Transition and Restart
421 Chapter one, 2018, Hatsumode: 6
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Transition and Restart
Author :StenDuring
© Webnovel

421 Chapter one, 2018, Hatsumode: 6

'Not funny you guys. Not funny at all!'

There was a long line to the ladies restroom. Twenty minutes long. Ryu had timed it. That was quarter of an hour ago, so he was confident Kuri had never gone here in the first place.

This just has to be sis, or Urufu. Giving it another round of thought Ryu accepted it could be Yukio's or Kyoko's doing as well. They really, really disliked his tampering with Urufu and Noriko. Ryu grumbled, used the men's restroom as a precaution and left the area.

Around him the crowd showed no signs of thinning out. People left and more people arrived. They'd do that for the rest of the day and the following day as well. Three or four days, depending on how you defined it, and the one time of the year when you'd expect to see men in kimono.

Grumbling again he went in search for his friends, even though he felt ready to redefine the very word 'friend' right now. He couldn't fully understand why they were so cross with him. Noriko was his sister. Didn't he have a responsibility to do what was best for her?

Another part of his mind nagged a little; 'hubris' it said, but it did with Urufu's voice, and Ryu firmly shoved it away.

Morning had turned into afternoon, and with the sun setting the overcast day slowly left the morning blue behind it and took on a more yellowish tone. As the day turned over so did the people visiting the shrine. There were less old people and more students coming here in groups that had gathered before climbing the stairs to the shrine. With different people came different voices. Muted talk gave way to laughs and the cleaner timbre that comes with youth.

Now, or even a little later, was when they really ought to have shown up. When afternoon merged with evening and lanterns were the only thing abolishing the darkness both lightning and people would change once more as university students and those who still spent their days settling into new jobs replaced middle and high schoolers.
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That didn't give Ryu all that much time. If the rest of the gang planned to abandon him whenever they had the chance Hatsumode was bound to become some sick joke.

He grumbled a little. As if it wasn't already. Determined not to sample too much of what there was to drink Ryu went in search for Kuri. While he did stop by a few stalls he made certain he only catered for his hunger. Strangely enough he enjoyed himself despite being alone. It gave him time to think and experience his surroundings rather than being part of a large group where people were more interested in each other than what was around them.

'Is my world growing?' he thought. 'Is it me growing?' That was more disturbing in a way. Ryu felt perfectly happy being a child who never agreed to being one. It gave him both the freedom he wanted as well as the right to be needy.

A rapidly darkening, winter grey Tokyo sky accompanied him from stall to stall, and occasionally a biting gust of wind reminded him he was outside rather than inside an old style shopping mall. Snacks made company with traditional fast food, and after some time Ryu forgot he spent hatsumode alone. He aimlessly walked the temporary street, sampled some more snacks, bought himself a fortune slip and read it while waiting for his turn to make his prayers.

Medium luck, it said, and after pocketing it Ryu decided upon something equally medium important to wish for. After tugging the bell rope he left to make place for the people behind him and went in search for some amazake. By now the chilly weather won over his wariness against getting caught in the men's room again. After all he had run out of luck finding the others anyway.

Just as that thought brought a frown to his face he caught a glimpse of a golden halo. Ryu quickened his steps, and after negotiating the crowd he finally caught up with Kuri.

"Kuri, sorry I'm late," Ryu said and tried to make it sound like he hadn't been on the receiving end of an elaborate prank.

She turned, half a head taller than most men around her, and made her coat, or whatever it was, swirl. "Ryu, finally! See, I'm really waiting for my boyfriend," she said to someone Ryu couldn't see.

"Aww, come on, he can't be that good," came the faceless reply.

Ryu took another step, came up beside Kuri and tried to see who had spoken. "She thinks I'm good enough for her. Isn't that enough?" he said in the general direction of faces staring at the girl by his side. It usually ended any kind of argument like this in school, and he felt confident about the result here as well.

"Of course she got herself a looker," someone said.

"Wow! That's just unfair. Those looks and that boyfriend," another added. This time a girl's voice.

"You look absolutely fantastic!" Ryu said to Kuri. He didn't have to pretend. She did, just like she always did whenever she made anything even slightly resembling an effort with her appearance.

"Why, thank you!" Kuri leaned over and gave him a quick kiss. "You're stunning as well."

Ryu hugged her back. He had no reason giving her an answer. He couldn't aspire to her heights when it came to looks, but he knew very well what kind of impression he made among mere mortals.

"Where are the rest?" he asked to change the subject when he was sure Kuri's admirers had given up.

She pointed a few stalls ahead, and of course she just had to flit her fingers through her hair so it cascaded into a golden flower. 'Sis is right. Kuri really is a stage monkey.' But then again that was how she made her living.

He followed her outstretched hand with his eyes and saw Hitomi ahead of them. "And sis?"

"She is," Kuri began and managed to give him a smile both predatory and beautiful, "looking for a restroom I think," she finished with just an inkling of menace in her voice.

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    《Transition and Restart》