It wasn't that he disliked being part of a dirty game, but he definitely disliked being partially kept unaware of what was happening.
At least that was what he had thought.
Half an hour after Urufu arrived together with Kuri Principal Nakagawa joined them accompanied by a man in his sixties Yukio had never seen before. They more or less forced the club members to end their meeting in the inner room and after that the six of them sat down around the large table.
“This is for you,” Principal Nakagawa said and placed four documents on the table.
Yukio looked at the one given to him. It was a written permit signed by the principal to stay here far beyond any reasonable curfew. He looked up at the principal asking a silent question.
“I need you here, or let me rephrase that, we need you here,” Nakagawa said and nodded at his companion.
“My name is Noguchi Satoru, and I'm the vice principal of Irishima high. At this moment our principal and the vice principal of Himekaizen have a similar meeting with Hasegawa Ai, Takado Nao and the Wakayama twins from your school.”
Yukio nodded numbly at the unexpected information. What's going on? he wondered.
“Hamarugen-san, do you recall a conversation we had here this spring?” Principal Nakagawa asked.
Urufu blinked at the surprisingly polite words, and Yukio threw Vice Principal Noguchi a look to find out how he would react. There was none.
Flipping open a laptop Urufu grimaced and looked back at their principal. “What part of it?”
Principal Nakagawa responded with a surprisingly youthful grin. “Good boy.” Then he turned all serious again. “The part about a population deficiency of epic proportions,” he continued.
Yukio shook his head. He had absolutely no idea what they were talking about, and across the table he could see Kuri frown as well. At the moment he wished Kyoko was here, but she still had close to half an hour's worth of work to do, but looking at the fourth permit Yukio understood that she would be called here as well when she was done.
“Please go on, I'm listening,” Urufu said.
“Mind if I smoke?” Noguchi-sensei broke in.
Glancing at the ashtray on the table Yukio knew it was a rhetorical question, but it was the kind of polite courtesy an adult extended to another adult. Which meant Irishima high's vice principal knew something very few people did.
“Not at all,” Urufu answered, and Yukio could feel a thin string of tension stretching across the room.
“Would you like one?”
Principal Nakagawa frowned disapprovingly at the offer and stared at his Irishima high counterpart.
“I think I'll decline,” Urufu said. “It's illegal now both in Sweden and here. I mean for a minor like me.” He glared at Noguchi-sensei. “Besides I needed extraordinary measures to break an almost forty year old bad habit, so I think it would be a pity to take it up again. Wouldn't you agree?”
Yukio could hear his own sharp intake of breath. It didn't matter that he already suspected that Noguchi-sensei was in he know. Hearing it stated so clearly still surprised him.
“Noguchi-san, don't you think this is enough?” Principal Nakagawa asked when the silence threatened to become oppressive.
“I just had to know. Or rather I've known for some time, but I still didn't believe it.”
“Gentlemen, population deficiency it was, not my smoking,” Urufu said, and Yukio sent him a grateful thought for bringing the conversation back on topic.
“Mister Hamarugen,” Noguchi-sensei started in a strange, jilted western way, “there is a fast way to expand when the market is shrinking.”
Urufu looked back over his laptop screen. “Market! If you think your students are your customers you're sadly mistaken.”
“What else would they be,” Noguchi-sensei said, and for the first time he looked surprised when he stared at Urufu.
With the usual clattering Urufu hammered down something on his keyboard before answering.
“Products, we're your products. If you're unable to make that distinction you shouldn't dabble in education.”
“Look young mister, Irishima high has a good...”
“Irishima high is secondary education. I'm not young and I ran tertiary education for a living. Don't give me that crap!”
“Tertiary? Nakagawa-san, didn't you say he was some kind of IT-management?”
Principal Nakagawa smirked, and then he smiled. “I did. His own business, and it seems it branched out.” With a twist of his head Nakagawa-sensei looked at Urufu. “Tertiary education?”
“Think of it as a private university. It wasn't really, but it's the simplest way to describe it. Nothing big. Say some five hundred students all in all.”
A surprisingly throaty laughter welled up from Nakagawa-sensei. “So when you said you had some ideas for your club you were basing them on experience.”
Urufu nodded. “Not all, but most of it. The club is my class.”
“Should have known. It showed during the midterms by the way.”
“Good for us. Population deficiency!” Kuri shot in from her chair when the conversation meandered away yet again.
This time it was Nakagawa-sensei who opened up a laptop. Yukio could see how he was unused to it, or rather handled it the way Yukio once took for granted before he met Urufu and Kuri. Now he, just like most club-members, were more proficient with this kind of electronic devices than they would have dreamed possible half a year earlier.
“If we help you tear down Red Rose Academy's financial foundation there are still a few hundred students who would need a school.”
Urufu nodded. “What about their middle school?”
“There is sufficient capacity within walking distance from Red Rose Academy. Among other your middle school,” Noguchi-sensei said and motioned a hand in Kuri's direction. “As for us we're only interested in the high school students.”
Urufu grinned. “Fine, let's talk business,” he said, and Yukio noted how he shared a hungry expression with Kuri, almost like two vultures waiting for a feast.