Friday, 4 March 2016

Chapter six (segment one), 2016, November, Kyoko

This is from me,” Kyoko said and reached over the table with her bag.

The small karaoke booth barely had room for all eight of them, but Kyoko really wanted to spend some time with their extended inner circle before they all went to Stockholm Haven café where the rest of the club were headed.

Noriko took the offered bag in her hands and looked inside.

What is it?” she asked.

A little something from Yukio and me,” Kyoko answered.

By her side Yukio frowned and shook his head. “Don't accuse me of that atrocity. Wallet, my participation was strictly limited to my wallet,” he said and grinned.

With a squeal Noriko opened up the bag and quickly ripped through the gift-wrapped box inside.

It's so… so… green!” she said, but her eyes glittered and she was already digging up her phone from a pocket. “I always wanted one of these,” she continued and firmly planted her phone inside the skin.

It really was as intrusive to the eyes as Yukio had said.

Happy birthday!” Kyoko said, and her eyes glimmered just like Noriko's.

Ryu, we decided that to be a cool as Urufu you have to look as antique as Urufu,” Yukio said and took the verbal baton from Kyoko.

Both Nao-sempai and Ai-chan gave him questioning stares before they glanced in Urufu's direction.

That won't be enough to give our secret away, Kyoko thought. And we have to be allowed to at least make some stupid jokes about it from time to time.

Ryu made a show of hiding his face in his hands. “Seeing what sis got what kind of awful do you have in mind for me?”

In response Yukio pushed another paper bag across the table.

Kyoko grinned in anticipation and waited for Ryu to open his birthday gift. The staff probably wonder why this booth is so silent. Well, let them!

What the? You bastards!”

What is it?” Ai-chan wondered by Ryu's side. The surprising addition of a girlfriend had taken them all a bit aback, but she made her best to fit in, which wasn't easy given that her old style Irishima high sailor uniform looked out of place mixed with the Himekaizen Academy blazers.

Bloody hell, it's an honest to god planner. I haven't seen one of those in...”

Kuri-chan yanked Urufu's arm before he had the chance to finish his sentence.

Planner?” Ai-chan asked.

It's what dad used before his first smart-phone,” Ryu said and glared at Yukio.

Happy birthday,” Yukio said perfectly unperturbed. “Now you can look as cool as Urufu.”

The cool one smirked. “I don't use one of those. Look, I can prove it!” he said and fished up his phone. “All digital here.”

Ryu opened his faux leather-bound planner and flipped through the pages. “Just to show you I'll use it.”

About planning, have you decided about next year yet?” Nao-sempai said.

Noriko nodded and looked up from her phone. “Science,” she said.

No surprise there,” Ryu observed. “She's the brains here. I can't compete, but I'll do science as well.”

Liberal arts,” Yukio and Kyoko said in union. She looked at him and then they both burst out in laughter.

We'll stick together I guess,” she said and boxed him on his arm when he pretended to groan.

We don't separate that way, but something like liberal arts for me as well,” Ai-chan said. She snuggled up closer to Ryu and glanced at Kuri-chan.

You really don't have to worry that much. Kuri-chan only has eyes for Urufu.

Liberal arts,” Kuri-chan said and pretended she had misunderstood Ai-chan's look.

Well played, Kyoko thought. You understand what makes people tick. With a nod of approval to her friend Kyoko saw how Ai-chan relaxed a little.

Seven pair of eyes stared at Urufu who hadn't said anything.

What?” he asked when he finally understood his opinion was wanted.

What? What are you going to study next year?” Nao-sempai asked.

Me? Science obviously.”

Science? With your grades?”

Kyoko could only agree with Ryu's reaction. With Urufu's results she wasn't entirely positive he'd be able to handle liberal arts, let alone the much more difficult science track.

Look, it's my written Japanese that sucks, not my brains!”

Japanese? You're flunking more than your exams in Japanese. Kyoko shook her head. If Urufu wanted to go through science hell it was his decision.

From the corner of her eye Kyoko saw Kuri-chan giving Urufu a look that told him that for those two the topic wasn't finished. Hmm, finished. Kyoko looked at the clock. They had only a few minutes left. It was time to wrap it up and leave for Stockholm Haven café.

The last songs were a mix of birthday celebration songs. For most for most of them they didn't even bother with music, and after a last round of roaring laughter they left the booth and made for the streets.

On their way to meet the rest of their friends Kyoko hooked up with Yukio and pretended not to notice how Kuri-chan and Urufu fell behind them. There had been an uneasiness between those two the last days, and Kyoko guessed they needed to discuss something.

Ai-chan, your friends coming as well?” Kyoko asked to clear her thoughts of her misgivings.

Ryu's girlfriend turned and met Kyoko's look. “Yes, a few of them. Seems more fun than a goukon anyway.”

And here I thought the last goukon delighted you,” Ryu shot in. That comment won him a pair of flushed cheeks from Ai-chan and friendly scowls from the rest of them.

Be nice, man. She's your girlfriend,” Yukio suggested.

I'm always nice. I was born nice.”

You were born full of yourself.”

Yukio's last retort made Kyoko hug him closer to herself. You've grown, she thought. You're manlier now.

You deserved that one,” Noriko noted and elbowed her brother. “You can keep him, Ai-chan. He's damaged good anyway.”

Hey, it's my boyfriend you're talking about!”

It's my idiot brother.”

You can have the idiot part. I'll take the boyfriend material,” Ai-chan shot back.

Kyoko grinned. Ryu's surprise boyfriend had a lot more spunk than her looks gave away.

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