Previously, you were accompanied by the axis while waiting for the BTT. When they arrived, you all finally managed to complete the project, and you learned that Gilbert wasn’t the stereotypical popular guy. When you all finished, you insisted that you had to leave, but was stopped at the door by a concerned Kiku. Taking you to a room away from prying ears, you’re about to tell Kiku about what happened to your father, and finally get all the emotional burdens off your shoulder.
“I was very laid back, back then. I had many friends, participated well in school, and was an ace in my drama class. I was so happy... we all were happy then. I didn’t realize what I had until it was gone,” you said solemnly, but continued on, “I was a bit spoiled, I guess, I had all a child could ask for, but I didn’t have one thing and it pissed me off like no other. See, my dad worked a lot, he was a well-known detective and worked to solve cases and saved lives, or something like that.
He would wake up early in the morning, and sometimes he would give me a kiss on the forehead before he left, he would think I was asleep but I always managed to be awake for those times since I wanted to cherish every moment with him.” Kiku smiled at you, not caring about how you were going off topic. He could tell you were trying to get your thoughts sorted out on how to tell this, and he wasn’t going to push you.
“And then he would come late at night, it was rare that he made it home for dinner. He used to always come home in time for dinner, but when I entered the sixth grade it seemed like he was getting busier and busier. He was coming home later and later, sometimes not getting home in time to see me awake. I would stay up as long as my body would allow me, my mother didn’t mind because she knew how much I cared and how much I needed to see him, it kinda became a ritual for us to stay up and wait for him.
I was okay with it at first, to stay up and wait, because it was fun. It’s always fun to stay up after your bedtime as a child, you know, and I would cuddle with my mom and we would watch movies or eat ice cream. But the excitement eventually wore off; I went to school more tired each day and fell asleep sooner, so I saw him less. Eventually I stopped waiting with my mom. She would stay up, of course, she was a stay at home mom and didn’t have to study for tests or do homework or work to keep her eyes open in a class lecture, but I just went to bed.
We got used to it, it became the new schedule around the house, it was normal. I was used to not seeing my family around much anymore, and now that I think about it, it really was hard to go through that. I was truly lucky to have friends back then, because we distracted each other. We had one another and that’s all that mattered, we had our dancing practices and competitions coming up, and it took my mind away from what was happening at home.
But I snapped one day.
“Mom! Mom, guess what!” you ran up to your mom, who was busy in the kitchen making dinner, since your dad was home early in one of those rare occasions, and tugged on her apron.
She politely nodded in silent acknowledgement as you carried on, “You know that competition I said my dance team was going to have soon? You guys said you couldn’t come because you didn’t have tickets and they costed a lot! Well...” You suddenly turned away from your mom and excitedly ran to the table where your dad sat reading a newspaper, and seeing your approach he raised his eyes to look at you.
Pulling a piece of paper from your jacket pocket, you threw it on the table with exuberance and proudly added, “Well my school gave us one because I’m on the team! So one of you can come and see it!” You stared pointedly at your dad, a slim chance of hope that he would be the one to offer.
He could see your stare and looked up to his wife for some help; he had work that day and probably wouldn’t be able to make it. When it fell silent she turned to face you two, seeing you silently plead your father as he silently pleaded at her. She couldn’t help but giggle slightly at how silly this family was acting. She sympathized with you, but couldn’t help but back up her husband.
“I’d love to see you compete, honey!” She said, wiping her hands on a towel and going to the table to sit next to her husband. They noted you frown in slight disappointment, and your dad added, “I’m sure it’ll be great darling, you’ll do fine.”
But the words intending to encourage you only served to anger you more. Why couldn’t you father come? He never came to a competition, he was always so busy. What was so special about his work anyways, that he couldn’t spend time with his own kid? Weren’t people supposed to put family first? Sure, you knew he had to work all this to make ends meet, to keep you all well fed and dressed well for school. But what was the point if he couldn’t even make it to something that meant the world to you?
Your parents had fallen into a casual chatter with one another, and hadn’t notice that you were silently fuming, that you were getting angrier by the moment. A hot tear ran down your cheek and your father noticed you, and was instantly concerned, “What is it? What’s wrong?”
He stood up to you and reached a hand of comfort but you backed away, eyes red now with tears being held in your eyes, “Why can’t you come, daddy? I want you to come! Not mom, mom is always there daddy and I want you!” All your emotions broke down then and there, and you cried out about how it wasn’t fair that he was staying later and later into the night. How he didn’t care anymore and only liked his work, “You don’t love me, you love your work more. I bet you stay late at night just so that you don’t have to see me, you only want to see mommy!”
Your parents didn’t react angrily at you, they merely stood there; stunned at the sudden outburst of the things you kept bottled up inside.”
“I tended to bottle my emotions back then too... hah I thought that was just some stuff I did recently, but it seems like it was a long term quality,” you added a bit bitterly.
“After that I got angry, and I stomped out of the kitchen and ran to my room. My parents never checked on me, and if they did then I wouldn’t know since I had fallen asleep crying. It’s so easy to sleep when you get fatigued in that way. Anyways, I went to school next day, and managed to avoid my mother as I quickly rushed to the bus stop first thing in the morning. It was terrible, waiting for the bus though, since I had rushed and the cold seemed to seep in wherever it could, and I swear the amount I slipped on the ice was ridiculous!
But the day went on and we practiced for the competition after school and we took the bus straight to the competition. There was no time to go home since it was a bit far from the school and we’d barely make it on time as is. Not that I had wanted to go home at the time, I was still unfairly angry at my parents at the time.
Well, we went to the competition, and we beat them all! It was amazing, really amazing that we actually placed in the top three in the competition and were going to make it to finals. We cheered and clapped and laughed, and I watched as all my friends sifted through the crowd to their designated parents. But mine weren’t there, neither of them, not even my mother and I didn’t understand why that was. It had truly surprised me, but it wasn’t long until an announcement called me down to the office.
I assumed that my mom was tired of looking for me, or something, and had gone to the office to call me down. At least, that what I told myself, even when I felt a knot tie in my stomach. Something had felt off to me.
I was met with the faces of a couple of police officers, instead of my mother, and I had never felt as confused in my life. They told me I had to go with them that my father had gotten in a terrible accident, highly due to the weather. I hadn’t noticed how chilling the air was that day, I felt numb to it when I heard their words. I had gone into shock, I guess, my little mind couldn’t process what had happened and when they noticed that I wasn’t responding, they stopped explaining what had happened.
I hadn’t learned what accident had happened until after I had been taken to the hospital.”
I stared blankly out the window, as the car bounced and jolted lightly, the car speeding past the usual traffic of the day using the power of authority. The siren made cars part quickly and left a clear way to the hospital.
They quickly parked next to the door and you ran out, following one of the policemen who seemed to be going in to look for your father. It felt like you were watching all of this from far away, this wasn’t happening, it was like watching one of those drama’s your mother loved to watch on Friday nights.
Soon, you had been led to sit outside a room; one which you discovered was where your father was staying in. The quiet in the lobby betrayed what was actually occurring in the room though, and you could clearly hear the muffled shouts from inside as the doctor shouted his orders to the nurses.
And that’s when it hit you. Your father. Your father had gotten in an accident, and a terrible one, it seems. One where he had to be hospitalized. Shutting your eyes tightly, you pulled your knees close to your chest and sobbed into your knees. This was too much to handle for you. Then there was your mother. You weren’t sure when she had arrived, but it didn’t seem like she had noticed you yet either, since she was pacing frantically in front of the door after a nurse had shown her the room her husband was in.
A small sniffle escaped you as you looked at her, and you calmed down a bit. Even if you hadn’t ever seen her this frantic in your life, it still made you feel better to have family around.
Reaching a hand out, you lightly touched her arm as she walked by again, and she halted. Seeming to have noticed you for the first time, she surprised you by frowning deeply. She tightly grabbed your arm and pulled you out of the chair, “I’ve got to speak with you.” She said, almost maliciously, but you weren’t sure if your mother was capable of ever being malicious, and you followed her as she led you to a private area.
“And imagine my surprise when she pushed me against the wall, away from her with disgust, and told me that it was my entire fault?” You watched Kiku’s eyebrows rise slightly in surprise at this, since she had sounded like a fine character up until that point.
“That’s when she explained everything that had happened.”
“You’re the most ungrateful child I’ve met,” she spat, as anger quickly took over her despair, “If it wasn’t for you, none of this would have happened.”
You just sat, dazed, on the ground as you looked up to your mother. What happened was unexpected at the very least, “What do you mean it’s my fault, I didn’t do anything-“
“Of course you did something, you did everything! I was supposed to go to your competition, not him! Why couldn’t you accept that?”
She fell into long bout of silence, as you broke it by asking, “Mom, what happened?”
“He was working longer hours so he could spend more time over the summer with you, you know,” She suddenly added in a monotone, and you felt guilt seep in. He had been working harder for you? But you hadn’t known, why didn’t they tell you, why didn’t they explain?
As if able to read your mind, she continued explaining, “He said that he wanted you to be surprised, that it would be more exciting for you to suddenly learn that he could spend all his time with you, with us, over the long awaited break. But no, you just had to be greedy and think only of yourself. You made him realize that he hadn’t been paying attention to you; that it was doing more damage than what he had expected.
Were you asleep when he came into your room, later that night after a long chat with me about this, to whisper to you about how he was going to be one to take the ticket and make it to your competition? That he was going to ignore all the work he had for the next day and use it to visit you instead? He insisted on this even after the radio had told about the below zero temperature, and even grabbed another jacket for you, just in case!”
You were frozen, hypnotized as your mother told the story, “Do you know what happened? What accident did he get in, did he crash into a large truck or something?”
She nodded her head, “Yes, I was sitting next to him in the passenger seat, actually, because I was going to drop him off, and then go around and run some errands while we were in that area.”
That was confusing, how was she in the passenger seat if she now was alright and clearly in better condition than her father. Shouldn’t she have at least experienced some type of damage to her body if she was in the same car though? How could this accident somehow only hurt her dad, and avoid her mom? She noticed that you were puzzled and realized what you thought and answered with a sarcastic sigh, “No, _________, it wasn’t a car accident-“
“Then what was it!” You pouted, tired of your mom beating around the bush.
“Well maybe if you’d stop interrupting me, then I’d be able to tell you!” She shouted back angrily. You forced yourself to not speak up so she’d continue on, though you wondered if you were mostly silent in shock at the fact your mom was screaming at you, which was far from the normal her you knew.
You took a deep breath, you hadn’t explained all the details, but you had told enough for him to understand you, and so you carried on; mimicking almost the exact words your mother had used to first tell you the story, “She was sitting next to my dad, in the passenger seat, and he was driving. It wasn’t snowing or anything, but it was terribly freezing outside. I say that, because they were driving by the lake... the one you were talking about, on the road less traveled by others since that was the quickest way to my competition.
Well, while they were driving, my dad noticed this kid on the side of the road waving his arms frantically, trying to get someone’s attention. My dad being the person he is, naturally pulled to the side to see what was wrong with the kid. My mom says she can’t remember what exactly was said, but the kid basically said that he and his friends had been playing on the lake, I say on because it had been frozen solid into ice by the cold, or at least that’s what they had thought. The kid explained that they were playing around on the ice when it had broken under the pressure and he was the only one who managed to escape. The kid was sobbing a lot too, by the sound of it; I’m not surprised that he was panicking at the idea of his friends drowning in the icy lake.
So my dad told the kid to lead the way and followed after him, taking off his jacket as he went. Apparently the kid looked around my age, so my dad was even more eager to help, knowing what it would be like for the parents if any of the children died.
The last thing my mom saw was him walking away, he had told her to stay put, when after a minute or two, some kids came running up the slope again to my mom, some of them drenched in water and shivering. She could tell something was off with their terrified faces, and fact that my dad wasn’t trailing after them or holding them to warm them or something of the sort. That’s when they told her that he husband was in danger, that he got caught under the ice of the lake.
Then, you know, she calls the police, ambulance comes, they retrieve him from the water, and that’s basically where she left off with her story. It wasn’t until a little later on that a policeman had approached us to explain exactly what happened,” You quickly glanced at Kiku’s face to make sure he wasn’t asleep or something, since he was being awfully quiet and you felt like you had been going on for hours, “He explained that the temperature was so low that day that he had to break a new hole in the ice, about where the kid had pointed out since the water had lightly frozen over again.
He had then dived down into the water to find them of course, and it’s amazing he was able to get them, considering the darkness under there. He held the two kids under his arms and swiftly kicked to get some air because even he was starting to feel the lack of oxygen, but he was met with ice again. Of course, he hadn’t swam to the exact spot he made the first hole, that’s apparently very unlikely, so he knew he had to make a new one.
He pulled a pocket knife from his pocket, probably in slow motion considering what water does to you, and probably banged the knife part against the ice until the hole was large enough for the two kids to slip through. He hoisted them through there, but wasn’t able to get the hole big enough for him. It’s easier to fall into a hole than to pull yourself out of one, so he stuck his nose out to try and get some air, but more splashing water from his movements to stay at the surface came in than air.
The policeman told us that was when the kids ran to my mom and had the authorities called, and that was when they had come to pick him up. He was found with extreme hypothermia, his heart was beating slowly, and his breathing was shallow. They were surprised that he had fought so hard to stay near the top of the water like that, it certainly made finding him easier,”
You shrugged and inhaled shakily, “After that, my dad fell into a coma, and eventually his heart stopped. But it didn’t stop there, the incident absolutely tore my mother apart, it was like she died the day he did. She wasn’t the same ever again... and her personality became almost practically the opposite of that which it was.
By elementary graduation my friends all knew the story of what had happened to my dad, but as I progressed through junior high, dealing with my mom at home got more difficult,” you didn’t want to mention that she had started to abuse you, blaming you for what had happened even though it wasn’t entirely your fault... right?
“And my so-called friends got more interested in boys and make up than me; they were too engulfed in their social lives to ‘put up with my dramatics’. Eventually, I dropped out of the dance team, thus simultaneously dropping out of their life. I used to be so talkative and outgoing, I think, but now barely anyone speaks to me and I get bullied around.
I’m shy and I don’t trust anyone anymore. Ever. I gave up the silly idea of ‘trust’ when my friends showed me exactly what trusting others led to. I don’t talk anymore, and it feels so normal, but I remember being called ‘chatty’ and ‘hyperactive’ as a child. I don’t know, I’m not even sure anymore because it was so long ago, it feels so unreal. I’m going to graduate and I’m still not able to get over it. I don’t know who I am anymore, if I’m supposed to be outgoing or if I’m supposed to be quiet!”
Heck, you were more confused now than ever. You were the silent one who ate lunch alone, who didn’t pay attention to others and thus got no attention back; but you remembered just how much fun you had with the trio at the party before, it almost felt nostalgic, and now you kind of understood why.
After a moment of silence you concluded silently with, “The only good that came of that was that those kids survived; they were the last people he saved. They were the last ones to see him and speak with him, and better fucking appreciate what he had done; they had better be living their lives to the fullest.”
Tears ran freely down your face silently, but Kiku hadn’t noticed them since his gaze was concentrated on the ground, not wanting to make you feel uncomfortable with a direct stare. Sensing that you were finished he smiled sympathetically at you, and saw you crying. He was feeling a bit uncomfortable with so much raw emotion being shown to him, but he felt flattered that you were doing this even when you had just stated that you had lost trust in others.
He cleared his throat as he knew what he had to do now, “I know, _______, it’s not something I would normally do, but it’s what I would need if I was in this situation too.”
You blinked at the tears, trying to clear them so you could see him clearly, you weren’t sure what he was talking about but you felt more exposed and embarrassed now. It was great to get all that off your shoulder, but there was also that terrible feeling that he knew all of that you couldn’t shake away, you sniffled as you asked, “What are you talking about-“
But were cut off as he reached over to give you a hug.
’So that’s what he meant by “it’s not something I would normally do”’
You waited for the words of encouragement everyone seemed to give in situations like this, but none came; he simply hugged you in silence. He felt you give a shuddery breath and squeezed you tighter, not in a death grip way, but in a way that told you that he was here for you. You weren’t sure why, but it made you break down, more so than any other words had. You dug your face into his shoulder and cried for the hardest you had in a long while.
A hug really was all that you needed; no false words of hope or anything. Just to know that someone was there meant the world to you.
After who knows how long sitting there like that, you pulled away and wiped at your face, mumbling, “I-It meant a lot to me, for you to listen to what I had to say.” you gave him a weak smile that he eagerly returned.
“What else are friends for, ________?” His smile died down a bit as he added, “I know you must have heard this a lot, but I’m sorry that your father died, he sounds like he was a great man.”
You nodded, expecting at least this from him, after all it would have been considered rude if he hadn’t said anything at all, “It’s okay. Thanks for hearing me out,” aburuptly looking up at him anxiously you added, “just please don’t tell the other guys, please keep it between us. I don’t want to burden or have them look at me differently or something.”
He looked hesitant, but agreed after a while of more of your pleading, “Hai, I won’t tell anyone unless I come under circumstances where I need to, okay?”
You nodded in agreement, just as the muffled shouts of the trio rang through, “I guess that took longer than expected, huh?” You chuckled lightly as you composed yourself, “Better get going now.” You stood up and started for the door, but as you were about to close the door behind you to leave, Kiku stopped you.
“And thank you, __________, for trusting me enough to talk with me. I hope you feel less of a burden on your shoulders now, it was a heavy one for such a little you to carry,” He smiled once more and headed back to rejoin his other friends.
“You’re a great friend, Kiku,” You said loudly enough for only his ears to pick up, and he nodded modestly as a reply.