Yukio looked at Kyoko when Noriko answered his call.
“I’ve placed the call on speakers, so I apologise in advance if the sound is bad.”
There was a moment of silence.
“No problem. I’ll do likewise.”
“Hi Noriko, are you busy? We can call you later,” Kyoko said.
Oh, she’s doing something at the moment. “Yeah, no problem,” Yukio added. Kyoko’s quick to pick up on that. He leaned over the table and squeezed her hand.
“Haven’t seen you in a while,” Urufu’s voice suddenly said. “I’ll be absent from school for some time.”
What’s he doing together with Noriko? “Man, what do you mean by absent?” Yukio had a feeling he’d rather not hear the answer.
“I got suspended for insulting the principal.”
“Damn it Urufu, do you have to provoke him all the time?”
“I...” Urufu’s voice got strangely muffled.
“I asked him the same thing,” Noriko said. “He just won’t listen to reason.”
Yukio stared at Kyoko’s phone on the table. “Man, I planned to take this with you later, but I guess now is a good as ever.” He met Kyoko’s eyes across the table, and she nodded at him. “We don’t feel good about the situation with you and Kuri.” How am I going to explain this? He fell silent for a moment.
“Shoot, I’m listening,” Urufu said.
Knowing it needed to be said was one thing. Saying it was another. “Look, you’re my best friend, but Kuri is Kyoko’s. When the two of you are fighting you force us to choose, and we’ve decided that we refuse.”
“I won’t pick Kuri-chan over you, but neither will I support you,” Kyoko added.
“So we’ll just stay out of it all. Until both of you’ve got your brains in order don’t expect to see us a lot,” Yukio finished.
“Wait! You can’t do that. You’re their best friends.” Noriko’s voice almost broke.
Yukio had expected a much. That was the reason they wanted to talk with her first. Now she was with Urufu, so it couldn’t be helped, but Yukio respected how she tried to protect the friendship of them all, but with Urufu and Kuri gone as far as the had something drastic was needed.
“Noriko, we’re doing this exactly because we’re their friends. Friendship goes both ways. Urufu and Kuri need to respect our needs as well.”
“Hear that, man? You’re making Kyoko unhappy. You both are.”
The best thing with Urufu was that Yukio felt comfortable talking about awkward things with him. That way there was no better friend, and Yukio hated how they’d become estranged after Kuri and Ryu became a pair. Still, it wasn’t just Kuri’s fault. Urufu had a lot to answer for.
“Sorry about that. It’s just that seeing her with him makes me so angry. I’m not used to being this way.” Urufu’s voice sounded clearer now, as if he had sat down by wherever Noriko placed her phone.
“Urufu,” Yukio said, “with the two of us being driven home every day there’s no time left if you and Kuri are going to keep this up. Man up and get your grips together!” As if he could tell someone thirty five years his senior to man up.
Urufu’s laughter didn’t come as a surprise, but the honest mirth in it did. What did you do to him, Noriko. I haven’t heard Urufu laugh like that in weeks. “Good to hear you’re feeling better,” Yukio tried.
Kyoko took his hand and looked at him. Yukio could feel the question in her eyes.
He covered the phone with his other hand. “He’s laughing for real. That’s good,” Yukio whispered before he removed his hand from the phone.
The question didn’t entirely leave Kyoko’s eyes, but she squeezed his hand acknowledging that she understood Yukio’s relief. He could feel love and warmth from her fingers and squeezed back.
“Hey, stop making out with each other. We’re trying to have a convo here,” Urufu said.
“What’s that noise?” Noriko asked.
“We’re not...” Yukio began.
“...making out,” Kyoko finished.
“You so are,” Noriko retorted.
Kyoko giggled and bent over the table. Yukio was caught in her full mouth kiss. “Now we are,” Kyoko said after she released him.
You’ve grown bolder since we met. This time it was Yukio who flared red.
“Did you call us just to make us listen to the two of you kissing?” Urufu laughed.
Yukio had no problem visualising that grin on the other side of the call.
“We called Noriko, not the two of you,” Kyoko said. “And no we didn’t. We called to say you two better make up. We care for both of you, but we can’t stand the way you treat each other.”
“So you’re making it my fault that Christina...”
Yukio didn’t allow him to get any further. “Yes, I do. Grow up man!”
Someone giggled at the other end. It had to be Noriko.
“But she was the one who...”
“… told you how much she loved you just about every day. I was there, you know. Not once, not even once did I hear you say you loved her.”
“Not when she could hear. What was she supposed to do? Live on air?”
“Yukio!” Noriko didn’t sound like she agreed with Yukio’s cutting Urufu short, but truth be told he was sick and tired of his friend’s attitude.
“No, Noriko. Urufu is at fault here.”
“Actually Kuri-chan is as well,” Kyoko said. “She knew how much you loved her, but she wanted you to tell her so much that she broke up with you. You’re idiots both of you.”
“Getting told off by a bunch of kids,” Urufu murmured.
Yukio grinned. He hadn’t lost his best friend yet. After all it was Urufu who once told him to be frank, even if it hurt.
“Yeah, man, we did. You deserved it.” Yukio hugged Kyoko before he continued. “Urufu, be the man I adored, that I still do. With all crap that’s going on I need my hero.”
“I’ll do my best.” Urufu’s voice sounded embarrassed. “Tell me if I’m doing OK when I’m back at school.”