Characters: Ryo, Mother, Terry McGinty, Dee, JJ, Drake.
Setting: After the manga.
Summary: There are so many arrangements to make, and Ryo can’t deal with them all by himself, but he doesn’t have to.
Word Count: 2008
Written For: Challenge 16: Reverse Fandom House M.D. at ficlet_zone, using ‘Need To Know’, ‘Remorse’, ‘Dead & Buried’.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
The next few days went by in a blur for Ryo. He called his aunt and uncle in San Francisco that first evening after picking at a dinner he couldn’t eat, and amid tears and heartfelt condolences they promised to fly up to New York as soon as the date was set for Dee’s funeral.
The following day he visited McGinty’s bar to talk with Terry McGinty, who, as Ryo had expected, already knew what had happened. Bad news travelled fast, especially amongst cops, but still it was a relief to be spared going over the events of the previous day yet again. Had it really only been twenty-four hours? It felt more like a lifetime. Then again, he’d barely slept the night before, fretting over everything that needed to be done, his mind too full of images and memories, and his heart too full of grief for him to concentrate on anything for more than a few minutes at a time.
Good friend that he was, Terry immediately offered the use of his bar for Dee’s wake; because Dee had been raised a Catholic, holding a wake just seemed like the right thing to do, and McGinty’s was the ideal venue. Dee had always loved hanging out there with his fellow cops; it was the 27th precinct’s home from home and it meant those cops who couldn’t make the funeral on account of being on duty would still be able to stop by and pay their respects to their fallen brother. Ryo was sure that was something Dee would have approved of.
Ryo went by the orphanage too, needing more than anything to talk with Mother. It was obvious the elderly nun was grieving in her own quiet way, and yet she set aside her own sorrow at the loss of the man she’d considered her son in order to comfort Ryo, holding him tight and telling him he must stop blaming himself. How she knew about that Ryo could only guess, but then Mother had always been good at reading people; he shouldn’t have been surprised that she could see the guilt he felt written all over him.
“I can’t. I wasn’t there when he needed me. I should’ve been with him.”
“No, you were doing your job, just as Dee was,” Mother said firmly. “I’ve always feared I’d someday lose him because of his choice of career, but it wouldn’t have been right to hold him back from what he wanted to do. We all must be free to make our own choices in life, and he made me so proud. He was a good boy; a great many people will miss him, but I think none more than you and I.”
“It hurts, Mother. It hurts so much sometimes I can barely breathe. There were so many things I wish I’d told him when I had the chance. I feel so empty without him, like the most important part of me has been ripped away, leaving behind a gaping wound that will never heal.”
“I know, my boy, it’s going to hurt for some time, but you haven’t lost him forever; Dee has only gone on ahead. You and I will join him when it’s our time to go, and in the meantime, he’ll be watching over us. In time you’ll find a way to move forward with your life, you know Dee would want that, but he’ll never be gone from our hearts. He lives on in those whose lives and hearts he has touched.”
“There’ll never be anyone else for me,” Ryo vowed. “Dee worked so hard to win my heart; now it’s his forever and…” Tears started to fall. “I just miss him so much.”
“It will get easier, I promise, and I will be here for you whenever you need me. You’ll always be welcome here.”
“Thank you.” Ryo wiped his face with the back of his sleeve and managed a weak smile. “You’re the only family he has, Mother. Would you… would you help with the funeral arrangements? I hardly know where to start. My aunt and uncle took care of everything when my parents were killed. I made the arrangements for Bikky’s dad, but that was different, he wasn’t a religious man. Dee… he might not have gone to church very often in recent years, but he was raised Catholic and his faith was still very important to him. I want to do this right. For his sake.”
“Of course I’ll help,” Mother said simply. “You don’t even have to ask. He was my boy.”
In the end, Mother made most of the arrangements. Ryo helped choose the music for the service, decided what would be written on Dee’s headstone, chose the clothes his lover would be buried in… Black slacks, the emerald green silk shirt Ryo had bought him one birthday, black ankle boots, and the beat-up old leather jacket that had been Dee’s favourite. Around his neck went the St. Christopher medallion that Mother had given him when he’d entered the police academy. He almost looked as though he was only sleeping, lying there on cream satin, so peaceful and still, but when Ryo leaned over to touch his face he was so cold, an empty shell. Gone forever. The thought was like a knife, ripping through Ryo. If fate had been kinder, he would have been taken too, so he didn’t have to live on without the love of his life.
The service was beautiful; Mother delivered the eulogy herself because Ryo knew he wouldn’t be able to speak without breaking down. She spoke of Dee’s courage, his stubbornness, the scrapes he got into as a child, and her pride in the man he’d become. She said his death was a tragedy, but that he’d died as he would have wanted, trying to make the city safer for everyone. She even spoke of Dee’s pride in being who he was, a man who loved who he loved regardless of their gender, and was not ashamed to have found true love with another man. Bikky and Carol, sitting one each side of Ryo, squeezed his hands, offering what comfort they could as Ryo bowed his head and let the tears fall. He hadn’t cried so much since he’d lost his parents.
Nevertheless, despite all of Mother’s careful arrangements the funeral itself felt utterly wrong. It was solemn and stately, not like Dee at all. A cop’s funeral, which was fitting because that was what he had been, but still the kind of affair that would have had Dee grumbling. All the cops present, including Ryo, standing to attention in their dress uniforms… It reminded Ryo of the other funerals he and Dee had attended for fellow cops killed in the line of duty, all those times when Dee had tried to be respectful but had still stood there fidgeting and muttering about his collar being too tight, and his cap making his head itch, and why did they have to wear gloves in summer? As proud as Dee had been of being a cop, he’d always loathed wearing dress uniform with a vengeance, which was why Ryo had been so determined to lay his lover to rest in civilian clothes.
Somehow, Ryo managed to get through the interment without falling apart, but afterwards he stayed behind as the others left, heading over to McGinty’s. He needed some time alone with Dee to say his final goodbyes.
Sinking onto the damp grass beside the fresh grave, heedless of what it would do to his dress blues, Ryo removed his gloves and touched the temporary marker that would remain in place until the proper headstone was ready.
“I miss you, Dee; I don’t know how to do any of this without you. I keep expecting to turn around and find you beside me. Every time I wake up in the night I reach for you and you’re not there. My bed feels so cold and empty, just like my heart.” He wiped away tears with the back of his hand, the lump in his throat threatening to strangle him. For several long minutes, he couldn’t speak, but finally he gave a shuddering sigh and continued.
“You were my anchor, my armour against everything we had to deal with on the job. You made me stronger than I ever could have been on my own, and no matter what happened, you were always there for me. I should have been there more for you; I took so much from you and gave so little back. All those months before I finally accepted the truth about myself, and that I loved you, more than anything… I still do, and that’s never going to change, but… I don’t think I can do this anymore. I don’t have your strength. You used to say I was a better cop than you’d ever be, but you were wrong; I’m just better at the paperwork side of things. Getting out there on the street and taking down the bad guys… That was all you; I just followed your lead. Now I feel like a fraud. As soon as your killer’s been caught and brought to justice, I’m going to resign. I don’t belong on the force, not anymore, and I can’t bear the thought of being assigned a new partner. It would feel like I was betraying your memory. I just wanted you to know; I hope you understand.”
Falling silent, Ryo remained sitting there for well over an hour, until finally a hand touched his shoulder and he looked up into JJ’s red-rimmed blue eyes.
“You didn’t show up at McGinty’s and we got worried so we came to find you. It’s not good for you to be sitting out here all alone; it’ll be dark soon and you’re getting wet.”
The sky overhead was a dreary grey, fitting Ryo’s mood, and a light drizzle he hadn’t previously noticed was falling. “Oh.”
“Come on.” Drake moved forward to stand alongside JJ. “We’ll give you a ride over to the bar; that’s where we should all be.”
Ryo was torn; part of him wanted to be among his friends so he wouldn’t have to feel so alone, but the rest of him felt bad for even thinking of leaving Dee.
“It doesn’t seem right to leave him alone.”
“He’s not alone, Ryo.” JJ crouched down, squeezing Ryo’s shoulder. “He’s not here at all, not anymore.”
“JJ’s right. If Dee’s anywhere on earth right now, he’s at McGinty’s, waiting on us. You know how much he loves that bar.”
Ryo managed a wan smile. “You’re right, he wouldn’t stay out here in the rain when he could be inside listening to people saying nice things about him.” Running his bare fingers over the temporary marker one more time, Ryo got slowly to his feet, suddenly realising how cold and stiff he felt. It would be warmer at McGinty’s and he could get dry. He shouldn’t have sat out here in the rain for so long. ‘If Dee were here he’d be so mad at me, sitting around like I’m waiting to catch a chill.’
If Dee were here, Ryo reminded himself, he wouldn’t have had any reason to sit by a grave in the rain, but Dee wasn’t here, or anywhere else, not really; not even at the bar, however much Ryo might wish he was. Dee had believed in ghosts, but Ryo never had. When someone died, that was it, they were gone forever; they didn’t come back as spirits to flit unseen around those they loved. He wished they did, just so he might still sometimes feel Dee’s presence, but even now he couldn’t bring himself to believe; it simply wasn’t in his nature.
With one last look back at Dee’s grave, Ryo turned and trudged wearily along behind his friends. He had a wake to get back to. Dee deserved the best send-off his fiends and family could give him.
TBC in Chapter 6