Because she can be terribly vain sometimes and puts up with a little too much of Kyoya’s devaluing abuse (read: projecting), sometimes one can forget that Erika is a pretty good catch herself. She’s cute, she’s passionate, and she’s kind…to a fault, it would seem this week, as we meet they guy all the way in the back row of the promo art’s group photo: Kusakabe Yuu.
For one thing, Erika can detect Yuu’s existence, something Aki and Marin aren’t able to do. Yuu apologizes for existing, but Erika’s persistent niceness affects him even stronger: being a details-oriented observant gal, she graciously points out the possible reasons Yuu is treated like a ghost and offers advice that pays off nicely. Then Kyoya notices her talking intently with Yuu and butts in, making Yuu revert to his old self in an instant.
Because it’s Valentine’s Day, Erika makes chocolate cupcakes for Kyoya, when he says he won’t not accept something if she makes it for him (that’s about as nice as he allows himself to be in that exchange). Again, it’s the Code he uses, which suggests he couldn’t care less. When he sees Erika give Yuu a cupcake meant for him, it becomes abundantly clear he couldn’t care more. Also, I was horrendously premature in my assessment last week that Kyoya’s not a little boy anymore; for that I apologize!
Rather, he’s a delicate little flower not above ruining everyone’s day if something displeases him, and seeing Erika pay attention to any other guy displeases him rotten. Poor Erika goes over in her head how things went so sour, and comes upon the fact that maybe she was too nice. She did mention to Yuu that if speaking truthfully, the high she gets from doing a good deed supersedes a kind of latent selfishness or moral purity. She got a little too hugh on those Yuu-helping vapors, and got burned.
But at least her intentions were good (those the road to hell are paved with, right?). Kyoya, meanwhile, is just a petulant little shit for the duration. Another decent lad, Kakeru, despite being a male bimbo who wolfs down all the chocolate he and Kyoya got from girls, has the wisest advice Kyoya could hope to hear: there’s a limit to the abuse Erika can and will take before even she leaves him. They’re words already in Kyoya’s head, no doubt; hearing Takeru echo them probably only upsets him more. He’s dug a big hole and has no idea how to get out.
Meanwhile, just as Kakeru foretold, Kusakabe becomes Erika’s sounding board for her troubles with Kyoya. When he learns the kind of person he truly is (and nothing Erika says is particularly exaggerated), Yuu finds his in and asks if she’d be willing to accept him. Yuu is all too aware of his surface shortcomings, but unlike Kyoya, he isn’t rotten on the inside, and vows to treasure Erika and never cause her to suffer or cry.
His confession shakes Erika out of her spell, and she Yuu him for what he is: a kind and very comely guy. Tired from the effort she’s put into Kyoya with so little progress, she sees a path of less resistance with Yuu, and is in the emotionally exhausted position to seriously consider his offer.
Back at school, Kyoya is surprised that Erika hasn’t spammed his phone and is nowhere in sight. He even almost asks Sanda where she is…have we ever seen him this flustered?
Then he crosses paths with Yuu, the guy who has no chance against him, no chance, d’you hear? – and Yuu tells him straight up, with eyes un-hidden by bangs, another sentiment already rattling around in Kyoya’s head: “Erika is wasted on you. She deserves better. I’m awaiting her response.”
Because the last thing he would do is show that this sudden turn of events has cut and distressed him deeply, Kyoya tells Yuu he hopes they make each other very happy in their pure and beautiful (not said: dull and predictable) life, and again asserts that Erika was only ever a way to kill time.
And because this is a small school, Erika overhears all of this, mixes it with all the similar crap he’s said to her recently, takes him at his outward words which she can’t keep form hurting her. Note how she doesn’t break the necklace Kyoya gave her.
She couldn’t explain to Yuu why she loved Kyoya, who made her suffer so. The why didn’t matter to her at first, but maybe now, halfway through Ookami’s run and realizing other options are available, it’s starting to.