Chapter 16:

The Broken Watch


A million questions ran through his head trying to understand what was wrong with her. ‘I thought she was at home… What’s she doing here? What’s going on?’ He grabbed her up from the street letting her rest against him in a seated position. “Can you hear me, Saki?”

Chapter 16 – The Broken Watch

Hiroshi felt the flood of emotions and panic wash over him. As Yuki went to pieces, he felt he had to stay calm. Yet even he found it difficult never seeing Saki so thrashed. It had looked like she was in a fight and badly lost it with the bruises and dirt that covered her. Even her clothes were ripped from something or someone. ‘What did she get herself into? If they did this to Saki…’

Glancing around the street and neighborhood, it felt like eyes watched them from a distance. He placed his hand on Yuki’s shoulder to grab his attention away from Saki for a moment. “Yuki. Yuki!”

“She’s…” Flashes of his past haunted him. A younger Saki overlaid in his mind looking down at her.

“We should get her out of here to rest.”

“Yeah…you’re right.”

“I’ll help you…” Hiroshi started to move to the other side of Saki to give Yuki aid, but found that his assistance wasn’t needed. Yuki had already put his arms under her legs and back, lifting her up in his arms. He held her close to his chest and began to walk. Hiroshi stood with his mouth agape watching Yuki walk away from him hardly missing a beat. “I guess you don’t need my help.”

It took Hiroshi a moment to catch his mind up that he was being left behind by Yuki to hurry to his side. ‘I guess he’s stronger than he looks. Maybe there’s more truth to that story than I gave him credit for.’ When he reached Yuki’s side he looked over to him seeking an answer. “Where are you going? Her apartment is behind us.”

“I can’t take her to her mother looking like this.”

“But she’ll figure it out eventually. Saki’s missing right now.”

“All the more reason to find out what happened before her mother does find out. My house is just up the street. She’ll be safe there.” Yuki guided Hiroshi to his house trying to keep his mind focused and far from fearful thoughts that tried to explain what happened to Saki. He didn’t want to consider what it was or jump to conclusions (although he had already jumped too many before even touching Saki).

From further down the street Ayumi came walking towards the two of them. She had already changed out of her school uniform into a simple red dress. When she saw Yuki carrying someone in his arms she hastened her pace to reach them before they made it to the threshold. “I-Is everything alright, Yuki? Is…Is that Saki?!” She ran around Hiroshi meeting up with Yuki at the doorway looking down at Saki. “What. What. What ha-happened to her?”

Yuki turned his head away trying to hide the rising emotions of regret, failure and anger away from her. “I don’t know…”

Hiroshi caught up to Ayumi and pulled her away from Yuki, letting him have room. “It’ll be alright. Saki’s strong.” He held her back by her shoulders, keeping her close. The panicked girl pulled against him, but he kept her back.

The pounding that Yuki slammed against the door was finally answered in slow fashion by his younger brother, Jun. It only took him a split second to change from a blank expression to a panicked one that was quickly melting into uselessness. Jun ran away a moment later, disappearing into the house.

Yuki shook off his stalled confusion and pushed through into the house quickly making his way to the living room. He knelt down to ease Saki onto the couch. Grabbing a pillow, he placed it under her head. “Saki… I-I…”

Hiroshi and Ayumi stepped into the living room keeping a safe distance away. Yuki turned back to them, coming to meet eyes with Ayumi and piercing through her mask trying to see if she would be able to help. None of them knew what was wrong with Saki and even less about what needed to be done. Yuki stood up walking away from them looking up the stairs. “Ken! Where are you, Ken?” A few more shouts finally revealed Ken behind him coming from the back of the house.

Ken peaked around the corner of the stairs along with Jun. Fear shook through the boy, never witnessing his older brother acting so distraught. He tucked back away.

The scared look on his little brother made him pause. Yuki breathed out and knelt down a little. “I’m sorry for yelling. Saki’s not feeling well. Can you help me?”

They both nodded looking like a little color started to return. “What do you need?”

“Hiroshi!” He motioned over to the stairs. “This one my friends from school. Can you show him to the blankets and first aid kit?”

“I’ve got this, man.” He gave Yuki a pat on the arm and joined the two kids on the stairs. “Where’s the bathroom?”

“Thanks, Ken.” With a connected mind, he stepped back into the living room. He stood next to Ayumi while staring at Saki. “Can you help her, like you did me?”

“Probably, though it’s a question if there’s anything physically done to her. I wouldn’t have time for anything more.”

“Do whatever you can.”

“You’re overreacting. You need to calm down and relax.”

“Can you or can’t you?”

“Probably, but you can’t always be dependent on my power or your power. Just remember, this isn’t a cure-all.” Ayumi marched over to the couch. A slow scan visually gave little external signs. Beaten and torn up, the examination showed few hints to what happened. Ayumi closed her eyes and concentrated quickly to provide a fast aid to her that would be as quiet as possible.

A soft faint almost invisible blue glow came around her that faded away immediately drawn in thin threads on to Saki’s body seeking out any injury to mend. ‘Most of what she has are just surface bruises, nothing deep. There’s not much I can do aside from pushing along the natural healing process.’

Yuki watched over Ayumi’s shoulder. He clinched his hands together squeezing them tightly. ‘Saki… please be alright…’ The tap of feet and whining boards from up stairs grew louder as Ken, Jun and Hiroshi drew to the steps. Yuki placed his hand on Ayumi's shoulder alerting her to their presence. “They’re coming back,” he said under his breath.

The faint light that Ayumi was emanating from her disappeared to vapor. She stood up, regaining her usual face heavily wrinkled in worry. She stepped away letting Hiroshi hand over the blanket to Yuki. Once Saki was covered up and allowed to rest they retreated to the kitchen to keep an ear out for when Saki would wake.

Yuki leaned over to Ken and Jun giving them comfortable pats on their shoulders. “Saki needs to rest for a bit. Think you two can play in your room quietly so she’s able to sleep?” A slow and nervous nod came from both. They still didn’t get what happened. Yuki held himself together and that seemed to help their worry.

He watched the two hurry off quietly. Once footsteps hit the stairs, he turned around to the island glancing over at Hiroshi and Ayumi. “What should we do? I’m worried about Saki, but…”

“Hey man. It’ll be alright. Like I said before Saki’s strong. A little rest and she’ll be up kicking me into the pavement for making bad jokes.”

Yuki choked on a laugh at Hiroshi’s joke, breaking into a smile that felt painful. “Yeah…”

“D-do you know what happened to her?” Details remained limited when she arrived.

Hiroshi stepped in seeing that Yuki was not able to respond. “We don’t know much. We found her barely walking in the street before she collapsed. What you see is how we found her.”

“Saki…what can we…” Ayumi's voice began to break up with the bubbling emotions rising up pushing tears. She tried to wipe them away quickly, but could not work fast enough to keep them at bay.

The stream of tears from Ayumi made Hiroshi panic. Floods of emotions suddenly poured into the room. He looked over to Yuki for hope. ‘Great…first Yuki and now Ayumi… Yuki just better not start crying…’ Hiroshi tried to give a reassuring hand to Ayumi, but caught out of the corner of his eye that Yuki was starting to lose it. He let out a long sigh. He didn’t have enough hands for this.

Retrieving the stools, he placed them for the two. Hiroshi stepped out of the kitchen becoming a little embarrassed by the scene developing (especially since Ayumi was faking it). Words weren’t going to help. So he granted them time.

In the living room it was quieter, though Saki’s presence made the room feel heavy. Hiroshi took an uncomfortable seat in the end chair that gave him a view of Saki. “Can’t believe this happened to you… You’re always charging in beating up bullies for Yuki. And now you’re lying here…” Hiroshi dug his face into his legs as he drew up closer.

“…Yu…ki…” Her body started to move slightly and her eyes flicker open.

The low groans and sounds from Saki caught up to Hiroshi pulling his head up to Saki. When he confirmed that he wasn’t dreaming it, he turned to the kitchen. “Yuki! Ayumi! Saki’s awake!” Saki already tried to sit up, but a pained bite across her lips pulled Hiroshi back. “Hey, don’t overdo it. Just lie down.”


“Saki?” Yuki stood at the edge of the living room before he sprinted over to her side. He dropped to the floor to meet with her eyes. “Saki! I-I…” Relief and joy overcame his words, choking them before they could get out. He reached out his hand resting it on her hand needing to have the contact to remove any thought he could be dreaming. “Saki…”

Hiroshi stepped in between the two seeing that Yuki was too buried in his feelings to be able to talk properly. “I think what he’s wanting to say is ‘how are you feeling?’”

“Where am I?” Saki looked around from her position, but her body felt stiff to move. All the sudden attention drew her back into the couch.

“You’re in my house.”

Making another attempt, her body didn’t resist her as much. She gave him a comforting smile to ease his concern that she could read so easily.

“Easy. You were banged up pretty good,” Hiroshi offered his aid to Saki where he could.

“What am I doing in your house?” With enough slow movement and comfort adjustment, she sat upright. The blanket rested in her lap, the whole scene feeling a little uncomfortable. She was getting looks from the others like she was an invalid.

Yuki, Hiroshi and Ayumi turned their heads to each other in silent stares as though they were communicating to each other without words. When they finished their telepathy Yuki leaned in, elected the spokesperson. “Well we were sort of hoping that you could tell us. We found you down the street barely standing before you collapsed in front of us. We brought you back here so that you could rest.” At the end of Yuki’s words they lean in a little towards Saki awaiting an answer to the mystery.

Saki pulled back from the ganging up that she received. Her mind still worked to catch up to what happened to her immediately. She had not thought about why she was in the state that she was. “I collapsed? Outside…”

Various images caught in the filters of her mind slowly pieced together. ‘What was it… I was…’ Saki tried to go back to the start when it happened. “I was… doing something… important I think…” The gears turned in her head, but it dragged their feet. Saki pressed her palm against her forehead pushing for the memories.

“Important? What were you doing?”

Having Hiroshi in her face made her angry almost instantly. She threw her other hand out hitting him on the top of his head with her fist. “Stupid, I’m trying to remember. So shut up!”

The assault was enough to quiet Hiroshi and turn him a little pale. “Guess she’s feeling better…”

“Did it have anything to do with why you were late to class yesterday?” Yuki remembered she got pulled away to help someone.

‘Yesterday… Hitomi!’ A light in her mind turned. It began to reveal how all of the pieces fit together. Yesterday flooded back with overwhelming pressure. Saki took a heavy breath propping herself with her hand. She played through the images that became memories.

“Saki!? Are you alright?” Yuki placed his hand on hers looking up at her, unable to hold back the wrinkled panic that was enveloping him. “You should lie down.”

Saki pulled herself back up having caught her breath and leaned against the couch. “No… I just remembered it too quickly. I’ll be fine.”

“So you know what happened?”

Saki evened out the blanket on her lap before she began her story. “After school I was with Hitomi, from track. She was worried about a friend of hers who had gotten sick. She wanted me to go with her to Takako’s house…” Her mind went back to the day before walking through the steps that lead up to what happened.