Chapter 6: A daring rescue... Sort of

Shinobu peered cautiously around the schoolyard, eager for any sign of his roommateís whereabouts. Not seeing any, he proceeded to Mitsuruís band locker. The trombone was neatly stowed away, but the latch on the case had not been set properly. Otherwise the tiny cubicle was empty. He closed the door and headed for the nearest exit.

They never got to the library, so Hiroku must have met him at the band room. He had time to put his trombone away, and no one noticed anything odd at practice. The latch was wrong, though. It isn't like Mitsuru to do that. He might have been drugged. If he was drugged, it wasnít enough to make him pass out, so Hiroku canít have just carted him off somewhere. He must have convinced Mitsuru to go somewhere else. Shinobu pushed open the school doors and observed the buildings surrounding it. What would a drugged Mitsuru be vulnerable to? Strike that, what would he be vulnerable to that Hiroku could provide? Shinobu gazed down the street. Hiroku isnít very creative. Heíd go for food. With that in mind Shinobu set off towards the nearby shopping district. After all, if Mitsuru was drugged, they couldnít have gone far. Hiroku couldnít have carried the other boy even if he was foolish enough to try.

Furusawa sighed dramatically. "So no one has seen him?" There was a mumble from the crowd that indicated assent. "Damn. I wonder what that freak is trying to do this time."

Aoki shook his head. "I donít know, but Shinobu must be pretty worried if heís going out to find Mitsuru. He doesnít usually get himself involved. Maybe we should try and help."

Hasukawa snorted. "As if Shinobu needs out help."

Shun nodded in agreement. "Suka-chanís right, Shinobu-sempai can do it. Iím sure heíll save Mitsuru-sempai. We might want to help with whatever Hirokuís planning though. Shinobu-sempai has taken this one into his own hands, but Iíll bet he wouldnít mind help with the rest."

"Yeah!" yelled a voice to far back in the crowd for Shun to identify it. Several others joined it.

"Alright," Furusawa yelled, taking back control of the informal gathering. "Weíll trust Shinobu to get Mitsuru back safely. In the meantime we need to find out what Hirokuís up to and who heís got helping him. Go to it." The crowd of students abandoned their dinners and scuttled off, some to the arcade, others to the telephone, a few out of the building entirely. The dorm was always prepared to band together in a crisis.

Hasukawa eagerly followed the motorcycle enthusiast as he made his way out of the cafeteria. This could be his chance. "Furusawa-sempai!"

"Eh? What is it Suka?"

He walked closer to the older student and lowered his voice. "Well, um, you how I missed the first month of school last year? Well, I missed the elections, and I was hoping you would tell me what happened to make everyone hate this Hiroku guy so much." He paused and sniffled. "I promise I wonít spread it around, I just have to know."

Hasukawa had given up on his dignity. By this point he was just pleading. Furusawa couldnít help feeling a little sorry for the poor boy. He pulled Hasukawa to the side of the room and made sure no one else was present. "What have you heard already?"

The redhead widened his eyes hopefully. "All anyone would say is that it was just a rumor, it wasnít true, and that no one can talk about it. I just canít stand not knowing, Furusawa- sempai, please, you have to tell me!"

"Suka, calm down." He looked around the room again. "It was a rumor, but to say it was just a rumor is like calling the Bubonic Plague Ďjust a cold.í It was primarily about Shinobu and Mitsuru but it included far more people than that." He shuddered. "Even I was stigmatized because of that rotten wormís claims." He gripped his helmet protectively, the way a child would hold a teddy bear. "I donít even like to think about it."

Hasukawa tolerated the silence for as long as he could, but quickly broke down. "But you still havenít told me what it was! What did he say? What?!!"

"Look Suka. I know it must be hard for you not to know, but you have to understand our reasons. Everyone in the dorm owes something to Mitsuru and Shinobu. They always help us out when we need it, and they always think of the dormís best interest. We all care about them, so when they asked us not to talk about this, we all agreed. We owe them some loyalty, and so do you. Maybe someday we can tell you what happened, but until then, we have work to do. Come on." He headed for the door with a very upset Hasukawa in tow.

But, if I donít find out, I think Iíll die!

Hiroku rubbed his forehead angrily. Why is he still awake? This isnít possible. He glared at his companion, who was barely conscious. If not for the intermittent movement of his arm to smack his ignorant pupil, Hiroku might have thought him asleep already. His eyelids drooped heavily over his eyes and his shoulders sagged with exhaustion.

Hiroku cleared his throat. "Why donít you let me read through this before I try to recite it again. I might not make as many mistakes that way."

Mitsuru nodded absently. "If you think it would help." His eyes immediately drifted shut again.

Perfect. A few minutes of quiet and heíll be fast asleep. Then I can finally get out of here.

Shinobu calmly viewed the row of shops. Hmm. Hiroku would go somewhere obvious. The most obvious would be... yes, definitely ice cream. He walked slowly towards the nearby ice cream parlor and glanced through the large picture window. Sure enough.

Hiroku looked up excitedly as he heard a faint snore from the other side of the table. Finally! He fell asleep! Suppressing a cackle he stood up and made a motion towards his friends, who occupied an empty corner of the shop. It had not been empty when they arrived, but his friend had a way of doing that. "Come on, he's asleep."

"Took long enough." Biizen muttered. "Are you sure you used enough of that stuff? The girl at the shop said it wouldn't take more than a half-hour."

"Of course I did! I gave him about three times the suggested dose, and it still took forever."

Dyozo looked unconvinced. "Maybe you calculated the dose wrong. Did you use his weight or yours? He's a lot bigger than you, you know."

"And maybe you guys shouldn't choose retailers by the size of their chest! I did the calculations right, that chick just didn't know what she was talking about."

Satto looked at the sleeping tutor nervously. "Why don't we just shut up and get him out of here before he wakes up." Satto had a reason to be fearful. He had gone to junior high with Mitsuru, and had seen what he did in a fight. To make matters worse, he was the smallest of the admittedly small group. I can't believe I agreed to this.

Very carefully, the four boys began maneuvering their sleepy prey out of the booth. He stirred slightly when they knocked over his sundae cup, but seemed unperturbed by being dragged from his resting place. They unsuccessfully tried to find a good way to carry him, but ended up sort of propping him with two boys under each arm.

Biizen grunted. "Gah! He weighs a ton!"

"Shh!" Hiroku commanded. "Just be glad he's a heavy sleeper."

"Actually, he isn't."

The four conspirators looked up in horror to find a very calm Shinobu watching from a barstool, apparently unalarmed that they were manhandling his roommate. Hiroku slowly regained his voice, his wits returning yet more slowly. "Wh-what?"

Shinobu gave a tiny smile. "He isn't as heavily asleep as you hope. A loud noise would wake him quite effectively." His smile broadened. "Watch." He raised a glass from the counter and let it fall to the floor with a resounding crash. As predicted, Mitsuru began to stir.

The small group of students looked frantically back and forth. They were confronted with a very passive Shinobu, and an increasingly active Mitsuru. They decided to try and contain the latter. It was not very successful attempt. Despite a lack of consistent martial arts practice, a severe disadvantage in numbers, and a lack of full consciousness, Mitsuru managed to flatten all four of his attackers in under a minute. He jabbed Hiroku in the stomach, kicked Biizen in the head, slammed a fist into Dyozo, and hurled the lightweight Satto into a nearby wall, then promptly sat back down at his booth, trying to regain some sense of what was happening.

Shinobu couldn't help but chuckle. "Impressive. Four assailants in 39 seconds. And not even in top condition."

Mitsuru looked up, only mildly surprised to find his roommate there to comment on the fight. "Well, they weren't exactly the best of competitors." He rubbed his head blearily, seeming deep in thought. After a quiet moment he looked up at Shinobu curiously. "Why did I do that?"

"Hiroku drugged you and was dragging you off somewhere. You stopped him."

Mitsuru yawned and nodded. "Sounds like a good reason. I'm tired."

Seeing how Mitsuru was struggling just to remain in an upright position, Shinobu decided that this was not a good time to try and hold a conversation. "Perhaps we should get you home."

"Good idea." Mitsuru pushed himself to his feet and staggered toward the door. He had to use the door jam to keep from collapsing. "Help."

With a martyred sigh, Shinobu walked over to his friend and offered his shoulder. With Mitsuru leaning heavily on him they made their way back to the dorm, paying no mind to the bodies and broken glass left in their wake. Shinobu had better things to think about, and Mitsuru was in no condition to think at all. That would have to wait until morning.