In the end Kyoko didn't think she'd be able to join Kuri-chan and Noriko for the sleepover at Noriko's place.
They had to run just a little too fast to get away from the growing crowd that day, when they went shopping for chocolate and some kitchen utensils to use for the home made ones.
She sulked a little, but at least she had Yukio to herself. Besides, planning got difficult, now when Nao finally was back from his school trip and managed to get some time to spend with Noriko.
At the moment she sat in the Stockholm Haven café, spending her time on one of those combined club and study sessions that had become more and more usual with Urufu leading them.
“Noriko,” he said. “Give them a hand with math. Especially give Christina a hand, a foot or preferably an entire carcass.”
“You really want his carcass?” Noriko asked and slapped on a grin that quickly dissolved.
The question met with absolute silence, and more than one member threw a glance at Kyoko where she sat side by side with Yukio.
“Sorry,” Noriko said.
“Hey. Hey! I'm not made of glass.” Kyoko refused to be treated like some fragile victim. She was healing quickly and felt almost no pain these days. “Kuri-chan, which carcass?” she added to force the bad mood to evaporate.
“Not Ulf's, never Ulf's,” Kuri-chan said, and now first Kyoko noticed how she had paled when Noriko threw out the question.
Crap! Forgot she spent a night at hospital with him as well. I'm sorry. “Don't ask him to die in that case,” Kyoko retorted. Kuri-chan could take a verbal punch or two, and Kyoko relied on her to understand how a laugh was needed now.
She took her pen in a tighter grip and prayed that Kuri-chan would react the right way. Looking across the table she saw her friend blink in hurt confusion, and after that, a flicker of understanding.
“Fine, hand me Kareyoshi's head on a plate,” she said.
Crap! You're not supposed to tell anyone.
“Kareyoshi? He's not even your English teacher,” Hitomi-chan said.
“Bastard had a hand in Ko-chan's stabbing. We just can't prove anything.”
No, no, no, no, no!
The room detonated with shouts.
“Kuri-chan, you can't tell anyone.” Kyoko barely finished the sentence before she understood the huge mistake she had just made. “Eh… I mean...”
The rest drowned in a second round of enraged shouts.
Shit! Take control, Kyoko!
Then a thought struck her, one that would have been impossible a year earlier. Coercion had never been her tool, but too much was at stake now. “You can't, really!” How do I force them to obey? At least she had their undivided attention. Ah, yes! “You can't. It would… it would be dangerous for me.”
To be honest she knew nothing about the game played out behind their backs, but just suggesting that someone more was out there with a dagger should do the job. This was the kind of gamble she had seen Urufu make use of, and Kuri-chan to a certain degree. Her friend usually went for a more direct approach than playing the guilt trip card.
“Would you care to explain dangerous?”
The last question reached into the room from the door opening. James stood there with a tray in his hand and wrath in his face.
So you were never told? Kyoko had to continue gambling. She massaged her stab wound so that everyone could see. “One of these is enough,” she said.
From across the table Kuri-chan shot her a long stare filled with disappointment, but also with respect. 'Well played,' she mouthed. 'You're my kind of girl.'
“Who?” James asked.
“There's no proof, or at least none we can use,” Urufu said. “We think we know he's from the enemy faction.”
Duh! The bastard had Yukio and me assaulted. Of course he's from an enemy faction. Wait! The enemy faction? Pieces of a puzzle fell in place. Urufu, you're brilliant!
In the doorway James nodded, and Kyoko knew he must have understood. “I see.”
“It's related to both Red Rose Hell and Himekaizen,” Urufu continued relentlessly. “A failed piece of human refuse who's unable to grasp even basic English.”
And with those words Urufu had just named Kareyoshi. James was a Himekaizen alumni.
“Guys,” Urufu said and turned to the club members. “Kyoko's right. I don't want anyone to put her in danger, so please keep quiet about this.” That sentence came with an edge pointed at Kuri-chan who threw her hands into the air in exasperation.
“Fine! Ko-chan, I'm sorry. I didn't think.”
“No problem. We'll take that swine down,” Kyoko said. Reflecting on her words she was surprised they didn't surprise her.
By her side Yukio stared at her. Funny, you I surprise, but not myself. But there was more to it than just surprise. Fucking pig, he took all my children from me. I'll hate him even after he dies! It was that simple. What Kareyoshi had taken, her future. A barren woman was a woman no longer. How could she ask Yukio to stay with her when she was damaged goods? And yet I love you so much it hurts. My Yukio, my lovely Yukio!
With a shiver Kyoko woke from her thoughts. The entire room stared at her, and she realised that whatever she had thought must have shown in her face. So be it. I don't care any longer.
“Yukio, I love you, but we need to talk.”
For the first time she had seen he shot her a frightened look.
Yes, you should be afraid, just like I'm afraid. I'll allow nothing to come between us but for you and myself. And maybe it had come to that point. What an awful way to celebrate your birthday!
“Could it wait until later?”
“Later is now. Father booked a table for the two of us.”
Yukio swept his hand across his eyes, but he rose and grabbed his jacket. “Later guys, I have a date.”