Chapter Three-Smarter Than the Average Dee-sempai

A/N - got another chapter up at last, and sooner than we thought. Thanks for all the reviews, alerts and favorites this story has gotten. Glad to know you're enjoying this. Thanks to Destatikai for such thoughtful and wonderful reviews. They were a pleasure to read and we look forward to more of your thoughts as the story progresses. Chibigirlflower, as always, thanks for sticking with the story. JJ's flight becomes more understandable as the story goes on. (We'd leave you a review reply, but you're never logged on! -K.) He too has some issues to work through. And thanks for the encouragement, Jay. It's much appreciated.

All warnings and disclaimers still stand. This one's not for the kiddies folks.

An hour and a phone call later, JJ had learned precisely squat that he hadn't known about the case already. Both the Branson girl and the new one, Angela Merrick, had died of blood loss and shock. Likely, they had already been dead when their killer had sliced their abdomens open. At least JJ hoped so.

And Drake had tried calling twice more. JJ had deliberately let both calls go to voicemail.

Drake could play the self-hate card all he wanted, but JJ wasn't about to be there so he could take his share of the blame. He was already pissed at himself for taking advantage of Drake in his moment of weakness. He'd been cursing himself since he'd dragged himself out of bed after a mere two hours of sleep and come to work.

He glanced at his phone. Three voicemail messages. He really didn't want to listen, but with a sigh, he did so anyway. "JJ, it's Drake. Listen, thanks for calling me in, but I would have come to work if you hadn't turned my damn alarm clock off. Call me okay?" and "JJ, are you ignoring your phone? I want to talk to you. You had better be posted on a roof somewhere or something, or I'm gonna get pissed!" and finally "JJ, I'm getting annoyed here. Call me. We need to talk."

"Sounds like he's really got a yen to talk to you."

JJ jumped a foot in the air, his breath escaping in a strangled squeak. He turned to gape at Dee who grinned and said, "Jumpy much?"

JJ swallowed and glared half-heartedly at Dee. "Who wouldn't jump when you sneak up behind them?"

"Sneak up?" Dee laughed. "I've been standing here since you started replaying your messages. You were just too far into your own little world to notice me." He leaned casually against the wall. "So what's up with you two? You looked like you'd rather be having a root canal than listen to those messages. What happened between you?"

JJ glared. "Dee-sempai, have you ever heard of minding your own business?"

"Nope." Dee answered cheerfully. "So what happened?"

JJ sighed. "I really shouldn't talk about it. Drake's already pissed at me."

"And…? C'mon, spill the beans!"

JJ sighed and pulled Dee all the way into the office, closing the door firmly behind him. "Drake was really upset by the crime scene yesterday. I found him hunched over in his bathroom, trying not to cry. I comforted him and… things got a little out of hand, okay?"

Dee looked at him speculatively. "By out of hand, I assume you mean…?"

JJ scowled. "Do I have to spell it out for you? I wound up in bed with him."

Dee studied him for a second. "Weeell, you don't have the freshly fucked look about you, so I'd wager to say it wasn't all that."

"Dee-sempai!!" JJ stared aghast at the man he used to be in love with. Still cared very much about, but not if he was going to say things like that! "Could you be any more crass?!"

Dee chuckled. "Oh, hell, yeah. I can be an ass of epic proportions, but this isn't about me. What went down?" He stopped himself with a surprised look. "Oh, hell, that was a good pun, wasn't it? 'What went down?' You did!" He roared at his own joke.

JJ rammed an elbow into Dee's side. "Maybe I did, but you're going down the hard way if you don't shut the hell up!"

Coughing and rubbing his bruised side, Dee held up the other hand in surrender. "Okay! Sheesh! I was just messing with you. So you blew him. And?"

JJ couldn't help turning red. He'd forgotten just how vulgar Dee could be. "And nothing…! He needed comfort, not sex."

"So what's the issue?"

"Dee-sempai!" JJ's voice rose in exasperation. "In case you've forgotten, Drake is straight! He was half out of his mind and now that he's had time to think on it, he… he probably hates me now." JJ slumped into a chair. "God, I know he hates me now!"

Dee sighed and studied the lighter-haired man contemplatively for a moment. "You've really got it bad for him, don't you?"

JJ looked up as Dee continued. "Did you notice that not once in our conversation did you call him Drake-sempai? I think you've fallen hard for him."

JJ sighed. "What does it matter? I screwed up. And no more jokes, you asshole!"

Dee groaned and shoved a hand through his hair. "All joking aside, JJ, at least he wants to talk to you. He wouldn't want to talk if he hated you."

JJ laughed bitterly. "He wants to blame me for what happened and yell at me."

Dee snatched JJ's phone and replayed Drake's voicemail messages. It hadn't been all that hard to figure out JJ's password. All he had to do was enter his own birthday and voila!

"Listen to that, JJ! That is not the voice of someone who wants to yell at you! He said he wants to talk. So talk to him! Quit acting like a little kid who's afraid of his own shadow."

JJ tried to get angry, but knew he sounded more pathetic than anything. "Are you calling me a coward?"

"Hey, if the shoe fits."

He wilted under the heat of Dee's scorn. Just then his phone chirped in Dee's hand. "Well, speak of the Devil…" Dee said, holding the phone out toward him. "Here, answer it. I don't think it's me he wants to chat with."

JJ took the phone in a limp hand, looking like it might bite him.

"Oi, answer it already!" Dee scolded.


"JJ. God, it took you long enough! Look, before you say anything, we have to talk."

"I know." JJ answered in a small voice.

"Look, come over here when you get off tonight. Promise me." Drake's voice sounded strange. Was he angry, pissed? JJ couldn't tell. "Promise me, JJ."

"I-I promise." JJ winced at the way his voice broke.

"I mean it, JJ. You had better show up or I'm coming over to your place. I'm sure your aunt will let me in."

JJ didn't doubt it. His aunt Cecile had liked Drake very much. She thought he was a cut above, and had made that very clear when JJ had taken a couple of days off to nurse her through a nasty bout with the flu. "So much nicer than that young man you were always following around in the academy." She'd said.

"I'll be there." JJ's voice trembled and without another word, he snapped the phone shut.

"Rude much?" Dee asked with a smirk. "That's not like you. You didn't even bother to say goodbye."

JJ tried for a glare, but knew it was half-hearted at best. "What should I say? I'm sorry I sucked your dick, please don't hate me?!" His laugh teetered on the edge of hysterics. He knew he was on the edge, but couldn't bring himself to care. If Drake rejected him… he - he'd have nothing left.

Dee saw the impending hysterics and slapped JJ lightly across the cheek. "Hey, hey! Rein it in!" He scolded when JJ blinked startled eyes at him. "If you go in there thinking it's all over, it might as well be. Give him a chance. Give yourself one while you're at it."

He watched as JJ deliberately took a deep breath and held it. When he let it out, he was noticeably calmer. He looked up and quirked a sad-looking smile. "When did you get to be this smart, Dee-sempai?"

Dee scowled at him. "Hey. I'll have you know I was always smart!"

"A smartass, maybe." A familiar voice put in from the doorway. Startled, both Dee and JJ turned to stare at Ryo. "Other than that…" Ryo let the sentence trail off and grinned at his lover. When Dee sighed and raised his hands in surrender, Ryo turned his attention to the other man. "JJ, Jim's here and wants to talk with you."

Dee sighed again and shoved a hand through his black hair. "Fuck. I hope for all our sakes it's good news. Richmond is raising holy hell about being in protective custody."

JJ scowled at the foolishness of the DA. "Take him down to the morgue to see Merrick's body, Dee-sempai. That should shut him up."

Dee looked positively evil. "Y'know, I just might. God knows, he's not going to shut up otherwise."

JJ managed a weak chuckle and left the room in search of Jim. As expected, he was holding court in the lounge, chatting up a couple of the girls in the secretarial pool. JJ shook his head as he entered the room. "Don't let him fool you, ladies. He's married to his work."

Jim gave him an offended glare as the girls giggled and fled. "Now, what did you go and do that for? I had them eating out of the palm of my hand."

JJ made a face. "Ew, god, don't do that. You might poison them."

"Funny man."

JJ sighed and dropped into a chair opposite the tall blonde. "What have you got for us?"

Jim brought out a small plastic bag. "Don't know how much it will help, but this was clenched in Miss Merrick's hand. She was holding it when she died."

JJ took the bag and peered through the clear plastic. Still smeared with the victim's blood, the object was small and oddly shaped. Fresh from his study of the book, JJ recognized the symbol etched into it as a rune. But it was the shape of the runestone that arrested his attention. He felt that he should know that shape. Suddenly, it clicked and he looked up at Jim in horror. "Tell me that's not what I think it is…"

Jim shook his head with a weary sigh. "It is. It's a human finger bone - a woman's, or that of a young adult - judging from the size. Without dating the bone, I'd venture a guess it came from our sicko's first victim, which makes it over a year old. The first victim that recognizably fits the pattern was just over a year ago, so I would put it as a little older than that."

JJ memorized the hand-carved rune before passing the evidence bag back to Jim. "Have you gotten anything from this yet?"

Jim shook his head. "I'm still waiting for the lab results. Hopefully, our murderer had enough contact with the bone for the lab boys to pick it up. It's so contaminated by the victim's blood, though…"

JJ sighed. They were still at square one. "Thanks, Jim-sempai. Let me know what you find as soon as you know anything."

"Sure. No offense, but you look like you could use about ten hours uninterrupted sleep." Jim shoved his glasses back up his nose and glanced sideways into JJ's face.

"Something like that," JJ agreed noncommittally.

After parting with Jim, JJ went back to his office and looked up the rune carved on the finger bone, deliberately looking anywhere but at the clock on the wall. His shift ended in less than an hour, and the promise to go talk to Drake had his stomach tying itself into tighter and tighter knots.

He found the rune and carefully read the accompanying text. " 'Hagall, hail. Denotes limitation and signifies someone or thing beyond control getting in the way of the realization of one's desires. Shows the road ahead will be troubled and far from the easiest and straightest path to one's goals.' "

He didn't think it was significant, but jotted it down with the notes on the runes carved into the victim's flesh. When he was finished, a glance at the clock showed that it was five minutes till shift change. Somehow, this was the first time he had ever wished for the workday to last a little longer.

As he seriously considered breaking his promise to Drake and running like hell, Dee stuck his head in with a smugly serious grin. "Time to go."

JJ blinked up at him in bemused consternation. Dee grabbed his coat off the chair by the door and dropped it in JJ's lap. "Wha…?" He managed at last.

Dee gifted him with a supremely disdainful glance. "Did you think I wouldn't notice you looking like the man facing the firing squad? I figured you'd bolt as soon as the chance came up, so I'm not going to give you the chance. Now, get your shit and get it in gear."

"Where are we going?" JJ asked, without moving, even though he already knew.

"You already know the answer to that question, dumbass." Dee grabbed his collar and hauled him bodily to his feet. "You two are so fucked up that it's bordering on the ridiculous. I'm sure as hell not going to take the fallout if you don't do something."

"Dee-sempai…" JJ dug in his heels.

Dee sighed and turned to face him, releasing his punishing grip on JJ's collar. "Whether you think so or not, I'm trying to help you, moron. At the very least, talk to him. Do you want to let what might be your best chance slip through your fingers?" He softened his tone as he saw the determined look wavering. "You said it yourself, Drake's your best friend. He's already admitted that you need to talk."

JJ faltered. "B-but…?"

Dee shook his head. "Do I have to do everything for you? Let's go."

This time JJ didn't protest as he was towed along.

He pulled free when they reached the parking garage. "It's okay. I can drive myself, Dee-sempai."

Dee grinned at him, the trademark cocky smile that had once melted JJ into a puddle of excitement. Now, it just made him nervous. "No can do, JJ. For one, I don't trust you not to bolt straight for home the minute you get behind the wheel and for another, without your car, you'll have to talk long enough to ask directions to the nearest subway station. It's not much of one, but it's a start."

JJ managed an indignant squeak as he was shoved into the passenger's side of Dee's car. Dee ignored him and climbed into the driver's seat. "Dee-sempai…"

Lighting a cigarette, Dee scowled at him as the flame from the lighter cast odd shadows on his face. "That's enough outta you. I'm doing this and there's nothing you can say about it."

JJ folded his arms. "What about Ryo? He's not going to be happy if you keep interfering."

Dee grimaced. "Hell, you two have already earned me one night on the couch, what's a few more?"

JJ managed not to blink. Dee and Ryo had argued over them? "R-really?"

Dee exhaled a cloud of smoke in a sigh. "Yeah. Y'know, Ryo was the one that noticed the thing between the two of you first. I mean, there were times when it kinda up and slapped me in the face, but I never really noticed a damned thing until, y'know, the time Ryo got shot and I came over to your place to talk. He spotted it way before then. Said I was a blind idiot for not noticing myself. Like I could with you pouncing me every time I blinked!" Dee made an aggravated sound and snorted smoke. "He said it was in the way you ran to Drake when I rejected you and in the way Drake dropped everything to take care of you."

JJ mulled that over as Dee pulled out of the parking garage. Had Drake really dropped everything for him? He squeaked when Dee shot him an amused glance and he realized he'd said as much aloud. "Yeah." Dee said. "He even dropped Linda, y'know, the one he dated long enough that there were rumors he was gonna marry her. You called him and he came a-running. Dropped her like a hot potato, and not long after that she dumped him."

JJ remembered that. It was one of the few times he had returned the service to Drake. He'd gone over to Drake's cluttered apartment to pick up a file he'd taken with him and found Drake disconsolately ranting at a picture of Linda, a half-full bottle of rum in his hand and another empty one on the floor. Drake had alternately cussed her and wept drunkenly until JJ had managed to calm him and drag his seriously drunk ass to bed.

"I didn't know that." He said quietly.

Dee chuckled as he flicked the butt of his cigarette out the window. "Yeah, well, I guess he didn't want you to know."

JJ considered that in silence, thinking back on all that Drake had done for him, never asking for anything in return. How Drake had put his welfare before his own on more than one occasion, and not just on the job. He had so much to think over, in fact, that he didn't notice they'd arrived at their destination until Dee turned the car off.

"Do I have to escort you up there, or can I trust you to do it yourself?"

JJ managed a much more genuine smile. "I'll go. And thanks, Dee-sempai. You gave me a lot to think about." He climbed out of the car and headed into Drake's apartment building.

Dee allowed a smile to creep over his face as JJ disappeared into the building. "Sure, kid." He said to no one and nothing in particular. "You're welcome." Then he started the car and headed back to the place he now shared with the love of his life. Time to face the music. Maybe if he acted contrite enough, Ryo would let him off. Not likely, but it was a hope.