Characters: Dee, Ryo.
Setting: After Like Like Love.
Summary: Dee isn’t too happy at first with the way his and Ryo’s day off is going.
Word Count: 1053
Written For: Jae’s Monthly Drabble Challenge 159 - Compost, Flower, Garden, Hard Work, Weeds.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
“Tell me again why we got involved with this project,” said Dee, wiping sweat off his forehead with the back of his arm. He could have been relaxing at home, sipping a cold one while watching sport on TV, or conserving energy by napping; instead he was out here with the sun beating down on him, doing what to his mind amounted to slave labor. He’d already been working for at least an hour and a half; he was hot, tired, and his back hurt. “This isn’t my idea of a relaxin’ day off. Feel like I’m workin’ on a chain gang.”
“Dee,” Ryo chided, sounding disappointed with his lover. “What kind of attitude is that? We’re trying to make the city a better place for the people who live here, just like we do every day.”
“Yeah, but usually we do it by chasin’ the bad guys, not diggin’ up weeds. This ground’s harder than concrete! Man, I never knew gardenin’ was such hard work!”
“Normally it might not be, but look at what we’re working with.” Ryo straightened up from where he’d been digging and gestured around the patch of wasteland. A team of volunteers had already cleared away most of the rubble and trash that had littered it only a few days earlier; now it was the turn of the team Dee and Ryo were part of to clear away all the weeds and thoroughly dig the ground, getting all the roots out and digging in bags of well-rotted compost to improve soil quality. Dee was right in that it was hard work, but Ryo found it satisfying, seeing that ugly, derelict space being gradually transformed into something much more attractive, not to mention useful.
In half of the area there were going to be paths laid between raised beds where the locals could grow vegetables. The part where Ryo and Dee were working would eventually have rustic benches among flowerbeds, and several small fruit trees trained against the south facing wall of a neighbouring apartment building, so they’d get as much sunlight as possible.
It was one of several similar projects across the city, mainly funded by a charity, with the assistance of a government grant. Anyone could volunteer their time, and as this one was only a few blocks from the apartment he shared with Dee, Ryo had suggested that they go along and help out.
“It’ll be fun, and maybe we could even grow some vegetables there ourselves since we don’t have any place to grow stuff where we live.” Very few people in that part of the city had anything more than a window box to call their own.
Fun. Right. As far as Dee was concerned, it was anything but fun, more like backbreaking hard work. Why did he let himself get talked into these harebrained schemes anyway? Because he loved Ryo and would say yes to practically anything if it made his lover happy, that was why, dammit! Dee was starting to think he needed his head examining; Ryo only had to start a sentence with ‘why don’t we...’ and Dee took leave of his senses. It was the only explanation.
“Just think how beautiful it’ll be once it’s finished,” Ryo enthused now. “Beds of vegetables growing, people sitting out in the sunshine chatting, colourful flowers everywhere… a little patch of paradise in the inner city. And it won’t be the only one; there’ll be dozens of gardens and allotments making use of wasteland, helping to feed people and giving them a productive hobby. Places like this can build a real sense of community, getting people working together with a shared purpose. I can’t think of anything more worthwhile. Besides, doesn’t being out in the sunshine beat sitting around in front of the TV all day? So what if it’s hard work? It’s good exercise.”
Dee couldn’t help getting swept up in Ryo’s enthusiasm once more. His partner’s words painted a beautiful picture, so far removed from what he saw around him at the present moment. A picture of what could be if they and all the other volunteers kept working at it, rather than of what was.
“Yeah, it really will brighten things up around here,” Dee agreed, picturing the project completed. He lifted his fork once more and stabbed it into the hard packed earth with determination, the muscles in his arms rippling. There was a lot still to be done and he and Ryo only had today to help with it before they’d be back at work. Who knew how far along things would be by their next day off? By then maybe they’d be assigned to building the raised beds instead of digging the ground. Or maybe they’d get to plant flowers, or sow seeds, or put the fruit trees in… Those tasks sounded much more fun than their current one.
It wasn’t all going to be this strenuous and exhausting, but someone had to do this part and a lot of the volunteers were elderly people who didn’t have the strength for the heavy work. It wasn’t like he and Ryo were the only two people digging either; there were maybe a dozen other men and women working away with spades and forks and even a pickaxe, breaking up the surface before digging deeper, turning the earth and loosening weeds while others followed along, breaking up clods, pulling out lumps of rubble, rusted cans, pieces of broken glass… The patch of ground had been an unofficial dumping place for trash for as long as Dee could remember. Well, not anymore; now it was being put to a far better use.
Dee glanced back at where they’d already dug, surprised by how far they’d got since they started, and he broke into a grim.
“Whoo! Would you look at that? We’re really motorin’! Another hour, probably less, and we’ll reach the other side, then maybe we can go back and start diggin’ in the compost after lunch.”
He and Ryo were both going to hurt like crazy come morning, but it would be the ache that comes from honest hard work rather than from getting injured in the line of duty. Dee figured he could live with that; after all, like Ryo said, it was all for a good cause.