Birthday, first his, and now, a week later, hers.
Kyoko wondered what Yukio had planned for them. Unlike his birthday this was a school day, so they only had a few hours, with exams coming up and all. Of their freshman year only remnants remained.
She looked across the classroom to the desk, second row from the door and one seat from the front, where Kuri-chan sat since their last seating change. While her best friend had regained some of her composure, Kyoko saw how all life had gone out of her.
It hurt. It hurt watching her best friend hurt.
“Kyoko, hello, Earth calling.”
She flinched and looked up at the face speaking to her. “Oh, Noriko, sorry. Yes?”
Behind Noriko Ryu stood smiling at them both. “I'll leave it to sis.”
“When was the last time you didn't?” Noriko retorted.
You two. You are always so bright. Kyoko looked at Kuri-chan's backside. And so were you. Please Kuri-chan, come back to us!
“Happy birthday!” Noriko said and reached out with both hands. A small paper bag with nothing inside.
“OK, thank you,” Noriko said and accepted the gift. She quickly looked inside. It wasn't empty after all. An envelope lay inside, together with a chewing gum.
“For school break,” Ryu explained. “We asked your parents, and they agreed, both of your parents.”
Now what on Earth did you two come up with? “Should I open?”
“Actually, no. Open it together with Yukio when you're alone,” Noriko said and smiled mischievously.
OK, now I'm really curious. Kyoko said nothing but returned Noriko's smile with a nod.
Self-study home-room ended, and Kyoko grabbed her bag. On her way out she paused by Kuri-chan to see if she wanted company, but she just shook her head with those lifeless eyes of hers.
I want to help, but you're not allowing me. “OK, see you tomorrow,” Kyoko said and left. More like I'll get to watch you sit by your desk avoiding everyone for another day.
Her best friend, but now more a modelling machine than anything else. Kuri-chan worked and studied and did very little else.
On her way down the stairs Kyoko's phone spat out the default signal.
She stopped briefly between two floors, and looking out the windows she picked up her phone and took the call.
“We'll get you good this time.” A male voice.
And the call was closed.
Kyoko stared at her phone. What she felt wasn't what she had expected. Fuck you! Kyoko, language! Fuck language!
She returned up half a floor and took the long corridor to the left wing.
Sick of this. I'm so sick of this shit! To her surprise that thought made her grin, and by the time she entered the left wing stairwell she was laughing. It had a slightly hysterical ring to it, but she still didn't feel the paralysing fear that would have come naturally to her just half a year earlier.
Kyoko climbed the stairs and beelined directly for 6:1. If they wanted to give her the evil eye she'd just glare back at them. She entered and didn't even bother with walking to his desk.
“Urufu, I just got a phone-call from someone who didn't think my one knife-wound was enough.”
Any glares sent her way when she entered vanished immediately.
“You and Yukio, come with me. I'll have your company to the haven.”
Both boys stared at her in incomprehension, but before they had the chance to respond, half a dozen other boys rose from their seats. One of them bowed.
“Takeida-san, you'll have ours as well.”
Kyoko was too angry to be surprised. “You know we're talking the kind of people who start waving guns?”
That made three girls rise and join the boys as well. A fourth tried to pull one of them back into her seat, but she shook herself lose and gave her friend an angry scowl. “She's a girl. It's wrong using weapons on girls.”
But it's fine gunning down boys? Are you for real?
Dysfunctional brain or not, Kyoko felt a wave of gratitude stream though her.
“Kyoko, this is no laughing matter. Called the police?” Urufu said. Always the sensible of them when he wasn't busy playing the insensitive moron.
Kyoko shook her head. “Caller unknown.”
“Caller unknown, my arse. That's just caller id not being sent to your unit. Phone company has it, or they couldn't deliver the call in the first place.”
Urufu, really! Speak Japanese! “Non geek here. You were saying?” She smiled at Yukio, who stared at her with open admiration in his eyes and slapped Urufu's back with one hand.
“Man, hear her? That's my girl.”
“Yukio, you join her to the café. Guys, I'll take you up on that promise. Please stay with her until I arrive.” Then Urufu looked at her, and there was something in his eyes that did make her afraid. “I'll handle this,” he said. It came out more a growl than anything else.
Shit! But I wanted him angry. Careful what you wish for, Kyoko, it might come true.
The first to join her was Yukio, and he quickly slipped his hand into hers. Then he leaned closer. “Happy birthday,” he whispered in her ear. “No matter what happened, happy birthday.”
They filed out of the classroom, and Kyoko could see how some of the students already had phones glued to the sides of their faces. When they reached the shoe lockers there were over a dozen of them.
Easy way to play heroes, I guess, Kyoko thought. This time what surprised her was how callous she had become. You're the best, she added in her mind to make up for her earlier cold assessment.
“Isn't she friends with that model?” one of the girls asked.
“Matsumoto-san's girlfriend,” another voice answered in a defensive tone, and for the first time since Kuri-chan broke up with Urufu, Kyoko felt she had regained a little of her reputation in 6:1. It warmed some.
Urufu, don't do anything stupid!