I went to the gym today for a little pre-emptive working off of calories. Tomorrow the gym will be closed, so if I want to get some exercise, I'll have to go for a bike ride. I'm fortunate that I don't have to cook Christmas dinner tomorrow, although I won't be able to avoid it completely like I've done for the past three years. My usual Christmas routine is to settle in front of the TV with a pizza and watch the Star Wars marathon. My husband works almost every Christmas day, and I usually pack my father off to spend Christmas with other family members. This year, however, my father is spending Christmas at home, and is actually cooking. My husband isn't working. My job is to make a green salad for us to eat with dinner, as well as a trifle for dessert. I hope that the Star Wars movie I'm going to miss during Christmas dinner is one of the lame ones and not one of the good ones. As you can see, there's a lot of Christmas spirit percolating here!
Hell, I also should wrap gifts. I bought all my gifts today, except for the one I 'efficiently' bought for my father two months ago and have managed to lose in the meantime. See, this is why I never buy gifts early. I can't tell you how many times this has happened. I sure hope it turns up. Wish me luck. Once I lost a Christmas gift and didn't find it again for three years! Truly. It was wrapped and everything.
One last thing: If you like Yaoi manga, I strongly recommend that you go to Yaoi Daily and read New York New York by Marimo Ragawa. It's amazing. It's being posted by soulcalibour. The most recent post is here http://community.livejournal.com/yaoi_daily/6194562.html#cutid1, and you can go back to the beginning from there. Otherwise, you can find a download for the whole thing on 4shared.com. There's no overt sex, but lots of plot, affection, character growth and feelings. The seme was a jerk near the beginning, but he got a lot better as time went by. I absolutely loved it.
Merry Christmas, everyone!
FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June)
by Brit Columbia
Pairing: Dee Laytner and Randy (Ryo) MacLean
Spoilers; Set after Volume 7 of the original Fake series by Sanami Matoh
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 finished. It's basically a continuation of the manga.
Author's notes: Alan Radley and his grandmother, Mrs. Wright, are characters who appeared in FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May). A number of characters from A New Day will be weaving in and out of all my stories. Here's a link to the cast of thousands: (Brit’s Character List for New Day), and if you have trouble remembering all 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 during the busy Christmas season!
So far in Justice:
Alan Radley and Dee used to know each other in the old days, but haven't seen each other for a long time. Recently they met again at the Steelshot Concert at Teddy's bar. Dee and Ryo were looking for Ja Romeo, who turned out to be the music partner of Dee's old acquaintance, Alan Radley. Alan Radley was brutalized by the evil Lt. Abernathy, not once, but twice in the last story. Mrs. Wright, Alan's grandmother, was a witness to the second assault. When Abernathy beat Alan in his own home, he left a business card claiming to be Detective Randy MacLean of the 27th Precinct. Even though Alan has met Ryo, he has met him only as Ryo and has no idea of his real name.
I would like to remind people that the deceased Eddie Calvetti was also known as Karl, after his middle name, Carlo. If you would like to know more about the circumstances of his death, then please read chapter 24 of Fake First Year Together: A New Day. Justice, chapter 11 opens on Sunday evening, five days after Justice started on Tuesday. It's the second week in June.
Justice, Chapter 11 To Tread This Dangerous Ground
"What, texting again?" Elena smiled ruefully. "Sorry, Bikky, am I that boring?"
"Huh?" Bikky's thumbs stilled on his cell phone and he looked up at her in surprise. "What are you talking about?"
"Well, here we are having a nice dinner, with extra cheese on the macaroni and zero vegetables, as requested by you. It's just the two of us, and I see it as the perfect opportunity for a little aunt-nephew bonding. And what are you doing instead of talking with your aunt? Texting friends who probably get to see you every day, unlike me!"
"Does it, uh, bother you?" asked Bikky incredulously.
"But... everybody texts."
"Does Ryo let you text at the table?"
"Um, no. But I thought that was just a Ryo thing."
"Well, actually it's a courtesy thing. It's probably not so bad if you're with a group of people, but when you're with just one person..." Elena took a mournful sip of her tea and sighed.
"Okay, okay," said Bikky, hastily putting his cell phone away in his pocket. "I can text the guys later. No problem."
"Thanks, honey. I've missed you, you know. It seems like I never get you all to myself like this." Elena smiled at him, and Bikky felt warm inside.
"Ditto," he said with a shy grin. "So, uh, are you gonna make me do homework after dinner?"
She smiled mysteriously at him, and said, "Yes and no."
"Well, yes, I have to make you do some homework. Ryo gave me some very detailed instructions about that, unfortunately. But I was kind of hoping that in between rounds of homework, you could give me another poker playing lesson."
"Really?" Bikky brightened. "Sure!"
"Ooh, goody," she said. "Did I tell you I got my bridge club interested in playing poker occasionally? I won twenty-five dollars this afternoon. All thanks to you!"
Elena looked at him quizzically.
"It means 'awesome'," Bikky told her. "And I'm gonna teach you a couple tricks that'll get you up to a fifty-buck win next time."
Alan took a seat across from Dee at the dining room table. "Sorry about my grandmother," he said quietly. "Our family has had more than a few bad experiences with cops." His fingers started tracing the raised patterns on the white crocheted tablecloth.
"I get it," said Dee. "I've heard that a lot from my contacts. Some assholes, they get a badge, and they see it as a license to take power trips. I know the type." He did, too. He had experienced that kind of cop from both sides of the booking desk. "That's why it's good to have a friend or two on the force," he added, hoping Alan would get the message. "When I was a little street rat doin' BNE's and ripping off stores, I was really lucky I had Jess to look out for me."
"No doubt." Alan didn't look at him. "Anyway, Dee, I've got an idea why you're here, and I just wanna say straight up that I'm not gonna give you any kind of contact info for Rick. He's my partner. We work together. You've got a partner." He lifted his gaze from the lace tablecloth and met Dee's eyes. "I'm sure you'd do the same for him."
"Damn right I would." Dee looked back at him. "I understand where you're coming from. I just wanna ask you some general questions about him. Believe me, all we wanted to do that night at Teddy's was question Rick. We don't have anything on him, so we don't understand why he ran." He kept a wary eye on the little old lady in the kitchen. She had initially been quite friendly until she learned he was a plainclothes detective. Right now she was slamming cabinet doors and clanking crockery together fit to break something.
Alan's eyes went to the open kitchen, also. He looked both concerned and embarrassed. "Excuse me a moment," he said to Dee and rose from his chair.
Dee listened hard to hear the urgent, whispered conversation that took place between grandson and grandmother. It was uphill work because of the noise of the kettle.
"...Twenty-Seventh Precinct!" she hissed, as part of a longer sentence he couldn't make out.
"...since the old days!" Alan responded. "... good guy!"
Then the old lady muttered about violence and Alan muttered about tea, and pretty soon Alan was bringing a big brown teapot and a small yellow jug of, presumably, milk or cream, to the table. His grandmother followed more slowly with a tray of mugs balanced on her walker. When she arrived at the table, Dee half expected her to clout him with one.
"Thank you, ma'am," he said politely, when she smacked an old, chipped mug down in front of him and tossed a spoon in his general direction.
"Gram!" exclaimed Alan, getting up again and removing Dee's mug. He returned from the kitchen with a much nicer one that featured an image of a country cottage alongside what may have been a hedgehog in a bonnet.
Tight-lipped, Mrs. Wright stomped her walker ponderously over to the sofa, where she embarked on the most aggressive bout of knitting that Dee had ever seen.
Alan poured tea for Dee and himself, then took a mug over to his grandmother. Dee got up and quietly admired a framed needlepoint of a Dutch windmill. It reminded him of the orphanage. Sister Germana was big on needlepoint.
"So, Dee, thanks again for the ride home the other night. Rick hasn't called me or answered his phone since then, so I've still got all the music equipment. I can hardly open the door to my bedroom."
"No sweat, man. You woulda done the same for me." Dee came back to the table and sat down again. "Do you think Rick has figured out that you and I know each other?"
Alan shrugged and added two cubes of sugar to his tea. "Someone must have told him by now that you and I were talking before he arrived and that I left with you after the show. We're supposed to rehearse tomorrow afternoon, but I may not hear from him for a while."
"Where do you rehearse?" Dee blew on his tea, then poured some milk into it. "I don't think it's easy to find rehearsal space in this city."
"A few different places," Alan said guardedly. "Usually nightclubs outside their regular hours. Rick's got some connections for that, and so do I."
Dee knew better than to ask for names. The fact that there was a rehearsal scheduled for Monday afternoon was more than he had thought Alan would give him.
"Is Rick a good friend to you?" he asked. "I mean, does he look out for you?"
Alan looked a bit taken aback as though that was the last question he would have expected. A small laugh escaped him, and Dee thought that it had a slightly bitter sound.
"Rick doesn't look out for anyone but himself," Alan said. "I know it, so I don't expect much from him. We get along better because of it. Besides," he added, "in this city, a man's gotta take care of himself. There ain't no handouts, no free lunch."
"There are good friends, though," Dee reminded him.
Alan's shoulders lifted in another shrug, and he picked up his tea. As he brought it to his lips, his sleeve fell back like it had done at the bar, and Dee once again saw those nasty, fading bruises. He quickly averted his eyes before Alan noticed him looking.
They talked about music and old times for a while. Dee learned that Alan had done a couple of semesters at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, followed by a prestigious internship at The Doghouse recording studio. He currently waited tables in a Karaoke bar and occasionally made a few bucks from the door take on Steelshot's shows.
Dee told Alan about the time that Ben Lloyd blew up the old orphanage and sent Mother to the hospital with broken ribs and head injuries.
"The kids were all playing outside when Ben pressed the detonator. But Penguin was still inside. She was upstairs in the dorm, you know, the kids' sleeping area! That was where he put the bomb, can you believe it? Part of a wall came down on top of her. She was hurt real bad. I-- I thought she was dead when I pulled those bricks off of her."
"Man!" exclaimed Alan. "I remember that now. That was your orphanage? A couple years back, right? It was exam time for me, so I wasn't really paying any attention to anything but practice and the books at that time. So what happened?"
"She was in the hospital for almost three weeks. It was touch and go that first night. Her condition was pretty critical because of her age and the severity of the blast." Dee picked up his cup and drank his tea in several gulps. "I kinda went nuts." He could hear the faint surprise in his own voice. It was hard for him to relive his memories of how he felt when he saw all that blood staining Mother's wimple. It was all over the bricks, all over his hands....
"Alan," said Mrs. Wright's voice from the direction of the sofa, "pour your friend some more tea."
"Oh right," said Alan quickly, and poured more tea into Dee's cup before topping up his own. "How about you, Gram?"
"No thank you," she murmured, and continued to knit, although much more slowly than before and with softer clicks of her knitting needles.
"So, what happened?" Alan asked.
"I tracked the bastard down," Dee said. "I was so mad I couldn't think straight. I came this close--" he held up his index finger and thumb-- "to blowing the guy's head off. Thank God my partner stopped me. I would have lost everything."
"Your partner sounds like a sensible kind of guy. What did you say his name was? Ryo?"
"Yeah, good memory." Dee dropped sugar cubes one by one into his tea. "Ryo's great. A good cop and a good man. I'm one lucky S.O.B. that the Chief assigned him to me. He saved my soul that night."
"You still go to church?"
"Yeah, when the job permits it. I went this morning, as a matter of fact. I told Father Russell I was coming to see you. He says hi."
"How is Father Russell?" Mrs. Wright asked. "Does he still go for those long walks?"
"Yeah," said Dee, turning around in his chair to smile at her. "He takes certain pain-in-the-neck kids with him sometimes, just to give Mother and the sisters a break."
Mrs. Wright offered a tentative smile back. "He wasn't our parish priest of course, but I often saw him on his walks. What excellent posture he had. Alan, why don't you offer your friend some cookies? The special shortbread ones in the red tin."
"Um, Aunt Elena, do you mind if I text Dave about our English essay?"
"No, not at all," she said glancing up from her Sony Reader. "It's not like we're having a conversation right now. It's fine to text when you're studying."
"Thanks," said Bikky and got out his cell phone. He quickly texted Dave, Kenny and Carol about the plan to go to Queens after school tomorrow. They had settled on Monday as the big day because they had basketball after school on Tuesday, and Ryo had already mentioned he might be working in the daytime around the middle of the week. Bikky didn't want to have to explain to Ryo why he might not be home in time for dinner, especially since they so rarely got to eat dinner together nowadays.
Kenny and Carol confirmed after a couple of minutes, and Dave confirmed after about ten minutes. His message was a little longer and Bikky gasped in dismay when he saw it.
"Everything okay?" asked Aunt Elena, looking up with concern.
"Um, yeah, basically. Dave misunderstood a couple of things, that's all."
"Well, set him straight," Elena said absently and returned to what seemed like a very interesting e-book novel.
WTF? aysos? cm asap re eng hw, aitr! Bikky texted. After a minute his phone rang. Dave's home number was in the call display.
"Yo, man, 'sup?" said Bikky as casually as possible.
"Bikky, I think I screwed up my English essay," said Dave carefully. "Can you explain to me what I did wrong?"
"Yeah, I can help you out with that," said Bikky, "but the book is in my room. Hang on, okay?" He got up from the table and looked at Aunt Elena with raised brows. She nodded distractedly to him and immediately dropped her eyes back to her reader.
As soon as he got to his room, Bikky let loose on Dave, albeit in as quiet a voice as he could possibly manage. "Why the hell did you have to go and invite Tom?" he demanded. "There's already four of us, which is already a crowd. Besides, I told you we had to keep this deal a secret!"
"Sorry, dude, I thought he was your friend!"
"He is, but he's the last person we need on this project. You know about his dad, right?"
"Uh, no? I don't." Dave's tone suggested that this was obvious. "The guy's your friend, not mine. You said he used to be Eddie's friend too, so I thought--"
"His dad's a cop and a world class dick," Bikky cut in. "He totally controls Tom. His dad also knew Eddie, and Eddie was shit scared of him."
"Oh crap," said Dave, as understanding dawned. "Well, could you not have told me this before?"
"I told you not to tell anyone! Who else did you tell?"
"No one, I swear. Only Tom. Shit, man, I thought he was your good friend!"
Bikky resisted the urge to kick his closet door. He didn't need Aunt Elena to start paying closer attention to what he was doing and the conversations he was having. "Know what else? Tom went home from the orphanage today and he's probably gonna tell his dad about Eddie's letter tonight... if he didn't already tell him two seconds after he walked in the door. Shit!"
"Maybe he didn't say anything yet. Want me to call him?"
"No, I do not. We're looking at trouble now. If I wanted a cop muscling in on the game and fucking confiscating everything, I woulda told my own fucking dad!"
"I'm sorry, Bikky. What can I say? I'm really sorry!" Dave sounded pretty upset.
"Bikky, honey!" called Aunt Elena. "Hurry up and finish your essay, okay? I want my poker lesson!"
Bikky stuck his head out the door, and forced his lips into a smile, which was tough because smiling was the last thing he felt like doing. "Sure! Be right there. I'm almost done, er, setting this guy straight." He put the phone back to his mouth and said, "Let's wrap this up. Did you tell him the time and place?"
"Yeah, after school, three thirty."
"Okay, that's gotta change. We're skipping the last class and meeting at Wendy's at Grand Central. We're not standing around outside the school. Everyone gets out when they can. Meeting time is two fifty-five. We move at three. Anyone who ain't there at that time gets left behind."
"Bikky, I dunno if I can get out of the last class... I skipped a lot of classes last month and my dad said---"
"Dave, I don't care what you have to say to get out, just think of something okay? Tell 'em you got a headache or your dog is running around in traffic or something."
"But I don't have a dog."
"They don't know that, idiot! I gotta go now, 'kay? Don't tell anyone else about what we're doin', all right? I'm serious!"
"I know! I won't say anything. Sorry."
Dee flushed the toilet and then ran both taps as if he were washing his hands. Using the noise of the rushing water as cover, he quickly opened the bathroom cabinet and started poking around. Man, there were a lot of pill bottles. Alan's grandma seemed to be on half a dozen different kinds of meds. But that wasn't of interest to him. He picked up pill bottle after pill bottle checking the name on each. Finally he found what he was looking for. It was a take-home pill bottle from the Lutheran Medical Centre in Brooklyn and it had Alan's name on it. Tylenol Three's. There was one tablet left, so Alan had obviously been taking these pills for pain. The date on the bottle was recent. Dee frowned at it. That was the day after Shaver had blown up the warehouse, the same day as Eddie's funeral. He thought for a second. That would have been ten days ago. Could Alan's bruises be that old? The guy had either gotten into an accident, or someone had laid a beating on him without touching his face. The kind of beating that was not intended to show. Dee continued sifting through the cabinet. He found another bottle, a prescription bottle this time, from a pharmacy located on Atlantic Avenue. It was made out to Alan Radley also, and was about six days old. Celebrex. There was a brand new tube of Arnica, and a prescription ointment whose directions specified that it be applied to burns as needed. Burns? Maybe whoever had done a number on Alan had put out a few cigarettes against his skin. Dee put the ointment back in the cabinet, resolved to find out.
Mike Abernathy listened to his son sobbing in his room. It wasn't very loud, as he had had the boy's bedroom soundproofed back when Isadora was commissioning all those expensive renovations to the apartment. Still, it tugged at his heart, which was not as hard and cold and stone-like as some of his junior staff members appeared to believe.
He hadn't meant to beat the boy quite so severely this time. Nor so soon. He had originally intended to wait a day or so before punishing his son for his witless and disloyal actions on the very day that a great personal tragedy had occurred in their family. Imagine Tommy calling the police into their home, their sanctuary, merely because he had come home to find his father drunk. How many other boys would have been so foolish? Not many, Mike reckoned. But there it was. Quite apart from the danger presented by the presence of certain goods he had hidden in the apartment, there had been the humiliation of it all. He was sure it was all over the NYPD by now: his missing wife, his drunkenness, his apartment being declared a hazardous environment, and his child being carted off by social workers.
Yes, he had meant to wait, and had planned to strike the lad only a handful of times. But somehow, after the shocking news Tommy had given him about Karl's letter to that MacLean boy from very possibly the same day that he had died-- well, it had quite overset his nerves, that it had. Who could have reckoned that Karl would actually have surviving family in Queens? Mike remembered well that the fellow was without parents or siblings. The fact that Karl had been alone in the world had been his main motivation for wanting to help the poor, unfortunate creature. At times he had felt almost paternal toward the boy. At times.
But Karl was not his son, and Tommy was. Or as good as. And the child was sobbing his heart out in there by himself, nursing a sore bottom, and probably thinking that his father didn't love him. Well, bottoms would heal, but hearts sometimes needed a little help, even if they did beat inside the bodies of children with weak and easily addled minds. The child couldn't change his DNA after all, and his mother's mind, God rest her soul, had been very easily addled indeed.
Mike sighed and rose from his chair. It would behoove him as a parent to go in there and offer some comfort to his son. Then he had to make sure he got a tail put on that MacLean boy. If there truly was a second laptop, he needed to get his hands on it before those two agents of Satan, MacLean and Laytner, beat him to it.
Mrs. Wright had taken a seat at the table by the time Dee returned from the bathroom. He saw that she was clasping a small crucifix in both hands. Either she was in a religious mood, or she suspected that there might be a vampire in the room. She and her grandson appeared to be arguing, sotto voce.
"Here he is," she said to Alan. "I know he won't mind. Please let me ask him."
Alan sighed and looked up at the ceiling for a moment. "Okay," he said, "but only the first thing we talked about, not the second. And let me be the one who breaks it to him."
"Breaks what to me?"
"Gram wants you to... to pray with her." Alan looked at him apologetically, and behind the faint cynicism in his voice and body language, Dee detected anxiety and a plea for understanding.
"I would be honored to pray with you, Mrs. Wright," Dee said. "Was there a particular prayer you had in mind?"
The old lady's eyes brightened with pleasure. "See? I told you!" She lightly smacked Alan's hand. "Your friend is a religious man. That Mother Superior at the orphanage raised him right, and see that?" She pointed. "He still wears a cross around his neck to this day."
"Gram," Alan groaned. "Just don't take him through the whole bible, aight? I'm sure he has to get back to work."
"Don't worry so, Alan, dear," she said gently, before turning to Dee. "I know you folks at the orphanage were Catholic, whereas we've always been Presbyterian, but I feel that prayer is a universal thing."
"I agree," said Dee. "It is."
"If you don't mind," said Mrs. Wright, "I'd like to lead with the Prayer of Hope. Then perhaps you can choose a prayer of your own."
"Sure," said Dee, leaning forward and putting his elbows on the table. "Let's do it." He clasped his hands, bowed his head, and waited for Alan's grandmother to begin.
Alan sighed, but they both ignored him.
"We pray that someday an arrow will be broken," intoned Mrs. Wright in her wavery old voice, "not in something or someone, but by each of humankind, to indicate peace, not violence.
"Someday, oneness with creation, rather than domination over creation, will be the goal to be respected. Someday, fearlessness to love and make a difference will be experienced by all people.
"Then the eagle will carry our prayer for peace and love, and the people of the red, white, yellow, brown, and black communities can sit in the same circle together to communicate in love and experience the presence of the Great Mystery in their midst. Someday can be today for you and me. Amen."
"Amen," said Dee, and opened his eyes. "That was beautiful."
Mrs. Wright looked pleased. "Really? Oh I'm glad you think so. It's one of my favorites. There's so much violence in the world. So much fear. I have to hope that someday, humankind can all exist side by side with each other and with Nature and feel themselves to be equal parts of creation."
"I especially liked the part about fearlessness to love and make a difference," said Dee.
"Me, too." Mrs. Wright gazed at him happily and then turned apologetic eyes in Alan's direction. Tentatively, she reached out to pat her grandson's hand, no smacking this time. "Thank you for being so patient with me, dear," she said humbly.
Dee wanted to hug her. What a sweetheart. Then he clued in to the fact that she was managing her grandson, and wondered if Mother and possibly Ryo 'managed' him the same way.
Alan clearly couldn't help smiling back at his grandmother, although his cool, perceptive eyes met Dee's a moment later. Dee felt that Alan understood exactly what he was up to, and was still on his guard, but was nonetheless grateful for the small kindness being shown to his 'Gram'.
"And now, Dee," said Mrs. Wright happily, "it's your turn to choose a prayer. Anything you like. I'll just follow along, and of course, Alan will pretend he's too busy eating cookies to pay attention, but I know he really will be listening."
"Okay," said Dee. "I choose the Prayer of Protection." He glanced at Alan. Mrs. Wright obligingly bowed her head.
"Finally, my brothers and sisters, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," said Dee in a clear voice. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
"Amen," murmured Mrs. Wright in a low, but firm voice.
Dee, who was watching Alan under his lashes, decided to cut to the end.
"And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in chains: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. Amen."
"Amen! Oh, Ephesians." Mrs. Wright gave an ecstatic sigh and opened her eyes.
"Hey now, look at the time," said Alan, pushing back from the table and standing up. "I have to get ready for work, and I'm sure your boss is wondering where you are by now, Dee," he said pointedly.
"Don't worry about me, man," said Dee. "Detectives have a lot of freedom of movement. My unit's lieutenant and my partner know where I am, and they know why I'm here."
Mrs. Wright looked a little confused, as though she had forgotten Dee was a cop. Then a shadow of fear settled over her features. "Does.... Does anyone else at the 27th know where you are?" she asked in a quavering voice, and Dee's ears pricked up with interest.
Alan put his arm around his grandmother. "Gram, Dee said it was his lieutenant and his partner. He wouldn't announce it to the whole world."
"Something's wrong, isn't it?" Dee asked bluntly. He noted the way that Mrs. Wright glanced fearfully at Alan, but Alan kept his calm, determined gaze on Dee.
"Nothing's wrong that you can fix," Alan said. "In fact, it's the whole world that's wrong. Nothing can make it right, not prayer, not God, and for certain-sure, not you. So let it go, brother. It was nice to see you again. Give my regards to Penguin and the kids next time you're at the orphanage."
Alan made as if to lead him to the door, but Dee held his ground. "You're bruised and burned," he observed. "I think you're in some trouble, and I'd like to help you."
"Alan! Listen to him," Mrs Wright begged.
Alan shook his head. "I ain't in no trouble that won't be made ten times worse by your involvement, Dee. I think it's just about blown over anyway."
"Except there's been no justice!" Mrs. Wright cried.
"Justice is too expensive sometimes, Gram," said Alan, "and I ain't talking about money."
Ryo glanced distractedly at the ringing phone on his desk. He wondered who it could be. He doubted it would be Elena again, since she was making dinner for Bikky and she always made herself at home in his kitchen. It wouldn't be Dee because he would have called Ryo on his cell.
So far, any calls that came into the 27th for him or Dee were definitely not being forwarded by the switchboard. Ryo was retrieving his messages remotely, whereas Dee was having his willing slave, JJ, deliver his, along with doughnuts, or other snacks, as had happened twice so far today. Didn't JJ have anything better to do on a Sunday evening? Ryo intended to put a stop to that as soon as possible.
"Detective MacLean, 27th Precinct."
"Randy, hi, it's your favorite parole officer calling," said a very familiar voice. "How are you doing?"
"Norm!" Ryo felt a stab of guilt. He knew he should have called Norm back on Friday. "I'm doing well, thanks. And you?"
"Aw, don't ask," said Norm with a laugh. "I'll just start whining and then you won't respect me anymore."
"Oh go ahead and whine." Ryo grinned, and clicked 'save' on his computer screen. "My partner whines all the time and I still respect him."
"Detective Dee Laytner. You haven't met him yet."
"Oh, your work partner. Right, you cops get to work in twos, unlike us lowly parole officers, who have to meet up with dangerous convicted felons one on one."
"Well, I've heard that partnership can be a blessing or a curse," remarked Ryo, "but it's worked out very well for Dee and me."
"Have you had other...partners?"
"Yeah, in patrol. But Dee is my first since I made detective. He's been a detective longer than me, though, so he's had other partners." Ryo began to wonder why he was going into so much detail.
"I see," said Norm and there was a short silence. "Well, as long as you feel he's a good match for you, I guess that's all that matters."
"Anyway," said Ryo, "I think I know why you're calling."
"That's because you're a smart man," Norm said cheerfully.
"No, I'm a forgetful man," Ryo said. "I should have given you an update on the Sting by Friday when we got the official go-ahead. I apologize for not calling you."
"Not a problem," said Norm generously. "I know you've been busy. But the Sting details are no doubt sensitive. Maybe we shouldn't discuss them over the phone." There was an expectant pause.
"Hmm," said Ryo. "You have a point."
"So can you escape from the paperwork for half an hour? We could grab a quick coffee or bite of something, and you can fill me in on the plan. If I someday have to answer questions as to why I delayed putting out a blue warrant when I should have, it would help if I could claim I was party to an important police investigation."
"Oh, yes, of course. You have a right to know what we're doing," said Ryo quickly. He looked at the clock, a little concerned. "It's just that my partner is due back from Brooklyn any time now..."
"So? That's what cell phones are for. If he needs you, he can call you and get your location."
"Yeah, I guess he can. Okay then, where are you now and where do you want to meet?"
When Dee got back to his office at One Police Plaza, he found Ryo gone and JJ waiting for him. JJ was, as usual, delighted to see him and expressed his feelings in his customary way.
"Whoa--whoa--Hey!" Dee stepped aside at the last moment, which caused JJ to hurtle past him and rebound off the opposite wall of the corridor. It made quite a resounding thump, and caused a picture of Theodore Roosevelt to fall off the wall. Fortunately the glass didn't break. Heads instantly poked out of nearby offices to see what all the crashing was about.
"JJ, what the hell are you doing? This is the Palace, not the 27th! You can't act like a chimpanzee on speed in this place," Dee scolded, and helped the smaller man to his feet. "I'm a guest here and you're not doing me any favors by horsing around and breaking stuff."
"Sorry, Dee, you know me, I'm an excitable kind of guy! Besides the picture didn't break. I'll hang it back up before I go. And I am NOT acting like a chimpanzee. Furthermore, IF I was a monkey, I would definitely be one of the cuter types. Did you notice I brought you sushi?"
"I put it on your desk. I got your favorite kinds, including that spicy roll you like."
"Cool. Thanks, man." Dee strode back into his office and made straight for the big bag he saw sitting on his desk. His stomach had been rumbling all the way from Brooklyn back to Manhattan. Those butter cookies of Mrs. Wright's had woken up his appetite and made it start demanding real food. Mrs. Wright pressed him to stay and have dinner with them, but he knew Alan didn't want him to, and he didn't want to overstay his welcome this time. There would be other times, because he was determined to win Alan's trust and find out what the hell was going on with those bruises and all the secrets. Therefore, he had declined dinner and left them to their evening. Of course he had been hoping to grab some dinner with Ryo.
"Where's Ryo?" he asked, tearing open a packet of Wasabi.
"Damned if I know. He wasn't very friendly earlier when I brought your messages and that box of doughnuts over there. When I came back with the sushi, he was gone."
Dee's eyes lit up at the sight of the doughnuts. Well, that was dessert taken care of. JJ's propensity for hitting him with exuberant flying tackles could be a royal pain, but the little guy sure knew how to make up for his more annoying qualities by making himself useful in assorted ways.
"Is this all for me, or do you want some, too?"
"Well, when I bought six different packages of sushi, it was in the hopes that you might be able to spare me a couple of pieces," JJ said with an affectionate roll of his eyes. "There's ice green tea, too."
"Well, don't you think of everything," said Dee around a mouthful of fish and rice. "Pull up a chair, and have whatever you like, but don't get soy sauce on my suit, or I'm gonna make you pay for the cleaning again."
"Dad, he's not answering! Maybe his phone is off. He's not responding to my texts, either."
"Call him on his landline, then," growled Mike. "By hook or by crook, you are going on that little expedition with him tomorrow."
"I don't know why it's so important to you," grumbled Thomas. "Why should you care if Karl wanted to give his laptop to Bikky?"
"I told you, lad, Karl did sensitive police work for the force, here and there. I think there's important information on that laptop, information that could compromise certain undercover investigations."
"Well, why don't you just tell Bikky that, and ask him to lend you the laptop?" Thomas asked. "It sounds reasonab-- Hello? May I speak to Bikky, please?"
The woman on the other end of the phone hesitated, and then said, "I'm sorry, but Bikky has, er, gone out to the corner store. Can I take a message?"
"Um, sure," said Thomas, sure now that Bikky was avoiding him. It made him feel uncomfortable. "Please ask him to call or text Tom as soon as he gets in. He knows the number 'cause it's in his cell phone."
"Sure I will, Tom. You have a good night now," the woman said and hung up.
Aunt Elena picked up her cards again. "Why don't you want to talk to him?" she asked curiously.
Bikky frowned unseeingly at the cards in his hand. "The picture of the guy who looks like Ryo? Well, Tom is the kid who gave me that picture. His dad is that IA guy who hates Ryo and maybe was behind that Doritos setup. Tom went back home tonight, and right now he's with his dad."
"I see," said Elena. "What do you think Tom wants to talk to you about?"
"I dunno," said Bikky, although he sure as hell did. "But I betcha his dad is standing right there listening if I call him back."
"That's pretty scary, huh?"
"Nah." Bikky lifted one shoulder in a casual shrug, even though he was actually feeling kind of jumpy about what Tom's asshole dad was going to do next.
"Does Tom go to your school?"
"Nope, which is something at least. But he comes there sometimes, so I might see him tomorrow if his dad is planning on using him to mess me up in some way like he did on Thursday with the drugs and the police."
"Bikky, I can't believe you have to live like this!" Elena threw down her cards. "I never had as much stress as this when I was thirteen. Not even when I was thirty! It's really not right."
Ryo unlocked the front door of his building and raised his hand in a brief salute to Dee before going inside. He knew his partner had been disappointed not to be invited in, but Ryo had told him that he wanted a little bit of time alone with his aunt before she went home. She would be off to France soon, and he might not get to see her again for a while. As it was close to midnight, and Sunday was a school day, he had every faith that Elena would have gotten Bikky to bed at least an hour ago. After his quick dinner break with Norm, he had been half considering inviting Dee home with him after their shift.
However, those thoughts had disappeared like Bikky at chore-time when he walked into his office and found Dee and JJ having quite the cozy meal and giggling together over Lord knew what. Ryo's annoyed gaze swept over the two of them and the detritus of their shared dinner in cool disapproval. Dee immediately understood he was in trouble and put some distance between himself and JJ, whereas JJ looked back at Ryo with barely concealed annoyance of his own.
"I hope you guys are going to clean that up," Ryo snapped. "Is that a glob of wasabi on the keyboard?" It looked like JJ had blown at least fifty bucks on sushi for his hero.
"JJ!" said Dee accusingly. "You got wasabi on the keyboard. I told you to be careful. Clean it up, wouldya?"
"No, Dee, YOU clean it up," said Ryo. "I don't think for one second it was JJ."
"No, no, it was definitely me," JJ insisted loyally. "Sorry about that, Ryo. Don't worry, I brought wet wipes." At that, he had produced a packet of wet wipes from one of this pockets. Ryo imagined he probably had condoms and lube concealed elsewhere on his person, just in case.
JJ had taken forever to actually leave. For some reason that Ryo was not clear on, JJ had felt it necessary to spend some time fiddling with a portrait that was on the wall outside their office. After he had finally gone, Ryo had been all business, despite Dee's efforts to get him to lighten up.
Anyway, now he was home and looking forward to seeing his aunt. He heard the TV going when he first let himself in, but Elena used the remote to shut off the TV when he walked into the living room to give her a hug.
"Elena, how did it go?"
"Oh, same as usual, hon, No shootings, no bombings, no kidnappings."
"Thanks so much for staying with Bikky tonight," Ryo said. "With the way things have been lately, I worry about him when he's alone."
"Ryo, darling," she said, "Let's talk about that." She hugged him back and then dropped her voice. "I think Bikky might be a little more scared than you realize. He comes across as this tough little can-do dynamo, but I think that incident with the Doritos setup and getting hurt by the police shook him up more than he's letting on."
"Well, I'm sure he must be scared," said Ryo, taking a seat next to her on the sofa, his eyes stricken. "I really feel terrible about it. He's in danger because of me and my work, and he's totally innocent! He hasn't done anything to deserve what Abernathy is putting him through."
"His friend Tom apparently went back to his father's home tonight, and Bikky wouldn't take his calls. He seems to think that the boy's father is going to use his son to cause more trouble for him, for Bikky, I mean. He said he was sure that if he talked to Tom, the father would be listening in."
"Thomas went back home?" said Ryo. "Well, I guess it was inevitable. This is the second time he has voluntarily returned to his father." He felt uneasy for Thomas, and hoped that Abernathy wouldn't hurt him. But on the other hand, until Thomas was willing to admit what was really happening to him, it would be difficult to help him. The first time they had tried to arrange foster care for him, Thomas had initially sobbed and confessed that his father routinely whipped him, but later recanted and used the whole incident to negotiate terms with his father that included a new computer, a later curfew, and the right to attend the school of his choice.
"Yes, according to Bikky, Tom left the orphanage today. A social worker took him home. But let's get back to the problem of Bikky's safety. I mentioned the horse ranch to him."
"Oh? How did he take it?"
Elena sighed. "He flatly refused to go until after the school year ends. He wants to graduate from Grade Seven with the rest of his classmates and doesn't want to get stuck doing summer school later. He also wants Carol to go with him."
Ryo grimaced briefly and hunched his shoulders. "I had a feeling he wouldn't go for it. A couple of weeks ago after Eddie's funeral, we talked about this a little bit, and he said that he feels safer on his own turf."
"I think he probably doesn't want to be separated from you, either," Elena said warmly. "You're the only parent he's got. You and Dee and Carol, and hopefully Rick and I too, not that I'm around much-- but, hey. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that we're his family. I understand his feelings, but I think his safety is more important."
"I agree," said Ryo. "The trouble is that I'm at work all the time, and I can't be with him to make sure he's safe. Our shifts are supposed to be eight hours long, but there's no way to control when case developments happen. Sometimes it's twelve or more hours before I can get back home."
"It's not easy to be a single parent with a demanding job," Elena said. "But I really think you need to pull rank here and ship him off to Philly for a while. Karen could probably keep him until the middle of July, if you want."
Ryo bit his lip. "Yeah, I know what I have to do," he said. "Dammit. It's Father's Day next Sunday, too."
"Yeah, he mentioned that," Elena said.
"He did?" Ryo looked up in surprise.
"Well, yeah!" Elena punched his arm lightly. "Didn't I just get done saying that you're the only parent he's got?"
Ryo clenched his fist and thumped his thigh in frustration. "I hate this! He's the only child I've got, too. I don't want to lose him, so I know I have to do this. But I'm going to miss him every day."
"I understand, honey." Elena squeezed his hand. "Maybe if you get a break in the case, you can get over there to visit him for a few days. I'm sure you have some vacation time coming, considering all the overtime you've been working lately."
Ryo changed his mind about his pajamas, and took them off again. Dee was right: it was too hot for pajamas. He was regretting now that he hadn't invited Dee to his place after their shift. He looked at his big bed and felt, for the first time, that it was too big for one person. Besides, if Dee were here, it would help him to take his mind off his own disquieting thoughts. He had been feeling somewhat off-balance ever since his one-on-one meeting with Norm earlier.
He was finding himself newly aware of men, in ways that he hadn't been open to thinking about before. He was surreptitiously watching them, noting appealing physical traits and wondering about them. It was making him nervous and he was afraid that his curiosity might be written all over his face. For example, one of the security guards in the lobby of One Police Plaza had truly enormous hands. Every time Ryo walked through the lobby, his eyes wandered to the man's hands and his face got hot. The man was big, bulky, and had acne scars. His gold wedding band was an indicator that he was married and most likely straight. Maybe he even had several kids. Ryo didn't know and didn't care. He was just, for some strange reason, fascinated by the man's huge, sausage-like fingers.
Norm, on the other hand, was attractive all over. Norm's body was lithe and compact, and his hips, thighs and buttocks were very hard-looking. When Norm had walked into the Subway Sandwich outlet they had settled on as their meeting place, Ryo noticed that the parole officer was wearing jeans this time, not khakis, and that they fit him very well indeed.
Norm had been mildly flirtatious, but he had refrained from making blatant overtures. Ryo appreciated that. He was not blind to Norm's good looks, but he already had a partner and was not looking for a new one. What he needed was a friend. He was hoping that Norm and he might become friends at some point.
He wished that there was someone he could talk to about all these new and confusing feelings he was having. He loved Dee, and was in no doubt about that fact. But if he loved his partner, why was he looking at other men? He felt that he shouldn't be, but he didn't seem able to stop. He could just imagine how Dee would react if he was ever stupid enough to mention his disturbing new pastime to him. But he had to be honest with himself. If Dee confessed such a thing to him, he wouldn't be happy, either. Ryo felt that if two individuals loved each other and had made a commitment to be together, they shouldn't be checking out other people.
He got into bed wearing only shorts and a tee-shirt, making no move to pull the sheet up any further than his knees. When he raised up on one elbow to switch off the bedside lamp, his eyes fell on the telephone. Call me, Dee, his heart whispered. Please call me right now.
But Dee didn't, and very soon, Ryo fell asleep.
Bikky sat slouched in a booth at the back of Wendy's, sucking an M & M Frosty through a straw, waiting for his friends to show up. He had taken a seat where he could keep an eye on the door, and he was ready to slide under the table at a moment's notice if Tom's dad walked in, or in fact, any guy who smelled like a cop.
Carol definitely wasn't coming because she had some sort of big presentation to give in her Biology class, and couldn't skip out. Dave and Kenny, however, had assured him they would show.
He still couldn't believe Tom had hightailed it all the way over to Wilson at lunch just to bug him more about the trip to Queens and how much he really wanted to go. That had not been a fun conversation. First he had tried to brush Tom off by saying they weren't going to go to Queens today after all, and then Tom insisted on being invited when they did decide to go. He played the 'Eddie was my friend, too' card. Bikky had been forced to be blunt.
"You can't come on this one, Tom. I don't trust your dad. He was too close to Eddie and not in a good way. Also because he whips the shit outta you and you're scared of him, there are certain things I can't trust you on, either."
"What do you mean, not in a good way?" demanded Tom. Bikky couldn't help noticing that he totally sidestepped the part about his old man whipping the shit out of him. "My dad helped Eddie a lot! I went with him sometimes. I saw it with my own eyes. Dad gave him bags of food and clothes."
"Tom, look, I can't get into it with you. All I can say is that you don't know the half of it. I was with Eddie the night before he died and he told me some stuff that made me very scared of your dad. So you're back home now, back under your dad's roof. If you ever need me, come find me. But you are not coming with me to Queens."
Tom had trudged off looking depressed, leaving Bikky feeling bad. He hoped Tom would have the sense not to run home and repeat the conversation to his old man word for word. Bikky didn't think Tom voluntarily told his dad everything, but he was damn sure that Tom's dad could beat pretty much anything out of him.
Dave appeared, looking around in a really obvious and furtive way, and Bikky signaled to him. A couple of minutes later, Kenny walked in, looking equally shifty. Man, these guys would never survive on the streets.
"Couldn't you guys just act normal?" Bikky complained as they left Wendy's together. "You look like amateur spies who are about to rip something off."
"We do not!" said Kenny indignantly.
"Don't sweat it man," said Dave to Kenny. "Bikky's been PMS-ing since last night."
None of them noticed a nondescript little Asian man with a camera detach himself from the wall and start walking a dozen or so paces behind them.
A woman with tired eyes and streaks of grey in her black hair opened the door and asked, "Are you the boys Mario sent?"
"Yeah," said Bikky. "I'm--"
"Bikky!" cried a chubby little kid who was peeking out from behind his mama.
"You know him, Robbie?" his mother asked.
"Sure. He took Eddie's dinner up to him that night Eddie came here all strung out and you wouldn't let him stay over."
"Hey, Robbie," said Bikky. " 'S'up?"
"Aw, not much," the kid replied with a shrug, trying too hard to sound older and casual. "Just school and stuff."
"Would you boys like to come in for some soup?" the lady asked, and they all nodded enthusiastically. Boys were always hungry after school.
When Lieutenant Abernathy's phone rang, he snatched it up, more nervous that he wanted to admit. It was Benny Lam. That little bastard had better not be calling to say that the MacLean brat had gotten away from him.
"Boss, I got good news. First they go to restaurant. Then they come to this house..." he gave Mike the address. "They go inside with one lady and one kid."
"Good work, man. Why the hell didn't you call before now?" Mike demanded.
"Phone don't work good on subway. Kids didn't stop moving 'til now. Take a lot of trains, this way, then that way. One bus even."
"Hm," grunted Mike. "Did they see you?" The fact that the kids had taken a roundabout route meant that they at least suspected that someone might be following them.
"No way, Mike. Nobody see me. Benny Lam is 'invisible man!' " He chortled at what he perceived was his own wit.
"Well, see that you don't move from your post," said Mike. "Don't even leave to take a piss. If you lose those little shits, I'll not pay you a penny, do you hear? You keep them in sight until I send some people to intercept them. There'll be a good payout for you at the end of the day when I finally get my hands on that laptop I've been waitin' for."
"Don't worry, Mike. You the boss. I keep watching house. Kids go, I go."
End of Justice ch 11
Additional author's notes: Two things. For those, who like me, don't have a whole lot of experience texting, here is a translation of Bikky's text message to Dave: WTF? aysos? cm asap re eng hw, aitr! In plain English: 'What the fuck? Are you stupid or something? Call me as soon as possible regarding English homework, adult in the room!'
Yes, I'm aware that I'm probably the last person left in the western world who's a texting peasant, but that will soon change when I get my husband to buy me a much nicer and cooler cell phone than the ratty old one I have now! I'm embarrassed to use it in public.
The second thing: The line ... disappeared like Bikky at chore time is a great simile, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I did not in fact invent it. I may have read it in another Fake story and absorbed it into my subconscious. So if anyone out there is saying, "Hey, she stole my simile!" please speak up and I'll either change it or credit you! If I did read it somewhere else, I have no idea where it came from.
Lastly... Feedback is always welcome! (hint, hint)