Characters: Ryo, Leo Grant.
Setting: Vol. 7 Act 19.
Summary: Ryo is confused; the line between good and evil is blurring in his mind as against his will, he’s drawn into a conversation with his parents’ murderer.
Word Count: 947
Content Notes: None needed.
Written For: Challenge 174: Villain at fan_flashworks.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
A/N: Dialogue is borrowed from the manga.
Growing up, watching old movies on Saturday TV, it had been easy to tell the good guys from the bad guys, the heroes from the villains; good guys wore the white hats while the baddies wore black, and the heroes always saved the day, or so it seemed to Ryo when he looked back over his childhood. Back then everything had been black and white, clear-cut, but these days nothing was; all he saw were shades of grey, and now everything he’d thought he knew seemed to be coming unravelled.
Leo Grant was a villain through and through, there could be no question about that; he’d murdered Ryo’s parents, gunned them down in cold blood. That it had been a case of mistaken identity and he’d killed the wrong people in no way absolved him of the crime. Ryo would gladly stand back and watch him die, given the opportunity, even though he’d been unable to kill the bastard himself. He still couldn’t figure out whether that made him a weaker man than Grant or a stronger one. Perhaps all it meant was that they lived their lives by opposing moral codes, good guy and bad guy, just like in those old movies.
And yet here they stood on a street corner, having a mostly civilised conversation about Leo’s wife’s infidelity and her poor taste in lovers, among other things. In an ideal world, Ryo would be arresting Grant right about now, except that he had no proof of what the man had done because he hadn’t been wearing a wire when Leo had confessed to the murder. Probably just as well considering the way Ryo had lost his head on hearing Grant admit to what he’d done. He’d come perilously close to killing an unarmed man, which would have meant a murder charge even for a cop. In the end, it was better that incident hadn’t been captured on tape because in all likelihood, it would have destroyed Ryo’s career. Even avenging his parents’ deaths wasn’t worth that.
Naturally Leo couldn’t resist taking a few digs at him over the events surrounding their previous meeting. Equally unsurprisingly, Ryo responded with a fresh surge of anger, only to be wrong-footed moments later, as with his next breath, Leo more or less offered Ryo another chance at killing him. It was unbelievable! One of the biggest mobsters in New York and it was as though he had some weird sort of death wish and actually wanted to be killed!
The whole conversation was surreal, more like some twisted nightmare or fever dream. If Ryo had felt a desperate thirst for revenge during their last encounter, now he just felt off-balance and utterly confused.
“Why do you keep asking me to kill you?” he almost shouted, furious and unable to make sense of what he was hearing. Leo’s unexpected reply shook Ryo to the depths of his soul.
“To be honest, I’m not totally sure. But what I do know is this. There are two people in this world that have the right to kill me. If I told you that one of those people was you… would you believe me, Ryo?”
For an instant, Ryo honestly thought he might faint from the shock, he even forgot to breathe. How could Leo Grant, Mob boss and murderer, regret killing two people ten years ago? Especially when he’d killed so many since then without batting an eye. Did he really expect Ryo to believe he’d developed a conscience after all this time? No, probably not; Leo Grant was many things, most of them bad, but naïve wasn’t among them. He knew Ryo had no reason to believe him, was bound to distrust his motives for even suggesting such a thing, and somehow that made Ryo more inclined to accept the man’s words as truth. He felt his anger drain away, leaving him feeling hollow, empty, and more than a little lost.
What causes a man to be labelled a villain? That was an easy question to answer; it’s the crimes he commits, the acts of unrepentant evil he perpetrates against others. By a similar measure, a man is judged to be a hero if he does good things and battles against those who do evil, especially if he does so with no thought for reward or for his own safety. But could evil men change? As a cop, Ryo had to believe that at least some criminals, once they’d paid for their crimes, could be rehabilitated. Some even actively tried to atone for what they’d done in the past by dedicating themselves to doing good. Not all of them succeeded, but still, it gave Ryo hope on the days when it felt as though he and the whole of the NYPD were fighting a losing battle.
All the same, whether Leo was sincere in his regrets or not, it was unlikely that he’d change his ways and try to go straight. The other members of his organisation would kill him in an instant if he did. In which case, why had he even spoken of regrets and of developing a conscience?
Dammit, the more Ryo tried to think it through, the more confused he became, to the point where he just had to get away from Leo Grant, find somewhere he could catch his breath and try to make sense of his own conflicting emotions. He turned on his heel and fled, not even seeing Alicia as he ran past her.
Amid the confused jumble his thoughts had become inside his head, there was only one thing he knew for certain; more than anything else, he wanted to see Dee.