Characters: Dee, Ryo.
Setting: After Vol. 7.
Summary: Dee and Ryo take a walk one evening while staying at a hotel out in the country.
Word Count: 1613
Written For: My own prompt ‘Any, any, fear of bats,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
The sun has already set, but it’s not dark yet, not quite. The light is dim, greyish, and slowly fading towards night, but it’ll be a while before it’s too dark to see. When visibility diminishes that much, they’ll have to break out their torches; although the sky overhead is clear, the light of the stars won’t be enough to see by and the moon won’t rise until later. Still, for now they’re okay without, and anyway, it’s kind of beautiful, all hazy, dreamlike and mysterious; you might even call it romantic.
Well, Ryo might. Dee is more used to the lights of the city. Wandering about in the dusk in the middle of nowhere really isn’t his cup of java. If it weren’t for Ryo, he wouldn’t even be out here, so far from the city and civilisation. Who in their right mind decides to leave their nice, well-lit country hotel to go walking to the top of a hill several miles away along ill-defined footpaths, across fields and through woods, just to watch the sun setting? Sure, the sunset itself was very pretty, and definitely romantic, but all that effort for a spectacle that only lasts a short while seems absurd. It makes Dee wonder what possessed him to get romantically involved with his partner in the first place, but as they walk side-by-side down the hill, following the footpath that will lead them through the woods and across the farmland beyond, to the small island of civilisation represented by their hotel, one look at Ryo is all it takes to remind him. How can he not love this man with every fibre of his being?
Ryo is smiling softly, looking about himself in the twilight, dark-adapted eyes picking out not only landmarks to guide their way, but other things too. A fox, slinking across the path ahead of them, the bright sparks of fireflies dancing above a meadow to their right, a patch of night-blooming flowers, their sweet fragrance hanging heavy in the gathering gloom. He picks his way surefooted along the rutted path as Dee stumbles along beside him, tripping on tree roots, and rocks, and even his own feet. Maybe he wouldn’t trip so often if he were paying more attention to where he’s putting his feet instead of staring at his lover like a man half-hypnotised. Ryo’s hair fairly glows, like a beacon, as the shadows continue to deepen around them, and Dee can’t help but wonder how he got so lucky.
He’s staring at Ryo so intently as they emerge from the trees, climb over a gate, and start across the pastureland beyond that at first he doesn’t notice the movement in the air around them. Then he catches sight of something out of the corner of his eye, and turns his head; the lights of their hotel are visible now, down in the valley below, but that’s not what caught his attention. He frowns slightly, puzzled by the flickering, barely seen shadows, then realises what he’s seeing…
“Argh! Get them away from me!” He flails his arms and almost takes off running, except, they’re all around him and no direction seems safe, so instead of fleeing from the flying horrors, indecision keeps him frozen to the spot. “Ryo! Save me! Make them go away!”
“Save you from what?” Ryo looks confused. “They’re just bats.”
“I hate bats! They’re all flappy! What if they get caught in my hair?” Dee tries to duck down behind Ryo, covering his head.
“They won’t, Dee, that’s an old wives’ tale. Anyway, how exactly do you expect me to send them away? We’re the ones invading their habitat, not the other way around. They’re just minding their own business, feeding, catching insects, and if they can do that, picking tiny flies out of the air without bumping into each other, flying into the ground, or colliding with trees then they’re certainly not going to have any trouble avoiding us.”
“That’s easy for you to say! You show up better in the dark that I do!”
Ryo’s laughter isn’t directed at Dee, or at least he doesn’t think it is. It’s such a joyous sound though, as he watches the tiny creatures flitting around them. “It doesn’t matter, they don’t use their eyes to see anyway. Be quiet and keep still for a few minutes; just listen.”
Even though every instinct Dee has is telling him to flee for the relative safety of the distant hotel, he does as he’s told, standing still, listening, and trying to calm his panicked breathing. There’s a faint rustle of a breeze through the nearby trees, but above that, all he can hear are rapid, quiet clicking sounds coming from every direction.
“You’ve heard of echolocation, right?” Ryo asks after a few minutes.
Dee nods. “Yeah, ‘course I have.”
“It’s kind of amazing to think that these bats are using sound to pinpoint exactly where they are in relation to not only their surroundings, but every other bat in the sky with them, and at the same time, they’re hunting and catching insects we can’t even see. They can do all that just with those tiny clicks, even in pitch darkness, forming a picture of their surroundings more accurately than our eyes could in broad daylight. And just look at how manoeuvrable they are! How fast d’you think they’re flying?”
When Ryo puts it that way, Dee has to admit it really is pretty amazing. The bats are swooping and skimming around them, dodging each other, changing direction so quickly that his eyes just can’t keep up. Watching them makes him a little giddy, but their movement is hypnotic, making it hard to look away. One darts past above Ryo’s head, so close that the wind from its wings stirs his hair, and yet he doesn’t so much as flinch, just turns to Dee with an even wider happy smile on his face.
“I wasn’t expecting this, it’s fantastic! I’ve never seen so many all in one place; they must have a roost nearby, maybe a hollow tree in the woods. We could go looking for it tomorrow.”
For ten minutes or so, they stand in the middle of the field, still as statues, watching the bats flit around them in the deepening darkness, until Ryo finally tugs lightly on Dee’s sleeve.
“Come on, we should get going, it’ll be too dark for us to see soon and I don’t want to turn our torches on here; they might bother the bats.” Taking Dee’s hand in his own, Ryo twines their fingers together and starts walking, leading his lover across the empty pasture towards another gate, faintly visible in the far hedge. Beyond that, the path dips downwards again, through another, smaller area of woodland before coming out on the road leading to their hotel; it’s about another half an hour’s walk, not really far but suddenly Dee is reluctant to hurry, letting their pace slow.
It’s peaceful, the evening breeze pleasantly cool after the heat of the day. Not only that, but it’s nice being alone together, with no one else around. Despite it being nearly the end of the summer season, the hotel is fully booked; the lounge and dining areas, the pool and patio, the gardens, even the wide porch extending around three sides of the big house, are always crowded with other guests. Only their room provides any privacy, which Dee supposes is reason enough to want to leave the hotel premises and take long evening walks through the surrounding countryside.
For a while they don’t say a word, walking close together, hand-in-hand, in a companionable silence, each lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Ryo speaks, his voice low as if not wanting to spoil the moment. “How come you’ve never told me you’re scared of bats?”
Dee shrugs. “It just never came up. It’s not like we run into them in New York.”
“There are roosts all across the city, under bridges, in disused warehouses and basements, derelict houses, tunnels, lofts, and in the parks too.”
“Yeah, but how often do ya see bats flying about on the streets?”
“Point taken. After dark in Central Park maybe, but probably in smaller numbers than we saw tonight, spread out over a wider area,” Ryo concedes.
“There ya go. And for the record, I’m not scared of bats,” Dee states firmly.
“You’re not?” Ryo looks unconvinced. “What was all that back there then, when you wanted me to save you from them?” His tone is gently teasing.
Dee stops, turning Ryo to face him, smiling a bit sheepishly. “Maybe I should rephrase that. I used to be scared of bats, but I’m not any more, not after watching them.”
Ryo’s smile is warm. “I’m glad. So does that mean you’d be okay about going to watch them again?”
“Yeah, why not? But next time we should take something to sit on. I almost fell over a couple times tryin’ to keep track of them.”
Ryo chuckles. “I know what you mean, so did I. Okay, maybe tomorrow night we could bring a blanket, if the weather’s still good. We’d better be getting back now though. It’s really getting dark.”
“There’s no rush, and we’ve got torches if we need ‘em.” Dee pulls Ryo closer, kissing him, unhurried. Somewhere in the distance an owl hoots, and it briefly crosses Ryo’s mind to hope that it isn’t hunting the bats; then he forgets about everything except for the feel of Dee’s lips against his own. Bats flit overhead, but neither man notices. Right at this moment they’re lost in a world of their own.