Midterms coincided with the weather finally deciding it was time for summer, and Ryu spent an uncomfortable afternoon doing exams in a classroom not yet prepared for the shift in temperature.
As usual having to wait yet another week before changing into the summer uniform didn’t help at all.
He knew he’d pay for spending his thoughts elsewhere. Maybe not that high a price, but it would show in his results. Elsewhere lay in the other wing, more precisely where Kuri sat with her exams.
I’m an idiot for falling in love with her, Ryu thought and attacked the next problem.
I’m an arse for allowing myself to forget about Ai, he thought when he was done.
Most likely he’d given the correct answer, but his mind wasn’t really into it.
He wasn’t alone.
Himekaizen Academy was in an uproar since the last two weeks. With the addition of a substantial number of Red Rose Hell students came a small but loud voiced minority of parents who very much supported Principal Kareyoshi’s ideals. For rather obvious reasons another faction of parents reacted with outrage.
While most tried to just watch by the sidelines and hope for the commotion to die down, by now there was no putting the lid back on. Reporters hung around the school for other reasons than stalking Kuri these days, and Ryu suspected only the fact that Himekaizen was part of the organisation handling arrivals kept the board of directors from openly siding with Kareyoshi to quiet down all bad publicity.
He turned the page and continued answering questions while he mused on the outrage that had become routine.
The silence in the classroom belied everyday reality. For this week only his school seemed just like any other school, but when exams were over and done with the fight between factions was bound to start all over with renewed vigour. Which meant Monday.
Another hour and Ryu was done, as were everyone else. He’d make it into the top fifty again, but given that club activities in reality mirrored some strange version of a cram school that really was a setback.
He left the classroom and made his way to the shoe lockers. Indoors shoes switched places with loafers, and with bag in his hand he walked through the doors and onto the gravel separating school building from main gate.
As he was about to leave the school compound there was some kind of commotion behind him. Turning he saw Kuri being withheld by a teacher and Urufu walking towards them both.
Ryu played with the thought of turning back to ask what it was all about, but he abandoned the idea and left school. Whatever problems the staff had in store for Kuri and Urufu, they were more than equipped to handle it themselves.
He came home, ate, bantered with his sister, took a bath, slept, and it wasn’t until Monday, when he returned to school, that he regretted not finding out what it was all about.
It all started with a: “Suspended for cheating?”
It continued in class when their teacher announced a number of students had indeed been suspended for cheating during the midterms. Apparently expulsion was on the table as well.
During lunch the sheer scale of it all became evident, and most of the club members simply skipped all afternoon lessons and went to the Stockholm Haven café.
“Certain about this?” Ryu asked.
“Yeah,” Jirou answered. By now he was thoroughly confident with a computer in his hands, and he showed Ryu a diagram on his screen. A diagram that had to have been enhanced by Kyoko.
“The red zone?” Ryu wondered while he fought down his outrage.
Jirou grimaced and nodded towards Jeniferu-chan and Tomasu-kun. “They gathered the data, but the freshmen aren’t as coordinated as the rest of us.”
The rest of us. That means juniors. We hardy have any seniors as members. “Meaning?”
“Meaning we can’t fully trust the data for the freshmen classes, so, red.”
Ryu bit down on his cake and swallowed some coffee to go with it. It didn’t matter. What he saw on the screen was enough.
“And you’re absolutely certain about this?”
Jirou shrugged. “Certain enough to take it to a newspaper.”
Ryu thought about that for a while, but then he shook his head. “Won’t make any news. People don’t really like Koreans or Chinese anyway.”
Bastard! “Japanese people, fine!” Spending too much time around Urufu had made Jirou far too adamant about semantic precision. “Or at least the racists among us.”
Jirou smirked. “It’s enough with ‘Japanese people’ I’m afraid. To be truthful I’m more than a little ashamed myself.” He stared down at his keyboard before he continued. “I used to think that way myself.” Then he looked back up and met Ryu’s eyes. “It’s wrong, you know that?”
Ryu did, and he nodded. Noriko, not he, almost paid a very dear price for knowing that. And only one of those foreigners you couldn’t trust was there to save her.
“Everyone?” he asked and pointed at the screen.
Jirou nodded. “Everyone. At least among the juniors.”
Shaking his head Ryu clenched his fists. “There’s no way every non Japanese student with above average result cheated.”
“That’s what the data says. And they’re all suspended.”
“Cause Kareyoshi doesn’t want them around when he goes off expelling them all,” Jirou said calmly.
No sensei? Just ‘Kareyoshi’? Watching Jirou’s eyes Ryu finally understood the contempt Jirou felt. In his eyes Principal Kareyoshi no longer deserved any kind of honorific.
“So a couple of weeks from now there won’t be any foreigners at Himekaizen?”
“Fuck you,” Jirou said. “I’m taking this somewhere. Someone is bound to make a ruckus about it.”
Good. Like that backbone. “I’ll help you.” Ryu grinned. “You know what this means?”
Jirou shook his head.
“Revolt. We’re revolting.”