Chapter 5--A Painful Discovery
"Finally!" you murmured to yourself just as the final school bell rang for the day. Stuffing your huge science textbook and notebook in your bag, you joined the rest of the students in exiting the classroom and heading over to your locker, stuffing everything you need into your backpack and closing the locker door.
"Hey (Y/N)," you heard a male voice call out to you.
You jumped to see Hiro standing right in front of you. "Hey Hiro. How did you find my locker?"
"It was easy," he said. "I just tried to look for you, and then I did. You...um, you kind of stand out."
You offered him a small smile. "Well, I'll take that as a compliment any day. But hang on...didn't you say you were meeting me outside SFIT?"
"I couldn't wait much longer," he admitted sheepishly. "Besides, it's about time I returned to San Fransokyo High. Ahh, the old days."
You smirked and shook your head at him now, punching him playfully.
Just then, you heard footsteps coming your way, and you turned to see Melanie rushing over to you.
"Hey (Y/N)!" she cried, stopping right in front of you. Eyeing you and Hiro, she then asked, "Who's this fellow?"
"Melanie, this is Hiro," you said, introducing them to each other. "Hiro, this is Melanie. She's new to San Fransokyo High, she just came today. And she's my new friend."
"Hi Melanie," Hiro said, waving.
"Nice to meet you, Hiro," Melanie said back, waving.
"Alright (Y/N), so should we be heading over to your place?" Hiro asked you.
You nodded. "Yeah. I really hope my mom is okay."
"I hope so too!" Melanie cried.
"Same," Hiro added. "I've been talking about this with my friends at SFIT today. They also send their condolences to your father and hope your mom can stay strong for you."
You turned to Hiro and smiled. "I have yet to meet your friends sometime soon, but tell them I said thank you when you see them."
Then you, Hiro, and Melanie exited the school to a bright sunny day, blue skies stretching in an endless expanse high above you.
You turned to see Trudy approach you, Melanie, and Hiro with a snarl on her face.
Your face immediately changed from a happy look to an angry look as you stared Trudy down. "I suppose so. Now back off."
"And leave you in the hands of those stupid nerds who know nothing about you? I don't think so."
"Just back off before I—I..." You faltered.
"Ha. You can't even threaten me to do anything!" Trudy laughed maniacally, and your face immediately turned red in shame and embarrassment.
"Then allow me," you heard Hiro cry beside you as he lunged, grabbing her on the collar of her dress and pinning her to the fence behind her. Trudy immediately let out a whimper and gasp, and tried to struggle against his grip but to no avail.
"Were you the reason her friends left her?" he demanded her. "Were you the reason you ruined her perfectly normal clothes, the same clothes that my aunt washed for her out of pure kindness? Were you the reason for her misery? Were you the reason for her depression?"
Trudy couldn't speak. She had never been confronted by a guy like him before, and now she was scared. You could see it in her eyes, and you nodded in approval at Hiro's actions.
"I—well—um—" Trudy choked out.
"You owe me an answer," Hiro growled.
For a moment, no one made a sound. Then Trudy gave in.
"Yes, I was," she admitted meekly.
Hiro set her down, the glare never leaving his eyes.
"Don't you dare go near her again," he muttered darkly at her. "If I see you try to make a move on her, you would probably face worse than just being pinned on the fence."
Trudy nodded and ran off, and you and Melanie looked at Hiro with admiration.
"That, Hiro, was something," Melanie said in awe.
"I'm just doing my best to make sure that (Y/N) doesn't get hurt," Hiro simply explained to her, blushing.
You went over to him and gave him a really tight hug now, taking Hiro by surprise, but he hugged you in return. "Thank you, Hiro."
"Anything for you, (Y/N)," he chuckled, letting you go.
"Shall we get going then?" Melanie asked.
You nodded. "Come on. It's not too far to my place. Just follow me."
After what felt like a long while, with nothing but conversation to keep the three of you busy (which you didn't mind, since now Melanie and Hiro know each other pretty well too), you reached your house. It was literally a small version of a mansion, with white walls and a single garage door and several windows looking out to the front.
"Wow, (Y/N)," Hiro murmured in awe. "This is your place?"
You nodded. "It's not much. It used to be filled with happy memories, when my dad was still around. But it's really empty now."
Without another word, you took your key out of your backpack and unlocked the front door, opening it and entering the house, Hiro and Melanie just behind you.
"(Y/N), this is impressive," Melanie whispered, her eyes widening at the sight, and you nodded as you gave them a quick tour of your house. On a formal night, you could have a ball near the stairs in the hall, and the dining room provided just enough space for even a royal feast. Leading off from the stairs was your kitchen, stylish as it could be, with two sinks and several drawers to keep your plates and goblets and cups and cutlery and veggies and fruits. A refrigerator and a big kitchen table filled up the remaining, and a cabinet stood off to the side where you kept your brooms and mops. Near the kitchen was the living room where a grand piano stood, and several plants grew in fairly large flower pots. Off in another direction from the kitchen was the office area where your father used to work on his big projects, but ever since his death you left the room untouched.
"Was this..." Hiro asked you softly, looking over your shoulder to see your father's study.
You nodded, tears brimming. "I still had fond memories being in here helping my dad out sometimes."
Then you all headed up the stairs, where there were 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and another separate office for you to do homework.
"Wow," Melanie marveled. "I never had my own desk space to myself."
"Yeah," you muttered. "I always work on my homework here. Or used to, anyway. The bad thing is, it's right beside my mom's room..."
"Oh." Both Hiro and Melanie understood.
"Shall we go see your mom?" Hiro asked you softly, taking your hand lightly in comfort.
You nodded. "Let's go."
Together, the three of you headed over to your mom's room with baited breath. You inhaled and knocked on the door.
"Come in," you heard your mom say weakly.
You pushed the door open upon hearing her response, not letting go of Hiro's hand. Melanie trailed right behind, and the three of you approached your mom's bed.
"Hi mom," you greeted her.
Your mom looked at you with a wearied smile. While once before she had been such a pretty young woman with flowing (H/C) locks and sparkling (E/C) eyes, these features have darkened and lost their charm. Her skin also became baggy and darker than normal. To you, she almost looked like a living corpse.
"Hello, (Y/N)," she greeted you in a voice barely above a whisper.
Not letting go of Hiro's hand, you took your mother's hand with your free hand and stroked it gently, surprised at how light it felt. "Are you okay?" you asked her softly.
Your mother gave a weak chuckle. "I don't know anymore, (Y/N)," she admitted. "Sometimes I feel like really leaving here. I don't know what to do without your father here anymore. He gave me so much life and joy. And so did you." Her eyes looked wistfully at you. "I'm sorry for all this mess, (Y/N). It's my fault you're like this. It's my fault I'm like this. I...I'm not a good mom."
"Don't say that," you said, trying to get her to smile again. "You're one of the best moms I ever had. You were always looking out for me, dad or no dad. It's not your fault. Nothing is."
"But look at me!" your mom exclaimed. "I've been sick with depression since your father disappeared. I didn't want to give up. I know it's for the sake of your father. It's just...I don't know any more just what to do without him."
Beside you, you felt Hiro tense up slightly, gripping on your hand harder now, reminding you to stay strong. Melanie, on the other hand, looked like she was about to cry.
"We can live like a family together," you told her. "Just you and me, doing all the fun things dad used to do with us. He may not be here anymore, but he always will be in our hearts."
Your mom sighed. "I wish I can believe that, (Y/N). But I already booked an appointment with the doctors this morning while you were at school. I really can't live on anymore. It's too late for me."
"No it's not," you protested, gripping Hiro's hand back in the process. "You can be happy again, mom. We would still be a happy family, like we used to be. It's just going to be different without dad, that's all."
"That's the thing! Your dad's not here anymore! I have lost all the reasons to live, (Y/N)," your mom argued.
You stroked your thumb on the back of your mom's hand. "No you haven't. You still have a daughter to take care of, right?"
For a while, neither of you said anything while Hiro and Melanie remained stock still. Then your mom turned to them, realizing that they were there for the first time.
"You brought friends over, did you?" your mom asked.
You nodded. "Mom, meet Hiro and Melanie. They're both new friends of mine."
"Pleased to meet you," Melanie said to her, giving her a sweet smile.
"It's good to see you," Hiro told your mother.
"And I you," your mom said to both of them. Then she turned to you.
"(Y/N), it's too late for me to recover," she told you. "I called the doctors this morning and booked an appointment for assisted suicide. Nothing would be the same anymore. Nothing ever was since your father left. I miss him too much."
Shock rushed right through you and you felt tears brimming again, your hands shaking. "No. No mom, it's not too late. You can still get yourself back up. We can still live together."
"(Y/N), what difference would it make if I leave?" she asked. "You never got to see me."
"But that's because you never saw me!" you cried. "Do you still care for your own daughter?"
"I do," she sighed. "But I don't know what to do with you anymore."
Those words stung you like a whip.
"Mom," you tried again. "Just don't leave me."
"I wish I don't have to do this, but I can't live on without your father."
"This isn't about dad anymore!" you cried. "You were never there for me when I needed you most. I was hurt by dad's death too, and it's not just you who got affected! Yet you just stayed in your room, unable to help yourself, unable to help me, while I've been trying so hard to help you and myself since dad died. And you still mourn for him." The tears now streamed down your face. "Mom. We can still be together if you can let him live on in your heart."
Your mom shook her head. "I'm a failure, (Y/N)."
"No you're not." You put all the affirmation you could in your voice, though it was hard to as you felt yourself weakening. "It's not your fault dad died."
"But it's my fault you ended up like this now. I can't even forgive myself for what just happened."
"Why do you have to keep saying this, mom? You're breaking my heart just saying this. I'm not mad at you. I still love you, mom."
"I love you too, dear," she whispered. "But there is nothing you could do."
"That's not true. I can help you get up again, help you understand the true meaning of living. Dad's already gone." You choked on tears. "I...I can't lose you too."
"I don't want to leave you either," your mom admitted, smiling at you weakly, tears flowing down her faded cheeks. "But I feel that leaving you is the only way to cope with everything that I have ever experienced."
What you didn't notice as you were talking was Melanie putting an arm around you and Hiro wiping your tears away with the sleeves of his hoodie, gently, from your cheeks.
"Don't lose hope, mom," you whispered. "Dad will always be here."
Your mom gave you a wan smile. "Just leave me at peace. I need some rest."
Emotions boiled up inside you as you finally let your mom's hand go, and she drifted off to sleep. You couldn't bear to look at her like that. She looked like a corpse simply sleeping like that. Feeling the urge to just leave the room, you stood up and leaned in, kissing your mom on the cheek, before you, Hiro, and Melanie exited the room.
Once you were out, the tears just went wild. You were sobbing hard now on Hiro's shoulder. Melanie looked on with concern, hurt by what she saw. Hiro just pulled you closer to him, gently stroking your hair.
"(Y/N)..." Melanie whispered, and you turned to her.
"I can't believe she would do this," she said. "How could she give up on you like that? She can't just leave because of your father's death."
Hiro looked even more appalled than Melanie did. "Seems like your mom needs much more support than I did."
"But what can I do?" you asked them. "I'm weak and helpless now, no thanks to my mom ditching me. She...I can't believe she seemed so ready to kill herself."
Silence ensued through the three of you as you kept crying, the truth finally sinking in.
"We'll be there for you, every step of the way," Hiro promised. "Me and Melanie, we'll help you out with everything. If it helps, we'll figure out who poisoned your dad."
You sniffled and wiped the tears away. "Are you sure?"
Hiro let you go slowly. "Of course. That's what best friends do, right? They always help each other out."
You gave both of them a wan smile. "Thank you. Both of you. I'm absolutely grateful to have both of you here."
Hiro and Melanie nodded.
"Hey (Y/N)," Hiro then spoke up. "Do you want to meet my best friends after school tomorrow? I can introduce you and Melanie to Baymax then."
"Baymax?" Melanie asked in confusion.
"He's a nurse bot that my late older brother built," Hiro explained.
Melanie's eyes widened in shock. "Your older brother...is also dead?"
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "Wow. So much sadness all around. My younger sister...also passed away."
"What happened?' you two asked in unison.
"Car crash," she simply said. "Some reckless driver failed to pay attention to the lights, and took a pretty bad swerve and hit our car. My younger sister was only a toddler, and...I failed to look out for her. She died before she could reach the hospital."
You then opened your arm for Melanie to enter yours and Hiro's embrace. "I'm sorry."
The three of you hugged each other now, comforting each other as you all cried in silence. You were worried about your mom. Hiro and Melanie already lost people close to them, and you did too. But you still had hope for your mom. You prayed and hoped that she would make it. In the light of the moment, you wished you could help her. You knew you had to do something, and you hoped that by then, time hasn't completely run out.