Friday, November 19, 2010

Our Courage, Chapter Four (part e)

Back at the gym, Yamato desperately tended to Kiichi. He’d cleaned and wrapped his injury with a piece of cloth he’d gotten from Takeru’s stuff. He needed to bind up Kiichi’s thigh and stop the bleeding. All he’d said to Takeru was that Kiichi had been hurt. He didn’t want to worry him too much.
...Sorry, Takeru. We can have a long conversation later.
Finally, despite the vague first-aid, he somehow stopped the bleeding. Before his eyes, Kiichi was sleeping like the dead. His face was ashen. Inside of Yamato an unspeakable worry reared its head.
...If he stayed like this, without receiving any treatment, Kiichi could...
“...mato... Yamato.”
Yamato became aware of Kiichi’s faint voice, and barely opened eyes.
“Kiichi, are you alright?”
Kiichi laughed weakly. As Yamato smiled in return, he heard
“How would it be if we killed him?”
It was Ryuu. The two looked over to see a group of delinquents crowding through the gym’s doors. There was roughly fifty people. All of them were carrying their own idea of a weapon.
Ryuu now had the influence to expand his gang this much. Among the members were Takako and Hiroki, Dai, Makoto and Akira were mixed in, and Kaoru’s face could be seen.
“It’s time to eat,” Ryuu said, as he approached Yamato with a dancing sort of walk.
“We brought some food for you, too. Don’t look so frightened.”
Akira offered Yamato some food. Takako and some boys grinned broadly behind him.
“What... are you talking about?” Yamato scowled at Ryuu as he was offered enough food for only one person.
“We’re saying you should let that worthless guy starve to death.”
As Ryuu said this coldly, Yamato’s face went pale.
“There’s not enough food here for people who can’t do anything for themselves.”
“Stop joking... You’re the one who stabbed him!” Yamato was trembling with rage.
“It was his fault - he got in my way, acting like a hypocrite. In a place like this, there’s no such thing as good or bad. Guys that interfere, waving around their sense of justice - that’s what’s wrong.”
Ryuu grabbed Yamato’s shirt as he yelled. But Yamato, without backing down, shouted right back.
“Starting fights - that’s not wrong? Taking food from people who are weaker than you, that’s good? Who do you think you’re kidding?”
Dai called out from behind Ryuu, “Let him die! If he’s dead we don’t have to give him food.”
Ryuu grinned at the words. “I’ve got about fifty who agree with me. Fifty people who are against giving food to someone who’s dying, and all came to keep an eye on you. What can you do? A big of my friends, we’re definitely going to win!”
Yamato pushed him aside, and scowled at every single person present.
“Damn it... Who! Who told you where to find us?”
Catching sight of a trembling Kaoru, Yamato took a step towards him. “You?”
Kaoru shook his head, panicked.
Smirking, Takako said, “Just give it up. It’ll be easier if you’re honest with yourself. Anyone would say the most important person to them is themselves, aren’t you the same?”
Ryuu continued, “Don’t act cool. You’re hungry, so eat this. Right in front of that worthless guy’s eyes. Don’t even give him a single drop of water, just drink it all by yourself.”
Yamato threw the food back and yelled, “That’s enough, quit mocking me!”
Takako laughed. “Huh? Don’t throw it away. Or is it him you want to throw away?”
“You don’t want to eat alone? Here, we’ll help you.”
At Ryuu’s signal, two boys suddenly leaped at Yamato and pinned his arms behind his back.
“Let go. Let me go!”
“Here you’ve been taking care of him so carefully. It’s time for you to eat something!”
Ryuu forcibly shoved a piece of bread into Yamato’s mouth. He desperately struggled to get away. But with two people holding him, he wasn’t able to move. The bread stuck in his throat, and it seemed as though he would suffocate.
“Hey, eat it! Aren’t you hungry? Show that guy what’s really the most important thing to you. I said eat!”
Ryuu’s eyes sparkled with an insane gleam. Kiichi couldn’t do anything, but he looked at Yamato with despairing eyes. Akira and Makoto also unthinkingly turned their eyes away from the unpleasant scene.
Grinning as she watched, Takako suddenly began to bray with laughter. Along with it, all of the mob began to stomp their feet. The sound was like a storm, and intoxicated by it Ryuu continued shoving bread into Yamato’s mouth.
“From now on, every day we’ll come to keep an eye on you. Don’t even give him a drop of water. Let him starve to death and become a mummy!”
Yuuri heard the uproar, but by the time she reached the gym Ryuu and his gang were gone. She rolled her eyes, fed up.
“It would have been better if you’d left him alone!”
Looking at Yuuri entirely serious, Yamato said, “No matter who is in trouble, no matter who is asking for help, you’re saying in order to protect ourselves we shouldn’t reach out a hand to them? We should just abandon them? Isn’t that the same... as what the people outside are doing to us?”
Yuuri slapped him. “Shut up!” she said. “Sure, maybe you sound impressive now. But what about when someone dies? You won’t be able to save everyone.”
Throwing the words at him, she quickly left the room.
Yamato called after her, “Then how about you tell me, who I should and shouldn’t save? Could you make that choice?”
Yelling only made him hurt, a ragged feeling in his heart. What should he do? What was he supposed to do? He had no idea. What the hell was the right thing to do?
Yuuri was also hurt, though not from anyone harming her. It was the words that she herself had uttered that hurt. “It would have been better if you’d left him alone...” Honestly, would it have been better?
The image of Yamato’s hurt eyes when she left him was burned into Yuuri’s, and would not leave her.
In the darkness, a bright red flame shone on Yuuri’s cheeks. Takeru had built up a fire next to the tent, and when Yuuri turned up alone he tried to weigh her intentions.
“Seriously, you envy him, don’t you? Yamato.” Takeru started talking when he could no longer bear the heavy silence. “Well, that guy, it’s embarrassing when he talks about friendship and justice and things like that... but don’t you also feel a little jealous? He’s so straight-forward, in the spring-time of life, maybe? He’s like a water-heater, he gets hot right away.”
“Do you enjoy talking so much?”
Even faced with Takeru’s blabbering, Yuuri’s expression remained cool. But her eyes weren’t as sharp as they usually were.
“Well, like you say, there are times when he can’t see what’s going on around him. But that’s just him being so direct it’s like he’s on fire, and he doesn’t have bad intentions at all. So can’t you overlook it?”
Unable to answer, Yuuri just kept biting her lip.
“Look at me for instance. Even if I say one thing or another, when he’s like that, I get jealous too, sometimes. Maybe if you know about that, you’ll want to overlook more? Hey, so earlier, stupid Yamato refused to move to the school. Maybe you could invite him one more time? ...He’s the kind of guy that I’ve never met before... Just kidding.”
With someone who just sat silently, Takeru couldn’t resist joking in the end.
Yuuri stood up suddenly.
“Where are you going?”
“We can’t have this conversation some other time?”
“Are you going back?”
“Mori won’t come back.”
“Why not?”
“...because of Yamato,” she answered, full of frustration.
“What happened?”
“Yamato made the mistake of helping a strange brat. Because of that, Mori got bullied.” Spitting out the words, Yuuri seemed to be mostly angry at herself.
Late at night, it seemed there was rain falling outside. In the chilly gym, the sound of pounding rain could be heard. Yamato and Kiichi desperately tried to ignore their empty stomachs. There was food scattered about on the floor before their eyes, but neither reached for it.
Kiichi spoke with a sigh, “Unlucky...”
“Getting stabbed like that. Stupid of me... I’m no good. So unlucky...”
“What are you talking about? It’s not like that. You’ll be fine.”
With a half-smile, Yamato stood up decisively.
“I’m going to the toilet.”
“It’s good...”
“That even though we got bullied the same, you didn’t get stabbed.”
Yamato had no words.
“You’re the lucky one.”
Yamato couldn’t take anymore. He quickly left the gym, but rather than go to the toilet, he hid himself in the shadows.
Well, it is now or never, Kiichi. Without thinking about me, go ahead and eat...
Because of the fight, Kiichi hadn’t eaten a thing since the previous morning. For some reason, Kiichi wouldn’t let himself eat that food. Realizing that, Yamato had left Kiichi alone. Finally, he opened his eyes as his empty stomach won out, and mindlessly reached out for the food. His trembling hand took a piece of bread and brought it to his mouth. He was entirely absorbed.
Thank goodness... Watching that scene from the shadows, Yamato breathed a sigh of relief and left.
But when he came back, Kiichi was nowhere to be seen.
Panicked, Yamato ran outside. In the pouring rain, Kiichi lay sprawled in the mud.
“Kiichi!” Yamato ran to his side. But Kiichi turned away and shook his head violently.
“Don’t come near me. Don’t!”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m no good. Of course I ate it. I betray you, I eat your food... It’s enough, just give up on me already.”
Yamato tried to lift him up, and in tears, Kiichi shoved his hands away. But Yamato was stronger and embraced him.
“It’s okay. It’s okay if you eat. It’s fine. You’ve been injured. You lost a lot of blood. You need to eat a lot, get a lot of nutrition, get healthy again, or else you’ll be in trouble.”
“Don’t say that. I don’t need nutrition. You should hate me... How far will I go? You should throw me away.”
“As if I could.”
Kiichi’s entire body twisted violently, but Yamato refused to release him.
“Why not? If I’m gone... You would be safer everyday, you’d have more to eat, you wouldn’t have to worry about saving me, you would have to be humiliated by those guys... just throw me away.”
“I couldn’t do that!” As he said this, almost yelling, Yamato looked at Kiichi. The tears mingled with rain flowing down his cheeks.
“You’re my friend, right?” Again, he held Kiichi tightly. “We’re friends, aren’t we!”
The two embraced while the rain beat down on them violently, but it seemed as though they would remain unmoving forever.

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