FAKE First Year Together: Justice (June)

by Brit Columbia

Chapter 1

Fandom: Fake

Pairing: Dee/Ryo

Rating: Mature. No one is a bad boy. Dee tries, but Ryo shoots him down.

Spoilers: To Volume 7. Also, there are spoiler alerts for FAKE First Year Together: A New Day (May), the fanfic I wrote that is set before this one.

Timing: Set in June of Dee and Ryo's first year together. They have just recently become a couple in May. A New Day left off on Sunday night. This story begins a couple of days later on Tuesday afternoon. Also, my short story Legal Briefs took place earlier in the same day that Justice opens on.

Summary: Ryo is coming to terms with what it means to be a gay man in a straight world. He and Dee are also hunting the dangerous Lieutenant Abernathy...but who is hunting whom?

Disclaimer: I am not making any money for the writing of this work of fanfiction, nor do I own Fake or any of the characters created by Sanami Matoh. The Abernathy family is mine, however, and so are Detectives James Chang of the 27th and Bill Mitchell of the 62nd Precincts.

Author's notes: If you haven't read A New Day, it may be a little harder for you to figure out what's going on, but not impossible.

Thank you to mtemplar and the-ladyfeather.

Justice

Chapter 1: Sleeping Dogs

In their office on the fourth floor of the NYPD's 27th precinct, Detectives Dee Laytner and Ryo MacLean appeared to be hard at work. However, closer observation would have revealed that neither one was giving the papers and files in front of him his full attention.

Unlike Ryo, however, Dee wasn't even trying. First, he played drums for a while with a couple of pencils, earning him a glare from his partner that caused him to stop. Then he stared out of the window while calculating his odds of winning the NBA office pool. Then he wrote out a to-do list that had very little to do with work. When he wasn't doing those and other things, he was watching his partner. He loved watching Ryo. His whole life had changed the day Ryo had started working at the 27th Precinct.

They had been police partners for almost three years, and recently they had become lovers. That last fact, however, was something that they were still keeping a secret, particularly from their co-workers. Dee had had the honor of being Ryo's first-ever male sexual partner, and he hoped he would be the last one, too. Bisexual since his teens, and out of the closet for almost that long, Dee was a man who was confident in his sexuality. Ryo, on the other hand, was more much more conservative by nature, and not the kind of person who took well to change. He had made it clear to Dee that he needed time to adjust to what he had learned about himself, and that he didn't want the world to know just yet. Dee accepted that. What else could he do? He understood that Ryo had a process to go through and that he couldn't be rushed. Besides, he was just grateful that Ryo had finally said yes to him, had finally admitted the depths of his feelings. Hell, if Ryo had told him that the only time they could have sex together was on Tuesdays between five and seven AM, Dee would have agreed. Any terms were worth it to love and be loved by Ryo.

But now, his covert observation of his partner was telling him two things. One, Ryo was on edge about something time-oriented and two, he was either sore or horny, judging by the way he shifted about in his chair every so often.

"Ryo, dude, what's up? It's not like you to watch the clock."

"I wasn't watching the clock."

"Oh no, of course not! And Drake doesn't have lousy taste in women, either. And the Sea Hag never bought a push-up bra or a micro-mini in her life."

"Dee, have you finished transcribing your notes?"

"Not exactly."

"Why the hell not?"

"Tell me again why I had to take the notes this time?" Dee scowled resentfully at his partner.

"Perhaps because it was your turn?" There was a hard edge to Ryo's voice. "Perhaps because I'm your partner and not your personal assistant?"

"Aw Ryo, you know I didn't mean it like that," said Dee placatingly. "It's just that when you take the notes, we can actually read 'em." He turned his pocket notebook sideways and squinted at it. "There are whole sentences here that I can't read, even though I'm the one who wrote them."

"I'm not falling for that bullshit line, so don't even go there." Ryo glanced at the clock for a second while he was talking.

"What bullshit line would that be?" Dee asked innocently.

"The one where you pretend you can't read your own writing and dump the transcribing job on me." Ryo's attention seemed to be wholly on a comparison he was doing between two case files. He didn't even look at Dee as he spoke. "Your memory for case details has always been good. Reconstruct the interview from memory if you have to."

Dee sighed at this demonstration of heartlessness, but he didn't miss the way Ryo's eyes jumped once more to the clock and back. What could it be? Dee thought hard, and suddenly he realized what was probably on Ryo's mind.

"Hey, Ryo, what time was Abernathy's flight supposed to be leaving?"

Michael Abernathy, a lieutenant with Internal Affairs, was an adversary of Dee and Ryo's. They had spent most of the month of May trying to obtain hard evidence that the man was using his badge and his status as an IA agent as a means of engaging in several illegal activities, from drug running to the sale of stolen property. They also suspected that lieutenant Abernathy had been involved in at least two murders. Every time they got close to being able to catch him or get their hands on some proof of his activities, he had managed to turn the tables on them. Scant days before their Commissioner-approved surveillance of Abernathy was to commence, they had learned that the man had obtained medical leave and was actually flying to Florida, which was a little out of their jurisdiction, to put it mildly.

"Four twenty-five." With great difficulty, Ryo kept his eyes from darting to the clock. He knew what time it was.

"Hmph. So in fifteen minutes that plane will be in the air and he won't be our problem for a few weeks."

"Yep. Unless this is just another part of his game and he has no intention of getting on the plane."

"You could call and ask if he's checked in."

"I did. He has."

"So you think he'd go all the way to the airport and then not get on the plane?" Dee looked skeptical. "That would mean throwing away a five-thousand-dollar air and hotel package. I don't think he'd lightly do that."

"He would if he had a lot more money than that at stake in a deal with one of the gangs. We know he was recently involved with the Dyre Steet Devils, and you can bet that was all about money."

"Yeah, but they took a real bad hit in that warehouse explosion. If they don't get their leadership issues straightened out ASAP, I give 'em a week, tops, before they get overrun. The Devils would be a bad horse for Abernathy to back right now." Dee shook his head. "Nope. If I were him, I'd wait out all the mayhem in a swank hotel in Florida and then come back when the worst was over to pick up all the fruit lying on the ground."

"I disagree," said Ryo. "The devils are a long way from being down and out. While it's true they're having power struggles in their chain of command, someone there has been doing some heavy recruiting for new guys. They've done a better job of bringing their numbers up in the last few days than the Stone Bloods."

"Yeah? Did Marty confirm that?"

"Not yet. I haven't seen Marty since Sunday. I got it from one of my street contacts."

Detective Marty Danes was one of the NYPD's foremost experts on New York gangs. He was a member of a multi-precinct task force whose aim was to reduce the power and influence of the gangs over the next five years. He had been working a lot of overtime since a huge explosion at a Brooklyn warehouse had killed most of the Stone Blood Boys, one third of the Dyre Street Devils, and several of Corporate America's best men, including its leader, Frank Rizzo.

"Well, I still don't think Abernathy is stupid enough to stick around for all the shit that's going on. There have been too many hits in the last few days." Dee snapped a pencil across the room and it bounced off the cork bulletin board. "He doesn't strike me as a guy who'd let himself be caught anywhere near the crossfire."

Ryo sighed and looked at the clock again. "You may be right. I mean, it's logical. It's just that that he's always catching us with our pants down."

Dee's one-track mind zeroed in on the two most important words in Ryo's last sentence. His eyes gleamed at his partner. "Well, we both had our pants down at your laywer's office this morning, and we didn't get c--"

"Dee!" Ryo hissed warningly. "Knock it off." He glanced nervously at the door, the clock forgotten.

"Sorry, dude." Dee stretched like a big cat and then grinned irrepressibly at the blushing man across from him. "It's just that I really enjoyed cross-examining your gorgeous habeas corpus, tearing apart your legal briefs and discharging my duty far up inside your--Oi!" He hastily dodged as a stapler came flying at his head.

"Dee, we're at work for Pete's sake!" Ryo cast about angrily for something else to throw. "Don't you have a professional bone in your whole body?" He picked up a pair of scissors and then discarded them, to Dee's intense relief. "Get your mind out of the gutter--" he scored a direct hit with his water bottle-- "and back on your notes!"

"Ow! Do you have to be so damn violent?"

"You're welcome to go downstairs and file a grievance if you can't handle working with me!"

"Oh, I can handle you, all right," Dee began with swaggering bravado, but backed away in the direction of the door when he saw the look on Ryo's face. "Well, I think I'm gonna go downstairs anyway, and grab a coffee. Want one?"

"I want a goddamn replacement coffee mug!" Ryo called after him. Dee had broken it almost six weeks ago and had been promising to replace it ever since.

Ted stuck his head out into the hall as Dee strolled past. "What the hell's all that yelling about, dude? Some of us are trying to think in here."

"What yelling?" asked Dee indignantly. "That's called 'working', Ted, you slacker. And don't tell me you 'think' more than a couple times a day."

Ted gave Dee's retreating form the finger and returned to his desk.

"Is Dee-Sempai okay? Did Ryo hurt him?" JJ asked anxiously.

"Nothin' to worry about," said Ted dismissively. "Just another one of their lovers' spats."

"Lovers? Them? No way!" JJ snorted in disbelief. "Really, Ted, don't you know anything?"

&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&

Bikky was standing near the basketball court at Dundarave park exchanging insults with the younger sister of one of the Southside boys.

"You're not a bad player," she conceded, "for such a little guy. But my brother can shoot rings around you."

"Your brother ain't that hot, Jill," was Bikky's rejoinder. "He's just the best player on a crappy team, which ain't sayin' much."

Jill took a drag of her long, skinny menthol cigarette while she thought of a suitable retort. She had fancy red nails with little diamond things sparkling on them. Bikky bounced his basketball rapidly to the left and then the right. He considered that there was no way a person could play any kind of sport with fingernails like that. But then Jill, with her cigarettes and her tough-girl attitude didn't come across as the athletic type. She was more of a groupie who never missed a chance to suck up to the better players on her brother's team. She was a year or so older than Bikky was, and always acted like she was way too cool to talk to 'a little kid' like him. Yet, every time their paths crossed, she was the one who made the first move.

"My brother could be the best player on anybody's team, including yours. You could never even come close to outshooting him with those short little arms and legs of yours." She blew smoke out sideways and her eyes flickered up and down his frame.

"Long legs don't make up for no talent." He took a step back from her so he could dribble his basketball a few times on the concrete between them, and then turned his head to glare at those Southside bastards. It looked like they were going to be late getting out of there again, even though their time was up and they knew it.

"Oh look," she said silkily. "Here comes that little homo Tommy Abernathy. You cops' kids really stick together, don't you?"

Anger flared inside Bikky but he quickly suppressed it without showing it. "Never show pain," his old man used to say by way of fatherly advice in the old days. "Stay on your feet and give 'em the old one-two with a smile on your face."

Bikky was not in the habit of giving the old one-two to girls. He was also mostly pretty careful about insulting them, too. Girls could be vicious, and he had learned the hard way that if he was too rude to certain chicks, it could sometimes have repercussions on Carol.

"Hey Jill, go kiss your brother's ass one more time for luck. He just missed a real easy shot over there."

Bikky smirked as she instinctively turned to look, then he nodded at Thomas.

"Yo, Tom. Whassup? Did you meet your aunt yet?"

Jill sniffed contemptuously and strolled away, leaving a cloud of menthol smoke in her wake.

"Um, no," said Thomas, sounding confused. "I don't know what's going on."

"Well, did your parents leave yet?"

"I think so."

"You think so?"

"My mom was s'posed to pick up my aunt at the airport when I was at school this morning, but neither of them came back to the apartment, according to Dad.

"So, is your dad at home then?"

"No. No one's there. It's weird."

"Is your aunt stayin' in a hotel or something?"

"No. Dad said she'd be staying in the apartment with me. She's gonna be using Mom's keys while she's away. Except she's kinda disappeared."

"Do you know if your parents caught their flight?"

"Well, I know my dad went to the airport with his suitcases because he called me at school to say good-bye. He said Mom was gonna meet him at the airport." He shrugged his shoulders and looked uncomfortable. "When she said good-bye to me this morning, she..." He hesitated, not knowing how to put it into words. "Something's wrong, I think, but I don't know what it is."

Bikky slapped the chain link fence a couple of times and yelled, "Hey, Southside! Time's up, losers!" One of the Southside players, a tall, skinny dude Bikky knew of as Fido loped near the back of the court and gave the two boys the finger in passing. Thomas, whose mind was on his own troubles, didn't notice. Kenny, Jim and Dave were already inside the court, checking their watches. They looked at Bikky a little anxiously. Bikky swore under his breath.

"My dad had a big argument with someone on the phone in Gaelic," said Thomas. "I couldn't understand what it was about."

"Do you think he was fighting with your aunt?"

"Maybe. But you see--"

Bikky cut him off. "Sorry, Tom, but I gotta go tell these dickheads they're eating into our time. They're not gonna get off that court unless I kick 'em off."

"Oh...er, sure. Um, are you gonna fight?" Thomas temporarily forgot about his own problems at the promise of a little excitement on the Dundarave Basketball Courts.

"Probably not," said Bikky, thinking of Ryo. "But I'm still gonna kick 'em off the court. Assholes." He turned to walk toward the gate where the rest of his friends were waiting. "Listen, if you're still alone later, gimme a call. If something has happened to your--I mean, if your aunt has gotten lost or something, chances are good Ryo can help. 'Kay?"

"Sure. Thanks, Bikky!" Relief and gratitude lit up Thomas' face. Bikky was almost a year younger than he was, but he always felt like Bikky was older and more capable than most kids he knew. Plus, Bikky had the coolest dad. Tall, handsome, kind, sympathetic and... gay. Thomas' own father had not reacted well to the news that his son was gay. He was still deeply disgusted by it. Thomas sighed.

He stayed while Bikky got the Southsiders off the court, grinning at the sheer quality of the insults Bikky flung at the other team. One of the many things he admired about Bikky was the seeming fearlessness with which the younger boy faced up to any challenge.

When basketball practice started, however, he found his attention starting to wander. Basketball wasn't really a strong interest of his, and he had other things on his mind. He waved and called out a good-bye to Bikky on the court, but Bikky didn't hear him. The game went on behind him as he trudged away. He could hear the cheers, shouts, the slap-slap-slap of running feet, the thunk of the ball hitting the frame behind the hoop and the metallic rattle of someone rebounding off the chain link fence that surrounded the court. Those were the sounds of a world he would never understand or be admitted to. He wondered what it would be like to be part of a team, to function as one unit, to have teammates at your back, in your corner. To be an honored, valued member of a group that had a job to do. To have no fear of stripping down in the change room because someone might see... Thomas pushed those thoughts out of his head. His father was gone for a while, no loss there. Now he just had to find his aunt Margaret. He was a little worried about that, because he knew she was his father's sister. He hoped she was kind and gentle and didn't whip people just because they made mistakes or listened to loud music, or because they were gay. No matter what, he wasn't going to let her drag him off to Ireland. Here in America, in the city of New York, at least he knew where he stood according to the law. But Ireland? That would be anyone's guess.

&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&

"Oh my God, I'm gonna barf!" exclaimed James, turning away from the screen with a grimace. Then he caught JJ's hostile glare, and added, "No offense to present company."

Marty, unperturbed as usual, turned his head and grinned at James. "You think this is bad? Wait til you have to watch hours of kiddie-porn. That'll make you barf for days."

"Yeah," JJ put in. "What's your problem? This is just some raunchy man-on-man bedroom behavior. Looks consenting to me. Apart from the fact that Hogan is high as a kite, he seems to be really into it."

"Oooh, and there's the money shot," said Dee wickedly.

"I refuse to look," said James. "I think I've seen enough. I can't believe you guys are actually getting off on this."

"I'm getting off on what this represents," said Marty. "This is one gangbanger we're never gonna hear a peep out of ever again. I can't wait to see the look on his face when I tell him about his starring role in this little amateur art film. I wonder if he even knows about it?"

"Maybe not. He looks pretty drunk," said Detective Mitchell, shifting uncomfortably in his chair. His face looked a little flushed, and he glanced at JJ shyly.

"Okay, is it over now?" James asked, tentatively looking back at the screen. What he saw there made him recoil. "Aw, sweet Jesus, don't tell me they're starting up again! Why do we have to watch this? Don't we have enough on him already?"

"Well, you don't have to watch it," Marty conceded. "You just need to confirm in your report that this is the same video Danny B-Jack gave us yesterday. However, I still have to choose my perfect ten second clip just in case Hogan has trouble remembering his madcap past. I need something that shows him looking straight at the camera, preferably while there's some full penetration happening."

"Okay, coffee time for me!" James shot out of his chair and practically ran out of the room, to the accompaniment of Dee and Marty's raucous laughter.

"Looks like the other guy is going at him now," said JJ, indicating the monitor.

"Whoa, baby," said Marty to the screen. "There's my third and best possibility yet. Come on Hogan, look right at us...Bingo!"

Detective Mitchell cleared his throat and said in a subdued voice, "I think I need to get a little air, too," and quickly walked out of the room after James.

"Bill?" JJ called after him. "Hey Dee, do you think he's upset?"

"Nah, I think he just needs to, er, 'calm down' in the men's room."

"Huh? Do you think he's, like, turned on by this freaky movie?"

"Only if he likes hairy bears with scars and bad teeth," snorted Dee, and Marty laughed again. "But who knows? Some people do."

"Hmm," said JJ looking a little worried. "Maybe I'd better go and see if he's okay."

"You do that," said Dee knowingly. "He'll probably be real glad to see you."

Marty shook his head with a wry smile as JJ also exited the room. "They're all leaving us, brother," he said to Dee. "Where's their sense of professionalism?"

"Who knows?" said Dee with a smirk. "But if I were you, I wouldn't go near the men's room for a while."

&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&

The microwave had just dinged to let Bikky know his leftovers were ready, when his cell phone rang. "Yo," he said into the phone as he popped the door of the microwave open. The heavenly smell of cheesy meat lasagna filled his nostrils.

"Bikky? It's m-me, Thomas." The voice sounded breathless, maybe even tearful, which put Bikky instantly on red alert.

"You okay, Tom?"

"N-n-n-not r-r-eally," came the reply. "It's--Everyone's--The apartm-m-m-ment..." His teeth were chattering so badly that Bikky could barely make out what he was saying.

"Tom, is your aunt there? Did she call?"

"N-no...She didn't c-call..I ha-av-haven't s-s-seen her yet..."

"What's the matter? What's going on?"

"I d-dunno." Thomas took a tremulous breath." The ap-partment l-l-looks like a cyc-c-clone hit it. Stuff sm-mashed. I'm s-scared, Bikky!"

"Get out of there, right now, Tom! Wait for me in the lobby! I'll be there in ten minutes."

&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&

Bikky stood in the living room of the Abernathy family's once posh apartment, surveying the wreckage with a doubtful eye.

"Holy crap," he said to Thomas. "You weren't kidding when you said it was like a tornado went through here. It looks like you guys have been robbed. Maybe someone heard that your folks were going on vacation." Bikky reached out and gripped Thomas' shoulder reassuringly. "It's okay, man. Whoever did this is gone now. "

Thomas looked at him with scared eyes. "H-how do you know?"

"Well, IF they'd still been there when you called, they would have run down the back stairs when you came down to wait for me in the lobby. Burglars usually don't wanna have to deal with people. They just wanna get in, grab some stuff with street value and get out."

"Bikky, h-how can you be so c-calm?"

Bikky shrugged. What did Tom expect him to say--'Because my first dad was a drug dealer and all his friends were thieves and muggers?' He wasn't going to say that. Carol was right when she said that if you kept your mouth shut about your past, then slowly everyone would forget.

"Is all your good stuff still here?" Bikky asked.

I don't know! H-How would I know?" Thomas looked around helplessly.

"Well, is anything valuable missing?"

"I don't know. I don't know what's valuable and what isn't!"

Bikky rolled his eyes because he just couldn't help it. "Come on, Tom. Does your mom have any good jewelery? Do your folks keep cash lying around? Is the TV here? Computers?"

"Y-yeah," whispered Thomas taking a couple of slow steps into the dining room. "The TV's still there, see? It's j-just smashed. I... I don't know about Mom's stuff. She packed a lot of it before sh-she left this morning."

Bikky got out his cell phone, and started dialing. "Whatever. Anyway, you can't stay here tonight. Your folks are gone, and who knows where the hell your aunt is. I'm gonna call Ryo."

Unfortunately, he got Ryo's voice mail. "Hey, Ryo. Don't be pissed off, okay? I'm at Tom's place. I know I'm not supposed to be here, but his parents are gone, so I thought it would be okay. Anyway, he's real upset 'cause it looks like someone has smashed up his whole apartment...Can you call me back ASAP?" He snapped the phone shut and said, "Tom, do you---"

"Oh my God!" squeaked Thomas, springing back and clutching at Bikky's arm. "Did you hear that?"

Bikky froze and listened. Then he heard it, a soft groan that issued from just beyond the overturned loveseat.

"Who's there?" he called with a bravado that he owed entirely to the fact that he and Tom were both within dashing distance of the door.

There was a mumbled answer, which he couldn't make out at all, thanks to Thomas hyperventilating hysterically right next to his ear. He wished Ryo would call him back right fucking now. He had to make a decision: get out immediately or investigate? He knew that the smart answer would be the first one, but at the same time, he was really curious. Besides, what if someone was hurt? That was what it sounded like. Maybe it was Tom's aunt!

"Let go, man." He shook Thomas off, not even consciously aware yet that he had made his decision. "Stay here."

"Bikky! You're not..."

"Yeah, I am. Shhh, okay?" Bikky moved cautiously forward in a crouch until he was directly behind the loveseat. Now he could smell something gross. It was puke. God, he'd know that smell anywhere. How many times had he had to clean up his old man's barf in the bad old days? Too many to count.

"Can you see anything?" whispered Thomas loudly from somewhere behind him.

"Shhh!" Bikky frowned back at him before peeking over the edge of the small couch. In addition to the puke, there was a smell of booze, too. Cushions and papers everywhere. Smashed glass from a coffee table or an end table. A pair of legs sticking out from under a couple of sofa cushions. The sight made Bikky recoil and jump back, his eyes wide and his heart thumping.

"What? What is it?" Tom was practically crying, and it was that more than anything that made Bikky pull himself together. Someone had to take charge here, and it sure wasn't going to be Tom. He was conscious of a feeling of relief that the legs and feet he had seen belonged to a man, not a woman. That meant it wasn't Tom's aunt lying on the floor groaning.

"There's a guy on your floor," Bikky said. "I think he's...well, drunk."

"What?"

"Come and see for yourself," Bikky said, beckoning in invitation. "Look at those bottles."

".God." Thomas was staring, clearly horrified. "I think that's my dad."

"What? He's not gone?"

"I guess not!" Thomas still looked scared. "I don't get it. He called me from the airport."

"Let's get these cushions off him and see if he's okay."

Together the two boys lifted the loveseat cushions off Tom's father and disentangled him from the tasseled afghan throw that normally would have been draped over the sofa. He lay on his side, unconscious, disheveled and stinking. There was a small pile of vomit on the sofa next to him, and some of it had dried on his face. There was an empty bottle of whiskey standing upright amongst the glass shards and a partially full bottle of rum resting against the wreckage of some kind of flower arrangement.

"Is he dead?" asked Thomas timidly.

"Nope," said Bikky. "His color's too good for him to be dead. Besides, his breath would knock over a buffalo, and dead people don't breathe."

"I think vampires do," said Thomas.

"No they don't," said Bikky definitively. "They don't need to, on account of being dead."

"Okay, zombies, then."

Bikky gave him an impatient look. "They don't breathe, either! They're dead, too, idiot! 'Dead' equals 'no breathing'."

"How do you know? Have you ever seen a zombie?"

"Yeah, my math teacher!" Bikky grinned at him. "I'm sure he eats the brains of the kids in detention."

"And does he look like that?" Thomas indicated the figure on the floor.

"Tom, are you calling your dad a zombie?"

Both boys collapsed in a fit of the giggles, laughing hysterically as relief set in. The lame zombie joke wouldn't have ordinarily struck Bikky as being that funny, but they had both been so scared and so on edge that now they couldn't stop themselves. Bikky thumped Thomas' back, and Thomas pounded the floor. They hooted and guffawed, tears running down their faces, until Bikky suddenly realized that all this noise might cause Tom's dad to wake up and he sure didn't want to be around for that. Accordingly he stopped laughing and anxiously checked the 'zombie'. Still asleep. Good. But that could change at any minute.

"Tom..." he gasped. "Tom, quit laughing."

"Why?" Thomas went off into a fresh riff of giggles.

"When he wakes up, he's gonna be drunk and pissed off. Let's not wake him up."

"Oh yeah," said Thomas sobering. "He's even more of an asshole than usual when he's drunk."

The two boys took another look at the snoring figure on the floor. Lieutenant Michael Abernathy wasn't a big man, but to Bikky, there was something imposing about him, even when he was passed out intoxicated with dried barf on his face. Thomas just looked kind of disgusted at the sight of his father in such an undignified state.

There was a cracked blue glass bowl nearby which had once been beautiful. Bikky saw a blackened piece of paper in it. "What's that?" he asked, pointing to it.

"I dunno." Thomas reached for it. The burned parts broke off and partially disintegrated as he picked the letter up. "It's my mom's writing." He looked at it for a moment, frowning. "It's hard to read--too much of it is burned. What does 'annulment' mean?"

"Beats me," said Bikky whose eye had fallen on a shoe box full of photographs. About half of them had spilled out, and some of them appeared to have been torn to bits. "Hey, is this you?" He held up a picture of a young woman whom Bikky took to be Thomas' mom balancing a chubby, laughing toddler on her lap.

Thomas looked at it and smiled. "Yep, that's me. God, look how they dressed me."

"You're lucky to have baby pictures," Bikky said. "We don't have any of me." He closed his mouth quickly, instantly regretting having spoken.

"How come?"

Bikky shrugged and tried to look like he didn't give a shit. "There was a fire when I was a little kid. I don't remember it. Lots of stuff got burned, computer, photo albums, everything." Actually, he did remember it, very well, in fact. He just didn't want to talk about it.

"That's too bad, Bikky." Thomas looked at him with compassion for a moment before holding up another photo and grinning. "But at least you know that no one will ever see a picture of you looking like this!" It was another one of himself at about one and a half or two years old with wild hair and only two teeth.

Bikky opened his mouth to say something suitably smart-ass, when suddenly his attention was caught by the other person in the picture. This time, instead of Mrs. Abernathy, baby Thomas was held in the arms of a man. A very familiar looking man.

"Hey, Tom, who's that guy?"

"I don't know." Thomas flipped the photo over. "There's nothing on the back."

"Let me see it." Bikky took the photo and stared at it. "Jeez!" he exclaimed. "Who does he remind you of, Tom?"

Thomas frowned at the photo. "He looks like...your dad." He raised his head and met Bikky's eyes wonderingly. "That's so freaky!"

"Yeah, it sure is. Hey are there any more of him?" Bikky started sifting through the pictures, discarding one after the other.

"Here he is again," said Thomas handing Bikky another picture, this time one with three men who all stood squinting into the sunlight with a cathedral behind them. "That guy in the middle is my uncle Marcus. He died a long time ago. That's my dad on the right, back when he had more hair. But the guy on the left--Gee, he sure does look like Ryo, huh?"

"Yeah, said Bikky. "I thought the first picture might be a fluke, but now I know it wasn't." He turned it over and read the single sentence on the back. Me, Marcus and the bastard. Still no clue as to the guy's identity. But clearly Tom's dad didn't like him very much.

"Hey," said Thomas thoughtfully. "Has your dad ever been to Ireland? Maybe our dads knew each other when they were young and something happened there and that's why they hate each other now."

Bikky shook his head. "Nah. Ryo and I went to England, but not Ireland. He would have told me if he ever went there. Besides, these pictures were taken more than ten years ago when your family still lived in Ireland. Ryo would have been a teenager then." He tapped the picture with the back of one finger. "This guy in the picture doesn't look like a teenager. He looks like Ryo does now."

"Yeah, you're right. It couldn't be him." Thomas shook his head slowly, but then an idea struck him and he looked quickly at Bikky. "Does he have an older brother, though? Or a cousin?"

Bikky couldn't stop staring at the picture. This whole evening was getting more surreal by the minute. "He doesn't have any brothers, but he does have a few cousins. I could ask him. Hey, do you mind if I borrow this picture for a couple of days? I wanna show it to him."

"Sure," Thomas replied. "Why not? This place is such a mess, I'm sure my dad won't notice."

Bikky nodded and as they stood up, and looked once more at the ruined apartment, a small silence fell between them. Bikky wondered why Ryo hadn't called him. It had been at least fifteen minutes. He pulled out his phone to call Ryo again, and at that moment, the phone rang in his hands, making him jump and swear.

"Jeez, Ryo, I coulda been dead by now!" he said as soon as he had flipped his phone open. "Way to take your time!"

"Bikky, where are you?" Ryo sounded really intense. "Are you still at Thomas' apartment? If so, get out of there now! Now, do you hear me?"

"Okay, okay, we're goin'. Come on Thomas."

"Are you out of there yet?"

"Almost. Tom's just grabbing his book bag. Okay, we're walking through the door...Heading for the elevator...Pressing the button..."

"Bikky, what happened? Why did you go there?"

"Thomas called me 'cause his aunt who was s'posed to take care of him never showed up, and then when he got home, he found his whole apartment had been trashed. He was freaked out, Ryo. He didn't know what to do."

"Why didn't you call 911?"

"Cause I called you, fat lot of good that did me." Bikky was back on the offensive.

"I'm sorry, Bikky, I was in the middle of questioning a witness. I called you as soon as I could."

"Well, it's just a damn good thing I wasn't actually in trouble, wasn't it?"

Ryo ignored that and said, "Look, I'm on my way. I'll call you from the road, okay? But do NOT go back inside that apartment for any reason, do you hear me? I'm serious, Bikky. Whoever broke into that apartment may still be hanging around. Go wait downstairs with the doorman."

"Yeah, yeah, jeez. Bye."

&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&

Dee faced the sullen youth at the table in Questioning Room Two. "You know we've got your DNA on file from that incident with the cabbie two years back," he remarked.

The kid snorted contemptuously. "I was a minor," he said. "You cain't use it."

"Maybe not. But it's one more step in the case we're building on you. Battista's girlfriend picked you out of the lineup, don't forget."

"Bitch hates me. 'M not surprised."

"If she hates you, it's 'cause you and your homeys shot her man and tried to shoot her."

"You got the wrong guy! Wudn't me. How many times I got to tell ya?"

"Everyone from here to Brooklyn knows it was you, CC."

"'Cept all those people at the party I was at! They signed them 'Daf... them 'David things for ya. Ya think they all lyin'?"

"I think that if we start looking closely at where your friends really were and what they were really doing, some of those stories are gonna crack under the pressure," said Dee, who was quite enjoying himself. Too bad Ryo was missing this part. "We got enough to hold you. Bail is gonna be more than Reggie's gonna want to pay in these troubled times, no matter how grateful he is. If I were you..." He trailed off as the door suddenly opened and Ryo jerked his head at him in a 'come here' motion. He looked so serious that Dee got to his feet immediately.

"CC, my man, you got some thinking to do," he said. "Take your time! We've got all night."

When he got outside the room, Ryo was waiting for him in the hall, practically vibrating with excitement. "Dee, come on, grab your jacket because we're leaving right now."

"Huh? What about CC? I got him worried. In another hour, we might be able to--"

"Never mind about him! Let Sheldon have a crack at him next. We've got something bigger to go after."

"Well, fill me in, partner." Dee found he had to hurry just to keep up with Ryo who was bounding up the stairs ahead of him.

"I just got a call from Bikky," Ryo called back over his shoulder. "He's with Thomas. At Thomas' apartment. There's been a break-in and the place is apparently trashed. Sounds like a robbery."

Dee stopped dead. "What? You're shittin' me."

"Come ON! Don't stop moving. You know what this means. This is the chance we've been waiting for. We can't get a warrant to search Abernathy's apartment because we don't have enough evidence to apply for one. But if a crime has been committed, that's our ticket in! Get your butt in gear, or I'm going without you."

&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&

About five minutes later, Bikky's cell phone rang again. It was Ryo.

"Okay, we're on our way," he said. "Where are you and Thomas now?"

"Waiting in the lobby."

"Good. Stay there. Dee and I will be with you in a few minutes. There's a patrol car right behind us."

Bikky cast an uneasy look over his shoulder at the elevators. They remained still and closed. No little lights came on. He couldn't imagine why he was looking at them. He had only just managed to tear his eyes away from them when he became aware that Ryo was speaking again. "'Scuse me, what was that, Ryo?"

Ryo had returned to his questioning. "I asked what exactly Thomas' apartment looks like right now. You said in your message that there were signs of vandalism. Do you think it was a robbery?"

"Probably," said Bikky, "but Tom wasn't sure if anything had been taken. It's a real mess, Ryo. Broken stuff everywhere."

"Was anyone in the apartment?"

"Well, at first we thought no one was there, but then we found Tom's dad passed out drunk under some sofa cushions--"

"WHAT? Lieutenant Abernathy? Are you sure?"

"Yeah, Ryo, I think Tom knows his own dad," said Bikky a shade more sarcastically than he'd intended. "Hey, can Tom stay with us tonight? His apartment is really scary and his dad's in no shape to look after him."

"Yes, of course," Ryo said quickly and then Bikky heard him say to Dee, "I was right! He didn't get on the plane!"

Ryo returned his attention to Bikky. "This changes everything--don't wait in the lobby--get out of the building right now."

"Okay, said Bikky. "Come on, Tom."

The liveried doorman opened the door for the boys with a smile and as they stepped out into the warm night air, Bikky looked nervously over his shoulder again at the two elevators in the lobby. Crap, Ryo was making him get all jumpy.

"Where are you now, Ryo?"

"Close. Moving fast. Can you hear us?"

Bikky cocked his head and listened. A pair of sirens howled not far away, winding their urgent cries around each other in the waning light of the evening.

"I hear sirens. Is that you guys?"

"Yeah," said Ryo. "One more block...Here we are!"

And just like that, two cars jerked to a halt in front of the building, and double parked. One was a cruiser, lights flashing all over it, and the other was one of the unmarked sedans that Bikky knew Dee and Ryo used for their work. It had the magnetic cherry lights on top. Bikky felt a great sense of relief wash over him when he saw Ryo get out of the car and run toward him with dorkhead hot on his heels. He hadn't realized until that moment that he had been half afraid that Tom's spooky dad would come staggering after them like some kind of ravening zombie and drag them back into that nightmare of an apartment. Now that Ryo was here, he felt completely safe.

"Are you boys okay?" Ryo asked. "Are you hurt?"

"No! I mean, yes. I mean, we're fine," said Bikky. "We're not little kids, you know." He rolled his eyes at Thomas, as if to say 'Parents!'

The two patrol cops came puffing up at that moment, both big boys, neither as fast on his feet as Ryo and Dee.

"Which apartment?" One of them asked.

"1214B," Ryo said. "The owner is there, but he's unconscious."

"He's drunk," corrected Thomas.

"Well, we don't want him to die from alcohol poisoning, now, do we?" said Dee. "Let's get him an ambulance." He spoke into his radio. "Laytner to dispatch, over."

"Dispatch."

"Update on the 10-21 on West 59th at Madison. We got a 10-54, code U, over."

"Is my dad going to hospital?" Thomas asked, alarmed.

"Hopefully," muttered Dee.

"You know, Thomas, people can die if they throw up when they're passed out," Ryo said. "He should probably get checked out."

"Oh no," said Thomas, thinking guiltily about all the times he had wished his controlling and abusive father dead. His dad was an asshole, but he wasn't all bad. Besides, he was the only dad Thomas had.

Ryo took Dee aside and spoke to him rapidly in a low voice. "Dee, you go up with the uniforms, quick, before that bastard wakes up and denies us entry. I'm gonna take the kids back to the station and get statements from them. We need to know what the hell happened and why Abernathy's not in Florida. Meet us at home later, okay?"

"You got it, man."

"Call me right away if you find anything," Ryo called after him.

Dee nodded at him and got into the elevator that one of the uniformed officers was holding open for him.

Ryo escorted Bikky and Thomas to the unmarked car, praying that nothing would happen to prevent Dee from getting inside that apartment. The alleged burglary was almost as good as the warrant they knew they didn't have enough evidence to even apply for. If Dee was able to find something incriminating, that would be all the grounds they needed to apply for warrants for Abernathy's home, car, office, telephone content records, income tax records, the whole enchilada. Bikky's call had been the opportunity, the break Ryo had been waiting for. When he started the engine and pulled out, he was so excited that it was hard to keep his mind on the road.

"Hey, Ryo, I'm like totally starving," Bikky said. "I didn't get time to eat dinner tonight. How about you, Tom? Did you eat dinner?"

Thomas shook his head, and looked out of the window as an ambulance screamed past them heading in the opposite direction.

"Ryo," Bikky said hopefully, 'there's a drive-thru burger joint coming up on the right. Can we get take out? Just this once?"

Ryo sighed. "Sure, but no eating in the car. This is a police vehicle and I don't want to return it with ketchup all over the back seats."

"Where are we going?" asked Thomas in a small voice.

Ryo met his eyes in the rear-view mirror. "We're going to the 27th precinct," he said. "You guys can eat your burgers there."

"Well, okay," said Bikky. "But if it takes too long and I can't get to my homework, then I'm gonna need a note for tomorrow."

"Me, too!" piped up Thomas. Then he added, "Why are we going to the police station?"

"Because I need to get statements from you guys," Ryo said. "You guys are witnesses that the apartment was either robbed or vandalized. We'll have to put together a police report, and I'm gonna need your help."

"Cool," said Thomas, his excitement about being a witness temporarily overcoming his worries about why his dad wasn't on vacation and where his mom might be. At least he'd have an interesting story to tell at school tomorrow.

Ryo glanced at the clock on the dash. Dee must surely be inside Abernathy's apartment by now. What he would give to be in there with him!

end of Justice, Chapter One: Sleeping Dogs

&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&.&

Additional author's notes: Chapter Two of Justice, 'Den of the Dragon; is on my homepage (LJ). You can find a link on my profile page here at FF dot Net.

I'm afraid I'm having a few health issues and I may not be able to post for three or four weeks, maybe a bit longer. I'll be on sick leave from work and it all depends on how I feel. There's more info on this on my LJ. But I'll definitely be back. Those of you who have been reading my stories for the past three years know that I'm a reliable poster! I'm very excited about this new story, and also about the possibility of finishing Slave to a Gladiator.