“That. Was. So cool!” Mitsuo breathed the minute Morito shuffled out of the room, his head down and shoulders hunched. I was smiling as well, triumph blazed on my classmates’ faces as if we had won an important battle that would guarantee us the war.
Wu had recited the passage in a flawless accent and gave a translation even Morito couldn’t refute while we’d looked on in amazement. When he finished, the man had been so shocked, he’d stared open-mouthed at us for five minutes before realizing we were all grinning at him and some were taking pictures for Facebook.
The entire class was in high spirits and several of then clapped Wu on the shoulder in congratulations. It was one of the rare bonding moments we’d had as a class. There really was nothing like having a mutual enemy to bring people together. Except then I noticed Wu flinching from the contact or ducking to avoid it. At one point, someone actually got close enough for contact and received a massive flinch like Wu was expecting to be hit. I tried to be conspicuous as I studied him. Wu’s face hadn’t altered a bit when he’d been made a target, but now with everyone crowding him, he looked – uncomfortable, and he was showing it.
There were things about him that weren’t adding up. He was obviously not Japanese but he had better control of the language than I did. The way he stared at things as if he wasn’t actually seeing anything was also unnerving and I got the distinct feeling he was trying really hard to avoid notice. I realized the black clothes weren’t a statement. Wu wanted to fade into the background, but there was a part of him that made sure he wasn’t succeeding. He could have allowed Morito to embarrass; kept his silence like others did and it would have passed as just another example of crappy teaching. Instead, he’d gone head-to-head and won, and now looked to be really regretting bringing that much attention to himself.
“Mitsuo, you’re showing Gi – Dominic around, right?” I said, tripping over using a guy’s first name when I barely knew him. Mitsuo had been assigned as the blond’s guide when he’d first came. Up until now, they’d only met for language lessons until Dominic was deemed proficient enough to wander out on his own.
“Today after school.”
“Good, I’ll join you.” It was time to get to know Wu No-Last-Name.