Title: Shattered Illusions
Characters: Dee, Jess Latener, Arnon
Setting: Vol. 6 Act 18.
Summary: Dee has to face up to the truth about the man he thinks of as his surrogate father.
Word Count: 814
Content Notes: Mentions death of a minor, vague allusions to drug use.
Written For: Challenge #134: Dirty at fan_flashworks
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
For as long as Dee could remember, Jess Latener had been one of the cornerstones of his life, ever present, doing his best to teach him the right way to live his life. Dee had admired and respected the police officer, even when he was testing boundaries to see how much Jess would let him get away with.
Jess was tough but fair, like Mother in a lot of respects, and though Dee had never known his birth parents, he’d never really felt he was missing out. Jess and Mother were all the family he needed; he knew they both loved him, and that was what mattered.
As a young child, he wanted to follow in Jess’s footsteps, become a cop, but as he got older other dreams and ambitions crept in. Maybe he’d play professional basketball, or start a band and hit the big time, or work in a nightclub, or race cars… There were so many choices, and he was still in school so there was no need to decide yet.
Then Arnon was killed and everything changed.
Jess was a detective in narcotics by then, and he was at the murder scene, even let Dee and his other friends see Arnon briefly before his body was taken away. It was one of the worst days of Dee’s life; he, Arnon, Tommy, and Barry had practically grown up together, kind of the four Musketeers, and in the blink of an eye, one of their number was gone, his life snuffed out in a dirty alley.
Dee hadn’t known it at the time, but there was worse to come.
He’d still had the candy bar Arnon had dropped the last time they met, only hours before he was murdered. Dee was certain it was more than just a candy bar, maybe laced with something else, so he’d persuaded Jess to get it tested. Only thing was, when he asked Jess about it later, he was told it had tested negative. With a sinking feeling in his chest, Dee began to suspect that Jess, one of the people he trusted most in the world, was lying to him.
All his life he’d looked up to Jess, tried to live up to the older man’s example, tried to be honest, well, mostly anyway. He’d believed Jess to be a good cop, one of best, incorruptible, but for the first time, he started to have doubts. Jess had known Arnon was running ‘errands’ for a narcotics ring, among other things, and yet he’d done nothing to help him. Hurt and angry, Dee had stormed out of Jess’s apartment, yelling that he never wanted to see his surrogate father again. He didn’t know what to do, what to think. Jess was family, but he was mixed up in something bad. Was it possible he was working for the same people who’d been using Arnon as a courier? Was Jess a dirty cop?
The bloodstained note found by the front door of the orphanage said it all; it was an admission of guilt as well as an apology for failing Dee. Jess had been selling police information to Bruno’s organisation. He’d known about Arnon, wanted to get him out, but he’d failed at that too. He’d left the note for Dee to find, to explain and to say goodbye, figuring it was best for everyone if he just disappeared.
He hadn’t got far.
Dee found Jess in an alley, surrounded by Bruno and his armed thugs. He’d been shot, and Dee knew he was dying. Jess’s last words to Dee were the same as he’d written in the note: ‘Live your life as honestly as you always have.’
Jess may have been a dirty cop, but as a father, he’d been the best, second to none. He’d taught Dee right from wrong, taught him to be honest and true to himself, even if he hadn’t managed to live up to his own ideals. As Jess’s eyes closed and he breathed his last, Dee made up his mind. He’d do as Jess wanted, live as honestly as he could, and one day he was gonna be a cop. But not a half-assed one like Jess had been, not the kind the drug dealers were used to. He was going to be the kind of man, and the kind of cop, he’d always believed Jess to be. Honest, incorruptible, dedicated to catching criminals and putting them where they belonged, behind bars. He’d do it for Jess, to make up for his mentor’s failings, and he’d do it for Arnon, and all the other kids just like him who got sucked in because they needed the money. He’d avenge them both by being the best damned cop he could be.
And Bruno, and everyone like him, had better watch out, because somehow some day, Dee Laytner was gonna take them down!