After the Festival in the Rain (Pt.3)

Throughout his lesson, his leg twitched with agitation. He couldn't concentrate as his mind was filled with worry about Himeko.

It was likely she would be punished, with a suspension being the least of her problems. Something malicious had pushed his sister over the edge, who wasn’t a person to pick fights. Despite her hot-headed nature at times. 

‘What is going on?’ He frowned and lowered his eyes to his textbook, hoping the string of academic sentences before him held some meaning to his question.

‘Can anyone tell me the answer? Kita-kun.’ Duran heard Kato-sensei’s calm and youthful voice call out his name.

And groaned when he noticed the wry expression on his teacher’s femboy face. 

‘Um, sorry Sensei, could you repeat the question?’ he innocently asked.

‘What’s this? The usually attentive Kita-kun wasn’t paying attention? Could it be that your mind is filled with a special someone?’ Kato-sensei teased his defenseless student.

‘Sensei! That's, well... ugh,’ Duran responded in a fluster, which stirred chuckles from the class.

It was true that his mind was filled with a special someone, but definitely not in the romantic sense that his teacher was alluding toward.

‘You’re lucky I’m partial towards matters of the heart. I’ll forgive you this time,’ Kato-sensei said as he moved his attention to another student.

Duran sighed and faced the gathering storm clouds outside the classroom's window.

‘The rainy season's still here,’ he mumbled to himself.

The abrupt twanging from the end-of-lesson bell broke through his troubled thoughts. He hurried to Himeko’s classroom and waited for her by the door.  A frown creased his forehead at the whispered gossip that was directed at him from passing students. Duran eased his frown and tension when he saw Himeko file out of the room with her class.

‘Himeko,’ he called out and saw her make a quick escape down the hallway.

His frown returned.

‘Hey! Sis, wait up!’ he called out to her again and began sprinting toward her, chasing her out of the classroom block and into the central courtyard.

‘HIMEKO!’ He shouted and sighed when she stopped ahead of him.

‘Why are you running away from me?’ He huffed when he had caught up to her, and noticed her bloodshot eyes. ‘Talk to me, sis.’

‘You're annoying, Nii-san, you know that, right?’ She grumbled with a cranky expression.

‘What? How am I annoying, when you're the one running away from me?’ Duran snapped back at her.

His sister heaved a weary sigh that made her shoulders droop. She bowed her head to hide the pent-up tears, which were welling within her dark eyes. 

This expression shocked Duran; not used to seeing his sister's vulnerability.

‘Let's go here.’ He grabbed her arm and forcefully led her away from snooping eyes, towards a bench nestled within a corner between solid brick walls. 

Once they were safe from prying eyes, Himeko's tears rained down her cheeks. Duran had a hard time understanding her explanations between her sobbing and sniffling. 

He was glad he had pocket tissues to give her.  After he had let her cry her woes, eventually she was able to rein in her tears to speak properly. 

It was obvious to Duran why she was running away from him earlier, but he didn't quite understand what had triggered her to attack her classmate.

‘Okay, now tell me what happened. Why did you attack your classmate?’

Himeko growled. ‘She’s one of those lemons who was badmouthing Mei.’

‘Lemons?’ Duran tilted his head to one side, perplexed.

‘Ugh!’ She threw up her hands with frustration. ‘You know, those peeps who blindly follow a leader.’

Duran chuckled. ‘You mean, lemmings.’

‘Whatever, Flush-A Idiot.  She was one of them. Mei kept saying not to bother, but the girl just kept going on and on about Mei being seedy. Then Hayashi entered, she started teasing him.’

‘Him?!’ Duran’s eyes widened with surprise, not picturing anyone brave enough to slander Kou. 

Himeko firmly nodded. ‘She began telling everyone how Hayashi and Mei were getting cozy in the rain, and how she was leading on Fumi-chan and Mikumo too.’ 

Duran frowned. How did that girl get that weird impression from Mei?  Considering she was the most straight lace of all of them. 

‘Why would she say this? It’s not  true!’

‘Baka! The girl saw Mei dancing at the festival with them. That’s why.’ Himeko’s eyes glowered with another thought. 

‘But is that enough to punch her, Himeko?’ 

Himeko groaned with a realization that she had to spell out a lot more to her clueless brother.  She further explained that her close friend, and music club founder, had many girls who were jealous of her.  It seemed that Mei was constantly being used as a girlfriend type comparison for a lot of guys since she was seen as beautiful, smart, and stylish. Not to mention, her parents were wealthy. The girl had no shortage of male interests. Oddly, she either didn’t take notice or curtly turned boys down. 

‘Of course, simps and masochists take Mei’s no’s as gold.’ Himeko growled louder. 

‘Okay. So, that’s Okada-chan. What’s that got to do with you punching some other girl?’

‘She said that Mei was coming on to you too. But the worst was she began saying how Mei was high on drugs, doing a striptease before the guys. That only girls dancing in the rain with a group of guys is the seedy, pornstar, types.’ 

‘You’re serious?!’ Duran gagged, feeling like he wanted to vomit. 

Mei being trash-talked was bad enough. But the girl was also dragging him, Kou, Osamu, and their close friend Fumio into the mix.  

Himeko explained that the nasty gossip was being spread on popular social media circles.  Even people outside their school were getting in on the badmouth Mei bandwagon. Especially, on the Kou and Fumio secret admirer, fan circles within private chat servers. 

‘I get it now.’  He groaned and tilted his head back to stare up at a stormy sky. ‘But you assaulted a student, Himeko. That might go on your record. If dad found out…’

Himeko’s body tensed. Her hands trembled nervously. Duran noticed and held her hand to keep it steady. 

Their father, being a police officer, would have to do a lot of explaining to his superiors if it was found out that Himeko was facing assault charges. 

Still.

‘I’ll support you. Don’t worry. You were only defending Mei, so he shouldn’t be too angry at you for that.’

‘I know, Nii-san, but I did punch the girl, so I'll probably get in trouble.’ Tears began slipping from Himeko's eyes again.

‘Did Harada-sensei mention a suspension?’  His voice was level and calm, doing his best to show his reassurance. 

She shook her head. ‘Harada-sensei said that he can get me off with a warning since the girl did fight back. People saw her slap, Mei. But, the outcome is still with the principal. And I can’t participate in any club activities for a month,’ 

‘She WHAT?!’ Duran’s anger fired up at the thought of the prim and proper Mei being slapped in the face.

‘Yeah.’ It was Himeko’s turn to respond with a calm voice. Seeing her brother’s instant anger had somehow eased her tensions. 

‘Okay. Don’t worry. I’ll see what we can do to get you out of any trouble. But, we’ll need to tell dad, since it’s likely, he’ll find out sooner or later.’  

Himeko sighed. ‘Okay, I’ll let you do it Nii-san. I don’t think I can call him with this.’ 

Duran winced at the task he had to do, but for his sister, he would brace his feelings and tell the man. 

The return to class bell rang about the courtyard. 

‘I won’t be in the clubroom for a while, Nii-san,’  Himeko said when she rose to make her way to her next class. ‘You need to keep the club going.’

Duran nodded and watched her hurry away from him. Then braced himself for a troublesome conversation with his step-father.  He pulled out his smartphone and dialed the man’s number.  The line was connected almost instantly.

‘Duran, what’s wrong?’ Ryuu-chichi firmly asked. 

Duran told him the facts regarding Himeko’s incident, which made him fret and swallow down knots of fear after the call. Although the man’s voice had been solemn and calm, he knew his step-father well enough to tell he was pissed off. 

They were definitely headed for more troublesome times.

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