I had a lot of formatting issues with this chapter, and it took me about an hour to sort it all out line by line. If you spot any problems with words that appear to be stuck together or weird paragraph spaces in the middle of sentences, please let me know. I don't like all the huge spaces I see, but I don't know what to do about them, and it's like, 4:00 a.m., so I really have to give up on it and go to bed. The text looks normal inside my 'Edit Journal Entries' window. None of the adjustments I've made in my LJ cut have worked. It just reverts.
In other news, I have become somewhat addicted to a brain-training game called Word Bubbles at Luminosity. Can anyone tell me how to ban that site from my computer so that I stop wasting time on it? Although... I have to say that my typing speed has gotten measurably better as a result of that game. I'm also partial to Raindrops, another game. Have any of you ever tried these games?
Anyway, enough of me and my addictions. As if chocolate wasn't enough! (But actually, another good point about brain training games is that you absolutely can't eat anything while you are playing them)
Here's the chapter! Thanks for waiting.
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. Both stories take place just after FAKE Volume 7 ends.
Disclaimer: Dee, Ryo, Bikky, and the Chief are
characters that Sanami Matoh created for her FAKE series. Detectives Greenspan and Massey are mine, and so is Brad the rookie, Sergeant Crossey, Officer Banks, and all the people at the apartment. I make no money from writing these works of fanfiction.
Rating: Not really worksafe, since there is some brief sexual activity. WARNING: There is action in this chapter, and violence.
Author's notes: Detective Greenspan returns! Also, just a reminded that in my Fake-verse, the Chief is still a lieutenant, and has not yet become station commander. This was referred to in Chapter 15 of the prequel to this story, FFYT: A New Day.
Thank you to the_ladyfeather, tripple_p and shelley6441 for being such awesome betas! I feel so lucky to have you.
So far in Justice: Ryo and Dee are trying to get closer to bringing down a corrupt officer in Internal Affairs, Lieutenant Mike Abernathy. They haven't so far been able to establish sufficient grounds to apply for a warrant to search Abernathy's apartment. They have been following various leads, one of whom is Ja Romeo, AKA Rick Romero. Rick is reputed to be working with Abernathy and can tie him to illegal gang activity. Rick escaped Dee and Ryo once before but now they have a warrant for an apartment where Rick is staying.
Justice, Chapter 17: A Ghost of a Chance
Ryo exited the bathroom with a towel around his waist for the second time that afternoon. "It's all yours," he informed Dee, pretending not to notice the way Dee was looking him up and down. He honestly couldn't understand Dee's perpetually predictable reaction to the sight of his naked body. Hadn't Dee seen it a hundred times already? It seemed as though his partner's default setting was 'horny'. When Ryo was in the mood to allow his mind to wander in sexual directions, such as when he didn't have deadlines at work or a mountain of laundry to do at home, he found Dee equally sexy, clothed or nude. Dee looked very good in clothes, and had an excellent sense of style. He was even a whiz with an iron and an ironing board, although you wouldn't know it on those mornings when he overslept and threw on any old thing just to get to work on time. But Ryo just didn't get Dee's fixation on the sight of his nude body, especially post-sex, when one would think that the man was at least temporarily sated.
Ryo shut the bedroom door firmly to discourage Dee from coming in to bother him, and once more dressed in his cargo shorts and tee-shirt. After that, it was time to deal with Bikky. First, he called the boy's cell phone. As usual, there was no answer. He was almost certain that Bikky was ignoring his calls on purpose and he found that very aggravating indeed. He knew Bikky didn't want to go to the horse ranch, but as far as he was concerned, Bikky didn't have a choice. He was the child and Ryo was the parent, and Bikky's safety was more important than either of their personal preferences. Ryo didn't bother to leave yet another message. Instead, he called Carol. He was pretty sure she wouldn't lie to him about Bikky's whereabouts.
From Carol he learned that they were both at her place and Bikky was in the shower. "Carol, please tell him to give me a call the minute he gets out of the bathroom, because I'm not above coming over to your place and hauling him out of there by one ear. I'm sick of this."
"Uh, sure, Ryo. I'll let him know."
"Thank you. Now, I'd like to speak to Elina to apologize for the way Bikky has been practically living at your house for the last few days. Is she there?"
"No, sorry, she's working. And Wayne went out to pick up some dinner for us."
"All right then, I'll give her a call later. Please tell Bikky that he won't be eating dinner with you. Dee and I will be coming to get him in about half an hour. He needs to start his packing." There was a short silence, then Ryo heard Carol sigh.
"Does he have to go, Ryo?" she asked in a small voice. "I'm going to miss him a lot."
Ryo hesitated. He hadn't thought about Bikky's imminent absence from Carol's perspective. He had been thinking only about Lieutenant Abernathy's veiled threats and his attempt to set Bikky up with a Doritos bag full of heroin. He didn't know what 'the bad lieutenant' would try next, and it made him worry. "I'll miss him, too, Carol," he said, his voice gentler. "But I'm scared for him. I really need to send him somewhere safe."
"I understand," said Carol sadly. "I'm scared, too."
Ryo thought about what she said after he hung up. Did she mean she was scared for Bikky or could she have meant that she was scared for herself?
Bikky climbed into the back seat of Dee's car and slammed the door. "I hope you're happy," he snarled at Ryo. "We were gonna have KFC."
"You'll probably eat fried chicken regularly at the ranch," Ryo informed him calmly. "Aunt Elena tells me that her friend Karen is a great cook."
"Whatever." Bikky slouched low in the seat and glared at the back of Ryo's head. Goddammit, he was pissed off. All day he had been hoping to get one more night at Carol's house. According to Ryo, tomorrow was his last day of school, and he was supposed to be sent home loaded down with a ton of extra schoolwork, since he would be missing out on the last week and a half of school. It was obvious he was expected to do all that homework at the ranch, probably in between his hours of slave labor as a horseshit shoveler. Everything about his life just totally sucked right now.
"Oh, I almost forgot." Ryo dug around in the pocket of his shorts and then turned around in his seat to hand Bikky a set of keys. "MTA Lost and Found called today and said that someone had dropped your keys off at one of the Bronx stations a couple of days ago. They delivered them to the Manhattan office this morning, so I picked them up for you."
Bikky pocketed his keys without saying thanks. He was glad to get his mini Swiss Army knife key fob back, but he didn't know why Ryo was bothering to give him back his keys when they all knew that first thing Saturday morning he was getting bundled off to My-Little-Pony Land. He sighed loudly, not caring whether they heard him or not. There was no point in even talking to Ryo anymore. His foster-dad was being as stubborn as only he could be about this crappy ranch idea. Bikky had tried every tactic that he could think of, but nothing would budge Ryo. He was surprised when they pulled into a Burger King Drive-Thru, but didn't say anything. He wasn't going to get his hopes up. He wouldn't put it past Ryo and Dee to take him to Burger King right at freakin' dinner time because they needed to pick something up from a witness, or some kind of shit like that, before dragging him home for something healthy but gross, like stir-fried tofu and vegetables. He glowered and hunched even lower in his seat. He didn't perk up until he heard Ryo actually speaking across Dee into the microphone and ordering food.
"Hey, Bik, whaddaya want?" Dee looked back at him from the driver's seat.
"Triple Whopper with cheese, large fries and Coke," Bikky said quickly, before they changed their minds on him.
"No Coke," said Ryo. "He'll have a strawberry shake instead."
"I don't care. You're not having Coke because it'll keep you awake and it has no nutritional value. At least a shake is made with milk."
"Aw, jeez! Whatever!" Bikky felt he had to protest even though he didn't care that much. He liked milkshakes as much as he liked Coke.
Dee tried to order a triple Whopper too, but Ryo did that weird telepathic thing of his, and next thing they knew, Dee was changing his order to some kind of healthy grilled chicken sandwich and low-fat chocolate milk.
Bikky had to admit that the car smelled heavenly for the rest of the short ride home. Okay maybe not every part of his life sucked. Just ninety percent of it.
The sound of a car backfiring on the street below, followed by a shouted curse and then a whoop from further away dragged Dee reluctantly into full alertness. He hadn't really been sleeping anyhow. He had too much on his mind, most of it to do with Ryo. A hell of a lot had happened in the last 24 hours. Following the murder of John Hambler during their attempt to bring down that bastard Abernathy in a sting, Dee had lost his cool with Ryo and pissed him off by talking about his kill rate. Then he had stomped out of their office and gone home by himself. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
He had subsequently spent the entire first day of his two days off trying his damnedest to undo the damage and get back into Ryo's good graces. It took sneakiness and subterfuge to achieve face time with Ryo, but when he finally caught up to him, what did he find? His baby drinking tea with some slimeball whose objective was clearly to get Ryo to go to bed with him! Well, okay, so Ryo had said no, but Dee was still worried about it. That whole scene, Ryo's body language, the startled expression of guilt he had seen flash across his partner's face, the fact that Ryo had been alone in his apartment with a man who was evidently not making any bones about being attracted to him: all of it spoke to some kind of already established connection. A secret connection, since Ryo had not said a word to him about being friendly with this fuckhead. What was his name again? Norman Gray. Norm, Ryo had called him. Dee mentally renamed him 'Worm'.
The fact that Ryo seemed not exactly blind to Norm's physical attributes was unnerving, as well. Dee had to admit that ol' Wormy was a fairly good-looking guy. Not as hot as he was of course, and not in Ryo's class, either. But a contender. What was more telling was that he was a very different kind of man from Dee. All diffident, mild-mannered and prone to blushing. Pretty much everything that Dee was not.
For the first time, Dee considered the possibility that he might not actually be Ryo's type. Maybe he's only with me because I was there. And I pushed until he gave in.
He got out of bed as quietly as possible and padded to the bathroom, where he looked at his face critically in the mirror. As he had suspected, he looked haggard and stubbly. Dee morosely turned on the taps, reflecting that his face had always been his fortune, for whatever the hell that was actually worth. Not a hell of a lot, as he had found out. As a child, he was cute, and people responded well to him, provided he could keep his 'little angel' act up. Which he couldn't. Hence being almost adopted and then rejected by no fewer than three prospective sets of parents. In the end, it had been only Mother who seemed able to deal with his fucked-up-ness in any kind of long-term way.
But short-term seemed to work just fine for him in other ways. As a teen, he was popular with chicks, even girls who were older than him. When he was seventeen, he discovered that he had a thing for boys as well as girls, and suddenly realized that his face and body had appeal for a whole new market. He enjoyed being good-looking because it meant he got laid with regularity throughout his late teens and early to mid twenties, with brief interruptions here and there where he tried to have a monogamous relationship. But whenever he didn't have a steady partner, he had absolutely no trouble hooking up with someone hot. Of course, all that had ended when he met Ryo MacLean. He still couldn't believe that he had waited two and a half, almost three years for that man. That was a dry spell that Dee was pretty sure that not even the likes of Drake or Ted (whose standards were considerably lower than his own) had ever gone through.
But Ryo was worth it. He had wanted Ryo more than he ever wanted anything in his life. He still did. He scowled at the reflection he saw before him in Ryo's bathroom mirror, and angrily splashed cool water on his face. Before Ryo came along, the years had brought a lot of people who had claimed to be his friends, his lovers, his teammates. Most of them had let him down, one way or the other. They wanted him for something that they imagined they saw in him, or maybe something they figured he could do for them. They fell for that fake someone that he wasn't, and when they got a glimpse of the real him, they stepped back. Except God, who loved him no matter what, and Penguin, who loved him in much the same way as God did, only with more yelling. And Ryo....So far.
He cranked the tap into the off-position before snatching up the hand towel that hung next to the sink. Oh God, Ryo. What was he going to do if Ryo left him, too? He didn't want to think about that. He couldn't. A wave of pain rose up in him at the very thought, and he clutched the towel against his forehead. His own breathing seemed loud to his ears, and he almost couldn't bear to be in his own skin. God, he prayed. Jesus, Lord. Please help me.
When he dragged the towel down over his face and under his chin to catch the rivulets of water that were running down his throat and chest, the towel caught for a moment on the silver cross that he wore on a chain around his neck. It seemed to scratch against his skin, as if it were trying to catch his attention.
A few moments later, he felt a sense of calm steal over him. God had answered his prayer, like He always did, and now he knew what he had to do. Beating Norm senseless was out of the question, which meant his only other option was to turn it all over to God. God knew what was best for everybody in this situation, and would help him find a solution. Or a way to live with whatever was going to happen.
A scarce ten minutes later, Dee was unlocking the door of his car, and tossing his jacket into the back seat. He had left Ryo in a deep slumber, not sure if his kiss goodbye had even registered with his exhausted lover. Oh well, if Ryo woke up in the night and wondered where he was, the note he had left taped to the bedside lamp would answer his question for him. He might as well let Ryo and the brat have breakfast together without him there to distract them. Maybe they could sort out their differences before Bik's departure.
Dee let the car warm up for a minute or two, his thoughts on his destination, and the potential routes he could take to get there. His faith had taught him that he could call upon God at anytime, anywhere, but there were times when he just felt better in a church. Or better yet, a cathedral. Old wood, soaring ceilings and stained glass, that was what he needed right now. The holiness of it, the stored energy, built up over many decades of prayers being offered up and answered would help to calm him. Although he knew he could have poured out his heart in prayer just as easily in Ryo's bathroom, tonight, something was calling him back to his home cathedral in the old, original neighborhood of the orphanage.
He walked into the nave of Our Lady of Solace, and stood for a moment, getting the lay of the land. Up at the front, within the chancel, he could hear Father Lee scolding the choir for being unacceptably flat on their last rendition of the Mass of Creation, and ordering them to start all over again. This place always had late night choir practice from 10:00 to 11:00 p.m., right after the late service ended. Stragglers from the service were welcome to stay and pray, if they didn't mind the amateur caterwaulings of the choir. Dee knew that the bunch of losers Father Lee was working on were never going to be a real singing choir. Heck, half of them had just come upstairs from the Thursday night AA meeting that was held in the basement. But it was Father Lee's way of keeping them from the temptation of the bars and providing them with a wholesome way to top off the night. Dee looked around to take note of any other late-night solitary head-cases, like himself. There was a middle-aged man in expensive clothes slumped drunkenly over a pew a few rows in front of him, and a giggling young couple one row down and way over to the left. The only other person was a black haired woman in an enormous shaggy, pink sweater, kneeling right up near the front. She paused in her prayers to blow her nose.
After genuflecting in the aisle and crossing himself, Dee settled into a pew near the back, not far from one of the huge carved pillars. He inhaled the familiar scent of this place: the candle wax, a whiff of musty old prayer books, the lingering musk of incense. Reaching down, he lowered the padded kneeler bar, and got onto his knees. With his hands clasped together on the backrest of the pew in front of him, Dee bent his head and closed his eyes. His lips moved as he recited the Lord's Prayer under his breath, not once but three times. It was his personal preference to start that way. Then he moved on through the prayers of his childhood. Not all of them, of course, because there were many that he disagreed with. But he recited Hail Mary, the Anima Christi, the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and the second half of the Prayer to Saint Joseph, before finally settling down to talk to God about his personal problems. It took him almost an hour, but he definitely felt better as he went on.
He only returned to full awareness of his surroundings when he realized that the choir had stopped singing and in fact, had mostly dispersed. There were hardly any people left in the church now, save for Father Lee, a pair of choir singers who were lingering in the vestry, and the sad woman in the pink sweater, who had been joined by a tall, powerful-looking man who knelt beside her. There was something oddly familiar about him, but if Dee knew him, he couldn't recognize him from behind. The drunken man and the young couple had gone, and Dee hadn't even noticed them go. He looked at his watch and noted that it was almost twenty after eleven. He felt he should probably get going.
When he eased up from his knees, he stood there for few moments stamping his feet softly to let the blood start flowing properly into his legs again. It had been a few months since the last time he had knelt this long. He moved to get out from his row, but hesitated when he saw that the tall man who had been with the woman at the front was now coming up the aisle toward him. He decided to wait until the man had passed, because he was getting an odd vibe from him. There was also something strange happening with the light, or lack of it, in the church. Father Lee must have turned the lamps down, or something. But the strange thing was that what was left of the light seemed to be somehow moving with this dude, or... was it shining right through him? What the fuck? The pinpricks of the votive lights on the candle stand were twinkling all over the guy's chest, but the candle stand was directly behind him. Dee rubbed at his eyes. Maybe his legendary 20-20 eyesight was finally starting to go. The big man continued moving and Dee watched him with a growing sense of alarm. He knew that face, but it couldn't be. It couldn't be. That was Jackhammer's face, but Jackhammer was dead. The last time Dee had seen that face, there had been a big hole in the forehead where the bullet that had entered the back of his head had blown out the front. In that moment, he understood that he was looking at a dead man and the fine hairs stood up on his arms and the back of his neck. He stared, unable to move, absolutely terrified, with his heart thumping against his ribs. He couldn't even think coherently enough to pray for protection. Instinctively, however, he felt that nothing could harm him here, at least not a ghost. He was in God's house. And so was the ghost of John Hambler, if that was indeed what he was seeing and he wasn't fast asleep in his bed at home having a totally fucking freaky dream.
The apparition moved past him without incident, and was lost in the gloom of the vestry. Dee listened hard for the sound of the door opening and closing, but didn't hear anything. He realized that he hadn't really expected to. He sat back down again, his legs trembling, wondering if what he thought he had seen had really happened or not. It could have just been a guy who looked like Hambler. And if the light was playing tricks on his eyes, maybe he really did need to make an appointment with the eye doctor. He had almost managed to convince himself that this was the case, when he realized that the woman in the pink sweater-thing was now coming up the same aisle that the 'ghost' had. Holy crap, if it wasn't Hambler's girlfriend, Maria. Her eyes were almost swollen shut from crying and she looked ten years older, but it was definitely her. Here in this church on this night! Either he had just had a supernatural experience or John Hambler had a see-through twin brother that no one knew about. Maria must have misunderstood the expression on his face, because she stopped when she recognized him, and looked taken aback. Then she spat at him.
"Do you feel guilty that you got a good man killed? You should, you monster. Well, go ahead and pray and see what good it does you! You cops are all the same. You have no souls to save."
Dee wanted to speak to her, to tell her what he had seen, but he couldn't. It was all too crazy. Even if she believed in ghosts, she probably wouldn't want to hear it from him, anyhow.
She made a sound of disgust and swept past him. "God might forgive you, but I never will. Never! You and your friend, you have ruined my life."
When he heard the door clang shut behind her, he bowed his head, his eyes prickling. He and Ryo still had a chance. As long as they were both alive, there would always be some way for them to work things out. But Maria was alone with her grief and her continuing love. Her lover was dead, a ghost who could never again hold her and keep her warm. Sighing deeply he wiped his eyes and stood up. Ryo, love, I'm going to treasure each day that I have with you, he thought. And no way am I gonna sit back and do sweet fuck-all while some douchebag tries to take you away from me, either.
Detective Tina Greenspan rolled over in bed with a groan when she heard her alarm clock go off. Wait a second, no, that was the cell phone Ruth had lent her. She scrabbled at her sleep mask and reached down to snatch the phone off the floor where it had fallen during the night. What time was it anyway? The phone's display told her it was barely six a.m.! It also let her know that this was her partner calling her.
"Hello, Ruth?" She cleared her throat because her voice sounded sleep-roughened.
"Tea, we got the warrant. We're goin' in at seven sharp."
"What? But I'll never make it there in time on the train."
"Don't worry about it, girl. I'm with Crossey and Banks. We're comin' to get you. Be outside your building in twenty minutes, okay? We'll get coffee for you, and doughnuts or something."
"Twenty minutes?" Tina's eyes jumped from her closet door to the bathroom door in the hall. How on earth was she going to have a shower, do her hair and get her make-up on in only twenty minutes?
"That's right. Get a move-on. And Tea?"
"Um, yes?" Tina was already halfway to the bathroom.
"Wear sneakers for this, hon. No sandals. Nothing cute."
"Of course, Ruth!" Tina didn't bother to filter the indignant note out of her voice. "I've been on raids before."
"I know you have, but you're probably none too awake right now." Ruth chuckled. "I know I'm not. See you soon."
Twenty-four minutes later, her damp wavy hair in a ponytail, Tina walked briskly toward the idling cruiser, wearing a tee-shirt with her bullet-proof vest over it, black jeans, the requested sneakers, and a pair of large, dark sunglasses to hide the bags under her eyes. She and Ruth had been on stakeout until almost midnight last night before a couple of night-shift guys from the 27th had come to relieve them. She hadn't even gotten home to her apartment in Queens until close to one a.m! Sometimes she wondered why she had chosen this line of work. It was hell on the beauty sleep and the social life.
Berkeley had been really busy lately, too. He had even asked her not to call him for a couple of days. She suspected that it might possibly have something to do with that blonde FBI agent who was in town on special business. She hadn't been properly introduced to her, but they had stared daggers at each other a couple of times. Tina didn't like the proprietorial way that woman looked at Berkeley. She was sure Miss FBI wanted him for herself. Well, she wasn't going to get him, and that was final. Tina wondered when she and Berkeley would be able to get together again. The man was a superb lover, the only man she had ever slept with who could make her come in the missionary position just from being penetrated. It wasn't even necessary that she ask him to use his hand to help her attain an orgasm. She sighed as she realized that her nipples were as hard as two pebbles inside her heavy vest just from thinking about him. What a man.
"Sweet dreams last night, Tea?"
"Uh, yes, always!" Tina responded brightly, glad of her sunglasses, and hoping her partner hadn't somehow picked up on her lustful thoughts.
Sergeant Crossey nodded at her and spoke into the car radio. "We got her and we're moving, over."
A grumpy-sounding male voice came back. It sounded like Lieutenant Smith from the 27th Precinct. "What's your E.T.A.? Over."
"Six-forty, sir. Over."
"Roger that. Smith out."
Tina had just burned her mouth on some scalding coffee when her cell phone rang. She handed the coffee back to Ruth, and quickly wiggled her phone out of the front pocket of her jeans, where it was bumping against her third-favorite lipstick. It was Lieutenant Smith.
"Detective Greenspan here," she said. "Go ahead, sir."
The man's familiar gravelly voice filled her ear. "Detective, a couple of the other members of the team are having some misgivings about including you on this raid. If we do indeed find Mr. Romero inside that apartment, Lieutenant Abernathy will get wind of it very soon. There's some concern that he might stop trusting you if you're seen to be working too closely with the 27th precinct."
For a moment, Detective Greenspan was speechless. She had been dragged out of bed at the crack of dawn, forced to dress in her most unflattering casual clothes, not been given enough time to go through her usual skin care routine, and now they were telling her she had to sit this one out? Well, she wasn't having that!
"Sir, with all due respect, I disagree with that assessment. Lieutenant Abernathy is well aware that I am the lead detective on the Calvetti murder. The MacLean boy already told us during questioning that Mr. Romero was an acquaintance of the deceased, and I think--"
"Detective, no one is questioning your competence here. This is about your unique connection to Abernathy. We don't wanna jeopardize that, and we're in no way short of personnel for this raid. Your presence is not strictly necessary on this one. You could be just as effective behind the scenes."
"Lieutenant Smith, has anyone asked Commissioner Rose? If the Commissioner wants me to sit this one out, then I will. Otherwise, I feel that it's important for me to take part today."
"Okay, I'll see if I can get him on the phone," growled Lieutenant Smith.
Before he could hang up, Tina spoke again. "Sir, please ask him to call me directly, if you would," she said in her most assertive voice. Damn that Berkeley. He had been ignoring her for days. Hopefully she could use this situation to make him pay attention to her.
"I'll probably just get his voice mail, so let's not get ahead of ourselves, Detective Greenspan," said the Lieutenant gruffly, and hung up.
Tina raised her eyes to see Ruth shaking her head at her. "Takin' a chance there, girl."
Tina blushed. "I know." She was taking a chance. If Berkeley indicated to that abrasive Lieutenant Smith that he felt surprise at her request, or that he had no intention of stooping to call her back, it would be very embarrassing indeed. It would be a clear message from Berkeley that he was calling the shots, all of them, not her. But she had to do something. Maybe it was just her imagination, but it felt as though he were starting to slip away from her. That was the last thing she wanted. She really needed to consolidate her hold on him before too much more time had passed.
The car was halfway across the Queensboro Bridge when her phone rang again. She couldn't hide her excitement when she saw who it was. Nonetheless, she managed to answer the call in her usual professional way. "Detective Greenspan," she said, one hand cupped over her other ear. The traffic on the bridge was pretty noisy.
"Good morning, my dear. I understand you're on your way to a raid."
"Commissioner Rose, how good of you to call," she said, hoping that the two uniforms in the front seat had heard her and were aware of to whom she was talking. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. But Lieutenant Smith seems to think I shouldn't take part in case Lieutenant Abernathy is offended by my connections to the 27th. I tried to explain to him that our cases have a legitimate overlap."
"Yes, to give the man his due, he did mention that. Has Lieutenant Abernathy contacted you in the past day or two?"
"No, he hasn't. Not once since the bugs were installed on my two phones. That's why I don't care at this point whether he's upset that I'm working with the 27th or not. It might bring him out of the woodwork."
"My thoughts exactly, Detective. Kindly proceed with your original plan. I look forward to reading your report later."
"Thank you, sir. Have a good day." Tina waited a moment for him to say something nice to her, like perhaps an exhortation to stay safe today, but all she heard was silence as he disconnected. Oh well, at least her partner was smiling at her from the opposite side of the cruiser's back seat.
"Your little gamble seems to have paid off," Ruth said softly, though her brows were raised. Tina gathered that Ruth had not expected for one minute that the Commissioner would call her himself. Her partner gazed at her shrewdly for a moment, looking like she wanted to say more, but holding off, most likely because of the presence of the two men in the front seat.
When Officer Banks glanced over his shoulder and asked if there were any doughnut holes left, Tina was only too glad to hand him the bag with a teasing smile. "I ate all the good ones, Banksy," she informed him, and he laughed louder than the joke warranted, obviously happy to be getting some attention from her. Yes, even at six-thirty a.m. with minimal make-up and her large breasts uncomfortably confined in a bullet proof vest, she was still a very good-looking woman. Hopefully Berkeley remembered that, too.
Berkeley snapped his phone closed and placed it back on his bedside table before glancing down at the man between his legs. "Ross, my pet, did I tell you to stop sucking?"
Ross looked back at him levelly before running his tongue up the side of Berkeley's impressive erection. "I wanted to make sure you could speak on the phone without giving yourself away," he said. Of course, what he really wanted to say was, 'Who the hell is this Detective Greenspan person to you?' but those words, naturally, did not leave his mouth.
"Ross, I never give myself away, unless of course, a beautiful man such as yourself asks me very, very nicely. Now, please resume that excellent job you were doing before the telephone so rudely interrupted us."
"Yes, sir!" said Ross, and gave Berkeley a sardonic salute before bending his head and opening his mouth wide. Enjoy your raid, Detective Greenspan, he thought. I wonder if you have any idea what he's up to right now.
Stifling a yawn, Ryo glanced around the parking area outside the 23rd precinct, and wished he had worn sunglasses today. The sun was already strong. He had been up since 5:00 a.m. because of the necessity of going to pitch a warrant at 6:00 a.m. The judge had awarded the warrant based on written testimony by Detectives Greenspan and Massey that a large number of people had been observed going in and out of the address Ramona had given them for short visits. This meant that there was some selling going on, most likely of illegal substances. Additionally, a very young and possibly intoxicated girl had been seen entering the apartment building at two a.m., and hadn't come back out. There had been supporting corroboration from Sheldon and his latest protege, who had been on stakeout since 11:30 p.m. the night before. Ryo didn't care about the drugs, nor was he overly concerned about the girl. They were the responsibility of Narcotics and Juvie, respectively. No, his primary interest in this raid was the intelligence that Ja Romeo had entered the apartment at twenty minutes after midnight, and, like the girl, had not come back out. He was looking forward to finally sitting across from that man at a questioning table.
The Chief was there in his size-large vest, explaining to the assembled crew that they were lucky that this building was equipped with cameras. Ryo intended to make sure that one member of the team, perhaps one of the trainees from the 23rd, would be assigned to confiscating the security tapes before anything could happen to make them 'disappear.' There was no way of knowing whether the building manager was friendly with the residents of the apartment or not.
"Probable cause is drugs," the Chief was saying. "There's at least one minor in the apartment. You can be sure the people inside are armed, so make sure you go in safeties off."
And don't accidentally shoot any of your team-members, Ryo added, but only in his thoughts. He had never seen quite so many people assembled for a raid before. He hoped it was a big apartment, otherwise there would be no room to move once they all piled in there. Locking his jaw against another yawn, he wondered if Dee was getting any sleep this morning. He had been a little surprised to find that Dee had disappeared in the night, but he expected to see him later today. He was more disappointed that he hadn't been able to have breakfast with Bikky. All he could do was to leave out a box of cereal with a bowl and a spoon, and a few bills for lunch money and hope that his son wouldn't hold it against him.
As if summoned by Ryo's thoughts, Dee appeared, jogging between parked cruisers. He nodded at Ryo, and Ryo nodded back.
"Laytner, what the hell are you doing here on your day off?" growled the Chief, without bothering to unclamp his teeth from his cigar.
"What of it, Chief?" Dee squared up to him.
"Look, it's bad enough MacLean's here on his damn day off, but he's the guy that managed to sell Judge Harper on the warrant at the crack of dawn this morning, so I'd say he's got a right to be here. YOU don't, and we're already overstaffed for this op."
"Chief, I got the best possible reason to be here," Dee insisted. "Your probable cause is drugs, right? Well, where there's drugs, there's guns, and there ain't no way in hell I'm letting my partner go into a potentially hostile situation without me to back him up."
A peal of feminine laughter with a faint note of derision in it rang out, and Dee turned his head to see Detective Greenspan standing there.
"What are we, Detective?" she asked, indicating the group of plainclothed and uniformed police offers standing around them. "Chopped liver?"
"We're all here to back up each other, dude," said an earnest-looking, ponytailed guy Dee didn't recognize. He looked all of 25 years old and had rookie written all over him.
Dee looked over the bunch with a jaundiced eye. "What the hell is this, 'train the rookies' day? You, Ponytail, how many drug raids you been on?"
The kid flushed and hesitated before saying, "Well, this is my second one..."
"How about you, Tina, 'Miss Gold Shield for Six Whole Months'?" Dee pointed his finger at her. "How many, huh?"
"I don't see how that is any of your business, Detective Laytner. I don't have to impress--"
"QUIET!" roared the Chief, snatching his cigar out of his mouth. "We got a deadline here, and no one wants to listen to you idiots bicker. Laytner, you're lucky you showed up in a vest, or you'd have been waiting in the van. Go on, back up MacLean if you feel you have to. But you are not getting paid for this, capiche?"
"Capiche, Chief. Thanks." Dee followed Ryo to one of the unmarked vans they were going to use to transport the team the short distance to the address Ramona had given them. Just as Ryo was about to climb in, Detective Greenspan bumped past him, calling out "Ladies first!" The triumphant little smirk she gave Dee told him that she had done it on purpose.
"Come on, partner, let's take the next van," Dee said, while wrinkling his nose and sniffing conspicuously. "This one stinks of self-righteous homophobe."
"Hey!" protested Detective Massey. "That's uncalled for."
Dee ignored her and pulled Ryo toward the second van. Unfortunately when they got there, there was only one seat left free.
"Yo," snapped Dee. "Ponytail. Out." The young man stared at him, his mouth dropping open. "What do you mean, 'Out'? And my name is not Ponytail, it's Brad."
"Nice to meet you, Brad. Do me a favor and give me your seat. I don't wanna ride with that bitch in the shades."
Brad looked intrigued, but started to climb out of his seat. "Why not?"
"She thinks the whole damn world should be heterosexual, and anyone who isn't is a source of gay cooties."
"Oh... is that right?" Brad put a hand to his mouth and gazed up at Dee with interest. There was a new lilt in his voice that hadn't been there earlier. "Well, I'm afraid she isn't going to like me very much, then."
"Does she know about you?" Dee stood up a little straighter and favored the guy with a slow grin.
"No, I don't think so. We just met today." Brad smiled up at Dee.
Ryo's lips tightened imperceptibly, and he got into the van.
"Well, just act like you're hot for her, and she'll know you're a 'real' man," Dee said. "Thanks, buddy, I owe you one." He shook hands with Brad before climbing in after Ryo.
Ryo turned his head to look at Dee. "Maybe we should make more of an effort to get along with Detective Greenspan," he said.
Dee rolled his eyes. "Maybe SHE should make more of an effort to be less of a twat."
"Hey!" Eliza kicked his seat from behind. "As the owner of a twat, I resent that word being used to describe Detective Greenspan."
"Sorry, toots. How about 'less of a shallow, empty-headed bitch from Ditztown'?"
"Laytner, shut your trap and get your mind on the goddamn job," snapped the Chief from the front passenger seat. He turned to the man at the wheel. "Take us out, Sarge. We got seven minutes to get in position."
Ryo insisted on taking point, and Dee got a look as coldly furious as a snowstorm in Siberia when he tried to talk him out of it. He subsided, grumbling, and took a position directly behind Ryo and slightly to his right. He noticed that Detectives Greenspan and Massey as well as Brad the rookie and the Narcotics guys from the 23rd all seemed happy to settle in behind them.
First, Ryo cautiously turned the door handle of the apartment door, on the off-chance that it might be unlocked. It wasn't. A dog started barking from somewhere within. Ryo turned and caught the Chief's eye. Then he stepped back as the Chief nodded to the two burly guys from the 23rd who were holding the battering ram.
"Wait a second, shouldn't we knock first?" whispered Detective Greenspan.
Dee heard her partner shush her. Obviously no one had told her that Ryo had gotten them a no-knock warrant. There must have been reinforcing plates in the door and a number of deadbolts, because it took at least seven good bangs before the door splintered off its hinges and sagged inward.
Ryo was through the door instantly, shouting "POLICE! NYPD!" Fortunately, they were not met by gunfire. The next few minutes were all hollering, and pandemonium. A skinny black dude cowered next to an open window with his hands up and his mouth moving, and another very hung-over one stood behind the sofa, brandishing a ukulele and yelling something about pigs. Neither man appeared to be armed. Almost all the invading members of the task force were shouting variations of "Get on the floor!"
Detective Massey took the guy by the window, cuffing him efficiently. "Changed your mind about jumping huh? Wise man, considering we're forty-five feet off the ground."
Ryo proceeded down the hall toward one of the bedrooms, Dee right behind him. They both hit the floor when two bullets burst through the closed door and thudded into the wall behind them. A woman screamed something unintelligible from within the room.
"We're NYPD, you fucking son of a bitch!" yelled Dee. More bullets promptly whizzed over their heads. "Bastard's aiming lower," hissed Dee, and propping himself on one elbow, returned fire right through the closed door. The female screamed again.
Ryo motioned frantically for Dee to move away from the door. "Get your head down!" he whispered fiercely. "And stop shooting! What if you hit the woman?"
"What if she's the one with the goddamned gun?" Dee demanded, but he rolled away from the door and stayed on the floor, like Ryo said. For a couple of moments, all the other noise in the apartment stopped. In the charged silence, there was a clicking sound like a fresh clip being rammed home.
"Get back from the fucking door, pigs!" roared a voice from inside the room.
"Gonna stay in there all day, man?" taunted Dee, then ducked his head as a hail of bullets came through the door again, burying themselves in the walls with heavy thuds. One of them shattered the glass in a picture frame on the opposite wall, but another one splintered the floorboards next to Dee's arm, right where he had been lying a moment before. Jesus Christ. It was a damn good thing he was in the habit of listening to Ryo.
"I'm comin' out! And I got a hostage, you understand?" They could hear the woman sobbing in terror, and it was getting louder as the shooter approached the door with her. Ryo got to his feet a good distance from the bullet-riddled bedroom door.
"Hostage!" he called back down the hall. "Hold your fire. Continue to secure the other rooms."
The door opened slowly and a huge man with olive skin and short black hair advanced. One meaty arm was locked around the throat of a plump, half-dressed blonde girl who looked about sixteen. He had a pistol pressed to her right temple, and he was shaking with rage and fear. "Gonna blow this bitch's head off if you pigs don't fall back," he announced, his eyes darting every which way. "Don't try me, you cocksuckers! I'll do it! Gonna spray this place with brains!"
Under her streaked make-up, the girl's face was whiter than the paint on the walls and her eyes rolled over the assemblage of cops standing tensely in the apartment, their guns trained on the man who held her. Gasping and crying incoherently, she pulled feebly at the muscular arm on her throat.
Dee couldn't allow himself to think about how terrified she must be. Instead, he watched as Ryo backed away down the hall so that the man could advance, which he did sideways, like a crab, keeping his back to the wall. Dee kept his nine millimeter trained on the big man's hulking form, knowing that it was too risky to think about pulling the trigger. The only sounds he could hear were the girl's sobs and frantic barking from a dog somewhere down the opposite end of this rabbit warren of an apartment. Step by step, they moved closer to the main living area. The other cops in the living room also had their guns pointed in his general direction, everyone except the Chief.
"Lenny, what the fuck you doing?" demanded a voice from the living room. Dee recognized the skinny guy from the window, who was now face down on the floor with his hands cuffed behind him.
"Gettin' the hell out of here," the hostage-taker informed him through clenched teeth.
"But that's Daisy, man! She Bernadette's little sister. You-- you gotta let her go!"
"I'll let her go when I'm safe outside," Lenny said.
"We've got the street blocked off, buddy," said the Chief. "You ain't going nowhere except down to the station."
"Or into the ground," added Dee.
"I'll put this little girl in the ground first! Get your fuckin' bean shooters off me!" He jabbed his gun rather violently at her temple.
"Whoa, whoa!" Ryo raised one hand, and lowered his pistol with the other. "Lower your guns, people."
"Don't anyone start shooting," Dee added, praying that none of the rookies present would freak out and have a little finger-spasm on his or her trigger. Good cops losing their lives to friendly fire in tight situations like this was nothing new, but dammit, he didn't want to go that way, and he certainly didn't want anything to happen to Ryo. He could hear one of the Narcotics officers speaking quietly into his radio, no doubt letting the station know they had a hostage situation unfolding.
"I ain't fucking goin' back to the joint, you hear me? I got nothing to lose, and if I gotta go down, I'll take her with me!" Lenny was sounding increasingly desperate. He shook Daisy roughly and pressed his arm tighter against her throat. She stopped sobbing abruptly, probably because her air supply had just been cut off. "Move, bitch, unless you wanna die." He pushed her another couple of steps closer to the open door.
There was the sound of scuffling and shouting outside in the hall, and suddenly a large, athletic-looking woman wearing gym clothes burst through the door. "Ohmigawd, DAISY!" she shrieked.
"Quit blockin' the damn door, you cow! I'm getting outta here!"
Lenny was glaring around him at the ring of shocked cops. They were all pointing their weapons at him again. "Don't fuckin' try to stop me," he warned them. "I'll shoot this one too. I ain't shittin you."
Dee couldn't believe it when Ryo suddenly jumped Lenny and punched him in the head. Ryo never did shit like that. The two men staggered, but Lenny didn't lose his grip on Daisy. In fact, he pulled the trigger as promised, but thank God all they heard was a click. Dee tried to go to Ryo's aid, but he ended up having to field a double armful of swooning girl instead, as Lenny shoved Daisy at him and tried to make a break for it. One of the Narcotics guys freaked out and squeezed off a couple of rounds; then someone else did the same. Dee pushed Daisy down onto the floor and shielded her as best he could with his body until the shooting stopped.
When the dust had cleared, Brad lay wounded with a cracked rib or two from where his vest had stopped a bullet, and Ryo, thank the Lord, was in the doorway of the apartment with one knee on Lenny's back, snapping his cuffs around the guy's wrists. That damn dog, wherever it was, was still barking. Beyond him in the hallway, someone was kneeling over the large woman who had been shot. The Chief was yelling at Lieutenant Gerber from the 23rd, who was hollering back defensively and pointing at Ryo. After a few moments, they both went to yell at Ryo. Dee didn't blame them. He kind of wanted to yell at Ryo himself. What the hell had his partner been thinking, jumping that dickhead when there was the life of a hostage at stake? But Dee was on top of Daisy, who stank of sex, sweat, fear and whiskey. What was more, she was shivering and clammy, and appeared to be going into shock. Detective Massey joined him, and to his great relief, took charge. She spoke in a motherly way to the poor girl, holding her hand, and demanding that Dee find a her a blanket or something. Dee obediently snatched a sleeping bag off the sofa and spread it over Daisy's supine form.
"Hey," he yelled to the room at large. "We got word on an ambulance or a medic?"
"There's an ambulance outside and a pair of paramedics waiting for the all-clear," said a familiar voice that caused the hackles to rise on Dee's neck. Diana Spacey. Goddamn FBI. She was probably here with her own team to grab all the credit.
"Agent Spacey," said the Chief with about as much enthusiasm as if he had been greeting his proctologist. "What brings you here?"
"Oh...curiosity, mostly." Diana stepped carefully over Lenny's legs in her silver platform sandals, and smiled at the Chief like a barracuda. "Is this one hurt?"
"No, I don't think so," said the Chief. "Is he, MacLean?"
Ryo shook his head. "No, not badly. He's probably concussed and his knee may be a little wrenched, but he didn't get shot and he'll be able to stand trial."
"That's good, because this guy is a lot more important than you think he is." She nudged Lenny's prone form with the toe of her sandal. "Right, Sol?"
Lenny sighed. "Fuck you."
"Sol?" said Lieutenant Gerber. "I thought this guy's name was Lenny."
"Nope. Not anymore. This is Sol DeLuca, brother of Tony. Both lately of Corporate America, before Tony got ousted." Diana smirked. "We'll be wanting to talk to him about a couple of cold cases we've been working on."
"Well, you'll have to get in line," said Lieutenant Gerber. "He just shot a woman point blank. She's lucky to be alive. We're gonna bring him up on attempted murder charges."
Diana just laughed. "What a funny man you are. We'll see who gets in line." She turned to a forty-ish man in a suit, and said, "Phil, make sure this one comes with us. I'll be right back." She started to walk down a short hallway toward the sound of the barking dog.
"Lieutenant Gerber," said the Chief in sympathetic tones, "I take it you don't have a whole lot of experience with the FBI."
With Diana temporarily gone, Dee finally gave in to his urge to jump down Ryo's throat for being such a cowboy-hero earlier. "What the fuck, Ryo! Jesus Christ. You're lucky you didn't get shot! I thought I was supposed to be the dumb, crazy one."
"The gun was a Makarov, Dee. An eight-shooter. The bullet he put in the hostage's sister was the last one in the clip. I counted the shots." Ryo was anxiously scanning the small group of men and women wearing handcuffs. He didn't look happy.
"That's bullshit!" Dee wasn't going to let him off that easily. "How do you know he didn't reload in the bedroom just before he came out?"
"I didn't," said Ryo impatiently. "But I was pretty sure he hadn't since he came out in his underwear. Is that all of them?" he called out to one of the senior Narcotics guys.
"'Fraid so," the guy answered. "Why? We missing someone?"
"Yeah," said Ryo, and Dee knew he was thinking of Ja Romeo.
"The fire escape was open in the room next to the kitchen," the Narcotics cop offered. "Maybe one or two of them got away while we were breaking down the door."
Ryo's face turned red and he swore a blue streak. Dee was impressed with the variety of cuss words his partner apparently knew. This was a side of Ryo that only rarely came out, although almost everyone on their team had seen it at one time or another. One of the paramedics glared at him.
"Come on, partner, let's go get some coffee," said Dee. "Paperwork can wait half an hour."
"The FBI and the 23rd can do the damn paperwork on this one," grumbled Ryo.
Just then, a crash and a short scream from the direction Diana had disappeared in brought their conversation to a halt.
.:.:.:.:end of chapter 17.:.:.:.