Characters: Ryo, Dee.
Setting: After Like Like Love.
Summary: Preparing for Christmas, Ryo comes across a box of childhood memories.
Word Count: 1598
Written For: Prompt 469: Ornament at slashthedrabble.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
A/N: This is a much longer version of the short ficlet I wrote for the community.
Ryo had spent the last hour digging through the storage locker where he still kept his parents’ furniture, hunting up some extra chairs so all their guests would have something to sit on for Christmas dinner. Hot and tired, he’d just managed to extract the last one from its hiding place behind a dresser when he came across a box he’d all but forgotten about. It was battered and dusty, its once bright colours faded by time, but he recognised it instantly as the one his parents had used to store the Christmas decorations he remembered from his childhood.
Lifting it gently down from the pile of other boxes it was balanced on, he sank down to sit on the hard, dirty concrete floor with the box in his lap and simply stared at it for a long time, not even opening it, just letting a cascade of memories from long-ago family Christmases wash over him. He had no idea how long he’d been sitting there when a familiar voice broke him out of his reverie.
“Hey babe, you find what you were lookin’ for yet?”
Dee was leaning casually in the open doorway, smiling slightly, a questioning expression on his face. He’d been out running errands for Mother, helping with the orphanage’s Christmas preparations, but had promised to join Ryo as soon as he was finished to help him with the chairs.
“Huh?” Blinking up at his partner, Ryo dragged his thoughts back to the present, recalling where he was and what he was there for. “Oh, yes.” He pointed to four matching dining chairs, which he’d stacked in pairs. “They just need a bit of dusting and a quick polish and they’ll be fine.” Standing up, he set the box of decorations gently down on a nearby table, and dusted off his jeans. “Give me a hand to get them into the car?”
“That’s what I’m here for,” Dee said cheerfully, grabbing a chair. “So, what’s in the box?”
Ryo shook his head dismissively. “Nothing important.”
“Really.” Green eyes studied Ryo intently, as if they were trying to look right into his soul. There’d been a time when Dee’s penetrating gaze would have made Ryo uncomfortable, but not anymore. Well, not often. Right now though…
Ryo tried to meet his lover’s eyes but found himself glancing away after a moment. “Yes, really.”
“Didn’t look that way to me,” Dee said mildly. “You were sittin’ there holdin it, starin’ at it like it held all the wonders in the world, so don’t expect me to buy that crap about it not bein’ important.”
“I wasn’t…” Ryo blushed slightly and frowned at his lover. What was the point of denying it? He’d been caught staring at a box like he was in some kind of trance. Still, he couldn’t help feeling a bit defensive at having been spied on, especially since he hadn’t heard Dee arrive. “How long have you been standing there watching me?”
Dee shrugged casually. “Dunno, maybe ten minutes or so? Wasn’t sure whether or not I should interrupt your communion with your box, but this place closes for the holidays in less than an hour, so I figured we should probably get movin’ if we don’t want to wind up locked in until the New Year.”
“What?” Ryo checked his watch, eyes widening when he saw the time; where had the last two hours gone? “I had no idea it was so late!”
“I gathered that. You gonna tell me or not?” Dee could be like a dog with a bone when he wanted to know something.
“Tell you what?” Ryo tried for innocent incomprehension, but failed miserably judging by the way Dee just looked at him.
“You know what. The box?”
Ryo caved with a sigh. “It’s just old Christmas decorations. Seeing it brought back a few memories, that’s all.”
“Memories of your parents?”
“Yes. It’s silly really. The stuff in that box is so old I should probably just throw it all out.”
“No, you shouldn’t.” Dee put down the chair he’d been holding throughout their conversation and moved to take Ryo’s hands in his, rubbing his thumbs lightly over his lover’s knuckles, scraped from shifting heavy furniture. “A long time ago, back when I was just a little kid, Mother told me something that I’ve never forgotten; she said the most precious things in life aren’t the ones that cost the most; they’re the ones that hold the most memories. Doesn’t matter how old and tatty they are; if the things in that box bring back so many memories that they can keep you sittin’ on a cold concrete floor for God knows how long, then they’re priceless and deserve to be treasured.” He squeezed Ryo’s hands and let them go. “Come on; let’s get the chairs loaded and head home. And your box is comin’ with us too.”
“It is?” Ryo asked, surprised
“Of course! Memories that precious shouldn’t be shut away in a warehouse. Think about it; this will be our first Christmas since we moved in together and I don’t know about you, but I think it would be kinda nice if all of your family could share it with us. Not just Bikky, Carol, your aunt and uncle, and your cousin, but your parents too. I know they can’t be there in person, but if we put up a few of their decorations it’ll be kinda like they are. I know they’re never far from your thoughts, especially around Christmas.”
“That’s true. It was always a special time for us, being together as a family, and what with them being killed when they were, just before…” Ryo trailed off, a sad, wistful expression on his face; even after so long, the festive season could still be difficult for him. Then he shrugged the sad thoughts away and smiled. “I like your idea; I think there’s room on the tree for a few more decorations.” Picking up the box, he carried it carefully out to his car, setting it on the front passenger seat before returning for one of the chairs.
Back at their apartment, after cleaning and polishing the chairs, Ryo sat on the living room floor and slowly unpacked the box. There were streamers of tinsel, old shop-bought paper chains, tattered advent calendars, tiny wooden figures, and Christmas candles shaped like snowmen that had never been lit. Smaller boxes underneath all that were packed with delicate baubles, each one individually wrapped in tissue paper, and he set them aside so he could pick some out later to add to the tree. First he wanted to look at the final item.
Tucked right at the bottom of the box, safe in an old tin that had once held cookies, Ryo found his favourite Christmas ornament of all. It was a model of a snow-covered cottage standing in an equally snowy garden, the whole scene surrounded by a miniature picket fence. A tiny sleigh and reindeer stood on the roof, and Santa’s feet were sticking out of the chimney. Ryo showed it to Dee, pointing out the little handcrafted trees, a bird table, miniature snowmen, the front porch swing, and rocking chairs that actually rocked even though they were fixed in place so they wouldn’t fall off and get broken when the ornament was packed away.
“Dad made this for mom the first Christmas after they were married, and every year since then, when he put up the decorations, he’d add something else to it, some little model he’d made, or something he’d picked up on his travels. See the little cat on the porch swing? He added that the last Christmas we had together. Found it in England in a place that sold doll’s house miniatures. I remember he’d tried several times to make a cat from clay, but they’d never turned out right, and all the models he’d seen were too big. He was so pleased to finally get one exactly the right size.”
“It’s pretty amazing,” Dee said admiringly. “The amount of time and effort he put into it… Must’ve taken a lot of patience.”
“Yeah, but it was a labour of love.” Ryo studied the house, remembering his dad checking the model over each year when he got it out of its box, making any necessary repairs, and adding the new item when nobody was looking, seeing how long it took his wife and son to notice what was different. Those were good memories. Suddenly he laughed as he remembered something else.
“What’s funny?” Dee asked, grinning at him.
“It’s dumb, but when I was little, I used to spend hours sitting in front of this, just looking at the cottage, convinced there was a tiny little family living inside it and that if I waited long enough, I’d catch a glimpse of them.”
Dee laughed too. “I can just picture that! Bet you were a cute kid.” He sobered a little, tilting his head as he looked at Ryo. “Y’know, it’s been packed away for a lot if years; maybe it’s time your dad’s handiwork was looked at and appreciated again.”
Ryo nodded, smiling softly. “I think it is.” He looked around the room, evaluating options. “How about the sideboard?”
“Perfect,” Dee agreed. “Right in the middle. Pride of place, where everyone can see it.” He crossed the room to move things out of the way and Ryo followed with the ornament, setting it gently in place before standing back to admire it. It looked lovely; he rather thought his parents would approve.