Chapter 9- Familiar places
For the past three nights, Hugo had barely slept. The weight of regret kept him awake. Sinking him down into the mattress. Memories of him and Lillian raced through his mind. The race night. Them moving in together. Their first kiss. Their first date. Even their first time meeting each other. Two and a half years... gone down the gutter. All because of one damn lie.
Hugo laid in the darkened room staring at a picture on an illumined phone screen. It was him and Lillian on their first date. She was leaning on his shoulder on a bridge- with a backdrop of colourful, bright fireworks. Their light brought out the soothing violet colour in her eyes. He remembered that night like the back of his own hand. It’s intricacies, it’s sweet little moments, it’s awkward silences on occasion. They had gone to Japantown together for the Shogatsu festival; a special way to celebrate new year. Hugo remembered everything about it- from the food they ate, to the places they went, even to the people they met and celebrated with. His mind flashed back to those moments briefly.
“So what brings a pretty girl like you to Twilight City?“, Hugo asked Lillian- who sat next to him at the bar. She chuckled sweetly as her cheeks blushed.
“I used to live up in North Oak when I was still human. After I became a cyborg at aged 15... I kind of just became a street kid, I suppose. Lived quite a low-key, quiet life for the past 7 years. How about yourself?” Lillian explained.
“That’s certainly interesting. To be honest, we’re quite alike! I was a street kid, too. Pretty much born and raised by gangsters or whoever found enough generosity to take me in.“, Hugo replied. Lillian certainly noticed the... similar past she had with her date. At least they could sympathise over that.
“So... did you ever... meet your parents?“, Lillian questioned. Hugo stayed silent for a moment.
“Well, it’s... a long story-”
“If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it then I don’t mind!“, Lillian interrupted. Hugo made a mental note of her sympathetic understanding. She’s a pretty good listener, he deduced.
“No, no, it’s fine! I never actually... met my parents. After I was born in 2050, my dad went off to fight in the Second Vietnam War and my mom... well, I don’t really know what happened to her.“, Hugo elaborated. Lillian took on an expression of pity.
“I’m sorry to hear that... must’ve been difficult growing up without parents.“, Lillian responded. She clearly cared for Hugo already. Maybe it was love at first sight...
“Well, the way I see it, childhood is basically like installing firmware updates. And your parents are like the programmers. Without parents- or, rather, with lots of different parents- you just get random firmware updates.“, Hugo began to explain metaphorically, “By the time you’re grown up... you’re not a fully-fledged adult, but you’re still usable.“. Lillian laughed at Hugo’s... questionable analogy. He was definitely a bit of a charmer.
His reminiscent flashback was abruptly interrupted by a knock at the door. Krypto opened it slowly.
“Amigo, you awake?“, he whispered.
“Yeah. What do you want?“, Hugo responded in a depressed tone. Krypto’s eyebrows rose underneath his Oni mask sympathetically.
“I... just wanted to see how you’re doin’, brother. You haven’t left your room for 36 hours.“, Krypto pointed out- edging closer towards Hugo’s bedside. “Mind if I sit?“. Hugo nodded over to the end of the bed. Hugo sat up slowly. He took his place on the other side of the bed- distanced from Krypto. Hugo had his hands folded, eyes casted down. He sighed heavily and shook his head.
“By the way, I, uh... brought you some food.“, Krypto said- breaking the silence- before pulling out a pack of plain crackers. He offered them to Hugo, who put his hand up and pushed them back into Krypto’s lap.
“I’m not hungry.“, he bluntly stated. Krypto sighed out.
“Look, man, you gotta stop feelin’ sorry for yourself. It ain’t gonna do you no good.“, Krypto advised- putting a hand on Hugo’s shoulder. Much to the kid’s surprise, Hugo left it there. Krypto removed it again and took his place next to Hugo. They sat in almost the exactly the same position.
“Y’know, I once had a girlfriend too, amigo. She was pretty. Sweet. Funny. Lovin’. Loved me every day, and vice-versa”, Krypto began- as if setting up a tall tale for Hugo to listen to. Hugo looked up at the kid with bloodshot, glistening eyes. Krypto continued his story.
“I was with her for 2 years. We were both young and stupid. But, in the end, it didn’t work out.“, the kid continued.
“How come?“, Hugo asked bluntly.
“We just... grew distant, y’know? She didn’t really approve of my... daredevilish ways. So... she ended it. But y’know what? It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m not saying that... it’s over with her!“, Krypto began to stumble, “But it’s not gonna do you any good sittin’ around, eatin’ nothin’, doin’ nothin’ but cryin’, brother!”
“I just... shouldn’t have lied to her. I threw two and a half years away... all for what?“, Hugo admitted. Krypto felt like he was finally getting somewhere- slowly prying Hugo’s broken heart open to fix it.
“You still have us, amigo. We care for you, man.“, Krypto responded- trying to pry it open further.
“But... I loved Lillian, Krypto...“, Hugo began, “she meant... everything... to me. I just...“. Hugo broke down into tears again. Krypto leaned in closer- wrapping a loose arm around Hugo’s shoulder.
“I get that... love’s a strong feeling. One that’s hard to give up. Almost impossible. But, the way I see it, you don’t have to give it up!“, Krypto explained comfortingly.
“How do you mean?“, Hugo asked, looking up from hands wet with tears with bloodshot eyes.
“If she loves you, she’ll give you a second chance. Look, we all fuck up! I mean, look at me! I’m just one big clusterfuck! But the people who love us understand that!“, Krypto elaborated- now pointing at Hugo with an emotive hand. “Go find her. Talk to her. Pour your bloody heart out, and she might listen. Look, I’ll take you to her, amigo. You’re family now, so we gotta look after each other.“. Hugo stared in silence for a moment. In a flash, he placed his arms around Krypto tightly. Krypto wanted to pull back, but he didn’t. He patted Hugo’s back.
“Thank you, Krypto.“, Hugo said with a faltering voice.
“No worries, brother. You got an idea where she’d be?“, Krypto asked.
“Oh, I know where she’ll be.“, Hugo said confidently. His mood had certainly been lifted.
Taking Krypto’s Dodge Conqueror, the two set off to Japantown.