If they hadn't stopped for a last quick meal. If they hadn't walked that short-cut. If they hadn't stopped to call for help.
Kyoko wished for those ifs, but wishing and doing something about what happened right now were different things.
For the second time she watched Yukio getting beaten up when he tried to protect her, but this time they weren't anywhere close to home, or anywhere close to where they could expect any help at all.
“Stop! You'll kill him! Stop!”
She wriggled in arms holding her. I difference from the last time there was no groping. Whoever held her simply made certain she didn't rush to Yukio's help.
Kyoko turned once more in her captor's hands, but his hold was too tight. She tried stomping on his feet, threw herself backwards, but nothing helped.
Only a short distance from her, on the street and curled together like a ball, Yukio received kick after vicious kick from two men. He had long since stopped screaming, and she could only hear the occasional moan when a foot hurt him especially bad.
Stop! Stop! Stop! Did I shout that? No! “Stop! Stop hurting him! Help! Help me!”
A hand made contact with her face when she gathered air to keep screeching. It searched for her mouth but missed. She wriggled again and managed to get her entire face free. “Help me! Help us! They're killing him!”
This time the hands holding her hurt. She flailed some more and screamed some more, until she received an elbow to her head. Her entire world swam, but a tiny part of her brain kept its slyness and she sagged a little more than she really needed to.
For just a moment those hand released their grip, and that was all she needed to break free. Kyoko twisted and ran. Two, three, four steps she managed before her legs were kicked away from under her. As she fell she turned in the air, and for the first time she saw her captor. Why don't you look like a monster? Why do you look so normal? Then she hit the ground and staggered back up on wobbly feet.
One of the grabbing hands had turned into a fist with a knife.
She swivelled to the left, he grabbed after her with the unarmed hand, and missed.
Yukio! “Yukio! Help!” She dove for him, but this time that hand managed to get a hold of her coat. Twisting hard Kyoko broke free once again and stumbled towards Yukio's prone body.
Her captor missed her again and growled.
He stabbed her.
Shouldn't it hurt more than this?
In the distance gunfire echoed. A ricochet grazed her head.
That hurt. I'm tired.
It stopped hurting. Then it hurt again, and Yukio woke.
What's going on. Oh, man, what's with my face? Kyoko!
A slow ache spread from his jaw to the sides of his head, and then suddenly a knife sharp pain when he tried to open his mouth.
Around him the world flashed in red and white light banishing shadows that always returned just after they fled. There were voices, some talking, some angrily shouting, and one, one that was barking frantically orders.
Urufu, why aren't you going home?
Then a man, no three men, in white and grey leaned over him. They grabbed, and it hurt again.
Hospital? This has to be a hospital. Yukio saw lamps in the ceiling move backwards, and it took him a while before he understood that he was rolled through a corridor on a stretcher.
It's stopped hurting. He tried to move his head, but it was stuck, and he couldn't see sideways at all. Some kind of metal towered above him, and from it cables and tubes flowed down onto his body like some kind of frozen waterfall.
Unlike before the world wasn't flashing. It was all white, and the only noise was subdued voices speaking something that sounded like Japanese, but there were all these strangely foreign sounding words he couldn't understand. They weren't English; Yukio would have caught at least something from it after Urufu's gruelling lessons and their walking talking sessions throughout summer and autumn.
Kyoko, where are you? “Kyoko,” he said, but her name came out wrong, and it hurt just trying to talk.
“Please be silent. You're hurt and shouldn't speak right now.”
Who are you? Ah, a nurse? A doctor?
Yukio felt tired, and he groggily wondered why as he must have just woken up. The ceiling continued to move backwards and he slid back into sleep.
“He's awake. Thank all gods!”
This time Yukio could move his head, and his eyes found Urufu sitting on a chair by his side.
He felt dizzy, and his stomach didn't agree with him at all. A sudden wave of unease forced him to turn and he threw up.
The sound of a door opening made him turn back again, and Yukio saw a woman entering. Then he was covered in blankets, and someone cleaned up beside him.
“We'll need a fresh set of bedding.”
“I'm on it.”
“Bring a seat as well. He needs a shower.”
“OK,” the second of two female voices said before it vanished out the door.
“I need you to go outside.”
“Of course,” Urufu answered, and Yukio saw him leave the room as well.
“Young man, you have a concussion and probably a few fractures. Please be as still as possible,” the nurse who remained in the room said.
“Where's Kyoko?” Sure, he was groggy and felt like crap, but that was nothing compared to not knowing what had happened to her.
“Who?” came an answer he should have guessed from the beginning.
Yukio began from the start. “There were two of us. My girlfriend, she should be here somewhere waiting for me.” Because that was what he hoped. He suspected the nurse didn't know, but at least he had to chance the question anyway.
The look he got in return had his stomach in uproar all again. “She was your girlfriend? I'm so sorry.”