Characters: Sayu. Mention of Sachiko, Light, Misa and Soichiro.
Summary: Yotsuba arc. "I'll call Mom and say that I decided to live on my own with Misa, but my stubborn dad would be totally against it."
Word Count: 1033
Right opposite the gates of To-oh University, there's a small café.
You'd think it's an odd place for it, but it's really not. Sure, the view's not all it could be, with cars, buses and trucks trundling slowly outside, with cyclists and jaywalking pedestrians playing chicken beside those heavy wrought-iron gates, but this isn't somewhere you come to stare out of the window. It's one of those shops with a busy storefront, that doesn't do much sit-in business. There are better places to relax or to work, and the tables aren't that comfortable. Students grab tea or coffee in heavy cardboard cups, or sandwiches or onigiri with whatever filling they like. Not many bother to sit down; if you did, well, you might just have the whole place to yourself, if you chose your time of day right.
One of the place's few regular sit-down customers is a girl, too uniformed and too young to be a student herself. She runs in most lunchtimes, pell-mell and out of breath in her grey sailor dress, with her bag slung over one shoulder, spilling books and minidiscs and fashion magazines that her mother would swear she's too young for. The strap of her too-big bag's covered in buttons, for and against idols and fashionable causes. She sits as close to the window as she can, this middle-school girl with her tied-back hair, and orders the same thing every day, with the same righteous determination as the magical girls she'd swear she's too old for, but still watches when she thinks she can get away with it.
The server brings orange juice and a strawberry sandwich with the same brisk smile she gives all day long, and the girl mimics her mother's politeness, with her fists clenched beneath the table. He's gone to live at school, that was what her mother had said. The girl's sure she's the only one people try those weak excuses on. Really? That was quick! she'd replied, bright as a button. So he'll be back at the weekend, right? And her mother had hemmed and hawwed, and eventually murmured something unhappy about you know what your father is like. Tea, dear?, and the girl had nodded and accepted the tea and failed the dice roll on her smile, and still in the apron that was so much a part of her, her mother had put her arms awkwardly around her and promised it would be all right, the way mothers do.
Plodding upstairs afterwards, cried out and eyes stinging, she'd grabbed her cellphone, clamshell pink plastic heavy with charms, and she'd sent a text message winging out into the ether - Hey oniichan which one's the median and which one's the mean again I forgot!!! But it seemed all the plastic pandas in the world couldn't get his attention. She'd left him voicemail and email, and he'd ignored those too. Her father would speak to her mother on the phone, but still couldn't make time for his daughter. Her mother tried to act like nothing was wrong, when it was obvious to anyone with eyes that everything was.
Still thinking of her father, she'd gone into her brother's room on tiptoe to investigate. No empty hangers in his wardrobe, and more to the point, no books missing from the shelves - at least, none that she could make out. His toothbrush hadn't even gone from the bathroom until it got thrown out. For all the world, he might not have gone anywhere at all. If she closed her eyes and waited and just wished hard enough, surely he'd appear from nowhere just to tell her off? Oh, he'd been distant lately, caught up with university and with whatever boys did, and then with girlfriends, what on earth, when he'd always been so proper that she'd thought he'd have to reproduce by cloning.
It was like she didn't have a place in her family, any more - like a link in the chain had outgrown her. She'd never even thought of it in terms of him being there for her, until she'd managed to wear out her welcome in his room, and another girl had taken her place - a girl with blonde hair and a model's face, who was famous and adored and who she really wanted to like, except that she'd made a stranger of her brother and then stolen him away completely.
All this goes around in her head, as she stares out of the café window, pleading with everyone who passes to be the boy she's looking for. She misses him, and she's furious with him for leaving. She knows she should like Misa, because he does, but in her darkest moments she's not sure she wouldn't kill her, just to get her brother back, if nobody would ever know. Each day merges into the next, and each day her certainty's a little more forced. Soon it'll be summer, and if she doesn't find him before his school closes for the holidays, she won't know where to look any more. It's like he's vanished off the face of the earth.
At lunchtimes, she only has fifteen minutes to spend in the café before she has to rush back to her own school on the metro, yet she still comes and watches every day she can. It feels like all she can do. She clambers over the back fence and runs inside, earning a demerit from the hall monitor most days as she scrambles out of her shoes - "Oi, Yagami-san, you're late again! What do you even do with yourself, these days?" Sayu grins, carefree like she means it, and lies with all her heart. "Eh, nothing important. I lost track of time, that's all."