Characters: Ryo, Dee.
Setting: After Vol. 7
Summary: There’s a lot of stress involved in police work, but Dee and Ryo have their own ways of dealing with it, apart and together.
Word Count: 1278
Written For: My own prompt ‘FAKE, Dee/Ryo, they need time for themselves,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Police work is stressful; anyone who works in law enforcement, or lives with someone who does, can tell you that. It’s one of the reasons so many cops tend to suffer from burn out. Long hours, danger, violence, seeing the worst things people can do to each other day after day… It wears you down; the effect is cumulative, and no one can completely avoid it.
When the stress builds up to unmanageable levels, Ryo and Dee have learnt to give each other some space; these days they know each others moods well enough that they can always tell when they need to back off. Dee gets even louder than usual, surly and short-tempered, yelling at people for no reason. He can’t sit still, pacing restlessly like a tiger in a cage, and chain-smoking cigarettes even though he’s meant to be cutting down. If that doesn’t help to calm him, he goes down to the shooting range and blasts seven kinds of hell out of the targets, taking his frustration out on them, revelling in the noise and the paper-target carnage.
Ryo’s the opposite; he withdraws into himself, barely speaking to anyone and avoiding company as much as possible while at work. When his shift is over, he changes into jogging gear and runs, mile after mile speeding past beneath his pounding feet as if he believes that by running fast and far enough, he can leave the stress behind. It even seems to work more often than not, the physical exertion wiping out tension, burning off nervous energy, and leaving him exhausted but calmer, his mind clear and better able to focus.
Somehow though, once they’ve dealt with the stresses of the job in the way that suits them best, they always seem to gravitate back together, seeking comfort and reassurance that everything will be alright.
Panting and sweaty, Ryo slows to a walk for the last block or so back to his apartment, allowing himself to cool down slowly from his five mile run. Even from this distance he can see Dee’s car parked in front of the building, a wisp of smoke issuing from the driver’s side window. It’s a sight that warms Ryo’s heart. He and Dee have barely said two words to each other since midway through their shift, when yet another lead in the case they’re currently working on fizzled out.
A rash of home invasions has left several people dead and they really need to catch whoever’s responsible before he strikes again, but despite having four separate crime scenes to work on, the investigation has stalled through lack of evidence. Knowing they might have to wait for another attack to occur is galling and frustrating, and the stress caused by their repeated failure to make any kind of progress had led to Dee disappearing, either to the roof to smoke or down to the firing range. Ryo has no idea which, nor did he care at the time since he’d been too busy going over every detail of the case so far, searching for any tiny clue they might have missed. They hadn’t laid eyes on each other for the rest of the day.
By the time shift had ended, Ryo’s eyes had been aching from staring so intently at the various reports relating to the case. He’d shut down his computer, gathered his things, punched out, and left without a word to anyone. Back home, after sending Bikky over to Carol’s for the night, he’d got changed and left for a run, taking a route he knew by heart, a wide loop through mostly residential streets that would lead him back home again.
Three quarters of the way down the block, feeling a strange sort of impatience building inside him, Ryo breaks into a jog until he reaches Dee’s car, stopping beside it and leaning against the rear door. Wordlessly, Dee crushes out his cigarette in the ashtray, closes the window, and gets out, slamming the door shut and leaning beside Ryo. They glance sidelong at each other, feeling their way carefully.
“You okay?” Dee’s voice is much quieter than it was earlier.
“Better than I was.” Ryo’s smile is wry, tired. “You?”
“The old Badger’s gonna kill me when he finds out how many bullets I went through on the range; I’ll probably have to pay for them out of my wages. Think my aim’s improvin’ though.”
That draws a chuckle from Ryo. “Told you all you needed was more practice,” he teases. “You hungry?”
Hands in pockets, Dee shrugs. “I could eat.”
“That’s what I figured; there’s not much that can put a dent in your appetite. I thought I’d order Chinese.”
“Comfort food.” Dee nods approval as they push away from the car and start up the stoop. “Why don’t I order while you take a shower? Looks like you could use one.”
Ryo replies with a grateful smile. “Thanks, it’ll be good to get into something dry.” He tugs at his sweatshirt where it’s clinging damply to his chest, not just from sweat but from the intermittent drizzle that’s been moistening everything during his run. Digging out his keys, he trudges wearily up the stairs to his apartment, Dee walking silently beside him. It’s not the same as earlier, this is a comfortable silence rather than a tense, irritable one; neither of them needs to speak because they both know they’re on the same page for once, fully aware of exactly where this night is headed.
“Bikky over at Carol’s?” Dee asks, glancing around the otherwise empty apartment as Ryo closes the door behind them.
“Yeah, it’s just us tonight.”
“Good.” Dee pulls out his phone and starts punching buttons, dialling the number for Ryo’s local Chinese takeaway from memory. “You want your usual?”
“Please, and extra prawn balls I think.” Ryo goes into his bedroom, grabs a change of clothes, and disappears into the bathroom, shutting the door to keep steam from the shower from spreading throughout the apartment, but not locking it.
Dee can hear the water running as he orders their dinner, and closes his eyes, picturing Ryo naked beneath the spray, smooth skin slick and glistening, peppered with foam from his shower gel. Under other circumstances, he might have joined his lover, but he understands that Ryo needs just a little more time to overcome the stresses of the day, washing them away along with the sweat from his run. Maybe they’ll shower together later, after they’ve made each other hot and sweaty again. There’s no rush, they’ve got the whole night ahead of them; after the day they’ve had they badly need this time alone together to reconnect and take comfort in each other.
As much as they deal with the stresses of police work separately and in different ways, it’s this aftermath that finishes the job, healing their battered spirits, soothing nerves rubbed raw by frustration, and easing the last knots of tension from their muscles, leaving them relaxed and able to sleep.
In the morning they’ll return to work, ready to fight the good fight and overcome any obstacles put in their path; they won’t let themselves be beaten. But that’s for tomorrow. Tonight, they’ll make love slowly, taking the time to savour each gentle touch, every long, deep kiss, and every caress, because the relationship they’re building together is what keeps them going through the bad times. Knowing they have each other to turn to at the end of the day makes life worth living, even when things get rough, and they’ll never take that for granted. In a world that sees so much ugliness, love is everything.