Characters: Dee, Ryo, mentions Bikky and Carol
Setting: After the manga.
Summary: Dee has a phobia. Turns out Ryo has one too.
Word Count: 648
Content Notes: Beware - Snakes and Spiders.
Written For: Challenge #125: Scales at fan_flashworks
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Up until this moment, Ryo had thought Dee fearless, but right now he looked like he wanted to jump up on the nearest chair, if only there’d been one, even though the innocuous little corn snake was safely in its tank.
They’d stopped in at the pet store to buy fish flakes for Carol’s pet goldfish, which was currently in Bikky’s care while Carol and her aunt were away on vacation, visiting family. Browsing the cages full of creatures waiting to become someone’s pampered pet, Dee had stepped up to one glass-fronted case, then made a hurried retreat, practically trying to hide behind Ryo.
“What’s wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”
Naturally, Ryo had to see for himself.
“Dee, it’s tiny!”
“I don’t care, I loathe scaly things!”
“Really? What about your alligator-skin boots?” Ryo asked reasonably. “I thought you loved those.”
“That’s totally different.”
“How so?” Ryo cocked his head to one side, studying Dee curiously.
Dee stared back at him as if he couldn’t believe Ryo was so utterly dense. “My boots aren’t alive! There’s zero chance of them biting me, or anyone else!”
“Ah, I see.” Ryo nodded, understanding. “It’s not so much the scales you have a problem with, it’s the teeth that go with them.”
Dee thought about that. “Yeah, I guess. Got bitten by a snake when I was just a kid. Damn thing latched on to my hand and wouldn’t let go, had to be prised off and it seemed to take forever. I know it’s dumb, but ever since then, they scare the hell out of me,” he admitted. “It wasn’t even venomous, but it hurt like hell; it bit right down to the bone. My finger swelled up.”
“How old were you?”
“Four or five, I think; Mother would know, she was there. The snake belonged to one of the older kids, everyone had held it, but I guess it just didn’t like me.”
“Maybe you held it a bit too tight or something and it got scared.”
“Yeah, maybe. I just don’t like them. Isn’t there anything that bothers you? I mean it’s like you’re not afraid of anything.”
Ryo smiled at him wryly. “I was terrified of falling in love with you.”
“Yeah, but you faced your fear.” Dee smiled back. “Seriously though, snakes don’t bother you, neither do rats and cockroaches…”
“Spiders,” Ryo butted in. “I really hate spiders.”
Dee blinked at him in astonishment. “But whenever there’s a spider, you calmly catch it in a glass and put it outside.”
“I know, and my skin crawls the entire time. It takes all my nerve to go near them when all I want to do is run in the other direction.”
“Why d’you do it then?”
“Because I don’t want Bikky to grow up scared of creepy crawlies.”
“Y’know, I think you’re braver than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Seeing the warmth and honesty in Dee’s eyes, Ryo blushed faintly. “I’m really not.”
“Courage is all about being scared of something but doing it anyway,” Dee reminded him. “Seems to me you do that all the time. I think maybe it’s time I stopped hiding from what scares me.” He stepped past Ryo and approached the tank again, a determined expression on his face even though he looked like he’d rather be anywhere else. Ryo moved to stand beside him, taking his hand. After a few minutes, while the small snake slithered harmlessly around its tank, Dee relaxed a bit. “Maybe scaly things aren’t so bad,” he admitted. “At least as long as I know they can’t get at me.”
“I think you’re safe.”
“Yeah.” Dee knew it was only one small step towards overcoming his phobia, but it was a start. “Hey, Ryo? Next time you have spider trouble, let me get rid of it, okay?”
Ryo smiled. “Okay, it’s a deal.”