Chapter 5: Everyone's Business

Shinobu walked silently through the halls of Ryokurin Acadamy. School had let out several hours earlier, so there was no one else in sight. He stopped in front of a heavy wooden door and quietly let himself in.

The small room was empty, but Shinobu could hear muffled voices behind a thick black curtain. The photography club only had the dark room until 5:30, so they were all busy developing. The room Shinobu had entered was used as club headquarters, and held all of the pictures that were waiting to be picked up.

Shinobu moved immediately to the stack of envelopes on the desk and began sorting through them. Within a few seconds he had located one with the name "Dyozo Garue" on the front. He shook his head sadly. These guys have no idea how to hide information. With the package in hand, he exited the room and headed back to the dorm.

A few moments went by, and one of the photography students slipped through the curtain and laid a few more envelopes on the desk. His brows creased. "Hey, did anyone develop that film Dyozo dropped off?"

An answer emerged from the other side of the curtain. "Yeah, I finished it about half-hour ago."

"Well, it isnít here."

"He must have picked it up already."

"Hmph. He could have at least come in and said hello. Last time I do him a favor."

"What are you talking about? Iím the one who developed it!"

"Itís the principle of the thing."

"Just shut up and come take your picture out. Itís getting over-exposed."

"Alright, alright."

Mitsuru yawned and rubbed his eyes. "Try again."

Hiroku stared intently at the book in front of him, occasionally glancing up at Mitsuru, who was getting sleepier by the minute. A little longer and heíll be ready. Then I can finally stop trying to read this damn thing.

Hiroku sighed. "The... bes-tu prace to...bu-u-ie..."

"Buy"

"Are you sure thatís how you say it?"

A cherry collided with Hirokuís forehead. "Donít question me." Mitsuru said firmly, his speech only slightly slurred. "If you knew anything about English, I wouldnít have to be here." He yawned again. "Keep going."

Hiroku fumed silently. Just a little longer.

Shinobu waited until he was back in his room to open the parcel full of pictures. After all, there was to way to know what it contained. He sat at the desk and slid a letter opener through the sealant. Bracing himself for the images that might be presented to him, he reached in and extracted the photographs. As he slowly leafed through the dozen or so pictures, his eyebrows creased with confusion.

Although the pictures were certainly odd, they were nowhere near as troublesome as Shinobu had expected. There were several of Mitsuru and Hiroku together, taken at the library and in their English class. There were some of Mitsuru alone, one of him with Shinobu, and a few of Shinobu alone. Shinobu looked vaguely sinister in all of them. Finally, there were some baby pictures. Since babies are rather nondescript there was no way to tell who the children were, but one could easily have been Mitsuru as a child. The hair was the right color, and the eyes were very close. The other child was quite uninteresting, with less hair and murky blue eyes. The two children appeared together, and both seemed very young. Probably only a few weeks old.

"This is truly bizzare." Shinobu declared to the empty room. "What can he hope to accomplish with these? Could he be...? No, that's to stupid." He pondered for a moment, trying to find an explaination that satisfied him. None was forthcoming.

*knock-knock* "Shinobu-sempai? Mitsuru-sempai? Are you in there?"

"Come in, Shun." The door swung open, revealing the cheerful teen.

"Isn't Mitsuru-sempai back yet? He was supposed to help Suka-chan and me study! I hope he's back by the end of dinner."

"He will be."

"That's good. Why don't you come down to dinner with me? Suka's down there already."

Shinobu nodded and followed the underclassman down to the cafeteria. Once there, he located Aoki. "Aoki!"

"Hey Shinobu. If you're wondering about the libary, they never showed up. No one's seen Mitsuru since after band practice."

"Thanks for your help." He walked back to his usual table where Shun and Hasukawa were chatting about something trivial. Shun looked up happily as he approached.

"Aren't you going to sit down, Sempai?"

"No, I have to go. I'll be back soon." He nodded at Hasukawa and then stalked out the door.

"Where do you think he's going, Suka-chan?"

"I don't know. Maybe he's trying to find Mitsuru. Aoki was watching for him today but didn't see him."

"Aoki was spying on Mitsuru?" Hasukawa and Shun looked up in shock at the interuption in their conversation. Furusawa was leaning over them curiously, tray of food in one hand, motorcycle helmet in the other.

"Um. I guess so. He's right over there if you want to ask him about it." Hasukawa pointed to a nearby table where Aoki was seated.

"Oi," Furusawa shouted, "Aoki! Do you know what's going on with Mitsuru and Shinobu?"

"Well, a little, why?"

"Would you come over here?"

"Sure." Aoki obediently moved his dinner over to their table, as did most of the other students in the dining hall. Only the freshmen seemed uninterested. Those who did not fit at the table either milled around or pulled chairs over.

Hasukawa looked bailfully at the crowd of students around his once peaceful table. Just think of it. Every one of these guys knows what happened last year, and none of them will tell me about it. I think I'm going to go insane! He dropped his head to the table and moped for a moment. Suddenly his head popped up. Hey! Maybe if I ask all these guys, they'll tell me enough to figure it out! After all, Aoki told me a little, maybe I can get a little from everyone. Yes!! I can finally find out what happened!

With a slightly demented grin, Hasukawa leaned back in his seat, displacing someone behind him who was intently listening to Aoki. Most of the dorm was listening. They were all worried about the residents of room 211, who despite the loss of their official positions were very important figures in the dorm. Everyone feared the result of a falling out between the two. It could get very ugly, and the entire dorm would suffer. It was in all of their best interest to make sure whatever bizzare plot Hiroku was forming was an abysmal failure. They intended to make VERY sure.