Children of Misfortune
Chapter 18 deleted material
Can be placed directly before Kuwabara's entrance
Scene title: "Take Them For Granted"
"How dare you!"
I froze mid-struggle as someone echoed my words, shrieking them across the room like a cat whose tail had been stepped on. The group I'd been two seconds away from slaughtering quieted as two figures emerged from the crowd and stood before them.
I recognized them both.
It was Eimi. Eimi and Michiko. They walked right up to Yusuke's detractors and planted their hands on their hips, glaring as though to set our classmates on fire.
"How dare you!" Eimi said, pigtails flopping as she stared at the taller kids. "You're at his funeral, and you insult him?!"
"His mother is right there, you pigs," Michiko said. Her face resembled a tomato both in shape and vivid color, contrasting her calmer voice. "Show some respect."
"Urameshi was a very close friend of our best friend, Keiko, so if you want to trash talk him, you're going to have to answer to us!" Eimi said.
Michiko said, "Beat it!"
"Beat it or we'll kick your butts in honor of the biggest punk at our school!" Eimi added with a raised fist.
Hell hath no fury like angry teenage girls. The kids ran. When they vanished beyond the edges of the garden, my friends walked to Atsuko. They bowed, said something I couldn't hear, then folded their hands and prayed over Yusuke's casket.
Seeing them, some of the other kids followed, and did the same.
When my friends finished praying, they finally spotted me. I broke away from my parents and went to meet them as they walked my way. They wore twin expressions of pitying sorrow; they smelled of funerary incense. Before they could speak, I shook my head.
"You…you didn't even like him," I said.
The girls exchanged a glance. Then, as one, they shrugged.
"Doesn't matter how we felt," said Eimi.
"He was your best friend," said Michiko.
My cheeks colored. "I never said—"
"Yeah, yeah, you never said that he was your best friend," Eimi said.
"But we always knew," said Michiko. "And it's OK. We're not mad."
Eimi said, "Anything you need, we're here for you."
Said Michiko, "What are friends for?"
Expectant, but patient, they waited for my reply—but for all my wordy tendencies, I had no idea what to say to them. I'd made friends with these two girls because I'd felt obligated to do so. Keiko had been their friend in the anime. My parents wanted made to make some female friends. It only made sense, to choose these two.
Now, though, this didn't feel like an obligated friendship.
So many times, I'd abided their teenage drama in bored silence. So many times, I'd sighed and rolled my eyes when they moaned about school, or boys, or gossip. So many times, I'd merely tolerated these girls—not embraced them. Just…tolerated.
Meanwhile, they legitimately cared for me.
They honored Yusuke, even though they didn't like him, simply because they cared for me.
I didn't start crying, then. Tears didn't form, and I didn't sob. But I came damn near close when I wrapped my arms around them both and held on tight, gratitude and guilt waging war inside my chest. They patted my back and told me it would be OK, and I vowed not to devalue these young women again.
They deserved better friendship than mine.
I'd see to it I didn't take them for granted again.
Scene I wrote for chapter 18, but I felt like most readers weren't too interested in Keiko's female friends, so I cut it. Chapter is long enough as it is. But I thought the interaction was charming and wanted to share it with you.
This story will contain all deleted material and bonus content that didn't have a proper place in Lucky Child itself. Expect sporadic updates. Thanks!