Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Chapter three (segment five), 2016, August, Ryu

When Ryu came down to the lobby in the morning he heard agitated voices from outside the hotel entrance. A night's sleep left him hungry and he was torn between what his stomach wanted and his curiosity. In the end curiosity won.

He moved to the doors and tried to hear what was going on. Some kind of heated debate, that much was clear, but he could only hear fragments of it.

“...breaking them! I don't care...” The wind carried away what he recognised as James' voice.

Then an older responded. “...maybe I went too far… can't be helped now...” Principal Nakagawa. Ryu was rather certain he recognized that voice, but it wasn't one he had heard all that often. He risked peeping outside. Yes, that was James and Nakagawa talking. They stood in front of a bench, and Ryu had a vision of how both men had started their conversation sitting down, and how they both rose when agitation rose.

I can't really walk out and listen in on them. Pity. He sauntered across the lobby and went in hunt for his waiting breakfast. In the doorway to the dining hall he met Kuri dressed in a nondescript T-shirt and baggy shorts. He waved at her when the sound of a running engine reached him from the outside. “Who comes here at this hour?” he wondered aloud.

“Not coming. Going. That's Nakagawa,” Kuri said and grimaced.


She moved aside to give room for a few students who for various reasons hadn't camped overnight, and then she gave him a pat on his head. “The old geezer is out shopping for swimming trunks.” She had a glimmer in her eyes that made Ryu wonder.

“Kuri, what did you do?” he chanced.

She resumed her walk and waved over he shoulder. “I told the business suits they had to be on the beach by nine, in bathing clothes.

“You didn't!” Ryu stared after her, but she was already outside. Nine o'clock. Plenty of time, but I have to get the others on-board.

He was just about to enter the dining-hall when he realised he ought to have been surprised by the sounds of people talking. Most of the club was camping atop the nearby mountain, so the hotel should have been all but empty. Well inside he got one reason, but most definitely not the reason.

What on earth? The people inside were mostly adults, but only a few of them belonged to his future problem later this morning. Ruy saw a few young men who were all taller even than Urufu by a wide margin. They moved with the self assurance of those who knew they're more than merely handsome. A bit like me, Ryu admitted ruefully, but I don't flaunt it that way.

They looked like models, and if Ryu's guess was correct, they probably were. A larger crew of people with the looks of technicians and executives only strengthened his assumption.

Back in a corner he saw Yukio chatting with Kyoko, and his sister waved him over. Even Urufu sat there looking morose.

After stacking two plates and a glass Ryu headed for the table. “Morn,” he greeted them as he placed his first run on the table. The he went back for his second. It became a habit getting your hotel breakfast together, but he'd never seen anything like the perfection displayed by Urufu and Kuri the morning before. Another tell-tale difference between already having lived as an adult once and slowly becoming one for the first time.

As he sat down he heard Yukio switching his attention from Kyoko to Urufu.

“Man, feeling better?”

Ryu wanted to say something. It was his nature to be the active party in any situation social, but for once he sensed that it was better if Yukio led this conversation on.

“Fine,” Urufu responded with as much honesty as a conman caught red-handed in the act.

Ryu studied his friends. The tired look Urufu carried like a shield, Yukio's concern and Kyoko pointedly watching the other tables to stay out of the way. Noriko played her part in the game as well by staring at everything Urufu except his eyes.

Ryu groaned inwardly. He was aware his crush on Kuri hadn't abated one bit, but that was it. A crush. His sister though, she had fallen deeply in love with Urufu when he allowed her inside his sphere of close friends.

“Then you'll help Ruy wrap the walking talking up? And lead the afternoon sessions?”

Crap, he doesn't know!

Urufu shook his head, and an amused glimmer reached his eyes. “You're walking talking with the club on our field trip? Poor sods!” He leaned his head onto his shoulder and looked at Ryu. “Wrap it up?”

That was more than he could take. Ryu felt a shiver run through him as it dawned on him that the rest of them counted on him. “I'll handle it,” he said, “but I need you for the afternoon.”

Urufu gave him a tired look. Then he slovenly raked the contents of one plate into his mouth. “Eah, ay e ere,” he said with his mouth full of food.

Ryu stared at the vulgar display and hoped it really meant that Urufu planned to be there for him. But if it did then Urufu still believed it was all a matter of handling the club members up at the camping site.

“Urufu, man, we have a problem,” Yukio said, and Ryu was grateful that the wingman took some of the burden off him. “It's not the club members.”

That woke Urufu up. “Christina's in trouble? She walked out of us earlier, didn't she?”

I'd hate to be in her shoes, Ryu thought. She saved the day yesterday, and I didn't even know she had this shit coming. He had finally realised why the dining hall was full of people in the fashion business. “Urufu, she's fine, but she can't help us right now. Only you can.”

When he looked across the table he saw how Yukio nodded in approval, and even Kyoko stopped pretending her lack of interest and shot him a grateful glance.

In her chair Noriko hastily swallowed the last of her miso soup and looked at Urufu. “I'm afraid my father and Principal Nakagawa messed up,” she said. “There are a lot of TAP customers here as well.”

Ryu wasn't alone in throwing her an angry glare.

“TAP customers?” Urufu drawled absently. “That's a long time ago, and it's not like I could go back there to help them now.”

What was done was done. It was now or never. “The hotel is crammed with executive drones,” Ryu said and placed a finger to Urufu's forehead. “I'll handle the morning, but they want to see you after lunch. I don't have your knowledge so I can't even begin to plan the afternoon.”

“We need your help,” Noriko shot in. “We'll help in any way we can, but we're out of our depth here.”

“Sure, I'll do it.” Urufu shrugged, and Ryu didn't believe a word he had said.

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