I originally had a lot more to say in this beginning part, but when I tried to post, it came back 'post too large'. All I'll say then is that these are eventful days in Canada, as we have an election tomorrow and the polls are yielding a few surprises!
We've just gotten through our taxes. The deadline in this country is April 30th, but since that was a Saturday, it was extended to Monday, May 02.
If you haven't yet participated in my poll, please do! Thank you to the 39 who have taken part so far. I'm going to leave the poll up for another five days until my birthday, then I'll close it out. It'll be open forever for comments, though. www.livejournal.com/poll/
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. However, you don't have to read A New Day to appreciate this story. I think you'll be able to figure it out on your own.
Disclaimer: Dee, Ryo, Bikky, Carol, Kenny, Ted, the Chief, the Commissioner, and Diana are all characters that Sanami Matoh created for her FAKE series. The other characters in this chapter (Mike Abernathy, Ross Pekoe, Patrick, Siobhan Dunnett, Lance, Norman Gray, John Hambler, Ramona, Ja Romeo, Wes Samberg, Cully and Sherry) are mine. I make no money from writing these works of fanfiction.
Author's notes: An LEO is a law enforcement officer. Gen pop refers to general population in a prison. Once again, the way you pronounce the name 'Siobhan' is very much like 'Shavonne'. I wrote the hug scene instead of just referring to it because tripple_p asked me to!
Thank you to the_ladyfeather, tripple_p and shelley6441 for the beta work.
So far in Justice: Ryo and Dee attempted to catch the corrupt Lieutenant Abernathy in a sting, but it all went wrong. Abernathy was one step ahead of them as usual. Ryo and Dee are temporarily stationed at One Police Plaza until the conclusion of this investigation. A few chapters back, someone gave Crazy Bo a bag of Doritos that actually contained heroin hits and suggested he get Bikky to deliver the chips to Wes Samburg, a drug dealer who works in Chinatown. Bikky and his two friends Jill and Penny were roughed up by the police who had been sent to catch Bikky red-handed. Dee and Ryo talked to Wes, and Wes conceded that he might also have been a target in that sting. The only reason he didn't get caught was because the kids opened the bag to eat the Doritos before they reached Wes' location. Norm, the attractive parole officer, is still crushing on Ryo.
Justice Chapter 15: Clash of the Titans
Well before his alarm clock went off at 9:00 a.m., Ryo had already given up on the whole business of trying to sleep. After arriving home by taxi at 4:20 a.m., he was in bed by a little after 4:30. Although he was out like a light the moment his head hit the pillow, he hadn't been able to remain in a state of sleep. Despite having been awake for more than nineteen hours, he found his blood was still too full of adrenaline for him to switch everything off. His dreams had been vivid, rife with violence and anxiety. He squinted at his bedside clock as he turned off the alarm, and estimated that he had gotten less than three hours of shut-eye. Oh well, it would have to do. He was surprised his cell phone hadn't rung yet. He didn't seriously expect to hear from the Chief, since he had been out with them last night. But the Public Relations department of the NYPD should have contacted him by now, not to mention the Commissioner. Ryo had sent him a brief email before he left the Palace to let him know that not only had the wheels fallen off their sting, but their witness was now in the morgue.
John Hambler was dead. God! How had that happened? He closed his eyes in pain as Maria's grief-stricken face filled his mind. She had gone so pale when she opened the door to them in the middle of the night. She knew it was bad news right away, but he could see in her eyes that she was hoping beyond hope that her lover was just injured and not dead. Injured would be bad enough, but dead meant that John was gone, finished, flown beyond her reach. Ryo had delivered many such pieces of bad news to surviving relatives over his years as an LEO, but this time it was hitting him harder than ever before. He guessed it was because he, in his way, was just as crazy in love with his man as Maria had been with hers. He had never been in love before, at least not in the deep and intense way that he realized he loved Dee. The thought that one day his partner might be taken from him abruptly and unexpectedly was too horrible to contemplate.
Despite Dee's cruelly logical words, Ryo couldn't help feeling responsible for what had happened to Hambler. The man was definitely a career criminal, but he had been on his own path. He wouldn't have voluntarily chosen to work with the police. He may or may not have ended up dead some other way, or found himself behind bars again for failing to report for parole, but he also may have simply disappeared with his new family to go and live a quiet life under the radar of the authorities, too. It might not have been much of a life, but he and Maria had been clearly in love with each other. Now, all his possible futures had been canceled by a police bullet, taking Maria's hopes and dreams with them.
Who had betrayed their plans to Abernathy?
"Mike's probably got a friend at the impound yard," the Chief had said last night. "Either that, or Hambler blabbed to someone who squealed to Mike."
"Could the spy at the 27th have found out about the sting?"
The Chief shrugged. "We were careful. No one on the team discussed it at the precinct, and no one opened any files on it. All the files are over at the Palace with you and Dee."
Ryo looked at him, not wanting to voice the next thought that had sprung into his mind, but knowing he had to. "Chief, do you think... someone on the team could actually be the spy?"
"No," the Chief replied firmly. "No one in my CI Department is a rat. I'm sure of it." He scratched his head and sighed. "But quite a few people got in on this op who weren't on the team."
"Like the detectives from the 99th, and their commanding officers," said Ryo.
"And Jackhammer's girlfriend," added the Chief. "And everyone at Bronx Impound, although we didn't give those guys any details."
"We may never find out who tipped him off." Ryo really wanted to sit down. He felt discouraged and weary, and his disappointment over the failure of the sting was so acute it seemed to be sapping his self-motivation.
"My money's on the impound yard." The Chief folded his arms and watched as a pair of assistant medical examiners zipped John Hambler's corpse into a body bag. "Once Mike got done talking to Hambler, he probably called the yard to find out if there were any plans to outfit a Lexus with cameras."
"But we told them it was top secret!" Ryo protested.
"If I were Mike, I might have called and identified myself as someone from the two seven. Check it out Randy. Tomorrow, of course. I'm going home right now, and you should, too."
It was always easier to discuss case problems with Dee or the Chief, Ryo thought as he walked into his kitchen. When he was alone in the cold light of morning, it was too easy to second-guess himself, or allow troubling details to chase each other around in circles in his brain. Work helped. So did coffee. Ryo sighed as he pressed the 'on' button of his coffee maker. Maybe he should have listened to the Chief and gone home last night. He and Dee had been too tired to function at three in the morning. They probably could have avoided a quarrel if he hadn't insisted on returning to the office at that time of night. Not that he had been the one picking fights, Ryo recalled with irritation. It had been all Dee, of course. He knew his partner was a hothead, but he was used to Dee being more patient with him than he was with everyone else. Was the honeymoon over already? After a moment or two, Ryo realized he was staring morosely at the drops of coffee splashing into the carafe, thinking depressing thoughts, while a better use of his time and very limited energy would be to go into the bathroom and have a shower.
Perhaps after that, he would go to see Norman Gray. Norm deserved to hear first-hand from someone at the 27th that his client had been shot. It was a matter of professional courtesy.
"You don't think he could have been rehabilitated at some point?"
Norm hesitated, gazing at Ryo with compassion. "All I can say is that a lot of my clients have addiction problems, and the recovery rate for addicts in the Bronx isn't much higher than about two percent. There's too much stress in big cities like this one, too many things for people to get addicted to right in their communities, both legal and illegal. Hambler probably got offered drugs three or four times a day. Must have been hard to keep saying no."
"If he was an addict, he didn't seem that far gone," said Ryo, thinking of Hambler's strength and speed.
"Well, he was more of a binger than an everyday kind of guy. Besides, he was forced to get clean in prison. That was good for him." Norm nodded as he said this, but his expression remained pragmatic. "If the guy had lived in a smaller city or town somewhere away from the drug routes, he would have had a much higher chance of staying clean. I don't know if he'd started using again, but I can tell you he had booze on his breath the last time I talked to him face to face. A few drinks can take the edge off a hard day, but they can also impair a person's judgment with regard to his resistance to meth or cocaine." Norm stood up and came around to the front of his desk. He perched on the edge of it and reached out to put a gentle hand on Ryo's shoulder. "We'll never know if he could have been rehabilitated, Randy," he said softly, "but I don't even think that's the issue here, is it? Whether John was a saint or a sinner, the fact is that he was murdered under the orders of a man who didn't want to get caught. I'm sorry he died while he was helping you. I understand how you feel. I do. But I think you ought to give yourself a break. You did everything you were supposed to do. You did your best. This is not the first time in the history of law enforcement that a witness was shot for helping the police. Even if he was shot by the police."
Ryo sighed deeply and put his head in his hands. "God, it's such a mess," he groaned.
Norm slid off the desk and took a step forward. "I think you could use a hug," he said.
Ryo didn't speak when he felt Norm's hands slide under his elbows and pull him smoothly to his feet. When the man's arms went around him, he realized that he really did need a hug. He was weary and dispirited, and Norm's body felt warm and strong, and he smelled nice, too. After a moment's uncertainty, Ryo put his arms around Norm's back as well. A little voice in the back of his mind tried to question what he was doing, but he ruthlessly quelled it. It was only a hug, an act of comfort offered by one human being to another. There was nothing sexual about it. Norm wasn't groping him, was he? Their bodies weren't touching below chest level. It was no big deal, and it was definitely making him feel better.
Another moment passed and then they both found themselves disengaging at the same time. It felt quite natural, and not awkward at all. Norm stepped back and peered into Ryo's eyes, a shy smile hovering on his lips. "Better?" he asked hopefully.
Ryo smiled back, and nodded. "Yeah," he said, still feeling somewhat surprised about that. "You're not just a parole officer, but you're a therapist, too!"
Norm blushed. "Well, not everyone gets hug therapy, you know." He rubbed the back of his neck and grinned. "That could be dangerous, considering some of my clients. I don't think that even their mothers hugged them."
Ryo smiled again, and stooped to pick up his briefcase from where he had set it on the floor. "Well, back to the circus," he said with a sigh. At least I'm off tomorrow."
"I'm glad to hear they give you days off occasionally," said Norm, then hesitated. "Say, uh, Randy... I was wondering if you'd like to go for coffee sometime. There's this great place I know called Geronimo... Their coffee is amazing."
"Geronimo? By Irving Plaza? That place is in my neighborhood!"
"Really? You live around there? Then we absolutely have to get together." Norm's happy grin faded a little as he seemed to check himself. "But, uh, you know, when you have time of course."
"I'm not sure right now when I'm going to get some time," Ryo said, thinking of all the stress that was awaiting him at One Police Plaza. "But let's exchange contact info."
Ryo arrived at his office at about ten o'clock. After his conversation with Norm, he felt marginally better about the whole Hambler situation. He felt good about Norm, too. Each time they found themselves in each other's company, it seemed as though they moved a little closer toward friendship. He was really hoping that he and Norm could become friends. Although Dee and he had been friends for a long time before their relationship changed, Dee had been up-front from the beginning about his desire for it to turn into something more. Things had been intense with Dee, practically from day one. Ryo had never really had a non-intense gay friend before, and at this point in his life, he felt he needed one. One who wasn't his partner. One that he could just be himself with, without any uncomfortable sexual or emotional energy between them.
He checked his phone messages and his email, scowling at the hated monitor. He knew he had to deal with that today. First things first, however. There were two messages from a reporter from the New York Times. Ryo didn't recognize the guy's name, but it didn't matter because he had no intention of talking to any reporters, if he could possibly avoid it. There was a brief email from the Commissioner thanking him for his report last night. Sure enough, the NYPD Public Relations department wanted to talk to him, too.
After calling PR and giving them a statement, he went downstairs to find and confront Sergeant Pekoe. He wasn't looking forward to it-- he disliked personal conflict with his co-workers, but sometimes it was unavoidable. He certainly couldn't let the incident with the monitor go by unchallenged, and he felt there would be a dramatically reduced chance of physical violence if he handled it by himself when Dee was not around.
He got directions to Sergeant Pekoe's spacious suite of offices on the third floor, and went directly there.
"I need to speak to Sergeant Pekoe," he said to the sleek young man occupying what he took to be a secretary's desk. The man was wearing civilian clothing, which consisted of a nicely-cut dove-grey suit, a black shirt and a light blue silk tie.
"Don't we all, sweet-cheeks, don't we all." The young man only glanced at Ryo briefly and returned his attention to his computer screen.
Ryo waited, thinking the man was going to say something else, but he didn't. Instead he muttered to himself and typed rapidly for about fifteen or twenty seconds. Ryo struggled to keep his temper from rising. "I need to speak to him, NOW," he insisted.
"Oh my. Really?" Pale blue eyes looked at him challengingly, and the lilting voice dripped sarcasm. "Well, pardon me for a moment while I use my special telepathic powers to determine his precise location and demand that he return to his office forthwith." He reached into a glass candy dish full of jelly beans and popped a red one into his mouth without taking his eyes off Ryo.
"So, he's not here?"
The young man rolled his eyes. "Duh."
"When is he coming back?"
"When he's done with whatever he's doing," said the secretary, and heaved a sharp, annoyed sigh before returning his attention to his computer screen. He reminded Ryo vaguely of JJ, although JJ was friendlier and his personal communication skills were slightly more polished.
"I'd like to leave him a message," said Ryo doggedly.
"And that's what email is for, hmm? Now if you don't mind, I've got work to do."
Ryo briefly considered picking up the open water bottle on the man's desk and dumping it all over his keyboard, but rejected that idea on account of it being too petty. What would Dee do in this situation? he asked himself. Dee would probably turn on the charm, and if that didn't work, he'd haul the guy out of his chair by his tie. Ryo couldn't bring himself to do either of those two things. It just wasn't his style. He decided to ignore this unprofessional jerk. Glancing around, he noticed a door to the secretary's right with the name Sergeant Pekoe displayed on it. Four strides took him to the door. He didn't bother to knock, just reached for the doorknob, and found it unlocked. He was almost disappointed because a not-so-small, angry part of him wanted to kick the damn thing down.
"Hey!" exclaimed the secretary. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" He jumped up from behind his desk and hurried over to Ryo, outrage written all over his face.
"Leaving him a message," said Ryo coldly. He walked into Ross's beautifully appointed office and shut the door in the young man's face. It immediately opened, so he slammed it shut and locked it. The secretary shouted and hammered on the door a few times, but Ryo ignored him. He had just spotted his monitor standing on the floor in a corner of the room, and he was far more interested in that. He picked it up and put it on one of Ross's two guest chairs, and then sat down in the other one to wait. He figured it wouldn't be long until the secretary used his 'special telepathic powers' to bring Ross back from wherever he had gone.
Wes nodded at Cully, who slapped the girl again, harder this time. It would have sent her staggering, had Cully not kept hold of her with his other hand. She sobbed some more and Wes waited patiently for her to catch her breath. He had drawn the curtains on the living room window of her dingy little apartment, and turned on the lamps. Her tears glistened in the artificial light.
"I'm gonna ask you again, darling. Why the hell did you give that little born-again freak an unscheduled bag?"
"Baby, I din't," she wept. "I din't, I swear. I'm tellin' the truth!" She struggled feebly, trying to pull her wrist from Cully's iron grip. It was impossible, of course. Cully was a former boxer, and his hands were very strong.
Wes crooked his pinky finger at Cully. The man nodded and promptly broke one of the girl's fingers. She screamed and clutched her hand against her breast. This time, Cully let go.
"You got nine more, Sherry. I want some answers."
Doing eight months for assault had made Wes aware of the pitfalls of doing his own dirty work on those regrettable occasions when violence was called for.
"Baby, w-why would I? You been good to me." Wincing, Sherry paused to pant for a while, her eyes periodically darting in Cully's direction. "I don't wanna see you get sent up again. That time you were gone was real hard on me."
She blinked at him through her tears, trying to look earnest, but only succeeding in looking more terrified. Wes remained unmoved.
"Like shit. There's nothing special between us, Sher. You'd sell me out in a second if there was a big enough payout for you."
"I ain't never sold anyone out!" she yelled, showing some spirit for the first time. Surprised, Wes filed that away for future reference.
"Sherry, you're a bag short, and you can't explain it. No--" Wes held up a hand to forestall her. "Don't give me that crap story again about your brother tossing it in the trash. I've met the kid, and he's not that stupid. Someone gave that bag to Bo Benson and suggested he get it to me through Bikky G. I'd be behind bars right fucking now if the kid hadn't opened the bag ahead of schedule."
"Well, that someone wasn't me!"
"Funny, but the description I got, and the cop sketch I saw, looked quite a lot like you." Wes was bluffing there, but Sherry wouldn't know that.
"Well, I din't have nothing to do with it. Honest!" Sherry looked anxiously from Wes to Cully as the two men exchanged a glance. "I swear, baby!"
Another signal from Wes, and Cully seized Sherry by her good hand. She barely got out more than a squawk before he yanked her against him with his other hand over her mouth. Wes nodded approvingly. Cully was good at his job. Sherry had definitely been getting a little too loud. He watched her struggle ineffectually, her eyes rolling in fear. She tried to close her fingers into a fist, but Cully pried up her ring finger with no difficulty at all. He held that slender finger in his big, calloused hand, ready to snap it at a nod from Wes.
"Sherry, you know I'm neither stoned nor stupid. Someone tried to set me up, and you're involved. Now, here's the thing... I don't think you were acting alone. Someone promised you something. Or... someone threatened you." Wes paused for effect. He was offering her an out. He hoped she would take it. "Now, you'd better start talking, or another finger's gonna go pop. And after that, we move to thumbs. How you gonna put your make-up on if you got no working fingers? How you gonna wash your hair?" Wes could have asked her how she was going to wipe her ass, but he did not believe in being unnecessarily crude. "Come on, darling, it's time to get smart here." He nodded at Cully and the man's hand, wet with Sherry's tears, slid from her trembling mouth so as to allow her to speak.
"Baby, I'm scared!" Her chest rose and fell rapidly.
"I know, Sher. But be more scared of me, 'cause I'm right here, right now, and you got fingers on the line. What's it gonna be?"
Sherry stared at him in an agony of indecision, which made Wes feel impatient. "Three seconds, girl. Count for me, Cully."
"One," grunted the enforcer in his bass voice.
"Wes, they'll hurt Cody and me!"
"Maybe not, if you tell me what's goin' on."
"Two," said Cully.
"All right, all right! It was a couple of cops!"
A feeling of sharp satisfaction welled up in Wes. He had been right. "Not so loud, Sherry. Have a seat. Cully, get her a coke or something."
He watched Sherry totter on her high heels to the nearest chair, and sink down onto it, shaking all over. He looked at her in approval, and was gratified when she gave him a tremulous smile back. "You need an aspirin, darling?"
"Need something stronger than that, baby," she whispered.
The sound of angry voices in the anteroom caused Ryo to jerk awake in his chair. Damn it, had he fallen asleep in Ross Pekoe's office? He rubbed hastily at his eyes and wished he had a cup of coffee to help chase the cobwebs of lingering sleep from his mind. His first thought was that Dee was out there, until he realized that of the three voices he was hearing, the most prominent one was female.
If another member of the staff had come by to have a confrontation with Ross, Ryo was not surprised. He was of the opinion that Ross had a rather heavy-handed management style, and while most of the people under his power would suffer in silence, there was bound to be a certain percentage that would fight back. After a few moments of listening, however, he realized that the owner of the female voice not only appeared to be getting the better of Ross and his secretary, but that there was also something familiar about those sharp and piercing tones.
"You just listen to me you useless turd. I don't know who the fuck you think you're dealing with here. You can take your exalted title 'Supervisor of Staff ' and shove it where it might actually impress someone, even if it's only you. If you don't call that sneaky worm, Detective Randy MacLean, and tell him to get his corrupt-yet-swishy little ass down here right now, you can kiss your job good-bye. I've got enough ugly data on the Commissioner to be able to make him fire you, whether he wants to or not."
Ryo's surprise at hearing his own name caused him to freeze in an attitude of hyper-alertness. 'Corrupt-yet-swishy'? He knew that screechy voice now.... Could that be Siobhan Dunnett, Abernathy's lawyer? Oh, no. This was all he needed.
"Ma'am, I don't believe for one minute that the Commissioner would agree with you--"
Ross' words were cut off by the sound of something smashing, and someone out there emitted a short cry of fright and alarm.
"I believe I made it clear that I am done wasting time on a base underling like you. Make the call and stop boring me with your irrelevant personal opinions, or heads will roll, starting with yours."
Ryo opened the door a crack and peered out. A tall, slender blonde woman in a sharply tailored red suit and black and red stilettos stood with her back to him. Broken glass and jelly beans littered the floor. Sergeant Pekoe stood bravely facing her down, but the skin of his face was chalk white and two pink spots burned feverishly in each cheek. The rude young man in the grey suit cowered behind him. He appeared to be hyperventilating.
Just for a moment, Ryo considered closing the door again and allowing Siobhan to continue savaging Ross and his assistant for just a little longer. After all, Siobhan was doing a much better job of taking their combined arrogance down a peg than Ryo could ever have hoped to achieve, even on a good day and with all his wits about him. But his sense of personal honor would not permit him to leave Ross to deal with her alone. Siobhan was here to see him, and she was going to bully and berate everyone in her path until she finally achieved her objective.
Accordingly, he swung open Ross' door and stepped forward, feeling slivers of glass crunch beneath the soles of his shoes. "Counselor Dunnett," he said softly. "Leave them alone, already. I'm the guy you're looking for."
She lifted her head at the sound of his voice, and turned around, slowly and with a certain amount of dramatic anticipation. She had no doubt executed exactly that move in the courtroom on many an occasion as she got ready to skewer a witness or a member of the opposing legal team. Ryo found himself facing a pair of coldly intelligent grey eyes, large, slanted and heavily made-up, the dominant feature in an attenuated, vulpine face. Her thin lips slowly curved themselves into a smile so wide and so full of sharp white teeth that it almost seemed to sever her pointed jaw from the rest of her face, and Siobhan suddenly lost the small amount of beauty her eyes had originally seemed to confer. It was not a friendly smile. Ryo certainly didn't make the mistake of smiling back.
"Detective MacLean." She eyed him speculatively for a moment, taking in every detail of his clothes and bearing. "So you finally decided to crawl out from under your rock. Is your partner with you?"
"I would prefer to talk to both of you together," she purred, the strident edge to her voice conspicuously-- and probably only temporarily-- absent. "Where might he be?"
"Not here," said Ryo, keeping it as simple as possible. He didn't think there was any point in telling her that it was Dee's day off. This was the kind of person you did not volunteer information to.
Glass crunched behind Siobhan, and she turned her head in time to see Ross' secretary scuttling out of the room, his breath coming in squeaky little sobs. Ross was still there, staring at her in naked hatred. Ryo could see that there was fear on his face as well. He hoped his own face didn't look like that.
"You! Supervisor-whatever. Run upstairs and let the Commissioner know that I'd like to see him when I'm done with MacLean."
Ross drew himself up. "The Commissioner does not--"
"Yes, he certainly will see me. He was indiscreet in Cabo and I've got pictures. But that's only one small part of what I'd like to talk to him about. Go on, now. Scat. I'm sick of talking to you, anyway."
Ross's open mouth shut with a snap, and he turned on his heel and left the room. Not that Siobhan saw that, as she had already turned back to Ryo.
"Detective MacLean, as you know, I represent Lieutenant Michael Abernathy, the innocent man that you and your partner have been so vilely harassing for reasons that have never been clearly or officially stated. I am here today to make sure that you cease and desist from your program of intimidation, on pain of being hit with a civil lawsuit that, I guarantee you, will leave your personal finances in tatters."
"It won't work, you know. You can't save him." Ryo was deeply grateful that he got those two short sentences out in a reasonably steady-sounding voice.
"Oh, can't I? Detective MacLean, you've been spending too much time skulking in shadows and hiding under rocks, and it's made you forget some of the realities of the world we live in. I am the savior of the damned, at least in this life, and that's why I command the rates I do. Of course I can save him."
"Maybe you can save him from a cell in gen pop, but that's about all," Ryo said quickly, expecting to be interrupted again at any moment. "If your reputation is that important to you, maybe you'd better rethink your representation of this--."
"You worthless cesspool of stinking sewage!" The purr was gone and the buzz-saw screech was back. "Don't presume to tell me my business! You'll be counting your food stamps by the time I'm done with you. You and that brat of yours will be living humbly off the charity of others. I'll make sure I leave you drowning in a sea of debt, and your partner, too."
Siobhan ranted in this vein for at least another minute, and Ryo just let her. She had obviously come here to give everyone a good blast, and he didn't think she would leave until she felt satisfied that they were all shaking in their boots. He had a feeling she was enjoying herself on some sick level.
"And just you wait until I get you into a courtroom and start airing all your colorful personal secrets for the world to hear. We'll go into everything that you don't want everyone to know, starting with what kind of lube your partner fucks you with. My reputation alone will make sure that courtroom is packed. If you think there will be only limited media coverage, you'd better think again. I've dug up quite a bit on you, already, Detective. Your family doesn't think highly of you at all, do they? By the time I've skinned you alive in the very public theater of the courtroom, no one else will think highly of you, either. You'll have to leave New York and change your identity just to get work. Because you will not be working for the NYPD anymore, I promise you that."
Behind Siobhan, Diana appeared in the open doorway. "Ryo, darling!" she exclaimed. "How ya holding up, sweetie?"
"Uh, hi Diana," he said with a wan smile.
Siobhan turned around in that same slow way she had done for Ryo. For a moment the two women sized each other up, and the air between them crackled with danger. Ryo had the odd and uncomfortable notion that he was standing next to a powder keg in the middle of an electrical storm.
"When I was coming down the hall," said Diana, "I heard this horrible, loud, screeching sound like a bunch of chimpanzees doing karaoke night in the jungle, so I had no problem finding you guys. Was that you, Counselor? Some pipes you've got there. Too bad they don't have plastic surgery for voices, huh?" Diana gave her a look that was obviously supposed to be sympathetic, but instead came across as slightly menacing.
"You're interrupting us, precious. Get out, and keep on walking."
Diana widened her eyes and tried to look shocked. "Get out? Me? Well, I suppose I could, but not yet. First I need to deliver a message from the Commissioner. He doesn't have time for you today, but he can squeeze you in between 2:40 and three o'clock tomorrow afternoon."
Siobhan rolled her eyes. "Another tiresome underling. Who the hell are you?"
"Diana Spacey, FBI. And just so you know...." Diana strolled into the room in her navy blue Jimmy Choos, her hands casually in the pockets of her white pantsuit. "I play dirty, and I've got the security clearance to get away with it." She was a few inches shorter than Siobhan, and she smirked mischievously as she looked up at her opponent from under her blond bangs.
Siobhan folded her arms, the first defensive gesture she had thus far shown, and looked down her nose at the smaller woman. "And that's supposed to scare me? Go play with the other little girls, honey. But before you run off to the sandbox, be sure and tell the Commissioner that I'll be going public with Cabo later today unless he grows a little common sense in the next five minutes."
"I'm not sure that YOU have time for him today," Diana said mysteriously. "Maybe you ought to check your Blackberry."
Ryo didn't understand the significance of that, but Siobhan obviously did, because she swore and reached into her pocket.
"You'd better not be talking about what I think you're talking about..." she warned ominously, but a moment later, her face registered shock as she looked at her phone. "Gone! Everything's gone." Siobhan stared at Diana, her face contorting in rage. "You bitch! How the hell did you do that?"
"Never mind how," said Diana sweetly. "That's the easy part. The main question here is 'How much?'"
"How much what?" Siobhan asked, looking nervous for the first time.
"How much of your office database can you afford to lose? How much of your research and notes will you have to re-do for those high profile cases you've got coming up this month? How much of your confidential client file information might start turning up in public and private fax machines and email boxes all over the city?" Diana walked in a circle around Siobhan, looking her up and down, still smiling. "And speaking of email, I'm sure your personal correspondence has mostly been discreet and careful. But, like Berkie in Cabo, I bet you've got one or two messages in there that you wouldn't like the world to know about, either. And if not, well... I'm sure we can cobble something together."
"How much is this going to cost me?" demanded Siobhan.
Diana made a noise of disgust. "Cost, shmost," she said. "You lawyers think everyone is as money-grubbing as you are. We're not interested in money."
"Well, what do I have to do to get my database back?"
"Well for starters, you're going to clean up this broken glass," said Diana, poking at a piece of it with the toe of one of her pumps. "Then, when we've got this office looking tidy again, we're going to sit down all civilized and have a nice little girl-to-girl chat."
Siobhan stared at her in disbelief. "I don't clean," she said disdainfully.
"Today you do." Diana snapped her fingers and Lance, the big security guard, walked through the door holding a broom and a dustpan. His eyes danced with amusement as he took in the scene, and he winked at Ryo. Ryo, who had been frozen in place until that moment, suddenly realized that this was his perfect cue to leave.
"Wait up, Lance," he said. "I'll walk with you." He nodded gravely at Diana and Siobhan in turn as he walked past them. "Diana. Counsellor."
"Have a good one, Ryo!" Diana gave him a cheerful wave.
Ryo's phone rang when he got out in the hall. He checked to see who it was, and then canceled the call when he saw it was Dee. He wasn't ready to deal with Dee just yet.
"Some fireworks, huh?" said Lance with a sideways grin.
"Yeah, but not the fun kind," said Ryo shyly.
"Well, you gotta admit, it kinda got fun there toward the end, right?"
"Almost," conceded Ryo. "I wonder if she'll really clean up that broken glass?"
"I'm sure she will." Lance grinned at him again, and gave his arm a nudge. "Come on, cheer up, buddy. I know you went through hell in there, but Diana came through."
"She sure did, didn't she?" Ryo couldn't help wondering if she would have done as much had Siobhan not made the mistake of threatening the Commissioner. He saw Ross waiting for them a short distance down the hall, and his heart sank a little further as he suddenly remembered that his monitor was still sitting on the guest chair back in Ross' office. It looked like he wasn't quite done with confrontations for the day.
"Lance," he said. "I need to talk to Ross. Catch you later, okay?"
"Sure thing." Lance stuck out one of his huge hands and Ryo blushed as he shook it. The feel of those giant fingers wrapping around his palm made tingles race up and down his back. Oh dear.
"Detective." Ross nodded at him, and Ryo could see that the other man was still somewhat shaken. "How are you doing?"
"I've had better days," said Ryo.
"Could you believe the nerve of that colossal bitch? She made Patrick cry."
Ryo smiled ruefully. "She almost made me cry." He was surprised when Ross smiled back. Since Ross had always been cold and unfriendly to him, Ryo considered this a major accomplishment.
"What happened in there after Diana went in? The Commissioner wouldn't give me any details. He just said Diana would take care of it."
"Well, from what I could tell, Diana's people erased Siobhan's client database and remotely wiped her Blackberry," Ryo said. "They're going to be in your office space for a while negotiating what Siobhan needs to do to get her info back and not have any of it fall into the wrong hands."
A look of savage delight crossed Ross' features, and he laughed out loud. "Brilliant!" he exclaimed. "I've always said Berkeley is brilliant."
Ryo looked at him. "I thought it was Diana who did this."
"Oh, her," said Ross dismissively. "She's just the executor of the plan. The Commissioner was the brains behind it, you can be sure of that."
Ryo shrugged. He didn't want to get into a discussion about it. Actually, he didn't want to think about it at all. He was starting to worry about how many people might have heard all the personal things Siobhan had yelled at him in her extremely loud and carrying voice, things about his family and his sexual orientation.
"Well, I just hope she leaves soon," said Ryo. "I'll be happier once I know she's no longer in the building."
Ross grinned nastily. "Well, she might be a little slow about leaving," he said, "since I took the liberty of identifying her car and having it towed. But One Police Plaza will be glad to expense a taxi for her. I'll notify the security desk." He nodded at Ryo and strode away before Ryo could bring up the subject of his monitor.
Damn. Ryo decided to put off the monitor issue until later. What he needed more than anything right then was a cup of coffee. He turned and headed in the direction of the cafeteria.
When he returned to his office twenty minutes later, he made the welcome discovery that his monitor had mysteriously reappeared.
An older black woman with frizzy grey hair and a stunning figure answered the door to Ted's apartment. For a moment, Ryo wondered where he had seen her before, then it came back to him. She was the manager of the band Rockit Fire, and he had questioned her briefly the night that Ja Romeo ran out of a bar in the East Village. "Um, Ramona?"
"Yeah, Detective 'Ryo'. Pretty impressive memory." She really did look impressed.
"Well, you know, er, some people are just more memorable than others," Ryo said with awkward gallantry. He shifted his basket of oranges to the crook of his left arm so that he could shake hands with her.
"Aren't you just the charmer?" she said with a bold grin. "Come on in here and cheer up your pal, Teddy. The boy's pretty excited that you're comin' to visit. He wants a new person to bitch to about last night." She led the way down the short hallway to Ted's miniscule living room/bedroom. Ted lay on clean-looking sheets, wearing sweats and looking as though somebody had made him shave and comb his hair.
"Hey Ted." Ryo greeted him cheerfully. "How's the head?"
"Aches like a sumbitch," said Ted, "but apparently my rock hard skull protected my tender brain enough so that I'm only gonna get three days off work."
"We'll miss you," said Ryo. "I hope you feel better soon so you can enjoy your time off."
"Any word yet on those patrol cops from last night?"
Ryo shook his head. "I presume IA is investigating. They haven't caught up with me, yet, assuming they want to talk to me. Have they talked to you?"
"Yeah, this morning. They didn't give anything up, though. Just asked a whole bunch of questions. Arrogant assholes. You know IA. They kicked Ramona out." Ted's voice rose in indignation. "She had to go walk around this crappy neighborhood for half an hour."
Ryo tried to look sympathetic, although he agreed with IA on that point. Ramona was a civilian, and should not be permitted to be present during an official questioning session. He wondered about the precise nature of the relationship between Ted and Ramona. She had to be at least twenty years older than he was.
That question was answered in the next moment as Ramona addressed Ted as 'Hot Stud-Boy' and offered to make tea for everyone. Ryo's face promptly heated up as he got a discomfiting mental picture of Ted and Ramona naked together.
"So buddy," said Ted, who either hadn't noticed Ryo's fierce pinkness, or didn't want to rib him about it, "Ramona's been telling me all about that guy you're after, Rick Romeo."
"Not Rick Romeo, Gorgeous," she called from the tiny kitchenette. "Ja Romeo or Rick Romero."
"Thanks, Sweet-Pea!" Ted called back, not at all annoyed to be corrected. He seemed really happy to have a woman in his apartment taking care of him, and calling him names like 'Gorgeous' and Hot Stud-Boy'.
"Yeah?" Ryo leaned forward, interested. "Does she by any chance know where he is? Because the guy's gone to ground and we haven't been able to find him."
"She knows he's staying with friends in Harlem," said Ted proudly. "Apparently, it's all dope, blow, and underage girls. The guy's keeping up with the music scene, though, and she's got a phone number for him. A land line." Ted grinned as Ryo's eyes lit up. "I woulda run the address for you, except I'm laid up."
"Give it to me," said Ryo excitedly. He reached for his own phone. He wanted to find out the address and then get a couple of people from their team to stake the place out until he could get a warrant. Could he get a warrant? He would have to talk to the Chief. "Ramona, you're wonderful!"
"That's what I keep telling her," said Ted fondly.
Ryo checked his messages as soon as he got home. Good, Dee had called his home number twice, in addition to the multiple calls he had made to Ryo's cell phone throughout the day. He was pleased that Dee was still trying to get in touch with him, even though he was blatantly not returning his partner's calls. He just didn't want to call Dee, even though the break he had received earlier from Ted and Ramona meant that he ought to. He and Dee had had this conversation many times before: it was bad for a cop to withhold case information from his partner, even if he was mad at him. Ryo knew that was true, just as he knew he had been guilty of doing this periodically during the entire length of his partnership with Dee. He intended to call Dee. He did. But just not now. He would call later when the thought of his partner's face and voice would hopefully not bring back memories of their fight last night in which Dee had been such an insensitive asshole.
There was no particular urgency anyway. Ryo had managed to stick Detective Greenspan and her partner with stakeout duty in Harlem, and the earliest he would have a chance to apply for a warrant would be tomorrow morning. So it wasn't necessary that he inform Dee about any of this right away, and certainly not on his partner's day off. Dee would probably rather not be bothered with case details on his day off, anyway, Ryo told himself virtuously.
It was four o'clock now and he knew he really ought to be at work. However, he was secretly quite relieved that the Chief had sent him home.
"Get some rest, Randy," the Chief had ordered when they met at Amici's for coffee earlier. "You look like death warmed over. Who said you had to get up early and come to work? And now you want to pitch a warrant on your day off tomorrow! Go on, git, or you're gonna be as useless as a baseball glove at a basketball game."
Ryo's plans included a shower, a call to Bikky, and a long nap, in that order. He figured Bikky would go to his basketball practice after school, but he hoped he would succeed in getting his son to come home today. Surely Bikky must be ready to forgive him by now.
As he changed out of his work clothes in the bedroom, he eyed his bed longingly. God, he was weary. He wondered if Dee would get frustrated by the lack of phone contact and come directly to his apartment at some point and wake him up? But then he remembered that Dee wouldn't be able to get in because Bikky still had his keys. The corner of his mouth twitched with satisfaction as he imagined Dee banging unhappily on his door. Would he answer? He didn't know. He gave his head a shake as he realized how petty his thoughts were, and walked to the bathroom.
Deep down, he knew he would probably answer the door.
Bikky had just put a ball through the hoop when he noticed a familiar, tall, dark-haired figure standing outside the court, close to the chain link fence. Dee. Bikky turned and high-fived Kenny under the hoop stand before casting his eyes around the outside of the court to see if Ryo was lurking nearby. He had told Ryo in no uncertain terms that he was not coming home for dinner. He didn't need to go home tonight because he had sneaked home at lunchtime today to change his clothes and grab his basketball shirt, and if everything worked out, he was going to spend one more night at Carol's place. Forty-eight hours from now, he was due to be sleeping in a strange room at a horse ranch in Devon, probably with a couple of hoof prints on his ass. He wanted to spend his remaining hours in Manhattan with Carol, since he was going to be deprived of her company for, like, the rest of the summer.
He was still really pissed at Ryo. He was used to the way Ryo could be stubborn, but this was the first time they had butted heads this bad on something. He was pissed because he didn't feel heard. Ryo knew about his feelings and just plain didn't care.
As soon as he was sure that Dee was alone, he signaled to his teammates and jogged over to him. He observed that Dee did not look happy. "Sup, Dorkhead?" he asked gruffly.
"Aw, don't be like that, Biks. It's not me who cooked up the plan to send you away." Dee took a last puff of his cigarette and tossed it away.
"Whatever," Bikky said sulkily. Yeah, he had to admit that Dee had kind of gone to bat for him on that one, but he could have put a little more effort into it. The bastard had given up too easy. "Look, I gotta get back to practice. Is there something you want to say?" Bikky figured Ryo had probably sent Dee to give him a message, but Dee's next words surprised him.
"Yeah. You've still got my keys, and I need to get 'em back."
"What? But Ryo hasn't made me another set. They're the only keys I've got right now."
"Well, give 'em to me, and I'll go make copies. I'll be back before your practice is over."
Bikky hesitated, his hand instinctively going into his pocket where his keys were. "I don't know if I can trust you. What if you don't come back?"
Dee rolled his eyes and slapped the chin links between them. "Knock it off, brat. You know damn well what Ryo would do to me if I deprived you of your keys. Now hand 'em over."
Bikky grudgingly fished his keys out of his pocket and poked them through the fence toward Dee. Perv-Man was right. Ryo would be all over Dee like a swarm of bees. After all, he'd freaked out good on that chick who wouldn't let him into the building that night that Mr. and Mrs. Humphries went out. "We're done in half an hour, Loser. Make sure you're back here."
Dee snatched the keys and stomped off, muttering. Bikky glared after him. What the hell was gnawing his ass?
Ryo was just putting his blow-dryer away when he heard the knock. What, already? he thought. He wrapped a towel around his waist, then walked to the door in the kitchen and spoke through it. "Dee, I don't want to see you right now."
"Um... Sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not Dee," replied the person behind the door. "It's me, Norm."
"Norm?" Ryo couldn't have been more surprised. He didn't know what he should do. Obviously he couldn't open the door wearing only a towel. Furthermore, a treacherous part of him was slightly disappointed that it wasn't Dee.
"Uh, yeah. Sorry to drop by unannounced like this... I was just in the neighborhood, and well.... but hey, if this is a bad time..."
"Norm, I just got out of the shower," Ryo said, coming to a quick decision. "Let me put some clothes on, and I'll be right with you."
~ end of chapter 15~
Additional author's notes: So, is this a sort of a cliffie? There are all sorts of things to look forward to in the next chapter, including a massive lemon! I hope you'll come back to read it.