Royal Academy 為生学園
Episode 4 – Rinse and Repeat
It was a morning like every other. Sakurano Shuhei rode in the back of the car with the streets of Kiseirei passing by the tinted windows. He kept his legs crossed as he gazed out, eyes unfocused. The shops, stores, morning commuters and clean sidewalks meant nothing to him. He saw them every day. He came back to reality when he felt the car pull to a stop.
“Are you listening? I said I’m getting out first,” a female voice said.
Shuhei looked at the girl besides him. She was petite and cute, wearing a white blazer with her hair pulled into two pigtails. He gave her one of his smiles.
“Don’t want to be seen with your brother?”
The girl looked disgusted.
“I hate the way your fans ogle you and make fools of themselves,” she said. “It’s unbefitting. Stop letting them dirty the Sakurano name.”
The car had pulled up to a u-shaped driveway that stopped at Isei’s common area. It was where all students were dropped off, including the royal five. Many of their fans waited before class at the drop off area to greet them. Shuhei looked out of the tinted windows to see a group of black blazers, girls and guys. The female students knew his car and awaited with eager expressions. He could already hear them calling out his name, hoping to catch a glimpse of his smile, or perhaps be favored with a few words on how pretty they looked today. Shuhei turned back to his sister.
“Your big brother only needs you as his number one fan,” he said.
The girl rolled her eyes. “Shut up, Shuhei. I’d never lower myself like that.”
Shuhei held a hand to his chest as if his heart ached.
“At least call me big brother, Koyomi.”
The driver opened the door for Koyomi Sakurano and the sound of the waiting student’s anticipation came to Shuhei’s ears. His sister got out of the car, standing straight and proud. She looked at Shuhei.
Shuhei watched her walk off. She approached the crowd and they parted for her like the Red Sea, many of the guy’s eyes downcast and humble.
“That wasn’t cute of you Koyomi-chan,” Shuhei said.
The driver shut the door and came around to open the other. Shuhei got out when he opened is door. His door faced the students so a high pitched cheer went up as soon as his feet touched the ground. Shuhei stepped out of the car, adjusting his clothes. He wore his white blazer without a tie or undershirt. Only a gold chained necklace could be seen atop of the triangle of chest exposed. His brown hair was styled to have his wavy bangs curve to the side.
He took his bag from the driver and was ready to start the day. And automatic smile spread on his face as he faced the crowd. A few feet away, another car pulled up. The students erupted into a bigger cheer. Shuhei paused. Only he warranted such cries, even Yukiji didn’t have such a strong reaction among the students. He had to control his expression as he turned to see Ueno Shiro step out of a car.
Some of his fans raced over to get a better look at Shiro. Shuhei was taller, and tanned. He didn’t know what the girls liked about the pale skin and jet black hair of Ueno or his arrogant silence. Shuhei had gone through the trouble of inviting him to the second floor for lunch but when he tried to talk to Shiro all he got was “I’d like to enjoy my lunch quietly, thank you.” Truthfully, Shuhei thought he had the potential to be a royal, but he hated his attitude.
Ueno glanced over at him. Shuhei waved a hand and gave a friendly smile, but Ueno didn’t return it. Shuhei raised a brow and began to walk over to him. The girls went wild, screaming for his attention and frantic over seeing the two males in one place. Shuhei stood in front of Ueno, who looked at serious and cold as ever. His dark eyes reminded him of Sarako’s, except they lacked the contempt and cruelty she carried.
“Didn’t you see me waving? It would be rude not to return a greeting to an upperclassman,” Shuhei said.
Ueno Shiro looked at him. He was a few inches shorter.
“Good morning, Sakurano-senpai,” he said.
“Morning. And call me Shuhei.”
Ueno glanced past him as if he wanted to leave already. Shuhei had never been irritated so quickly by an underclassman.
“No thanks,” Ueno said.
The other students couldn’t hear them so Shuhei kept a smile on his face, as if they were having friendly banter; however, Ueno made it clear that they weren’t friends. Everyone liked Sakurano Shuhei, and if they didn’t, they made sure not to get in his way.
Shuhei leaned in closer to Shiro, still smiling.
“You’re going to have to learn how to survive here, Ueno-kun,” Shuhei said. “Isei can be a tough place. It’s easy to make enemies.”
For once, Ueno gave him more than a blank look. His lips pulled into the smallest of smirks as he met his eyes.
“You’re right. I hope you don’t cross the wrong person, Sakurano-senpai. You have a reputation to keep after all.”
The dark haired male moved past him, and like Koyomi, the crowd parted and some even followed him. Shuhei watched him go. His lips twitched but remained fixed into a smile. He wasn’t angry, in fact, he wanted to laugh. Ueno was sharp tongued and quick on his feet. It seemed he wouldn’t be pushed around very easily. But everyone eventually bowed to the Sakurano name. Shuhei took his leave as well, moving into the crowd that parted for him. He wondered how long Ueno Shiro would believe he could do things his own way. The thought made him smile genuinely. It seemed Isei would become more interesting after all.
The pride of Isei was definitely Sakurano Shuhei. Teachers spoke his name proudly, and gave him breaks on his studies if he had a basketball game, though he didn’t really need it. People treated him as if he were true royalty. Perhaps in their eyes he was. Not only at school did he receive praise, but everywhere he went as the eldest son and heir to the Sakurano name. He had only to mention his family name and people willing let him eat on the house, or gave him gifts, or perhaps free tickets to an amusement park or show. Everyone wanted to get in a good word with His parents. And at best, secure their patronage; however, the Sakurano’s were strict about who they did business with. They were proud and refined. Shuhei certainly had to live up to the name. This was his life.
The school days always seemed to pass by quickly. He was in his last year at Isei and it was no different than the first two years. Show up, go to class, eat lunch and be the handsome prince everyone expected him to be. The bell rung for lunch and Shuhei stood with his classmates to bow and be dismissed. As soon as class was over, his friends came to greet him. Shuhei returned their fake smiles with his own. They were not people of any mention, just guys that wanted to be close to him and his fortune. He didn’t care. There was only two ways people moved up in the world: by their own sweat and blood, and by licking the heels of those above them. He couldn’t blame them for wanting to get ahead in life.
Shuhei left the classroom with his flock of friends and took the stairs down to the second floor. It was always second years and first year’s that were the most obsessed with him. The third years retained enough pride to at least not fall apart at the sight of him and humiliate themselves with their desperate need for attention.
Shuhei stopped once he noticed a girl in his path wasn’t moving aside. She stood with her hands behind her back, a second year in a black blazer. Her hair was dark and Shuhei could tell her blue eyes were given to her through contact lenses. She put on far too much make up, and fidgeted nervously.
One of Shuhei’s friends, a guy from the basketball team, stopped near the girl. Amezuke was tall, handsome and athletic, not unpopular himself. The girl froze, then slowly looked up at his tall figure. He put hands in his pockets and gave her a cold stare.
“Hey, don’t you see us walking?” Amezuke said.
“Y-yes, I just wanted—“
“Then tell me, are you blind, or just stupid?”
The girl’s face reddened. She looked away. Everyone that passed in the hallways gazed, but didn’t stop. The other guys chuckled at Amezuke’s question.
“Are you going to keep us here waiting for your answer?” Amezuke said.
Another guy, a bit shorter with a shaved head spoke. “We get cranky when we’re hungry.” He made the others chuckle.
The girl’s eyes widened slightly. She looked up with dread in her eyes and her cheeks red.
“I’m…I’m just…stupid. Sorry,” she said.
Amezuke raised a hand. The girl flinched but he merely patted her head.
“It’s alright. Not everyone here comes from a rich and intelligent household,” he said. “Now move along—“
“Wait,” Shuhei said. Amezuke stopped. “You guys go on ahead.”
They looked at him but didn’t question. Amezuke shrugged and walked away with the other guys. Shuhei approached the girl. After what happened, she had unshed tears in her eyes.
“What’s behind your back?” Shuhei asked. “I’m sure you stopped me for good reason.”
She blushed again, but this time for a different reason. She brought her hands forward, and presented him with a box, wrapped in a green and blue cloth.
“I made this for you…hoping…you’d accept my confession,” she said. “I like you Sakurano-senpai.”
If anything, he thought she was brave. Shuhei reached out and took the wrapped box. The girl’s face brightened.
“Does that mean?…”
He stepped forward and leaned in to get closer. His voice spoke low, whispered for only her ears.
“Thanks, but I’d never go out with such a plain girl.”
He straightened, smoothed down his blazer, then brushed past her with the box in hand. He headed down the next flight of stairs. The first year girls seemed even more excited and frantic at his arrival. He smiled at waved at them as they called out his name. He tried not to scare freshmen, and they knew their place far better than second years.
Shuhei walked straight to the cafeteria. The students parted for him as always, and watched him as he strode across the polished first floor of the cafeteria. Up head, he heard more excited chatter. Shuhei easily spotted the long blonde hair of class 2-A’s president and the red-headed Horuichi Shibuya. The girls around them giggled and hid their blushing faces behind books and binders as they walked together. It was obvious they weren’t heading towards the second floor once they kept their course straight for the back doors. Shuhei quickened his steps till he was close behind them. He laid a hand on both of their shoulders.
Yukiji turned around to look up at him, surprised.
“Shuhei-senpai. What are you still doing down here?…” Yuki said.
“I could ask the same of you. I think you’re going the wrong direction.” Shuhei glanced at Horuihci who shrugged.
“Been avoiding the second floor?” Shuhei asked. “Or me?”
They were both silent. Horuichi looked at Yuki. Shuhei might have questioned it but Yukiji chuckled.
“Of course not. I just wanted a bit of change,” Yuki said.
“If you want some fresh air, you could just use the terrace.”
Yukiji nodded in silence. Shuhei raised a brow.
“Is there another reason?”
“No,” Yuki and Horuichi both said.
Shuhei wasn’t an idiot, but how obvious they made it that there was another reason brought a small smile and a chuckle to his lips. Yuki was never really good at hiding his thoughts. Something was bothering him, but he’d have to let it go for now. Pressing the issue wouldn’t get him anywhere. Although, his laughter seemed to have lightened the mood before Yuki gave him a smile.
“Come and eat with me, Yuki,” Shuhei asked. “Risa probably misses you too.”
“Oh, Risa,” Horuichi said. “This year, our love will surely be recognized.”
This time Shuhei and Yuki laughed together.
“What? This is the year for love you know! Risa will see that she’s destined to be with the great Horuichi Shibuya.”
“I wouldn’t tell her that if I were you, Shibuya,” Shuhei said. “She’d probably beat those crazy thoughts right out of your head.”
“I like tough women,” he said.
Yuki shook his head. “You’ve got to admire his tenacity.”
“Right.” Shuhei chuckled. “Now, eat with me?”
The blonde and red head looked at each other again then back at Shuhei.
“Sure, let’s go.”
The second floor of the cafeteria had its own serving station were all sorts of foreign and Japanese foods were served. It was of the highest quality and the variety of selection was more than the simple students of Isei could imagine. The floors were a warm, polished wood, with lacquered round tables, cushioned chairs, and dim lighting that made it seem more like a private café. There was even a lounge area, with sofas, love sets and a coffee table. The food serving area was a circular station that acted more like a bar. Its counters were clean and rotating stools sat in from of them. Behind, the cooks and barista fixed food and drink. The far wall was mostly windows that lead out to a terrace with more tables, chairs and a beautiful view of Kiseirei. The wonderful smell of delicious, freshly cook foods, hot teas, and coffees filled the air and it seemed the noise of regular school life always drifted away when on the second floor.
Shuhei went up the stairs and saw the familiar faces of lunch. His friends gathered at the lounging area, chuckling and talking about girls and basketball. Only those close to the Royals of Isei ever got the chance to dine on the top floor. Among the lucky few were his friends, Horuichi, and those that followed Risa Jones and Sarako Himise around. Shuhei turned his eyes to one of the girls in question. As always, Sarako sat at the first table near the window, a warm cup of tea in her slender fingers. The two girls at the table with her were Karan and Ayami. Karan applied blush to her cheeks with a compact and Ayami, with her bleached, blond hair ranted about the latest scandals on the SNS.
Risa Jones sat at the bar with three girls however, she turned around once she heard Yukiji and Horuichi arrive.
“Oh, Yuki-kun! You came to eat,” she said, getting up from her seat to greet them. She looked like an actress with her clear skin, big eyes and thick, brown ringlets of hair. Instead of a black bowtie, Risa wore a big, yellow bow. It matched the headband she wore. The color of her bow and hair accessories occasionally changed.
Shuhei raised a hand and smiled. “Hey Ri—“
“Hello Shuhei,” she said, moving past him. “Where have you been? Hiding away again?” she asked Yukiji.
Shuhei rolled his eyes and looked at around to see one more face. Asegawa Nori stood at the small wall of railing, looking down at the students below. She was alone, which wasn’t a surprise. Shuhei rarely saw her talking to other students. He turned away and looked at Sarako who met his eyes. He walked over to her table. He could tell from one look that she wanted to talk to him. At his approach, Karan and Ayami looked up, stopping their pampering and chatter. Shuhei waved at them.
“Hello ladies,” he said.
“Good afternoon, Sakurano-senpai,” they said.
Without casting her gaze away from Shuhei, Sarako spoke.
“You two, go eat somewhere else,” she commanded.
The smiles on the girl’s faces immediately wiped away. They stood, taking their bags, items and tea and headed towards Shuhei’s friends who were at the lounge. Sarako lifted her cup to her lips and drank quietly and quickly before setting her cup back down. Shuhei took a seat, crossed his legs, then signaled the barista. Within a few short moments, he was presented with his usual drink, iced Americano. Once the barista moved away, Sarako spoke, making a dissatisfied sound.
“Why do insist on drinking that filth?” she said. Shuhei knew she didn’t want a real answer. He simply gave her a chuckle and took a sip of his coffee. It was strong, just as he liked it.
“I see the little bird has flown back,” she said, sipping her tea. Her pale skin was smooth and clear, a stark contrast to her dark, silky hair. Her perfect beauty made her look like a porcelain doll.
Her words made Shuhei glance back at Yuki.
“After a little prodding, I got him to come up. But he hasn’t told me what scared him away.” Shuhei eyed Sarako. “Did you say something?”
She gave him a flat look. “I try not to waste my time talking any more than necessary to that hāfu.”
A hāfu, “a half”, something Shuhei was sure Yuki had heard plenty in his life.
“And the cold queen of Isei lives up to her name I see.”
Sarako’s look didn’t improve. She drank her tea.
“If you didn’t say anything, then why?…”
“Do you really not know?” she asked. “I guess the eyes and ears of Sakurano don’t stretch as far as I thought.”
Shuhei didn’t flinch at her words or gaze. He was probably one of the only people that could stand in her presence without shaking. He had a feeling it’s what made them somewhat friends.
“Just spill it, Sarako. You planned to tell me anyhow. That’s why you wanted to talk alone, right?”
She finally set her cup down.
“You should know best that information isn’t free,” she said.
Shuhei sat down his cup as well, shaking his head and smiling. They both lowered their voices and kept their expressions controlled. A simple conversation among friends.
“You play this game so well. I think you were born for this life, Sarako.”
The girl in front of him smiled. If he had been any other, it would have given him chills.
“Tell me what you know,” he said.
“You know that I went to Rokukai primary school,” she said. Shuhei nodded. “Obata Yukiji was among my class.” She paused and picked up her cup once more to drink. Shuhei leaned forward in his anticipation. Sarako took a slow drink then set her cup down.
“Ueno Shiro also went to Rokukai.”
“You’re saying you all know each other?” Shuhei asked, voice hushed. He knew nothing of it.
“Yes. Yukiji and Shiro were close, closer than Yukiji is to that red head half-breed friend of his.”
“How come I didn’t know Ueno went to Rokukai?”
“Because his family didn’t want it known. They pulled him out in the last year and kept it quiet.”
Sarako smiled. “That’s what I want you to find out for me. In return for this bit of information. Find out what made the Ueno’s take their son abroad.”
As if on cue, someone caught Sarako’s attention. Shuhei turned around to see Ueno Shiro at the top of the stairs. Everyone looked at him, except Yukiji. Now that Shuhei knew why he was avoiding lunch in the cafeteria, it became obvious that the cause was Shiro. The dark haired male spared one glance for his former friend then went to the barista to order, walking to the terrace after receiving a drink. He had his own boxed lunch with him. Shuhei could see Ueno past the glass windows, sitting alone, hair brushing against his forehead as the wind blew. Shuhei folded his arms against his chest and turned back to Sarako. Everyone picked their conversations back up.
“Just what are you looking for? You think Yukiji found out some dirty secret of the Ueno’s?”
The dark haired girl gave a small shrug.
“They aren’t friends now, are they? Regardless, I want to know.”
She looked at him with something more than just cold indifference in her eyes.
“Because Shiro wants to keep it a secret.”
Despite her coolheaded demeanor, Shuhei knew Sarako could be quite obsessive, the kind of girl you didn’t want to begrudge. Once she began to dislike someone, she never changed her mind. He could tell her newfound interest into Ueno wasn’t the harmless, curious kind. Whatever he did to warrant her attention, it wasn’t good. But he knew if he asked her, she wouldn’t be straight forward about their days at Rokukai.
“You have a deal.”
“Good. And I’m sure I don’t have to say this, but that information should be for our ears only.”
Shuhei rolled his eyes. “Don’t take me for an amateur.”
His stomach growled. Shuhei reached down and picked up the wrapped box the girl in the hall had given him. He set it down on the table and unwrapped it. He took off the lid to reveal a handmade lunch. It was still warm and probably prepared just for him. There was egg inside with sauce on it that formed a messy heart. Shuhei closed the lid, stood and went to a bin, dropping the lunch box inside with the other waste. He returned to the table and raised his hand to summon the barista. Sarako looked at question at him.
“What was that?” Sarako asked.
He shook his head. “Just trash.”
The end of the day came swiftly. Shuhei let his friends to go uptown without him. He stayed later than usual, shooting hoops as he mulled over the idea of Sarako, Yuki and Ueno going to the same school. He didn’t understand Sarako’s dislike for mixed children, but he thought Yukiji was among the most tolerable at Isei. He was charming, good looking, smart and kind. He knew when to speak and when not to. Even with Sarako’s hatred, he managed to survive. Shuhei found it admirable. Whatever secrets he found, he would try to keep Yukiji out of it, but Ueno was a different story.
The sun started to lower. Shuhei went to the locker room and changed back into his uniform after putting away the basketball. Later, he could use his family’s resources to investigate why Ueno was transferred out of Rokukai, with barely any effort on his part. Shuhei fixed his hair, wiped the sweat from his forehead and left the locker room. He walked across the campus, hands in his pockets. The grounds were quiet, deserted by the students who wanted to use their free time somewhere other than at school.
Shuhei entered the main building and looked down the halls of the first floor. They were empty. He went to class 1-B and pushed the button that slid the door open. He walked inside to see Hikari Orihara. She stood at the window, a light blue blouse on and a black pencil skirt that stopped just above her knees. Shuhei shut the door behind him and Orihara turned around, startled.
“What…took you so long?” she asked. “I can’t wait here for too long you know.”
Shuhei walked to her. “Nonsense. You’re the homeroom teacher. There’s a lot to take care of.”
“There’s really not that much—“
“Hikari-chan,” Shuhei said. Orihara blushed, a light stain on her cheeks.
“You shouldn’t call my name so boldly…”
Shuhei stopped in front of the professor and raised a hand to sweep a loose strand of hair from her face.
“Even though you like it when I do?”
Her lips had a light gloss over them and her make-up was subtle, barely noticeable. Hikari Orihara was pretty, with high cheekbones, a heart shaped face, long hair and a full bosom. Shuhei stepped close, close enough that their knees bumped gently.
“Sakurano,” she said.
“Won’t you call my name in a sweeter manner?” He placed the tip of his finger on her head and raised it so that her eyes would meet his. His other hand touched at her waist and parted her lips in a soft sigh.
“Shuhei-kun,” she whispered.
“I spent the whole summer without seeing you, Hikari.”
“I told you, we can’t see each other so freely.”
“What about that date I was promised?”
She blushed. “Where would we go, uptown? Everyone would see us.”
“Call it a field trip.” He chuckled.
“With just the two of us?”
Shuhei smiled and pressed his lips to hers, kissing her gently before pulling back.
“I missed our private lessons,” he said.
Orihara looked away. “We can’t keep meeting at school like this.”
“Why? No one is here to stop us.”
“What if someone sees?”
Shuhei gave her another smile, this time darker and mischievous. Orihara blushed for him.
“That’s the fun in it, Hikari.”
He pressed their lips together once more and led to the front of the room so he could sit her against her desk. He used his hands to roll up her skirt and slide his hands up against her warm thighs as his tongue parted her lips and met hers. Her small sounds and struggles against his strong form pressed closer to his body, legs wrapping around his hips and soft breasts against his chest. It never took her long to participate and soon, Orihara was grabbing at the buttons that fastened his blazer.
“I thought you didn’t miss me?” Shuhei asked, giving a deep, masculine chuckle.
“I never said that,” Orihara said, undoing the buttons of his blazer and spreading the jacket to expose the smooth muscles he’d acquired playing sports.
She marveled at him, tracing fingers down his stomach and caressing every dip and chiseled line of muscle. Shuhei moved a hand of his own to her chest and pinched the nubs beneath her blouse to erection. He really did miss seeing her nude and flawless body. It had only been a year, but Orihara had quickly become his favorite past time. She was still young, but old enough to be knowledgeable, and always kept a sort of naïve air about her that Shuhei liked.
Shuhei’s fingers moved her blouse aside as he unbuttoned the shirt and traced the lacy bra underneath. The mounds of her breasts looked flushed against the material that held her. He leaned down and pressed his tongue to her flesh, licking a long, wet line across her soft chest. He kissed and used tongue and teeth to tease her. Her eager noises were enough to distract him. So much, that he didn’t hear when the door to the classroom opened. It was only till he heard that small gasp that he looked up from Orihara’s chest to see a first year standing in the doorway. The girl’s face was red and her mouth hanging open in disbelief.
“Ta-Takeda-san,” Orihara said, closing her shirt up and pushing lightly at Shuhei.
The girl looked at them both, turned around and shut the door. Shuhei stepped back and buttoned his shirt while Orihara fixed her skirt frantically.
“I told you. Someone was bound to see,” she said. “What will I do, huh? I’ll be out of a job. I’ll be slandered in the media! No one will—“
“Be quiet, and calm down.” Shuhei fixed his shirt and went to the door. “I wouldn’t let news of us insult my family.” He opened the door and saw the fleeting form of the girl down the hall. He turned and looked at Orihara. “Don’t worry, I’ll talk to her.”
He shut the door and followed after the girl quietly. With a head start, he knew she would be relieved to see he was not following—or so she would think. Shuhei walked briskly down the hall, rounded the corner and looked around at the empty school courtyard and saw movement at the drive way of the drop off area. The girl disappeared around the corner of a wall and Shuhei followed after, this time, jogging lightly. He found her, walking in a slump, bag gripped loosely. Without a sound, he walked to her, steps quick, and turned her around before shoving her up against the wall.
The girl gave a startled cry, dropped her bag, and looked at him with wide brown eyes.
“What’s your name, freshman?” Shuhei asked, voice low.
The girl looked shocked and managed only an inaudible murmur for a reply.
“Don’t make me repeat myself.”
“Ta-Takeda…Nonoka. Class 1-B.”
Shuhei narrowed his eyes. She was just as ordinary as any other girl and he didn’t recognize her name or family. Only a family of little importance would go so unnoticed. Better for him. It didn’t take much to keep official and his daughter quiet, especially for the Sakurano family. Keeping eye contact, he held both his arms on either side of her, trapping her against the wall.
“Do you know who I am?”
She nodded. “Sakurano Shuhei-senpai.”
“That’s right. You’re new here, I’m sure there’s a lot you don’t understand about Isei and judging by how little I know about you, I’d say your family isn’t worth the soles on my shoes.”
The girl watched him, small frame frozen. She still had a doe-eyed look, as if she was watching the headlights coming closer, closer to her doom.
“Let me give you advice,” Shuhei said. “We all have secrets, Takeda Nonoka.”
The girl nodded rapidly, to his amusement.
“I bet you have a few as well. It wouldn’t be hard for someone like me to find out, so I suggest you keep quiet about what you saw.”
The girl was silent, and pressing her body against the wall as if she could phase herself through it and out of harm’s way.
“I hope we have an understanding,” he said.
Shuhei stared at the girl, his gaze hard and unmoving. He wanted her to know he meant what he said. Whoever she was, whatever her family did, they wouldn’t be doing it for long if she talked. That, he would make sure of it.
To be continued…
Next time on Royal Academy…
Episode 5 – The Knight of Isei.
“Are you out of your mind? One wrong step, and this place will eat you alive.”