Yukio recalled how Urufu had fallen silent from just before they joined the year's end ceremony. He'd stayed silent throughout all of it, and when they waved goodbye afterwards Urufu only grunted something that you needed to be a good friend to understand that it was actually a greeting and not an insult.
It put a damper on his planned date with Kyoko. Both his dates with her. After their part time hours at the Stockholm Haven café they'd slowly make their way home and stop at the old mall. A mini date of sorts. The real one was Christmas Eve, and he'd already bought her gift.
I know you said not to, but I did anyway. A knitted scarf, and it had been just as expensive as Kyoko had feared, but Yukio didn't care. She said she had plenty of them, but he'd only seen her wearing the atrocity that didn't even serve as a worn out rug.
He dropped off yet another order at a table and returned for more. By now the cheerful booing and wolf whistles had subsided and both he and Kyoko were busy moving a never ending stream of orders from counter to tables.
Today their club celebrated the end of their second term and combined that event with a singles party for club members and their friends. With a bit of luck a few of them wouldn't have to join similar parties on Christmas eve or Christmas day.
As the only couple present both he and Kyoko had about heard it all by now, usually accompanied by boos and whistles, but he decided it was well worth it. Mainly because Kyoko shone like a sun and threw him a joyful glance whenever someone laughingly showed their displeasure with boyfriend and girlfriend working together at a singles party.
“Last order?” Kyoko shouted from a nearby table when Yukio picked up yet another tray from the counter.
“Last order.” James confirmed from the opening to the kitchen.
Yukio looked up and met the eyes of his employer. Ashiga James, and after a long time of demands finally James even to Yukio and Kyoko. Getting used to call a ten year older person by his first name had taken a toll on them both.
James was also the third arrival Yukio knew of, even though he suspected there were more of them, and that both Urufu and Kuri knew more than they had told him.
“Kyoko, corners first and then change. I'll clean out the tables before I change.”
She nodded back at him and went for one of the trays James placed on the counter.
With his hands full Yukio went for the table closest to the entrance, placed the items ordered on the table and filled his tray with used mugs and plates.
After another two runs he was done, and from there on he concentrated on removing used kitchenware from the café proper. Inside the kitchen James for once had a part timer doing the dishes, and the poor sod would have to prove his mettle for another two evenings.
“Kyoko, ready?” Yukio said as he grabbed his coat after receiving James' go ahead to finish for the day.
She smiled back and shouldered her bag, and together they left the café to the jeering of their club members inside.
“Home or detour?” Kyoko wondered when they had walked a block.
She had changed since he got to know her. These days Kyoko wasn't afraid to come with a suggestion. At least Yukio believed she had changed, but if he was honest with himself he didn't know if this was a side of her she just hadn't shown him earlier.
“Home,” he answered. Don't want to push my luck. We have a date scheduled for tomorrow. Which meant they had a date Kyoko's parents had accepted. Yukio didn't know for certain what would happen to it should Kyoko come home too late.
“Sure, walk me home?”
Yukio hadn't planned anything else. He'd collect the bike he used by the mall Urufu-style and walk it all the way to her home. Then he'd ride it home just as they had agreed to with Principal Nakagawa.
“Mail me tomorrow?” Kyoko said as they passed the school and began the route he and Urufu usually took the few days they still returned via the mall.
And they've become fewer. Either he's with Kuri, even if that happens depressingly seldom, or I'm with Kyoko.
“Yeah, I will,” he said, but his thoughts weren't into the answer, rather thinking of Urufu Yukio suddenly wondered how his friend had planned to make his date with Kuri come true. A dark car with tinted windows drove her to and from school almost every day.
“Worried about Kuri-chan and Urufu?” Kyoko wondered by his side.
You know how that just makes me love you even more? That mind-reading ability of yours?
“Kuri-chan told me she'll be picked up by Urufu and Sato-sensei tomorrow.”
Someone who goes as his mother. Yeah, should help some. Somehow Kyoko's words lifted one small burden from him, and he grabbed her left hand and squeezed.
“Thank you. Thank you for thinking of both our friends.”
“He's your important friend, was what you were thinking? Well, stop it. Urufu's my friend as well.”
Yukio bowed his head and took a few steps. Scolded by his girlfriend. Yeah, Kyoko definitely had changed since they first met.
“Uhum, same with Kuri,” he said, but that wasn't entirely true. He respected her, but there was something cold to the tall beauty that made him keep his distance. Kuri wasn't really someone he'd have made friends with in the first place hadn't it been for Urufu, and in difference from Urufu her lifelong experience shone through most of the time. She just didn't pretend to be a teenage kid.
“I'm glad you think of her as a friend,” Kyoko's voice said from his right.
The words made him feel a little ashamed, but he still couldn't help how he felt about Urufu's girlfriend.