“And that’s how it is,” Jirou said.
Well that explains why Christina’s gone on a crusade, Ulf thought.
“Urufu, I planned to come back as well, promise.” Then Jirou first looked down and after that glanced at the door to the café proper. “I want to stay with Sango, but I’m too afraid about what would happen to her if she transferred back. I guess I’m not as strong as you.”
Ulf couldn’t answer that. He was enough of a dinosaur to understand why you would want to protect your girl. His own egalitarian ideals be damned. When it came to hurting girls he was just as old fashioned as the morons he despised. In his world hurting boys simply wasn’t as bad. He knew he was wrong in thinking so, but he just didn’t care.
“So we’re staying at Irishima High. I’m sorry.”
Despite fuming with rage Ulf grinned. He couldn’t but feel pride from seeing how what he taught rubbed off. “So you called her and you both got your parents onboard?”
“All six of us,” Jirou said. “I think the rest wanted to stay anyway.”
Jirou grinned. “Sakura and Nori as well.”
That made four.
“Midori and Ando.”
Ulf didn’t know those two had planned to return as well. Two? “When did...”
That bought him a laugh. “Just after midterms. They kept it a secret. But really Urufu! You must have noticed her new hairdo.”
“I’d hate being your girlfriend,” Jirou said and smirked.
“It’s not me you should be apologising to,” Jirou said. He looked down and keyed some more notes for club activities into his laptop. “You know, you’re strange somehow. At times you’re just like the hero of last year’s cultural festival, and then suddenly you’re so socially inept I’m astonished.”
Ulf rose from his chair. The conversation was turning into a direction he didn’t like. “It’s just girls,” he said. “I really don’t get them, even if I pretend I do,” he added.
Pushing the narrow door open Ulf left Jirou and the dangerous topic behind him. There was no way explaining the discrepancies between his experience and the way he looked now. At least understanding girls was a hole in his abilities, a constant since his first days as a high school student, and Ulf hoped that awkwardness was enough to keep up the facade.
Ulf barely made it halfway to the counter before he walked into Sango. Literally. She reeled from the impact and fell backwards just to land on her behind on the other side of the counter.
“Sorry,” he said.
She blushed red. “No it’s my fault.”
“Sango, stop eavesdropping,” Ulf heard from the inner room.
Suddenly the entire café opened up in laughter, and Ulf stared nonplussed at the grinning faces by the table.
“Fine, I’ll believe the part about girls,” Jirou’s said, and Ulf could hear that it was strangely broken as if the guy tried choking down a guffaw.
“Moron,” Sango said, rose, brushed off her skirt and pushed her way past him and vanished into the inner room.
“Moron,” James whispered in a voice that was certain to carry through the entrance and to the street outside.
What did I do now?
Ulf searched the tables for the voice. Back in the corner he saw its owner sharing a table with Kyoko and Hitomi.
If Noriko called him moron-sama he must have made some kind of mistake. Ulf made a mental note to ask her about it when he escorted her back home. Girls crushing on him he was able to read, and girls playing games of power were no problem, but all too often their everyday thoughts and reactions were beyond him.
He nodded at James’ silent question for his order and made his way between the tables.
The club was, he noted, as large as ever before, but only nine members wore the Himekaizen uniform, and officially they weren’t even members since the student council disbanded the club. Or rather Kareyoshi disbanded the club.
Halfway to where Noriko sat Ulf heard the bell above the entrance jingle and even before the door closed again an angry voice reached him.
“Hamarugen-san, what’s the meaning of this?”
Meaning of what? This was slowly turning into one of his idiot days. He turned and met the glare of a senior in a Himekaizen uniform. “How may I be of help, sempai?” Ulf said with as deliberate as excessive formality.
The senior briskly walked between tables and faced Ulf. “What kind of stunt did you pull with the student council?”
Huh? Yes, definitely an idiot day. With a sigh of regret Ulf sat down by the closest table. Sharing some time with Noriko would have to wait. He opened his palm and invited the senior to share his table, and as by silent agreement both of them waited for James to arrive, first with Ulf’s order and a little later a cup of Earl Gray.
During the shared silence Ulf glanced at a stack of papers the senior held in his right hand. The reason for the outrage was probably to be found there.
“So,” Ulf began after they both had their first sip of hot beverage, “could you please fill me in in what way I overstepped this time?”
He got another glare in return.
“Hamarugen-san, we both know you ran the show last year, so when the current student council breaks all tradition it’s clear you’re the one behind it.”
Now Ulf really wanted to know what he had done. “Please enlighten me,” he said. Whatever it was he was certain Kareyoshi or his goons were behind it.
For the first time the stare Ulf got held surprise rather than anger. “Look,” the senior said and placed the stack of paper on the table, “every class and club got tasks assigned for the cultural festival. No voting, no suggesting, just an order to do as we’re told.”
“Kareyoshi you little fuck, why don’t you just go die in the gutter?” Ulf growled.
He stared at eyes widening. He grabbed the papers and as he read irritation grew into anger and wrath.