The next day at university went without issue, not least because she only had a single lecture to attend, so Meg ran back to the sweet shop and up to her flat the moment she was done. Then a quick change into something a little more comfy followed by an hour wait for Yasuko to arrive.
She spent the time having something to eat and scanning the news for anything about the previous morning. Nothing so far. Probably a few people went to the hospital to get themselves checked out after waking, but she guessed it wasn’t enough to make the news.
A knock at the door indicated her friend had arrived, so Meg let her in and they settled together around the low glass-topped coffee table before the sofa. Yasuko grinned – it always seemed to Meg that her friend was literally incapable of smiling in a fashion that was anything but suggestive – and dropped a plastic bag onto the table.
“Evening! Here, I bought delicious things.” Yasuko produced several six-packs of Asabi light lager, two tubs of pecan and maple ice cream, and a thumb drive, no doubt containing music; she was always finding new things to listen to, and generally assaulted Meg’s ears the first chance she got.
“You’re not getting me drunk, Yacchan, I know your game,” Meg said in a stern tone, eyes narrowed.
“I’ll get you into bed one of these days, my girl, alcohol or not!”
Meg gave her friend a playful thump on the shoulder and opened a can of beer. “Is that all you think about?”
Yasuko opened a can and downed half in one go. “Yeah, pretty much just that. Well, that and drawing cute girls.
Her hobbies included art, though not the type Meg engaged in. No, Yasuko prayed at the altar of cute. Which was likely why she was always so infatuated with her best friend, and spent most of her waking hours drawing cute girls in various states of undress.
After sorting the music out by plugging the thumb drive into Meg’s modest sound system next to the TV, they relaxed with a fresh beer each. Yasuko was several years older and quite comfortable downing a few lagers of an evening, but Meg generally tried to hold herself in check; it wouldn’t do to go getting drunk with university the next morning.
“Your dad has a bee in his bonnet, right?” Yasuko said, more or less out of nowhere.
Meg twitched. “A bee in…?”
“His bonnet. That’s an English phrase, isn’t it?”
“It is, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
“So he collects bees?”
“Keeps, Yacchan, keeps bees.”
“Close enough.” Yasuko opened her tub of ice cream and tucked in with a little wooden stick provided for this express purpose, entirely unabashed. “So it’s a hobby?”
“Yeah. He was a movie star for most of his life until an accident left him with a dodgy leg, so he retired and went into bee keeping. Pretty sure he got interested in it when he was a kid living in Japan, though. Didn’t I already tell you this once?”
“You might’ve been drunk, now I think about it…”
“That would explain it,” Yasuko said, nodding sagely. Her memory could be a little unreliable if she’d been drinking. Selectively so, in fact. “So your father was an actor? I’d love to try acting, but I’m probably terrible at it!”
“Have you ever tried?”
“No… well, I did try it once at school. The drama club recruited me for a play. That didn’t go so well.”
“Do I even want to know?”
“Nothing dodgy, don’t worry! I hadn’t really found myself back then so it’s not something I thought much about. No, I was kind of clumsy as a kid so I ended up breaking a tree on the set and… yeah, that was that.”
Meg stifled a giggle. “I can’t even imagine you being clumsy.”
Yasuko shrugged. “I’m a different person now.”
“Maybe you should try again? You won’t know if you’re any good unless you give it another go.”
“True… though the type of acting I’d likely end up doing these days probably wouldn’t need much script.”
“Yasuko!” Meg snapped, blushing at her friend’s naughty allusion.
“Just kidding! I wouldn’t do anything like that for money. My love is given freely.”
Meg sat back, sipping her drink. “You’re such a generous girl. Though some people might have other names for it.” She grinned as Yasuko’s cheeks flushed a little, and went back to fidgeting. She took a desultory mouthful of ice cream here and there, washed down with beer. She wanted to change subject to the previous morning’s crazy events, but with her best friend in a playful mood…
Though to be fair, Yasuko was more or less always in a playful mood. Despite the wholly carefree exterior, she was also a perceptive girl, so she opened a fresh can and leaned back on an arm. “You said you wanted to talk? We’ve got beer, ice cream, and great music. What better time?”
Meg agreed that there probably wasn’t one, all things considered, and did her best to relay what had happened. Her friend remained quiet and periodically sipped her drink, nodding once in a while.
Meg sat back, a concerned expression occupying her face. “Well? Pretty crazy, huh?”
“I’m sure I bought regular beer…” Yasuko muttered, peering into her can.
“I know it sounds totally insane, but it really happened! I even ran into the same girl on the way home from the gym last night!”
Yasuko held a hand up. “Relax, relax! I believe you, don’t worry. I’ve known you long enough to know you wouldn’t lie about something like this.”
Meg relaxed a little. “Thanks. I have no idea what to even do about it. I mean, what can I do? Is there anything I should do? I’m not a magical girl or anything, so it’s not like I’d be any use even if I did meet her again.”
Yasuko tilted her can towards her friend. “You don’t have to be a superhero to be useful to someone.” She finished the can and placed it on the table, taking another mouthful of ice cream directly after.
“Well… no, but…”
“Do you want to help her? Despite the terrifying experience yesterday, despite not being sure if you can help, despite having no super powers? You still want to help her?”
Yasuko gave a lopsided smile. “Isn’t that enough? You don’t need a reason to help people. Pretty sure I’ve heard that before somewhere. Where was it…?” Her brows furrowed as she attempted to bring the elusive thought to mind. “Eh, probably not important.”
“Mm…” Meg fiddled with her ice cream, idly poking the wooden stick in and out, leaving a circular pattern of oblong holes.
“You’ve been the most helpful person in my life since pretty much the day you got here, Meg. It’s one of your best points, in my considered opinion.” Yasuko took a slurp of beer. “But you seem unusually adamant about helping this girl. Any particular reason?”
“Probably just because I spent so much time as a kid watching magical girl shows. This is real life and all, but… I dunno, maybe I’m just reading too much into it. Maybe she doesn’t want or need any help. But she saved my life, Yasuko, that’s not something I can simply ignore. I need to at least ask.”
Yasuko leaned across the table at gave her friend a peck on the cheek. “Have at it, then. Just be careful, please, I’d hate to see anything bad happen to you.”
Meg blushed. “I will, I promise!” She ate some more ice cream, possibly the ultimate comfort food. “She seemed to handle herself okay, it’s clear she’s got some amazing powers. But wouldn’t doing something like that put you in a situation where you have to avoid people?”
“Best way to find out would be to ask her.”
“You said she’s got dark skin? Like she was from India or somewhere?”
“Yep, she was beautiful.”
“Always liked dark skin on a girl, really attractive,” Yasuko said apropos of nothing much, staring vacantly at the ceiling as some steamy vision played in her mind.
“You find anything vaguely female attractive.”
Yasuko’s face split into an enormous grin. “Can’t deny that.” She sat forward. “Feeling better?”
“A bit. Talking about it helps. I’ll just have to hope I see her again.”
“Life has a funny way of working itself out, I’m sure you’ll see her soon!” Yasuko stood, stretched, and made for the door. “Righto, I still have some things to do tonight, I should head off. Thanks for the company, Meg!”
“No problem, see you in a day or two.” Meg escorted her out, gave a wave and a farewell, and headed back inside.