Characters: Ryo, Bikky, Dee, Melinda, Aunt Elena, OCs.
Setting: After Vol. 7.
Summary: All Ryo wants is a quiet evening in to watch a movie. The universe seems to have other ideas.
Word Count: 2825
Written For: Challenge 41: Restart at beattheblackdog.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Wearily Ryo dropped onto his sofa in front of the TV, picking up the remote and pressing the restart button. All he wanted was a quiet, relaxing evening at home watching a movie, but it was starting to seem as if the universe had other ideas.
He’d had a tiring and frustrating day at work, nothing major, just a seemingly endless series of minor annoyances that had left him feeling stressed and drained. It had been a relief to clock off and head for home. When he’d stepped through his front door, he’d found Bikky rushing around stuffing things into a bag for a sleepover at a friend’s house.
“You’re still here?” It hadn’t been the most intelligent or tactful thing to say, but he’d been expecting to arrive home to an empty apartment and the boy’s presence had thrown him. Bikky was almost fifteen now, and growing like a weed; seemed like the last few years had flown past in the blink of an eye.
“Yeah, basketball practice ran late. You were right; I should’ve got everything ready this morning. Sometimes I wish the rest of the world had a pause button so I could stop it while I catch up.” He shoved the hair out of his eyes and went back to his packing.
Ryo smiled wryly. “I feel like that most of the time,” he admitted. “Especially at work.”
Bikky paused briefly to grin at his foster father. “Guess it would make catching the bad guys a lot easier. Safer too; at least until you had to press restart. Okay, I think I’ve got everything so I‘m off, see you tomorrow!”
“Behave yourself while you’re there, okay? I don’t want Brian’s mom calling me to complain you’re leading her son astray.”
“As if! She likes me. But I’ll be on my best behaviour anyway, promise!”
With that, Bikky was out the door and Ryo was left with the feeling that a small tornado had just passed by.
With the apartment to himself at last, Ryo had hung up his jacket, kicked off his shoes, and put on a new DVD he’d bought a few days ago but hadn’t yet found time for, sinking tiredly onto the sofa to watch it. He knew he should really fix himself something to eat first, but he wasn’t particularly hungry and without Bikky to cook for there didn’t seem much point. Besides, all he wanted right now was just to sit down and relax. He could order takeaway later or just fix himself a snack when he got hungry enough. After all, he had the whole evening ahead of him with no interruptions. It would be nice to just do what he wanted for a change without having to worry about anyone else.
Thinking that was a mistake; there was no surer way to put a jinx on anything. He really should have learned by now not to tempt fate.
Less than five minutes into the movie, the apartment door burst open and Bikky erupted into the room. “Forgot my phone,” he said by way of explanation as he dashed into his room, and out again a moment later. “It’s not where I thought I left it! Have you seen it?”
Repressing a sigh, Ryo abandoned his movie and got to his feet. “Can’t say I have, but I’ll help you look for it.” That would be quicker and less stressful than leaving Bikky to turn the whole apartment upside down in his search.
Ten minutes later, the phone was found down the side of the sofa where Ryo had been sitting.
Bikky snatched it out of his hand and shoved it in his pocket. “Thanks, Ryo!”
“Sure you’ve got everything now? PJs? Toothbrush? Comb? Clean underwear?”
“Yes to all of the above. Sorry, I’ll leave you to your movie now.”
“It’s fine, Bikky. Have a good time.”
“I will. Bye!” Once again, the tornado tore out the door and was gone.
Ryo shook his head, chuckling ruefully. Nobody could ever say that raising a child was boring! You could never be sure what they might get up to next. It reminded him of that Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times, or something like that. Parenthood was interesting alright!
Returning to the sofa, Ryo flopped back onto it, picked up the remote, and with no idea what was going on now having completely lost the thread, decided his best option was to go back to the beginning and restart the movie. As the opening credits rolled, he fetched himself a beer, figuring he’d more than earned it, and settled himself comfortably with his feet up to enjoy both the movie and the beverage.
This time he got almost ten minutes in before being interrupted by the house phone ringing. Pressing pause, he swung his feet to the floor and went to answer it.
“Maclean,” he said crisply.
“Is this Mr Maclean?”
“Yes, I just said it was. Who is this?”
“My name is Ashley, I’m calling from Damage Claims Limited, I understand you were recently involved in a car accident?”
“You understand wrong, I’ve never had an accident in my life,” Ryo replied shortly.
“Perhaps another member of your household?”
“No one else drives. Goodbye.”
“Thank you for your…”
Ryo hung up before the telesales woman could finish and returned to the sofa, grumbling, “Thought my phone provider was supposed to be blocking telesales; isn’t that what I’m paying an additional charge for?”
He threw himself back down onto the sofa in a manner that couldn’t be good for the springs, downed most of his beer in several large gulps, and pressed the pause button again to restart the movie, praying that would be the last interruption of the evening.
It wasn’t to be. Fate really did have it in for him.
Ten minutes later, there was a knock on the door and Ryo rolled his eyes. He was tempted to ignore it, but after a few moments the knocking came again, and then yet again. It was clear that whoever it was, they weren’t about to just give up and go away.
He hit the pause button harder than he meant to, making the movie pause only for a split second before carrying on. Cursing to himself, he jabbed at it again, this time successfully. The picture on the TV screen froze, Ryo dropped the remote onto the sofa cushions, got to his feet and stalked towards the door, throwing it open to reveal his new next-door neighbour, a pleasant looking young woman.
“Hi, I’m Terri Jackson, I just moved in to apartment thirty-three a couple of days ago. I wanted to introduce myself and invite you round for drinks tomorrow night, around eight. I’m throwing a small party to get to know my new neighbours, sort of an icebreaker. I hope you’ll be able to come, I’d really love to see you there.”
Despite the frustration of constant interruptions, Ryo couldn’t bring himself to be rude. She seemed nice enough, bubbly and friendly, and he did prefer to get along with the people in his building. In a city where so many people never even saw the person next door, it was nice to see a newcomer making an effort.
“Nice to meet you, Ms Jackson, I’m Randy Maclean.”
“Oh, please, call me Terri.”
“Okay, Terri it is. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it, it depends on how things go at work tomorrow, but I’ll be there if I can.” He had to be in court the following afternoon, and depending on what time he was called to testify, he might end up working late. That had been one of today’s annoyances, finding out at the last minute that the trial date had been set for one of the cases he and Dee had investigated a few months earlier, and for reasons best known to the prosecuting attorney and his office, neither he nor Dee had been informed that their testimony would be required. It had caused chaos at the precinct as shifts had to be shuffled around to accommodate their absence. What a headache! The Chief had definitely not been amused, leading to a lot more yelling than usual.
“Well, come if you can, but if not, I’m sure I’ll see you round.”
“Yes, I expect so. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do.” Yes, drinking beer and trying to watch a movie, if he ever got left alone long enough to do it.
“Right, I won’t keep you any longer then, I’m sure you must be busy.” She offered her hand to Ryo to shake. “It was nice meeting you, Randy. Have a good night.”
“Thanks, you too.”
Closing the door, Ryo leant his back against it and closed his eyes. What else could possibly happen to disrupt the nice, quiet evening he’d been craving? Pushing away from the door, he decided to get changed and grab something to eat before sitting down again.
With his usual efficiency, he stripped out of his work clothes and dropped them in the laundry hamper, pulled on jeans and a sweater, and went to the kitchen. He debated whether to have a second beer or not and finally decided on a soothing cup of tea instead, putting the kettle on and making himself a sandwich while he waited for the water to boil.
Fifteen minutes after saying goodbye to Terri, he was back on the sofa, plate on his lap and a steaming mug of tea beside him on the end table. He started the DVD playing again, took a bite from his sandwich, and the phone rang.
“I don’t believe this!” Setting his sandwich aside, he stormed over to the phone, snatched up the receiver, and snapped, “What?”
There was silence on the other end for a moment, and then a familiar voice said, “Ryo? Is everything alright?”
“Aunt Elena! Sorry for snapping at you, I’m just having a really annoying evening. Every time I sit down, either the phone rings, or someone knocks on the door, and I’d just sat down to eat…”
“Oh, well I won’t keep you long then, I just wanted to ask if you’d received the package I sent you.”
“Oh. No, sorry, nothing was in my mailbox when I got home except bills and junk mail.”
“Maybe it’ll arrive tomorrow.”
“Maybe. I’ll keep a lookout for it. What’s in it?”
“Just a few things I found when I was having a clearout and thought you might want, and a box of homemade cookies.”
“The ginger ones?” Ryo asked, his mood lifting slightly.
“Of course, I know they’re your favourites.”
“At least that’s something to look forward to. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Listen, I’ll let you get back to your meal, call me when the package arrives?”
“Of course I will. Take care of yourself, and say hi to Uncle Rick for me.”
“I will. ‘Bye, Ryo, talk to you soon. Love you!”
“Love you too. ‘Bye.” Ryo hung up, and then as a precaution, unplugged the phone from the wall, just until the movie was over.
So here he was again, back on the sofa, sipping tea that was cool enough now to drink, eating his sandwich, and wondering what else was going to happen to interrupt his movie night.
“Maybe that was the last thing and I can just relax in peace now for what’s left of the evening.” As soon as the words left his mouth, he got a horrible sinking feeling. “Why’d I have to say that?” he asked the empty apartment, sure that he’d just doomed himself further. He waited tensely, barely able to focus on the movie, but as the minutes crept past and nothing happened he slowly let himself relax.
He’d almost finished his sandwich when there was another knock on the door. “Knew it was too good to be true,” he grumbled, going to answer it.
Outside his door stood Melinda, the elderly woman who lived in apartment thirty-one. “Sorry to bother you, Randy, but I’ve got a package for you, it was put in my mailbox by mistake.” She held out a parcel wrapped in brown paper.
“Oh, that must be the one from my aunt! Thanks, Melinda. Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?”
“Not tonight, I just ran into the new girl in thirty-three, so now I need to find something to wear for the party tomorrow night.”
“Some other time then.”
Melinda nodded. “Will you be at the party?”
“If I get off work early enough.”
“Then I might see you there. Goodnight.”
While he could have done without any more interruptions, at least he’d got something nice out of this one. He set the package on the coffee table, intending to open it when the movie finished. Maybe he’d have a couple of the cookies when he made himself another cup of tea before bed.
Restarting the movie yet again, trying to pick up the threads from where he’d got to, he was soon completely engrossed, but typically, just as it reached its climax, there was a knock on the door. Ryo pressed pause and put his head in his hands. What had he done to deserve this? People knocked on his door once in a blue moon, but this was the third visitor tonight, not counting Bikky’s whirlwind return. Climbing to his feet for the umpteenth time, he opened the door to find Dee standing there, looking worried.
“Ryo, are you okay? I tried calling a bit ago, but your phone was off, and then I tried the house phone but I couldn’t get through.”
“Um, that would be because I unplugged it to stop it interrupting my quiet evening,” Ryo admitted sheepishly. “Not that it helped; you’re the third person to knock on my door in the last hour and a half. I’m beginning to think I’m not destined to see this movie right to the end.” Standing aside to let Dee in, Ryo explained what had been happening.
“And then I show up and interrupt you yet again. Sorry, babe; if I’d known I would’ve just left you in peace.”
“It’s okay. Actually, I’m glad you’re here.”
“Yeah. If anyone else knocks on the door, you can answer it while I finish watching this movie,” Ryo said with a grin.
“Happy to help, I’ll just sit here quietly until you’re done with your movie.”
“There’s beer in the fridge, help yourself.”
“Don’t mind if I do. D’you want one?”
“I’m fine, I had one earlier.”
Ryo returned to his movie, setting it running again, while Dee fetched a beer and joined him on the sofa, watching the end in silence. He finally spoke as the credits rolled.
“The end was good, how was the rest of it?”
“To be honest, I got interrupted so many times while I was watching it, I’m not sure I know.”
“Welp, maybe we could watch it together sometime. I think I’d like to see it from the beginning.”
“Me too.” They looked at each other and burst out laughing. “This has to be one of the least successful quiet nights in ever!” Ryo declared.
“After that, I think you’re about due some good luck.”
“That would be nice.” Ryo smiled wistfully.
“So what’s in the package?”
“Not sure. Aunt Elena said it was some of her home-baked ginger cookies and some stuff she found when she was clearing out.”
“You goin’ to open it?”
“Yeah.” Picking the package up, Ryo carefully peeled away the packing tape and unwrapped the paper. Inside were a flat box of cookies, which he set aside, and a second, shallower box. When he removed the lid, Ryo found it was full of photographs. Some were from a trip he’d taken with his aunt when he was nineteen. She was a photographer and he’d gone with her on one of her assignments. She’d taken photographs for her own use, but also a lot of pictures of Ryo, and even a few of a girl he’d met back then. Dee knew that story; it didn’t have a happy ending and Ryo shuffled those photos to the bottom of the pile.
The other pictures were of Ryo with his aunt and uncle at various celebrations when he’d lived with them, and others from further back, of him with his parents at Christmases and birthdays over the years, the kinds of photos that might be tucked in with Christmas cards and letters sent to family.
Sitting there on the sofa, remembering his childhood, telling Dee the stories behind various pictures, and sharing some of the cookies, Ryo finally felt the stress and tension of the day melting away. However badly his quiet evening in might have started out, the rest of it looked like it would be just about perfect.