Characters: Ryo, Dee, Bikky.
Setting: Shortly after Like Like Love.
Summary: Heading home to an empty apartment for the first time since seeing Bikky off to college, Ryo’s feeling a bit lost.
Word Count: 1009
Written For: Challenge 297: Amnesty at fan_flashworks, using Challenge 73: Telephone.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Ryo was so deep in thought that he didn’t just miss his stop; he was still on the bus when it reached the terminus. He looked up, surprised and a bit confused, when the vehicle stopped and the engine was turned off, the vibration he’d been feeling through the seat ceasing. Surely he couldn’t have been sitting here staring into space that long, but when he checked his watch he saw he must have been riding around for well over an hour. It was a good thing he had a bus pass that allowed his to travel all over the city whenever he wanted; so much for going straight home after work though.
Not that it mattered; it wasn’t as it there was anyone back at his apartment waiting for him and wanting dinner. He’d driven Bikky to the airport only this morning, seeing his foster son off to college in California. He wished he could have gone with him, been there to help the boy get settled into his dorm room, but he supposed Bikky wasn’t really a boy anymore; he was eighteen, practically an adult, and the last thing he needed was his foster father fussing around him like an overprotective mother hen.
With a heavy sigh, Ryo got to his feet and disembarked; thanks to his inattention now he’d have to get another bus heading back the way he’d just come, which meant depending on the traffic it could be another hour if not longer before he made it home. Maybe he could pick up something for dinner on the way, save having to cook tonight.
As he made his way towards the outgoing busses, looking for one heading in the right direction, Ryo’s phone buzzed in his pocket. Not bothering to look at caller ID he answered.
“We left work hours ago. Where the hell are ya?”
He should have known it would be Dee; who else would be calling him at this time in the evening?
“Um, the bus terminal.”
“What’re ya doin’ all the way out there? I thought you were goin’ straight home.”
Ryo smiled wryly, even though he knew his lover couldn’t see. “So did I,” he admitted, “but I guess I was a little distracted. I missed my stop, and a couple dozen others. I was thinking and I kinda lost track of where I was.”
“You do way too much thinkin’, it’s not good for ya. You’ll wind up wearin’ your brain out,” Dee teased, sounding amused.
“I’m not like you, Dee,” Ryo said, mildly exasperated. “I can’t just switch my brain off when I’m not using it.”
“Ouch! Don’t pull any punches on my account!”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean that the way it sounded; you’re just way better at switching off at the end of the day than I am.”
“I’ve noticed. Nothin’ to apologise for, it’s fine. Want me to come pick ya up? I could be there in twenty.”
“No, it’s okay, I can get the bus back; plenty of them around.”
“Okay then, see ya when ya get home; just keep your eyes open and don’t miss your stop this time.”
“When I get home? You mean you’re at my place?”
Dee huffed a laugh. “Where else would I be? Thought ya might need a distraction tonight; looks like I was right. Listen, I’ll let ya get your bus, but maybe I should call ya again in a bit, just to remind ya where you are.”
Ryo frowned at the insinuation that Dee didn’t trust him to make it home by himself. “I’m not that bad, am I?”
“Only when you’re broodin’ over something. Listen, the kid’s gonna be fine, babe. You raised him right, he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”
“He’s not a kid anymore though, is he? He’s practically a man. He doesn’t need me the way he used to.” Ryo found the right bus and jumped aboard, flashing his pass at the driver and dropping into a seat near the middle; there were only a handful of other passengers.
“Maybe not the way he did when he was younger, but no matter how old he gets you’ll always be his dad.”
Leaning back in his seat, Ryo closed his eyes and let his breath out in a weary sigh; it had been a long day, made longer by having to get up early so Bikky wouldn’t miss his flight. “You’re right, I know, I just feel a bit useless, sort of surplus to requirements. It’s fine when I’m at work, I know who I am there, I have a purpose, but at the end of the day instead of having to get home and fix dinner for my kid…” He trailed off with another sigh, before adding plaintively, “I liked being needed.”
“You’re still needed, babe; I need ya. I mean I know it’s not the same, but still…”
“Not exactly the same, but still good to know.”
“And you’re not gonna be goin’ home to an empty apartment for much longer anyway. In case you’ve forgotten you’re movin’ in with me at the weekend.”
“That’s true.” The bus pulled out and Ryo smiled to himself, feeling a lot better than he had. “If the traffic’s not too bad I should be home in about forty-five minutes or so. My stop’s just across the street from the Thai place, I thought I’d pick something up for dinner. That okay?”
“Nah, you know what I like; surprise me.”
“Okay, see you in a bit.” Ryo hung up and put his phone away, wondering if perhaps subconsciously he’d been trying to avoid going home to the silence of his empty apartment. Well, not anymore. The boy he’d raised for the last eight years might be thousands of miles away on the other side of the country, but there was still someone special waiting for him at the end on the line. He wouldn’t be alone tonight, and after this weekend he’d never have to be alone again.