Sunday, 10 May 2015

Chapter four (segment four), twenty four years earlier, May, Noriko

She'd had enough, but she still played along. When they went to join the barista, after he had vanished inside that room, she walked beside her brother.

She was angry, and hurt. Why did they have to make such a big affair about how much they shared. They're together already. Isn't that enough?

Noriko knew she was sulking, but for once she had good reason. Urufu-kun had been hurtful. The way he talked. The way he looked at them. The way he excluded her and her brother. There was no need for that. And that Kuri-chan, she just had to play along with that arrogant smile of hers.

And Yu-kun and Kyoko-chan, just confess to each other already! It's just painful to look at you two.

She sulked some more, and pouted. Yu-kun and Kyoko-chan, the wingmen. Well, they were nice enough. Good and loyal friends in their own way, she guessed. And Kyoko-chan had even dropped out of the competition for Urufu-kun for her sake.

Noriko was rather certain Kyoko-chan hadn't paved the road for Kuri-chan. Not with those looks you give him. Like he was a viper.

Noriko entered the room last of them all. Barista and the six friends. Yes, they could easily cram in twenty people here. The large table in the centre of the room could only host a dozen, but there were a couple of smaller, foldable tables hugging the wall.

Hasn't been used for some time. Smells old in here.

The barista had left the room. He was probably making their second round of orders. She heard a phone ringing and he picked it up.

This room is different. It's all one set here, not like the chaos in the rest of the café. “Why do you want this kind of privacy?” she asked Hamarugen Moron-sama.

He looked taken aback at the sight of her. “Eh, unless we want that fan-club congregating on us whenever we go here.”

“Why would we go here. We have a perfectly functional clubroom at school.”

“It's good to have a place away from it all.”

“Did Moron-sama forget that this is hardly away from it all?” There, she had said it.

“Noriko!” Yes, yes, her idiot brother could scold her for all he wanted.

Urufu-kun bowed deeply, European style. She could almost see that wide-brimmed hat in his hand, feather and all. “Moron-sama hasn't forgotten.”

Why are you so friendly now all of a sudden? Why did you have to become so good looking? Better if you had stayed the geek.

She looked at Kuri-chan. So tall, and I'm small. Well, not as small as a certain Aisaka Taiga, but then her knight in shining armour hadn't been as tall as Urufu-kun. But he's not my white knight. He belongs to Kuri-chan now. Bro is the closest I have. She shuddered. Unless I'm to spend my high school years as a creepy otaku wet dream we're not walking down that lane.

And that reference really belonged to Yu-kun. He was the connoisseur of everything two dimensional in their group. Even though he didn't look like it.

Noriko looked at Yu-kun, and then at Kuri-chan. I turned him down thrice. That means he had the guts to try two times after I rejected him the first time. Am I that gutless that I'll just give up on Urufu-kun?

She felt a new resolve building in her. With steady steps she approached Kuri-chan and stood facing her, looking up.

“You're in my way. I like Moron-sama, and I'm not giving up on him.”

The silence was absolute.

Kuri-chan let out a surprised laugh. It bounced in loneliness around the room. “Oh my!” She said. “Thank you for telling me, Noriko-chan, but don't you think that is for Ulf to decide?”

Noriko looked around. Urufu-kun stood, one hand on the table and his face in the other. “I like you, Moron-sama. I'm not giving up on you.” She turned and looked at Kuri-chan again. “There, better?”

“Is that what you call a declaration of war?” Kuri-chan asked weakly. “I really like your guts. Could we be friends as well as rivals?”

Noriko sat down in a chair. Her legs were almost giving way under her. She needed to sit down if she was to keep her cool. “I thought we were already friends. Did you have a differing opinion?”

“No, not at all.”

Thank gods for small victories! Now she could look at them both. She could even afford blushing at the sight of Urufu-kun, Moron-sama, whatever. It was all in the open anyway. And that was a relief. She wasn't about to copy her idiot brother and his refusal to come clear with his feelings.

She still hurt though. Nothing could make her not hurt. Well, maybe Urufu-kun having a change of heart, but she wasn't certain even that would be enough.

Behind her her brother had sat down as well. She could feel his disappointment oozing from his body.

“That was… intense,” Yu-kun offered from the other end of the table. He took a seat as well, and was comically joined by Kyoko-chan who sat down almost at the same time, but in a chair as far from Yu-kun as possible.

“Ulf, at least she deserves better,” Kuri-chan said and pointed at her with her entire hand.

“They'll share secrets anyway,” Urufu-kun said as if he and Kuri-chan had just agreed upon something. “But I don't know if he has deserved it,” he continued and pointed at Ryu with an equally exaggerated gesture.

Noriko frowned. Is that so? “Ryu, confess!”

“What? Sis!”

“Just do it. I want in on that secret of theirs. Make your pick if you're telling Urufu-kun or Kuri-chan first, but make it quick!”


He really was her idiot brother. “Do I have to spell it out for you?”

He bowed his head and caved in.

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