Sunday, 7 May 2017
Chapter five, 2017, defeat, segment two
“How bad is it?”
Had she been as vulgar as Jeniferu-chan Noriko guessed she’d have spat on the floor, or something equally graphic to answer that question.
She wished she was.
Noriko stared across the table. A few weeks earlier the inner room would have been filled with Himekaizen students and a smattering of club members from Irishima High.
She wished Urufu was here, but he was busy working, and this time he’d brought her brother, Yukio and Kyoko with him.
She bit her lower lip and turned to face Hitomi-chan. “You should know.”
Hitomi-chan smiled but shook her head. “Sorry, but I’ve been busy the last couple of weeks.”
The room looked larger now when it wasn’t crowded with students, but it was far from empty.
A few weeks earlier there would only have been a smattering of Irishima High club members. Now they were in majority.
“What is it like?” Noriko asked to change the subject.
Hitomi-chan combed that fantastic hair of her with both hands. “Smaller,” she said.
You’re way too obvious, Noriko thought. But for Kuri Hitomi-chan could have been the girl most admired in their grade, and now she could again. Even Noriko had to admit she looked absolutely gorgeous in the old-fashioned sailor uniform of Irishima High.
“Half a dozen,” Noriko said and answered the first question. “You included,” she added.
By Hitomi-chan’s side Jirou-sempai and Sango-chan sat, fingers locked and sharing a quizzical glance at Noriko.
Well, you don’t look all that different from before, Noriko observed. Old fashioned or not, they weren’t morons at Irishima High, and the boys didn’t have to wear their gakuran during summer.
Jirou-sempai wore more or less the same white shirt and black trousers he would have hadn’t he been expelled for refusing to leave the club.
In Sango-chan’s case it was a little different. There was no way the sailor uniform could be mistaken for a Himekaizen summer uniform.
“And in total?” Hitomi-chan wanted to know.
Noriko closed her mouth. She knew her lips were a thin line of irritation, but she didn’t care. “A dozen just stopped coming, and there’s another seven waiting for their expulsion notice.”
“I hope we’ll be in the same class again.”
With a shrug, just like Urufu did, Noriko smiled. “Still waiting, but yes, it would be good to know someone over there.”
“Urufu-kun as well.”
“I doubt he’ll transfer,” Noriko said. She felt a little ashamed, especially as she had come to think better of Hitomi-chan since the start of their second year. Still, telling the beauty exactly why none of the arrivals would be expelled was out of the question, because that meant telling her about the arrivals in the first place.
“Look, you of anyone should stop talking trash about him. Sure, he’s not among the top 50, but he’s not an idiot.”
Noriko stared at Hitomi-chan. You’re defending Urufu from me. What the hell? The absurdity became too much for her, and soon Noriko broke down in hysterical laughter. Her stomach hurt, but she couldn’t help herself. Months of pent up frustration and fear welled up in her, and she laughed and laughed and laughed.
“Think she needs help?”
Which brought out another round of guffaws.
Hitomi-chan came around the table and helped Noriko, who had fallen to the floor in hysterical laughter, and helped her to her feet. “It’s not that fun, you know. You could go to Waseda, or maybe even Toudai.”
Noriko sobered up and nodded. She wanted to hear what Hitomi-chan had to say.
“But Urufu can’t, and I believe he’s fit to teach there,” Hitomi-chan continued. “I saw what happened to him, and he never stopped giving us his all here. We owe him more than laughter.”
Noriko’s feelings for Hitomi-chan rose from mere goodwill to true respect. “You know I love him don’t you?” Noriko said without thinking.
This time it was Hitomi-chan’s turn to laugh. “I wondered for a moment. Your saying he wouldn’t transfer pissed me off.”
Noriko stared at the almost perfect face. While she was pretty certain Hitomi-chan had never been infatuated with Urufu, Noriko also suspected the girl must have given him more than just a cursory thought. Not taking any chances here. Urufu had fallen for Kuri, and there were no guarantees he wouldn’t fall for beauty once more. “I’d never go behind his back. When he behaves like a moron I tell him to his face. He won’t transfer because he doesn’t have to.” That had to do as an explanation. Hitomi-chan could read in as much as she wanted of underhanded connections or even outright bribes.
From her face Noriko could see Hitomi-chan accepted that answer. “And you?”
That was the question Noriko originally had prepared for, and the one she had only partially answered earlier. “I don’t know. Soon I guess. We should be expelled this week at latest, and after that we’ll all transfer to Irishima High.”
“My father is in politics,” Hitomi-chan suddenly said. “He said he can’t understand what Kareyoshi’s doing.”
Noriko noted the lack of an honorific. When it came to the bastard not a single club member offered him the respect an honorific would mean. She understood it made them exactly as unjapanese as the pig said, and she didn’t care one iota.
“He has his own agenda,” Noriko said, and she heard how weak that sounded.
“Half a dozen of the school’s top fifty, and not a single one of those expelled in the bottom half.”
“Top thirty,” Noriko mumbled.
“I checked. We’re all in the top thirty, if we’re in the top fifty at all.” The club had the highest concentration of top students by a very wide margin. It didn’t start that way, but Urufu’s teaching methods finally made the impact he promised all along. Their last finals as freshmen came as a surprise, and the midterms results for all practical purposes killed off Kareyoshi’s dreams of scaring them all into submission.
“I’m sure our principal will be ecstatic,” Hitomi-chan said.
Noriko listened to her voice dripping with sardonic venom. It doesn’t go well together with your looks.
“Yeah, Irishima High is kind to care for us dropouts,” Noriko said, and she sounded just the same.