Sports festival came and passed without much ado during Urufu’s suspension. Then he returned and Kuri got temporarily booted out of school, as expected for her public stunt on the school yard.
Noriko didn’t have much of a problem with that. Principal Kareyoshi might be a rabid dog, but you just didn’t challenge authority that way in Japan. Secretly she was certain you didn’t in Sweden for that matter.
Then the principal called everyone to a morning meeting in the gym and placed the blame for every mishap during the sports festival squarely on Urufu, Kuri and a trio of Korean girls, one of whom had been forced out of the planning committee just like Urufu.
Noriko merely felt unease when the students shrugged off the accusations aimed at the Koreans; she was just too used to it, but she felt genuine surprise as almost the entire gym exploded in outrage when Urufu and Kuri were included.
Three days later every member of the, by now defunct, Himekaizen Cultural Exchange Club was suspended for refusing to quit the club and join another of Principal Kareyoshi’s choosing.
Another two days later those suspensions were rescinded after the parents involved forced a meeting with the board of directors. Over ten percent better exam results compared to the other students was just the kind of argument that couldn’t be overlooked.
By now the journalists stalking the school grounds weren’t only paparazzi looking for an opportunity to harass Kuri, but also people from more well known media outlets interested in what was happening at the school.
Principal Kareyoshi was livid, and issued one rule after another, all with nationalistic and racist undertones.
Unsurprisingly the student body revolted. This wasn’t Red Rose Hell.
So the principal dissolved the entire student council and had the members replaced with students he picked. Which turned out to be in direct violation of the rules set up by the school. Which in turn left the entire school in angry chaos when Kuri returned just in time to start preparing for mid terms together with everyone else.
Noriko grumbled as she recalled the last frantic weeks, but now wasn’t the time to be angry. Now was the last week of club activities before all clubs shut down in preparation of exams.
In the case of the, highly unofficial, Himekaizen Cultural Exchange Club, that meant an extra week of studying the Urufu way before everyone started cramming like idiots.
She sat in the inner room of the Stockholm Haven Café, close to the fire cabinet Urufu bought together with James during spring break. Fire cabinet, not a safe, Urufu had said. Noriko wasn’t entirely certain she got the difference. It looked very much like a safe.
Voices reached her through the door from the café proper. It was packed, as usual. Even more so since Kareyoshi’s decree that students were forbidden to visit. These days students sat here long after what was proper, something made possible since the vice principal of Irishima High made an issue of spending his evenings here together with a few of his staff.
This specific day he sat in the inner room and watched Urufu walk from white board to white board where small groups of students attacked one of the strange problems he had created. At least they were strange for the Irishima High freshmen.
A few of them stared after Urufu long after he left for the next white board. Most of those girls.
Noriko grumbled some more.
She brushed her bangs from her forehead and reluctantly acknowledged that she had no right to grumble. With her brother openly going out with Kuri and Nao all but gone from school, with a modelling schedule to rival Kuri’s, Urufu had naturally taken on the role of a benign king among the students, one with an absolute integrity, and one which he had proven he was willing to fight for.
When she gave the freshmen girls a closer look Noriko saw more of adoration than the signs of a crush.
“Urufu, could you help me a little?” she said. Not that she needed any help, but she wanted her share of his attention.
He looked over his shoulder from where he stood surrounded by Himekaizen and Irishima High students by a blackboard, and shot her a smile. “Just finishing this, then I’m all yours.”
You shouldn’t say things like that. But because he did Noriko had decided not to give up. He knew her feelings, so she had nothing to lose.
A few whispered words from the large table in the middle of the room had her switch her attention from Urufu to the whispering students.
Oh, I didn’t mean it to sound like that. Wakayama Noriko needing help from Urufu with school only added to the rumours surrounding him.
As if he needed it. He no longer wore loafers but western style business suit shoes, and he even used a matching belt. Somehow Urufu almost managed to make his school uniform look like a business suit. Shirts that made Kuri raise her eyebrows helped. They barely conformed to school regulations and apparently cost a fortune.
“Excuse me, do you really need his help?”
Noriko turned to face the woman who had sat silently in the room the entire evening. She was a member of the PTA, one who wasn’t convinced that Principal Kareyoshi was a full blown sociopath. Moreover she had a hard time with any student who openly opposed his principal.
“Hamarugen-san’s knowledge is first class. It’s only his Japanese that’s poor,” Noriko said. She heard how defensive she sounded.
“How could a foreigner possibly understand the subjects in Japanese education?”
Oh come on! Because math is different in Japan?
“Hamarugen-san, could you please clarify the last part?”
That was Vice Principal Noguchi from Irishima High.
Urufu threw him a look and smiled. “Of course, sensei.”
Noriko slowly grasped what was happening. Noguchi-sensei just handed Urufu another opportunity to thoroughly destroy Kareyoshi’s credentials.
“Since anyone in academic circles is aware that physics mostly is applied math it only makes sense to reverse the dependency in an educational situation.”
“What I’m trying to say is that using physics problems when explaining math creates a context that makes it easier to grasp how and why math works the way it does.”
Noriko stared at Urufu. You do know the sexiest part with you is your brains? Then she blushed furiously.
The PTA representative gave her a scrutinising look.