Without Junpei & Yamato, the five pulled in to a Chad parking lot the next day, Mia having driven for another six hours.
Serena's phone vibrated and she took it quick.
"$50 for a Kujo reference." whispered Serena to Yuruko.
"Jotaro?" whispered Yuruko, eyes on Satsuki.
Junketsu's eyes flashed.
"Nevermind." mumbled Serena. With her luck, Matoi probably had some middle name like Ikari & she would need to make a reference to that too.
Matoi Gendo Kujo squinted under her Vantablack glove.
Mia sighed and slumped against the Jeep. "I suppose we could start… Serena, can you and Yuruko check the brightness again while Samuel and I go find a hotel?"
Yuruko frowned, but Serena spoke up before she started: " - um, Yuruko needs to study."
"Alright." said Mia. "Er, we need another brightness tester, then."
With some annoyance, Yuruko formed another brightness tester and handed it over. Since they'd come back from Mexico, there had been a few times where Serena intervened like this, the worst being after a hotel fight where Worldwide's Bolt had almost arced to Yuruko's laptop.
Presently, it took an hour for Serena & Yuruko to find a hotel that took students. Yuruko hadn't said anything but that she needed to review once she set up her laptop in bed, but eventually let Serena know she wasn't angry at her.
"Bet she's going to come in here and ask me to make something else." said Yuruko, typing away. She sighed as she waited for another webpage to load.
"Don't talk about her like that." muttered Serena.
"Maybe another brightness tester."
"It's - it's true! I'm not saying I … I don't hate her or anything, but it gets pretty hard whenever I can't go hunting, she gives me that look like she's disappointed in me -"
" - she's not disappointed in you -"
" - then she needs to… I don't know, I just wish she chose somebody else. She's put me in a position where I feel like a dick if I can't show up for something, and it feels like she doesn't even think about anyone but herself -"
" - it really hurts when I have to choose sides between you two, okay? I'm sorry that - she asked me and I told her we would be good fighting together, o-okay? I-I knew I wasn't going to see you for a few months, and I just t-thought w-we could get to spend more time together this year -"
" - I - look, I know, but I need you to think about how I'm feeling too, and -"
" - I don't know how much more I need to think about you! You're the first person I told I was trans, y-you're my best friend, I-I asked Mia to make sure you could take days off, I-I try to make everything as comfortable as I-I can for you, and - and it feels like you don't even appreciate it sometimes! I-It really hurts because I don't know if I'm s-still just being some stupid entitled… I try to make e-everything easy for you, b-because I know it's really hard classes. I-I don't know why you have to talk about Mia like that."
"Because…" Yuruko sighed. "…because... I-I'm sorry and…" Her eyes shut with tears. "…p-please don't y-yell. I-I know I'm not really being fair to you or Mia, it's just that I'm having to do everything that you and Mia and Samuel do and I have to k-keep my laptop safe. I-I keep having to bring it on every shitty trip, and I keep having nightmares and nobody but you even cares or tries to talk to me about how I'm feeling! Y-You know, she could've just had someone else buy a b-brightness tester and bring it here, a-and she knows it t-takes a lot out of me to create something electronic, and my professor keeps making me do s-so much fucking work and I-I'm having to study s-so fucking much - "
" - then why don't y-you fucking tell him that? Why do you always have to take everything out on me?"
(Yuruko clasped her hand over one half of her face, starting to cry.)
"…I-I'm sorry. I-I didn't mean -"
- someone knocked at the door.
"Is everything alright?" said Mia's voice.
"…um, yeah!" said Serena.
"Can you open the door?"
Yuruko quickly wiped her tears, as did Serena as she opened the door. If Mia had heard anything she did not show it. "I heard someone yelling. Are you two alright?"
Serena nodded. "We were just, u-um, watching something."
Mia nodded. "We were going to try to find somewhere to eat. Did you want anything?"
"B-Busy." muttered Yuruko bitterly. Maybe if she got Mia to dislike her, she would send her back to Urasaria.
"Are you working on your presentation about Japan?"
"…no." said Yuruko, wiping her eyes as she sat up. "I-I finished the first draft last week."
Mia smiled. "I believe that we'll be here for another day to make sure we're going in the right direction, but… we should still leave by tomorrow afternoon. If you need any extra time, er, let me know."
'Where the f-fuck was that offer before?'
"…I-I think we're good, though. Have fun." said Serena. She let her tears show once she closed the door, slumping against it.
Yuruko crouched down over her, rubbing her shoulder. A chill went up her back.
"…s-sorry for yelling."
The two had apologized to each other as much as they could and spent the night trying to find a spot in their matress that didn't have a lump in it.
If anything, Mia's awareness made Yuruko even madder, and with sleep's affliction she didn't stave off the thoughts that had made them argue in the first place. She couldn't believe the nerve of that woman. They had barely spoken, and of course Serena didn't tell her either! Some looked down on Yuruko for her autism, but she was a hell of a lot nicer than most people & would've never done something as cruel as what that obsidian-masked bitch had done.
In the middle of the night, she left her room and walked up the hall, letting the old callus of a personality she had developed to deal with her bullies in highschool harden again, mouthing bad thoughts to her and telling her if she spoke them out loud she wouldn't have to deal with anyone besides Serena from now on.
She walked up to Mia's door and knocked.
Samuel answered. "Everything alright?"
"I want to talk to Mia."
Samuel nodded and left the door open when he went inside. Waiting across the hall, Yuruko watched him go over to Mia, who was standing over Matoi holding a cracked brightness tester. She tried to hand it to Mia when she saw Yuruko, but Mia shook her head, and the last Yuruko saw inside was Wedding's lasers trying to repair it as Mia closed the door behind herself.
"What did you want to talk about?" Mia smiled.
Yuruko stared at her. Her right hand started scrunching. She noticed Mia glance at it for a second, then at her.
"…um… I… I just need more time to review."
"Is it alright if we leave tomorrow night?"
"Yeah." muttered Yuruko, then walked back down the hall.