Thank you for reading Part One. Here's the continuation. It's not quite worksafe, as sexual activity is referred to.
"Dee, take your hand off my thigh."
"Why? I think better when I'm touching you."
"Well, I don't." Ryo picked up the offending hand and deposited it on the sofa between them. "Let's go over the list again and see if we're missing anyone."
Dee sighed. This day off with Ryo had not exactly lived up to his hopes. That damn one hour meeting had turned into almost three, what with the Sting details and after that, the fact that they had to go over Ja Romeo's Facebook photos with Ted and Marty. When he finally got Ryo home and into bed, his partner had gone and done one of his split-personality switcheroos and almost backed out of sex at the last minute. Something had set him off, and Dee didn't have any idea what. Fortunately he managed to save the situation and had at least scored a hand job out of it. And some cuddling. And a very brief nap, which was always better than no nap at all.
"Look, Ryo, I think we should just leave this to Diana. We work with these people." He tapped Ryo's notepad with his index finger. "They're our friends."
"Well, just because we're brainstorming about the spy doesn't mean we have to stop liking our friends," said Ryo.
"That's not what I mean. I think we're too close to the situation. Besides, it could have been anyone on the whole east side of the building who saw us walk in the day Abernathy had that bitch Siobhan call the Chief about us. Or it could have been someone sitting a block down in a parked car who watched us pull into the Precinct yard."
"Dee, I'd like to narrow it down a bit for Diana. You know, give her a place to start her investigation."
"Betcha anything she doesn't even listen to us. She's got her own methods, dude. And it's not like she ever listened to us, before."
"Do you have to be so defeatist?"
"I call it being a realist, babe. Look, if you wanna spend the evening of our one and only day off together working, fine. We already gave that place three hours of our time today. What's another hour, give or take? But let's at least work on something that's ours and not something that's already been delegated to someone else, okay?"
"Fine." Ryo tossed his notebook onto the coffee table. "But I expect you to work, okay? And I mean really work, not just grope me."
"Sure!" Dee glanced at the clock on the DVD player. "I'm willing to put in an hour of real work without a shred of affection to spur me on, if that's what you want. It's seven p.m. now, so you're totally safe from me until 8:01. How's that?"
Ryo gave him a wry smile. "I'll take what I can get."
"Thought you would. Hey, how about some of that herbal tea?"
Ryo looked at him in disbelief. "You're asking for herbal tea?"
"Well, yeah. If we're working, then I know better than to ask for booze, and I'm kind of sick of Perrier. We both know there's no soda in this whole apartment, so what other choice do I have?"
Ryo got up from the sofa and stretched his hips and legs to the accompaniment of various popping sounds before he walked toward the kitchen. "I've got chamomile and ginger mint," he said. "Do you have a preference?"
Yuck and yuck, thought Dee, but aloud he said, "Surprise me!"
While Ryo busied himself in the kitchen, Dee thought resentfully about that stupid staff meeting at the Palace earlier today. While he knew that Ryo was bummed about having to share the Abernathy case with the rest of the team, Dee didn't blame the Chief for making that decision. As the Chief had pointed out, Abernathy had gone after Bikky in a big way, following through on the oblique threats he had made earlier in the day. There was also the matter of the photos. Abernathy obviously had someone following Bikky. Dee and Ryo had already agreed that they would be willing to give up the case entirely if Bikky's safety could be assured, but as Ryo had pointed out to him on the commute home, it didn't matter how many people got brought on board-- if Abernathy truly wanted to harm Bikky, then he would. Dee knew that for the past few hours, Ryo had been mulling over his various options with regards to safe places he could send Bikky for the summer. The upshot of it all was that the case was no longer a two-man show. Dee was actually very much in favor of there being more people assisting with the case. It wasn't like they had really lost anything, after all. Ryo was still lead detective, despite an underhanded attempt from Detective Greenspan and her partner to get it handed over to them.
"We think that Tina should share lead detective position on this case with Detective MacLean," Detective Massey had said. "The Calvetti murder is ours, initiated by Tina while I was outta town, and most importantly, this Abernathy guy seems to want to talk to her." She looked at the Commissioner with an encouraging, but shrewd smile on her face. "It would also be a good support for the inter-precinct funding proposal opportunity that's opening up next month."
Dee didn't even have to glance at Ryo to detect the surge of hostility that flared up in him in response to these words. But Ryo wasn't eloquent in meetings. The more people there were, the more likely he was to end up tongue-tied. Plus, Ryo had always had difficulty doing battle with females. Luckily, Dee didn't have either of those problems.
"Lead detective? Her?" he demanded, his poor opinion of Detective Greenspan dripping noticeably from his voice. "How long have you had your gold shield, Tina? Six weeks? Eight?"
Both women stared at him in shock and then opened their mouths to answer at the same time.
"Six months, if you must know," retorted Detective Greenspan, like that was supposed to be an impressive amount of time.
"Tina is more than ready for this responsibility," insisted Detective Massey staunchly. "She's done excellent work in her time with me."
Several people started to speak, so the Commissioner immediately rose from his chair and lifted a hand. When this did not serve to bring silence, the Chief bellowed angrily until everyone shut up.
"No, ladies, I'm sorry." The Commissioner shook his head. "I'm afraid this case is too big for someone as inexperienced as Detective Greenspan to take the lead on. The initial leads were discovered by Detectives MacLean and Laytner. Ryo will stay lead detective. After all, it could be argued that Detective Danes be put in charge, especially when one considers both his seniority and the fact that the case overlaps on his territory as well."
"Got enough on my plate, thank you, sir," muttered Marty. "Ryo's welcome to it."
Detectives Massey and Greenspan looked at each other disappointedly for a moment, but then acquiesced.
"Ber-- Commissioner Rose," began Detective Greenspan hastily. "Of course I accept your decision, and... and your authority in this matter, but..." Her voice faded away and she bit her lip.
Dee's lip curled at the insincerity in her voice and also at the way that the Commissioner's eyes sharpened with interest when she said the word 'authority' in quite that way she did.
"Yes, Tina?" the Commissioner favored her with a slight incline of his head. "Please go on."
"Well, it's just that I feel I deserve some kind of special recognition in this 'joint project' between the 27th and the 99th precincts. Lieutenant Abernathy has been revealed to me today as a thoroughly despicable and somewhat frightening individual. Yet, it is I who must bear the burden of his interest. He has chosen ME to be his confidante, for reasons I can only guess at."
"I can help you out there, doll," said Dee, raising one finger. "He's got you pegged for a newbie patsy type that he can manipulate and use against anyone who might be getting too close to finding out what he's really up to. Keep doing what you're doing, hon. Bungled interviews, bogus photos, zero progress on the Calvetti murder--- you're just his kind of gal."
"Dee!" Ryo hissed, with a strongly disapproving expression on his face. Dee looked around and saw that same appalled look mirrored on the faces of Eliza, Allison, and, not surprisingly, Ted.
Dee spread his hands and looked at them with his eyebrows raised. "What?" After all, he hadn't added 'special friend to the brass' to his list, like he had originally been planning to. He thought he had gone rather easy on her.
"Laytner," rumbled the Chief warningly before returning to the diagram drawing he was creating for the meeting, and Dee only just refrained from grinning. The Chief's lack of overt censure told him that, on this point at least, they were in agreement.
"Detective Laytner." The Commissioner's voice was sub-Arctic in temperature. "You will retract that defamatory statement this instant, or go on report."
Dee's eyes widened in artificial alarm. "Oh gosh, sir, I'd hate to go on report, especially for something as embarrassing as stating the truth. Naturally, I retract all my mean and insensitive statements about all those verifiable and quantifiable things Detective Greenspan has and hasn't done. I'm SURE she's just doing her best every time she lets Mike use her for his own purposes."
"Now that I know the truth about him, I have no intention of letting him use me!" she declared angrily.
"He already used you like a double-D battery, sister," muttered Dee, and James snickered helplessly into his chest. Ted seemed to be trying to look gallantly outraged, but couldn't prevent his eyes from automatically flickering to the 99th detective's large, beautiful breasts.
"Now Tina, please just ignore these chimpanzees," said the Commissioner with a quashing look at Dee, James and Ted. "You have an absolutely crucial role to play in this investigation, as I explained to you the other day. It's absolutely true that Lieutenant Abernathy seems to have chosen to try to wield you as a weapon over his enemies. According to what you've told me, he also seems to want to 'show you the ropes', in his own words. It's possible that the man is lonely in his life of crime, especially considering the recent departure of his wife."
"But, sir-- what am I supposed to do?"
"For now, listen to him, be sympathetic, pretend that you believe whatever nonsense he's feeding you, and be on the alert for clues, for anything you think might be relevant, no matter how small."
"Should I call him?" she asked. "Or wait for him to call me?"
"You must not call him without authorization. From now on, all your conversations with him are going to be monitored, for your own safety, as well as for the sake of the investigation."
She looked at him sharply. "All my conversations with him? Or all my conversations, period?"
"We're going to clone the programming of your cell phone. When your phone rings, ours will too. We're also going to, with your permission, put a tap on your home phone."
"B-but sir!" she stared at him as the information began to sink in. "What about my privacy?"
"You can use my spare cell phone as an additional phone until this is over, Tea. Whenever you wanna call someone and say something that you don't want the whole precinct to know, you just use that one." Detective Massey smiled encouragingly at her.
"Well...well, what about the privacy of the people who call me?" protested Detective Greenspan. "You know, if my mom wants to call and complain about my dad or my best girlfriend wants to talk about what a noob her boss is?"
"The NYPD is not interested in any of those things," the Commissioner said dismissively. "Even if one of your associates called to say that he was planning to cheat on his taxes, we couldn't and wouldn't use it in court." He paused for a moment and then smiled at her. It was a slow, secretive smile that suggested the existence of a shared bond. "Please, Tina," he said. "We need you. An official commendation will certainly be forthcoming at the end of all this. What's a few weeks of your life in exchange for the chance to help put a dangerous and notorious criminal behind bars?"
"Well... when you put it like that... Of course I'm willing to help." She smiled back at him in a similar way. "It's just that I have one or two secrets of my own, you see. Every woman does." She held his gaze just a little too long.
Dee rolled his eyes. "Hey, Commissioner, sir," he said. "Are you planning to call the FBI in to work on our case? I bet Agent Spacey would be very interested in some of the case developments." He looked over at Detective Greenspan for a second before returning his gaze to the Commissioner's face.
"As a matter of fact, she's already here," said the Commissioner smoothly, ably hiding any irritation he might have been feeling. "You'll notice that up there on Lieutenant Smith's helpful diagram, he has noted 'the Spy at the 27th?"
"Yeah, I was wondering about that," Drake said. "What the hell is that all about?"
The Chief answered. "Mike has a spy at our precinct. That's the main reason why we're having our meeting here today."
Exclamations of alarm and disbelief erupted simultaneously from several points around the room. Even Sheldon looked taken aback.
"What? A spy? Do we know which department?" Marty sat forward in his chair, looking alert.
"No," said the Chief. It could be anyone. It could even--" he paused to give them all a significant look from under his heavy brows-- "be someone in this room. We're taking a chance that it ain't."
"I swear it's not me!" wailed JJ anxiously. "Drake, tell them! Just because I wander all over the whole building and talk to everyone doesn't mean that I'm a spy! It only means that I'm friendly! Just because--"
"Can it, Adams. You're definitely not a suspect," growled the Chief.
"So is Diana here to catch the spy?" Ryo asked.
"Yes, among other things."
"Is she gonna interview members of the staff? Because that woman scares the hell out of me," said JJ. "Drake, if she tries to take me into a questioning room alone, I want you to come with us, okay?"
"JJ, buddy, just chill," said Drake. "The Chief said that you don't have to worry."
"I have a question," said Sheldon. "Why haven't we just turned this over to IA? He's one of theirs, isn't he? And don't we have enough on our plates nowadays with all the gang volatility?"
"Thank you, Detective Arios. I've been waiting for someone to ask that most sensible question," the Commissioner said. "The answer to that one is that we have reason to believe that Abernathy may not be the only member of IA who is involved. It's too soon to turn it over to them in case they make all the evidence go away. We plan to work with them later when we find out more about who we can and can't trust over there."
"In addition to exposing our spy, will the FBI be assisting us with the corruption aspects of this case?" asked Sheldon. "It seems to me that an outside organization ought to be involved, and at our voluntary instigation. Otherwise it's the NYPD investigating the NYPD."
"As a matter of fact, I have been in meetings with the FBI concerning this very thing. They currently have an operative of their own over at IA. This person has already begun to gather information."
"IA would be pissed if they knew," said Sheldon. "But let 'em take it up with the FBI." He chuckled nastily.
Dee returned his attention to the present and gave himself a little shake. That meeting had been long and tiresome enough, and he didn't want to waste any more time reliving it. He looked up and saw Ryo approaching the sofa, a steaming mug in each hand.
When Ryo set a cup of ginger mint tea down in front of him, Dee suddenly remembered where Ryo was usually to be found at this time on a Friday evening.
"Say," he said. "What about Karate? Not going tonight?"
Ryo shook his head. "This was my first chance to spend an evening with Bikky and cook something healthy for him in at least a week," he said. "I don't think I can go to many Karate classes when I'm on second shift, anyhow."
Dee glanced towards the hallway that led to the two bedrooms. "Well, why make him do homework, then? We all coulda watched Vin Deisel."
Ryo shook his head. "No," he said. "Whenever I work second shift, his grades go down because he neglects his homework. His social studies teacher called yesterday, and told me that Bikky's work has been sloppy and incomplete this week. Tonight and tomorrow are my only chances to make him catch up on his backlog of homework. If I let him leave it to Sunday like he wants, it won't get done because I won't be here."
"We can both give him a hand later, if you like," Dee offered, and this won him a grateful smile from Ryo.
"Thanks," Ryo said. "He might even go for that. He'll whine a lot, I expect, but he might secretly be glad to get some attention." He took a sip of his tea and then set it down and reached for his briefcase, obviously switching back into work mode. "Okay, I've got three possible options for the car we use for the Sting on Wednesday, so I want to get your thoughts on those. We should also make a back-up plan in case the Sting doesn't get us the results we want. Have you heard from Brian?"
"Yeah. His PO got him some temp work at a warehouse. He's barely making it, but he's shit-scared of getting into any more trouble in case he gets sent back to Brooklyn Correctional to finish his time. He doesn't want trouble, so I don't know if he'd be willing to help us out with Mike. He's also leery of getting a rep as a street snitch. He told me there was nothing in it for him."
"The chance to take down a dirty cop ought to be a motivator," Ryo said.
"Dude, the guy's barely eating. If we can find him a job that can allow him to live like a human being, I'd think that would be a better motivator."
"Hmmm. What's his work experience, besides selling drugs?"
"Service sector. Retail and restaurants. He used to work in a video store before he got busted."
"Hey, remember Mr. Oliver from Bam's restaurant? He said he was having some trouble with staff." Ryo picked up his notebook from the coffee table and started flipping back through its pages looking for the man's phone number.
"Is he even still in business?" Dee gave Ryo a skeptical look. "I mean, shit, a dead body was discovered in his freezer, along with all the food! That sort of thing usually shuts a restaurant down."
Ryo shrugged. "I believe he's still giving it a try. Let's find out."
When Ryo found the number, he reached for the phone. But before he could dial the number, it rang in his hand. He frowned at what was obviously an unfamiliar number in the call display.
"Hello, MacLean residence."
"Good evening, is that Randy MacLean, Bikky's dad?" a woman's voice asked.
She had quite a loud voice and Dee had no problem hearing her from his position next to Ryo.
"Yes. May I ask who's calling?"
"My name is Tasha Clayburne. I'm Penelope's mom."
"I'm sorry... Penelope?" Ryo was frowning.
"One of the girls who was with your son yesterday when they were so brutally attacked by those-- those renegade police officers."
"Oh, right, Penny!" said Ryo, suddenly understanding who she was talking about. "How do you do, Mrs. Clayburne?"
Dee listened while the woman remonstrated with Ryo over his stance of not wanting to sue the NYPD for compensation. Apparently, the families of Penny and Jill both wished to sue, but their case was considerably weaker unless Ryo brought Bikky on board. Ryo heard her out, but reiterated that he wasn't interested in litigation, and she began to get frustrated with him.
"But it wouldn't drag on for years!" she exclaimed impatiently. "We could probably settle out of court for a nice sum for all three youngsters. The NYPD was clearly at fault and the lawyer says we have an exceedingly strong case! My daughter could go to college on that money. So could your son. Maybe more. It would give them a great head start in life."
Dee wondered again why exactly Ryo didn't want to sue. He had noticed that although Ryo worked hard and saved his pay checks, he wasn't, at heart, one of those people who were motivated by money. But in this case, he had a chance to possibly acquire a shitload of the stuff for Bikky. Dee knew he had been thinking about it. Several staff members at the meeting this afternoon had even encouraged him to sue. Well, not JJ. Dee chuckled at the memory of the look on Detective Greenspan's face when she realized that yet another person was contributing to the quantity of gay cooties that were floating around the room...
"Dee, I saw the video of you on Youtube busting that 7th guy's nose. You looked so hot," JJ had said admiringly.
At that point, Detective Greenspan had done a double take and stared at JJ as if seeing him for the first time.
"Never mind how hot he looked," said Drake with a worried frown. "Dee aren't you in trouble for that? What if he brings charges against you?"
"My lawyer has documented the injuries my unarmed and underaged son received at the hands of that out-of-control idiot, Detective Fielding," snapped Ryo. "He's the guy who should be worried about lawsuits."
The Commissioner stirred himself and spoke up quickly. "I believe I smoothed all that over, yesterday. The officers of the 7th will not be bringing Bikky up on possession charges, nor will there be any further talk of lawsuits or anything that will divide the ranks of the NYPD or heap ill-repute upon this organization," he said firmly, as though that closed the matter.
"You should sue," whispered Allison under her breath to Ryo. "I would."
"What was that, Sergeant Romano?" The Commissioner's gaze was flinty.
"I said he must be so worried about his son!" Wide-eyed, Allison looked around at the others. "What a terrible thing to happen. Some of you here are parents. Hell, even this Mike Abernathy person is a parent. How could he do something like that?"
"Easy. He's a nutcase," Eliza said firmly.
"Well, what about those cops last night?" Drake asked. "The guys from the 7th. Were they just acting on a tip, or what?"
"I'd bet my flatscreen that Fielding and Abernathy have got something going," said Dee. "We'll need to do a little digging on that guy."
"I'll do that for you," Allison said quickly. "I'm not due to go out in the field until next week, so I've got some time this afternoon. I'll let you know what I find."
"Lonnie Fielding ought to be suspended," said Sheldon. He looked hard at the Commissioner. "Is he?"
"That's between Detective Fielding's commanding officer and himself," answered the Commissioner smoothly. "Incidentally, there have been calls from the 7th to insist that Detective Laytner be suspended, as well." He looked at Ryo when he said this, not Dee.
"What?" Eliza sounded angry. "For defending a child who was being beaten by two armed officers of the law?"
"Three," corrected Dee. "They had a uniform with them, Bernie Roe, who was telling the detectives to stand clear so he could taser Bikky. He would have done it too, if I hadn't got there when I did."
"Three words, Ryo," whispered Allison. "Statute of limitations."
Ryo had just nodded at her to indicate he understood, and the meeting had continued.
The growing edge of impatience in Ryo's voice bumped Dee out of his reverie. He wondered if he should help Ryo get off the phone by telling him the kitchen was on fire, or something. No, better not. He didn't want to get yelled at.
"We just can't understand why you don't want to do this for your son!" Penny's mom said in her booming voice.
Yeah, Dee thought. Whether or not he should sue was just one of many things cooking away in the back of Ryo's mind. A sure-thing lawsuit like this could set Bikky up for life. Lindsay Masters would take the case on contingency, so it wouldn't cost Ryo a thing.
Except, of course, his career.
"I promise I'll think about it," Ryo was saying to Penny's mom, fidgeting restively, and glancing apologetically at Dee. When he was finally able to hang up, he sighed in relief. "I hope the other one's mother isn't going to call me, too."
"If she does, I'll take the call," Dee volunteered, grinning. "You know I've got a way with women."
"Oh, like the way you pissed off every woman at the meeting this afternoon by being such a jerk to Detective Greenspan? No thanks," Ryo said. "If I let you talk to Penny and Jill's mothers, they'll end up suing ME."
~end of Justice, chapter 9~