“I don't like it,” Hitomi-chan said. “First you and now Noriko-chan.”
Kyoko stifled a reflex to defend Kuri-chan. For once she agreed with Hitomi-chan, even if they both had taken part in the brutal roll call.
“So what? It worked.”
“No,” Hitomi-chan said. “It didn't work. You just turned the bullying around. Fine, you're both scot-free but damn you've hurt a lot of people.”
“They deserved to be hurt.”
There was something in Kuri-chan's voice Kyoko didn't like to hear. Something hard that hadn't been there, not even when they were called 'the fatskies' early in ninth grade. Sure, Kuri-chan knew she'd become beautiful one day, but months of being called out for being ugly should still have hurt. Kyoko remembered how it sure hurt her.
“Kuritina-chan, please, you want the bullying to stop, not the hatred to start. Just trust me on this.”
Maybe Hitomi-chan wasn't as much an airhead as Noriko would have her to be.
“Shut up! You think you know so much about...”
“No, you stop it, Kuri-chan! She's right,” Kyoko interrupted and grabbed her friend.
Kuri-chan's face flared with hurt anger. “What, I thought you were my friend.”
Gah! How hard can it be to understand? “Kuri-chan, we both are. I'm your best friend, remember. I'm telling you she's right as your friend.”
“Fuck you and go to hell! Why don't you just shut up as well?”
That hurt. Before she could stop herself Kyoko lashed out. “Yeah, why don't I. Just like when you told me to shut up last time.” Pent up anger and fear loaded her voice. Kuri-chan recoiled like a whipped dog. “Dammit Kuri-chan, you know exactly how to hurt a friend.”
From the corner of her eye Kyoko saw how Kuri-chan cringed from the sudden onslaught. I didn't mean it that way. But Kyoko needed fresh air to clear her thoughts, even if it meant running from her friend. She needed Yukio. She needed to feel needed and loved.
There were no tears in her eyes when she stormed away, and that scared her the most. She was supposed to be the cool-headed one, second fiddle or the wingman. She should have the back of her friend and be the voice of reason, but if she became cold herself instead of cool it was all for nothing.
Kyoko ran down the stairs the way she had seen Ryu do sometimes. Half a flight of stairs at a time. But she wasn't Ryu, and the outcome was a given. Halfway between the first and second floor she missed a step and flew headlong into the wall beside the windows. Another half a metre to the left and she would have vaulted through the glass and fallen a few metres to the tarmac on the outside.
The impact was still hard enough to make her groggy and she staggered down the last flight and walked into the corridor feeding the main entrance and the cafeteria.
She felt dizzy, and something was wrong with her eyes. Fuzzy figures stared at her, arms grabbing just like she had been grabbed that night. Kyoko veered away from the assault, fell into the vending machines and dropped to her knees.
She threw up on the floor.
Someone grabbed her from behind. There would be no getting away this time.
Yukio I need you. Yukio help me!