Characters: Ryo, Dee, OFC.
Setting: After Vol. 7.
Summary: Investigating a murder, Ryo gets himself into a slightly awkward situation.
Word Count: 1672
Written For: Challenge 182: Card at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
“Here’s my card; if you remember anything else, no matter how unimportant it might seem to you, give me a call.” Ryo smiled politely as he handed the young woman the small white rectangle bearing his home and cell numbers, as well as the precinct’s number and his office extension.
“I certainly will, Detective…” She looked at the card in her hand. “Maclean. Perhaps I’ll call you anyway, just to… see how the case is going. I was very fond of old Mrs Wright; she was a good neighbour.”
“White,” Dee corrected.
“Mrs White, not Wright.”
“Wasn’t that what I said? Well, slip of the tongue, Detective. Finding her like that was quite a shock.”
“I’m sure it was,” Ryo said kindly. “No need to get up; we’ll see ourselves out.” He stood up; Dee was already on his feet and raring to go. “Don’t worry, we’ll find whoever did this to your neighbour.
“You don’t think he’ll come for me next, do you?” Miss Forrest looked up at Ryo with wide, worried blue eyes. “Perhaps I should have police protection.” She reached up to rest one slender, perfectly manicured hand on Ryo’s arm.
Ryo patted it reassuringly. “I very much doubt it, this looks like a crime of opportunity, a burglary gone wrong. I’m sure the thief didn’t expect Mrs White to come home when she did. He probably panicked and struck out, killing her; tragic, but it was unlikely to have been premeditated. If you’re worried though, perhaps you could stay with a friend for a few days. Just let us know where in case we need to ask you any more questions.”
“I will, Detective Maclean. Oh! I just thought, how silly of me; I could just give you my card. It has my work, home, and cell phone numbers on it.” Miss Forrest dug in her expensive designer purse and selected a small, gilt-edged pink and white card, a whole lot flashier than the ones the police department handed out. In fancy letters it declared her Natalie Forrest, Beautician & Stylist, with several phone numbers listed below. “You can reach me on any of these numbers. Don’t hesitate to call me, day or night; anything to solve dear Mrs Wright’s horrible murder.”
Dee rolled his eyes as the ‘distraught’ woman got her dear friend’s name wrong yet again.
“Thank you, we’ll remember that.”
“I’ll look forward to hearing from you.” She dabbed delicately at her eyes with a pristine handkerchief, not the faintest trace of a tear in evidence. Rather, Dee thought she was relishing the excitement and attention.
“Wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out she’d murdered her neighbour herself,” Dee muttered as he and Ryo started down the stairs after leaving Miss Forrest’s apartment, carefully not touching the handrails in case the killer had exited that way and left fingerprints or evidence behind. The crime scene people were currently going over the building’s elevator checking for trace so that it could be put back in service as soon as possible because at least half of the residents were elderly and unable to manage the stairs.
“What’re you talking about, Dee? Miss Forrest just found her neighbour dead in the doorway of her apartment!” Ryo frowned at his partner.
“Yeah, and she puts on a good act but she can’t even get her so-called friend’s name right. I’d bet they’ve barely said two words to each in the three years they’ve been livin’ next door to each other. Miss Forrest is just enjoyin’ the attention; her neighbour’s death is probably the most excitin’ thing that’s ever happened to her.”
“That’s a bit harsh; why are you being so judgemental? She’s probably just lonely.”
“Oh yeah, she’s lonely alright. She was flirtin’ with ya the whole time we were in there. Probably thinks you were comin’ on to her, givin’ her your card. ‘Call me anytime,’ well you can bet she will, wantin’ you to go over there and comfort her in her non-existent grief.”
“Of course she wasn’t flirting!” A frown creased Ryo’s forehead and he glanced at his partner uncertainly. “Was she?”
“All those coy little smiles and touches? You bet your sweet ass she was! You seriously didn’t realise? I can see I’m gonna have to give ya a refresher course in how to tell when someone’s flirtin’ with ya.” Dee snorted a laugh. “Damn, babe, you just took the airhead thing to a whole new level!”
Ryo ducked his head, blushing. “It’s not funny, Dee!” He glanced sidelong at his partner. “You really think she thought I was flirting back?” He chewed on his bottom lip.
Dee stopped on the half-landing, using his thumb to coax Ryo’s lip from between his teeth. “Don’t do that, babe.” He pressed a soft kiss to his lover’s lips. “And yeah, she doesn’t know you’re like that with practically everyone ‘cause you’re a kind, carin’ guy, so she probably thinks she’s in with a chance. Hell, she gave you one of her fancy business cards, right? She’s gonna be so disappointed when you don’t call her.”
“But what if we do need to call her, if we have more questions?”
“Then I’ll do the callin’, and I’ll answer the phone at work and at home. If she calls ya there wantin’ to speak to ya I’ll say you’re out with your boyfriend. Problem solved.”
“Except for my cell phone.”
“It’s your work cell number on those cards though, right? Not your personal phone.”
“Well yes, but--”
Dee cut him off. “So we just swap work phones for a couple weeks, just ‘til she gets the message and gives up, and if we need to talk to her again I’ll go by myself.”
“She’ll think I’m avoiding her.”
“So what? We’re busy cops workin’ several cases, lotta leads to follow up on, divide and conquer and all that.”
“Got an answer for everything, don’t you?”
“Damn straight! Someone’s gotta look out for ya and I can’t think of anyone better for the job than yours truly. But in future, if there’s pretty female victims or witnesses involved, maybe you should dial back the comfortin’ a few notches or leave that to me. I may not be as good at hand-holdin’ as you are, but no one’s gonna think I’m flirtin’ when I’m not, and I can stop any flirtin’ on their part before they get started. ‘Kay?”
“I guess. I just feel so stupid.”
“Don’t, ‘cause you’re not. You almost always catch when someone’s lyin’ and you’re great at teasin’ information out of reluctant witnesses, it’s just flirtin’ that goes over your head, and that’s one thing I always recognise, so between us we’ve got all our bases covered. Now c’mon, we’ve got other folks to talk to.” Dee started down the stairs again, Ryo following; they needed to talk to everyone in the building, and leave their cards for those residents not at home, with a note asking them to get in touch.
They were just getting into their car ninety minutes or so later when Ryo’s cell rang. He answered it without thinking.
“Detective, it’s Natalie Forrest.”
Ryo winced and pulled a face at Dee across the roof of the car.
“Miss Forrest. Have you thought of something else?”
“Well, not exactly, but, well, I thought perhaps you might like to join me for a drink later, after you finish work. Or dinner; your choice.”
“Miss Forrest, while I appreciate the offer, surely you know it’s against the rules for a police officer to socialise with anyone involved in an ongoing case. Besides, I’m already seeing someone.”
“I won’t tell if you won’t. As for your girlfriend, she need never know.”
“I’m gay, and my boyfriend would definitely know; I don’t keep anything from him.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I…” Natalie Forrest sounded flustered. “I thought…”
“I think you may have mistaken my concern for you after the ordeal you’d just been through for something else entirely, but don’t worry about it. You weren’t thinking too clearly, which is perfectly understandable, so we’ll say no more about it. Please do still call me, or my partner, if you happen to think of anything that could be pertinent to the case.”
“Yes, of course. Thank you, Detective, and I apologise for the misunderstanding. I suppose I’m so used to men flirting with me I just assumed…”
“No need to apologise. Good day, Miss Forrest.” Ryo hung up before she could say anything else.
Dee grinned at his partner. “She didn’t waste any time, did she? Probably been watchin’ through her window, waitin’ for you to leave the buildin’ so she could phone while you weren’t otherwise occupied and have all you attention.”
Ryo slid quickly into the car as he pocketed his phone. “You really think she was watching?”
“What I would’ve done. You handled that perfectly, by the way. Guess that means we don’t have to switch phones after all.”
“I guess so.” Ryo fell silent, thinking, as Dee started the engine and pulled away from the curb. Finally he roused himself from his thoughts. “Dee?”
“Were you serious about teaching me to recognise when someone’s flirting with me?”
“Only if you want me to.”
“I think…” Ryo let out a sigh and nodded. “Yeah, I think it might be a good idea.”
“Okay, then we can start tonight, go to a singles bar and do some people-watchin’. You’ll probably pick up the signs better if they’re not aimed at you.”
“Sounds good. Thanks.”
“No need to thank me, doofus. Somethin’ I probably should’a done years ago.” Dee laughed suddenly. “Hey, maybe I could turn my skills into a sideline and earn a little extra cash. Have a bunch of business cards made up: Dee Laytner, Flirting Specialist.”
Ryo shook his head, chuckling. “That might just be the craziest idea you’ve ever had.”
“Bet I’d be damned good at it.”
“I don’t doubt it for a minute.”