The boy he had pushed moved aside and Ryu quickly bowed. It was his fault, but there hadn’t been any need to push back that hard. He met the eyes of the boy as he rose. They shone with disdaining irritation.
Now that’s a strange reaction.
Then understanding grew. Without his neck tie his second year status was invisible, and Ryu’s uniform was even newer than those of the freshmen. Expulsion rescinded his parents had decided to buy him a new one instead of the one he was bound to grow out of before his third year.
Ryu shot the other boy his most winning smile and moved on. He could take a push or two. Life was perfect after all. Ever since she cheated on him once Kuri had been everything he could ever dream of from a girlfriend.
Despite a schedule packed to the rafters she spent every available moment with him. Admittedly those weren’t as many as he’d want with the new trimester starting and students preparing for the cultural festival, but Ryu wasn’t one to complain as he saw the effort she made to spend time with him.
Ryu fell forward, but being a natural athlete he rolled on his knuckles and came back on his feet.
Now that’s more than just strange. This time it wasn’t him walking into a fellow student. The push from behind had been deliberate.
“No problem,” Ryu said after he turned.
Hitomi? He stared at the girl. Behind me?
There was a sudden sound as if someone had fallen into the shoe lockers.
“Sorry,” Urufu’s voice said behind his back.
“I’ll kill you you...”
Whoever had started speaking went silent and there was another loud crash from the other row of shoe lockers.
“Sorry about that.” Urufu’s voice again.
Ryu turned just in time to see a boy fly face down into the floor.
“He’s got a knife!” Urufu shouted, and all of a sudden Kuri’s bodyguard appeared out of nowhere and dragged the prone boy out on the school yard where the goons from Vogue stood ready to take care of him.
“What the hell?”
“I’m not too fond of you right now, but Christina will have my hide if I allow anything to happen to you,” Urufu said. “That goes for you as well, Hitomi,” he added.
Ryu looked over his shoulder and noticed her with both hands over her mouth.
“What’s going on?”
Ryu backed away from Urufu and stood by Hitomi’s side waiting for Urufu to answer her question.
“The shithead’s trying to scare everyone who returned to Himekaizen away.”
“Urufu. Why the violence?” Hitomi asked.
Ryu watched in amazement how Urufu’s face twisted into fear and rage.
“Someone pushed Noriko down the stairs.” Urufu’s shoulders slumped after the words left his mouth.
Noriko? What the…
“Next time you should break their arms,” Hitomi interrupted his thoughts. “Kuri might be an idiot for making people hate her, but Noriko’s never done anything wrong. You owe her. She’s in love with you, you oaf.”
She was more than just in love with Urufu, but this was their first day at school with the ceremony a mere quarter of an hour finished. Hitomi was unlikely to know how things had developed after most of the club members left the resort.
Ryu studied Urufu’s face. Nothing. The man turned boy just stared at his shoes. “I’ll do something about that,” he said.
“Infirmary. I caught her when she fell.”
Urufu stared outside where two men thoroughly despised by Kuri threw a Himekaizen student into a waiting police car. How did it get here this quick? Kuri, you might want to reconsider your opinion about those goons.
“I used the alarm. Amaya’s really, really, really angry right now.” Urufu’s face twisted into fear again. “Sorry. I have to get back to Noriko.” He turned and ran down the corridor.
Ryu stared after Urufu’s back. “Hitomi, I need to see how she is.”
She slapped him on his back. “Off you go.”
He ran after Urufu just as his girlfriend’s voice reached him, but he didn’t stop.
“Hitomi, you decided to return?”
“Yes. Can’t leave you idiot’s alone,” was the answer he heard.
Despite worrying about his sister Ryu grinned. Maybe a few more would return, and maybe together they’d be able to face whatever Kareyoshi threw after them.
As he arrived at the infirmary Ryu threw open the door and got inside. While it slammed into its slot loud enough to wake anyone who tried to sleep here, the back Ryu saw through the curtains, bent over one bed didn’t move at all.
“I’m not made of glass,” Noriko’s voice said from behind that back side.
Oh, she’s comforting him, not the other way around. Ryu made to take another step inside but hesitated. Urufu together with his sister made ire rise in him, but Urufu had broken her fall after all. Still, that didn’t make it right for him to touch Noriko like that.
Ryu started to move to the curtains when he was suddenly tugged back.
“Oh no, you don’t.”
She dragged him outside, and from the corner of his eyes Ryu saw Hitomi slid the door shut again.
“After we hurt each other, and the rest of you as well, now when we’ve finally moved on you’re not allowed to break those two up.”
What’s with their lack of decency? “She’s my sister and...”
Hitomi’s slap came as an utter surprise.
“Incest-san, get the hell out of my sight and don’t return until you’re ready to crawl on your knees and beg forgiveness!”
“Please don’t hit my boyfriend!”
“The next time I see him doing anything to hurt Urufu or Noriko I’ll kick his balls into his stomach.”
Kuri remained silent after that, and Ryu found no words to use. Next after Kyoko Hitomi pretty much personified the idea of proper and cultivated. An illusion, he knew that, but one she kept to. For her to drop all pretence like this he much have done something extraordinarily ugly.