Chapter One: Tangled Web
Disclaimers: We lay no claim to the characters of Fake. Drake and JJ, among others, are the property of the genius Sanami Matoh-sama. We only have the rights to torture them in our own fevered imaginations.
Warnings: Lemony goodness toward the middle and end of this. For the unwary, that means two men engaged in sexual activity. If this does not float your boat, we respectfully ask that you turn back right now. If you do not, we will not be held responsible for whatever mental trauma you incur from this point on… (Yay! SMUT!) Kita, I'm warning you.
Oh, also there's blood and ickiness, so be warned. Not for the weak of stomach.
A/N - As promised, the sequel to 'Misery.' The time line here is more or less right after the last chapter of Misery - 'Likely.' Sorry if we left you feeling like things were unfinished - they were...
We had plotted the story of Drake and JJ coming to terms with their growing feelings in two arcs. We felt that the Misery story was complete right where it needed to be - leaving room to start the beginning… which is here. Please enjoy. Thanks be to all those who reviewed or favorited "Misery." Kita and I will try to get back to those of you who left signed reviews when our computer time is not so severely curtailed. (huh?) That means, "cut short," idiot. (That's mean, Subu-chan!)
--sighs-- Anyway, please enjoy.
To say Drake was only perturbed would be akin to saying a raging forest fire was only a little hot. Inside he was mentally tied up tighter than the proverbial Gordian knot. To anyone who knew him, it was clear he was out to lunch. He'd been sitting at his desk for the past twenty minutes, staring blankly at the yellowing calendar on the wall. Chances were, if anyone were to ask him, he wouldn't be able to tell them what month - much less what day it was.
Because, try as he might, his traitorous mind kept drifting back to a slight body pressing against him and firm lips against his own, not demanding - but asking that he open to them. Other memories crowded in too, like just how right that slender frame fit against him, or how a smile could light up those bluer-than-blue eyes and make the whole room seem brighter. How a single goofy joke could make him laugh - no matter how crappy a day it had been.
Startled out of his uncomfortable musings, Drake looked up as Ryo rapped gently on the frame of the open door.
"Got a minute?" Ryo lifted a file folder with a sheepish grin.
Brought firmly back to reality, Drake blinked and nodded. "Sure. That the file on the Branson case?"
Ryo stepped inside and closed the door behind him. "You got it. Jim sent over some priors with it that he thinks could be matches for your boy's M.O."
"Crap. How many?"
"Six." The chestnut-haired detective slumped into a chair, dropping the file in front of Drake with a weary sigh. "The oldest over a year ago and the most recent less than an month ago."
"Shit." Drake thumbed through the folder, grimacing at the group of crime scene photos. "Looks the same. So Branson was just the latest in this sick fuck's game?"
"Looks like. Where's JJ? He should be in on this too." Ryo didn't miss the slight flinch in Drake's gray eyes at the mention of his partner's name.
"He's still with the team on the hostage situation. Things are still hot over there. They may need another sniper, so don't be surprised if you get called to help him out."
Ryo nodded, but reached over and closed the file in front of Drake. "You know the Branson file was just a convenient excuse, right?"
A brief flash of panic lit Drake's face. "An e-excuse for what?"
"We need to talk." Ryo told him calmly. "Tell me, what's been going on between you and JJ?"
This time there was no missing the flinch. Drake jerked so hard that his hand knocked over the mug full of pens on his desk. The effort of gathering up the pens gave him enough time to get his expression under control, Ryo noted, even though there was an undeniable shading of pink to his cheeks.
"Would you believe me if I said I have no idea what you're talking about?"
Ryo just gave him a level stare, leaning back and folding his arms across his chest.
Drake sighed. "No. I didn't think so."
Drake shoved a hand through his already unruly hair. "God, Ryo, I don't even know where to start! Ever since Chief saddled me with him, JJ's been panting after his "Dee-sempai!" He about drove me crazy with it."
Ryo sighed and rolled his eyes, but allowed a small smile to creep across his face. "Tell me something I don't know. You think you were the only one who got fed up with it? I lost count of the number of times I had to stop Dee from putting him through the wall for his interruptions." He blushed a bit himself. "But I don't think Dee is what you need to talk about right now."
Drake looked down. For a moment there was silence and then Drake spoke in a tight, controlled voice. "Dee was right, you know… when he called me a jealous bitch, that one time."
Ryo nodded. He remembered that, and the lovely shades of blue and green that had colored his lover's jaw-line for a week afterward. Drake had a left hook to be proud of.
"And I still feel that way sometimes." Drake admitted listlessly. "I see them talking and I just get so pissed. And it's only been worse… since JJ kissed me."
Ryo blinked in surprise. "H-he kissed you?"
Drake nodded, his eyes fixed on the tiny sliver of daylight that crept down the wall opposite the room's one tiny window. "On the roof," He answered matter-of-factly. "The day I got dumped by Jillena. We were talking and he looked all depressed. And then he kissed me…"
Ryo was less surprised that JJ had moved that fast than by the fact that Drake was taking things this calmly. When Dee had first kissed him, you could have knocked Ryo over with a feather. "And…"
"I was shocked, y'know? But he brushed it off like a joke that night at dinner and we - we haven't actually spoken since then…"
Ryo reckoned it up in his head. "How have you two managed to avoid each other for a week and a half?"
Drake's chuckle was dry and humorless. "JJ took two days off when his aunt got sick, cause she doesn't have anyone else to look after her. I had Saturday off and we were both off on Sunday. I worked the six to three shift the next day and he pulled graves to cover for Leon. It's been like this since then. This is the first day we've actually been on the same shift and before I even get here, he calls and tells me that he's headed out for a hostage situation where they might need a sniper."
Dee had been the one to notice the strained air between the two and how they were never on the same shift. He had designated his lover as the one to speak to Drake, saying it was only fair, seeing as he'd had to talk to JJ. Ryo didn't like it, but agreed with the choice. If Drake were questioning his own sexuality, the best person to talk to him would definitely be Ryo.
"Drake, forgive me for prying, but how do you feel about it?" Ryo asked, hoping Drake wouldn't lose his temper.
Drake sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Fuck, Ryo… I don't know anymore! I'm not gay, but I see Dee say something that hurts JJ and I just want to pound him!" Only then did Drake seem to realize just who he was talking to and a dull flush burned on his cheeks. "Uh… I mean…"
Ryo smiled back. "I do know what you mean. As much as I love him, Dee can be a royal ass at the best of times."
Drake heaved another sigh and shoved his hand through his already unruly hair. "Yeah. I just don't know…"
"Drake." Ryo's serious tone made him look up. "I'm not telling you to 'turn gay' or anything like that. Shit, Dee chased me for years before I gave into the fact that I loved him. What made me realize just how much I cared-"
Ryo's cell phone went off, making them both jump. Ryo fumbled it out and glanced at the number, face hardening, "Looks like you were right. That's the negotiation team." He opened the phone. "MacLean. Yeah, I guessed as much. Twenty minutes, tops. Right. JJ's got the roof, right? So where do you want me? Got it." Ryo snapped the phone closed and headed for the door.
He hesitated with one hand on the knob. "Drake, just think about this. What would you do, if one day, JJ never came back?"
Drake stared at the closing door numbly. Never came back? Ryo's words echoed eerily in the sudden quiet.
What if something happened to JJ? The thought was excruciating. Drake shivered convulsively. To never see JJ again… To never hear that light, high laughter again or to ruffle that oddly-colored hair - that thought sent a stabbing pain through him. God, was Ryo right? Drake swallowed harshly, the motion reminding him of nearly being strangled to death. He still couldn't bring himself to wear anything with a high collar (and turtlenecks were out of the question!) because anything around his throat made him feel short of breath and panicky. And that in turn reminded him of the hallucination his oxygen-starved brain had created.
JJ smiling at him seductively, the full force of his sexuality making Drake's groin tighten. The feel of those lips against his, hot and tasting faintly of salt, brought to mind the kiss on the roof. It had felt the same as the dream; all melting warmth and the dizzying realization that this was JJ that made him feel this way. The brief press of JJ's weight against his chest had made his body respond in ways he didn't want to think about. But think about it, he did, because there was no denying it - he was sexually attracted to his slight partner.
No, not just sexually attracted. As much as it hurt to admit it, sexual attraction was not even the half of it. JJ… In a weird and not quite right way, JJ meant more to him than any of his previous girlfriends, even Linda, the one he had briefly considered proposing marriage to. JJ's opinions counted for more and his well-being was by far more important than any date. Drake couldn't count the number of times he had skipped out on a date to go ease JJ's most recent rejection. What did it all mean?
Drake was startled out of his disturbing contemplations by the door slamming open. "Haul it, Parker! We've got another body, and it looks like it was your boy who did it." Marty said. "Ted's got the scene covered, but things are bound to get messy in a hurry!"
Drake snatched up his coat and followed. "Fill me in."
Marty glanced back over his shoulder. "In the car, man. No way you want this all over the station."
Drake stretched his legs to keep up with Marty's half-running pace. When they were in the car, Marty started it without a word and pulled out of the parking garage with a screech that left black marks on the pavement. "It's bad, Drake. This time, he wanted to make sure we got the message."
"Fuck. What the hell happened?"
"You'll see when we get there. Ted's secured the crime scene, but it's bound to get out."
Drake had a sinking feeling in his gut that only intensified as Marty pulled up outside a high-class apartment building. He knew this place. Less than four months ago, he and Ted had been here, getting the D.A. to sign off on a warrant for the arrest of the man who had shot Ryo. "Don't tell me…"
Marty was already halfway out the door. "Okay. I won't tell you."
They took the elevator up to the top floor. Drake knew he wouldn't like what they found here. Ted was waiting for them when the doors opened, and his normally tanned face was rather pale. "Took you bastards long enough. Word's gonna get out soon, cause I had to stop Mrs. Richmond from getting off the elevator. You can bet she's gone straight to see her hubby."
The smell hit him first, iron and metallic. The stench of spilled blood, flavored with the acrid reek of bile and ruptured bowels. Ted gulped and turned a shade paler. "I've been up here too long. The smell's really getting to me."
They turned the corner and Drake gulped back nausea. Ted wasn't so lucky and bolted for the potted fern they had passed, retching into the ceramic vessel. Marty stayed, though he managed to turn whiter than Ted… quite an accomplishment for a someone whose natural skin-tone was nut brown.
She had been fifteen, tops. Pretty in a girl-next-door kind of way, or she had been before their killer had gotten hold of her. She was dressed in the remains of a catholic school uniform, once navy and white, but now stained black and scarlet. Her hands were chained together above her head with a heavy chain that was looped over the decorative light fixture beside the door, holding her on her knees. Her killer was definitely the same as the Branson girl. The series of almost surgical cuts that had bled her was similar, starting high on her wrists and working down to the small breasts laid bare by the tattered shreds of her uniform. Her belly had been laid open, ropy intestines pooling around her legs. If the blood loss hadn't killed her, the disemboweling finished the job.
Drake covered his mouth and nose with one hand, breathing shallowly through his mouth. The iron tang of blood still felt like it coated his tongue as he examined the victim with what he hoped was clinical detachment. Some part of him was gibbering in nauseated horror, but he firmly shut the door on that part of his mind. "It's the same. The cuts are the same."
Ted glared at him from where he was still hunched over the large planter. "How the fuck can you tell with all that blood?"
Drake stepped back from the body and glanced at Ted. "Our killer's a nutjob. The symbols cut into her skin are all runes."
"Runes?" Marty managed, looking enviously toward the planter Ted had claimed for himself. He was looking rather green.
Drake sighed, rolling one shoulder in a shrug. "I don't know the first thing about it, honestly. You'd have to ask JJ, he's the one who identified the marks on the Branson girl."
Ted straightened up, still pale but looking steadier. "Runes or not, this was a clear message for Richmond."
Drake nodded, fighting the roiling of his own stomach. " 'Look what I can do. I know where you live and can get in without effort.' "
Marty shook his head. "It's worse than that. And way more personal. That uniform is from the school where his oldest daughter goes."
Drake and Ted both raised their heads. "It is?"
"How do you know that?"
Marty turned another shade paler. "My girl is in the same class as Tiffany Richmond. They're friends."
Drake sighed. That added a whole new layer to things. "There's no putting it off any longer. Ted, you've been here longest. Go down to the car and call in forensics. Make sure they borrow Jim Campbell from the Bronx station for this one. This is going to get messy and we're going to need all the cooperation we can get. Marty, you make sure anyone who comes through the door to this building has proper ID. If any of the Richmond's show up, take them into protective custody. And that goes for Bryant too. D.A. or not, he should know that this is nothing to scoff at." Drake glanced back toward the body. "I'll hold the fort here until Forensics and the coroner's boys get here. Go."
He watched the elevator close and leaned against the wall next to it, desperately trying to breathe only through his mouth. He wasn't going anywhere near the body again. The body…it might seem cold to refer to it that way, but if he thought about it as anything other than a victim, he'd lose his carefully maintained front of detachment.
It was nearly five hours later that he dragged home to his cluttered apartment, weary and sick to the bone. The facade slipped and he ran for the bathroom where he lost everything he'd eaten since this morning. When he was done dry-heaving, he rinsed his mouth out with Scope and curled into a small, wretched ball of human misery beside the porcelain bowl, shivering with reaction as his mind remembered all the things he'd made himself ignore throughout the long hours. Her backpack had been found in the dumpster behind the building, in it her school ID and her cell phone. The phone had some cutesy little anime charm hanging from it, like those shows JJ adored.
Oddly enough, it was that tiny little thing that was the most disturbing. It had moved her squarely from a statistic to a human being, with quirks and foibles all her own. One little plastic character had driven his mask of detachment away. His chest heaved, though his eyes remained dry.
He never even heard the door, which he'd forgotten to lock, open.