Sunday, 20 September 2015

Chapter one (segment seven), 2016, September, Ryu

Normally he would have flirted a bit more with the girls from 9:1. They kind of knew each other from earlier after all, but at the moment he needed them to help out with the chaos 5:2 and 3:1 were responsible for.

Of course he couldn't help flirting a little. He was the prince of Himekaizen after all, just as he had been the prince of Red Rose half a year earlier. Right now he used the latter knowledge ruthlessly. As long as the newly transferred girls believed they had more right to his attention because they had shared middle school with him they were prepared to help him with his plans.

When his phone blared alive he left it on speakers on purpose.

“Ryu here, what do you want Urufu?”

“Some shit happened to our props. Christina's on it but I'm sending Yukio over to the gym to help out as well. He has to help out with the play anyway.”

Ryu stared at his phone. From around him he could see the girls giving him questioning looks. “OK? Noriko's tied up with sponsors for the rest of the day. I'm kind of busy myself.”

There was a muffled sound from the phone. Is he laughing? “Stop picking up girls already!” Oh, no the bastard can see me from wherever he is. He's helping me.

Ryu understood he'd been given a que, but he wasn't exactly clear what it was. While their friendship had grown rapidly the last month he still couldn't communicate by silent magic the way Yukio and Urufu sometimes seemed to do. He had to play the cards he had been given by heart.

“Hard to avoid,” he started. “I'm with the only good Red Rose had to offer.”

The girls closest to him giggled with pleased amusement, and a couple of them blushed as well.

“With you saying that I assume you're dating a full length mirror right now.”

Now it was his turn to blush. Bastard! Then he laughed. “Wall mounted, Urufu. Wall mounted or it would be too small.”

“Yea yea, leave the toilet and get out here.”

So he's pretending he can't see me. OK means I'm playing it right. “No need. I'm with the only real roses from my middle school.”

That bought him more than a few gasps and shouts of admiration.

Above him the sky had clouded over, but there would be no rain for the length of the festival. He gave the clouds some more stares while he pretended to think about what Urufu had said.

“Ryu, can you handle your side of this. I had a chat with Christina and I need to get some extra funding to set up a couple of unplanned stalls.”

What's going on? “Sure, I can handle things here. At least with the help of girls I can trust.” And there he played the final card given to him by Urufu.

Ryu only needed a glance around him to see that they had bought it all. It wasn't fair, and it was a bit underhanded. Just like Urufu had taught him to work when time was of essence.

“Superb, I knew I could count on anyone leaving that hell hole,” Urufu said and sealed the deal. With 9:1 you could trust their almost fanatical hatred of Red Rose.

They closed the call and Ryu drew a deep breath. We're building an army here. There's going to be a showdown sooner or later, but I don't know what kind of war Urufu is planning for.

It was time to focus on the problem closest at hand instead. Ryu turned and shot the girls his most charming smile. “I have a small problem with my own class and some juniors. Would you mind helping me?”

“Sure, what is it?” It was a girl from what had been 9 – C or 9 – D in middle school, he couldn't remember which. Cute but not exactly a beauty. Bright though, and he wondered why she hadn't transferred to Irishima High instead.

He looked at her eyes. She bought absolutely nothing of that call, but she's still playing along. Maybe I've got an ally here. “The juniors wanted an outdoor cos-play café here, but they don't want to handle dishes. I need to use some of my classmates for the dishes and they resent it.”

“We transferred here too late for festival planning. I'm sure my classmates would want to take part in anything you need us for,” she said and confirmed his hope.

“Urufu wants an international cuisine food plaza, and with some extras waiting tables I'm certain we could promise everyone handling dishes some slots waiting tables in fancy clothes and get some spare time as well.”

She looked at him. “Urufu? There was one delinquent in Red Rose who was caught fighting...”

Ryu laughed. “It's him, but he never was a delinquent.” He looked at her again. “He's running the show, and trust me, he's very good at it.”

“Funny. Guess that's why he turned down patrolling the festival grounds then.”

So the rumours about the thugs are true then. “Patrolling?” Ryu asked to confirm his suspicion.

They had almost arrived at the centre of the local problem before she answered. “Yea. The student council wanted some help and asked some of my classmates they believed were suited to the task.”

Suited to the task. Damn, you're almost as cold hearted as Urufu. “And you just remembered Urufu being expelled from Red Rose?”

She blushed a little at that. With a smirk she turned around an almost finished stall and waited for him. “No, no I didn't.”

Aww, shit! Not another one? And he doesn't even try the way I do. Ryu grinned and beckoned one of the juniors from 5:2 to him. “So what brought him to your attention?” It wasn't very nice of him to ask that question, but with the festival about to start he couldn't afford any hidden friction between the members of his staff.

“I had a crush on him, but he didn't know any Japanese so I didn't know how to approach him,” she admitted.

Good thing you didn't. I'm sure he was still in love with that lost wife of his a year ago. But I can't tell you that. Suddenly Ryu felt awkward. “He's going out with Kuri now.”

“Kuri?” And it was as if a glimmer of hope had died in her eyes.

Sorry, but I'm going to extinguish it once and for all. “Ageruman-san. She's from Sweden as well. You don't stand a chance, and I wouldn't root for you anyway, because they're both my friends.” It was harsh, but he didn't have time for anything else.

She threw a hand to her mouth. “Ageruman-san? The model?”

“Yeah. There's nothing coming between those two,” he said. And with those words he slowly started to accept that it was time for him to move forward as well, just as his sister had done.

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