Happy birthday to my amazing beta, Maru! This was inspired by your wonderful fic (though I'm sorry mine is so short). Thank you for always supporting me, and I hope you enjoy this!
The first time Yata thinks about calling his mother after he’s moved out, it hasn’t even been that long.
He’s got Saruhiko with him, so it’s not like he gets homesick much or anything. It’s just that sometimes when he’s sitting on the futon in the space that’s his under the loft, even though he can see the glow from Saruhiko’s monitor and hear the soft, steady click of typing, he feels kind of… lonely.
Dumb of him, considering how fed up he was with having his siblings underfoot everywhere in his family’s home, but it feels too quiet in their tiny place, and at that moment, he feels a little self-conscious about interrupting whatever Saruhiko is doing.
So he brings out his PDA and looks at the screen for a moment, contemplating what he’d say if he did call. She’d pick up, of course – she’s usually the one to answer the phone. Maybe he’d start with something simple, like Mom, it’s me. And she’d ask how he was doing and he’d say, Yeah, we’re great! Our place is awesome! I just thought you might wanna know we’re okay and all.
He’s not really sure where the conversation would go from there – he doesn’t even know why he has the urge to call at all – so after a few seconds of frustration, he gives up the idea and hunts around for his portable game system instead.
Several days after Saruhiko has left, when the horrific sight of him mangling his own flesh to burn the traces of his Homra mark from his skin is still fresh and clear in Yata’s head, the thought comes to him again.
He hasn’t been able to sleep yet. If he’s not burning up with rage over the betrayal, stewing silently over Saruhiko’s mocking words, or rehearsing in his head a thousand different ways he’d greet his former friend if he were to return, then he’s probably weakened enough to temporarily give in to the ache that threatens to consume him whenever his guard is down.
Yata hates being weak. So of course it’s in one of those moments, lying on the bed with the pain in his chest and throat striking him sharply as he wonders why, why, why, that he ends up with the idle realization that he wants his mother.
It’s a dumb thought – one of those childish things when you’re sick or feeling bad. But all the same, he considers calling. Mom, it’s me, he could say. Saruhiko left. I don’t know why. He insulted everything important to me, destroyed something precious, and now he’s gone. And I don’t get it… I just don’t get it… We were happy, weren’t we? We had fun. So why…?
Traitorous tears prickle at the back of his eyes, and he squeezes them shut tightly, drawing up his anger again to mask the pain. He doesn’t make the call.
On the night that Totsuka dies, Kusanagi lets him stay overnight at the bar. He takes a long shower, which doesn’t clear out the scent of blood from his nose or the sensation of it clinging to his skin.
He can feel Totsuka’s fingers brush against his cheek, again and again like a repeated track. It makes him shiver, even when he’s fresh out of the shower and the bathroom is like a sauna. The sensation of Totsuka’s body going still and heavy. The sight of Totuska’s eyes staring blankly at nothing.
Yata isn’t really sure why he doesn’t cry. He did enough of it earlier, but it’s like a kind of numb has settled over his brain. It’s difficult to breathe properly, but his eyes are dry.
Since there are no extra beds, he lies down on the couch in the basement and stares into the empty darkness.
That’s the point where he gets the urge to call home. To hear his mother’s voice on the other end, even just saying hello. Mom, it’s me. When she asks what’s wrong, he wants to say, Tonight a really close friend of mine died. I held him while he died. I heard his last words. Do you know what the last thing he said was? He said, ‘sorry’.
Beyond that, he doesn’t know what else to say. ‘Sorry’, ‘sorry’… The word echoes in his head, over and over, until he’s not sure if it’s Totsuka speaking or himself.
He doesn’t call, and he doesn’t sleep that night, either.
It’s the middle of summer, and he’s watching old videos in Kusanagi’s bar. He spends hours in there sometimes, even though by now he knows no one else is coming. The videos don’t help anything, but for a while until the reel ends, he can lose himself in the past and forget.
When it ends this time, his eyes prickle. It’s not often, but sometimes when he cries, he still has that little voice in the back of his head that says, I wish mom was here. This time, he pulls up his wrist with the PDA watch and stares at it for a moment.
He thinks about lifting his other hand, bringing up the menu, finding the contact and dialing it. If she picks up, he thinks he’d say, Mom, it’s me. I’m lonely and I’m confused and lost, and I don’t know what to do. Everyone I cared about left me, and everything I loved was destroyed. Sometimes I feel numb and other times everything hurts. What can I do?
Because he’s not a kid any more, he knows it’s useless. His mom doesn’t have a magic button to take all of his problems away, that’s stupid. There’s nothing she can do but worry, and there are things he can’t explain.
He lets his wrist fall and tilts his head back, staring blankly at the ceiling of the bar’s basement for a long time.
By the time he thinks about calling again, so many things have happened. The Slate is destroyed, his friends are together, and he’s starting to figure out a path for himself. It’s slow, hard, sometimes unrewarding work, but he’s not afraid. There are many important people around him.
This time, when he thinks of calling, he thinks about those people.
Kusanagi and Anna and Kamamoto, who never really left in the end.
Saruhiko, who left and then came back.
Totsuka and Mikoto, who won’t ever come back but whose precious memories he holds onto.
The many comrades and true friends at Homra – the things that happened – the laughter – the tears – the excitement. The mundane details of his life that are important to him right now. Working at his new job. Competing on his skateboard.
His life is full, and he wants to share it.
This time when he raises his wrist, he brings up the contact and dials it. It’s picked up after the first ring and his mother’s voice greets him.
“… hey, Mom. It’s me.”
“Misaki?” Her voice is surprised. “Oh! This is rare. Is something wrong?”
“No.” Yata closes his eyes, feeling something settle in his heart, and smiles. “Everything’s good.”