Kyoko waved to the student council president before she recalled that the third year had stepped down by now. Since a week or so a second year boy from 7:2, which made him a classmate to Nao-sempai, had taken up that role. The election campaign had been a non-event where the only question among the first years was why Urufu didn't run for president.
Blinking away her thoughts Kyoko made for the club room to meet up with Yukio. They hadn't been able to meet since that strange evening in the Stockholm Haven café.
A few days earlier she participated in one of the most surrealistic conversations in her life. How to dismantle a school without ever inviting the target to participate in the planning. Kyoko hadn't understood all of it, only that the stakes had risen now when the headships of both Himekaizen and Irishima high were active participants in the war.
The door to their clubroom slid open under her hands as she entered, and when she came inside she saw Yukio chatting with the Wakayama twins. Urufu and Kuri-chan still hadn't arrived.
In the lounge area Nao-sempai sat half asleep in the sofa, and seated beside him Hiroyuki-kun and Kichirou-kun ran a low voiced conversation where they tried their best not to wake the junior up.
From time to time Midori-chan offered a word or two, enough to make Kyoko understand she was part of the conversation as well. Midori-chan still had a mess of a hairdo, but it no longer was the horror show that had been her trademark.
Ryu looked up when Kyoko stepped further inside the room and beckoned her to the table. During the short pause in their talking Yukio made place for a flying kiss that made Noriko frown grinningly and Kyoko blush a little. She still felt awkward with Yukio's public displays of affection despite having been an item with him since August.
As she took a place around the desks turned conference table Kyoko heard the door slide open behind her.
“Perfect, seems we're all gathered,” Urufu's voice announced.
“Just grabbing a drink,” Kuri-chan said, and from the corner of her eye Kyoko saw her friend beelining for the fridge still stocked with the last of the drinks they had bought off the cultural festival. “Anyone want one?”
The sound of the fridge door opening accompanied Nao-sempai's snoring, and Kyoko heard Kuri-chan run one round of orders to the group in and around the sofa. A sudden yell told her Kuri-chan deliberately voided the other club members' attempt not to disturb Nao-sempai.
“What the hell?”
“Pocari Sweat,” came Kuri-chan's answer before the sound of her steps receded towards the fridge.
A bottle of cold drink inside his shirt, Kyoko thought and smiled. It was an outrageous act she would never have dared herself.
By her side Yukio laughed open mouthed and Noriko grinned as well. She deserted her place beside Yukio and walked around the table to take a seat beside her brother. The small gesture filled Kyoko with warmth, and when Noriko sat down facing her Kyoko shot the small girl a grateful smile.
“Need any help?” Urufu shouted, but he sat down and opened up his laptop as if he knew beforehand that Kuri-chan would decline.
“Two hands is enough for six drinks,” Kuri-chan shouted back and confirmed Kyoko's impression.
When she returned with an armful of bottles the aimless chatter subsided and everyone looked at Urufu.
“Want me to explain?” he said and looked at them over the screen.
“You'd better,” Ryu growled. “I was planning to introduce Ai-chan to my parents when we suddenly got marched away to the principal's office in another school.”
Kyoko shared a small sense of the discomfort he must have felt when he and his sister got dragged inside Irishima high. Ryu attracted attention on any normal day, but walking around in the Himekaizen uniform must have made him stand out even more.
“Sorry about that,” Urufu said. I didn't know they'd pull that stunt. To be honest I don't even know why they guessed you waited for her by her school gates.”
“Well that's Ai-chan's fault,” Ryu answered and snorted. “Apparently she told her club advisor why she wanted to leave earlier, and he in turn reported that to their principal.”
Urufu shrugged. “Still means they had it all planned for our vice principal to show up there on short notice. Anyway, they pretty much took us by surprise at the café as well.”
“So, what's going on?” Noriko shot in to keep the conversation from derailing.
“Kyoko, mind turning the whiteboard?” Urufu asked.
Kyoko rose and faced the whiteboard towards them. While she was up she turned on the water boiler and prepared some green tea.
The table turned silent and Urufu used the break to set up his beamer.
“Well,” he said after Kyoko had returned, “this is what's happening.”
Kyoko looked at the whiteboard where two cutaways were displayed.
“This is Himekaizen, and this is Irishima high. These,” Urufu said and marked a few highlighted areas with a pen laser, “are available classrooms.”
Kyoko looked at three areas in the cutaway of Irishima high and five of them for Himekaizen.
“Starting the coming year Irishima high will open up an extra class of freshmen and Himekaizen two.”
By now a large number of club members had gathered by the table as those who entered the room came directly for the display and those who sat in the lounge area rose and joined them.
“Why a total of eight classrooms?” Ryu asked.
“It's nine actually. 9:1 already occupies one. All three freshman classes will be pilfered from Red Rose junior high.”
“Himekaizen and Irishima high will target the parents of the Red Rose ninth graders directly.”
“I don't get it.”
“Jeez,” Kuri-chan interrupted. “Ryu, we're running a smear campaign here. Our schools will target the first and second years as well in an attempt to save the poor students from a school going belly up.”