As the rain softened to the a gentle patter, Ko walked alone down the musty street buried within her overcoat. A fluffy beanie was shoved onto her head almost hiding her eyes behind her bangs. Her eyes focused on her footsteps as she hurried; she'd only just left the school after seeing Toshi disappear into the street.
Looking up, she saw his vague figure slowing. Taking a moment, he sat down on a soaked bench apparently oblivious. Ko ran through the deep puddles to him though he did not acknowledge her when she approached.
"Toshi." she said.
He did not look up. She spoke regardless.
"Can I ask you a favour?"
This time he did look up. It was painful to look into her eyes. Perhaps it was the difference in their social standing or that he never heard her speak ill of him. But he noticed there was no malice, only a gentle question. He nodded once.
"Can you come with me to the hospital to see Katsu?" she asked. Noticing the look on his face, she continued almost apologetically. "I know you didn't like him but.. he keeps repeating your name. His parents told me."
A cold silence. Toshi did not know what to say.
"I know you two didn't see eye to eye-"
Something inside Toshi snapped. A red gleam crossed his eyes.
"We didn't see eye to eye? He was a bully, Ko!" Toshi snarled. He stood up as the anger electrified his veins. "Every day he made sure I felt like nothing. Like I didn't deserve to live like any other school kid. Didn't you know? He threatened to skin me alive yesterday. He cut my clothes open with a knife. I hope he's dead, I really do."
Toshi trembled but stood firm. The years of frustration boiled within him. Ko shrank from him behind her facade of denial.
"I didn't... he told me you were a sneak." she replied. Her voice broke off solemnly. Toshi's anger subsided slightly as the cold air swept over them. "I... how do I know you're not lying?" she added. Desperation lingered in her voice.
Toshi nodded and rolled up his left sleeve. A collection of circular scars, no more than five, patterned his forearm. Not long ago, a cigarette had been kissing his flesh with a dull crackle.
"I did this stupid thing to try and forget. Sometimes he'd get in my head and I did what I could to get him out." he breathed.
Ko touched her mouth with her left hand in shock. Her fingertips traced her lips as she struggled to find something to say. Toshi sat back down finally spent of his anger.
"I-I still want you to come with me." she said.
Toshi remained silent for what felt like an eternity. She stepped back, afraid he would ignite with his deep seated rage once more. Toshi however was deep in thought. He looked at the rain which had become a light drizzle. He remembered Katsu in class before his convulsion. His words, though quiet, seemed to be directed. PMR's casual indifference seemed to cause a painful knot inside of him. He had to know.
"Okay." said Toshi.
Within the dreary halls of the hospital, patients were being wheeled in and out of various rooms as Ko and Toshi fought their way through the ICU. Various medical jargon was tossed around casually; it was almost as obstructive as the doctors themselves. For a brief moment, the electronics seemed to shudder.
"I don't know about this." muttered Toshi as he followed Ko's apprehensive lead. She looked back at him but said nothing. At last, they found his room. Opening his door, they saw what being rich gets you when you're in the hospital. A king size private room dominated by a luxury bed where Katsu lay. Several tubes crossed over his body indicated he wasn't entirely comfortable despite this.
Katsu perked up when he saw Ko. He sat straight and looked expectantly. His lips curled as Toshi stepped into view. Nasty thoughts were congregating in his mind.
Ko approached him delicately. She rested her hands on his arm and spoke softly as though he were made of glass. Toshi lingered by the foot of his bed.
"Hey baby." said Katsu as she embraced him. He flashed a glare at Toshi. Toshi looked away.
A silence broke out when they parted. Ko looked at the two students unsure of how to proceed. She looked to Toshi pleadingly. He complied.
"How are you feeling?" asked Toshi. His words were dull and lifeless. As they crossed his lips, he felt as though a stranger were talking.
"As well as anyone can whose lost a pint of blood after a killer migraine." Katsu replied. He flashed a look at Ko who patted his arm. Maybe it was denial or his lying ability, but the fact he could be so callous to another human being was alien to her.
"Ko said you spoke my name after you collapsed. I'm just wondering-"
"Why?" cut across Katsu. "I don't know. All I remember is some weird looking guy and he said your name. He looked like a friend of yours."
The insult, though weak, grated nonetheless. Toshi and Ko exchanged looks but said nothing. Katsu notices their collective response and snarls. Why had she invited him? Jealous seeds were sown in his mind and they threatened to bloom.
"Oh come on. That was funny." he said. "Oh Toshi-chan, you had never had much of a sense of humour."
"Stop calling me that." Toshi said. His voice was quiet. Katsu merely laughed.
Ko slapped him. He reeled back shocked at her defiance.
"Stop it! Katsu, you will stop it!" she ordered. Her eyes were alight with fury. Katsu raised a hand to the pink smear where she had slapped him and sputtered.
"You.. bitch. You fucking slapped me." he spat, reaching out for her. She dodged and stepped to Toshi who was looking on in shock. "I'm gonna smash your little face in."
"M-maybe it wasn't smart of me to come here." said Toshi to Ko. She gave him an apologetic look but said nothing.
"I guess you two are gonna fuck now." sneered Katsu.
Ko's anger took hold. "He's only here because you said his name. We were just curious as to why."
The electronics began to glitch. The overhead light flickered and spat sparks. Maybe it was just the deep shadows but Katsu looked more deranged than Toshi had ever remembered. His eyes lacked colour and his flesh had lost it's youthful snap. It was as though he were degenerating with the electrics.
"Ah, that little shit. Toshi-chan. He killed me. Drowned me. I heard his laughing, fucking laughing. Why laughter?" Katsu's voice cracked. He began tearing at the tubes in his arms. The heart monitor screeched painfully.
"Get a nurse." pleaded Ko.
Toshi turned and as he pushed on the door, Katsu shrieked far beyond the capabilities of his vocal cords. Blood exploded from his eyes and mouth as a mechanical wheeze of what counted as laughter escaped his mouth.
"It was raining. It was raining. It was raining. It was raining. It was raining. It was raining."
Ko leaped to his side and tried to grab his hands. He was pulling at the sides of his mouth as though his flesh were a rubber mask. Ko insanely thought of that American cartoon with the talking dog and almost laughed in spite of this. Katsu gave her one last look before slumping forward. Ko raised her hands to her mouth in shock and began to cry. Toshi could only watch in shock as she wept over her fallen boyfriend.
Outside, the rain fell harder than ever.