VIII.


Hiro lay in the shadows, breathing slowly. Rika was in bed with him. Rika's hand had slipped under his t-shirt, it lay against his belly. He felt the weight of it, the warmth, with every breath.

It was sickening. Wide awake, breathing slowly, Hiro fought the nausea in his belly.

Around him, the room was filled with shadows, blue, grey, night stillness lingering in the room after it had found its way in through the window.

"I know that you knew Tetsu," said Hiro, and he could say it because the room was empty.

Rika was sleeping, curled against him.

The words spilled out.

"You knew him.

"You're the boy he calls 'that boy' in his diary.

"You knew him.

"Is that why you're doing this to me?

"When I first came here, Maki told me 'Don't trust him. Don't trust anyone.'

"I wonder why he told me that? Since I came to this school, I never wanted to trust anyone.

"You've never talked to me about Tetsu.

"No one has.

"In his diary, when he stopped writing about you, he started writing 'save me'."

Save me.

"Did you know that?"

Hiro, save me.

"Save me."

Like pushing at a sore with his finger, somewhere distant the urge to cough, but he couldn't have felt sicker.

He closed his eyes.

"From this? From the school?"

Rika's head was nestled against his shoulder, his body was warm, it was Hiro who couldn't move.

"From you?"


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