Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Chapter four (segment one), 2016, October, Noriko

With the unexpected arrival of trucks carrying everything in her wish-list Noriko dared lean back in her chair and sort out other problems in her enormous inbox.

Stay busy. Stay occupied. Make sure you don't have time to worry about him.

She leaned further back and rested her head on Nao's shoulders. He sat on a chair behind her and hugged her. Had done so since she forced herself to shoulder the broken remains of Urufu's planning. Not once did he comment on how she had her mind full with another man.

“Noriko?” Her radio crackled and the led light stared accusingly at her.

She smirked and pushed the button. “Noriko here.”

“Kyoko here. You can move half the security from the service gates. I don't think the police will leave it before the festival ends. Over.”

“Thank you.” For once Noriko remembered Urufu's instructions from the day before. “Over and out.”

She split the four students from 9:1 into two pairs, had one take a break and the other carry supplies to the stalls needing it most. With a scowl she realised that was just about every stall on the main street.

“Nao, help me,” she said. She sighed and rose from her chair with the help of her arms. All strength long gone from her limbs she needed physical support to move from their office area to the lounge part.

He didn't answer, but he put his right arm around her and held her waist with his hand. It probably looked a bit indecent, but it allowed her to sag in his embrace without falling to the floor.

It's time for some bad acting. Here goes nothing. “Guys,” she said facing the club members. “We don't have time for apathy now. Urufu worked his arse off to make this work, so why the hell are you sitting here you lazy bastards?”

She only wanted to join them, but in the long run that wouldn't make anyone feel better.

“Shut up bitch!”

“I'll shut up when you start working again. Urufu and Kuri are absent. That puts me in charge here. Get the hell out of here and fill up the stalls!” Does that make me sound arrogant enough? Did I make them angry enough to care again?

A couple of members growled, but stood anyway. “Whatever, you piss-ant,” Nori-kun said. “You heard the midget bitch. Let's get moving before she starts wailing.”

Screw you! Noriko stared at Nori-kun as he led a team through the door. Wait a minute, did you just wink at me?

“Yeah, this room stinks of bad mood. I'm off as well,” Hitomi-chan said and got another half a dozen members moving.

Noriko wanted to thank the beauty in Urufu's class, but something told her the timing was off. I deserved that. Thanks guys, seeing through my act and playing along with it anyway.

After that the remaining members walked out in pairs or small groups, and as the room emptied the festival committee members present got more lively. Slowly the club room transformed into the head quarters it had been before the assault on Urufu.

Back at the desks in the office area two festival committee members threw her searching glances, and Kenshin-sempai, the council treasurer, had a playful smirk on his lips.

Noriko wiped some non-existent sweat from her brow and walked up to the windows. Somewhere out there Rie-sempai was making herself useful rather than stalking Yukio. That in itself earned her a name upgrade from merely being the nameless student council president.

Below the windows she saw the bike-stand that indirectly had brought Yukio and Urufu into her life, even though she now knew Urufu would have contacted Kuri sooner or later anyway.

Almost half a year. Has it been that long already? She put her hands to the window pane and listened to Nao coming up behind her.

“Noriko, I'd better help as well. Call me if there is anything.”

Don't turn around. Her need to have him close to her almost overwhelmed her, but he was right. She duped the rest of the club into work mode, and with that she lost all rights to enjoy time with him.

He squeezed her shoulder gently and left the room.

He knows my mind is full of Urufu. I should be more grateful for his strength when I feel this helpless. She took a step backwards, turned and sat down by a desk. With a pang of regret Noriko pushed the button to he radio and called Yukio for a bird's view report on the situation on the school grounds.

The short conversation helped a bit with taking her thoughts from Urufu and whatever hospital he had been taken to. Checking off the items on her laptop helped some more, and by the time she ordered two club members onto the right wing rooftop some of the joy of juggling the festival chaos returned to her.

Another two hours and we're done.

Two hours of keeping it together. The chaos wouldn't get worse, because with Kuri absent most of the sensation seekers left the school as well. The festival stayed crowded beyond reason though. While many guests left, a lot of those caught in the queue outside the gates opted to go inside for lack of anything better to spend their Sunday afternoon on.

This is about the amount of insanity I can handle. Noriko sighed, but when the last of the air left her she allowed her face to split into a smile. She couldn't do anything about Urufu, but she could do something about the here and now. That was good enough.

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