“So take it easy today, young man. I think by tomorrow you can go back to being a teenage boy. Oh, and next time?” the doctor looked around before finishing; “duck, or hit back.”
“Bet on it,” Takashi nodded firmly.
“There are some police officers here to see you, by the way,” he finished. “I don’t have to let them in, despite what they say, since you’re a minor technically in our care.”
“I already spoke to one, and they have my mother’s permission to speak to me,” Takashi told him as he finished dressing. “To be honest, I’d rather get it over with.”
“That’s fine,” the doctor nodded. “I’ll send them in on my way out. Remember to gargle with the salt water three times a day for three days. The nurse will be in with your discharge in a while. Your mother’s friend should be here by then.”
“I appreciate it, sir,” Takashi bowed. The doctor waved and departed. No sooner had the door closed than it opened again and a purple haired woman in military style dress stepped in, followed by a man in similar attire. Takashi’s eyebrows went up.
“Since when does a school fight rate a visit by SAT?” he asked politely.
“What? Oh,” the woman waved his comment away. “We do real police work on occasion,” she grinned. “I took this one because a friend of mine works at the school you attend and told me about you having to come to the hospital. I’m Sergeant Rika Minami and this is officer Tajima, my partner.”
“Nice to meet you,” Takashi bowed again. “How may I help you, Minami-sama?” he asked politely.
“We just need to interview you about what happened,” she told him, producing a clipboard and a pen. “Inspector Miyamoto said he spoke to you but had to turn the case over to someone else due to a conflict of interest.”
“Yeah,” Takashi sighed. “What do you want to know?”
Before she could answer there was a knock on the door. Without waiting, Saya burst into the room, followed by her mother. Saya was several steps into the room before it dawned on her that Takashi wasn’t alone.
“Baka, we came to. . .” she trailed off, seeing the two police officers.
“Saya, this is Sergeant Minami and Officer Tajima,” Takashi introduced. “Officers, this is Saya Takagi and her mother Yuriko. They’ve come to take me home, and it was Saya who brought me here yesterday, along with-”
“Shizuka,” Rika nodded and Takashi showed his surprise.
“Told you a friend of mine worked at Fujimi,” she winked. “She told me about your being brought in here last night. You worried her for a minute, kid.”
“It wasn’t intentional.”
“She said that too,” Rika nodded. “Ladies, this won’t take a minute if you’d like to wait outside.”
“I think we’d rather wait here, Sergeant, if you don’t mind,” Yuriko said calmly, smiling. She was polite, but there was weight behind the statement and Rika was smart enough to know it.
“So long as Komuro-san doesn’t mind, it’s okay by me, Takagi-san,” she nodded. “So, just start from the beginning, Komuro and tell us what happened.”
Once more Takashi went though the events of the day before, carefully explaining that he had not, in fact, actually seen Hisashi hit him.
“Baka, stop protecting him!” Saya hissed.
“Saya, enough,” Yuriko said sternly before Minami had the opportunity. “We’re here to support Takashi-kun, not to participate.”
“Yes, Momma,” Saya said at once, going still.
“So you think all this was over the girl?” Minami asked.
“No,” Takashi shook his head. “Miyamoto-san approached me after school saying that Igou-san had confronted me because I had been, quote, ‘running my mouth’.”
“Had you?” Minami asked.
“I had not,” Takashi replied very correctly. “I had in fact avoided any mention of either of them. Several other students, male and female, had approached me about them, but I had declined to comment, believing it to be a personal matter between us and of no concern to others. If people were talking, it was not because of anything I said.”
“You asked the principal of the school not to contact the police?” Minami made it a question but it was clear she knew the answer already.
“I did,” Takashi nodded.
“Why, if I may ask?”
“I have been working hard lately to avoid trouble and this seemed like a lot of trouble,” Takashi replied truthfully. “It still does,” he added.
“Trouble that ended in your staying in the hospital overnight, Komuro-san,” Minami pointed out.
“I was not seriously injured as it turned out,” Takashi counter pointed her. “And. . .Igou-san was my friend for a long time. I have to believe that there were outside factors involved in this that influenced him. I have to. Otherwise, then not only are we no longer friends, which we aren’t, but. . .we never were. I’d prefer to think that I’m not that poor a judge of character. And I would prefer that he not be expelled, or worse, over a poor judgment made in the heat of the moment.”
“That’s very forgiving,” Minami pointed out.
“Oh, I’m not forgiving,” Takashi told her. “I doubt there will be any forgiveness forthcoming from me over this, at least not for a long time. But that doesn’t mean I want his life ruined, either. So long as he keeps his distance from me, he and Miyamoto-san both, then I’ll be satisfied. I want nothing from either of them. I never did. Not after Miyamoto-san and he. . .not after what they did.”
He showed no sign of betrayal or hurt when he spoke. It was merely a matter of fact statement that he meant. He wanted this finished and over with.
“Well, I have to say Komuro-san, that’s a very grown up attitude to have. I’m sure your parents are proud of you for that maturity.”
“My father doesn’t know I got my a-, er, butt kicked, yet,” he grinned ruefully. “But, he’ll be glad I’m okay and let it go, I’m sure. My mother will likely see to that,” he added with a broader smile.
“I’m sure,” Yuriko added with a small laugh.
“I think that about covers it for me, Komuro-san,” Minami told him, finishing her notes.
“What will happen to Igou-san, Sergeant?” Takashi asked. “While I am serious about not feeling very forgiving, I’m also serious about this being done with. I’d prefer to let it go entirely, so long as the two of them leave me alone.”
“I can’t say, Komuro-san,” Minami shrugged. “We just investigate, which in this case means taking statements from witnesses and speaking to the involved parties. After this, it will be in the hands of the school and the prosecutors. Technically, they could go your route and leave this in the hands of the school for their discipline. The fact that you were hospitalized may have some bearing on it, of course.”
“I see,” Takashi nodded. “Well, if there is a question of what I’d prefer, can you include my request that it be dropped?” he asked.
“I can, and I will,” she promised. “But ultimately the school may decide to make an example of him over this and I can’t blame them. Had he stopped after the first blow, I’d be inclined to see it your way, myself. Attacking you when you were down, after hitting you from behind? That is an escalation over a simple school yard brawl. Whether those above my pay grade see it that way or not I can’t predict.”
“I see,” Takashi sighed. This would make his school life worse still, but he had set himself on a course to stay out of trouble in order to impress the very girl who had brought her mother here today to see him home. Whatever happened to Hisashi and Rei, it was on them. He had done nothing wrong, and had now done all he could to try and minimize the damage. It would have to be enough.
“Don’t worry so much about him,” Saya told him. “This is his fault, Takashi, and not yours. His and Miyamoto’s.”
“She’s right, Komuro-san,” Minami agreed. “And it takes a big man to try and help out a former friend who literally stabbed him in the back, no pun intended. You’ve taken the high road here so far as I can see. If he has to pay for his actions, that isn’t your fault or your doing.”
“It was a pleasure to meet you all, though we always wish it was under better circumstances. This should do it for us, Komuro-san, but in the event we need to talk again then we’ll be in touch.”
“Thank you, Minami-sama,” Takashi bowed again. Yuriko and Saya did not bow, but nodded as the two officers showed themselves out.
“Takashi-kun, while you finish preparing I will go and see to any paperwork,” Yuriko said, following them out and closing the door. Saya’s face reddened as she realized what her mother had done, but she nodded and turned to Takashi.
“How are you feeling?” she asked at once.
“I’m okay,” he promised her. “Still sore, of course, but better. And my throat was fine all night, other than sore. No troubles breathing and no more blood. The doctor said I should be fine and be able to return to school tomorrow. I am to avoid stress,” he laughed a bit. “I don’t know how you avoid stress in high school, but I suppose I can work something out.”
“You’re coming to my house today,” Saya told him, her tone brooking no argument.
“Saya, I really need a bath and some clean clothes,” Takashi told her.
“We’ll stop and get your clothes on the way home and there are plenty of baths at my house,” Saya assured him. “You’ll stay with us today and then I’ll take you home once your mother is there. I’d prefer you not be alone today until we know for sure you’re all right.”
“I’m fine, Saya,” Takashi told her. “Promise.”
“You promised yesterday, too,” she refused to be swayed.
“Okay, that is true,” he allowed. “In my defense, I honestly thought I was.”
“I know,” Saya frowned. “This is all Miyamoto’s fault.”
“Saya, let it go,” Takashi said gently. “She isn’t worth the effort. Neither is he. And I don’t want you involved in any of this crap. It will blow over in a few days and things will go back to normal.”
“Someone has to look after you, baka,” Saya shook her head. “You need supervision.”
To her surprise Takashi threw his head back and laughed heartily.
“My mother would agree with you whole heartedly on that one, Saya.”
The Takagi’s car pulled to a stop in front of Takashi’s house and he took the door handle.
“I’ll go and help,” Saya said, looking at her mother.
“Very well, dear,” Yuriko fought a smile.
“Saya, I’m just going to get some clean clothes,” Takashi said gently. “I’ll be fine.”
“I know you will, baka, because I’ll be with you,” she told him. “Go on,” she made a shooing motion. Takashi shook his head, but grinned and opened the door, holding it open for her and closing it once she got out.
“C’mon,” he told her, smiling.
“What are you smiling for?” she asked, walking beside him.
“What’s not to smile about?” he asked her. “Pretty day, pretty girl, I’m doing a lot better than I thought I would be this time yesterday. It’s not a bad day, Saya.”
Saya was blushing furiously at his ‘pretty girl’ statement, but nodded anyway as Takashi unlocked the door and held it open for her. Once inside, she followed him up to his room. She had been here before but not in a while. She was pleasantly surprised to find his room devoid of perverted posters and dirty clothes, instead being neat and orderly. A few gaming posters hung on the walls, with a bookshelf along one wall holding books, a few models, and a small television with a gaming system.
“The new Playstation?” she asked.
“Yep,” he nodded. “Took me a while to save up for it, but it was worth it.”
She looked at the games he had shelved beside the system while Takashi grabbed a small bag and placed a complete change of clothes inside along with hygiene articles.
“Okay, that should do it,” he told her, zipping the bag shut.
“Let’s go then,” she nodded, heading back down the stairs. Soon they were in the car, heading for Takagi manor.
“Takashi-kun, are you feeling okay?” Yuriko asked.
“Yes, oka-san,” he replied. “I’m sore, but I expect I will be for some days.”
“I suspect you are tired, as well,” she suggested.
“I am, but not sleepy,” he confirmed. “I slept well last night considering it was a hospital bed, but. . .I am tired,” he admitted.
“That is to be expected,” she said sagely. “You have been through a trauma, and that expends energy to heal. Once you’re had a bath, you should sun yourself on a balcony until evening. You may find it restful.”
“Yes, oka-san,” Takashi bowed his head respectfully. “I will do as you say.”
“It wasn’t an order, Takahi-kun,” her face crinkled into a smile. “Just a suggestion. You and Saya may do as you please today. You’ll be back in school tomorrow after all. But then it is Friday so one day and then the weekend should be okay.”
“I think so,” he nodded. “I believe I will be all right with a little rest. The worst part will be the stares and whispers tomorrow,” he grinned. “I will undoubtedly be the subject of all the gossip today, since I was rushed away yesterday.”
“Well, Saya will have to share that gossip since she elected to stay home to take care of you today,” Yuriko indulged herself just a little.
“Momma!” Saya spluttered. “No one will know that!”
“Ashamed of me, Saya?” Takashi teased.
“No!” she almost screeched, eyes wide in near terror for an instant before she got herself under control. “No more than usual anyway,” she continued after a managing to calm herself.
“Ah, I see,” his grin widened but he didn’t push her. “Well, anyway, I will make sure that your name isn’t mentioned along with mine, if anyone asks. All they need to know is that you helped a classmate get to the hospital.”
“I told you I’m not worried about that,” she spluttered, and Yuriko studiously looked out the window to avoid her daughter seeing her own grin. Takashi was apparently done posturing and was beginning to ‘make his move’, as the saying went. She had to admit he was smooth at it for a teenager.
“Well then, I’ll tell everyone you were my nurse and took excellent care of me!” he smiled at her. “How’s that?”
“Takashi!” Saya spluttered anew, then her eyes narrowed as she realized he was teasing her. “I’m a good mind to dump you back at your house now,” she told him, looking away with her arms crossed.
“I’m afraid we can’t do that, Saya,” Yuriko said sternly. “I assured Nobiki you would be looking after Takashi today at our home, so that means you will.”
“Fine,” Saya replied with a long suffering sigh. “I really don’t know what you would do without me,” she told Takashi then.
“I honestly don’t either, Saya,” he told her solemnly, as serious as he could. She looked at him suspiciously for a moment before blushing as she realized how serious he was.
By then the car was entering the gate at Takagi Manor and Takashi was suddenly reminded of just how wealthy Saya’s family was. He hadn’t been here in at least a year, and it was probably closer to two. The house was huge and the grounds immaculate. He figured they spent more on grounds keeping in a year than his parents paid for their house. And he had to admit that his parents had a nice house.
“Here we are,” Saya told him as the car stopped at the front walk. “Out, baka!” she told him, resisting the urge to slap him in the back of the head.
“Yes, My Lady Saya,” he bowed and opened the door, grinning as Saya started spluttering behind him once more. Yuriko was glad she got out on her own side of the car so that she had the chance to school her features before Saya could see her.
“Saya, take Takashi-kun to the guest room next to yours so he can freshen up,” Yuriko ordered. “If you need anything at all, Takashi, don’t hesitate to call for it.”
“Thank you, oka-sama,” Takashi bowed respectfully. “And I sincerely appreciate this.”
“We are pleased to be able to do it,” she assured him. “Go on, now. I’ll see you two at lunch.”
Saya took Takashi’s hand and led him up the stairs. Yuriko wondered if her daughter even noticed she was doing so.
Today should prove interesting.
Takashi finished his gargle and spat the foul salt water into the sink. It was awful, but the doctor assured him it was actually the best thing for his throat at this point. Towel wrapped around him, he made his way into the room Saya had shown him into to get dressed.
He felt better after soaking in the tub. He still hurt, though, and the urge to find a large truck to run over Hisashi’s ass with was very strong. He shook his head at the thought, as if to drive it away. That way led somewhere he didn’t want to be.
He dropped his towel and slid on clean underwear, glad to be clean. Yesterday had been a rough day and had left him more disheveled than he cared to be, especially in Saya’s company. He was just about to pull his jeans on when the door burst open and Saya stormed in, oblivious to his status.
“Takashi, I thought we could go down and EEP!” she realized suddenly that Takashi was practically naked, one leg partially in his jeans, another about to join it, and nothing other than his underwear on otherwise.
Saya knew she should be running back out, apologizing the entire way, but she froze instead, her eyes traveling over his body. Takashi froze for a second, then hastily turned, trying to pull his pants on the rest of the way at the same time.
“Takashi!” Saya’s startled exclamation caught him by surprise.
“Hey, I thought you were going to wait for me in the game room!” he protested, thinking she was about to unload on him.
“Your back!” she ignored him and he froze solid as he felt her small hand touching the sorest spot on his back. “There’s a horrible bruise here, Takashi,” she told him softly. “It has to hurt.”
“It does,” he assured her grimly, fastening his jeans and then quickly pulling on his tee. “I’ll be all right in a day or so, I’m sure,” he turned to face her once he was dressed, sitting down to don socks. As he tied his shoes he glanced up at her.
“Anyway, you thought we’d do what?”
“Huh? Oh!” Saya snapped out of her daze. “I thought we could go and play the new Fallout! I got it maybe two weeks ago but I’ve only played it twice. It’s a little complicated,” she admitted.
“Nah, once you get used to it it’s not bad at tall, I promise,” he assured her, standing. “C’mon. I’ll show your how to get started so that you can keep the game going!”
“All right,” she smiled and took his hand, leading him down to the game room on the ground floor.
Yuriko found them there, two hours later, still playing.
“Can you pause in the zombie eradication to eat, children?” she asked, amused.
“Yes!” Saya and Takashi both replied at once. “I’m hungry,” Takashi continued.
“Me too,” Saya agreed and the two washed and were soon joining Saya’s mom at the table on their back patio for sandwiches.
“Feeling better, Takashi-kun?” Yuriko asked.
“The bath helped a lot,” he nodded. “And being clean and having clean clothes is nothing to sneeze at either,” he admitted.
“Yeah, you did reek a bit,” Saya nodded.
“Saya!” Yuriko scolded lightly.
“No, I did,” Takashi nodded. “It had been a very long, very hard day yesterday. I hope not to have another like it for some time.”
“You had better not,” Saya warned.
“Saya, I have been behaving for months,” Takashi reminded her. “And this was not my fault. My grades have even improved. There shouldn’t be anything about me for you to complain about until at least tomorrow.”
“Which will be here all too soon,” she sighed theatrically and both Takashi and Yuriko laughed.
The two spent the rest of the afternoon playing on Saya’s Playstation until about time for school to be out, when Saya wanted to sit out on the balcony of her bedroom. Takashi hesitated to enter Saya’s domain but she took him by the hand and pulled him along, apparently unruffled by such a breach in protocol. Soon the two were sitting in chairs looking over the estate grounds, soaking up the afternoon sun.
“What are we going to write our paper about?” Takashi asked her out of the blue.
“What?” Saya looked at him, nonplussed.
“Yesterday? We had just been assigned to work on a term paper together?” he reminded her. “What are we going to write about?”
“I haven’t given it a thought,” she admitted. “I had a pretty long day too, baka,” she smiled at him.
“Yeah, you did,” he nodded. “Saya, I really want to thank you for all you’ve done for me, especially yesterday. I know you think I’m joking when I say it, but I honestly and truly don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Ah,” she blushed and looked back out over the yard. “It was Nurse Marikawa who helped you the most. I really underestimated her. She is incredibly smart, at least about medical issues. Did you know she’s studying to be a doctor?”
“Ah, no. I didn’t,” Takashi was shocked.
“And she’s good at it, too,” she emphasized, going over what she had seen and heard the day before.
“I’ll have to stop in and thank her tomorrow then,” he said thoughtfully. “She seemed really worried about me. I hate I made her worry. I hate worse that I scared you, Saya. I really thought I was okay.”
“I know,” she nodded. “If stupid Miyamoto hadn’t caused all that fuss, you probably would have been, if the doctor was right. He said stress caused the bleeding and some swelling in your throat. That’s why you passed out, because you were choking.”
“Yesterday was the day for it,” he sighed. “I swear I get these flashes of anger where I wish I’d jumped up and hit back, but. . .I know I made the better choice. It’s hard to see it sometimes, especially from a hospital bed, but I know I did the right thing.”
“Takashi, you’ve been doing the right thing all along,” Saya told him seriously. “There’s nothing wrong with you, and if your ‘girl’ can’t see that, then you need to move on. And yeah, you’ve done great these last weeks and I’m proud of you. We’ll be out for summer in another few weeks but I think if you hang on to this attitude, your school year next year should be pretty great.”
“I’m sure it will be,” he nodded. The two turned at a knock on the open door. Yuriko was standing there, smiling.
“Saya, it’s after five,” she said. “I think it’s time to take Takashi-kun home.”
“Already?” Saya sounded disappointed.
“Time flies when you’re killing zombies,” Takashi grinned.
“I’ll have the car brought around, dear,” her mother said. “Takashi-kun, don’t be a stranger, dear. You are always welcome here and we are always glad to see you.”
“Thank you, oka-san,” he bowed respectfully, knowing that was a privilege afforded to very few. “I am in your debt.”
“Don’t be silly,” she waved it away. “Good bye for now, and I hope to see you again soon.”
“C’mon, baka,” Saya smiled shyly. “Let’s go.”
“I need to stop and get my things,” he said, ducking into the room he had used to change. He found his clothing washed and folded on the bed. Shaking his head, he put them away, collecting his bag and his book bag.
“Someone washed my dirty clothes,” he said when he got back to the hall.
“Did they?” Saya asked. “Good.” She waited for him to settle himself, taking his clothes bag herself, and then taking his hand again to lead him downstairs. Her mother was conspicuously absent but neither noticed.
The drive home was quiet, Takashi overly aware that Saya had not yet released his hand. When the car arrived, Saya made to get out with him.
“I’ll walk you up,” she said.
“No,” Takashi shook his head, his voice firm. “No, you’ve done enough today, Saya. You can watch from here, then head home, okay. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll pick you up in the morning,” she told him, but he shook his head again.
“No, that will make people talk. I’ll make my way to school like always. Besides, I can’t go back looking like a weakling. They’ll eat me alive,” he laughed.
“Fine, but I’ll be taking you home, then!” she demanded, then turned red faced as she realized how that sounded.
“I can agree to that,” Takashi nodded. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He closed the car door and made his way to the house, turning back at the front door to wave. He couldn’t see if she waved back but chose to believe that she had.
He spent the evening with his mother, visiting in a way the two rarely had in recent years. He was glad of it. Later on he’d be ever more glad.