A queue? Yukio stared at the Stockholm Haven café entrance in disbelief.
He shook his head. So it’s gone this far now. Well, means Urufu isn’t there. With that thought Yukio turned on his heels and returned down the street he had arrived on.
He’d stubbornly defended Kuri until the moment she showed up on Ryu’s arm. After that, well, the less he saw of her the better. Or, if he was honest with himself, after he saw how devastated Urufu was when she did.
Halfway back to Himekaizen Yukio noticed the other half of their escort. The first tailed him half a block behind him.
So you’re headed to the Haven? Yukio kicked at a pebble and grimaced. Kyoko wouldn’t turn back at the sight of a queue. Damn, that’s another evening gone. Of course he respected how Kyoko stuck to her best friend, but it meant he spent more evenings than he liked separated from his girlfriend.
And we’re not even in the same class any longer. Which sucked even more. Well, at least they shared the same wing at school.
Yukio hastened his steps and looked down. He didn’t want to meet Kyoko just to say goodbye.
The car with Kyoko and bodyguard passed, and Yukio heard it stop behind him. Probably so both escorts could chat and decide how to handle Yukio and Kyoko going to separate destinations.
Damn! Cause Kyoko wasn’t stupid. Yukio hardly had time to turn around before the sound of the car’s door being thrown open reached him.
He turned fully and met Kyoko’s gaze. A bit shamefacedly he waved to her. “Here.” Like she didn’t know.
“I was looking for you. They said you went to the clubroom.”
Yukio bit his lower lip before answering. “I did,” he said. “Urufu won’t be there. I went looking for him.” Which was a lie. Besides, going looking for Urufu required a top quality bike and knowledge about where he was. He covered absurd distances on that bike of his, more so after spring break.
“Why?” Kyoko asked, but Yukio could see in her face she already knew. The queue outside the café was a dead give away anyway.
He looked at her. As always the most beautiful girl he had ever known. Hair a bit longer now. She had let it grow during her first year here, but apart from that very much the same girl he fell in love with.
“He hurts, you know,” Yukio said. “Kuri dumped him and found herself a new boyfriend.”
For a moment Kyoko looked like she was about to blow up. “They’re adults. Both of them. Urufu just didn’t behave like one.”
That was, Yukio admitted, the truth. He’d tried to make Urufu man up late that valentine’s night, but to no avail. Urufu was a stubborn bastard. One who disliked getting rid of his bad habits. Bad habits? Hang on there. A smile came to Yukio’s lips, and he locked eyes with his girlfriend.
“Kuri’s your friend. She’s in there. I need to go looking for mine.”
“I love you. I’m just angry with your choice of friends, but I love you.” With those words Yukio turned on his heels and ran.
From a distance he heard Kyoko calling his name, but there was no resentment in her voice, so Yukio grinned and ran on. You bastard. Bad habits, eh?
With that thought Yukio ran past the school and onto the road he and Urufu had spent so many mornings and afternoons on their way to or from school and their old café. Their old haven, before Urufu found Stockholm Haven.
Lagging behind Yukio’s escort started sprinting, but when he turned and looked he saw that the bodyguard effortlessly caught up to a position some thirty metres behind. The phone he pocketed while he ran told Yukio why he temporarily lost speed moments earlier.
It was a long shot, but Yukio felt fairly certain he’d find his bets friend sitting on the second floor. Their old mall, their old memories. Memories from before they knew a girl named Ageruman Kuritina, and before they she knew she was as little a young girl as Urufu was a boy.
Because that’s where you made peace first. He hadn’t understood then, but Yukio was over a year older now. I must have been there when it happened. Still, Yukio couldn’t exactly recall a specific moment when Urufu gave up trying to return to his old life. Long before he stopped talking about going back home. That much Yukio was certain of.
He’d almost made his way to the mall when he saw Noriko enter the café. For a moment Yukio played with the thought of making it for home instead, but then he recalled Noriko’s crush on Urufu was of an older date than the recent events that had split their tight-knit group of friends.
For whatever reason, you made the same guess as I did. Yukio stopped to catch his breath before he opened the door and walked up the stairs to the café.
Below him his escort arrived through the door before it even had time to close, but he didn’t climb the stairs until Yukio had done so. Apparently there were some rules to body-guarding that Yukio didn’t understand. Keeping your distance but always staying close. If the reason hadn’t been so scary Yukio would have laughed at the entire situation.
When he entered the café proper Yukio noticed that he didn’t recognize any of the girls waiting tables. Has it been that long? By the windows, at their usual table from old, Urufu sat with his back to the door, and across the table Noriko stood folding her coat.
As Yukio walked there he saw Urufu slide something across the table. Noriko reached down and took it just as Yukio recognised the shape of a phone.
When she looked up her eyes met Yukio’s.
What’s with the girls around me and calling my name? “Yes, that would be me,” he said.