Royal Academy 為生学園
Episode 2 – A New Transfer
Yukiji Obata liked to walk to school. He woke up at six and was out the door by seven, dressed in his white blazer, tie and black pants.
“Ittekimasu,” he said as he left his house, a traditional Japanese styled manor.
His route was the same every day. It was a ten minute walk to the train station where he waited to board the south line. It wasn’t unusual for other students from different schools to stare at him. They had plenty of reasons to.
“Hey, hey…isn’t that a uniform from that prestigious school?” said a feminine voice behind him.
Isei students on the train were rare since they all had their drivers take them to school. Yuki looked down the railroad tracks and saw the train coming. It would take about twenty minutes till he reached Ogawa station, the stop that would drop him off near Isei. From there it would be a short walk.
The train came to a stop in front of him. The platform began to fill with people, students and businessmen. They all waited for the doors to open and immediately began to board once the entrance was clear for them. Yuki clutched his school bag tightly and calmly boarded. It was because people were in a rush that accidents happened.
Everyone grabbed a seat and so did Yuki. He sat across from a couple of girls in plaid skirts and white shirts, a uniform from a nearby school. They sat close together, peeking up at him occasionally and averting their eyes whenever his gaze neared theirs. Yuki did not mine them, he was fairly used to it.
“He looks like a foreigner,” they said.
“Maybe he’s a European prince visiting.” The girls giggled. “You think so?”
They used hushed tones but were loud enough to be heard. Yuki knew it was because they thought he didn’t understand Japanese. He looked just like his mother; tall and lithe with delicate features. He had fair skin, green eyes and strawberry blonde hair that fell halfway down his back.
“I wonder how long he’s been in Japan,” one of the girls said.
Yuki gave a faint smile. The girls gave a squeal.
“You don’t think he understood us, did he?”
The train stopped at a station and people got on and off. Yuki saw an older woman board. She had a slight limp to her gait. Wordlessly, Yuki stood up and showed her his seat. She looked up at him and smiled.
“Oh my, what a handsome young man. Thank you,” she said.
Yukiji gave a slight bow of his head and took hold of one of the handles that hung on the railing above.
He could hear the girls talking about him again. He paid them no mind. He watched the city outside the windows pass by. This was his second year at Isei. He couldn’t say he missed the politics, but it did feel good to get back into the routine of school. He had really gotten into theatre his first year and planned to continue doing plays. What he really wanted to do though was traditional Japanese dance. To combine theatre and dance into a performance of story.
The train stopped at another station and people got on and off once again. It was Kamikuro station. Yukiji turned around and awaited the only other Isei student to board the train. As if on cue, a red head entered the car. Shibuya Horuichi was dressed in a black blazer, unbuttoned to show his white collared shirt underneath. He caught sight of Yukiji and smiled.
His friend came to stand next to him. Yuki was slightly taller.
“No way,” said hushed whispers. “Another foreigner. And they both go to the same school.” The girls behind them were still there. “That place really is amazing.”
Yuki turned to his friend and gave him a smile.
“Good morning, Horu,” he said.
The girls gasped. “He speaks Japanese…oh no.”
Yukiji chuckled softly and Horuichi looked to the girls then back to Yuki. The train shut its doors and started up again.
“No way. Still getting all the girls to fall for you?” Horuichi said with a slight accent. “Figures. You get better looking every year.”
Yuki shook his head. “Don’t be silly and I don’t do it on purpose. Girls fall for me all on their own.”
“That’s even worse.”
He really didn’t do anything to encourage them. Perhaps being as courteous as he was didn’t help, but it wasn’t in him to be rude.
Horuichi clapped a hand on his shoulder.
“I’m telling you, this is the year for love,” Horu said. Yuki rolled his eyes. “I’m serious. Fortune is coming my way.”
Yukiji raised an eyebrow at him.
“Our way, I mean. But hey, you don’t really need any luck. In fact, perhaps pass some off to me,” the red head said.
“Plenty of girls like you, Horu.”
“Yeah? Then why haven’t you introduced me?!” Horuichi turned around to the girls that sat behind them. “What do you girls think? I have a shot at love this year?”
The girls looked at him then gave a shy glance towards Yukiji. Horuichi wasn’t bad looking, but his nose was a bit big and his chin sharp. His slanted eyes were a dark brown and his hair a rusty orange color.
“I think I prefer your friend,” one of the girls said.
“Oh come on. You wouldn’t even have one date with me?” Horu asked.
The girls exchanged looks and giggled. Horuichi turned back to Yuki.
“Strike one?” Yuki asked.
“That doesn’t count.”
He chuckled. The train stopped and the giggling girls got off. They only had a few stops to go now.
“So what are your plans this semester?” Yuki said.
“Of course not.”
“I don’t think I have many plans. I’m sticking to Judo. I just want to get through Isei in one peace. You know Himise is in our class this year.” Horuichi gave a shudder. “She scares me. I think she really was an empress in her last life. One who chopped off plenty of heads.”
Himise Sarako was in class 2-A. The same class as Yukiji, but it didn’t matter much to him since he had to deal with her when he turned in student reports. She was head of the student council after all. If he had a choice, Yukiji would have definitely stayed away from her.
“And you? Still planning on doing theatre?” Horuichi asked.
Yuki nodded. “I want to put on a show for the cultural festival. A traditional dance perhaps.”
“You’ve seriously been considering pursuing dance, huh? Have you told your parents? I don’t think they put you in lessons thinking you’d want to dance as more than a hobby.”
Yukiji’s parents owned inns and onsens, hot springs. However, they indulged him in any desire he had. They allowed him to take acting and dance lessons. It was far from the family business, and only started out as a hobby.
“I haven’t told them,” Yuki said.
“Because they might cancel your lessons?”
“They wouldn’t do that. I’m the second oldest. They have my brother.”
Horuichi looked at him. “I guess you’re right.”
Yukiji watched the trees passing outside the windows. His older brother wanted to study business, so that he could perhaps start his own one day. A secret he had shared with Yuki. He was working hard in university. On the promise that he would make good grades and score within the top twenty percent of his class, Yuki’s parents had accepted his path. It would be up to Yuki to take over the family business if his brother chose to do something else. If he couldn’t even confess this to his best friend, how would he ever be able to tell his parents and his brother about his wishes?
“You’re lucky in every aspect aren’t you?” Horuichi said. “If I don’t score in the top fifty, my father won’t hesitate to ship me off to Ireland. He thinks I’ll learn something from hard labor. I don’t want to live on a potato farm though.”
Yuki chuckled. “Potato farming would suit you.”
“Oh, shut up.”
Yuki ruffled his friend’s hair. Horuichi shooed at him.
They talked as they rode the train. It only took two more stops till they reached Ogawa station in the town of Kiseirei. They got off the south line and began to walk the beautiful streets. Kiseirei was full of ornate lampposts, green trees, and shrubs. The occasional bench decorated the clean sidewalks. There were plenty of boutiques, small bakeries, and even an arcade. Kiseirei was home to Isei academy and attracted many people who had the money to indulge in its many entertainments. The north end of Kiseirei was a bit more affordable and attracted a variety of people with its restaurants, night clubs, karaoke bars and shopping centers. It was very popular at night. This was probably why Isei set a curfew for their students at nine. Any Isei student caught past nine in the North was sent to the student council president, Himise Sarako for disciplinary correction. The second time involved parents and the third strike got you a sit down with the chairman.
Luckily, Yukiji and Horuichi only had to worry about getting to homeroom on time. Although it was nice to leisurely enjoy the morning sights of Kiseirei, they only had thirty minutes to get to school.
“Hey, who is that?” Horuichi said.
Yuki followed his gaze and looked across the street. There was an Isei student, a girl in a black blazer, carrying a black bag and holding her books against her chest. Her light brown hair was pulled into a ponytail and her uniform neat and pressed. Yuki didn’t recognize her from Isei’s junior academy. She kept looking around, eyes darting as if searching for something. She walked one way, stopped, then walked another way.
Like the train, it was rare to see other Isei students walking the streets.
“I’ve never seen her. A first year perhaps,” Yuki said, watching the girl. She looked frantic.
“You don’t think she’s lost do you?” Horu asked.
Yuki watched her look at her phone. She was worried about the time. He had to get to class as well, but he couldn’t just walk away knowing she might be lost. It seemed unfair. While his friend was busy considering what to do, Yuki began to cross the street. He was about four paces away when the girl noticed him. Her big, brown eyes widened. Her nose and cheeks were red from the chill of the morning air and her hair slightly frizzy.
“Do you need help getting to Isei?” Yuki asked.
The girl just stared at him for a moment.
“U-uh, yeah. I forgot which street it was on…,” she said.
Yuki heard Horuichi come running up.
“Well, my friend and I are on our way there—”
“Why don’t you join us?” Horuichi said with too much enthusiasm.
The girl looked away. “Perhaps you could just tell me which way?…”
Yuki didn’t know whether she was just too shy or just didn’t like them, but he nodded.
“Nonsense! We can’t let a pretty girl like you walk all alone,” Horuichi said.
The girl stammered something, but Horuichi was already shooing her back across the street with him. Yukiji sighed and smiled, but followed. With the girl in tow, they headed for Isei. She was quiet and walked slightly behind them. Yuki looked back at her and felt a bit bad for getting her wrapped up with his zealous friend and his quest for love.
“So, why didn’t your parents have a driver drop you off?” he asked. “That’s what most Isei students do.”
The girl looked up. “Oh, umm…I didn’t want to cause any trouble for them. A-and it’s a nice morning. Good exercise.”
Yuki chuckled. “I guess you’re right.”
“What about you? You’re…Obata-san, student representative, right? You walk to school?” she asked.
“Hey, you know my name too right?” Horuichi asked. The girl shook her head. Yukiji suppressed another laugh, which earned him a teasing scowl from his friend.
“I prefer to take the train and walk with my friend,” Yuki said. The girl looked shocked.
“What’s your name? You’re an underclassman, I assume. First year at Isei?”
The girl suddenly bowed, her face slightly red.
“I’m in class 1-B…Takeda Nonoka, first year. It’s nice to meet you, Obata-senpai,” she said.
Yuki gave a small bow back and smiled.
“And I’m Shibuya Horuichi. The coolest upperclassman of class 2-A,” his friend said.
Takeda pursed her lips. “Umm…I don’t know about that,” she murmured.
Yukiji laughed and Horuichi complained, trying to prove his case.
When they began to get close to Isei, they started seeing polished, expensive cars with tinted windows pass. The cars turned up ahead, turning onto the long stretch of road that would take them up to Isei’s front gates. The freshman, Takeda, stopped walking and bowed to them both.
“Senpai, thank you for showing me the way. I think I’ll go ahead now,” she said.
“Huh? No need to leave now—,” Horuichi began to say, but the new girl ran off, heading to the corner and running up the gentle sloping road.
“And she’s gone. She was really cute though.” Horu said. They began to walk again, following the same path.
Yuki chuckled. “Maybe being in the presence of the coolest upperclassman of 2-A was too much for her.”
His friend gave a smile, looking in the direction the girl had ran.
* * *
Yukiji was well in his seat before the first bell of the day could ring. He sat in the second to last row, first seat. Horuichi was just a desk over, diagonal from him. The classroom was full of chatter that immediately died as the door swung open and Himise Sarako appeared. She wore a white blazer like Yukiji and kept her long, straight hair down. Her dark eyes were unreadable as she stood in the doorway. Two girls followed behind her, one with fake eyelashes and pink lip gloss and another with hoop earrings and dyed blonde hair. They entered the classroom as if they owned it. Only the two girls wore a smug look; Himise gave a cold stare. She didn’t acknowledge anyone, not even the professor. Black stockings covered her legs and her skirt touched the top of her thighs as she walked towards her seat near the back, first row. Yuki was glad he didn’t have to sit by her. The seat next to her was always empty.
As soon as Himise was seated, the bell rang. The teacher stepped up to the front of the class, a man Yuki recognized from his junior years, professor Nagoya. His broad shoulders and muscled biceps looked too big for his button down shirt.
“Stand,” Mr. Nagoya said. The students rose as usual.
Yuki bowed with the rest of his classmates.
“Good morning,” they said.
Nagoya nodded. His eyes were small, his skin tanned and his jaw was square and dark with hair. He was stern looking man and strict when it came to physical health and education.
“Take your seats,” Mr. Nagoya said. They all began to sit. “Except for you Mr. Obata.”
Yuki, in the middle of sitting, stood up straight.
“Yes sir,” he said.
“I’d like to see you for a second.”
Yukiji left his seat and went to the teacher, unsure of what warranted a talk so early in the day. The muscled teacher turned towards the board, lowering his voice to speak to him.
“I’d like you to introduce a new student to the class. A transfer,” Nagoya said.
Yuki was surprised, but he kept quiet.
“He’s from a major family. I want you to help him get settled in and make sure he doesn’t have any problems here at Isei.”
“I mean it, no rumors, fights or trouble. I want Isei to look like a school full of angels.”
“You can trust me Mr. Nagoya,” Yuki said, but his teacher gave him a skeptical look. “What’s his name?”
He froze. It was a name he hadn’t heard in five long years. The name of his former best friend.
“Did you say…Ueno Shiro?”
It had been in their fifth year of primary school that Shiro had disappeared without a word. Yuki had to hear from his teacher that he had been sent to a boarding school in England, leaving Yuki to finish his last year alone.
“Yes,” Nagoya said. “His family is important to Isei and the chairman, so don’t mess this up,” he said in a harsh whisper before turning back around and walking to his desk, waiting for Yuki to do as he was told.
Yukiji stared at the board a bit too long before he turned to the class. Some students were watching with eager eyes, a few with indifference, and some with mild contempt. Not everyone liked his popularity.
“We have a new transfer,” he said, voice confident despite how he was feeling. “I’d like you to welcome Ueno Shiro to class 2-A.”
The door slid open and Ueno Shiro stepped into the class. He looked the same as Yuki had remembered him, sleek black hair, dark eyes and a handsome face, except now, Yuki couldn’t read his expression. He seemed different, more distant. He wasn’t sure he was even the same person he had knew.
The door closed behind him and Shiro walked to stand next to Yukiji. Yuki quickly looked away, not wanting to meet his gaze and unsure if he even still remembered him. It had been five years after all. A lot had changed in that time.
“It’s nice to meet you all. I look forward to spending the year together,” Shiro said, bowing. His voice had gotten deeper since Yuki last heard it.
“It’s good to have you, Mr. Ueno,” the professor said. “You can take a seat in the second row, next to Ms. Himise.”
The class remained absolutely silent, all eyes watching Shiro as he calmly made his way to his new seat. He sat his bag down and seated himself. Next to him, Himise seemed indifferent. She didn’t even look at him, nor did he turn to greet her. Yukiji could practically feel the coldness radiating off of them. He took his seat once more, heart suddenly racing with his nervousness. What would he say to Shiro? What could he say after he left him to the cruel teasing of primary school students? Shiro had been his only friend in a world of children that ridiculed him for his blonde hair and green eyes. He knew it wasn’t Shiro’s fault; the teasing or him leaving, but it didn’t stop him from feeling abandoned by his friend.
Mr. Nagoya began the class. Yuki bit his lower lip and tried to concentrate. He just needed to focus on his studies. It had been a long time since they talked. They never even got to write each other. Even if Shiro remembered him, he doubted he would mean anything to him anymore. After five years of separation, their friendship was dead.
To be continued…
Next time on Royal Academy…
Episode 3 – Waltz
“We’re two different people now, in two different worlds.”