Not much to report here. I had a lovely lunch yesterday with a girlfriend at a beautiful new boutique hotel. There were some glitches with the service and the menu, like often happens with new places, but the decor was really gorgeous and airy and the bill was dead cheap. I'll have to go back there again before they work the bugs out and raise the prices!
The weather has been beautiful all weekend, and when it's warm and sunny, our cat gets really sleepy and falls asleep in a variety of adorable poses. My husband just took a photo of him sleeping on his back with his hind feet sticking straight up and his front paws curled at the 'wrists'.
I went food shopping today and spent a hell of a lot of money (everything I liked was on sale!) but I successfully resisted a seductively crusty loaf of Calabrese bread and took it out of my shopping cart after it had somehow found its way in there. I can't be trusted in the presence of an entire loaf, you see. It would be half gone already if it had come home with me.
I finally got my chapter sorted out, as you can see, but it's not very exciting or sexy. No cliffhangers, no heavy breathing. The good news is that it was so damn long that I had to chop off the last seven pages, so I now have a good head start on the next one.
FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May)
By Brit Columbia
Pairing: Dee/ Ryo
Rating: Mature. Nothing sexy happens in this chapter. Sigh.
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. Lieutenant Abernathy is mine however, along with Detective Greenspan, Sheldon, Frank Marchall and the family of Detective Shaver. I have not based these characters on any living person.
Author's notes: (1) An LEO is a law enforcement officer. (2) A gi (pronounced the way the French pronounce 'guy') is a Karate uniform. (3) I shortened the scene where Ryo and Dee talked about how Shaver detonated the bomb because it was just too long and detailed and it wasn't really necessary. It was really just me showing off, since thanks to all my research, I'm probably the best-informed person among my entire acquaintance on the subject of car bombs.
Thank you to mtemplar and the_ladyFeather.
A New Day
Detective Greenspan got off the train at Woodhaven Boulevard, and made her way slowly down the platform. What the hell was Lieutenant Abernathy up to? It was beginning to look very much like he was just using her as a tool to harass Detective MacLean, who appeared to be his sworn enemy. She had suspected for some time that the two men were playing some kind of cat and mouse game that neither was prepared to own up to.
When she had seen the photos with which the lieutenant had provided her, she initially found herself getting excited. They certainly looked incriminating, and she had become convinced that she was actually going to get a lead from Bikky MacLean that would help her solve the murder of Eddie Calvetti. She had yet to distinguish herself as a detective, and she was hoping that this would be the case that would allow her to make a name for herself.
But this latest promising clue had led nowhere. The idea that the boy had been raising money for a funeral sounded pretty farfetched, but she had a sneaking suspicion that the story would be corroborated by the minor dealers that were currently at the station waiting to be questioned on this matter. Even if that turned out to be inconclusive, there was the fact that Detective Laytner was claiming to be the boy's alibi. She sniffed disdainfully at the thought of him. What a jerk. And gay too, along with Detective MacLean! That had been a blow. She sighed glumly and tossed her hair off her shoulders. She should have known. Why were the best looking ones always gay? It was so unfair. At least the Commissioner was a straight man. Thinking of him made her smile to herself. His very flattering interest in her had been the only bright spot in a very stressful week. Now there was a man who was the absolute antithesis of gay.
Not only would an association with him be good for her career, but he was out-and-out gorgeous as well. He was tall, handsome, sophisticated, and obviously wealthy. Yesterday he had taken her to a lovely little wine bar where they had worked their way through a bottle of something obviously decadently expensive, and then he had sent her home by taxi, all the way to Queens, after waving off her concerns about the cost. And as if that hadn't been enough, he had appeared in person at the 99th this morning, supposedly to talk with the station commander, although she knew better. He had brought her back to Manhattan in his Lexus, flirting subtly all the way. In his company, she felt so delightfully, thoroughly, irresistibly feminine, and it had been a long time since any man had managed to make her feel that way.
The Commissioner, or 'Berkeley', as he had insisted she call him, seemed to think that it was very important and fortuitous that Lieutenant Abernathy had chosen her to feed information to. He had refrained from giving her any details about why the department might be interested in the lieutenant, but had impressed upon her the necessity of staying in Abernathy's good graces and slowly winning the man's trust.
"If anyone can do that, it's you, Tina," he had said, while gazing admiringly into her eyes, and when he said it that way, she also believed that she could.
When she wasn't actually in his powerful and inspiring presence, however, she wasn't so sure.
She had called Abernathy's office as soon as she had left that unpleasant, greasy little diner this morning, and the phone had been picked up by a Detective Fox, which was just as well because his kind courtesy gave her time to get over her vexation at having been made to feel a fool by Detectives Laytner and MacLean. By the time she had reached Abernathy on his cell phone, she was feeling much calmer.
He had listened quietly while she informed him that the boy had apparently not been speaking to the dealers about anything drug-related, and had in fact been raising money for Mr. Calvetti's funeral. If the lieutenant was disappointed, it wasn't evident in his voice. She couldn't have said for certain whether he had already known about the funeral or not.
"That boy is guilty," Abernathy had finally pronounced firmly. "He knows more about that murder than he's lettin' on. His roots are firmly entrenched in the drug culture. He grew up with it. Half his friends are either junkies or dealers. It's just a matter of time before we get something on him."
"Do you think his father knows about his son's drug connections and activities?" Detective Greenspan asked.
"You can bet he does, and he'll do anything to keep it quiet, including lying, destroying evidence and hiring high priced lawyers to bark threats at honest detectives like yourself."
Detective Greenspan smarted at the reminder of how Lieutenant Beasley and Sergeant Fedorov had gone up one side of her and down the other following a visit from Lindsay Masters, a high profile Manhattan lawyer famous for his take-no-prisoners approach. It hadn't even been her fault! It was Scott who had caused the ruckus. But when she had attempted to point this out, Lieutenant Beasley had stated tersely that it was her case, and she had to take responsibility.
"Detective MacLean seems to want to keep his sexual orientation quiet, too," she added, a little bit surprised at how much venom had found its way into her voice.
But Abernathy had entered into this new subject with venom of his own. "Oh, that he does, the immoral SOB. And can ye blame him? There are lots of guys on the force who wouldn't want to work with such a man, and might not be too quick too arrive on a call for back-up."
"Oh, I would hope not," Detective Greenspan had said, genuinely shocked. "His sexual preferences may be distasteful on a personal level, but he's still one of us."
"Ah lass, I can see you're still new to the way of things here in the NYPD," Abernathy had remarked in a tone that she found patronizing. "'One of us', indeed. When you've been an LEO in this city for a few more years, you'll learn that the vaunted brotherhood of the NYPD is just one of many pleasant illusions they like to feed us."
"Oh," she had made herself say in a small voice, when all she had really wanted to do was hang up on his condescending superiority. "Well, I guess you probably know somewhat more about it than I do, sir." She had noticed earlier that he seemed to like being addressed as 'sir', and since as a lieutenant, he technically outranked her, it didn't nettle her as much as it otherwise might have to address him that way.
"Stick with me, Detective," he said confidently. "I'll show you the ropes behind the ropes."
The thought of being shown 'ropes' by Lieutenant Abernathy brought an unwelcome and rather frightening image to her mind, which she quickly pushed away. Lord above, where had that come from?
"Thank you, sir," she had replied politely, hoping she sounded suitably grateful. She would show Berkeley that his faith in her was entirely justified. She would make this dismal little man trust her, even though she was prepared to label him the most cynical person she had ever met.
"Now lass, if you don't hear from me for a while, don't be thinkin' I've forgotten you."
"Why? Are you going somewhere?" she had asked quickly.
"Perhaps," he had replied. "In any case, I'm likely to be busy for the next few weeks, so just keep working away on the case on your own. If that MacLean kid knows anything, we'll not get it out of him now that he's got his guard up. I say we give things a little time to settle down, and then come at this case from another angle."
"But sir, I need your help," she had said. "What if the case goes cold?"
"It won't, Detective. That boy's not goin' anywhere. We'll get him eventually."
"I don't want to get him, sir," she reminded him, trying not to sound testy. "I just want him to lead me to the murderer."
"And so he will, lass, so he will. But patience is a virtue and you'd do well to cultivate some of that. I'll be in touch."
The phone rang and Ryo rolled over sleepily to answer it. "MacLean residence."
"Hey Ryo, is it safe to come home?"
"Of course it is, B. Why wouldn't it be?"
"Get real. I know it's your day off and you and the perv have been alone together for hours. He's there, right?"
"That's right, he is," said Ryo. "And he's staying for dinner."
"Well, duh. If dorkhead ever went home to his own place at dinnertime, I think the sun would explode. So, if I show up in say, five minutes, I'm not gonna see anything gross?"
Dee's body shook with silent laughter in the bed next to Ryo, and they exchanged grins.
"In that case, better make it ten minutes, brat," Dee called out.
"Bite me, loser!"
"That's enough Bikky. There's no need to yell in my ear," Ryo said. "We'll see you in a few minutes."
"Hell, I'll give ya half an hour. But can we eat as soon as I get home? I need food."
"Sure thing. I'll make you something good, okay?"
"Thanks. See ya!"
Ryo hung up the phone and pushed Dee's roving hand away from his penis. "Stop that. We don't have time."
"I could have sworn I heard him say 'half an hour'." Dee's voice was muffled against Ryo's shoulder as he nuzzled him there.
Ryo wanted to lie in bed with Dee, warm and comfortable, while the stirrings of desire awoke once more in his body. There was a light stubble coming up on his partner's jaw and it scratched pleasantly against his shoulder. But he knew that if he didn't find the strength to disengage and stand up, he would be embarrassed and disorganized when Bikky came home, and dinner certainly wouldn't be ready. Bikky had said he was hungry. Ryo didn't ever want to become the kind of parent who would choose sex with his lover over preparing a meal for his hungry child.
"Half an hour will give us just enough time to get cleaned up and throw some chicken strips in the oven. "Come on, let go of me. Do you want the shower first?"
"Spoilsport," grumbled Dee, pressing one last stubbly kiss against Ryo's shoulder blade. "You go first. I'll change the sheets."
"Thanks, Dee." Ryo gave his hand a grateful squeeze and jumped out of bed. When his feet hit the floor, he winced a little.
"Not as sore as I'm gonna be after Karate." Ryo stretched languorously and popping sounds issued from a couple of his joints. He began casting about on the floor for his clothes.
"Damn. Forgot about Karate. That's at 6 PM, right? You gonna even have time to eat anything?" Dee glanced at the alarm clock next to the bed. It said 4:36.
"Maybe," said Ryo, also glancing at the clock. He smiled at Dee, and added, "With your help."
Dee went from half-asleep, half-erect master of seduction to fully awake and alert assistant manager of Ryo's nutritional needs and parental responsibilities in about eight seconds. "Go," he said, springing out of bed and making shooing motions at Ryo. "Get your butt in the shower. Never mind about your clothes right now. I'll pick everything up. You're the one with a deadline here."
"Dee...my love--" It was a quick whisper, a quicker kiss, and Ryo was out of Dee's reach, snatching his robe off the hook on the bedroom door, before disappearing down the hall.
Dee changed the sheets with a dumb grin on his face. Ryo was not usually one for endearments, so the fact that he had just said 'my love' meant a lot. Ryo usually only addressed him by his name. However Dee did have to admit to himself that Ryo had been known to call him 'asshole' or 'dickhead' periodically when he was pissed off, and a couple of years back he had experimented with 'dude' once or twice. That was mainly because pretty well all the guys in the CI division had caught it from Dee. But with Ryo, it hadn't stuck. It just wasn't his style.
But now he had just said something halfways mushy. Dee's grin broadened. "Face it, dude, you're crazy about me," he muttered happily.
Dee listened attentively as Bikky, in between huge bites of ketchup-drenched chicken strips, successfully negotiated with Ryo for a movie night with his buddies. First, Ryo had had to be reminded that Bikky's period of grounding was finally over. Then Bikky subtly applied guilt, suggesting that since Ryo was going to a class, there certainly wouldn't be much opportunity for 'father-son time' that evening. Bikky punctuated this last statement with a brief, resentful glare at Dee, who made a face at him. Just when Dee was thinking that the score was two-zero for Bikky with Ryo on the ropes, Ryo made a comeback by refusing to contribute the money Bikky needed for his evening's entertainment. He pointed out that since Bikky had been grounded for the last few weeks, he wouldn't have had many opportunities to spend his allowance and should therefore be in sufficient funds to be able to pay for his movie ticket and then some. Bikky countered with protests that while he had been out raising funds for the funeral, he had had to pay for snacks et cetera several times! Plus give money to homeless kids! Bikky's cunning mention of homeless kids caused Ryo to temporarily lose momentum, but he recovered quickly, coming back with an offer to pay half the cost of the movie ticket, but only on the condition that Bikky was home by 9:30 to put in half an hour on his homework. Finding himself forced to agree to those not very advantageous terms, Bikky then tried to get an extra five bucks for popcorn, which Ryo negotiated down to a promise of a big bowl of ice cream when he came home instead.
Dee didn't even bother to hide his grin of admiration for Ryo. He could still recall the days a few years back when Ryo, a new parent, regularly got played by Bikky until experience had caused him to wise up. The little brat still got his way a lot of the time, but Ryo had become adept at attaching conditions like homework and chores to the activities that he allowed Bikky to take part in. He was also much better at making Bikky try to stay within the confines of his allowance. Gone were the days when Bikky could wheedle an extra thirty to fifty bucks a week out of Ryo on top of his regular allowance.
"What the hell are you looking at, doofus?"
"Nuthin'," said Dee with a smug smile. "Just waiting for your next play, that's all."
Bikky shook his head in disgust. "I'm going to the movies, Ryo's going to Karate, and you're going home now, right? Show's over, freak."
"Actually, I'm going to the gym to get all buff for Ryo," said Dee. "But you might not be going anywhere if Ryo notices you haven't eaten your green beans yet." He smiled wickedly at the suddenly open-mouthed boy and then took an innocent sip of his tea as Ryo's eyes swivelled to Bikky's plate.
"Bikky, I want those green beans off your plate and inside your stomach before I leave the house, which will be in five minutes," Ryo said sternly. "I'm going to go brush my teeth and get my gi ready, so start eating." He picked up his empty plate and carried it to the sink, while Bikky turned rage-filled eyes on Dee.
"You're not gonna get away with this, asshole!" he hissed.
When Ryo came out of the bathroom, he wasn't as shocked as he otherwise might have been if the yelling from the kitchen hadn't alerted him to expect a mess. Ketchup-covered green beans were strewn across the kitchen floor, and Dee was out of his chair and hollering angrily. There was a smear of what looked like blood (but was most likely ketchup) on one of his cheeks and a clump of mashed potatoes stuck to the front of his tee-shirt. Bikky seemed to be doing some kind of victory dance. It wasn't hard to figure out what had happened.
His face grim, Ryo handed Bikky a roll of paper towel and a bottle of spray cleaner and ordered him to clean up the mess on the floor immediately. Dee went cursing to the bathroom to scrape the mashed potatoes off his shirt, and while he was gone, Ryo revealed to a dismayed Bikky that he had not in fact gotten out of eating his potatoes and green beans by throwing them at Dee.
"There are more in the pan," Ryo informed him, spooning them onto Bikky's plate. "I had a feeling something like this would happen, so I kept some back. And no, you can't have ketchup this time. Eat up, or no movie."
"Aw Ryo, you're such a... a veggie-sadist!"
Ryo was sitting at the kitchen table trying to keep Bikky on track with his science homework, when the phone rang.
"Aaaaand, that'll be dorkhead," muttered Bikky, throwing down his pen.
"Dee!" said Ryo into the phone, sounding annoyingly delighted. "How was your workout?"
"It was torture," quavered Bikky in a melodramatic tone, "because you weren't there!"
Ryo glared at him and retreated into the bedroom with the phone.
"It's only been a couple of hours, but it felt like eternity!" Bikky called after him. Ryo closed the door firmly in response.
"I'm gonna pick that kid up by the seat of his pants and dangle him off the fire escape," growled Dee. "And then I'm gonna--"
"No you're not, so just drop it," Ryo said. "Please let's have a normal conversation if that's not too difficult for you. I believe I asked you how your workout was."
"Oh, not bad. I liked my earlier workout a lot better, though," Dee said suggestively, obviously waiting for Ryo to react.
"Me too," said Ryo. He sat down on the bed, absently noting that the pillowcases didn't match, and then recalling that it had been Dee who had changed the sheets earlier. "It was way more fun than Karate. Especially since no fewer than four people seemed to feel the need to comment on that big freakin' mark you left on my neck."
"Jeez, sorry about that," said Dee, who wasn't actually all that sorry. There were certain people at the dojo to whom he wanted to send a news flash that Ryo was now taken. Hopefully they had gotten the message. "Anyway," he added, quickly changing the subject, "I ran into Ted and Marty at the 27th when I was using the gym, and they gave me an update. Wanna hear it?"
"Sure," said Ryo, instantly interested. "What's happening?"
"Well, first off, Marty's got three or four small gangs trying to make a name for themselves as badasses by claiming they were the ones who blew up the warehouse. We know it's bullshit, of course, but it'll give the commish something to say at his press conference."
"Wow," said Ryo. "Marty really knows how to play the game, doesn't he?"
"Yeah, he does," Dee agreed. "He seems to write his own ticket too. That guy is smarter than most of the brass I've ever met."
"Is he smarter than you?" Ryo teased.
"I'd have to say yes," said Dee seriously. "Way smarter. If he doesn't make lieutenant by the end of the year, I'll eat my handbook."
"Dee, you probably couldn't even find your handbook."
"That may be. Haven't seen the damn thing since last summer. Anyway, moving on. Ted talked to the pair of Momma-Maids who junked out Shaver's apartment."
"Momma-Maids told him and JJ about the crap they'd hauled down to the dumpster. Nothing very interesting, according to Ted. He was probably hoping to hear about inflatable sex dolls or something."
"But?" Ryo tried not to sound impatient.
"But the Momma-Maid team did find a couple of fireworks, just small ones."
"Ah. Gunpowder. Or rather, black powder. The key to the blast. How did the Chief take it?"
"I dunno. He couldn't have been too happy. But remember what Andrea told us? The call she went on with Shaver and the house full of illegal fireworks?"
"Well if he had a lot of fireworks, he sure wasn't keeping them in his little bachelor apartment. The place was tiny."
"He may have kept them in a storage unit somewhere. Anyway, the point is that it was an ANFO bomb, so the main explosion was caused by the mix of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel. But because ANFO's so stable, he would have needed a smaller blast to achieve detonation of the larger mixture. The fireworks would have given him that. I can't see him being able to get his hands on blasting caps or dynamite without calling attention to himself."
"Sounds like part of the puzzle is solved, then. Hey, didn't you say this morning that you had figured out how he detonated it?"
"Well, what I said was I think I know," said Ryo reaching for the small light bulb he had removed from the trunk of Dee's car that morning. It was still on the nightstand where he had placed it earlier. "I don't think anyone can be sure exactly what he did, since all the evidence got blown to smithereens and Shaver's not around to answer any questions."
"Unless we want to do a seance or something." Dee paused to take a drag on a cigarette. "So, how'd he make it all go boom?"
"I have two theories, and keep in mind they're just theories. He either got a radio unit from somewhere, which wouldn't have been that hard to do, or he ran a hot wire, most likely nichrome, from his trunk light socket and attached it to a fuse. If it was the latter, all he would've had to do was press the button on his remote to unlock the trunk. When it popped open, the light would normally come on."
"Except this time there was no light to receive the current," Dee said.
"That's right. He didn't need light, he just needed the wire to get hot. And he needed a sufficient preliminary blast for the ANFO bomb to piggyback on. He must have had three or four hundred pounds of diesel and fertilizer packed into his trunk to do the damage he did."
"You don't think he just used a timer?"
"No. I think he wanted to choose the precise moment of detonation so that he could catch the maximum number of gang members in the blast and maybe take cover himself."
"Sonofabitch! Are you saying you don't think this was suicide? You think he's not dead?"
"Yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying. I think Shaver was the guy on the bike, and both Abernathy and Ibo know it."
"Okay, I can understand why Abernathy wouldn't want us to find Shaver, but why wouldn't Ibo say anything? If he wants to get Shaver, he might as well use the police to bring him in. From everything we've heard about Ibo, he's not averse to getting the police to do his dirty work whenever possible."
"You haven't had a chance to hear the tapes yet, have you? One of the last things Ibo said before the warehouse blew up was 'Give the money to the cop.'
Dee was silent for a moment. Then he swore softly. "So he took 'em all down and fucked off with the money? I didn't think he had it in him."
"He probably got lucky," said Ryo. "Because although homemade bombs are great in theory, they sometimes don't go off as planned. But now it looks like Ibo's got a major score to settle with him. If I'm right, Shaver's got a lot of reasons to stay dead."
Dee pulled into the parking area in front of the 27th at approximately five after three on Saturday afternoon, just in time to see JJ walking out of the building accompanied by an ugly-looking guy with a bandage on his nose who seemed vaguely familiar. Instinctively fearing a pounce, Dee gave them wide berth, but to his surprise, JJ, who was laughing and chattering excitedly, didn't notice him at all. Suddenly Dee remembered where he had seen those fishy lips and beady eyes before.
"Hey, JJ!" he yelled. "What the hell are you doing with that asshole?"
Both men stopped and stared at him. So did a couple of female patrol cops that were walking toward the building. They all looked at Dee curiously.
"This is Frank Marchall, Dee," JJ said. "Your witness."
"What the fuck are you talking about?" Dee glared at Frank, who cringed. The guy looked different from that day that he and his buddy had come to the station looking to press charges against Dee for punching them out in front of Freddie's convenience store. He seemed to have acquired some fashionable clothes with which to cover his large, pudgy body, and there was a sheen of gel glistening in his thinning hair.
"Oh yeah, I forgot. You were unconscious. Frank is your main witness in the skinhead attack. Don't you remember? He left you guys a letter at the hospital. Sheldon took his statement so Ryo could stay at the hospital with you."
"Oh, so we're all buddy-buddy now? After this guy and his friend tried, unsuccessfully, I might add, to lay a beating on me for purely homophobic reasons? And then they came to the 27th a few days later to try to get me fired. What the hell are you doing being so friendly with him, JJ you traitor?"
Both the watching patrol cops shifted their eyes from Dee to JJ. One of them raised her eyebrows expectantly as she waited for JJ's response.
"Traitor? Me?" Oblivious to his audience, JJ looked genuinely shocked for a moment. "Dee, I would never betray you. What the hell are you on?"
"Me?" Dee narrowed his eyes at him. "You know I'm never 'on' anything when I'm on duty except caffeine and nicotine."
"And sometimes pain meds if you've had a concussion," added JJ forcefully, but this just seemed to make Dee even angrier.
"Look, Dee," said JJ patiently, "This is not about you. Frank is sorry. Didn't you read his note? He was confused about his sexuality for a long time. But now he's accepted what he is. He's come right out of the closet."
The two patrol cops looked at each other and rolled their eyes. They both folded their arms and waited.
Frank nodded emphatically next to JJ, but still seemed fearful to meet Dee's eye.
"That took a lot of guts for a guy who grew up in the south," JJ added. "I think he deserves some credit for that, don't you?"
"I think he deserves another punch in the head for nearly getting Ryo killed!" Dee balled up his fists and loomed menacingly over Frank, who squeaked in terror and tried to hide behind JJ. It was almost laughable, since he was several inches taller than JJ and at least fifty pounds heavier.
"Dee, control yourself! We do NOT punch out witnesses! He came forward willingly. He wants to do the right thing."
"Hey, guys, what's going on?"
Dee turned around to see Sheldon limping toward them. The man always walked with a limp. He had taken a bullet in the hip in his second year as a detective twenty five years ago, and had been a desk jockey ever since.
"JJ thinks he's gonna stop me from knocking this guy's head off, even though he absolutely has it coming."
"But Dee, he's your witness," protested Sheldon, echoing JJ. "Just let it go, my friend."
JJ jumped back into the fray. "Besides, he already got beaten up by his cousin Larry--who was the only family he had in New York-- just for coming out of the closet," he said. "Look at his face! Show him your nose, Frank. Dee, he needs dental surgery too. I think he's been punished enough."
"Aw, for Christ's sake," complained Dee, lowering his fists. "Just get him out of my sight, okay?"
"No problem, Mr. Sexy. Let's go, Frank. Have you thought about what kind of haircut you want? And did you make a decision about an earring?"
Talking animatedly, JJ walked briskly away while Frank shambled along beside him. Dee stared after them in disgust. The two uniformed officers gave him sympathetic looks and then turned and strolled through the front door of the building.
"Am I suddenly in The Twilight Zone?" Dee demanded of Sheldon in aggrieved tones. "Is this some crazy new version of the Matrix that no one told me about?"
"It is pretty damn weird," Sheldon agreed, removing his glasses and polishing them. "But I've been at the 27th a long time and I've seen shit that's a lot crazier than this. Hey, aren't you late for work?" He looked at his watch. "It's ten after."
"Nah," said Dee with a grin. "I was talking with a witness. You and JJ both saw that. Still, I'd better get inside before the badg--"
"Dee!" A familiar voice roared from the front step. "When the hell are you gonna learn to tell time, you lazy, slack-assed shirker!"
"Aw, crap," muttered Dee.
"See you later, have a good shift!" said Sheldon quickly and scuttled away as fast as his injured hip would let him move.
"I had a conversation with your partner this morning," the Chief told Dee. "What he says makes sense, and I just wanna let you know that I've passed his ideas along to the Commissioner."
"I bet that info wiped the smile off his face," said Dee smugly.
"Don't count on it. There isn't a speck of evidence to support your theory so far, and we're gonna hope like hell it stays that way."
"I can see why," Dee conceded grudgingly. "If it's the truth, it ain't gonna be good publicity for us, although Hollywood would probably pay big bucks for it. But, hey, Marty brought in some useful intel, I heard. Right?"
"Yeah. What a load of crap. But worth its weight in gold to the PR department."
Dee shrugged. This was old news. He was waiting to find out the real reason why the walrus had dragged him into his office for this charming one-on-one.
"Got the results back from the bug sweep," the Chief growled.
"Lemme guess--nada?" said Dee.
"That's right. Either there was never a bug here in the first place, or if there were any, the person who planted them figured out what was going on and removed them. It's good nothing turned up, though. If bugs'd been found here, we'd have the FBI crawling all over us by now."
Dee scowled at the thought of Diana. "How's Helen's list coming along?"
"What list?" The Chief snorted derisively. The request was put in on Thursday. It's only Saturday. You should know better than that, Dee."
"Sorry, Chief. I just thought Rose could expedite things."
"He can, but even so, I wouldn't expect that list to come from IA in less than a week." The Chief looked longingly at the cigar in his ashtray, but didn't touch it. "Your Detective Greenspan has been personally cleared by the Commissioner, by the way. A record that's clean as a whistle, that one. So guess what? There's nothing to stop you guys from working with her on your investigation of Mike."
Dee made a disgusted sound. "Maybe she'll change her mind about working with us. She thinks we've got 'gayfluenza'."
"I don't give a shit. All of you are under orders from me and the Commissioner to just get the fuck along with each other and leave the drama at the door. If Mike decides at any point to make another attempt to discredit Ryo's son, Detective Greenspan will likely know about it before either of you two do."
"Yeah, you may be right," said Dee instantly sobering. "I hope to hell nothing like that happens." He felt an intense need for a cigarette and wondered how soon he could get himself out of the badger's office and upstairs to the roof. "Anything else, Chief?" Tentatively, Dee started to rise from his chair.
"Yeah. Two more things. One, Parker and Adams are stalled on the Lydgate case. It's not going anywhere until they get that DNA test. I'm counting on YOU to get that moving forward. Two, I'm writing you up for lateness again, you jackass. This is the seventh time so far this year. If it happens again, I'll put you on third shift for a month."
"Aw come on, Chief, how am I gonna get anything on Abernathy if I can only work when the guy is sleeping? Besides, I wasn't late! I was talking to a witness."
"Talking? Looked like you were about to punch him out, if you ask me." The Chief raised a hand and cut off Dee's protests. "Oh, all right. I'll let it go this time IF you get me some progress on the Lydgate case. But try to get it done before the funeral tomorrow. That friggin' circus is gonna turn the city upside down."
Dee stood beside Ryo on McGraw Avenue, amidst a sea of dark blue uniforms. They could hear the drums off in the distance as the hearse bearing Detective Shaver's alleged remains made its slow progress toward Saint Paul's Lutheran Church.
The cortege moved steadily through the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx. All the roads were closed to regular traffic today. Indeed, the entire community had had its normal activities suspended as thousands of uniformed officers from the NYPD turned out in force to honor a fallen brother.
Various dignitaries, including the mayor and the Commissioner, waited solemnly on the steps of the church. There was an eerie silence broken only by the sound of the drums and the distant roar of traffic on those roads not shut down by the NYPD. Dee's sharp ears picked up the indistinct whap-whap-whap of helicopter blades. Too soon for the fly-by; it had to be one of the news stations taking aerial shots of the progression as the long line of police cruisers, motorcycles and limousines moved from the 51st Precinct police station to the church in Parkchester.
A black limousine drove past Dee and Ryo and stopped in front of the church a short distance away. Four young police officers, most likely from the 51st precinct, opened the doors and stood at attention while a slightly pudgy blond woman with a hard set to her mouth emerged from the vehicle. She was holding tightly to the hand of a small, sturdy-looking boy with neatly combed brown hair. Dee studied the kid's pale, anxious face with interest. That must be Kevin, Detective Shaver's son. Poor little guy. He kept swiveling his head this way and that, staring at the thousands of blue uniforms, men and women of the NYPD standing silently in the street, the lines and rows of them stretching as far as the eye could see in either direction. It was quite a spectacle. They were all there for his father, a man he would never see again. The boy seemed shocked and disoriented, and Dee could certainly understand why.
Mother and son disappeared inside the church, escorted by yet another set of police officers. Not long after that, two more limousines arrived and disgorged a few more people, whom Dee took for family members. All the while the slow steady beat of the drums grew louder.
The Emerald Society Pipes and Drums band marched slowly behind the hearse in their magnificent dress tartans. Dee and Ryo and all those around them saluted the hearse as it went by.
In front of the church, the hearse gently rolled to a stop. In the small spaces between the slow tap of the drums, there was a huge and respectful silence. No one so much as fidgeted or coughed, even the civilians in the crowd. A moment later the master of ceremonies called a command and the pallbearers stepped forward to do their duty. The flag-draped coffin was borne up the steps of the church, accompanied by the sudden passionate skirl of the pipes.
A voice announced over the loudspeakers that Detective Shaver's casket would be on view inside the church for the next hour and that if anyone wished to bid him a private goodbye, they should line up at the side entrance of the church. The funeral service would begin after that and would be broadcast to the people who were waiting outside.
Dee and Ryo were not among those who wished to see and touch the coffin. The announcement had only just finished and already a sizable number of people were moving slowly toward the south entrance of Saint Paul's, many civilians amid the sober blue uniforms.
"You wanna stay for the service or get back to the 27th?" muttered Dee to Ryo, hoping Ryo would choose the latter option, since there probably wouldn't be any opportunities to light up a smoke around here anytime soon, what with TV cameras everywhere and everyone looking stiff and sober.
"We might as well get back," said Ryo. "We have a lot to get caught up on, and I need to review the rotation of the surveillance schedule. Officer Tran says she can't make it for Wednesday, but I'm sure I can find someone who needs a little overtime pay."
"Okay, that's settled then," said Dee happily. "Which way is the nearest subway station again?" He turned around, scanning landmarks, and got a glimpse of James puffing his way toward them through the crowd. James caught his eye and waved.
"Here comes James," observed Ryo blandly.
"Yeah, I see him." The smile disappeared from Dee's face. He suddenly had a bad feeling that he wasn't going to get his cigarette.
"Whew, glad I caught you guys," said James, tugging at the tight collar of his dress uniform. "You were just about to blow, weren't you?"
"We're still gonna blow," Dee informed him, "so spit it out, whatever it is."
"No, you're not," said James with a sympathetic look. "Lieutenant Smith sent me to tell you that the Commissioner wants to talk to you, so you're not to go anywhere until he says so."
"What? He wants to talk to us here? Parkchester's like a goddamn anthill right now!" Dee's voice rose in indignation, causing Ryo to place a warning hand on his arm.
"Hey, don't shoot the messenger," said James. "I know it sucks, but you'd better stick around or the Chief'll have your balls on a plate. Mine too, probably."
"Did he say when he wanted to talk to us?" Ryo inquired in milder tones than Dee had used. "He seems pretty busy right now." He looked over to the steps of the church where the Commissioner was soberly shaking the hands of two of the black-clad civilians who had gotten out of a limousine earlier. The mayor and various other city council members waited nearby.
"After the service," James said. "He wants you guys to accompany him in his limo on the progression to the crematorium. It's over on Westchester. There's gonna be a press conference there after."
"Aw fuck," snarled Dee. "That means we gotta stick around for at least the next two hours. Then God knows how long after that!"
"Well, so what?" James said. "It beats paperwork, don't it?"
"He'll be fine once he has a smoke," Ryo said to him. "Thanks for the message, James. Come on, Dee, I see a coffee tent over there, and there aren't any news crews near it."
"Coffee?" said Dee, his whole demeanor changing.
Dee entered the side door of the church and pushed his way past all the people who were lined up in the hallway and on the stairs inside Saint Paul's. "Excuse me, honor guard, coming through," he said in response to the dirty looks people gave him. He certainly wasn't a member of the honor guard, but since there were probably more than twenty-five honor guards for this particular funeral, he didn't think anyone would figure it out.
He reached the top of the stairs, glancing at his watch as he did so. The service was starting in fifteen minutes, so if he wanted to talk to Kevin, he'd have to find him quickly.
The church was crammed full of people, sitting in the pews, kneeling in prayer, chatting with each other in low voices. Dee looked over where Shaver's coffin rested on its bier. A mound of blood-red roses had been laid on its polished wooden surface. An elderly woman was walking away from it, complaining to her companion as she went.
"I thought it would be an open casket," she was saying. "I thought we'd be able to see him in 'is uniform, lookin' all peaceful. I can't believe I stood in line to view a closed casket!" Obviously she had missed the part about how Shaver had perished in an explosion and a huge fire, which had burned everything and everyone to a crisp, despite the fact that it had been on every TV channel, every hour, every damn day since Thursday.
Nearby stood the short, heavy, fair-haired woman who had arrived with Kevin. She must be Shaver's wife. What had her name been? Shelley? Shannon? Sheila, that was it. Even though she was surrounded by attentive members of the honor guard, as well as a few sad-faced family members, she gave Dee the impression of a woman wholly alone. Kevin was sitting in a pew a short distance away, drinking bottled water and listening earnestly to a faded blond and very heavily lined female who looked like an earlier edition of Sheila.
Dee approached the nearest member of the honor guard and identified himself with a smart salute. "Detective Dee Laytner, 27th Precinct," he said. "I was working with Detective Shaver on his last mission. He talked to me about his son a few hours before he...died. May I have a word with the boy?"
The officer, a sober middle-aged guy with glasses and a moustache, gave Dee a shrewd look. "Okay," he said. "But don't upset him too much. I'm just gonna trust that you know how to talk to kids."
"My life is full of 'em," Dee assured him with a sardonic smile, and walked over to where Kevin sat. The boy looked up wonderingly as he approached.
Dee saluted him exactly the same way he had done for the honor guard. "Kevin? I'm Detective Laytner. I was working with your dad the night of the fire."
Kevin's eyes widened in his pale and tear-streaked face. He scrambled to his feet and returned Dee's salute. "Did he...D-did he say anything about... me?" he asked breathlessly.
"Yeah, he did, as a matter of fact." Dee removed his cap and knelt down so as to be on the same level as Kevin. He wasn't going to tell Kevin exactly what his father had said, of course. Shaver had mumbled something about how he should tell Kevin not to turn out like his old man. Dee figured he could come up with a better way to get the message across.
"He told me you were a good boy," he said softly, and saw Kevin's lower lip start to tremble. "Your dad said that you wanted to be a cop like him and he asked me--"
"He's not gonna become a cop," a strident female voice interrupted him, and Dee turned his head to see Sheila looking down at him fiercely.
"Mom! I am so. I'm more sure than ever, now."
"I won't allow it. My only child! Three generations of cops in the Shaver family, all of 'em killed in the line of duty. You're not gonna be the fourth. Uh-uh. The buck stops here."
"Mom, I don't wanna fight about it. When I'm eighteen, you can't stop me, you know."
"Actually, kid, it's twenty-one. Well, twenty and a half," said Dee, then added diplomatically, "Lots of time to think it through and discuss it with your mom, huh?"
"Mom, do you mind? The detective was talking to me about Dad. This is private, okay?"
The boy's mother looked stricken for a minute, but her own mother quickly stood up and led her away, murmuring to her.
"Aw, now I feel bad," said Kevin softly, gazing after her.
"You can go give her a hug if you want," offered Dee. "I'll wait."
"No, it's okay. She's with Nana. Please sir, tell me what my dad said." Kevin clutched his water bottle tightly with both hands.
"He said..." Dee took a deep breath, and repeated the words that a dying Jess had said to him so many years ago. Longer than this boy had been alive. "He told me to tell you to...'keep living your life as honestly as you've always lived it.' Stay true to yourself and your ideals, no matter what."
Kevin took a single breath and his large brown eyes swam with tears. "Dad knew I always wanted to be honest," he said, his voice wavering slightly. "Except about Mom's cooking sometimes, because I wouldn't wanna hurt her feelings. Did he...say anything else?"
"He told me he was proud of you," Dee said, improvising on the spot. Shaver hadn't exactly said that, but it was the truth. It had been there between the lines, that small light of pride that flared to life inside Ned Shaver at every mention of his son. It had shone as brightly as all the brass buttons gleaming on the hundreds of dress uniforms in this church.
A sob of pure grief wrenched its way out of Kevin's chest, and he fell forward into Dee's arms. His water bottle thudded, forgotten, to the floor. Dee held the shaking little body, murmuring, "'Atta boy, 'atta boy, get it all out," as soothingly as he could.
Eddie's funeral hadn't really affected him that much, at least not until Bikky had broken down at the end. But this funeral, with all its pomp and ceremony, so different from Eddie's simple one, was hitting a little closer to home. It was strongly reminiscent of the one that had been held for Jess, who had been the closest thing Dee had ever had to a father. Of course, Jess' funeral hadn't been quite as well-attended or media-worthy as Shaver's, because although both men had been cops on the take, Shaver's activities had been better hidden at the time of his death than Jess'. Jess had been up to no good for at least five years before the end of his life. His file had contained a stack of letters of reprimand. Dee knew this because he had checked. He still believed that even if Bruno's men hadn't iced Jess, his 'father' had probably been only months away from a serious investigation by Internal Affairs. He would have lost his badge and done time for sure. A snitch, a wire or a little surveillance would have been all it took.
Still, Jess had had a departmental funeral, and at least a hundred LEO's had shown up. At the time, to an unsophisticated fifteen-year-old Dee, that had seemed like a lot. Later, of course, he knew better, but it had been a comfort to him at the time.
His grief had been different from Kevin's. Kevin was mourning his loss with a pure, uncomplicated sorrow. His father had been a hero to him, a figure of respect, a source of love, guidance and affection. He didn't know the ugly truth, and hopefully he wouldn't find out for a long, long time, if ever.
Dee's grief, on the other hand, had been anything but pure. His time of bereavement had been marked by rage. He felt rage toward Bruno and every man like him, toward the system that created them, toward the well-heeled segment of society full of people that he imagined lived happy lives untouched by drugs, guns or squalor. He even felt intensely angry with Jess for being such a weak-minded, greedy sonofabitch and for getting himself killed when there were people who needed him. For a while, he had also, unfairly perhaps, blamed Jess for Arnon's death as well. His fury had alternately blazed and flickered within him for months afterward. He had gotten into a lot of fights, a lot of trouble. The Penguin still complained that she couldn't remember how many times he was brought home by the police during that dark time.
But eventually the fire had burned itself out, and he had gotten himself back on track in time to do well in his final couple of years of high school. Deep down inside him, however, old embers still smoldered. Grief, loss and anger, all bound up together. If he had any self-discipline at all in his adult life, he owed it to that sickening moment when he had finally understood how Jess' fundamental moral weakness had turned him into Bruno's bitch. Dee was never going to be anybody's bitch. Although he regularly griped about police pay and regulations, everyone knew that he was proud of his badge. Sure, he scraped by with the bare minimum of paperwork, regularly fucked the dog on dull shifts, and had been known to occasionally use a little too much force while arresting douchebags who totally deserved a good smacking-around, but on larger issues his honor was sacrosanct.
He hoped that Kevin would grow up to be an honest and decent cop with more character and strength of mind than his father had had.
These thoughts were interrupted by the middle-aged officer that Dee had spoken to earlier. The man was standing close by, speaking softly to Dee and Kevin. "Detective, it's time to go. The service is about to start and his mother needs him."
Dee glanced up at the guy and nodded acquiescence. Then he gently disengaged himself from Kevin, but not before handing him his card.
"I gotta go, Kevin," he said. "But I hope you won't mind if I check in on you from time to time? Your dad asked me to."
Kevin nodded, wiping at his eyes and sniffling as he tried to get his tears under control. "Su-sure. I'd like that." He stuck out his dry hand and Dee shook it
Dee moved quickly to exit the church before he got stuck inside for the service. It was standing room only for one thing, but more than that, he wanted to find Ryo. Even if he couldn't touch him, he just felt a need for Ryo's steady presence.
As it was he didn't have to look very far. Ryo was standing over by the vestibule, waiting for him. Their eyes met, and for a moment it was as though he and Ryo were alone in the church. He badly wanted to take his partner in his arms and hold him tightly, but of course he knew that would be impossible.
"How's he doing?" Ryo asked him, when Dee had finally fought his way to his side.
Dee shook his head. "He's heartbroken, poor kid. But at least he's still got his mom and the rest of his family." He squeezed Ryo's shoulder. Ryo had lost both parents to violence, and the scandal that had attached itself to their deaths had caused him to lose most of his extended family as well. "Let's get out of here. Man, what a crush."
"Yeah," Ryo agreed. "NYPD funerals are certainly impressive, but I think the small, private ones are more peaceful."
"Peaceful loses to political every time if it's a departmental service," said Dee cynically. He knew that Ryo was thinking of Eddie's recent funeral. Eddie Calvetti and Ned Shaver had sure turned out to have a few things in common. They were two men who had fallen between the cracks of society. Both losers, but both, of necessity, brave and resourceful. Both full of surprises. And the common denominator of their downfalls? Abernathy.
Dee and Ryo managed to get a seat in the back of a cruiser with a friendly patrol cop from the 21st Precinct, and that was where they waited out the service. Even though they were parked a couple of blocks away, they could still make out the occasional word or phrase that was being broadcast to all the people standing outside the church.
Ryo made numerous calls on his cell phone, checking for messages at home and at work, as well as calling around for surveillance staff to assist him and Dee in the watching of Abernathy's apartment. Surveillance was due to start tomorrow night, and it was Ryo's responsibility to assemble a team.
Finally the service wound to a close, and then it was announced that the funeral cortege was going to proceed to the Fairfield Cremation Centre and it was there that the helicopter fly-over would happen, as well as the releasing of three white doves and finally, radio last call.
In front of the church, several black limousines were parked. About two dozen police cruisers and twice that many motorcycles waited in line in front of and behind them. Ryo and Dee stood looking around for the Commissioner. They had expected to see him once again on the front steps of the church, but he wasn't there.
Dee's cell phone rang, and he fished it out of his pants pocket to answer it.
"It's me, Helen," a familiar low voice said. "Third limo in line. Hurry up. We're about to move."
"Thanks, hon," said Dee. "Move over, here we come."
end of Chapter 43
Additional author's notes: I really, REALLY wanted to do Radio Last Call, but I thought this funeral had gone on long enough.
Thanks for reading. The next chapter will have hotness, I promise!