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FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May), Ch 41
Dee Blue waves
brit_columbia
Fake First Year Together: A New Day (May)

By Brit Columbia

Chapter 41

Fandom:  Fake
Pairing:  Dee/ Ryo
Rating:  Worksafe.  Swearing. A little kiss. Sorry, pervs.
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. Lieutenants Abernathy and Fox are mine however, along with Detective Greenspan and Dot, the waitress. I have not based these characters on any living person. And speaking of characters that are mine, if you check out the post directly before this one, you'll find a character list of all the characters in this story that were created by me.  Here's the link:
Brit Columbia's character list for A New Day )
Author's notes:  I believe in a strong and equal Ryo and Dee. I believe in the rights of all people to live, work and love without fear of discrimination or hostility based on gender, race, religion or sexual orientation. We are all brothers and sisters on Planet Earth.
Thank you to  mtemplar, Moontatoo and LadyFeather for being such helpful and clever betas. 

Fake First Year Together: A New Day (May)
Chapter 41


Detectives Laytner and MacLean sat across from Detective Greenspan in a booth at Marv's Diner. Dee's sunglasses were covering his eyes, even though he and his companions were indoors. He freely admitted to himself that he kept them on mainly to make Detective Greenspan uncomfortable. She had actually tried to sit down next to Ryo, but Dee had butted in front of her and taken that spot, with no word of apology. Of course, the challenging glare he had given her had gone completely unnoticed on account of the sunglasses. She had glanced at him a little uncertainly, but had merely shrugged and taken the seat opposite them.

A lively gray-haired waitress appeared with smiles and coffee for everyone. "Will you be needing menus?" she inquired, her eyes drinking in the sight of the two extremely good-looking men who had chosen to grace her establishment with their presence.  

"Not today, thanks," said Ryo with a smile. He couldn't believe how normal his voice sounded, even though he felt quite sick with apprehension.

"Well, if you change your mind, I'll be right over there at the counter, doin' the pastry order," she informed him. "Just give me a shout. My name's Dot."

"Dot," said Detective Greenspan sweetly, "do you think you could find me some low-cal creamer?"

Dot reluctantly tore her eyes away from Dee and Ryo, and bent her attention to the pretty woman who was accompanying them. "Sorry, honey, what did you say?"

"Low-cal creamer. Do you have any?" Detective Greenspan repeated patiently, pushing the small jug of regular creamer a short distance away from herself with a slight wrinkling of her nose.

Dot looked blank for a moment before saying, "Ah! Low-cal creamer. Why, sure. I'll be right back with some."

She bustled off in the direction of the kitchen, leaving the three of them temporarily alone. Detective Greenspan opened her briefcase again and slowly drew out the manila envelope she had shown them earlier. She placed it on her side of the table, and rested her hand on it almost possessively before raising her eyes to gaze upon Ryo with a sympathetic look, that although perhaps kindly-meant, made him want to grind his teeth.

"Detective MacLean," she said gently, "I'm afraid you might find some of these pictures a little upsetting, so I just want to warn you to brace yourself for some possible...er, 'bad news' about your son's recent activities."

"I'm braced, thank you," said Ryo calmly. "Now can I please see them?" Under the table, Dee's thigh was pressing against his with a silent message of support, and he appreciated it more than he could ever have said.

But Detective Greenspan kept her hand on the envelope. "I think we should wait," she said firmly. "You know, until the waitress has come and gone."

Dee regarded her from behind his sunglasses. She was enjoying this, the little bitch. This was her moment of power. Fresh from rubbing shoulders and God knows what else with the Commissioner of the NYPD, she was now secretly reveling in her ability to withhold potentially damning information about a man's son from him.

"Give him the friggin' envelope, Tinkerbell."

An angry flush leapt to her cheeks, and she unconsciously tugged the envelope a little closer to herself. "Detective Laytner, I honestly think it would be best if -" she stopped speaking and gasped as Dee's coffee cup slipped from his hand and crashed onto the table, sending a small torrent of coffee rushing towards her.

"Hey Dot," called Dee cheerfully. "Clean up on aisle three!"

As Detective Greenspan's dismayed eyes turned toward the kitchen, Dee reached across the table and snatched up the envelope, which he immediately handed to Ryo.

Dot who had just been coming through the saloon doors of the kitchen with a small white jug in her hand, scooped up a rag from the end of the counter as she passed and proceeded toward their table at double her previous pace.

Detective Greenspan was forced to stand up and snatch her open briefcase out of harm's way, just before coffee began dripping onto the seat she had been occupying a moment ago.

"Dee!" hissed Ryo under his breath. "You didn't have to do that, you know."

Dee shoved his sunglasses up onto his head and said, "Dude, just open the envelope already. The suspense is killing me. If we left things to her, we wouldn't be getting a look at those pictures until she'd finished milking the moment for all it was worth. Like, oh...the middle of the afternoon, maybe?" He didn't bother lowering his voice, and in fact glanced over at Detective Greenspan to make sure she was listening. "Sorry about that Tina," he added loudly. "You didn't get any on your skirt, did you?"

"Just a drop or two," she replied in an acidic voice, submitting to having her skirt dabbed at by the unfazed Dot.

"Go put some cold water on it, honey," said the waitress sympathetically. "It's such a pretty skirt, it would be a shame to get coffee stains on it. I've got some little packets of Stain-Out that you're welcome to try. Come on with me, now. Just leave your briefcase here."

Detective Greenspan, casting a mistrustful look over her shoulder at Dee, followed Dot with her briefcase firmly clasped in both hands.

Since the table was still wet, the two detectives moved to an adjacent booth to open the envelope. Despite his professed disapproval of Dee's action, Ryo was actually deeply grateful to him for getting rid of Detective Greenspan, even though the method had been a little lacking in finesse. He wanted to view the potentially shocking contents of the envelope without her sharp eyes watching for his reaction. She would probably be back in a few minutes, however, so he knew he'd better be quick. He unwound the string that was holding the package closed and dumped the contents onto the table.

A vast number of eight by ten glossy photographs slid out, mostly of Bikky. In almost every photograph, he could be seen talking to known drug dealers. Some of the photos were paper-clipped together in sets, and when viewed one after the other, they appeared to tell a story.  Ryo frowned at one series of photos that depicted Bikky approaching Wes Samberg, a guy whom Ryo had personally busted two years back for possession and assault. Wes and Bikky shook hands in one photo; in the next, Bikky was explaining or asking something; in the next, Wes seemed to be protesting. Another picture showed him apparently acquiescing and handing Bikky a small packet of something in a furtive manner, while looking the other way. In the final picture, Bikky could be seen equally furtively stuffing whatever the drug dealer had given him into his pocket.

There were many more like that. Ryo sifted through them silently, his heart beating rapidly in his chest. How could he not have known? Bikky must have been further into the drug trade than he could have possibly guessed. Some of the pictures were taken in daylight, others when it was dark. Bikky was wearing different clothes in different photos, which indicated that whatever he had been up to was not a one-time thing. Ryo bowed his head in rage and sorrow, trying desperately to compose himself before Detective Greenspan returned to the table.

He couldn't believe it when Dee started laughing. He jerked his head up, eyes blazing. What the hell was his partner doing? Yes, Dee had a twisted sense of humor at times, but how could he possibly find anything funny in this?

"Ryo, dude, don't look at me like that," Dee said, shaking his head from side to side. "You're gonna laugh, too, I promise you." Somehow he managed to get the words out between snickers. "This is...f-fucking hysterical!"

"Would you care to explain exactly what is so funny?" Ryo demanded in a low voice. "Because I, personally, can't see anything humorous in this whole situation."

"Neither can I," said Detective Greenspan, stepping up to their new booth with a wet spot right in the middle of her skirt. She took a seat opposite them once more and gave Dee a disgusted look, that Ryo, for once, wholeheartedly approved of. "In fact, I think the situation couldn't be more grave. Many of these guys that Bikky had clandestine meetings with are people who make their money selling drugs. As you know, Mr. Calvetti also made a significant portion of his living doing the same thing." She swept a hand over the photos and added. "You do realize, don't you, that this goes a long way toward establishing motive? Mr. Calvetti was no doubt a source of competition to the others. Any one of them might have wanted him out of the way, and it looks as though someone might have used your son to set him up."

Ryo's ire, which had been exclusively focused on Dee, immediately expanded to include Detective Greenspan. "The last time we talked about this, you told me most definitively that you did not think that my son was involved in the murder," he reminded her, a dangerous edge to his voice.

"Well, it's possible he may not have been aware that he was helping to facilitate a murder...or he might not have expected his associates to go so far as to commit murder when they told him they wanted to find Mr. Calvetti." She looked at him resolutely, although her manner was not without compassion. "This new evidence is forcing me to rethink things. In any case, I'm going to have to question him again. And Carol, too. You perhaps noticed that she's in one or two of the photographs, obviously acting as a lookout."

Ryo hadn't noticed, but that piece of information gave him pause. Carol, too? But she was so adamantly anti-drug. How could this possibly be? "No, I didn't notice," he said. "Show me."

Detective Greenspan sifted through several photos and handed him one. Dee wordlessly gave him the other. Ryo looked at them in silence. Carol did seem to be acting as a lookout. Or maybe she just hadn't wanted to actually speak to any of the sellers. There was something wrong about this. He thought hard, trying to put his finger on it.

"What did the Commissioner think of the photos?" asked Dee abruptly.

"He said they were most interesting, and that it would really be very unfortunate if it turned out that Bikky is involved in the drug scene," she said briskly, gathering up the photos into one neat pile. "He advised me that you would probably want to see them ASAP, even though today's your day off." She looked at Ryo expectantly, obviously waiting to be thanked.

He knew it was ungracious of him, but he just couldn't bring himself to thank her. Not only had she just given him one of the worst pieces of news that a parent could imagine having to absorb, but he didn't like her new attitude at all. She was behaving as though the power balance had shifted between them, and that she suddenly had the upper hand and could afford to be benevolent and sympathetic, at least to a point. He looked into her eyes and found that he trusted her less than ever, despite the promise of their last conversation when she had called him at the precinct on Wednesday. He hoped that the Commissioner hadn't truly told her everything.

"Detective Laytner, I'll be needing that one too." Detective Greenspan held out a peremptory hand for the single picture that Dee had been gazing at for the last few minutes.

"Huh? No way. This is my favorite picture," he said, holding it close to himself.

"It IS a darn cute one," opined Dot, who had come up behind him with a coffeepot in one hand. "More coffee for anyone?"

"Hell, yeah," said Dee. "The lady and I will be needing new cups. And my partner there was smart enough to bring his own cup with him when we moved to this table, but I'd say he REALLY needs another cup of coffee right now."

Dot told them she'd be right back, and as soon as she was gone, Detective Greenspan turned once more to Ryo. "I'd like to question your son again tomorrow if possible. And don't worry -" she laid a hand on his arm - "I won't bring Detective Saunders this time." She smiled conspiratorially, as though what had happened last time had been nothing more than a silly little misunderstanding instead of the extremely stressful and ill-managed fiasco that it had truly been.

"Tomorrow's not convenient," said Dee before Ryo could answer. "Is it, Ryo?"

"No," Ryo confirmed. He needed more time, for one thing. And he was pretty sure that Lindsay Masters, the high priced lawyer he had hired for Bikky, probably charged double if he had to turn out on a weekend.

Detective Greenspan suggested Sunday, and then Monday, but Ryo rejected both days.

She seemed to be getting just a tiny bit impatient. "You know, Detective MacLean," she said. "It I were you, I'd perhaps want to be a bit more cooperative."

Ryo's head came up sharply at that, but Dee just burst out laughing again, and Dot, who had reappeared with a tray of fresh cups, two little jugs of creamer, and a coffee pot, laughed with him.

"Oh, I do like to see people happy," she said as she poured coffee into their cups. "Honey, you must have told him a real funny joke to get him laughing like that." She smiled benevolently from Dee to Detective Greenspan, and then winked at Ryo, as if to say, 'aren't they cute?'

"Actually," said Dee, pointing at Detective Greenspan, "the joke's on her."  His eyes sparkled mischievously at Dot, who after a quick glance that took in Detective Greenspan's set mouth and resentful eyes, beat a tactful retreat.

"Detective Laytner, I fail to see the cause for all this foolishness," Detective Greenspan said pointedly. "Have you no compassion for your partner?"

Dee grinned at her and gave the neat little pile of photos in front of her a contemptuous flick with his thumb and forefinger. "You got nothin', Tina."

"On the contrary. I've got photo evidence of something rather serious. My colleagues have already rounded up three of these men, and I'll be returning to Queens presently to question them. What do you think they're going to say when they see these photos and I ask them about Bikky?"

"They're gonna say you got nothin'. I don't see any drugs in these pictures, and neither will they."

"If they're selling drugs, they'll likely have some in their possession, and they'll probably be more than ready to cooperate to catch a break," she said.

Ryo wondered what game Dee was playing. He kept his mouth shut and waited.

"What if I told you I was with the kid the night - " Dee shuffled through the pictures with one hand until he found the one he wanted - "THIS one was taken?" He tossed it down in front of her, his eyebrows raised.

Ryo leaned forward to look at it upside down. A ponytailed Bikky, clad in a light colored hoodie and jeans stood under a street lamp talking to a redheaded hooker in thigh-high boots.

"It's been cropped, of course," Dee said. "If you had the whole scene, I'd be standing right about here."  He moved one of the two creamer jugs into a position off to the right of the photo.

"Dee?" Ryo was peering at him looking shocked and confused. "What...?"

Dee held his gaze, grinning, until something suddenly started dawning on Ryo.

"Three, two, one...and he's figured it out!" Dee snapped his fingers just as Ryo's face broke into a huge grin of relief.

Detective Greenspan's eyes moved uncertainly from one man to the other. "Would someone please explain to me what the hell is going on?"

"Sure thing, hon. Let me tell you the story of a really expensive funeral and the totally awesome kid who raised fifteen hundred bucks to help pay for it..."

From the counter, Dot returned to polishing the silverware with a happy nod. Now the other young man was smiling, too. He had been so serious-looking when he first came in, and she had thought to herself at the time that he would probably look like an angel if he smiled. And he certainly did. Now it seemed that he had been able to forget what was troubling him, and she was glad. She enjoyed seeing people happy, especially when they were in her restaurant.

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For the second time, Lieutenant Abernathy explained the details of his investigations of Officers Peyton and Henley of the 36th Precinct to the newly promoted Lieutenant Fox. It really shouldn't be so difficult for the man to understand.

"It wasn't so much that they slapped around the hooker," he said. "The main problem was that they tried to cover it up."

"But it should also be a problem that they slapped around the hooker, shouldn't it?" Lieutenant Fox asked. He had an irritating habit of pulling the ends of his goatee into a point and then twisting it.

Lieutenant Abernathy sighed. "Sonny," he said. "I'm making allowances for you because I know you're new to the city and that when you were a patrol cop back in Reno, you probably never found it necessary to slap around a hooker. But things are a little different here..."

Lieutenant Fox listened once more with that annoying little frown on his face that meant he was busy thinking up more stupid questions to slow everybody down. Before he could ask them, Lieutenant Abernathy handed him a stack of binders. "You'll be needin' to study these case histories," he said. "Why don't you take 'em back to your office, start reading and make a note of any questions you'd like me to answer later? I've got an appointment to get to." His eyes moved to the clock on the wall and then back to Lieutenant Fox's face.

"Okay, but...When will you be back? I'm sure I'll have quite a lot of questions after I read these."

"I'll be back when you least expect me, lad!" Lieutenant Abernathy replied enigmatically, forcing himself to smile. He scooped up his suit jacket and made for the door, the friendly expression falling instantly from his face the minute his back was to the irritatingly obtuse Lieutenant Fox.

He tried to be patient. Like all habitually impatient people, he was willing to pay lip service to the notion that patience was a virtue. And in some cases, it truly was, like with one's co-workers, for example. In others however, it just got in the way. Some people had no choice but to be patient in all areas of their lives, with the sloth, the ineptitude, the immorality, and the carelessness of their fellow human beings.

Circumstances, or more often, their own powerlessness compelled them to put up with it. But not he. Not in all areas of his life. Perhaps the Lord had been placing people with these disagreeable qualities in his path for a reason. Their number, regrettably, included his son. What a disappointment that lad had turned out to be. It was fit to break a parent's heart, it was. But, Mike thought to himself, if the Lord was indeed sending the slothful, the inept, the immoral and the careless to him on purpose, was it so that he could learn to engender patience within himself, or was it more so that he could use the force of his personality (and sometimes the force of his hand) to drive the foolishness and the self-indulgence out of these poor unfortunates? He rather thought it was the latter, although he would be the first to admit that he occasionally did go too far.

He felt a faint twinge of nervousness about how far overboard he had allowed himself to go the other night with that lad from the bus. Should that one put in a complaint, there could well be dire consequences. If Mr. Radley had any such notions, it would be best to pay him a little visit before he actually carried them out. Abernathy reached into his pocket and pulled out Alan Radley's driver's license. Fort Greene in Brooklyn. That was a nicer neighborhood than he would have thought. Ordinarily, he would have preferred to ask the Devils to send a couple of men to chat with him, but the surviving members of the Dyre Street Devils had other things on their minds since finding themselves plunged into war by the events of Wednesday night.

It looked as though he would have to take care of it himself.  One for the road, as it were.

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Detective Greenspan was looking somewhat crestfallen, but doing quite a valiant job of trying to hide it. "I see," she said. "Well, I hope you understand that I've still got to check it out. My superiors know about these photos, and they'll expect me to do my due diligence."

"Certainly," said Ryo politely.

"That's likely to eat up the rest of the weekend," said Dee smugly. "Lieutenant Abernathy sure handed you some 'busy-work' there. Don't let your other cases suffer because of it."

"Thank you, Detective Laytner, but I think I know how to manage my workload." She drained the last of her coffee and set down the cup. "May I have that last photo, please? I'll be more than happy to scan them all and email the images to you, but I do need to have the originals."

"What picture is that, Dee?" Ryo hadn't seen it yet because after Detective Greenspan's first attempt to get it back, his partner had tucked it into his clothes, and it was now nestled between his tee-shirt and the loosely buttoned shirt he was wearing over it. Ryo reached for it and Dee let him take it.

Ryo felt a small stab of shock go through him when he saw the picture. This one wasn't like the others. There was no sign of Bikky. Carol wasn't in the picture either, nor were there any drug dealers or prostitutes. This picture was of Dee and himself, and was rather compromising, to say the least. He willed himself not to blush, but for the thousandth time, his body betrayed him.

It was a scene from Eddie's funeral; he recognized that point right away. The photo was a little fuzzy, as if it had been taken from a distance, and then blown up and cropped, but it was clear enough. In the picture, he stood in the circle of Dee's arm, with his head resting on his partner's shoulder. Dee's head was turned and the camera had caught him clearly pressing a kiss to Ryo's hair. Ryo looked up from his perusal of the photo to find Detective Greenspan's eyes on him.

"I thought you would be embarrassed when you saw that one," she said, nodding knowingly. "I'll admit it gave me quite a start, too. For a couple of hours there... I thought...Well, I thought you might be gay or something!" She emitted a little laugh, as if at her own folly. "But when I showed it to the Commissioner, he told me you had been wearing that suit and tie on the day of the funeral, and then, of course, everything made sense."

"It did?" asked Dee, genuinely interested to hear what she had to say next. "What did the Commissioner think about the gay theory?" He hoped Ryo wasn't quietly having an internal meltdown beside him.

"Oh well, he didn't really say anything about that," she said, glancing off to the right as she tried to recall his exact words. "He just pointed out that it was a funeral picture and remarked that there had probably been quite a bit of emotion in the air."

"There was," Ryo said shortly, and changed the subject. "Did Lieutenant Abernathy say where he got the photos?"

"All he would say was that one of his sources had voluntarily brought it to him, in the interests of seeing justice done. But he did have a thing or two to say about this particular picture," she added, changing the subject right back again.

"Was what he had to say something that sounded like bitchy personal gossip, or was it relevant to the case in some way?" Dee sprawled against the vinyl cushions of the booth, chewing lazily on the corner of a package of sugar, and watching her through half-lidded eyes.

"Well..." she looked slightly embarrassed. "I would think that whatever he had to say, we should examine it just in case it does have some relevance."

"How much did the Commissioner tell you about Lieutenant Abernathy?" Ryo asked shortly.

"How much do you think he told me?" she shot back.

Ryo and Dee glanced at each other sidelong for a moment before returning their eyes to her defiant face. The Commissioner obviously hadn't told her much. In fact, Dee thought, he probably just poured her wine and asked her to tell him all about herself. And she probably did, and enjoyed every minute of it.

"I think he told you to ask us to fill you in," said Ryo. "Am I correct?"

"Well...yes. But he also told me that Lieutenant Abernathy was a 'person of interest' in one of your cases."

"Yup," said Dee. "And that's all you're gonna get for now, sister. It's our day off. Right, bud?"

"Right," said Ryo. "Detective Greenspan, I'm sure you're just as happy as I am to learn that there's an innocent explanation for my son's activities in these photos. Thank you very much for bringing them to my attention." He moved as if to stand up.

"You're...most welcome." She didn't look happy at all, but she stood up as well. "I'll call you in a couple of days regarding another questioning session for Bikky and Carol."

"I'd prefer to run that by my lawyer first," Ryo said. "I'm sure you understand."

"Yes, of course," she said a trifle stiffly, tucking the manila envelope back into her fashionable briefcase. She stepped out of the booth and looked over at the door, her lip between her teeth.

Just go, Dee thought.

She didn't. Instead she turned back towards them and took a deep breath. "Detective MacLean," she said quickly. "I have to know. Is what the lieutenant said true?"

 Both men stared at her, Ryo looking uncomfortable and Dee looking disgusted. Finally, Ryo said, "Lieutenant Abernathy resents being a person of interest in one of our cases. I think he would say almost anything about me if he thought it would cause trouble for me."

"Well, I didn't believe him, of course," she said. "In spite of that...picture. I - I mean, look at you. You're just so normal!  And... And you're a father!"

"Yup, he's a real man, all right," said Dee with a smirk. "How about me? Do I strike you as a real man? Am I normal?"

"I've heard all about you," she said with an unfriendly sniff. "And I have no problem believing it." She looked him up and down with faint contempt. "However, you, Detective MacLean...It couldn't possibly be true." And then she stood there, blinking at him, waiting for him to either confirm or deny.

Ryo was caught off guard. Somehow he hadn't expected that this would happen so soon - that someone would point-blank try to nail him down about his sexual orientation. He found he wasn't ready with an answer. He reached for something neutral to say, but his mind went blank.

Dee stepped into the breach. "My partner here has to practically fight off the women with sticks. Why do you even care what gossip Abernathy is spreading about his sexual orientation?"  he demanded. "I mean, what the hell business is it of yours? No one's walking up to you to ask if you've ever had your face in a muff. We actually have more manners, believe it or not."

She flushed somewhat, but whether it was from Dee's extremely blunt language or from the sting of truth in his complaint about her manners, the two men couldn't be sure.

"Detective MacLean, I'm sorry if I've embarrassed you." She inclined her head to him, gravely. "I should never have questioned your manhood like that."

"Apology accepted," said Ryo a trifle stiffly, feeling giddy with relief. Thank God Dee had been there.

"I'll call you soon," she said. "Bye, now." Her face still red, she hastily exited the diner.

"Sit down, bro," said Dee. "Let's give her a head start."

"Good thinking," muttered Ryo, flopping back down onto the seat. He felt a knot of contrasting feelings welling up inside him. He couldn't deny that Detective Greenspan's insistent questioning had left him on edge.

Dot wandered over with the coffee pot. "More coffee, boys?"

"No thanks, just the tab, please," said Dee.

"It's on the house if you'll do one little thing for me," she said.

"What's that?"

Dot dropped her voice a couple of degrees lower. "Kiss his hair again, like you did in the photo, hon. That was so adorable. You guys make such a sweet couple."

"I'd love to," said Dee, "but only if he says it's okay."

"Dee! Ma'am, I don't think so. There are other people in the diner..." Ryo looked around nervously.

"Only old Tom Franken having soup over there at the counter. He's got his nose buried in the Times. The only other customers are in the booth by the door. They can't see you from there. And it's not like you're by a window or anything...."
 
Ryo looked from Dot's kind face to Dee's carefully neutral one. While Dot looked openly hopeful, Dee appeared to be totally nonchalant. However, Ryo thought there was something in the way he was averting his eyes as he fiddled with the sugar bowl that suggested otherwise. Ryo was conscious of a feeling of gratitude toward his partner, mixed with affection. Dee's support today had meant so much to him.

"What the hell," he said, shaking his head and grinning slowly at both of them. He felt suddenly reckless and he couldn't say why. Perhaps it was Detective Greenspan's thinly veiled homophobia, followed by Dot's whole-hearted approval of his relationship with Dee. Perhaps it was the knowledge that it was true that no one was looking, and probably no one would care... "C'mere, you," he murmured, taking a suddenly-wide-eyed Dee by the collar and pulling him close.

Dee felt Ryo's lips press against his and linger, trembling for a long heart-thudding moment. Then with the merest flick of tongue, he withdrew. Dee stared at Ryo in reverent amazement. "Baby," he whispered. He felt his eyes actually getting moist. Ryo had just kissed him in public. That was...That was huge.

Dot clapped her hands once, and emitted a soft squeal. "Aw," she said. "You two are so darling together." Fishing their bill out of the front pocket of her apron, she tore it in half and dropped the pieces on the table. "Make each other happy, okay? Work through the hard times together."

"We will," said Dee.

"We do," said Ryo.

"Oh my God," said Detective Greenspan's voice, unexpectedly. "He was right!"

She had come up on the other side of the booth without any of them noticing her.
 
Everyone's eyes swung in her direction. Her face was flushed and her mouth hung open in shock.
 
Ryo knew his own face must look somewhat the same, as he felt the blood rush to the surface of his skin. He hoped someone else would say something because his tongue seemed to be stuck to the roof of his mouth. Once again, he felt Dee's thigh press hard against his, and he was reminded that he wasn't alone.
 
"Aw honey, didn't you know?" Dot was gazing at Detective Greenspan sympathetically.
 
The younger woman's eyes flashed dislike at her, before settling back on Ryo. "Apparently not," she said coldly.
 
"Don't worry dear. There are plenty more fish in the sea. I'm sure a pretty girl like you won't have any trouble at all finding a man."
 
Detective Greenspan ignored her and continued to glare haughtily at Ryo. "You might have told me," she said.
 
"Like I said earlier," Dee snapped, "what the hell business is it of yours?"
 
"Detective MacLean knows that I have been practically throwing myself at him for the past week," she said to Dee, her voice trembling. "He - you -" she transferred her attention to Ryo - "allowed me to make a fool of myself, all unknowing."
 
Ryo stared at her. She was angry with him because she had made a fool of herself? He was suddenly the bad guy? Women were so hard to understand sometimes. He realized he had to say something before Dee did. His partner was just opening his mouth to speak, and if he said something sarcastic to her right then, Ryo was afraid she might actually start crying. She was looking quite upset and she seemed like the type who would. He tapped Dee's foot with his own, sending his partner an unspoken message that he should keep quiet.
 
"Detective," Ryo said gently, "I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong idea. I tried my best not to encourage you."
 
"But you could have said something!" There was an unnaturally bright sheen to Detective Greenspan's eyes. "I - I certainly wouldn't have behaved that way if...well..." Her lip curled as an expression of disgust crept over her lovely features.
 
"If you had known I was taken? Or if you had known I was a fag?" Ryo asked sardonically, feeling a jolt of surprise go through Dee beside him.
 
"B-both," she said defiantly, "although I wouldn't have used that word, precisely. I'm sorry. I'm just disappointed that's all. You...You seemed so normal, so... nice."
 
Ryo maintained eye contact, although it was very difficult for him. "I'm still nice," he said. "And I'm pretty sure I'm normal. But I'm not exactly out of the closet." He couldn't believe these words were actually coming out of his mouth. "I didn't feel that I wanted to talk to you about my personal life, considering the extremely short nature of our acquaintance. I apologize if I've hurt your feelings, but I don't believe I should have to apologize for anything else."
 
She drew herself up. "Fine," she snapped. "You're right - Our acquaintance has been short, so I'm not as 'hurt' as you seem to think. I just find your evasive behavior...distasteful, that's all."
 
"Was there a reason why you came back?" queried Dee. "Some professional reason, for a change?"
 
"Yes." Lifting her chin defiantly, she surveyed them both with contempt. "I wanted to get an email address to send the pictures to, that's all."
 
"Oh, well, let me give you my card," said Ryo, shifting to get his wallet out of the inside pocket of his jacket. He handed her a card and noticed that she took it almost reluctantly between her thumb and one finger as though it were hot, hesitating a moment before stuffing it into her briefcase.
 
"I'll be in touch," she said shortly, and left without looking at them.
 
"Whatever," called Dee after her.
 
The little bells on the door jingled as she left the diner for the second and hopefully last time, and Ryo felt a small measure of the tension she had caused leave him. He couldn't deny that her behavior was hurtful. No one had treated him like he had cooties since he was in grade school, where he had encountered a couple of kids who hadn't liked the fact that he was half Asian. The feeling he had had then - a feeling of being looked down upon and reviled - was much the same as the way that Detective Greenspan had just made him feel about his sexual orientation, even though there was a world of difference between the shy child he had been and the man he was now.
 
But I chose this life when I chose Dee, he reminded himself, and this is part of the cost.  He turned toward his partner and met his anxious look with a brave smile. Dee was worth it, a thousand times over.

"Well, she was a rude one, wasn't she?" Dot exclaimed, indignant on behalf of the nice gay couple in her restaurant. "I was feeling a little guilty about it before, but now I'm glad I gave her the full-calorie creamer!"

&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&

"How do you feel about Abernathy sending someone to follow Bikky with a camera?" Dee asked Ryo as they threaded their way through the Kinney parking lot.

"Well, that's a message in itself, isn't it?" Ryo said. "It doesn't surprise me at all. I've been waiting for him to pull something like this."

"As long as he doesn't take it any further," said Dee grimly.

"I don't think he will unless he's scared," Ryo said. "This was just a little message to let me know that he can find Bikky any time he wants. So far he hasn't done anything really serious, but if we start to make any real headway on this case, I'll have to make a decision about whether to send Bikky somewhere safe."

"Bikky would hate that."

"I know. So would I. But it's a gamble, keeping him here."

"And would he be safe, even in another state? Abernathy seems like a resourceful kind of asshole, not to mention ruthless."

"Well, there is another option." Ryo looked at Dee as they walked, his expression unreadable.

"What's that?"

"We could drop the case." The words fell like a stone between them.

"That would suck."

"Yeah. I truly don't want to, but ever since Abernathy first approached Detective Greenspan about Bikky, I've been considering the possibility that it might come to that." Ryo glanced at Dee again, wishing he could see his eyes, but they remained hidden behind dark sunglasses. "How...how would you feel about that?"

Dee's head turned at the note of hesitance in Ryo's voice, and he looked full at him. "I'll tell you how I feel," he said. "Bikky's health, safety and happiness are more important than any career glory or personal satisfaction we could get from nailing Abernathy. Someone else can take over the case, someone without kids, if it comes to that."

"Thanks, Dee," Ryo said softly. "For now, we'll just continue the way we have been. I'm quite sure that if Abernathy gets nervous enough to constitute a real threat to Bikky, he'll give me some kind of verbal warning first."

"Yeah, he would," Dee agreed. "He's a talker, that guy. Of course," he added, "he might come after us, too."

"I know," said Ryo. "That was the message behind that last picture, the one of you and me."

"Tina sure wasn't happy about that one, but she didn’t have to be such a pushy bitch about it. What a twat."

"Do you think she'll talk about us?" Ryo asked Dee.

"Probably. But at least she won't be able to flash the picture around." Dee pulled it out of the back of his jeans and waved it softly at Ryo, a grin on his face.

Ryo smiled back. "I know it's totally out of character for me to say this, but thank you for stealing it.  I just hope she didn't scan the photos before she came here."

"I don't think so, because she offered to scan them for us, remember?" This time, Dee put the photo inside his black tank top, close to his heart.

"I hope you're right. But I think she'll still want to complain to her co-workers about how ungrateful, uncooperative and downright gay we are."

"Well, I think we may as well add the 99th to the list of precincts that think we're all gay down at the 27th," Dee remarked pragmatically. "Let's not tell Drake or Ted, though." They had reached the car, and he glanced at his partner's profile, searching for a clue as to what his feelings were about Tina and her snarky little melodramatic scene in the diner. "Listen, about what she said back there...Don't take it to heart, or anything. There's always gonna be people like her, and unfortunately, we sometimes have to work with them. She's one of the 'civilized' homophobes. In a way, they're almost worse than the ones who wanna beat us up."

"No, I think the ones with guns are worse," said Ryo with a quick smile and a glance at Dee. Then he looked away as he opened the passenger side door and got into the car.

There had been a hint of sadness in his eyes, and it made Dee want to find Tina, pick her up by the scruff of her neck, and toss her into the East River. And her stupid briefcase after her.

"Well, maybe they are," he retorted, as he started the engine, "but at least you can fucking shoot them."

"Dee, I wouldn't want to shoot Detective Greenspan. She's not all bad. Just lonely, I think."

"She's more than just lonely," muttered Dee around the cigarette clamped between his lips as he started navigating their way out of the parking lot. "She's her own worst enemy. But at least she's got hotness goin' for her."

"Oh?" said Ryo, folding his arms and turning piercing eyes on Dee.

"C'mon, don't tell me you haven't noticed," said Dee, with an amused glance at Ryo. "The Commissioner obviously has. He'll be buying her lingerie before the weekend is out. As long as she doesn't find out that he likes to suck dick, they'll keep each other busy for a while."

"That reminds me. We have to talk to him. I want her cleared from Helen's list before I trust her with a damned thing. And I want to know exactly what he told her about our investigation of Abernathy."

"Fair enough," said Dee. "But not today, okay?"

To Dee's surprise and delight, Ryo reached over and ran his hand up Dee's thigh from knee to groin. "Not today," he agreed. "Today is for us."

Dee stepped on the gas.

&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&^&
~end of Chapter 41~

Additional author's notes: There will be a big fat lemon next time for sure! The next post is in two or three weeks.  I don't really know precisely when because I haven't exactly started the next chapter.  If I don't have anything for you in two weeks, I'll post a lemon one-shot just to tide you over. I've also got to start working on Slave to a Gladiator again.

Thanks to Ladyfeather for your idea of having Dee steal the photo at the end.  That's exactly what our Dee would do, and for many reasons.

Thank you for reading, everyone.  I hope you enjoyed this chapter.
 


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Thank you. I appreciate your faith in me about Poison and Justice.

I kind of have a weakness for extended lemons. But, as luck would have it, so do many of my readers! I have another such fic waiting in the wings for my next posting delay, which I fear is coming up soon, because as soon as I start writing S to a G, FFYT:AND will get slowed down.

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