Disclaimer: I do not own FAKE, and get no monetary profit from this story…only my own personal enjoyment.

A/N: Hey guys, I'm so so so sorry this took so long. I won't go on and on, but I've been very ill. Also very divorced, ha! Anyways, THANK YOU so much for sticking this out! I love you guys! Your reviews are what kept this (and me) going. Thank you so so so much.

You might want to read Or So The Saying Goes. And not just b/c I want you to (even though I waaannnntt you to :) but there are JJ references that you might not get as he is the focus of that one. Some things may make better sense in the chapters to follow (& this one).

Please read and review. I'd like to know if this is on par with the rest of the story.

Thanks a mill – Reika

Chapter 20………Don't you?

The room was nice enough, JJ supposed. There was an inn-like feel to it, similar to the character of Lake Placid as a whole, from what he'd seen, anyway. The staff at the hotel had been as helpful as he'd expected them to be – no more, no less. His room was sufficient for his needs, though not luxurious; he hadn't expected it to be anything special. But there was nothing about it that added to the suppressive, dismal weight that he had apparently carried with him from the city…so he couldn't really complain.

He hadn't had much time to sight-see during his first full day in the quaint village, but what he'd observed seemed peaceful, and he tried to remain optimistic that the time there would do him some good. The area had hosted the Olympics twice; there seemed to be a reminder of it everywhere he turned. The people seemed friendly, something which JJ was always appreciative of. There were a lot of really nice and interesting buildings, too. He made a mental note to explore, at some point during his stay, when he was more capable of giving the place the regard that it warranted. Lake Placid was littered with intriguing and elegant places to stay, far and above the modest accommodations he'd been placed in. But he wasn't paying the bills, and hadn't expected anything different, since it'd been left up to the state police to take care of the bills. If anything, he'd been pleasantly surprised at the comfort of the room he'd been placed in, expecting something more akin to a hovel than a hotel. But it hardly mattered, really, as JJ was positive that even the most lavish of lodgings would have done little to ease his misery, or the sting he felt every time he remembered just where he was and the circumstances which had brought him there.

In an attempt to focus on something (anything) other than Dee, he moved to the window and pulled the heavy, tacky curtains aside. They reminded him of the drapes of Tara, and he chuckled to himself at the thought of fashioning a dress from the weighty fabric. His very own dress…the smile faded fast as memories collided and shattered in his head, sending shards of glass into tender, fleshy places he'd thought impenetrable years ago. He secured the curtains out of the way with the equally tacky strip of matching material attached to the wall, tucking the nostalgia sloppily away behind them. He hoped the painful memories of the bright smile from one of the only people who had ever truly loved him weren't any stronger than the sunlight, and that the curtains – bound to be good for something – would succeed in blocking both. Almost as an involuntary action, he ran his hand over the embroidered fleur-de-lis, not noticing the skips in the gold pattern, proof of the toll the years had taken on the no-doubt once luxurious fabric. He missed his mother. The view was nice, at least, with clear skies and a vision of the water. JJ laughed aloud for a moment, struck by the memory of the movie sharing the name of the charming town. He wondered if he wandered down to the shore, whether a giant, prehistoric crocodile would pop up to say hello…and perhaps have a cup of coffee.

The sniper honestly didn't know which scenario he found most preferable, or absurd.

JJ was trying hard to stay focused…on several different things. He was trying to keep his thoughts on the tasks ahead of him; teaching other officers to shoot with razor precision was going to require his full attention. He found himself almost looking forward to the distraction. He held out little hope (if he were to be realistic) that the upcoming events would really make a significant difference in his thoughts, but couldn't help hoping for it anyway. He wasn't sure how long he could keep functioning in his current state. JJ Adams had always been a creature of emotion; moving vapidly from point A to point B and performing perfunctory tasks kept him functioning, but only in the barest sense of the word. This did not suit him well at all.

However…there were worse places to be stuck in than Lake Placid, certainly. At least he was upstate, where it was scenic and serene, instead of stranded somewhere that was both new and urban. He couldn't think in new cities. In his younger years, this hindrance hadn't been a hindrance at all, and the opportunity would have pleased him…thrilled him, even. He would have unpacked just what he needed to go out, sniffed out the scene's hottest spots, and christened his room good and proper with cheap wine and even cheaper lube. Back then, JJ hadn't particularly wanted to think…not about anything serious, in any case. Thinking about things led to dwelling on them…and dwelling on things usually only led to one of two places. The first was living with them, like a 2 ton deluxe-slab-o'-lead-and-guilt across his shoulders, and remaining so lamentably and irrevocably educated. The Second was dealing with them. Neither option had appealed to him, then; and so he had avoided any roads that might lead him on such an undesirable journey. In his present, more mature state, JJ could readily admit that dwelling, thinking and especially dealing, resulted in some pretty agonizing grief, and was about as far from "fun" as humanly imaginable…but he knew he couldn't escape it; and wouldn't have been able to, even if he tried. Being inescapably caught up in his own desolation seemed the lesser of two evils, when compared to being both entangled and incurably frustrated at his failure to purge the misery from his system.

Azure irises shifted from the window to the water and back to the window before ceasing their to and fro, locked onto themselves – their translucent, ghostly likeness staring back from inside the pane of cold, slightly wet glass. JJ briefly studied his reflection, taking in his feathery hair and wide eyes, set in his young, pretty face. He frowned a bit, pushing at the shock of silver draping over one glaring blue eye. He could easily pass for 19...if he wanted to. Before, this would have been excellent – regardless of the lack of respect from his uniformed peers, he would use his youthful appearance to his best advantage in...other ways. Neglectful of his present 'maturity', old habits banged at the insides of his head... "...come on J-bird – you want to forget, then just give in...you know it's the only thing that'll work...". The voice was evil. It lived in that place inside him he'd worked so hard to quell and store away from the light of day. It was destructive – like a tsunami; it rose above everything else and then crashed down, destroying all in it's path. If he was taken down with it, so be it – but the problem had always been all the other people who seemed to get ravaged in the wave. He almost started to remember his sister's pained face – after she'd risked everything just being in his life back then, yet he still seemed intent on self-destruction – he almost remembered when one of the other officers knocked on his door.

"Yes, come in." He called in a voice that seemed too loud after his silent reverie.

Little did he know, he'd be in for the shock of his life when a blonde head poked through the crack of the opened door. A faint french accent wafted over to him, and although he hadn't heard it in years, it was with fierce and sharp clarity that he recognized it. Flashes soared through his mind, pretty words that he hadn't understood, but that had made him mad with eager want nonetheless. 'It can't be' he thought. But when JJ raised his head Émile Marcus' older, but just as gorgeous face grinned back at him.

"Hello JJ" he drawled in that voice JJ thought he'd forgotten. "I heard you were coming. It's...nice to see you again. Very nice."

JJ let out a perfunctory "Um...Hi" before turning his back and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Let me just get my things" he called.

This was going to be harder than he'd imagined.

*****~******~******~*****

"Okay"

The word itself was small, tiny even, but carried with it so much incredible and irreversible weight that Dee was, for one of the only times in his adult life, terrified. The words that would, that had to, really, come next had the potency to crush both of them and leave both himself and Ryo unable to move ever again. Still, Dee took a deep breath and tried to find the right way to say what he needed to.

"Well..." he began, unconsciously stalling and fighting the urge to chew his fingers off completely. "I thought...I thought you didn't want me, didn't want us...for there to even be an 'us'..."

After another long pause, Ryo ran a frustrated hand through his hair and motioned with his hand for Dee to get on with it, regardless of the twisting in his gut.

"I guess JJ found your letter."

At the mention of his own profession, Ryo's face went pink, much to his own chagrin. He fought off the embarrassment, needing, if not wanting, for Dee continue. "Yes, he told me that much."

Dee's head snapped up so that he was looking Ryo in the eyes. He hadn't meant for the words to come out, but had been unable to stop them. His eyes held a gleam, then, that cut right through Ryo's flesh and to the bone. "You spoke to him? What did he say? What did he say about where he's going?"

With the first flash of Ryo's icy glare, Dee immediately realized his mistake and dropped his eyes again. After a couple of deep breaths (...'in through the nose, out through the mouth...in through the nose, out through the mouth'...) Dee looked up again, an odd marriage of resolve and softness in his gaze.

"This is what I meant, Ryo. I can't just pretend JJ doesn't exist. He was and is a part of me now. If you really want me, you have to accept that."

Ryo bit his tongue, tasting blood and jealousy, but biting back all the explicatives that threatened to spill out. Instead, he held up his hand and spoke as calmly as he was able. "Can we deal with one blow at a time? I asked you to tell me about how you fucked him, now do it!"

Dee winced at the anger and masked hurt in the words. "Alright." He took another second to think of what to say, and how to say it.

"Well...so JJ found your letter. That night, I guess he decided to take your place...out of some skewed or misplaced sense of nobility, I guess. And -"

"Skewed!? Misplaced!?" Promises and reserve be damned, Ryo couldn't help raising his voice. "You think what he did was wrong? You'd rather I would have gone?" In spite of himself, Ryo felt the little monster clawing at him again. It was borne entirely out of jealous rage and he let it claw it's way out, leaving his throat raw and red and torn in the process.

"You do, don't you? So, you've tired of the chase and would rather have the sure thing, wouldn't you?" The monster, that Ryo kept chained inside himself had already been waiting, sharpening it's talons the whole time, biding, biding, and boiling near the surface. It wanted only to maim, to injure and hurt. And having years to do nothing but sit and plot for years and years in the pit of his 'human place' it did it's job well.

Dee could have punched him. He wanted to. Mutilation by language wasn't in his nature, but that did not mean he couldn't give as well as he got. Somewhere, deep inside, he knew why Ryo was lashing out at him; he knew the other man was only trying to balm his own wounds, but Dee's temper won over his logic and he spit his next words at Ryo as forcefully as though they'd been shot from his gun.

"Yes." Dee said simply, narrowing his eyes and in strict juxtaposition to Ryo's hollering, his voice was sharp and quiet, slicing through the distance between them like a venom-sharpened knife. "I kissed him until my lips bled. I ran my tongue over every single inch of him. I bent him in half while he dug his nails in my back."

As the last statement left his mouth, Dee turned and lifted the back of his shirt, the gouges healing, but still quite present. He wasn't surprised when his already torn back received a kick, sending him hurling into the railing. His adrelaline was too hyped up to feel the pain, even though the back of his mind vaguely registered that he'd have one hell of a back ache in the morning. Gripping the rails of the balcony, his shirt dropped on it's own and he turned back to face the ire he knew would be splattered all over Ryo's face.

A silence passed, the space between them filling up with all the things they'd said...and all the things they hadn't.

Finally, Ryo narrowed his gaze and crossed his arms over his chest to keep from physically attacking Dee. Instead, he found his body betraying, or perhaps giving into the anger rage and betrayal that ate at him so viciously it felt like it was killing him from the inside-out. He lunged toward Dee, grabbing the front of his shirt and smashing his mouth against the other man's – the mouth he ran from so often. But that was Before. Now he kissed Dee brashly, desperately...anything, anything, to get him to Stop. Saying. Those. Words.

With his eyes closed, Ryo couldn't see Dee's expression of shock, and he didn't want to. However, his own countenance mirrored that of his former partner's when Dee forcefully shoved him away. In Ryo's current internal war of emotion vs. logic, there was really no question of the winner.

"Get. Out."

"What?" Dee asked, genuinely not hearing him.

Ryo's arm shot out, pointing at the door. "Get out! Just get out!"

Dee tightened his jaw, popping his neck from side to side, the way he did before he leapt onto someone furiously, usually doing some serious damage. But keeping himself and his temper in check, he spoke again with that harsh knife-tongue that sliced through the distance between them.

"Fine. I know I've already said this, but...if I go...I'm not coming back y'know?"

Ryo silently turned his back.

*******~*~******~*~*******

TBC

First things first – NOT over!!! I can't stress it enough. Don't assume anything ending-wise, as this is sooo not over. I warned you, so please don't flame!

Okay, again...I'm so sorry this took sooooo long, but I really was half-dead for most of the time. I'm back, though, and you can see (1 chapter and 2 stories in like a week and half...woot....) I've got the bug again.

Also, again, you might want to read Or So The Saying Goes. And not just b/c I want you to (even though I waaannnntt you to :) but there are JJ references that you might not get as he is the focus of that one. Some things may make better sense in the chapters to follow (& this one).

THANK YOU!!! For sticking with me this far...in sickness and in health, etc......you guys are what kept me going through this. I cannot say it enough.

Pls. Read & Review (Thank you!),

Love and Kisses,

Reika