Characters: Ryo, Aunt Elena, Dee.
Setting: After Vol. 7.
Summary: Ryo had been looking forward to having his apartment all to himself for a week, but the reality leaves a lot to be desired.
Word Count: 1408
Written For: Jae’s Monthly Drabble Challenge 165 - Alone And/Or Lonely.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
At a loose end and desperately needing to hear a voice other than his own, have an actual conversation with a living human being instead of just listening to the background noise of the TV, Ryo had phoned his aunt in San Francisco.
“I used to like living alone,” he admitted. “Free to do whatever I wanted when I wasn’t at work, nobody making demands on my time, no one to interrupt if I was watching TV or reading a book. I could eat what I wanted when I was hungry, go to bed when I was tired, sleep in as late as I liked on my days off; it was perfect. I was really looking forward to having the place all to myself again, practically counted down the days. The idea of having a whole week all to myself sounded like bliss. Now here I am, it’s only the second day, I’m bored out of my mind, and worse than that, I’m lonely!”
On the other end of the phone Ryo could hear his aunt’s warm laughter. “Sound like a definite case of ‘Be careful what you wish for’.”
“I suppose so. I just never imagined something I’d been longing for would turn out to be such torture. It makes no sense.”
Bikky was away at basketball camp, not for the first time, but by coincidence, Dee was also away, having signed up for an advanced police department driving course, saying he wanted to brush up on his pursuit skills having lost a suspect in heavy traffic a couple of weeks earlier. With both his son and his lover out of the picture, Ryo had decided to take the week off from work so he could take advantage of the peace and quiet at home to relax and do whatever he wanted for a change.
The first day had been heaven; he’d slept in until noon, had a leisurely breakfast, tidied the apartment, and spent the rest of the day lounging on the sofa with a book before having dinner and an early night, again with his book.
The second morning he’d woken feeling refreshed, and anticipating another quiet, relaxing day, but halfway through the morning the absence of noise had started getting to him. How could complete silence be so loud? His neighbours must have been out because there weren’t even any sounds of life drifting through the thin walls, and he’d found he couldn’t concentrate on his book because he was too busy straining his ears, trying to hear sounds that weren’t there. Turning the radio on hadn’t helped, so he’d gone out for lunch.
Eating alone had turned out to be less than fun; the other tables had been packed with families and couples, all of them talking, laughing, and arguing, making Ryo feel even more isolated and alone. The waitresses had been too busy to do more than take his order and bring his food, so he’d left as soon as he’d finished eating, taking the subway to visit the Museum of Natural History, where he’d joined a guided tour with a bunch of foreign tourists just for the company. He’d learned quite a lot, so it hadn’t been a wasted afternoon, but somehow it had made coming home to his empty apartment even less appealing. He’d endured the silence just long enough to eat the Chinese takeaway he’d picked up on his way home, before reaching for the phone to call his aunt.
“Your problem is, you’ve gotten out of the habit of occupying yourself; you’re not used to spending so much of your time alone anymore,” Aunt Elena pointed out.
“I noticed that. It seemed like such a great idea at the time, but I think it was a mistake to take the week off work. The evenings might not seem so empty if I was working the rest of the time.”
“There’s nothing to stop you going back to work, is there?”
“I suppose not, except I’d be forfeiting my time off. I had to take some, got to use up the rest of his year’s allocation, but I don’t want to just throw it away.”
“Well then, perhaps you could go somewhere, do something fun with your free time.”
“Tried that already; I went to the natural history museum this afternoon. It was interesting but I still had to come back here alone.”
“That’s not what I meant. You still have the rest of the week so why don’t you pack a bag and get out of New York? Be a tourist, see new sights, meet new people, do something you haven’t tried before. You don’t have to stay at home, there’s nothing keeping you there; if Bikky needs to reach you for any reason he’ll call your cell.”
“I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right, there’s no reason I should have to stay here by myself if I’m not enjoying it. I’ll look online, see what I can find.” Ryo didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of that himself.
“You do that, dear. Now, it’s late so I’d better go; I still have things to do before bed. Goodnight, Ryo, enjoy the rest of your week.”
“Goodnight, Aunt Elena, and thank you. I’ll do my best.”
Hanging up, Ryo sat down on the sofa, turned his laptop on and started to research possible destinations and activities.
Bright and early the following morning he threw a couple of bags in his car, filled up the tank at the first gas station he came to, and headed out of the city, feeling much more positive. He knew exactly where he was going.
He’d booked online the night before, left early to beat the traffic, and it was only a couple of hours’ drive, so he was there before mid-morning. He’d be a little behind everyone else but he was sure he’d soon catch up. He checked in at the office, left his bags in his assigned room, and went to join the others.
Dee’s jaw dropped on seeing him.
“Ryo! What’re you doin’ here? Is everything okay?”
“Everything’s fine. Just, it turns out being on my own for a whole week is boring, nothing much to do, and nobody to talk to. I thought it might be a good idea to get out of the city for a few days, and when I checked online there were still a couple of openings available on the course so I figured I might as well put my vacation time to good use. You never know, might be me behind the wheel next time we’re involved in a car chase. Besides, for some reason I missed you.” Ryo said that last in a low voice so as not to be overheard.
“Missed you too, babe,” Dee replied, equally quietly. His raised his voice to normal levels. “Whelp, you didn’t miss much, just orientation, drivin’ theory, and the basics of automobile maintenance. Apparently not everyone knows their way around a car engine as well as you and I do. The actual drivin’ part of the course starts today; I can catch ya up with the theory stuff over lunch, show ya around this evenin’. What room did they put ya in?”
“They didn’t want to open up another room so I was told I’d have to bunk with someone else. I’m in room twelve.” Somehow Ryo managed to keep a straight face.
Dee didn’t; he broke into a wide grin. “What a coincidence; look like we’ll be sharin’.”
“I might have mentioned in passing that we work together.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re here.”
“So am I. In fact I wish I’d thought of this sooner; an occasional day by myself is more than long enough. I’d much rather spend my time in good company. Speaking of which, we should probably join the others.”
Dee grinned, nodded, slapped Ryo on the shoulder. “C’mon, bud, I’ll introduce ya to everyone.”
Ryo followed his partner over to the group gearing up for their first advanced driving lesson, feeling suddenly light-hearted. This was going to be fun, and later, when he and Dee were alone in their shared room, would no doubt be another kind of fun if he knew his partner at all.
Yes, this definitely beat spending a boring week by himself. Time alone wasn’t nearly as much fun as he’d thought it would be. Come to think of it, maybe it never had been.