A few minutes after they finished the last exam her idiot brother came up with another of his harebrained questions.
It was brain-dead to the extent he immediately regressed from 'brother' or even 'bro' to 'idiot brother' in seconds. In what alternative universe would she be able to solve the love problems of her best friend, the fifty year old supermodel with men clinging to her like grapes. The one who decided to cut off the man who must have been the love of her life, and who was Noriko's first love as well.
“But I promised I'd ask you.”
And that makes it better exactly how? Noriko stared at her idiot bro. Did we really have the same parents? “Fine, you asked.”
Ryu's face lit up enough for Noriko to glare at him.
“You're on your own with this one. She hands him crap chocolate and he returns a million yen ring?”
“And how did you expect me to talk them out of that kind of monumental idiocy? Moron, is it contagious?”
That he nodded again didn't make things any better.
You really thought I could? Gods! “Ryu, they're beyond help. They're so disgustingly stupid I feel ashamed I fell in love with one of them. So should you.”
She had to keep her voice down. Ryu was still Ryu, girlfriend or not. When anyone spoke with him people tended to eavesdrop. The midget sister equipped with an up and rising model as boyfriend didn't make it any more discreet.
Thinking of Nao soured her mood some more. He worked more than could be accounted to Kuri's well paid prison. Her amazingly paid prison. Noriko guessed Kuri alone made more than Urufu's company, and the way Urufu worked the last month money kept pouring in.
Broken and rich. Is money really worth all that? But money wasn't part of it. Noriko knew that. Working to death as a means to escape the trap they built of themselves, to pretend they didn't notice how much they each hurt the one they loved the most.
If that was becoming adult, then Noriko would stay a child for the rest of her life.
“You're silent, sis.”
Noriko fidgeted a bit. Sorry, forgot you were here. “Follow me!”
She led her idiot brother down the stairs, en route their lockers and through the entrance. Not until she reached the line of sakura trees, which already showed signs of breaking out in beauty, did she stop.
“Master of morons, I'll help. OK?”
Ryu nodded. He even knocked a fist to his head like an elementary schooler. “How...”
“Silent! Contagious. It's contagious!”
Ryu stayed silent, and Noriko could afford enjoying spring some more while they waited for Kuri to show up. Her car already stood waiting, but it didn't worry Noriko as much now as earlier. A phone-call to Sato-sensei and car, thugs and Kuri each vanished in different directions. After Noriko found that out she didn't care, and neither did Kuri.
Then the midday sun shone from the entrance, and soon thereafter a halo of golden hair floated above school-yard gravel. As had been the routine since she dumped Urufu, Kuri came with a reinvigorated fan-club tailing her steps. Even the number of confessions increased.
“Idiot bro, last chance. Do you really want me to got through with this?”
Sorry Kuri, but this will hurt.
Noriko waited for her best friend to leave the school yard before the ambush.
“Kuri, Ryu here asked me why he fell in love with you.”
Kuri's face clouded over.
“Had to tell him I can't understand why.”
For once an angry glimmer lit in Kuri's eyes, but it died as soon as it awoke.
“Shut it Wakayama...”
She didn't have time to allow Kuri's fan-club to get involved. “I mean, wasn't all that much there to love after all.”
A gust of wind ran along the street. Noriko heard it rustle branches above her, she heard Kuri take two steps and stand absolutely still, she heard fan-club members gasp for breath, and she heard strangely running steps from the school yard. Kyoko? Why are you running?
“Don't do it! Noriko, stop!”
I have to move in for the kill. “Kuri, if you don't love him, then just throw away that toy.” I'm not doing this for you Ryu. This is for Kuri. But her idiot bro knew that. It was why he asked her in the first place. Noriko was aware of that. He was the catalyst and she the mover.
“Toy?” one of the boys wondered.
“Noriko, I couldn't.” An ember of life lit in Kuri's eyes.
Yes, please, we want you back. Yell at me, scream and hate me, but come alive!
“Back when I wanted him you never let go.” That was grossly unfair and untrue, but Noriko couldn't afford being nice. “Now when he only looks your way you dump him by the road.”
Kuri didn't say anything, but her silence spoke of anguish.
“Keeping that ring of his for the money?”
The gust of wind ran it's course and made a left turn at the end of the street. Kuri took another step forward and the fan-club growled with anger.
“Sis, there's no one like you. Thank you!” her idiot brother whispered.
“Noriko, how low do you think...”
Got you! “To any depth. There's no stopping you from sinking even deeper.” And now I kill her. “You even made money when Kyoko got stabbed.”
Kuri looked as if Noriko had slapped her.
“What happened to the Kuri who came first to Urufu's hospital but last to Kyoko's. How little is your best friend worth?” I can't make you two work again, but I can give you a clean break. Noriko looked at Kyoko who had stayed silent during the assault. I'm sorry for dragging you into this, Kyoko, but this is my last gift to Kuri and Urufu.
“To smash what you broke. Kuri, it's broken. Don't try to mend it! Now off you go to the job you love so much.”
With Kyoko's hand in hers Noriko watched Kuri get into her car. Ryu stood behind them and made sure none in Kuri's fan-club tried to attack Noriko.
“She'll hate me, but this is the best I can do,” Noriko said to Kyoko. It hurt.
“I'll explain 'some day'.”
Some day. I just lost one of my two best friends, and I have to wait for 'some day'. I didn't want this.