"I need you to cover practice today," he says, parrying, and trying to skirt around to where he thinks I'm open.

I look at him sideways without moving my head, "Oh?" I ask, slipping to one side and avoiding the blow. The epees meet again, a slight chink, "What's come up?"

"Something I need to do," he puts up a hand, almost effortlessly blocking, despite the apparent carelessness, "It's all I'm going to tell you. Are you going to be there?"

"I'm always there," I tap his shoulder with the 'point' of the sword.

He nods, removing the mask, before bowing sword raised to his face.

I take off mine, and look over at him, "If I ask what it is you have to do. Will I get an answer?"


I nod, removing my own mask, and surveying the hall that will be filling momentarily. We come a half hour early normally to spar and warm up before the rest of the club arrives. So we're guaranteed at least one decent match out of the afternoon.

"But I'll go now. Let me know how things go."

I nod, glancing at the clock on the high wall of the gymnasium as he goes. Perhaps this is student council; but from what little I understand, of their commitments...they don't seem to actually do...I give momentary consideration to the fact that he left himself open to a fairly simple maneuver. Whatever this is has him pre-occupied, so it's best he not be here. To lose to a lower-ranking member would endanger the power-balance.

It's supposed to mean a surge of power, lauding over the opponent, to be victorious. After almost a dozen, I switch out and allow someone else the 'honor' of my place. Each person who loses then trades out; and so it goes, until everyone has had several turns, or the time allotment for the gym is over, whichever comes first.

Ruka does not make it back, before either of those is done, and I send them back to the changing rooms. I wait until they're all signed back out and the watching crowd has cleared before I change, then I grab a bite to eat in the dining hall and make my way to our usual meeting spot, by way of the lockers again, for my sword.

There are some boys sparring with brooms in the main court yard near the rose-cage. Students here and there, all semi-familiar because I make it a point to know things; the mind needs something to occupy itself with, and putting names to faces, to misdemeanors is often more interesting than a book you have to read for class.

Ruka is already there. He gets to his feet and spins around, en guarde as I approach, "It's unlike you to dawdle," he mock-chides, trying to jab towards me to enunciate his point.

"Did your thing go well?" I reply, ignoring the jab, and parrying.

"Comme-ci, comme-ca," he responds, "How was the crowd?" We carry on with the fight, as is customary. Ruka has several times made the comment about 'bored rich kids, and idle hands being the devil's playground,' at least as yet, no one has uncovered this little area, or at least if they have, they leave well enough alone aside from the fact that he has his other 'bored rich kid' occupation of the supposed student council. If we did something like this out in the main area, there would be a crowd gathered before we knew it. There are spectators enough at most of the fencing, and kendo club meets.

"The usual, for the most part. Filby is actually managing to not drop his weapon every other attempted parry; but still appears to be a waste of generously given time."

Ruka nods, "I will speak with him before I leave."

The emphasis is not lost, but I try not to let it show, and give over the advantage that I won when he was similarly distracted this afternoon, "The term is not quite over. Where are you going?"

A vague look crosses his face for a moment, and he lowers his sword. Given his expression I don't press the advantage, "I wish it were on vacation," he says.

"Then where is it if it's not?"

"I have to go away," he answers.

I don't press from that point. We all have things we don't talk about. He may tell me later, if I win.

"I have another favor to ask of you. I would like you to come with me to the student council."

"You know my opinion on the student council."

"All the more reason why you should," he nods.