Characters: Dee, Ryo, mentions Bikky.
Setting: Around Vol. 3.
Summary: Ryo is shocked by the lack of a certain food group in Dee’s kitchen cupboards and decides to improve his partner’s diet.
Word Count: 2260
Written For: My own prompt ‘FAKE, Ryo & Any, “Pizza sauce is not a vegtable”,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Ryo was spending the evening at Dee’s place, brainstorming their latest case, going over their notes and the evidence they’d gathered so far, which wasn’t much. They weren’t making any noticeable progress with their investigation, hence the brainstorming session.
“This is gettin’ us nowhere,” Dee said with a sigh, running one hand exasperatedly through his hair and leaving it sticking up. His stomach rumbled loudly and he chuckled. “Guess I’m just too hungry to think.”
“Me too,” Ryo agreed, pushing back from the coffee table where they were sitting and arching his back to ease out the kinks from the way he’d been sitting, hunched over the files spread out on its surface. “Lunch was forever ago. I could rustle us up something to eat if you don’t mind me using your kitchen,” he offered. Because Ryo needed to be home in the evenings for his young foster son, he and Dee usually did their brainstorming at Ryo’s apartment and he always cooked dinner for them. This time though, Bikky was spending the night at a friend’s so they’d opted for a change of venue.
“Why would I mind?” Dee asked in surprise, raising both eyebrows. “You’re a great cook, way better than me. My kitchen’s probably not as well stocked as yours, mostly I order takeout to save time, but if you wanna cook I’m not gonna stop ya. Help yourself to whatever’s there. Mi casa es tu casa.”
“Thanks.” Ryo got to his feet and started towards the kitchen.
“What’re you thankin’ me for, doofus?” Dee asked, amused. “You just offered to make dinner.”
Ryo shrugged. “I like cooking; it helps me to think.”
Dee chuckled, shaking his head. “You’re weird. But I mean that in a good way.”
They’d been working together for less than a year, and Ryo had only visited Dee’s apartment a few times before so he didn’t know where everything was kept. Nevertheless, he found the freezer well stocked with steaks, burgers, and sausages. There were more sausages and a new, unopened pack of bacon, as well as eggs, cheese, and butter in the refrigerator, and various tins of soup, baked beans, and chilli in the cupboards, alongside jars of peanut butter and jelly.
Ryo immediately dismissed the frozen meat from consideration; he and Dee were hungry now and it would take too long to defrost and cook. Deciding that omelettes would be the quickest and simplest thing to prepare from the available ingredients, Ryo found a pan, and a basin to whip up the eggs in, then looked around, frowning. They’d need something to go with their omelettes, maybe a side salad.
“Dee, where do you keep your vegetables?”
Levering himself up off the floor, Dee wandered over and leaned on the countertop. “There’s a jar of pizza sauce in the refrigerator,” he offered helpfully.
Ryo stared at him aghast, not sure at first whether Dee was being serious or not. “Pizza sauce is not a vegetable!”
“Sure it is, it’s got tomatoes in it.”
“Technically, tomatoes are fruit,” Ryo corrected automatically. “I meant real vegetables.”
“I’m not really much of a veggie person,” Dee admitted a bit sheepishly. He ate them when Ryo cooked them, because they were part of the meal, like in a restaurant, and it seemed rude not to, but he could take them or leave them and never bothered to cook them for himself.
Ryo sighed, trying to be patient; Dee was as bad as Bikky! “Dee, vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, they’re full of vitamins and minerals. If all you eat is meat, cheese, and eggs… Well, you won’t be getting all the nutrients your body needs, to say nothing of what it must be doing to your cholesterol levels. I expect Bikky to try to get away with not eating his veggies; he’s just a kid, he doesn’t know any better, but you don’t have that excuse!”
“Fine, I’ll get some veggies next time I buy groceries, okay? On one condition.”
Arms crossed over his chest and head cocked to one side, Ryo studied his partner warily. “What would that be?”
“I want you to promise that when I get some you’ll come over here and show me the best ways to cook them, because I don’t have a clue. What’s the point of gettin’ veggies if I don’t know what to do with ‘em?”
That was something Ryo could handle, so he nodded. “Okay, it’s a deal. For now I’ll just whip up omelettes using what you’ve got in the fridge. We’ll have to do without the salad I was planning to fix to go with them.” He smirked at Dee. “I’ll give your pizza sauce a miss though, I’m not sure a pizza omelette would catch on.”
Before long, Ryo was dishing up cheese omelettes stuffed with slices of sausage and finely chopped bacon. In Dee’s opinion they were the best he’d ever tasted, and he ate hungrily, soon clearing his plate while Ryo ate at a more leisurely pace. When they’d both finished their meal, Dee made coffee, and the two men lingered over that for a while, making small talk, before clearing their dishes away, Dee washing them while Ryo dried. Once everything was put away and the kitchen tidied, they returned to their brainstorming session, feeling a lot more focussed; the vegetable issue was pushed to the backs of their minds and all but forgotten as they concentrated to trying to solve a murder.
The next ten days or so were busy, taken up with work, overtime, and sleeping, but at long last things settled down enough to allow for much needed time off. With two days of freedom ahead of him, Dee slept late, waking up ravenously hungry, and on checking his refrigerator, realised he was out of pretty much all the essentials. He needed milk, eggs, cheese, bread, bacon, and beer at the very least. Checking his cupboards, he added a few other things to his shopping list, breakfasted on slightly stale pop tarts and coffee, grabbed his car keys and bypassing the small local store, headed for the nearest big supermarket where he’d have more to choose from. The corner grocery store stocked all the basics, but it didn’t sell the oak smoked bacon he liked best. It was more expensive, but he’d just been paid so why shouldn’t he treat himself?
Wandering around the supermarket, putting things in his cart, he took a wrong turn leaving the deli counter, where he’d bought his bacon, and found himself in the vegetable section. He was about to turn around when he remembered his promise to Ryo. ‘Might as well pick up a few bits,’ he thought. ‘At least then I’ll get to spend some more alone time with my gorgeous partner.’ Cooking vegetables wasn’t the activity he most wanted to indulge in with Ryo, but for the moment he’d take what he could get and be thankful.
What veggies to get though? Potatoes were safe; they were a familiar part of many meals, both at Ryo’s and in various restaurants. He hesitated over the tomatoes; Ryo had said they were fruit, but here they sat among the vegetables, so he grabbed a bag, and then one of red and yellow peppers because they looked nice, bright, shiny, and colourful. Next came lettuce, because that was good for salads, and was this the other green leafy stuff he remembered from Ryo’s? As he recalled, that didn’t taste bad, so he might as well get some.
He was amazed by the prices. Some things were expensive, especially the organic stuff, but others were a real bargain. Onions, mushrooms, sweet corn, he’d eaten that in restaurants, right off the cob, dripping with butter. Delicious! So many kinds of beans! Carrots, must get some of those; didn’t they help you to see in the dark? He seemed to remember something about that. Maybe Ryo was right about the benefits of vegetables. He hadn’t realised they came in so many different varieties though. It was a bit bewildering, but he forged on, determined to make Ryo proud.
Paying for his groceries at the checkout, Dee winced a little at how much he’d spent on food. On the other hand, with Ryo’s advice on cooking his purchases, maybe he wouldn’t have to spend on takeaway for a bit and he could save money that way. He wheeled the cart out to his car, loaded all the grocery sacks into the trunk, and drove home, where he found himself with the unanticipated problem of getting ten bags of groceries and three six-packs of beer up to his apartment. It took several trips to get everything from the car to the lobby, from there into the elevator, and then from the elevator into his kitchen, but at last he set the final two bags down on the kitchen counter, unpacked them, and put everything but his veggies away.
“Should’ve bought a vegetable rack too,” he muttered. He knew Ryo had one in his kitchen. As it was he’d have to find somewhere to keep the vegetables until he needed them.
Opening a beer, Dee flopped onto the sofa and called Ryo. “Hey, bud, you busy?”
“Not really, I was just doing a bit of cleaning. Why?”
“You remember a couple of weeks ago when you were over at my place? You told me you’d show me the best ways to cook veggies if I bought some?”
“Well, I just got in from the store, and I kept up my end of the bargain so if you can spare the time…” Dee’s voice trailed off on a hopeful, questioning note and Ryo laughed.
“No problem. I’ll be over in half an hour or so.”
“Yay!” Dee grinned widely even though Ryo couldn’t see him; this was his first step towards a new and healthier lifestyle, even if he was only doing it so he could spend more time with Ryo outside of work.
Ryo was as good as his word, knocking on Dee’s door almost exactly thirty minutes later. Dee opened it and stood aside to let his partner in.
“Thanks for comin’; I don’t have a clue where I should start.” Dee gestured towards the kitchen, and Ryo’s mouth fell open.
“What on earth…?” The kitchen looked like Dee was opening his own greengrocer’s; there were assorted vegetables piled at random on every available surface. “Looks like there’s enough here to feed a small army!”
“Yeah, there’s a bit more than I thought,” Dee agreed, sounding a bit bemused. “Only, there was so much to choose from, and I didn’t know what I should get, and those shopping carts at the supermarket are really deceptive; it’s amazin’ how much you can fit in one.”
“So what, you just went around the vegetable section and filled your cart?”
“Of course not! I got my other groceries first. My bread ended up a bit squashed underneath everything though.” Dee picked up a flattened sliced loaf. “Might be a bit difficult gettin’ the slices in the toaster.”
Ryo wandered into the kitchen, looking around at everything in bewilderment, shaking his head as he started to laugh. “You never do anything by halves, do you? There’s no way you’ll get through all this before it goes off! Fresh vegetables don’t last indefinitely you know.”
“You mean I spent out and now half of this will just go to waste?” Dee sounded horrified.
“No, it’ll be fine,” Ryo reassured him. “Some things can be frozen for later, the green beans and the broccoli for instance, and we can cook up a big batch of homemade vegetable soup and freeze that in portions so all you’ll have to do is get one out and throw it in a saucepan to heat. That’ll give you something quick to have when you get in late from work. I’m sure Mother can make use of most of the surplus, and if there’s anything left over I can buy some off you too; I haven’t done my shopping yet and Bikky eats like a horse. As for the rest, I can show you how to make a few simple dishes with them, starting with stuffed peppers using one of those cans of minced beef from your cupboard. They make for a simple but tasty meal that’s quick to prepare and cook.”
Dee’s mouth was already watering at the ideas Ryo was tossing out so casually. “Sounds great!”
“Just in future,” Ryo added as he got out the biggest saucepan Dee had and set about washing it ready for use, “decide what you’re going to need beforehand and don’t buy so much at once.”
“Okay, that’s good advice.” Dee considered his overabundance of veggies and started to smile. Maybe buying all this stuff hadn’t been as much of a mistake as it had seemed at first, because he was starting to see another way his miscalculation might possibly be turned to his advantage. “Hey, how about next time we go grocery shopping together? Then you can make sure I only buy what I can use. I’ll even drive and buy you a coffee before we start.”
“Okay, sure, why not?” Ryo replied. “Now, let’s started on the soup. Once that’s cooking, I’ll show you how to prepare vegetables for freezing.”
Dee grinned as he rolled up his sleeves, looking forward to what he hoped would be the first of many cooking lessons. “I’m all ears; just tell me what to do!”