Ryu handed over his tablet to Hitomi-chan. This was their last day before exams, and the club members were cramming like their lives depended on it. It didn't, he knew that. Ryu had looked at the statistics. With the exception of Urufu and Kuri the club members fared a lot better than the average.
And they're our teachers, or at least Urufu is. Madness.
Stockholm Haven Café. Their haven. Their changed haven. A core of half a dozen Irishima High students made it their primary hangout as well. There were over a dozen Red Rose high students as well. All of them demonstratively took off their red blazers as soon as they entered. Rumours had it all of them would transfer to Himekaizen come April.
“Urufu, last one.”
“Urufu, wake up!” Oh shit, sorry.
While there still was no response, this time Ryu didn't say anything. He just watched Urufu's expression of desolation when he caught Kuri in his view.
I don't understand it. You two are so obviously in love with each other, so why break up? Ryu looked as Urufu crossed the room. Is he making contact with her again? They haven't talked for weeks.
And it seemed he was. Ah, of course. Mars 14.
“In return for your gift,” Urufu said to her back, and directly addressed like this she couldn't ignore him.
“Thanks,” Kuri said and just turned enough to receive a very small paper bag.
Urufu returned, and to Ryu's surprise he received a high five. “Have an errand to run. Keep the place running, will you?”
“Ulf! No! Ulf! You can't!”
“See you later,” Urufu said and pretended not to have heard Kuri's shouts.
“Ulf, dammit. Stay!”
But the boy just left the room and Ryu could only stare at a back and a waving had.
And this was his cue. “Sorry my friend, but Urufu said he was busy. Shall we respect that?” With those words Ryu caught Kuri and pulled her back into the room. Now what on earth would bring out that kind of reaction from her in the first place?
“What on earth...”
“Don't touch it!” Kuri rushed back to where she had left her opened bag on the table. “Don't touch it!”
Too late. Urufu must have stripped his gift off the box it originally came in, but Ryu still saw the ring that rolled out.
Crap! Maybe dad wasn't all that showy after all.
“Don't touch it! It's mine!”
“Must have been real great chocolate,” Hitomi-chan said with venom in her voice. Since the break-up Kuri was worth less than a cockroach in her eyes.
Kuri flinched and sat down, but not until after she had secured the ring.
Ryu couldn't think of anyone in his circle of acquaintances who would have refused it as a wedding gift. So that's why you worked so hard? And that still didn't make sense. A need to burn time seemed more likely.
You two. I just don't understand you two.
By now more of the girls had seen that something happened.
“What was it?” Sakura-chan wanted to know.
“Urufu handed her some cheap crap,” Saki-chan said and nodded at Kuri.
Hitomi-chan shot her some lightning from her eyes. “Remind me to tell you future fiancé not to bother with anything expensive.”
“Hitomi?” Sakura-chan said.
Oh, you two dropped the honorifics?
“Kuri's Valentine's gift to Urufu was to break up with him,” Hitomi-chan said, and Ryu noticed how Kuri cringed under the onslaught. “In return he gave her a wedding ring.”
“Why?” came a whisper from Kuri's chair.
Hitomi-chan knew no refrain. “It might look just like another brilliant, but if you have it checked, knowing Urufu, I promise it's a Scandinavian standard cut.”
“Why? Why you bloody stupid idiot! Why, if you're going to give me this?”
“Because he actually wants to show who he loves, you piece of shit!”
Something in that accusation rang false. Wasn't it always you who showered him with open love? What's going on?
“Ryu, please help me. I need someone to talk with.”
More like a shoulder to cry on. “Fine, but I'm telling Ai-chan first.”
Kuri shot him a guilty stare and nodded. Then she grabbed her bag, coat and umbrella and left the room. Most likely she wouldn't come back again, and Ryu doubted she'd be welcome to. No matter what Urufu said, and to be honest he said far less than he could have, Kuri's reputation stayed glued to the floor.
Poor girl, Ryu thought as he wrenched his own coat over his shoulders. A nonchalant hand by his head he waved his way through the door and went directly for the table Ai-chan shared with some of her friends.
“Seems my club president has a problem she wants to discuss with me. We're just outside if you need me.”
Ai-chan had seen who just left the café and gave him an unhappy look. “Just outside?” she asked.
Ryu nodded and zigzagged his way to the exit. True to the promise he had given Kuri really stood just outside. On the other side of the street, but still just outside. He joined her and made sure they could be immediately seen from the café.
“So, what's on your mind?”
“I don't get it,” Kuri said, and from her voice Ryu could tell she had cried a little.
“Don't get what?”
“If you need a girl to break up with you for her own best, why would you give her something like this?” On her annualry a large diamond glimmered under the street-lights. Even Ryu could see it must have been horribly expensive.
“For your own best? Isn't that for you to decide?” The last question made him wonder just to what extent he had allowed himself to be influenced by Urufu.
“He won't let me. I know he loves me, but he never said so. So I had to break up with him, even though I love him.”
But for Ai-chan, this is when I would have made my move on you. Kuri attracted him. Ryu didn't even pretend anything else, but he was no longer in love with her, or at least not as much as he liked Ai-chan.
“I don't get you two,” he said. “For now, just keep it and wait until after the exams, OK?”
“Wait for what?”
“I'll ask sis. She's the smart one.” As if she would know anything about a mess like this. Whatever, anything that allows us to take our exams in peace.