Characters: Ryo, Dee.
Setting: Vol. 7, Act 20.
Summary: Three weeks after their first night together, Ryo goes looking for Dee to invite him out for dinner.
Word Count: 2197
Content Notes: None necessary.
Written For: Challenge 112: Mind at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
When Ryo finally tracked Dee down to the roof of the Precinct house, where he’d retreated for a smoke, he found his partner to be in an oddly subdued, introspective mood, not his usual brash and outspoken self at all. He’d been like that a lot lately, or maybe Ryo was just noticing it more now they were lovers. He gave a mental shrug. Whatever was bothering Dee, if he wanted to talk about it he’d do so when he was ready, and not before. Chances were, the mood would pass, he’d be fine, and Ryo would never find out what had been on his partner’s mind. It was none of his business unless Dee chose to share.
Strange moods were all part and parcel of being a cop; sometimes the job just got you down and you needed a bit of breathing space, a chance to put your thoughts in order so you could get your head back in the game; Ryo had been there enough times himself to understand. He and Dee were alike in that they preferred not to burden each other unnecessarily, each knowing the other had enough stress of their own without their partner adding to it. They dealt with the ups and downs that came with their chosen careers in their own ways, each secure in the knowledge that the other was there to lean on, and to lend an ear, if needed. Perhaps best not to say anything unless Dee did. If Ryo started pushing, Dee would probably just dig his heels in and clam up. He could be stubborn as a mule when he wanted to be, and anyway, Dee’s current moodiness wasn’t why Ryo had come looking for him. He had big news about one of their cases, among other things.
Leaning on the parapet alongside his partner, feeling almost ridiculously content with his life, Ryo gazed out across the city as he told Dee about getting a full confession on the Baker case and that they might be able to get out of work early because of it. He’d felt more comfortable around Dee the last few weeks than he ever had before, now that the tension between them had been resolved. He could relax in the other man’s company without constantly worrying about getting pounced and fretting about how he should react if it happened.
Always before, he’d felt he should resist Dee’s advances, but now they were together he no longer felt the same pressure to push his partner away, and although they should probably set a few ground rules to govern their behaviour towards each other when they were at work, if only for the sake of discretion, Ryo didn’t feel any pressing need to get into that right now. It was a conversation more suited to home than work anyway. Waiting a few more days, even a couple more weeks, wouldn’t hurt, and he had something else on his mind that he wanted to talk to Dee about right now. It was just, he’d never asked a guy out on a date before, and despite feeling completely comfortable with Dee, he felt a little silly, especially considering the number of times they’d had meals out together that hadn’t had anything to do with dating, just two friends grabbing a bite to eat after, or during, work. Still, nothing ventured… Just take a breath and ask, he couldn’t think of any reason why Dee might say no.
“I was planning to ask you even before I heard about the confession, but… Well, do you have any plans tonight, Dee?” Probably a good idea to check that first; he shouldn’t just assume Dee wouldn’t be busy. Their lives didn’t completely revolve around their job and each other.
Dee lounged with his back to the low wall, shirtsleeves rolled up, elbows resting on the warm bricks, and cigarette smoke trickling from between his lips. “Not really. I was just gonna grab a quick bite before heading home, that’s about it.” He didn’t sound enthusiastic about the prospect.
Ryo smiled to himself; perfect. “Well then, um, in that case, would you like to have dinner with me? Ted told me about this great Vietnamese place downtown.”
“What about the house apes?”
As if Ryo would have asked Dee out knowing the kids would be around! Bikky was away at summer camp with Carol and their friends, so he wouldn’t have to hurry home; they could stay out as late as they wanted.
“Oh yeah. I forgot about that.” Dee puffed on his cigarette; he hadn’t said no, but he hadn’t exactly said yes either. Ryo hadn’t meant to say anything about Dee’s odd mood, hadn’t he just told himself he wouldn’t pry? But he couldn’t help himself; Dee could always just tell him to mind his own business if he didn’t want to talk about… whatever. “Is something the matter, Dee? Lately all you do is stare into space.”
Dee’s response wasn’t what Ryo would call enlightening. “I’ve been thinking a lot.” Well duh! That was obvious! But before Ryo could say anything else, Dee continued… “Hey, mind if I kiss you?”
The question came totally out of left field. “Huh?” of all the things Dee could have said, that was the last one Ryo had expected. After all the times he’d pounced, stealing kisses whenever the urge took him, now he was asking permission? Why? Wasn’t the fact they were lovers enough to indicate that Ryo was unlikely to be averse to being kissed? Of course they were at work so maybe Dee was trying to be more discreet, but that had never stopped him before. Surprise and confusion left Ryo floundering for a moment, but then he shook it off and found his voice. “Um, why not? Sure.” If Dee wanted to ask permission Ryo wasn’t about to refuse, and they were alone up here so nobody would see.
Dee’s kiss was gentle, tender, but oddly passionless; so different from the kisses that always set Ryo’s heart racing that he felt a flicker of worry. Had Dee found the night the spent together disappointing in some way? It hadn’t seemed like that at the time; then again, maybe now he’d got what he’d wanted for so long he was losing interest… Ryo quickly dismissed that idea, it made no sense; if that was the case, why would Dee want to kiss him at all?
The kiss ended and Dee pulled back, shoving one hand through his hair, suddenly all business as he turned to go with a parting pat to Ryo’s shoulder, saying they should both get back to work before the Chief got pissed off at them. Sensible, but still, what was with Dee? He seldom cared about annoying their boss, almost seemed to enjoy it. He was right though, they both had things they should get done before quitting for the day, so Ryo pushed his concerns to the back of his mind, followed his lover down to the squad room, and settled in to get some work done, and that was that until Dee came up to him as they were getting off shift.
“So, Vietnamese, you said? I could go for that, I’m starving.”
“Great!” Ryo grabbed his coat, leading the way to the stairs, speaking back over his shoulder. “Ted had great things to say about this place.”
“Yeah? Well, I’m withholdin’ judgement until I try the food; Ted will eat just about anything.”
Ryo chuckled at that; the same could be said of Dee. It was true though, Ted wasn’t a fussy eater, but there was a big difference between being willing to eat something and enjoying it enough to go on and on about how good it was to anyone who’d listen. Still, at least Dee seemed to be in a better mood now, which meant Ryo could look forward to good company over dinner.
The food turned out to be easily as good as Ted had claimed, possibly even better, and Dee was more his usual self, digging in like food was going out of fashion. Whatever was going on with him, it wasn’t affecting his appetite. By the time they were done eating they were both pretty well stuffed, but in a comfortable way rather than feeling like they’d overeaten to the point that they couldn’t move. Nevertheless, Ryo thought a leisurely walk might do them both good and the restaurant was a stone’s throw from the Manhattan Bridge… It seemed silly to waste such a perfect opportunity.
“Wanna take a walk with me? I was thinking we could head over to Brooklyn out by the River Café.”
The question stopped Dee in his tracks and he turned to stare incredulously at Ryo. “You want to cross the bridge?” It wasn’t often Ryo could surprise his partner so completely.
“Well… I heard it was really pretty at night. I just wanted to see for myself.” It sounded a bit lame, but how often did they get to play tourist in their own city, really look at the place they spent their lives protecting? Why shouldn’t they take advantage of an opportunity to check out some of the most popular attractions? Judging by what he’d overheard tourists saying, he had a sneaking suspicion he might be missing out on something, and there was nobody he’d rather see the sights with.
Dee swivelled the toothpick he was chewing on from one corner of his mouth to the other, considering Ryo’s suggestion, then smiled. “Ah, heck. Why not?”
They strolled towards the bridge, in no particular hurry, stopping halfway to look out at the lights of Manhattan on one shore and Brooklyn on the other, separated by the dark waters of the East River yet linked together by the strings of shining jewels that were the various bridges. The setting was unashamedly romantic, a view straight off the postcards tourists bought to send home, and they leaned against the railings, taking it all in.
It was there beneath a streetlamp that Dee finally opened up with what had been bothering him, and what he said made Ryo feel like a heel. Dee had spent the last three weeks worrying that the night they’d spent together was just a one-off, a spontaneous and immediately regretted impulse Ryo had only given in to because he’d had so much on his mind. Nothing could be further from the truth; for Ryo that night had marked their transition from best friends to being in a relationship. Yes, Ryo had needed to scrape together every bit of courage he could muster because he’d been so nervous, even a little scared, but he’d made a conscious choice to push past his fears and insecurities and give in to what he wanted most, which was Dee. He had no regrets.
What he didn’t get was why Dee hadn’t said something sooner instead of letting the worry eat away at him. No wonder he’d seemed so distant lately. Then again, Ryo could have said something too, maybe just mentioned in passing that he’d really enjoyed their night together, but he hadn’t said a word. He hadn’t thought there was any need to, convinced they were both on the same page and that Dee was just giving him some time to adjust, not wanting to pressure him. Work had been so hectic since that night they’d barely had time to draw breath… They both really needed to work on their communication skills so they didn’t wind up with more completely avoidable misunderstandings like this, but right now the most important thing was to set the record straight.
In all of Dee’s ramblings, one thing he’d said stood out over and above everything else, and to Ryo’s mind it was the most important thing: “I totally, seriously, completely love you…” If Dee could be so honest about how he felt even while under the impression that Ryo saw him as no more than a friend, then the least Ryo could do was show the same degree of honesty.
“Then I guess this is where I say I love you too.” Because it was true, Ryo did love Dee, more than anything, and it was high time he told his partner that instead of keeping it to himself. He smiled, unable to resist turning the tables on his lover by asking the same question Dee had asked him that afternoon on the precinct roof. “Mind if I kiss you?”
Dee smiled, all the tension and worry visibly draining away as Ryo tugged him close. “Nah, not at all.”
This kiss was completely different to the one on the roof; it swept Ryo up, making him feel like he was floating on air, fireworks exploding around him. He hoped it was as good for Dee, because this was a moment to remember; no mixed signals, no crossed wires, just two people on the exact same wavelength for once, a true meeting of minds as well as lips.
At the back of his mind, he could almost hear Diana saying, ‘It’s about time.’ Ryo smiled into the kiss. He couldn’t agree more.