part vi

The illustrious Professor Muroi is in the UK. Apparently he's giving a series of conferences (or maybe it's lectures, you aren't really sure, and quite frankly, you don't care.) He's out for the rest of the week, class is cancelled, no awkward conversations, you get to sleep in, everybody wins.

Except, nobody does. On your first day off, you get a call at four in the morning.

"Hello? Ozaki speaking."

She sighs. "Toshio…? Were you asleep…? I can call back a little bit later…"

"Kyouko." Of course it's your ex. "No. It's fine. I don't have anything to do until eleven-thirty."

She seems hesitant. "Okay. I just wanted to tell you before they did."

"Who's they?"

"The lawyers, the court, someone in the legal profession. I don't know."

"Wait. Did you file for custody?"

Another sigh. "…No."

You frown. "…so…?"

"Toshio, I quit my job."

"Oh. Are you thinking of working somewhere else, or…"

"I want to do a graduate program."

"Congrats. Did you already start applying, or…?" You'd be lying if you said you didn't feel the least bit guilty. Kyouko probably would've ended up on the penthouse suite of some super-apartment-complex. (She managed to graduate from the econ department with honors, despite everything.)

"Yes. But that's not it." You can hear her tap her fingers against the counter. "Toshio, they're cutting child support."

"… Shit."

"I'm sorry."

"No. Don't be."

"…you don't get paid for clinical rotations, do you?"

"No. But I could probably just apply to a regular graduate program or something. Get a masters, then a pHD, you know. I'd still be a doctor… and I'd make money…"

There's a long pause. "Look. I have to go. Take care."

"You too." The line goes dead, and you just sit there. You're ninety-five percent sure that you're not going to be able to get back to sleep, so you dig through your drawers, and fish out a half-empty pack of cigarettes, and a neglected lighter.