Characters: Dee, Ryo, Mother, Chief Smith, Commissioner Rose, OCs.
Setting: After Like Like Love.
Summary: When the orphanage’s washing machine breaks down, Dee and Ryo go to Mother’s aid.
Written Using: The tw100 prompt ‘Water Everywhere’.
Word Count: 3021
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Dee had received the SOS just as he and Ryo were about to leave work; the orphanage’s washing machine had broken down and now, according to Mother, there was water everywhere.
“Don’t panic, just mop up what you can and I’ll be there in about half an hour.”
“What’s up?” Ryo asked, catching the tail end of the call.
“Plumbing emergency; I’ve gotta go bail Mother out, possibly literally if there’s as much water floodin’ the utility room as she claims.”
“I’ll come with you; I can help with the mopping up if nothing else.” Ryo grabbed his coat and headed for the door, not even giving Dee a chance to say thanks.
They arrived at the orphanage to find Mother’s charges doing what they could to help her, carrying buckets of water to empty down the drains. The younger children seemed to think it was great fun, paddling barefoot on the tiled utility room floor, but Mother was looking a bit frazzled from the stress and exertion. She wasn’t getting any younger.
Dee immediately sent her upstairs, telling her to relax with a cup of tea while he dealt with the problem. As soon as she’d gone, he wrestled the washing machine from its place beneath the counter and turned off the water supply, after which the mopping and bailing finally started to have some effect.
Ryo took charge of that part of proceedings, with the help of the children, while Dee went to work on the cause of the problem, but there was little he could do aside from making sure there wouldn’t be any more leakages. After years of hard work and numerous repairs the only thing the orphanage’s beat-up old washing machine was good for now was the scrap heap.
“Well isn’t that just perfect?” Dee sighed. “I know for a fact Mother can’t afford a replacement right now; gettin’ the leak in the roof fixed took just about every penny she could spare, but if there’s one thing this place really needs it’s a workin’ washing machine. With the amount of laundry she has to do every week there’s no way she can keep luggin’ it to the Laundromat and back on the bus.”
Ryo put his hand on his lover’s arm to calm him. “So we’ll collect donations. I’m sure most of the people at the precinct would be willing to chip in a few bucks for a good cause.”
“You really think so?”
“I’d bet on it. In the meantime, we’ll just take all of this laundry home with us, get it done, and bring it back in the morning. That should solve the immediate problem. Hopefully we should have enough collected for a new washing machine by the end of the week so we can arrange for it to be delivered and installed Friday or Saturday.”
Dee nodded, impressed as always with the way his partner could take charge in a crisis and formulate a plan of action. “Okay, sounds good to me.”
“Are you sure you don’t mind, dear?” Mother asked, when Ryo told her what he intended to do.
“Not at all. With luck we can commandeer all six of the machines in the laundry room as well as using our own. That should save time.” He knew from experience how much laundry one kid could generate, and Mother had more than a dozen currently under her care, from toddlers to young teens. She’d be swamped with dirty laundry in a matter of days, not to mention the kids would soon be left with nothing clean to wear. “We’ll get everything back to you clean in the morning.” They’d be working second shift tomorrow so it would be no problem to drop the clean laundry off at the orphanage before work.
“Bless you both, you’re so good to us.” Mother squeezed their hands, radiating gratitude.
“You’re Dee’s family,” Ryo said firmly, “and I’d like to think you’re my family now too. You know we’ll always help out in any way we can.”
“Thank you. I really don’t know where we’d be if you hadn’t come so quickly.”
“Probably floatin’ away down the East River by now,” Dee joked.
Bundling all the laundry into plastic garbage bags, Dee and Ryo lugged them out to the car and shoved them in the boot. The load that had been in the washing machine when it broke down had to be wrung out by hand and triple-bagged to prevent leakage before being crammed in with the rest. Doing someone else’s laundry wasn’t how they’d planned on spending their evening, but this was an emergency.
Back at their building they carried the bags inside and straight down to the laundry room, where they ran into one of their neighbours, just putting her laundry into one of the driers. When Ryo told her what had happened, she immediately offered to help with sorting everything and getting it into the washing machines. One was already in use, but that still left them five to work with so Dee shoved the wet stuff into the first machine and got it going while Ryo and Mrs Bell sorted the rest, getting all the clothes on first. That just left the sheets and pillowcases to be put on once the first load was done, and the towels, which Ryo sent upstairs with Dee to go in their own machine.
Ryo had just got the last of the downstairs machines loaded and started when Mrs Ortiz from the second floor came in to see if her laundry was ready for the drier yet. The washing machine still had a few minutes left to run and Mrs Bell spent that time explaining to her neighbour what was going on. Mrs Ortiz left after putting her washing in the drier, and Ryo was on his way upstairs when she hailed him from her doorway.
“Here you are, dear; put this towards the orphanage’s new washing machine. I’m sorry it can’t be more.” She pushed a ten-dollar bill into his hand. “And if you bring me some of the children’s clothes once they’re dry I can iron them when I’ve finished mine.”
“That’s very generous, thank you.”
“It’s no trouble; I’ll have my ironing board out anyway.”
Word quickly got around and by the time the first washer loads were done, Ryo had five volunteers to help with the ironing, and seventy-three dollars towards a new washing machine for the orphanage, and that was before either he or Dee had put anything into the kitty. People could surprise you. The odd three dollars came from a little girl on the floor below who insisted on giving up her allowance to help the orphans. To say Ryo was touched by everyone’s generosity would have been an understatement. Even Dee got a little misty-eyed.
By late that evening, all the orphanage’s laundry was done, dried, and ironed, mostly by the various volunteers among the building’s other residents, meaning that first thing in the morning Dee and Ryo were able to load it all back into Dee’s car and take the bags full of cleaned and pressed clothes and bedding back to a very grateful Mother.
“I don’t know how to thank you!” she exclaimed as they carried everything inside and upstairs for her.
“There’s no need,” Dee assured her. “It’s the least we can do.”
Ryo agreed. “Now we just need to raise enough money for a new washing machine. In the meantime, we’ll stop by after work every day to pick up any laundry that needs doing.”
“We will?” Dee asked. “I thought we’d already done it all!”
“Kids get dirty fast,” Ryo told his partner. “When Bikky was growing up I had to do laundry every two or three days, and that was just for myself and one kid. Imagine all the clothes a dozen kids get through every day.”
Dee winced. “Okay, daily laundry runs it is, but just until the new machine is up and runnin’.” Any plans he and Ryo might have had for after work would clearly have to put on hold for a bit.
“Can you boys stay for a cup of tea?”
“A cup of tea would be lovely,” Ryo said. “We’ve just about got time before we need to head to the precinct.”
The two men followed Mother into the kitchen and sat at the table while she made tea and brought out a cake, cutting them both generous slices. It was always a pleasure to sit and talk with her and when they left about forty minutes later they were both feeling relaxed and happy. Somehow the elderly nun had a way of making all their troubles and stresses just melt away.
They got to work a little early for once and Ryo went straight to the Chief’s office to fill him in and ask permission to do some fundraising among the precinct’s personnel, something Chief Smith immediately granted. Having three kids himself, he knew only too well how much laundry they generated and was quick to donate thirty bucks to the cause.
“Just don’t let the fundraising get in the way of doing your jobs,” he added sternly. “I know what Laytner’s like, always looking for any excuse to slack off.”
“I’ll keep him on track, sir.”
“Good. Now get outta here; I’ve got work to do as well.”
“Thank you, Sir.” Ryo closed the office door quietly behind him and checked his watch; fifteen minutes to shift change, so telling Dee to get their colleagues in the Serious Crimes Unit to dig deep for the orphans, he headed back downstairs and put a notice up on the precinct’s bulletin board before having a word with everyone who was about to go off duty. That quick whip round netted the washing machine fund more than a hundred and fifty dollars; everyone at the precinct knew and liked Ryo, and they were all happy to contribute whatever they could spare.
Throughout Dee and Ryo’s shift the money kept trickling in, news of the fundraiser spreading by word of mouth as well as by people checking the bulletin board. Commissioner Rose, on hearing about it, pitched in a hundred bucks, and Dee was torn, half wanting to be grateful for the donation, and half wanting to go on hating the man he still saw as his nemesis. Never mind that Rose and the Sea Hag were planning their wedding; Dee had never forgiven the Commissioner for trying to seduce Ryo, even though all their boss had gotten for his attempts had been a bruised jaw and a split lip when Ryo had punched him out for trying to kiss him. In the end, he opted to be the better man and act gracious.
“Thanks, that’ll be a big help; I think we’ve almost got enough to pay for delivery as well.”
“And that’s before we’ve put anything in ourselves,” Ryo reminded his lover.
“With any luck we’ll be able to get it ordered first thing tomorrow for delivery and installation on Friday.” Dee was secretly amazed by how willing his colleagues had been to give up some of their hard-earned wages; cops weren’t the best paid of the city’s civil servants by any stretch of the imagination, and yet as far as he knew nobody had refused to contribute, even if all some of the guys could spare had been a couple of bucks. It all helped.
When they arrived at the Blessed Hope orphanage after their shift and told Mother they’d already raised the money, she was all but speechless, hugging them both.
“There should even be a bit left over to put towards whatever else the kids might need,” Dee explained as he and Ryo collected the next load of laundry to get done back at their building.
“The generosity of strangers is what gives me hope for this world we live in,” Mother said, smiling.
“I know what you mean,” Ryo agreed. “As cops, Dee and I see the worst that humanity is capable of, but days like this restore my faith in people.”
A week later, Ryo posted something else on the precinct’s bulletin board; a photo of Mother and fourteen clean and tidy orphans standing around their new washing machine, and a thank you card signed by all those old enough to write their own names. It brought smiles to the faces of the officers on duty and even the Chief seemed to have a spring in his step after seeing it.
“Y’know, that was a great idea you had,” Dee said, slumping into his chair in their cramped office. “If we’d had to arrange some other way of raisin’ the money Mother would still be waitin’ for a new washing machine.”
“We work with good people, Dee, and a lot of them have kids of their own; they understand the importance of having a washing machine that works.”
“We’ve got good neighbours too, the way they rallied round to help with the piles of laundry we brought home.”
“That’s true.” Ryo set a mug of coffee on Dee’s desk and settled into the other chair, sipping from his own mug. “I’ve been thinking we should do something to thank them.”
“I don’t know, maybe we could throw a party or something, nothing too fancy, maybe coffee and cake. I could bake.”
“You know I’m all for anything that involves you bakin’,” Dee agreed. “Maybe we could set it up for next weekend.” Suddenly he snapped his fingers. “I know! We should take ‘em over to the orphanage; let ‘em meet the kids. I know Mother would jump at the chance to thank everyone in person. Donatin’ money is one thing, but they didn’t just do that, they gave up their time to help with the laundry and ironin’ when they didn’t have to.”
“You’re right, and I think that’s a wonderful idea.”
That Saturday, Dee picked everyone up in a minibus he’d rented and ferried them to the orphanage, where Ryo was helping Mother set out food for the party. Ryo had done most of the baking and food preparation, with some help from Dee when he hadn’t been busy with the other arrangements. Some of the neighbours brought food too so there was quite a spread.
The afternoon was a tremendous success, the orphans clearly enjoying all the attention they were getting, not to mention stuffing themselves until they could barely move, at which point board games were brought out for everybody’s entertainment.
Mother came to sit with Dee and Ryo. “This was a splendid idea; it does the children good to meet other people, but you really shouldn’t have gone to so much trouble with all the baking.”
“I enjoyed it,” Ryo assured her. “Dee would have me baking every week if he had his way, but if I did that we’d both end up having to buy new clothes.”
“He’s right,” Dee agreed. “The temptation would be too much.”
“You’ve always had a sweet tooth. You were the reason I took to putting a lock on the cupboard where I keep the cookie jar,” Mother said, smiling as she remembered. “You’d sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and help yourself. I only found out where the cookies were going when I couldn’t sleep one night and went to the kitchen to warm some milk. There you were, sitting on the kitchen floor in the dark, with cookies in both hands, and you tried to convince me you had no idea how they’d got there. Four years old and already such a rascal.”
Dee laughed. “I’d forgotten about that. Didn’t I tell you I must’ve been sleepwalkin’ or something?”
“You did, but you were wide awake, there were crumbs all over your pyjamas, and you had chocolate round your mouth so I didn’t believe you.”
“You didn’t tell me off though; we had milk and cookies and then you tucked me back into bed. The next night when I went to the kitchen, I found a lock on the cupboard door and that was the end of my nighttime cookie raids. I had to make do with one cookie and a glass of milk for supper every night, like all the other kids.”
“I never heard you complain about it though, you just accepted it,” Mother said, smiling warmly at Dee.
Eventually the afternoon came to an end. The guests all insisted on pitching in to help with the clean-up, Mrs Ortiz telling some of the younger children stories while everyone else cleared tables, washed dishes, put games away, swept up, or made themselves useful in other ways, and as they all piled into the rented minibus for the drive home, several of Dee and Ryo’s neighbours were heard telling Mother that they’d love to come over again and spend time with the children.
That night, as Dee and Ryo got ready for bed, tired from a long and busy but very enjoyable day, Ryo said thoughtfully, “It just goes to show.”
“The orphanage’s washing machine breaking down was a disaster, but look how much good has come out of it. So many people donating their money and time, and now Mother has volunteers eager to stop by for a couple of hours now and then to visit with the kids. Lonely old folks who’d otherwise probably spend a lot of their time at home with the TV on for company.”
“Yeah,” Dee agreed. “They’ll be like surrogate grandparents for the kids; everybody benefits. I guess it’s true that every cloud has a silver lining.”
Ryo nodded. “There are a lot of good people around, probably more good ones than bad, it’s just in our line of work it’s easy to forget that. We see so much of the bad every day. If you think about it, the broken washing machine did us good too, reminding us how much good is still out there if we just open our eyes to see it.”
Dee nodded. “That’s one lesson I won’t be forgettin’ anytime soon.”