Saturday, 12 September 2015

Chapter one (segment five), 2016, September, Yukio

“I'm not going to apologise.”

“I don't expect you to,” Urufu said.

They sat under the great sails outside the cafeteria. With only a day until the cultural festival the place had seen a transformation from student hangout to what looked like a festival area with almost finished stalls.

On the other side of the building, close to the soccer field, the international food area was also nearing completion, and the two friends had taken a short lunch break.

“You know, Christina was in the wrong this time. I'm not going to defend her,” Urufu said when Yukio didn't say anything.

It wasn't fair to his friend being this stubborn, but Yukio just felt helpless when Kyoko got hurt. “It's not your fault,” he started, “and I don't want to say bad things about your girlfriend, but it's...”

“It is my fault as well,” Urufu interrupted. “Christina's behaviour was out of line, but I agree with her initial assessment.”

When did you start learning Japanese words like that? “What do you mean?” While Urufu's grasp of kanji was still awful his spoken Japanese evolved faster than was decent.

“The bullying has to stop. If we're going to fight Red Rose Hell we can't afford this kind of shit on our own turf. Anyone try to screw you up they have to be put down mercilessly.”

Yukio stared at his friend. “That's harsh.”

“Uhum.” Urufu took another bite of his atrocious noodle sub and swallowed it as if it deserved to be called food. “Look, I didn't get to run a company because I was so damned friendly with everyone. I've fired a few arse holes, and once I made certain an idiot was blacklisted. Illegal yes, but damn that got the attention of any wannabe racists.”

He can be cold sometimes. “Didn't you get into trouble for that?”

“Hell yeah! We had to pay a hefty fine, but the dick stayed blacklisted all the same. Well worth it.”

Suddenly Urufu laughed at the memory and Yukio stared at him again.

A few students, mostly freshmen looked in their direction from the stalls they were finishing.

Urufu played in a totally different league. Not for the first time Yukio felt inadequate. “Man, sometimes I just don't understand why you stick around with me. I give you headaches and I'm just a school kid.”

The glare Yukio got in return for his comment was devastating. “Don't you ever ask that question again! I stick around because you're the bloody best friend anyone could wish for. I stick around because you stood up for me when doing so put yourself at risk. Fuck it Yukio! I'm the one honoured to have a friend like you, not the other way around!”

That was about as close to a love confession Yukio had ever heard in his life. The harsh sincerity in the words made his heart lurch even though he instinctively understood there was only a deep sense of friendship behind them.

“Sorry,” he said.

“And don't you bloody sorry me! Your girl got hurt and she's my friend as well. At least to the degree she accepts my friendship. Worst case I'll accept a one sided friendship crush on her if you get what I mean.”

Yukio thought he did. Urufu had absolutely no romantic interest in his Kyoko, but he valued those he considered his friends almost as much as he valued Christina

“I wonder,” Yukio said. “Sometimes I wish I could make you smile the way you made me smile, but it's only Kuri who has that power. I'm a bit jealous, you know, if you get my meaning man.” And that was for all practical purposes a love confession of his own. Friendship was funny that way. Two persons. Two he had found he was willing to risk everything for.

Urufu lit up in the grin that had made more than a few girls look twice after him the last couple of months.

There's nothing left of your try to be part of geek squad, but there's also nothing left of the rebel kid from middle school. The thought was sobering. Urufu must have grown back into the man he had been before he arrived in Japan, even if he sometimes acted just as childishly as Yukio and the others in the gang of friends.

“Look, I'll talk with Christina. She wants to apologise anyway. Kyoko's important to her. It's her best friend after all. Deal?”

“Deal,” Yukio answered.

“Let's head back to our area. The poor sods there don't know crap about organising a large scale event.” With that Urufu gobbled down the last of his bread and rose.

Yukio downed his bottled tea and followed.

No one knows crap about your kind of organising, he thought. Two thirds of the club were grouped into three teams of six members each and each team was given full responsibility of one third of the barbecue area, including coordinating work with the other stalls there. Another group worked with the fashion show and Urufu assigned three of the most hard working members of the club to be what he called the fire brigade.

That had come in handy more than once during the planning and set-up.

Yukio shook his head and followed Urufu to the barbecue area. From the almost industrial planning and set-up it was clear to Yukio that management consulting only played part of the part here. Urufu must have some prior experience from setting up parties as well.

As they passed into the area Yukio found himself surrounded by people with questions. Most were from other stalls and he redirected them to their respective culture club group just as Urufu had requested, but a few were internal questions. Among other things something was awry with the fashion show.

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