Monday, 14 March 2016
Chapter six (segment four), 2016, November, Noriko
Noriko grimaced when she saw her brother hand in hand with Ai-chan. Not that she had anything against her brother's choice of girlfriend; on the contrary. For the first time he got serious with anyone, and on top of that he chose someone with her head firmly screwed on to her body. That was a good thing in Noriko's book.
The reason she grimaced was far simpler. The pair came walking towards her, which meant they'd stop and chat and ask her what she was doing, and that in turn made it unlikely she'd be able to spend time alone with Nao.
“Sis, over here!”
Noriko looked at her shoes and smirked. Then she plastered a false smile over her face and looked up again.
“Idiot bro, what do you want?”
There was a distinction between what words she used and her expression. While she often thought of him as her idiot bro she never really disliked him. Abhorred him, hated him and felt disgusted by him, sure, but not dislike. When you grew up as tight as they had done you learned to be honest, and Noriko honestly saw that her brother was growing into a good man. An idiot, self-centred and much too playful man, but a good one nonetheless.
He must have seen something in her face, because a shadow of worry ran over his eyes when he glared back. Then he got a hold of himself and put up a show of ignorance.
“Sis isn't cute like you,” Ryu said to Ai-chan, but Noriko felt how the words rather were directed at her.
“She's a lot cuter than you. We both are,” Ai-chan responded and gave Noriko a toothy smile.
Good girl! As long as you don't behave like a puppy he'll stay interested. Noriko shook her head and shot Ryu's girlfriend an approving grin. That's girl conspiracy for you. Chew on that idiot bro!
Both girls went silent and looked at each other. In the end Noriko nodded at Ai-chan to continue.
“We're… I'm helping Ryu with your fight.”
You're helping us with what? Oh. Oh! “Ai-chan, are you certain that you want to get involved?”
Rather than give her an answer Ai-chan grabbed Noriko's arm and pulled her aside.
“He already got Irishima high involved, and my friends probably know we're dating by now.”
What's that got to do with anything? “I don't understand,” Noriko said. She glanced at where her brother stood a bit away. He leaned lazily against a wall and made a show not to disturb the privacy of the two of them.
“Your brother isn't exactly subtle, so people already know he's behind those rumours.”
Alarm flared throughout her and Noriko grabbed Ai-chan's hands. “That's not true! Ryu isn't the one who started them. He's just helping out.”
In return Noriko got a sad smile. “I know that. Ryu told me as much, but he's kinda famous and my friends at school believes he's the one. Besides they only know of that Ageruman model from your school.”
They would at that I guess. Of course they'd know about Kuri. Her face is all over Tokyo now. A flash of suspicion sprung up in Noriko's mind. “Kuri, ah, Ageruman-san dates another boy at school, so you don't have to worry.”
Kuri desperately tries to mark her territory when it comes to Urufu, but you don't need to know that. The mere thought that someone like Kuri could be afraid that her boyfriend would be taken away from her was ludicrous. Especially if you knew Urufu and how loyal he was. It made Noriko a little angry on Urufu's behalf, but he wasn't her matter to worry about any longer, if he had ever been.
Allowing her thoughts to run their course Noriko turned her attention back to Ryu's girlfriend. The relief written in her face was almost comical to watch.
“I'm not worried,” Ai-chan said.
Noriko decided to let the lie slip. “Good,” she said instead. “Now, about helping us, what are you talking about?”
“Well,” Ai-chan began, “not to speak badly about Himekaizen, but Irishima high has a pretty good reputation. We're spreading the rumours to friends in other schools as well.”
“Including Red Rose.”
You idiots! “That could be dangerous,” Noriko blurted out.
Ai-chan took a few moments to make sure no pedestrians were close enough to overhear them. “You mean an assault like the one at your school? Don't worry. There are a lot of powerful parents with connections to Irishima high.”
You mean there are a lot of rich kids at your school rather than the poor sods at Himekaizen? “That was unexpectedly blunt, coming from you.” Despite her words Noriko felt her opinion of Ai-chan had just risen a few notches.
“That's exactly as blunt as expected from me,” Ai-chan answered and rose another one.
Noriko followed Ai-chan's example and waited for a sudden crowding around them to disperse. “Why are you telling me this now?”
“Because I want you to pipe down,” came the brutal reply.
What? “You know we really need the momentum to keep up.”
“Sure, but if you leave it to me for a while it'll look like the source of the rumours changed.”
Yeah, she sure has her head screwed on right. Ryu, you got yourself a first class girlfriend in her. “I can't control Kuri,” Noriko said.
“Eh, Ageruman-san, the model. She's a force of nature to begin with, and it was her boyfriend who got assaulted.”
“Her boyfriend? So it was all a vengeance trip?”
Noriko gave the question a few seconds of thought. She needed to give Ai-chan an almost truth as an answer.
“No, it began with some girls being sexually assaulted at Red Rose. The rumours are true.”
“Really? How would you know?”
Maybe more than an almost truth was needed after all. “I was one of those girls.”