‘… I have to stop… Eventually, someone’s going to notice…’
Violet eyes drifted down to a pale forearm, no longer hidden beneath the safety of the long-sleeved shirt. The fresh wounds of a blade, now scabbed over, were in disarray as if caused by a household pet. That kept the questions away; she could answer their questions with a comical, plausible reply. ‘My cat is kind of an asshole’ followed by a chuckle, or ‘My cat likes to play’, when in politer company. That silenced most, even Karei. Mariko was harder to fool; damn that mother’s intuition. She was ashamed of her habit. She felt she had little reason to do what she did. Yes, she was bullied, harassed, relentlessly in school. She always had been. Save for a small, tight-knight group of friends, those few that were stupid enough to get close to her, she was a social leper—the school punching bag; however, she had two wonderful parents that weren’t even truly her’s. They took her into her home at the age of three and raised her as their own. The two women than had been her mother and “father” after her biological mother had died gave her nothing but love and support. What reason did she have to be so self-destructive? With a weary sigh, she brushed a thumb over one of the deeper wounds. It had just stopped bleeding. Answering her own hypothetical question, there wasn’t a reason. She didn’t know why she kept doing this to herself—kept defacing the body that her mother had given life to and even died to save.
“Hey! Kana!” A smooth, deep, male voice ripped Kana from her thoughts. Glancing ahead, she offered a fragile smile. There he was…again. He always seemed to show up at the worst…or the best? times. His typical, goofy grin spread wide across his face and his hand held high in the air in a cheery wave as he hurried to her.
Kana quickly slid the black fabric back down over her dark secret and rose a hand briefly in return. “Rikishi.” She shyly pushed a strand of pitch black hair behind her left ear. One of the dumbasses foolish enough to choose her has a friend. She never understood why he in particular had chosen her. At 16, he was already 6’3, and the guy was built like a damn brick wall. Sure, he wasn’t human, and neither was Kana, but even for a non-human, that was crazy. White blonde hair, nearly pure white, falling freely to his shoulders, and sparkling clear blue eyes… Of course he had plenty of female pursuers, Kana included. “Isn’t it a little late for you to be hanging around in the human world?” She questioned, lowering her voice. “You’ve been out sick.” He came to sit beside her as she spoke, the grin never leaving his expression. “You know how your sister is. If she catches you out here, she’ll kick your ass. Your mother worries, but your sister… Jesus.”
“Oh, yeah. I know. She tore me a new one the last time she caught me out here when I had that lung infection that landed me in the medical unit back home. I worked so hard to sneak out, and just when I’d almost gotten back into bed, she caught me.” Rikishi chuckled and shook his head, his eyes moving to the full moon sitting high in the star-speckled sky. “I just wanted to make sure you were all right. They’ve been pretty rough on you in class lately from what I’ve been told… You know they tend to mess with you more when your body guard’s gone.” The grin faded. He struggled to manage a teasing smile at the body guard comment, but even that shattered and fell away. His tone softened, eyes drifting from the sky and settling on Kana. He’d didn’t like that he’d been gone for almost an entire school week. Hell, he didn’t even like it when he was gone for a lone school day. His health was absolute shit—his immune system was almost non-existent, he often had some kind of infection, viral or otherwise, meaning he missed quite a bit of school in comparison to most other students, and that left Kana without her safe guard. He always felt so guilty, as if it was his fault that their classmates were douchebags. “I worry, you know… They’re so terrible to you as it is…, and it’s not like those damn teachers do much to stop it.” He scoffed, shaking his head. Worthless bastards.
“You don’t have to do that, dumbass.” Kana rolled her eyes, tossing a back-handed slap to his shoulder. “I’ve been dealing with it my entire life. You know that. Going a few days without my big ass, teddy bear body guard is nothing.” Again, she forced a smile made of cracked glass, ready to crumble at the slightest tap. “You don’t need to be risking your health for me anyway.”
“But what I’ve heard from Aya, despite having to drag it out of her…”, he paused; his brow furrowed, “…I shot a text to Leo and Lucia earlier today. They were pissed. They’re in a different class, so they can’t do much, but they sure as hell told me to make sure I did when I came back.” A massive paw clenched at his side for just a moment, eyes narrowing for just as long. He forced himself to relax. It upset Kana when he got angry. She didn’t like to see that, and she got on him for it aggravating his poor health.
“Don’t. It’s nothing new. You know that. I’m not having you risking your health for me I… I can handle it.” A shard the smile fell away, and the structure wavered. She scratched at the hidden, healing wounds subconsciously. She could handle it…? No. Their words cut deep, even more soon than the blade she put to her skin every night. She was already so broken, even if she really didn’t understand why. Sure…, she’d been sexually assaulted, as she’d say to lessen the blow of the memory, at the end of middle school, but far worse had happened to so many others. Even so, she couldn’t take much more. She was close, so close, to just… making herself disappear. ”It’s all the normal bullshit about Mariko and Karei and not having a father. ‘Freak of nature’; humans get really sketched over the eye color.” She raised a finger to her temple to the icy violet eyes currently focused on that giant. “The typical comments about assuming I’m a lesbian and being told I’m going to hell with my ‘faggot parents.’” She rolled her eyes, brushing it off as if she didn’t care. “Humans and their religion. Have to love it.” She chuckled dryly, eyes drifting back to the stars. She hated lying to his face, and then maintaining eye contact? She needed a break. She couldn’t take it.
“What the hell happened, Kana?!”
Her eyes snapped back to see a wide-eyed Rikishi. A quirked brow in confused, mouth open and poised to speak, to ask what his deal was, but before she could, he had her hand cradled in his own, speckled with blood, and the veil hiding her secret lifted. He had a tissue pressed to her forearm, quickly soaking up the fresh blood from the reopened wound. She looked down, then back up. No more shock. Only concern. Fear. Even panic. Had she had the time, had she been faster, she would have stopped him. She couldn’t though; he was too fast or she was too slow. Either way, she could see in his eyes that he knew exactly what she had done. “Rikishi, it’s noth-,” She tried to stop him before he even started, but he cut her off.
“Why didn’t you say anything?!” He forced himself to speak gently and quietly. “Why didn’t you call me?! Call anyone?! I told you… just about all of us told you… to call, text, whatever, if you needed anything. We ask you if you’re okay every day, and you say yes! This… this isn’t okay, Kana!” His tone was still gentle, the volume of his voice quiet, but it was apparent that he was upset—not with her, but by the fact that she was suffering to the extent that this, that hurting herself, was all that was helping…, and that those bastards in their class were the cause.
“I…” Kana couldn’t bring herself to look at him anymore. Her eyes drifted to the right. What could she say? How could she explain this? He wasn’t stupid. He obviously knew what this was. “…You really expected me to put my bullshit on you, on Lucia, on Leo…?!” She could feel the tears brimming in her eyes, welling over her lower lids, spilling over, and streaming down her cheeks. “It’s not your prob-!“
“Stop with that, goddammit!” He raised his voice for just a second. “It’s not ‘bullshit’, you’re not ‘putting’ anything on us. We’re your friends, Kana.” He was still working to stop the bleeding, pulling a few more tissues from his pocket. It was slowing now. It was deep…, maybe needed stitches, but he knew Kana wouldn’t go for that. “We care. We want you to come to us, especially when it gets this bad… that you’re doing this to yourself just to make whatever pain you’re in stop.” His voice broke. He placed a thumb over the tissue and applied pressure.
Oh, shit. She heard the break in this voice. She risked a glance. There were tears brimming in his eyes now. No. She didn’t want to upset him like that. Annnd they were both crying. Great. “I’m sorry… I just didn’t want… I…” She went silent, trying to figure out how to continue. How was she supposed to explain what was buzzing through her mind? “Lucia and Leo are good friends, but I just… don’t feel close enough to them to talk to them like that, and your health-“
“Fuck. My. Health.” Rikishi cut her off for a third time, pausing after each word. “It’s not so poor that bad news or anything that’s not positive is going to kill me, and I’d rather than another cold or infection than you keep doing this to yourself. For fuck’s sake, Kana…” He raised a hand to turn her face to him. He hesitated for a moment but caressed her cheek, using the pad of his thumb to brush away the falling tears. “I want you to call, text me—anything—next time these thoughts come up. No more of this. It kills me to know that those bastards are putting you in so much pain that you…” He couldn’t even finish the sentence. “And then the useless fucks that call themselves teachers just standing there and not intervening?” He shook his head. “Can you promise me that you’ll do as I ask?”
She stared at him silently. How should she answer? She didn’t want to burden him with that. It wasn’t his problem. She thought about giving him an answer, but she remained silent. She was still thinking. She knew what she wanted to say, but how should she say it?
“Kana, please.” Rikishi plead. “…Don’t make me tell Mariko or Karei. That’s the worst thing I could do for you, but… if you don’t let someone do something for you, I’m going to have to. I can’t let you keep going on like this.” It hurt him to have to threaten her with that, but she was stubborn in her own way. He had no choice. “I’m your best friend, right? And you’re mine. Ideally, you can tell your best friend anything. You’re there for them through the good and the bad and vice versa. Please, Kana… Please… Just let me help you.”
She stared silently, tensing at the mention of telling her parents. No… No. That would kill Mariko. That would break her heart. Karei, well, she wasn’t sure how she’d react. She sat in silence with her sickly teddy bear for what felt like an hour. Finally, she nodded.
“…Okay…” She whispered. “I promise.”