that I really appreciated your taking the time to send me an email first thing this morning about everything that happened last night. I wouldn't have expected that after the hellishly long day you had yesterday."
Ryo colored faintly. "You're welcome, Chief. I'll get you a proper report done later today."
"That would be great. Now let's just get back to Abernathy for a minute. What I find really interesting is that the lieutenant was actually at the scene last night. What the hell was he up to? And what's this shit about him leaving his partner injured at the scene?"
"Well, he said he was there because he was having second thoughts about his investigation of Detective Shaver last January. He claimed he had been tailing Shaver. But, as you may remember, Shaver told us that Abernathy had recently started a new partnership with the Dyre Street Devils, so he may have been there for them, too. As for leaving his partner down, he claimed not to know what had happened to Detective Collins. He said he observed a survivor leaving the fire scene on a bicycle, and he gave chase, but didn't succeed in catching up to him."
"Ah, so it was Mike who saw the cyclist. I take it he was the only one who did?"
Ryo nodded. "If anyone else did, they haven't come forward yet."
"Do you think the bicycle story was BS?"
"Actually, no. As soon as he said the word 'bicycle', I sent JJ over to where Detective Shaver had initially stopped to toss objects out of his car before entering the warehouse. One of the objects had been a kid's bike; you'll see it on the tapes. JJ came back and reported that there was no longer any bike there."
"Hmmm. So somebody other than Ibo may have gotten out alive."
""We don't know if the guy on the bike actually came from the warehouse, though," Dee put in. "It might have been a guy that was stationed outside all along. Or even someone who had nothing to do with any of this."
"That cyclist show up on any of the tapes?"
"Not on ours," said Ryo. "The guys under Detective Palmer's command in the other vehicle might have seen something, though. We have yet to exchange reports, but they promised to send us something today. The video footage is going to be analyzed at The Real Time Crime Center later. If the cyclist passed within range of one of the cameras, we may get a look at him. However, it was pretty dark at the Navy yard, so I'm not too hopeful."
"I was at the RTCC earlier, taking a quick look at those tapes, and you're right about them being dark," the Chief said. "Why the hell was that? I thought the Navy Yard maintained fairly good streetlights down there."
"The place was well-enough lit when we got there, but the Stone Bloods shot several of the lights out when they arrived after us. I think you'll find our footage isn't very good for that reason."
"Bastards. Oh well, I'd probably do the same thing if I was them. So how did Abernathy seem to you? Same as ever? Rattled? Did you actually talk to him?"
"Oh yes, I talked to him all right," Ryo said. "I was the one who called him on his cell phone to ask him if he was planning on coming back. We didn't know he had even been at the Navy Yard until Detective Collins told us who had brought him there. And yeah, Lieutenant Abernathy was -" Ryo paused thoughtfully - "definitely rattled. Defensive. The site commanders all had something to say about how he'd abandoned his partner at a crime scene as dangerous as that one. Even the firefighters were shocked by that. Of course, the fact that he's from Internal Affairs didn't help matters any. Those guys are usually not at the top of the popularity polls."
"You said he was gone for forty minutes."
"At least. A pretty long time to chase after a guy on a bike. There was a lot more to it, of course, but we knew he wasn't going to tell us what."
"Anything else you can remember?"
"Yeah," said Ryo. "He had what looked like some small bloodstains on his right shirt cuff. I mean, it could have been ketchup or something, but it sure looked like blood."
"Hmm. Maybe he actually did catch that cyclist, then."
"Okay, well that's all we got for now. We just gotta wait for the reports to come back. Who's analyzing the footage?"
"I asked JJ and Marty to do it," Ryo said. "JJ said he'd book a station at the RTCC."
"If they're going back there later, I'm pretty sure Detective Mitchell will volunteer to help them out," added Dee with a knowing smirk.
"Good," grunted the Chief. "If there are three of them on it, we might get results back sooner."
"Chief, who's going to interview Ibo?" Ryo asked, ignoring Dee's sudden scowl.
"I thought Marty would be the best guy, since he's the one who knows the gangs. How come? You wanna tag along?"
"Yeah. Ibo's the only guy who can tell us what really went down in there."
"What does it matter at this point? Shaver's dead, and no more help to you. You guys need to get back to your investigation of Abernathy. If you're gonna talk to gang members, it oughtta be Devils, as far as I'm concerned."
Ryo hesitated, looking disappointed. The look on his face caused Dee to speak up, even though it was contrary to his hopes for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
"Chief, Ibo might know something about Abernathy. That day I nearly got my head blown off in Shaver's bathroom, Shaver told me that Ibo was pissed that Abernathy owned a piece of him. Ibo apparently knew all about how his rivals, the Devils, were getting help from Abernathy. The guy's on the ball, according to Marty. He might be able to give us a new lead or a couple of names."
"All right, then. I personally think he's gonna tell you squat, but I suppose it's worth a try. Let Marty know that I okayed it. And don't mention Mike's name while Marty's in the room, you got that?"
"Chief, come on," said Dee. "Give us a little credit, here." He gave Ryo a look that said, Happy now? Ryo tried not to glance his way, but he seemed to be pleased.
"I'll give credit when that dirty sonofabitch is in custody, and not a moment before," retorted the Chief. "You guys got anything else to say? No? Out, then. Don't forget to type up last night's report before you leave today, Randy."
"Don't worry, Chief. I'll do it ASAP." Ryo got up and so did Dee. "Thanks for the update."
They went to find Andrea in the lobby, and took her upstairs with them to their office.
"Thanks, boys," she said, as she sat down on the guest chair that Ryo unfolded for her. "It's good to get a chance to compare notes. Dee, Randy was saying that you were with Ned on Monday when you guys apparently ran into the Stone Bloods."
"Yeah, that's true," Dee said, glancing at Ryo, who gave him a 'be careful' kind of look. "At his apartment. He wasn't expecting them. Your partner was in rough shape because the Devils had beaten the crap outta him on account of his connection with the Stone Bloods. Ibo and a few of his guys stopped by to make sure Shaver was gonna show up at the warehouse meeting with CA. They didn't know I was there because I was hiding in the bathroom. I got the details of the meeting out of him when they left."
"I wonder why he didn't tell us about it?" Andrea frowned thoughtfully.
Dee knew he couldn't tell her that her partner had been trying to use that meeting as a bargaining chip for clemency against corruption charges. He thought quickly, and said, "He really didn't want to attend that meeting. He told me he had a bad feeling about it. I think going to the warehouse was a last minute decision. I helped him shake a couple of Devils who were after him on Wednesday, and he...ah...impulsively offered to wear a wire for us."
Andrea shook her head, her mouth a thin line. "That...man," she said disgustedly. "He was in over his head, wasn't he?"
"Why couldn't he have just reached out? Any one of us in Narcotics would have been more than willing to help him carry the load."
"You know, he felt really bad about what happened to his former partner," Dee said. "He said it was all his fault. He probably didn't want to risk the same thing happening again."
"Apart from being a bit of a male chauvinist pig, he wasn't a bad cop," Andrea remarked. "About a month ago he came out with me to check out an illegal sweatshop in Norwood. They had a few sewing machines upstairs, but the place was piled high with fireworks, hundreds of boxes, never seen anything like it. They drew on us and I thought we were done for, but Ned somehow talked them down. He reminded them that there was enough gunpowder in those fireworks to send that house into orbit if anyone started shooting in there. We didn't make a bust 'cause they all ran for the back door before back-up arrived, but we didn't get blown up either. He kept a cool head, throughout. If he hadn't been there, there might have been shooting, and I might not be sitting here now. I guess we'll never know. But it's a damn shame he had to be the big hero on this case and do every damn thing himself."
"Have you talked to his family?" Ryo asked.
"Yeah," she said, looking away, her eyes shadowed. "That was rough. You guys know how those things go."
The two men nodded grimly. They had each done their share of having to inform family members of the deaths or injuries of loved ones. It never got any easier.
"Well, at least his family will be taken care of," said Dee. "His wife will get his pension and whatever insurance money there was, right?"
"Yep, that's what they're saying. It's something at least. But his kid is inconsolable. Makes me wanna go home and hug my own, you know?"
"Do yours let you hug them?" Ryo asked with a wan smile.
"Yeah, but they're just little," she replied, smiling at him. "I know that in a few years they'll be too embarrassed to even be seen with their mom. How's your boy, Randy?"
"He just became a teenager at the end of April," Ryo replied. "Hugs are definitely fewer and further between, now."
"Don't worry," she said reassuringly. "They say that stage only lasts a few years. You guys'll be back to hugging when he's about 18. At least, that's what my sister says. Her kids are 19 and 20, so she should know."
"Thanks, Andrea. I'll keep that in mind over the next five hug-free years," Ryo said dryly.
"Listen, boys, I've got to be going. Anything else you can tell me about Ned?"
"Sorry," said Dee. "We really hadn't known the guy for long."
"Please convey our respects to your department," Ryo added.
"Will do." She picked up her sunglasses from Dee's desk and got up to go. At the door she paused and looked back at them. "Watch each other's backs out there, okay? A good partner is worth his weight in gold."
"Better luck with your next one," Dee said.
"Thanks. I'm gonna need it with the gangs all riled up the way they are. See you around." And she was gone, leaving the door ajar.
When he was sure she was gone, Dee leaned in close to Ryo. "If a good partner is worth his weight in gold, what's a great partner worth?"
"Get back on your own side of the office," Ryo responded, with a nervous glance at the open door. "We've got work to do."
"We do? But it's past quitting time..."
"Yes we do. I have to write a formal report about last night for the Chief, and so do you."
"Me? But I didn't even get to go! I was excluded from the mission. Why should I write a report?"
"Dee, the whole stakeout happened because you somehow talked Shaver into wearing a wire for us. Do you think the Chief won't want to know about that?"
"Can't you just add a couple of lines about that in the report that you're writing?"
"No. Write your own report. And did you ever write that apology letter to Detective Saunders for punching him in the nose? I didn't think so. You'd better get busy. I'm gonna find out what time Marty wants to question Essien Ibo." Ryo turned away from Dee's sulky face and picked up the phone.
"Shot down again," muttered Dee to himself. And after he had talked the Chief into letting them go with Marty to see Ibo, too. Scowling at the colossal ingratitude of his workaholic partner, he stomped out of their office to have a cigarette on the roof. Dammit, maybe great partners were worth their weight in reports and files, as well as gold. Even that desk-loving Sheldon didn't generate as much paperwork as Ryo did on a monthly basis.
Lieutenant Michael Abernathy swore softly. That little bitch wasn't picking up her phone. He had left her one quite courteous message asking her to call him back; he couldn't leave another without appearing too invested. After all, he didn't have anything on her like he did on most of the others. All she had said was that she would speak to her lieutenant about the package that had arrived on her desk that morning. She hadn't actually agreed to confront MacLean with it. But he knew she would.
He looked at his watch. Perhaps he should call the other bitch. She might be able to tell him if MacLean was wandering around with a worried look on his face at least. He wondered why he cared. This was just a small gesture, after all. Just a little payback for the humiliation he'd had to endure last night. After tomorrow, it wouldn't matter anymore. The trail would go cold and everyone would move on.
He dialed the number and listened as she answered in her usual professional way. He knew her voice would change and become scared the moment she realized who was calling her. Good. Let her be scared. People who were scared of losing something were more malleable than those who had given up. That had been his mistake with Shaver.
"Good afternoon, me fine colleen. A little update, if you please."
"Y-yes sir. What would you like to know?"
Still professional, yes, but that telltale little tremor gave her away. He smiled to himself.
"Has Detective Greenspan from the 99th paid our boy a visit yet today?"
"Yes, she was here earlier, but he was out, so she didn't stay," she told him.
"Is he back in the building now?"
"Yes, I believe he's in his office."
"Did Detective Greenspan happen to drop off a package for him?"
"I wouldn't know."
"Then find out, lass. Bestir yourself a little. If she left him a package, it's bound to be worrisome news for him and I doubt he'll be able to hide it. Get me some information, there's a good girl. I'll call you again in thirty minutes."
A half hour later, she reported that nothing appeared to have been dropped off for Detective MacLean, and that the man didn't seem any more or less worried than usual. Just tired. Abernathy told her to stay out of trouble, and hung up.
He tucked his cell phone back in his jacket pocket. Ah well. Perhaps the obliging Detective Greenspan would succeed in making contact with MacLean tomorrow. It was really too bad she had such a squeaky-clean record, that one. He would have enjoyed hearing the same note of nervousness and respect in her voice as he was able to produce in the others who answered to him. However, it was of no moment. There were plenty of others - plenty of fallen angels in the ranks of the NYPD, people who, through greed, selfishness or negligence, had done things they ought not have and were anxious that their actions not come to light.
All they needed was a little managing, most of them. He did his best not to let them see that he despised them almost as much as they despised themselves.
~End of Chapter 39~
Additional author's notes: The next chapter will be published in two weeks, and I mean that this time. Chapter 40 is within 6 pages of being finished, but there needs to be a certain amount of back-and-forth beta-advice on a scene where I lack expertise that my betas have in abundance. I may not be able to finish the draft this weekend, because there are all kinds of social plans in the works, so I'm giving myself two weeks!