Saturday, 6 August 2016
Chapter six (segment eight), 2017, spring break
Ryu allowed Mars to turn into April before he made his mind up. He missed Ai-chan, but not as much as he had feared, and that made him a little disgusted with himself. If he was this callous, then he needed someone to watch over him, and who better suited than Kuri, with her lifelong experience from life?
“Are you still sure about this?” he asked her. They sat in the same café as when she had dropped the bomb three days earlier.
“No, she said. I'm anything but sure, but I'm running out of time.”
“So, what do we do, and why me?”
“Look, I'll be absolutely honest with you. I see you as a boy, am honest, decent and good boy, but a boy still.”
Ryu nodded. He already knew that. “So why me?” he repeated.
“Because you have everything that would you grow up into a good and decent man. Because your have your name, and because in my world your looks could make the idiots I'm working with believe we're really a couple.”
He listened to her reasons, almost a short speech.
“I'll take the good and decent parts,” he said and grinned. “My looks are only a tool. They don't define who I am.”
Kuri grimaced. “They do, to a much greater degree than you can understand yet.” She tuned that grimace into a smile, as beatifically gorgeous as always. “People react to you because of how you look, and you can't avoid being coloured by those reactions.”
Ryu didn't really understand, but he had no reasons not to believe her, even if she was biased because of her line of work. Instead he nodded pretence that he had understood.
“Ulf could explain better than I do. He was always better at explaining.” He smile turned into one of longing and sadness. “He should have explained better.”
She was miles away. Ryu read in her eyes how she followed him in her mind wherever he had gone with his bike. Probably shared the road with him on the bike he had given her as a present.
Then his eyes fell on her left hand. A ring glittered on it, a large brilliant catching the lights in the café.
She must have seen him looking at it. “Is it time for me to take it off?”
Huh? “Sorry, I didn't mean...”
“Is this the last day I wear the ring?” she interrupted. “Are you my boyfriend or not?”
So it was finally time to voice his decision. “Yes, provided you really are my girlfriend.”
With a bitter smile she put her right hand over his. “Then we're dating.” She couldn't prevent tears from welling up in her eyes, but none dropped as she pulled the ring off her finger. “I'll save this. It's a memory. I'll have memories.”
I wonder what happens next. Ryu pulled her hand over the table and cradled it in his own. She hadn't worn the ring long enough for it to make a mark on her finger. Memories only. Not even a lingering mark to prove you two were together.
He had gained a girlfriend. He had lost a friend in doing so, because he doubted Urufu would accept the sudden turn of events. He hadn't even have time t lose his love. Ai-chan still ached in his heart. I guess it makes us one of a kind. Boyfriend and girlfriend still in love with another.
At least he considered Kuri one of his best friends. At least that, even if they were a couple now. Something they could start from. Something they could share.
Can I learn to love you again? He didn't know.
“You're silent,” Kuri said. She hadn't pulled back her hand. It still lay in his hand, long, slender and cool to his touch. A beautiful hand, just like the rest of her was beautiful.
The smile he received carried some happiness in it. “And he already begins. Thinking. Don't you dare to copy him!”
Huh? Oh, yes, Urufu always try to think things through. Ryu hadn't thought of it that way. Did Urufu over-think everything?
“Yes he does,” Kuri said. She had this way of almost reading people's mind. Long before it had scared him a little, but not any more.
“Should we invite your bodyguard to our table,” Ryu said instead.
“Oh, so you noticed?”
He had. Ryu always knew of the people around him. “He's very discreet,” Ryu said in an attempt to make an excuse for Kuri's bodyguard. He really wasn't, all that discreet that was. Ryu had seen him throw them worried glances for most of their lunch.
Kuri waived him the their table and he took a seat.
“Wakayama Ryu,” Ryu offered.
“Please to meet you. I'm afraid my profession prevents me from disclosing my name,” the man said.
“I guess,” Ryu said. “Well, Kuri, now what?” he asked and turned his attention to her. “Do we make some kind of grand announcement, or do we just let it filter out through the rumour mill?
“I got myself a tactician this time. Filter out.”
“I need to know, are Ai-chan and Urufu taboo subjects when we speak from now on?”
“Gods no! Why would I do something like that to us two? You know, and I know.”
He nodded. “But if things change?”
“If things… Oh, I see. Just tell me if your feelings change, will you.”
But you won't, because your feelings won't. OK, I can live with that. “I will,” he said. Poor Ai-chan. When she gets to know about this. But maybe it was better this way. If she got angry enough with him she'd move on faster. “You do the same,” he added to remind her it wasn't very polite implying he was the only one who could have a change of heart.
Kuri gave him a peculiar look in return. One filled with a little amusement. “If that happens you'll be the first to know.” A mischievous grin followed the words.