Friday, 11 March 2016

Chapter six (segment three), 2016, November, Ryu

When he opened his school bag Ryu found the planner still inside. At first he smirked, but it quickly grew into a smile. He wondered if Urufu had used something like it earlier in his life. Fifty, he's over fifty. Did they have laptops thirty years ago? Ryu didn't know, but he decided Urufu probably had been dependent on pen and paper to do his planning early on.

You're silent.”

Ai-chan's voice made Ryu look up from his bag. She was cute and was likely to be a real beauty a few years down the line. But it wasn't her looks that caught his interest. Not that looks didn't matter. For him they definitely did, but having grown up with Noriko he doubted he could ever settle for someone docile.

I thought if I'm silent like now and you talk like you usually do then on average we'll be, well, average.”

The insult earned him a fist and a glare. Neither were entirely playful, but nor were they in earnest.

You mean if you continue to make an effort to look good you don't have the mental resources to speak at the same time?”

Guess I deserved that one. “You're the one who ordered me to look good,” Ryu said. “My poor mind can't grasp why.”

Ai-chan grabbed his ears in her hands and pulled his face to hers and gave him an almost kiss. Only their noses touched.

I haven't told my friends about you, even if they suspect by now, and you need the goukons I arrange to spread those rumours of yours.”

So you noticed, didn't you? But he didn't really care. As long as Ai-chan was the only one who understood what he was playing at he felt safe. While he didn't know her all that well yet he still didn't believe she was the kind who'd betray him unless he gave her reasons to. Those reasons being two-timing her or dumping her, which could have been a concern hadn't he been truly interested in her.

Why this place?” Ryu asked to change the subject.

Ai-chan sat down on a stool by the windows and looked out. Behind them the clerk answered questions about prices from another group of teenagers, and Ryu waited for them to vanish inside the building before he joined his girlfriend.

Didn't you recognise their uniforms?”

Ryu shook his head. Apart from a few extreme elite schools he only knew the uniforms from Himekaizen and Irishima.

Sheesh!” Ai-chan sighed and palmed her face in an exaggerated expression of despair. “Why do I even try? You want to sink Red Rose Academy, and you don't even know their uniforms?”

Crap! I guess I should have known better. There had been something tugging at his mind, but since the cultural festival occurred early October just about every school switched from summer to winter uniforms just days earlier. There simply was no way to get used to the winter uniforms from other schools in so few days.

Ryu looked at Ai-chan and took her hands in his. “Sorry. I usually only see the Irishima high and Himekaizen uniforms on my train,” Ryu said. That wasn't entirely true, but the other uniforms belonged to schools too far away to be anything but reminders that some students covered indecent distances when commuting to and from school. To and from some of those elite schools he knew about.

You know, I don't have any friends from Red Rose, but...”

The tension in Ai-chan's hands grew, and Ryu could feel her fingers squeezing his. She's doing this for me, but she's unhappy about it.

Yes?” he said.

He kept is gaze on her eyes in an attempt to make her look at him, but she continued staring at their hands and played with his fingers.

It doesn't seem right,” Ai-chan said after a while. Suddenly she looked up, but she still averted her eyes and pretended to watch the passersby on the street outside. “Someone did something awful to you. I can understand that, but why would you go after the entire school?”

She's in love with me, and she's hurting herself for my sake. Ryu lifted her hands and kissed the fingertips. “It's not that easy,” he said and joined in her pretence of watching people strolling down the pavement.

Make me understand. Please!”

There were teachers involved, and even if we can't prove it I know the principal looked the other way.”

Her gasp told him she wanted to believe, but that what he had just said sounded just too fantastic to be true.

My friend, Urufu, has some pictures,” Ryu continued. “They wouldn't mean anything to you, but for all real victims they're all the proof we need.” Because you wouldn't believe they sent a goon to attack Kuri last term, and they attacked Urufu during the festival.

Ryu still wasn't entirely certain that last attack was sanctioned by Red Rose. It stank of pure revenge, and the sheer idiocy of assaulting someone when you were dressed in your school uniform more or less invalidated the idea of a conspiracy.

I appreciate what you're doing for me,” he said, “but don't do anything dangerous. This is our fight.”

Ai-chan turned her face to him. A glimmer of sudden determination ran over her eyes when she faced him. “I want to be closer to you. If someone hurt you I'll hurt them back.”

There was a reason she had piqued his interest in the first place, and Ryu admitted to himself that her boyish reaction to a fight attracted him.

I'm not after the students at Red Rose Hell,” he said. “If anything I want to save them from that quagmire.” He let his lips play over her fingers again and enjoyed how she blushed at the touch.

What… what do you mean.” The tool in her eyes told him she no longer thought of the war between the two schools, nor that he was bringing in Irishima high on their side as well.

We're taking Red Rose down,” he said. Before he let go of his plans and enjoyed the evening with her she had to understand that he was serious. If she decided to leave him as a result, then so be it.

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