Xiao Lang Li put his head in his hands. He was sitting on his front porch, shoulders slouched, waiting for something to happen. A bag full of textbooks was on its side next to him.
Great. Just great. I'm kicked out again... How the hell am I supposed to finish my project when my computer is inside?
The sun was setting, everything around him was dimming, and his stomach was churning; Xiao Lang stood up and hid his books. He resolved to walk to the nearest 7-11 and grab a quick snack to hold him over until his mother snuck him in. As he walked down the road that led to the front gates, he heard a scream.
Xiao Lang could have cried. Usually, he diverted his father's attention from his mother to himself. His father was abusive, but Xiao Lang allowed his father to swing at him as long as his mother was untouched. Nights where he was locked out of the house were the worst. He couldn't protect his mother. He was so ashamed. He ran out of the neighborhood, ignoring the yells of his father and his mother's helpless cries. He turned the corner and found the 7-11, but sat on a bench instead of going inside.
Absentmindedly, he played with the leaves on a plamp. The leaves were glowing bright enough to light up the area around the bench he was sitting on. He pulled off a leaf and watched the light slowly fade.
He was home for a couple of hours after school before his father came home. He reeked of alcohol, and Xiao Lang wondered how a person could drink so much and managed to find his way home inebriated almost every single night. As soon as his father entered the kitchen where the adolescent was studying, Xiao Lang gathered his things to bring to his room.
His father swayed as his bleary eyes slowly focused on his son.
"What the hell do you think you're doing in my house," the man spat. "You're useless. You don't belong here. Get. Out."
And so Xiao Lang left. It was easier than his father dragging him out, anyway. This occurred so many times, he knew to grab his bags and wallet before exiting the home. So many times, he could recognize what kind of abuse his mother was subjected to when he walked in the home. If his father was asleep on the couch, his mother most likely had a safe night. The nights he had to tiptoe past his parent's bedroom made him sick. His mother was depressed for days afterwards. She couldn't bear to tear herself away from a man she used to love, even when he forced her to do things the gentleman she fell in love with would scorn.
Yelan and Xiao Lang knew that Da Lang Li was different. He was a changed man, but neither of them knew how to escape from their misery.
He didn't realize her presence until she cleared her throat.
"Xiao Lang Li?" she asked.
He looked up, and started. How long had she been standing there?
"Y-yeah?" he whispered. He wanted to be alone. She must have known him from school; he didn't have any friends and his family's wealth was no secret among the students at school. He hated attention, and made every effort to get it off of him. Most of his peers realized that rich people were not always friendly. The girl was pretty. She had shoulder length hair, but the glowing plants weren't bright enough to show him the exact shade of brown it was.
Huh. You'd think I'd remember all the hot girls at school.
"This is going to sound strange, and possibly creepy, but I know about your current situation. I have a safe place for you and Yelan to stay, if you'd like. I really don't mean to weird you out or anything, but I promise, I'm a friend. I don't want to hurt you. Will you listen to me? Actually, we used to know each other when we were younger. Do you remember me, Sakura? We went to the same… daycare. Our parents used to work together…" she trailed off, looking at her expectantly.
Xiao Lang stared. What the hell? He wanted to grab her, shake her, ask her how she knew anything about him; heck, he could have killed her on the spot for prying.
Her nervousness stopped him. It rolled off of her in waves; he could see her sweating a little after talking to him and she was shaking a little bit. He could tell she meant no harm. He decided to listen to what she was saying, the girls made him wary.
"How do you know my mom and I need somewhere to stay?" He waited. She looked alarmed, and he realized his tone of voice still had a tone of anger in it. He tried again.
"What kind of place did you have for us? How much would it cost?" he asked.
She relaxed a little. "It's a hotel that my foster brothers own. You may have heard of it… Motel Moon? We have a lot of extra rooms right now. I'd like to say it's completely free, you just have to pick up after yourself, I think. Don't worry, we owe you…and your family a lot. We owe you a favor," she told him.
He was tempted. She lit up.
"Oh, I know it's weird how I know about your personal life. I can understand why you're not sure right now. Just trust me, you'll be safe with us. My brother is sort of sensitive to people in pain, and he recognized your mother the other day. He noticed she was hurt. We still remembered where you lived, and I saw you walking… I just know you're looking for a place to stay, and I have one ready for you!" She smiled.
"Alright, I'll go with you. I need to find a way into my house so I can go get my mom. Can you wait for me?" He nodded. He couldn't trust her completely, and he still got weird vibes from her, but she was nice girl, and she looked at him so earnestly with dark green eyes. His favorite color.
"Better yet, I'll walk you to your house and wait for you. Is that okay? If you want, you can grab clothes and stuff, if you want to stay a while… we have free wi-fi! So you can do any homework." They started walking. Xiao Lang realized he never got anything from 7-11, but he didn't care. He found a way to make his mother safe. He tried to remember the girl's name to thank her.
"I'm sorry… What's your name again?"
He was uncomfortable when she smiled warmly at him.
"It's Sakura. Sakura Kinomoto."
They continued to walk. Before they turned on Xiao Lang's street, Sakura turned to him and asked them to stop.
"Hey, Xiao Lang, the next time I see you, I'll have to ignore you. But I'll make it up to you the the time after that."
What the hell? How does she know that?
The door was unlocked, and his mother was sitting on the steps by the front door, waiting for him. When he walked him, she put her finger to her lips and pointed to the couch, where his father was laying. Xiao Lang watched his father for a minute. He made sure Da Lang's paunch rose up and down evenly before he explained to his mother to about Sakura.
"Kinomoto?" She whispered.
"What? Mother, I couldn't hear you. Please repeat what you said,"
"Her last name is Kinomoto, isn't it," Yelan stated. She was excited, he could tell.
"Yeah, something like that. So I guess we really did hang out in daycare," He mused, "Well, mother, we need to pack. She's waiting for us, and Father is sleeping on the couch tonight so you should be able to gather your belongings."
She nodded, and neither of them spoke until they left the house.