I've read so many crappy M/M books and ebooks recently that I'm starting to get P.O.'d with the whole genre. I'm returning to an author of het fics whom I've loved for years: Jacqueline Carey. She wrote the Kushiel series, which I highly recommend, as well as the new Namaah series, which I started today. She's the kind of writer who pulls you in right from the first page. Her writing is vivid and sensual, and she's a born storyteller.
I have discovered that I'm really susceptible to TV commercials about chocolate. Have you guys seen that commercial about the new Mars bar that has only caramel in it? Well I saw that one and obsessed about that chocolate bar until I was able to buy one and satisfy the craving. I ate it in the parking lot of the store. In the rain. A few days later, I bought another one, which I managed to carry around with me in my purse for a week before succumbing to temptation. (I'm quite proud of that actually. A week! Can you believe it?) Then I saw a commercial for Terry's chocolate orange. Maybe you know the one I mean. A young guy is watching TV by himself, and when he whacks his orange, the ceiling cracks and a girl in a bathtub falls through it and lands in his living room. Suddenly I wanted one! So I bought one and gobbled seven pieces before finding the strength to hand it over to my father for safekeeping with instructions to ration it back to me three or four slices at a time until it was gone. "Why didn't you give it to ME?" demanded my husband. I explained to him that he is absolutely lousy at hiding chocolate. He thinks putting it under the coffee table is a good hiding place. Puh-leeze!
Anyway, here's the chapter. I hope you like it. It's worksafe.
FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June)
by Brit Columbia
Pairing : Dee Laytner and Ryo MacLean
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. Sanami Matoh never indicated exactly what month it was when Ryo and Dee first became a couple. In Volume 7, everyone was wearing coats and acting like it was cold, BUT Bikky and Carol were conveniently gotten out of the way by being sent to 'summer camp'. So I chose the month of May as the beginning of their relationship as a couple,
Author's notes: Meredith, Ryo's ex-girlfriend, was mentioned several times in the prequel to this story, FAKE First Year Together: A New Day, but I haven't actually published the story that is about her. It's about three-quarters written. Jeff from the Afis lab was mentioned in FFYT: A New Day, chapter 16. Linda from Narcotics had a brief speaking role in FFYT: A new Day, ch 33. Brian, the ex-con was first introduced in FFYT: A New Day, ch 10. Sergeant Ross Pekoe, the Commissioner's Supervisor of Staff, had a brief appearance at the end of FFYT: A New Day, in chapter 44. A number of characters from A New Day will be weaving in and out of all my stories. Here's a link to a list of the cast of thousands: brit columbia's character list and if you can't remember all of Sanami Matoh's characters, I made a list of them, too, which is here: Sanami Matoh's complete character list for FAKE, volumes 1 - 7
Thank you to the_ladyfeather and tripple_p for all their helpful suggestions and feedback.
So far in Justice:
A few days earlier, young Thomas Abernathy gave Bikky an old family photo showing three men: Thomas' father (who is the evil Lieutenant Mike Abernathy), his uncle Marcus, and a man who looks exactly like Ryo does now. The photo was taken in Ireland about thirteen or fourteen years ago, and Ryo has never been to Ireland. Two days ago, Bikky was mysteriously set up to be busted for making a heroin delivery in what he thought was a bag of Doritos, and was subsequently roughed up by two cops from the 7th Precinct, Detectives Hugh Clayton and Lonnie Fielding. Dee and Ryo are sure that Abernathy was behind it. Concerned about the way things have escalated, the Chief has subsequently assigned the rest of the CI team under his command to help Dee and Ryo with this case, and unfortunately, Detective Greenspan, too! Today is Saturday. This story began on Tuesday.
Justice, Chapter 10: Bully, Soothe, and Cajole
"I just can't get over it," said Aunt Elena staring at the picture. "This man looks exactly like you." She looked up at Ryo and then back at the picture of the three men, and added, "His hair is a little longer of course, but his face and build seem to be just like yours."
Carol was peering over her shoulder, excitedly. "It's amazing, isn't it? Bikky told me about this photo."
Dee sipped his coffee, and watched them all. It looked like he was the only person in the room who hadn't been told about the photo. Damn his partner and his secretive ways.
Aunt Elena turned to Bikky, who was sitting at the kitchen table beside her. "And you say there were other photos, too?"
"Yeah," said Bikky. "One was a close-up of this same guy holding Tom when he was a baby. He looked even more like Ryo. The eyes were a little different, though."
"Could you see what color they were?"
Bikky nodded, and pulled a long piece of red pepper out of his breakfast wrap. "Blue," he said. "Real light. Maybe gray."
"Like Elena's eyes?" Carol asked, looking at Ryo's aunt.
"Uh-huh," said Bikky around a mouthful of eggs.
"So, what's the theory, here?" Dee asked. "Do you guys think this Ryo-clone is a long-lost relative?"
"Well, it could just be a coincidence," said Ryo. "You know, sometimes someone just looks like another person, even though they're not related and they're from different parts of the world. We've all seen photos of people who look almost identical to celebrities."
"Yeah, it could be that," said Elena. "But I wonder.... You've always been the spitting image of your father. Your mom, Kasumi, didn't contribute much to your physical appearance except for your eyes. Also, I guess your Japanese blood is the reason why you didn't become a hairy bear, like Frank."
Dee couldn't help snickering. Ryo, a hairy bear? Impossible! But what a hilarious mental picture. Bikky and Ryo both turned to glare at him, but Carol, bless her, gave him a sympathetic look.
"Um, Ryo," said Carol. "Your parents went to Europe a lot, didn't they? Did they ever go to Ireland?"
"Yes, I'm sure they did," said Ryo. "They traveled all over Europe and Asia picking up unique pieces of furniture and other antiques. But I know what you're thinking, and it's chronologically impossible."
Elena nodded. "Yes. This man in the picture is about thirty or so, maybe a little older, and you say this picture is more than ten years old?"
"Look at their lapels, and the hair," said Dee. "It's more than ten years. Besides, Thomas is about fourteen, right?" He glanced at Bikky, who nodded.
"So the Ryo-double is probably around forty-four or forty-five years old now," said Elena. "And your father, if he had lived, would be fifty-three this year. Not old enough to be this guy's father. Besides," she squeezed Ryo's hand and smiled at him, "Frank would have been the last man on earth to betray your mom like that. He adored her. They were always together."
Ryo squeezed her hand back and fought down a wave of emotion. After all these years, he still found it hard to talk about his parents. He still missed them so much. Being with Elena always seemed to bring them closer.
"Well, what about Ryo's grandfather, then?" asked Carol, who seemed to be throwing herself wholeheartedly into solving this mystery. "Has he ever been to Ireland?"
"Possibly. Bikky, honey, will you scan this picture and email it to me?" Elena handed it back to him. "I guess I'm going to have to make a family visit." She frowned and then sighed. "It's been a while, and I can't make any guarantees. Dad hasn't been himself since the stroke, and Mom's not around to ask. I don't even know if that cow Rosie will even let me through the door."
"I'm sorry, Elena," said Ryo. "I didn't invite you here so that I could make you go and see the fam-- those people. I just wanted to know if you had any information or memories that might answer this riddle."
"Don't worry about it, Ryo. I can handle those bitches. The only thing is that I don't have a lot of time. I've got to fly to Marseilles on Thursday afternoon. I think I can probably convince Rosie to let me see Dad, but he isn't often lucid nowadays. I may not be able to get much out of either of them."
"Well, we really appreciate the fact that you're willing to try," said Dee. "I've always felt that Abernathy's hatred for Ryo is stronger than his hatred for me. There's something kind of... personal about it. It was noticeable at our very first meeting with the guy, wasn't it, Ryo?"
Ryo nodded and Dee went on. "Whatever the relationship is between Abernathy and this guy in the photo might explain why he hates Ryo so much. We need to know more about it. I'd love to finally get some leverage over that IA bastard."
"You can bet I'll try," said Aunt Elena. "We can't have a jerk in Internal Affairs hating our darling Ryo for no good reason, can we?" She squeezed Ryo's hand again.
"Okay, now that we have that settled, can I have another breakfast burrito?" Dee asked.
"What?" exclaimed Ryo. "You've already had two. Each one had two eggs in it. A third one would bring your total up to six eggs."
"What's wrong with that?" Dee asked. "Eggs are good for you."
"Dee, I don't want your cholesterol going through the roof."
"What cholesterol? I'm as healthy as a horse! Come on, I have to go to work soon, and my stomach's still half-empty."
"Have some fruit. Four eggs in one day is more than enough for a man who isn't a sumo wrestler."
"But I'm still hungry," protested Dee, his voice plaintive.
Ryo relented after a brief hesitation. "All right then, I'll make you one with ham and cheese and bell peppers in it. But no more eggs." He rose from the table.
Looking pleased, Dee asked, "Can you put those spicy banana peppers in it, too?"
"No," said Ryo firmly. "Too many spicy peppers and you get heartburn, you know that."
Elena, who had been watching this exchange with delight, suddenly burst out laughing. "Oh my God, you guys are so married!"
"They've been married for years," said Carol. "Right, Bikky?"
"Huh? What are you talking about?" demanded Bikky. "They are not 'married', for Pete's sake." He stared at Carol and Aunt Elena in horror, then jumped up and dragged Carol away from the table by one arm. From the hallway leading to his room, his voice could be heard muttering urgently to her about stupid ideas and lovedovey jackrabbits.
Ryo looked down the hallway after them, and turned back to Elena as soon as he heard Bikky's bedroom door slam. "Um, Elena, there's something else I need to talk to you about, too..."
The papers rustled on Dee's desk as JJ whirled into his office and quickly shut the door behind him.
"What the-- How come you're at the Palace?" Dee braced himself for an assault, but relaxed somewhat when he saw the fear on JJ's face. "Don't tell me the Sea Hag is in the building."
"Yes!" hissed JJ in a fearful whisper. "Shhh! She's after me. Dee, you've got to hide me."
"She's after you, and you led her straight to me? JJ, what the hell kind of friend are you?"
JJ looked around wildly for a hiding place, before diving under Ryo's desk and pulling the chair forward to hide his body.
"I can see you plain as a monkey's ass in that hot pink shirt," Dee informed him. "I can smell you too. You should go easier on the cologne and the grooming products."
"Shhhhhh! She can probably hear you!" There was a scuffling sound as JJ tried to wedge himself further under Ryo's desk. "Do you... do you like my perfume, Dee? It's new."
Before Dee could answer, there was a brisk rap on the door and FBI Agent Diana Spacey strode into the room. She was wearing a lime green leather mini and matching stiletto heels.
"Hi there, Dee. You're just the guy I want to see. What the hell is that stink?" She wrinkled her nose and looked around.
A small scream emitted from under Ryo's desk.
"That would be JJ's cologne," said Dee with a smirk. "It's new."
Diana kicked Ryo's chair aside and stood looking down at the quivering man huddled under Ryo's desk. "For God's sake, you little drama queen, show a scrap of dignity for once in your life. Get the hell out of there and stand up like a man."
Red-faced, JJ crept out and did as she said. He regarded her with a mixture of outrage and terror. Terror seemed to be winning. He looked like a rabbit transfixed by the gaze of a hungry cougar.
"That's better," she said, reaching out a hand to brush some dust off his shirt. He flinched but endured it.
"So, JJ, what are you doing at the Palace?" Dee asked again, mainly out of sympathy. He wanted to bring JJ's mind back to the subject of work.
"Oh, well, I was on my w-way over to Central Records with a couple of Allison's requests," said JJ in a voice that was a little squeakier and more breathless than usual, "and the Chief asked me to stop by here."
Diana chuckled. "Where I bet you thought you'd be safe."
JJ managed to ignore her and fixed his eyes almost desperately on Dee. "That kid, Crazy Bo Benson? Well, he's holed up in the basement of his church. Claiming...claiming sanctuary."
"Why don't you go and join him, JJ?" asked Diana with a wicked gleam in her eye. "You look like you could use a little sanctuary yourself."
JJ shuddered, and shook his head, clearly thinking that there was nowhere he would be entirely safe from Diana.
"Are we gonna go question him?" Dee asked.
"Yeah, his pastor talked him into it. He won't come out 'cause he's afraid he's going to get sent to a juvenile center. But he's willing to talk to us as long as we go there and respect his church as a place of sanctuary."
"Hey, this is great," Dee said, reaching for his jacket. "I'd better--"
"Not so fast, Dee," said JJ. "Our appointment isn't until 5:30. Chief said you should meet us over there."
"All right then." Dee put his jacket back on its hook and sighed. He was going to have to deal with the Sea Hag after all.
JJ stayed there for a moment, his eyes darting anxiously between Diana and the door.
"Are you waiting for me to dismiss you?" she demanded. "Goddamit, JJ, grow a set. I'm not even here to see you. I came to have a word with Dee, all right? You have nothing to be scared of."
"Does that mean I can go?"
"Yes," she said, and pointed at the door. "Go. Go straight home and toss your new perfume in the trash. You smell like a gigolo from the cheap end of the Turkish Riviera."
"What?" JJ drew himself up, forgetting to be scared. "This is 'Versace Man'!" he exclaimed indignantly. "It's top of the line!"
"No, it's crossing the line. Ditch it before you stop getting invited to parties."
"Like anyone would take fashion advice from you!" JJ fumed, and stalked toward the door. All my friends, who are people of taste, unlike you, like my new cologne."
"Whatever. Toodle-oo," said Diana turning back to Dee. "Now, Dee, what's this I hear about a double-D wench from Queens who's sleeping her way to the top?"
Beauregard Benson, a skinny black boy with big teeth and blue contact lenses, sat across from Dee, the Chief and JJ in the basement of the Church of the Oaken Cross. Kids' toys were piled up in two plastic yellow crates behind him. To Dee, Bo looked very young and very scared. A tall string bean of a man, who had identified himself as Pastor Luke, sat next to Bo in a JC Penney suit.
"We saw what happened on the news," said Pastor Luke in his soft voice. "I can tell you in all honesty that Bo was shocked. He didn't know there was anything untoward about that bag of chips."
"That's right, I didn't," said Bo, nodding his head forcefully.
"Did you see the Youtube videos of the police hurting Bikky and the girls?" asked Dee. "That was pretty harsh. They couldn't show it on TV."
"Oh man, oh man...." Bo wrung his hands and looked as though he might burst into tears.
"All three of them almost got tasered. Bikky is covered in bruises," Dee added, watching Bo carefully.
Bo hung his head in misery, but Pastor Luke spoke up. "Bikky always was a scrapper," he said, shaking his head sadly. "Bo and I both wish he could learn to turn the other cheek occasionally. Why didn't he just surrender?"
"Well, the thing was, he didn't know what was going on, had no clue why two guys in ordinary clothes were suddenly grabbing him," the Chief said. "The kids panicked and the situation escalated."
"Does Bikky hate me?" asked Bo. "Is he going to beat me up?"
Dee had no idea how Bikky felt about Bo, but he decided to take the liberty of pretending that he did. "No, he doesn't hate you," he said reassuringly. "And he sure ain't gonna beat you up. He forgives you."
Bo's eyes filled with tears, and he looked ashamed. "I was deceived by Satan," he said in a shaking voice. "I caused so much trouble for Bikky and those two innocent girls. They all got hurt because of me."
"Now, now, Bo," said Pastor Luke soothingly, patting the boy's back. "It wasn't your fault. Bikky understands that."
"I can't do nothing right," Bo whispered. "Nothing at all."
"Yes, you can, Bo," said JJ earnestly. "You can make things right again by cooperating with the police, just like you're doing right now."
"Hear that?" said Pastor Luke. "Buck up, Bo. You're doing the right thing. Jesus would be proud of you."
"Where did you get the Doritos from, son?" asked the Chief, getting everyone back to business.
"I'm guessing it wasn't 7-11." Dee folded his arms and leaned back in his chair.
"A lady gave 'em to me. A pretty lady wearing a pink dress."
"Why did she give you a bag of Doritos?" Dee asked.
"She had two bags. Said she got 'em on a two-for-one coupon, but she regretted buying 'em. Said she was on a diet. Said she was afraid she was gonna get fat."
"Did she tell you to give them to Wes Samberg?"
Bo thought for a minute, his brow furrowed in concentration. "No... not exactly. She gave me both bags, but one was already open. Said she only ate a couple of chips. Wanted to give 'em away before she ate them all. She said maybe I could eat one bag myself and give the other one away to a friend. But she didn't say who. She didn't talk about Wes."
"Did she talk to you about Jesus?" asked Dee.
Bo's face lit up. "Yeah, she sure did! We talked about all the trouble in the world. She agreed that taking Jesus into our hearts can save us. She asked me for one of my pamphlets! Said she was gonna--"
Dee cut off the enthusiastic flow. "Did she talk about drugs or drug dealers?"
"Maybe... I don't remember. We talked about a lot of things... All of the different ways Satan works to tempt people and steal their souls away from God."
"So, how is it that you specifically wanted to give those Doritos to Wes?" asked the Chief.
"Well, me and Wes been talking. I been trying to save him, you know? I think he's getting tired of deal-- er, I mean, er, doing what he's doing." Bo glanced at Pastor Luke for support. "Wes is kinda like my assignment. He's gonna burn in hell unless I can bring him to Jesus and get him to repent."
Pastor Luke nodded encouragingly. "If you could bring him to Jesus, that would be one fewer drug dealer on the streets." Pastor Luke apparently didn't share Bo's compunctions about calling a spade a spade. "And a soul would be saved, which is the most important thing we can do here on this earth."
"So how is saving Wes' soul supposed to happen with a bag of Doritos?" asked the Chief patiently.
"As opposed to a baptism or something?" muttered JJ, who was scribbling the details of the conversation in his notebook.
"I been trying to get him to come to the church. If he came here just once, I'm sure he would feel the presence of Jesus! I'm sure we could show him the true path! Something in his heart really wants to change..." Bo's excited words faltered a little at the look on the faces of the three men across from him.
"Doritos," the Chief reminded him.
"Uh, yeah, Doritos. Well, I asked him 'What would it take to get you to come and see my church?' and he laughed and said he'd come for a bag of Doritos." Bo shrugged. "I think he really likes Doritos."
"When and where exactly did this conversation with Wes happen?"
"Uhhhr..." Bo hesitated, thinking. "Thursday? No, Wednesday. Around lunchtime. I ran into Wes outside Jersey motors. He was in a hurry to get to Chinatown."
"Were you guys alone?"
"No. He was with some people. People I don't know."
"Were any of them the lady in the pink dress?" asked Dee.
"No. These were street people. That lady, Maria, was... different. Like peaches and cream," Bo said, a wistful note creeping momentarily into his voice. "She wasn't the kind of woman who would keep company with a guy like Wes."
"Maria? She said her name was Maria?"
"Yeah. I'm not normally good with names, but that's almost the name of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus our Lord, so I remembered."
Dee and Ryo sat on a bench under the trees in the open space walkway that connected police headquarters with the Municipal Building at One Centre Street. It was reasonably peaceful at seven thirty p.m., although there was no escaping the ever-present sound of traffic. The temperature had settled down from the blazing highs of the afternoon, but it was still pretty humid, and Dee had stripped off his tie and opened the first four buttons of his shirt as soon as he came outside. Ryo slowly ate his salad and tried to limit the number of times his gaze settled on Dee's collarbone and the curve of his pectoral muscle.
The summer sun hung low in the sky, casting a golden light over both of them and lengthening the shadows cast by the trees.
"Maria," said Ryo. "Hmm. It's a common enough name."
"Yeah," agreed Dee. "Probably only about two or three million of them in New York."
"Andre mentioned a Maria when I met him at the subway station," Ryo said. "He said 'Mike usually sends Maria'."
"It'll be the same woman for sure."
"Did you get a description from Bo?"
Dee shrugged. "Pretty, pink dress. We left him with a sketch artist."
"I guess I'll be able to take a look at the sketch tomorrow. Then maybe we should go see Andre with it."
"Sure! Anything to get out of this place." Dee gestured at One Police Plaza with his fork. "Maybe we should go show it to Wes Samberg, too."
"Do you believe that B.S. about Wes and the Doritos?"
Dee scratched his head. "I know it sounds sketchy, but saving Wes from hellfire seems to have been Bo's special project. Apparently he nagged Wes so much that Wes agreed to visit Bo's church in exchange for a bag of Doritos."
"Really? Wes?" Ryo looked skeptical. "I busted him for assault two years ago. I would have expected Wes to tell Bo to get lost, or even get rough with him."
Dee nodded. "That kinda had me going, too. I figured either Wes was joking or the kid was lying. But we got independent confirmation that the last time Wes was in prison, he sort of temporarily found God. Got out early on good behavior and everything."
"But went right back to dealing." Ryo put his salad down and looked at Dee.
"Well, yeah. Guy probably makes twice what we do, and never has to hand any of it over to Uncle Sam. What else is an ex-con gonna do? Wash dishes at IHOP?"
"So, he might have been interested in making a show of joining a church," said Ryo thoughtfully. "In case he got in trouble again."
Dee shrugged. "Maybe. Say, speaking of ex-cons, when are we taking Brian to meet Delbert Oliver?"
"Not for about a week. Bam's is closed for renovations and is going to open under a new name. Mr. Oliver's pretty busy with that at the moment, but he did say that he'd be willing to meet Brian."
"Thanks, dude. I'll let Brian know." There was a brief, but companionable silence between them, during which Ryo put another forkful of salad into his mouth and chewed it thoughtfully.
"Whatcha thinking about?" Dee swigged water, and Ryo's eyes once more darted to his throat, watching it move as he swallowed.
"Nothing," mumbled Ryo quickly. He felt his face heat up and hoped Dee wouldn't notice.
Dee's eyes sparkled affectionately, and he changed the subject. "Thanks for bringing me a salad, by the way. It's kind of lonely over here by myself. I was wondering what I was gonna do about dinner."
"You're welcome." Ryo smiled at him. "I figured it would be strange for you, being here at our new office without me, or anyone else on the team."
"It is." Dee snapped the lid of his tupperware container closed and handed it back to Ryo. "I only had two visitors today. Diana and JJ."
"Oh?" Ryo looked at him sharply. "What did they want?"
"Well, Diana wanted the skinny on Tina's exact place in the Commissioner's life, and JJ got sent over by the Chief because they still don't trust the phones over there."
"Hmph." Ryo swallowed a bite of chicken and washed it down with a sip of his water. "Couldn't JJ have just called you on your cell phone?"
"He could have, I guess. But I think he wanted to get out of the 27th because of Diana. You should have seen his face when he ran into her here!" He chuckled to himself at the memory.
"Was she mean to him?"
"Whadda you think? That bitch is mean to everybody. Well, except you. But that's because you suck up to her." Dee folded his arms and waited to see how Ryo would react.
"I do not. I just happen to genuinely like her, that's all. She senses it. Plus there's the fact that I lack your special ability to piss off women without even trying."
"It was a survival skill I had to learn in my Tomcat years," said Dee with a smirk. "'Getting Rid Of Lovestruck Women 101'."
"Your Tomcat years?" Ryo rolled his eyes. "Oh please."
"Don't worry babe. Those days are done. I'm just a big ol' pussycat, now." Dee leaned a little toward Ryo and gazed at him through hooded eyes.
Ryo had an uneasy feeling that Dee was about to try something, right there in public, on a bench outside One Police Plaza. He edged a couple of inches further away from Dee. "How about that attempted hit on Essien Ibo?" he asked hastily. "We're lucky we didn't get called in this morning."
"We didn't get called in because the cops on the door took the attacker down before he could get the job done," remarked Dee. "No homicide, ergo no us. JJ filled me in. Got any new info?"
"Ted told me it was Vik Hogan. He's in custody and looking at a fair bit of time in prison."
"Guess he's still pissed about that video." Dee snickered.
Ryo didn't smile. "Marty said it represents a huge loss of face for any gangbanger to be gay."
"I guess it does, sometimes," said Dee. "But it probably depends on the guy and how much power he has."
"And also whether he's a top or a bottom, according to Marty."
Dee thought about that. "Well, Marty's probably right," he conceded. "He's our gang guy."
"It seems like it's not just in the gangs, but in society in general," Ryo said. "There's always more hostility directed against bottoms. I don't get it."
"Me neither," said Dee. "But if we're talking about hostility, we're talking about homophobes. And they don't like anyone who's gay. Or bi," he added.
"Well, no." Ryo gave Dee a small grin. "But maybe they think bisexuals are at least curable."
"I've known tops that were quite swishy and bottoms who were tough guys," volunteered Dee. "Most straight people don't know anything about how many different gay lifestyles there are. They just want to push everyone into that top-bottom, masculine-feminine slot because that's what they understand from their own lives."
Ryo sighed. "Well, I guess I'm one of those people too. I don't know anything about what it means to have a gay lifestyle, even though I'm suddenly living one."
"Didn't you ever have any gay friends?"
"I don't know," Ryo replied. "Unless a person comes right out and announces his or her sexual orientation, how would I know?"
"Oh, there are lots of clues for those with gaydar. But I'm not sure whether you actually have any gaydar. You're kind of oblivious at times, dude."
"Well, let's make a list of the people I know who are gay or bi," said Ryo. "It's quite short. There's you, me, JJ, Thomas and the Commissioner. That's it." Norman Gray, Jackhammer's parole officer crossed his mind, but he decided not to mention him. He wasn't sure exactly why. He thought maybe it had something to do with the fact that Dee hadn't met him yet, and...well, sometimes Dee could be negative.
"And Jeff from the Afis lab, and Sheldon, and that woman at the post office and Linda from Narcotics, and your neighbors Steve and Joseph---" Dee counted them off on his fingers.
"What? Jeff is gay?" Ryo gaped at Dee. Jeff had been in a wheelchair for as long as Ryo had known him. "But he...he..."
"Is in a wheelchair? Wears a colostomy bag? Is always having operations? Doesn't stop a guy from thinking that other guys are hot, you know."
Ryo had never given Jeff's sex life any thought before. He had to admit to himself that he didn't think of Jeff as a sexual being. "And Sheldon too? Even Linda?"
"Come on, how could you not know about Linda? She's so butch she's got steel balls between her legs. You can hear 'em clanking together when she goes down the stairs."
"Dee, you must be mistaken about some of them. Sure, Sheldon isn't married now, but he talks about his ex-wife sometimes..."
"Yeah, why do you think she divorced him?"
"Is this gossip or fact?"
"Fact. He told me himself. But he's still in the closet, so don't go mentioning it to him."
"Don't worry. I wouldn't dream of saying anything so personal to him. Or to anyone." Ryo looked unhappily at his hands. He'd had no idea. But Dee had to be wrong about his neighbors. "Steve and Joseph couldn't be gay. Come on. They're brothers! They even look alike."
"No, they don't. Not really. They just have the same haircut, and a similar build because they always work out together and probably take the same steroids too. They're definitely not brothers. I bet you dinner at Okayama that there's no brotherly DNA between them. That's just what they say for their cover. They're in the closet, those guys, because Steve's in the Air Force. If the military finds out he's gay, they'll force him out."
"Oh, man." Ryo put his hand to his head.
"Oh yeah, I forgot Detective Mitchell from the 62nd, the guy who was after you until he understood there was gonna be trouble from me. Now he's after JJ."
"Dee, I'm sure he's just lonely. Or maybe confused. He's married, remember."
"So was Sheldon until his wife found about his monthly trips to the baths."
"Oh my God. If he was gay, why did he get mar--" Ryo suddenly realized what he was saying. He'd come quite close to asking Meredith to marry him before Dee had gotten rid of her.
"And don't forget Roger, that prick in your Karate class."
"Oh yeah. Big time."
"Okay, don't tell me any more. That's enough for one day," Ryo said, putting his head in his hands. "None of these people are close friends anyway. It's not like I can ask them for advice."
Dee looked at him in surprise. "Hey, if you want advice, your number one resource is sitting right here." He jerked his thumb at his own chest. "You can ask me anything. I'll be honest with you."
"Will you?" muttered Ryo. "Or will you only tell me whatever you think won't upset me too much?"
"Hey! Where did that come from?"
"Sorry, Dee. My whole world just tilted sideways. I need time to take it all in."
Dee turned on the light in his empty apartment. He hadn't been back here since he and Ryo left to go to the CI staff meeting on Friday. It was now almost midnight on Saturday night. The air was stuffy, and stank like stale cigarette smoke and cooking smells, so he cranked open a window. Immediately, the noise of the Chinatown neighborhood swirled up from the street below and filled the silence of the living room. Traffic, music, drunken whoops and hollering. He had lived here for so long that he thought he would have gotten used to the noise by now. Maybe it was just the contrast with the relative quiet of Ryo's neighborhood. In the past few weeks, he had been spending almost as much time at Ryo's apartment as he did at his own, if not more. He sighed and headed to the bedroom to change out of his work clothes. His place didn't really feel like home anymore. It only felt like home when Ryo was here.
Ryo. The man was getting secretive again, no doubt about that. He hadn't said a word about that mind-blowing photo of the young Lieutenant Abernathy and his brother standing with a Ryo-lookalike in front of an unknown cathedral in Ireland. What the hell was that about? Why keep it a secret?
There was something else on Ryo's mind, too, something that was inhibiting him sexually. Maybe he was worrying again about being in a gay relationship, and what that meant to his place in the world. He had also seemed to be kind of bothered by the fact that, even in the world of crime, Vik Hogan's career as a gangster could be destroyed by the discovery that he was gay. He had mentioned wanting to ask someone for advice, preferably someone gay. Dee considered that it was probably something to do with the fact that Ryo could pretty much count on being outed by Abernathy when they finally caught the man, and his case went to trial.
He shrugged out of his dress shirt and sniffed the pits before deciding to hang it up in the closet. That one was good for one more wearing. Ryo's deodorant was awesome stuff. He enjoyed using Ryo's grooming products, although Ryo drew the line at letting Dee wear his cologne. "No," Ryo had said to him, quite firmly. "I don't want you to smell like me. I want you to smell like you when I'm close to you. So either wear nothing, or bring one of your own colognes here to leave in my apartment, but you may not use mine."
Dee had been mildly disappointed that Ryo wouldn't share his cologne, but he had been pleased that it was because Ryo was sensitive to his scent. I want you to smell like you. Dee could understand that. He loved the way Ryo smelled, after all, and that little speech of Ryo's had told him that Ryo felt the same. Sometimes they lay in bed together, pre or post-sex, just breathing each other in.
He sighed again, wishing he could do that right now. But here he was, alone in his apartment, while Ryo was across town in his own place. His lover had pretty much dismissed him for the day when he left him at the Palace without even a kiss good-bye. "See you tomorrow, Dee," he had said. Not 'See you tonight'. Dee got the message, all right. But hey, at least Ryo had come all the way there at seven thirty to spend his break with him. Brought food too. Ryo had fed him twice today, Dee noted to himself with satisfaction. That meant his baby still loved him. And that was all that really mattered to him.
"I know you, you bastard," Wes Samberg said, blowing smoke in Ryo's direction. Wes was a clean-shaven preppy looking young man with a boyish, pudgy face. His eyes, however, belied his collegiate appearance. They were stony and bleak, colder than Siberia."You're the reason I got locked up in Brooklyn Correctional."
"What are you crying about?" retorted Ryo, in hard cop mode. "You beat the possession charges and only did eight months for assault. Next time you feel you need to take a tire iron to a junkie who can't pay his drug bill, you just think about that eight months. I'm sure it cost you far more in lost revenue than the lousy three hundred bucks that guy owed you."
Wes' lip curled slightly, but he didn't say anything. Ryo had nailed it.
Dee spoke up. "Don't worry, Wes. No one's gonna look in your pockets, like I said. We just want information and a statement, that's all."
Wes glanced suspiciously at Ryo and silently stubbed out his cigarette. He seemed to be waiting for something.
They were at One Police Plaza, seated around the table in one of the line-up rooms. Unbeknownst to Wes, Detectives Greenspan and Massey were observing through the two-way glass. Dee thought Wes looked pretty calm for a guy who probably had enough dope in his book bag right now to land him back in jail for at least two years. But Dee had promised Wes that if he came back to the station with him voluntarily to talk about Bo and the Doritos, they wouldn't shake him down. Wes evidently trusted him to keep his word, but was still wary of Ryo.
"He's right," said Ryo after a pause. "We're not after you today. We just want some answers, that's all." He opened up a file and took out the sketch artist's picture of 'Maria', as described by Bo Benson. "Have you ever seen this woman before?"
Wes studied it for a couple of seconds and then snorted. "Could be anyone."
"Is that a no?"
"Yeah. Really, I see a hundred girls a day who look like that."
Dee privately agreed with him. The sketch of Maria was of a ubiquitously pretty girl with long hair and regular features. The eyelashes were ridiculously long, and the eyes themselves were a little too big. According to the sketch artist, Bo had insisted on adding lots of little details like that, including a cross around her neck, which everyone doubted had actually been there in real life.
"Okay." Ryo put the picture back in the file. "Tell us about the Doritos. I'm sure you know what we're talking about."
Wes shook his head and made a sound of disgust. "That wacko kid. Now I know why they call him Crazy Bo. I was just trying to get rid of him. I wasn't really gonna go to his church."
"Why not tell him to fuck off or else he's gonna get hurt?" asked Dee. "You know, scare him a little."
Wes shrugged. "Dunno." He shifted in his seat a little uncomfortably, then added, "He's just a kid. He may be a dork, but he's basically harmless."
"He really believes in what he's doing," said Dee, watching him. "Saving souls and all."
"Yeah," Wes agreed. "He really does." He looked a little puzzled. "But then I learn that the kid tried to set me up. What the fuck."
"Why would he try to set you up?"
"He wouldn't." Wes shook his head. "He's pretty clean. I checked him out. I think Bo was used by some dickhead with a grudge."
"Who was the real target?" Ryo asked. "Was it the mule or you?"
Wes remained silent for a moment, considering. He picked up his package of Camels, and pulled another one out. "Think the bylaw will mind if I have one more?" he asked Dee.
"Fuck the bylaw," said Dee with a little crooked smile. In his mind, he could almost see Detective Greenspan pursing her lips in disapproval. "Go for it."
"I don't know," Wes said to Ryo. "Could be the police just went after the kids 'cause they opened the bag before making the drop. I don't think that them opening the bag was part of the plan."
"Any idea who would want to get rid of you?"
"No. Not like that, anyway." Wes stuck the smoke in his mouth and closed the lid to his cigarette package. "A couple of Stone Bloods have been trying to muscle in on my corner. Real dumbass thugs. They'd never be able to cook up something like the Doritos scam. More likely to just shoot me," he added matter-of-factly, and felt in his pocket for his lighter.
Ryo stiffened, and Wes looked at him with amusement. "Don't worry, man," he said. "Your partner ran me through the metal detector downstairs."
He got no response, so he lit up his second cigarette, and fell silent again
"You said 'some dickhead with a grudge'," Dee reminded him. "Who's mad at you, Wes? You got a fellow dealer who wants a piece of your action? Or could it be a woman?"
"Naw. This stinks of 'cop'."
"Ever seen this guy before?" Dee pushed a photo of Lieutenant Abernathy across the table at him.
Wes shook his head, and pushed it back. "Nope. He a cop?"
Dee and Ryo glanced at each other. "Yeah," said Ryo.
"Dirty, huh? What's he got against your son?"
"What's he got against you?" asked Ryo, a little unsettled to realize that Wes knew Bikky was his son.
"Look, even if Bikky had delivered the bag without opening it, he would have been picked up right away. That was probably a trap for both of us, me and your boy. I don't think anyone was counting on those girls getting mixed up in it." Wes blew smoke at Ryo again.
"If they hadn't prematurely opened the bag, you'd be in lockup right now," Ryo said.
"Don't I know it." Wes leaned back in his chair. "Why am I here, anyway? What do you want from me?"
"We want your help on this one," said Dee. "We know what 'asshole' here--" he poked Abernathy's photo violently with his finger--" has against the kid. "What we don't know is what he has against you."
"You're a free man today, but he might get you tomorrow. Or next week," Ryo said. "If you cooperate with us, you might be able to save yourself another stint in prison."
Most young drug dealers tended to talk nervously whenever they were alone with the police in a questioning room, but not Wes. Wes had an unusual capacity for keeping his mouth shut. He smoked quietly for a while, apparently considering what they had said. Dee and Ryo waited him out.
"Okay," Wes finally said. "I'm not gonna make any promises, but I'll make some calls for you and we'll talk in a couple days. What's the guy's name?"
"Lieutenant Michael Abernathy, Internal Affairs. The two cops assigned to make the bust were Lonnie Fielding and Hugh Clayton, detectives from the 7th," Dee said. "And by the way, someone in your posse probably told Abernathy about the Doritos deal you made with Bo."
Wes just smiled distantly, and his eyes looked colder than ever. "Way ahead of you there, brother."
Ryo gave him a hard look. "Don't do anything that'll end with you back in a prison cell," he said.
"Thank you for your concern," Wes said mockingly. "But I have no intention of going back to prison."
After they had a brief discussion with the two detectives from the 99th, Ryo went upstairs to the office while Dee drove Wes back downtown. Ryo's mind was full of case details. Unlike the situation a week ago, they now had a lot more leads to follow, considerably more potential links to Abernathy. But nothing solid. It was all still a riddle. Frowning, he attempted to put all the clues together as he walked down the long hallway, completely oblivious to the admiring glances cast in his direction from certain female staff members at One Police Plaza.
He switched on the computer on his desk, and hung up his suit jacket while he waited for the programs to load. Neither Andre nor Wes had been able to ID Maria from the police sketch. He felt that Maria, whoever she was, was integral to the whole investigation. If they could catch her, they could probably get her to agree to become a key witness against Abernathy, in exchange for a plea deal. From both Bo's and Andre's descriptions of her, it seemed like she was clean, well-dressed and attractive. She was obviously very charming, as both Bo and Andre seemed to be a little bit infatuated with her. Well, in Bo's case, it was more than a little bit. But she obviously wasn't a street person or a junkie. Who and what was she?
He started running through Ja Romeo's facebook photos, along with those of his breakdancer buddy, Bobby. Maybe there would be a girl in one of the pictures who just might be this mysterious Maria.
After about twenty minutes of this, his cell phone rang. It was Aunt Elena.
"Ryo darling," she said. "Do you have a minute to talk?"
"Sure," he said, quickly, glancing at his watch. "Have you been to see Rosie?"
"No, sorry honey, I don't work that fast. All I've done so far is leave her a message. She's still thinking about whether she ought to call me back."
"What did you tell her?"
Aunt Elena giggled wickedly. "I told her that we appear to have an Irish half-brother whom Dad had kept secret all these years, and now he's sniffing around to put a claim in for his rightful inheritance. I bet she didn't sleep a wink last night."
"You're probably right," Ryo said. He hadn't spoken to his Aunt Rosie for more than ten years, but he remembered what she was like. No one loved money more than she did.
"I'm actually calling about your other problem," Elena said. "I'm quite worried about Bikky. I find it very alarming that someone is following him around and taking photos of him, not to mention what happened to him the other night."
"So, can you take him to Marseilles, then?" Ryo asked hopefully. "I checked his passport, and I was right, it's good for another three years."
"Sorry, honey. The flight's booked up and I can't rebook or I'll miss the shoot. Besides, I'm going to be working twelve-hour days, and I'll have no time to look after him. I'd hate to think what kind of trouble he might get into in France if no one's keeping an eye on him. But don't worry, I have another plan."
"Oh? What's that?"
"I've got a girlfriend with a horse ranch in Devon, near Philly. She says Bikky is welcome to stay with her for a couple of weeks. He might have to muck out a few stalls, but it'll probably be a great experience for him."
"Sounds great," said Ryo wistfully. "I wish I could go with him."
"Aha! There it is."
Ryo looked up from his desk to see Sergeant Ross Pekoe advancing on him, a martial light in his eye. Ross had never liked him and he had no idea why. Fortunately, their paths had not crossed very often in the past-- until now that is. Ryo knew it would be hard for them to avoid seeing each other now that he and Dee were working at One Police Plaza.
"What can I do for you, Ross?"
"You can save your work and move back from your desk so I can unplug the computer monitor."
"Why do you need to unplug my monitor?" Ryo asked, puzzled.
"Because I'm confiscating it, that's why."
"Wait a second! You can't come in here and confiscate my equipment."
"Oh can't I?" Ross unplugged the monitor from behind Ryo's desk and hefted it in his arms. "Just watch me, Detective."
Ryo fought back an urge to grab the monitor and wrestle it away from Ross. He wasn't about to do anything so undignified. But he also couldn't let this blatant act of disrespect pass unchallenged, so he jumped up and blocked Ross' path. "You're not going anywhere with my monitor until I get an explanation."
Ross acted as though he hadn't spoken. "I'll be needing the cable too," he informed Ryo superciliously. "Would you get down there and unplug it for me please?
Ryo's face flushed with anger. This was too much. "Ross," he said, trying not to sound as murderous as he felt, "Give me a goddamn explanation, or get out of my office."
"Oh, he wants an explanation," Ross sneered. "Like I deserve an explanation when the new monitor I order for a recently promoted criminologist gets whisked out of the supply room and reassigned to you, no explanation, no fucking paperwork."
Ryo took a deep breath. There were obviously seething office politics at One Police Plaza that he had no notion of. "Dee and I were not involved in any of those decisions. But the Commissioner ordered that this monitor be allocated to us, and I don't think it's fair that you--"
"Fair!" Ross laughed, a brief humorless bark. "I pity you, Ryo, if you think that this world and the NYPD in particular, is supposed to be fair."
"What the fuck is going on here?" That was Dee's voice; Ryo turned and looked to the doorway to confirm this fact.
Ross chose that moment to bump past him. The corner of the monitor caught Ryo on the shoulder and made him wince. The next thing he knew, Dee had abruptly inserted himself between Ryo and Ross, and was wrenching the monitor out of Ross' hold. He plunked it down onto Ryo's desk without a word and turned to face Ross.
"What do you think you're playing at, asshole? If you feel a hissy-fit coming on, I suggest you take it elsewhere. And keep your hands off our equipment unless you like the idea of going on disability with a couple of dislocated thumbs!"
Dee, you're misunderstanding and overreacting as usual," Ross said patronizingly. "That monitor was mistakenly taken from one of my junior staff members and all I'm trying to do is get it back to its rightful owner. Just trying to see a little justice done here."
"By getting in my partner's face? By stepping on our toes?" Dee leaned in close to Ross, his face inches from the other man's. "If you wanna throw your weight around, you picked the wrong goddamn office. Go bully the new hires and the trainees, and anyone else who'll eat your shit. But if I catch you back here OR if I notice any of our equipment has gone for a walk, I'm comin' after you. And don't think your fancy office, your secretary, or your Sugar Daddy, the Commissioner, are gonna be able to protect you."
"Sugar Daddy, huh?" Ross' eyes flickered resentfully to Ryo. "Well, I'm not the one with the office on the fourteenth floor, now, am I? Don't you even care about the team who got kicked out of this office so that the Commissioner could have his darling Ryo just a few doors down?"
Dee gave Ross a shove in the center of his chest that caused him to stumble back a few steps. "Get the fuck out of here, you two-bit whore."
Ross put a hand to his chest and stared at Dee in disgust. "Is that how you solve all your disagreements, Dee?" he demanded. "With violence?"
Dee snorted. "Violence? Not for you, Ross. You're such a delicate flower that I'll just slap you like the bitch you are. If I ever hit you with a closed fist, it would mean that I actually see you as a man instead of as the Commissioner's favorite K-9 staff member."
"Let me remind you that I am Supervisor of Staff to the Commissioner, and as such, you two come under my jurisdiction now that you're working in this building."
"Fuck you. We work for the 27th and if we're temporarily quartered here, it wasn't our doing, or our wish. You keep your long nose out of this room and lay off my partner and me and we'll get along just fine. Capiche?"
Ross looked from one man to the other in disbelief before his handsome features abruptly twisted into something like hate. "You never change, do you Dee? Once an asshole, always an asshole. I don't know what I ever saw in an uncouth and foul-mouthed person like you. You're not even a diamond in the rough; you're a cubic zirconia-- good to look at, but basically worthless."
He spun on his heel and stalked toward the door with his nose in the air.
"Oh, work that exit, Ross-baby,"retorted Dee, his comeback slightly less effective for being a couple of seconds too late. "I bet you say that to every guy you can't have."
Ross disappeared without further comment, and Ryo stepped forward to put a calming hand on Dee's arm. He wasn't surprised to find Dee red-faced and breathing heavily through his nose. He knew Dee well enough to be aware that the comment about the cubic zirconia had probably stung.
"What the hell was that about?" he asked. "Did you... Did you break that guy's heart or something?" He wasn't sure he wanted to know the answer, but he had to ask.
"Or something," growled Dee, who obviously didn't want to talk about it.
Ryo wasn't having that. "Tell me," he insisted. "If you had a relationship with him that went sour, it's going to be a huge problem for both of us while we're working here."
Dee was already patting his shirt pocket, which meant he was in dire need of a smoke. "It wasn't a relationship. I just fucked him and forgot him, that's all. But he's never forgiven me for it."
~end of Justice Chapter 10~
Additional Author's Notes: Thank you for reading! I won't be able to publish the next chapter until somewhere between the second and third week of December, so you've got about a three-week wait. There will be lots of action in the next chapter.