The Streets of Love


Disclaimer: Fake belongs to Sanami Matoh

Summary: His mind troubled by thoughts of his partner, Dee takes to the streets to try to clear his head. But who else is trying to walk off the empty-bed blues?

Not a whole lot of believability here... but I went for sweetness instead.

"As lovers laugh and music plays, I stumble by and I hide my pain..." - The Rolling Stones

New York.

City of a million-dreams-a-minute, city of dashed hopes and broken lives.

But Dee had never been one of the city's philosopher's, analyzing the way its buildings seem to speak in light emissions, or murmuring dark words against the streets that had ground so many down. To him, the city was simply HOME. He protected its citizens and its streets because the road of his life had led him to do so (in honor of Jess's memory) and because, for all of the antics that led him to be called on the carpet, he was a good cop.

Tonight, he was especially glad to be a New York citizen, glad for the streets and the alleys and the subways lines, the labyrinth of glass and steel. He was also glad for the gun at his hip and the license that let him carry it. The gun guaranteed him safer-than-average passage through the city, even as the light began to leave it and stars began to speckle the vast blue-black sky above. Lately, the streets had been his only escape, his only refuge. Concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, on remembering his route, and on avoiding true danger kept his mind occupied. An occupied mind was one in which thee was no space for his partner, Ryo MacLean. And in Dee's book, that was a good thing. Only when he wasn't thinking about his partner did he get any peace. He'd been walking a lot lately, dragging back into his apartment only when he was too tired to take another step, and so, too tired to think.

"Where ya goin', Ryo?" Bikky called from the couch where he and Carol were almost entirely engrossed by some video game or another. They'd been playing it since supper and Ryo had decided that video games were preferable to many of their other typical activities - like picking pockets.

Ryo paused in the process of tying his shoes. "Just for a walk. I won't be gone long."

Bikky shrugged, a suit-yourself gesture, and Ryo was out the door. Ryo had recently taken to walking every night around nine o'clock, coming back just in time to shower and fall into bed. Personally, Bikky felt that pressing buttons was infinitely preferable to wearing oneself out on the pavement - but he'd never been able to completely figure Ryo out.

Dee checked his watch: 9:30 and he wasn't quite sure where he was anymore. A pleasant burn sang through his muscles, and, for the moment, his head was empty, hazy with images he'd seen on his walk - couples holding hands, evening dog-walkers, the NYC cliché of yellow taxi after yellow taxi - and the moon, rising up from the center of the city, full and beautiful, whitewashing all the grit and litter of the pavement, and lifting his heart (for a moment) into his mouth. Maybe I'm not as jaded as I thought.

He stopped to rest under a streetlight, looking for signs. Maybe he'd take the bus back... Seeing a street sign, he burst out laughing, and was glad, once more, to live in New York, because a man laughing to himself on a street corner didn't get that much attention. No white suits coming to carry him away in sight.

He rolled his eyes at himself and the futility of trying to outrun his own heart. He was two blocks from Ryo's apartment.

That's funny... that drunk laughing guy sounds just like Dee. He looked again, sifting a familiar face from the dappled lighting produced by the streetlight and the shadows. Almost not believing his eyes, he crossed the street.

"Dee? What are you doing here?"

Dee gaped. You've got to be kidding me! I come out to walk him out of my brain, to keep myself from moaning his name into my pillow while I pleasure myself - and he just walks up to me?

"Dee?" Ryo asked again, beginning to wonder if maybe Dee had drank too much. Remembering the wine incident from their vacation, he devoutly hoped not.

"Ryo, hey. What are you doing out?"

Ryo blanched. He certainly couldn't say "Walking myself tired so that I don't have to think of you - and of what thoughts of you might say about me." Dee might get the wrong idea. Well, it would be the right idea, actually, and Ryo simply wasn't ready for that yet. "Uh, just getting some groceries for tomorrow," he lied. "There's a market down the next street. What about you? Were you coming to see me?"

It was Dee's turn to hesitate. Usually he was honest (painfully so, actually) but the words caught in his throat. He knew that Ryo would be annoyed with him - disgusted if he knew the whole story: that he was Dee's favorite fantasy. Only fantasy. He's all I want, and everything I just can't have.

"Dee?" Sheesh, the man was spacey tonight.

"Huh? Sorry... got a lot on my mind." There, that was vague and neutral. "I... I just went for a walk. Trying to clear my head."

That got Ryo's attention. It was a long walk between his house and Dee's and he knew that Dee wasn't any kind of a health nut - counting on his ultra-high metabolism to counteract his terrible eating habits. Ryo was always chiding him for it. And what could Dee possible have on his mind? Their case-load wasn't any heavier than normal and they'd just visited the orphanage, so he knew everything was okay there.

He indicated a bench. "Hey, wanna grab a seat and visit a minute?"

Dee still seemed uncertain of himself. "S-sure. Yeah."

Ryo followed him to the bench, worried now. It wasn't like Dee to be so solemn - usually he was all wide smiles and zany humor, a perpetrator of golden-hearted mischief that brought about as much laughter as it did chaos. "So what's on your mind, Dee?"

Dee swallowed hard, realizing he'd dangerously miscalculated. Ryo was one of those "feelings people" who couldn't stand to see someone shoulder a problem alone. What possible lie could he use? You! his brain was screaming. You're all I think about! "Uh-uh, nothing important," he stammered, trying to stall.

Ryo gave him a stubborn look and Dee felt himself wilting under the pressure. It wasn't like Ryo didn't know he had feelings for him - the blond detective just managed to dance around any mention of those feelings, that is, if he didn't just get flat-out irritated. Dee felt fragile enough without seeing anger enter Ryo's eyes again, and knowing he was the cause.

"Dee, I know better. C'mon, you've always been able to talk to me."

Dee's head was held up and he was looking out into the night. Ryo thought that he looked like the study for a painting of a saint the night before execution. He looks like he's praying to the moon. Moonlight silvered his dark hair and flooded his face so that his partner could see every line of stress, the tightness in his jaw, and the violet circles under his eyes that spoke of a series of sleepless nights. Why hadn't he seen the signs before, at work?

Dee turned toward him. "Ryo, why are you really out here tonight?"

"What?" He should have been used to the way Dee's conversation frequently jumped the tracks... but this transition was particularly unexpected.

"Look, I know you do all your shopping on Bethesda Street. Just - just tell me the truth, okay?" It's important. Let me be the reason you're out of bed and on the streets. Tell me you can't sleep either. Give me some sign that I have any effect on you at all.

"I just needed a few things, that's all, I didn't feel like going all the way downtown," he lied, feeling like Dee's green eyes could see through his skin and his bone - right into his thoughts. Lately, green eyes had been part of those thoughts all too often, along with olive skin, dark hair, and strong hands...

Dee shrugged. "All right. If you say so."

He sounds so miserable... I wish I knew what was bothering him. "Dee, you still haven't said what's wrong."

"Nothin'. Everything's just the same as always." Situation normal, he thought, all fucked up. I chase and he doesn't even realize I'm running...

"Then why do you sound so sad? And why are you wandering around at night? You know that's not safe."

"I've got my gun." And I can sit with you here on a park bench where we're safe with our guns and shy with our feelings. I guess it should be enough. "Ryo?"

"Yeah, Dee?" He felt nothing but worry at the seeming sea-change that had come over his partner. Dee's usual brashness was completely gone, replaced by a distracted gaze and hesitation.

"Could I tell you something, here, tonight, that I wouldn't usually tell you, just because out of a city of millions, we'd bump into each other?"

Dee still didn't sound like himself, but Ryo couldn't refuse him. "Dee, you can always tell me anything."

Dee half-smiled. "You say stuff like that, but I know there's some stuff you don't want to hear. Could this be... off the record? Just something I wanted you to hear?"

Was Dee Laytner asking him for immunity? It certainly sounded like it. "Sure, Dee."

"And if you get mad - we can just forget it, right?"

"If that's what you want." His worry was increasing syllable by syllable. He wanted to scream when he saw Dee rummage in his pockets for a cigarette to calm his nerves. What the hell have I gotten myself into?

Finally, Dee had enough nicotine in his system to face his partner and confess. "Look, what's been on my mind? It's you. That's why I'm out here tonight. I walk almost every night now because when I try to go to sleep, all I can think of is you. I didn't mean to come here, to your neighborhood. It's just where my feet went." He closed his eyes and drew a breath that was surprisingly harsh, almost ragged. "I know you don't want me, Ryo, but I wish you'd tell me there was a chance... just a chance... that I could matter to you like you matter to me."

Ryo was glad of the bench; without it, he wouldn't have been able to support himself. Sure, he'd known that Dee wanted to jump him for awhile now - the whole station knew that. But here Dee was, practically saying "I love you," just in different words, and Ryo couldn't deny the fact that his words had had an effect on him.

Receiving only silence from his partner, Dee decided that it was time for him to go. He made as to stand, but Ryo registered the motion and reached up to stop him. "Dee, wait."

"It's okay, Ryo. I didn't expect you to say anything. I-I just wanted you to know. I'll get out of here now."

"Could I say something first?"

"Of course."

"Dee, that was more than anyone's ever given me. I-I don't know if I can give you as much, or when, but... Dee, you've been on my mind too. Will it help you at all if I tell you there's a chance?"

Dee gasped and Ryo thought that it sounded like the breath of a man saved from drowning, getting drunk on deep, clean breaths of air. "Yes." He could go for months on a chance, years. Maybe I can even sleep again!

Ryo smiled at his partner, wishing he was brave enough to say more, to give more. "Hey, it's getting pretty late. Bikky'll be worried about me."

"Yeah, I guess I better get to a bus stop. Thank you." He stood, then impulsively leaned down and touched his lips to Ryo's forehead. The tenderness in that small gesture took Ryo completely aback, and he knew he's be up all night thinking about it if he let his partner disappear into the darkness.

"Dee, wait. My place is closer. Why don't you just stay there tonight?"

He brightened visibly. "Really?"

"Really. But be good, huh?"

Like I'd ruin what you just gave me! "Just cuddling," he said. "I promise."

Ryo laughed, wondering just when cuddling had gone from the not-allowed column to the allowed one, but then he decided that tonight it didn't matter. Together , they returned to the streets of the city, their shadows following behind them with joined hands.