Here's Justice Chapter 9, as promised. I'm having my usual problem with the post being too large, so once again I've had to break it up into two parts. I'm thinking I should try to make my chapters a little shorter in the future.
Things that are new with me:
1. On the advice of my chiropractor, I bought my first ever pair of cycling shoes. The brand is Keen and they look like Keds. I had my doubts about how useful they were going to be, especially since they represented a cash outlay of $120, plus $29.99 for waterproof reflective booties to go over them, but after wearing them for a few days, I have to say that these just might possibly be the shoes I've been waiting for all my life. They have no arch supports, which is good, because my feet are happily and functionally flat and hurt like hell if they are forced into unnatural arch shapes. These shoes have very hard, flat, non-bendable soles, so when I'm powering up a hill on my bike, I can push mightily on the pedals without harming the soles of my feet. I used to have constant foot cramps, but my chiropractor said this would go away if I wore cycling shoes, and she was right!
2. Fluffy and I have rediscovered canned salmon. I used to eat it a lot, but then one day I suddenly got grossed out about the soft fish bones and fish skin that was mixed in with the meat, and never wanted to see a can of salmon again. That was about five years ago, but recently I was forced to open an old one because I had no cat food for Fluff's dinner. I tasted it and liked it again! It's apparently full of calcium and vitamin D.
Okay, I know that was boring. Please forgive me, and enjoy the chapter. Remember, Chapter 10 is coming two weeks from today on November 27th.
FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June)
by Brit Columbia
Pairing : Dee and Ryo and vice versa (but not quite yet...)
Rating: Not steamy, but not worksafe either.
Spoilers: set after book 7, so please don't read this story if you haven't finished the original manga and don't want to be spoiled.
Timing: this story is the sequel to FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May), which I wrote to be set directly after Book 7. However, you don't have to read A New Day to appreciate this story. I think you'll be able to figure it out on your own.
Thank you to the_ladyfeather and tripple_p for their fine beta work on this chapter!
Author's notes: Some people may be surprised at how few weeks have passed in Dee and Ryo's life since their relationship began. I assure you I'm working to a calendar, and I've got a very tight hold on the timeline. FFYT: A New Day took up most of May, and now FFYT: Justice is happening in June. It's a little challenging to me to remember US holidays. For example, I totally forgot about Memorial Day in A New Day! But I don't think anyone noticed.So far in Justice: The Commissioner has temporarily moved Dee and Ryo away from the 27th Precinct station to One Police Plaza so that they can work without worrying that the unknown Spy will get into their files. It has also recently been discovered that both Dee and Ryo's office as well as the Commissioner's office at the 27th had been bugged by unknown persons. The Commissioner feels that the corruption at the Internal Affairs office may be more widespread than they thought. Dee and Ryo so far don't have anything on Lieutenant Abernathy, but Dee helped himself to the man's cell phone during an earlier questionably legal search of the Abernathy apartment when Abernathy was drunk. Thanks to the names they got from the phone, they are now getting closer to Abernathy's contacts. Yesterday, Bikky was set up to take a fall in a drug drop he didn't know he was participating in. The arresting cops at the scene roughed up Bikky and his two friends Jill and Penny. The kids were saved by first, Dee, and then the arrival of Ryo and the Commissioner. On a more personal note, Ryo is having issues about how gay men who bottom seem to be more condemned than those who top, and he's having second thoughts about always being the guy on the bottom with Dee.
There! Consider yourself brought up to speed!
Justice, Chapter 9: The Art of Communicating Badly
A shock wave rippled around the meeting room at One Police Plaza when Ryo said "One dead junkie and one dead cop."
"Dead cop?" echoed Sheldon. "The only cops that died recently were Officer Les Nakamura from the 44th three months back in a narc-op and Detective Shaver from the 51st a few days ago in that warehouse fire at the Yard." He narrowed his eyes. "You're talking about Shaver, aren't you?"
"What?" cried Detective Greenspan. "But that man is a hero!"
Everyone ignored her except for her partner who patted her arm soothingly.
"So Abernathy owned Shaver, huh?" Marty looked thoughtful. "And he controlled Calvetti. How does this fit with what's going on with the gangs?"
This question got him an approving nod from the Chief. "Good question, Marty. It's all interconnected, and Mike is at the heart of it."
He allowed a brief silence while everyone digested the implications of this new piece of information.
"Randy and Dee, through working Shaver, got some details of Mike's operation from him. It's drugs, mostly small-time so far, and also the occasional car. But according to Shaver, Mike threw in with the Dyre Devils not long ago. We presume he was looking for bigger deals."
"The Devils are in rough shape nowadays, though, aren't they?" Detective Massey remarked.
"They're coming back up fast," said Marty. "It's a race between them and CA right now. They're recruiting like crazy and they've absorbed at least one small gang that I know about."
"Are you sure about Detective Shaver?" Detective Massey glanced briefly at Ryo, who looked away. She then turned her anxious eyes back to the Chief. "Was he really... I mean, do you have proof?"
"Yes," said Lieutenant Smith, bowing his head briefly in acknowledgment of her feelings. "It's incontrovertible. But classified."
The two Queens detectives exchanged an unhappy look, and Dee felt bad for them. They had probably bought the whole 'funeral for a brother slain in the line of duty' thing, which wasn't their fault. In putting together the huge NYPD funeral, the Commissioner and his PR staff had pretty much billed Shaver as a noble fallen warrior in the fight against gang crime. When they learned that the bomb that caused the Navy Yard warehouse fire had, in fact, originated in Shaver's car, it was too late to cancel their plans. But the upside was that the funeral had been a media-friendly news spectacle that had made headlines around the country and garnered much public support for the police.
"How about hard proof that Lieutenant Abernathy is involved with the Devils-- that he's moving drugs... I mean, these are very serious allegations," said Detective Greenspan. "Do you have anything that could stand up in court?"
"No," said Ryo. "So far, we have nothing. That's been the problem all along. We're trying to get something-- anything-- that could help us snag a warrant."
"Shaver was semi-willing to help," Dee added. "He wanted a deal. He was the best shot we had. If we'd been given permission to offer him a deal that he could have lived with, as opposed to one he felt he couldn't, things might be a whole lot different right now." He looked pointedly at the Commissioner, whom he blamed for stubbornly insisting on jail time for Shaver.
"But, as I understand it, you've got a couple of new leads now," interjected the Chief hastily.
"That's right, Chief." Ryo pulled out his notebook. "Our best one is John Hambler, who is willing to help us set up a sting as soon as the impound department is able to okay a car for me."
"John Hambler? Are we talking about 'Jackhammer'?" Detective Massey asked.
"Yeah." Dee leaned forward in his chair. "You know him?"
"Uh-huh. Do I ever. Bad dude. Is he back on the streets?"
Dee nodded. "Probation. But he's already getting into trouble."
Detective Massey sighed. "Sounds like him. I'm surprised he's cooperating. What you got on him?"
"Yeah, I'd like to hear more about this sting." Sheldon, ever the pessimist, looked dubious.
"I don't understand it," Thomas said. "If I don't see him at my school, he usually gets on at Atlantic Avenue."
"Well, maybe he got a flat tire," suggested Dave. He and Bikky snorted and giggled.
"Can wheelchairs get flat tires?" asked Thomas.
"Sure," said Bikky authoritatively, although he really had no idea. "If a bicycle can get a flat tire, so can a wheelchair."
"Maybe he'll get on at the next station." Dave looked hopeful.
"I don't think so," said Thomas. "Not all the stations are good for wheelchairs, you know."
Bikky shrugged. He had never given wheelchair access a thought before. "Do you know when the next wheelchair-friendly station is coming up?"
"Not really." Thomas scratched his head and gave Bikky an apologetic smile. "I guess I should look that up, huh?"
"Duh," said Dave. "That way you can be ready for him or maybe even completely avoid him. If... that's what you want."
"You guys believe me, right?" Thomas looked anxiously from Dave to Bikky. "Like, you know I didn't just dream this whole thing up, right?"
"Yeah, sure," said Bikky. "If we don't see him today, we'll just have to try again."
"Thanks," said Thomas. "But I hope we see him today. He might be hanging out near Saint Julian's. I've seen him around that neighborhood a few times."
Unfortunately for three boys who were looking for a little excitement, there was no sign of the mysterious wheelchair-bound man at any of the other stations, and nor was he lurking outside the orphanage. Disappointed, Bikky and Dave headed back to the Church Street subway station after saying goodbye to Thomas.
"You think he's full of shit?" asked Dave, looking sideways at Bikky.
Bikky thought for a moment and then shook his head. "No," he said. "I don't think so. There's enough freaky shit goin' on in his life that he don't need to go making it up."
" 'Doesn't need to, Bikky'," scolded Dave in a lame, but easily recognizable imitation of Ryo.
Bikky rolled his eyes and made a pretty good effort of looking bored and unimpressed-- for exactly four seconds. Then he was taken by a fit of snickering, as was Dave, which was only alleviated by shoving each other, much to the disapproval of the other passengers in their train car.
A woman with a toddler in her arms scolded the boys for roughhousing too close to her, and because they were busily engaged in protesting their respective innocence to her and blaming each other, they subsequently missed the sight of a silver-haired man in aviator glasses rolling his wheelchair out of the elevator and onto the platform on the opposite side of the tracks. The car doors slid closed and the train pulled out, rapidly gathering speed. Bikky and Dave didn't think to look back.
Ryo rolled over to face Dee and gave him an accusing look. "I thought you said you wanted a nap!"
"And I do," Dee replied innocently, resuming his stroking of Ryo's body. He ran his hand down his lover's thigh and then back up to his hip, squeezing gently.
"Then what the hell is that?" Ryo prodded Dee's erection with one of his knuckles.
"That's just a normal reaction to the hotness of you, dork."
Ryo rolled his eyes. "I should have known."
"Uh-huh, yep, you really should have," murmured Dee, moving closer. He hitched Ryo's thigh over his own hip and started nuzzling his neck. "You, me, alone, a day off, a bed..."
"Dee... I'm not sure we have time for this." Ryo held out his wrist at a distance where he could focus on his watch without needing to put his reading glasses on. "Bikky's school let out for the weekend about fifteen minutes ago, and he doesn't have basketball today."
"Since when does that brat rush home from school on a Friday? Kid's got a million friends. He's probably busy signing autographs 'cause he was on TV yesterday." Dee slid his hand up Ryo's thigh and squeezed one of his buttocks.
"Well..." Ryo hesitated and Dee pushed the advantage by sucking on his earlobe.
"Mmm," Ryo said. "That feels good... but you know, we probably shouldn't..."
Dee sucked harder and then bit Ryo's neck gently just under his ear. He felt a very gratifying shudder go through Ryo's body when he did that. We probably shouldn't, my ass, he thought. We're gonna. With his hand still on Ryo's ass, he rocked Ryo's hips against his. There was a definite stirring of interest in his partner's groin. He hoped Ryo would be up for a good, hard fucking. Last night's blowjob and this morning's quickie frot session had been nice, but he hadn't gotten inside Ryo since Tuesday, which seemed like an eternity ago. He wanted to bury himself inside Ryo's hot, tight, sensitive little hole and give it a good pounding. Ryo always made more noise while being fucked than he did at other times. Even just thinking about the erotic sounds that came out of Ryo's sexy mouth when a dick or a finger slid over his prostate gland got Dee as hard as a rock. His baby tried so hard to suppress his moans and his cries, but with limited success. Uh-huh, Dee knew what Ryo liked.
Ryo's breathing was becoming heavier. Dee nibbled diagonally down the taut muscles of Ryo's neck, using his lips, teeth and tongue to potent effect. Ryo squirmed sensually in his arms and let out a little gasp. When he started actively pushing his hardening penis against Dee's, Dee was sufficiently emboldened to slide his hand under the waistband of Ryo's boxers so he could caress the bare skin of Ryo's buttocks. He could tell that Ryo liked it because he gasped again and started touching the parts of Dee's chest that he could reach. It wasn't easy because they were pressed very close together.
"Kiss me, babe," whispered Dee, nudging his face against Ryo's until Ryo raised his lips to his. Dee took his time with that kiss, sliding his lips lightly against Ryo's, nipping gently at Ryo's upper lip first, and then his lower lip while Ryo panted into his mouth and moved in his arms, rubbing and writhing against him. When he finally covered Ryo's mouth with his own and slid his tongue inside to explore, Ryo responded by gripping his bicep and making a muffled moaning noise. Oh yeah, we're gonna.
Dee dipped his fingertips into the cleft between Ryo's buttocks and stroked him there, up and down, up and down. Ryo liked that too, and pushed back against his hand. Dee noticed that he pushed especially hard whenever Dee's moving fingers passed over his puckered entrance.
Dee broke the kiss to bite Ryo's chin affectionately, and murmur, "Let's get out of our shorts." He smiled down at where Ryo's cock had managed to find the fly of his boxers and was protruding eagerly out of it.
"Well, okay, but..." Ryo cast an anxious glance at the still open door of the bedroom.
Dee immediately hopped off the bed, and closed and locked the door before returning to his glassy-eyed lover. He peeled off his own shorts and reached for Ryo's, whereupon, to his surprise, he was met with resistance.
"Come on baby, let go. How am I gonna fuck you if you won't take your shorts off?"
"Um, Dee, I don't think I wanna go that far right now," Ryo protested, still hanging on to the waistband of his plaid-patterned boxers.
"Why not? We both know you love it. What's more, we're alone, and for once we've got time. C'mon, give it up, sweetheart. I want your sweet ass, and you know you wanna give it to me."
"Dee, no. School is out, remember? What if Bikky brings a bunch of kids home? I would die of embarrassment if they understood that we... you know... what we were doing in here."
"Ryo, that's not gonna happen. Bikky's a smart kid. Don't forget, last Friday he actually called to make sure we weren't in here doin' the backstroke before he came home. He knows this is our day off and he wouldn't want to risk getting embarrassed any more than you would."
"Well... I still don't want to take the chance." Ryo's grip on the waistband of his boxers was getting practically white-knuckled, and for some reason that Dee couldn't fathom, he wasn't meeting Dee's eyes. Worst of all, in Dee's opinion, was that the proud erection that had formerly been sticking out so jauntily from the fly of Ryo's boxers was now starting to wilt.
Dee sighed. Okay, so Ryo was having an attack of nervousness. Or sexual shyness. Whatever it was, he knew it meant that he had to back off for the time being. It was his job to make his lover feel comfortable and relaxed. He wanted to get Ryo's dick standing up again before the moment was lost entirely.
"No problem, Ryo," he said softly, his eyes gentle. "Nothing's gonna happen that you don't want. Is it okay if I hold you?"
"Sure," said Ryo, after a moment's hesitation. He looked up at Dee apologetically as Dee settled down beside him. "I-- I'm not saying no to everything, Dee, just so you understand." He reached for Dee and allowed himself to be pulled into Dee's strong arms.
"So you still wanna play? Maybe?"
"Sure," Ryo said again. "As long as it's something, you know, quiet. And quick."
"I get it. Not too intense."
"Where are you calling me from, Rick me man?"
"What in God's name are you doing in Brooklyn?"
"Routine drop for the D's, Mike."
"I thought I told you to stop being their fucking errand boy. At least until they pony up."
"Sorry," Rick muttered. "But I was getting low on powder and my bitch been gettin' at me about it."
"Let that be your last drop for now, lad. I think you've proved your loyalty. No more free work for them until you've got your tattoo. You understand me?"
"Yeah, I got it. But Mike, I'm calling 'cuz something fucked-up happened last night."
"Me and Al were onstage at Teddy's and three cops showed up. Detectives."
"And they were lookin' for me! Plainclothes guys."
"What did they want?"
"Dunno. I was out the door before they got their badges put away. Them doughnut suckers couldn't catch me."
Lieutenant Abernathy wasn't fooled by the bravado in Rick's voice. He knew the younger man was still spooked. "Did they give you their names?"
"Nuh-uh. I went straight from rappin' to runnin'."
"Have you ever seen their faces before?"
"Yeah, think so." In the background, a man's voice said, 'Let's go, bro,' and Rick paused to say, "Just a sec," before returning to his conversation with the lieutenant. "The first one looked familiar. Don't know where I've seen him, though."
"Well, I'm sure it'll come back to you," said the lieutenant reassuringly. "It may be some cops from that task force that's after the gangs."
"Fuck! That's bullshit. Mike, why would the task force come after me?" Rick asked, making a fairly good play of going for disgruntled, but coming off as scared. "I'm not in the Devils yet. I'm just a contender right now."
"That may well be why," Mike replied. "I'll ask around a little and see what I can come up with. In the meantime, boy, you go to ground. Keep a low profile until we know what's goin' on."
Ryo came slowly awake, his senses registering his familiar surroundings. The sun filtered in lines of fierce white light through the slats of the blinds on the window. He blinked and looked away to where Dee lay beside him, snoring softly, with one arm thrown across Ryo's chest. The room smelled faintly of sex.
Sex with Dee was good. No, it was better than good. It was amazing. It was far, far better than he ever could have imagined sex could be. Ryo's only previous experience with sex had been with female partners, and not many, at that. While he found making love to them pleasant, he had never experienced anywhere near the level of arousal with them that he did with Dee. His sex drive had been like a banked fire; it never put out a lot of heat. But Dee somehow managed to stoke that fire until it became a blazing inferno. Ryo smiled at the thought. That had been very alarming indeed back when he still believed he was one hundred percent heterosexual.
It had been eight weeks since Ryo had first presented himself at Dee's apartment door, not only needing comfort in the turbulent wake of Leo's harsh words to him, but also looking for confirmation of something he had begun to suspect about himself. That was the first milestone. The second had happened approximately three weeks after that all-important night of lovemaking with Dee: the night when he told Dee that he loved him and they had subsequently made a commitment to stay together. On the whole, he didn't regret his decision.
On the whole.
But recently he had been feeling just a tiny bit resentful. There were certain things he knew he couldn't change about Dee, and didn't even have the right to. Ryo sighed and stared at the ceiling. It did no good to brood about them. He wished he could shake these feelings off. After all, he had a lot to be grateful for. He was in love with a wonderful man, and the sex was great, even though he was apparently destined to be the guy on the bottom for the rest of his natural life.
Just at that moment, Dee shifted in his sleep and mumbled something about chocolate milk. Ryo couldn't help smiling. He gave Dee a little shake. "Come on, sleepyhead," he said. "Give me a hand with dinner."
When Bikky got home, he was starving. The attempt to confront Tom's stalker had been a no-go. He and Dave had met Tom at Saint Patrick's and gone all the way back to the orphanage with him on the subway. They nearly gave themselves eyestrain scanning each platform for a guy in a wheelchair meeting the description Tom had given them, but no luck. Apart from a fat kid with a breathing tube at Atlantic, and a grumpy old lady at York, they hardly saw any people in wheelchairs at all.
Tom was pretty apologetic. Dave was just plain disappointed. Bikky had shrugged it off and moved on to the next item on his list of things to do before dinner. He had promised to make an appearance at Carol's final field hockey match of the school year, so after saying goodbye to his friends, he hauled ass back to Delancey to catch whatever was left of the game. Field hockey was not really an interesting sport for Bikky, but Carol had come to enough of his basketball games that he usually made a point of trying to be there for her whenever she was playing. Plus, it didn't hurt that all the girls ran around in these little kilt things with tight, sleeveless jerseys, and a few of the more stacked ones had some first-rate jiggle when they were chasing after the ball.
This was a home-field game against the Midwood girls' team. They were rumored to be one wild set of bitches, although Bikky didn't know this for sure, never having met any of the players. They apparently had an all-male cheerleader team that accompanied them to their games.
As he approached the playing field, the disappointed expressions he saw on the faces of a few departing students told him that things weren't going well for Carol's team. He joined a pair of Carol's girlfriends up in the bleachers just in time to see Midwood score another goal against Delancey. Carol and her teammates put up the best fight they could, but the Brooklyn players pretty much clobbered them. It was painful to watch.
He had originally been hoping to go out for a victory snack with Carol's team after the game, but as her team had tanked and her aunt had sent Wayne to pick her up right after, that plan washed right out.
Now he was relieved to smell dinner cooking. He was looking forward to some real dinner for a change, since Ryo hadn't been around to cook recently, and all he'd gotten at Carol's aunt's place last night had been chick food. Soup and salad. What kind of dinner was that? He was still a growing boy, for Christ's sake.
Ryo was in the kitchen, wearing oven mitts and taking something hot out of the oven. Unfortunately, that lame-ass pervert was hanging around too, which was no fucking surprise. Ryo had him on salad duty at the kitchen table. Bikky scowled at him, and in response, Dee stuck out his tongue and waved his middle finger at him behind Ryo's back.
"Hey there, Bikky. How was Carol's game?" Ryo looked happy to see him, and for a moment Bikky thought he was in danger of being hugged. Fortunately, Ryo didn't hug him, just took his book bag and hung it up for him.
"Sucked. Her team lost, four to one."
"Oh, how disappointing for her. Didn't they lose last time, too?"
"No, they got lucky last time and scored a tie goal in the last two minutes. But they lost the game a week before that one. They've had a pretty crummy season. Hey, what's for dinner?" Bikky sniffed the air appreciatively.
"Sloppy Joes," said Ryo, looking pleased at the big grin that instantly appeared on Bikky's face. It was no secret that Bikky loved Sloppy Joes.
"Do we have anything for dessert?" Bikky was always thinking ahead when it came to food.
"As a matter of fact, we do," said Ryo, who was smiling like he had expected that question. "I made... chocolate pudding!"
"Drippin'! When's everything gonna be ready? I'm hungry."
"How about now?"
"Now? Really? Let's eat." Without having to be told, Bikky washed his hands at the kitchen sink and then went straight to the table and sat down. He was happy to be eating dinner with Ryo, even though Dee was there. When Ryo had to work long hours and they hardly got to see each other, it made him nervous for some reason, Even though a lack of supervision certainly had its benefits, a guy could get kind of lonely after a while. Besides, he usually got more homework done if Ryo was around in the evenings, which made school easier the next day. However, today was Friday, so he was looking forward to a little R&R.
Unfortunately, homework, rather than R&R was what happened when dinner was over. Bikky had put away three Sloppy Joes and two helpings of chocolate pudding, in addition to a small salad, which he hadn't really wanted, but that Ryo had insisted he eat. He was sitting at the table, feeling satisfied in both body and soul, and wondering whether he should go and play Zombie Cruiser or watch a little TV, when Ryo said, "Might as well get started on your homework, Bikky."
"Homework? It's only Friday night! There's lots of time."
"Sunday night will be here sooner than you think," Ryo said. "It's better not to procrastinate."
"But Sunday night is homework night for everybody!"
"Not everybody. Only the procrastinators. When I was your age, I always did my homework on Friday night to get it out of the way. Now don't argue with me. Get your books and make a good start."
"Boomtown!" exclaimed Dee from over by the TV. "Vin Diesel's on."
"Which one?" asked Bikky, instantly interested.
"Dee, we're not watching TV tonight," said Ryo, looking peeved.
Dorkhead seemed confused. "We're not?" Then he seemed to have received some sort of telepathic message from Ryo because his face changed and he quickly said, "Right! No TV for us. We've got other things to do."
And that was how Bikky had ended up in his room, books and papers all over his bed, phoning various classmates of his to see if anyone else's parents had made them start their homework on Friday night. If he could get someone to give him the gist of chapters 18 and 19 in his Social Studies textbook, he wouldn't have to actually read the damn chapters. It was boring shit, anyway, Industry and Urban growth in the old US. Who the hell cared?
Having struck out with four classmates in a row, Bikky phoned Carol in desperation. She couldn't remember the details of Grade Seven Social Studies well enough to be much help to him, but she was more than willing to take a little break from her own homework.
"Sorry," she said. "I remember some stuff about Bill Gates, plus we learned about water and agriculture, but I don't remember anything that would help you. I think you're going to have to actually read the chapters."
"Ugh," grunted Bikky. "Maybe I'll just save the reading for last."
"You do that," Carol said. "Start on something a little easier to get into. Hey," she added, remembering something. "What was in that mysterious package that arrived just before Eddie's funeral last week?"
"I don't know," Bikky cast his eyes around his room, looking for it. Where had he thrown that thing? "I forgot about it until now."
"Well, open it!" Carol sounded excited. "I want to know what it is."
Bikky spotted it over by the battered tin trunk he kept his old comic books in, and got off the bed to fetch it. "I got it. I'm opening it now."
"Oooh, what is it? Tell me, tell me!"
"It's a key!" said Bikky, pulling out a large, old-fashioned looking key. It dangled from a longish length of heavy string. "And there's a note with it. Wait a sec..." He shook the folded piece of white paper out of the envelope and opened it. "Holy crap!" he exclaimed. "It's from Eddie!"
He dropped it like it was on fire and froze in horror, the hair standing up on his arms. The phone fell from his hand and into his lap. It was only Carol's voice squawking, "Bikky! Bikky! Are you okay?" that recalled his wits for him. He picked up the phone, glad she couldn't see the way his hand was shaking.
"Yeah, I'm fine," he said in what he hoped was his normal, confident voice, even though his heart was thumping away in his chest. He had never received a message from beyond the grave before. "It's just, well...kinda freaky, ya know?"
"Are you sure it's from Eddie? Maybe it's someone's crazy idea of a cruel practical joke."
"Yep, it's from Eddie, all right. He always had this real fancy signature. 'Eddie Carlo Calvetti'. It's pretty unique. It would be hard to fake."
"Oh my God," said Carol wonderingly. "He must have sent it before he..." She trailed away as though she couldn't say the word. "Are there any clues in it? What does it say?"
"I'll read it to you." Bikky reached for the letter, glad that he was talking to Carol and that he didn't have to read it alone. "It says,
'Hey man, got a bad feelin. Im goin out of town 4 awhile. Can U look after my shit 4 me until I get back? If Im not back in a cpl months, pls sell anything U think is good and give the money 2 the methadone clinic. Give it 2 Heather. She wks in the mornings. Tell her its from me, OK? The laptop is 4 U. Hope it can help U in ur studies. I got some interesting files and aps on it. U can tell ur dad if U 1-2, but make sure U chk out the files. Go C Mario @ Little Luigi's in Middle Village in Queens. Tell the kids I will be back!'
There was a silence from the other end of the phone, and Bikky said, "Carol? You still there?"
"Yeah," she said softly, and her voice sounded kind of choked up. "You're right, Bikky-Bear. This is SO freaky."
"He said he had a bad feeling, but he really expected to be back. I wish-- well, whatever." His grip tightened on the paper.
"Are you going to tell Ryo about this?"
"I dunno. I gotta think on it first." Bikky suddenly felt vaguely uneasy.
"What's there to think about? Maybe there's evidence in Eddie's stuff. Maybe this'll get the police off our backs."
"Well...I can't prove this came from Eddie. What if the police say I wrote it myself? They've been kinda tough to deal with lately."
"Hmm. Yeah, good point." There was a cute little honking sound like a kitten was blowing its nose, then Carol said. "He probably stashed his stuff somewhere safe before... before he went to Bam's."
"Yeah, seems likely. So the murderer probably didn't go through it."
"What if the murderer is watching the place where Eddie's stuff is? The more I think about it, the more I think you should tell Ryo."
"Not so fast, Cal. I'm gonna tell Ryo, you can be sure of that. The question is more when I'm gonna tell him, not if. Eddie's last wish is to give money to the methadone clinic, but if Ryo gets his hands on Eddie's shit, you can bet he'll take it all to the police station and we'll never see it again."
"That's right, he will," Carol said thoughtfully. "He has to. But, you know, we could really get in trouble here. If the Queens police find out that we knew about this new, well, evidence and we didn't tell them, they'll say it proves we're guilty!"
"Nah, you heard that Lindsay Masters guy the other day. He said the police got nothing on us, and he was gonna make 'em sorry if they didn't leave us alone." Bikky laughed shortly. "Ryo told me Lindsay and his assistant took a trip to that asshole cop's precinct in Queens and did a number on their heads. He's probably gonna do the same thing to those dinks from yesterday, too."
"I know about that," said Carol. "He came by and got my aunt to sign a letter saying she was thinking about suing the NYPD. She's not going to, of course, but I guess Lindsay wanted them to think it might happen if they screwed up again."
"Well then, you see what I mean. It ain't the normal police I'm worried about now. It's that sleazeball cop. Tom's dad."
"You think he's the murderer?"
"I dunno. But I bet he knows something about it."
"Well, I still think you should tell Ryo right now that you got this letter from Eddie and that there's a laptop involved. There might be clues on that laptop, clues that Ryo and Dee need."
"Yeah, maybe. But I betcha if a couple cops show up to talk to this Mario dude, he'll run out the back door of the restaurant, and no one will find him again for months."
"Why would he do that?"
"Guy's either a dealer or a junkie," Bikky said. "He sent sweet lady H to Eddie in a take-out bag the night I found him in Queens."
"You could always tell Ryo and Dee to go in low-key and not show their badges."
"Nah, they both give off that cop vibe. You know what I mean."
"Yeah, that's true," Carol admitted. A difficult childhood spent picking pockets and shoplifting had left her, like Bikky, hyper-alert to anyone who might be an undercover cop or store security. At her dying father's request, she had given up those activities long ago, but the old instincts remained.
"Ryo's always treating me like I'm a little kid who's too stupid to figure anything out, and that kinda pisses me off."
"Come on, you can't really blame him. He was probably real innocent when he was your age. He didn't have the same kind of childhood as we did. Anyway, it's his job to protect you."
"He oughta know me better. Sometimes I feel like I live more in the real world than he does, even though he's a cop and he must have seen a lot of ugly crap out there."
"Well, what do you want to do?"
"I'm thinking I'm gonna go get that laptop and the other stuff myself. I'm gonna prove to Ryo that I'm not the dumb little kid he thinks I am."
"Bikky-Bear, I'm not sure this is such a great idea."
"Lookit, Cal. If Ryo and Dee scare Mario away like they did with Eddie, no one's gonna get that laptop. But if I go to Queens..." Bikky let that statement trail away. "Can you just imagine the look on Ryo's face when I-- I mean we-- give him the laptop?"
"Yeah." She giggled. "It'll probably be pretty funny."
~ End of Part One. Please go to Part Two!~