DISCLAIMER: FAKE belongs to Sanami Matoh and whoever else claims them. We don't. We just play with them a little. No money made, honestly!
Author’s Voice of Warning (aka Author’s Note):
English is not our first language; it’s German. This is the best we can do. Any mistakes you find in here, collect them and you might win a prize <g> The spell-checker said everything's okay, but you know how trustworthy those thingies are.....
#1 tiny little crossover with another AU of ours called Denuo (it's a The Magnificent 7 AU). Two characters appear, but you don't have to know them to enjoy the story. They're there to help explain #2
#2 the story deals with the paranormal
#3 we ignore the events of Volume 7 completely!!! This AU starts BEFORE they get together.
#4 Berkely Rose was translated as Ross Barclay in the German version
of Fake and we like the name a lot better, so we go with it. Sorry to you
all, but you have to live with that ;)
FEEDBACK: empty inbox seeks emails <g>
Part I – True Lies
It was one of those days.
Get up, shower, shave, wonder about breakfast, then go and buy something at the deli on the way to work. Three coffees later you're still not awake, but you really need to open your eyes and make that sludge you call a brain work.
Dee Latener hated stake-outs with a vengeance. Usually they were boring, a waste of time, and company was dreadful. Well, this time company had been more than wonderful. A stake-out with his partner Ryo McLane had some good points. While keeping an eye on the building they had been observing, Dee had also observed the handsome man sharing the non-descript car with him. Despite the cool weather, Dee had felt warm and his body had reacted with little thrills, his fingers itching to touch the other man. He wanted to kiss him, warm his cool lips, hold him, run his hands along those slender limbs and the smooth skin.
All that was impossible on a serious stake-out and despite his sometimes flippant attitude, Dee knew this was important. They had been after a wanted murderer for weeks now and an informant had told them he usually hung out here. Usually hadn't included last night. It had truly been a waste of time, but luckily no new body had been found that bore his signature.
Still, having Ryo so close, the object of his affection, his obsession and his love, had made him want to break the rules and just kiss him into a puddle. And he knew he could do it. Ryo's reaction to his kisses was mind-blowing. Dee loved kissing his partner, loved the way the lithe body stiffened, then relaxed into the contact, until Ryo kissed him back, fingers clutching and holding him.
Shit, he had it bad for him. So bad that he had been chasing after the man for close to two years by now. Ryo was always pushing him away and Dee had no idea why. Sure, the other man was a virgin when it came to male love, but he wasn't averse to it. He had kissed him in turn, he had touched him, had sought his presence, but there had never been anything else.
Running a hand through his unruly, black hair, Latener trudged through the precinct, wondering as always what it was that held his partner back. Ryo wanted him. He really did. He had felt the evidence of his desire, but why didn't he just let himself fall? What was he afraid of?
Dee heard a small gasp, followed by an exclamation of surprise, and turned his head to see what had caused the little ruckus. The tall, dark haired guy that had entered the office and was currently speaking to Halliwell couldn’t be the reason, so what … ?
The next second Dee knew just what was going on as yellow, canine eyes regarded him warily, and this time he gasped.
“Detective McLane is not available at the moment, sir, but you could talk to his partner, Detective Latener,” Dee heard Halliwell say and looked up slowly, carefully as not to alert the large gray dog…? More of a wolf it was, though the animal was wearing a red collar.
“Detective Latener? Dee Latener?”
He knew that voice …
“Buck? Buck Wilmington?” he blurted, eyes wide as he took in the tall, dark-haired man.
“The one and only.”
Of course he was the one and only. There was no one like Buck Wilmington anywhere. No one who could get close. Six feet, broad shoulders, narrow waist and long legs made up the man who he hadn't seen in years. The dark brown hair showed no signs of graying, though Buck had to be in his forties by now. His face was sun tanned, dimples showing as he grinned, teeth flashing. He was dressed in jeans and a long-sleeve t-shirt, a leather jacket completing the casual outfit.
"Shit, man!" Dee exclaimed. "Where did you come from?"
Buck laughed and Dee found himself embraced in one of Buck’s famous bear hugs he knew from long ago.
"Latener, you old hound dog!"
The dog woofed slightly, and he let go of the other man immediately.
“It’s okay,” Buck said quietly, “he’s a friend.”
The dog tilted his head, ears flicking, and Dee found himself the center of the large canine’s attention, being sniffed thoroughly.
“That looks a lot like a wolf,” he said, feeling a bit nervous.
“Half. The wolf genes are dominant. He’s tame and trained, and I have permission. Wanna see, Detective?”
Dee shook his head, smiling, and dared to let his fingers wander behind the dog’s ears, starting to scratch after he had been thoroughly sniffed. He was rewarded with a snort of pure pleasure.
“No, I believe you. He’s beautiful.”
“That he is. Hey, you’ve already won his heart.”
"What's his name?"
The dog sneezed and Buck scratched his head. "Not that he listens to it, but the fur ball's called Blue."
Buck shrugged. "Don't ask me. He came with the name when I got him."
The dog woofed softly, shooting Buck a look as if he was scolding him.
Dee smiled. "So, what are you doing here, Buck?"
"Me and my pal here came to talk to Detective McLane. It's a case." He shrugged. "Something he worked on a while back."
"Uh, Ryo's already in, as far as I know. He's upstairs."
He jerked a thumb toward the stairs leading to the fourth floor that was home to their office.
"I'll show you."
Buck nodded. "'S appreciated. So, how are you doing? Last I heard you transferred to New York. Lost track of you since."
Dee smiled. "I could say the same."
The dog trotted up ahead of them, earning curious looks as they made their way to the fourth floor.
"Well, I ended up in criminalistics."
Dee stared at him. "Buck Wilmington? One of the nerd squad?"
Wilmington chuckled. "Yes, believe it or not. Hey, I can put my college degree to use. Finally."
"Blowing up some stuff?" Dee teased.
Wilmington had a degree in chemistry and he had been an explosive expert ever since Dee could remember.
Almost ten years, he mused. Ten years since he had last seen the man.
"Naw. Sometimes, yes, but mostly it's lab work. I know you'd hate it."
"To each his own. So when did you leave the force and become a science geek?"
Buck smiled. "Back in '95. You remember Chris Larabee?" At Dee's nod he continued. "Chris was the first to accept a position with the CSI. He asked me a year later if I'd be interested. Well, took me a few weeks to think about it, but then I said yes. Best decision I ever made, Dee." Buck's voice had grown more serious.
"So, where are you now?"
"Salt Lake City."
"The Beehive State?"
Buck grinned. "Yep. Chris is actually my boss now. We work the graveyard shift."
"Man, things I never considered possible." Dee shook his head with mock horror. "So, you guys are working a case that's got something to do with Ryo's?"
"Apparently. His name came up and Chris asked me to come here and talk to the detective in person. So here I am."
"Here you are indeed." Dee smiled, happy to have his old friend and colleague in the precinct, even if he had brought a big dog along that looked like a wolf. "Here we are."
He opened the door to the shared office and found Ryo just like predicted. His partner looked slightly tired, but a lot more awake than Dee had felt until a few minutes ago. The dog bounded in and over to Ryo, giving him a curious sniff. Ryo's eyebrows rose as he took in the canine and their visitor.
"Morning, Ryo. Someone here to talk to you about an old case. Buck Wilmington, that's my partner, Randy McLane. Ryo, an old friend of mine from way back when."
Buck stretched out his hand and Ryo shook it. "Buck Wilmington, CSI Salt Lake."
McLane nodded. "You called," he said, shaking the outstretched hand. "I collected my case notes. They're in the evidence room."
Dee settled back, watching the two men. The dog was simply looking around, sniffing places, coming back to Ryo to nudge his hand. Ryo immediately scratched his head. Dee smiled.
"How about you get your stuff and we meet for dinner tonight?" Latener asked. "Or are you leaving today?"
Buck smiled. "No, actually we're staying. Do you mind if I bring someone along?"
Dee's brows climbed. "Blue?"
"Nope, colleague of mine. Name's Vin Tanner."
At the name, Blue started to wag his tail as if he knew exactly who Buck was talking about. He probably was. Dee shrugged.
"Okay. Detective McLane and I'll see about the case notes and the evidence first. What time tonight?"
"Great. Detective?" Buck looked at the other man.
"Yes?" Ryo blinked, slightly flustered.
"The evidence room?"
Buck groaned theatrically. "I knew it was wrong to go all the way up here."
"That way you keep in shape," Dee teased.
Buck flipped him the bird as he followed Ryo out the door. Dee just laughed and settled back into his chair. Well, the day had just gotten better. Now he just had to convince Ryo to come along tonight to make it a date.
Dee grinned slyly.
Yep, that sounded just fine.
* * *
The rest of the day proceeded as always. Dee tried to make a dent in
his paperwork, called some people, received more calls, had to go out and
meet a contact, and finally closed two cases that had been driving them
mad for a month now. Ryo had spent a lot of time with Buck, but Dee hadn't
really inquired into what case his old friend had wanted to discuss. He
knew that some cases were sensitive and for Wilmington to come to New York,
this one had been such a case.
"How about you join us tonight?" he asked his partner as they had their coffee break, Dee perching on the other man's table.
Ryo glanced at him from over his glasses. Latener had to swallow a grin. Ryo looked adorable with his glasses, which he only wore for computer work, and he wanted nothing more than to push them back onto his nose, then kiss him. He refrained from doing both.
"He's your friend, Dee. I don't think it's okay to just barge in."
"You're not barging and he's got his partner along, too. I think it'll be fun. C'mon, Ryo…"
Ryo leaned back and took off the glasses, the brown eyes thoughtful. "Are you sure I'm not interrupting? You two haven't seen each other in ages. You've got some catching up to do."
Another long look and Dee felt a bit antsy now.
"How close were you back then?"
Latener stared at him, surprised by the question. "He was my first partner when I got out of the Academy. I was a rookie, he was already on the force…"
"Were you lovers?"
Dee's eyes widened, his eyebrows shot up, and he spluttered. "What?!"
"Buck mentioned something like it. Not the very words, but he implied it." Ryo's voice was very calm and there wasn't even a hint of a blush.
"Ryo, I…" Dee hung his head and chuckled ruefully. Buck had never been able to keep his big mouth shut. "Yes, we were together. He was my first, if ya haveta know. It was… nothing serious. We had some fun, but that was it. We parted as good friends and I got transferred to a new precinct."
Ryo's expression hadn't changed and Dee felt desperation rise inside him.
"Ryo, it's not like he came here for that, okay? I didn't even know he would come. I was just as surprised as the next person. He was here because of your case, not me personally. And it's over. It's been over for nearly ten years!"
He slid off the table and leaned over his partner, gazing intently into the handsome face.
"I'm only interested in one person," he whispered.
Ryo's eyes softened, as they usually did, the liquid chocolate brown drawing him in, devouring him without physical contact. Dee touched one smooth cheek, running a thumb over his partner's lips; lips he had kissed so many times before.
Lips he intended to kiss again.
Lips he now touched with his own.
The contact was tentative until Ryo opened up without Dee having to coax him the slightest bit. Their tongues met in an affectionate dance until Dee felt the other man pull back, so he let him go. Still, the flushed skin told him just what effect he had had.
"Just you," he murmured.
Ryo reached up and touched the hand still cupping his face, never breaking eye contact.
"Come with me tonight?" Dee murmured, pleading.
"Okay," was the soft reply.
Dee smiled. "Thanks."
* * *
Dee had gone to the hotel Buck and his partner were staying at to pick up his old time friend. It was a middle class hotel, not too shabby, not too expensive, right in the budget of a law enforcement agency that had sent two agents to the Big Apple.
“Take a seat, Dee," Buck offered as he walked into the hotel room. "We'll be ready in a moment."
The door to the bathroom opened, and Dee almost choked on his tongue at the sight of the man stepping out. Not as tall as Buck, but equally as slim and well-built, with short dark blond hair still damp from the shower he had obviously just taken and sharp eyes as blue as a mountain lake.
“Hi. You must be Dee Latener,” the man said, stretching out a hand.
“Dee, that’s my partner, Vin Tanner,” Buck introduced them.
“Nice to meet you,” he said, letting his gaze run over the handsome body.
Partner, huh? Dee wondered for a second how deep this partnership really was. They were sharing the same room, Vin had just come out of the bathroom… Watching closely, he noticed an addition to his former lover’s hand; the silver ring he had seen there earlier today. Tanner wore an equal one.
“We’re married, if that’s what you’re asking yourself,” Buck cut into his musings. "Well, as much as we can be…"
Shit, the man was still a mind reader. It was exactly what he had been wondering about. Two men, one room, rings… Married?!
“I don’t believe it – someone finally tamed Buck Wilmington,” he laughed.
Blue eyes danced as Tanner grinned at him, and Dee had to admit he really liked the man.
“Wasn't easy," he chuckled. "Needed something to knock some sense into this hard head of his. And a friend.”
Buck smiled affectionately at his lover – no, significant other, Dee corrected himself.
“Never took you for the commitment kinda guy,” he teased.
“Was waiting for Mr. Right. Speaking of which, are we ready? Where’s McLane?”
“Ryo will meet us at the Hoop. “
"Okay. Let's roll then, ladies. I'm in the mood for a big steak and a good-sized barrel of beer."
Dee chuckled. "Car's in the parking lot. Let's go."
* * *
The Hoop was a bar frequented by law enforcement and associated other
departments. Most of the guys knew each other and greetings were called
all the way round when someone new came in. The food was good and plenty,
with even prices and free snacks. The beer and other drinks ranged from
normal to high prized, depending on what classy drink or cocktail someone
fancied. Dee usually had a beer or two, sometimes a Coke or something equally
He waved at a few fellow peacekeepers from another precinct, spotted Ted and Drake in a corner chatting with a pair of pretty girls, and finally managed to get to the table Ryo had kept free. Introductions were made with Tanner, then the four men ordered their drinks and food from Madison, one of the regular waitresses.
She flirted with Buck, who gave as good as he got. Dee kept an eye on Tanner. Buck's partner just watched it all with a tolerant smile, raising his eyebrows when the red-head had gone back to the kitchen to place the order.
"Just giving her a good time," Wilmington smiled.
"Any more good time and I'd get the two of you a room," Vin teased.
"How about you get the room and we'll leave Madison outside?"
"Now you're talking."
Ryo ducked his head a little at the open conversation and Dee smiled slightly. Sometimes his partner could be embarrassed by the oddest things. He would kiss him in near-public and not care about it, but this rattled him. Dee knew he would never cease to be amazed by this man.
When the food came, conversation drifted off into the early years of Dee, the Academy, his partnership with Buck, tales of the rookie, and some private bits. Vin and Ryo finally fled from the 'gory details' and secured themselves a pool table, while Buck swapped memories with Dee.
Buck looked at the man sitting at his side, nursing his beer, and frowned
slightly. Time had been good with one Dee Latener – extremely so, given
the way his sinewy figure was displayed under tight jeans and shirt. Years
ago the man had been just a rookie cop with ambitions, and Buck had fallen
into those green pools that were his eyes instantaneously, but not allowing
himself to act on it, until – well, until said rookie cop had grabbed him
and kissed him into next week.
It had been nice while it had lasted, but then Dee had applied for transfer and Buck had gotten an offer he just couldn’t resist. They hadn’t see each other ever since.
Time had changed his ex-lover, too, Buck noticed.
Something was bothering Dee, deeply from the looks of this man. And from the looks he was shooting toward the pool table where Vin was having some fun -- and talk, Buck was sure -- with their local ally, Dee didn’t seem to like it a single bit.
Wilmington and Tanner had come to New York on semi-official business. Official only because it concerned an investigation that was currently running in Salt Lake, but not so official as Dee would think because it was a paranormal matter. Paranormal as in 'magic', 'vampires' and whatever else was normally considered a myth, legend or fairy tale. No one knew that there really was something like magic and those concerned did everything to hide the facts.
The Branch, a sub-division of the CSI, was handling the matter, not the normal crime scene units. The Branch only dealt with the unexplained, but few knew how unexplained these cases were.
A few dead witches had popped up and while there had been no apparent discrepancies, it had been enough to raise Chris Larabee's interest. Orrin Travis had transferred the case from the CSI to The Branch since the other criminalists were running into dead ends, and after some digging, they had sniffed out a trail. Literally.
The trail had led to New York and they had contacted their ally in these parts of the States. The name that had come up had been Detective Randy McLane. He was classified as a first level ally, someone with an incredible knowledge of the paranormal, and since he had been involved in a similar murder spree five years ago, Buck and Vin had come here. Allies were people without paranormal abilities but who knew that the paranormal existed, and who assisted those who needed their help. Some of them had paranormal parents, mostly magic-users since vampires and werewolves became sterile the moment the 'sickness' broke through. Others had simply slid into this strange and fascinating world, and they helped where they could. Without allies, the paranormals would face a lot of trouble. There would be more 'X-Files' than the movie industry claimed there were, and many would have been uncovered, maybe even killed.
Ryo, like all allies, was a valuable member of this different world. His work was highly important and Buck knew that the younger man took it quite seriously.
That he would also meet an old friend and colleague, a former lover, had been a surprise to Wilmington. A pleasant one. He hadn't thought of Dee for a while and it was great to see him again.
So Dee and McLane were partners. Close partners. And Dee wanted to be even closer. Something about the man told Buck that Dee wasn't using his usual method of conquering the object of his affection and taking what he wanted. He had seen the looks, the expressions whenever Dee looked at his partner, and he knew this was a lot different. This ran very, very deep. Maybe this was 'it'.
Well, he hoped it was. Dee deserved someone like Ryo, who he had gotten to know throughout their business talk. He was a nice, devent guy, and Buck could see where the attraction lay. And it wasn't just the physical aspect.
“He won’t take him from you, you know,” Buck said conversationally, while taking a large swig from his beer, noticing the little flinch his casual words had caused.
“There’s nothing to take,” Dee mumbled.
“Then why are you so tense?”
“I’m not tense.”
“You sure are. And know what? I bet a month’s salary that you’re in love with your colleague. I knew you once, Dee. You never made a fuss like that.”
“I don’t make a fuss,” was the snorted answer, and Buck simply cocked one eyebrow.
“Okay, so I’m making a fuss. What’s the big deal?”
“Does he know?” Buck answered softly.
He remembered only too well what it had felt like, drooling over a colleague, not knowing what to do, not knowing if there was anything to do at all. But fate had dealt him an ace in that department in the form of one Chris Larabee, who had not only seen and known, but also intervened. He and Vin had been together for a while now, were actually married in a sense of the word, and he loved him very much.
Must remember to thank Chris, Buck mused while watching his old friend drowning his misery.
“I don’t know.”
“Wait a sec – you love that guy. You’re *in* love with that guy for how long now?”
Buck whistled through his teeth. Boy, but Dee obviously had it bad.
“And you didn’t try?”
“Of course I did. Do I look like I got past first base?” he exclaimed.
Dee ran a hand through his black hair. “Every time I come close… every time he lets me come close, next thing I know I run into a wall. No, Dee, wrong time. Sorry, Dee, I can’t. Dee, I have to be somewhere… sheesh, but it’s frustrating.”
Buck shot the other man a hard look. “What do you want, Dee?”
“I want him,” Dee answered after a long minute of silence.
“And what does Ryo want?”
Dee blinked. And stayed silent.
“You know,“ Buck muttered, “sometimes I think love is egotistic. It’s all about oneself. I love you, I want you, I need you, I want to make you happy. But what about the other one? What if I’m not the one to make him happy? What if I’m not what he wants, what he needs? Could I just step back and watch? Think about it, Dee. What does Ryo want? What does he need? And are you the one who can give it to him?”
Dee stared at the man he had known so many years ago, the man he had
been with in the past and who had been a lot of fun back then. The words
echoed in his mind and he looked over at Ryo, who was laughing at something
Vin had said. The two men looked completely at ease with each other.
“When have you gotten so wise, Wilmington?” he almost whispered.
The way the other man glanced over at the pool table, the warmth that blossomed in the blue eyes when he looked at his partner said it all.
“He’s more than just your partner in crime.” Dee stated.
The CSI nodded. “We’ve been through so much shit together it still gives me nightmares.”
Dee noticed the absentminded way Buck rubbed his right forearm. He had seen some faint white lines peeking out from under the long sleeve of his shirt – seemingly they belonged to this “shit” Buck was referring to.
“But we’ve been through it, and we’re still here, alive and kicking and stronger than ever. That’s one secret of a successful relationship – a history together. And of course,” a smile graced his lips, “I love that aggravating son of a gun. I’d die for him.”
“That serious. As I said, I’d die for him. But he forced me to make a much harder decision. He made me live for him. Think, Dee. You know you’re welcome.”
Dee could only nod.
* * *
“He loves him a lot,” Vin mused as the two men walked down the street,
back to their hotel.
“And you’re surprised?”
Buck shot his partner a look, then shrugged. “Kinda. Dee was never the committing guy. He loved the challenge of a relationship, but he was also quickly out of it. He’s really serious about McLane. Serious enough that nothing’s happened for almost two years.”
Vin nodded thoughtfully. “I talked to Randy. He likes Dee, but he’s confused as to what to think and feel. I believe he wants to let himself go, but he’s scared that no one catches him if he falls.”
“Dee would,” was the quiet reply. “He would follow him anywhere, do anything. It’s like an obsession for him, without the dangerous craze to it.”
The two men silently walked past the lit up shops, the various restaurants and bars, and weaved through traffic. Even at this time of the night it was still a busy street.
“I think his main problem is that he’s an ally,” Vin finally said. “Dee has no clue about the paranormal world and Randy is keeping one hell of a secret. Committing himself to Dee would mean endangering us.”
Buck frowned a little but didn’t say anything.
“If Randy decided to tell his partner… how do you think Dee would take it?”
Wilmington chuckled. “He’d call him crazy.”
“Like any sane person would.”
They had arrived at their hotel and walked inside, taking the elevator to their floor.
"I trust Dee. Despite his outer brashness, he’s good and he keeps his word,” Buck added, closing the door behind him. “It’s just a whole lot to digest. Vampires, werewolves, magic…”
“Yeah. Randy loves him. Dee loves Randy with a passion. I think something has to give,” Vin mused. “Soon. Or they’ll destroy themselves.”
“Think we should help?”
“At least we should talk to McLane. Tell him that he has the choice. It’s up to him. And Dee would probably make one heck of an ally.” Vin smiled.
Buck chuckled. "Uh-huh. You like him, hm?"
"He's a nice guy. Ryo's taken by him, but he has these reservations that have controlled all his life. He's been dependent on no one but himself for too long. He trusts Dee with everything but that big part of his life that is the paranormal."
"We can talk to him. Everything else is up to him," Buck decided.
* * *
Ryo sat in one of his favorite cafes, turning a tall order of Latte
Macchiato in his hands. His gaze strayed out of the window where people
hurried by on this early Winter day. There had been snow warnings already,
but nothing had made it to the city yet. The temperatures had dropped and
everyone was bundled up, awaiting the first flakes and the annual chaos
on the streets.
The warmth of the coffee seeped through his skin and into his system, but he couldn’t enjoy it as usual. Too much was on his mind, and every thought seemed to revolve around Dee. He felt a lot for the man. He loved him, he had realized a long time ago, but he was also afraid of those feelings. Dee was a hurricane, a storm, a tidal wave. He surged over him, blew him away, and he left Ryo flailing for a hold. His kisses made his knees grow weak, his touches were like fire, and his presence… Ryo felt a hot shiver course through him and it had nothing to do with the Macchiato.
He loved Dee.
But he was afraid of letting his last shields down, let the other man see into his soul, know his deepest secrets. Ryo was an ally and with it he had a job no one but those who needed him knew about. He aided the paranormal element. He was working behind the scenes, manipulated evidence, did illegal things… and he didn’t want to hide from Dee should he ever take the last step.
I love him and I want him. I want to feel him. I want more than the kisses or the very intimate touches. Like the night they had driven home from the Hoop. Dee had dropped him off, had even accompanied him to the apartment, and then there had been the kiss. That intense, mind-blowing kiss. And the touches again. He had fought them, had half-heartedly protested the fingers slipping along his ribs, down his hips…
They had ended up on the couch. Ryo couldn't remember when that had happened, only that Bikky hadn't been home.
Suddenly his pants had been open, Dee had been so close, so overwhelmingly powerful, such an intense presence…
//Ryo shivered as he felt Dee’s lips on his own again, hungrily devouring
his mouth, coaxing him into replying, into feeling so much. Dee had kissed
him many times before and much to his own surprise he had responded to
him, though he hadn’t had any experience with men before. But there was
something about Dee, about the way those intense green eyes looked at him
as if they were able to look right into his soul… and this look – in addition
to a very intense kiss - made his knees go week every time, made him lose
his reservations; every time a little more.
Yet he had been afraid, still was.
Dee’s lips had wandered to his neck and Ryo shuddered with the powerful sensations that was causing, tilting his head involuntarily. Dee had unbuttoned his shirt, fingertips were wandering over his bare skin, and Ryo sighed silently as he felt himself harden under the tender touch. If only… if only Dee could keep this up, not throw him into a bucket of ice water with the power of his passion, that overwhelmed Ryo every time.
And he loved Dee.
Now where had that come from?
Love? He had feelings for the other man, but would he go so far as to call them love? Suddenly Ryo was aware of the fact those teasing fingers had stopped, those hot lips were no longer placed on his skin. Dee looked down at him, a question in his eyes.
“Ryo? You okay?”
Was he? Was he okay with this? With loving Dee? Loving another man… loving Dee.
“Yes. I’m okay,” Ryo heard himself whisper, surprising himself and his lover when he reached into those raven black hair and pulled Dee down into a kiss that was much more than he was used to.
And then he slipped his hands under Dee’s shirt, touched his warm skin for the first time, hearing the other man gasp in surprise, then moan into his mouth, before he broke the kiss. Ryo had to swallow inwardly at the heat he saw in the beloved green eyes, mixed with lots of different emotions.
“Ryo… please tell me you’re not playing with me here… “ Dee whispered roughly.
I'm not, Dee. Come here… “
And then Dee’s lips were back on his own, on his neck, trailing a hot path down his body, making Ryo shiver and tremble, realizing with a little embarrassment while listening to his own moans he could be quite vocal. When Dee reached his waistband and pulled it down slowly Ryo stiffened again, feeling his lover’s fingers close around the unmistakable evidence of how aroused he really was. Dee spreading his legs gently made Ryo close his eyes – but then there was a hot and wet and oh so good caress on his hardness, sucking him in and closing around him. All Ryo could do was grab the cushions and arch into that caress, forgetting all about embarrassing and the rest of the world, as Dee slowly guided him to heights he had never been before – and with a hoarse scream he jumped over.//
A hot flush colored his features at the memories and he felt something
stir with the recollection. It had been the first time he had let himself
fall and Dee had caught him, had shown him such incredible pleasure… and
he had simply taken it. For a moment he had given in. They hadn't ventured
far, but for Ryo, it had been like crossing the Rockies in one stride.
Ever since then he had wanted more, wanted more of Dee, of this feeling, of this satisfaction he felt when the other man was with him. But every time he had faltered, a part of him had sharply reminded him that there would be consequences.
Oh Gawd… Ryo groaned silently. What should I do?
‘You love him.’ Vin’s words came back to him. ‘Then trust him.’
The two men had flown back to Salt Lake this morning and Ryo had been left alone with his decision. Of course, they couldn’t make it for him. It was his alone.
I trust him as my partner. I trust him as my friend. I want him as my lover, but what if he freaks? What if he can’t accept the truth?
What if I lose him over this?
* * *
Big fat snow flakes drifted through the busy streets of New York. The
weather had taken a turn for the worst over night, the temperatures dropping
below freezing, and traffic had come to a near stand still because of the
snow chaos. It was earlier than last year that the snow began to fall and
people were either complaining about it or completely indifferent. Many
changed from car to public transport if they could, other had to endure
the long and stressful hours of traffic lining up everywhere and clotting
It seemed crime had frozen up just like most of the streets. There was hardly a new case coming in and both Ryo and Dee were thankful for it. As it was they still had a lot of current cases to complete, as well as some old ones to file, and it was a welcome respite that nothing new was added.
The office was heated, the heating system running on full steam, and everyone was simply glad that the boilers showed no signs of blowing up.
Ryo gazed out of the window of their shared office, a cup of steaming tea in his hands, watching the snow fall. Below on the streets life hurried past. People were wrapped up in thick jackets, caps, shawls, boots and gloves, barely recognizable. Cars crawled through the choked streets. From inside here, it looked like a completely different world. He could enjoy the weather because he didn't have to fight his way through it.
"Whatcha thinking of?"
The soft question, the mouth so close to his ear, startled him a little. Ryo turned his head and nearly collided with Dee's. Green eyes glowed softly, watching him with an intensity that shot through Ryo like a lightning strike.
"It's like it's another world out there," Ryo answered truthfully.
"As long as we don't have to wade through the cold and interview unreliable witnesses, yeah."
"Winter is a beautiful time. The snow is wonderful."
Dee shot him critical look. "Wonderful? It's cold and the snow usually turns to some black slush by the end of the day."
Ryo shrugged, not to be discouraged. "I like wintertime."
An arm slipped around his waist, pulling him against the other man. Ryo let him, even when Dee kissed the nape of his neck.
"I like summer. A lot less clothes," Dee breathed.
"Dee…" the other warned.
A chuckle answered him. "What?"
Ryo pulled away, putting the mug onto his desk, scowling. "We're still working and Barclay called a team meeting this afternoon," he tried to distract his partner from whatever romantic overtures he was about to launch into.
"So? Barclay's an asshole who loves bureaucracy. We don't need this meeting."
"We do. Especially with the planned budget cuts to the precincts. Barclay just wants to keep the lab and some of the other amenities."
Dee snorted in disgust, muttering, 'what amenities?', but he slumped back into his chair. Ryo mused that his partner had been rather well-behaved lately. Ever since Buck and Vin's visit, the dark-haired man had cut back on his approaches, had been almost civil at times, and he actually asked when he wanted to kiss Ryo. It was amazing. Like a new Dee. Ryo enjoyed the changes, even if he had to get used to them. He was too accustomed to Dee pouncing him in the oddest places to let his guard down already.
Then again, that had lessened and turned into loving caresses even before the visit from Wilmington.
'Love is give and take,' Vin had said almost philosophically when they had talked over pool.
Yes, and Dee was ready to give, but he also took a lot. That had changed. The hot looks were still there, the eyes that burned into his soul and ate Ryo alive. The eyes that seemed to strip him down to the soul and see his very core. But Dee no longer fell over him like a swarm of locust onto a field of grain.
Like just now. A gentle embrace, a little kiss. The remark had been pure Dee, but there had been no pushing Ryo against the wall and devouring him.
Ryo returned to his work, smiling to himself. He was aware of Dee's eyes on him, but he refused to fall for the bait. Dee was behaving, and if he ever said that out loud, his partner would probably deny everything.
* * *
It had taken him another week of agonizing over the decision, a few
calls, a few kicks from a good friend Dee knew nothing of, and finally
Ryo had made up his mind.
He would take the leap.
He would tell the truth.
-- and I'll probably regret it, he thought darkly.
He pushed the thoughts away and gathered all his courage for the next words.
"Dee, would you like to get a drink with me after work?"
Latener's eyes widened. He had clearly no expected the invitation, though they had gone out for lunch or dinner before, even take-out that had been eaten at either place. It surely wasn't new, but the way Ryo was fidgeting probably was.
"Uh, sure. The Hoop?"
"Ah, no. There's a place… well, I've been there before and it's quite nice…"
Dee shrugged. "Sure."
Ryo sighed silently in relief. He had managed the first hurdle. Now on with the race.
* * *
It was a nice club, Dee noted, his eyes sweeping over the gleaming,
chrome metal counter, the clean, black floor and the multitude of occupied
tables and booths that lined the wall and far end of the room. Everything
else was the dance floor and it was frequented quite well.
"What are we doing here again?" he wanted to know. I thought we had a date, he groused silently to himself. This surely wasn't the plan.
And it wasn't really a place he saw Ryo going to more than once – and only when his duty as a cop forced him to.
"I'd like to introduce you to someone."
Introduce me to someone? What's going on?
"There he is," Ryo said and pushed him to one of the many wall tables.
Dee followed his partner's lead, still a bit bemused about the choice of meeting place for this so-called contact, but he didn't protest. They headed toward table in the farthest most corner of the room, shielded from almost all prying eyes, and out of the throng of dancers. A middle-aged, black haired man with clear Spanish influence sat in the booth, nursing a cocktail. He was dressed in washed-out blue jeans, a plain black t-shirt and a leather jacket. His hair was long and had been collected in a pony tail, and dark eyes looked at them as the two police officers came closer.
"Hey, Randy, bonito," the man greeted Ryo, grinning at him.
Dee counted five hoops piercing one ear, another three gleaming in the other one. The smile showed a row of even, white teeth. Sunglasses perched on top of the slick, black hair.
"And that must be your partner. Detective Latener, right?"
Dee just nodded, sliding into the booth. Who was that guy? Why were they here? His police instincts were set on high and something was curled tighter than a spring at the moment. Something was going on here and whatever it was, Ryo was more than nervous about it.
"Looking good, Randy. Haven't seen you around these parts in a long time."
"I was busy and nothing had come up to warrant a visit."
"Up until now?" Nacho chuckled. "Missed me finally?"
Dee didn't like the look in the other man's eyes one bit. It was too intense, too hot. He was clearly checking Ryo out.
"Oh please, Randy. Don't tell me you didn't think of me just once."
"Sorry," Ryo laughed. "No."
"So, what brings you here then, if not my sexy body?"
Dee clenched his teeth to stop from lunging over the table and throttling the guy.
"You know I've been trying to make a decision for close to a year now, right?"
Nacho's eyes raked over Dee. "Sure. I nearly had an ulcer just watching you tear yourself up over the gorgeous guy here. So you finally decided it's worth it?"
Ryo nodded, face serious.
"And I'm the object of demonstration?"
"If you would…?"
Dee had no idea what was going on. "Ryo, why are we here, who is this guy and what is going on?" he demanded.
Nacho shot Ryo a look, shrugging. "Now or never, love."
Ryo bit his lower lip and finally looked up into the green eyes of his partner.
"Dee, I've been hiding something from you."
Dee's brows rose.
"Aside from being a police officer, I have another job. It's not really a job… more of a… calling. I'm what's called an ally and have been ever since the death of my parents."
Dee blinked. "Ally?"
"This will sound rather... fantastic," Ryo told him, voice firm, but his eyes were relaying his inner turmoil, "but please bear with me. I'm not making this up." He waited for the nod, then continued. "The world you know isn't the only one that exists. There is another one, one that harbors what societies and cultures throughout the world have only seen as myths and fairy tales. There are people out there, Dee, that are more than you or me. They're called paranormals…"
Another blink, then Latener shook his head. "Wow, now just a minute! Paranormals? Are we talking Ghostbusters here?"
"No. They're magic users, magically talented people like psychics or clairvoyants, werewolves or vampires…"
"Is there a camera somewhere? Is this a joke?" Dee interrupted angrily. "Because if it is, it isn't funny!"
"It's not a joke, Dee. I'm serious," Ryo said softly. "The paranormal element exists and my job is to make sure it remains hidden from the world as we know it."
The anger doubled inside the other man and he pushed back. "Who set this up?"
Nacho leaned forward, dark eyes intense. "No one, Dee. Ryo is telling the truth. Now sit back and listen."
Dee's brain registered the words, the last order, and where he had been about to leave just a second ago, he suddenly sat back down. He stared at the stranger, stunned. Part of him yelled at him that he hadn't intended to sit down, but another part had simply obeyed like a good dog.
"Most humans carry special genes, genes that are as old as the Neanderthal. It's rare that they become dominant, but when they do the person in question develops certain abilities. Not all of them are strong, but some individuals harness an incredible talent," Ryo rallied to explain.
Dee was drawn between laughter and downright fury. He looked at the two men, took in their serious expressions, the way Ryo's eyes were filled with a kind of hope and the need for him to understand, and he started to wonder.
Paranormals... People with powers... out of the ordinary powers. It sounded like a movie or a comic book.
"You’re crazy,“ he finally declared, reaching desperately.
This had to be a bad joke! Please!
“I wish I was, Dee. Look, it’s a long story, and I totally understand that you can’t believe in it at the moment."
He gave a snort of laughter. "Right." But something inside Dee was curious. "So why are you here?" he wanted to know, looking at Nacho.
"Because I'm paranormal, my friend. I'm a vampire."
Dee's mouth dropped open.
"I don't burn when liberally sprinkled with holy water, nor do get blisters from crosses. And the fangs are a hoax, too. But I am near immortal, I drink blood, and I have a sun allergy. Doesn't immediately turn me into dust, but it leeches on my energy," Nacho continued non-chalantly.
"Ryo…" Dee started, then almost cried out in surprise when the dark brown eyes started to glow a golden amber. "Shit…" Dee he, feeling a shiver race down his spine.
From one second to the next he was picking up dangerous vibes from the Spaniard. It was like facing a barely controlled predator. The golden glow continued, but finally it abated and Nacho took a sip from his cocktail.
"Vampires don't prey on humans to kill them," the other man – vampire, as he claimed he was – explained calmly, as if talking about the weather. "They drink blood because they have to, be it human or animal, but nature has given us a skill that makes it easier for both parties. Pleasurable, even."
"Huh, right. You can say all you want, but only 'cause your eyes glow, you aren't a vampire."
"You want me to demonstrate?"
Dee looked challengingly at him.
"Nacho…" Ryo started, sounding worried.
"Don't worry, bonito. It's just a little demonstration."
Dee scoffed. Vampires… paranormals… right! He glared at Ryo, who seemed to shrink back while also trying to meet his eyes.
"This is not funny, Ryo! Not at all. I don't know where you found that clown with the magical contact lenses…"
A hand like a vice closed around his wrist, stopping his words. Dee winced at the incredibly strong grip, then his eyes were glued to the golden glow that seemed to come from deep within the formerly brown eyes of the Spaniard.
"No one's joking, Latener."
"Let go of me," he whispered hoarsely, fear creeping down his spine.
Dee had no idea why, but he felt like facing a wild creature, something dangerous, something untamed, something about to pounce him.
"Nacho, let him go," Ryo said softly.
The Spaniard glanced at the other man, disdain in his eyes. "Ryo…"
"You're hurting him!" Now the voice was harder and there was an expression in those eyes to match it.
Nacho snorted and freed Dee's wrist, who immediately pushed away from the table, breathing hard. His wrist hurt, it felt like his bones had creaked under the pressure, and something about Nacho was severely freaking him out. Wide-eyed, he looked at his partner, then at the so-called vampire.
"Dee…" Ryo started.
"Leave me alone!" Latener snapped, then turned on his heels and walked off.
"Dee!" Ryo hurried after him, only able to catch up outside the club. "Dee, wait!"
"I said leave me alone!"
He was close to hysterics. He didn't seem to be able to calm down. His pulse was racing along with his heart, his head was aching, and Dee felt like cold sweat was breaking out all over his body.
"Dee…" McLane sounded lost, apologetic… and he almost reacted, but then he steeled himself.
Whatever this joke should have been, he didn't think it was funny!
Dee kept his back to Ryo as he stalked off, hands deep in his pockets to hide how they were shaking. He was almost five blocks down from the club when someone stepped out of the shadows. He gasped as he recognized Nacho.
How the fuck had the man been able to get here so quickly?
"You're making a mistake running away from him now," Nacho said without a greeting.
"Ryo told you his secrets because he wants to trust you with a large part of his life."
"You mean that bull about paranormals?"
"That 'bull' is true. I am a vampire, Latener."
"Yeah, right." Dee tried to push away, but the vice grip from before held him tight, and suddenly he was pressed against the wall.
-- and up.
Dee gave a yelp as he was suddenly held up several inches from the pavement, steel-like fingers digging into his clothes. Golden eyes glowed at him.
"This is the truth, Latener. Accept it or not. If you accept it, accept Ryo. If you don't, let him go! He's suffering enough already as it is!"
And then he was unceremoniously dumped onto the ground.
Dee felt his body react with tremors, and he clutched at his rumpled clothed.
Oh gawd… ohgawd ohgawd ohgawd…
He had no idea how he managed to get home.
He had no idea how long it took until he finally stopped shaking.
But it was right around 8 a.m. that he called in with a request of personal leave.
* * *
Bikky knew something had happened. It was clear as daylight, absolutely
out in the open, even though Ryo refused to talk about it. And Bikky knew
it had something to do with Dee Latener. Something had happened between
the two men, but somehow he couldn't see where the origin was. He was quite
sure that Dee hadn't fucked up by trying to take more than Ryo was ready
to give. And Ryo was very well able to defend himself should his partner
take too many steps at once.
No, it was something despite the sexual tension between them. That was so thick sometimes, Bikky could have punched holes in it. While he protested a lot and attacked Dee at every opportunity, warning him about his advances, he was actually glad that his foster father had someone like Latener. Dee might be over the top sometimes, but he was caring and he did love Ryo.
Bikky might be just be a kid, but he was a street wise kid. He had eyes.
Still, right now all his street smarts couldn't help him decipher the mixed signals Ryo was giving off. There was sadness, depression, fear, sometimes sparks of anger, and a kind of resignation he had never seen with the man before. Ryo never resigned, he never gave up. So what had hit him so badly?
Dee hadn't shown up in three days either. Ryo lost no word about him. He rarely spoke about work or his partner anyway. They talked about school, about Bikky's grades, about Carol, about the upcoming class trip, but never about anything concerning Ryo.
"Something's wrong," Bikky muttered.
Carol gave him a quizzical look. "Yeah, but what? He's not exactly moping, but he's… like in mourning or something."
Bikky nodded. He wanted to do something, help Ryo, but he had no clue how. He had kept trouble down to a minimum, had been good in school but nothing got a reaction out of the man.
What was going on here?
* * *
Buck had returned to New York after Ryo’s call. He knew Dee would take
this hard, but McLane was the one suffering the most. Dee had taken a week
of personal leave, which had been granted, and Ryo hadn’t seen a sign of
him since. The detective was making himself sick with guilt and blame,
and by the time Buck arrived, he was a shadow of his former self.
“When was the last time you slept?” Wilmington asked softly.
He had picked Ryo up at his apartment, had seen the mess the place was in, and he knew it was just a mirror of the other man's soul.
Ryo sighed and massaged his pale face. In the wintry sun, he looked like death warmed over and only the slight flush to his cheeks, brought on by the cold, helped revive him a little.
“I don’t know,” he murmured as the two men strolled through Central Park.
It was a wonderful sunny Saturday. People were outside, enjoying the snow and the good weather, but fun in the sun was farthest from Ryo’s mind at the moment.
"Do you love him?"
McLane stopped and looked at Buck with wide, dark brown eyes.
"Do you?" Wilmington insisted.
"I want to be with him," Ryo said softly, almost as if to himself as he stared out over the slightly frosted grass. "I like the way he feels when he's close, the way I feel. I like his touches, his kisses… I don't want to be without him. Ever since he… left… I felt alone. It's cold."
"Do you love him?" Buck repeated.
The slender man at his side bit his lower lip and Buck saw the struggle that the simple question evoked.
"Yes, I love him," Ryo finally said. "I love him so much and I miss him, Buck. I should never have told him. It was a mistake."
Wilmington placed a hand on the narrow shoulder and squeezed it reassuringly. "No, it wasn't. Having a lie between you wouldn't have worked. All allies who are in relationships, serious relationships, told their significant others. There's no way you can keep it a secret and still work effectively. Dee loves you, Ryo. He truly does, but the news were a shock to him."
Ryo shook his head, his expression bleak.
“You think Dee’s home?” Buck wanted to know.
A shrug. “I tried calling him, but he won’t pick up. I talked to his answering machine too often to try again.” Ryo sounded beaten.
Buck stopped him, making the smaller man look at him. “I know you don’t think so, but you did the right thing. Dee just needs time.”
“I don’t think time will change anything.”
“Oh, maybe not alone, my friend. But Ol’ Buck will kick him in the right places. Leave it to me.”
Ryo blinked up at him, then shrugged again. Buck was close to shaking the slender man, but he also understood the resignation and desperation.
Dee, we’re gonna talk. Long and hard. And I’ll make you see that it’s not some sort of prank or joke. This man needs you badly.
* * *
Dee’s pale, slightly drawn face was a mask of surprise as he opened the door and found his old time friend standing there.
“Hey, Latener. Can I come in?”
Dee stepped back from the door and Buck walked into the apartment. Nice, he thought. A bit bare, but nice. Bare brickstone walls gave the whole room a rustic look and the likewise bare pipes running under the ceiling added to that. The hardwood floor was covered by a carpet. The most outstanding feature was the semi-circle window at the other side in front of which a couch/daybed had been placed. Cozy.
“When did you get back to New York?” Dee asked, closing the door.
“This morning. Took a Red Eye.” Buck turned to pin his friend down with a sharp look, giving him a once over.
Like Ryo, he was pale. Like Ryo, it looked like he hadn’t slept a lot. Like Ryo, he was suffering.
“Your partner called me.”
“The very same. Talked to him just an hour ago. Have to say, he looks like hell. Compared to him, you look like blooming health, Dee.”
Dee’s face closed up. “Why did he call?”
“Because you’ve been acting like an ass ever since he told you he’s an ally.”
“You know?!” Dee stared at him in disbelief.
“Yes. It’s why I came here with Vin in the first place. We had ally business here and Ryo was the one we had to talk to. He also told us about his insecurities, about how much he wants to be with you, but being an ally keeps him from opening up. Now that he has, you kick him out of your life.”
“I didn’t…” Dee started, rallying for a thought.
“And what do you call a week of so-called personal leave? What do you call not answering your phone? What do you call ignoring the man you told me you loved so much?” Buck drove his point home.
“Buck… what he told me… what you’re telling me… it can’t be real!”
“It is, kid. It’s as real as you and me. Believe me, I doubted it, too. Not any more. I’ve been through too much shit anyway. Personally.”
Dee shook his head.
“Ryo said he introduced you to a vampire.”
A muscle twitched in Dee’s face. “I don’t believe in vampires. Whatever the guy was, he’s good at tricks.”
Buck slipped out of his jacket and threw it over the chair. “It’s not a trick. I know some vampires personally. My boss is one, for instance. His lover is. One of our team is a warlock in training…”
Dee clenched his hands into fists. “Buck…”
“I know it’s had to believe. Vampires don’t really show much outward signs of being different. But there is a way to show you that this is real, that Ryo’s not lying…”
He pulled his pullover over his head and began to undo his pants.
Before Dee could protest further, Buck was completely naked – and initiated the change.
* * *
Dee sat on the couch, mug of coffee in his hands, pale as a sheet. Buck,
dressed and decent again, had made it and pushed the mug into Dee’s hands,
who was still trying to digest what he had seen. Witnessing your friend
change from human to a black wolf uprooted even the most doubtful person’s
“How?” Dee whispered hoarsely.
“Vin bit me.”
Buck nodded, rubbing over his right forearm where Dee had seen the faint scarring before.
“I don’t think I’m going anywhere.” Dee tried a smile and it was a weak copy of the real thing.
“True. I just think that Ryo deserves to be here, too. He knows Vin's a wolf, but I never revealed my own identity to him.”
Dee hesitated, then nodded, shivering a little. Buck reached for his cell phone and called McLane.
* * *
Dee was shocked a second time the moment he had his first look at Ryo.
His partner and friend looked like he hadn't slept in days. His hair was
more tousled than normally, his eyes held a tired, exhausted and beaten
expression, and his skin was pale. Dark brown eyes looked at him, filled
with so much hope and wariness, it broke something inside the other man.
"Ryo…" he murmured and reached out with one slightly trembling hand.
It was caught and Ryo looked at the still visible bruises Nacho had left when he had gripped him.
"I'm so sorry," Ryo whispered. "It shouldn't have happened. I didn't want it to happen like this. It was a mistake…"
Dee shook his head and stepped closer. "Don't," he only said, then his free hand cupped the pale face.
Ryo leaned into the touch, actively seeking it, and his eyes flared with hope. Dee wordlessly pulled him into a kiss that was a simple brush of lips against lips. His hand snaked around his partner's neck, bringing their bodies together, Ryo still holding his wrist.
“You want some coffee?” Buck called from the kitchen, breaking them apart.
They looked at each other, seeking and finding the reassurance both needed. Ryo nodded, eyes still on the burning green gaze.
"I love you," Dee mouthed, then bestowed another small kiss on Ryo's lips.
They ended up sitting on the couch, not yet as comfortable together as they had been before the whole debacle. Buck took his place in the couch chair, looking at the two so different men.
“I think I convinced Dee that the paranormal is not some trick,” he started. “Quite easy when you're a werewolf.”
Dee gazed at his partner, surprised at how calmly he took it. Ryo just nodded his understanding.
“Dee asked me about my past. I thought it would be best to tell you both. You are the ones who need to talk afterwards.”
“Okay, kids. This started some years back when we met a guy called Ezra Standish. He’s a vampire by the way. There was this strange murder case and he was our contact…”
And Buck launched into his story.
* * *
They had talked more in the last forty-eight hours than Dee could ever
have thought possible. He had been introduced to a world that was so fantastic,
he hardly believed it. But there was proof. Like Nacho, the crazy vampire
guy Ryo called his 'contact'. And Buck, his own friend. The werewolf.
He had had so many questions. Where there demons? What were vampires really? And werewolves? What about witches and wizards? And why had Ryo become an ally. His partner had answered them calmly, competently, and without ever getting annoyed. Dee was so stunned, so incredibly baffled by it all, it took him a while to really appreciate what secret Ryo had been carrying around with him. No one knew, not even Bikky.
Dee had been the first Ryo had ever told. The very first…
Tonight, four days after the shocking, change-my-world revelation of Wilmington’s, almost two weeks after Ryo had told Dee that he was an ally, Ryo had invited him over for dinner. It was Friday, Bikky was away for the weekend, and it was just the two of them. Dee had accepted.
Now, sitting on the floor, comfortably leaning against the couch and the large cushions, Dee had the other man in his arms, both of them watching TV. It was a relaxed atmosphere, Dee's hands playing over the firm body, slipping underneath the wide shirt and caressing skin. Ryo didn't protest. He seemed to melt further into the embrace, his head lying against Dee's chest, Latener's chin resting on the light brown hair. He experimentally nuzzled one temple and Ryo moved his head a little, Dee's lips sliding down to nibble at the exposed throat. Bolder, he continued his ministrations and he was rewarded with a soft, encouraging noise.
It was almost like a dance, their movements slow and sensual, unlike the 'attacks' on his partner Dee had sometimes started. The dance ended with Ryo on his back, deep brown eyes looking up at him, the face relaxed, inviting, no visible hesitation. Dee leaned down and caught the lips in an affectionate kiss. When the other answered it, opened up, he deepened it more and more. His tongue slipped into the warmth of Ryo's mouth and Dee felt his lover's arms come up around him. Fingers clenched into his t-shirt, holding on.
He pulled back a little, studying the so well-known features. They had been at this point countless times before, but Ryo had always pulled away after a while. Scared of whatever. Dee had never known.
Now he did. So much of his partner's history had been revealed.
"Ryo?" he queried nevertheless.
A hand cupped his face, the thumb caressing his skin. Ryo smiled slightly, almost shyly, then drew him down again. Dee felt something inside of him burst with joy at the unspoken invitation. He kissed Ryo's mouth, his chin, his jaw line, then worked his way down the throat arching into his nibbles and gentle bites, taking in the whispers of pleasure.
Nimble fingers opened the dark shirt, exposing the lean, muscular chest and abdomen he had kissed and touched before. Twice he had been able to go even further, bring his lover the pleasure he always wanted to show him, but Ryo had been like stung afterwards. Dee had thought long and hard why. Did he see their pleasure as a sin, as forbidden? Did he feel disgusted? But Ryo had always willingly fallen into his embraces, his kisses, more touching. Still, he had denied his own sexuality in a way. Was it because he was scared of loving a man? Or scared of loving in general?
'I was afraid to let go.'
The words came back as he drew a wet trail down the quivering stomach.
'I was afraid to let myself fall.'
I'll catch you, love, he thought. Always.
The pants were opened and Ryo moaned in the back of his throat as Dee stripped him, exposing him completely to his hungry, loving gaze. Dee shed his own clothes in a hurry, not wanting to leave Ryo alone for too long. He blanketed the lithe form with his body, rubbing himself against the hard evidence of his lover's arousal.
"Dee…" Ryo whispered pleadingly.
He looked into the expressive eyes, almost black in this light. "I love you, Ryo. I'll catch you… let yourself fall."
Ryo's eyes widened and he wrapped his arms around the dark-haired man, pulling him into another kiss.
"I want you," he whispered.
Dee's heart flew. How long had he waited for these words?
Two years… and two years ago, his response would have been a lot different.
"Ryo?" he whispered, separating himself from that addicting body. "Have you ever done this before?"
Chocolate brown eyes me this openly. "Not all the way," came the honest answer. A small smirk appeared. "But I know the technicalities involved."
Dee laughed. "Good." He kissed him again. "Very good.
He pressed a little kiss to the wonderful mouth, then began his slow seduction of Ryo McLane. He would show his lover everything there was about male loving, how good it could be… and that there should never be any doubt about his feelings for him.
* * *
Ryo woke throughout the dawn hours. It was still dark outside, but the
first signs of imminent sunrise could already be seen. His bladder had
woken him and he found himself drawn between ignoring it as long as he
could and going right away. He felt warm, comfortable, next to the man
who had made love to him just a few hours before. He pushed himself up
and looked down at the dark head. In the twilight of the room, Dee's features
appeared smooth and relaxed. He lay on his back, one arm flung out, the
other on his stomach. Like Ryo, he was stark naked underneath the covers.
Such a diverse being, he mused. Wild and volatile, temperamental and with a short-fuse, but also so tender, caring, loving and affectionate. Dee could be so sweet, so empathic, it clashed and ran at odds with his other side. He had fallen for this man, this contradiction on two legs. He had fallen for the loving man, the temperamental man, the sexually incredibly attractive man…
Ryo's bladder urged him to leave the warmth of the bed and he hurried back in record time, slipping in next to his partner and lover. He snuggled close to the dark-haired man, smiling to himself. His body twinged and complained in very unfamiliar places, but Ryo would never have believed that it could be so… breathtaking. Dee had been slow and gentle, careful and loving, and Ryo was thankful for it. It had been his first time with a man.
He slipped off into a light doze that was broken two hours later. Dee was just climbing back into bed, apparently coming from the bathroom, and the sun was already out by now, bathing everything in a surreal, grayish white light.
Green eyes lit up as Ryo looked at his lover and a slow smile crossed Dee's lips.
A kiss was pressed onto his lips and Ryo responded. "Good morning, Dee."
"How do you feel?"
"Sore." Ryo smiled ruefully.
"It'll pass." There was a brief hesitation, then, "Regrets?"
He looked into the suddenly uncomfortable eyes. "No," Ryo answered truthfully. "None."
Dee seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. McLane pulled him into his embrace and Dee readily snuggled against him.
"I was afraid, Dee," he murmured. "Afraid you'd hurt me. Not physically… It's why I never let myself take the final step. You broke down so many walls… it scared me."
"I know, Ryo. I know. But I'd never hurt you. Never." Dee kissed him tenderly, pouring all his emotions into that single contact. "I don't know how to explain it, Ryo, but there's no one but you. The moment we met, I knew something about you was special. Yes, there was lust because you're damned beautiful, but that wasn't all. I feel… safe with you. No one else ever made me feel this way."
Ryo looked into the sincere, green eyes. "I felt safe, too. Safe enough to want to tell you about my other job… to let my guard down, but I was also scared of your reaction."
"But now I know."
"And I'm glad you do. Very much so." Ryo's eyes grew serious. "I wanted you so much, Dee."
The eyes that had made him sweat by just looking at him lit up with something that sent a thrill through Ryo.
"All the time?"
"Well… when you weren't over the top…"
"Who? Me?" Dee laughed.
"Yes, you. You were obnoxious, overbearing, offending, coarse…"
Dee slapped a hand over his mouth, scowling playfully. "You swallowed a thesaurus or what?"
"You know what a thesaurus is?" Ryo teased, eyes gleaming with laughter.
"Yes, and you know what? There are other words in there, too. Love, adore, wonderful, beautiful, warm, caring… Ryo."
“Ryo isn’t a word in any dictionary.”
“It is in mine.”
Ryo looked at his lover and smiled, threading his hands into the long, black strands, kissing the other man. Dee's hands slid along his body, awakening desires that had always burned underneath Ryo's controlled surface.
There was nothing bad about letting himself fall, he thought as his world disappeared into a haze of lust and desire. Nothing bad at all.
* * *
The weekend had passed in a slow and sensual way for both men and Dee
would never have thought it possible to feel so much in such a short time.
Ryo was an addiction. From the first day they had met, he had been addicted.
Now, the addiction was complete. The man had a body Dee had lusted for
for… a long time. Ryo was lithe, slender, but very well muscled. He had
touched those muscles several times before, but never with no restriction,
without the dread that his lover would pull back again and hide. And he
had a loving, caring soul that Dee had fallen for. He had no idea when
that had happened, but it had been the turning point when lust had turned
to unconditional love.
Watching Ryo dress, Dee let his eyes roam over the smooth form, feeling the thrill again. His lover, his Ryo.
Barclay, you lost big time, he thought. You never had a chance.
And since when had he seen the man as competition?
Dee shook his head. Ross Barclay was a smooth operator, a predator so much like Dee, it had set him right on edge after meeting the man the first time in England. Barclay had been competition because he had tried to take what was Dee’s.
Damn, I'm a possessive son of a bitch, he thought.
But that was just him.
Ryo caught his expression and shot him a quizzical look. “Dee?”
“You. Me.” He pulled his lover into his arms and kissed him gently. “What a lucky man I am… and how I’d love to rub it under Barclay’s nose.” He grinned evilly.
Ryo frowned. “Was this a competition?”
“No!” he immediately blurted. “Never. It’s just…”
“You see a rival in him. Dee, I never felt a thing for the man. He tried it once, I said no. Quite clearly.”
Well, yes. Ryo had introduced him to his fist, Dee recalled. He hugged him close.
“Sorry, love. It’s just… I’m so happy.”
“So am I. You never had any competition Dee.“
“Only your second job,” came the tease.
The outside door banging shut startled them, but Dee kept Ryo from pulling out of his embrace, nuzzling his neck.
“I’m home!” a well-known voice yelled.
“Dee…” Ryo protested.
“He’s known from the start,” Latener murmured. “We don’t hide now.”
The other man relaxed a little, then sighed. “No, not any more.”
“Ryo?” Bikky called and pushed the door open.
The blue eyes widened as he took in the sight of the two men, both wrapped in an tender embrace, neither of them embarrassed. Least of all Ryo, who usually pushed hectically away when Bikky caught them.
“Something I missed?” he asked matter-of-factly.
“Nope, nothing under-aged eyes should see,” Dee quipped.
Bikky glared at him. “If you took advantage of this weekend…” he threatened.
“No, Bikky, he didn’t,” Ryo interrupted him calmly. He stepped out of the embrace and faced his son. “It was my decision.”
The teen studied them, then shrugged. “Oh well… had to happen one day.” He waved a hand. “What’s for dinner?”
Dee snickered and Ryo elbowed him a little.
“Dee and I planned to go out. I made you something for the microwave. It’s in the fridge.”
Bikky was already halfway out the door. “I’ll be at Carol’s then,” he called and disappeared into his room.
“Well, he took it like a man,” Dee chuckled.
“Yes.” Ryo sounded relieved.
“You think he would really fight you on your decision?” Dee sounded a bit astounded.
“I don’t know… I mean, you two didn’t get along for a while and he kept calling you names, pushed you away…”
“He’s a teenager, Ryo. That’s what they do.” Dee smiled a little. “I wasn’t very much different. Bikky knows I wouldn’t hurt you. I bet he does. If he really didn’t want this relationship, he would have fought it differently. Or he would have run away.”
Ryo tensed a little and Dee gently rubbed his shoulders.
“It’s okay, love. We’re all okay.”
Please don’t regret this… he begged silently.
Ryo gazed at him, then suddenly smiled and kissed him. “Let’s have dinner,” he murmured.
Dee just smiled brightly.
* * *
Christmas came faster than anticipated. Ryo had no time to ponder the
season as one case chased the other, as murder and unexplained deaths piled
up on their desks. He knew Christmas was coming – there was no ignoring
the colorful decorations, the Santa Clauses and Elves in the streets collecting
money for children in hospitals and orphanages, the Christmas shoppers,
and so on, but his job kept him busy.
Then there was the now so very much deeper relationship with Dee. Everything seemed to have changed, while still being so very much the same. He had finally let his walls down, all of them, and it was such a relief. Nacho had commented on his change when he had paid his vampire friend a quick visit to update himself on ally stuff, and Ryo had just smiled. Dee had come to accept the paranormal world as such, though McLane knew it would take a while longer for it all to sink in.
The first shock had passed, but the aftershocks would come sooner or later.
Christmas Eve was the usual hubbub in the precinct. Everyone was trying to rearrange schedules, maybe get someone else to take over a shift so he could be home on Christmas, and Ryo wondered if he should volunteer for the shift. He had no family as such. Bikky would be over at Carol’s. Ryo didn’t really mind. He wasn’t a traditionalist, though he liked the warm family moments at home, and neither was Bikky. The boy loved presents, he enjoyed the family atmosphere, but he usually hung around with friends later.
As for Dee... well, due to their busy schedule they hadn’t talked about Christmas yet, but Ryo wanted to remedy that.
He caught up with his partner in the small kitchen on the first floor where Dee was drinking coffee, gazing out of the window, watching the snowflakes dance by. It was almost the end of their shift and the precinct was unusually quiet.
"Hey,“ Ryo called and smiled at his partner.
Dee gave him a wonderfully warm smile in return that never failed to make something curl inside the other man.
Ryo got himself some hot water and made tea. "Do you have plans for the holidays?“ he asked.
Dee shrugged. "I could get Christmas off... what about you?“
"Drake asked me if I could switch. His sister and nieces are coming to town.“
Dee’s expression gave nothing away.
"I haven’t said yes yet.“
"You’d have the 25th and 26th off then?“
Dee wrapped an arm around his partner's slender waist and pulled him close. "That’s fine. I’ll work something out with JJ or Ted or whoever. My place?“
Ryo felt warm for no other reason than the fact that Dee didn’t make a scene, that he so easily changed whatever his plans had been.
"Sure,“ he murmured, then leaned forward and kissed him.
* * *
Ryo lay back on the daybed, looking out the large, round window, feeling
lazy, warm and very relaxed. Dee sat down next to him, both men watching
the now much heavier snow. The lights in the apartment were out, only a
small, round lamp glowing softly, bathing everything in a tiny circle of
"Merry Christmas,“ Dee murmured and leaned over him, pressing their lips together.
Ryo wrapped his arms around the dark-haired man, answering the contact, opening up, their tongues stroking against each other. Dee made an appreciative sound and snuggled close, almost blanketing his lover. Ryo held on to him, enjoying the weight on him.
Somewhere a church bell was ringing and Dee wrapped himself around his partner, his head lying on his chest, sighing contentedly. Ryo stroked over the dark head, carded his fingers through the black strands, or massaged Dee’s neck. He felt the hardness growing against his thigh and when Dee’s hand slipped under his baggy sweater, questing for one nipple, things heated up a little. Slowly. Very slowly. It was still just gentle stroking and caressing, but the little pinches that hardened his nipple had Ryo gasp out once.
The unnerving touch continued and green eyes regarded him with smoldering fire. Ryo cupped the narrow face and drew the familiar lips closer, soundly and deeply kissing them. Somehow his sweater slid upward as Dee did the same and his skin was revealed to his lover’s nimble fingers and lips.
Dee nibbled, kissed and licked his way all over the expanse of hairless chest, neck and face, making Ryo squirm. Sitting on the narrow hips, his growing bulge rested quite blatantly against Ryo’s own hardness, making it clear where this was going. It was exactly where Ryo wanted it to go.
He tugged the t-shirt out of Dee’s pants and Latener slid if off, throwing it onto the floor, then their lips were busy again. Ryo loved the feeling of his partner’s skin, his fingers ghosting over the old scars from past encounters with knives or a bullet. He traced the line of the ribs, ran light fingernails over strong shoulders, and nipped at the soft skin of Dee’s throat when he could reach it. He finally reached for the belt buckle and quickly undid it.
Dee briefly left him, stripping off the pants including his underwear, while Ryo wriggled out of his own. Dee was more than helpful with it, too. McLane caught the exploring fingers and met the soft, green eyes.
"Love you,“ he whispered.
Dee shivered a little and nipped at Ryo’s lips, then gasped as his lover’s hands played over his back and a lot further down south. The kisses grew more forceful, their play heating up, and Dee battled for dominance with his lover. Ryo gave as good as he got, making Dee moan in appreciation. He finally separated from the other man, breathing hard, eyes aglow.
McLane smiled devilishly and stroked over the straining hardness that was just within his reach.
Beware of the creature I freed, Dee thought, amazed at the playfulness Ryo suddenly showed, the unhibited openness, the desire.
No, not suddenly. It had always been there, he realized. It had been underneath the shields, had longed to break free, and Dee could finally look beyond the man presented to the outside. There was nothing shy or reserved about Ryo, nothing inhibited or embarrassed. Here was a man who knew what he wanted
Fingers running over his arousal annihilated those deeper thoughts. He simply moaned and let his lover explore, touch and fondle to his delight. Both their delight.
* * *
Part II – False Truths
The New Year had started with a bang. Not literally of course. For both
Dee and Ryo it had been an evening full of warmth and love, good food,
lots of cuddling, and fireworks for the finale. They had spent a lot of
the first day of the New Year in bed, and Dee had been amazed at how open
Ryo was for male/male sex, for trying out new things, and how he initiated
a lot of their rolls in the hay. He looked at his partner and lover with
new eyes, completely new eyes, and not just because of the second life
he was leading.
The demands on the job were the same as in the old year and nothing would ever change there. Their latest case had been given to them just before New Year's and it involved a brutal murder and a lot of problematic witnesses. Apparently they were scared out of their wits and rumor had it that the killer belonged to an influential and wealthy family.
Money bought a lot of things; threats too.
What should have been a simple interview of a potential witness who was finally ready to open up, had turned into a merry chase as the man in question had no intention to talk to the two police officers. He was out of the window, onto the fire escape and on the roof in seconds. Dee and Ryo had followed.
A chase had ensued, taking them over the roofs of New York, through winding passages between the old buildings of this part of the city, until the guy had finally decided to descend to ground level again – only to try and lose them in the maze of alleys and little shops everywhere. Dee knew the place well. He had hung out around here as a kid way too often and the old nooks and crannies still existed. It was a definite plus and when they arrived at an intersection, both breathing hard, he gestured at Ryo to go down the alley while he circled around to head the guy off. Ryo acknowledged and followed their fleeing witness.
Ryo wondered where Markus got his energy from. The man was about his
own age, but a lot heavier built, but he had held up quite well in the
chase. It helped that he knew his way around while he and Dee had to double
back once or twice. Ryo noticed the moment they got into a section of town
Dee felt more familiar with because his partner could almost foretell where
the witness was going.
Running down the dark alley, gun ready, he tried to spy a glimpse of where Markus was. Why was he running anyway? He had called them, wanting to talk about what he had seen the day the brutal murder had happened, so why suddenly evade the police?
His thoughts were rudely interrupted by the fact that he had arrived at a dead end. A ramshackle wall of wooden boards and metal plates had been erected, effectively cutting the alley in half. Debris littered the ground. Markus was trapped.
Ryo stopped, looking around for their man, and discovered him with his back pressed against the side of a building, breathing hard.
"Give up, Markus," Ryo called. "It's over."
"Oh no," was the slightly breathless answer. "Not by a long shot, cop."
A noise behind him alerted Ryo to a second presence and he frowned.
"Markus…" he started.
The other man stepped into the light of the lonely lamp hanging above them. It shed a yellow circle into the semi-darkness.
"What's going on, Markus? You called us, wanted to talk," Ryo went on.
Where was Dee? he thought fervently. His partner had wanted to cut the running man off, but he was probably faced with the barrier now. Or was someone waiting for him, too?
"Yeah, it's what I said, but you know what, boy? I lied." He snickered. "You cops are way too trusting."
The man behind him was moving into position and Ryo tensed more. Two were no problem. He could manage two.
"Why?" he asked.
"Do we need a reason to teach a pig a lesson?" Markus chuckled.
Ryo felt more than saw the man behind him move and the next moment he swung around, kicking at his opponent. A loud 'oof' told him that he had hit his target and he immediately whirled around, ready to take on Markus. The man grinned, brandishing his brass knuckles. Ryo ducked and the blow hit the wall behind him, splintering the wood. He rammed an elbow into the man's side and was rewarded with a snarled grunt.
Suddenly there was movement on his left side. He turned to ward off the next attack when something hit him on the right. It came so sudden, he barely had any time to register the fact that there was a third person present before someone kicked him hard in the ribs and he staggered, coughing.
Three? his mind cried. Where had the third been? Why hadn't he seen him?
The questions were drowned in the adrenaline driven response to fight for his life even as one of the goons grabbed him, interlocking his arms with Ryo's and pulling them over his head. His ribcage was exposed, leaving him vulnerable.
And then he saw the baseball bat.
Dee had cursed when he had run into the makeshift wall. He couldn't
remember it being there when he had scavenged around this part of town
so many years ago. But hey, this was New York and not exactly one of the
better parts. Shit happened.
The sensation came out of the blue.
Suppressed fear, followed by determination.
'Dee, where are you?'
"Ryo?" he murmured.
Anger mixed with fear, and then the sharp pain. He staggered, as if he had been physically hit in the side, and suddenly he knew.
"Ryo!" he yelled.
His partner was behind the wall. His partner who was being attacked…
Dee stared up at the obstacle, took in the empty barrels, the garbage piling against the rotting boards, and he started to scale the piece of junk that separated him from his partner. The moment he could look over the wall, his blood froze in his veins and his mouth opened in a scream of denial.
Three men, one of them their witness, were trying to take a piece out of Ryo. His lover was in the death grip of one heavily built guy who kept his arms pinned over his head while his partner was trying to smash a wicked looking baseball bat into the unprotected ribcage. Ryo had managed to ward the man off once, kicking out with his long legs, but the second time the one with the bat was ready.
"Ryo!" Dee screamed.
He was too far away, he wouldn't be fast enough…
Markus turned at his cry, his ugly face giving him a wild, manic grin.
The baseball bat descended.
Something inside him broke with a resounding crack. It was as if he had been locked inside a jar for his whole life, had never really felt, seen or heard, touched or tasted. His senses exploded, his mind was awash with sensations alien and familiar in one.
Dee didn't deny the wall of cold, blue fire that screamed up inside him with a force that shamed every F5 tornado. He welcomed it even as it tore through him, over him. He reached for it, took a hold of the power, wielded it as if he had been born with it.
Green eyes flared with what had been locked inside him for too long, with what he was. His focus was on the three men attacking what was rightfully his, what belonged to him. Ryo was a singular point in his world, encased in what seemed to be protective, transparent shields, but the others were prey.
Let – Him – Go!
The wave rushed along every nerve, setting his body on fire as the power wrenched from him, agony screaming through an overtaxed brain that hadn't had to handle that kind of power for close to thirty years. It succumbed happily to the wall of darkness that followed on the cold fire's heels.
Ryo felt the rush of power flow around him, caressing him feather-light
while it flung the three attackers away, breaking bones and burning clothes.
He heard the screams, the moans, then there was silence. Staggering, he
turned to look at his lover and partner, who stood tall and erect, silent
and powerful at the end of the alley. Power danced around him like a living
being, almost visible to Ryo's eyes, and he knew what had just occurred.
How…? Why…? Dee?!
It couldn't be…! Dee was too old for that kind of power to manifest without prior indicators…
"Dee?" he croaked.
His partner blinked, looked at him, visibly shell-shocked, then simply collapsed.
Ryo ran to him, ignoring the twinges from his bruised ribs and assorted other areas, and fell to his knees at Dee's side. The younger man was breathing, his pulse was strong, but he was out cold. No wonder after the display, McLane thought, still confused.
Then he pushed the confusion aside and pulled out his cell phone. He dialed a number he knew by heart and listened to the dial tone.
The other side picked up after the first ring.
"McLane, Ryo," he spoke into the cell phone, then added the security code. "Red One. I need the closest available ally." He gave the other end the address, then hung up.
All he could do was wait for assistance now, and make them as comfortable as possible. Pulling Dee up, he settled with his back against the wall, Dee safely in his arms. He didn't care about the condition of the three thugs, one of them their witness. For once, police matters took a back burner to other, more pressing matters.
* * *
He had received the emergency call right in the middle of his lunch
break. It was actually lucky because he had left the office to spend his
lunch hour at a deli only a few blocks away. Well, food would have to wait,
he decided, as he took his car through New York traffic to the accident
site. It was icy cold and the roads, while free, were slippery. He deftly
maneuvered the car around cabs and pedestrians that jay-walked between
the cars. Everyone was bundled up tightly, their breaths escaping in puffs
and clouds. Snow had been announced by the end of the week.
Red One. Bad, he mused as he barely made it past a stop light.
It meant a sudden break-through of abilities that had probably left quite a bit of damage to clean up. He wondered who it was. Teenager? Street kid? Puberty was the likeliest trigger for paranormal abilities. Some showed their talents later, but only a few. He had heard of a warlock's powers breaking through in his late twenties, but he had been showing signs for a while now. Red One meant quite some substantial manifestation. Warlock? Wizard?
Stopping the car, he checked for the alley in question, then set the indicator and drove to the left, parking his car effectively at the mouth of the street in question to keep anyone from entering. Getting out, he briskly walked to the end, scanning for the ally who had discovered the new paranormal and the poor soul who had just had had the shock of his life time. Damn, it was cold. Shivering, he pushed his gloved hands deeper into the pockets of his overcoat.
And then he discovered the ally who had called him, as well as the new paranormal in question.
For the first time, he was the one who received the same shock.
Dark brown eyes looked at him with the same surprise, widening as he came closer. His own shock deepened as he also identified the unconscious, dark-haired man in the ally's embrace.
"McLane?" he asked. "You called a Red One?"
Ryo nodded slowly, his shock disappearing behind the professional façade. "Yes. First level. He took out three men with something that was close to… I'd say warlock strength."
He stared at the unconscious man, shock settling even deeper, quickly followed by horror at what it meant. Shit, the new paranormal was already a grown man… that was more than unusual. It was almost unheard of!
"I felt it brush past me as he attacked the man holding me. It wasn't just a small burst. It was the real thing. He keeled over from exertion."
He gazed at Dee Latener, fighting for composure as he digested the news. Part of him thought, 'you felt his power brush past you?!' And you’re still in one piece!’, the rest was too busy mentally going through procedure.
"Let's get you out of here first," he decided. "It's damned cold out here."
Ryo nodded. "His home."
Lieutenant Ross Barclay helped the younger man get the unresponsive, newly awakened paranormal to his car. They settled him on the back seat, Ryo sliding in beside him.
Then they were on the way.
* * *
They had managed to get their unconscious burden up into the apartment
and into the bedroom, though it hadn't been a small feat. Ryo was breathing
hard, his injuries making themselves known again, but he doggedly refused
to let Barclay do all the work. The surprise that their boss, the commissioner
of the 27th, was an ally, was still ringing through his mind, but he was
too shocked about Dee to give it much thought. Right now he was functioning
as an ally and Dee needed him.
Stripping him of his shoes and the jacket, taking the gun and placing it into the safety box, he finally covered the man he loved and stood back, swaying slightly.
A strong hand touched his elbow and Ryo flinched.
The voice was soft, low, masculine, and held a million questions.
"Were you hurt?" Barclay asked one of them.
"Just bruised," he heard himself answer, his eyes on the still figure on the bed.
Dee was a paranormal… with quite a punch… howwhywhenwhere? How could it be? Why had never anyone identified him as a potential paranormal? When had his powers started to develop? Where did that leave them now? Dee wasn't some witch or wizard. Ryo knew he had been right in categorizing the powers as those of a warlock. Or more.
"Ryo?" Barclay's insistent voice interrupted his whirling thoughts. "Let me look at your injuries."
He followed the older man outside and let himself be pushed to sit on a chair. He winced slightly as he moved wrong and Barclay frowned.
"Ribs?" he guessed.
"Take off your shirt. I'll see what Latener has concerning first aid supplies."
Ryo didn't really think about the order, just removed his jacket, halter and shirt. By the time Barclay came back out of the bathroom, carrying bandages and what looked like a tin of cream, he was semi-naked. Only then did he register the fact that this was Ross Barclay, the man who had tried to become more than friends with him.
But the commissioner didn't so much as let his eyes wander, just palpated the bruised ribs, making him wince more, then started to wrap a bandage around him. There was a completely professional air around him, his touches precise and not the least bit personal, and the way he looked at him was almost clinical. Ryo was astounded by the change. Then again, the ally was always a different person from the man or woman behind the cover. He knew he himself was – had always been. Barclay seemed to be in the business for about as long as Ryo, judging by his status as the next ally in Ryo's vicinity to handle a newly awakened paranormal.
Sometimes, people surprised you, he mused.
"Do you have a contact to help identify Dee?" Barclay asked as he put the finishing touches to the stabilizing bandage.
Ryo winced a little, trying to breath more shallow. "Yes. You?"
A smile. "Yes. I think it would be best to call them both. Something tells me this is no ordinary case. With Latener, it never is."
Ryo pulled on his shirt, wincing several more times. "Yes."
Barclay helped him, easing his arms into the sleeves, then stepped back. It was almost as if to reassure him that the blond meant no harm, wasn't invading his personal space. It was weird, Ryo thought, so different.
He reached for his cell phone, feeling the first tendrils of exhaustion creep through his mind.
Barclay dug out his own phone, and both men placed their call.
* * *
Mitsumi was a small, Asian woman in her fifties. Or at least appeared
to be that old. She might be older or even younger. One could never be
sure. Her hair was shot through with gray, but her face showed barely any
lines, and she was dressed in a dark blue and gray business suit. She didn't
look like any kind of witch, but witches rarely did. They either hid in
plain sight or were so indistinguishable from the rest, no one would ever
believe it anyway.
The moment the woman entered the apartment, her sharp, dark eyes swept around the room, then stopped on Ryo. Her brows rose a fraction and she seemed to follow an invisible line to the bedroom, her feet taking her there before either Ryo or Barclay had said more than a 'hello'.
"Well, we certainly felt him come to life," she remarked as she looked at the peacefully sleeping Dee. "He left the impression Godzilla leaves on Tokyo. And no one ever sensed him before?"
The last question was directed at the two allies.
"Not to my knowledge," Ryo answered.
"Hm. Well, looking at you, something happened and it was like a dam breaking. At least on my end. Now let me have a look at the boy."
With that Mitsumi set to work. It was throughout that time Carl Harrington came in. He was Ryo's only magic-user contact in New York. They rarely met, actually. He saw more of Nacho and his friends than Carl.
"Mitsumi is here already?" Harrington asked.
Both men nodded.
"Well, if she's checking him out, I'll leave her to it for now, but I'm willing to give a second opinion. Your friend in there made his presence known throughout New York, Ryo."
"Mitsumi already said so."
"Well, he caught me in the shower. I nearly hit my head when he blasted. Damn, the boy is either a first class wizard or something really weird."
"The latter is quite a good description, Carl." Mitsumi closed the door to the bedroom behind her. She smiled at her fellow witch. "He's part shaman, part wizard."
Carl whistled softly. "Now there's an explosive combination."
The woman's dark eyes fell on Ryo. "Speaking of which, here's the other half of the pair."
Barclay frowned. "Mitsumi?"
"Sit down, boys, this will take a while. Any coffee to have?"
Ryo nodded and started to rise, but Barclay's firm hand on his shoulder kept him down. "You take it ease, McLane."
Mitsumi frowned a little, running an eye over him. "Sit, boy. You look like shit."
Ryo blinked in embarrassment, but he sat down. Barclay came back with coffee and after everyone had one – except Ryo, who couldn't really bring himself to taste coffee right now, and who had a tea – Mitsumi gazed gravely at the assembled group.
"What we have in there is a paranormal whose powers were shielded from prying eyes; I suspect for all his life. It’s hard to see even now. He’s still shielded and I had quite some trouble just getting a whiff of what we have. Dee was born a powerful shaman with some unique touches to his aura. He's part shaman, part wizard, and very much all active now."
"Shielded?" Ryo heard himself ask, feeling like in a dream. "How? Why?"
"How? Well, it must have been a shaman or a high level wizard, an old one. Someone who knew a lot about life shields. Whatever it was that encased him, it was broken. I suspect it was leaking for a while now, things trickling out, things leaking into it." Mitsumi gave Ryo a close look. "Ross said you were attacked and that's when he triggered."
McLane nodded. Ryo still remembered the rush of energy passing him by, disturbing no more than a hair on his head while almost killing his attackers.
"And here you are, unharmed. You stood in the middle of a blast that had been building behind his leaky shields…"
Carl frowned. "Ryo's no paranormal, Mitsumi…"
"I'm not implying it. At least not any one we have ever met. Can't you see the bond?"
Carl's eyes narrowed and he gave Ryo a very close look that had the younger man blush slightly.
"Hot damn!" Harrington suddenly breathed.
Mitsumi nodded. "I only heard about such things, but what we have here is most likely a Shaman Pair."
Ryo lost all color at the words. "That can't be!" he blurted.
Both witches and Barclay shot him surprised looks.
"You know what a Shaman Pair is?" Mitsumi wanted to know.
"It's a connection formed between a powerful shaman and a non-paranormal who's then called a shield," Ryo recited automatically. "The shield is the protection of the shaman, shielding his powers, his body, his mind and his soul. He's the only one untouched by the energy the shaman can wield. The shaman forms a life bond between himself and the shield, an unbreakable bond…" he trailed off as he took in their startled looks. "What?"
Carl suddenly grinned. "I always said you were an encyclopedia on legs, Ryo."
Mitsumi shook her head in clear amazement. "How do you know that, Ryo?"
"I… ah… I read up a lot when I was younger… uh… and still do…"
"He's an overeager study-puppy, Mitsumi. He devours knowledge." Carl's grin was almost splitting his face.
Barclay looked just plain amazed. He finally turned from staring at Ryo to the female witch and shot her a quizzical look.
"So, Dee's a shaman and bonded to Ryo? But Ryo's still human?"
"He's a shield. He's not your average paranormal since his powers don't register at all. I could scan him all day long and not find an ounce of talent. Dee triggered him, but he also harbors his powers. Ryo is simply the shield, but the shield is never anything but simple…"
"The shield protects," Ryo murmured, glancing at the door leading to the bedroom.
His exhausted, too overtaxed mind was yearning for some rest, but his thoughts were whirling.
"The shaman can trust his partner without doubt; his life depends on him. There are only seven known Shaman Pairs in the world. They're thrown together by chance, bonded, unable to live apart…"
A strong hand touched him and he blinked, looking up and into a pair of concerned, blue eyes. Clear, blue eyes, like ice. But there was a warmth in there Ryo had never noticed. A humanity that had never been allowed to surface. No smirks, no calculating looks, no defenses against subordinates who might try to upset his balance. This was a human being worried about his own kind, about Ryo, about another ally. The concern, so stark naked and open, baffled Ryo. He couldn't quite grasp the concept of the expression and the man who showed it to clearly.
"Ryo, get some rest," Barclay said gently.
"I'll handle matters."
He nodded slowly, aware that Barclay knew what he was doing. And sleep sounded so promising…
Give in, something inside of him told Ryo. Trust him to do his job. He's your ally, too.
Barclay looked at the peacefully sleeping man, curled up against the
newly discovered paranormal.
"Shaman Pair," he murmured, disbelief coloring his voice.
Ryo had dropped dead before even hitting the mattress. Barclay doubted the young detective had actually understood a word about his role in this new development.
"Well, yes," Mitsumi said, smiling.
The witch gave him a little push, drawing his gaze away from the two men.
"Let's give them some peace. Dee needs rest, as does Ryo. Dee will have enough on his mind when he wakes up. Literally." She chuckled.
Barclay went into the living room with the old woman where Ryo's contact was drinking his coffee.
"I'll stay," Carl said calmly. "There will be questions when Dee wakes. I also made a few more calls. Dee's awakening caused some disturbance with the sensitive. He was registered, but he immediately disappeared off the radar again because of the shield."
Mitsumi nodded. "Keeps him safe. Well, boys, I'll be off now. There's a class waiting for me and you, Ross, should go back to your work, too. You've two men to excuse now."
He smiled a little. "Yes, for a quite a while, I suppose."
"At least for two days. Do you think he needs training, Mitsumi?"
Barclay dreaded the idea of Dee Latener not in control of those incredible powers.
“We’ll see and know that when he wakes.” Mitsumi looked thoughtful. “We should try and get a shaman here. This is way over the head of a mere witch.”
Carl nodded in agreement. “We won’t be able to do anything should Dee lose control… He’d vaporize us.”
“Well, Ryo’s his shield,” Barclay threw in.
“We have no idea how far his abilities go right now. It might have been luck…” Mitsumi chewed on her lower lip. “I’ll see if I can find a shaman in our vicinity. They’re not really advertising in the yellow pages.”
“Some of them must have felt the blast,” Carl argued. “We did and we’re on the first level.”
“Yes, but it was momentary. We wouldn’t have been able to pinpoint Dee’s location if not for the call from Ryo and Ross. The shamans might have gotten a heads up, but they’re most likely as clueless as we are.”
Barclay’s eyes wandered back to the closed bedroom door, then he nodded slowly. “I’ll take care of matters,” he promised.
“And we see if we can’t find a shaman,” Mitsumi added. “Have fun, Carl, and don’t drink too much coffee.”
Harrington only grimaced.
* * *
On his way back to the precinct, Ross Barclay placed a few calls and made sure his two detective had not only two days off, but also weren’t brought into connection with the three injured criminals a patrol car had picked up. It would be handled as a fight between the three where matters had gotten out of hand. If they remembered anything about trying to almost kill Ryo, there were ways to shut them up.
* * *
He woke to the sensation of being enveloped in a light embrace, a warm
breath against his skin, and the clear memory of what had happened.
Dee blinked, clearing the fog from his eyes and turned to look at his bed partner. Ryo had snuggled up to him, and was sleeping peacefully. His features showed a few lines, speaking of pain from injuries even felt in sleep, and Dee carefully sat up, running a hand through his tousled hair.
He knew what had happened.
He knew why it had happened.
He knew what he was.
He just had no idea how to control it.
The power ebbed and flowed through him, a source of inner warmth and security, of strength and talent.
It scared him, startled him, made him want to run screaming from the room; but it was also a calming sensation to feel what had always been there. It soothed his mind and soul.
Turning back to his lover, his eyes followed the close to invisible line that connected him. Like he recognized himself, he recognized Ryo. He was the one who spread such calm, such reassurance, even in sleep. He kept him in check…
Brown eyes blinking open, looking sleepily at him, drew him to his lover, and Dee leaned down to place a good morning kiss on Ryo’s lips. His lover responded and Dee ran a hand over the familiar form, frowning as he encountered the bandaged around Ryo’s middle.
“You were hurt,” he whispered.
“Just bruised ribs.”
“Worse than broken ones,” Dee argued.
“I’ll heal. How are you?” Ryo wanted to know, covering the hand on his ribs with his own.
“I remember what happened, Ryo, and I'm scared," Dee answered truthfully. "I… I know what I am… somehow I do, but I don't know how to… be what I am. I don't even know how I did what I did in the alley."
"There are people I can talk to to get you help. You need to learn about your powers," Ryo said softly, reassuringly.
Dee caressed his lover's ribcage, taking care not to hurt him any further. Ryo embraced him carefully, just holding him.
There was a light knock on the door and a voice unfamiliar to Dee called, “You decent?”
Ryo chuckled. “That’s Carl. We’re awake, Carl,” he answered. “We’ll be out in a few.”
“He’s one of my contacts, Dee.” There was a moment’s hesitation as if Ryo had just been struck by something.
“Love? What is it?” Dee asked.
“Uh… well, when you broke down after that blast… I called in an emergency and the next available ally came to our aide.”
“Ross Barclay is an ally, Dee.”
Dee felt the world turn inside out. Barclay? Commissioner Ross Barclay? The guy he hated because he had been a rival for Ryo?
“He helped me get you home…” Ryo started, then fell silent. “Dee, it’s okay. He’s on our side and he didn’t try anything with me.”
“I hope so,” Dee growled.
His lover suddenly started to chuckle and Latener shot him a dark look. “You’re cute when you’re jealous,” Ryo managed, then held his side as his ribs protested the laughter.
“We better get up and see what Carl has, or he’ll come back and this time he won’t knock.”
“Let him. He might learn something.” Dee nuzzled his lover and claimed another kiss.
They finally did make it out of bed and Dee wanted nothing more than to take a shower with his lover, but Ryo reminded him that they had a guest. He groused about it, but he behaved. Thankfully, he behaved.
Mitsumi had come back while they had a light lunch. She smiled at Dee,
who regarded her almost warily.
"You feel the magic within me," she remarked.
He nodded. "You're a witch."
Witches are the lowest level of full magic-users, his newly-awakened knowledge informed him. They're powerful, completely 'online', so to speak, unlike those born with a magic-user's gene that never fully developed. Clairvoyants, empaths, people with a sixth sense… others like that. The next level were the wizards, then came the warlocks. Gender didn't play a role in what someone was called. A witch could be male or female, so could be a wizard or a warlock.
"Our new shaman here knows what he is, what kind of creature he has become," Carl remarked casually. "All he's missing is his control."
Mitsumi blinked, surprise coloring her expression. "You know about magic?"
Dee nodded. It was all there. He felt the magic around him, felt it like a comforting hum in the back of his mind, in every molecule of his being. He felt it, like a weak shadow, within Mitsumi and Carl. He was hyper-aware of Ryo, his shield.
"That's unheard of!" the witch exclaimed.
"I said the same," Carl shrugged. "But we've never dealt with a Shaman Pair before either, Mitsumi. At least one that came together in such an unusual way. Dee was shielded all his life, apparently by his parents, and the shields dropped rather late in the relationship between the two men. I'd have expected them to break the moment Ryo stepped into his life."
Ryo, who had been busy in the kitchen, now settled down next to his lover. "I wasn't the trigger. It was more the growing connection between us. My presence alone only formed the first stray bonds."
"Well," Mitsumi sighed, "at least we don't have to recite everything we know about magic and its uses. All we have to do is get you some practice in how to prevent you from leveling a whole block by accident. I tried to find a shaman anywhere in the vicinity of New York, but no one knows one. But my contacts know I'm looking." Her expression grew serious. "News about you will spread. Carl and I weren't the only ones who felt your awakening, Dee. Others did, too. They'll know what it means, what you are, and I doubt everyone will just go on with their lives. Some might try and measure their strength with yours."
Dee snorted. "Let them come. I'm not afraid."
Ryo took his hand and squeezed it. "Don't take it lightly," he said softly, intensely.
"I'm not." Dee knew how strong he was. He knew he could take on a warlock and win – if he found out how to turn on his magic powers, that is.
Mitsumi regarded them silently for a moment, then rose. "I'll keep an eye out for a shaman. Don't do anything rash, okay? Play it low."
Dee glared at her. As if he was about to flaunt his powers to everyone!
She simply smiled as if he had said it out loud. Carl followed the smaller woman out of the apartment, leaving the two men alone. Ryo gave his lover a long, hard look.
"What?" Dee wanted to know.
"Don't go picking fights, okay?"
Dee placed a finger against his lips and stilled him. "I'm not a teenager, Ryo. I won't brag about my powers, nor will I go up against whoever might want a piece of me. I promise. Defense. Only defense."
Dark brown eyes looked into green ones, then Ryo smiled and kissed the finger still placed against his lips. "Defense," he agreed.
* * *
Buck stretched as he walked into the living room, feeling pleasantly
relaxed after a nice long run through the quiet neighborhood. The job had
been demanding lately and early morning runs did wonders to unwind him.
His body was no longer so tense, his muscles were warm, his skin sweaty
and flushed, and after a hot shower – maybe with Vin – and a leisurely
breakfast – most definitely with his lover -- he'd just fall onto the couch
and enjoy some morning TV shows.
That was the plan.
It was brought to a halt by the dark-skinned man with the long dreadlocks and the screaming colorful shirt sitting in the kitchen, nursing a cup of coffee. Vin was leaning against the kitchen counter, smiling at him as he walked in.
"Hey, Brian," Buck greeted their visitor. "Isn't it a bit early to pay a visit?"
Brian glowered at him. He looked like he hadn't slept well last night, if at all. A laptop was sitting on the table in front of him.
"So, what gives us the honor?"
"Your visit to New York. You've been to New York, right?" the young shaman asked acidly. "The Big Apple? Meeting with an ally about a case?"
Brian glared daggers at him. "Met anyone by the name of Dee Latener?"
Buck frowned. "Ryo's partner. The ally we visited, that is. Brian, what's going on here? You're not here because we went to New York, so…?"
"You guys need to be confined! Placed under house arrest!" the shaman growled. "You go to San Francisco and Tanner turns out to be a spirit walker. You go to Las Vegas, and poof! We've got a Mimic and Phoenix!"
"Vin and I didn't go to Las Vegas," Buck interrupted. "That was Chris…"
Brian waved it off. He was clearly on a roll. "Now you go to New York, with a simple matter! What happens? We end up with a Shaman Pair!"
Buck shot his lover a quizzical look, but Vin only shrugged. He was calmness impersonate.
"Don't look at me, Buck. Brian came in ten minutes before you arrived, looked like he hadn't slept in a week, and drank all our coffee."
Brian gave the other werewolf a dark look. "Is it a wonder? I haven't slept for three days because of you two! I work around the clock! Do you know why I'm carrying this around?" He gestured at the laptop. "Because I need to earn money once in a while! Shamans don't get paid. Surely not by you guys! They've got a normal job, too. And before I ran into you lot, before Salt Lake turned into a melting pot of the insane and paranormal, I had no trouble juggling both!"
"Whoa, calm down!" Buck exclaimed.
"You are giving every shaman gray hair!" Brian stated.
"If you don't calm down, Polly's going to start tearing out feathers," Vin chuckled.
Brian glared daggers at him. "His name's not Polly, and spirit animals don't tear out their own feathers!"
He was referring to his own spirit animal, which was a cockatoo and which only Vin could see, aside from Brian, that was. Buck only grinned. He had nicknamed the invisible animal when Vin had told him what it was. Brian hated it.
"Well, he looks kinda stressed. Polly want a cracker?"
Vin smiled disarmingly and finally Brian deflated, running a hand over his dreadlocks.
"Care to tell us what happened now?" Buck asked as he got himself a glass of water.
"Your friend Dee Latener's a shaman, Buck. That's what's going on. Not just any shaman, but one whose parents were a warlock and a shaman. He's bonded to his very own shield, forming a Shaman Pair, a very powerful and dangerous combination. There are only six in the world. Well, seven now."
Buck gaped. "Dee's…?"
"Yep, he's a paranormal."
Now he understood the other man's agitation. "Uh, now what?"
"Nothing. We just keep an eye on them, like we keep an eye on your guys, though one's not enough any more." Brian gave them both a sharp look. "You keep unearthing all kinds of strangeness and new paranormals, including legendary ones!"
"When you're on a roll…" Vin remarked casually, though his expression was serious. They knew this wasn't to be taken lightly.
"This is more than a roll. Man, I've been around as a shaman for a while, but I haven't met anything I haven't heard of before. You keep finding the most unusual stuff." Brian emptied his cup and rose. "Well, anyway, this was just the heads up. Don't go traipsing to New York, all right?"
"Wouldn't think of it," Buck replied, smiling innocently.
Brian huffed, glared again, then left, laptop under his arm.
Vin glanced at Buck, who met the serious blue eyes with a matching expression.
"I'll call Ez," Vin finally said calmly. "You go take a shower."
Wilmington only nodded. This would get interesting, he mused. Very, very interesting.
* * *
Two days had passed since Dee’s ‘activation’. They had passed normally.
There had been no surprises, no sudden surges of energy. Both men returned
to work, easily slipping back into their cases and paperwork, but things
had changed. Subtly.
Mitsumi and Carl both had told them that neither could teach Dee how to use magic because he was way out of their league, but at least they had been able to give him some pointers to prevent accidents.
Ryo didn't know what to feel. Too much had happened to him lately, but as an ally he should be able to work through this. Strange, weird things weren't unusual in his line of work. Strange, weird things happening to him and his partner… that he didn't know how to handle yet. The revelation that Ross Barclay was an ally like him, well, that had floored him.
Dee was a shaman. Ryo himself had turned out to be his shield. And Barclay…
Magic, paranormals, allies, all that Latener had so readily accepted, even though he was a bit pissed about Ryo keeping such secrets from him. But Barclay on their side, an ally? No, that didn't sit well with him at all.
Ryo stopped in front of the commissioner's office, strangely drawn to the older man. It wasn't anything sexual, just the need to know, to find out who was behind that façade. An ally, yes. An ally he would have to work together with. Ryo knew his own status as an ally had been nullified.
Hm, upgraded was more like it, he thought wryly. Allies were defined by the fact that they had no paranormal powers, that they were humans who knew about the other world and helped everyone who needed their help. Whether it was to hide, to gain something, to seek shelter, or to deliver messages. It had been his job for so many years. He had covered up what should never fall into the wrong hands. He had been aide and confidant, fighter and social worker, all for paranormals. Those with small powers, those with incredible abilities, and those who were paranormal because of a sickness, like vampires. One of his contacts was a vampire he liked a lot. He was a fun guy and Ryo took great care of cultivating the contact.
Now he was an ally no longer. He was part of a Shaman Pair, bonded to Dee, a powerful paranormal. He was his shield. That meant Barclay was their ally to go to now for help. Or whatever else they needed him for.
The door to the office opened and Ryo was startled to look at the object of his thoughts. Icy blue eyes met his and a small smile quirked the thin lips.
"Detective, can I help you?"
"No, I was just… lost in thought."
Barclay gave him another long look, then his expression changed. The hard planes softened a little and the ice melted from the cool eyes.
"Would you care for a drink, Ryo?" he wanted to know.
Dee's protestations rang in his mind. Barclay was only trying to get into his pants. Somehow, Ryo no longer believed that. The last episode had been over a year ago and while Dee still fumed and growled, Barclay had been a model of control and professionalism ever since Ryo's fist had landed in his face.
"I'll be off in ten minutes," Ryo replied calmly, meeting the blue gaze head on.
If Barclay was surprised that his offer was for once accepted, he didn't show it. He just nodded.
Ryo nodded, then walked away, strangely looking forward to talking to the older man.
* * *
The 'Moody Eye' was a small basement bar that was rarely visited by
anyone not of the paranormal world. It was a private bar, its location
not known to many – except the delivery guys and they were paranormals
or allies – and the clientele liked its privacy well-kept. Ryo had been
here once or twice, meeting with Nacho, his vampire contact. Otherwise
he never had business here.
The whole place was made up like an 18th century tavern, right down to the food served, the plates, the wooden spoons and the décor. Barclay led him to a small corner table that allowed both men to keep the door in sight, a safety measure Ryo appreciated. He knew he was in little danger here, but it never paid to be careless. After receiving two beers, Barclay took off his glasses, massaging his eyes.
"How's Latener handling it?" he asked.
"Dee's fine. He's more upset about me hiding everything from him than the fact that he's a shaman. I think he appreciates the fact we're a pair, though." Ryo smiled a little.
Barclay chuckled. "He would. And you?"
The question startled him a bit and Ryo felt the blue eyes burn into him. Why was it that this man still held such a strange power? Barclay wasn't paranormal, he was an ally. Sure, he had lusted after him, but that was gone and forgotten. Ryo might be a bit naïve in that department – something Dee was busy rectifying – but he was 100 % certain that the commissioner wasn't trying anything with him.
"It… takes getting used to."
"That's what every new paranormal says."
"I'm not paranormal, sir."
Barclay quirked an eyebrow. "Drop the 'sir', Ryo. I'm not your superior right now."
Of course not. He was an ally. There were no ranks, just the matter of experience. Barclay seemed to have a lot.
"As for the paranormal part… well, you are bonded to a shaman. In every single way. You're the shield of a Shaman Pair. It makes you special, my friend."
"I'm still only human."
"Aren't they all?"
True, all paranormals were human, just with a genetic difference here or there. Ryo sipped at the beer, which was quite good.
"How did you fall into this business, sir?" he finally asked.
Barclay shot him a mildly exasperated look as he continued to 'sir' him, but Ryo wouldn't call him 'mister', nor by his first name.
"Family," was the reply. "My parents were paranormal. Their children didn't inherit any significant parts of those genes. Me, my sisters… nothing. Some of my nieces and nephew show talent, varying degrees of abilities, but not so the first generation."
"Must be frustrating," Ryo commented.
It wasn't uncommon that a paranormal gene passed generations completely. Sometimes genes lay dormant for decades, sometimes they never activated again. With Barclay, one generation had been born normal.
"Well, yes and no. Being an ally shows me all the trouble these abilities can get you into." Barclay smiled. "I like my life as it is: mainly uncomplicated. Rather straight-forward. What about you?"
Ryo blinked a little. "My parents were allies. I grew up knowing everything from the day I was old enough to understand. After they died…" He hesitated and looked at the blond opposite him, but Barclay only waited. "Well, after their death, I promised myself two things: I'd become a police officer and know all there is about the paranormal world."
Barclay nodded. "I was impressed by your knowledge about shamanism. Not many allies get to meet a shaman, let alone know such details."
Ryo played with the glass. "Yes, well…"
"Ryo, it's good to have people as dedicated as you," the soft voice interrupted whatever embarrassment was about to blossom.
He looked up and was caught in that intense gaze again. Why Barclay? What was it about the man? Why did he react to him, why didn't he run? Why did he want to know more about him?
Because he was so much like Dee? His mannerisms, his exterior hardness, the intense eyes, the behavior patterns? Or was it something else? Ryo knew he didn't desire the man. He felt nothing for him on that level.
"I've to confess that as an ally, I sometimes could have known more," Barclay interrupted his thoughts. "Personal things came into the way of duty too often. As gossip might have told you, I moved around a lot."
Ryo nodded, the spell broken.
"I worked in many departments, even overseas. Actually, before meeting you in that hotel, I had been in England for a year, as a liaison officer, so to speak. After meeting you, I went back to the States and transferred to the 27th."
"Why?" Ryo asked, honestly curious. "Why the 27th?"
"I can't explain it, Ryo," was the equally honest reply. "The first time I saw you on that balcony, something inside me came alive."
Ryo swallowed, feeling his shields rise.
Barclay held up a hand, smiling ruefully. "Please, no. Neither this invitation, nor what I'm telling you has anything to do with trying to… replace Dee."
There was such honesty in his words, Ryo was slightly shocked. The commissioner took the glasses and slid them back onto his nose.
"I wanted to get to know you better, Ryo. I always wanted to get to know you. Maybe it's part of what you turned out to be, half of a Shaman Pair, but something about you launched my interest right from the start."
Barclay smiled again. "As I said, it's not what you think. I want to be honest with you. We're going to work together in a different way now. I'm an ally, you and Dee are paranormals. There's no way, except my transfer, that can change that."
"Would you transfer? After getting the 27th at your personal request?" was the quiet question.
Barclay chuckled and emptied his beer. "No. Not voluntarily. You asked why the 27th? The answer is the two of you. Whatever made me take this step, it has largely to do with the two of you. It's something I can't explain rationally. If you had asked me two years ago, I'd have said lust for you. Now… it's no longer that, Ryo. I respect you a lot. I respect Dee. He wouldn't believe it, but it's the truth."
Ryo contemplated the man opposite of him, going over the words. He wasn't embarrassed, he wasn't shocked, he was more… relieved that Barclay was so open with him.
"Would you consider having a drink with me again some time?" the older man asked.
Ryo smiled a little. "I'd like to, yes."
* * *
Ross Barclay sat in his office, the blinds closed, a clear sign he didn't
want to be disturbed. His subordinates followed that wordless request and
he expected only one to barge in and ignore all the signs, but he wasn't
here at the moment. Dee Latener and Ryo McLane were following up on some
witness reports concerning the murder of a prostitute.
Barclay gazed at the computer screen, again and again reading over the information so clearly printed on it. It was Latener's file, his personnel file to be correct.
Dee Latener, orphan. Former street kid. First grade detective, high achievements, but an attitude that really needed adjustment. How he had made detective was sometimes a mystery to Barclay. He smiled slightly. Young, wild, brash, not much respect for authority, but a damn good investigator with a quick mind and enough commendations to impress even the toughest of superiors. Latener liked to hide his abilities behind his attitude, but the moment you chipped away the loud mouth and ignored the sharp tongue, you had a good man. Barclay knew that. And together with his partner, the two men had become a good team. They were slowly forming one of the best partner units on the force, whether they knew it or not.
It had taken a while, but McLane and Latener had smoothed out the rough beginning of their work relationship, becoming an effective investigation team.
Latest events had proven that. They had proven just how tough both men were, how much they could take, it was something no one but Barclay and maybe a few others would ever know. He still had to work through the shock of now knowing that one of his detectives was a freshly awakened, powerful shaman and the other was his bonded partner, his shield.
So much for normalcy around here, he mused, smiling wryly. The life of an ally was never boring, but getting a Shaman Pair shoved right under your nose, he had never dreamed of that.
And it had triggered the whole investigation into Dee Latener. Why had his powers never surfaced before? Why had no one picked up on his paranormal background? A shaman would radiate power even before his abilities manifested and Dee, as a police officer, had run into enough witches in his career to warrant a report. But no one had ever noticed even the slightest blip on the paranormal radar – until that evening.
An evening where the blip had exploded into the world, had wiped out everything, and had informed whoever was strong enough to receive the blast what had happened. A new shaman in New York. A damned powerful one who had found his shield, had formed a Pair, and with it was one of only seven Pairs known.
So why had Latener not been discovered earlier? Barclay had believed it had something to do with his past, with his parents, but Dee was an orphan, the parents unknown. Then again, that was the official version. Maybe he should look into this more closely, see if there was something hidden underneath the files known to everyone.
It was time to pay them a visit.
* * *
It had been ridiculously easy, Barclay thought. Flash an ID, show some
authority, and people caved in and gave you what you wanted. Well, sometimes,
he amended. Not everyone was like the filing clerk that worked for the
city, taking care of the orphanage’s filing system. He had been a bored,
pimply man, spending his time in a windowless archive all day, and Barclay
had been a welcome distraction, as well as the only visitor. People rarely
wanted to know about orphans.
What had surprised the commissioner was that the small department possessed a microfilm archive and a reading machine. The clerk, McCarthy, had directed him over to a separate room, which was as stuffy as it was small and only contained the machine, then handed him the files in question. Barclay had requested all of the files from the year Dee had arrived at the orphanage to cover his tracks. If someone had flagged Dee’s file, a singular request would bring down hell.
Sitting in front of the slightly outdated machine, he had read the microfilmed file of one Dee Latener, and a kind of strange dread had settled. Sure, the file seemed innocent enough, but it wasn’t. Not to someone who looked at it with the eyes of Ross Barclay. His mind was working overtime and when he had a look at the pictures taken at the time the baby had been delivered to the orphanage, a heavy weight settled in his stomach.
It couldn’t be.
He reread the information twice, studied the photos, but there was no doubt. No viable doubt anyway.
He left the archive an hour later, mind whirling.
The next day he paid the lab downstairs in the precinct a visit with a very special request.
* * *
"Detective Latener? My office, please."
Dee looked up from his typing, frowning at the tall, blond man who had dared to interrupt his work. Ryo, glasses perched on the tip of his nose, shot his partner a quizzical look.
"Dunno. No idea. I didn't do anything," he added almost defensively. "I was a model of professionalism lately!"
Ryo smiled. "Yes, you were a good boy."
Dee leered. "But only at work."
"Shoo, go!" McLane chuckled. "Before he comes back. It might be embarrassing."
Dee waggled his eyebrows. "You bet he'd be embarrassed. He might even learn something."
"Going!" Dee sang and left the office the two men shared.
He walked down the corridor and into the large corner office of their superior and commissioner, wondering what had Barclay want to talk to him. If it was about a case, why not want Ryo here too? If it was something personal, oh well, he was used to taking some heat.
Barclay stood at one of the corner windows, looking out over the traffic four stories below. He glanced over his shoulder as Dee entered.
"Take a seat, Dee."
He reluctantly lowered himself into one of the chairs, still suspicious about why he was here. The commissioner was still looking out of the window.
"I took the liberty of reading through your file," the older man said almost casually, but there was a strange tension in is voice nevertheless.
Oh well, Dee thought, it wasn't as if the file was confidential. He had probably been looking for some of the black spots Latener was sure there were in his years of service.
"After what happened to you lately, I thought it strange that no one had ever caught so much as a hint as to what you were harboring power-wise."
Dee's eyebrows rose.
"As an ally, it's my job to keep myself updated about paranormals I work in close conjunction with. Usually, we never have many regulars. One or two, that's it. None of my contacts had picked up on your abilities and such powers. Unusual shaman's powers like yours should trigger some alarm bells."
Dee shrugged. "Sloppy work."
"No, not at all." Now Barclay turned. "In your line of work, you came into contact with several magic users. Even the weakest would have caught a blip or two if you had shown your abilities. So I believe they were hidden away for a reason."
Now he was officially confused.
"Which is why I looked into your file. Nothing out of the ordinary, really. Just your family background, or lack thereof, was interesting. So I dug deeper."
Dee tensed. He didn't like people snooping around his personal life. He didn't like opening up his life to others. Ryo was one of the few people who knew his whole story.
"What I found…" Barclay hesitated and suddenly his expression changed, looked almost painfully hopeful and sad. "Dee, you were found in a baby carrier in an alley, with no letter, no evidence as to where your parents had disappeared to. You were a healthy baby, about eleven months old."
"So?" Dee interrupted, voice slightly hostile. "It happens. Parents abandon their children!"
It was a sore spot. A very sore spot. He didn't like to talk about it and having Barclay digging up that old pain… He glared at the blond man.
"I'm the youngest of four siblings," Barclay continued softly, apparently switching the topic and Dee stumbled mentally.
What? Where was that coming from?
"I have three sisters and once I even had a younger brother. My parents died close to thirty years ago and my brother disappeared. His body was never found. We know our parents had taken him with them in a baby carrier. He was covered with a blanket my sister Bethany had made for him with the help from our grandmother. It was a cream colored blanket in which she had painstakingly stitched the initial 'D' in a dark green color. My brother also had a teddy bear which he never went anywhere without. It was mine once. I gave it to him when he was born because I was too old for it, because he needed it more than me. Something to protect him, something he could hold onto."
Barclay's voice was so soft, so far away, Dee found himself mesmerized against his better judgment.
"He loved that bear. It was old, but he loved it. He slept with it, played with it, and Mom had to sew one of the eyes back on because he tried to remove it with his little fingers. She used red thread. One day the stitching on his backside ripped and this time it was Bethany who made it whole. It looked ragged because she wasn't a great talent when it came to sewing, but he didn't care."
Dee shook his head in denial.
"Your powers are that of a shaman, but not that of a pure one. You are special, Dee. You were born from parents that were both strong paranormals and should never have had children. They had five. Only one had their abilities, strong abilities."
Latener stared. "What the fuck…?" he blurted.
"I've been looking for my missing brother for three decades," Barclay went on. "I never would have thought it would be someone I worked with."
He jumped out of the chair, staring at the man he hated for the way he looked at Ryo, for his arrogance, his bearing, his… just for existing, because he made their lives hell on days.
"I know you won't believe my words, and I wouldn't either. I had to be sure, so I ran a DNA test."
Barclay took a piece of paper from his desk and held it out to the stunned detective. "It's a match, Dee."
Dee stared at the sheet of paper, read the words.
Energy surged inside of him.
'Pure blood relation… 50 % genetic match…'
Emotions threatened to release the energy, but he automatically took control of it, calming himself down. That at least Mitsumi had been able to teach him.
He looked up into the ice blue eyes that were so unlike his own green ones. The blond hair that was in contrast to his black one. The slightly paler skin. The glasses that acted like a shield against the blue stare. The narrow face, the tall, slender form, dressed in expensive suits.
The energy spiked, but he bit back down on it. This wasn’t a paranormal matter. He wasn’t fighting an enemy. He crumbled the piece of paper in his hands and glared at the older man.
"I don't know what kind of sick joke that is, Barclay, but it's not funny!"
"It's not a joke, Dee. It's the truth. We're related. First degree relation, actually. We have the same parents."
"No!" he spat.
"You grew up in an orphanage after your parents left you in that alley…"
"Shut up!" Dee hissed. "Maybe it's funny to you, but I'm not laughing. I'm not your brother!"
"You are, Dee. I've been looking for you for the last thirty years."
Barclay's voice was soft, convincing, and his expression… Dee tore his eyes away from the unusually soft and expressive face, the hope in those normally intense eyes.
It couldn't be true. He wasn't related to this guy. No way!
"Our parents… were powerful paranormals. Mother was a shaman, father was a warlock," Barclay continued calmly. "They wanted children, but there was no guarantee what would happen on a genetic level. My sisters and I, we didn't inherit a single ability. We all have very much dormant genes that not even a Trigger can activate. Then you were born."
"Liar!" Dee interrupted him. "That's all a lie!"
"No, it's the truth."
Dee shook his head in denial and stumbled backward toward the door. "No, I don't want to hear it!"
And with that he fled, pushing past his colleagues and friends, ignoring them all. He tore out of the precinct without another word, pushing those haunting words away.
'You're my brother.'
But they stayed.
* * *
Ryo had seen Dee leave in a flurry of motion, his face a mask, his eyes
blazing with undefined emotions. Something inside of him reacted to the
turmoil and he automatically rose and took his jacket, hurrying after his
partner. He caught up with Dee two blocks down the street.
"Dee?" he called, touching one shoulder, and immediately noticed the tension in the muscles. "Dee?"
Green eyes met his inquisitive gaze and Ryo was slightly shocked by the emotional upheaval in there. Magic slithered around the man like a creature with a life of its own and Ryo reacted almost automatically, the shield enveloping his partner and soothing the energy he emitted. No one saw it, it wasn’t spiking enough to register, but the instinct was still the same.
"What's wrong?" he wanted to know.
"Barclay's a world class asshole!" Latener spat.
Ryo blinked. O-kay…? What had happened now? Spying the small park not far from the precinct, he gently coaxed his lover into the peaceful oasis, making him sit on one of the sunlit benches.
"What happened?" he asked.
Dee reached into his jacket and pulled out a rather crumbled piece of paper. He held it out to Ryo and the other smoothed it before reading.
Lab results? he thought, confused.
There was one table labeled 'donor' and another 'comparative sample'. The bottom line said '50 % match' at the end of a long list of chemical and biological gibberish.
"It's my blood or whatever. My DNA!"
"And the other is…?"
"Barclay himself. He probably thinks it's funny!" Dee snarled.
"Dee… it looks official."
"Yeah, and I'm Santa Claus."
"No, look. That's Sheila's signature down in the labs. I know her. She wouldn't go along with a joke when it comes to falsifying her work," Ryo argued.
"So you believe this? Do you even know what it says?" Dee demanded.
"Yes. It means you and Barclay share 50 % of the same genetic material. You're related." Even as the words left his mouth, Ryo felt the surprise settle in.
"He snooped around my files! He went to the orphanage and got into the archives!" Dee whispered harshly. "He spied on me and now he throws that into my face! He tells me his parents were paranormals! That I'm the missing son everyone has been looking for. How much more crap can he spout?"
Ryo gazed at the crumbled paper. His mind wandered back to the time he had been so confused as to why Barclay reminded him of someone. The older man had made him nervous, had confused him, and he had tried to get into Ryo's pants. Not for long, sure, but he had tried. It hadn't taken Ryo long to see that Barclay wasn't unlike Dee. They were so much alike, except for their hair and eye color…
"You could verify this, you know," he said softly.
"Sheila. She did the test. I could go and ask her…"
Dee huffed and Ryo took his hand, squeezing it.
"Dee? Barclay is an ally. As an ally myself… or rather, a former ally, I can tell you that he wouldn't joke about something like this. It's easy to check on his family background. I still have contacts and allies are known. If his parents were such powerful paranormals, his story could be true. It's rare that two such individuals have a child, let alone several, but it could explain a few things about you and your powers …"
Dee let his head fall back, staring at the sky through the canopy of leaves above him. The sun twinkled through the green leaves, bathing them in dappled light.
"I don't believe this…" he murmured.
"Let me check things, okay? Maybe I should talk to Barclay…"
"Dee!" Ryo chastised, voice sharper than normal. "He's an ally and… if he really is your brother…"
The green eyes burned into him and Ryo evenly met the outraged gaze. After a moment, Dee dropped his eyes, breathing deeply.
"Sorry," he murmured. "God, this is too much…"
"I'll talk to Sheila, okay? Go home, Dee. I'll meet you there later."
It sounded so soft, so weak… so needy, Ryo smiled slightly and squeezed his lover's hand again.
* * *
Sheila Clark was still in the labs that took up the basement of the
27th precinct and Ryo was glad that he found her alone. A large cup of
coffee stood next to her work station as the blonde woman waited for something
or other to finish. Music played in the background, an instrumental piece
that gave a heavy, powerful beat, and Ryo found himself liking it.
"Sheila?" he called.
She raised her head and a smile went over her features. "Randy! Long time no see! What brings you into the deep dark dungeon of the basement labs?"
Ryo chuckled and held up the crumpled piece of paper with the test results.
"Oh, that. Barclay's anonymous DNA comparison, hm?"
"It came as a surprise when Barclay asked me to run the samples, telling me it was confidential, but hey, we all work highly sensitive cases, so I just did what the boss said."
Sheila had been with the lab unit of the precinct for a long, long time. She was in her late forties, mother of two, happily married, and worked very odd hours sometimes. She loved her job, was efficient, and kept a tight rein on her staff of ten lab assistants and specialists. Ryo had taken an immediate liking to her when they had met over a case of two bodies of homeless people, and since then he had cultivated that contact.
"So it's real? No joke?"
"Luv, I don't joke with my work. I don't know whose DNA I compared, but what I do, I do professionally."
"I know that. Sheila, could you run me through the process? Explain it to me? I mean, I know the case is confidential, but how a lab analysis works isn't, right?"
She smiled. "No, it isn't, luv. Well, what we have here is called a pure blood relationship among scientists. Same parents, no doubt about it."
"As you know, DNA is the genetic material in the cells. Every cell is made up of 46 chromosomes, half of which come from the sperm cell of the father and the other half from the egg of the mother. Thus, a person receives half of his/her DNA from the biological mother and the other half from the biological father. Normally you need blood for the test, but hair or skin cells are fine, too. DNA is an extremely stable biological compound and is resistant to great stress. The samples don't biodegrade "
She gestured at her apparatus and testing equipment.
"Barclay brought me some hair and skin cells. Don't ask me where he got them. What I do here is magnify the DNA in the samples several million times, making them large enough to reveal hereditary information. By comparing samples, it can be determined, based on certain hereditary principles, if a blood relationship exists between the samples. The blood relationship can be absolutely excluded if two or more probes don't match. The accuracy of such a testing in our laboratory is about 99.95 per cent."
"And in this case…?"
"There were no samples to exclude. The match was perfect, right down to a few anomalies."
"Nothing I'd call a defect, luv. The donor is fine, just like the comparison donor. It's a little glitch that happens to many of us. It has no effect on his health."
No, only on his powers. Sheila had probably caught on to the paranormal gene, which meant Ryo had to remove that little glitch from the data base. Or Barclay had to. It was proof and it had to disappear.
"No problem. Say hello to that gorgeous man of yours."
Ryo smiled. "I will. See you, Sheila."
She waved at him, then got back to her work as McLane left the lab.
So it was true. Ross Barclay was Dee's brother. He suspected there was a lot more behind that simple fact. A whole lot more.
And he had thought things couldn't get even more complicated.
* * *
Dee had gone straight home, thoughts whirling, trying to make sense
of it all. He had walked into his apartment like on automatic, dropping
his jacket, his keys, putting his gun away. Then he had gone straight into
the bedroom and the shelves that contained his clothes and shoes. There
were several boxes on top of them and he took down one, staring at the
simple, gray container with dread. Finally he opened it.
There were only a few items inside, most of them old photos, some newspaper articles, a dried rose, and on the bottom a cream colored blanket into which something had been wrapped. He carefully took it out, stroking over the worn fabric. It was old, but he had never thrown it away. It was the blanket that belonged to him.
One corner of the blanket had been stitched with a letter. A capital 'D'. It was green. It wasn't the work of a master, but it showed that it had been home made by someone young. Someone who had still taken great care.
…a blanket my sister Bethany had made for him with the help from our grandmother. It was a cream colored blanket in which she had painstakingly stitched the initial 'D' in a dark green color.
He bit his lower lip as he recalled Barclay's words. The commissioner had looked into his old files, his orphanage files, and he had probably seen the pictures taken by the social services people when he had been delivered to Mother.
Dee unwrapped what was hidden in the blanket and a small, brown teddy bear fell into his hands. It was truly old and had seen better days. One of its ears looked chewed on. Baby teeth. Hands and feet were worn, his lighter belly smudged. The black button eyes had dulled a little. Red thread peeked out from the left eye as he pushed the button aside. He touched it reverently, then turned it onto the back. There, underneath the curly, artificial fur, was a thick scar. Someone had inexpertly sewed a seam shut again.
Maybe the pictures had shown the red thread…? But how had he known about the damage on the back?
I gave it to him when he was born because I was too old for it, because he needed it more than me. Something to protect him, something he could hold onto.
Mother always loved to tell him how he clung to that bear, how he would ignore other toys and only sleep with his teddy. She had kept it when Dee had outgrown the need for a plush toy, and even today he felt it held sentimental memories. He had no idea why.
This was all wrong, he thought. All so wrong. Ross Barclay wasn't his brother! All the DNA tests in the world couldn't make them related!
The voice startled him a little and he looked up, surprised. How long had he sat here, on the floor, staring at the teddy?
Ryo's head poked into the bedroom and a smile crossed his lover's handsome face. "There you are." His eyes fell on the box. "What's that?"
"Memories," Dee answered softly.
Ryo crossed the distance and rested his hands on Dee's shoulders, squeezing lightly as he sank down behind him. Dee fell back into the easily offered embrace, needing the contact.
"He knew about the blanket, Ryo. About the initial… that it had been done by a child, apparently. I mean, he could have gotten that from the files… But he knew about the bear. About the repaired eye and the broken seam on the back…"
Dee screwed his eyes shut and wrapped his arms around himself, hugging the bear. Ryo in turn embraced him, resting his head on one shoulder.
"He can't be my brother," Dee whispered. It sounded like a prayer.
Ryo was silent. Finally he murmured, "I talked to Sheila."
"It's no joke. She ran the tests… the match is true. It's real."
Dee drew a shaky breath. "No…" It was close to a moan.
Ryo held him silently until the other man drew away, visibly pulling himself together.
“I can’t deal with this,” he murmured.
“You will have to soon. Barclay’s not going away.”
“I’m not going to play little brother to that prick!”
Ryo chuckled. “I doubt he has any big brother feelings, Dee. Just let it happen, wait what comes… and try not to piss him off too much.”
Dee made a non-committal noise.
“We’ll handle this together, Dee,” Ryo promised and hugged him tightly.
Dee turned in the embrace and kissed him. It was a questioning, tender kiss, probing, searching, and finding the response he was looking for. Ryo dropped all pretense and responded with the need he had for his lover.
They made it to the bed some time.
* * *
Part III. – After the Facts
Matters between Dee and Barclay weren’t proceeding well. Ever since
the revelation, Dee had been extra bitchy, biting back at whatever Barclay
said, whether it was in private or in the office. The others noticed, but
most just thought it to be the culmination of a long time of mutual dislike.
Ryo tried to mediate, but he was getting nowhere. Dee didn’t want to be
reminded of the fact that they were blood-related, and Barclay had closed
himself off. He was still there as a commissioner, but the times he had
effectively been himself, when he had dropped the pretense and approached
Ryo on a private level, had disappeared.
Even as an ally, Ryo could no longer talk to him as freely as he was used to with other allies. The whole thing weighed on the older man and he tried not to show it. It was painful to watch and Ryo was drawn between his partner and the man he had just gotten to know as more than his superior. Barclay’s pain and quiet desperation touched something inside of him, and he wondered which part of him was responding. The colleague? The man? The ally? Or was it something that had developed inside him with his status as a shield?
It was late. So late that everyone else of their shift had already gone
home. Drake and Ted were going to a Nicks game, and JJ had had his day
off today. The night shift was still coming in, some of them nodding toward
Ryo as he passed them by. He smiled at one or two, then looked around for
Dee. Apparently his partner was already on his way downstairs and he smiled
to himself. They had planned a leisurely dinner tonight, just the two of
them, since Bikky was staying over with Carol. After that, well, they would
see. Ryo knew his lover was thinking in one particular direction, and he
wasn't actually adverse to it, but he wanted the evening to proceed slowly.
There was so much going with Dee right now, Ryo knew his partner needed
a breather and some relaxation.
A small thrill raced through him at the thought of his dark-haired partner. Even after two years, Dee had lost nothing of the magic around him, the intensity that had left Ryo breathless and near-defenseless on several occasions.
Magic, he chuckled to himself.
Yes, Dee had magic. Now in more ways than one.
And he had a brother.
That thought stopped him short and he sighed to himself.
Yes, tonight they would retreat from the world, just be by themselves. He wanted to distract him, calm him, get Dee to take a few steps back and review the situation from afar.
Something caught his attention just as Ryo was about to turn and leave – the small ray of light peeking from under the door to Barclay’s office. He frowned. His superior wasn’t supposed to be present at this time of the night… Carefully pushing open the door he froze at the sight.
Ross Barclay was leaning heavily on the windowsill, his tall frame slumped, head hanging between his shoulders. His entire posture spoke of – defeat? A clicking sound alerted Ryo to the half empty bottle standing on the desk. Barclay had been drinking?
“Stop snooping around, McLane.”
Caught, he blinked; startled. “Sir?”
Barclay didn’t even move.
“Don’t ‘sir’ me, McLane.”
Ryo’s eyes widened. He had never heard Barclay sound like that, and it pulled at something inside of him. So he stepped closer.
“Commissioner … “
“What do you want?”
“To know what’s going on between Dee and you.”
“He didn’t tell you?”
“No. Not much, at least. Only … “
“That I’m his brother?”
From the looks of it Ryo would have expected a sarcastic tone, or even a hurt one, but instead his boss sounded depressed. Ryo couldn’t help but step at the man’s side, wanting to look at him more closely. Hazed blue eyes regarded him from under heavy lids, telling about the fact that Barclay might have had more than was good for him. He pulled a small brown wallet out of his pocket and tossed it at Ryo, who caught it out of reflex. Confused he opened it, glancing at what seemed to be family photographs.
“It’s our family,” Barclay muttered, gulping down the last of his whiskey. “I was six when Dee was born. There,” he pointed at a picture of a serious looking boy holding an infant, “that’s him.”
“And me,” Barclay agreed. “You see… The day I looked at my baby brother in the hospital I swore to keep him safe with my heart and soul. He was a miracle, you know, and I wanted to protect him."
He was silent for a moment, then visibly steeled himself.
"Our family was special, Ryo, in many ways. You know enough paranormals, I believe, to know that Shaman Pairs are rare."
"My mother was a shaman, my father a warlock. Both were very powerful paranormals in their own rights."
Ryo's eyebrows rose. That was an unusual connection.
"They were in love, they wanted to be together, and since there was actually no chance for Mom to become pregnant, no one saw a problem. Then came Bethany. She was a surprise and everyone thought Mom would lose the child, but Beth was born. A healthy child – and without any powers. Then came the others. We were all 'normal' so to speak, and miracles nevertheless. There should have been no pregnancies. Everyone was baffled. Well, Mom and Dad had four already and they wanted a last one. But Mom lost two babies after me, and even if I was rather young back then I still remember it, the pain it brought my parents. The doctors said she couldn’t have another baby, but then she got pregnant with Dee. He came early, he was so weak and had to be incubated, kept alive with oxygen tubes and feeding equipment, but he survived… He was a fighter even back then. When I looked into his green eyes… babies usually don’t have green eyes… I just knew he was something special.”
Barclay was gazing out of the window into the glittering New York night, but his expression told Ryo he was far away – about thirty years away, most likely.
“Our parents died because of him, Ryo,” he said softly. “They were protecting him with their lives… He was the inheritance of their power. He was the embodiment of them. There were forces after him, trying to kill my baby brother, and… and when… when their bodies were detected and he wasn’t with them… nobody could find him afterwards."
The usually so strong voice broke a little and Barclay stopped, inhaling sharply as memories from long ago rose unbidden.
"At first the whole paranormal world was looking for my brother, but when the years passed by the efforts grew weaker. Two of my sisters got married and had families on their own to look after. But I… I had sworn… I had sworn… “
The other man’s voice trailed off. Ryo had listened wide-eyed and, glancing at the pictures in his hands again he suddenly understood – Ross Barclay had dedicated his life to the task of finding his lost brother, had never even remotely thought about giving up, had believed against all odds that the boy was still alive and had even chosen a career that supported this efforts. And finally he had found him. Or more, fate had dropped Dee Latener into his lp, so to speak.
He had spent his life with looking.
But he had never thought about what would happen when he had finally found him.
Barclay shot him a look from haunted blue eyes and Ryo couldn’t help it – he put a comforting hand on the other man’s shoulder, feeling him lean into the fleeting contact minutely.
“Leave him alone!”
Dee had no idea what had triggered the reflex to walk back into the
precinct, climb the stairs to Barclay's office and barge inside. He had
been waiting for Ryo outside on the steps of the 27th, smoking one of the
few rare cigarettes he had nowadays. Ever since the revelation as to what
he was, what he could so, he had cut back. Ryo had always asked him to
in the last months, making him promise not to smoke so much, and Dee had
really tried. Smoking was his method to cope with pressure; he needed a
cigarette after a stressful case. Sometimes just to think, too. Well, right
now he had felt like one and Ryo wouldn't object to the one cigarette.
Gazing out over the evening streets, nodding at the few night shift guys passing him on their way to the squad cars, he wondered what was taking his partner so long.
And then it hit him.
It was like a surge of emotions that had no specific origin. All he could say was that it wasn't him feeling this. There was no reason for him to feel… sorrow, compassion, sadness… sympathy…
He blinked, the cigarette dropping to the sidewalk, rolling into the gutter, but he didn't even see it. He didn't care either.
Then something else hit. It was like knowing that it came from Ryo, that he was… with Barclay!
Dee saw red. Almost literally.
What the fuck was going on? What was Barclay doing to his partner?
Long legs ate up the stairs and he slammed the door open, his eyes falling on the cozy, almost intimate scene. Ryo standing close to Barclay, touching him, the blond man leaning into the touch as if seeking…
Anger coursed through him. Anger and fury and rage.
“Leave him alone!”
Ryo’s head snapped up in surprise when he heard the snarled command
and at the same moment felt a jolt of energy pass him by. The body at his
side was whirled around and pinned to the next wall, and – Ryo’s eyes widened
in shock – a letter opener hovered in front of the stunned man, sharp tip
pointing at his jugular. Barclay swallowed hard but didn’t dare move a
Damn, but Ryo had enough. Dee had always held a grudge toward their boss since Barclay had come on to Ryo once – and had received a blow to the jaw. But now …
Ryo stepped between his fuming lover and his boss, effectively catching Dee’s glare.
“What the hell are you thinking, Dee Latener?”
“What the hell am I supposed to think? I come back here, wondering what keeps you and see you all nice and cozy with … him.” Dee pointed at his brother. The letter opener didn’t so much a waver. “Especially since he’s still hitting on you … “
“No, he’s not. And if he’d try, I’d be more than capable of defending myself. Black belt, remember? I don’t need you to defend me, Dee Latener. And I’m tired of your unfounded jealousy, goddamnit! Every time someone does so much as glance at me, you’re about to throw a fit.”
“He kissed you … “
“And I hit him for it. Dee, you were much worse than him, and the only difference between you and your brother is that I’ve never hit you. Maybe I should’ve!”
“Ryo … “
“Don’t ‘Ryo’ me, Dee. I’m tired of this. I’m tired of jumping in every time, tired of excusing your rude behavior. I’m… I'm leaving!“
Ryo just had enough and whirled around, slamming the door shut on his way out. He missed the wide green eyes staring after him in utter shock.
The letter opener clattered to the ground as Dee loosened his control
over it. He heard the sharp gasp behind him as Barclay slid to the floor
“Jesus … you’re good … “
“What?” He turned, for the first time really seeing his … boss. Dee just couldn’t think of the other man as ‘brother”, not yet, maybe never. Barclay was stumbling to his feet, his face white, eyes a little hazed due to shock and inebriation. As he slowly walked over to his desk, Dee noticed the slight trembling of hands.
“You’re good. As good as mom…“ Barclay repeated, pouring whiskey into two glasses and silently offering Dee one.
While he took it his eyes fell on something lying on the ground. Picking it up Dee realized it was a wallet, containing some older looking photographs… a picture showed a tall man with a shock of blond hair and laughing blue eyes, one arm wrapped around the shoulders of a petite black-haired woman whose green eyes were shining happily while she was holding a baby. Another one showed a boy of about six years, a spitting image of the blond haired man, looking kind of serious, holding the same infant. It was a much younger version of Ross Barclay.
Only when he felt fingers closing around Dee's elbow he realized he must have swayed. Barclay helped him into a chair and took a seat opposite him who was still staring at the pictures. Three girls, one with raven black ponytail and intelligent blue eyes, one with the same black hair falling in short curls on her shoulders, the last one green eyed, honey colored locks framing delicate features… a happy little family. His family?
“It’s them,” Barclay said softly. “Mom and Dad, my… our sisters. You.”
So he was the infant.
“What are their names?” he heard himself ask hoarsely.
“Bethany, Eleanor – but she prefers to be called Lenore, Gwynne. Mom’s name was Sinead. She came form Eire – Ireland. Aunt and uncle as well as grandparents are still living there, cousin Siobhan lives in Salt Lake.”
Dee took a large swallow from his glass and kept staring at the pictures. Anything, as long as he didn’t have to look into the blue eyes…
“If you didn’t come on to Ryo – what was he doing then?” he asked after a while, voice soft.
“He was listening. I… needed someone to talk to and Ryo has proven to be that someone lately." A rueful smile crossed the older man's lips. "The whole revelation wasn't easy on me either. I'm actually quite glad he lent me an open ear."
Dee looked sharply at him. Had that been all? An open ear? Or had there been more.
Barclay looked evenly at him. "Dee, you two are a bonded Shaman Pair – nothing can part you, except for one thing. And even that wouldn’t last long.”
”Death, Dee. That’s the only thing able to part a bonded Shaman Pair. Even if I wanted,” Barclay waved at him, ”even IF I wanted, I couldn’t succeed. He won’t have anyone but you - and you won’t have anyone but him.”
Dee stared at him, glad he was sitting down. He felt weak-kneed, so much racing through his head. The whole bonding stuff, it was what he had always dreamed of: him and Ryo, no one else in their lives. Ryo was his alone. He was the man who had shown him the pleasure of love, male love, and Ryo would forever be the one person he felt so completely safe with.
"More genetics, hm?" he murmured.
"In a way. I don't know much about Shaman Pairs, much to my embarrassment. You've got to ask your partner. Ryo has an incredible knowledge when it comes to paranormal matters. It made him an outstanding ally. Too bad I didn't know him as one earlier."
Dee shot the commissioner a sharp look but detected no sexual hints in the remark. He transferred his gaze to the pictures again.
“So my name is Dee Barclay, huh?”
There was a soft chuckle. “Actually – no. There was a ‘D’ stitched in your baby blanket. Your name is actually Desmond.”
Dee stared. And shuddered.
"I think I'd prefer Dee," he managed.
Barclay chuckled. "Yes, I believe you would. As for the last name, you are Dee Latener. No one can force you change your last name if you don't want to."
Dee closed the wallet. "I won't," he said, voice firm.
Barclay took the wallet and slipped it into a pocket inside his jacket. "A name doesn't tell you where you came from, Dee."
But it did. In his case anyway. He had been found by a cop whose last name he had been given. Jesse had been his father figure, even if he had rarely been the son to be proud of. It had taken Jesse's death to make Dee turn his life around. And his first name… it had stemmed from the single letter on the baby blanket. He had been a child without a past, without a family, and now he had a whole lot of it.
Silence stretched between the two men and Dee was aware that there was one question still burning in his mind…
“Why were you… Why did you look for me for so long?“ he wanted to know, meeting the clear, blue eyes.
Barclay sighed. And then he started to talk.
* * *
Dee had no idea how long he had sat in the small, street corner bar,
staring at nothing, twisting and twirling his drinks in his hands, methodically
emptying his glasses and munching on the somewhat stale crackers on offer.
He didn't know how much time had passed since the second he had walked
out of the precinct into the cold, wet New York night, feeling nothing
but the turmoil inside him. He had ignored everyone and everything, his
feet just taking him here.
And here he still sat. Drinking, eating bad food, and trying to cope with the truth of it all.
Being a paranormal… well, that he could handle. With his powers, the knowledge as to what he was, what he could do had come too. He had a haphazard control over his abilities, as he had shown tonight when he had slammed Barclay into the wall and threatened him with a letter opener. He hadn't really intended to be that brutal, but he had… lost control.
Dee closed his eyes and sighed deeply. The mere sight of the man so close to his partner had launched an avalanche inside him that had finally climaxed in the attack. He would be lucky to still have his job by tomorrow. Brother or no brother, paranormal or not, this was an attack against a superior officer. His boss. The commissioner of the 27th precinct.
And there was that word again.
Ross Barclay, his brother. The jerk, asshole and prick. His brother. Older brother. Same parents.
Dee emptied the next drink and immediately refilled his glass. Some sane part inside of him had decided not to go for the hard stuff with no prior food. He had actually taken the time to eat the crappy crackers and choose a milder version of alcohol.
On top of it all, on top of all the changes in his life, this had to happen to him, too. Three major impacts within one year. The first had been the fulfillment of his dreams. Ryo was finally his.
Gone was all the reluctance and defense. Dee now knew why his lover had never dared to let himself fall, and it made a lot of sense. He was just glad that he had been given the chance to truly show Ryo that he meant it.
This was it for him. He loved the man, wanted to be with him so badly it hurt. Ryo was the only one he had ever felt so safe with. It had been a strange feeling that had assaulted him right away when he had met his new partner. He had pushed it away, but it had been insistent. Ryo meant safety, he meant warmth and gentleness, he was caring and loving. Dee's early advances had taken advantage of that, had overwhelmed the other man with his desires and needs, and somehow he was glad Ryo hadn't caved then and there. Yes, it had been a chase, but throughout that time, Dee knew he had evolved. It made their relationship all the better, much firmer. This wasn't something based on lust.
He smiled wryly as he popped another salty cracker into his mouth. He had lusted after his beautiful and handsome partner from day one. Who wouldn't? Those eyes, that face, that voice…. He had been hit hard and fast, and ever since he had been addicted.
Just like Barclay.
There was that name again.
Dee shuddered and sipped at his drink.
He could live with being out of the ordinary, with being a shaman and being bonded to his shield, Ryo McLane. Hell, he had no objections at all to that bond. It was all he had ever wanted. But now Barclay had been introduced into that equation.
His hated rival.
The asshole who had made his life hard and who had chased Ryo. Who had molested him, kissed him…
Dee clenched his teeth.
Brother or no brother, the man was still a rival. Boss or no boss, should Barclay touch Ryo in any way, he was dead meat.
I don’t need you to defend me, Dee Latener. And I’m tired of your unfounded jealousy, goddamnit! Every time someone does as much as glance at me, you’re about to throw a fit.
Dee, you were much worse than him, and the only difference between you and your brother is that I’ve never hit you. Maybe I should’ve!
I’m tired of this. I’m tired of jumping in every time, tired of excusing your rude behavior.
Ryo's words came back and he cringed as if the words were physical blows. In a way they were. He trusted his lover, but he didn't trust Barclay.
The revelation that they were related didn't help either. Ross Barclay rubbed him all the wrong way. Two alpha males fighting over a mate, and Dee was determined to win, even if it killed him.
But was Barclay actually fighting?
Even if I wanted I couldn’t succeed. He won’t have anyone but you - and you won’t have anyone but him.
Was it true? Was Barclay telling the truth?
Their boss had gone lengths to cover up Dee's change, Ryo's involvement, his own involvement. He was an ally, for crying out loud!
And my brother.
Shit, there was that brother crap again.
He was an orphan, a child left out alone and found by Jesse Latener. His parents had given him up.
No, they protected you from something that wanted to kill you. They died for you, Dee Latener, a small voice whispered harshly. You were their pride and joy. You had a family, a brother who had sworn to protect you. That brother is still there and he has finally found you.
Yeah, and he's lusting after Ryo.
Oh shit, he would never get over that, right?
His alcohol-drugged mind revolved around the single time Barclay had managed to get a kiss from Ryo. Ryo had slugged him for it, but still, that man had touched what was his.
Possessiveness rose inside him.
He won’t have anyone but you.
-- anyone but you.
Dee raked his fingers through his unruly hair, emotions overflowing.
After the scene in the office, would Ryo even think about letting him back in? Shaman Pair or not, it only meant they worked in tandem; it didn't mean they would have to end up in bed again. Not after the attack in the office.
Why had he done it? Jealousy? Yes. Sure he was jealous. He had been jealous of everyone Ryo had been friendly with in those two years of hard pursuit, even of Bikky, who had gotten more love than Dee.
And he had bathed in the moments of tender affections with his lover. Those moments in time when both men had been alone, when Ryo had come out of hiding, touched him, kissed him, caressed him. When he had been there when Dee had gone down with a cold, when he had stayed with him after emotionally upsetting cases… and Dee had responded tenderly in kind. No wild, overpowering episodes of kissing the other man into the mattress. Just a fleeting touch, a caress, a look that said more than words. Yes, Dee could be romantic, but he had had to relearn how to with Ryo. Ryo wasn't a conquest. He was just it.
I love you, Dee thought blearily. I don't want to lose you. I don't want you to be mad at me. I don't want you to feel that I'm jealous at everybody.
… I don't want to be alone…
* * *
Ryo had never been so angry, so furious, so… so… pissed off in his whole
life. Dee had behaved like a world-class asshole. Not only was he jealous
of every single person who so much as looked at his lover. No, he also
had to attack Ross Barclay with a letter opener! Ryo fumed as the scene
replayed in his head, as he saw the green eyes light up with anger, as
he felt the power lash out and grab the hapless, blond man, slamming him
against the wall.
"Who does he think he is?" he snarled, throwing his work clothes haphazardly onto the chair. "I don't need protection! Least of all from Barclay!"
The man had needed someone to listen to him, to share his pain, and Ryo had offered. Despite the past advances, despite the fact that Barclay might still be after him – which he doubted – Ryo had been drawn to him. Maybe it was his relation to Dee. Those two were more alike than different anyway.
Did Dee think he was the only one suffering? Did he think he had a monopoly on it?
Barclay had been thrown into cold water, too. He was trying to swim just like Dee. Sure, he was 'only' an ally, but he had also found his brother again, after thirty years, and it had turned out to be one of his subordinates who couldn't stand him.
Ryo sighed and slumped onto the bed. He was angry at Dee, but he was also angry at himself. He should have handled this differently, but his temper had simply exploded. It had been the last straw to break his back and he had lashed out.
He wondered where Dee was now. Should he call him at home? Try and talk to him? He needed to explain, but he also didn't want to further stoke the fire. What had happened after he had left in such a display of fury?
Ryo fell back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling, sighing softly.
A knock startled him out of his meditation of white ceilings and life in general. He left the bed and walked to his door, peering through the spy hole. Surprise and shock registered.
"Dee?" he blurted as he ripped open the door.
Damn, he looked bad. Tie askew, shirt rumpled, pants crinkled, his face haggard and drawn. The dark hair was the same mess, completely tousled, and the green eyes…
Ryo swallowed as he saw the emotions, the open pain, in there.
"Dee…" he repeated.
Those intense eyes looked at him, begging silently, pleading with him. "I'm sorry," Dee whispered finally.
Ryo grabbed him and pulled him inside, noting the shivers racing through the slender body. The suit was damp, as was the hair. It was probably raining. The forecast had been a bit unspecific whether to expect a thunder storm or just mild rain.
"I didn't mean it," Dee went on, the tremors increasing as he was maneuvered into the living room. "I just saw him and you… and I knew he wanted you… and I just lost it…"
The voice grew desperate and Ryo shivered with the intensity of the emotions. Dee's eyes were like a green, turmoiled sea, the waves crashing into each other.
"I love you," Latener told him, voice cracking. "I don't want to be alone again…"
"God, Dee," he murmured and hugged him to his chest. "You won't."
He smelled the alcohol, the stale smoke, and he knew where Dee had been the last hours. The tremors grew and Ryo pulled back, hearing a muffled whimper from his partner.
"I'm not going anywhere. We just have to get you dry and warm, okay?"
A nod was the answer and Dee followed him to the bedroom. There was nothing erotic about undressing the stricken man, about getting him into a warm sweater and sweat pants. Ryo was methodic, trying to rub some warmth into the cool, trembling limbs, but he had little success.
"He told me everything," Dee murmured as if to himself. "He showed me… the pictures…"
Of your family, Ryo supplied silently. You met your sisters…
"He told me everything," Dee repeated like in trance. "God, Ryo, why did it have to be him? Why him of all the people out there?"
The last was a desperate cry and Ryo saw the unshed tears fill his lover's eyes. He simply pulled him onto the bed with him, holding him close.
"I don't know," he whispered. "But it is. Ross Barclay is your brother. You have a family, Dee."
"I don't want it."
Ryo gently stroked over the tousled hair, smiling. "Well, you got it."
Ryo sat with Dee in his arms, back against the large pillows of his bed, cradling the man he loved in his arms. Dee's fingers were clenched into his pullover, holding on for dear life. The fine, blue material was in a strangle-hold, stretched out of shape. He didn't care. His whole focus was on this one individual.
It was as if Ryo was suddenly Dee's anchor, his only hold in a turmoiled sea that were his emotions. So much had happened, so much hadn't been worked out yet, and on top of it, Dee had now seen the proof of his blood relationship with Barclay. Ryo carded his fingers through the midnight black strands and whispered softly, reassuring Dee that he was there. He wouldn't leave; Dee was safe here. Everything would be okay.
In response, the hands tightened possessively and Dee buried closer, a dry sob escaping his lips. It wasn't like in the past, when such a gesture from Ryo, the gentleness, the openness, would have drawn Dee to pounce and kiss him with abandon. That was a matter of their past. Two years of courting, Ryo mused. Not any courting he had ever experienced, but Dee's way of getting closer. Testing the waters, pulling back, trying another strategy, once again standing back when Ryo denied him what he sought the most. But in the end, they had found a common base. Not the wild, unrestrained way Dee seemed to embrace; not the shy, reserved behavior of Ryo either. They had met in the middle and both men had changed throughout those two years.
Changed more than that… a lot more than that, Ryo thought sadly.
Dee was still trembling, the minute shivers racing down his lithe form, and he tried to bury himself in Ryo's clothes, his body, his very presence.
"I'm here," Ryo whispered. "I'm not leaving."
Dee made a strained little sound, a moan of a pain that wasn't physical at all. Ryo wrapped his arms more securely around the other man, over his head, his shoulders, his back. Leaning back into the pillows, he let Dee's weight push them down. Placing a reassuring, loving kiss on the black head, he continued his caresses.
"I'm here," he repeated. "I'm here…"
So much had happened, had eaten away at the strong, unbreakable shield Dee wore around himself every day. Dee Latener, invincible. A man who could neither be harmed by words nor hurt by weapons. A man who stood up to whatever came his way, met it head-on, and never broke down.
But there was also the Dee who lived underneath that brash exterior. The Dee who spent every October 15th at the grave of his adopted father, Jesse Latener. The Dee who visited the orphanage he had grown up in, who loved the Mother, and who took care of the orphans, playing with them. A Dee who claimed he hated kids and still spent so much of his free time making sure those at the orphanage didn't go the wrong way. A Dee who could be so kind and gentle, so loving and caring.
Ryo had fallen in love with that man. He had looked past the brashness, the wildness, and he had seen the changes in Dee's behavior around him. Dee had taken his rejections to heart, had slowed down, had actually opened up little by little, had shown his own shyness and doubt, his confusion as to why he was so badly attracted to one Ryo McLane…
"I love you," Ryo said softly. "I love you, Dee Latener. And I'll be here for you."
Dee's answer was another shiver, wrapping himself more firmly around his partner. Ryo ran a soothing hand over the muscular back.
He wouldn't leave. This was their future and he know he belonged here.
Suddenly the door opened and a pair of blue eyes in a dark face met his. Ryo's expression settled into one of warning and begging, hoping Bikky would understand. He didn't need his young charge to make a scene now. Dee was fragile as it was. Having the teen assault him would mostly break him completely.
Please, Bikky. Not now…
He had been out all night, hanging around with Carol and their friends,
and he knew he was in trouble with Ryo. His adopted father was usually
quite lenient, though he was far from the pushover he had first believed
him to be. Ryo wasn't the tough as nails cop Dee pretended to be. He was
softer, caring, tender, but there was a core of steel Bikky had experienced
a few times before, like when Ryo had caught him planning a shop-lift.
No, he wasn't a push-over. He was a do-gooder, he saw the world from a sometimes rather naïve angle in Bikky's eyes, but he was all right. He was a cop, a detective, and you didn't make that rank by being a softy through and through.
Sneaking back into the apartment he was surprised to notice that the lights were still on. It was past midnight already. The door to the bedroom was slightly ajar and there were lights, too. If Ryo was in bed, why were the hallway lights on? And the living room's? Still on tip-toes, Bikky went over to the bedroom and snuck a look.
Bikky's eyes widened at the intimate scene on the bed, the way Dee was holding on to Ryo, was apparently nuzzling up to him, and he was about to yell bloody murder to give the jerk a good scare, maybe get his blood pressure up, when he met Ryo's eyes – and he stopped.
Something was wrong.
Very, very wrong.
Ryo didn't look embarrassed by his adopted son catching them in flagranti. Actually, Bikky thought, there was something infinitely sad and compassionate in those dark orbs. He blinked and looked at the pair from a different angle.
Dee was cuddling up to Ryo, but not in any way Bikky would see as sexual. He was… Was he shivering? Dee's head was buried, turned away from prying eyes, hiding against Ryo. His hair was in disarray, and the way Ryo was stroking over his back it had a touch of… soothing caress.
Ryo's eyes spoke volumes all of a sudden, asking him not to do anything stupid, pleading with him, actually.
Bikky's features settled into a decisive mask and he nodded. Whatever was going on, this wasn't two men making out. Something was wrong with Dee. He had never seen the older man like this, so completely vulnerable and seeking comfort.
Closing the door, Bikky stood dumbfound for a moment, contemplating what to do. What could have happened? Why was Dee suddenly in Ryo's arms and *not* trying to kiss him through the mattress?
Finally he walked into the kitchen and filled the water-heater. Pulling two mugs from the cupboard, he waited for the water to boil and finally poured it over the tea bags in the mugs.
What had happened? he thought again, the scene in the bedroom not leaving him alone. There had been no blood, no visible wounds, and both Ryo and Dee didn't look like either had been to the hospital in the last hours. What had happened that Dee Latener, hard-assed cop, broke down so completely in Ryo's arms?
Still pondering, he threw away the tea bags and walked back to the bedroom, mugs in hand. He silently opened the door and was met by Ryo's emotion-filled eyes once more. He raised the mugs in a silent offering and padded over to the night stand.
Dee had stopped shivering and he lay limply in Ryo's arms. His eyes were closed, his breathing slow and regular. He was probably asleep.
"Thank you, Bikky," Ryo said softly, meaning every word.
Bikky gave him a brief smile, then nodded at the blanket at the foot of the bed. Ryo returned the smile and the blond boy pulled it up over Dee. Maybe he was only thirteen, but life on the streets had let him grow up quite quickly. Something was going on here, had been happening for a while now, and it had come down to this.
Ryo arranged it a little and finally reached for the mug, sipping at the hot liquid.
"I'll be in my room," Bikky told him quietly.
It were more than just two words. The world was relayed through them and Bikky swallowed. Whatever was going on, and he would find out, it was big. Big enough to let Dee break down and to have Ryo openly worried for the jerk.
Going into his room, closing the door behind him, Bikky pondered what to do. For now, not much. He would wait.
* * *
Dee woke to the wonderful sensation of warmth and a feeling of security.
He turned to the source of the warmth, a hard, very much male and mostly
naked body, and his arms curled automatically around a slender waist. His
nose buried against the smooth, hairless chest of one Ryo McLane and he
sighed softly. Strong hands caressed him, running soothingly over his shoulders,
rousing him out of his sleepiness.
He loved waking up with Ryo. He loved the way the other man felt and smelled, the way he sought his presence, even if he fought him off in public. He knew every inch of that smooth chest and his lips nuzzled against a semi-interested nipple.
"Dee," came a gentle voice, chastising, annoyed, amused.
He blinked his eyes open, looking up, and met the chocolate brown eyes of his lover. Ryo gave him a warm smile, pushing black strands out of his forehead.
"Good morning, Dee," he murmured.
Dee smiled lazily. "Hey there, beautiful."
It earned him a kiss.
"How are you?" Ryo inquired, carding his fingers through the black strands.
Dee blinked at the question and suddenly memory came back. Slowly, like leaking through a bad roof, drip after drip.
The rush of emotions he had felt at the precinct. Going back in to find Ryo.
The fight in Barclay's office.
Ryo yelling at him.
And Barclay finally giving the names some faces, showing him the proof that there was more between them than bad blood. It was related blood, the same parents… parents who had died to protect him. A brother who had never given up hope, had searched for him, had built his life around finding his baby brother. The same man whose icy blue eyes and arrogant demeanor had irked Dee in the past. The man he couldn't stand.
And the man who had looked at him so strangely, so hopefully, in that empty precinct. Hope for Dee to understand and accept.
He hadn't been able to deal with it all.
Gentle hands cupped his face and Ryo's dark brown eyes held his.
"Oh God, what have I done?" Latener murmured and flung himself at his lover. "I'm so sorry, Ryo. I didn't… I never wanted… I love you so much!"
Ryo held him, soothed him, kissed his temple. "I know, Dee. I know. And I love you."
"I didn't mean to be jealous, but whenever he's there… when he's around…"
"Barclay doesn't want anything from me but friendship, Dee. We talked a lot lately and I'm beginning to understand him a bit more. He's an ally, our friend, and he's not going to come between us."
Dee buried his head against Ryo's shoulder and neck.
Even if I wanted I couldn’t succeed. He won’t have anyone but you.
That had been Barclay's words. True, honest, no hidden meaning.
"I know," Dee whispered brokenly. "It's just…"
"Old habits die hard. And he is your brother."
Dee tensed at the words.
"You have to accept it, love," Ryo went on, voice soothing but firm. "Ross Barclay is your older brother and he has been searching for you for nearly thirty years. He's just as torn up about all of this as you are."
Dee pushed back, green eyes glinting. "How do you know?" he rasped.
"Because he and I talked a lot lately. Dee, we never did anything but talk, okay? And I know why he reacted so intensely to me, too. He told you, right?"
"That it's in his blood?" Dee spat, anger rising again.
A touch calmed him, drew him back against Ryo, who rested his chin on his head.
"Yes, it's in the family's blood. I'm your partner, Dee, in more ways than one. We're partners at work, we're lovers in our private life, and we're a Shaman Pair. I am your shield, love. Your whole family in turn is mine. Barclay can't but try and protect me, okay? He confessed it was lust on first sight, but he's over that."
Dee sighed and tried to relax, but old habits died hard. "Just thinking that he might…"
"He won't!" Ryo insisted, an edge of steel in his voice, and Dee winced. This was how the whole argument had started last night and it had ended painfully.
"Sorry," he whispered.
The caress never stopped and Ryo kissed his head. "You'll learn to live with it, Dee. We both will."
Dee turned in the embrace and sought out Ryo's lips, his kiss almost hesitant. When Ryo responded, he grew bolder, asking for entrance which was readily granted. Sliding over his lover, he took his time exploring his mouth as Ryo's hands ran over his back and suddenly underneath his sweater. Gazing into the deep brown eyes, eyes that sometimes seemed to be completely black, Dee wondered what he had ever done to deserve this man.
"I love you," he whispered.
Ryo smiled and kissed the corner of his mouth, then along his lips until Dee hungrily claimed the full kiss.
He wanted to melt into the other man, wanted to become one with him, never let go. Ryo was safety, Ryo was warmth and love, Ryo was his.
* * *
It was a miracle that they had truly made it out of bed, Dee mused as
he watched Ryo in the kitchen. The coffee was already done and Ryo poured
it into two mugs, setting one in front of Dee, who took it gratefully.
He stole a quick kiss, which Ryo didn't resist, and he reveled in the feeling
of this handsome man so openly accepting his gestures of love.
So much had changed.
So much was still changing.
He gazed into the dark liquid and sipped it carefully, thoughtfully, while Ryo was doing something or other at the fridge.
Why him of all people? Why them? Why Barclay? He pushed the image of the blond lieutenant aside, refusing to think about last night. He couldn't really deal with it right now.
Still, it kept coming back. Insistently.
Ryo's voice drew him out of his thoughts and he looked up, sighing slightly.
"Talk to me?" Ryo begged.
Talk to him. He wanted to. He wanted Ryo to know everything, be a part of his life like no one had ever been. His lover knew so much about him already and he was just getting to know McLane. Dee had thought there were no more secrets, no more hidden truths in his own past. A few minor things in his childhood, but nothing big. Ryo knew about his life, how he had grown up, how he had turned everything around after Officer Jess Latener's death. He knew about Buck, too.
Now… now he also knew about Ross Barclay.
"You know, when you're an orphan, you think a lot about why you were abandoned," Dee said slowly, voice faraway. "You want to know why your parents didn't want you, left you in an alley, and why they never came back. You want them to get you out of the orphanage, take you home, and in your dreams, that home is wonderful and warm, and you have brothers and sisters, and it was all a big mistake."
A rueful smile crossed his lips. Ryo kept his silence.
"Penguin told me that my parents loved me. Why else would my mother have wrapped me up and put me in that baby carrier? The alley wasn't very remote either. I was bound to be discovered. But I didn't listen. At that time, it was easier to hate them and to also wish them back. All of us kids came from different backgrounds, were there for different reasons, but I was the only one who had been abandoned as an infant."
Dee closed his eyes and sighed a little.
"Kids like to dream, but my dreams were quickly shattered by life on the street. I tried to forget I had no parents, no brothers or sisters, no home that welcomed me back. I created my own life. And now… now he comes barging into my life, my personal life! Suddenly I'm part of a family, a big one, and I'm the kid everyone was looking for."
"It's like a fairy tale," Ryo supplied quietly.
"Yeah, but who believes in fairy tales, right?" Dee shook his head and drank some coffee. "I don't."
"But it's true. Barclay is your brother…"
Dee inhaled sharply. "Yeah, maybe, but I don't want him to be."
"Doesn't change it."
"Right. So I'm the youngest, the one everyone has been looking for…"
"Only Barclay did…" Ryo interjected and it drew a pained expression from Dee. "He never gave up and he found you. He made a promise to protect you and even though he's a grown man now, even though he's your boss and you don't like him, he still keeps it."
"I'm not Prince Charming, this isn't a fairy tale… and… and just because Barclay says I'm part of the Barclay money family doesn't make me it!" Dee snapped.
Ryo gazed at his lover, taking in the tense body, calmly meeting the
That was it then, right? It was the problem of coming from a wealthy background. Ross Barclay had monetary power, he was sophisticated, he came from a family of money. Dee Latener was a street kid who had turned his life around and had become a cop. He had worked his way up the ladder, against all the opposition, had won so many fights, and he had made detective. What he was today had come from a lifetime of fighting. In Dee's eyes, Barclay had gained his position because of money and influence.
"You can't fault him for it, love. Your parents had money. Their children inherited it. You're part of that family now."
"I'm not changing my name! Or my life!"
Ryo smiled. "No one's asking you to. I love you just the way you are, and what you are was shaped by you and life, not Barclay or money. Just… give him a chance, okay? Don't push him away, because it hurts him as much as you."
"I don't care about him!" Dee snapped.
Oh really? Ryo thought. You don't really hate him that much. No one can hate that much, least of all you, Dee.
You need time. Lots of time.
"I'm not special," Dee murmured, staring at his coffee again. There was a faint note of pleading in his voice.
"You're a shaman, love."
Green eyes flashed up at him. "So? There's more than one out there!"
"There are seven now. Six other Shaman Pairs like you. True, there are shamans all over the world, but you are part of a Shaman Pair. Your parents were a warlock and a female shaman. By laws of nature, you shouldn't be able to exist, but your parents had not just one child, they had five. Five impossibilities and one showed powers that made him part of a Shaman Pair." Ryo's voice was quiet, soft, level. "It brought us together."
"I'm not special," Dee whispered, pleading more. "I'm not."
Ryo walked over to him and gathered the other man in his arms. "We'll take this one step at a time, love. All of this, including Ross Barclay."
Dee held on tight, burying his head against his lover's chest. As Ryo looked up he discovered Bikky standing in the entrance of the kitchen, looking at them with his vivid, blue eyes. There was a serious note in his expression and none of the screaming mayhem he usually displayed when the two men had been affectionate with each other in the past. Ryo just calmly stroked over his lover's dark head, silently communicating his need for Bikky to behave.
The teenager nodded his understanding and only grabbed a few slices of toast. He waved at Ryo, mouthing 'Carol' and was gone. Ryo was glad his adopted son had a friend like Carol. He wouldn't have known how to handle Bikky if he had reacted the usual way. Strangely enough he seemed to understand what was going on, or at least gave them room.
And then something struck Ryo. How much had Bikky heard of what he had told Dee?
* * *
Ryo had left Dee alone in his apartment. He was still tired and had
dozed off on the couch after a good-bye kiss from Ryo. McLane hadn't lied
to his lover about what he wanted to do: talk to Barclay. Dee didn't like
it, but he accepted his partner's choice, which was a big step for him.
His muttering about needing a nanny for that meeting had been met with
a partly annoyed, partly amused expression.
Black belt, Ryo had reminded him.
Now he stood outside the apartment building where Barclay lived. It was a nice address, in a good part of town, and the rent was probably twice as high as what Ryo or Dee paid. There was a security officer on duty who wanted Ryo's name and the name of the person he wanted to see. He even called ahead and Ryo kept his fingers crossed that Barclay would want to see him. To his relief and surprise Barclay told the security guy to let him in.
The apartment was on the upper floors, high above the noise of New York City. The door opened when Ryo knocked and he was met by a Ross Barclay dressed in casual pants and a sweater, so unlike his usual dress suits that it stunned him a little bit. The glasses were off.
"Come in," Barclay offered and Ryo entered.
The apartment was spacious. The floors were wood-paneled, the windows gave a clear view all the way to Central Park, and the interior design was tastefully sparse. There was even a balcony, but it seemed like Barclay rarely used it. An old wicker chair stood next to a potted plant, both long past their due date.
"What can I do for you?" Barclay asked quietly.
Ryo studied the older man, looking for any kind of injury Dee's attack might have left. Bruises on his back, probably, but there were no scratches on his throat or marks on his face.
"I came to apologize, sir."
Sandy eyebrows shot up. "What for?"
"Everything. Dee… the attack… it was uncalled for and…"
"And you apologize for that temperamental partner of yours again, Detective?" Barclay asked, a fine note of sarcasm in his voice.
Ryo sighed. "It was partly my fault as well."
"In what way? Because you talked to me? Because you touched me?"
Ryo shook his head, then sighed deeply. "Maybe yes, maybe no. Dee… he had a lot happening to him lately and I think finding out about you being his brother… it was too much."
"Well, I wasn't thrilled either."
Now both eyebrows shot up and the blue eyes widened fractionally. Ryo met the stunned expression calmly.
"You're happy you finally found the brother you thought you had lost. You're happy you found the missing part of your family. It can't be helped that it's Dee, but despite that little fact, I think you want nothing more than to hold onto him."
Barclay smirked a little, hands in his pockets. His eyes strayed to the floor, then finally rose again. "Telepathic?"
"No. You don't have to be a mind-reader to know what this meant. Dee's confused, but so are you. You have what you were looking for all of your life. You've got your brother back. That your brother is someone who can't stand you hurts. It would hurt me, too, Commissioner. But Dee needs time. He can't rearrange his world within a matter of hours or days."
Barclay looked at him, a strange expression in his eyes, his expression softening a little. "And you are the mediator, right? You'll always be the catalyst for his temper, his shield in more ways than one, Ryo."
"If I have to be," was the straight-forward answer.
"I thought you were done apologizing for his rude behavior all the time?" came the mild taunt.
Ryo smiled wryly. "Well, I'll make an exception this time. I think you two deserve a chance, but you need to work at it. Both of you. Dee's in a free fall and having you push him won't work. Give him time. Please?"
A nod. "Of course."
"Thank you." Ryo hesitated, then gave the older man a smile. "I'm glad you're okay, sir. I should have stayed… I could have stopped him.. I left you at his mercy… but I couldn't take it any longer," he apologized again.
Barclay shook his head. "You had the right to be angry. And I doubt Dee would have done anything foolish. It was a spike of temper and it gave me an insight into just how powerful my brother really is. I'll be careful from now on."
"No. Don't pull away. It would make matters worse. I told Dee where I was going today and while he argued, he let me go. We're reaching an understanding here, and treating him like made of glass won't help." Ryo's expression hardened.
"Okay, you call the shots." Barclay quirked a little smile.
Ryo nodded, satisfied.
"Sir, can I ask you one very personal question?"
"I think a lot of what happened lately was very personal," was the soft reply.
Ryo hesitated, but Barclay just nodded at him to ask.
"Your mother was a shaman… you spent six years of your life with them… and still you knew so little about Shaman Pairs, or Dee's manifested abilities."
Barclay smiled ruefully. "Believe me, I asked myself the same question over the years. In a way I grew up in the paranormal world, surrounded by all the knowledge, but I was too preoccupied with finding my brother to learn what there was out there. I had the rudimentary knowledge, but after the death of my parents, there were no other shamans around. I never actively sought any of them out, I never wanted to know about their powers. I had to find Dee, nothing else mattered."
"And your sisters?"
"I think Lenore is quite a fountain of knowledge, like you, Ryo. Beth is an active ally, helping where she can. Gwynne stepped down in her active engagement of ally matters after her child was born. You know," Barclay added sadly, "when your parents are killed by the paranormal element you either dig in and try to find out all about it, or you turn away, trying to forget. I did both, in a way. I did what I had to to continue my search, but I refused to do more."
"I understand." Ryo's voice was quiet, thoughtful.
He had spent all his free time learning about whatever he could. He had devoured the knowledge like he had devoured what the Academy had taught him. He had had a promise to keep to his parents. He would become a good officer, and he would be their heir as an ally.
Both he and Barclay had had different coping methods with their pain, but they had also missed out on a lot. Now Ryo had Dee, and he hoped Barclay would find the relationship he wanted with his brother. He would help them, even if it took them. It would most definitely take time.
"Thank you," Ryo said, turning to leave.
When he was outside again, he looked into the blue sky above, wondering where this would take them now. Dee couldn't go back to what had been. Neither could Barclay. They were brothers and Dee had to accept it… and in a way he was accepting it. Step by step. Slowly.
* * *
Matters had calmed down slightly. Ryo was actually glad of it because
he had enough on his hands with his job and Bikky's school stuff, as well
as his private life to worry about Dee tearing Barclay apart. As it was,
Dee tried to be everywhere Barclay wasn't. Ryo thought it was childish,
but at least it didn't turn worse. The waves had evened out and while Ryo
wanted Dee to accept the facts, he couldn't force him to.
Barclay himself was a model of restraint and distance. No one in the precinct would notice anything different than before. Meetings happened as usual, orders were given, and bureaucracy ran smoothly thanks to the complete reorganization the lieutenant had performed. Ever since he had taken over the 27th precinct, the crime solving rate had gone up, the standard of their equipment was much more modern, and operations were much smoother.
And sometimes, like today, Barclay went along on such an operation.
He had a bad feeling walking into the building. Not just because it
was a crack den, but because of something else. Something niggled at the
edge of his perception, trying to warn him of… of what?
Ryo shook off the feeling, trying to concentrate on the job ahead. They were following up on information from one of Dee's contacts that the man they were looking for was hiding in here. Since their current case was politically sensitive, chasing a man who had killed and mutilated the mayor's personal assistant, steps had been taken to assure that nothing could go wrong
Ryo didn't know what to feel about their boss coming with them. Dee had openly hated the idea, but he had to grudgingly accept the fact. Barclay was their lieutenant and commissioner, and what he said was the rule.
The building as such was surrounded and no one could get out. Ryo walked through the semi-lit halls, weapon at the ready, on high alert. Barclay was following him, Dee bringing up the rear.
A large room opened up before them. Someone had broken down several walls to expand the second floor into one, giant crack lab. There were tables with lab equipment everywhere and sunlight filtered only sparsely through the painted windows. The farthest corners were completely dark, shadows hiding whoever might be lurking in there, waiting for them.
"Separate," Barclay said softly, gesturing at his two men to each take a side while he proceeded straight ahead.
"Geez, what a dump," Ryo heard Dee whisper over the headset they wore.
And it was a dump. There wasn't a clean place on the floor or the tables. The lab had been defunct for a while now, gathering dust and drawing all kinds of varmint. With any luck, the varmint they were looking for was somewhere around here.
There was a soft crackling noise and one of the TV screens came to life. All men froze. Ryo was closest to the screen and he saw a small DVD player hooked up to the set, apparently triggered through their presence. Intriguing, he mused. Either their suspect was a tech freak or he knew someone who liked such tricks.
"Welcome to my humble home," came a voice from hidden speakers while the screen remained blank. "Enjoy your stay as long as you can."
A large ten appeared on the screen now, switching to a nine, then an eight.
"Shit!" Ryo cursed. "Bomb!"
He turned on his heels and ran. He was dimly aware of someone at his side and caught a flash of blond hair. Barclay.
Where was Dee?
A loud boom shattered the silence.
Before Ryo could react he was bodily tackled and thrown to the ground, a heavy weight landing on him. He gasped, winded, trying to reinflate his lungs, his ears ringing with the explosion.
For a long moment there was nothing but the aftershock of the blast, his own harsh breathing, the desperate need to pull more air, and the suffocating weight on his back.
Someone screamed his name in his ear and he winced. Miraculously, the headset was still on and functioning.
"Dee?" he coughed.
"Ryo, where are you? Are you okay? Ryo?!"
"I'm fine," he managed, trying to move.
Oh, there would be bruises. Boy, would there be bruises…
The weight suddenly moved and when he turned on his back, still panting, he looked into a pair of icy blue eyes in a soot covered face. No glasses hid the intense stare now raking over him. The light hair was in wild disarray and there was a bruise already forming on the commissioner's cheek. His headset was gone.
"Ryo, are you okay?"
Barclay's soft tenor seemed to penetrate the fog still around his mind, and the openly concerned gaze froze him. Those eyes had burned into him before, seeking the answer to the older man's lustful thoughts, and Ryo had always pushed him off. Now the expression was different. Deeply worried, downright scary worried, he decided. The need to know that Ryo was okay was like a living being raging inside those eyes.
"I'm fine…" he stuttered.
Barclay continued to gaze at him, then his hand reached out to flick a rogue strand of hair out of Ryo's eyes. Still, there was no lust there, no sexual power, just honest worry and tender care.
Before Ryo could reply, Barclay was yanked up and pushed off him. "Get your filthy paws off!"
"Dee!" Ryo exclaimed, the strange spell broken.
Barclay landed on the debris littered floor and Ryo saw a flicker of pain cross the older man's face. His eyes suddenly focused on the bloody smear visible on the once white dress shirt.
"Shit, he's injured!" he exclaimed.
Dee's furious and jealous expression wavered. Green eyes fell on his perceived opponent.
"What?" he asked.
Barclay got to his feet, one hand coming to cover and protect the injury. "I'm fine, Detective McLane."
The blue eyes filled with pain spoke another language. Ryo was about to say something, already two steps closer to Barclay again when the rescue teams stormed in.
Ryo stared at the blond man, unable to say anything, to feel anything clearly.
He protected me, ran through his head again and again. He could have been killed. He pulled me down.
It was what any fellow officer would have done, but this had meant more. The gesture had been more, the look had spoken of something deeper, a connection that existed solely in the world of the paranormal and genetics.
* * *
"Dee, I'm fine," Ryo repeated for the umpteenth time. "Just bruised.
Barclay took the brunt of the force."
Dee harrumphed and fell against the wall next to the examination table where Ryo still sat on, now getting dressed again. His chest was riddled with bruises, but, while painful, they weren't life-threatening. Dressed, he slid off the table and Dee was immediately at his side, eyes burning with worry.
"Mother-hen," Ryo teased softly.
The sharp features twisted into a grimace, then Dee leaned forward and kissed him tenderly, affectionately.
"I love you."
Ryo reached up and cupped one cheek, nuzzling him. "I know. C'mon, let's check on Barclay."
An expression of dismay replaced the tenderness. "Do we have to?"
"Yes, now come on."
"He's fine," Dee muttered.
"He saved my life and he's your brother," came the insistent reply, the words soft and intense.
Latener's emotions flared briefly, then he just shrugged. "Okay, okay. If it makes you sleep better."
With that, Ryo left the room, heading for the nurse station to find out where Barclay had been taken to.
Dee hurried after him, sighing to himself.
* * *
Ross Barclay had been lucky. The splinter had only left a deep groove
in his side, which was now covered by a white bandage. Like Ryo he featured
assorted bruises, but nothing life-threatening. As the two detectives waited
for their boss to redress, Dee moved closer to Ryo, an almost possessive
streak in his whole demeanor.
Barclay shot him a mildly annoyed look. His own feelings toward Ryo were similar, but stemmed from a vastly different source. In the beginning it had been lust; pure and simple. The younger man was sex on legs and he didn't even know it. He was simply edible. Barclay would have loved to sample him, but Ryo had pushed him away, had quite clearly told him 'no' – in form of a fist to the face. Barclay had taken the hint and while he continued to look, he hadn't touched any more.
Now, knowing the whole truth behind Ryo McLane, and Dee Latener for that, the explanation for his feelings was vastly different. His protective feelings, the strong pull he felt toward the younger man, was on a genetic level. Ryo was Dee's shield, they were a bonded Shaman Pair, and while both were monogamous, the siblings of the two individuals involved would always fiercely protect the shield. Dee might refuse to accept his heritage, his relation to Barclay, but Barclay couldn't ignore the need to keep Ryo safe. He would protect the younger man with his life. There was nothing sexual behind it any more, even though Dee still openly accused him of it.
"When will you believe that I won't take him from you?" he asked quietly, looking at Dee.
Latener gave him a dark look. "When hell freezes over!"
"Dee!" Ryo hissed, clearly annoyed. "We've been through this!"
"I know, but he couldn't keep his hands off you again!"
Barclay sighed. "Not all physical contact is sexual in nature, Dee. I can't go against my nature and neither can you. Ryo is your bonded partner; neither of you will ever so much as consider having anyone else but the other. Even if I tried, and you know I did, I wouldn't be able to achieve that goal."
He slid off the table, favoring his injured side.
"And my sexual appetite is not running that way, Detective."
Dee glared again, but Barclay noted how Ryo's gentle touch on one arm seemed to bring his younger brother down several notches.
Dee shot him a last, dark look, then left the room. Ryo remained behind, dark eyes soft and warm.
"Thank you," he said sincerely.
Barclay smiled a little. "You're welcome, Ryo. Still playing the mediator?"
Ryo smiled ruefully. "Yes, it seems so."
The blond nodded and thoughtfully regarded the floor. "Either way's not working. Keeping my distance or trying to approach him. It's always met with aggression."
Ryo was silent for a moment, then the warmth was there again. "You're making progress, though. Believe me, you are."
Barclay chuckled. "If you say so."
Personally, he didn't think their relationship would change any time soon. He would have to accept it. He had found his brother, but Dee Latener wasn't interested. He would probably rather see him dead, a very dark side inside him mused morosely. It hurt. It hurt a lot.
Ryo's gentle voice drew him out of his thoughts and he wiped them away.
"You should go home, Ryo. Get some rest," he murmured.
"So should you. We could drop you…"
"No," he immediately interrupted the man. "I'll take a cab, thank you." There was enough tension already. Dee didn't need that on top of everything else.
Ryo gazed silently at him, then nodded his acceptance.
* * *
He had come here as always, loaded with sweets and toys and comic books.
Dee smiled as the children flocked toward him, crying happily, their individual
voices coming together into a cheerful choir. He grinned, smiled and laughed,
handed out the gifts and less-than-nourishing food groups, then was immediately
pulled into the first games. He was asked to tell stories, to look at projects
the little ones had completed, and to generally partake in their lives
around the orphanage.
Old but very alert eyes watched the gathering, noted Dee's smiles, but a mild frown appeared on the otherwise still smooth forehead when those attentive eyes took in what lay beneath the happiness. Mother had known her child since his baby years. She had seen him grow up, from a rambunctious teen to a wild teenager to a thoughtful young man and finally into the Dee Latener of today. Dee had gone through so much, had fought the world and never really won, until he had met Randy McLane. Mother was glad her 'son' had found this special person in his life, this soul that was so much like his own without him even knowing it.
She knew of the vulnerability underneath Dee's hard shields. She knew of the longing and the yearning, and the dreams. Ryo had fulfilled so many of them, had given him stability, an anchor. He had given him a steady life, someone who matched him, who could stand up to him, who could hold him and who loved him for nothing else but the fact that he was Dee.
It was two hours after his arrival that Dee finally got away from the
kids, leaving them playing amongst themselves, and walked into the new
orphanage. It was still an old building, but no longer a church, and it
was a lot roomier, more modern, and the area had a nicer touch.
Dee loved the children, saw so much of himself in them, saw his past and their future. He didn't want them to end up on the streets, as drug addicts or worse. He did what he could, supported Mother, came by often, and he tried to make a difference. If he even made a little one, it was enough. He knew what he could have become, how far he could have fallen, and he was grateful to so many people for pushing him onto the right path. The path to Ryo.
He smiled a little as he thought of his partner and lover. Ryo had declined when he had invited him to come along.
'It's something you have to do, Dee' had been his words.
Well, yes, it was something he had to do himself.
Climbing the single flight of stairs he finally stood in the large kitchen area, which was currently deserted – except for one person. Mother smiled at him, her eyes filled with warmth, welcoming… motherly. There was a cup of tea steaming in front of her and Dee found that another cup had been placed on the counter next to the coffee machine. He approached the woman who had done so much in his life, had been there for him every single step of the way, had listened without judgment, had supported him where she could.
Dee wrapped his arms around her, hugging the smaller woman, feeling part of the weight on his shoulders lessen.
"Dee," she said softly.
He tightened the embrace for a moment, feeling something inside of him rise. "Mother."
Her eyes held a serious note, detecting his pain, his need to talk, and she took him by the arm.
"Let's go to my place," she offered.
Yes, her place. The small apartment within these very walls, the comfortable living room… a place where he could relax.
He sank into the couch cushions, leaned back, and felt himself slide away from the world outside. This was his other safe haven.
The soft voice made him smile and he looked at Mother, saw the knowledge in her eyes. She knew he had come here to talk.
And so he did.
Not about everything, not about his powers or Ryo, but about himself, the orphan, about his family, about his brother… and about his emotions.
Mother just listened.
* * *
Dee took another sip of his tea and leaned back against the chest of his lover. After all that had happened within the last few months both men needed a little quality time with each other, and if that meant sitting here snuggled into each other and doing nothing except for watching a horror movie – what a cliché, Dee mused – fine with him. Ryo wrapped his arms around his waist again, and Dee closed his eyes at the warm sensation of having the one he loved close, surrounded - and shielded – by his warmth and love.
Since they had become a bonded Shaman Pair, things had become much clearer between them. Being a bonded Pair included the blessing of being able to sense each other emotions sometimes, and Dee now not only suspected that Ryo loved him, he knew. Right now something tingled at his mind, and he opened up, letting the other man in.
Tenderness, happiness, a little laziness and… whoa! What was that?
Dee opened his eyes in surprise, only to close them the next second when a pair of hot lips nuzzled at his neck. Nimble fingers had slipped unnoticed under his shirt, unbuttoning it in the process and were now dancing lightly over his skin, tickling his stomach and wandering higher until they reached his chest. Letting his head fall back on his lover’s shoulder Dee sighed, spreading his legs as he felt himself react to both the physical and emotional touches. One cool hand slid down his stomach, caressing his thigh, and then glided up a bit.
Dee couldn’t help the twitch of his hips when Ryo’s fingertips unexpectedly made contact with his growing hardness, nor could he suppress the moan that escaped his throat as Ryo tenderly suckled on his neck and teethed his earlobe. He had experienced Ryo in the past as rather shy and reserved when it had come to physical express his feelings, do more than just cuddle, and he hadn’t even once seen Ryo openly display lust. Sure, he had responded, but usually it had to be him to initiate an encounter. And even then he had to expect Ryo pulling back. But this was so unlike the Ryo he knew and so much of a turn-on – he felt Ryo chuckle against his ear and knew he had let his emotions slip.
The next second Dee gripped the cushions and arched into his lover’s hand – which had deftly opened his pants and slid inside. Ryo caressed his hardness with one hand, languidly stroking up and down his length, featherlike teasing the tip with his thumb while the other one was busy caressing his nipples. Dee moaned at the double sensation of Ryo’s touches, spreading his legs as wide as his pants would allow. Squirming under the ministrations he felt a similar hardness at his backside – oh yes, Ryo was enjoying this, as a light bite at his neck told him, making him shudder. Ryo put a little more pressure to his strokes, and Dee gasped at the jolt of pleasure that was running through his body.
“Dee,” his lover purred into his ear, “want you…“
Dee almost felt his jaw drop at this plainly articulated desire – but he had no doubt Ryo meant it.
“God, Ryo … “
Turning in his lover’s arms he finally captured the beloved lips in a fervent kiss, feeling hands run up and down his back, and then between their bodies.
“If you keep this up we’ll never make it to the bedroom.”
“Who needs a bed … “
Now Dee did pull back, looking down into his lover’s dark eyes, almost black now with desire.
“Who are you and where are you hiding the body?”
Ryo grinned and slid his hand even deeper.
Dee moaned and forgot everything except for the lithe body in his arms, concentrating only on the soft sounds Ryo was making as he caressed him in turn, sliding his clothes from the slender but well-build form until his lover was lying under him in all his glory. Ryo’s hands had been busy too, undressing him completely as well, and now he let Dee know unmistakably what he wanted, pulling him down onto him.
“Want you, Dee … “
Who was he to deny his lover such a request? Slipping carefully into Ryo’s tight heat, he studied the other man’s face, took in every moan and gasp, every pant, every flicker of dark eyes until he was finally joined with the man he loved. Ryo wrapped his legs around his waist, encouraging him to move and when he did, met his every thrust, fingers raking over his back – and Dee’s eyes widened in shock as he felt sensations rush through him in a way he had never felt before, as if something had been torn down and he was sensing everything doubled, tripled.
And then he realized – since his powers had broken through they hadn’t had the time to be together properly – he indeed was feeling Ryo’s emotions. There was wonder and awe about the depths of his feelings, about the ability to love like he did, joy about simply being together, a deep need – and then suddenly all of this was washed away as Ryo arched under him, screaming out, pulling him down onto him, into him, into his every fiber, lips and tongues meeting as his completion tore down the remaining borders between them, opening his very being to Dee and pulling him with him into an all-encompassing whirlpool of bliss.
* * *
Ryo looked at the man sharing a bed with him, the man he loved so much,
the man he was now bonded to in so many ways. Dee was sleeping, his features
relaxed, breath even, black hair completely tousled. Ryo smiled gently
and finger-combed the wild strands out of the smooth features.
Love you, he thought, so many emotions rising inside him. Love you so much.
He hoped their future would be easier than the last months had been. Dee was slowly starting to accept Barclay, but he would never show it. The talk with Mother had helped him psychologically, though he hadn't told Ryo all the details of their talk. Ryo didn't need to know them all anyway; he could read Dee's moods quite well.
But Dee and Barclay weren't the only things going through his mind. There was also the fact that so far, no shaman had been found who could advise Dee with his abilities. Latener was still learning on his own and except for emotionally charged situations he hadn't been able to master a lot. It would come in time, Ryo knew from his ally work, but Dee was unconsciously pushing himself. He had talked to Buck and Vin, even to one of the allies in Salt Lake to advise on their unique status, but trying to contact other Shaman Pairs had been met with silence.
Time. It would need time. They had all their lives to learn and a few months wouldn't change a thing.
The bigger problem was Bikky. Ryo had the niggling suspicion that his adopted son knew more than he let on. The boy had been unusually quiet lately, observing them more than intervening, even easing up around Dee more often than not. Sure, he had accepted their status as a couple, he was annoying Dee now and then, but something was different.
He had heard, Ryo thought again and again. Bikky had heard what he had said to Dee, but unless Bikky came right up and asked or demanded answers, Ryo had no idea how to address the topic.
Time. Again they had time.
Sighing silently, McLane lay back, looking at the ceiling, feeling the reassuring warm presence of his lover close by. Dee was still sleeping and so should he, but too many thoughts were going through his head and he knew sleep would be hard to come by any time soon. Still he refused to leave the safe haven of their shared bed.
Tomorrow would be another day. Tomorrow they would be at work, everything would be as it was on the outside, and only three people knew that something had changed forever.
Was still changing.
For the better, Ryo thought, closing his eyes, willing his mind to ease, to relax. For the better.