Saturday, 15 August 2015

Chapter six (segment one), 2016, August, Yukio

The first call came around ten in the evening, and after the third he convinced his mother to drive him to Kuri's apartment.

For a while he thought of calling Kyoko, but her parents would most likely have gone ballistic if he tried a stunt like that.

Traffic was bad with a lot of people in their twenties driving to parties celebrating that summer was about to end. A lot of university students flocked the streets as well. All in all it took his mother the better part of half an hour to get there. Eleven pm.'

It was still warm in the air, so the shuddering couldn't be because he was freezing. Yukio ran up the stairs and grabbed Urufu's shoulders. “What's wrong, man?”

“She's not here. She doesn't take calls and she doesn't reply to emails. I don't know where she's gone. Amaya's coming. She's a police and there has to be something she can do.”

Yukio let the flood of words roll over him. Urufu was frantic, and he probably didn't even know he was talking constantly.

“Man, calm down. Mom's here and Sato-sensei is coming. We'll be fine,” he said. Truth be told he didn't have a clue what the emergency was about. Kuri was out, she had flipped her phone off and thus she couldn't be reached. End of problem. Both Urufu and Kuri were grown ups anyway. They just looked like high schoolers.

But then crap with Urufu seldom was that easy.

Yukio looked down the stairs. His mother stood there looking back up. She pointed towards a line of vending machines and Yukio nodded. She vanished out of sight, and Yukio sat down beside his friend. There wasn't much else to do?

From outside the railings he could hear the muted metallic thumps of cans dropping to the bottom of a machine. Shortly afterwards his mother came up with some canned coffee. When she looked at him Yukio just shook his head. There wasn't anything more she could do, and she walked back down again. A bit later a thin line of white in the dark rose above the railings. He smelled the cigarettes she smoked whenever she felt awkward or nervous.

Urufu remained strangely silent throughout all this. When he was done with his first outburst it was as if he didn't have anything more to say, and a silent Urufu wasn't anything Yukio was prepared to handle. It was outright unnatural.

The sound of an engine save Yukio from his problem. He rose and leaned over the railing. Just as he had hoped Sato-sensei opened the door and stepped out. He saw her and his mother exchange a few words and then he heard Urufu's guardian make her way up the stairs.

“What's going on kids?”

Not a 'hello', no 'how are you doing' or even a 'good to see you again'. But maybe that was Sato-sensei when all was said and done.

“Don't know to be honest, sensei,” he said. That wasn't entirely true, was it? “Seems Urufu can't contact Kuri, and he's worried,” Yukio added. This time he had told her all he had to add.

Sato-sensei looked at him. “You're a good friend, but I don't think you have to worry so much.” Then she smiled at him, a friendly smile but very much the kind of smile a grown-up gives a child.

Yukio wasn't comfortable with that, but he had involved adults because he was uncertain what to do. “It's not that Kuri's gone I'm worried about,” he tried to explain. “But Urufu didn't feel all that well earlier, well you know.” More like he had gone totally under the surface for some time, and that did worry Yukio. It was doubly frustrating as he wasn't certain how much the adults had learned or how much he could tell them.

“Thank you for caring. I'll take it from here. I think you can go home with your mother now.”

At that moment Urufu's phone blared to life, and Yukio watched his friend frantically dig around in his pockets for it.

Listening to half a conversation in Swedish was bewildering. Yukio only understood Kuri's name, or rather the unpronounceable version of it Urufu used. His voice rose from concern and worry to anger and irritation; it hovered on frustration, balancing on the edge between resentment and reconciliation until the latter won and Urufu's voice sank back to some kind of mutual understanding and promises. After that it petered out into soft sounds Yukio didn't need to know Swedish to understand anyway.

He watched Urufu hang up the call, slide the phone back into the pocket where it belonged and stretch out on the concrete outside Kuri's door. He sagged, shrunk as worry ran off him and met the eyes of his guardian.

“I think we can go home,” he said. “She was only working late.”
You should have called earlier, Yukio thought. Dammit Kuri, Urufu deserves better. “You OK with me going home, man?”

Urufu nodded and accepted the hand Sato-sensei stretched out to him. “I'll be fine. Thanks for being here, Yukio.”

Yukio grinned. “You'll be there for me next time. Just go home man.”

There was no smell of cigarettes from below, so Yukio knew his mother already sat in the car waiting for him. He grabbed Urufu's shoulder and walked down the stairs. Somehow he didn't think this was the last of it. Rather a beginning of something he wasn't sure he wanted to see through.

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