Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
As much as she prefers to steer clear of clichés, Kiyomi can't think of anything else to describe the situation. This isn't just about being jilted; her honor has been compromised.
They'd been going out for a little over a month, since just after the beginning of the semester. She had approached him first, three days after the entrance ceremony; as one of the only two students who had gotten a perfect score on the entrance exam, he'd had the honor of speaking. Going into law enforcement, he'd said. Somehow, it suited him.
There was something about him that separated him from the rest of the male demographic at To-Oh, or the male demographic in general: a more mature air about him that made her look at him as an equal, intellectually as well as aesthetically, despite his freshman status. He valued honor and etiquette and fairness almost as much as she—maybe, dare she say it, even more so—and they couldn't run out of things to talk about if they tried.
Perhaps she could've shaken off Light's breaking up with her so suddenly (and rather unceremoniously, not that either of them were into that soap opera nonsense). While she didn't understand at the time why he'd wanted to end the relationship—or for that matter, why any guy would want to break up with her, it was usually her who ended it first—it had been cordial enough. "They would still keep in touch," they'd agreed.
But then the rumors start. A girl had showed up at campus one day that sent the schoolyard abuzz with excitement. A celebrity. The up-and-coming Misa Amane, who for some reason had approached Light first and had been, according to some, rather…affectionate towards him, calling him pet names and beaming at him as though they were a couple who had gotten quite comfortable with each other.
"How d'you think he knows Misa-Misa? Are they dating?"
"I thought Light was dating Takada?"
"Just goes to show that no guy is good enough for Miss To-Oh, after all, I guess."
"Maybe he's seeing them both?"
"Well, I went to high school with Light; he's never had problems attracting the ladies. If I remember right, he had three girlfriends during senior year alone…"
Like weeds, whispers of gossip spring up across the halls, throughout the classroom, subtle but smothering, taking root inside her ears and choking her mind with doubt. No way. Light's already moved on to a new girl? When? Assuming that he is in fact seeing Misa, it almost sounds as if he'd been…
No. Light has more class than that, seeing other girls behind her back.
On the other hand, in the time they'd been together, he hadn't looked as though he enjoyed her company all that much. Even in class where they'd sit next to each other, he'd spare her maybe a brief glance or two before fixing to stare out into space, as though preoccupied with something that he'd never shared with her.
She would've asked him about it personally, but for some reason, she hadn't been able to reach him ever since they'd broken things off. He wouldn't answer her voicemails or anything. In fact, he'd stopped showing up for school entirely. Strange, considering how committed he'd seemed to get his degree, to the point of showing up for class fifteen minutes early (and probably earlier than that if the doors were open).
"Sayu, this is Kiyomi."
"Ah, hi, Ki-Ki! What's up?" Sayu addresses her as though she's one of Light's friends, rather than a girlfriend. Or ex-girlfriend, as it were.
"Is your brother around?"
"Um, no, he isn't, sorry."
"I see. Do you know when he'll be back?"
"Oh. Light doesn't really live here, anymore. He moved out a while ago."
"Is that right? Where did he move to?"
"Not sure. Light's been pretty private about that. Though considering who he moved in with, he'd probably want to stay private about it…"
The receiver is either getting too big to fit in her hand, or she's subconsciously trying to crush it. The cool in her voice clashes with the gears squealing in her head: "What's that? He moved in with someone? Who would that be, Sayu?"
She hears a gasp on the other end. "Stupid…s-sorry, Kiyomi, but I've said too much already. See ya later!"
Indeed, she has. Though she'd dropped no names, Kiyomi has already narrowed it down by the time the girl bids her a hasty good-bye.
With information as useful as what she's got, what are the odds of bumping into him again? For that matter, why should she care about what he's doing anymore? They weren't even together for that long. She's not some soppy teenage girl who wastes her energy moping about "losing the (latest) love of her life."
And yet, there's something about how she, after all this time, sees him at the café—the one where they'd had their first date and stayed until near closing time—that makes all those feelings she'd been hiding underneath her poise fester all at once. She is there with him, making herself as comfortable as she can as she clings to his arm like an inflated blood pressure cuff, going over the details of her day. He's listening, just as he had with her, but by the worn look on his face, he isn't all that engaged in the conversation.
They aren't alone (though if this does any good for Kiyomi, it's too small of a relief for her to take notice). One of Light's friends is with him, the odd fellow. Hideki Ryuga, was it? No relation to the pop star. He's perched in his chair like an eagle about to take off at the drop of a hat, if he wasn't so occupied with the slice of cake in front of him. A girl is also sitting next to him. She looks familiar…oh it's that stupid American girl, from the looks of it. She can't remember her name, not that it's important. In fact, the only reason she remembers her at all is because of how disrespectful she'd been to her, cheerful as she was going about it.
Sounds like her Japanese has gotten somewhat better since their last encounter. The way her clumsy tongue bumps the words around, her awkward almost nasally accent butchering the language, still makes her cringe, though. Looks like she's annoying Ryuga to the fullest extent she can.
Actually, in a dysfunctional way, she can almost see those two together.
"Wow, nothing…what the hell could've happened to you that turned you into…this?"
"Nothing in particular happened to me. I happened. You can't reduce me to a mere set of influences."
"Uh-huh, yeah, right. Everybody's got a backstory, kid. You're not some cartoon character some cuckoo clock made up one day who didn't even bother to give you a past. But, if you don't wanna talk about it, I won't push it. I know how you are about private stuff. Unlike some people, I actually respect people's space."
"That's why you make it a point to immerse my head in the pleasant smell of your underarms whenever you can."
Her face goes blank for a moment, like a deer in the headlights. She hastily crosses her arms and scoots away.
Kiyomi never did like Ryuga that much. For someone who supposedly got the other perfect score on the exam, he's too trashy for her tastes. Why Light would spend time with someone like that is beyond her.
She has enough control of herself to hold her tongue, before she says something that could shame her. The group begins to take notice of her when Misa abruptly stops her chatter and glances at her. Before long, her wide brown gaze narrows, her red lips pursed into a frown. It appears she's staring her down, like a puppy jealous of her favorite chew toy. She could've sworn she'd heard a soft growl rumble from her throat.
"What's wrong, Misa?" Light asks. Kiyomi can't tell if his confusion is genuine or not. It looks real, sounds real, and yet she can't equate him as the confused type. Soon, all four of them are turning towards her direction.
The girl sitting next to Ryuga swallows, looking uneasy for a beat. "Oh, hi, Takada," she says with a timid wave. She must remember her too. "Didn't expect to see you here. How are you? Looking as pretty as ever."
"Thank you," she replies, out of instinct. She doesn't want to hear some idiot girl call her pretty. Why won't Light say that, like he used to? Exes can still be amicable enough to say that. "I never expected to see you here again, Light. It's been awhile."
Light nods and smiles. Something about that smile eats at her somehow, in a way she can't explain, at the moment. "Oh yeah, it has. How is school, Kiyomi?"
He speaks to her as though they've been keeping in touch for all those months, like he said they would. "Still on top. But, I should be asking you that. Where have you been? I haven't seen you at school for some time…is everything okay on your end?"
"Well…several things have come up for the past few months. I got sick and had to be hospitalized for awhile. Guess I was pushing myself a little too hard," he chuckles easily.
Hospitalized, huh? Not to say that she doesn't feel bad for him, but why hadn't he contacted her and told her about it? Weren't they friends? Unless he'd fallen into a coma or something similar, and there aren't many things that can leave someone comatose. Stress doesn't usually do that to a person, for sure.
"You were in the hospital?" she gasps, her fingers over her lips in surprise. "That's awful. Why didn't you tell me?"
Misa picks that moment to barge in, nearly knocking Light out of his chair in the process: "Because he was too busy trying to get better to think about some ex-girlfriend of his, that's why. Luckily, Misa was there to nurse him back to health every step of the way, and now not only are we dating, but we are also living together, almost like newlyweds. So there! Bleh!" She pokes her tongue out at her.
So this is the Misa-Misa.
Light dumped her for this? She's pretty and petite, Kiyomi will give her that, but it's more of a childish sort of charm, verging on the edge of creepy with those skull hairbands and spider-web stockings, with the bubbly poodle-esque personality that somehow fits and clashes at the same time. A vacuous blonde: far from the kind of woman she'd imagine Light to be attracted to. Could it be because she's famous and rich, or at least one of the reasons?
Light hadn't crossed her as the type to be that shallow…
She'd only dated him for almost a month, though…maybe a month isn't always enough to really get to know someone, who matter how intellectually stimulating your talks are?
The other girl adjusts the Fedora on her head, glancing at Ryuga as though she senses a battle on the rise and looks to him for a way to defuse the situation. But he has nothing to offer, except his unblinking cake-devouring spectatorship. This isn't his problem.
Kiyomi turns to Light. "Is that true, Light?" she asks, as coolly as she can. "You're living with Misa, now?"
He holds the back of his neck, looking slightly flustered. "Well, I wouldn't say 'like newlyweds.' We do live in the same apartment, but that's pretty much all we—"
"Oh, Light, must you always be so tight-lipped about your true feelings?" Misa cries (making Kiyomi cringe inside). "Don't keep stringing us both along; of course we're a couple! Go on and tell her that."
"I do find it strange that almost as soon as you and I stop seeing each other, you move in with another girl and stop talking to me altogether. I hate to jump to conclusions, but it almost sounds as if you've been seeing each other for some time..."
Light looks at her with concern, almost enough to make her melt inside, if it weren't for the fact that now she can't tell if it's real or not. "Taki…are you implying that I was—"
"How did you two meet, anyway?"
"Misa approached him first! Light could tell that Misa was nicer, sweeter, prettier and more generous than stuffy Kiyomi, so he decided to be Misa's, instead."
…Kiyomi had been the one to make the first move, as well.
"Light has always been very popular with the ladies, hasn't he? It's almost a curse," Ryuga deadpans.
After twisting her head back and forth from watching the passive-aggressive jabs volleyball between the two, his lady-friend(?) jumps up with her hands up in yielding. "Whoa, whoa, ladies, please! Th-there's no need to brawl over this, is there? Not in public."
Not the best terminology. Kiyomi Takada does not brawl. "Brawling" is for the low-class types. All she's doing is trying to uncover the truth, soothe her injured pride. Misa? She's not so sure about.
If she hadn't had more class than that, she'd vaguely consider what the press, her fans would think about seeing Misa-Misa at her most unpleasant.
"Now, I may not know what's going on here exactly—"
Why is Kiyomi not surprised?
"—and I don't mean to be nosy or anything, b-but I think there's some tension, some, uhm, misunderstanding here that needs to get straightened out as soon as possible."
"Why? This is becoming fairly entertaining," says Ryuga, though he doesn't sound all that entertained in the least.
"Dude! You were a lot more helpful when you didn't say anything. Go back to doing that, not a peep." Her face red and flushed, she turns to Light and Misa. "Hey, Light…sorry to put you on the spot, but it sounds like it's you these two are squabbling over, so let's hear it. Are you Misa's man, or Kiyomi's?"
The air becomes thick with tension. Misa puts on her most charming face, confident that he'll choose her again. Kiyomi simply folds her arms. Whatever he says, she's not sure if it'll make much difference.
Light takes a deep breath, gathering his thoughts. "Kiyomi, you're a beautiful and good person, and I still like you as a friend, but I made a mistake aiming for a relationship while working towards my degree. There was just no way I could put an equal amount of my energy into both. I'm sorry if I hurt you; I never meant to."
"That's right," Misa declares. "Light couldn't stand how high-maintenance you are, always hungry for attention. What he needs is someone who will stick it out, no matter what, give him space."
"Yes. Cutting off the circulation to Light's arm and talking over him is the very definition of giving him space," mutters Ryuga, shoveling another chunk of cake into his mouth. The American girl facepalms.
Which makes Misa…
"Misa and I do live at the same place, but…we're not doing anything."
"Light-darling, I love you, but you really need to work on that shyness. There's no shame in dating Misa-Misa!"
If this "thing" they supposedly have is one-sided, why doesn't Light say so, then? Why not get a restraining order or move out?
"It seems I was wrong about you, Light. You really aren't that much different from other men. You're just better at hiding it."
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean? How dare you attack Light like that!"
Kiyomi turns to Misa. "Enjoy it while it lasts, Misa. I wish the best of luck for you both."
Because sooner or later, he'll get tired of you and move on to someone else, maybe from right under your nose. Given your personality, I'd say it won't be long…
She's already turning her back towards him, closing the door. "Why should I believe anything you say, if you can't even be straightforward about what you're doing, or the women you see? I have no tolerance for people who go behind my back and make a fool of me, while they're at it. We're done, Light. End of discussion."
At least she gets the pleasure of ending it once and for all. She would slap him, but he's not worth any more of her attention. Let Amane deal any punishment she has for him.
By this point, Misa has sprung up so fast that her chair clatters to the floor. "That's right, little Kiyomi! Walk away with whatever dignity you still have. You're just jealous because I get the guy! Misa crushes all of her rivals!" she declares, loud enough to make several other patrons look their way. Light pinches the bridge of his nose, frustrated.
"A smooth performance, Light," notes Ryuga dryly. "I think that defused the situation adequately enough."
Taking care not to look back, she holds her head high, masking the hurt that burns like a healing wound—her pride or her heart, she isn't certain—with her most graceful smile. The bell chimes softly behind her as she exits.