Friday, 30 October 2015

Chapter two (segment eight), 2016, October, Yukio

Yukio felt a tinge of irritation when the council president followed him like an obedient dog all the way to the food plaza.

Urufu had come up with another harebrained idea, but by now Yukio accepted how well they worked. The theme was try and play, and it hooked a couple of hundred parents and younger siblings. Anything that got people away from the planned events and stalls was a blessing.

He owed the kendo club big time, but they promised half an hour with Kuri and a camera would be payment enough. Nothing naughty the club president promised. Yukio wondered about that, and he still had to break the news to a Kuri he gifted to the club without telling her first. Urufu would have his head for it as well.

With a grin splitting his face Yukio saw grade school kids trying out kendo gear much too large for them. They looked happy, and Urufu only told him to solve the problem, so he did. He'd stand his ground if Urufu protested later. Hell even if Kuri did.

But there was the case of his current problem. Score a goal. The Watabe twins quickly convinced him having grade schoolers playing goalkeeper was a horrible idea. So instead they convinced both goalkeepers in the soccer club to spend two hours each defending against penalty kicks.

Problem being the food plaza was laid out on the soccer field, which was the reason Yukio walked here with the student council president trailing him.

It didn't take a genius to understand she suffered a severe case of being smitten. Even one as inept at the boy meet girl game as him understood.

At least it's me. It'll pass. Crap! If it was Urufu she'd stay in a state of love at first sight, like forever. A vivid image of Urufu with Kuri by his side and the council president desperately tugging at the back of his shirt passed Yukio's mind, and he couldn't help laughing at it.

He cackled with glee until his stomach hurt. People around him stared and whispered, and for once the president gave him some extra space.

On his radio he heard voices from time to time as islands of small crisis flared alive only to be extinguished by Urufu either promising help in a soothing voice or barking harsh orders in the language of an over-educated drill sergeant.

When he returned to the food plaza kids were already lining up for penalty kicks. There was enough space by one goal not to interfere with those eating, not even after they accommodated one of Kuri's few suggestions over the radio – an international style picnic.

Yukio glanced at the grassy slope where they used to watch soccer training. It served as a delimiter between those above and those below with the occasional stubborn couple eating their food lying down in the middle.

Like watching sakura in the park, he thought. But it's autumn now.

From where six dozen blankets had arrived he could only guess at, but his suspicions went to Kuri. Any magic concerning cloth had to be her doing.

She's our president, but for this festival in name only. This is Urufu's show.

“You're silent.”

Ah, the other president. “Sorry, just thinking.” He gave her a smile. There was little reason to be rude, even if she was a pain. Now that's a novel thought. With Kyoko by my side I can suddenly act like normal around girls. Funny that. Now when I'm not even interested any longer.

“What happens now?” the president asked.

“You know, that's my line,” Yukio said and laughed. But he didn't care to keep up the pretence of who ran the show. “We're filling the gym right now. Principal Nakagawa negotiated with one of the TV crews and they're moving their bus inside the gates.”

That was today's lifesaving brilliance from Kuri. Well, given her background he shouldn't be too surprised. One of the buses was equipped with exterior led screens and loudspeakers, and the crew agreed to display live footage from the gymnasium throughout the day. At the moment they moved it into a position where it could be seen and heard without being in the way.

Jirou-sempai came over to him from the line of grills he oversaw. From the line of grills he was never supposed to oversee in the first place, Yukio corrected himself. The former president of the Sengoku club made the utmost to fill the position he was pressed into after madness descended on Himekaizen, and he did a very good job at it. Yukio took a mental note to make certain the second year was properly thanked later for shouldering the responsibility of the entire plaza.

“Have you had any rest?” Yukio asked.

“It's fine,” Jirou-sempai answered, which obviously wasn't true at all. Fine job or not, the guy was worn thin.

“President, how would you like to stand in for him?” Yukio asked the girl by his side.

She offered him a frown in return. “I don't know anything about this area.”

“But you do, you gave it a green light after all,” Yukio tried, but he harboured little hope she'd take the bait. “I'll help out for some time, but I need to run an errand later,” he said. “Please,” he added.

She looked at him and then at Jirou-sempai. Somehow she must have noticed how tired the second year was, because she nodded even though her shoulders slumped.

“Thanks!” Yukio didn't need to fake any gratitude. It was genuine, especially when he saw the relieved smile his club member gave their council president.

“An hour?” he asked?

“Make it two,” the president offered. She shot Yukio a questioning glance as if asking for praise.

“I'm in your debt,” he said. Damn, we need the council to regain their confidence before tomorrow. There's no way the club can handle all of it another day. He sighed. Especially not tomorrow.

“Urufu?” he called into his walkie talkie. He needed some confirmation.

“Urufu here.”

“Yukio here. What's the turnout today? Over.”

“Is the president there? Over.”

Yukio looked at her back and slowed his steps further. There was something Urufu didn't want her to know just yet. “I'm alone. Over,” he lied. As long as she didn't hear their conversation that statement was true enough.

“Three and a half today. About double the expected. Never more than two and a half at the same time though. My guess. Over.”

No wonder the school crawled with guests. They were already at their limits. He had to ask the dreaded question. “Tomorrow? Over.”

His radio stayed silent just a little too long. “Hard to say. We could run the numbers together. Over and out.”

Yukio stared at his silent unit. Maybe an alternate universe existed where Urufu needed his help to run numbers, but this one most certainly wasn't it. Holy crap! That bad?

With a sinking feeling he joined the president before she got too suspicious.

The smell of food filled his nostrils and he was suddenly ravenously hungry. With a pang of guilt he tugged at her sleeve. “Let's have lunch.”

Any other day before he met Kyoko the smile he received would have made him giddy with happiness.

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