Lost in Translation
Bearit's Notes: Oh, my goodness, I think my muses have stopped hating Kansas. It's been a while since I've written anything, and with a trip to Japan approaching for me at the end of my first year in college (and someone remind me why I chose to go to Kansas for school), this inspiration struck. Basically, I'm in Ryo's shoes for the most part of this (since I, too, am half-Japanese), but I thought it would be fun to write this from Dee's point of view. I hope you enjoy
Last winter after a long, particularly boring day of work, for an interesting change of pace Dee picked up the mail and let Ryo go on ahead to unlock the door to their apartment. On any other day, after Ryo had set the keys on the kitchen counter in plain view in case the precinct had to call them up for one reason or the other and they had to make a quick getaway to the crime scene, Dee would've just thrown the mail next to the keys and proceed to enjoy their free time off together. That day, however, he flipped through the mail instead, noticing all the things that usually kept him from picking up the mail anyway in the first place—credit card solicitations, bills, random postcards and letters from Bikky's university, bills, coupons, bills—and finally, one abnormally shaped envelope with strange, Chinese characters on it, the only English being choppy in shape and only with the name "Randy MacLane" and the apartment's address.
Dee made a face and shoved the envelope under his partner's nose. "For you."
Ryo grabbed the ivory colored enveloped and stared at it as if he were reading… well, fine, he was reading a foreign language, but Dee thought it had been under certain other circumstances that had left him bewildered.
He nodded slowly, after a long moment, and replied quietly, "Yeah, from my uncle and aunt, from my mother's side…"
That much was obvious, but Dee kept his mouth shut. The way Ryo was responding to a connection from family was not normal, though Dee had to admit that since their time together Ryo had only been in touch with a family member once, over the phone, a surprise phone call, in English, from his father's sister. Ryo had been elated to receive that call; now his mother's sibling, and Ryo was confused.
Well, neither of the two of them spent much time talking about their families, so Dee saw it as an opportunity to further their relationship by divulging.
Ryo shrugged and slipped the envelope into his briefcase. Dee frowned. "We haven't really spoken much since my parents died. Communication was just too hard."
"I guess international calling does rack up the phone bills," Dee noted, knowing how frugal Ryo was. "Aren't you going to read it?"
"Maybe later." And Dee sighed as Ryo had switched the topic to, now that Dee looked back on it, he couldn't remember what.
A couple of days later, Ryo had read the letter—which wasn't really a letter, actually—and told Dee as he was watching a college bowl game on the television what the sudden contact was about. "My cousin is getting married, and we're invited."
Dee, still suspicious that Ryo was hiding something, only spared little relief. "'We'?"
"Well, they invited me, and a guest or two. Family. I just have to send them a number."
Dee noticed Ryo's downcast eyes, his discomfort… is that what it was? "What, you think they won't approve of us?"
Ryo stared at Dee, a little shocked, and Dee realized quickly that that wasn't the issue at all. "N-no, it's just… well…" He laughed nervously and shrugged it off. "I don't think we can afford it, is all, what with Bikky in school in California and everything."
"Ryo, he's on a scholarship. And I've checked out your bank statement." Ryo glared at him, and Dee ignored it. "We can afford it, so long as we find a cheap hotel or something." And not bring Bikky. Or Carol. Hey, they could go overseas for a vacation again, and not have to deal with vengeful racists, or Berkeley Rose.
Ryo shook his head. "No, if we go, we could stay with my grandmother. She wouldn't mind."
There was a certain note of despair in his voice. "Ryo?" Dee asked, concerned.
He smiled weakly. "It's nothing. We don't have to go if you don't want to."
Japan sounded like fun. He had never been there before. But something about the way Ryo was pointedly not excited about his cousin's wedding stopped Dee from exclaiming his willingness to go. Maybe he was not close with his mother's side of the family? Maybe when she married an American she became estranged from her family, and they only called Ryo to express their condolences. Or maybe that last contact was when Ryo called them to tell them the tragic news. Or… something.
He laughed again, softly. "Never mind."
And Dee didn't press the matter again, though he did end the conversation with, "I'm willing to go, if you really want to. You know I'll always be here." He meant that last sentence as a reassurance, that if they do go, no matter what happens, they'll still have each other.
Ryo only glanced at him helplessly.
The next day, Ryo said that they were going to go, and Bikky and Carol were going with them. Of course. Ryo had said that the invitation said family, and that obviously meant the brat that Ryo had adopted about seven, eight years ago (who's counting?), and his girlfriend, who was probably going to end up being his daughter-in-law. Their daughter-in-law. Not that Ryo didn't already treat her as a daughter already. They had been ecstatic at the news, and not even Ryo, with all his apprehensions about the trip, could stop from beaming. Dee was relieved to see that, at least, though he was getting increasingly annoyed as the weeks passed when Ryo still would not tell him his past with his mother's family.
Once, as soon as the lunch hour started and all but he and Ryo were left in the office, Dee had closed the door, and Ryo had groaned. Sure, this wasn't the first time Dee had done this—and thank goodness that JJ had stopped pouncing him about a year ago, around the time when Berkeley and Diana were married—but this time Dee was not going to try to do anything but interrogate the hell out of his partner about the Japanese side of his family.
When a minute had passed and Dee was still pointedly not touching or groping or licking or doing anything physical to Ryo, he finally glanced up from his paperwork and was shocked to see Dee glaring at him. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"I'm just wondering why you're not more excited to see your cousin get married is all," he said.
Ryo shrugged and pulled off his glasses. "We just weren't that close. We got along, but… it's nothing, really. Is it lunchtime?"
"Ryo," Dee growled dangerously as Ryo stood from his chair.
"There's a new café down the block that I wanted to—"
Dee had had enough, and he pushed Ryo against the wall and slammed his hands beside each side of Ryo's face, glaring as their noses touched. Ryo almost went into his familiar oh no, not again routine, but once he noticed that the look in Dee's eyes was one of frustration and not lust, Ryo pulled back as far as the wall would let him, which only increased their distance by barely a millimeter, really.
"Um, Dee? What's wrong?"
"You're hiding something."
Ryo had the nerve to laugh. "I'm not hiding anything."
"Then why won't you answer my questions? Really answer my questions."
"What? About my cousin's wedding?" Dee nodded, and Ryo sighed. "It's not important, I can promise you this. Well, at least, I can promise that it's not anything you might be thinking. It's not serious. Maybe important. But not serious."
"So why won't you tell me?"
If Ryo was about to indulge him, he never got the chance. The door beside them slammed into Dee's back, and he spun around swiftly to glare at the intruder, who was none other than the Chief himself. He stared at them for a moment, and then sighed and muttered something incoherent, something about "damned rainbow precinct" and then shoved a manila folder into Dee's hand.
"Read through it, it's a new case," he said. "We're going to have a meeting after lunch, so you have about an hour to flip through it. Why don't you do something useful with your time for once?"
It would be another couple of weeks, when the snow had started to melt and the rain began to fall, before Dee was able to extract any useful information from Ryo about his family. Or at least why he was more or less nervous about the upcoming trip in the summer to see the family he hadn't spoken to in over fifteen years.
Ryo had turned down the offer to eat lunch with the rest of the officers to work on some other projects, and though Dee had pressed to stay with him, Ted in particular had not given Dee much of a choice anyway and left Ryo alone. After spending a fun thirty minutes in the break room with his coworkers, Dee finished his sandwich and Coke and ventured back to the office, where he saw Ryo reading a book intently, with, and this was odd, a pair of headphones in his ears.
Ryo had not noticed Dee come in and kept reading, and Dee silently crept behind Ryo to see what it was. He thought it would probably be some sort of art book, since Ryo had a slight interest in what his parents' trade was, or a crime book, or something, anything but what Dee did see: bright colored drawings of people with speech bubbles, but this was no comic. No, there were bold letters with letters strung together that made little sense, and words beneath that did make sense… and Chinese-type characters, too. It took only a few seconds to realize what it was, what Ryo was listening to, and why Ryo had been so apprehensive about the trip to Japan.
Dee smirked and snatched the book from Ryo, flipping through the book himself. "What's this?" he said, unable to stop grinning.
"Dee!" Ryo threw off his headphones and reached for the book.
It was too late anyway, even before Dee turned to the cover of the book. "Learn Japanese the Fast and Easy Way?"
Ryo flushed. "I'm just brushing up. Nothing special."
Dee turned to Ryo, still grinning mischievously. "You can't speak Japanese, can you?"
"I know the basics." Ryo glared indignantly. "Enough to get by." Dee cocked an eyebrow, and Ryo sighed, defeated. "… with my mother translating."
Dee laughed. Not just for the irony, but the relief. Ryo really hadn't been hiding anything important or serious from him. He got along with his mother's side of the family as fine as anyone could get along with their family with a language barrier between them. Just as Dee had misinterpreted Ryo's anguish, Ryo scowled and mistook Dee's amusement for the irony aspect.
"Just because I'm half Japanese doesn't mean I know Japanese!" he snapped. "I was born—and raised—in New York. This is only going to be my second trip to Japan!"
Dee wanted to explain, like Ryo hadn't explained, but found so much more delight in teasing his partner. "It's like a Mexican-American not knowing any Spanish!"
"And not all Mexican-Americans know Spanish!" Ryo retorted, his face still red. "And I don't see you preparing for the trip anytime soon."
Dee let his laughter die to a chuckle and he shook his head. "But, see, I'm full bred American. I can get away with the bare basics, like 'Ohio gah-zaimas' or 'ari-ga-toe'."
"First, it's 'o-ha-you'," Ryo sighed. "Not like the state, contrary to popular belief. Second, if you're going to be like that, you can at least pronounce the bare basics correctly."
Dee slung an arm around Ryo's shoulders and leaned in to rest his head in the crook of his neck. "You'll teach me?" he asked gently.
Through the tone of his voice Dee could tell that Ryo was smiling. "Of course."
"Thank goodness," said Dee, and Ryo made a small noise of confusion. "I thought you were hiding something, that it was something way worse than this."
Ryo laughed softly. "Dee, if it were anything serious, I would have said something. This was just… a little embarrassing, admittedly. I knew you were going to tease me and make fun of me for it, but I guess it really wasn't all that bad."
"I still teased."
"But it wasn't that bad. I'm sorry."
Had the Drake and JJ not walked in at that moment, Ryo would have, for once, let the moment last for as long as Dee wanted it to in the workplace, instead of doing the usual by shoving Dee off and greeting their coworkers with a happy grin. But there was progress even in that aspect of their relationship—because even as Ryo sat back into his chair and Dee wandered to his desk, Ryo met Dee's eyes, and smiled, and said everything that Dee needed to know with just that.
"I love you, too," he said as he claimed his seat, thankful that Drake had persuaded JJ, one way or another, to stop throwing fits of jealousy every time they walked in on a tender moment between the two.