Yukio slid open the door to Urufu's room, or rather the room he shared with another two patients.
One look inside told him one of those patients had been discharged. The bed was neatly made and still untouched for the day. Urufu sat in his bed by the window and looked out. He barely turned to wave Yukio welcome before he returned to his stare outside.
The third bed was currently unoccupied, it's owner away for rehab or something.
Next week they promised, Yukio thought. You look like a bird in a cage here.
“Urufu, I have the midterm results,” Yukio said and zipped open his bag.
“What's the fallout?” Urufu wondered, but he still didn't look inside the room.
Yukio took the long way, grabbed a chair and positioned himself by the window. He quickly produced Urufu's five exams.
“You won't end up on the wall, that's or certain.”
“Top fifty? No, no I guess not.”
Yukio smirked. It wasn't like he was anywhere close to placing among the top fifty himself. There were close to 350 freshmen, so if he made it into the top hundred and fifty he'd be happy. As it was he scored number 160 overall.
Urufu leafed through the papers. “Fuck! Oh well, could have been worse.”
“How bad?” Yukio asked.
“Three make-up exams. Should have been two, but our beloved basket case keeps screwing me over.”
“English again?” Yukio asked already knowing the answer.
“Yeah, the retard doesn't know the language in the first place, and it shows in his grading.”
Yukio avoided meeting Urufu's eyes and stared at a tray with the leftovers from a nondescript hospital meal. Stop being so damn cocky! You're deliberately misinterpreting his tests and receive poor grades. But truth be told Yukio did suspect that Urufu's English was superior by far compared to their teacher's.
“You look down,” Yukio said to change the subject.
“Don't worry. Just feeling restless. How did the rest of the gang do?”
“Kyoko scored number 130. She's pretty unhappy about it.”
Urufu grimaced before saying anything. “Soz, but if she ever makes it into the top third that's her cap I'm afraid.”
“Like you've been a teacher!” Yukio said and barely managed to keep his voice down.
“I have, and you know it. Learning assessment was part of my job. Top third in this school if she makes an effort. Push her to make it into double digits.”
Yukio didn't respond. Urufu could be a condescending arsehole, but he was very seldom wrong.
“The others?” Urufu wanted to know.
“Don't know about Kuri, but you can ask her yourself. I think she bombed pretty badly.”
With a sigh Urufu slowly started to laugh. “Yeah, I could see that coming. OK I'll ask her when she comes here next time. The twins?”
“Ryu just made into the list. Number 48.”
“Make a guess.”
“Hmm, she's been worried lately. Should cost her. She made fifth place and is sulking about it?”
Yukio stared at his friend. “Are you some kind of mind reader?”
There was a short laugh but no answer. If Yukio was honest with himself he wasn't all that surprised Noriko had dropped two positions given all that had happened during October.
He looked out the window, over the small park greeting visitors to the hospital and across a jagged landscape of low-rise buildings in their dirty, yellowish grey. Behind him Urufu stayed strangely silent and Yukio turned and looked at his friend.
For the first time he noticed that Urufu's eyes were tinged with red.
Have you been crying? “What's wrong?”
This time it was Urufu who didn't meet his eyes. Instead he looked through the windows at a grey autumn sky. There was something empty in that stare, a desolation Yukio knew from earlier.
“Man, are you back home again?”
Urufu drew a deep breath. “Yes, but it's only a memory now. I don't think I'll ever be able to go back.”
Did you give up? When was the impossibility of anything a reason for you to give up? “What do you mean?”
“You know,” Urufu began with a voice that was barely more than a whisper, “we've met a couple of arrivals, but I've never even heard a story about anyone going back.”
“I've been thinking a lot. There should at least be some kind of unconfirmed rumour. Some kind of wishful magic thinking, but there's nothing.”
Yukio wiped his mouth with his hand. He didn't share Urufu's information network, and to be honest he didn't put all that much thought into Urufu's old world. For him Urufu was his best friend, an adult caught in his teenager body but no matter what Yukio truly saw Tokyo as Urufu's home.
“What's wrong,” Yukio asked again.
“I miss them.”
“Sure, you've said that lots of times before.”
“You don't understand. I can't even visit her grave. My little girl, she's gone for good and I can't even honour her memory!”
In the self-deprecating way that was Urufu's he sniffled and cried like a girl. For some reason it never looked like a weakness to Yukio, not once even including that first time a year ago when Urufu cried his heart out longing for his lost wife. This time, however, it looked like a deeper crisis.
“Urufu, man, what's wrong.”
“She's gone, they're all gone!”
From the door the sound of a sudden gasp got Yukio's attention and he looked up from Urufu's face. In the door opening he saw how Kuri slapped her hands to her face with a stricken look before she turned and ran away.