Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Chapter two (segment one), 2016, December, Ryu

Finals came and went as did any reasonable chance for the golden couple to spend much time with each other.

Together with his sister Ryu created small windows of opportunities. They owed those friends at least that much.

With the help of Yukio and Kyoko Ryu managed to turn the club into a dating central for Urufu and Kuri, and despite failing to make most of those dates come true a few fell through the tightening net around the two of them.

This was one of them, or rather this wasn't one of them but it was. A freezing morning saw the student body line up for five respectively ten kilometres of wet depression. While the girls ran a different course than the boys everyone still gathered at the same place before the start. That place being the soccer field.

Boring!” someone shouted from somewhere in the middle of the crowd.

Got to agree with you on that one, Ryu thought, but he knew he'd place among the best of the first years. Maybe among the top fifty in the school, which was more than decent considering juniors and seniors participated as well.

I'm worried,” Noriko said.

Worried about what?” Ryu replied and threw a sidelong glance at his sister.

She looked back at him, eyes hidden under bangs plastered to her forehead by the stubborn rain that seemed to have gone on for over two weeks straight by now. That wasn't true, but there hadn't been many days in December without a downpour, which made for the wettest winter month he could recall.

With a scowl on her face Noriko elbowed him and nodded in the direction of a golden halo that stood out among the students like sunshine at night.

At first Ryu didn't get it, but then he saw Urufu behind Kuri. She was tall enough to hide even his face, but a sudden gust of wind threw her hair sideways and Urufu's face became visible as he moved to shelter her from the wind.

Always playing the knight. Why are you trying so hard to act like some stupid hero? Because it was outlandish or old-fashioned, and in the case of Urufu perhaps both. Ryu sighed and smiled. It also made him a little jealous of his friend. Daring to be so lame that it was somehow cool came natural to Urufu. He had half a century's worth of experience, and caring about what he looked like to others apparently didn't have all that much of a priority for him any longer.

Worried?” Ryu asked again. Urufu looked like he was having a blast.

Noriko nodded. “Yeah, look at them. That's all desperation.”

Ryu stared at the pair. Just as she had said something was off. Damn, you're right sis! Wait a moment. “Sis, when did you learn...”

I didn't. Mom did.”

Huh? Mom?

We had a talk last night,” Noriko continued. “She told me a lot I didn't know. She told me that she was you and dad was me.”

At first that didn't make any sense, but Ryu knew his parents well enough to eventually grasp what they meant whenever they tried to be cryptic. Still, dad being Noriko he could understand, but mom? You really mean you played merry hell with the boys during your high-school years?

She told me she almost lost dad after graduation and that their best friend saved them.”

Looking at Kuri clinging to Urufu Ryu felt something cold slither down his spine. She told you that after meeting Kuri? “Sis, I know they're having a hard time, but that's not why you're worried, is it?”

In response his sister shook her head. “She told me Kuri's desperate to show Urufu she'll be able to handle school, career and their relationship, but that she's already given up.”

Then he should act accordingly, Ryu thought. He searched his friend's face for clues, and despite the distance Ryu saw how hyped up Urufu was. Crap! He's going to run for it. He'll want to prove to her that he's worth her feelings.

Ryu, please keep pace with him. I'm not in love with him any longer, but I still care. For them both,” his sister added after a moment of silence.

He didn't need to be told. Ryu guessed Kuri would pace her marathon well enough, and even if she didn't there wouldn't be any danger, but Urufu. Have you recovered enough for this?

The sound of a whistle woke him from his thoughts, and as Ryu walked to his starting position he made an effort to look for where Urufu and Yukio made ready.

Then everything slowed to a crawl as expected. They had to wait an eternity for everyone to get ready and the PE teacher to run what he hoped was a heart warming speech but only forced them all to freeze in the wind for that much longer.

Then the girls were off and Ryu saw Kyoko and Noriko group up together with most of the club members and slog off somewhere in the middle. Kuri, however, caught up with some girls he recognised from the track and fields club.

So, maybe not pacing it too well. Have fun as long as it lasts.

The girls would be back within half an hour to an hour, Ryu guessed. The winner possibly in a bit over twenty minutes.

After the girls had vanished the boys lined up for real. As usual Ryu felt anticipation rising in him. He was a natural athlete and genuinely liked competitions. He just wasn't interested enough to spend his days trying to become the best.

At long last a subdued boom from the starting gun sent them away and Ryu stretched out to take a position just behind the track and field club members. Then he remembered Noriko's request, but just as he was about to slow down he saw Urufu well ahead of him.

Idiot! You damn idiot!

Pushing a little Ryu made the extra effort to get behind Urufu. From here on he could only wait until the idiot either collapsed or realised the tempo was way too high for him.

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