Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Chapter one (segment five), 2016, December, Yukio
Unlike before their midterms Yukio got together with Kyoko to study for the final exams a good two weeks in advance.
Sitting in the club room they had just finished an English session, which in line with Urufu's suggestion they held entirely in English, and now the room was eerily silent. First Yukio couldn't put his finger to it, but then he recalled how the club had been given written permission to run their activities at the Stockholm Haven café. Their club room was slated for being converted into a classroom come April.
At the moment fewer than half a dozen members lazed in the lounge area. Another five or so had left for a walking talking session, which only proved how far Urufu's stance on self organisation had penetrated the club.
Yukio turned his head and looked outside. Grey skies and rivulets of water on the window pane told their story of yet another rainy day. If the clothes worn by the students he saw crossing the gravel beneath him were an honest indicator it was a cold rainy day to boot.
“Yukio, what about this part,” Kyoko said in English and showed him a math problem.
He grinned at first but toned it down to a smile. “You're cute,” he responded in Japanese.
“Huh? Oh, sorry.”
“I think we can do the math in Japanese. I don't even know half the terms in English.”
She gave him a sheepish smile and nodded. “Yeah, and I love you too.”
It was easier these days. Yukio preferred it this way when expressions of affection and love came natural to them both. Somehow the world changing feelings from August had calmed down, but instead Kyoko had become his most important friend apart from being the girl he loved.
“They're not here had often as before,” Kyoko said after he pointed out the mistake that prevented her from solving the problem.
They. We don't even need names now, do we? “I guess so,” he said. “Urufu said he's helping her prepare the finals, but he's also doing a lot of work through those strange contacts of his.”
Kyoko's expression darkened, but Yukio knew her displeasure wasn't directed at him. “Same with Kuri-chan. She's spending almost all her free time modelling.” A tentative hand reached out across the table and Yukio took it in his. “I worry, you know.”
He did as well. Since he became an item with Kyoko the two of them gradually saw their responsibility towards their friends as a shared one. Especially after what happened during the cultural festival. Now they more or less agreed that the two old teenagers were children that needed taking care of.
“Is it just me, or does Kuri smile less often now?”
“She's unhappy,” Kyoko said. She turned her attention to the next problem and the two of them fell silent while they solved it each on their own. “She doesn't tell me, but I can see. I got to learn that expression during our year at middle school.”
Yukio looked up from his booklet and met Kyoko's gaze. “Kuri was unhappy during middle school?”
“Yeah, and no. In the beginning I think she was scared more than unhappy, but that was before I learned who she really was.”
Caressing Kyoko's fingers Yukio waited for her to continue. Sometimes she needed to say something in preparation of what she really wanted to say.
“I was… was…,” Kyoko started. “I was fat.”
Yukio looked at her She was still a bit chubby, but he liked that part of her. It made her adorably soft to hug, and he couldn't get enough of it. He was aware, however, that not everyone saw her in the same light as he did. Their loss. I get to keep her all for myself.
“When I lost weight some of the boys started looking at me, and there were a few girls who didn't like that.”
Were you bullied? You never told me.
The smile Yukio got was disarming, and he could feel how Kyoko had guessed what he was thinking. “It never got as far as bullying. Kuri-chan didn't like anyway though. That's how I got to learn what she looked like when she was unhappy.” All of a sudden Kyoko's face lit up in a wide grin. “She's a funny girl that way. It was like she didn't care when people said bad things about her, but no one was allowed to do the same to me. That was when I decided she was my best friend.”
I can see how she won your heart. Urufu's just the same. He has absolutely no concerns for himself. “I understand,” Yukio said and met her grin with one of his own.
Yukio nodded and laughed. Their two Swedish best friends who tried but always failed to become Japanese. Sometimes he wondered how hard they really tried. “And he's not proper.”
“Same with Kuri-chan. She's not a proper girl at all.”
And I believe they made us both better persons because of that. What was it Urufu called it? Ah, integrity. That's how he tried to explain the Swedish version of honour. Doing what was right even if it meant betraying your friends, because if you didn't stay true to yourself you didn't deserve to be called a friend in the first place.
“You know,” Yukio began, “I think they're trying to learn how to be teenagers again,” he said as realisation struck him. “It's like they're caught in between if you get what I mean.”
Kyoko closed her eyes the way she usually did when she was deep in thought. Then she opened them, tilted her head backwards and stared at the ceiling. “I think I understand. Does that mean they're fighting like adults now but are treated like kids?”
He hadn't thought about it that way. Could it be that Kuri and Urufu had stepped onto the turf of adults where everyone saw them as unruly teenagers? If that was so, could they ever hope to win?