Largo sat atop the boxes, staring at Piro and Nanasawa, Kimiko as they had fallen asleep watching television. His mind was, frighteningly, sober enough to think clearly. No videogame scenarios or melodramatic commentaries were going through his head as he sat very still, his hands folded together.
He was confused. Both with Erika, and with what had happened with her in the past couple hours. He had feelings for her, as hard as it was to grasp, he did. She had feelings for him, as odd as that seemed, she did. Yet something always seemed to be in the way. Something in her always seemed to reject him.
Then you reached what had happened just now. Something that Largo had decided was so confusing, he would name it T3h 4wkw4rdn3ss and leave it at that. Still, though he found ways to avoid it at all costs, the fact was that it had happened and he couldn't pretend that it hadn't. He couldn't be childish and engage his videogames in order to avoid it like he did everything else.
Piro moved in his sleep and Kimiko moved with him.
Erika reached blindly, coming out of her nap, for Largo beside her. He wasn't there. Opening her eyes she found the sheets pulled back and the pillow crumpled, but the red-head was nowhere to be found. He'd probably gone home. The thought made her ache and she rolled onto her back, staring at the ceiling blankly. She had had a feeling he wouldn't have stayed after the sex, after all it was Largo. But she had hoped he would have stayed until she'd woken up. Since he hadn't, she sat up slowly, not bothering to cover herself with the bedsheet since the apartment was empty other than her. Getting to her feet she walked, naked, to the bathroom and turned the shower on, more for noise than anything else. Listening to the water raining down and hitting the tile of the wall she sank onto the floor, laying her head back against the wall.
"Ignore it, Erika." she was talking to herself again. She'd gotten into that terrible habit when she had still been an idol. Before she'd moved in with Kimiko. It just seemed easier to deal with things if someon was there, so she pretended there was. "It didn't mean anything...to him or you." she was lying to herself. What they had done had meant a lot to both of them. It had meant that they were finally acting like lovers instead of babysitter and charge. As she sat there, rocking back and forth on the cold floor she hummed to herself. She did that a lot before she'd moved in with Kimiko too.
Piro opened his eyes slowly as Pings alarm clock went off, blaring some random song that was playing on the airwaves. Feeling someone move against him he jerked and bashed heads with Nanasawa as she had been attempting to sit up. Both of them fell to the sides, holding their faces and making noises of pain. Piro was the first to his feet.
" Nana-Nanasawa-san! I'm so sorry! " he cried in Japanese and she sat up shaking her head, waving a hand as the other held the top of her head which had hit Piros lower mouth.
" I'm alright...Piro-san? " she seemed to have spied something across the room and Piro looked too, ignoring the pain in his jaw as he saw Largo sitting on the floor against the wall. He was beside the floor door that led down to the store, staring off into space as if he were drunk, or stoned out of his mind. Piro blinked, seeing him there, and cocked his head slightly as if not understanding why he was there.
"Morning." Piro called, switching to english so that his comrade could understand him. Largo nodded, not looking at either of them, and straightened one leg flat on the floor. A hand touched Piro's shoulder and he glanced back at Nanasawa who had pulled on her coat.
" I'll see you later. " she said softly and he nodded, watching her go until the door [in the wall closed behind her. Then he looked back at Largo, who was still sitting on the floor, his arms folded over his single, erect knee.
Erika was curled up on the couch, playing Soul Caliber II when Kimiko walked through the door. She'd changed into shorts and a t-shirt, called in sick, and was ignoring the world for the day.
" Good Morning. " Kimiko called and Erika ignored her, focussing on the game at hand, trying to improve so that if she played with Largo again he wouldn't have to be slowed down so much.
" You were out late. " she called once she'd cleared the obstical she'd been fighting for the past two hours. She didn't look at her, but felt someone sit down beside her as she continued with the game. A hand touched her knee and she glanced over to see Kimiko was watching her in an almost motherly way.
" The shower's still going. " she said softly, very used to Erika's ways. The brunette shrugged and continued with her game. " How long did you get sick? " when Kimiko continued Erika shrugged again.
" I didn't. " it was a lie. Erika had been vomitting up until she'd started playing her games, even after having to pause and run to the bathroom to keep from ruining her self-built unit. Once she hadn't clicked 'pause' hard enough and a sniper had gotten her. When she got back she quit and started Soul Caliber. But what was the point of making Kimiko nervous? The shorter girl had enough trouble with her own nerves and feelings, why did she need Erika's on top of that?
The lie didn't sit well, but then neither did the truth.
" Alright. " was all the reply she got and her friend patted her knee before leaving the room, into the kitchen to make a pot of coffee. Erika turned off the game and started looking for another one, not feeling up to killing vertual people today.
"T3h 4wkw4rdn3ss?" Piro asked slowly, arching an eyebrow as he tried to understand what Largo had told him. He had no clue. Largo said nothing more as Piro felt lost in translation. "I have to work." the blond said after a minute, watching Largo closely as he walked to the door. "Hayasaka-san called in, so I've got to get down there."
"Hayasaka...Erika?" the fact that he'd actually pronounced it correctly was enough to make Piro stop cold and look back at his best friend who was looking at him pitifully. He looked frightened somehow, but not really.
"Yeah." he mumbled and Largo looked away, looking uncharacteristically worried. This made Piro stare at him even longer and soon his boss was yelling from below that Piro needed to come down. "C-Coming, Boss-san!" Piro screamed, and looking at Largo once more he hurried out the door and downstairs to the store.
" I wonder if Largo-san's okay. " Kimiko said absently as she pulled on a pair of hiking boots. She sat with Erika on the couch as the latter girl played "Dead or Alive" against the computer. At this remark, she looked away from the screen and at her best friend.
" What happened to Largo? " she asked and Kimiko stared at the look on her face. She looked terrified, as if she were about to tell her that he'd been hit by a bus or something. Kimiko blinked in surprise at her.
" He looked hurt this morning, that's all. " she said softly and Erika blinked, looking back at her videogame with a face that could kill baby angels with its grief. Kimi touched her shoulder and climbed to her feet, pulling her jacket back on in order to leave for work. " Don't let your stomach bother you too much. " she called, half-joking and a coffee-mug hit the wall beside her head. It wasn't Erikas fault she had an ulcer. It seemed like an odd thing for her to have at her age, but she had one. And whenever her nerves took a beating, or she got upset, or she got her period, or she just plain felt like hating everything; it came into play.
It had been bad when Hitoshi had insisted she leave him, when she'd quit her career to work at a second-rate videogame store. It had seemed she'd been getting better with it since meeting Largo, but now...
Kimiko was deep in thought as she walked toward the train-station. She was curious about what had happened, true, but she was also worried about Erika. They'd lived together for almost five years, she'd grown used to Erikas emotional reactions, but this time...it was different, somehow.
Largo sat in the upstairs apartment for a long time in silence, staring off into space. His mind was wandering off to Erika and back again. He wanted to see her, but his confusion felt like a ball and chain holding him down. She had missed work, she was probably home waiting for him, she was probably wanting to play another game. Why couldn't he move?
Erika was crouched over the toilet, coughing up into it. At last she raised her head away from the bowl and wiped her mouth with the damp washcloth laying on the sink nearby. Her stomach was aching so badly she wanted to remain curled up forever. Blood was interlaced with the bile since she had nothing in her stomach to throw up anymore. Staring at it for a second, she flushed the toilet and climbed onto her trembling legs.
Stumbling out of the bathroom she sank onto the floor in pain as she reached the wallphone. Her stomach was burning so badly she felt like she would die from it. Was she dying? God, she hoped not. Looking up at the phone meekly she yanked on the cord, forcing it to sail through the air down to her. It landed beside her with a crack on the wood. Her hands were shaking as she picked it up and jabbed the buttons with her thumbs.
Kimikos phone rang loudly on the train and was forced to rutt through her purse in order to find it. Her home number flashed across the screen in a multitude of colored lights and she stared at it blankly. Accepting the call and putting it to her ear, Erika spoke before she could.
" Can you take me to the hospital? " her voice was small and trembling. Kimiko blinked and jumped.
" What?! " Erika's voice came back, sounding as if she were holding down vomit.
" Please, Kimi? " she was begging and Nanasawa could hear the tears in her voice.
" A-are you alright? What happened? " she asked gently and Erika came back all-out crying.
" I really need to go, Kimiko. " she mumbled and her best friend blinked. Erika wasn't one to cry over anything, and hearing her like this she had a feeling she was in serious pain.
" I'm on the train! I-I'll call Piro-san, okay? " she said quickly, looking around nervously. Erika said nothing and a moment later she heard the phone drop and Erika getting sick in the backgraound. " I'll call Piro-san, Erika! " she said as loudly as she could and hung up the phone, her hands trembling as she attempted to find Piro's cell number in her address book.
Piro's cell rang its anime-theme-song-ringtone out loud and he looked at it dumbly. Many of the fanboys and other customers in the store stopped to stare at him, raising an eyebrow each of them. Blushing brightly and grabbing it out of his bag, preparing to turn it off, he spied Nanasawa's number blinking on the miniature screen. Ignoring everyone else, he absently wandered into the breakroom and answered.
" Nanasawa-san? " he spoke softly, glancing back at the door to make sure his boss couldn't see him. Especially since the largest poster in the breakroom was the rules and the top one was no cell-phone use durring store hours.
" Piro-san! " Kimiko sounded panicked as she cried into the phone. " Please, I need you to take Erika to the hospital! " she was in tears, he could tell.
"WHAT!?!" he screamed in english, loud enough for many of the customers outside to glance at the breakroom door. Even his boss stopped loading boxes onto shelves in the back as he heard him yell. Nanasawa was stuttering in Japanese and Piro spoke to her, in the correct language this time. " What?! "
" I-She-Erika has stomach problems. They get to her from time to time. And-and I think it's getting bad this morning. She just called-but I'm on the train- " Piro cut her off.
" I'm at work! She called in today, so I have to cover both of our shifts. " his heart was racing as he tried to think of something. Then it came to him. LARGO. " I'll tell Largo to go get her! " he yelled into the phone and hung up immediately, tossing his phone onto the couch and racing out. His boss met him just outside the breakroom door.
" What's the rush, Piro? " he sounded as if he couldn't decide to be worried or amused. Piro edged around him and ran for the door.
" I'll be right back! " he yelled back as the door-bell jingled, signalling his leave.
Largo turned his head to look at the door as Piro slammed it open, looking out of breath.
"You need to...you need to go get...get Erika." he was panting and Largo blinked at him, listening intently. The look on Piro's face was undescribable, being a mixture of every terrible feeling known to man. The red-heads heart froze, mid-beat, as his room mate said Erika's name. Piro didn't have the chance to say anymore because Largo was on his feet, confusion forgotten, and going past him. Running down the stairs to the apartment he splashed onto the street as rain began to fall around him.
"Fsck!" he yelled aloud, running blindly, not knowing where he was going. His legs were carrying him, though. This way and that down the road. He'd forgotten that he had a muffin cart still parked at the store front. He'd forgotten the keys to it in the apartment. He'd forgotten how much faster it could take him than his legs. "FSCK! FSCK! FSCK!" he bellowed, and ran faster, veering onto Erika's street and looking wildly for her apartment building.
Where was it? Where was she?! Was she in the bed? On the couch? In the house at all? He ran up a flight of stairs then another and another, knocking on every door that could have been hers. He couldn't remember which it was. He couldn't even think straight.
Was it this one? Did she live here? No one answered when he knocked and the door was unlocked. Opening it he looked around the room he walked into, recognising it. This was where she lived! This was the-Running down the hall toward the bedroom he jerked open the door. She wasn't there. The couch was empty. The house was quiet. He wanted to say her name, but couldn't seem to get it up his throat. His heart was pounding too hard against it.
"Largo?" a voice mumbled from next to him and he realized he'd walked into the bedroom, sitting on the bed where he had been the night before. Looking around he spied the bathroom door open and there she was, curled up into a ball on the white, tile floor. There she was, her hair down and spread around her, wearing a pair of his boxers and a t-shirt. There she was. She didn't move as he climbed to his feet and crossed the room to the doorway where she lay. He sat beside her and touched the side of her face.
"You are damaged." he said quietly and she laid her hand over his, smiling weakly. His eyes left her and glanced around the room slowly as if trying to figure out what to do. As he did she sat up against the doorframe, interlacing her fingers with his.
"You are an ass."
Kimiko held Piro's hand as they walked through the door of the hospital room. Shouts could be heard and across the room, behind the bed, on the floor sat Largo and Erika, playing "Dead or Alive: Ultimate Fear". Glancing at eachother they sank into chairs nearby to watch as the two continued their childish love affair.