Characters: Ryo, Dee, OCs, Dick the Dog.
Setting: After Like Like Love.
Summary: Ryo and Dee take Dick to the park for some exercise and fun.
Word Count: 3133
Written For: Challenge 267: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, using Challenge 179: Dog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
A/N: This is a greatly extended version of the fic posted to the challenge.
As Ryo left the hospital and flagged down a taxi, after visiting Mrs Holloway to let her know her dog was in good hands, he called Dee to tell him he was on his way home. By the time he arrived at the apartment he shared with his lover, Dee was ready and waiting for him; all he needed to do was slip into his jacket and clip Dick’s leash on. The little dog was obviously eager to head out too, bouncing and barking as soon as Dee picked up the leash.
Ryo laughed. “He seems to be adjusting well to his new circumstances. How did he behave while I was out?”
“Fine,” Dee reported. “No trouble at all. He took a post-breakfast nap in his bed while I read the paper. Just looked up every time I moved to see if anything interestin’ was goin’ on, but otherwise he stayed put. Mrs Holloway has him well trained.”
“She told me she’s had dogs all her life, so I guess she knows what she’s doing when it comes to training them,” Ryo said. “I promised one of us would drop by the hospital every few days to keep her up to date on him, and I think I should arrange to have her mail forwarded to us so we can take that to her when we visit. She doesn’t have any family to do that for her, and most of her friends are her age or older, so she can’t really count on them visiting, never mind running errands.”
“Good thinking,” Dee agreed. “She’s gonna be in the hospital for a few weeks at least while her hip heals. Someone needs to keep an eye on things for her and it might as well be us, since we’re already keepin’ an eye on this little guy.”
“Speaking of which, where are we taking him? We probably shouldn’t go too far because of his sore paws. Did you put the cream on them yet? I was going to do that before I left, but it would’ve meant missing the bus.”
“Don’t worry, I took care of it just after you left. He made it easy for me by rollin’ on his back; probably likes the attention. The pads don’t look as raw as they did yesterday so whatever’s in that stuff, it must be helpin’. Stinks a bit though; good thing we only need to use it for a few days.”
“As long as it’s doing its job we can put up with the smell.”
“I guess.” Dee turned his attention to the dog. “Hey, dumbass dog, keep bouncin’ like that and you’ll wear yourself out before we get anywhere.” Glancing back at his partner, he added, “There’s a park a few blocks from here, figured we could go there. It’s got a fenced off area for dogs and the grass’ll be softer on his feet. I can carry him until we get there; he’s not heavy.”
“We should probably keep him on the leash this time out; we don’t want him hurting his paws from running around too much, or worse, getting lost.”
“Yeah, maybe best to keep him close; he won’t know the other dogs either.” Dee looked worried. “Most of them’ll probably be way bigger than him; he’s only little.”
“Tough though. Dachshunds were bred as hunting dogs, remember.”
“Kind of hard to imagine a dog his shape huntin’ anything.”
Ryo had to agree; it was a bizarre concept. With their short legs and long bodies, he couldn’t imagine dachshunds being capable of chasing anything long-distance.
Dee scooped the little dog into his arms. “Ready to go?”
“Yep, let me just…” Toeing off his shoes and heading for the kitchen, Ryo grabbed an open packet of treats from the cupboard where he’d stored Dick’s food and other essential items, stuffed them and some plastic bags in his coat pocket, along with a rubber stick from Dick’s toy box, then put his shoes back on. “Okay, let’s go.”
The walk to the park was mostly uneventful, although Dee got a few funny looks as he strolled along with Dick cradled comfortably in his arms, but then…
“Hmph!” one woman declared, glaring at them disapprovingly as she approached. “Dogs have legs; you should make yours walk. It’ll get lazy if you carry it everywhere.”
“Not that it’s any of your business but he has an injured paw,” Dee said stiffly. “The vet told us not to walk him too much on hard surfaces until it heals.”
“Oh.” Red-faced, the busybody scuttled away without another word.
“Yeah,” Dee called after her. “Maybe in future you won’t be so quick to make assumptions when you don’t have all the facts!”
“Dee! Everyone’s looking at us!” Ryo hissed, embarrassed.
“So what? Let ‘em. Some people should mind their own business instead of buttin’ in where they’re not wanted.” Dee turned the corner at the end of the block and led the way to the park, halfway down the next block. It wasn’t huge, but as Dee had mentioned, part of it was set-aside as a dog play area. Several dog owners and their pets were already there, the dogs running after thrown balls, or chasing each other about while the owners sat on benches against the fence, throwing things for their pets to fetch, and chatting with each other.
Curious heads turned as they entered. Probably most of the owners knew each other at least by sight, but Dee and Ryo were newcomers. It wasn’t just the owners who were curious either.
Almost as soon as Dee set Dick down on the short grass, a lively Jack Russell came bounding over, yapping loudly. Dick peered apprehensively out from behind Dee’s legs, and when the other dog scampered behind Dee, intent on giving Dick a good sniffing, the little dachshund made a complete circuit of his chosen protector, winding the leash right around Dee’s legs, then sat on his foot, leaning against him
Laughing, Ryo helped his partner get untangled while the Jack Russell’s owner called his dog off, clipping the terrier’s leash on and heading for the gate.
While all that was happening, and somehow without either Dee or Ryo noticing, another dog had ambled over to say hello; the first either man knew about it was when a large body pushed itself between them and a shaggy golden head leaned down to sniff at Dick.
“Woof,” said the dog, a golden retriever whose muzzle was flecked with white hairs. His wagging tail slapped against the backs of Ryo’s legs as he tried to get closer to the much smaller dog.
Dick’s tail started to wag too, and he woofed back.
“Reggie, stop that!” A middle-aged woman hurried over. “Sorry about that, he’ll try to make friends with everyone he meets, human or animal; nearly pulls me off my feet trying to make the acquaintance of every cat we pass on walks. Even had him try to get chummy with a bear on vacation last year. I thought he’d pushed his luck too far for sure with that one,” she said cheerfully, trying to get hold of her dog’s collar.
“No harm done,” Ryo said with a smile, moving out of the way. It was an odd sight, watching the big old retriever and the tiny dachshund sniffing at each other, tails wagging. Reggie crouched, butt in the air, his tail waving like a banner, inviting Dick to play. The dachshund bounced eagerly and Dee gnawed on his bottom lip.
“I know we said we were gonna keep him on the leash this time ‘cause of his sore paws, but d’ya think it would be okay to let him run around, just for a bit? Doesn’t seem fair to not let him play with his new friend, and the fences will keep him from running off…”
Ryo nodded. “The grass looks soft enough, and we can always put him back on his leash if he starts limping.”
Dee stooped to let the little dog off the leash and away he went, scampering across the grass with Reggie lumbering along beside him. While Dee kept his eyes on the dogs to make sure there wouldn’t be any trouble, Ryo introduced himself and his partner to Reggie’s owner.
“Randy Maclean,” he said, offering his hand, “and this is Dee Laytner.”
“Marsha Simmons; nice to meet you both.” Marsha shook hands with Ryo, then with Dee, who tore his eyes way from the dogs just long enough to be polite. “What’s your dog’s name?”
“Well, he’s not really ours,” Ryo prevaricated, blushing slightly. “His owner’s in hospital so we’re just fostering him for a few weeks.”
“She called him ‘Dick’,” Dee said in a low voice. “Can you believe that?”
Marsha burst out laughing. “I can see why you’re keeping that quiet; not the sort of thing I’d want to shout about in public!” She eyed the two men thoughtfully. “If it’s not rude of me to ask, are you two a couple?”
“Yeah, we are.” Dee turned to Marsha with a look that clearly said, ‘You wanna make something of it?’
“I thought so.” Marsha pointed to where another woman of a similar age was sitting chatting to an elderly couple. “That’s my partner, Sandy, and over there…” She gestured to two well-dressed men, just putting their two pugs on leashes, “That’s Ritchie and Michael; they met right here in the park, thanks to their dogs, and now they come here together every day. I’ll introduce you some other time; they’re in a bit of a rush today. Michael has a job interview; it wouldn’t do to hold them up. It you come here often enough you’ll soon get to know all the regulars. We’re a friendly bunch; in my experience most dog people are.”
Dee relaxed, grinning. Looked like Dick wasn’t the only one making new friends today.
At Marsha’s invitation, they settled onto one of the benches to talk about dogs while Dick and Reggie entertained each other. Might as well learn as much as they could about dog ownership from someone in the know.
“Is this your first time having a dog?” Marsha asked.
“Yeah,” Dee admitted. “We’re kinda learnin’ on the job. Only had him stayin’ with us since last night and all I can say is thank God for vets and the Internet ‘cause otherwise we wouldn’t have a clue what we’re doin’.”
“It’s brave of you to take on caring for someone else’s pet when you have no prior experience.”
“He already knew and trusted us so it seemed like the best option,” Ryo said. “Besides, every new dog owner has to start somewhere.”
“I’ve always been more of a cat person,” Dee admitted. “Had some bad experiences with dogs over the years. I guess you might say we’ve sorta taken on a loaner for a test-drive, to see if dog ownership suits us.”
“It’s not a bad idea to foster a dog before taking the plunge into ownership,” Marsha said. “There’d probably be a lot less dogs being abandoned on the streets or dumped at re-homing centers if more people did their research beforehand.”
“Yeah,” Dee agreed. “It’s a good thing to know in advance what you’re lettin’ yourself in for. Ryo already fostered a kid, and so far I gotta say dogs are a lot less trouble.”
“Dee!” Ryo glared at his lover in disbelief.
“What? It’s true! You don’t have to worry about a dog gettin’ home late, or wonder where he is and who he’s with. You don’t have to spend a fortune on new clothes every few months, or nag him about doin’ his homework, or stay up half the night doin’ laundry because he needs his kit ready for mornin’ and forgot to tell ya…”
“Okay, okay,” Ryo interrupted. “You’ve made your point!”
“How old is your boy?” Marsha asked.
“Almost nineteen now and living it up at college in California. I took him in when he was ten and I still can’t believe how fast the time has flown. Seems like only yesterday he was a little kid and now he’s taller than Dee.”
“You must miss him.”
“I do.” Ryo smiled a little wistfully. “It was tough at first, knowing he was so far away, and it seemed way too quiet without him and Dee arguing all the time, but he’s happy and doing well, and he still calls every few days to keep me up to date on what’s happening. Despite what Dee would have you believe, Bikky’s a good kid.”
“Only ‘cause he had you to set him on the right path.” A wicked grin crossed Dee’s face as he added, “Next time he calls, you’ll have to break the news to him that he’s been replaced… Ooof!”
Ryo dug his elbow into Dee’s ribs so hard he almost knocked his lover off the end of the bench.
“Hey, c’mon, babe! I was only teasin’!” Dee protested.
“Is he always like that?” Marsha was laughing again.
“More often than not. He and Bikky have never really gotten along; they’re too much alike, always pushing each other’s buttons,” Ryo admitted.
“But ya wouldn’t change either one of us,” Dee said easily as Dick scampered up with Reggie in tow, both dogs panting. They flopped down by the bench to catch their breath and Marsha pulled a bottle of water and a bowl from her backpack so they could have a drink.
Dee snapped his fingers. “We should’ve thought of bringin’ refreshments; we always did when we took the kids out.”
Ryo nodded. “Next time we’ll know better, although to be fair, we didn’t expect him to be running around and getting thirsty today.”
Rolling Dick onto his back once he’d finished drinking, Dee checked the dog’s paws. “Doesn’t look like it’s done him any harm.”
“What happened to his paws?” Marsha slid off the bench and crouched down to look as Dee explained the cause of Dick’s injuries.
“Poor little pup, what a horrible experience. It’s a good thing you came along when you did.”
“Must’ve been fate,” Ryo said firmly. “His owner feels a lot better knowing he’s safe with us and being looked after.” He smiled wryly. “Of course, she’d probably feel even better if we could take him in for a visit.”
“I can just see you tryin’ to smuggle the mutt into the hospital, stuffed inside your coat,” Dee laughed. “Pretty sure someone would notice his tail stickin’ out.”
“Well now, I don’t know about smuggling him in, but a visit might be possible to arrange.” Marsha smiled at the two men. “Speaking of fate, did I mention that I’m an occupational therapist? I do a lot of work with senior citizens so I know staff at all the Geriatric departments and care homes in the city. It might take a couple of weeks, depending on your friend’s condition, but let me see if I can pull a few strings. Having animals visit can be very beneficial for patients. I’ve taken Reggie with me on any number of occasions, him being an official therapy dog. Everybody loves him. Don’t they, you big softie?” She rubbed her dog’s ears and set his tail wagging.
In Ryo’s opinion, this definitely had to be fate. “It would be amazing if you could. I took photos with me this morning, and I was hoping once Mrs Holloway’s broken hip heals enough for her to sit in a wheelchair we might be able to take her outside to see her dog, but that might not be until December and then it would probably be too cold for her to be outside for more than a few minutes. At her age it wouldn’t do for her to catch a chill; she’s in her eighties.”
“You just leave it to me and I’ll see what I can do,” Marsha said, digging in her bag for one of her business cards and scrawling her home and cell phone numbers on the back.
Ryo returned the favour. “You can reach us at home or on our cells, or call us at the Precinct.”
“You’re police officers?”
“Detectives. We work serious crimes,” Dee said.
“Well then, all the more reason for having a dog. It’s a scientifically proven fact that having pets reduces stress levels and lowers blood pressure. I’d say this little fella is exactly where he needs to be right now.”
Ryo smiled. “You could be right; he’s certainly having an effect on Dee.”
“Yeah, by leavin’ his butt print on my foot.” Dee clipped Dick’s leash to his collar, getting ready to head for home.
When they left the park a little while later, the two couples walked together, Dee once more carrying Dick for the sake of his healing paws, and Reggie lumbering placidly along beside them until they had to go their separate ways, Marsha and Sandy turning down a side street a couple of blocks from the brownstone where Dee and Ryo lived. They paused on the corner for a few final words.
“I’ll call you as soon as I have something to tell you, and you call me if you need dog advice or anything else, but we’ll probably run into each other at the park anyway,” Marsha said.
“And if you ever need anyone to look in on this little chap when you’re both at work, give me a call,” Sandy added. “I work from home so I’m in most days.”
“Thanks, we’ll keep that in mind,” Ryo said. He liked both women, they were refreshingly down to earth and Marsha’s no-nonsense attitude reminded him of Diana.
Saying goodbye and giving Reggie a final pat, Dee and Ryo headed for home, Dick peering over Dee’s shoulder for a final woof to his new friend.
Ryo was quiet as they walked the last couple of blocks, thinking. Everything seemed to be slotting into place as if it were all pre-destined; if things worked out, Mrs Holloway would be able to have occasional visits from her dog. He wouldn’t mention it to her just yet, it wouldn’t be fair to get her hopes up in case things didn’t work out, but he had a good feeling.
“Penny for your thoughts?” Dee said as they reached their building.
“Nothing important, just feeling happy.” Ryo smiled at his lover. “What d’you fancy for lunch?”
Dee raised an eyebrow. “That a trick question?” His leer was positively filthy.
“I meant in the food line.”
“We can make up our minds about that after. The dog’s had his exercise, now it’s time for ours.”
Laughing, Ryo followed Dee into the elevator. His lover was right; they had the whole day off, lunch could wait a while longer.
TBC in ‘Part 9: Temporary Guest’