What are those idiots doing now?
Noriko stood and looked at where her mother had parked the car.
Yukio and Kyoko had just stopped grappling with Kuri, and she ran like mad for where Urufu was puking his guts out. That left her brother, and that moron just kept on spewing out one stupid joke after another to keep his harem by his side during the bedlam.
With a sigh Noriko started walking to the car. She waved a few members to her side, the few who hadn't been caught up in the insanity that played out around them.
High school, where you prepare for being an adult. Yeah, right! “Hiroyuki-kun, we need those tents on the ground. Mom's gonna drive back and fetch the rest.”
Somewhere inside her she felt she was being unjust, but Urufu had taken his self loathing a step too far. There was a difference between showing weakness and indulging in self pity. It didn't matter that she was crushing hard on him. That wasn't the same as being blind. I need to take control of this madness.
From behind her she heard Ryu finally coming to help, and he had his girls in tow. Together they carried tents and charcoal, and in the time needed for that task the situation around Urufu finally calmed down.
Club members started acting as parts of a whole and she saw some of them erecting the tents while others began preparing food. Within a surprisingly short time Noriko had her troopers offloading another batch of tents when her mother returned.
Kuri had Urufu seated in the car, and the two of them rode down to the hotel with her mother when she returned for the last batch.
“Ryu, get over here!”
The idiot brother of hers obeyed without asking and left his stash of vegetables to Jirou-senpai where he stood beside Sango-chan.
He stopped in his tracks and gave her an uncertain look.
“Leave the knife you moron!” Swap some of your charm for a brain!
The message finally hit home and Ryu returned the kitchen knife he hadn't left with the vegetables. Sango-chan gave Noriko an ironic salute when her boyfriend had the tool needed to start chopping the vegetables Ryu had abandoned him with.
Sometimes I wonder if we really have the same parents. Noriko shook her head and waited for Ryu to get to her side.
More tents went up and watching how the club members attacked the work at hand without asking, Noriko felt confident enough to drag Ryu out of earshot. What she had to tell him couldn't be part of the club.
“Bro,” she said when she felt certain no-one could hear them. “Kuri and Urufu went back down again. He's in a pretty bad shape and I don't think we'll see more of him today.”
Alone together Ryu showed her a very different side than the role he played out with the other girls around him. “I saw, but there's nothing we can do about it.”
“What about the night out?” Noriko asked.
“What about it?”
Noriko looked for somewhere to sit but found nothing but the ground. It had to do and she sat down cross-legged. “Cooking food takes another half an hour. One at most.”
Ryu nodded understanding.
“Kuri and Urufu had planned some games to pad out the hours before we pretend to go to sleep.”
That brought a laugh to her brother. “You really should try to voice the illusion, sis. You're more clever than I am by far, but you're not very smart.”
“Huh?” Where did that come from?
“Sis, at least try to act as if you didn't know everything from the start. When we go to sleep we go to sleep. That's it. If some members prefer chatting or going out with their flash-lights you don't have to sound like you knew it would happen, OK?”
Noriko felt that she had an inkling where he was going, and it wasn't somewhere she was too keen to follow. Am I too rigid? Does it make me boring?
“So, what did you want to talk to me about?” Ryu continued.
The question brought her back from her thoughts. “We have to make it look like Kuri's and Urufu's absence isn't that big a deal. I just don't have a clue how.”
She got a smirk from her brother. “I'll handle that. I can keep them occupied for a few hours, but that wasn't really why you brought me here, was it?”
Bro, when did you start growing up? Maybe he wasn't the simpleton who could never see behind human duplicity any longer. “Lucky guess?” she tried.
He shook his head. “Sis, I've always been smarter than you. Not as clever, but smarter. You really think I'm this popular by accident?”
Noriko took a long stare at her brother. His unruly hairdo wasn't an accident. Their favourite hairdresser was anything but cheap, and even Kuri had once made a comment about professional taste. But did he really think things through?
“I learned during middle school. Some of my pranks made people angry, and others just made me more friends.” He grinned at her. A friendly grin. A warm one, but none she could understand why it would make girls flock to him like moths to the light. “That's my friendly grin. I have another for the girls,” he said and shattered any remaining illusions she had harboured.
Noriko shuddered. I've known you my entire life, and you managed to keep this kind of secret. Gods!
“Sis, the real reason, now. Your idiot bro has a harem to care for, isn't that how you see me?”
“You're being unfair,” she protested. Then she felt herself grinning wildly as years of need to take care of her brother ran off her in an instant. “Ryu, we need to slip information about our new part time jobs to them. Not too much in one go, and it's important it sounds it was all dad's idea from the beginning.”
He nodded. “I thought as much. I was so angry yesterday, but it made sense. I'll play the clown then. It's really a part of me by now. Not all show, you know,” he added and laughed loud enough to make a few faces turn in their direction. Then he was all serious again. “You take care of the real business until Urufu is himself again, and use Kuri. She's not just beautiful, but she's got the experience as well.”
OK, not really grown up yet. Did you find out that just now? Kuri's the real pro of all of us. She's way ahead of Urufu. “I will,” Noriko promised. She felt relieved her brother hadn't turned into a totally different person. There were still blind spots to his observations.