By Brit Columbia
Pairing: Dee/ Ryo
Spoilers: To Volume 7
Timing: Set in June, a month or so after book 7 ended. Dee and Ryo recently became a couple in May. A New Day left off on Sunday night. This chapter takes place a few days later on Thursday.
Summary: Ryo is coming to terms with what it means to be a gay man in a straight world. He and Dee are also hunting the dangerous Lieutenant Abernathy...but who is hunting whom?
Disclaimer: I am not making any money for the writing of this work of fanfiction, nor do I own Fake or any of the characters created by Sanami Matoh. Lieutenant Mike Abernathy is mine, however, and so are Vik Hogan (unwitting star of bear porn), Helen, (the Commissioner's secretary) Detective James Chang (co-worker of Ryo and Dee). Officer Bernie Roe and Detectives Hugh Clayton and Lonnie Fielding of the 7th Precinct are also mine, as are Wes Samberg (drug dealer) and Bikky's friends Bo Benson, Penny and Jill.
Author's notes: Dundarave basketball court is not a real place, although the streets I'm using are real.
Thank you to the_ladyfeather, shelley6441 and loki_the_fraud for the beta help.
So far in Justice: Ryo and Dee are trying to get enough evidence of Lieutenant Abernathy's illegal dealings so that they have grounds to apply for a search warrant. Ryo is currently feeling a bit sensitive about the fact that society seems to have more revulsion for gay men who bottom than those who top. He is also worrying about the fact that Abernathy has indirectly threatened Bikky as a consequence if Dee and Ryo continue their investigation of him.
Justice, chapter 6: Tigers in Chinatown
"Ryo! Wait up." It was Marty's voice.
Ryo turned around on the stairs. "Hey, Marty. You're sure racking up the overtime nowadays."
Marty grinned at him, and said, "Oh, well, all this extra murder and mayhem among the gangs might just mean I get my mortgage paid off ten years early."
"Had another murder?"
"Yeah, there was a guy shot just at 18th and First Avenue yesterday morning. The Chief said you and Dee might have seen something."
Ryo felt himself blush. He and Dee had been nowhere near First Avenue yesterday morning, mainly because they had been in bed together. However, it seemed as though Dee's face-saving lie to the Chief obviously wasn't going to go away quietly. "Um, no, we didn't see anything. We were in a hurry to get to work. Why? Was it someone important?"
"I have information that this guy was the cameraman for the Vik Hogan movie," said Marty. "I expect you might have heard about that?"
"Um...Yeah. I heard JJ and James talking about it a couple of days ago. Well, JJ was talking and James was gagging."
"James.'' Marty smiled and shook his head. "My favorite rookie."
"Any news on Hogan?"
"Guy freaked when I showed him the clips. Now, he's gone AWOL. I was pretty sure he would, but I didn't expect him to start settling scores on his way out." Marty scratched his head. "If he's truly on his way out, that is. That's the thing I don't know. If he'd just get the hell out of the city, he'd be out of our jurisdiction. But if he's still here plotting revenge on anyone involved in that amateur porno flick he didn't know he was starring in, then there's gonna be more deaths and they will be our problem."
"Do you think he knows that Ibo is the guy who was behind all this?"
"Well, if he knows that, he didn't hear it from me. We've already put an extra guard detail on Ibo's hospital room, just in case, and a guy on the front door."
"Wow, serious business," Ryo remarked, and they resumed walking up the stairs together.
Marty shrugged. "Business as usual. If Hogan gets to Ibo, so be it. I've done my part."
As they crossed the short landing to get to the next flight, Ryo debated within himself whether or not to ask his next question. Finally, he swallowed his trepidation and went for it. "Marty," he said, as casually as he could, "I've got a question for you. Is it... really so fatal for a gang member to be gay?"
"Well," said Marty, "the gang world's a very macho culture, as you know, but it's not like it never happens. It's more about who's takin' it up the heinie, you know what I mean?"
"Yes, I think I do," muttered Ryo. "If Hogan had been the-- the guy on top, it could've blown over, right?"
"Yeah, as long as it didn't happen too often. He could always say he was drunk and just looking for a hole to stick it in. But for a guy to be on the bottom? Instant loss of manhood. And ten times worse if he likes it." Then he glanced over at Ryo, and added with a grin, "But that's not MY opinion of course. Don't want JJ comin' after me! It's just the way it is in the gang culture, especially among the Blacks and Latinos."
'Ah," said Ryo, and changed the subject.
Bikky stopped at home long enough to change into his basketball shorts and shoes and grab a quick snack-- a quart of orange juice and an entire box of granola bars, which he found surprisingly delicious. He concluded that Ryo must have accidentally bought one of the popular brands that were full of tasty chemicals, instead of the more expensive, 'natural' brand, which tasted like sweetened cardboard held together with glue and vitamins.
Soon after that, he and his skateboard were on the road heading south toward the Dundarave basketball court. His earphones were in and his brains were vibrating to Easy Tiger by Every Time I Die. He was going to be fifteen minutes early, and he planned to start harassing the Southside boys the moment he arrived. He was sick of them staying past their allotted time. One of these days it was going to come to a fight. He hoped not, because all those guys were in high school. They were older and physically bigger than Bikky and the guys on his team. He wouldn't be able to go home unmarked by such a fight, which would mean Ryo noticing and getting involved. And then he'd have to listen to a million lectures and would probably end up grounded or forbidden to play basketball for a while.
Bikky's lower lip protruded rebelliously. Ryo didn't understand even ten percent of the pressures that he was under. How could he? He grew up a rich white boy-- well, even though he was half-Japanese, the guy looked ninety per cent white-- living in a big house in Great Neck with a loving mama and papa, and no junkies begging for money, no landlord yelling about the late rent, and no desperate or dangerous people wandering the streets of his neighborhood looking for someone to take out their frustrations on. He bet Ryo had never had to step over a passed-out drunk neighbor stinking of piss, or go to school weak with hunger because he had had no dinner the night before and there was nothing in the house to eat.
Yeah, he did have to admit that since moving to the city and becoming a cop, Ryo had probably seen all kinds of shit like that, but not as a small and powerless child. As an adult, a man with a badge and a gun. There was a difference. Another difference was the one between the outsiders, like police and social workers, who came in to clean up the mess some people made of their lives, compared to those with very few choices who had to live that kind of life every damn day.
The only kind of childhood Ryo seemed to know about was his own. He sure never had to fight a string of guys who wanted his lunch money. He never had to use his fists and feet to make people respect his basic rights. He never had to charm, punch or dribble his way into friendship and social acceptance. All of that just came to him naturally, as his birthright.
And what the hell was that call about today? First a text that said 'Call home, urgent' and then when he did, those freaky questions. 'Are you okay?' 'Did anything strange happen?' Jesus, what was Ryo trying to do? Drive him nuts? Either Ryo was checking up on him because he was still paranoid about that little dope-buying incident with Eddie a few weeks ago, or it had something to do with that creepazoid, Tom's dad. But immediately after the questions, Ryo did that about-face thing he was famous for and was all, 'Oh no, don't worry, nothing's wrong, blah, blah.' Bikky scowled to himself. Nothing wrong, his ass. Something was up, but Ryo evidently didn't feel he could be trusted with it.
At the corner of East Eleventh and Broadway, Bikky was flagged down by Crazy Bo Benson. Crazy Bo was dressed like the king of the losers, in a red necktie over a white shirt tucked into a really god-awful pair of old-man polyester slacks that were a little bit too short for him. He was carrying some pamphlets in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other. He was black, a lot darker than Bikky, but for some strange reason, he wore blue contacts.
"Yo, man, 's up?" Bikky said cautiously, pulling one of his headphones away from his ear. Crazy Bo was about three years older than he was, and a born-again Christian of the most annoying kind. He seemed to feel it was his duty to prevent everyone he knew from going to hell. According to Bo, everyone was a sinner, everyone was damned to burn in hell for eternity, unless, of course, they became members of his particular church. Even people who were already Christians were going to get a big surprise when God tossed them straight into a lake of fire for being stupid enough to belong to the wrong church. Bikky had no patience with that crap, and he wasn't about to give Bo any opportunity to launch into one of his long, boring sermons.
"God bless you, Bikky. May the Lord shine his light into the dark corners of your soul. May He--"
"Cut it out, man, I got basketball." Bikky made as if to go.
"Wait! Hang on, don't leave yet. Can you do me a favor?"
"Depends." Bikky didn't smile. "What is it?"
Bo held up the bag of taco chips. "Wes Samburg said he would come to the after dinner service with me if I brought him a bag of Doritos."
"Wes said that?" Bikky looked sceptically at Bo. It wasn't that he didn't believe Wes had said it; it was more that he didn't believe for one second that Wes had any intention of setting foot in Bo's church.
"Yeah, he did," said Bo earnestly. "But I can't take them to him right now because I gotta deliver these pamphlets to a laundromat."
"So, you want me to deliver the pamphlets while you go remind Wes about his...promise?" Bikky couldn't help snickering, but he immediately felt bad and tried to stop.
"No, Bikky, the other way around. You're going to Dundarave courts, right? Well, Wes is two blocks away on Canal, selling in his usual spot. Could you take him the Doritos?"
Bikky looked doubtful at that. "I dunno, brother. My dad pretty much ordered me to stay away from dealers."
Bo looked shocked. "Bikky, dealers are human beings, too. They have souls that need saving. They need to eat, just like us--"
"Have you seen the gut on Wes? That guy needs to stop eating."
"That's not the point," said Bo in his dogged way. "The point is that I want him to come to the church and discover the miracle that is Jesus Christ, our lamb. If I could save his soul from the hot coals of hell, I would be so happy!" Bo's eyes lit with fervor in a way that Bikky had seen them do many times before. "And you too, Bikky! I want you to know that I pray for you every day to have the dark weight of your sins lift--"
"Whoah there, Bo-man, back to Wes. All I gotta do is hand him the chips?"
"Yes, but tell him they're from me, of course. And you gotta remind him about the service tonight."
"Okay, hand over the Doritos. I got just enough time to do this." Maybe it would be a good idea to put off getting righteous with the Southside boys for another time. Especially since Bo was praying for him not to accumulate any more sins, and Ryo was already antsy about his safety anyway. He could just imagine the freaking and the nagging that would happen if he showed up with visible bruises at breakfast.
Bo gave him a big smile and thrust the bag at him. "Thanks, Bikky. Bless you. You're doing a good thing. Jesus, our Lord is watching you right now. He knows, as I know, that you have a good heart, and we both hope that you may someday choose to be saved." Bo raised both arms, and said, "Praise the Lord, my brother! Praise the Lord!"
"Yeah, whatever. Have fun at church, tonight. See ya, man." Bikky started to roll away on his skateboard, in a hurry to get away from Bo's enthusiastic shouts of religious passion. Jeez, that guy had changed from the little street rat he had once been. He'd found himself a community, that's what he'd done. And a purpose, which was why all his former friends now wanted to avoid him.
"Hey Ryo, you comin' in for the meeting tomorrow?" Drake appeared next to Ryo at the fax machine.
"No, I'm sure he won't be, as it's his day off," JJ said from nearby.
"Let him answer for himself, JJ. Jesus."
"Yes," said Ryo to Drake, "I don't see a problem with coming in for an hour."
"Does that mean Dee-Sempai is coming in, too?" Ryo didn't even have to turn around to know that JJ was looking hopefully at him.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure he will. The Chief said he wanted to see all of us."
"Yay!" JJ tossed a handful of paper clips into the air like confetti. "I miss him today. I hate it when we all work different shifts."
"Part of the job, buddy," Drake said with a shrug. "We all have to take a turn working the yucky shifts."
"Hey Ryo," JJ said. "Are you and Dee both working second shift next Tuesday?"
"Yes," said Ryo, as he yanked his page out of the fax machine and fed it in again straight. It annoyed him when a page faxed at a crooked angle. "Oh, no, wait a minute, not me. I'm in court in the afternoon, and I have to meet with the DA before that. The Baker trial. That reminds me, I need to find someone to switch with me."
"Really? Hey, Drake, we're in luck! Well, one of us is."
"We are?" Drake gave his partner a curious look.
"Yeah, silly. Remember, Marty needs us to go stake out Tony de Luca's place in Oyster Bay. We need a couple of people on second shift to switch with us."
"On Tuesday?" asked Drake.
"Man, don't you ever listen in meetings? No, on Monday night. Apparently the task force has got it covered until then. But we're gonna be getting home at three a.m, and I sure don't want to be on day shift a few hours after that. I need my beauty sleep, you know. Too many short nights and the wrinkles set in." JJ looked pointedly at Ryo's face and then tsk-tsked, shaking his head. "Like poor Ryo, here. Ryo, no offense, but you look very tired."
"I'm fine, JJ." Trying not to show or even feel any irritation, Ryo stapled the little fax report sheet to the fax he had just sent and picked up his next one. "Is Tony in Oyster Bay right now? What's going on?"
"I'm surprised you don't know." JJ sounded shocked, but Ryo detected a note of smugness, too. "Weren't you in the room with Marty when Essien Ibo told him about a body that is allegedly buried in De Luca's backyard? Marty says there's a possibility Tony doesn't know it's there," he added.
"Oh yeah, I remember something about that now," Ryo said, feeling slightly embarrassed. "I guess I've got too many of my own case details on my mind."
"Anyway, Tony's laid up there with a busted leg and collarbone after losing leadership of Corporate America to Reggie Marotta. Aviva Cho is trying to get Marty a warrant to dig up Tony's backyard, but she's running into problems. Marty thinks CA has more than one judge on payroll."
"Surely you guys can get a warrant for sooner than Monday or Tuesday?" said Ryo.
JJ shook his head. "Marty has picked Tuesday as the day to dig. He's lining up equipment and a SWAT team. Tony's calling a big meeting early next week with CA guys who are loyal to him. If we could catch them all in the house at the same time, it would be a major bust."
"Yeah, major," echoed Drake. "Good PR for the NYPD and Marty's task force."
"It's going to take timing and luck, though," said JJ. "Unfortunately, Drake and I will probably miss all the fireworks. We'll be back in the city when they're breaking ground on Tuesday."
"That's just fine with me, JJ," Drake said. "Let the SWAT team handle it."
"So, the task force has to maintain 24-hour surveillance until Aviva can come through with the warrant?" Ryo asked.
"Yeah," said Drake. "Marty's main fear is that they'll dig up the body themselves and transport it before we get permission to enter the property."
"Yeah, I guess that's a consideration," Ryo said. "If Aviva went to one of Tony's tame judges for a warrant to dig up a body, Tony may have already been informed about it. What are you going to do if you're there alone and they start digging?"
JJ shrugged. "Call for back-up and stop 'em, I guess."
Drake grinned. "They'll probably say they're planting tomatoes."
"Good luck, guys. I hope no one starts digging on your watch."
"Me too," said Drake fervently.
"Randy?" It was Helen, the small, drab, but frighteningly efficient personal secretary to Commissioner Berkeley Rose, standing at the door. "I need to speak with you for a moment."
"Hi Helen, how are you?" said Ryo, making an effort to sound cheerful, even though the sight of her gave him the sensation of having swallowed a large, cold stone. He knew why she was looking for him.
"Fine, thank you Randy," she replied politely. "Do you mind talking to me for a moment?"
When he stepped out into the hall, she led him a short distance and then opened her mouth to speak.
Ryo held up a hand to forestall her. "Let me guess," he said. "He wants to see me."
"Yes." She nodded, looking amused, perhaps at his defensive and resigned tone of voice.
"Now, if you please."
"Okay, I'll just put these faxes back in my office, and I'll go right down." He turned away, and walked the few steps back to the office he shared with Dee, and then stopped in surprise on the threshold. "What the--?"
There were three men in his office with two dollies, onto which they were loading file cabinets and boxes. One of them looked up and smiled. "Oh, hey there. Are you MacLean or Laytner?"
"MacLean," said Ryo. "What the hell's going on?"
"I dunno," said the man cheerfully. "We've got orders to move all this stuff over to One Police Plaza. Guess you must be getting a raise, huh?"
"Don't worry about a thing," another of the men said. "We're professionals!" All three of them guffawed and Ryo's teeth clenched.
"Randy," said Helen quietly at his elbow. "Let me explain."
"No," said Ryo, his lips tight with anger. "It shouldn't be you who does his dirty work. HE should explain. I'm going down to talk to him."
"He's not here," she said quickly. "He's at the Palace. I've got a car waiting outside to take us there. Come with me."
Still clutching his fax pages, Ryo went.
"Yes, sir, you wanted to see me?" Ryo stood before the person of Commissioner Berkeley Rose, putting what he felt was probably an unreasonable amount of energy into looking and sounding calm, relaxed, and professional, when what he really wanted to do was pound on the smooth walnut surface of the desk that separated them, and rail at the Commissioner for his high-handed and essentially disrespectful treatment. Couldn't he have sent a memo? Made a fucking phone call?
"Yes, Ryo. Please sit down and make yourself comfortable." The Commissioner waved a casual hand at the two black leather chairs in front of his desk, and Ryo lowered himself gracefully into one of them with his mouth tightly closed against all of the angry words that wanted to pour out of it. The Commissioner's main office at One Police Plaza was larger and much more sumptuously appointed than the smaller, satellite office he maintained at the 27th. Ryo fought down his natural inclination to look around him and admire the paintings and the furnishings, and instead, kept his eyes and his mind firmly fixed on the man across from him.
The Commissioner gave him a long, level look that took in the flushed face, the glittering eyes and the barely suppressed fury of the man in front of him. Magnificent, he thought. He so rarely saw Ryo in this kind of mood. He was beautiful, yet terrible, like a young, caged lion that had given over pacing and had become still and watchful. It would be a mistake to treat Ryo's concerns with any hint of offhandedness or insouciance. He would require careful handling. In some distant corner of the Commissioner's mind, he marveled that he would go to this much trouble for anyone.
"Detective MacLean," he said, "Please forgive me for having the contents of your office moved without informing you first. I imagine it must have given you quite a shock, and I want you to know that I deeply regret the necessity."
"Sir, if this is about the spy at the 27th, I can't help but feel you're overreacting. Yes, it's true that someone searched our office, but they didn't find the most important of the information we have, and from now on, Dee and I are resolved to take all sensitive materials home with--"
"Detective, there is more to this than you know. If you will allow me to explain..."
Ryo folded his arms. "Explain, then."
"As you know, I have taken a personal interest in your investigation of Lieutenant Abernathy. It's true that I deeply deplore Abernathy's behavior and I see the man as a walking future nightmare for the PR department of the NYPD, but even so, my interest in seeing him brought to justice is not my primary motivation in this case." He removed his glasses and, closing his eyes, rubbed the bridge of his nose for a moment. "You may recall that I told you some weeks ago that Liam Hennessy, the Chief of Internal Affairs, is a former friend of mine." He put his glasses back on and looked at Ryo to have this statement confirmed.
"Yes, sir, I do remember," Ryo said tightly.
"He and Lieutenant Abernathy are close friends. They have been closer in past years than they appear to be now. In fact, I believe their relationship suffered some kind of setback just over a year ago. As I said to you before, I can't be sure whether Chief Hennessy knows what Abernathy is up to, but I think there is definitely a possibility."
"Sir, I don't understand what this has to do with Dee and I moving over to One Police Plaza."
"I'm getting to that, Ryo. Please bear with me, because this information I'm about to give you is highly personal in nature, but I do so because I believe it pertains to this case." He sighed. "I'm also trusting you to keep it as quiet as possible. Do I make myself clear?"
"Liam and I had a falling-out," the Commissioner continued. "I suppose you could say it's not quite accurate for me to describe us as former friends. In fact, we are now enemies, bitter ones, although the bitterness is all on his part."
"All?" said Ryo. "You feel no bitterness at all?"
"No," said the Commissioner with a faint smile. "He was a dangerous friend, now he's an open enemy. It's better this way, believe it or not."
"I understand," Ryo said. "Go on."
"He wished to borrow money from me, a considerable sum. He had lost more than half his fortune in some shockingly high-risk pyramid scheme, and found himself temporarily unable to meet his ongoing monthly expenses. He needed a helping hand, as he put it, to get back on his feet." The Commissioner glanced at the restful picture of daisies on his desk calendar for a moment and then looked back at Ryo. "I said no. He remonstrated. I remained firm. He left my office looking quite ill, as I recall."
There was a funny little half-smile on the Commissioner's face, and Ryo felt disgusted. He could see that on one level, the Commissioner had actually enjoyed the experience of saying no to his friend and dashing his hopes.
"Didn't you want to help him?" he asked. "Maybe there was something else you could have done for him. He was your friend, after all."
"Ryo," said the Commissioner, still with that same little smile. "When a man makes up his mind to ask his 'friend' to lend him a large sum of money, it means that he has already, in his own mind, downgraded this person's status from 'friend' to 'newest despised creditor'. At the moment he asked me for a personal loan of half a million dollars, I understood that our friendship was over and that from that moment on, whether I lent him the money or not, we would be enemies."
Ryo nodded. "Keep going," he said, "because I still don't understand why three men are moving all my files and belongings to a new office, or maybe, a broom closet, here at the Palace."
"Dear Ryo, a broom closet? Do you honestly think I would do that to you? Please don't worry your head about your new working headquarters. I assure you that the space you're moving into is much larger and finer than most of the offices over at the 27th. In addition, it's all temporary, of course. You will be able to move back to your old quarters as soon as this case is finished. But to continue." He cleared his throat a couple of times, and then said, "I believe I require a little refreshment. How about you, Ryo?"
"Nothing, sir. I have to get back to work, soon. Please tell me why I need to know about Chief Hennessy's personal financial problems."
"Very well," said the Commissioner and buzzed Helen to request that she bring in some tea. "Liam threatened me before he left. He told me I would regret turning my back on an old friend in his hour of need, that all men had secrets and he would make it his business to discover mine." He ran his index finger slowly up the length of his phone handset, and his blue eyes followed it. "Of course it was redundant for him to actually say so. I had taken his measure a long time ago, and I knew what to expect." He glanced at Ryo again. "Since then, it has been 'thrust and parry' with us. He moves against me, I move to stop him. I move against him, he moves to stop me."
"Do you think that... Chief Hennessy is the puppet-master for the spy at the 27th, and not Abernathy?" asked Ryo wonderingly.
Commissioner Rose nodded. "I think that's a project they're both in on together."
"Sir, when did he try to borrow money from you?"
"Was that around the time his friendship with Abernathy cooled somewhat?"
"Yes, more or less."
"Sir, do you think Abernathy might have lost his savings in the same pyramid scheme?'
Dee brought his purchase to the counter and winked at the attractive woman behind it. She was at least ten years older than he was, but nicely-shaped and fashionably dressed. He found it never hurt to flirt mildly with waitresses and women who worked in banks and stores. He got better service that way.
"Did you find something you liked, then?" she asked with a smile to answer his.
"Sure! This one was the best of the bunch. Although the blue one with the ships on it had a really cool shape."
"Oh, yes, I know the mug you mean," she said, turning it over and ringing in the price she saw on the bottom. "But this one is much more classy."
"I thought so, too. Say, do you people do gift-wrapping? This is a present for someone I owe a mug to."
"Gift-wrapping?" She looked anxious and regretful. "Not really. I mean, we have some plain tissue paper, but not much else."
Pushing his thick black hair out of his eyes, Dee continued to look at her expectantly.
"But I suppose I could open one of the packets of gift-wrap we sell... just this once..."
"Could you?" Dee gave her the full benefit of what Eliza sarcastically called his 'gigolo' grin. "Like most guys, I flunked out of gift-wrapping class long ago. It's gonna look real pathetic if I try to do it by myself."
"Don't you worry," she said softly, suddenly shy. Her hand fluttered up from the counter and unconsciously smoothed back her hair. "We'll make it look beautiful."
"You're a peach," Dee said.
"Ryo, how very perspicacious of you." The Commissioner looked pleased. "It's a distinct possibility that Abernathy suffered a financial setback around the same time Liam did. After all, if Liam thought he was getting in on something good, he would have wanted to help out his friends, too."
"Well, at least his heart was in the right place."
"Was it? I think that human nature being what it is, it can be quite a comfort to know that one did not make a huge mistake alone, that one's friends were also suckered in and are now suffering alongside one."
Ryo hoped that the Commissioner was not expecting any sort of response to that, because his mind was busy turning over this new piece of information. If Abernathy and his boss had both lost their shirts in a bad investment, it provided motive for Abernathy, but didn't necessarily imply that they were in cahoots together running a convoluted network of gangland deals, blackmailed cops and underpaid minor league drug dealers.
"You said Liam-- I mean, Chief Hennessy, was trying to find out your secrets. Has he discovered any?"
"Oh, yes, lots," said the Commissioner calmly. "However, I have quite a few of his as well, which has kept us at a stalemate for some time. What's needed is for one or the other of us to make a big breakthrough, something that would quite effectively destroy the other, financially or professionally."
Ryo frowned, confused. "I hope you don't think that this particular case is going to do that for you," he said. "Dee's and my focus is entirely on Abernathy."
"Abernathy knows things about Liam, things I merely suspect but haven't been able to acquire any proof of. If Liam didn't need that man's silence and cooperation about something, he never would have kept him close all these years. Once we've got Abernathy by the balls, he'll sell out Liam to save himself."
Ryo sprang to his feet, all his previously suppressed outrage swelling up and out of him. "Sir! What the hell do you mean, 'save himself?' Abernathy is. Going. To. Prison." This time, Ryo really did pound on the desk. "I'm not going to allow you to offer him reduced charges in exchange for informing against your... your personal enemy!"
"Ryo, relax." The Commissioner stood up, too, and placed his big hand over Ryo's fist where it rested on the desk between them. The fist immediately opened and slid back away from him. "Of course he's going to prison. You can accept that as a given. There will be a number of details encompassing the type of penal accommodation and level of protection from the general population that I'm certain he will be most anxious to discuss. I have no doubt that his lawyer will wish to open negotiations on the length of his prison term, as well, but what do you care whether he gets parole after twenty years or twenty-five?"
"No parole!" said Ryo vehemently.
"The DA may well agree with you," said the Commissioner, shrugging his elegantly clad shoulders. "On the other hand, Lieutenant Abernathy has retained the best lawyer in the whole state. We'll see what happens."
Ryo made a sound of disgust and sat down again. "Sir, thank you for telling me all this, but would you please explain why Dee and I can't work at the 27th until this case is wrapped up?"
"The spy situation is too risky. It could be anyone. I'm sure you realize that simply locking your door or locking your file cabinets isn't going to be much of a deterrent. After all, you managed to not only get into my locked office, but also my locked closet not too long ago. Security at the 27th is a joke... for anyone on the inside."
Ryo had no desire to be reminded about the time he had broken into the Commissioner's office and called him from his own phone to ask him for his four thousand dollar specialized bullet-proof vest. It would catapult their conversation onto a more intimate plane, which was a danger he wished to avoid. "I told you," he insisted. "We're going to take case info home with us."
"Oh, and how will you feel when someone breaks into your home?"
Ryo's mouth opened, but no sound came out. It was too horrible a thought. Suppose Abernathy sent someone to his apartment to look for his files when he was out? What might they do to Bikky?
"Believe me, it's much safer for you to be here for now," the Commissioner said gently.
"Well, what-- what about that list you requested, you know the list of employees of the 27th that had been investigated and subsequently cleared by IA? Has Helen made any progress on that?"
"Once I understood that Liam is most likely benefiting from whatever the spy reports to Abernathy, I realized that IF the spy had ever been investigated by IA, Liam would make sure that person's name would definitely not be included on the list. It would be a waste of Helen's extremely valuable and well-paid time to-- Ah, here she is. Thank you Helen, that was fast."
Helen put a tray down on the desk. It held a pale blue English teapot, two matching cups, a bowl of two-ounce creamers, a dish with two slices of lemon, and a bowl of brown sugar cubes. She poured tea for Commissioner Rose, adding only a slice of lemon, and then glanced at Ryo.
"No thanks," he said.
"Please try it," the Commissioner said. "It's a special blend, organic and good for the heart. Helen, pour him one, please, there's a good girl."
Helen's typically impassive face did not change, but she glanced briefly at the Commissioner from under her lashes, before picking up the second cup and pouring for Ryo.
When she had gone, the Commissioner spoke again. "There's still one thing I haven't told you yet."
"What's that?" Ryo asked suspiciously and sipped his tea.
"Ryo, I'm going to trust you with a piece of information that nobody knows about except myself, Helen, and Captain Forsythe. Not even your Lieutenant Smith knows this. It is highly classified."
"I understand, sir."
"When the bug sweep of the 27th precinct building was done last week, the team reported to Lieutenant Smith that they hadn't found any bugs." He paused. "That was not actually the case."
"Oh?" Ryo could feel his heart begin to beat faster. He had a bad feeling about this.
"There were two found. Two. In different locations." The Commissioner paused for effect. Ryo could barely restrain himself from asking where. He hated this dramatic little habit of the Commissioner's and wished the man would just get on with it.
"One was discovered in my office," the Commissioner finally said. "And the other..." he narrowed his eyes thoughtfully at Ryo-- "...was in yours."
Bikky craned his neck, trying to see through the crowds of people walking on Canal street. He thought he could make out Wes Samberg leaning on a mailbox near the entrance to the subway station. Wes usually dressed like a college kid, in jeans, a tee-shirt or golf shirt, book bag hanging across his body, always in tones of grey, brown or dark blue, always clean and pressed. No bright colors or flashy bling for Wes. He didn't want to be noticed or remembered too easily. Today, he was dressed like a tourist, if that guy over there was, in fact, Wes. Low-key camera, sunglasses, cargo pants with lots of pockets. He seemed to be studying a map guide, although Bikky knew that was just an act. Bikky prided himself on knowing Manhattan like he knew his own face. From Harlem to Soho, the city held no secrets for him. Yet if anyone knew the territory better than he did, it was Wes. He knew every bolt-hole, every back street, every bus stop and train station. He probably knew which stores and restaurants had back doors that led into alleys. But Bikky guessed he wasn't as fast as he used to be. Wes had packed on a few extra pounds in the last couple of years. If he had to run from a cop now, or some rival sellers who wanted his corner, he might not get away so easy.
Bikky kept an uneasy eye out for Dee. Perv-man's apartment was near here, and he knew Dee had a day off today. If Dee spotted him talking to Wes, he might rat him out to Ryo, which would totally suck.
Bikky had to get off his skateboard and carry it, since this part of town had such crowded sidewalks. He was just about to cross the street and approach Wes from behind, when someone crooned, "Bikkyyyyy," and tugged at his arm. He stopped and turned around. It was Jill, looking good in a striped tube top, and her friend Penny, looking less good, but still kind of hot. Their mouths were moving and they were smiling at him and eyeing his bag of Doritos. Well, Penny was smiling. Jill was not really a smiley sort of girl.
He tugged an earphone out so he could hear better. "Hey, girls. What was that?"
"We said we're hungryyyyy," wheedled Penny.
"And we don't have any money," added Jill. He could have sworn that for a second there, she seemed to be rubbing her tits on his arm.
"Buy us some chop sueyyyyy!" Now Penny was doing it too, on his other arm. Holy crap.
Bikky grinned at them and raised his eyebrows. "Jill, what are you doing in Chinatown? Isn't your hero brother playing basketball right now? How can he save his crappy team without you there to blow kisses at his butt?"
"I don't always watch him play," she said, as if this were a fact that everyone knew. "Today I wanted to spend time shopping with Penny. She needed a new bag." She nodded at Penny who held up a bright green cotton bag with a dragon stitched on it in sequins. "But now we're hungry and we spent all our money." She pouted, flipping her hair back and sticking her chest out. When his eyes instinctively fell to her boobs for a moment, the look she gave him was faintly mocking.
Bikky didn't care. Jill always looked at him that way. "Let me get this straight. YOU guys spent all your money, so I should buy you dinner?"
Jill rolled her eyes. "Come on, Penny, let's go. He's just a little kid. He probably blew his whole allowance on Doritos and Pokemon cards."
"Actually, I blew it on music," Bikky said. "I'm sorry I can't buy you some Chinese food, but you know, I gotta go kick your brother's skinny ass off the court anyhow."
"Well, the least you can do is give us your Doritos!" said Penny, who was looking disappointed.
Bikky felt bad. Maybe she really was hungry. He could remember what that felt like. He deliberated for a moment. They weren't really his Doritos to give. But on the other hand, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Wes wasn't going to show up for Bo's evening church services, not now, not ever, and certainly not in exchange for a bag of Doritos. Hell, the after-dinner hour was a prime selling time for Wes. And it wasn't like Wes couldn't afford to buy his own junk food.
"What the hell," said Bikky, handing the bag to Penny. "Go for it. I gotta book, anyhow."
"Wheee!" she cried, tearing open the bag and reaching inside. Her hand emerged holding not a taco chip, but a small, flat plastic bag with a square of white paper folded inside it. "What the fuck? Are there prizes in Doritos, now?"
Jill reached in and produced a whole handful of the same. Both girls looked accusingly at Bikky.
"Where are the Doritos?" Penny asked plaintively.
"Is this some kind of trick?" demanded Jill.
"Bikky, are you okay?" Penny asked. "You don't look so good."
Bikky was staring in horror at the bag she still held. Penny and Jill didn't recognize what was in the bag, but he sure did. A guy doesn't grow up with a drug dealer for a father without learning to recognize a heroin hit when he sees it. But this wasn't just one. This was a fuck of a lot. He had been set up.
Abruptly, his head came up, his danger senses tingling. That guy there, coming at him fast at three o'clock-- he was in a suit and tie, but he had cop written all over him. For a moment, Bikky thought of running, but he realized he couldn't leave Jill and Penny to take the rap for this. He had a chance of outrunning a cop, but they sure couldn't. He doubted Jill had ever so much as run for a bus.
He had one idea, and it was a long shot. He yanked his phone out of his pocket, flipped it open and hit speed dial, just as Suit Guy's hand fell on his shoulder. Another dude materialized on the right and grabbed Penny by the arm. She gasped and looked frightened.
"Thank you, hon," said Dee, taking the woman's hand and kissing it. He picked up the shopping bag containing Ryo's new and beautifully gift-wrapped mug, and admired it once more. "You've been a total sweetheart."
She looked regretfully at the yellow plastic bag she had put the mug in for him. "Oh," she said, "I just wish I had a prettier bag to give you..."
"Naw, don't worry about it. You've already done enough. The bag doesn't matter."
"But...wait! I could..." She started feeling about under the counter. "I could maybe find--"
"It's okay," Dee said, backing toward the door, his grin still in place. "Thank you so much. Have a great day, hon." He blew her a final kiss and made his escape, well-pleased with how that had gone. Boy was Ryo going to be surprised when they met up later. Well, actually, Ryo didn't know yet that they were going to meet up later. Dee had no intention of letting him go to that Steelshot concert alone, day off or no day off.
He hadn't gone more than ten steps from the store before his phone rang. It was good to be down to one phone. Ryo had taken Abernathy's newly charged one and the phone that Andre had surrendered earlier back to the precinct to show the Chief. He hoped this was Ryo, calling him to say hi. He checked the call display and felt a momentary twinge of disappointment that it wasn't his partner. Who was he kidding, anyway? Ryo very rarely called just to say hi. This was just the twerp. What the hell did he want?
"Yo, brat," he said.
"Dee, I'm in trouble. Been set up." The kid sounded breathless and scared, and there was a man shouting nearby. Dee could hear him saying, "Hugh! Grab the phone! No, don't let go of him!" and then he heard a girl's voice, panicked and tearful, saying "You're hurting me! Owww! Oh my God, let go of us!"
"Where are you?" Dee barked into the phone.
"Canal and Eldridge. By where Wes works. I--" Bikky suddenly gasped, as though in pain, and Dee's blood ran hot with rage.
"You little punk, gimme that," the unknown man's voice snarled, and then Bikky's voice came from farther away. "Hurry, Dee!"
The beautifully wrapped mug fell to the pavement as Dee broke into a flat-out sprint. As luck would have it, he was only a couple of long blocks away on Grand. It would be faster to go on foot than fetch his car and worry about traffic and parking.
"Police!" he yelled as he ran. "Outta my way!" Alarmed people either melted or jumped from his path. At one point a knot of giggling women in office clothes surged out of a restaurant directly in front of him and to avoid running into them, he had to leap into the street and run right up over the hood and roof of a parked car. One of the women jumped and screamed in fright, but he scrambled back onto the sidewalk and was gone in seconds, leaving them clutching each other and staring after him.
Dee reached the corner of Canal and Eldridge just in time to see two plainclothes guys trying their damnedest to stuff Bikky into a patrol car. He had to hand it to Bikky. For a little dude, the kid was putting up a hell of a fight. A uniformed officer stood by, wielding a taser and yelling to the two men to let go of Bikky for a second so he could let fly. A crowd was starting to gather, although most of them kept at a safe distance. A middle-aged black woman was hollering at the three men and shaking her fist.
"POLICE!" bellowed Dee, erupting into their midst and immediately inserting himself between the taser-wielding uniform and Bikky. He addressed the plainclothes guys, panting, badge out. "Detective Laytner, 27th. Let the kid go."
"Let him go?" one of the two guys snarled through a fat lip. "We caught the little fucker red-handed making a delivery of heroin. We're not lettin' this one go."
"That's no way to refer to a child!" scolded a female voice from the crowd, but the police ignored her.
"That's a cop's son you got there," Dee informed him, still trying to get his breath back. "He's been targeted and set up for that reason."
"What?" said the other plainclothes officer, the one wearing a suit. "Can you prove this?"
"Hugh, don't listen to this bullshit," said the one with the fat lip. "He's just trying to save his buddy's kid. I say, we caught him, we take him in."
"It's true!" yelled Bikky. "My dad called me at school today to warn me something like this was about to happen!" It wasn't technically true, but now Bikky thought he understood the reason for Ryo's bizarre and nervous phone call a little better.
"You shut the fuck up, you little punk." The cop with the fat lip shook Bikky like a rat, and a low murmur of anger ran through the bystanders.
"Hey, Lonnie, take it easy," Hugh said, eyeing the ever-growing crowd uncomfortably.
"You're not the one with a fat lip," growled Lonnie, and promptly put Bikky in a tight headlock.
"Bik," said Dee softly. "Don't run, okay?"
Bikky couldn't speak, or even breathe for that matter, but he tried to show Dee with his eyes that he understood. A second later there was a blur and then a loud crack as Dee's fist connected with Lonnie's nose. A cheer erupted from the crowd as Lonnie staggered backward and crashed into the frame of the police cruiser. Twin shrieks issued from within it, and for the first time, Dee realized that two very frightened teenage girls were sitting inside it with their hands cuffed behind their backs.
Ignoring everyone, he leaned down and grinned in at them. "Good evening, girls! Friends of Bikky's, I take it?"
They stared back at him, a pretty brunette, pale and frozen with fear, a pigtailed blonde, red and hyperventilating.
"Dee, look out!" Bikky yelled, and Dee flung himself aside just in time to miss being tased by the uniformed officer. One of the wires hit the cruiser's open door and the other one went inside the car and struck an unknown target. Wild screams of terror erupted from the girls once more.
"I'm sorry, Detective, I'm so sorry," babbled the uniform, backing away from the approach of a grim-faced Dee. "It just went off! I didn't mean to do that, I don't know what the hell happened--"
Dee unclenched his fists and muttered to the trembling man, "Put your weapon back in your belt, moron. You better not have just tased one of those girls."
"They're okay, Dee!" Bikky called from over by the cruiser, and the crowd cheered again.
"Fucking pigs!" a guy shouted from the back of the crowd.
"Simmer down, asshole!" Dee yelled back. "We're workin' this out!" Then he grinned at the bystanders, who responded with scattered shouts of encouragement and more cheers.
A woman called from somewhere at the back of the crowd, "You can work me out anytime, baby!"
"You okay, man?" murmured Hugh, helping a woozy Lonnie to his feet.
Lonnie's only response was to cough and spit a glob of blood onto the sidewalk. His nose was bleeding profusely.
"Detective Laytner," protested Hugh. "We're all on the same side here, I mean, we're all cops! We shouldn't be fighting with each other. I think you've broken my partner's nose!"
"He's lucky that's all I fuckin' broke," said Dee brusquely, cracking his neck. "You tell that asshole that the next time he wants to choke a kid, he should take a time-out and think about how lucky he is to still have a nose."
"Hear, hear!" called the middle aged woman, clapping her hands. "There's too much violence against children in this world."
"Which precinct are you?" Dee asked Hugh, who was blinking nervously from him to the avid crowd, many of whom were filming the proceedings on their cell phones.
"Detective Hugh Clayton, 7th Precinct. This is my partner, Detective Fielding."
"And you?" Dee turned toward the anxious patrol cop who had almost tasered him.
"Officer Roe, also 7th. Bernie, call me Bernie. I'm so sorry!"
"'S'awright, Bernie, don't sweat it. No harm done." Dee turned to Bikky. "What happened?"
"Crazy Bo asked me to deliver a bag of Doritos to Wes. But the girls were hungry, so we opened the bag and it wasn't Doritos!"
"Who the hell is Crazy Bo?"
"A born-again nutcase. He's so friggin' religious that everyone just wants to smack him. Always worrying about going to hell. I can't believe he would do something like this."
"We'll pick him up later," Dee said and turned to Detectives Clayton and Fielding. "You guys received a tip, right?"
They looked at each other and then looked back at Dee.
"Uh yeah, we did, right Lonnie? You took the call." Hugh said.
"Who tipped you off?" Dee demanded, hands on hips.
"Street contact," Lonnie mumbled nasally, his bloody fingers probing at his broken nose.
Dee looked at him speculatively for a long moment, and Lonnie dropped his eyes.
Sirens could be heard, not far off, which meant back-up was approaching, probably from the 7th. "Excuse me for a sec, guys," Dee said, nodding to the three men, and turning away to call Ryo on his cell phone.
Ryo stared at the Commissioner, feeling sick. His office had been bugged! All the times he and Dee had discussed their cases, discussed Abernathy, discussed their personal feelings-- like on the day of Eddie's funeral-- all of that had been overheard? And perhaps recorded? His brain struggled to remember which day the sweep had been done and which events had happened before and which ones had happened since.
Before he could speak, his cell phone rang. It was Dee. Not now, Dee, he thought and terminated the call to stop it ringing. "Were the bugs removed?" he asked the Commissioner.
"The one in your office was, but the one in mine has been left intact. Just to set your mind at rest, the batteries in the transmitter in your office were already dead, but we can't say for certain how long it had been inactive before it was discovered."
"Oh, good," said Ryo, feeling a slight measure of relief. "But I wonder why--" He was interrupted by his cell phone. Dee again. Before he could terminate the call once more, it stopped ringing by itself.
"You were saying?" The Commissioner was waiting for him to finish his question.
"I'm just wondering why the spy didn't replenish the batteries when he or she searched through our office last night."
"That's a very good question." The Commissioner looked impressed and then frowned slightly in annoyance as Ryo's cell phone rang yet again.
"I'd better answer this," Ryo said apologetically. "Dee seems to really want to get in touch with me. I'll see if I can put him off for ten minutes."
Dee almost couldn't believe it when Ryo finally answered.
"Hi Dee," he said. "Listen, I'm kinda busy at the m--"
"Drop everything and get your butt down to Chinatown, like right fucking now. Canal and Eldridge. I need you. Bring help."
"Now, Ryo. Bikky's been set up, bad. The 7th is here in force. We need 27th back-up. Hurry."
"I'll be right there!" Ryo said, or at least Dee thought that was what he said. Another cruiser had arrived and the siren was loud enough to drown out Ryo's last words. Dee turned around holding up his badge in case the guys in that cruiser came out with attitude. He didn't want to find himself on the ground with a knee in his kidneys trying to explain that he was a cop, as had happened more than once in the past.
Bikky's adrenaline glands were working overtime. Perv-man had come through! In record time, too. He didn't know how it was all gonna play out from here, but he was definitely going to stick like glue to Dee, no matter what happened next.
"Detective Laytner, 27th," Dee said to the first uniform who got out of the car, a beetle-browed gorilla with a scowl and a distrustful expression.
"In a minute, buddy," the guy said, pushing right past him. "Lonnie!" he exclaimed. "What the hell happened?"
Head down, and still supported by Hugh, Lonnie pointed limply at Dee, which made Gorilla-face whirl around and advance menacingly. Bikky clung to Dee's arm, trying not to look scared, but it was really difficult. The look on that guy's face-- he had seen it before. He was about eight seconds from berserk. Gorilla's hand was fumbling at his belt as he approached, not for his firearm, but for his taser, which, in Bikky's opinion was ten times worse. Cops hesitated to fire a handgun because of all the paperwork and bad press, but they had no compunction whatsoever about tasering anything that moved, wherever and whenever they felt like it. Bikky was certain that if Dee got tasered and went down, he and the girls were doomed.
"Dee..." he quavered, and then stopped, disgusted at how fearful his voice sounded.
Dee's free hand came down to squeeze his shoulder. "Easy, tiger," he whispered, and in that moment, Bikky wanted to slump to his knees with relief. The song-- Dee-- man, this was like a message from the Great Beyond. He suddenly knew everything was going to be okay.
"Hey buddy," Dee said softly to the big, angry cop. "Look around you. We're all on the six o'clock news." He gestured with his free hand at the people on the sidewalk with their phones and cameras out. "You wanna give your precinct a black eye?"
Ryo snapped his phone closed and sprang to his feet. "Sir," he said, "I've got to go, right now! My son is in trouble."
"Abernathy has set him up. He threatened as much this morning. Dee is trying to stop officers from the 7th from arresting Bikky." Ryo started for the door.
The Commissioner hurried after him. "Wait, Ryo!" He caught the younger man by the shoulder just before he reached the door.
Ryo stopped, his hand on the doorknob. "Sir, with all due respect, I--"
"You need help. Let me help you." Commissioner Rose turned him around and held him still with a hand on each shoulder, looking down at Ryo's anxious, flushed face. He hoped he wasn't promising more than he could deliver, but there was something utterly irresistible about Ryo MacLean, something that aroused within him feelings of affection and desire, something that made him want to protect him, to give of himself. The way the young detective was looking at him now, his lips parted, and those big, dark eyes imploring... well, he imagined that Ryo's face might look much like this in the bedroom, as a lover took him closer to orgasm. Not that he had thus far had the pleasure of seeing Ryo in that delightful condition, unfortunately. He well knew that Ryo was currently sleeping with his loutish partner, Dee Laytner, and he was waiting patiently for them to become disenchanted with each other.
"You don't have to say anything," he said tenderly, squeezing those beautiful, masculine shoulders. "Let's go. We'll do this together."
Ryo just nodded as the Commissioner reached past him and opened the door.
"Helen!" Rose rapped out as he stepped into the small reception area. "I have an emergency and I need a squad car and driver, plus two motorcycle escorts right now. Call dispatch, and have them meet us out front. We're heading to-- where are we going, Ryo?"
"Chinatown. Canal and Eldridge."
"Got it," said Helen, picking up her phone.
"Oh, and Helen? Cancel my meeting with the Mayor!"
"Yes, sir," said Helen, completely poker-faced as usual, but anyone who was watching her closely would have seen that her eyes danced with amusement.
End of Chapter 6
Additional author's notes: I'm glad that I've been able to post the last three chapters or so without really long waiting times, but I'm going to have to slow down a bit now because I'm facing a busy time at work. Before the end of the year, I expect to be able to publish at least one more chapter of Justice, a smexy one-shot, and another chapter of Slave To A Gladiator.