Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Chapter five (segment ten), 2016, August, Noriko

She stared after Urufu when his shoulders sunk and he walked around the bookshelf to the office area. If they had been alone she wasn't sure she could have kept herself from hugging him.

That modelling job had better be worth it. You're hurting him, even if he's trying his best to hide it. A couple of months earlier that thought would have come with equal parts shame and glee, because Kuri hurting Urufu brought them that much closer to breaking up. Now Noriko only felt sad. Urufu hurting hurt her as well. That hadn't changed, but her own plans had.

I'm moving on, Kuri. If you break him I can't promise I'll be here to pick up the parts. It wasn't that she had stopped loving Urufu, but there was no coming between Kuri and him as long as their relationship worked. It was exactly because Noriko still loved him that she had to move on. To be the friend he needed she had to find someone else to love, or at least to get along with well enough to substitute for love.

Cold and cynical her brother called her. Well, no one tried to rape him. No one tried to take his body for money. That was probably the worst of it. They failed, and she had been rescued by not one but two knights in shining armour, so the feeling of helplessness left her long ago. But they had been paid. The bastards hadn't even tried to rape her because they wanted to rape her. Her body wasn't even worth taking unless you were paid in advance, and that still hurt.

Deep inside her she knew her self loathing was a lie. Yukio had confessed to her – three times. And that model, Takado-sempai, singled her out that evening on the beach. And when she wasn't around Kuri boys stole glances at her, but then nobody could compete around Kuri. Not true. You could, Kyoko. Yukio never looked at Kuri that way.

Sometimes she wondered if she shouldn't have rewarded Yukio's persistence, but at a closer look it wouldn't have worked. He lacked the hardness of character she required.

“Noriko, what's up?”

Someone was speaking to her. “What?”

“Noriko, you should leave him alone. Everyone here can see that you like him if you stare after him like that,” Midori-chan said and placed a hand on her shoulder in sympathy.

Noriko blushed a little. Midori-chan had misunderstood some of it after all, but she was probably right when she said Noriko wore her feelings like an overcoat right now. “It's all-right, I've already confessed,” Noriko said. “He knows and he rejected me,” she continued and looked at Midori-chan's stunned face. “Don't give me that look. It's not like you didn't know anyway.”

“You're awesome. You're so cool!”

That put a smile on her face. Cool was good. Awesome was better. She could live with that. “Sure, but it's nothing you need to announce. Will only make me look like stupid, you know.”

“I wouldn't dream of it!” Midori-chan promised.

And it'll be all over the grapevine within days. Oh well, she's an airhead, can't be helped. “Thank you, that really makes me feel better,” Noriko lied. She took a few steps into the lounge part. That sofa by a low table looked really inviting, or maybe one of the arm chairs.

In the end she settled for an arm chair. More members were on their way and even though she was a midget, sleeping on the sofa would still have occupied three seats.

There would be some harsh words come autumn. Their club already attracted a lot of attention, and with their new room from out of the blue it would become clear they had a better contact with the principal than was normal. The student council had a lot of clout, but nothing near ordering the remaking of a run down classroom. It even had an AC better than the one in their classroom.

Time to plan for the culture festival as well. I'll have to do most of the planning I'm afraid. Urufu never got to experience one, because he was incarcerated for saving me. Se really did owe him. He'd even saved her brother from the fallout.

The door opened and Ryu arrived with parts of his and Kuri's fan club in tow. They carried bags with food and drinks and snacks. That left Yukio and Kyoko who had their own scavenging patrol. They had promised something great, but Noriko had no idea what it was.

When the door opened the next time two of the girls entered with a microwave. They were met with jubilation but just kept smiling as if they'd been let in on some great secret.

“Peeps, need some guys out here for the carrying slings!” Yukio's voice shouted from the corridor. Noriko watched some of the boys leave the room.

“Whoa! Man!” she heard a while later.

It took a minute. It probably took several, and when Kyoko opened the door again Noriko heard the sound of people carrying something heavy. Then she saw one end of something shiny. Are you nuts? Are you for real?

The room filled with a roar of approval when the full height fridge was carried through the opening.

You're absolutely wonderfully insane you lot! With guys like you I'll never be able to keep my cool. For once she didn't try to avoid her brother when he came sailing through the room with a high five prepared.

“Man, we've got cool, cause we are cool.” Yukio shouted from somewhere, and during the commotion Urufu came out from his hiding space and smiled at what he saw. With a calmer face he met Ryu's high five. Calmer, but he still met it with one of his own. It had to be some kind of male thing.

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