After he kissed Kyoko goodbye outside her house Yukio went in search for a convenience store before heading home.
Urufu's black eyes when he told him about the car accident still haunted Yukio.
As if he thinks it was his fault, Yukio mused. Damn it man! Stop trying to carry every burden yourself! Yukio growled and muttered a few choice curses. Don't you see that you're insulting your own friends if you don't share some of the shit with us?
Because friendship didn't care about over thirty years difference in age. Friends should help to their capacity, and they should be allowed to do so.
Yukio listened to his footsteps in the darkness as he walked between islands of light under the street lamps. From time to time a car overtook him and flooded the street ahead of him with white brightness until it passed him and waved goodbye with red rear lights.
Some ten minutes later he came up to a dimly lit parking place where a few cars waited for their owners who were inside the convenience store.
He walked in and took a right turn to get to the newspaper stand. A magazine and a bottle of water later he stood making a choice between future microwave victims. Eventually Yukio took something that made a good effort at pretending to be curry on rice.
Kyoko would yell at me for declining dinner at her place. But the truth was her parents made him feel uneasy. While it seemed Kyoko's mother more or less had accepted her daughter's new boyfriend it was all too clear her father hadn't.
Yukio whistled tunelessly, held on to his booty and made for the cashier.
A thousand yen poorer and with a plastic bag holding too much for a snack but too little for dinner he lined up his feet in the direction of his home and started walking.
'Next week' Urufu had said, but Yukio thought that was unlikely. Five broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder and both lungs punctured didn't sound like something that healed in two weeks. If Urufu was let out of the hospital while it was still October he would be lucky. At least that was what Yukio believed, but he wasn't a doctor.
It didn't take all that long to reach the apartment block where he lived during the week with his mother. His father's flat was out of the question this late in the evening.
Yukio climbed the stairs hugging the wall and walked to his door. He could have knocked for his mother to open, but it felt better to use his keys so as not to disturb her unnecessarily.
“I'm home,” he called when he came indoors.
“Welcome home,” his mother answered and let him know she was in their small living room.
Yukio went to the kitchenette and put his meal in the microwave. Three minutes would be enough, and it gave him time to drop the water into the fridge and put his magazine in the room where he slept.
“Any news on your friend?” his mother asked from where she sat in a sofa watching TV.
“Nothing much. He thinks he'll be discharged next week. I think he's too optimistic.”
His mother rose from her seat.
“Have I ever said I'm sorry we put you through Red Rose academy?”
Yukio shook his head. “It's OK. You couldn't know. I'm sure it looked like a good school.”
“Mmm, it did.”
The microwave chimed and Yukio fetched his heated dinner and sat down by the kitchen table.
“Mom, midterms are coming up and after that there are parent meetings.” He looked at his mother who waited for him to finish. “Can you get time off or do you want me to ask dad?”
She got her handbag and picked up a phone. “No it's fine. Just make sure to tell me the time at least a week in advance.”
He nodded and started gulping down his meal. It was about as lacking in taste as he had feared, but it filled him up and banished the worst of his hunger.
While he ate his mother got the bottle of water and two glasses. She filled them both up and sat down across the table.
“How are things with Kyoko?”
“Fine,” Yukio said between two mouthfuls.
He finished his meal and downed his glass of water.
“Mom,” he began, “mind if I bring her over this weekend?”
His mother gave him a long glance. “For a visit, not at all, but sleeping over, very much.”
That suggestion made Yukio's face flare red. “Mom!”
“Sorry, just teasing. Please do. She seems to be a sweet girl. Hold on to her, will you?”
He had no plans doing otherwise. “As long as she wants me.” Strange, before I met you I'd say she's mine, he thought wondering how Urufu spent yet another lonely evening in the hospital. But you and Kuri taught me love is something you share. “I'll work hard to make her want me,” he added.
“Yukio, you're growing up.”
Maybe because my best friend is an adult. “Yeah, maybe I am. That's good, isn't it?”
His mother smirked suddenly, and for a moment Yukio saw something empty in her eyes. “Don't be too much in a hurry. You want to remember that you were still a child during these years.”
What was that about? I'll ask Urufu when I meet him. “OK,” Yukio said. He didn't really understand what his mother had meant, but for some reason she looked like an abandoned child when she spoke.
Yukio felt discomfort filling him, as if he had seen something in his mother he wasn't supposed to see. Rather than continue the awkward conversation he stood and prepared the dishes. After that he spent the rest of the evening doing homework.
Tomorrow he'd check with Kuri before he told Principal Nakagawa that Urufu flat out rejected any involvement with the student council.