He walked along his fists in his pockets eyes on the sidewalk in front of him. He didn't have to look up to know he was lost again, he had noticed that a while ago. He had chosen a direction and headed that way hoping to get to more familiar territory, but so far no luck. Then something caught his eye, a glimpse of red on the other side of the road. He looked up then to see the red was a brightly lacquered bamboo umbrella. Said umbrella was tucked in the bedroll loop under the backpack of a young man who stood on the opposite sidewalk. Most importantly, the guy was looking at a map. He crossed the roadway remembering to look for traffic about three quarters of the way across. Luckily this wasn't a busy road. As he came up behind the other fellow he could see the map over his shoulder. He looked at it puzzled for a moment, and then tilted his head to the left. Yep, the guy was holding the map sideways. "Can I borrow this for a second?" he asked as he reached out around the guy, totally ignoring the concept of personal space, and gently guided his arms until the map was upright, then traced a path from the street they were on to the place he was supposed to be. It was going to take a long time to get there from here. The map guy just stood frozen, turning a funny shade of red but not saying anything.
"Haru!" a familiar voice was shouting, he looked up to see a black car pull over a few meters away. Momiji sprang out and ran to him. "We need to hurry if you are going to be in the exhibition match at Furinkan high today. It's a good thing 'Hari put that tracking dev….er never mind, just hurry up and get in the car."
"Wait did you say Furinkan high? That's where I was going too." The map guy shouted following Haru toward the car "Is there any way I could get a ride, I am fighting in the martial arts exhibition for the Tendo training hall. My name is Ryoga Hibiki."
It took almost no convincing to get them to agree to give Ryoga a ride. It was on their way after all. Apparently 'Mr. lack of personal space' was named Haru and had a sense of direction similar to his own. Ryoga was still a little creeped out by how the guy had appeared behind him and grabbed his arms like that without him sensing anything coming.
It didn't take long to arrive at Furinkan high. The small parking lot was filling up and Haru noticed a familiar bus. "The Yuki fan club girls are here already" he mused. Then after some thought, he said "I should go and warn him to keep on his toes."
In the gym, where the exhibition was to be, mats were laid out covering a fourth of the gym. Rows of seating filled rest of the large building and some spectators were still left standing on the sides. The participants were called and introduced: Ryoga Ranmma and Akane for the Tendo dojo plus the school kendo champion Kuno represented Ferenkan high. Yuki, Kyou, Kagura, and Haru were the participants from the Sohma dojo.
After he was introduced Tatewaki Kuno made his way through the audience to get better acquainted with a mysterious beauty in a long lacy gothic black dress he had spotted. He approached her and her two companions a cute brunette and a tall blonde.
"But who is this vision of loveliness I see before me?" He asked looking straight into the expressionless face of Saki Hanajima. "Surely one so delicate and beautiful as yourself is not all alone? If so I Tatewaki Kuno shall take it upon myself to be your escort and protector during your visit here."
"How courteous of you but I fear I must decline as I am here with friends." Hana replied expressionlessly. Reaching out to take hold of the brunette's hand, she shifted in front of her protectively. The very air around them seemed to waver threateningly. Her tall, blonde friend was also staring daggers at him.
"In that case, farewell my midnight blossom, until we meet again." He bowed courteously and turned to leave. This brought him face to face with an unusual looking man in a red mandarin robe with long silver hair.
"I am impressed with your use of the language to express yourself. I had all but given up on hearing lyrical eloquence conjuring romance flow through the air ever again in my lifetime." The man said enthusiastically locking his gaze on Kuno's eyes.
"The proper use of words to express oneself is integral to any understanding of the workings of the human heart is it not?" Kuno replied breaking eye contact first color rising on his cheeks.
"I concur with that response completely, for of all the ways to convey ones innermost feelings be it with soft whispers or loud proclamations, there are few better ways to encourage the beautiful bloom of romance to bud within ones soul than to speak that which is so deeply felt." The man in red seemed to be in his own world as he gracefully gestured with his hands as if he was picking a flower and holding it to his heart.
"Yes so true and right away I must go and tell Akane Tendo and the Pigtail girl how I feel," he clenched his fist in front of him as he spoke earnestly. "But alas I fear they will never accept my inability to choose between them. So what chance do I have for happiness? Oh the tortures of a romantic soul, the crux being how to decide between two goddesses who are both the embodiment of my every desire." Kuno, deep in thought on his own issues, failed to notice a man walking up behind him until…
"Aa-ya are you cheating on me?" Shigure said placing a hand on Kuno's shoulder, adroitly pushing him to the side as he made his way to his lifelong friend.
"Oh never 'Gure, you are the life force that pounds… through my very veins. I could never forsake you," rushing up to Shigure and giving him an overzealous hug, followed by both giving a thumbs up sign to each other. "Ayway 'Gure I'd like you to meet Tatewaki Kuno, we have been having a lovely conversation about romance and language. In fact, speaking of romance, here is my business car… Where'd he go?"
"Would you two quit clowning and get over here the match is about to start." Hatori said appearing as if out of nowhere.
"What the hell was that about?" Arisa Uotoni wondered out loud as she witnessed the whole scene play out before her. Including Kuno's hasty retreat from the display Ayame and Shigure were putting on.
Hana just shrugged. "Perhaps they have a concession stand with snacks out in the courtyard." She finally said moving toward the doors.
An announcement came over the sound system: "our first exhibition match will be the women's bout with Akane Tendo for the Tendo school of anything goes martial arts, and Kagura Sohma for the Sohma family dojo."