Saturday, 23 July 2016

Chapter five (segment nine), 2017, year's end

Damn! He really did it!

Yukio stared at the exam boards. Noriko at a superb second place among all firs years, and Ruy climbed to number 42. None of the rest of them made the top fifty. Still, he was more than pleased with himself with place 119, which left him a full fifteen places behind Kyoko.

And then there was Urufu. Place 165 might not be anything to brag about, but he passed every exam just as he had promised. And so had Kuri, even though she barely climbed inside the top two hundred and got herself a position solidly in the middle among the bad.

But you're damn scary. I wonder how long it takes before anyone notices. Because here was no holding Urufu back at math now. Despite problems reading the exam he positioned himself at a solid twelfth place in that subject. The day Urufu could read as well as the rest of them Yukio suspected funny stuff would happen to the result lists.

Of their first year less than a day remained. Tomorrow the graduation ceremony for the seniors, and after that two weeks' worth of spring break.

I'm scared, Yukio thought. Spring break meant two weeks filled with the luxury of not having his fears interrupted by exams, club activities and classes. In short a luxury he didn't want. Pretending that Kyoko hadn't been stabbed and that the grown ups around him weren't involved with a dangerous game of hurting people, pretending that he lived an ordinary high school life was so much easier.

Around him happy and dejected voices told him other students had found their names, or failed to find them on the list of the top fifty.

Yukio sighed and walked into the cafeteria for a short lunch.

Lunch ended, and too shortly after that, so did the school day. With great apprehension Yukio walked down the stairs and waited for Kyoko. They were to ride her father's car to her home, grab something to eat and then he'd be driven home.

Her father might be an uptight arse, but for some reason he had seemed to have taken a liking to Yukio.

Outside spring was in full command of the weather, and more and more of the brave students voided their sweaters and chanced going to and from school in blazers and shirts only.

He tested his walking. Some of the limp was still there, would probably be there for some time coming. His own fault, Yukio knew that, but it still felt unfair. He hadn't asked to be assaulted.

Yukio, ready?”

That was fast! Turning around Yukio noticed how Kyoko had all but recovered fully, or at least recovered as much as she ever would.

Ready.” He shouldered his bag and gave Kyoko his arm. Nowadays it was more for his own support than her needing any help. Still, any excuse to feel her near him was a good excuse. “Shall we?”

Kyoko leaned closer to him. “Sure, let's go.”

Accompanied by the sound of gravel shifting under their feet they walked to where Kyoko's father waited. Yukio took the front seat and Kyoko made herself comfortable in the back. Had he been given a choice he's shared a seat with her, but her father preferred some company to chat with for the short drive.

As usual they passed streets and stop lights in the usual interrogation thinly disguised as a father's interest in what occurred at school. Yukio could see the difference in his face whenever the topic touched on the Wakayamas and Urufu or Kuri.

He knows something. And as always that interest dimmed when Yukio told him about what the friends had done. He wants to know what their parents are up to.

Therein lay the problem. Since the attack Urufu had been close-mouthed. As if he tried to protect the two of them. But I don't want to be protected. I want to protect.

If it only was that easy. Urufu threw an employed thug to the street and Yukio got his sorry arse kicked to kingdom come. Screw this! It's not Urufu's fault. Besides he got beaten up as well. Making up excuses didn't help. Someone had hurt Kyoko, and Yukio wanted in on the deal. The need for revenge was so strong he could taste it.

“… to eat?”

Huh? Kyoko's voice reached him from behind. “Sorry, I didn't hear you.”

What do you want to eat?”

Eh, anything.”

Don't be a bore. We're going south in a few days, and dad has to go to a conference starting tomorrow.”

Ah, forgot they gave us permission to travel to Ise. “Hot pot?”

Dad, what about it?”

Hot pot. Sounds delicious. I'll stop by the mall then.”

I guess they're not that worried any more. Damn, how can anyone think of their own daughter as damaged goods? She couldn't have children, so there wasn't as much as a sound of protest when Kyoko showed them the vouchers she had received for a birthday present.

They stopped at the mall. Urufu's and his old mall. Shopping food was a silent and sombre affair. Even Kyoko stayed strangely subdued, a little like the Kyoko he fell in love with close to a year earlier. He hadn't know at the time, Yukio admitted that to himself, but she walked in the shadow of Kuri without a complaint. That also, was an untruth. When he learned more about her he found out just how rough she could be with her best friend, and he loved her all the more for it.

Bags in hands they returned to the car. Conversation hadn't picked up at all, but Yukio was thankful for that. This close to the end of their first high school year his head was full of memories how it had all started.

Funny that. When they began he'd been full of thoughts about the future, and how to make the most of his lucky shot to share classes with Urufu. Looking back, is this is part of growing up? He'd ask Urufu when they met next time. Man, I miss your insane ideas. I'm not a girl, but it hurts in my heart to see you hurting.

Then Yukio laughed when he realised how angry Urufu would be if he knew Yukio made a difference between boys and girls when it came to hurting. I won't ask you about that though. Some secrets are best kept, well, secret.

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