Characters: Ryo, Bikky, Carol, Carol’s Aunt, Dee.
Setting: After Vol. 7.
Summary: Ryo promised Bikky a picnic in the park and he has no intention of letting his son down.
Word Count: 2217
Written For: Jae's Monthly Drabble Challenge - 171 - Pack, Park, Picnic, Plan, Promise.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Ryo had made a promise, so even though he’d gotten home ridiculously late the previous night and would have liked a long lie in this morning to make up for it he dragged himself out of bed early, took a quick, cool shower to wake himself up a bit, and set about preparing a picnic lunch.
The plan was that he and Bikky would pick up Carol and her aunt, then drive to Central Park and find a good picnic spot. Dee would take the subway and join them later since he had errands to run for Mother first. Nothing major just a few little things the elderly nun could use a hand with, but she was Dee’s family and he helped out whenever he could. Even the lure of a picnic in the park with his baby wasn’t enticement enough to make him shirk his responsibilities. Although Dee could appear lazy at times, when it came to the people that mattered most to him he was always willing to give his all. He just understood the importance of pacing himself.
When Bikky blundered out of his bedroom, rubbing his eyes and yawning, he stopped dead, surprised to see his foster father already up and dressed.
“Did you even go to bed last night?” he asked. “I heard you come in really late, must have been around two, figured you’d postpone the picnic for another weekend.”
“I keep my promises, Biks; you should know that by now.” Bikky had been living with Ryo for five years and in all that time Ryo hadn’t gone back on his word once, not when it came to either punishments or treats. “Besides, the long range forecast is predicting rain for next weekend; not exactly ideal for a picnic so if we’re going we should take advantage of the good weather while we’ve got it.”
“But aren’t you tired? I know you’ve had a really busy week at work with that big murder case.”
“How exactly d’you know about that?” Ryo wasn’t in the habit of discussing his work with Bikky, wanting to shelter the boy as much as possible from the horrors he witnessed through his job.
Bikky shrugged. “I overheard you and Dee talking about it the other night. The walls here are really thin.”
Ryo couldn’t deny that; he’s said the same to Dee on multiple occasions. “Well, yes, it’s been a rough week and I am tired, but picnics can be very relaxing and I’ve been looking forward to today almost as much as you have. I can always nap while the rest of you are playing ball or whatever.” Ryo sliced the last of the sandwiches and sealed them in Tupperware boxes, ready to pack into the cooler with the rest of the food. “Hadn’t you better go shower and dress? I’m about ready to start breakfast. Scrambled eggs and toast or would you prefer pancakes?”
“Eggs, please,” Bikky decided. Part of him would have liked pancakes but he knew they took more work than scrambling eggs and he figured Ryo had already worked hard enough.
“Okay. Don’t take too long or they’ll be cold by the time you get to eat them.”
“I’m going!” Bikky dashed back to his room to grab some clean clothes, then into the bathroom like a lanky whirlwind. He was growing so fast! Ryo heard the shower start and smiled to himself, glad he’d decided to go ahead with their plans despite not getting anywhere near as much sleep as he would have liked.
Bikky was back, fully dressed but with his long hair still damp, by the time Ryo started dishing up the eggs. The boy fairly skidded into the kitchen and dropped into his seat at the table as Ryo set a plate in front of him, then poured them both some orange juice. Sitting across from his foster son he sipped from a steaming mug of coffee, needing the caffeine boost to get himself in gear.
“You’re supposed to chew your food, Biks,” he pointed out as the boy shovelled eggs down like they might disappear if he didn’t eat them fast enough.
“Sorry, Ryo.” Bikky slowed down marginally. “I’m hungry.” Which was nothing new; he was a growing boy with a very healthy appetite. Still…
“That’s not a good reason to give yourself indigestion.” Ryo ate more slowly, savoring the food. “When you finish eating, just rinse your dishes and leave them on the draining board, I’ll wash everything tonight after dinner. And you’d better call Carol, make sure she and her aunt are up and ready. I’m hoping to pick them up just after nine, nine-thirty at the latest. There’s no point wasting half the day at home when we can be out enjoying the sunshine.”
Nodding, Bikky swallowed the last of his toast, drained his glass of juice in a few gulps, and practically bounced out of his seat to clear his dishes away. For a brief moment Ryo envied his son the energy of youth, wishing he could be young again, then he remembered all the other less desirable aspects of being a teenager and decided that no, he really didn’t want to live through all that again. He may not have Bikky’s boundless energy anymore, but he had a good, fulfilling life and he was happy.
Just after eight-thirty they headed down to the car, Bikky carrying the cooler containing their picnic lunch, Ryo with the smaller one packed with soda and juice, and the bag that held their picnic blanket, a football, a couple of Frisbees, his book, sunscreen, wet wipes, and a thermos of coffee. He always tried to be prepared for anything.
Bikky had the car keys and he had the trunk open by the time Ryo reached the street, the cooler already stowed. He helped his foster father with the bags he was carrying and Ryo closed the trunk, pulling the keys from the lock and opening the driver’s door as the boy went around to the passenger side.
“Sure we didn’t forget anything?” Ryo asked, fastening his seatbelt.
“Don’t think so.” Bikky patted his pockets. “Got my phone. Did you remember yours so Dee can call you and get directions?”
Ryo double-checked. “Phone, apartment keys, wallet… Everything present and correct.” They grinned at each other, sharing the private joke; Ryo almost always forgot something so they’d gotten into the habit of running a sort of checklist of essentials when going on outings. It saved having to turn around halfway to wherever they were going to fetch something that had been left behind.
“So what’re we waiting for? Let’s go!” Bikky said eagerly.
“Oops. Forgot.” Bikky buckled up and Ryo chuckled as he started the engine. Bikky might be fifteen now but there was still enough of the kid in him to get excited about a family outing to the park, especially as his girlfriend would be there too.
Carol and her aunt Elena were ready and waiting out in front of their house when Ryo pulled up, Bikky having called them from the car to let them know they’d be there in about five minutes. Ryo had always thought it a curious coincidence that both his aunt and Carol’s shared the same name, like it was somehow destiny that he should meet Carol and that the girl would become like family to him. He’d taken in one child and somehow wound up with an extra.
He called a greeting as Bikky bounced out of the passenger seat to gallantly hold the rear door open for his girl, stealing a kiss from her while Carol’s aunt was getting settled in the backseat.
“Isn’t Dee coming?” Carol asked as she buckled her seatbelt.
“He’ll catch up with us later; he’s out at the orphanage this morning,” Ryo explained. “But you know he won’t want to miss lunch.”
The drive to Central Park passed quickly, spent in conversation and laughter.
“Don’t expect too much from Ryo today,” Bikky warned. “He didn’t get home until almost two this morning.”
“Oooh! Were you out on a date with Dee?” Unlike Bikky, Carol had always supported Ryo and Dee’s relationship, even before they had one.
“No, unfortunately. One of the detectives on the late shift had a family emergency so I ended up covering the first part of his shift until someone could be found to fill in.”
“But you still got up early to get everything ready for the picnic?” Elena sounded surprised.
“A promise is a promise. Besides, it wouldn’t have been fair to cancel at the last minute. How often do we all get to spend a day together?”
“You should have called me; I could have handled the food preparation, then you could have slept in a bit longer.”
Ryo laughed, “I doubt you would’ve appreciated me phoning you in the early hours.”
“Ah, good point. I hadn’t though of that,” Elena admitted.
Finding a space in one of the parking lots, Ryo pulled in and started unloading the trunk, willing hands taking each of the bags as he lifted them out, leaving him with nothing to carry.
“I think you’ve already done enough work for today,” Elena said firmly. “It’s our turn to be useful. Now…” She turned to the two teenagers. “Where are we having this picnic?”
Fifteen minutes later they were spreading their picnic blanket in the shade cast by a tall tree at the edge of an expanse of grass where children were playing various ball games and adults were sunbathing. Fair skinned as he was Ryo had never been an enthusiastic sunbather. He enjoyed the warmth of sunny days but usually preferred to relax in the shade and that was what he was intent on doing now. While Elena, Carol, and Bikky entertained themselves with the Frisbees, Ryo stretched out with his book, hoping to make some progress with it before Dee could show up and demand his attention. He’d barely had a chance to glance at it in over a week, but he only made it through half a page before he fell asleep.
He awoke to the hushed sound of voices and the rustling and crunching of a bag of potato chips. Opening his eyes, he saw everyone was sitting around the cooler helping themselves to its contents. Dee was there too and Ryo realised he must be the source of the chips because he knew for a fact that he hadn’t brought any. Bikky had eaten the last packet earlier in the week and Ryo had forgotten to pick up more when he did the grocery run because they hadn’t been on his list.
He smiled noticing that someone, most likely Dee, had not only closed his book and set it aside but also taken his reading glasses off and put them in their case for safety.
“Sleeping beauty awakens. I was gonna kiss ya, but the brat threatened to kick the crap outta me if I tried,” Dee said, smirking across at his lover.
“I did not!” Bikky exclaimed, scowling.
“Not in so many words, but ya got that look ya always get before usin’ me as a punchin’ bag.”
“You’re a big fat liar!”
“No fighting,” Ryo said mildly, yawning and stretching. “This is supposed to be a happy family picnic.” Sitting up, he squeezed in beside Dee, giving his partner a quick kiss on the cheek. “Hi. Thanks for rescuing my glasses.”
“No problem. Figured you wouldn’t be too happy if you rolled over and broke ‘em.”
“You figured right; they weren’t cheap.” Ryo peered into the cooler. “Hope you guys left some food for me.”
“There’s plenty,” Dee assured him. “We’ve barely started. Looks like you brought enough to feed a small army.”
“Had to. Bikky must have hollow legs the amount he eats.” Ryo rummaged though the various boxes and helped himself to a selection of food, glad he’d thought to pack paper plates.
“Kid’s still growin’. Takes a lot of fuel.” Dee offered Ryo the bag of chips and he took a handful.
“Don’t I know it; he’s always growing out of his clothes these days.” Ryo gave a wry smile. “He barely gets any wear out of things before they’re too small.”
“Look on the bright side; three more years and he can start payin’ for his own clothes. You’ll save a fortune.”
“Don’t wish the time away, Dee. He’s already growing up too fast. Soon he won’t be interested in family picnics, he’ll have better things to do with his time than hanging out with me.”
“So make the most of it while ya can. You only slept the mornin’ away; still got the whole afternoon.”
Ryo nodded. “You’re right, and I will, I promise.” These were the days Ryo knew he’d remember when Bikky was grown up and out on his own. Not the arguments, the battles over chores and homework, the grumpy teenager slamming doors, or the piles of clothes left all over the floor, but the outings and the games, kicking a ball around together, the hugs, and the conversations over dinner or breakfast. Soon Bikky would be a man, and Ryo was so proud of him, but the little boy would always live on in his heart.