Characters: Ryo, Bikky, Dee, Carol, OCs.
Setting: From before the manga, to after Like Like Love.
Summary: Ryo’s parents, aunt and uncle taught him all the skills he would need to look after himself, and Ryo in turn teaches Bikky, continuing what will become a family tradition.
Word Count: 1659
Written For: Jae’s Monthly Drabble Challenge 145 - Chores, Clean, Cook.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Ryo’s parents, and later his aunt and uncle, had made sure he’d be able to take proper care of himself once he was out in the world on his own, and he was grateful for that. By the time he moved into his own place he knew how to manage his own finances, stick to a budget, and handle all the necessary domestic chores, such as doing the laundry and ironing, shopping for groceries, cleaning, and cooking. Most of those things he considered dull, routine tasks, necessary but not particularly enjoyable, but cooking was the obvious exception. He enjoyed preparing meals as much as he enjoyed eating them, and found he had a flair for it, making it more of a pleasure than a chore, but over time he found that completing even the most boring household tasks brought a measure of satisfaction, even if just from seeing the end result.
His first place wasn’t much more that a furnished room, with a small kitchen and an even smaller bathroom, but it was cosy, and he kept it neat and clean. It was all he needed at the time, since he wasn’t home much anyway. Once he graduated from the police academy, he moved into a larger one-bedroom apartment, and when he made detective, he moved again, this time into a far more spacious two-bedroom place, where he soon had everything the way he wanted it. So he was what people might call house-proud. So what? He liked to keep his living space clean and tidy, with everything in its place. It was much more comfortable than living in the kind of disordered pigsty a lot of the unmarried cops he worked with seemed to find acceptable.
Then came Bikky, and Ryo found keeping his home spick and span a far more difficult task than it had previously been. Kids were messy, but having the small boy in his life was so rewarding in other ways that he was willing to put up with the extra cleaning, laundry, ironing, and everything else raising a child entailed; it seemed a relatively small price to pay. Being a parent was hard work and a huge commitment, but Ryo could honestly say he didn’t regret taking the boy in. It was good to have company, and cooking was an even greater pleasure when someone other than himself was there to appreciate the meals he made. Baking became an almost weekly event too, often with Bikky joining in, learning to make cookies and cakes to take with him to school in his lunchbox.
As Bikky settled in, Ryo started to teach the boy the things his own parents had taught him so long ago; how to keep track of his finances and budget so he could afford the things he wanted, how to tidy up after himself, and as he got older, how to do laundry, iron his own clothes, and cook simple meals. Some of those things Bikky was less keen on doing than others, but Ryo explained that he wanted to be sure Bikky would be able to look after himself when he eventually left home.
“In a few years you’ll be off to college, and I’ll worry about you a lot less if I know you can do all these things for yourself.”
Bikky heaved a resigned sigh. “Fine, if it’ll keep you from worrying.”
The years passed quickly, and almost before he knew it Bikky was indeed off to college. It was quite an eye-opener.
“You’re such a slob, Eric!” Bikky complained, looking at his roommate’s side of their shared dorm room. “Didn’t your folks ever teach you to tidy up after yourself?”
“Sure they did, but I’m not at home now so I can do as I please. I’ve got better things to do than waste my time on chores.” Eric sprawled on his unmade bed, old takeout cartons, pizza boxes, and dirty clothes scattered over the floor and every available surface.
“Well, if you’re gonna live like a pig, keep your crud on your side of the room.” Bikky kicked a wad of clothing over to the other side of the imaginary dividing line.
“Neat freak,” his roommate accused.
“I’d rather be that than live like you.” Bikky settled at his desk and set to work on one of his assignments. He had time to get it done before his next class.
“You’re weird. You’re in college in California, man! You should be skippin’ class, partyin’ all night, and sleepin’ all day.”
“You mean like you? Nuh uh, I gotta keep my grades up or I’ll get cut from the basketball team, which wouldn’t be a good thing considering I’m on a basketball scholarship.”
“So pay someone to do your assignments for ya. You’re comin’ to the party tonight, right?”
“Nope. Got practice early tomorrow, and I’m skyping with my girl this evening. I might get some peace and quiet if you’re not here.”
“You need to learn to live a little, Bik.”
“I live plenty,” Bikky replied. “Unlike you, I know what I want out of life; to play pro basketball, marry my girl, and raise a bunch of kids.”
“Boring!” his roomie laughed.
“We’ll see who’s laughing when I’m rich and famous.”
“How’s college?” Carol asked that evening, when Bikky was alone in his dorm room.
“Pretty good, except I’m stuck rooming with about the worst slob on the campus. He’s an okay guy, but I’m seriously thinking about seeing if I can switch and room with someone else. On the plus side he’s out all night partying, and passed out drunk when I get up in the morning for practice, but I’ve been here almost a month and as far as I can tell, he still hasn’t done any laundry. His side of the room is a complete tip; if his parents could see the way he’s living they’d go prematurely grey.”
Carol laughed delightedly. “You sound just like Ryo!”
Bikky grinned, taking his girlfriend’s words as a compliment. “I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but all the stuff he taught me makes sense now. Most of the guys here are helpless; they don’t even know how to work the washing machines and dryers in the laundry room, and as for ironing their clothes… Ryo would have a fit if he could see them wandering around looking like they slept in their clothes.”
“Some of them probably did,” Carol giggled.
“I think you’re right; I’m pretty sure my roomie does.”
“You should ask about switching rooms. It can’t be pleasant living with someone else’s mess.”
“Yeah, I probably should, it’s just… I kinda like him and I don’t want to make waves, but… I dunno, maybe he’d be happier rooming with another slob.”
A week later, Bikky moved to another dorm, where his roommate was a studious kid with ambitions to become an architect. Although they had little in common, they got along surprisingly well, both being tidy and working hard towards their own goals. Bikky remained friends with his ex-roomie, who gradually settled down a bit and even started showing up to classes from time to time, since he didn’t want to get kicked out. Bikky returned the favor by going with Eric to the occasional party, when he didn’t have to be up early for practice the next day.
College life kept him so busy that before Bikky knew it Thanksgiving was approaching. He packed what he needed for the vacation, leaving everything else in his room; he’d only be away for a week anyway.
It was strange going home not to the apartment he’d shared with Ryo for seven years, but to Dee’s place, where Ryo was now living with his partner. Nevertheless, stepping inside felt like coming home since much of Ryo’s familiar furniture was scattered about. The place was as neat and tidy as Bikky expected it to be, and delicious aromas filled the air. Dumping his bags in his room, Bikky went into the kitchen to find his foster father busy preparing dinner.
“Hey, Ryo. Need a hand with anything?”
Ryo spun around. “Bikky! When did you get in?”
“Just now,” Dee said, joining them and leaning against the kitchen counter. “That’s the errand I said I had to run. He wanted to surprise ya so he asked me to pick him up at the airport.”
Even if just for a short while, it was good to be home, and Bikky willingly pitched in helping Ryo with the cooking while Dee, grumbling good-naturedly about being treated like a taxi service, went to fetch Carol, leaving Bikky and his foster father to catch up.
“You were right, you know,” Bikky said, peeling vegetables.
“About what?” Ryo looked up at his foster son, certain the boy must have grown another inch in the last couple of months.
“All the stuff you taught me so I could take care of myself. It’s made a big difference, like in a way you were still there looking out for me. Any time I got homesick I cooked up something you used to make and it made me feel better.”
Ryo smiled. “I used to do the same thing after I lost my parents,” he admitted. “It brought back good memories.”
“Yeah. Anyway, thanks.”
“There’s no need to thank me, Biks. Someday you’ll be doing the same for your own kids, teaching them everything they need to know so they can take care of themselves when they leave home. It’s all part of being a parent.”
Bikky was very much aware that not every parent took the time to teach their kids essential life skills; he’d seen too many fellow students completely out of their depth when it came to carrying out even the simplest of domestic tasks. He knew how lucky he was that Ryo had taken him in. “Maybe, but I still think I ended up with the best dad ever.”